No Alternative? The Dragon Gate USA interview

No Alternative? is an annoyingly titled series of interviews that will hopefully introduce you to some of the independent wrestling promotions that we have come to love here at the blog. Rather than forcing yourself to sit through a dreary episode of Raw or a frankly embarrassing episode of IMPACT Wrestling (or whatever it’s called now) we want to show you that there is an alternative out there.

The fourth interview in the series is with Gabe Sapolsky, vice-president of Dragon Gate USA – originally an offshoot of the established Japanese promotion, but rapidly gaining fans off their own talent roster.

Thanks for agreeing to this interview. For some of our readers that might not be familiar with you could you give us a brief introduction to Dragon Gate USA?
Dragon Gate is the most cutting-edge promotion in Japan, based on incredible, athletic wrestling. We are Dragon Gate USA, which is the American branch of Dragon Gate. We have forged our own identity and talent roster based on the principles of Dragon Gate in Japan. DGUSA is all about action, excitement and the most amazing wrestling in the world

What would you say sets Dragon Gate USA apart as an alternative from the mainstream promotions such as WWE and TNA?
We cater to the diehard fans that love great wrestling. We won’t have over the hill wrestlers, a cookie cutter wrestling style, too many promos or all the negative things that come with sports entertainment. If you sit there and watch Raw waiting for an awesome CM Punk or Evan Bourne match to come on or sit there and watch TNA waiting for the X Division to be given a chance to shine than you can get those things with DGUSA, taken to the next level, without having to sit through all the crap and other stuff to get there.

Do you think WWE and TNA present a reasonable view of professional wrestling to the mass market? Do you feel they do anything right or are you not a fan at all?
They definitely do things right. They wouldn’t be around if they didn’t. In fact, you can’t argue with what WWE does. They are going for the mass, mainstream market and they do that very well. We are going for our niche of diehard, appreciative wrestling fans. It is all about what audience you are trying to satisfy.

One side of the 2 main promotions which gets heavy criticism (and that we on the site have been more and more interested in) is the womens’ divisions. Where does Dragon Gate USA stand on womens wrestlers? Are you fans of the more hard-hitting female wrestlers and intergender matches or would you prefer a more Diva/Knockout style division?
I think if you are going to do a serious women’s division, not like a Divas T&A thing, you need to really devote a good deal of your show to it. While we appreciate women’s wrestling in DGUSA, we are concentrating on the Dragon Gate stars from Japan mixed in with our homegrown talent roster we have developed so it’s hard to devote the proper amount of time to women’s wrestling without ending up with 4 or 5 hour shows, which we don’t want to do.

Are there any WWE/TNA wrestlers you would like to bring into Dragon Gate USA? Conversely, are there any of your roster that you feel would fit in well in one of the mainstream companies? And would you want them to?
Yes, of course there are WWE and TNA wrestlers who would make great fits in DGUSA. At the same time, I feel anyone on our roster would fit in with WWE or TNA if booked properly. I believe every wrestler, especially once they get near 30 years old, should go to WWE and make tons of money. I think younger guys, like 25-27 or so and younger, should work the indies and Japan so they can vastly improve themselves, gain confidence and maturity and also so they can fulfill themselves artistically.

Where can people find out more about Dragon Gate USA online?
Our website is www.DGUSA.tv and our Twitter is @DragonGateUSA. You can also look for the Dragon Gate USA Official Facebook group.

What do you have coming up?
We have a full schedule of shows coming up including 9/9 Indianapolis, 9/10 Chicago, 9/11 Milwaukee, 11/11 Boston, 11/12 Philadelphia, 11/13 Manhattan, 1/27 in LA and then in Miami on Wrestlemania weekend. We also have several new DVD releases including all three “United” weekend events with the awesome Open The United Gate Title tournament, which was a round robin tag team tournament over all three events. Akira Tozawa also had an incredible weekend, which is worth going out of your way to see. We have so much great stuff on those shows. I’m really proud of them.

Do you have a match/trailer online that would give people an idea of what to expect at an Dragon Gate USA show?
We have lots of free videos on our Youtube channel at Youtube.com/DGUSAdotTV so hopefully anyone reading this will take a few minutes and go check it out. You can really get a good idea of the kind of action we offer with all the free videos we have.

Any last words for the readers?
We are here to serve true pro wrestling fans and give you the kind of action you crave. I think if you give us a chance you’ll end up really happy. Go to www.DGUSA.tv for all the info.

No Alternative? The CHIKARA interview

No Alternative? is an annoyingly titled series of interviews that will hopefully introduce you to some of the independent wrestling promotions that we have come to love here at the blog. Rather than forcing yourself to sit through a dreary episode of Raw or a frankly embarrassing episode of IMPACT Wrestling (or whatever it’s called now) we want to show you that there is an alternative out there.

