GUEST POST: King of Trios – A journey into the heart of hilarious high-flying wrestling

Sidekick Andrew: As we may have mentioned in passing briefly (here, here, here, and here for example) it was CHIKARA’s annual King of Trios tournament this past weekend. Now, being based on the slightly more civilised side of the Atlantic, it wasn’t possible for us to attend personally; but we did manage to secure the services of a special reporter for the weekend. Matt Jones (follow him on twitter, like him on Facebook and buy his t-shirt… something like that.) Enjoy the article: feel free to comment and be nice, or there’ll be trouble. Oh, and don’t forget to click the link at the bottom of the article and buy the DVDs – I’ve a feeling you won’t regret it

PS. Images are Matt’s own, unless otherwise stated

Riding in a cab through dingy South Philadelphia, it looks like somewhere to go if you had a deep-seeded desire to get mugged. For someone who hasn’t been to a major city in a while it looks like something out of a Batman comic.

But in this odd location a throng of very friendly strangers line up outside the reformatted bingo hall that was the ECW arena (now called the Asylum Arena). Walking in, the place is almost unrecognizable if you’ve only seen the dingy 1990’s videos of Tommy Dreamer or the Dudley Boys throwing each other off balconies, or of Chris Benoit breaking Sabu’s neck. Actually, given the claustrophobic camera work usually employed, the Arena is bigger than I expected.

Nonetheless, once the passionate fans of a promotion like Chikara file in, the atmosphere becomes absolutely electric. And make no mistake, Chikara’s fans are extremely passionate, and this is their biggest event of the year. To fudge a Hunter S. Thompson quote – In some circles, King of Trios is a far better thing than the Superbowl, the Kentucky Derby, and the lower Oakland roller derby finals all rolled into one.

The show opens with the lights going low and Chikara’s roster coming out around the ring- a tribute to the recently deceased “Sweet n Sour” Larry Sweeney. Some wrestlers like Mike Quackenbush and Eddie Kingston weep openly as the bell tolls ten times. Then the lights go out and a Sweeney video package plays on the big screen. When the lights come back on, a pair of Sweeney’s trademark sunglasses are in the ring, and the fans chant his name. A bittersweet beginning, to be sure, but absolutely necessary. Sweeney touched the hearts of fans and wrestlers alike in his time.

The mood picks up immediately as we’re thrust into the bizarre world of Chikara, where anthropomorphic ants have kickass wrestling matches with old timey baseball players and marching band leaders.

The contest between Team Osaka Pro (Atsushi Kotoge, Daisuke Harada and Ultimate Spider Jr.) and The Throwbacks (Dasher Hatfield, Sugar Dunkerton and Matt Classic) is almost strictly comedy. Kotoge and Dunkerton have a race which ends with the referee ordering free throws for Osaka Pro on an improvised hoop made of Dunkerton’s arms (Kotoge sinks his first, but misses the second). Classic, a send-up of old school wrestlers, admonishes his teammates for their comedy, insists they join him in Hindu squats and spends much of the match performing the Harvard step test à la Bob Backlund. Not to be outdone, Ultimate Spider Jr. gets into the act, using invisible spider webs to perform Irish whips on Dunkerton and Hatfield. Maybe not the most coherent wrestling match ever, but certainly one of the most entertaining spectacles I’ve ever seen.

On the other hand, the match featuring Mike Quackenbush, Jigsaw and Manami Toyota taking on The Maximos and TNA’s Amazing Red is almost all action. It’s a little odd seeing a female wrestler like Toyota battling men if you’re not used to it, but she fits right in and performs as well as, or better than, any of her male counterparts. After ten minutes of fast paced wrestling, Jigsaw scores an emotional win for his team with Larry Sweeney’s “12 Large” elbow drop.

The main event of the evening brings it all together in match featuring, unquestionably, the most mainstream performers of the weekend. Team Michinoku Pro is comprised of legends in the industry, particularly in their native Japan- The Great Sasuke, Jinsei Shinzaki and Dick Togo. Their opponents are Team Minnesota- Chikara regulars “The Anarchist” Arik Cannon, North Star Express member Darin Corbin and, in some ways the oddest name in the event, Sean Waltman, better known as X-Pac and performing for the first time since 1996 as the 1-2-3 Kid.

The knowledgeable Chikara fans give every participant a great deal of respect (which visibly moves Kid, who is seen wiping away tears). The match features not only exciting high-flying wrestling and solid mat action, but also some great comedy. In what stands as one of the most surreal moments ever, The Great Sasuke and Corbin engage in perhaps the first ever bout of slow-motion hardcore wrestling.

