Sunday 28 June 2015

WWE SummerSlam 2004 review

A few weeks ago I watched SummerSlam 2004 and tweeted about it. The only thing I initally remembered about the show was the main event in which Randy Orton won his first World Heavyweight championship. The rest of the card turned out to be a mostly pleasant experience. Booker T v John Cena, Triple H v Eugene and JBL v The Undertaker were all a bit of fun if you could look past their shortcomings (Cena's ropey wrestling, the offensiveness of the Eugene character, and JBL being in a WWE title match respectively) and the Intercontinental title three-way was good fun. Plus there was fun nonsense on offer from the Diva Dodgeball showdown (featuring a bunch of women you almost certainly don't remember or have never even heard of) and Matt Hardy v Kane for the right to marry Lita. Here's what I thought in tweet form...


Tweet 1: Watching SummerSlam 2004. I remember very little about this show other than the main event of young boy Randy Orton versus -REDACTED-.
Tweet 2: Opening package is highlighting how strange this is. Heavy on Teddy Long. Mid-card Cena. Kane v Matt Hardy for the right to marry Lita.
Tweet 3: Wall-to-wall nonsense by the looks of it. Excited for this show. No idea if this is good or a train wreck.
Tweet 4:

The Dudley Boys v Rey Mysterio, Billy Kidman and Paul London

Tweet 5: Dudleys in a six man opener. This is during that weird phase where Spike was heel and bossing Bubba and D-Von. Forgot all about this.
Tweet 6: "This is going to be a rough and rumble match-up" - Michael Cole on the Dudleys v Rey Mysterio, Billy Kidman and Paul London
Tweet 7: I like that quote. It's basically Cole saying the Dudleys are going to stiff some cruiserweights for lols.
Tweet 8: Spike Dudley there, spitting on Mexico's greatest legend Rey Mysterio.
Tweet 9: "I'll beat your face in!" - Bubba Dudley with the loudest spot call I've ever heard
Tweet 10: "Vintage Dudley Boys" - Michael Cole
Tweet 11: Mysterio v Spike in a cruiserweight exchange for the ages now. Still-good-Rey's fluidity against Spike's stomps. Gold.
Tweet 12: Just been reminded Kidman did a move called the BK bomb. Christ...
Tweet 13: Spike's better than I remember as a straight up wrestler. He doesn't really work as a heel though.

Till Death Do Us Part: Matt Hardy v Kane

Tweet 14: Till Death Do Us Part match. Ambrose and Rollins will get to this as their never-ending feud gets into more obscure stips.
Tweet 15: Recap of the Matt Hardy v Kane feud that would go on to secretly involve Edge in 2005. Loved this nonsense at the time.
Tweet 16: I'm not comfortable with Lita being so blatantly presented as a prop in this match. Or with the rape connotations, obviously.
Tweet 17: Typical that heel Lawler is bigging up Kane for impregnating Lita. I'm waiting for the unsavoury comments to start.
Tweet 18: Corporate Kane is way better than mid-00s baldy Kane. Not least because he acts like David Puddy.
Tweet 19: "I think Kane might make an alright husband" - Jerry Lawler on storyline rapist Kane
Tweet 20: They just did a nice choke slam off the ropes for the finish so at least the match ended well.
Tweet 21: Poor old Lita though. She's been married to Kane for ten and a half years now.
Tweet 22:

Todd Grisham interviews Randy Orton

Tweet 23: Randy Orton is telling Todd Grisham he's going to beat the man. I dunno, mate...
Tweet 24:

Tweet 25: Orton and Cena bickering backstage. Is the origin of their aeons-long feud?

John Cena v Booker T

Tweet 26: I'd forgotten all about Booker T and Cena having a best of five series too. I hadn't forgotten Cena's #BasicThuganomics intro theme though.
Tweet 27: I'm interested in this match. I want to see early Cena work and Booker's great. Good combo.
Tweet 28: Also it seems to be heel Booker. Second only to King Booker in the League of Bookers pantheon.
Tweet 29: "Shades of the great Iron Sheikh" - Michael Cole on a Booker T camel clutch
Tweet 30: Yeah. Cena's early work is, unsurprisingly, rough around the edges. He just did one of the worst small packages I've ever seen.
Tweet 31: Just remembered that there's a triple threat match on this show where Toronto turns heel and boos their hometown boy Edge.
Tweet 32: Cena wins lol.

Teddy Long and Eric Bischoff chat about being general managers backstage

Tweet 33: Pointless backstage natter with Long and Big Boy Bisch here. Teddy wants to sign Eugene and make him a big star.
Tweet 34: Eugene. Oh lord.
Tweet 35: Diva Dodgeball now. What even is this show?

Intercontinental championship: Edge (c) v Batista v Chris Jericho

Tweet 36: That was just a plug. We're getting Big Wave Batista v Edge v Jericho first. I bet this'll be a classic with Wave involved.
Tweet 37: This is back when Jericho was reasonably enjoyable. Never been a massive fan though tbh.
Tweet 38: "He's never met his father!" Steady on, JR.
Tweet 39: I like JR choosing to get Batista over by saying he could play in the NFL. Good one, Jim.
Tweet 40: The flaps of Edge's left boot have come loose. Technical wizard Wave Batista will target the boot and get a win via tapout.
Tweet 41: Speaking of Edge's boots, it looks like he has Shane Douglas's Franchise symbol on them. Probably some sort or rib masterminded by The Kliq.
Tweet 42: I'm a fan of Shane Douglas's career of poorly chosen shoot comments.
Tweet 43: That match was better than I half-remembered it. Amazed at how good Batista looked.

Eddie Guerrero v Kurt Angle

Tweet 44: Eddie Guerrero v Kurt Angle? Saywhaaaaaat?!
Tweet 45: This recap of Eddie winning the title has made me realise I'm going to see a JBL WWE title match.
Tweet 46: Remember that time Kurt Angle died?

Tweet 47: Roman's long lost brother LUTHER REIGNS!
Tweet 48: Eddie's gimmick was basically that he was a great wrestler who loved stealing cars.
Tweet 49: Toronto, Canada getting behind wrestling's Captain America, Kurt Angle. Eddie's thievery has made him a pariah north of the border.
Tweet 50: Just noticed Baby Brian Hebner refereeing this match wearing his stupid blue trainers. Never been a fan of his work. He draws the eye.
Tweet 51: WWE missed a trick not releasing Pirates of the Caribbean-esque Luther Reigns earrings. #merch
Tweet 52: This is an odd match. Slow paced, based on the mat, and they're both using Angle's moves. It's not bad but it's not what I expected.
Tweet 53: I always find it weird when wrestlers take off their boot and use it to knock someone out.
Tweet 54: Because, y'know, when they kick it does minimal damage.
Tweet 55: Fun match. Probably match of the night considering there are Eugene and Johnny Layfield matches to come.

