More Fun Than A Wheelbarrow Full Of Dissin’ Divas – NXT 9/28/10

This week on the greatest train wreck in sports entertainment….

Wheelbarrow Challenge

Each Rookie competed in a wheelbarrow race where they took turns pushing a wheelbarrow around the ring. In said wheelbarrow was Hornswoggle. Key moments: Maxine set the bar early and played the heel role very well especially after Hornswoggle bit her butt, Kaitlyn tried to get in the wheelbarrow with Hornswoggle then won with a time of 12 seconds and AJ looked adorable pushing a wheelbarrow that weighed more than she did knowing she had no chance to win this. Most impressive moment was post-challenge when Hornswoggle lifted Kaitlyn on his shoulder in celebration.

Diss The Diva Challenge

Each Diva was given the mic (and apparently as much time as they wanted which none utilized) to diss their fellow Rookies. I found it slightly ironic that during the Talk The Talk Challenge they regularly went off topic to trash their competition and this week they didn’t want to. AJ ultimately won as she was the best on the mic despite not really dissing anyone.

And that’s it. No matches this week. AJ and Kaitlyn got video interviews this week and Kaitlyn ended the night challenging her Pro Vickie Guerrero to a match next week. Matt Striker was breaking up the cat fight as the show closed. Next week is the first elimination and it seems to be airing before Smackdown on Friday but you can watch it at WWE.com (its new permanant home) live on Tuesday (day the votes are tallied).

Afterthoughts after the jump…

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Fourtune: Tarnishing the legacy

On June 17, Ric Flair gave a nearly incoherent rant about rebuilding his legendary stable the Four Horsemen, but would instead be calling it “Fourtune” (most likely because the WWE owns the trademark to the Four Horsemen name). His normal goon squad of A.J. Styles, Kazarian, James Storm, Robert Roode and Desmond Wolfe all seemed to be likely candidates, as they had been aligned with Flair for months.  Flair assured them that their spots were not guaranteed, and threw Wolfe out of the group in the first week.  The other four?  They all made it in without having to really try.

Back in WCW, the Four Horsemen was something Ric Flair was linked to throughout much of his lengthy tenure – and for good reason.  When Flair was the golden child of the franchise, the Horsemen were the perfect stable for him.  The blonde-haired, shimmering robe wearing pretty boy surrounded by an army of goons in Arn and Ole Anderson and Tully Blanchard.  Flair could say anything he wanted and the others would decimate any that challenged him.

As the original Horsemen faded away, the roster went through shifts with some questionable additions here and there (Paul Roma, anyone?), but it remained a highly touted name in the company.  It was a pretty big deal when the stable became yet another sacrifice to push the nWo (in the memorable addition of, then betrayal by Curt Hennig).  In 1998, when Ric Flair returned from a forced hiatus to reform the Horsemen (again to combat the nWo), it was a huge deal.  The reformation happened over the course of several weeks as Dean Malenko went to each former Horseman and convinced them to reunite.  The entire time, fan excitement built until the night where Arn Anderson reintroduced the members of the stable – Chris Benoit, Steve McMichael and newly inducted Dean Malenko – all clad in tuxedos, then welcomed Flair back to the company.  The atmosphere was electric, and the stable did quite well for itself – especially the tag team of Benoit and Malenko.

No fan would dispute the matter – the Four Horsemen were wrestling’s elite.  Even Mongo McMichael had an air of dignity to him when he was involved with the others.

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Racing to Hell (in a Cell): Raw 9/27/10

This is the problem you get when you try to do a pay-per-view after only 2 weeks of shows.  Either everything seems pretty random, or just continue the storylines that have been going on for some time.  Here, we get mostly old stuff, with one random thing thrown in.  So, here’s a recap of the nights events separated out by storyline.

Daniel Bryan vs. The Miz
The Miz said that the GM put him and Alex Riley in a tag match against Daniel Bryan and a partner, but Miz doubted he could find a partner, since he has no friends.  To the surprise of The Miz, out walks John Morrison.  After a decent match, Miz and Riley get the win.  Of course, Miz attacks Bryan, but Morrison pulls Miz off, and they battle on the outside.  Bryan gets up, is pissed off, and does a suicide dive to the outside, hitting both of them.  Bryan is attacking Miz when Morrison pulls him off, wondering why he hit him.  Bryan then attacks Morrison.  The four of them, also Riley, brawl until the GM comes on and says that there will be a Triple Threat Falls Count Anywhere Submission match between Morrison, Bryan, and Miz.

Edge vs. The GM
Using a comically high-pitched computer voice, Edge “interviewed” the GM.  By interview, I mean he talked with the computer.  I thought it was funny, but I can see how others would find it stupid.  Long story short, Edge wonders how far Raw has fallen to go from Austin stunning McMahon to now him interviewing a computer.  Edge tries to just leave, but the GM puts him in a match with Cena.  Edge initially thought he had beaten Cena, but the GM had the match restarted because Cena’s foot was under bottom rope.  So, Cena comes back and beats Edge.  Edge looses it and destroys the computer.