The first interview in the series is, fittingly, with our favourite wrestling promotion. Both Boss Lady Ray and myself have said that CHIKARA would be our “Desert Island Wrestling” were we to be dumped on a desert island together and forced to choose only one company to be able to watch the rest of our lives. Erstwhile “CHIKARA Director of Fun” Leonard F Chikarason was kind enough to take time out and answer a few questions for us.

Thanks for agreeing to this interview. For some of our readers that might not be familiar with you could you give us a brief introduction to CHIKARA ?
I could go right from the website, www.chikarapro.com, but instead, can sum CHIKARA up as “wrestling for everyone.” WWE purposes themselves as wrestling for the whole family and TNA claims “Wrestling Matters.” If both of these statements were true and awesome, that would be CHIKARA.

What would you say sets CHIKARA apart as an alternative from the mainstream promotions such as WWE and TNA?
As I mentioned before, CHIKARA bring you wrestling for everyone without insulting any group. From what I hear, the live non-TV/PPV WWE and TNA shows are fun, but the wrestling you may see there is just nowhere near as entertaining as CHIKARA provides at each and every show.

Do you think WWE and TNA present a reasonable view of professional wrestling to the mass market? Do you feel they do anything right or are you not a fan at all?
Unfortunately, WWE is what the majority of the mainstream world sees as “Wrestling” even though THEY don’t see themselves that way. I’ve been a fan of wrestling since 1984 and probably will never stop watching WWE out of habit. Not really sure what to think of TNA.

One side of the 2 main promotions which gets heavy criticism (and that we on the site have been more and more interested in) is the womens’ divisions. Where does CHIKARA stand on womens wrestlers? Are you fans of the more hard-hitting female wrestlers and intergender matches or would you prefer a more Diva/Knockout style division?
I think you answered your own question. Nothing makes me go for my channel changer quicker than a Divas match on WWE. The cornerstones of CHIKARA’s women’s division are Daizee Haze & Sara Del Rey, the later of which is the only women in the 12 Large Summit to determine the first ever CHIKARA singles champion.

Are there any WWE/TNA wrestlers you would like to bring into CHIKARA ? Conversely, are there any of your roster that you feel would fit in well in one of the mainstream companies? And would you want them to?
I’m torn on seeing anyone from CHIKARA leave. Many wrestlers in CHIKARA I’ve become friends with over the last six years and would miss them, but would be great full to see them get a shot in the “big leagues.” People like Brodie Lee, Hallowicked or Claudio Castagnoli would be the first three off the top of my head that would be huge no matter where they wrestled.
As for someone from WWE or TNA coming to CHIKARA, I can list your Evan Bourne’s and Sin Cara’s but in all seriousness, I would LOVE to see John Cena in CHIKARA.

Where can people find out more about CHIKARA online
CHIKARA has one of the strongest internet presences in all of wrestling. Your main hub would be, of course, www.chikarapro.com, where you can find any and all information about upcoming events merchandise and more. Our roster section now also links to most of the CHIKARA wrestlers on Twitter. Our own Twitter is @ChikaraPro and you can find our YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/chikaraoffice, which is updated with new content every single weekday. Also, you can friend us, poke us or whatever you do on Facebook to us at www.facebook.com/pages/CHIKARA/53425196299.

What do you have coming up?
The weekend of July 30th and 31st is CHIKARAsaurus Rex – King of Sequel in Reading, PA and Philadelphia, PA respectively. In addition to all the CHIKARA regulars and several 12 Large Summit tournament matches, we have visitors from England in Johnny Saint and Johnny Kid, Japan in Ice Ribbon standouts Makoto & Tsukasa Fujimoto and Japanese and Mexico super star, Mima Shimoda. Also, many of our friends such as El Generico and Colt Cabana are making their return as well.
As for DVDs, Smart Mark Video turns our shows around in record time, usually within 2 weeks of the show. They even went as far as having all three nights of King of Trios 2011 available the very next day! Check em out at www.smartmarkvideo.com!

Do you have a match/trailer online that would give people an idea of what to expect at an CHIKARA show?
As mentioned above, we have TONS of introductory videos on our YouTube page. (Sidekick Andrew edit: this is true, in fact we listed a few of the matches available for free here but I’ll link this one because it’s really worth a watch)

Any last words for the readers?
Thank you giving me to the time to let your readers know what CHIKARA can show wrestling fans. We ask you support not only CHIKARA but all wrestling where ever and whenever you can!

wrestlegasm best in show awards: part three

Welcome back to the final instalment of the Best in Show Awards for 2011. Try to ignore the smell of the vegetable stalls that are now, let’s be honest, slightly past their best and avoid stepping in that unfortunate patch left behind after the sheepdog display… Settle down with a jam tart and we’ll go through the last awards. These are the big ones: the awards that, were they even slightly aware of their existence, every wrestler would want to win. So, with no further ado, I would like to welcome to the stage a lady I am proud to call not only my boss here in the Bunker but also my best friend and a glorious human being – Miss Ray Davies! (is that OK Boss? I read off the card you provided…)

This was a very difficult one to decide upon. Apart from the fact that we both have memories like sieves (seriously, sometimes it’s a miracle we even remember where we live) there were also a lot of excellent matches to choose from this year. We got there in the end though and we settled on Chris Jericho vs. Evan Bourne at Fatal-4-Way.