Triple H v Eugene

Tweet 56: Let's not forgot that Eugene was in Evolution with Playboy editor-era Triple H.
Tweet 57: "Eugene, I was NEVER your friend!" - Triple H, with the greatest heel promo of all time
Tweet 58: He followed up by near murdering his former Blue Bloods pal William Regal. This was powerful stuff.
Tweet 59: JR making the strong accusation that Triple H is guilty of conduct unbecoming of a RAW superstar. Serious business.
Tweet 60: Trips using Lilian Garcia, every man's weakness, as a foreign object there.
Tweet 61: Trips doing the Flair Flop better than Flair. Didn't even see the hands come up. Because he's a pro, dammit.
Tweet 62: Hilarious "Eugene sucks!" chant going on right now.
Tweet 63: I'm enjoying Triple H's general lack of selling here. It's refreshing. Don't get enough no-sells in 2015.
Tweet 64: Did Eugene ever give a reason for Tripper being his fave number one wrestler of all time? I'd be interested in his reasoning.
Tweet 65: Now's as good a time as any to mention that I never liked the Eugene character. It was poor taste. Not that WWE cares about taste.
Tweet 66: Eugene using all these moves he's "seen on television." What about those Don't Try This At Home ads, mate?
Tweet 67: Triple H kicking out of the leg drop as a big middle finger to Hogan there.
Tweet 68: Flair's been at ringside less than two minutes. He's already taken his jacket off and started throwing a fit.
Tweet 69: Triple H wins with the Pedigree. He probably got flack for that at the time. Makes sense though...
Tweet 70: He's a former world champion. Eugene should have lost. Plots he cheated to win. Eugene was protected and it was a memorable first defeat.

Diva Dodgeball

Tweet 71: Meanwhile, over in a high school gym, Jonathan 'Coach' Coachman is adjudicating Diva Dodgeball.
Tweet 72: No idea who most of the Diva Search lasses are. I recognise Mrs Michael Bennett, TNA announcer, and 'Taker wife but that's about it.
Tweet 73: This is a Divas division for workrate though. Trish, Jazz, Molly Holly, Victoria and Gail Kim are there. Plus Stacey Keibler.
Tweet 74: Amused by Coach's commentary.
Tweet 75: Also: NIDIA.
Tweet 76: I'd like Nidia to reappear on RAW in a backstage segment with Jamie Noble. Lols to he had there.
Tweet 77: Jerry Lawler offering to help restrain Trish Stratus. #stillgotit

WWE championship: The Undertaker v John Bradshaw Layfield (c)

Tweet 78: Oh no...

Tweet 79: I don't mind Undertaker or JBL but they did not work well together. Part of the problem was that nothing was made of their Ministry history.
Tweet 80: John Ladshaw Layfield.
Tweet 81: The mystique of that Undertaker entrance was slightly ruined by a guy in the front row give him double middle fingers.
Tweet 82: Only just now remembering Orlando Jordan's transformation from innocent young boy into sinister Chief of Staff, overseeing the Bashams.
Tweet 83: JBL running is one of the funniest things I've ever seen.
Tweet 84: Worth nothing that in August 2004 Mark Calaway looked more like Fake Undertaker than real Undertaker.
Tweet 85: It's like he's done himself up as an Undertaker parody.
Tweet 86: The crowd are doing a Mexican wave. 'Taker should use the dark arts to make them pay attention.
Tweet 87: This match isn't doing much for me but I can recognise they're doing good stuff. JBL taking a superplex, for example.
Tweet 88: Did this feud progress to JBL stealing Undertaker's urn? If not, why not?
Tweet 89: Great potential in a segment with JBL melting the urn down and turning it into a magical gold cowboy hat.
Tweet 90: Tazz is hyping boots. Might be at the bottom of the barrel here, folks.
Tweet 91: When selling, Nick Patrick looks like Johnny Vegas.
Tweet 92: Loads of interference and assorted shenanigans in that match. Makes the DQ ending a disappointment.
Tweet 93: Undertaker will get revenge by Tombstoning JBL's limo.
Tweet 94: Lol at 'Taker choke slamming JBL through the roof of the limo. Textbook mid-00s overkill.
Tweet 95: Even funnier is Jordan dragging JBL, who could have spinal injuries after being THROWN THROUGH A ROOF, out onto the concrete.
Tweet 96: EMTs coming out to help JBL. Remember when WWE introduced BB as an EMT?
Tweet 97: She lasted about three months, married 'Hard to the Core' Robert Holly, then was never heard from again.
Tweet 98: Maybe she'll turn up with Kayfabe Commentaries one day.

World Heavyweight championship: Randy Orton v -REDACTED-

Tweet 99: Can Randall Keith Orton do it? Can he become the youngest ever world champion? Can he beat -REDACTED-?

Tweet 100: Love WWE trolling the Canadian fans by having Earl Hebner ref this.
Tweet 101: Lawler pushing Orton as "a Greek god." It's possible he's being fed material by Vince.
Tweet 102: The crowd don't seem as into this as I'd thought they'd be. Silence for this -REDACTED- wrist lock, for example.
Tweet 103: Orton gets a shoulder block. Crowd explodes.
Tweet 104: More trolling with Orton slapping on a Sharpshooter. *slow clap*
Tweet 105: -REDACTED- with a sloppy reversal there. I don't think he's even Canadian. Real Canadians have perfected the Sharpshooter by age five.
Tweet 106: This isn't about -REDACTED-, Orton, or Orton's first world title. It's about Hebner earning forgiveness from Canada by officiating fairly.
Tweet 107: What was WWE's thinking for pulling the trigger on this Orton main event push? Was it just a case of "Welp, we need new guys"?
Tweet 108: It's taken a while but this match is hotting up. That's been a theme across this show tbh.
Tweet 109: Orton with a cross body, a move he once used as a finisher. Like a 1970s babyface.
Tweet 110: Love -REDACTED- foregoing the -REDACTED- Crossface and using the Sharpshooter because he's in Canada.
Tweet 111: Part of the reason this crowd's getting behind Orton is because he's being presented as a fiery babyface who won't give up.
Tweet 112: Knees up on that top rope headbutt. That may explain some things...
Tweet 113: "RKO outta nowhere! RKO outta nowhere!" - Jim Ross
Tweet 114: Orton should cry more often.
Tweet 115: The handshake that turned Randy Orton from a crying young boy into a #manly world champion.

Tweet 116: That was a laugh, weren't it?

Saturday 27 June 2015

NXTweet 24.06.15

Finn Bálor versus Rhyno with Kevin Owens on commentary? That's how you main event a wrestling show! And as far as undercards go? The debut of the Hype Bros is bad, but in a good way.

