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[ Planet Wrestling // Features // Interviews // UK // Puro // Collumns // Indie // Reviews ]


Editors Note // Contributors

Move over Oscar!

EDITOR’S NOTE

Everyone and their dog seems to be doing them, so we’ll jump on that bandwagon! After much intense debate the TW team have finally come up with a list of those who impressed over the last 12 months.

Don’t forget to keep up to date with all the latest on our website – www. totalwrestlingmagazine.co.uk, our facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/ totalwrestlingmag and by following us on twitter @Twrestlingmag

At the end of the day, the awards are not about us but about those who have continued to bust their asses to entertain wrestling fans over the past year.

Adios Amigos.

Inside most of this month’s issue we have several pages devoted to the presentation of the honours we have bestowed upon those we deem most deserving.

Contents (List side bar)

However, if all this back-slapping is not exactly your cup of tea then fear not as the undercard is, as always, packed to the grills with goodies.

www.totalwrestlingmagazine.co.uk

Over on page 50 we caught up with Bret Hart, whilst he was over in the UK, “The Hitman” talks about the dungeon, Dynamite Kid and the current WWE product. Although 2014 proved to be a rather mixed bag for the fortunes of the wrestling business, the year still gave us plenty to talk about. We take a look back at some of the more memorable moments in “Through The Lens” on page 74 Sadly, for many, 2014 will be remembered as the year we lost wrestling legends, we pay tribute to those we lost over the past 12 months on page 42 All this plus all the regular features, now, you have to admit that’s some way to kick off 2015!

Total Wrestling Magazine January 2015

Darren Wood/Editor Dave Lewis/Designer Juan Vazguez/Designer

CONTRIBUTORS Neil Topping, Brad Jones, Matthew Roberts, Chris GST, Scott Reid, Martin Smith, Erik Beaston, Darragh O’Connor, Matt Waters, Mark Moore, Ethan Nash, Phil Clark, Graham Cawthorn, Craig Hermit, Nathan Hunt, James Klonowski, Matt Singh, Joshua Modaberi Gail Kim, Matt Striker, Court Bauer and El Ligero, Contributing Photographers Tony knox, Brett Hadley, Rob Brazier, Chelsea Cochrane, David James Wilson, Scott Finkelstein, Devin Chen, Riot Duck Photography, Emon Kazem Total Wrestling Magazine is published every four to five weeks and is a fully independent publication and not affiliated in any way to World Wrestling Entertainment, TNA Wrestling or any other wrestling promotion, promoter or company. The views and opinions within TW are solely those of the authors and not those of any other company or individual herein. No part of this magazine may be reproduced in whole or in part without the express written consent. TW accepts no responsibility for inaccuracies or complaints arising from either editorial or advertising material in this magazine. For more information - www.totalwrestlingmagazine.co.uk Email - totalwrestlingmagazine@gmail.com

INTRODUCING:

THINGS WE HEAR

Without further a do...

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Total Wrestling’s monthly features!

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Recent news that Phil “CM Punk” Brooks had signed with Ultimate Fighting Championship set social media alight, on page 34 Matt Singh takes a look at how Punk will do in the Octagon.

Darren Wood totalwrestlingmagazine@gmail.com


Show Us Yer Tweets!

[ Planet Wrestling // Features // Interviews // UK // Puro // Collumns // Indie // Reviews ]

SHOW US YER TWEETS!

S WE HEAThey say the Internet is written in pen, and look no further for proof than the (sometimes R intentionally) hilarious musings of our favourite grapplers! From Triple H’s ring issues, Colt Cabanna’s ‘Hunter’ podcast problems, Trent Baretta’s identity crisis, Mrs Foley’s Baby Boy’s Baby Girl, an insight at Matt Jackson of the Young Bucks’ attempt at backstage politics and the ever hilarious Big E who said what we were all thinking! Go on SHOW US YER TWEETS!

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Gotcha!

CHA GOT TCHA!! TW GO TW

CAH!A! GTOCTH GO TWTW

CAH!A! GO GTOCTH TWTW

TCHA! GO GOTCHA! TW TW

Ever look at a wrestling Adonis and feel bad about yourself? Well, no more! Take a look at these Greek gods of grappling looking down right silly, including the whereabouts of TRENT? Chris Roberts stund doubles do Finn Balor, Emma becomes a sorceress, The Rock continues to expand his biceps, Jushin Thunder Liger flips off a Young Buck and a an easy £10 for somebody... GOTCHA!

THINGS

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- Yes, that is an actual man’s belt in Finn Balor’s ‘hair’.

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- Blue Demon Jr. on a horse, admit it, your bucket list just got shorter.

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- Remember Natalya’s farting gimmick? Dolph may be trying to tell us it’s no gimmick, brother!

SEE

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- Vince McMahon once called one of these men The Chosen One. Hint: It wasn’t Grado.

- Spud’s wacky suits get stranger every week.

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Highs and Lows // DUDLEYZ

[ Planet Wrestling // Features // Interviews // UK // Puro // Collumns // Indie // Reviews ]

THE HIGHS AND LOWS OF: THE DUDLEYZ/ TEAM 3D

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March 15, 1997 - The Dudley Boys win their first ECW Tag Team Championship Part of the extensive Dudley clan in Extreme Championship Wrestling, Buh Buh Ray and D-Von would eventually break away from their ‘brothers’, and become an extremely dominant tandem in the ECW tag team division. Eventually, they would cement themselves as the top tag team in ECW, when they defeated The Eliminators at Hostile City Showdown to claim their first, of many, ECW Tag Team Championships. This would be the first step on their raod to becoming the most decorated tag team in professional wrestling history.

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31st August 1999 - The Dudley Boyz make their WWF Debut

TLING

After going on to win the ECW Tag Team Championships eight times, The Dudley Boyz would leave the land of extreme for WWF, debuting on WWF Sunday Night Heat in a winning effort against fellow ECW alumni, Stevie Richards & The Blue Meanie. From there, Bubba Ray and D-Von would prove their worth in the WWF Tag Team division, winng their first WWF World Tag Team Championships from the New Age Outlaws at No Way Out, on February 27th 2000.

GS W THIN

April 2nd 2000 - The Dudley Boyz compete in the first Triangle Ladder Match Just over a month after winning the WWF World Tag Team Championships, the Dudleys found themselves embroiled in a feud with the Hardyz and Edge & Christian, which culminated

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at Wrestlemania 2000, with the three teams participating in the first ever Triangle Ladder Match. This was the beginning of, what would become, one of the most important rivalries of the Attitude Era, with all three teams becoming staples of WWF events, going on to innovate the now infamous TLC match. March 25th 2002 - The WWE Brand Extension breaks the Dudley Boyz up As the company changed its name to ‘World Wrestling Entertainment’, Raw and Smackdown were seperated, with each brand playing host to it’s own exclusive roster. As superstars moved to their respective shows, Bubba Ray and D-Von found themselves sepearated for the first time ever, with Bubba working on Raw, and D-Von repackaging himself on Smackdown as the villanious ‘Reverend D-Von’. Despite their success as a tag team, both Bubba and D-Von were never truly able to find their feet on their own during this time, merely floating around in the mid-card with little success. Thankfully, it would only be a short time before the team was brought back together again. October 1st 2005 - Team 3D make their first appearance in TNA Wrestling After leaving WWE, the newly renamed Brother Ray and Brother Devon would head to the growing Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, first appearing on Impact on October 1st 2005. From the early-going, Team 3D were inserted into contention for the NWA World Tag Team Champions, battling America’s Most Wanted. For the next few years, Team 3D would remain the figureheads of the


Highs and Lows // DUDLEYZ

THINGS TNA Tag Team Division, capturing the TNA Tag Team Championships twice, going up against the likes of the Motor City Machine Guns and Beer Money Inc.

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November 10th 2010 - Brother Ray attacks Brother Devon, breaking up Team 3D

In 2010, Team 3D announced their intentions to retire, following one last TNA Tag Team Championship match again the Motor City Machine Guns. After coming up short, Ray and Devon gave a farewell speech to the TNA fans, which ended with Brother Ray attacking Devon from behind, turning him heel in the process. This would kick-start a feud which saw the newly renamed Bully Ray take on Devon throughout the course of a number of TNA pay-per-views. Despite their lack of success as singles competitors in WWE, this feud proved to be extremely popular with fans, and allowed both men to showcase their skills on their own. Eventually, Ray and Devon would set their sights on singles gold, with Devon picking up the TNA Television Championship on March 18th 2012.

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August 5th 2014 - Best of Three series begins against The Hardys and The Wolves

SEE

THI N G S W E

Once again in pursuit of the TNA World Tag Team Championships, Team 3D battled The Hardys and titleholders The Wolves to a best-of-3 series, which kicked off on the August 5th 2015 edition of Impact. Engaging in a triple threat match, a tables match, and a ladder match, each team was able to pick up a victory, leading to a deciding Full Metal Mayhem match on the September 16th edition of Impact. While Team 3D came out of the series without the gold, the feud has been credited as one of the most exciting aspects of TNA’s programming in recent years, with all three teams performing better than ever.

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By The Numbers

[ Planet Wrestling // Features // Interviews // UK // Puro // Collumns // Indie // Reviews ]

-

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The highest number of eliminations in a single Royal Rumble, which was a record set by Roman Reigns during the 2013 event

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The number of wrestlers who have eliminated themselves from the Royal Rumble match.

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The greatest amount of Royal Rumble wins by a single superstar, which were won by Stone Cold Steve Austin in 1997, 1998 and 2001

The total cumulative eliminations during all their Royal Rumble appearances, which is a record held jointly by Shawn Michaels and Glen Jacobs (in both his Isaac Yankem and Kane guises)

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The number of entrants in the largest Royal Rumble, which occurred in 2011

The number of winners of the 1994 event, after Bret Hart and Lex Luger battled to a draw when they were eliminated together and no judgement could be made on who touched the floor first

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62 8

39

The longest time of a single competitor spent in a Royal Rumble match, with Rey Misterio setting the record during his Rumble win in 2006

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Total Profile // AJ STYLES

[ Planet Wrestling // Features // Interviews // UK // Puro // Columns // Indie // Reviews ]

S WE HEA R

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From WWE to WCW, TNA to ROH and NWA to NJPW, there is very little to do in wrestling that AJ Styles hasn’t accomplished over the course of his sixteen year career. Styles debuted for Georgia-based National Championship Wrestling in 1998, wrestling under a mask as Mr. Olympia. However, it wasn’t long before all this changed; NCW merged with NWA Georgia and became NWA Wildside, and around the same time Styles lost the mask and began wrestling under the name that we know him as today.

TLING

An on-off feud with Air Paris impressed WCW talent scouts, and by 2001 the pair signed with the company to work as a tag team. However, WCW would be bought by the then-WWF in March of 2001, which prompted Styles to head back to NWA WIldside. Around this time, he’d also make a few appearances for WWE on their tertiary programming, but was never signed to a full contract by the company.

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In mid-2002, Styles would join the roster of both TNA and Ring of Honor, two promotions that had been founded earlier that year. Styles was a good fit for the ROH style, and won both the Tag Team and Pure Championships

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over the course of his initial run with the company. However, it was TNA that became Styles’ home for more than a decade, and perhaps is still the promotion that most would associate with the Phenomenal One. The week after he debuted for TNA on the company’s first weekly pay-per-view, Styles became the inaugural X Division champion by defeating Jerry Lynn, Psicosis and Low Ki. The next week, he and Jerry Lynn would win the NWA World Tag Team Championship. It was an auspicious start to his time with TNA, and something of a signal of things to come. Styles spent the latter half of 2002 feuding with Lynn over the X Division Championship, but by the time 2003 rolled around, he was ready to challenge for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship, at that time the top title in TNA.


Total Profile // AJ STYLES

Total Profile: AJ STYLES

THINGS

Styles was never far from the main event, and was often the focus of the show, but the company’s tendency to jump on WWE castoffs rather than nurture their own talent proved to be a stumbling block time after time. In December of 2013, a rather public run of contract negotiations would end with Styles saying goodbye to the company that he’d become inextricably linked with.

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Styles has since lost the title, but remains a big figure in both NJPW and ROH. While many wrestlers would be winding down, it seems that we’re only beginning to see AJ’s prime — who knows what we’ll see from the Phenomenal One in 2015.

SEE

However, TNA’s run as a viable alternative to WWE would be shortlived. For a while, the company seemed to be an engaging middle ground between the independent scene and a WWE-like sports entertainment product, but it wasn’t long before the promising promotion would turn into a me-too company. Bloated factions were commonplace, but things really took a turn for the worse when Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff were brought in at the beginning of 2010.

PL A

Many fans wondered what was next for AJ Styles, who was seemingly not a target for the youth-focussed WWE. However, 2014 was arguably the best year of Styles’ career to date, both in terms of ring work and mainstream exposure around the world. AJ made his return to Ring of Honor early in the year, but would find his greatest success out in Japan. Styles signed with New Japan Pro Wrestling in March, and debuted as the new leader of the Bullet Club stable in April. The following month he wrestled his first match for the company, winning the IWGP Heavyweight Championship — becoming only the sixth man from outside of Japan to hold the prestigious belt.

THI N G S W E

In June of 2003, Styles managed to win the gold by coming out on top in a Triple Threat match with Raven and Jeff Jarrett. In doing so, he became the first TNA Triple Crown Champion. In the years that followed, Styles would move between the X division and the heavyweight title picture, putting on showstealing matches wherever he was on the card. A Triple Threat match that saw him take on Samoa Joe and Christopher Daniels at Unbreakable 2005 remains an excellent example of what TNA could offer in its prime; some of the best competitors in the world demonstrating the cutting edge of pro wrestling.