Cast your minds back. Chris Jericho had been drafted to Raw earlier in the year. Much like Egde he was a lost soul trying to crawl through all big hitters to get some TV time. Jericho was drifting and started losing. He started losing a lot. He didn’t know how to process this situation. Evan Bourne, on the other hand, was John Cena’s new best mate and riding the crest of a happy wave. After delivering his introspective soliloquy to the crowd, Jericho was joined by smiley-Evan. They went on to have what we believe is the bestest match of the 2010. It felt even more special because it hadn’t been on the card. Everything is a little sweeter when you’re not expecting it and haven’t spent a week or so analysing every possible twist and turn.

If ever there were two wrestlers who fit together perfectly in the ring, it’s Chris Jericho and Evan Bourne. This match was real ‘passing the torch’, ‘legend vs. young pretender’ stuff.  When they’re old and creaky I expect to see them swinging back and forth in their padded armchairs mumbling about that awesome match they had at Fatal 4-Way back in 2010. I’m not sure how I’d actually see this without getting myself a job in the their nursing home, but you know what I’m getting at.

Pinfall-after-pinfall, signature after finisher, sharpshooter after shooting star press, the match was brilliant from start to finish. Having watched it a couple of times since we decided it should be our match of the year, we’re wholeheartedly  convinced it was the right decision. Evan won the match and left to rapturous cheers from the crowd. Jericho was broken and on a downward spiral of self-doubt.  Read that as ‘heading towards his rock-star world tour’. Unfortunately for Cutey McSmile-Pants (Evan Bourne if that wasn’t clear enough) he got injured and had to spend the next few months hoping that wasn’t his last big push. Rewatching that match has made me realise how much I miss them both; especially Jericho. Any chance he could come back as a face, WWE? Pleeeeeeeease?

Here’s the highlights in case you’ve forgotten how it went down, after which I’ll pass you back to my denim-clad colleague to give the award for Best Major Show:

There was a strange combination of shows last year. The big WWE PPVs were generally quite disappointing other than the odd highlight such as the Royal Rumble match and the Undertaker/HBK rematch, whereas the lesser PPVs held some very pleasant surprises such as the Jericho/Bourne match mentioned above and the great Divas TLC Tag Match at TLC. But there wasn’t a WWE PPV we felt could honestly fit here, and although the one ROH show I watched in 2011 (Final Battle) was great it wasn’t quite as good as the 2011 King of Trios show by Wrestlegasm favourites CHIKARA.

This was a show so impressive that it made Boss Lady Ray write in her diary about how “AMAZING” it was (capitals all hers) to the point where I had to remind her to breathe towards the end of each match when we watched in The Bunker. Now, I’m obviously I’m supposed to be writing about the show in some kind of humourous yet moderately informative manner, but sometimes pictures (especially moving ones) speak louder than words. But before the pretty videos…

King of Trios is CHIKARA’s biggest show of the year, pitting 16 teams of three wrestlers against each other in a three-day tournament. This year was a big one storyline wise due to the involvement of an invading faction known as the Bruderschaft des Kreuzes going up against the CHIKARA faithful. The show included ROH Tag Team champion Claudio Castagnoli, TNA wrestlers Generation Me and Christopher Daniels and ex-WWE stars Tommy Dreamer, Colin Delaney and Scotty Goldman (as Matt Classic) as well as representatives from a number of US, Mexican and Japanese promotions.

Actually, you know what, scrap all that. I’m not happy with it and quite frankly it’s nowhere near doing the show justice. Here’s a highlight video for each night of the show which should give you an idea of just how exciting the wrestling is in CHIKARA.


Click here to buy the DVD


Click here to buy the DVD


Click here to buy the DVD

Don’t worry, you’re eyes weren’t deceiving you. I appreciate you might feel like you’ve had a tad too much Buttercup Syrup and you’re having one of your “episodes” after seeing some of the competitors in those videos. Ice Creams, Ants, 7′ Vikings and our new favourite; Cuije, the 3’7″ Pink Ladybird Monster Thingy!

Now, you don’t believe that the King of Trios deserved to win this award, then you’re a lost cause and you possibly smell funny. Speaking of smelling funny, time to hand you back to Ray for the next award.