Hideo Itami promo, featuring Kevin Owens,  Finn Bálor and Rhyno

Tweet 1: Right then, you mugs. Let's watch NXT.
Tweet 2: Oh look, it's Hideo Itami and his broken arm.
Tweet 3: Disappointed he's not wearing one of those light-selling-duty casts Triple H wore that time Lesnar broke his arm.
Tweet 4: This Greg Hamilton lad is such a black hole of meaning.
Tweet 5: "NXT is very popular in Japan" - Hideo Itami, doing his duty
Tweet 6: Owens walks out. People cheer. His music cuts. Some lads boo. Great stuff.
Tweet 7: Enjoying Itami trying not to laugh at Owens' promo.
Tweet 8: It will eventually be revealed that Itami was taken out by Rikishi, who (obviously) did it for The Rock.

They fought.

Tweet 9: Hey, don't forget that Bálor and Owens are feuding too! That's what this booking is about y'know.
Tweet 10: Digging Rhyno's pink and black singlet.
Tweet 11: Rare instance of the NXT main event being booked after the show's started.

Enzo Amore and Big Cass v Sylvester LeFort and Jason Jordan

Tweet 12: Take it as read that I'm rolling my eyes at Carmella's "Bye, Felicia" T-shirt.
Tweet 14: LeFort and Jordan will lose. Which is fine. It frees LeFort up to work as an inept manager again.

Revival of the hottest feud of 2014...

Tweet 15: LeFort's outfit is the perfect level of ridiculous. Good on 'im.
Tweet 16: 'The New Double J' might want to invest in a better fitting singlet.
Tweet 17: Isn't the obvious thing for Jason Jordan to do to just become a singles wrestler? If you've not got a tag partner don't be a tag team, mate.

Devin Taylor talks to Samoa Joe

Tweet 18: Samoa Joe promo. Samoa Joemo. He's getting WELL shouty.
Tweet 19: Joe wants to fight. That's the message there. Good on yer, Joe lad.

Dana Brooke v Cassie

Tweet 20: Dana Brooke's ridiculously convoluted pose sequence, now with added gloves.
Tweet 21: Cassie, the latest female wrestler to hit WWE with no surname.
Tweet 22: Dana getting New Day clap heat here. You know you're doing a good job with you hear that.
Tweet 23: I wish Dana's finish was being called the One Night Stand. It would make Alex Shane so proud.

If not One Night Stand then maybe Ode to 'The Showstealer'?

Tweet 24: Charlotte promos need more jackets being taken off and elbow dropped. Maybe some shoes being thrown.
Tweet 25: Lol at the next special being called Beast from the East.

Finn Bálor video

Tweet 26: Finn Bálor there. Big fan of LEGO and banter.
Tweet 27: I hope we get a vignette where Owens breaks into Bálor's house and smashes all his LEGO builds. That would get so much heat.
Tweet 28: "... and Matt Bloom is at the back of the bus" - Fergal Devitt absolutely DESTROYING kayfabe
Tweet 29: This video is basically Triple H confirming that he's a New Japan mark.
Tweet 30: Massive fan of seeing TAKA Michinoku, the man who doesn't age.
Tweet 31: I'm genuinely surprised they're showing Bullet Club merch here.
Tweet 32: Good video, that. Interested in what they have lined up for part three.

Bull Dempsey is shown slobbing about in various places

Tweet 33: Has Bull Dempsey had a heart attack? Is that the gimmick now?
Tweet 34: Such a fan of this out of shape slob gimmick though. They're sending you a message, Bull mate.

Hype Bros v Angelo Dawkins and Sawyer Fulton

Tweet 35: Mojo Rawley and Zack Ryder. The Hype Bros. This is a thing is it? This is happening?

These lads stay hyped.

Tweet 36: Facing my favourite NXT tag team, Fulton and Dawkins. Fan of these lads on so many levels.
Tweet 37: If Mojo was serious about getting over he'd still be wearing the neon green trunks. They were money.
Tweet 38: I miss Fulton's ear guard thing.
Tweet 39: Big fan of WGTT 2.0 using that WGTT double team. Sickened that nobody on commentary referenced it.
Tweet 40: The Hype Bros win with an elevated cock to the mouth. That's wrestling, that is!

William Regal and Eva Marie talk about Eva Marie having a bit of a wrestle at some point

Tweet 41: #Regalpop
Tweet 42: #EvaMariepop
Tweet 43: Actually I don't think Eva Marie's as bad as all that. She'll surprise us when she gets her match. That's by #boldprediction
Tweet 44: Imagine Jerry Lawler in Regal's on-screen role. It'd be ridiculous. For that matter he'd be ridiculous in his backstage role.
Tweet 45: Basically, Lawler is the exact opposite of Regal.

Rhyno v Finn Bálor

Tweet 46: Looking forward to Owens and Rhyno reuniting as SCUM, Jimmy Jacobs backstage with a big smile on his face.
Tweet 47: I like Owens and Saxton's interactions basically being a throwback to The Rock and Kevin Kelly.
Tweet 48: I want more Ruthless Aggression references in Rhyno matches.
Tweet 49: Owens trips to the commentary desk have seen him get increasingly more aggressive. I like that. It's more character development for him.
Tweet 50: Not that he's being short changed on the ol' character development.
Tweet 51: "Bálor's almost a hero in Japan!" - Rich Brennan, really doing a great job of putting Bálor over

Double stomp FTW.

Tweet 52: Wouldn't it be great if they brought Sandman into few to replace some of the exiting stars? He could revive his feud with Rhyno.
Tweet 53: SCUM versus Joe and Bálor? I'm down with that as a future tag main event.
Tweet 54: Good show, everyone. Good hustle. Especially you, Cassie.

Wednesday 24 June 2015

Beating Lethal

Best in the World 2015 saw Jay Lethal defeat Jay Briscoe to become the new Ring of Honor world champion. He's the twentieth man to hold the title and the first ever to hold it in conjunction with another active championship. Yeah, Bryan Danielson won the pure championship from Nigel McGuinness during his world title reign but he retired it immediately. He didn't hold belts simultaneously and work as a double champion.

Apparently Lethal will. Reports from ROH's latest TV tapings indicate that Lethal opted not to vacate the TV championship as he'd put too much effort into building it up. Matchmaker McGuinness then made the ruling that if Jay wants to stay a double champion he will have to defend the TV and world titles as separate entities. All of which makes sense from the point of view of Lethal's character and creates the chance to produce some fresh scenarios for championship defences and show-long stories at future events.

The double champ is here.
I'll be surprised if Lethal doesn't hold onto both belts for a while. It would be fairly pointless to go to the trouble of giving him a lengthy reign as TV champion (the longest ever, in fact) and not have him vacate the title only to lose it in a random title match after a few weeks. It would also be pointless to put the world title on him just to take it away quickly. That's not how things work in ROH. Wrestlers work hard to win titles and get to enjoy substantial reigns with them. It makes the titles and wrestlers, and by extension the matches involving them, mean more.