Corbin is well known for breaking out slow-motion in his matches, but seeing a legend like The Great Sasuke partake defies description. The effects are not limited to Corbin and Sasuke, either. Referee Bryce Remsberg and all the wrestlers on the ring apron get in on the act (Togo’s exaggerated, slow-motion cheering is a highlight), as well as the fans who chant veeeeeeeeerrrrrrryyyyy sloooooooooooooowwwwwwlllllyyy. Soon, Sasuke sets up Corbin on a chair and ascends to the top rope. Upping the ante on the comedy, Corbin’s teammate Cannon suddenly shakes off the slow-motion and screams “Darin, stop screwing around!” to huge laughs from the crowd. Corbin complies, and Sasuke crashes through an empty chair.

Slo-mo wrestling is the best wrestling.

In the end, Togo performs a beautiful flying senton on Corbin and scores the win for his team. The fans give a standing ovation to the participants, chanting all of their names at various times. An amazing match to end a top-notch night of wrestling, but the weekend is just getting started.

Saturday afternoon sees the Fan Conclave, Chikara’s equivalent of WWE’s fan festival Axxess. It’s here where it becomes clear what King of Trios really is- the Woodstock of independent wrestling. Legends rub elbows with relative rookies in the industry and all are available to the fans for pictures and autographs. They are unfailingly friendly, and happily chat with fans in an incredibly positive atmosphere (the exception being F.I.S.T.’s Icarus, the most hated wrestler in Chikara, who wanders through the crowd insulting everyone he sees).

There are numerous heart warming scenes. As my girlfriend takes video of the Ant Colony roaming through the fans, Ophidian of the Osirian Portal limbos in front of her and drops to the ground. He begins reading a note written on nice stationary that I notice begins “Dear Ophidian.” He sits and reads for a few minutes before dropping all of his serpentine movements and wrapping a nearby girl, presumably the author of the note, in a big hug.

And even aside from the chance to meet your favourite ants, snakes and (Ultra)mantises, there’s a lot going on. There’s a chance to commentate on matches, a contest where fans and wrestlers attempt to bodyslam Tursas (and the Colony’s Green Ant begins his transformation into Lex Luger), a dance contest hosted by the Osirian Portal, and a concert by Stan Bush. Nobody enjoys it more than “Rock and Roll Ring Announcer” Gavin Loudspeaker, who dances and thrashes around when Bush plays “The Touch.”

A few hours later, the second night of action begins, which sees surprises, thrilling victories and bitter defeats.

One of the most engaging contests of the entire weekend is the first qualifier for the Rey De Voladores, which features El Generico, Zach Sabre Jr, Marshe Rockett of Da Soul Touchaz and the BDK’s Pinkie Sanchez (who sports both some of the funniest facial expressions I’ve ever seen and some incredibly gnarly back acne). The referee for the match is BDK’s Derek Sabato who’s biased officiating allows Sanchez to eliminate Sabre and Rockett. Sanchez has the victory in hand when Chikara’s Director of Fun, Wink Vavasseur enters the arena. Wink forces Sabato to wear a standard Chikara referee shirt, symbolically stating that the BDK will no longer have their own referee. The crowd bursts into the biggest cheers of the weekend, so far, when Generico then drills Sanchez with his BRAINBUSTAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!! (picture a top rope brainbuster, driving the opponent head-first into the top turnbuckle). Sabato begrudgingly counts a slow three, but he could count to 100 – Sanchez is out cold.

The BDK’s night doesn’t get any better as their team of Tim Donst, Jakob Hammermeir and Delirious, accompanied by Tursas, face off against the Colony. In a thrilling, come from behind victory, Green Ant completes his transformation into Lex Luger as he finally succeeds in bodyslamming Tursas (causing Gavin Loudspeaker to literally leap into the air with excitement) and forces Hammermeir to submit to a torture rack backbreaker.

Other notable contests include a heart-wrenching and hard hitting tribute bout to Sweeney by Eddie Kingston and Arik Cannon, a sensational main event where Team Michinoku Pro defeat Quackenbush, Toyota and Jigsaw, and the 1-2-3 Kid winning the other Rey de Voladores qualifier, setting up a match with Generico for the final day.

The crowd seems a little thicker on the final day, with more little kids. Or perhaps it’s simply that a new vendor is here selling a wide variety of wrestling masks, making them much more visible. In addition to the handful of youngsters with Fire Ant, Jigsaw and Osirian Portal masks from the first two days, there’s now a cadre of kiddies running around in brightly coloured Rey Mysterio masks. The cutest, though, is a father and son both in El Generico masks.

No time is wasted as the semi-final matches are held immediately. The match between fan favourites The Colony and The Osirian Portal conflicts the crowd. When the standard duelling chants of “LET’S GO PORTAL!/CO-LO-NY” begin, many fans are chanting both names. The Colony picks up the victory (via a spectacular top-rope neckbreaker) and advance to the finals.