We know what you’re thinking…. this whole awards show is masquerading as a virtual love-in with CM Punk and Beth Phoenix. And why would we give this award to Ms. Phoenix when she was injured for such a long time during 2010? True, we both have crushes on Beth – different kinds of crushes, I might add. And yes, Beth spent a lot of time away from the ring this year. But round here we believe it’s not how much you do, but what you choose to do with the time you have. The Bellas have been on almost every episode of Raw for the past year, but that doesn’t make them the best wrestlers, or the most interesting Divas or anything to be honest.

Beth was the only woman to appear in last year’s Royal Rumble. Her appearance may have been short but she actually wrestled CM Punk before he eliminated her and she eliminated Khali herself. It was such an amazing moment and I was so proud of her.

Beth played her part in the horrendous Mickie/Piggy James storyline. It wasn’t a pleasant thing, but it was still one of the most memorable storylines of 2010.  Beth endured LayCool’s jibes following that Piggy strangeness, ending in that now infamous Extreme Makeover match. *shudder* Injury put her out of action for a few months, but on her return Beth won the very first ever Divas tables match with Natalya. A real tables match with no gimmicks or silliness. This was by far the best Divas match of the year and felt very special.

We don’t just love Beth for being our favourite lady in the ring, we also like that she’s a lovely girl and throughout her injured months she managed to emanate so much positive energy. She must have had a few down days, but she never tweeted anything but good vibes and happy thoughts. In short, we think she’s fantastic.

Very British Nods of Appreciation go to Layla and Sara Del Rey. We’ve covered why we love Layla in the other awards posts, but we haven’t mentioned Sara yet. As I mentioned in our Christmas audio message, this was the year I finally gave myself over to indie wrestling and Sara Del Rey become my absolute hero. I never get bored of watching her wrestle. Maybe I’ve had too much strawberry wine from the local produce tent, but watching Sara Del Rey do what she does best truly inspires me. When I emailed her about a t-shirt I was buying and I thanked her for RTing my Intergender Match post on Twitter, she thanked me for writing it and said she wanted more people to read it. It was so chuffed. I always feel a little more fearless when I’m wearing my Sara Del Rey t-shirt. *hiccup* I think Andrew better take this last award. I’m feeling queasy and need to sit down. No more strawberry wine.

Unlike giving Beth Phoenix the Best Female Wrestler award, we’ve somehow managed to award this one to someone other than CM Punk. If you’ve only seen WWE shows you might not recognise Claudio Castagnoli, but trust us he’s the best wrestler you might not know.

Claudio has been recognised as one the best wrestlers in the world for some time now, but 2010 was definitely his most successful year to date. Within a 12 month period he became the ROH Tag Team Champion, the CHIKARA Campeones des Parejas (tag team) champion and King of Trios winner, the PWG World Champion and the JCW Tag Team champion – not bad for a nice guy from Switzerland.

As well teaming with indie-favourites Chris Hero and Sara Del Rey as the Kings of Wrestling in ROH and in Japan, Claudio also leads the aforementioned Bruderschaft des Kreuzes faction in CHIKARA. The fact that Claudio has managed to have very strong years in a number of promotions should show how well thought of he is by the business as a whole, and the fact that Boss Lady Ray drew lipstick hearts around his picture should be testament to her feelings on his appearance at least.

Again, like Beth, we don’t just like Claudio for being an amazing wrestler. He genuinely comes across as a nice guy outside the ring, whether it’s talking incessantly about the wonders of Starbucks on his blog, having Q & A sessions on Twitter or making videos of his travels at Claudio’s Cafe…

So here’s to Claudio, one of those wrestlers you’ll happily watch a show just to see his match, and one of the nicest (and fine, I’ll admit it, better looking) guys around. A man so stylish, so suave, so “Very European” that CHIKARA broke their 4 year streak of awesome comic book inspired covers just so they could use this picture. Claudio, if you’re reading this, “Mis Luftchüssiboot isch volle Aal!”

Our Very British Nods of Appreciation are slightly more predictable, with the first going to CM Punk. We know, we know… Punk again, but he had a great year while he was around. Obviously he had some time out due to injury, but his sterling work on commentary made up for that. From an amazing run in the Rumble back in January, through great work on the first series of NXT and the eventual dissolution of the SES and creation of the New Nexus; it’s been a great year for Punk. As for the second Nod, that goes to Dolph Ziggler, a man who has consistently had great matches throughout the year and surely a future world champion. I should point however that the fact that Boss Lady Ray finds all three wrestlers in this category to be “easy on the eye” is a complete coincidence. It’s just that the really ugly wrestlers *coughMattHardycough* also happen to be terrible :D

That’s all from me folks, but before the sun sets on the inaugural Wrestlegasm Best In Show awards, I’d like to hand back to the lady that started it all. Boss Lady Ray, the floor is yours (don’t forget that the council said we have to have this wrapped up soon so the caretaker can sweep the Village Hall for the Whist Drive in the morning)…

RAY: Ummm, yeah. What he said. Someone else is going to have to judge the scone baking contest. I need to lie down. Take me back to the Bunker, Andrew. Thanks for coming, folks. *hiccup*

raw(lite): oh canada! oh jericho! ohhhhh yessss!