But at some point Lethal will lose the world championship, just as has happened twenty-two times before. Which is the point of this article: discussing the possible successors (as I perceive them) to Jay Lethal as the ROH world champion. As far as the TV championship goes I think he'll hold it for a few more months before losing it to guy who'd benefit from a surprise upset win, such as ACH, or being stripped of it after some form of shenanigans during a title defence.

I'll start with Jay Briscoe. There's a chance that Lethal will lose the title back to him but I think it would be dependent on him having a long title reign. I don't imagine ROH would take the gold from Briscoe only to get it back to him a couple of months later, even though it's an approach that would fit the sports-emphasis style of the promotion. But if Lethal has been made champion with no long term plan for a replacement (not that I think that's the case considering how well Delirious has done planning things out over the last few years) it's possible Briscoe could regain the belt in the far future (by which I mean some time next year). If Lethal left for WWE Briscoe would be a lead candidate for a short notice replacement.

As would Roderick Strong. My reasoning is the same as with Briscoe: he looks and wrestles the part, would be accepted in the role, and is unlikely to leave for another major promotion. I can't see him beating 'The Greatest First Generation Wrestler' at Death Before Dishonor XIII on July 24 but farther in the future he could be in with a chance. Right now he's more of a credible contender to stabilise Lethal's reign than anything else.

AJ's already got a belt though, so...
Sticking with the theme of men who probably won't defeat Lethal but might there's AJ Styles. ROH seems comfortable in presenting him as a special attraction. As such he doesn't need the championship. He's a draw for ROH with or without it. He's also won the IWGP championship twice since joining New Japan last year and is the champion right now. That places limitations on ROH, because New Japan aren't likely to be happy if their champion starts laying down for people elsewhere. And ROH have benefited too much from their relationship with New Japan to upset them. Styles is best off facing bigger names who aren't champion and losing (or indeed winning) any ROH title matches he's in via disqualification.

The first guy I'll name who I think has a crack at taking the title from Lethal in a long term planning capacity is Michael Elgin. He's one of the better wrestlers in the company despite fans having turned on him. In fact his  current status as a heat magnet is a large part of the reason I think he could end up beating Lethal for the title. People would be genuinely irate if he become a two time champion with his current persona. He has the character and in-ring ability to make a reign as heel work and it would be nice to see him get the championship run he deserved to have last year. Although I think an 'Unbreakable' title win would be reliant on Lethal becoming a babyface at some point the response to his win at BITW indicates he'd be accepted as a good guy. I don't think it's something that's going to come any time soon though, if it comes at all.

Moose is a possibility too, which isn't something I would have expected to write a few months ago. He's comfortable in the big man role and could easily introduce some flashier moves to help him fit in at the top of the card (big lads need to have stuff like the cross body block he used at Best in the World when they're main eventing). He's also really, really over. His burgeoning programme with Cedric Alexander will likely keep him busy for a few months but he should be done with that in plenty of time to challenge Lethal at whatever big show ROH promotes in September or October or perhaps even at Final Battle (although there's someone mentioned below who I think would make a far better opponent for Lethal at Final Battle).

No ROH champion has mastered the point into the crowd... until now.
A wildcard possibility is Nic 'Dolph Ziggler' Nemeth. I mention him mostly because at time of writing there are rumours floating about that he'll be leaving WWE when his contract comes to an end later in 2015. I don't think this will come to anything but if it does ROH has to be the favourite for the company he'd turn up in. It wouldn't rule out him working for New Japan and TNA is a laughable suggestion at this point. He's probably the WWE guy I'd most like to see in ROH. Everything that's needed to make it to the top of the work rate-centric promotion he has, and he could do it as a face or a heel. Nemeth would be a boon to ROH, giving him the title would only help matters.

But I'm not going to make any of those names my official prediction. That honour goes to Adam Cole. Everything I can find on the subject indicates that he has a significant amount of time left on his current contract. If Best in the World and TV spoilers are anything to go by he's on the cusp of turning face. Having him work as a face champion would be something new for him and the company. By the time he's finished with what I suspect could be a lengthy breakup with his Kingdom stablemates we should be just about ready for a build towards Final Battle. Babyface Adam Cole versus heel Jay Lethal would not only be new, it would be one of the biggest matches Ring of Honor could promote. I think this will be the match to headline Final Battle.

That is my official prediction. Now watch as I'm wrong, just as I always am when it comes to predicting ROH title changes.

Tuesday 23 June 2015

ROH Best in the World 2015 review

ROH's Best in the World 2015 show started with a video package focusing on the main event, one of the most interesting matches they've presented in a long time, Jay Briscoe versus Jay Lethal. The chief reason this was an interesting match was that it was a champion versus champion scenario, Briscoe being the world champion and Lethal being the television champion, with both titles on the line. There was also the fact that Lethal had held the TV title for well over a year and Briscoe hadn't been pinned since March 2 2013. It felt like a big match because of how well the two wrestlers were presented and the video that kicked off the show only added to that. Everything from the promos the two men cut to the simple touch of listing the bigger names each man had made successful defences against drove home that the match was a big deal.

It was the main event I was most interested in. Whenever that's the case going into a wrestling show something's been done right. ROH did a great job promoting Lethal v Briscoe. Having said that the rest of the card did seen slightly underwhelming. Aside from the number one contender shop three-way nothing really stood out, and the three-way was mostly interesting because I wanted to see how a winner would be booked in a match involving guys who rarely lose in ROH.

The Addiction v reDRagon was a match I'd seen before and which had failed to grab me. The Bullet Club v Kingdom six man was a rematch. While the first encounter had been good I felt it had been slightly overhyped and so I wasn't as excited about this match as others may have been. Castle v Young sounded good mostly because I like the characters of both guys. And everything else looked like standard ROH fare: good but not necessarily the easiest stuff to engage with emotionally.

That last sentence perfectly summed up the first match, Mark Briscoe versus top prospect tournament winner and proud House of Truth member Donovan Dijak. It was a solid opener which didn't drag and saw both men get a turn in control but it didn't draw me in because I'm not the biggest fan of either guy and they did nothing to change that. Briscoe won after blocking Feast Your Eyes (a Burning Hammer into a knee strike) and hitting the Froggy Bow.

Pretty much the same thing can be said about match number two. It saw BJ Whitmer and Adam Page face off with ACH and Matt Sydal. Page and Whitmer had their Decade young boy Colby Corino with them. Colby's dad Steve (now inexplicably going exclusively by the title of King Corino) was on commentary for this match, as he is for all ROH shows, but he seemed reluctant to place any emphasis on his own personal feelings about Whitmer recruiting Colby to further their longstanding grudge. It's possible he doesn't feel comparable with the angle or, more likely, doesn't want to make it all about himself, preferring to keep The Decade in the spotlight. But if that's the case why bother doing it at all? Steve Corino's continued reaction to his son making a poor life choice is the entire story here and if he doesn't want to tell it, for whatever reason, it's not going to work. Which is a shame because there's a lot that could be done with it.