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SWOTting Up // NGW

[ Planet Wrestling // Features // Interviews // UK // Puro // Collumns // Indie // Reviews ]

SwotTing Up

S WE HECompany: AR New Generation Wrestling (NGW)

Champions: NGW Heavyweight champion Rampage Brown, NGW tag team champions The London Riots. Venues: The Sports Arena Hull, Victoria Hall Keighley. Shows: 12 shows a year with Eternal Glory, Anniversary shows and Proving Grounds being focal points throughout the year.

ANE T STRENGTHS

NGW originally started in 2008 by Luke Ingamells and some wrestlers who were somewhat disenchanted with other promotions. After four shows and about six months Richard Dunn got involved with the promotion which has since gone on to produce a further 72 shows and firmly established itself as the premier promotion in the North East.

TLING Location

Based in the Humberside and East Yorkshire area NGW doesn’t have any direct competition that is in the area and so have the chance to reach out to all the local wrestling fans unimpeded. Added to that are well known wrestlers like El Ligero, Rampage Brown and WWE NXT performer Adrian Neville who all come from the Yorkshire to North East area giving fans more of a chance to have a local hero on the card.

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Production Values NGW were the first and still remain only one of the few who record and produce all their shows in HD. This gives the recording a much more sharper picture and a more professional look which when combined with the Sports Arena in Hull gives each card that “big event” feel.

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Reputation Having been part of the UK scene for six years NGW has a well deserved reputation for being one of the more consistent promotions in Britain always putting on cards that earn critical acclaim. To go with that is the use of some of the best British workers in the country like Nathan Cruz, The London Riots and Rampage Brown. The Davey Boy Smith Memorial Cup A great idea to honour one of the most famous and successful British wrestlers of all time, the qualifying matches have all been held under the NGW banner which as the tournament progresses will be a major selling point on shows.


SWOTing Up// ICW

“Use of some of the best British workers in the country like Nathan Cruz, The London Riots and Rampage Brown”

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SWOTting Up // PCW

[ Planet Wrestling // Features // Interviews // UK // Puro // Columns // Indie // Reviews ]

S WE HEA R

“Well known wrestlers like El Ligero, Rampage Brown and WWE NXT performer Adrian Neville who all come from the Yorkshire to North East area giving fans more of a chance to have a local hero on the card”

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SWOTting Up// NGW

Burnout Most people who promote wrestling shows claim it to be one of the more stressful parts of the wrestling business and NGW promoter already has a stressful weekday job in teaching. While he has balanced both amazingly well there is always the risk of burnout from continuing to be in two such stressful lines of work.

OPPORTUNITIES Proving Ground NGW has an excellent training school that is not only regarded as one of the best but with Rampage Brown and El Ligero has two of the most well known coaches in the UK. Including having had guest trainers like Fit Finlay, Robbie Brookside and Doug Williams the opportunity to get a great base in one’s professional wrestling skills is greatly improved by attending the NGW academy. Connection to Wrestletalk Not only does Alex Shane provide commentary for the majority of the

Making Contacts

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One thing about the wrestling business is always who you know will count more than most other things. NGW have used international talent like The Wolves, Angelina Love along with the renowned guest trainers and that gives British based wrestlers not only a chance to make an international contact but also show them what they can do in the ring.

THREATS

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Same Audience

With the majority of the same people attending the shows there is always the risk that eventually they will have the theory that they have seen it all before. Unlike a promotion in a major city that is more likely attracts different fans NGW relies on return custom so it needs to be constantly evolving so as not to disenchant fans.

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As much as it is a strength being the biggest promotion in Hull ultimately fans from outside the area and around the UK may well find it harder to get or indeed be put off due to where Hull is. Hull is not classed as city so therefore public transport may not have the same regularity of that as say London, Manchester or Birmingham.

Promotions Touring

With the announcement that ICW is to do another UK tour and other promotions going on the move there is a chance that NGW could get left behind as one of the top promotions. Also there is a chance that another promotion may well wander into their neck of the woods and thus try to take some of NGW’s business away.

SEE

Location

THINGS

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WEAKNESSES

NGW shows but the Wrestletalk website also has OnDemand content from NGW shows but also NGW is the most featured promotion on the British Wrestling Roundup which is the sister show to Wrestletalk. With both shows pulling strong viewing figures that’s amazing exposure for the promotion and those working on the cards.

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This Month // HOLY GROUND

S WE HETHIS AR

MONTH

[ Planet Wrestling // Features // Interviews // UK // Puro // Columns // Indie // Reviews ]

IN WRESTLING

HISTORY

Holy Ground sponsors This month in wrestling history buy the history of wwe books at www.thehistoryofwwe.com

of Doom or the UK’s own, British Bulldog.

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Are you ready to rumble? Are you ready for the Royal Rumble? We’re just weeks away from the 2015 edition. Since 1988, the Royal Rumble has been the most eagerly anticipated single match of the year within the WWE. After all, throwing 30 guys into a single match opens the doors to all sorts of storytelling possibilities.

GS W THIN

Of course not every Rumble is remembered for its nuances. And not every Rumble is a classic. Like, the 1993 edition of the Royal Rumble in Sacramento, California. Look at the beginning of 1992 and compare it to the following year and you’ll see a world of change. No Hogan, Piper, Sid, Jake, Legion

16

No stadium booked for WrestleMania, with many of the mainstays during the ‘80s boom on their way out. In their place were rising stars such as Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker, Razor Ramon, Tatanka and the Steiner Brothers. With Hart as champion, he had a tough job carrying the company in the wake of not only major departures but also with company steroid and sexual harassment claims still making headlines. However, Vince McMahon was quick to put the machine behind him - touting Bret’s nonstop title defence schedule, praising his technical in-ring work (substance over style was rarely a priority), and even producing a tribute video to Tom Petty’s “Makin Some Noise.” The WWF had its new hero, its new underdog that prevailed despite the odds. What it didn’t have was a monster to fear. But by the end of this night, the Hitman would have several new potential monsters to prepare for. It was a card that had a few notable highlights such as The Steiner Brothers making their PPV debut, having jumped from WCW in October. They would go on to fill the top baby face tag team role previously held by the Legion of Doom. Marty Jannetty would not appear on TV for four months following his match with Shawn Michaels. Bam Bam Bigelow returned to the WWF by dominating the Big Bossman. The last time they were in the WWF together in 1988, Bigelow was a babyface on his way out while


This Month // HOLY GROUND

Bossman was the new monster heel. Bret Hart, with his parents sitting ringside, turned back the challenge of Razor Ramon.

eventually hitting the flying elbow smash but then - in a brief lapse of judgement attempting a cover, Yoko pressed Savage off and right out over the top rope.

Lex Luger made his debut as a wrestler, under the moniker Narcissus (‘The Narcissist’ would be a later change).

There it was. Yoko, who had been on TV only three months with very little competition, walked in the Royal Rumble and shocked many with his performance. For more modern fans, it was Brock Lesnar’s 2002 meteoric rise, just under different circumstances.

A host of stars made their PPV debut in the Rumble match. Early showdowns pitted Bob Backlund against Ric Flair (the two had champion vs. champion matches some 10 years earlier) and Flair vs. Jerry Lawler (a throwback to when Lawler challenged Flair for the NWA title). Flair would eventually be ousted by Mr. Perfect; their Loser Leaves Town match would air the following night on Raw. The Undertaker dominating the ring before the Giant Gonzalez made his debut, leaving Taker laying like never before. The roster, having been so thin at this time, gave tag team wrestlers or untested newbies a chance as participants in the rumble match. However, late in the game, Yokozuna made his entrance and dominated, tossing wrestlers left and right - from Tatanka and Earthquake to Carlos Colon and Owen Hart also tossing then recordholder Bob Backlund over the top. Eventually it would come down to Yoko and Randy Savage, with Yoko dominating before Savage making a comeback,

Going into the show, the average fan could have put money on any combination of Savage, Flair or Perfect to earn a showdown with the Hitman. For Flair, it would have been his TV rematch from losing the title to Hart in Saskatoon. For Perfect, it would have culminated his return to the ring at Survivor Series, and continued his on-again, off-again rivalry with Hart. For Savage, it would have likely been his last big showcase in a WWF ring as well as an opportunity to endorse Bret as ‘the’ guy. But Vince needed his monster. And he found it in the 505lb. Yokozuna. The remainder of 1993 would see Yoko cement his role with wins over Bret, the returning Hulk Hogan, and even the Undertaker. His dominance would eventually earn him inclusion into the WWE Hall of Fame. But it all started at the Rumble.

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Total Guilty Pleasures // RUMBLE

[ Planet Wrestling // Features // Interviews // UK // Puro // Columns // Indie // Reviews ]

S WE HEWhat is a guilty pleasure? Webster’s dictionary defines it as “something pleasurable ARinduces that a minor feeling of guilt”. It’s like keeping a secret collection of ABBA, listening to their albums when no one else is around, or better yet, still watching Pokemon.

Sadly, we all have them, those secret pleasures in life that for one reason or another you should feel downright ashamed of. We’re no different here at Total Wrestling and every month we’ll be delving into those moments that were generally panned by everyone else, but we loved them!

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It’s time for a rumble..

In 1998, World Wrestling Entertainment skyrocketed to the top of the professional wrestling industry on the back of the “Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs. Vince McMahon rivalry. The anti-authority rebel continuously defying the uptight corporate big wig was compelling television that fans found themselves captivated to, leading to unprecedented success for the sports-entertainment empire. After years of playing second-fiddle to Ted Turner’s World Championship Wrestling and Eric Bischoff’s revolutionary New World Order faction, the company again found itself enjoying international success.

TLING

On a weekly basis, millions would turn

into Monday Night Raw on USA Network to see exactly what McMahon would do to oppress Austin and his WWE Championship run and, more importantly, how the Texas Rattlesnake would strike back and bite the Chairman of the Board. Whether it was pouring concrete in McMahon’s Corvette or riding a zamboni to the ring and attacking the boss during a ceremony, fans never tired of Austin’s over-the-top antics. There was only one problem, though. As hot as the rivalry was, they had never gotten the much anticipated Austin-McMahon match that was teased in the spring of 1998 but never followed up on. While it was not the singles battle they had begged to see for months, the beginning of 1999 brought with it the first opportunity for fans to witness Austin vs. McMahon on pay-per-view, courtesy of the 30-man, over-the-toprope Royal Rumble match. Thanks to chicanery on the part of the boss, Austin was announced as the No. 1 entrant into the match, no doubt thanks to a rigged lottery drawing. Shawn Michaels, thenWWE Commissioner, was not willing to allow McMahon to skate free and brought up a performer clause that existed in the boss’ contract. He ordered McMahon into competition at the pay-per-view and announced that he would, in fact, enter No. 2.

GS W THIN

Fans would be guaranteed to see Austin get his hands on McMahon, without the interference of The Corporation, for at least two minutes! Or so they thought.

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Total Guilty Pleasures // RUMBLE

With a $100,000 bounty put on Austin by McMahon, everyone was gunning for the former heavyweight champion, including McMahon’s own Corporation members, who laid him out in the lady’s restroom. With Austin put on a stretcher and taken away in an ambulance, it looked very much like the fans had been robbed of the long-awaited ass-kicking they had so desired.

THINGS

Then, in typical “Stone Cold” fashion, he came roaring back, and finally got his hands on his hated rival. He beat on McMahon for a brief period of time when WWE champion The Rock made his way down the aisle. He distracted Austin, allowing McMahon to dump the company’s toughest S.O.B. and win the match in stunning fashion.

Today, the 1999 Royal Rumble is looked back upon as one of the worst in company history and there is certainly evidence to support that claim. Outside of the Austin-McMahon story, the first half of the match is dreadfully boring. Star power is almost nonexistent, with the likes of Golga, Gillberg, the Blue Meanie, Steve Blackman and Dan Severn failing miserably in their attempt to sustain the excitement and energy created by the interaction between Austin and McMahon. That none of those men were involved in any real storyline of note only enhanced the boredom of fans tasked with tolerating them in order to get to the much more interesting stars that entered the bout later.

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It is those Superstars that helped save the contest from going down in infamy as one of the worst booking decisions in company history. D-Generation X’s Triple H, “Road Dogg” Jesse James, “Badass” Billy Gunn and X-Pac battled it out with the Corporation’s Test, Big Bossman, and Ken Shamrock while Chyna became the first woman to ever compete in the popular annual bout.

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And who can forget about The Undertaker interrupting the contest and recruiting Viscera to join his Ministry of Darkness, even if such recruitment came in the form of a massive beating?

THI N G S W E

The stories that unfolded in and around the contest set the stage for the next few months-worth of television and pay-per-view. It was integral in what writers Vince Russo and Ed Ferrara were attempting to accomplish at that point in time and when looked at in that context, and when examining just how many all-time greats were part of the festivities, it is easy to see why so many fans of that era recognize it as a guilty pleasure.

SEE

While many critics will point to the match’s lack of quality action as the reason it belongs in the “worst Royal Rumble ever” conversation, they fail to remember that it was storytelling that led to the overwhelming popularity of the Attitude Era in the first place and storytelling that dominated the 1999 Rumble match.

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Total Diva // MARIA

[ Planet Wrestling // Features // Interviews // UK // Puro // Columns // Indie // Reviews ]

S WE HEA R never Kanellis’ in-ring prowess that kept her on the books in WWE, and as such she was more commonly used as a bit part in bigger storylines than as a wrestler in contention for the Women’s Championship.

ANE T

It’s difficult to think of anyone scouted by WWE’s Diva Search that’s had a more varied and remarkable career than Maria Kanellis. Placing fifth in the second Diva Search contest held back in 2004, Maria was hired by WWE as a backstage interviewer. It’s said that Kanellis stood out to the company after she gave the finger to a fellow contestant after she was eliminated — in pro wrestling, there’s always something that you can do to stand out, it seems.