The crowd is remarkably respectful and sympathetic. Handshakes before and after matches, clean breaks and stalemates are all met with cheers. The fans get into the show and cheer their favourites after losses as would little kids- they want to let them know its okay and that they still support them. Chikara is also likely the only place you’ll ever hear wrestling fans chant “SAY YOU’RE SORRY!” as they do during the Colt Cabana vs. Archibald Peck match. Hell, the fans even chant “Holy Poop!” instead of “Holy Shit!” because of the kids present.

The Colony’s opponents in the finals will be F.I.S.T., the 2009 winners, who manage to eke out a victory over Team Michinoku Pro. Chuck Taylor blinds Sasuke with baby powder and rolls him up for a pin (which one imagines was a real “mark-out” moment for Taylor). Icarus hate is at an all time high. One spirited fan in particular screams at Icarus to tap out every time he’s in a submission move, as well as when he’s performing a submission, or is just standing at ringside. He also earns several chants of “PLEASE RETIRE!”

The Rey De Voladores final is a hard hitting and exciting affair that has fans on their feet as Kid and Generico exchange deadly manoeuvres and nearfalls. After kicking out of a top rope version of Kid’s X-Factor, Generico hits the BRAINBUSTAAAAAAAHH!!!!! for the win, and the roof nearly blows off the arena. Kid is completely overwhelmed as fans chant his name. He takes to the microphone and pays tribute to Generico, Chikara itself and the fans. He notes some of the questionable things he’s done in his career, and the fans chant “WE FORGIVE YOU!” He announces that this will likely be his last year in wrestling, and that this may have even been his last match. If it was, he says, he couldn’t think of a better opponent or better fans to go out on. He’s given a long and loud standing ovation from the crowd, and then another from the wrestlers in the back that can be heard all through the arena.

For Sean Waltman, King of Trios meant redemption. After all, he doesn’t exactly have a great reputation among fans. It wasn’t long ago that he was so hated in wrestling that a term was invented to describe it (“X-Pac Heat” – when fans hate the performer, as opposed to the character, and don’t want to see him anymore; some fans say Icarus has the same sort of heat). He’s been seen as a talented performer who pissed it away with drugs and other poor decisions. He was that guy from the sex tape with Chyna, who politicked his way to the top of the industry with his Kliq buddies and never gave anything back- a selfish failure. Some fans were speculating, based on past behaviour, that he wouldn’t even show up for the event.

But at King of Trios a strange thing happened: the man became the Kid, and the kid became a man. Waltman busted his ass in three great matches. He put over his opponent in the ring and on the microphone. He paid tearful tribute to the fans and the company. And if that was Sean Waltman’s last wrestling match, he certainly went out with a lot of class.

That’s a hell of an accomplishment for someone who’s name has so often been used in the same sentence as “Chyna’s gigantic clitoris.” Well done, Kid.

Speaking of redemption, that’s what the King of Trios final is all about. After losing in the finals of the tournament last year, and then losing Green Ant to an arm injury, 2010 was a dismal year for the Colony. The crowd (other than a handful of 3rd row, die-hard F.I.S.T. loyalists) desperately want the Ants to win this one.

After all the comedy and Lex Luger parodies of the weekend, the main event is old school wrestling booking at its finest. F.I.S.T. ground the Ants early on, with Chuck Taylor bashing Green Ant’s arm with a chair during a fracas. That arm becomes the target and F.I.S.T. pound on it mercilessly. The Ants rally, however, and take advantage after Taylor’s baby powder to the face backfires and hit his teammate Johnny Gargano. The match goes back and forth many times, manipulating the crowd with multiple false finishes, bringing their excitement to a fever pitch. Finally, after twenty minutes of tremendous action, the Ants unleash unheard-of offense – a top rope version of their Antapault move. They launch Green Ant ludicrously high into the air for a splash on Icarus that wins them the match and the tournament.

The crowd explodes into cheers: justice has been done. But it’s about more than that. The fans have been feeling the wrestlers’ pain all weekend. As mentioned, they’ve offered sympathy to favourites like Team Quackenbush, The Spectral Envoy or Team Michinoku Pro after their in-ring losses. Moreover, they’ve offered their sympathy for real life losses, as in Kingston and Cannon’s tribute match. After all that, it’s not just the Colony (and Generico, for that matter) who deserve this victory- the fans do too.

After the show is over, there’s one thought that sticks out in my head- Monday Night Raw is going to suck in comparison to this. I’ve been to a show that was family friendly, yet engaging for fans of all ages. A show that saw long suffering heroes finally vindicated as they faced impossible odds. I saw one of wrestling’s pariahs redeem himself, and several legends put over the next generation as they wind down to retirement.

For fans like me, watching the WWE can be an angsty experience. We fret and we fuss over who deserves better, who’s holding the young generation down, who could help the whole company out if they would just be booked to show more weakness, etc etc. These concerns are miniscule, if they exist at all in Chikara. It’s a whole different animal. It’s ridiculous and fun and over the top, but very old school as well (not just Matt Classic either).