The match was entertaining enough. I like ACH a lot and couldn't help but feel he was a tad wasted here, especially considering how bland much of the rest of the card was (at least in terms of pairings). Page got the victory for his team after Colby pulled Sydal off a pin attempt from the Shooting Star press, distracting him long enough for Page to get the win with his Right of Passage finisher.

Young v Castle was a fun match that was surprising in how hard-hitting and back-and-forth it was. Although the approach they took made sense in terms of story: the match had come about because Castle had been the latest person to find himself accused of being "not a real man" by Silas. The two packed a lot in, including a Silas spear off the apron and a Castle deadlift German. Castle won off a rollup as Young was berating Todd Sinclair for not counting a pinfall, which Sinclair had refused because 'The Last Real Man' had shoved him into the ropes, crotching Castle, to get it. After the match Young hit his Misery TKO on one of Castle's lads. Castle was understandably distraught by this.

That was followed by the reformed C&C Wrestle Factory taking on War Machine. Alexander and Coleman got a nice welcome from the NYC crowd when they entered. Hanson and Rowe did not. They were mostly met with indifference, a worrying sign considering they've been in ROH for over a year.

This match was short and more about story than action. The story it was specifically concerned with was Cedric's continued edging towards the dark side. He tried using a wrench, the same weapon he'd used to hammer Moose and end his undefeated streak, but Caprice saw it in his hand and refused to tag him in. That allowed War Machine to grab Caprice and hit Fallout for the win. After the match Cedric teased using the wrench on Caprice but didn't. He did make it clear that their team was over though.

The first above average bout of the night was the number one contenders match. Michael Elgin, Moose and Roderick Strong had all been put in the match based on the strength of their performances and their win-loss records in 2015. It would be nice to think they were also selected because they're amongst the best guys Ring of Honor has. Elgin and Strong have both had their share of classic matches (and I'll say again that Elgin is a particularly fine finish man) and Moose has been constantly improving since I first saw him in EVOLVE. He understands how to work the role of the big man and doesn't go overboard on the bigger spots he's capable of.

There were plenty of highlights in this match. Amongst my favourites were: Elgin hitting a somersault tope on Moose, bowing afterwards and being jeered by the crowd; Roddy superplexing Elgin then Moose; Roddy performing another feat of strength by giving Moose a double knee gut buster; Elgin buckle bombing on Moose only to be immediately hit with a spear; Moose running across the ring, leaping to the top rope, and hitting a cross body to the outside on both guys; and the finish, which saw Elgin double power bomb Moose and being sick kicked as he tried for a third, with Strong pulling Moose to his feet to hot him with two jumping knees and a sick kick to put him down for three.

There was a handshake between Strong and Moose after the match. We were told Elgin shook Strong's hand but we weren't shown it. Veda Scott slapped Moose twice for daring to follow the Code of Honor, something she'd done before. This time it looked like she'd pushed Moose too far. He hunched down looking like he was setting up to spear Veda but before he could make a move Cedric Alexander ran out and smacked him and Stokeley Hathaway with the wrench. Veda smiled at him then Cedric screamed about how he should have been in the number one contenders match.

I liked this as a development. It creates a reason for Moose to not be in the title picture and freshens up Cedric's act by realigning him and giving him a manager. He and Veda seem promising together, and it neatly covers up his weakness on promos. Maybe caprice will go heel too and RD Evans will return to tag with Moose in a grudge match. Then again maybe not.

The Bullet Club trio of AJ Styles and the Young Bucks versus the Kingdom trio of Matt Taven, Michael Bennett and Adam Cole followed that. As pointed out earlier this was a rematch from the ROH and New Japan War of the Worlds show, one I felt was very enjoyable but mildly overhyped in the grand scheme of things. They did pretty much the same thing here, producing another spot-heavy match with way too many highlights to mention and too fast a pace to do a full write-up.

We got the opposite result to the original encounter. The Kingdom had won at War of the Worlds so it was Bullet Club's turn to go over here. They did so in memorable fashion, wiping out Maria with two super kicks and a Pele kick from Styles (what a southern gent he is) before isolating Cole as Bennett checked on his wife and Taven sold a beating at ringside. Cole fought back valiantly, going for a Destroyer only to be caught by AJ and hit with a buckle bomb-enziguri triple team and then 'The Phenomenal One's' Bloody Sunday, kicking out and fighting back again, but eventually it was too much for him. 'The One' was finally put down with an Indytaker followed by the Styles Clash.

After the match The Kingdom looked upset with Cole. This didn't really make sense. Taven had been lying at ringside for a while when the loss happened and could probably have mustered the strength to get back in the ring. Bennett had a right to look ticked off, yeah, but why would he when his wife had just been knocked unconscious by three pro wrestlers? Logic flaws aside the prospect of Cole splitting from The Kingdom is interesting. A face turn could work well for both him and ROH.

The Addiction's no disqualification match with reDRagon was not as enjoyable as the usual reDRagon effort. Their strength is having exciting strong style matches with plenty of tag work mixed in, not crowd brawling. The stip made sense, of course, because of the personal nature of the feud and because the two teams have already met under regular rules. This meeting needed something extra to give it a bit of variety and set it apart from previous meetings. But it was never going to be as good as a regular match.

They at least made full use of the stipulation. There was plenty of ringside brawling and chairs were used liberally. A table and a ladder were introduced after things had hotted up. The table was there because in 2015 these sorts of matches require a table to satisfy the punters. The use of a ladder was interesting though. It's possible it was done to tease Ladder War VI. Then again, it's possible it wasn't.

The finish saw reDRagon hit Chasing the Dragon on Daniels on for former TNA world champion Chris Sabin to appear and pull the referee from the ring. The Addiction then recovered, Frankie took out O'Reilly by shoving him off the apron and into the crowd barricade, and hit Fish with Celebrity Rehab. The champions retained. Hopefully another team will be added to this rivalry if it continues. Addiction v reDRagon matches haven't wowed me so far.

Then came the Lethal versus Briscoe main event. It's worth sopping for a moment here to point out that the two men both have a lot of history in Ring of Honor. Briscoe has never been shy about reminding people that he was on the promotion's very first show. He's been a two time world champion and a record setting eight times. Over the last few years he's become one of ROH's most reliable headliners, working pay-per-view main events, being involved in heavily featured stories, and being well protected in terms of booking.