TLING

After a run at Ohio Valley Wrestling, then a WWE developmental territory helmed by Paul Heyman, Maria was deemed worthy of a spot on the main roster. Her first appearances on Raw saw her take the role of a backstage interviewer and host — but it wouldn’t be long before she would step into the ring. Kanellis’ first official WWE match was a Lingerie Pillow Fight with Christy Hemme in early 2005, which she lost.

GS W THIN

The months that followed saw Maria compete in many similar stipulation matches, a product of a particularly dark period of Divas action on WWE television that still casts a shadow over the women’s division of today. It was

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Maria had a part to play in Eric Bischoff’s storyline firing at the end of 2005, before 2006 passed with little note outside of an on-off feud with Lita. 2007 began with a feud with Melina, before Maria began a relationship with Santino Marella that would prove to be one of the most memorable stints of her WWE career — in particular for the pair receiving a beer bath from Stone Cold Steve Austin when he made an appearance Raw to promote a movie. It became clear over the next few years that WWE wasn’t the right place for Maria to play to her strengths. The occasional magazine shoot or romance plot would bring her to the forefront of the Diva’s division every now and then, but the fact was that female talent were largely seen as interchangeable, and rarely got any sort of compelling storyline to sink their teeth into. In 2010, Maria was released for her WWE contract, and few would perhaps have thought that she would continue in pro wrestling rather than pursuing modelling or acting full-time.


Total Diva // MARIA

THINGS

PL A

WRE STL

During her time with Ring of Honor, Maria has become quite comfortable with her role as Bennett’s mouthpiece, gaining a grip on her audience that few would have expected given her work in WWE. It’s an act that has greatly benefited Bennett as he’s risen through the ranks of the promotion over the past couple of years, and it’s afforded the pair the opportunity to perform internationally, with well-received appearances for New Japan Pro Wrestling as part of their partnership with Ring of Honor.

All that being said, it’s difficult to say that Maria’s time on the independent scene has been anything other than the best run of her career. Making her first appearance for Ring of Honor at Final Battle 2011, Maria accompanied her then-boyfriend Michael Bennett to the ring, and since then the pair have blossomed into one of the most effective manager and wrestler pairings of recent years — they also married in October of 2014.

Rumours continue to circulate about Maria making a return to WWE — and, it’s thought that if she did, she’d do so alongside Bennett. However, since the pair are seemingly in demand both in the US and further afield, it might well be that they’re happy enough to continue independently. Kanellis is proof that there are all sorts of paths through the pro wrestling industry — and WWE can sometimes be the beginning, rather than the end.

W O KN

However, while Kanellis did continue to work as a model and actor, she also made the unexpected move of transitioning to the independent scene. Back in 2010, before CM Punk and Daniel Bryan made the casual television fan aware of promotions like Ring of Honor, the indies weren’t seen to be as much of an alternative for exWWE talent as they are today — and a WWE Diva, particular one not noted for their wrestling, wasn’t exactly the sort of performer these promotions were known for featuring.

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THI N G S W E


Fantasy Warfare// AJ Vs LIita

- Total Wrestling Presents -

FANTASY WARFARE BRAY WYATT vs MANKIND

S WE HEA Imagine R a world in which two all-time greats could face one another at the peak of their careers. Imagine the possibilities as two eras collide, two generations clash and

two different philosophies, ideologies and emotions are brought to life. Welcome to TW Fantasy Warfare.

Bray Wyatt is often referred to as the modern-day Mankind, and for good reason. His eerie promos, his flabby physique and hardcore style all resemble those of the Hardcore Legend. But Wyatt has created a character that has hit a chord with the WWE Universe. His entrance alone sends tingles up one’s spine. During his relative short career he has defeated the likes of Daniel Bryan, Kane, John Cena, Chris Jericho and Dean Ambrose. He is also rumoured to be challenging The Undertaker at WrestleMania 31. The former leader of the Wyatt Family has now gone it alone and is even more dangerous than before. There is nothing he will stop at to achieve victory and mentally destroy his opponent. There are similarities between him and Mankind, but the WWE Universe have never truly seen anyone quite like Bray Wyatt before.

ANE T

TALE OF THE TAPE Hometown: Brooksville, Florida Height: 6ft 3in Weight: 295lbs Finisher: Sister Abigail

Mick Foley created three of the most loved gimmicks in the history of professional wrestling., but none were ever more popular than Mankind. Cactus Jack and Dude Love also had their legions of fans but there was always something mysterious about Mankind that the WWE Universe fell in love with. He revolutionized the business for hardcore wrestling. The things he did to his body were unthinkable. Just re-watch his infamous Hell in a Cell bout with Undertaker from King of the Ring 1998 to get proof of that statement. During his tenure as Mankind, Foley won three WWE Championship and helped usher in the Attitude Era with his brutal contests with The Rock and Triple H. The bizarre Mankind also had a jolly side that we all witnessed in the loveable Rock ‘N’ Sock Connection partnership. Their “This is your Life” moment from 1999 is still the highest-rated segment in Raw history. Just shows you the popularity of the pair at the time. Mick Foley still has his many fans, penning several autobiographies and novels following his retirement from the ring in 2006. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame the night before WrestleMania 29.

TLING

In this edition of Fantasy Warfare, we look at what would happen if the “Eater Of Worlds” Bray Wyatt went one-on-one with the crazed Mankind.

GS W THIN

Bray Wyatt and Mankind: The Careers Bray Wyatt (real name, Windham Rotunda) made his WWE debut in 2010 as part of the second series of NXT. His ring name at the time was Husky Harris. Harris was quickly eliminated from the competition before returning to attack the eventual winner, Kaval. At the Hell in a Cell PPV in October 2010, Wyatt (still under the guise of the Harris gimmick) helped Wade Barrett to defeat John Cena before joining the New Nexus faction. However, Harris did not remain on the main roster for long after failing to impress he was punted in the skull by Randy Orton on an episode of Raw and sent back to development. In 2012, Windham Rotunda created the

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The Rundown It’s hard to imagine this match ever becoming a reality considering Foley’s age and injuries, but it’s always fun to wonder what if? If these two did get it on, it would have to be inside of Hell in a Cell. Imagine the creative things these two twisted minds would come up with to inflict damage on the other. It would be an utter war, with the build up to the contest being just as exciting. Just the thought of Bray Wyatt and Mankind having promos together is enough to get anyone excited, now just imagine the pair locked inside Hell in a Cell. This is a match that many would like to see simply because of how similar each man’s character is. Mankind has had more big matches than the much younger Wyatt, but Bray has defeated some of the top names in the business in dominant fashion. The pain these two would put their bodies through for victory is simply unimaginable. Bray Wyatt may just lose out in the mind games, but he would dominate Mankind inside the Cell. Their in-ring styles are very alike, and the WWE universe would be on the edge of their seats


Fantasy Warfare// AJ Vs LIita persona of Bray Wyatt and a star was born. Wyatt is a character portrayed to be an evil cult leader who believes himself to be more monster than human. Things were looking up for Wyatt until he suffered a torn Pectoral Muscle in July. Despite the injury, Bray Wyatt remained on NXT TV forming the Wyatt Family with Erick Rowan and Luke Harper. Wyatt returned from injury in February 2013. In July 2013, The Wyatt Family made their WWE debut on Raw, brutally attacking Kane. That led to a “Ring of Fire” match at SummerSlam which Wyatt won. Bray Wyatt’s next feud was against the super-popular Daniel Bryan. At the Royal Rumble, Bray Wyatt defeated Daniel Bryan in the opener, and later in the event cost John Cena the WWE World Heavyweight Championship against Randy Orton to set up a match between the pair for WrestleMania 30. Prior to that bout, The Wyatt Family and The Shield stole the show at the Elimination Chamber ppv in one of the greatest six man tag matches in WWE history. Despite his best efforts, Bray Wyatt went onto lose to John Cena at WrestleMania. That was Wyatt’s first pinfall loss since arriving in the WWE under his new gimmick. Wyatt would beat Cena in a Steel Cage match a month later at Extreme Rules before falling to

Hometown: Long Island, New York Height: 6ft 2in Weight: 287lbs Finisher: Mandible Claw

the Cenation Leader in a classic Last Man Standing bout at Payback. In October, Bray Wyatt disbanded the Wyatt Family and set out alone. His first target was Dean Ambrose who he defeated in a brutal Tables, Ladders and Chairs match in the main event of TLC. The future is bright for this young superstar. After many years on the independent scene and wrestling for ECW and WCW, Mick Foley finally made it to the promised land of WWE under the guise of Mankind. In 1996, Mankind was born. A mentally challenged masked man who constantly squealed and ripped out his own hair during matches. Mankind wasted little time in feuding with The Undertaker. Mankind would defeat the Phenom in his PPV debut at King of the Ring.

THINGS

At Mind Games 1996, Mankind wrestled Shawn Michaels for the WWE Championship in one of the all-time classic WWE battles. Interference from Undertaker led to Michaels winning, and the Mankind/Taker feud continuing. They would aim to settle the score once and for all in a Buried Alive match. Mankind would lose, but thanks to interference from members of the locker room, he managed to escape and bury The Undertaker alive. Undertaker quickly returned and beat Mankind at Survivor Series.

PL A

Mankind returned to do battle with The Undertaker once again in 1998, this time inside Hell in a Cell. Mick Foley wanted to do something special and indeed he did. In one of the most memorable wrestling matches in history, Foley received numerous injuries and took two dangerous and highly influential bumps. The first one came atop the structure where Undertaker threw Mankind off the 22ft cell straight through the announce table at ringside. Mankind was temporarily stretchered out of the arena before coming back to fight Undertaker on top of the cel, Foley was Chokeslammed through the cage all the way down to the canvas below. Although Foley lost, both men received a deserved standing ovation for the match, and the event jump-started Mankind’s main event career.

WRE STL

W O KN

Shortly after the match, Mankind became a more fan-friendly comedy character. This started with Mankind trying to be friends with Mr. McMahon that led to the boss screwing Foley out of the WWE Championship at the Survivor Series 1998.

Three Count Mankind taking on Bray Wyatt inside Hell in a Cell would be a classic battle, that the world would want to see. Our verdict? We can’t see any other outcome than a Bray Wyatt win. Mankind’’s win/loss record in the WWE isn’t very impressive, and even though he would put up an incredible fight, there is no way he would defeat the more sinister Bray Wyatt. Following a brutal battle inside the cell, the brawl would venture to the top of the structure where Wyatt would plant Mankind with Sister Abigail onto barbed wire for the three-count.

SEE

Mankind has been cheered and jeered by the fans in his time, while Bray Wyatt has the fans eating out of the palm of his hands despite supposedly being a dastardly heel. No two wrestlers are more brutal than this pair, and this one would be talked about for years to come.

THI N G S W E

anticipating what they are about to see.

Foley went on to have a series of classic battles with The Rock which resulted in him winning two WWE Championships. Mick Foley and The Rock would then form an unlikely tag team in the latter stages of 1999, dubbed “The Rock ‘N’ Sock Connection.”

Mankind would capture his third WWE Championship at SummerSlam 1999 in a Triple Threat match against Triple H and Stone Cold Steve Austin. A feud with Triple H resulted in Foley retiring for the first time in his career after losing a Hell in a Cell battle to The Game at No Way Out 2000. Mick Foley made one last appearance as Mankind at Cyber Sunday in 2007 where he defeated Carlito.

A match-up between these two p# Hardcore Legends of the sport would be one for the ages.


What’s In Your Fridge?

[ Planet Wrestling // Features // Interviews // UK // Puro // Collumns // Indie // Reviews ]

WHAT’S IN YOUR FRIDGE?

S WE HEA R

Name the leading five must-haves in your fridge and why?

Grapes- to go with my home made protein yoghurt Soy milk- for breakfast and shakes, soy because I’m lactose intolerant Peanut butter- just, because it’s amazing Salad- pre made for healthy convince food Colours- loads of different vegetables, all different colours, I’m a fresh food kind of guy, love having different colours on my plate

ANE T

Least favourite type of food and why? I’m strange, I like raw mushrooms but hate cooked ones. Raw onions but not fussed on soggy, cooked onions. Like the taste of tomatoes but the texture makes my wretch. Which nationality of food is your favourite?

Fried rice and chips from the chippy. Dirty, filthy, love.. Diet coke though.

What is your ideal threemeal day?

Do you keep anything other than frozen peas in your freezer?

I have usually Special K and omelette Tofu and pasta Vegetables and ‘meat’ But my ideal, would probably be Cheesy beans on toast Veggie burger and chips Sunday roast

TLING

What dessert do you enjoy? My favourite is possibly rice pudding, my Mams a vegan and she makes a killer dairy free rice pudding What is your signature dish? I have a lot of stirfry’s but I’m probably known for my chickpea and mixed bean falafel. So easy to make, almost all protein, tastes marvellous

GS W THIN

What meal do you eat before entering the ring and why? I’ll have a mid day meal of tofu and rice then nothing until after, I get bloated if I have anything before wrestling. A small carb meal at dinner time then a pre-workout shake 30 minutes before I’m on What food do you look forward to most eating after a match and why? Cookies, we make home made protein cookies at home, I look forward to getting back as much as I

N RO A L Y D B

What food do you cheat with?

Chinese or Indian, it’s a close one.

My freezer is pretty much rammed with tofu or meat alternative, it’s so easy, I don’t like peas, as a vegetarian, I’m quite fussy

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can to refill my sugars and treating myself.

S T ER

Which one food do you absolutely love? I absolutely love sweet potato in any form, fries, mash, it’s so nice

Which one food do you absolutely hate? I hate parsnips, my mam tricked me as a child in telling me a roast parsnip was a roast potato....I’ve never forgiven her for that What’s your one biggest tip in regards to diet for any aspiring wrestlers or those wanting to get in shape. What foods and why? Fats and carbohydrates are fine, there fuel for working out, not nasties like everyone thinks. Sugars are the devil.


What’s On Your iPod?

WHAT’S ON YOUR iPOD?