Wrestling fans, you owe it to yourselves to check out Chikara. There’s no better wrestling product for kids, but between the humour and the action they can appeal to anyone. Give them a chance. Maybe we’ll see you at King of Trios next year.

Sidekick Andrew: All three nights of King of Trios 2011 are available at www.smartmarkvideo.com – in just another example of awesomeness, the DVDs were released within 24 hours of Sunday’s final! We’ve ordered our here in the Bunker, we suggest you do the same.

raw(lite): bespoke suits and amateur tanning

The jury’s still out on the whole guest host thing. It’s a shrewd business move and I’m not necessarily against it, but it would have been nice to see a few more former wrestlers getting a night with the mic. Jobs for the boys and all that. For me, ZZ Top hosting was hideous. But I’m really not a fan of theirs so it felt kind of pointless.

Everyone loves Shaq. Even people like me who get turned off by the whole bad boy thuggery of the NBA and get sick of hearing about King James. So I was certainly looking forward to this one. He didn’t disappoint. In fact, Vince should keep him on the books and snap him up the minute he hangs his high-tops up for good.

Shaq was eager to get to work straight away and set up a 5-man Beat-the-Clock challenge up. Whichever fella beats their opponent the quickest becomes number one contender against Randy Orton at Summerslam. But, oh dear, looks like the be-suited genius that is Chris Jericho has a little beef with Shaq. If someone gets a poster made of Shaq kissing Jericho’s forehead, make me a copy at the same time? I’ll put it up in my office and look at it in moments of general malaise and aggravation. How they both kept from cracking thoughout that segment is beyond me. And the crowd’s spontaneous chanting of CHRIS-TI-NA (Shaq’s new moniker for Jericho) made my heart smile.

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Shaq flicked Jericho away with one finger, so Chris decided to introduce him to his new tag-partner. It would appear that just 24 hours in the company of Chris Jericho has rubbed off on Show. Ooooh, look at him in his stylish bespoke suit.

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Ok, so pretty much every piece of clothing Big Show owns is going to be bespoke. I doubt even High n Hefty or Lofty n Mighty or whatever those shops are called stock Big Show Size as standard. The verbal slanging match between Show and Shaq ping-ponged back and forth beautifully as Shaq challenged Show to a match. Show wriggled his way out of it with a wordy theory on why he would not accept the invitation. Oh and…………

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Shaq was determined to make the tag champs fight SOMEONE that night, so he put Cryme Tyme in front of them, leaving the champs to scuttle away up the ramp.

With that hilarity done and dusted it was time for some fisticuffs and the first man jostling for that number one contender spot was Mark Henry, up against Carlito. Bad luck, Carlito. You drew the short straw on that one. Carlito decided to implement the tactic of flying kicks and piggybacks in the hope that he could topple Henry and keep him down long enough for the pin. But just like a really huge Weeble, Mark Henry rolled back to his feet again and smooshed Carlito in to the canvas. You remember Weebles, right? Those freaky, egg shaped people that always swung back up no matter how much you knocked them down?

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Looks more like a chubby CM Punk weeble than Mark Henry, but you get the idea.

Mark Henry wrapped his hands around Carlito and finished him off in 6 minutes, 49 seconds.

Moving on and the brand new Diva’s Champion, Mickie James, brought Kelly-Kelly and Gail Kim along to take on Beth Phoenix, Rosa Mendes and Alicia Fox. This is exciting. No. REALLY! First off, Beth is back and without even a whiff of Santina. Second….err….off (?) a storyline involving Mickie and Beth is a female feud I think people will actually get behind.  Mickie has always held a special place in my heart. Her feud with Trish Stratus was brilliant. I’d love to see something that big again. Do it!

From one blast from the past to another, part two of the Beat the Clock Challenge involved M.V.P vs Chris Masters. Yep! Chris Masters! Back in the ring and clean as a whistle. I’m guessing.  Proof positive that the there is always a road back to WWE.  One thing though, if you’re gonna go down the spray tan route, you need to make sure you get it everywhere. That means lifting your arms when you stand in the tanning booth, Chris. Ask Randy to go with you next time.

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Both were out of the ring too long and were counted out. No M.V.P vs Randy Orton at Summerslam. Shocker!!!

Another break from Beat the Clock – The Brian Kendrick vs Kofi Kingston. Kendrick was giving Jerry Lawler some verbal heat when Kofi Kingston took him out with a kick in the face and ended the match.  A few days later Vince McMahon metaphorically punched Kendrick in the stomach and ended his contract.

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Back to business and it was time for Triple H to take Cody Rhodes on for his ten millionth shot at Randy. But wait, what’s this? Ted DiBiase ran out with some form of truncheon and gave Hunter a big whack on the back of the knee.

