If you know of any indie wrestling webshows that might be worth featuring in this space, please let me know. I’m all for indies, but, right now, the WWE is the only promotion I know of with a major web presence, in that they have full shows, with full matches, available on YouTube. I wish their developmental league, FCW, did the same, but alas, their TV show is uploaded to YouTube illegally and infrequently, meaning I’ll only be able to cover it here and there, and will probably never have a handle on their ongoing storylines. Bound For Glory coverage is below, but first, you must suffer the wrath of NXT: Redemption and Heath Slater.
WWE NXT: Redemption (10/12/11) (Watch it on YouTube)
Derrik Bateman and Maxine: I wasn’t much for Maxine or any of the Diva hopefuls on NXT season three, but this pairing, “born out of spite,” is pretty good, Maxine’s somewhat wooden delivery of lines be damned. Bateman’s just the right amount of cocky, knows how to respond to a hostile/uncaring crowd, and works cheap heat into his promos in interesting ways. The two actually make out on occasion, as well. Not that I watch wrestling for the liplocks, but usually when a man and a woman are dating on WWE programming, you only know it because the woman stands at ringside and looks bored as her man wrestles. It’s a somewhat refreshing change of pace.
Percy Watson and Titus O’Neil Call Maxine and Bateman the Ugliest Couple in WWE History: Meaning I get to post Harvey Whippleman’s touching ode to Bertha Faye.
AJ vs. Maxine: Probably the best diva’s match on WWE or TNA this week. Not much competition, but hey, it was pretty good. I wish they’d go ahead and give both women a last name by now, though.
The Usos vs. C. Reks (Curt Hawkins & Tyler Reks): If the WWE is serious about bringing back tag team wrestling, matches like this are a good building block. Last week’s match and this one between these two teams was quite polished, and both teams look ready for a program against a team like Air Boom or Swaggler, depending on who gets the titles at Vengeance. Until one of them steps up to the main roster, I’ll take matches like this on my internets every week, if you don’t mind.
William Regal: “I’ve spent a fortune on gambling, partying, and naughty women. The rest I’ve just spent foolishly.”
Percy Watson vs. Derrik Bateman: I’ll take matches like this every week, too. Can’t say I love Watson’s moveset, but he looks good in the ring. Bateman’s also worth watching. They’ll inject some much needed life into Raw or SmackDown! (or, more likely, Superstars) whenever NXT: Redemption finally comes to an end.
Questionable Decision of the Week: Letting Percy Watson and Titus O’Neil talk without a script. Or if they were scripted, not firing the dude who wrote it. Between Watson’s frequent Kool-Aid Man interjections and O’Neil’s genuine awkwardness, I spend most of my time annoyed with the two of them.
WWE Superstars (10/13/11) (Watch it on YouTube)
Drew McIntyre: I’ve had a soft spot for Drew since I went to a house show earlier this year. His circumstance is fairly unfortunate, as, after an early-career push as Vince McMahon’s “chosen one,” he seems to have stalled out completely. With a slight change of gimmick, he’d probably do what Cody Rhodes and R-Truth before him have done and rise up the WWE ranks. What doesn’t need to change is his offense. I think I’ve heard every announcer in the history of wrestling say that a guy “uses the ring as a weapon.” McIntyre is the first who the phrase actually applies to. In his match against Alex Riley, he steps back from a flying Riley and shoves his face into the ring apron. I’ve also seen him squash legs between the rings steps and turnbuckle post, and yank the shoulder through the metal girder that makes up the outer perimeter of the ring. I appreciate unique touches like that.
Ezekiel Jackson’s New Gear: Looking less and less like Ahmed Johnson all the time, bro.
Ridiculous Claims of Manliness on the Behalf of Heath Slater: This week, we learn that Heath Slater likes to go to bars, put on Skynard, and challenge people to fights. I’d like to live in a world where this was true, because I’d be living in a world where Heath Slater’s face is turned into ground beef on a nightly basis. Alas, I’m merely meant to believe that Heath is some sort of tough guy. I refuse to believe any such claims. It’s either funnier/disrespectful depending on what you make of the assault charges filed against Slater earlier this year.
TNA Bound For Glory (10/16/11)
Kendrick vs. Austin Aries: Just a good opening match between two guys who are very good at what they do. Cool spots aren’t quite enough to get me behind a wrestling match, but Kendrick and Aries are two guys who can string together a solid wrestling match, and they set the tone for a card that was full of blood and violence by going move for move, counter for counter. It didn’t quite steal the show, but it made me glad that Aries went back on the talk that he was retiring from wrestling. He’s great, and I wish more wrestlers were like him.
Rob Van Dam vs. Jerry Lynn: I’d like to say I was shocked by how not terrible this match was, but their encounter at Destination X was better than expected, and this bout, which added a poorly-named No Disqualification stipulation (if your announcers can’t explain what “Full Metal Mayhem” is, then don’t book the match with that title), was no different. In fact, it was probably a little closer to the ECW matches that finally made Lynn a name after a career’s worth of solid work, and if this is his televised swan song, living up to the encounters that brought you to the dance is a good way to go out. Of course, if he sticks around, I wouldn’t be opposed. Lynn’s a solid hand, and, as long as the crowd doesn’t get on his case about looking like Randy the Ram, his presence in TNA’s X-Division would be welcome.