THINGS

I’ll listen to literally anything, I probably listen to singer/songwriter artists the most though Do you listen to music when you train? I go through phases of incredibly terrible dance/ trance noise or anything by Papa Roach, MCR, Guns and Roses, anything loud. I talk all day in real life so like to have my own space not talking to anyone with my headphones in, I probably look rude but I don’t care much Do you have a favourite artist? I’ve listened to Ben Howard everyday for the past four years, his guitar skills are phenomenal and as an

PL A

Do you have a signature theme music you use for coming down to the ring to? I have Arnold Schwarzenegger scream my name before my music plays, if anyone is going to get me pumped, it’s Arnie

Name five songs which you absolutely love and why?... Chris DeBurgh- Lady in Red. Because my mam used to play it at home all the time

WRE STL

N-Sync - Larger than Life. My brother and I learnt the dance routine for some bizarre reason, he’ll kill me if he finds out I’ve fessed up to that. Ben Howard- The Fear. I can relate to this song and it was the first one I heard of his.

Linkin Park - anything from the Hybrid Theory album. I got this album the same time I started lifting weights, I was going through a tough time with bullies and as emo as it sounds, it helped me.

W O KN

What is your favourite genre of music?

Foy Vance- Like an Animal. I listen it in the car on my way to a show or the gym, if I’m feeling a little tired or like I can’t be bothered. It shakes that away from me.

SEE

My iPhone 6plus, I’m an apple nerd

aspiring guitar player myself, it’s something I can relate to physically with learning his songs and personally. He’s my man-crush for sure

THI N G S W E

What do you use to listen to music?

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Total Defining Moments

[ Planet Wrestling // Features // Interviews // UK // Puro // Collumns // Indie // Reviews ]

Key Players:

S WE HEA R

Key Matches: WCW: WCW World Heavyweight Championship, WCW Starrcade 1997 Sting vs. Hollywood Hulk Hogan NWA World Heavyweight Championship, NWA Clash of the Champions 1988 Sting vs. Ric Flair

ANE T TNA:

NWA World Heavyweight Championship (Title vs Career), TNA Bound For Glory 2006 Sting vs. Jeff Jarrett TNA World Heavyweight Championship, from Bound for Glory 2007 Sting vs. Kurt Angle

Sting: Steve Borden, better known by his ring name Sting, was the face of WCW. He is best known for his tenure in World Championship Wrestling (WCW); owing to his loyalty to the now-defunct promotion, Sting came to be dubbed as “The Franchise” of WCW during the 1990s and early 2000s. He has wrestled for WWA, TNA and is now signed to the WWE. Triple H: The then acting on screen COO of the WWE. And one of the key factors that made this deal happen. Survivor Series: The Survivor Series is an annual pay-per-view event held in November by WWE. It is one of the “Big Four” events, along with WrestleMania, the Royal Rumble and SummerSlam, as it is one of the original four payper-views produced by WWE. The Authority: The on screen heel group going into WWE Survivor Series 2014. WCW: World Championship Wrestling, Inc. was an American professional wrestling promotion based in Atlanta, Georgia. Founded in 1988, closed its doors in 2001. TNA: Total Nonstop Action Wrestling is a privately held sports entertainment company based in Nashville, Tennessee. Founded in 2002. TNA currently is the second biggest wrestling promotion next to WWE.

The WWE Debut of Sting

In a moment that millions of wrestling fans have been awaiting since WCW closed its doors in 2001, Sting finally officially appeared on WWE TV during the dying moments of the Survivor Series PPV.

Sting fans, have been waiting for and

“The Icon” Sting, one of the biggest stars in the history of the business did what many thought would never happen and entered a WWE ring to save the WWE from The Authority.

It took nearly 30 years, many false reports and two post-WCW companies to come to fruition but Sting finally made the transition to WWE, appearing in the dying moments of the Team Cena vs. Team Authority main event. Dolph Ziggler looked set to win the match for his team over Seth Rollins which drew in Triple H. Triple H beat the tar out of Ziggler. Finally, the lights when out and “The Man Called Sting” came out to confront Triple H helping take out Triple H and allowing Team Cena to get the win.

TLING

This is something that many lifelong

it’s a similar case for anyone who was an avid WCW fan during the 90’s and into the early 2000’s. So it seems that the impossible can happen.

GS W THIN

It is well documented that Sting has rejected many other attempts from the WWE big wigs to get him to join the ranks of the WWE. Most notably, in 2011 and around 2002 around the same time other WCW mainstays were appearing in the WWE.

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Total Defining Moments

THINGS

Sting’s loyalty to this company is perhaps the core reason why he didn’t appear in the WWE sooner. But that all changed once Sting’s TNA contract ended in late 2013. After losing to then TNA Champion Magnus on his way out of the company; he hit the scene stating that he was WWE bound and that The Undertaker was on

Twitter was alight as were many wrestling news sites. TNA even jumped on board holding a huge sale of the former multiple time TNA Champion’s merchandise on the Monday after his debut.

W O KN

The concept of Sting in the WWE gained huge traction from around February 2011. Videos appeared on WWE TV that were actually meant to tie into a Sting programme with The Undertaker but this didn’t work out and Sting stayed in TNA for another few years.

WRE STL

Sting now joins The Undertaker, The Rock, The Shield and Kurt Angle as top talent that has debuted at November’s Big Four show. It was a stellar debut for “The Icon” and it drove Sting fans across the world into an ecstatic fit.

It now appears that the former WCW, WWA and TNA wrestler in now set for a high profile match against Triple H at WrestleMania. Or we could get a double retirement match against The Undertaker. It is worth noting that The Undertaker also made his debut at Survivor Series in 1990.

SEE

TNA was home to Sting full time since 2005. During this time he was a fourtime TNA World Heavyweight Champion, a one-time NWA World Heavyweight Champion and the first member of the TNA Hall of Fame.

his list for his last match. The rumour mill again had a field day until it was confirmed in early 2014.

THI N G S W E

Sting held out and since WCW was bought by the WWE in 2001, the wrestling rumour mill has been in business with reasons why “Sting will never join Vince” etc. And to the best of our knowledge these could have been true but something changed and changed for the best.

PL A

The Undertaker who has been on Sting’s wish list for years has yet to be seen since Brock Lesnar broke his streak at WrestleMania. However, both of these matches are on the table and either could happen and we must play the waiting game.

27


The Naked Truth // KOFI

[ Planet Wrestling // Features // Interviews // UK // Puro // Collumns // Indie // Reviews ]

THE NAKED TRUTH CENSORED

CENSORED

CENSORED

CENSORED

KOFI KINGSTON

S WE HEA R

KINGSTON

ANE T

Every month in the pages of TW, a professional wrestler is placed under the spotlight to really see what makes them the performer that they are. This month’s superstar is”The Big Guy” Ryback. Let’s strip him back to see what makes him unique and stand out from the crowd in an industry where everyone is trying to get noticed.

TLING

The Draws Athleticism

Long-time fans of WWE may remember a member of the roster named Shelton Benjamin. Amidst Benjamin’s push one of the most hyped up aspects of his game was his athleticism. In many ways Kofi Kingston is a modern day version of Benjamin. Kingston simply dazzles in the squared circle. Since his debut in 2007, he has employed a ring style which is different from his counterparts in WWE and he has shone like no other particularly when it comes to the Royal

GS W THIN 28

Rumble match in recent years. More than simply a spot monkey, Kingston knows how to create the right atmosphere in the ring and has always been a tremendous babyface. Almost getting to the point where this is actually becoming a negative as Kingston has played exactly the same role since his debut s 7 years ago. As good as he may be in the role; it is time for a change.

Potential Potential is more often than not a dirty word in wrestling circles. Potential usually translates to “not ready just yet.” However, in Kofi Kingston’s case potential really defines that he has been a talent waiting for his opportunity for many years to strike and show WWE what he is made of. The depressing part of this is that back in 2009 Kingston grabbed that brass ring that Vince Mcmahon has been harping on about for years. Finally getting serious and becoming involved in a personal issue and showing emotion, Kingston really formed a connection with the audience. Putting Randy Orton through a table in front of a rabid Madison Square Garden crowd may rank up as the highest moment in his young career. No longer the happy, smiling, go-lucky cheerleader, Kingston became a rebel confronting the big school yard bully and Orton was the perfect foil. The push unfortunately did not last and once the Orton feud had run its course Kingston was right back to the mid card yet again.


The Naked Truth // KOFI

Character When analysing the babyface character in 2014 you will notice a drastic difference to the typical babyface of years gone by. However, when you analyse Kingston you will see next to no differences at all. He is straight out of the cartoon era of the 1990’s. The babyface who will smile at the crowd all the way through even if he lost the match. This character is incredibly outdated and became so when Steve Austin was on the rise. The lines between being a hero and villain have become increasingly blurred over the years and Kingston needs to embrace that. He cannot simply smile, clap and be happy all the time. What person can relate to that? Every person in the world gets angry once in a while. We need to see more emotion and range, before his career comes to an end.

Company Man As previously mentioned he’s been an active member of the WWE roster since 2007. Given he has largely remained in the

THINGS

PL A

The Verdict

Kofi Kingston is one of the most dynamic and entertaining performers on WWE’s entire roster. He has been a glad hand to have around ever since he was introduced in 2007 on ECW back when it was under the WWE corporate umbrella. Since then he has held the WWE Intercontinental, United States and Tag Team Championship. However, there’s a feeling that he is simply stuck in that position and that he can’t quite crack the main event bracket. As noted he has all the tools in the world to accomplish it but he is largely his own worse enemy. Ultimately the direction of his career comes down to Kingston himself. Is he happy to continue on in the role he is in? After all he gets to travel the world, perform in front of audiences and collect a regular paycheque how bad can it be? Time will tell if Kingston will ever truly “make it” in the WWE but here and now he most certainly has more tools than most in order to achieve it. Maybe WWE will wake up and realise what is has in Kingston before it is too late.

WRE STL

W O KN

You could make the case that given Kingston has now been on the roster for close to a decade that he has become typecast as a mid card wrestler. Make no mistake that when you buy a ticket to see a WWE live event you will see Kofi taking on the likes of The Miz or Dolph Ziggler, not John Cena or The Big Show. Given that is a role that he has played for so long he has become firmly entrenched in it. People now expect to see him play that type of role and it would be incredibly difficult to see him take on the top names in the business even with a huge sustained push behind him.

SEE

Typecast

mid card ever since, one has to wonder why has he never really been given a chance? Kingston is an extremely likeable member of the roster who ruffles no feathers whatsoever. That in effect is part of the problem. If you want to be a top guy in WWE you have to have the fortitude to be able to stand up and speak your mind when the time comes. If Kingston wants to get by he has to speak up. He has been treading water for far too long. The New Day faction may be the answer he’s looking for, right now its too early to say otherwise. But if it does fail, Kingston needs to understand that if he doesn’t start to speak out he will remain a permanent fixture of the undercard for the rest of his career.

THI N G S W E

The Flaws

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Total Merch// The Merch Stand

[ Planet Wrestling // Features // Interviews // UK // Puro // Collumns // Indie // Reviews ]

presents:

S WE HEA R WWW.MERCH - STAND.COM

Found yourself coming into cash? Have a chunk of spare change you’d like to turn into something cool?

ANE T

TW gives you the lowdown on the most exciting merch currently kicking around online, monthly, and link you up to where you can turn your cash into collectors items!

TLING

The ICW Bus T-Shirt Insane Championship Wrestling are living life on the road as of late, recently announcing their ‘Insane Entertainment System’ tour, and now you can have your piece of the madness with the ICW Bus t-shirt. Designed by ICW manager, Neil ‘The Wee Man’ Bratchpiece, the ICW Bust T-Shirt features the entire ICW roster, including Grado, Jack Jester, Drew Galloway, and the New Age Kliq! Available in sizes Small - 4XL, this limited edition t-shirt is one that cannot be missed! To pick up yours, head over to www.insanewrestling.co.uk, the official webiste of Insane Championship Wrestling. Progress Chapter 14: Thunderbastard DVD London’s Progress Wrestling is continuing to represent British Wrestling as well as anyone right now, and their stellar event, Chapter 14: Thunderbastard, can now be owned on limited edition 2-disc DVD. Featuring some of the top talent in Progress, such as the London Riots, Stixx, Wild Boar, Michael Gilbert and Martin Kirby, this sold-out event is co-headlined by a match between Rampage Brown and former TNA Heavyweight champion Samoa Joe, and a Progress Title match between defending champion Jimmy Havoc and Noam Dar.

GS W THIN

This DVD is limited, and selling fast, so head to www. progresswrestling.com/shop to grab yours before they’re gone!

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Total Merch// The Merch Stand

Rated-R Edge Elite WWE Figure Since his unfotunate retirement, the wrestling world has missed the man known as Edge. The former WWE Champion is one of the most popular superstars in recent memory, and as such, Ringside Collectibles are now selling their exclusive Rated-R Edge Elite Action figure for you to enjoy! Along with his signature entrance jacket, and custom ‘Rated-R’ Championship belt, this is a fantastic tribute to one of the greatest talents of the modern era, and is a must-have for any fan of the ultimate opportunist!

THINGS

To purchase your own “Rated R Edge” Ringside Collectibles Exclusive action figure, head over to www. ringsidecollectibles.com The Merch Stand - WRESTLING! tshirts

PL A

Now all over the UK and other parts of the world, fans have taken to shouting what they see. This has led to, seemingly, any time a performer attempts to incorporate chain wrestling into a match, a headlock, wrist lock, waist lock, toe and ankle hold; somebody somewhere in the room will shout one word WRESTLING!