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Cody Rhodes did the most camp little run out to the ramp ever (watch it again, you’ll see what I mean) and Triple H limped out to the ring. In the words of my brother, “Triple H has got the best fake limp in the business.” But that’s probably because he’s had a lot of practice with real limps. I believe that’s called method acting.

The match trundled along nicely and I was super impressed when Triple H pulled off a dainty pilates move when he reversed Cody’s figure-4. The countdown was getting close and Triple H really needed to stop messing with his prey and finish the job. But Ted DiBiase reappeared and began doing a strange little leg dance which, with a bit more effort and a few additional spins and head flicks, he could totally have turned in to Jennifer Beals’ Maniac dance in Flashdance. If you’ve never seen it, watch. It is a thing of fitness beauty.

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Same leg movements as Jennifer. Trust me.

At first it seemed odd that DiBiase even got involved in the end of the match. There appeared to be no point to it. But all became clear when Triple H gave his Josh Matthews interview later on. More on that in a bit. Cody was pinned but after the time had expired. No dice for Hunter.

Time for some light relief, so we go to Shaq’s office where he is playing an epic game of scrabble with Santino.  I try not to smile at Santino, but I can’t help it. The Cryme Tyme boys rolled in, bumped fists with Shaq and generally loved all over each other, slipping in to Money, Money, Yeah, Yeah! But Santino felt left out so he threw a Cavs hat on at a jaunty angle, did some rapper-fingers and added his own lyrics. Careful, Tony. You don’t want that Canadian accent to slip through. The Italian’s not so easy to keep up while you’re hippin’ and hoppin’, eh?

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I won’t crush your enthusiasm by speaking about Hornswoggle and Chavo, so I’ll scoot over to the Jack Swagger/Evan Bourne Beat the Clock match. I’ve mentioned my brother a couple of times since being back from the USA, but that’s because he’s been watching wrestling with me again and it’s interesting to hear the views of someone who stopped watching wrestling because they couldn’t handle the silliness of it any more. He REALLY likes Jack Swagger and was impressed by Evan Bourne. Anyone who questions the pushing of all the new collegiate guys has got it wrong. If their hard work and new style can prick the interest of someone who abandoned wrestling can only be a good thing.

The match only lasted about three and a half minutes. Evan Bourne took the pin, so there’ll be no Swagger/Orton at Summerslam. That just leaves John Cena to beat Mark Henry’s time. Hmm. Wonder how that one will turn out?

Triple H was still fuming backstage about Ted sabotaging his match with Cody and vowed to take both of them out by himself next week.  By himself? Really? Seems like an awfully big task to set yourself. He could probably do with some help. From someone who’s refreshed by a long break, maybe? Someone to act as a tag partner? Has Hunter ever been in a tag team?

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By the way, Triple H mentioned ‘the tail that wags the dog’ in his JM interview. For a perfect explanation of this phrase, watch the Wag the Dog movie.  It’s brilliant. And it’s De Niro and Hoffman (pre-Meet the Fockers). How could you possibly lose?

The final Beat the Clock match was John Cena vs The Miz, with Randy Orton watching from the annouce table.  Not that I would ever dream of complaining, but why was Randy without trousers when he had no involvement in any matches that night?

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The Miz had already dissed various D.C. sporting teams and tried to run Cena’s clock down to force his exclusion from the BTC contest without getting hurt himself.  Didn’t work. John forced Miz to tap out with well over two minutes to spare. Randy joined John in the ring and I went all…..

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Remember several months ago when John and Randy (being BFFs and all) asked the writers if they could work together?  I wrote a post about it. John was even willing to go heel. Looks like they got their wish. And I, for one, am joyous beyond belief.

Final match of the night was Shaq’s special tag match between little and large and Cryme Tyme, with Shaq himself at ringside to keep an eye on proceedings.  All was moving along swimmingly until Show interfered with the pin on Jericho and the match had to be called off.  Shaq was furious. He whipped his shirt off and faced up to Show himself. Show had him in a chokehold, Cryme Tyme came to the rescue and Shaq rolled Show out of the ring. Jericho dashed around and started screeching at Shaq like a Jack Russell defending a Great Dane.

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Best. Raw. In. AGEEEEES. Congratulations, Shackwheel….. as Santino would say.

raw(lite): orgasmic borderlines and over dressing

[I wrote this recap last night, but I was so tired by the time I got done with the writing, I fell asleep before I could do all my lovely photoshopping. So just put your brain on rewind and pretend it's still Friday night.]