In theory, this post should have been up on Tuesday. Thursday, at the latest.  But I actually found myself spending my evenings doing some research for a piece for college this week, so it’s been delayed. And it has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that I took my laptop to bed last night to finish this post and ended up falling asleep with a copy of Rock Sound Magazine open on my lap. Nothing at all.

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This week’s Raw was comforting. It was a reminder that the show can function very nicely without the crutch of a two-bit celebrity and a reminder that all the talent they need is right there already on the roster. Ok, Sergeant Slaughter isn’t technically on the roster but you get what I mean. Was it the greatest Raw? Not even close. But it was a marked improvement on last week’s show, which gives me good feelings all over.

We started with Randy Orton, in the ring, belt aloft, beautiful. Randy has been kind of out of the loop the past week or so, what with all the celebrity interference. Or maybe I just missed him. Or maybe his thighs just got extra spectacular since last week.

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Well done, babe. I was right behind you. I did 6.4

So what we have here is your classic PPV promo segment. Hallelujah! You’re kind of late to the Summerslam party, Raw, but let’s boogie! Randy began by reasserting his super-heel status via the belittlement of the Calgary audience.The ‘YOU SUCK’ chants erupted around the arena, which Randy TOTALLY got off on. His microphone almost got some very exclusive ‘oral pleasure’.

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He also made it clear that he would be making mincemeat of John Cena at Summerslam, contrary to the rumours circulating that John had the upper hand.  John, as you would expect, had a response. So he made his angry way to the ring. Uh-oh! John is pissed. ROYALLY pissed. I have a feeling his temper may blow its banks, causing my insides explode from the excitement. KABOOOOOOOM!

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Wow! I haven’t seen John this furious since his mini-feud with Edge after Wrestlemania. It’s possible that I may have made a WHEEEEEE kind of sound while this little piece was going on. Make that ‘probable’.   I was getting tense just watching all that up-close jaw clenching. John got all up in Randy’s chops and it was a battle of wills to see who would go in for the kiss first.

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Much to my overwhelming disappointment, the imminent smooch was rudely interupted by Chris Jericho and Big Show. But my initial feeling of irritation was quickly replaced with delight at seeing Jericho’s new suit. I believe my Twitter went something like………..

jgsww

Speaking of Twitter, in the early hours of Monday morning, Mr. Chris Jericho was partaking in some rather amusing drunk tweeting. Due to my living seven hours  ahead of Calgary, I got to witness the whole thing from my desk at work. In case you missed it, my favourite was……..

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This late night revelry revealed itself on Raw. No amount of clever make-up and cucumber slices can de-puff eyes like that and if you wait for the close-up, they’re more than a little bloodshot.

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Anyway, the physical effects of the hangover did not seem to dampen Jericho’s enthusiasm. Being in Calgary seemed to buoy him up even more. Big Show’s opening gambit even had to be paused for a few moments while the crowd got their repeated Y2J chants out of their beer soaked systems. They calmed down, Show finished his speech and then Chris took the spotlight. He only had to open his mouth for half a second before the crowd lost their minds. Even John couldn’t hold his smile in when he was supposed to be all stern like.

Stop smirking, John. You're supposed to look pissed off!

Stop smirking, John. You're supposed to look pissed off!

All this culminated in Jericho announcing that Slaughter had given him a match against John, and Show was granted a match against Randy. Right, so we’re 600 words in and there hasn’t even been a match yet. Anyone would think I’ve got a thing for John Cena. And Randy Orton. And Chris Jericho. And Big…… three outta four ain’t bad. We’d better get a match in.

With Maryse needing her knee sliced open, someone had to step up to Mickie James. Alicia Fox, Kelly-Kelly, Gail Kim and Beth Phoenix went against each other in a fourway match to be number one contender. This was actually a REALLY good match. Ok, so it was always going to come down to Beth or Gail, but they worked really hard. And the powers that be gave them some time to build the match too, which rarely happens. Beth pulled off one of those highly impressive ‘marvel at my immense strength’ moves……

Anything John can do, Beth can do better, Beth can do anything better can John.

Anything John can do, Beth can do better, Beth can do anything better than John.

……but the pin eventually went to Gail Kim. I do feel a teeny bit sorry for the Glamazon. I mean, she stuck it out through that painful Santina period without much ‘ffws na ffwdan’ as we Welsh language speakers say. She kind of deserved a title run. But I adore Gail Kim, so no complaints from my bench.

NEEEEXT!

Sergeant Slaughter came out for the first of many insults to Canada. He demanded that they stand up and pledge allegiance to the American flag. Riiiiight! You might as well ask the Welsh to affectionately lick the English flag. NEVER. GONNA. HAPPEN.