Now thanks to The Merch Stand you can wear this fetching design in a selection of colours to Professional Wrestling shows up and down the country. Own this fun Tshirt by heading to www.merch-stand.spreadshirt.co.uk

WRE STL

WWE Undertaker WrestleMania 23 Signed Plaque 75/500

The Undertaker, to this day, is one of the most important and iconic names in a professional wrestling, with his name woven into the legacy of Wrestlemania. Now, you can own your very own piece of history, with this extremely rare collectors plaque, signed by the legendary Undertaker himself.

W O KN

As well as a personally signed photograph of the Phenom, this plaque also contains a piece of the ring canvas used at Wrestlemania 23, where the Deadman took on Batista for the World Heavyweight Championship. This is one of only 500 pieces available, and is a unique gift for any wrestling fan!

THI N G S W E

Own your piece of the Undertakers Wrestlemania history by heading to www.wrestlingmerchandise.co.uk

One of the most talked about men in WWE’s NXT at the moment, Finn Bálor has brought the mystique that made him such a hit on the independant scene to the world-stage and is wowing fans all over the planet. With his war-paint donned, Bálor now has his first official t-shirt available through WWE.

SEE

Finn Bálor “Arrival” Authentic T-Shirt

This dark, yet eye-catching t-shirt is only available through WWE’s official store, and will no doubt sell extremely fast in the coming months, as Finn continues to rise through the ranks of WWE. Do not miss out on owning the first ever Finn Bálor t-shirt, availble at www.wweshop.com

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Heading// Subheading

TOTAL ACTION ZONE

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[ Planet Wrestling // Features // Interviews // UK // Puro // Collumns // Indie // Reviews ]

PUNKED OUT

Punked Out // BROOKS TO UFC

PHIL BROOKS A.K.A CM PUNK SIGNS WITH UFC

Credit: UFC - www.whoatv.com

During the UFC 181 pay-per-view broadcast, Ultimate Fighting Championship announcer Joe Rogan conducted an Octagon-side interview with former WWE champion and headliner, Phil Brooks, AKA CM Punk, announcing that “The Best in the World” had signed with UFC. Matthew Singh-Dosanjh takes a look at Punk’s chances in the Octagon.

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Punked Out // BROOKS TO UFC

With rumours swirling for weeks prior that Brooks had an interest in fighting in the UFC, few, if any, people had even the faintest idea that he would sign for the mixed martial arts company, on an eight-fight deal, so soon after his WWE contract release in July. Moreover, that in his WWE contract was a ‘noncompete’ clause that specifically mentioned the UFC as a company and promotion that a contract-released WWE wrestler cannot work for, for a certain amount of time. With this in mind it would appear Brooks and WWE had come to an agreement on this issue sometime since July. No date or opponent have been confirmed for Brooks’ Octagon debut, however it’s expected to be in either spring or summer of next year. Brooks said of his UFC signing during the UFC 181 interview with Rogan: “This is my new career, 100 percent”, “I’m going full steam ahead” and further stated “My professional wrestling days are over, it’s awesome to be here” and that “This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time”. Brooks is well aware of the obstacles in his way, such as his age, commenting also in the UFC 181 interview: “I felt like it was now or never. I have a limited window most fighters don’t have. I’m either here to win or get my ass kicked.” Initially reaction to Brooks signing with the UFC have been generally positive,

although obviously there has been some negativity from some within mixed martial arts, with unreasonable and irrational criticism from the usual anti-pro wrestling crowd with MMA, often babbling inanely about how ‘fake’ pro wrestling is, and that a pro wrestler doesn’t stand a chance in a real combat sport. This of course would be true in Brooks’ case if those were the facts on the ground, however, and while this isn’t hugely spectacular, Brooks has trained in Brazilian Jujitsu under Rener Gracie as well as a much longer history of training in Kempo karate, though this of course will temper the bleatings of those anti-pro wrestling-types within the MMA fandom. At this junction in time, it’s difficult to accurately judge if Brooks new career will be a success or not- on one hand, many people also scoffed at both the UFC and Brock Lesnar when it was revealed and announced the former WWE champion had signed with the world’s top combat sports organisation, with Lesnar then going on to complete and comprehensively prove his doubters wrong in winning the UFC heavyweight title and becoming a huge pay-per-view attraction (Lesnar was the first fighter since Mike Tyson in 1996 to draw three consecutive one-million-plus pay-perview buyrates in a calendar year). On the other hand, Brooks simply does not have the fighting pedigree or history of Lesnar, despite training in both Kempo and Brazilian Jujitsu and additionally doesn’t of course have the size that Lesnar possess.

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Punked Out // BROOKS TO UFC

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Credit: UFC - www.totalprosports.com

One thing is for sure in regard to Brooks and his UFC tenure- UFC management, and UFC president Dana White in particular know that the promotion has to have a different approach to Brooks than they did to Lesnar, with White commenting in a recent interview: “It’s not like he’s going to come in like Brock Lesnar did. … We’re not going to throw the kitchen sink at him like we did Lesnar, “Lesnar had a real good wrestling background,”, “(Brooks) is going to fight a guy that’s 1-0, 1-1, 2-1, something like that. He wanted to do it. We’re going to give him the opportunity.” From a fighting stand point, the jury is still out on Brooks, and every question will remain unanswered until he steps foot inside the Octagon for the first time. Until that time pessimists will doubtless give him no chance at all, labeling him as a fake pro wrestler who will lose his debut and quickly decided MMA isn’t a viable career path. Others will point to the success of Bobby Lashley and Dave Bautista, and while neither have exactly set the MMA world alight (Bautista has only had one fight and will likely

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never fight again), both were former WWE main event top-draws that made the leap to MMA with the very same pessimists and MMA purists instantly dismissing the idea that either could have success in ‘real fight’ and outside scripted pro wrestling bouts (though Lashley, like Lesnar, has a considerable amateur wrestling background) What will Brooks mean for UFC business? From a fighting stand point it’s difficult to tell, though not to the same extent. Brooks like doubtless, like Lesnar did, bring with his UFC tenure a great deal of disinterested WWE/pro wrestling fans, tired of the antics of ‘sports entertainment’ and the generic, homogenised predictable form it now takes in WWE or TNA Impact Wrestling. It’s this notion that helped the UFC flourish on pay-per-view and television during the boom period of 2004-2010, the UFC was able to draw from wrestling and boxing fans in North America who had grown up showing a willingness to pay to watch the big fights and events, which is how the UFC was able to beat WWE and Vince McMahon at his own game on the payper-view platform and out-draw WWE from 2004/05/06 onwards forever more.


Punked Out // BROOKS TO UFC

Brooks of course does not have the same look and aura as Brock Lesnar, and obviously is not likely to draw one-million-plus PPV buyrates three times in a calendar year, however with UFC business being generally down across the board for the past few years, Brooks’ debut, in conjunction with the return of Anderson Silva, Georges St Pierre (likely in 2015) and numerous superfights, Brooks’ debut fight will be followed with an intense spotlight whether it be on pay-per-view or on television and will help the UFC to rebound somewhat from a business standpoint. A win of course is essential for Brooks in his Octagon debut, as a loss will compound the currentlyunfounded criticism that he doesn’t even belong in the UFC to begin with. While the vast majority of MMA fighters have been hospitable to the notion of Brooks fighting in the UFC, not everyone shares that sentiment. When asked by MMAJunkie what he thinks of Brooks fighting under the UFC banner, Nate Diaz, brother of Nick, had the following to say: “ I don’t dig it. He has got no fights. I know he’s a big draw. I looked him up. Everyone’s going to buy tickets. It’s going to be great for the venue and for the UFC, but at the same time, it downgrades all the fighters.” Diaz comment further on Brooks’ lack of professional credentials, stating: “He might do great, but why does he get a chance? He’s an amateur. You’re going to put an amateur in there with pros? That makes us all amateurs, so I think it’s ridiculous. As far as I’m concerned, f*ck him, f*ck the whole situation. Anybody that takes that fight is tripping” So it’s safe to say Nate Diaz, and also likely his brother Nick, isn’t a fan of the pro wrestling-MMA crossover notion, at least in Brooks’ case. Whether or not Nate Diaz’s prediction of Brooks being an amateur in a professional world will materialise into truth is yet to be seen. One thing we can indeed say for certain at this moment in time however is that by merely making the jump from pro wrestling to mixed martial arts, Brooks has already generated a great amount

of buzz, hype and column inches. Will this translate into great business for the UFC? Yes. At least for his debut. Should Brooks be demolished in his first outing in not just the UFC but MMA in general, it’ll be hard to see the UFC, and perhaps even Brooks himself, wanting to attempt a comeback in only his second fight ever. The UFC faces something of a quandary, albeit perhaps a positive one, in trying to decide where to book Brooks’ UFC debut- should UFC matchmaker Joe Silva try to maximize Brooks drawing power by booking him on the main card of a pay-perview? Or should Silva book the debut fight on a free-TV platform on either Fox Sport, or possibly even the Fox Network platform? The latter seems feasible, however the Fox Network less so than the Fox Sports option because if Brooks is pummelled and exposed in front of a potential big audience on the Fox Network, then that would almost certainly spell the end of Brooks’ UFC career. Booking the fight on the main card of a pay-per-view would certainly be a bold move by Silva and UFC management, however it would almost certainly cause grumbling amongst other fighters that have been around a lot longer and would likely also annoy hardcore MMA fans for the same reason. With that in mind, the only real, sensible option for the UFC is to book the fight on a low-key ‘Fight Night’ event, or at a push on either the Fox Sports 1 or UFC Fight Pass portion of a payper-view. Regardless of when, where and who against Brooks makes his UFC debut, Brooks is another chapter in the long and storied history of the crossover between mixed martial arts and professional wrestling and whether or not he is successful in his new chosen career, Brooks has proved that the vast majority of the MMA community it at least willing to give a shot to a pro wrestler with a background in training and desire to enter the sport. If Brooks prove successful in his new venture, it could spur more pro wrestlers to try mixed martial arts once they grow disillusioned with the pro wrestling business.

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STING

THIS IS:

This Is Sting // WWE

At Survivor Series, Sting made his official debut in a WWE ring after years of speculation. Neatly dispatching Triple H with a Scorpion Death Drop before ensuring that Dolph Ziggler got the win for his team by pinning Seth Rollins, The Icon standing tall in a WWE ring was a spectacle that it seemed like we might never get to see. Brad Jones takes a look at The Stinger and how he eventually ended up in the land of WWE.

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Roman Reigns // Too Soon?

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Much like the Undertaker has become something of a symbol of WWE, Sting was very much part of the fabric of WCW. He saw the rise, and he saw the fall - and he was willing to tailor his efforts to suit whatever direction the company was heading in. When WCW was bought out by Vince McMahon in 2001, the top stars of the promotion began to enter into talks with McMahon in dribs and drabs. It may have taken longer for some than it did for others, but the majority ended up in WWE in some form in the years that followed - but that wasn’t the case for Sting, the last man holding out against Vince McMahon’s monopoly on mainstream American pro wrestling. Fearing that he would be mistreated after the longstanding bad blood between WCW and WWE, WWE, Sting Sting decided decided that that he he would would seek seek out out something something new new -- and, and, in in 2003, 2003, he he signed signed with with the the upstart upstart TNA. TNA. Once Once again, again, Sting Sting would would find find himself himself as as aa representative representative of of the the opposing opposing force to WWE, and once again he’d become an ambassador for the promotion he was wrestling for. As the years passed and he became ever more deeply rooted in TNA, fans stopped believing that he would ever make the jump to WWE. Of course, rumours would persist. Whenever contract talks began between TNA and Sting, the dirtsheets would once again run rampant with stories suggesting that the Stinger had jumped ship. In 2011, mysterious vignettes began to air teasing a man in black and the date 2.21.11. Many saw this as confirmation that the white whale in face paint had finally been snagged for WWE; when it was revealed as the Undertaker’s annual return for WrestleMania season, many were disappointed. Then, in early 2014, everything changed. Sting’s contract negotiations with TNA seemed to go on for longer than ever before. It finally seemed like Sting was about to move on and, after after losing losing aa Title Title vs. vs. Career Career match match to to then-world then-world champion champion from the company -- and, Magnus, Sting was ousted from the company that he’d been with for almost as long as WWE, and and his beloved WCW. It seemed that the stars had aligned for Sting to sign with WWE, speculation ran rampant through the next few months. Eventually, Sting did debut make his WWE debut - in more tragic circumstances that many would have hoped for. When the Ultimate Warrior passed away just days after his Hall of Fame induction, Sting appeared in a tribute aired on the WWE Network, praising the man he had teamed with as the Blade Runners almost thirty years earlier. Sting was with WWE in some form, but it wasn’t clear what role he was going to play in the company. Was he simply signed to provide talking heads for documentaries and make the occasional PR appearance? Or were fans going to be given what they wanted —-the ultimate outsider being given the opportunity to make his mark on WWE. It took several months for it come about, but in November Sting made that debut at at the the Survivor Survivor Series Series pay-per-view. pay-per-view. The The crowd crowd erupted erupted -- itit really really felt felt like like aa moment moment that that would would be be difficult difficult to to reproduce. reproduce. There’s There’s no no one one else else in in the the industry industry like like Sting, Sting, no no other great talent that’s held out from the clutches of WWE. His debut came after a long and illustrious career elsewhere, and until a competitor to WWE’s crown comes along, along, it’s it’s difficult difficult to to see see how how itit could could happen happen again. again. The The closest closest comparison comparison would would be a star from New Japan Pro Wrestling defecting, but even that doesn’t offer the same head-to-head mentality that WWE and WCW had during the 1990s. What Sting’s WWE debut signalled, more than anything else, was the beginning of the end for the Attitude Era. Although many would say that the period ended more than a decade ago, its shadow has loomed large over the American pro wrestling landscape ever since. The industry has been trying to reclaim the unbounded energy that typified that time for years now - but having Sting debut suggests that now it’s time for it to be committed to the history books for good. WWE first attempted to draw a line under the Attitude Era at WrestleMania XXVIII, when Triple H and the Undertaker squared off in a bout pitched as ‘the end of an era’. With the two competitors - and special referee Shawn Michaels being amongst the most recognizable faces of the Attitude Era, there was no doubt as to what ‘era’ was being ended. However, it didn’t quite get the job done; The Rock would once again headline WrestleMania the next year, the Undertaker’s streak would continue on for two more years, and Triple H would continue wrestling semi-frequently at major pay-per-views. Despite young talent being built up, names from the past could always be found on the card when the biggest shows of the year came around. People love the Attitude Era, and these names undoubtedly helped business, but it’s a short-term