It’s Friday night, I put my pink bow PJ bottoms on at 8pm, flicked the mushrooms out of my Chinese food (because they are the work of Satan), had a semi-cold Carlsberg Export, felt sorry for myself  ’cause my jaw problems kept me from going to the gym, argued over the name of Eminem’s new single, opened another beer, failed at Guitar Hero, watched Eastenders and felt happy when Terry got sent to prison, started watching Gordon Ramsay humiliate pitiful chefs, remembered I need to recap the rest of Raw. So here I am. Don’t you just wish you had my rock & roll lifestyle? I can feel your jealousy burning through the monitor.

So, Thursday’s post pretty much told you what was bad about this week’s Raw. Tonight I will try to be a little more optimistic. I’m not gonna lie, the alcohol is helping. I am also alternating between re-watching Raw and listening to Fall Out Boy’s Folie a Deux album. Patrick Stump makes everything better.  Vince McMahon had just pushed his phoney Kroenke out of the ring and I was waiting for things to improve (’cause they couldn’t get much worse.) WROOONG! Here’s The Miz. He revealed a Cavs jersey, the crowd booed, and he declared himself 6-0 against John Cena. There I was, wondering how long it’s going to be before John’s actually allowed to retaliate, when…….

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Hoorah! Things are looking up. But before John could make it in to the ring and finally shut The Miz up, Rhodes and DiBiase started laying in to him. The Miz joined in and before we knew it, my John was being kicked in to a pile of mush. Heels = 3,  Babyfaces = 1.  Things are looking a little uneven. Oh, DAAAA-AAAVE! You’re needed. Batista came to help and managed to flatten all three bad dudes in succession. The Big Show appeared (urgh) and then Jerry Lawler. Lakers colours never looked so…..so….. stretched? The asymmetrical shoulder strap though. Very ‘on trend’, |Jerry. Love you, King. Mwah!

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With the ring cleared of nasty boys, there was nothing else to do but announce a five v five, good v bad, Yay v Boo match for the end of Raw. At this point I was really hoping the jerseys were just for graphic effect. They weren’t. Much to my disgust. I’ll come back to that later. Wait, who is the fifth good fella? You’ll have to wait to find out.

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It was time for the regular show to start. After Maryse’s dalliance last week with a can of Elnett (which they’ve totally changed the smell of, by the way) she was taking on Baby Kelly, to retain her Divas Championship.

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I was little worried for Kelly. She does a mean backflip but Maryse is a mean ole madame and I was pretty sure she’d get creamed in to the mat. But from the moment Kelly did her (better) version of the Maryse hair-flick, I knew she’d be ok. It all started to go wrong when Maryse had Kelly on the announce table and was pounding her in the face. NOOOOO! Not the face! Maryse spent too much time out of the ring and was counted out, allowing Kelly to win the match but not the belt. Damn! Kelly was furious and went flying straight at her.  Your day will come, sweetheart.

Gratuitous America's Next Top Model Reference

Gratuitous America's Next Top Model Reference

Backstage, this happened……………..

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and over in the locker room, Batista was trying to tell Ric Flair what we’re all thinking. Lead balloon time again.

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Back inthe ring, Matt Hardy, William Regal and Kofi Kingston are scrapping it out to contend for M.V.P’s Yankee Belt next week. Kingston pinned Matt Hardy for the match. Ok, M.V.P and Kofi Kingston will be good. And they even managed to be friendly about it. Aww, they really do make a lovely couple.

So after that Ric Flair woooed his way to the ring. This can only end badly. But It does promise an appearance from Randy Orton, who was nowhere to be seen and we’re already 40 minutes in. Flair reminded us that Orton sucka-punched him and had his wicked way with him last week. Really? Had his way with you Ric? Is that available on bootleg DVD anywhere? Anyway, Ric called Randy out and HOLY HELL did he answer.

To say that Randy told Ric off is an understatement. Randy lost his temper and shut his mouth good an proper. There haven’t been too many wrestlegasm moments in recent weeks, but Randy’s angry rant delivered on all markers. To be truthful, it wasn’t just a wrestlegasm moment…. it was  borderline orgasmic. And THAT doesn’t happen that often from viewing alone. Bravo, Randy. BRA-VO, my love!

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Wait, I just got turned on by a young man shattering the few remaining dreams of  a pensioner. That’s wrong, right? Don’t answer.

Aaaanyway. Ahem. Ric slapped Randy’s face and Randy knocked him down, pummelling him in the face. Batista came to the rescue and Orton made a hasty retreat to the comfort of the ramp, leaving Dave trying to hold Flair back from retaliating. Randy gave a few parting words and just as he was about to leg it, we heard….

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KENN-E-DEEEEY

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YYYYYYEEEEEEEOOOOW! I love you, Ken Kennedy. Welcome back. I missed you. But seriously, the beard needs to go. Like, pronto. You’re just a line of boot polish away from looking like Scott Steiner. That wasn’t even a good look for Steiner. Get! Rid!