Lethal's pedigree is less celebrated but still impressive. He joined ROH a month shy of the company's first anniversary as Hydro, a member of Special K, and went through stints as Samoa Joe's protégé and pure champion before leaving to work for the promising-at-the-time TNA. It was easy to overlook how much he'd improved when he rejoined ROH full time in 2011 but improve he had. In the four years since he's won the television championship twice and, like Briscoe, become one of the company's most reliable wrestlers. The last eighteen months have probably been the greatest stretch of his career as he's been given the TV championship and tasked with making it mean something, which he has, been pitted against leading outside talent, and gradually been positioned as ROH's lead heel.

Briscoe versus Lethal is a match that's been brewing for a long time. Both guys have been built up so well. The atmosphere at the start of this match demonstrated what a great job both men, as well as booker Delirious, have done and how established they are as top names.

Before the first lock-up had even taken place Diesel and Dijak were sent backstage before the after Dijak had swiped his hand at Briscoe's legs. A suspenseful feeling out process, during which the combatants were bombarded by duelling chants from the crowd, was followed by a fight around ringside. Briscoe yakuza kicked Lethal. Lethal suplexed Briscoe. They threw one another into the barricade a bit.

Back in the ring Truth grabbed Briscoe's foot, distracting him and letting Lethal knock Briscoe down. Briscoe recovered and they traded uppercuts. Lethal got the better of the exchange by switching to clotheslines to knock the world heavyweight champion down. Back on their feet they traded jabs before Briscoe hit a neckbreaker.

A Lethal Injection was countered into a full nelson slam. Briscoe went for a Jay Driller but Lethal escaped into the Lethal Combination. Lethal went to the top rope but got cut off by Briscoe, who went for a superplex. Lethal fought him off but Briscoe fired back with a drop kick and went for his superplex again. Lethal fought him off again, this time pushing him down to the mat and hitting the Macho Elbow. Briscoe kicked out and immediately got put in the Koji clutch by the TV champ.

Briscoe made the ropes and rolled onto the apron. Lethal followed him out only to be set up for a Jay Driller. He escaped as Truth leapt onto the opposite apron to distract the referee. Nigel got up and sent Truth backstage as Briscoe recovered and Jay Drillered Lethal through the timekeepers table. Both men sold for a while before making it back into the ring just shy of the twenty count.

Briscoe was first to his feet and lobbed jabs at Lethal. Lethal surprised him with a super kick and went for the Lethal Injection again. Briscoe dashed forward and floored him with a rolling elbow as he rebounded off the ropes, getting himself a two count. Briscoe went for the Jay Driller. Lethal escaped it but got hit with a lariat for another two count.

Only the second double champion in ROH history.
The pair dragged themselves back up again. This time it was Lethal who struck first with a springboard cutter. He connected with another Lethal Injection but Briscoe kicked out. The crowd erupted at that as 'The Greatest First Generation Wrestler' clutched at his head in disbelief. He recovered and tried to hit Briscoe with his own Jay Driller. Briscoe escaped and tried for the move himself. Lethal escaped too, hit the move and then hit another Lethal Injection for the victory, a successful title defence and the ROH world championship.

The crowd gave him a "You deserve it!" chant. After a bit of celebrating from the new champion Briscoe came out of the corner and offered a handshake. In a nice moment Lethal accepted it with gusto before he continued celebrating. It was a touching way to close the show, watching a man who first worked for the company twelve years ago celebrate his first world title win. He'd earned it and it was lovely to see.


Results summary:
Mark Briscoe defeated Donovan Dijak
The Decade defeated Matt Sydal and ACH
Dalton Castle defeated Silas Young
War Machine defeated C&C Wrestle Factory
Roderick Strong defeated Moose and Michael Elgin to earn an ROH world championship match
AJ Styles and the Young Bucks defeated The Kingdom
The Addiction defeated reDRagon to retain the ROH tag team championship
Jay Lethal defeated Jay Briscoe to retain the ROH TV championship and win the ROH world championship

Monday 22 June 2015

French Connection

We haven't seen Sylvester LeFort for a while have we? Not since the September 25 episode of NXT in fact. On that show he was beaten up by his one time pal Marcus Louis and left a lifeless puddle in the ring, finally putting an end to the Legionnires pairing. And it's a shame we've not seen him since because Sylvester LeFort is great.

I probably need to clarify that. LeFort is not a great wrestler. He's, at best, competent and has never dazzled in the ring. He doesn't seem like someone who has the potential to dazzle either. But he does have a good look and an even better gimmick.

This look is money.
The thick beard, the greased back hair, and the hairy chest all help to make LeFort look like a sleazy Eurotrash-esque scumbag (which is surely the point). That's a good thing. Wrestling needs more sleazy Eurotrash-esque scumbags. It's a heel trope woefully underrepresented in the current business. There's so much potential in it and LeFort fits the part so well that I think WWE are foolish to not have him as a regular on TV.

I don't necessarily want to see him wrestle though. Personally I enjoyed LeFort when he was working as a vaguely ineffective heel manager. I liked him having his stable of Legionnaires, all of whom were a bit generic and not particularly impressive. I liked the fact that the only guy he brought into the stable who showed any promise, a lad called Alexander Rusev (maybe you've heard of him?), was fairly swiftly nabbed by a more efficient manager in Lana.

It was a simple, fun little role that felt real. Not every sports manager is going to be world class and it absolutely made sense that a guy who wasn't able to keep hold of any above average clients was operating in the developmental league. It played to LeFort's strengths (looking like an idiot in ridiculous shiny jackets and talking with a foreign accent to remind everyone he's a heel) and disguised his weaknesses (specifically that he's not a very good wrestler, as already established).

Bring LeFort back to NXT as a manager. There's mileage left in his storyline incompetence. He could reunite with his old Legionnaires client Scott Dawson. He could bring in a new team altogether. He could introduce a singles act to help him get reverence on Marcus Louis (not that anyone's begging for that rivalry t be reprised). With Hideo Itami, Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens gone or about to go from NXT Triple H is going to need to become more inventive with the stories he tells and the stars he features if NXT is to remain the hot brand it currently is. I don't think Sly could be a major part of that but he could certainly contribute. 

Saturday 20 June 2015

NXTweet 17.06.15

For the first time ever: Kevin Owens v Samoa Joe. Plus a touching Dusty Rhodes tribute and some non-WWE-owned footage of Fergal 'Prince' Devitt from various periods of his career. Also, a good Blake and Murphy match! This show truly had it all.


Tweet 1: It's NXT time.
Tweet 2: That Dusty tribute is strong.

Blake, Murphy and Alexa Bliss v Enzo Amore, Big Cass and Carmella

Tweet 3: I wonder if JR thinks Enzo's sneakers expose the business.
Tweet 4: Carmella's mic skills definitely expose the business.
Tweet 5: Excellent crash zooms from the cameraman on this Blake 'n' Murphy entrance. He's obviously a big fan.
Tweet 6:  Assuming it is a he, of course.
Tweet 7: I really like this current trend in wrestling of guys getting heat with stupid haircuts.