I mean, look at that ferocious creature? Take THAT King George. You mess with me, my dragon kicks your arse.

I mean, look at that ferocious creature? Take THAT King George. You mess with me, my dragon burns your arse.

Jack Swagger made light but entertaining work of Evan Boure, which left Jack with bleeding gums. Mmmm, scurvy is the sexiest of all the vitaand min deficiencies.  M.V.P appeared and buttered the crowd up by knocking Swagger on his rather fine behind. Actually, that one looked like it really hurt. Nothing like a bruised coccyx to take the wind out of one’s sails.

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Montel challenged Jack to a match that night, but he refused, alluding only to the possibility of a match next week before disappearing up the ramp.

Remember last week when a disturbingly puffed-out Triple H vowed to make us all suck it? Well he was forced to travel to Texas to bring his buddy back from the brink of banality. (So many B’s.) I say ‘Texas’, but really it could have been any generic office building anywhere in the world.  HBK was discovered working as a chef in a trashy cafeteria and had been reduced to serving defrosted muck to ungrateful children. Hunter was not impressed.

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Back up North Eugene (what?) was taking on the Calgary Kid (who?) for a contract to get in to the company. Whatever. I honestly thought this was some kind of local joke I didn’t get, so I just rode it out until the Calgary Kid began pulling off the mask and I realised it was The Miz. The Miz, who everyone was SOOO upset about last week, was back. See? Didn’t I say he’d be ok? Listen to Auntie Ray. She knows stuff about shit. Or is it the other way round?

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Alright, next up Randy and Big Show were to tough it out. It was ok. I mean, Big Show is slow and Randy is deliberately slithery and calculating, so it felt like filler. Randy was getting beaten up so he left the ring and got himself counted out. Big Show sulked but who really cares.

Trips was making headway with persuading Mr. Hickenbottom to become Shawn Michaels again, but still no cigar. So we scooted over to Chris Masters vs M.V.P.  I notice Masters now enters the arena under the cover of darkness. Obviously a move to ensure we don’t see any more of his terrible tanning disasters.  M.V.P took the match within three minutes, but Jack Swagger made his way out, distracted M.V.P and gave Masters the nod to take him down.  Swagger jumped in to finish the job.

Back in Texas a granny snarled SUCK IT in to the camera and Michaels kicked a small child. I believe that means DX are back. Good work, Officer H. Now bring that boy on home. In the arena, Hornswoggle and Mark Henry fought Rhodes and DiBiase. Team Legacy won, giving them the opportunity challenge DX. I totally didn’t see that coming. So shocking!

Any excuse to use a pic of SJP.

Any excuse to use a pic of SJP.

I need me some Josh Matthews after that incredible shock! Ah. There he is, with Chris Jericho. WAIT! Did Jericho have that beard earlier? Maybe I was too distracted by his lovely suit to notice. I feel like I’ve seen that face-fuzz somewhere before. Oh yeah.

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In a moment of comedy genius, after praising Canada til the cows came home, Jericho made the faux pas of dissing it when he thought he was off camera. DOH! An oldie but a goodie.

Exactly.

Exactly, Chris.

The final match, Jericho and Cena, was moving along swimmingly and it appeared that Cena had the upper hand when he hugged Jericho in to the STF. But Randy soon appeared, started doing a strange twitchy dance in front of John and distracted him long enough for Jericho to bring him down. Big Show got involved, things got messy and Slaughter had to bring the troops to order. He commanded that Jericho and Big Show tag team against Cena and Orton next week. Ooooh, I wonder what Buffy’s husband will have to say about that. Well, John-Boy, you kept saying you wanted to work with your BFF, now you’ve got your wish. Big Show was rolled out of the ring like a humongous log and as John threw Jericho on to his shoulders for the Attitude Adjustment, Orton ran in and RKO’d Jericho back down again. It was AWESOME.

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FCMOTW

Wrestling fans are passionate people. We get involved in storylines, feel an overwhelming sense of pride when we get our guys to the numero uno spot on the Twitter trending topics, feel duped when our heroes lose matches and rejoice as if it was US in the ring when they win.  This past week, two people stood out from the crowds.  They are…..

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This guy, who was absolutely FURIOUS that Evan Bourne beat Jack Swagger on Raw, taking him out of the Beat the Clock challenge. His angry cries of NO NO NO and his definite arm movements made me smile. He’s obviously a huge Jack Swagger fan. Either that or he really hates Evan Bourne. Either way, the fact that you care so deeply about a match between two young guns is admirable, sir. Bravo!

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We were all pretty stunned when CM Punk finally went full-on heel on Smackdown this week and unexpectedly beat the shit out of Jeff Hardy. But this lady seemed especially disturbed and upset. If you’re reading this, don’t worry, I can almost 100% guarantee that as soon as Jeff was fake-stretchered out of the main arena, he and Punk shared a man hug and a strawberries and cream frappuccino. No more sleepless night, ok? Good.