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Roman Reigns // Too Soon? solution to a larger problem. Pro wrestling needs to find a way of connecting with a 21st Century audience that isn’t just a matter of retrying what worked at the end of the 20th Century. Last year was better than most in recent memory in terms of new stars being tended to and given the room to grow, the fact that it was Seth Rollins and Dolph Ziggler in the ring when Sting descended upon Survivor Series is evidence of that. However, there are still echoes of the past throughout the WWE product; there’s the same standing of John Cena that we’ve seen for more than a decade, there’s the longstanding commentary team, there’s a certain sense of familiarity with the format of the show as a whole. The continued success of NXT demonstrates that fans are hungry for something with a different feel, and some new faces. That seems to be the plan for WWE in the long term but first, they’ll need to put their Attitude Era heydey behind them once and for all. To that end, it looks like we’re going to see Sting and Triple H represent the two companies that battled through the 1990s — although in recent weeks there have been some hints that it’ll be Seth Rollins who takes on the Stinger. In any case, seeing Sting in the WWE is, in many ways, the last unanswered question from the Attitude Era. The InVasion storyline couldn’t quite give us the definitive battle between WWE and WCW that we wanted, what we’re getting might not be as timely, and it might not have as grand a scale, but it certainly has the potential to be a compelling part of the card for WrestleMania 31. Sting certainly doesn’t have many big matches left in him, it may well be the case that his first and last match in a WWE ring comes at this year’s WrestleMania. However, there’s something to be said for a ‘less is more’ approach. It’s a unique selling point; come see a true legend of pro wrestling wrestle his one and only match for the biggest promotion in America. Given that we can expect some sort of stipulation regarding the future of the WWE’s storyline authority figure, it’s certainly a match that’s worthy of the biggest show of the year. However, it’s important that Sting’s appearance marks a closing chapter, rather than a continuation of past glories. There are a bevy of talented young men and women in all disciplines who are waiting in the wings to shepherd WWE into the future. We’ve seen flashes of this over the past few years, but now seems like the time for the company to begin, in earnest, with a fresh start for a new era. Nostalgia for the past is always going to have its appeal in pro wrestling, this is a form where competitors carry the baggage of past wins and losses with them for years — but it can’t come at the cost of the present. It’s exciting to see Sting in the WWE, it’ll be even more exciting to see him appear at WrestleMania. However, it’s important to keep sight of the fact that this isn’t a time for Sting to be the centre of attention. We’re seeing him here so that we can say a fond farewell, not just to him individually, but to the time in pro wrestling that he and a select few of his contemporaries came to personify. Then and, perhaps, only then can we really say hello to a new WWE, and a new selection of superstars that aren’t so constricted by their predecessors.

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Heading// Subheading

REST IN [ Planet Wrestling // Features // Interviews // UK // Puro // Collumns // Indie // Reviews ]

REMEMBERING THOS To many the wrestling stars who died in 2014 were idolised.

The Ultimate Warrior Died: 8 April, 2014 One of the most iconic superstars in wrestling. He passed away at the age of 54. Over the preceding three days he had been inducted to the WWE Hall of Fame, appeared at WrestleMania XXX, and made his final public appearance on Raw (April 7, 2014).

Sean O’Haire Died: 9 September, 2014 One of WCW’s most promising talents who never really got a break in WWE. O’Haire’s had apparently committed suicide the day prior. He had been reportedly suffering from depression and alcohol addiction prior to his death.

Jimmy Del Ray Died: 6 December, 2014 One half of “The Heavenly Bodies” tag team alongside Dr Tom Prichard, David Ferrier died at age 52 after suffering an apparent heart attack.

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IN PEACE

Heading// Subheading

SE WE LOST IN 2014 To say farewell, TW remembers those who passed away.

Nelson Frazier Jr Died: 18 February, 2014 Frazier had several names in WWE, from Mabel to Viscera, he was a permanent fixture of the WWE roster for many years winning the 1995 King of the Ring. He died of a heart attack, four days after turning 43.

Mae Young Died: 14 January, 2014. A Hall of Famer and one of the pioneers of women’s wrestling. During the Attitude Era she took part in some memorable moments.

OX BAKER Died: 20 October, 2014. A fixture of Vince McMahon Sr’s WWWF in the late 1960’s, he went on to win the WWC Heavyweight title in Puerto Rico defeating Carlos Colon. He died from cardiovascular disease.

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ECW // PART 2

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EXTREME CONDITIONS The ECW Escape Part 3

In the previous editions of this three-part feature series, Ethan Nash has examined the underlying reality of ECW’s closure and has given an in-depth analysis of how ECW could have survived the beginning of the new century after having found a network in time. Now, in the final edition, he examines the largest questions of all and attempt to radically shake the destiny of professional wrestling. That is; Could ECW realistically compete with Vince McMahon? and how would ECW survive in the modern world?

THE ATTITUDE ERA CONTINUED OR ECW CHANGED? So far, in this three-part series, we have speculated that given the appropriate air time on USA (or another network deal), the endless positive possibilities associated with an influx of WCW superstars following the corporate bail, subsequent international expansion of the company (marketing deals, etc) after filling the void left by Turner, and the trust in Paul Heyman’s ability to adapt to reliving himself of complete control - has all lead to a pivotal moment in professional wrestling history. The catalyst is set: ECW, now poised to conquer the world and realise a dream of competing head on with WWE, has the world in their grasp - but, the question must be asked, it is possible?? First, we need to look at how much ECW and WWE would have changed their content after

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expanding to an international level. Now, as WCW faded away and WWE became the sole-dominant leader in the market, a slowbut-eventual fade to PG-related content would follow - returning to the original model seen in the late 1980s. This, as discussed in numerous DVDs, is due to the fact WWE no longer had any competition to push the creative writers to their limits on a weekly basis. Thus, how would WWE react if ECW had continued with their highly aggressive content in the wake of WCW’s demise? The answer for many, certainly Vince, would be that WWE would once again adapt to the forever-expanding environment of ECW and develop their content around it. This is because one thing WWE has never failed to do is continuously stay relevant with the times, by jumping from trend to trend to entice and captivate audiences since the late 1980s. From incorporating MTV to build hype for the very first WrestleMania, to the neverending promotion of Twitter in modern WWE programming - more often than not, we see WWE grasping on to what is popular and fashionable at the time. Furthermore, as we have established, WWE will counter-react to any situation ECW would have presented - thus the real deciding factor on whether the Attitude Era continued would be ECW’s ability to stay true to their roots. Now, we have briefly touched in the previous issue on how Paul Heyman would have the common sense to relieve some of his responsibility in the wake of the company’s international expansion - but the content? that is another thing.


ECW // PART 2

Would corporate influences have prevented Paul from remaining true to his content? and would he allow this to be the case? Remember, this is a man who aired a Pay-Per View match between Rob Van Dam and Jerry Lynn on the inaugural broadcast of TNN and openly cut a shoot interview on the network before being dumped by them. So, although hard to determine, it is a safeguard to assume Paul would always stay true to his staff, talent - and, most importantly - the fans, through thick-and-thin. Extreme Championship Wrestling would have been the first promotion in the world to incorporate the emerging world of Mixed Martial Arts into their programming; introducing MMA-centralised characters and innovative wrestling techniques for stars (refer to when CM Punk debuted in [WW]ECW in 2006/7). It wasn’t until after five or six years of struggling that ECW even made it to PPV themselves, so it is highly predictable that Paul would have found a way to add the controversial new sport to the company as both expanded after 2001. Indeed, if ECW had allowed it, the Attitude Era would have continued with or without WWE in the picture.

THE LANDSCAPE OF WRESTLING It’s hard to imagine a world where the

complete environment of professional wrestling may have taken an alternate path; with endless possibilities and scenarios to fathom subsequently. Now, as we just touched upon, ECW is in the drivers seat; dictating whether or now the direction content-based television would continue on the current path and exciting times, without a doubt, are ahead. It is hard to picture sitting down watching WWE and not seeing the biggest stars each week - however, realistically - it is something that would most likely become a staunch reality if ECW had survived past 2001. As we entered a new era of uncertainty - or, as one would call it, the ‘SmackDown’ era - an emergence of new faces burst on to the scene; after the names of ole’ decided to hang up their boots and embark on new endeavours in their lives. Names like Batista, John Cena, Brock Lesnar and many more all exploded during this time - and the entire landscape we know today, without a doubt, stemmed from the birth of this new generation. But what would happen if there was an alternative for these superstars? It is entirely plausible to assume, in the success of ECW, that these names may have never been given the opportunity to shine in the wake of an ‘extended promotion war’, and this quite possibly could have caused wrestlers like Lesnar and Cena to get their big breaks in ECW - or maybe not at all. Imagine

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ECW // PART 3

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It is hard to grasp just how much ECW would have changed during this time too, but I do not doubt that Paul Heyman would still be open to giving young talent a platform to develop as performers, and this is why we have seen so many of today’s top stars originate from the company in the late 1990s. Indeed, this very trait is why many can envision the destruction of WWE’s current talent pool if the company survived; and this is because ECW were much more open to developing undiscovered talent before they made it big - rather than waiting until they start to get crowd support before doing so, like WWE does and will continue to do (think of Austin). Furthermore, it isn’t just the talent that would have been significantly shaken in the wake of this new found empire that has risen to power. One must ask the question of whether companies like ROH, TNA, CZW and many more would even

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be around at all if ECW had continued past 2001, and this is the most profound notion of all. Again, the presence of these companies has become a normal reality for many fans, so accepting the possibility of them never existing is troubling for some. So many amazing memories, matches and superstars; all gone - and this is a testament to just how significant the survival of ECW would have been (in case you hadn’t grasped it yet). It is a challenging dynamic: the thought of talent we have come to know and love not following the path currently edged in the annals of wrestling history; the harsh notion of different careers or no careers at all. It is amazing how one, seemingly insignificant business deal between Extreme Championship Wrestling and a television network, could have completely changed everything we know about this sport, and shaken history to the very core. Amazing.


ECW // Extreme Conditions

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Total Action // NXT Takeover

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TOTAL ACTION ZON Photos by Scott Finkelstein

THE EVENT Ring Of Honor Wrestling, Final Battle at Terminal 5 in New York City, USA.

THE RESULTS Hanson defeated Jimmy Jacobs, Mark Briscoe and Caprice Coleman

Michael Elgin sets up Tomasso Ciampa for a delayed verticle suplex

Adam Cole (BAYBAY) makes his entrance

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Roderick Strong defeated Adam Page Michael Elgin defeated Tommaso Ciampa

Jay Briscoe punishes Adam Cole in a Camel Clutch


LNE The Young Bucks and ACH defeated The Addiction and Cedric Alexander Moose defeated RD Evans Jay Lethal defeated Matt Sydal to retain the ROH World Television Championship ReDRagon defeated Time Splitters to retain the ROH Tag Team Championships Jay Briscoe defeated Adam Cole to retain the ROH World Championship

Roderick Strong punishes Page with a brutal Strong Hold en route to a win via stoppage

Cole uses Briscoeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s own staple gun against him

Briscoe sends Cole for a very bumpy ride

The intense ROH Champion prepares for war


BRET “THE HITMAN” HART Interview // BRET HART

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ON THE SPOT WITH:

Bret “The Hitman” Hart is truly one of the greatest wrestlers to ever step foot inside the squared circle. Hailing from Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Hart has won a total of 32 titles throughout his career, and 17 of those were held during his time in WWE and WCW, including holding the WWF Championship on five occasions and the WCW World Heavyweight Title twice. Total Wrestling’s Josh Modaberi caught up with “The Excellence of Execution”’ to talk about SummerSlam 1992, the legendary Hart family dungeon and his brother Owen.

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Interview // BRET HART

TW: You grew up within a wrestling family, and the notorious dungeon, what was it like training there?

One of your greatest opponents was the UK’s own, Dynamite Kid, what did you make of him?

Bret Hart: The dungeon is kind of hard to explain, I did go down and wrestle with my dad a lot in my lifetime, even as a kid mostly demonstrating. My dad was a different kind of wrestler, more similar to MMA style before MMA came along, he may have been better training those kind of guys. I was basically trained in the dungeon by these two Japanese wrestlers, and I will say it now the Japanese are the best trained wrestlers in the world – they always had the best teachers and the best style, they’re good executers, their executions of moves like power slams and suplexes are always done properly with textbook technique but they have very little psychology.