Intimidating glare from Enzo as he dances there.

Tweet 8: Enzo and Cass continue their transformation into the New Age Outlaws with Enzo using Road Dogg's jab sequence.
Tweet 9: I was always a fan of that jab sequence. Not sure why when I stop and think about it.
Tweet 10: "Nice to see you awake over there, Saxton" - Corey Graves, calling out the third wheel of the commentary desk
Tweet 11: I think it needs pointing out that that match was really quite enjoyable. Cass is great when he can just batter guys.
Tweet 12: And, to be fair, Blake and Murphy did some big bumping for him.

Devin Taylor talks to Samoa Joe

Tweet 13: Devin Taylor just welcomed Joe to NXT. He's been around for a month now. #justsaying
Tweet 14: Really liking Joe saying he's always prided himself on being in hot companies when he's exclusively been in TNA for about eight years.
Tweet 15: Joe cut a pretty good promo, said he'd beat down Owens, then just stopped and stared at the floor. Weird dude.

Finn Bálor video

Tweet 16: Let's take a look at Finn Bálor, shall we?
Tweet 17: Lots of emphasis on his demon paint here. Guessing there'll be a voiceover mentioning he made it big in Japan.
Tweet 18: Ah no. They've swerved us with some talking head stuff.
Tweet 19: Love this footage of an Irish train station. Truly the essence of sports entertainment.
Tweet 20: Surprised to see that RPW match with Ricochet. That was only a year or two back. Also, I was there for it. #justsaying
Tweet 21: Becky Lynch showing #emotion here. I like her now. It's the new look and her having found a character that works.
Tweet 22: Deliberately confusing editing here. They've used footage of Devitt leaving for WWE as they're talking about him leaving for (New) Japan.
Tweet 23: Grado sighting.
Tweet 24: Looking forward to Grado getting signed to flesh out the show once the big names leave for the main roster. He's a future champ, for sure.

KC Cassidy v Charlotte

Tweet 25: Where is the Queen City?
Tweet 26: Why is Charlotte not announced as being from Flair Country?
Tweet 27: Charlotte doing her dad's taunts always cringes me. She's not off her head enough to do them justice.
Tweet 28: Seeming very much like the purpose of this match is for Charlotte to spam Flair taunts. Maybe she's been told to work them in more.

Charlotte's figure eight. Even though it doesn't form an eight.

Tweet 29: She actually got to win with her figure four. Bet 'Naitch' is sickened by that.

Devin Taylor talks to Dana Brooke

Tweet 30: Dana Brooke's putting herself over as a fitness competitor. Does the Arnold Classic count? Is that considered a legit thing?
Tweet 31: Really enjoyed Brooke doing that whole promo to the wrong camera.
Tweet 32: Devin wrestles on house shows. Is this head patting from Dana going to lead to her losing it and making her TV in-ring debut?

Kevin Owens v Samoa Joe

Tweet 33: Samoa Joe, towel enthusiast.
Tweet 34: I'm interested to see just how indy Joe and Owens are allowed to make this match.

The champ? He's here.

Tweet 35: Joe's going to have heat with Khali for using that chop to the head.
Tweet 36: He just used the Broski boot too...
Tweet 37: Imagine if Joe had stayed in TNA and he was still involved in that embarrassing BDC debacle.
Tweet 38: Another imagine now. Imagine if Punk had stayed with ROH or TNA until around now and was just coming into NXT.
Tweet 39: It'd be weird, right?
Tweet 40: Owens going for the apron bomb on Joe. Good luck, mate...
Tweet 41: They went to a DQ finish? What a shock (not a shock).

A sure sign that this feud is now #personal.

Tweet 42: Say what you want about Samoa Joe, the man knows how to work a pull-apart brawl.
Tweet 43: Lol at Owens venomously elbowing some innocent young boys in the face.
Tweet 44: Great show, everyone. Great hustle.

Tuesday 16 June 2015

RPW Summer Sizzler 2015 review

I've seen and reviewed enough RPW shows now to feel comfortable saying that Alex Shane's influence on booker Andy Quildan is clear for all to see. Shane has stated in more than one interview over the years that his approach to booking a wrestling show is to offer something that will appeal to everyone in the audience. This show, like most RPW offerings, very firmly had that philosophy in mind. The show featured former WWE stars, current New Japan stars, big lads, a cruiserweight match, a strong style match, a comedy match, and a distinctly Attitude Era main event. Whatever your tastes in wrestling there was probably something at Summer Sizzler 2015 that would satisfy you.

The show kicked off with Josh Bodom versus Tommy End. The lack of Quildan in the ring to introduce the wrestlers makes me think this was a dark match. When you've got a lad like End in a match you're not intending to release you've got yourself a packed show. Sadly there was no bicycle knee kick, a move End makes look incredible, on offer here. Bodom got the upset win following a move not dissimilar to the package piledriver.

Quildan hit the ring after that, presumably signalling the official start of the show. His first act was to announce that Mark Haskins would not be at the show due to "personal problems." He was replaced in his tag team title defence by Jake McCluskey. This wasn't the first time McCluskey had made his way onto an RPW card as a last minutes replacement. Sooner or later his reliability will be rewarded and he'll net himself a more prominent role.

Just a couple of revolutionary lads.
The match, putting McCluskey and defending champ Joel Redman against Revolutionist members Sha Samuels and James Castle, wasn't especially good. McCluskey spammed moonsaults in the early going (because he's dubbed himself 'Mr Moonsault' at some point in the last year or two), which the crowd appreciated at first but soon tired of. Because, honestly, moonsaults haven't been impressive since the eighties, Jake. I did enjoy Jake and Joel hitting a 3D though. It was an unexpected addition.

The finish saw McCluskey go for a discus clothesline on Castle, only for Castle to duck it and kick him in the privates. Yep, a nut shot was enough to put McCluskey down for the three. Redman took exception to this and gave McCluskey a shove. McCluskey made it clear he'd been cheated but Redman was having none of that and walked off in a huff. Perhaps a match or two with Redman are heading Jake 'Reliability' McCluskey's way.

The third match of the night saw Big Damo beat New Japan's Tomohiro Ishii, a far bigger surprise than the opener had been. 'The Stone Pitbull' spent the opening stretch getting worked over by Damo, something I thought (wrongly, as it turned out) was designed to set him up for a comeback leading to a victory. It's not that the comebacks didn't come, they did, it's just that they weren't enough to put Damo away. Damo survived a dead lift German suplex, a superplex and numerous lariats, among other things, before slumping a worn Ishii in the corner and leaping off a corner to hit a Van Terminator-style drop kick. He followed up with a running senton to get what has to be the biggest win of his career.