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Facial hair aside…..WRESTLEGASMMMMMM! I believe that’s called multiple wrestlegasm-ing. Ah, it’s good to be a girl. Assuming Kennedy’s new injury can be fixed relatively swiftly, Mr. K and Mr. Ohhh need to have a proper feud. It would be AWESOME.

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Oh, yeah, Kennedy was named the fifth good guy in the YAY v BOO match at the end of the show. From the sublime to the ridiculous, Santino and Mickie James were up against Chavo and Beth. Mickie pinned Beth FTW and Santino was left to choose a stipulation for SantinA’s match against  Vickie at the PPV. He chose a Hog Pen Match, did more pi g squeals and forced Vickie in to one of her patented screeches.

Backstage The Big Show reminded The Miz that he was not allowed to pin John Cena……

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You don’t really wanna know anything about Goldust and Hornswoggle v Festus and The Brian Kendrick, do you?????? Phew. Good. ‘Cause I was about to skip it anyway.

On to the final match of the night. The Five v Five.  There were varying responses to this match from the guys. Big Show struggled to keep his body inside his custom made jersey. Suck it in, honey. Suck it in like you just finished eating on Christmas Day and realised jeans were a bad option.

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Randy looked pissed off that he’d been forced to cover his chest.

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Kennedy came out to a Brett Favre joke. (Miss you, Brett…. but please stay retired this time, k?). And John Cena looked like he’d travelled back in time to his thuganomics days. Actually, his arms were rather weedy back then, so I’ll stick with present day John, thank you very much. Thuganomics-John SOOOOO couldn’t bench press Big Show. Batista took it all too seriously and came out in  full Lakers regalia. Long shorts and everything. JR said…..“Behind those iniquitous blue eyes of Randy Orton is a mind that is thinking -I have to step inside a steel cage in two weeks on Pay Per View against The Animal?” I hate to challenge Jim Ross, but what Randy was REALLY thinking was “Dave, you moron. You could have worn less clothes than that and you CHOSE to wear extra fabric? I don’t get you.”

The match was as expected. Some amazing stuff, some rubbish, but it was far more entertaining than I was expecting. Good conquered Evil when M.V.P pinned Cody Rhodes to take it for TEAM YAY!

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But the real story of this match is that when Kennedy was on the receiving end of the RKO, he suffered a fairly nasty looking wrist injury. You can usually tell real pain. They try to smile through it but the grimace can’t help but break through. I can’t find any info online that says he’s going to lose any major time away from the ring, so I hope it’s nothing that can’t be fixed with an ice pack and a healing kiss. You have to feel a little bit sorry for the guy. You spend 10 months rehabbing your shoulder only to pick up another big inury in your first match back. :(

So that WAS the Denver Debacle. After Thursday’s rant I felt a tiny bit disloyal, but there’s no point in pretending I loved Vince’s tactics when I didn’t. However, when Michael Cole said this at the end of the show….

“Well thank you WWE Universe for all your support, this week, and each and every week. Thank you everybody, and good night from Los Angeles.”

………..I felt compelled to accept the gesture of gratitude. Now, let’s just forget this every happened and move on to better things.

the dirtiest job on the internet

It’s a dirty job being a wrestling fan.  It’s an even filthier form of voluntary employment when you decide you’re going to set up a blog or website where you write about wrestling several times a week.  Justifying your devotion to a product most people don’t understand is not easy. I think that’s why wrestling fans band together so tightly and have such a close knit community. Once you get it, once you have a grip on the terminology, once you fully understand why it’s ok that they’re pulling the punches, you’re in the club. Meeting fellow wrestling fans is like skipping the pleasantries. You can just jump to a common place of understanding.

If you’re reading this I suspect you are a regular WWE viewer. If not, why are you here? No, really, I’m curious. Let me know. Be honest, how many times has someone scoffed at the fact that you watch wrestling.  Loads, right? I wish I had a tenner for every time someone had said “Huh-huh-huh you know it’s not real don’t you, sweetheart?”  What? Really? You shattered my  dreams. Oh My God, I totally thought Triple H was away from the ring because Randy Orton put him in hospital. WANKERS! Sorry, but I can’t stand it when people who know nothing about wrestling try to tell ME all about it

I get even more wound up when they take the piss out of the fact that I’m a woman who enjoys wrestling. “Huh-huh-huh you only watch it to gawp at the blokes’ arses don’t you, darlin’. ” Erm, it’s a bonus, but NO, I watch it because I love it for the amazing athleticism and the entertainment value. The hot men are a really nice addition. TOSSERS!

This week’s Monday Night Raw really tested my mettle as a WWE super-fan. What has now been dubbed the ‘Denver Debacle’ took a trashy turn and I wasn’t even sure I wanted to recap Raw this week out of protest. But there were a few gems of brilliance, so I’ll recap them separately in one of my raw(lite) posts tomorrow. So yes, the Denver Debacle.