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): It’s Getting Drafty in hurrr

Soooo, it’s all been happening in the WWE this week.  Let’s start with Raw and the annual WWE draft.  Just like any long-running TV soap, there are a few regular stories that keep things ticking along but, essentially, tonight is all about the draft – management shaking up the snowglobe of superstars and watching those sparkly boys and girls fall in a different spot to where they once settled.

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Last year it was all about shifting things around so that the spread was a little more even and every brand not being treated as Raw’s bitch. I wondered how it would all pan out this time around. I was super-excited. That moment where the screen starts speedily flicking through all those faces makes my fingers tingle. Being that I’m a few hours ahead of the American broadcast, I had to go to sleep while it was going on. Boo! I went to bed singing……………………………

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Lots to get through, so let’s get cut the crooning and cracking. The first draft pick of the night was to be decided by Rey Mysterio (Raw) and Evan Bourne (ECW).  Evan Bourne is cur-ute. I think I need to start paying more attention to ECW. Really. In fact, excuse me while I check my Sky+ planner to see when it’s on……ok, I’m back.  Rey Mysterio pinned Bourne and won the first picky for Raw. This early in the show it’s gonna be someone fairly low-rent. It waaaaas…..

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MVP. Hmm. Ok. I have no real feelings either way regarding MVP, other than he has some of the lamest entrance music in the WWE. Get some cool music and I might kinda like ya. Totally up to you. You either want my love or you don’t. I’m guessing he couldnt care less about my love, but whatever. On we go.

Kane (Raw)  Vs The Brian Kendrick (Smackdown). A mis-match if ever I saw one but, as we know, size doesn’t matter in the WWE. It’s not what you got but what you do with it. And, errr, *whispering*who the writers say will win. Ahem.  Kane won fairly swiftly and scooped another draft pick for Raw.  Is wasssss……

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Yeah. Fine. Whatever. I suppose all that pre-Wrestlemania stuff won him a spot on Raw.Ummm, bravo Big Show?

After Randy Orton had a verbal tustle with Mrs. Guerrero (see my last post for the video) it was time for a little behind-the-curtain fun, and you should know by now it’s my favourite source of humour. So there’s John Cena, you know, just hanging out, chillin’, illin’, chit-chatting with one of the production crew when all of a sudden…………….

Ahhhhhhh. I love when John cracks jokes. THE CHAMP IS HERE. HEEEEERE! *sigh* I also love when he puts together a little combo of hilarity and seriousness. Yes, Jack Swagger, you ARE punk kid who likes to run his mouth. John will give you a lil lesson on respect! Because he said so. And because I said so too. I love when we think the same thoughts. :D

Time for a dollop of Diva action. Michelle McCool/Natalya/Maryse  Vs Kelly-Kelly, Melina and Mickie James for another draft pick. Oooooh check out Todd Grisham being all King-Like. Melina can lick your stamps any time? Reeeeeoooaw! You naughty boy, Todd. Well, as you said yourself young man, you’d better get that vintage stamp collection out from under your bed ’cause the Smackdown ladies kicked some tail and Melina got drafted over. Don’t let your glasses get all steamed up, Toddy.

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Neeeeext! Two draft picks on the line with John Cena (Raw) and Jack Swagger (ECW).  Much as I doubted it, I kind of thought they’d let Swagger win; to give two picks to ECW and to introduce Swagger to those who don’t know who he is. Oh Ray, don’t be foolish. John Cena won. Of course. It was, however, one of the longest matches of the night, so maybe that was their way of saying “Dear all, this is Jack Swagger. Get used to him, he’ll be around for a while.” So, the picks. Which too vagabonds made their way to Raw?

mhardydraftActually, Matthew Hardy, I CAN see you, but I don’t wanna.  Put your hand down before John puts it somewhere the sun don’t shine. Who’s next?

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Oh no! Triple H goes back to Raw. Well, I’m not surprised.  Observe that smug look on his chops. It says “I’m going back to Raw because I can do whatever the hell I wanna do! I married the chairman’s daughter. What are you gonna do about it, bitch?” Ok, I’m starting to feel annoyed for Smackdown and ECW now. Big hugs to everyone on SD and ECW. Yeah, because giving hugs is such a chore for me. Edge attacked John Cena from behind (to remind us of the bigger picture) and on we go. Randy Orton is still feeling anxious backstage and he seeks the comfort of his foot-soldiers – Rhodes and DiBiase. They delight him with their plan. He likes it. He likes it a lot. Time for some more drafty-drafty.

Santino Marella (Raw) Vs Khali (Smackdown) in one of the most ludicrous storylines I’ve witnessed in ages. So, I won’t talk about it, I’ll just say that Khali won, FINALLY getting another pick for weary Smackdown. And let me say, I am VEEERY pleased with this one.