Nexus vs. John Cena
Nothing really happened in this feud.  I’ve already told what Cena did on Raw.  For Nexus, Justin Gabriel and Heath Slater beat Evan Borne and Mark Henry in a tag match.  After the match, Nexus said they’d be invading Smackdown on Friday.  Later in the show, Cena said that he might as well visit Smackdown as well.  An awfully convenient time to visit Smackdown, it being the first episode, and a live episode on SyFy.

Randy Orton vs. Sheamus; Chris Jericho vs. life
These are getting combined because Jericho faced Orton last night.  But first, Sheamus challenged any superstar backstage.  The Great Khali came out.  Khali won by DQ after Sheamus attacked Khali with everything he could grab around the announcers’ table.  In the main event, Jericho fought Orton with the stipulation that if Jericho won, he’d get a title match.  The match ended in no contest after Sheamus came out and attacked Orton.  As Orton is about to punt Sheamus, Jericho is able to hit him with the Codebreaker.  Jericho then went to get a chair, but missed hitting Orton and got an RKO.  Orton then punted Jericho in the head.  Jericho had to be taken away by stretcher.

Other Tidbits

  • Cody Rhodes & Drew McIntyre def. The Hart Dynasty in a title match.
  • Natalya won a Divas battle royal to become the #1 contender.  Team Lay-Cool were frightened by her.
  • Maryse’s stalker gave her a note that said he would have her next week.

Raising the Dead: Smackdown 9/24/10

Coming off of his shocking loss to Kane at Night of Champions, Undertaker needed a shot in the arm.  Something that could get him going again and give him the necessary power to fight back against his brother and reclaim the World Heavyweight Championship.  What he found was an obvious answer, drawing back to the earlier days of Taker’s career.  He brought back Paul Bearer and the urn.

You may recall that back in 2004, Undertaker returned to his “dead man” gimmick complete with Bearer and his dependency on the urn (allegedly containing the ashes of his dead parents).  During a feud with Paul Heyman and the Dudley Boyz, Bearer was kidnapped.  At the Great American Bash, Undertaker defeated the Dudleys to prevent Bearer from being buried alive in a plastic cage filled with cement.  Though victorious, Undertaker decided to pull the lever himself as a means to break his dependency on Bearer and the urn.  We haven’t seen him since…until Friday.

At the close of the show, Kane returned to the ring (having defeated Chris Masters earlier in the night) and taunted Undertaker about their match at Hell in a Cell.  Suddenly the lights went out and the Undertaker’s druids entered the arena, bringing a casket to ringside.  Kane, believing it to be his brother admitting defeat, opened the casket only to find Paul Bearer lying silently within.  As the shock registered, Bearer awoke and looked at Kane before the lights went out.  When they came back on, both Bearer and the Undertaker were in the ring and Taker finally managed to dominate his brother for the first time since his return.  Kane fled the ring in a panic as Undertaker and Paul Bearer stood within. 

Rest of the show after the jump.

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More of the same: TNA Impact 9/23/10

The way this usually goes is I go over the main points of the show in some detail, then put the rest of the show in bullet points.  For this week’s Impact, that’s a bit difficult, since there really was no main focus of the show.  Sure, the main feuds were there – the TNA World Title contenders of Kurt Angle, Mr. Anderson and Jeff Hardy were there, but nothing happened.  Mr. Anderson came out for a bit of mic time about his Bound for Glory title opportunity which also brought out Kurt Angle, who proceeded to tell Anderson that in his 10 years in wrestling, he’s done everything he’s set out to do.  Mr. Anderson then praised Angle and raised his arm, and that was it.  Definitely builds my interest in their match, huh?  Anderson did get a good line saying “Kurt Angle, for the last time.”  That was pretty funny – but it would have been better had it been the show before the PPV rather than with two more episodes to go.

Jeff Hardy took a week off from worrying about his match so he could be inserted into the Rob Van Dam return storyline.  You may recall that back in August, RVD was taken out by Abyss’s nail bat and was subsequently stripped of the TNA title.  As promised last week, he returned to confront Abyss, hardly able to walk and covered in bandages.  Fortunately, though, his doctor has precognative abilities and has already cleared him to wrestle at Bound for Glory despite, you know, him still having puncture wounds that make it hard for him to walk.  Abyss, after getting DQ’d in a match against Rob Terry (for slamming him with the guard rail), actually backed off from RVD (who could barely walk).

That brought us to the end of the show in which Abyss attacked Hardy backstage and dragged him to the ring.  RVD answered the call and came to the ring, but unfortunately for me, TNA decided to run over into Reaction again and I don’t have that recorded, so that’s where I stopped watching. 