When I first got into the business, I think my second or third match in my career with the Dynamite Kid and we didn’t like each other very much at first, I thought he was a cocky kind of funny little guy who had a weird personality and he didn’t like me at all.I think my brother bruce talked him into disliking me a lot for whatever reason and we didn’t see eye to eye off the bat and the first match I had with him he purposely broke my nose and took cheap shots with me in the ring and I was pretty naive and didn’t know what I did wrong or what happened but I had a very painful first match with the Dynamite kid where he clearly didn’t like me and I remember when the match was over I

I remember learning until I thought I had to learn something else, all I was doing was learning how to fall down, but I remember them telling me that I didn’t have it yet. I thought I had learnt all this bump training but they kept putting me through more bump training for maybe four or five months. I realised years later that is what probably saved my career, even though I’m pretty beat up and have a lot of injuries from my career – this is why I say to a lot of people if you want to learn wrestle, you should watch me because I learnt how to break my fall and protect myself in contrast to a Shawn Michaels, Mr. Perfect (Curt Hennig), or Roddy Piper who are three great wrestlers that I watched and saw them take a lot of hard falls, Mick Foley being another one. They didn’t have that Japanese training that I did where you broke your fall with your hands and protect yourself by tucking your chin. I got thrown around a lot but safely landed. I think there is a price you pay for all of those falls in wrestling and I’m certainly paying for them now but I have a feeling guys like Shawn and Mick are paying a higher price.

and I was pretty ticked off at him but at the same time I had a little respect for him as he was a little guy that was trying to keep his job and prove a point to the bigger wrestlers. I believe that Dynamite Kid was by far one of the greatest wrestlers of all time. Maybe the greatest match I ever had was with him and our first ladder match, I just remember during that match me and Dynamite were fighting and when I was wrestling him there was a botch and I broke my nose and asked him how it looked, he wasn’t very reassuring. Dynamite Kid was the creator of the Tombstone piledriver and that at one point, as a wrestler, no matter how you feel when you see something about to happen you can’t move or protect yourself with your hands like a normal person would and as I was already busted open, I wasn’t really looking forward to having a pretty sturdy step ladder hit me in the face. I just waited for Dynamite to hit it, but he was so good that the ladder never even made contact, and when I watched the tape back I couldn’t tell that it didn’t. It was little things like that which made Dynamite one of the greatest of all time.

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Interview // BRET

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thought this guy has taken a lot of cheap shots What was your match against British Bulldog at Wembley Stadium at SummerSlam 1992 like? That match at SummerSlam 92 at Wembley Stadium in front of 80,000 plus people against Davey, I would say was my defining moment. As far as story telling goes that match had everything, being in the ring that night we could really feel the electricity from the crowd, there was a real 50/50 split from the fans on who they were cheering for. No one really knew who was going to win the match which made it easier for Davey and I to put on a really captivating match. Do you think we could see a WWE PPV in the UK in the near future? I don’t think you will see a WWE PPV over in the UK anytime soon, but I do think you will see one eventually and I think you will see a big one. I think the biggest problem is the time zone, I don’t know how they will get around that or what they will do. I can see them doing it again just because the market is so good, there are so many great fans that they will have to deliver something like that, perhaps another SummerSlam but some kind of big event is worthy of being held in the UK and I think that it is just a matter of time. What is your relationship like with the two other people you were in the ring with during the Montreal Screwjob, Shawn Michaels and Earl Hebner? I always tell people you can’t make peace half way, to make peace with somebody you have to make peace and bury the hatchet or you just keep fighting forever. I made peace with Shawn and we have a good relationship, we text each other every once in a while, he’s a Christian and he has got a family, the wrestling world is a kind of different thing now. We revert back to old memories and sometimes we will send each other funny little messages, we are on decent terms. I’ll never forget what happened that night in Montreal but the reality is I was pretty good friends with Shawn before all the bad blood happened. The same can be said with Earl Hebner, I think Earl may have been the biggest victim of that whole screw job, he got the shittiest deal out of everyone, he got nothing for it and he got kicked around for along time. He got forced into something that was really hard, I don’t know if I would have done anything different to what he did if I was in his position. When you put your family and livelihood on the line, you can’t blame Earl for taking the position there and doing what he had to do, they really put him in a compromising predicament just before he walked out to the ring. I don’t really have any hard feelings towards Earl, I think it was a lousy thing that they did to him, it was a lousy thing period. What is your relationship with Vince McMahon like now? After the Montreal Screw job, I harboured a lot of anger towards Vince, but after my stroke in 2002, he was one of the first people to call me and ask how I was, and we cleared a lot of air, I’m really grateful for that call. I eventually got to beat him at WrestleMania 26 which I think is a better ending for us. I would say he’s on the very best of terms

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with me now. Do you think we will ever see Owen Hart and Davey Boy Smith inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame? I really hope so, both of them should be in. I think that it is just a matter of time, I think WWE has just been waiting for the right time to either approach it with Owen’s widow and I don’t know what the final decision is with that. I hate that Owen’s widow has done so much to erase his memory and not keep his memory alive, I find that as an insult to him and his family and all the great things he did for the fans who remember him. I take exception for all that now and I want to bring as much of Owen back to life for wrestling fans and let them remember what a great person he was and what a great performer he was, and how much fun he was as a wrestler. Especially coming over to the UK, I find it interesting how many fans really loved Owen for his personality and his style of wrestling and all of the little things about him. I miss all of those things about Owen as well and I would like to bring more of that back – there must be troves of video and film of Owen doing things on tour, these are all in a can somewhere and no one is seeing them and I really think that they need to revive the great memories of what Owen did before it’s too far gone, the fans that remember him start to die. It is just awful how Martha erased everything he has done. Owen was known as a great ribber, did he ever pull any good pranks on you? All the time. Most of the time the best ribs are the ones where you don’t realise you’ve been ribbed. Owen got me all the time, he was a master of setting you up for something. For example like pulling up at a gas station, he would go in to get a candy bar and whilst you’re popping the gas in the car, he would come out, get back in the car and by the time you have gone in to pay for the gas, you would get in a big argument with the cashier. You’d go back to the car, slam the door and get ready to drive off, but you knew that Owen somehow had set the whole thing up, and provoked this guy to be mad about something. You realised through time that Owen was a classic, and he would imagine these things ahead of time. I would say this about Owen, he was always the best prankster but all of his pranks were fun, where you would have to admit that he got you good and you’d laugh to yourself. I think that is what so many wrestlers especially myself miss the most, his flair for delivering those hilarious pranks where you can look at him and call him a little bastard. Owen would prank my mum a lot because we sounded alike on the phone. He would call up and sound like me and my mum would ask if it was Bret or Owen, and he would always say it was Bret. He would always try to get my mum to say something about me that showed I was her favourite and she would get into a thing with him arguing. He would insist it was Bret and the n she would always ask, who was your 4th grade teacher? He never knew the answer. When I


Interviews // BRET HART

called the first thing she would ask is - who was my 4th grade teacher? and I’d tell her and she would be ok to talk to me. It was funny and he was a lot of fun that way. What do you make of the current WWE product? Im a big fan of Wade Barrett, Sheamus and I cant believe Drew McIntyre was let go, he was a much better wrestler than they ever used him as. I think he was one of the best wrestlers they had. CM Punk, he’s an exceptional talent who’s really raised the bar in the last few years. I don’t know how many wrestlers in the past few years that I can say that about. In wrestling theres a lot of repeat, not a lot of innovation but Punk raised the bar and Daniel Bryan is a great talent too. He reminds me of Owen, a quiet kid who’s very talented. I love the way he wrestles, he does a lot that Owen did like the dropkicks off the top, the nip-ups, there’s a lot of little Owen traits in everything Bryan does. Cesaro is good too, hate what they’re doing with him right now. He did a great thing at the Andre The Giant battle royal at this past WrestleMania, that was a phenomenal ending with how he picked up the Big Show and threw him over the top rope, was great stuff. That’s breaking new ground with him, pure strength, he’s a great talent and good wrestler. He’s a real throwback to the UK wrestlers over here like Billy Robinson. World class. I’m a big fan of the wrestling today, I watch a lot of it. But, I’m just sick of the wrestlers being identical, everyone’s wrestling the same style, everyone seems like they’re 210 pound, muscular guys, who do billions of choreographed high spots, nothing looks real, nobody would fight like that in a real fight. That’s what I think is missing. What do you make of Natalya and Tyson Kidd’s status in WWE right now? I think any kind of a break, they’ve been sitting on the sidelines and waiting for a good storyline for a long time. If anybody deserves a break it’s Tyson Kidd for sure pound-for-pound one of the great wrestlers of the last 20 years, he’s been great for a long time and made all of his opponents look like a million bucks every night and it’s about high time that somebody recognised that he’s the one

that’s made everyone. They never gave him and Harry [Smith] as a tag team a chance. The criticism of them at the time was that they weren’t strong enough on the mic, I think that’s a load of rubbish as they never gave them a chance. Young kids in the business have to have something to sink their teeth into and I think the writers and producers were at fault. What have you made of Harry Smith’s transition from the American style of wrestling to the Japanese style? I think it was a more natural path for him, I think Harry has always been a very solid technical wrestler really going back to when he was like 12-years-old, he could do every move you could think of. He has filled out since he was a kid and he has got better, he has always been a stellar very good, solid technical wrestler and the Japanese style suits him more. Harry was never really a flash wrestler, so I think Japan is a better match for him right now and he is doing well over there in NJPW. I think eventually WWE will come knocking on Harry’s door again and maybe he will go back there and hopefully he’ll bring more credit to his dads reputation. What do you make of the WWE performance center? I think NXT is really state of the art and really nice, but I’d say the teachers that are teaching are 5 out of 10, I would say they’re all good guys and good teachers but not one of those guys or very few of them ever drew a dime in the wrestling business. I don’t know how they can teach guys to be honest. What do you think of the idea of the WWE Network? I’m unsure how the network affects me or the other wrestlers, I think it’s still being determined. I love the network, the fact that people can go back and watch my matches and I think it’s done a lot to rekindle my career in some ways, because people are going back, watching my matches and going these are still better matches than John Cena are doing. John Cena’s a great wrestler, but I stand more by my work now than I ever have.

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Interview // THE WOLVES

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ON THE SPOT WITH:

THE

WOLVES With TNA returning for a seventh consecutive UK tour later this month, Mark Moore caught up with former TNA Tag Team Champions, The Wolves, Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards to discuss their time within the company and the upcoming tour.

TW: How are things going in TNA and how do you feel about the move from Spike to Destination America? The Wolves: Yeah they went really well and we are looking forwards to next year. We’re really excited, ya know it will be nice to have a network really behind TNA, Spike were kinda good but maybe had other interests whereas Destination America, we’ll be the number one show, like we were on Spike most weeks, but it will be different with Destination America.

So with that said who would you like to face in 2015? James Storm and Abyss, we want our belts back, but honestly we’re open to anyone from anywhere. Like we enjoy working with some of the Wrestle-1 guys and recently we faced The London Riots at New Generation Wrestling, they’re a great team. Let’s not forget the Bro mans also.

Do you feel that while Destination America is smaller than Spike, TNA can help the network grow and in turn grow with them?

Talking of The London Riots and British wrestling did you guys get a chance to see British Boot Camp?

Absolutely, we will be their flagship show and that will make a big difference to us and them.

We only got to see bits here and there because we have been so busy like, we saw a little of the last one.

How in the loop were you kept on a deal or was it something that you never got involved with? We always knew TNA would get a TV deal, so we weren’t worried it was just about finding the right fit and the highest bidder for TNA that was why it took a while. At the end of the year it seemed you may have been teasing a split, is that something you’re thinking about or are you happy as a team? Na man, like we have had singles runs elsewhere but our focus is definitely on tag wrestling and staying a team. Was that a factor in you guys going to TNA, as they take tag team wrestling so seriously? Oh man it was a huge factor, absolutely. Just look at

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our series with the Hardy’s and Team 3D and that’s what TNA are all about.

From what you saw what did you make of this year’s winner Mark Andrews? Ya know it’s funny because we had seen all the others before except him but obviously he is talented or he wouldn’t have won and sometimes it’s better to be unknown and the surprise people. You guys have definitely done that, can expect more of the same on the Maximum Impact tour? Absolutely, we will be there on all the dates and look forward to doing our thing in front of the amazing UK fans.

TNA’s Maximum Impact 2015 UK tour kicks off on January 29.


Interview // THE WOLVES

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TOTAL WRESTLING AWARDS

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Babyface of the year: Daniel Bryan

alone, Wyatt has more than stood firm in his feud with Dean Ambrose. We expect more good things from him this year.

Darren Wood He just couldnt be overlooked for this award, a truly gifted athlete who has been unstoppable as a babyface over the past twlve months. Shame he missed the latter part of the year through injury but is now back and enjoying the adulartion of the crowd once again, a worthy winner.

Jamie Kennedy His potential may remain untapped, but Bray Wyatt is still a solid choice here. One of the most interesting characters to come down the WWE service shaft in quite some time, the artist formerly known as Husky Harris is even now being talked about as a potential Wrestlemania opponent for the legendary Undertaker. Eery promos and memorable matches have permeated his year, easily making Wyatt one of the most watchable personalities in wrestling.