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I know everyone is all caught up by now, but basically Raw was supposed to be live from Denver this week. Unfortunately, a ‘real sport’ (basketball) decided it needed the Pepsi Center for the 4th game in the NBA Play-Offs. Obviously, this was a double booking of epic proportions and a little shameful on the part of the Nuggets’ management for having no faith in their team.  I really think the NBA should have made alternative arrangements, but that wasn’t to be. They had the power to boot Raw out of the arena, and they did.

I don’t normlly shake my pom-poms for basketball. Two reasons. The first is that I hold a grudge against my PE teacher in high school who told me “Rachel, rwyt ti’n chwarae pel-fasged yn dda iawn ond rwyt ti’n rhi fur i ymuno â’r tîm.” BITCH! And for those of you who don’t speak Welsh she said “Rachel, you’re very good at playing baskeball but you’re too short to join the team.” BITCH! I also hate the general thuggery of the NBA. The fact that young boys aspire to this shallow, materialistic, arrogant lifestyle makes me feel a little sickly and it detracts from the actual athletics.  When I took part in the college bracketology thing in March I chose my teams based on location, school colours and how cute the mascot animal is. Anyway, what I’m trying to demonstrate is that I don’t care about basketball or the NBA Play-offs. Mission accomplished.

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Gayest mascot in college. (Sorry, Pat)

Now, despite the fact that WWE lost this particular battle, the whole thing could have been handled in a professional business-like manner, right? No. Not according to Vince McMahon. He could have just sued Stan Kroenke’s ass for all it’s worth. Nope. He turned the whole thing in to a giant, puff-ball of promotional crap that made wrestling appear ridiculous and made wrestling fans look like unintelligent morons.  Basketball, American Football, Hockey and Baseball rolled their eyes, shook their heads and basked in the validity of their own sports.

Forced out of the Pepsi Center, WWE could have moved to Invesco Field so that the good people of Denver could still see the show they paid for. They could have moved to a town nearby so that those who already had tickets would have had the opportunity of travelling a reasonably short distance to the show. They could have taken operations to MSG, who offered to house them. But going to New York, staying in Denver or moving to a nearby town would not ‘damage’ the Denver Nuggets. Instead of being grown, professional  adults and doing what was best for the fans, WWE chose the low road and played childish games that nobody found particularly entertaining. I can’t believe I’m saying this, because I whole-heartedly advocate not taking wrestling too seriously……but SERIOUSLY, WWE, GROW THE FUCK UP!

I knew things were going to be bad when Vince appeared on ESPN waving a Kobe jersey and challenging Kroenke to a steel cage match the week previous.

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This week’s Monday Night Raw was held at the Staples Center in LA. Home of the Lakers. The first 15 minutes (minimum) of the show were spent with Vince supposedly humiliating a bad E. Stan Kroenke lookalike in the ring. The only thing that may have made it mildly funnier would hve been if they’d had John Cena dressed like Kroenke. The lookalike they hired looked kind of like an ugly version of John’s George Peppard from his Bad, Bad Man music video.

And d’you know what the ultimate insult was? The fact that the E in E. Stan Kroenke stands for Enus. Enus sounds like……. And THAT’S the joke. Vince McMahon almost said penis. OH MY GOD, he nearly used an anatomical term on TV. You know who finds that funny? 10 year old boys. And Lakers fans. Why would they complain? They get some wrestling they didn’t expect to have and they get two hours oF bagging out their basketball enemies. Perfect. For them.

For those of us watching at home it was painful.  The Jack Nicholson, David Stern and Jerry Buss lookalikes in the crowd were silly and getting the heels to wrestle the good guys wearing Nuggets (BOO) and Lakers (YAY) jerseys in one big brawl at the end of the show looked so ridiculous I almost couldn’t watch.

Thankfully, the middle parts of Raw were passable and there were even a couple of wrestlegam moments. Yes. REALLY. But I’ll save them for tomorrow. Something to look forward to.

Just a final message for Mr. McMahon – the WWE Universe (as you have branded us) is loyal and forgiving. We want high standard wrestling and compelling storylines. No more bullshit. I can’t keep trying to explain how awesome the WWE is to people who don’t get it when all I’m trying to defend is pettiness I don’t even believe in myself.

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WWE, DON’T STOP BEING AWESOME.  SOMETIMES  YOU’RE AMAZING. BUT YOU’RE MAKING MY JOB REALLY AWKWARD AT THE MOMENT.

PS>  I wouldn’t normally do this, but in the interest of solidarity against bullshit you should read this. It’s a humorous look at the XBA Vince jokingly promised to deliver. Genius little piece of writing.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and scrub myself clean. Not for continuing to promote WWE, but for actually plugging a post written by my arch enemies in comedy. Eww, I feel dirty.