Samoa Joe vs. Matt Morgan vs. Crimson: This match was way better than I expected it to be, thanks in large part to Samoa Joe finding another gear and wrestling like his higly-motivated former self, circa 2007. I hardly ever expect logic from TNA three ways, but this one had it, never failed to entertain, and was well paced. I would have loved a Samoa Joe win, but you can’t always get what you want.
Bully Ray Piledrives Mr. Anderson on Concrete: That spot is in my blood. It calls to me. When Bully Ray actually hit Anderson with it in the back, my heart did a backflip. It’s a shame the piledriver hasn’t gone back to being a match-ending spot (the move used to be instant death), but I’ll take any televised piledriver in 2011.
AJ Styles vs. Christopher Daniels: I’m not a big fan of either guy, and I wasn’t quite sure about putting two high-flying guys into an I Quit match, but the match delivered on it’s premise for the most part and justified its goofy ending by having Daniels bumrush Styles at the conclusion. Towards the end of the match, Daniels was choking out Styles with a chair when he grabbed the microphone and threatened to literally kill Styles, which is something I don’t recall happening too much in a wrestling match. Obviously this meant that Styles was going to win, but it was a great, Terry Funk-lite moment that led to the ending, which was less great, but with a flash of Mick Foley’s I Quit match, minus the specter of Milena. The heel, when faced with a face carrying a screwdriver aimed for the eyes, should probably do two things: Lose the eye (like Funk would) or quit out of cowardice, like Foley. Either route was fine, and it’s good that the course wasn’t diverted.
Jeff Jarrett’s Stupid Skull Shirt Gets Ripped Apart: I stopped caring about Jeff Jarrett in 1999, and Jeff Hardy around the first break-up of the Hardy Boyz, and my not caring about either has kind of paid off as Jarrett’s largely been a non-factor in wrestling beyond an OK feud with Booker T and some decent stuff in TNA, and Hardy has pretty much been the world’s biggest flake. The only think I appreciated about the Hardy/Jarrett argument/brawl from Bound For Glory (which is presumably why the tag title match was pushed off the card) is that Jeff Jarrett’s stupid skull shirt got shredded. I hate skull shirts. I hate them even more when dudes over 40 wear them in public. Rip that shirt, Jeff Hardy. Kill it good.
D’Lo Brown: My inner-child wanted to know why he wasn’t still wearing a chest protector.
Sting Finally Gets a Cleanish Win Over Hulk Hogan: Too bad it was still marred by awful storylines, copious interference, and, oh yeah, the fact that Hulk Hogan, after a back surgery, can’t actually wrestle. Also, too bad it wasn’t in 1997. I was expecting him to hit the leg drop and dissolve into a puddle of goo. Instead, he bled buckets and awkwardly turned face. MORE ON THAT LATER.
Bobby Roode vs. Kurt Angle: It was just OK, a lesser version of any number of Chris Benoit/Kurt Angle matches, which I was never really that big a fan of, to be honest, and was certainly lacking Benoit’s intensity. I would have been fine with that had Roode won, but he didn’t. MORE ON THAT LATER, TOO.
Questionable Decision of the Week I: Karren Jarrett as the special referee of the Knockouts Title match. TNA’s women’s division can usually be counted on for a solid match, every time out, but not with a special referee who is obviously only going to pull for one of the four people involved in the match, who obviously doesn’t know much about refereeing, and who obviously doesn’t have much business in a wrestling ring. I don’t know if I’m supposed to see the irony in a former-stripper ragging on the women’s division for looking like strippers, but it added too much unnecessary b.s. to a match that should have been about one woman’s quest to win her first title. Instead, we get a screwy finish and a ton of impending drama that’s going to be hard to care about. This match, by the way, is where the PPV nearly lost all its momentum.
Questionable Decision of the Week II: Hulk Hogan turning face. The crowd ate it up, but seriously, it’s 2011: Stop devoting valuable television time to the architects of the nWo. They’re never going to be responsible for something that big again, and I can’t say that I’m looking forward to the any number of eventual Hulk Hogan matches, especially because one of them will probably be against Ric Flair, who is another guy who should probably be legally prohibited from stepping foot into a building with a wrestling ring.The live crowd ate up Hogan turning face because Sting asked him too, but, beyond it bearing a resemblance to Return of the Jedi, it ate up a lot of time that could have been devoted to, I dunno, wrestling.
Questionable Decision of the Week III: Kurt Angle retains the World Title. Way to create a new star, guys. I don’t care if Roode has a case for a rematch; if you build a show around this being a career-defining, page-turning moment in the history of your company and, on the biggest show on your calendar, fail to follow through on that promise, what was the point of making that promise in the first place?
Random YouTube Video of the Week