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I know people get a bit miffed when their faves get drafted to (allegedly) lesser brands, but I love seeing top peeps on Smackdown. I’ll be watching it anyway, so having lovely boys to look forward to is a nifty little bonus. CM Punk is a big, juicy bonus. Yuuuuummm.

Onwards and upwards for The Miz (ECW) and Kofi Kingston (Raw).  Kofi won. Raw won. AGAIN. Urgh! And the pick izzzz……The Miz. JUST The Miz. No Mr. Morrison to hold his hand. Uh-oh! Michael Cole said it best “THE BROMANCE IS OVER”. It was so “DUUUUUDE! NOOOO!” Aaaand it produced a man-hug moment, which you know I can’t get enough of.

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But then it all went horribly wrong. The Miz, drunk on success, turned on Morrison and left him writhing in agony in the ring. Oh dear. Miz. You’ve chaaaanged, man.miz

Next a Battle Royal involving all three brands, which left Big Show (in his new Raw colours) and Edge alone. Edge flipped Show over the ropes to win two draft picks for Smackdown. Ok, now things are looking up for SD. Numero uno……..

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Ok. Fine. I don’t care much for Kane. I don’t dislike him, I just don’t care when he gets involved in stuff.  He should never have taken his mask off. I liked him better when I thought there was a hideous creature under there.  Back in the day he gave me the spooks. Now? Nah! And secondly………………

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AAAAAAAARRRGHHHH! YES! MY GUY! CHRIS JERICHO. I know there were LOTS of people unhappy with this one, but really, there’s only so much greatness you can fit in to Raw.  On Smackdown he’ll get a, much deserved, bigger slice of the pie. And just imagine, an All-Canadian alliance between Edge and Jericho. Excuse me while I use the cuff of my hoodie to wipe the sides of my mouth.

On we go. Whew! This draft is looooong! My fingers are getting weary. But I will keep going. For you. Aww. I’m nice. Next we have Christian (ECW) Vs Shelton Benjamin (Smackdown).  Let me just say, I’m loving that Christian is back. He funny boy. The good kind of funny. Take note Marella. Anyway, the match. Christian won and ECW got a draft pick. FINALLY. It was Vladimir Koslov.  THANK GOD. Fellas, listen up. If you’re not REALLY FUCKING HOT, don’t wear white briefs in public. If you do, you run the risk of being drafted to ECW where nobody will see you. Got it? Good.koslov

How many are we up to now? Oh I’ve lost count. Next, CM Punk (now Smackdown) and Matt Hardy (now Raw). Matt took Punk out and Raw drafted……

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Yeah, well, you can’t have two belts on one brand, so fairly predictable. NEEEEEEXT!

My honey, Chris Jericho, is back, now representing Smackdown, and is taking on Tommy Dreamer from ECW. Jericho won (poor ECW) and, in a flip-reverse-thingy from last year’s draft, Smackdown clawed back……

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YEEEEY FOR REEEEEY! I love Rey. 33.3% because we have the same name (with different spelling), 33.3%  because he’s good to the kids when he does his ringwalk, 33.3% because he jumps so bloody high in the atmosphere. Smackdown is Rey’s home. I’m glad he gets to go to back to from whence he came.

The draft is over! Phew!  I need a stiff drink after all that. And a tiny little cushion for my battered finger-tips. I wonder if Chris Jericho’s pecs would make a nice finger cushion. Or how about a lip cushion…..yes. Excuse me, I need a moment to think about that…….

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Oh. Hai. You’re still here. Sorry about that. Triple H, Batista and Shane O’Mac took on Legacy in the final match of the night. No draft picks on the line, just a little thing called the WWE Title.  Triple H made the pin, leaving him to take on Randy Orton next week.  Sorry that part’s so short, but it kind of played second-fiddle to the draft this week.

FAVOURITE CROWD MEMBER OF THE SHOW

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This dude, looking like a teenage boy who’s just transfered from an all-boys grammar school to a mixed boys-n-girls school in the city. Yes, boy, those are breasts. All women have them.

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By the way there was a supplemental draft on Wednesday. Make of this what you will, I’m off to pour a nice drink……..

Kennedy to Raw

Shad Gaspard to Smackdown

Alicia Fox to Smackdown

-Primo to Raw

Mike Knox to Smackdown

Ezekiel Jackson to ECW

Nikki Bellato Raw

Candice Michelle to Smackdown

Zach Ryder to ECW

Chavo Guererro to Raw

Ricky Ortiz to Smackdown

Layla to Smackdown

Hornswoggle to Raw

DH Smith to ECW

John Morrison to Smackdown

Carlito to Raw

Natalya to ECW

Festus to Raw

JTG to Smackdown

Dolph Ziggler to Smackdown

Brian Kendrick to Raw

Charlie Haas to Smackdown

Hurricane Helms to ECW

Brie Bella to Raw