The traditional announcement of the next major show followed that. This year's Uprising will take place on October 2 (a Friday) and will be a co-promotion with New Japan. The first match announced is Jushin Liger and Hiroshi Tanahashi against Gedo and Kazuchika Okada. I'm doubtful about Uprising being a full scale co-promotion but that match (and one that will be mentioned below) is very welcome. The more New Japan talent on RPW events, the better.

Speaking of which, the pre-intermission spot was taken by Shinsuke Nakamura versus Roderick Strong (substituting for Ricochet). Not for the first time I found myself questioning the placement of a New Japan performer on an RPW card. Along with Styles Nakamura was one of the two biggest names on the show. The bigger of the two would probably vary depending on who you asked. Judging by the number of shirts and the queue for his autograph at intermission I think Nak was a bigger draw for this crowd. This match would probably have been better received as the opener of the second half. But complaining about Rev Pro running orders is always going to be an act in futility.

Shinsuke Nakamura versus Roderick Strong.
Placing aside Nakamura versus Strong was excellent. The first five minutes saw Strong berated for wearing "Shitty, shitty, shitty little boots!", a chant carried over from his recent appearance for the other London-based wrestling group, Progress Wrestling. This included him storming up the entrance ramp and having Quildan tell the crowd that if the subject of his boots wasn't dropped he'd leave. Naturally that didn't work. Roddy would get in and out of the ring a few more times, at one point teasing that he'd take his boots off, before finally starting the match. Nakamura, for his part, seemed to find Roddy's shenanigans amusing. At point while Strong was bickering with a member of the group 'The King of Strong Style' walked into the centre of the ring and bowed, effortlessly making himself the centre of attention and popping the audience.

I thought this match was great and the best effort all night. While I enjoy Ricochet's work I don't think he was as natural opponent for Nakamura as Strong. This was a far better blending of styles than the striker versus flyer effort we would have had with 'ochet. Nakamura survived a handful of backbreakers, the Stronghold and the Sick kick before he polished Roddy off with two Boma Yes. This match alone is worth buying the event for.

After the match Nakamura was confronted by Big Damo, something which immediately examined Ishii's loss earlier in the evening. Damo told Nakamura that he wanted to knock his teeth down his throat. Nak responded with his weird face-on-belly taunt then took a microphone and agreed to a match, ending with a resounding "YeaaOh!" He then brushed past the big lad and sauntered to the back. Quildan confirmed the match for Uprising (funny how quickly he got that signed with New Japan, isn't it?) before throwing to a "brief" half hour intermission.

Will Ospreay, a proud RPW British cruiserweight champion.
Will Ospreay's two-out-of-three falls defence of the British cruiserweight championship against Matt Sydal opened up the second half. It took a while to pick up steam and once it did it was technically sound but something about the bulk of it didn't grab me. The root of the issue was probably my disinterest in Sydal as a character, although he played a New Day-esque super-positive heel here once it became clear the fans were behind Ospreay. That was a welcome change of pace.

Sydal got the first fall when he reversed Ospreay's handspring elbow attempt into a reverse hurricanrana and then leapt to the top rope for a Shooting Star press. Ospreay evened things up after he rolled through Sydal's pin off a Final Cut after a brisk sequence of high-flying counters and reversals. He took the false finish-stuffed third and deciding fall with a springboard cutter and a version of the Phoenix splash.

The third fall did draw me in. It provided more evidence that WWE missed out by not pushing Sydal and highlighted that Ospreay is one of the brightest talents in British wrestling. He'll definitely be one of the next guys to get a gig in Japan or on the US indies. The pair shared a handshake after the match, just to make it clear Sydal really is the super-cool guy he's gimmicked to be.

The semi-main event spot was given over to the comedy styling a of Colt Cabana. He was there to settle his feud with Gideon Grey and Rishi Ghosh. This had started when Gideon had made the (absurd) claim that Colt Cabana and Matt Classic were the same person. Cabana had agreed to a tag match with Grey and Ghosh to prove that this wasn't true. And prove it he did. After a bit of teasing Classic and Cabana appeared in the same place at the same time for the first time ever. Classic was met with chants for Grado, CM Punk and Super Dragon. The truth of his identity remains a mystery.

A woefully poor shot of Rishi Ghosh and Gideon Grey.
The match that followed was very much a Butlin's style comedy affair (not a bad thing). It's exactly what you want from a guy like Cabana and exactly the sort of thing the Grey and Ghosh characters are designed for (for the record they are an English lord and an Arabic prince respectively... Wrestling!). It's also worth pointing out that I was at the show with someone who's not a wrestling fan (Bea, she's great) and this was one of her favourite matches of the night. This type of comedy match was one of the things I was thinking of when I wrote about Alex Shane's approach offering something for everyone at the start of this review. I think it was the ridiculous characters and silliness of the action that Bea appreciated. Cabana got the win by making Grey tap out to the Billy Goat's Cutse while Classic held Ghosh in a sleeper.

The main event was Marty Scurll (the star of ITV's Take Me Out (no, I'll never get bored of this)) versus AJ Styles for Scurll's British heavyweight championship. They had a great main event style match that drew me in despite my lack of interest in Styles. I'm award I wrote this about Sydal too. Maybe I just have something against Christian wrestlers? Scurll put in a typically slick performance that showed why he's one of the most frequently booked men in British wrestling and why he'd had RPW's top prize for well over a year.

'The Phenomenal One' won the title following a Styles Clash. At first this was a surprise but thinking about it it shouldn't have been. With the title having been on Scurll since March 2014 it was time for a change and this allows RPW to present AJ Styles, a major name, as their champion come the New Japan co-promoted Uprising in October, which will make them look a bigger deal. Plus, there was no way Styles was going to lose clean to Scurll so switching the title allowed the sidestepping of a dissatisfying DQ finish.

This was the second best RPW show I've been to. There were two top notch matches in Nakamura v Strong and Styles v Scurll, enjoyable efforts from Bodom v End and Damo v Ishii, and a fun comedy match. It wasn't going to get any better. The best RPW remains Uprising 2013 for its stacked card and the opportunity it gave me to heckle Davey 'Nippy Weasel' Richards but I wouldn't be surprised if this year's show, boasting Nakamura, Tanahashi, Okada, Gedo and Styles, takes its crown. I look forward to finding out.


Results summary:
Josh Bodom defeated Tommy End
James Castle and Sha Samuels defeated Jake McCluskey and Joel Redman to win the RPW tag team championship
Big Damo defeated Tomohiro Ishii
Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Roderick Strong
Will Ospreay defeated Matt Sydal two falls to one to retain the RPW cruiserweight championship
Colt Cabana and Matt Classic defeated Gideon Grey and Rishi Ghosh
AJ Styles defeated Marty Scurll to win the RPW British heavyweight championship