(EDIT: From Parts Unknown has informed me that the show ended with Ink, Inc. coming out to make the save by dropkicking Abyss out of the ring.  That’s right – Jesse Neal and Shannon Moore.)

The rest of the show after the jump.

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The curious case of Matt Hardy

The so-called “smart marks” of wrestling fandom have grown to be a bitter lot.  When something out of the ordinary takes place – such as Daniel Bryan’s release after the initial Nexus assault – the same phrase always pops up: “Work or shoot?”  The question is asking whether the occurence is thrown out as part of the storyline, or a work, all a part of the game.  A “shoot” refers to something happening in “real life” – such was the case with Bryan’s release.

Matt Hardy is not a stranger to this type of scenario.  Back in 2005, while off the road with injury, Hardy made a spectacle of himself by going nuts on the internet over the affair between his friend (and married man) Edge and his longtime girlfriend Lita.  The incident forced the WWE to drastically change Lita’s gimmick (as the fans were merciless towards her) and because he had made such an ass out of himself in the process, the WWE ultimately released Hardy from his contract.  He embraced his internet fans, dubbing himself the ‘Angelic Diablo’ and making rants quite regularly.

While originally real, the thing became a part of the storyline when the WWE decided that is was more beneficial to allow it to play out on WWE television, and Matt Hardy was rehired.  Hardy kept doing what he was doing and eventually popped back up on Raw to attack Edge.  Some fans who supported Matt felt betrayed that he had gone back to the place that had wronged him, and he was unceremoniously booed at his lone Ring of Honor booking he took to keep the secret going.

So when, in 2010, Hardy’s once again in the center of an internet-based controversy, the fans (at least the ones of the 1/8th Nelson) are far more skeptical to buy into it until something actually happens.

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Don’t do this: The Sting/Hogan Debacle

It may be hard to believe now, but there was a time when WCW was the dominant brand of wrestling, and for good reason.  Their 1996 launch of the New World Order changed the playing field forever and, for a time, launched WCW above its rival WWF.  This storyline was arguably the most successful run of any wrestling story with the possible exception of Austin vs. McMahon.

But when it got time to close it out, it revealed the failures that would eventually unravel WCW.  And it all started with the ‘Grandaddy of ‘Em All’ and a whole lot of excellent buildup.

WCW Starrcade – December 28, 1997

When the nWo formed in July of 1996, they had one goal in mind – take over WCW and destroy what had been made.  Their process was as brutal as it was efficient.  The rank and file of WCW stood no chance (highlighted by Kevin Nash lawn darting Rey Mysterio into the production truck), but the main event stars would be more trouble.  To accomplish this, the nWo created a clever scheme to break up the alliance of WCW.

A fake Sting (who looked surprisingly like the real Sting) appeared to join the nWo, much to the chagrin of Sting’s BFF Lex Luger.  This was a huge problem as Sting had been scheduled to be a member of Team WCW at the 1996 Fall Brawl’s signature War Games match.  Sting assured Luger that it wasn’t actually him, but neither Luger nor his unlikely teammates Ric Flair and Arn Anderson believed him.  To them, it looked like Sting would be on Team nWo.  When the match itself took place, the fake Sting did show up, but so did the real deal, who proved his allegiance by attacking the nWo.  Unfortunately for WCW, Sting felt betrayed by both his friends and his fans and simply walked out of the match, effectively handing the victory to the nWo.  The next night, Sting spoke to the fans and announced he was leaving.

Fast forward to March’s Uncensored PPV in which Team nWo defeated Team Piper and Team WCW in a 12-man elimination match.  Lex Luger had put up a decent fight, but eventually succumbed to spray paint to the eyes.  Just as the nWo began their beat down, suddenly a shadowy figure descended from the rafters.  Sting had returned, but he was quite different from the one who had left six months before.  Gone were the bright colors of yesterday, replaced by an homage to the Crow face paint scheme and an almost skeletal looking scorpion on his black outfit.  Wielding a black baseball bat, he made quick work of the nWo, but when Luger embraced him, Sting remained cold.

For the next months, Sting remained in the rafters above the ring, watching the nWo’s activities and aiding WCW’s fight against the invading force.  Finally, when planning for WCW’s biggest show of the year, Starrcade, the match was made to have Sting challenge for Hollywood Hogan’s WCW Championship.  This was a huge deal, since Sting had not spoken nor wrestled since he abandoned WCW back at Fall Brawl.  The fans were hungry for the Sting/Hogan match that could finally defeat the nWo and launch a new age of WCW.  And WCW, to their credit, held out on giving the match until the perfect moment.  Such patience was not one of their virtues.

So I have just described one of the best angles in the history of professional wrestling.  Why is this in the Don’t Do This category?  Well, that would come at the event itself – a mix of panic, backstage politics, and just an uncertainty of what comes next.  Follow past the jump as we learn how what could have been WCW’s best moment became it’s point of decline.

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