Jamie Kennedy The only true choice, if we’re talking about mainstream pro wrestling, Bryan has been phenomenal in his role as the ‘everyman’ which every man wants to be. Living dreams vicariously through him, fans have been led on quite the journey by WWE throughout the past few years with Bryan, and that continued in 2014. Even injuries couldn’t derail his choice as Babyface Of The Year. Mark Moore Was there anyone else it could realistically be? There is being over and then there is what this guy was between January and April. The Kane feud and Brie association nearly hurt him but he will bounce back fine when fully healed. Heel Of The Year: BRAY WYATT Darren Wood While he’s not quite used to his full potential and was definitely a strong candidate for misused of the year, Wyatt is our man. Excellent contests with Daniel Bryan, The Shield and John Cena in early 2014, cemented him as even more of a major player within WWE. Since going

2015

Interview // DREW GALLOWAY

Mark Moore A huge year for the former Husky Harris who at times had the crowds eating out the palm of his hand. Mini feud with Daniel Bryan saw an arena shaking reaction when Bryan tuned and laid a whooping on Wyatt. Feud with John Cena naturally split audience reactions but promo work was some of the best stuff around. Superb Cage match with Chris Jericho saw the eater of worlds take a short break before returning to feud with Dean Ambrose with an even more sinister outlook. Having won both major matches against the lunatic fringe surely a move back up the card awaits WWE’s very own Max Cady. MOST MISUSED WRESTLER OF THE YEAR: CESARO Darren Wood A win in the Andre The Giant Battle Royal at WrestleMania XXX seemed to be the catapult to elevate this man to the upper echelons of the card. However, a failed pairing with Paul Heyman, saw a derailing for the Swiss superman and he’s never recovered since. Such a shame as 2014 seemed to be his year. Mark Moore How WWE managed to miss the boat on him in 2014 will remain a mystery along with the loch ness monster. Seemed destined for glory after winning the Andre the Giant memorial battle royal and gaining fan support but a


Interview // Rockstar Spud

senseless pairing with Paul Heyman stopped everything. Having to stand in the background while Heyman droned on about an absent Brock Lesnar made the swiss superstar look more like a swiss roll as did WWE’s inconsistent booking. Far too many false starts led to eventual fan apathy which Vince senselessly blamed on Cesaro during the Stone Cold podcast. 2014 should have been Cesaro’s year but like most things WWE got it completely wrong when it seemed impossible to not get it right. Court Bauer You could acknowledge dozens of wrestlers for this category but the most high profile mismanaged utilization of a pro wrestler would have to be Cesaro. Seemingly on the brink of breaking out last April only to have WWE creative fail his ascension, Cesaro now finds himself in WWE creative purgatory. Here’s hoping WWE’s creative vision in 2015 breathes new life into a promising wrestler’s WWE career. Dynamite Diva Of The Year – Carmel Jacob Darren Wood It would be all too easy to pick one of the Divas from WWE. However, there’s no doubt that this female wrestler has got all the tools to make it across the pond. Some stellar contests from ICW, PBW and BCW has seen the Edinburgh born, Jacob one to watch throughout this year. Jamie Kennedy Sadly, when discussing the women of pro wrestling, yours truly tends to dismiss WWE, who do little in the way of covering themselves in glory when it comes to the fairer gender. After all, if they don’t care about them, why should we? Instead, Carmel Jacob has been a shining example of what happens when companies (ICW, BCW etc) give

talented women time in the spotlight. As solid in the ring as she is as a valet, Carmel truly shines on the microphone. If this woman never gets a crack at living out her dream in WWE, it’s a crying shame. Mark Moore An amazing year for the standout from Edinburgh as she rocked ICW, PBW and Fierce Females regardless of whether she was wrestling, playing valet or mixed tagging with Liam Thomson. Feud with the Owens Twins which culminated in the arena wide brawl at Mad Maxine was a highlight of the year as was, along with tag partner Sara-Marie Taylor, aligning with Kay Lee Ray later that night. Appearance at Fear & Loathing VII at a sold out Barrowland Ballroom proved she can get it done on the big stage as did a win over Chanel at Fierce Females Come and Say G’day. Cannot be too far from trying her luck in the US soon. Breakout star of the year: KYLE O’REILLY Darren Wood Kyle O’ Reilly really has stepped it up a gear over the past twelve months, with superb contests in ROH, PWG and New Japan. Not to mention capturing their IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team titles, as well as holding the ROH Tag Team Championships and being the PWG Heavyweight Champion, not a bad year at all. Mark Moore One half of ReDRagon saw his stock rise considerably in 2014 with stellar performances in both Ring of Honor and New Japan. With tag partner Bobby Fish dropped the ROH tag titles to the Young Bucks in March before winning them back at War of the Worlds joint ROH/NJPW show in May. Graced the UK by dropping a great match to Zack Sabre Jr in IPW:UK before returning to tag team action for PCW. Back in the US title defences against the Young Bucks, The Decade and The Addiction wowed the ROH faithful while in Japan matches against the team of Rocky Romero


TOTAL WRESTLING AWARDS

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& Alex Koslov always delivered. No reason why 2015 can’t be just as good if not better for one half of the ROH and IWGP Junior heavyweight tag team champions.

Court Bauer Kyle O’Reilly took his in-ring game to a different level this year from coast to coast and beyond. While dominating the tag team divisions in Ring of Honor as well as New Japan, his exceptional battles as a singles competitor in Pro Wrestling Guerilla were equally extraordinary. Expect O’Reilly’s star to continue to rise in 2015 as his state of the art grappling/submission style continues to amaze all. Character Of The Year: Bray Wyatt

of the most iconic in WWE history.

Darren Wood Bray Wyatt – The second award for Wyatt and this seems to be a no-brainer, really. The ominous mystique around him leaves the audience in awe at his actions and his character. Plus his entrance ranks as one

Jamie Kennedy Similar reasons are behind this decision as the Heel Of The Year category, and this writer has always been a sucker for characters who play a little differently with what the norm is in pro wrestling. Wyatt encapsulates that perfectly, instantly reminding people of how they felt when first witnessing The Undertaker, Kane, Goldust, or any number of other ‘wacky’ personas. Unfortunately, such intriguing figures have become somewhat of a niche in modern wrestling, but Bray is fighting to buck that trend, and winning. Mark Moore For the majority of 2014 Bray Wyatt had crowds captivated with his promo’s that were not only mesmerizing but so good that fans started to cheer for Wyatt. A timely break and split from Harper & Rowan along return with a more darker tone made sure fans remained booing. While there is definite influence of the famous Cape Fear Max Cady character, Wyatt has tweaked it enough so that he stands p#

2015

Heading// Subheading

out on his own. Given the right opposition his aura should grow in 2015. Court Bauer One of the most unique and memorable characters to come along in decades, Bray Wyatt established himself as an emerging monster within WWE over the past twelve months. Projecting an ominous and dark persona, his ring entrance is already one of the most iconic entrances in the history of WWE. The question remains will he be able to convert his cult-like rhetoric into true heat this year. The jury is still out. Manager Of The Year: Paul Heyman Darren Wood Cesaro blip aside, he just keeps getting better and better in his role with Brock Lesnar. Has had a huge task this past year in keeping up interest for the WWE Championship scene without champion, Lesnar appearing and it’s safe to say he’s passed this test with flying colours. Jamie Kennedy The only choice. The fact of the matter is that Heyman excels in the role of ‘advocate’ for men such as Brock Lesnar. This may appear a controversial statement, but Lesnar’s return and subsequent domination of WWE would have been tepid had it not been for Paul Heyman’s incredible promos and smug demeanour, thus proving that managers are as relevant as ever in professional wrestling. Mark Moore Some may argue that he didn’t appear enough but when he did it was pure gold. Unfortunate pairing with Cesaro didn’t help either guy but when “advocating” for Brock Heyman was money every time. Court Bauer Paul Heyman gets the nod as he was the glue that held a lot of WWE’s top storylines together and a critical cog in the main event picture during Brock Lesnar’s resurgence as most dominant beast in WWE.


Heading// Subheading

PROMOTION OF THE YEAR: INSANE CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING (ICW) Darren Wood Unbelievable year for this promotion who in November sold out the Barrowlands in Glasgow plus went on a UK tour which was met with an unbelievable response. Welcomed back Drew Galloway, who became their champion again. It’s the promotion on everyone’s lips at the moment and rightly so.

WRESTLER OF THE YEAR: SETH ROLLINS Darren Wood Let’s all be honest with ourselves for just one second shall we? When The Shield broke up did any of us see Rollins as the stand-out member of that faction?.. Didn’t think so. He really has been given the ball and ran every step of the way with it. A tremendous year for this very talented wrestler, who has been consistent in everything he’s been given. A thoroughly deserved winner.

Jamie Kennedy Usually, common sense would dictate this one goes to WWE, but that simply cannot be the case here. This is instead based on just how well-run the company is, this promotion is truly on the up-and-up. When guys like Drew Galloway, who spent years in the slick WWE system, return and are seriously impressed, you know something is going unbelievably right.

Mark Moore In a year where WWE made so many mistakes and wrestlers faltered Seth Rollins hit home run after home run. Along with the Shield contested the amazing match at Elimination Chamber while matches with Evolution at Extreme Rules and Payback were both match of the night winners. Inexplicable heel turn looked to have hurt the former ROH champion but Rollins rebounded with a superb series of matches with Dean Ambrose. Becoming more prominent in the Authority story line Rollins has grown in confidence throughout the year. Upcoming feud with Randy Orton should be a scorcher and eventual money in the bank cash in may well elevate him to permanent main eventer. No one was more consistent in 2014 than Seth Rollins.

Mark Moore In a year where British wrestling thrived and grew in stature perhaps no promotion grew more than Scotland based ICW. A BBC documentary helped get the promotion more notoriety when its viewing figures were far higher than expected and a sell out crowd in London proved the promotion had a reach far beyond the Glasgow and Edinburgh. The return of Drew Galloway was a monumental moment as was the near 2000 sell out of the Barrowland Ballroom for Fear & Loathing VII. Successfully launching their own on-demand service coupled with another UK tour made this the year of ICW. With another BBC documentary and many more big shows it seems 2015 may well be the biggest year yet for Mark Dallas and co.

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Interview // DREW GALLOWAY

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Interview // DREW GALLOWAY

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Mag n i f Interview// Rockstar Spud

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This past year has seen its fair share of big events from politics to scandals, turns to shocks. The year 2014 has been no different, Mark Moore covers seven of the most noteworthy stories from the year.

the WWE network is great value but with a stagnating current product and most in the UK finding a loophole to already have the network it’s hard to see how WWE will be able to crack the million subscriber mark.

CM PUNK WALKS OUT ON WWE OR DOES HE? The night after the Royal Rumble rumours were abound that CM Punk had walked out on WWE after a backstage meeting with Vince McMahon and Triple H. Most believed it to be a work with both parties staying quiet on the matter, but when WrestleMania came and went with no sign of Punk it put that rumour to bed. On screen WWE referred to Punk as a quitter and then came the recent Punk podcasts where he stated that WWE had actually fired him on wedding day and gave his account of what happened the night he walked out. A fascinating story that some would suggest is still not complete as WWE are yet to fully retort to what Punk said. Granted Vince McMahon apologised about Punk receiving his papers on his wedding day but this still not only lifted the lid on what happened with Punk but also some would say exposed the somewhat ugly inner workings of WWE.

JEFF JARRETT LAUNCHES GLOBAL FORCE WRESTLING Most wondered what Jeff Jarrett’s next step in the wrestling world would be after he officially parted ways with TNA on January 6th. With a return to WWE almost impossible for a myriad of reasons Jarrett decided that much like TNA in 2002 he would go his own way and on April 7th announced the launch of Global Force Wrestling. Though at the time details and specific were scarce over the next eight months GFW set up working deals with a host of promotions such as AAA in Mexico, Revolution Pro Wrestling in the UK and New Japan Pro Wrestling which was the biggest deal of all. GFW now stand on the cusp of co-promoting Wrestle Kingdom 9 at the Tokyo Dome with Jim Ross on commentary for the US broadcast.

WWE LAUNCHES ITS OWN NETWORK After just two years from when we initially heard about it WWE finally launched the WWE network on February 24th with the blockbuster announcement that all PPV’s including WrestleMania would be available for just $9.99 a month. Upsetting the PPV industry this was one of the biggest gambles by Vince McMahon ever and a while a target of over one million subscribers seemed lofty most assumed the price would be the hook. By October, WWE had yet to crack 750,000 subscribers and managed to greatly upset the UK audience by 58 the continuing launch cancel fiasco. No doubt

MARK ANDREWS WIN SEASON TWO OF TNA BRITISH BOOT CAMP After the success of season one which was won by Rockstar Spud TNA announced that Challenge TV would air a second season of British Boot Camp only this time around it would be significantly bigger. Filming trials in Glasgow, Manchester, London and a live wrestling show in York Hall TNA went all out to showcase the best of British wrestling. A side worked story line involving Grado brought the


i ce n t

7

2014 // THROUGH THE LENS

charismatic Scot to a new audience while few argued with the final three of Mark Andrews, Kay Lee Ray and Rampage Brown. In the end Dixie went with Cardiff born Andrews who was many people’s favourite and had shone brightly throughout the show. All being well Andrews will have a great future and proper in TNA.

began British wrestling was still in the midst of a slump with shows pulling paltry crowds and the majority of wrestling fans choosing to watch the American product on TV. Fast forward eight years and ICW held their biggest show of the year, Fear and Loathing VII, at a venue that can hold over 2000 people the Barrowlands Ballroom. A tall order but with one of the strongest rosters in Britain, a fiercely loyal fan base and a main event of Drew Galloway vs Jack Jester the show sold out over a month in advance which must be a record for British wrestling in the modern era. ICW selling out the Barrowlands Ballroom will go down in history as a defining moment in British wrestling history. Showing everyone just how far British wrestling has come and setting a precedent for what a major wrestling show in Britain should be Fear and Loathing VII was as big a moment in 2014 as any outside of North America.

THE ENDING OF UNDERTAKER’S UNDEFEATED WRESTLEMANIA STREAK 21-0 was the number Undertaker’s WrestleMania record stood at upon entering Wrestlemania XXX for his match against Brock Lesnar. Very few believed Lesnar would win the match and rightly so as the streak was sacred to many and had become a huge selling point of Wrestlemania. Shocking fans in 2014 is a hard task for any wrestling promotion but to shock over 75,000 fans in attendance and at a guess everyone watching at home is some feat. While the debate of whether the streak should have ever ended will rumble on forever no one can deny that the ending of the streak was one of the standout moments of 2014.

INSANE CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING SELL OUT THE BARROWLANDS BALLROOM When Insane Championship Wrestling (ICW)

TNA AND SPIKE TV PART WAYS After being in partnership for eight years TNA and Spike TV decided to end their relationship under a cloud of controversy. TMZ originally broke the news with the initial reports being that Spike were upset TNA had lied over the employment of Vince Russo who admitted he been working for the promotion as a consultant after he allegedly sent an email to the wrong person. From there the whole thing turned into a farce with Spike and TNA claiming they were still in negotiations and Spike releasing a statement in which they denied even knowing who Vince Russo was. The whole thing became tit for tat with TNA questioning Spike’s commitment and Spike claiming they had helped fund tours and certain big player’s wages. It was a far cry from 2009 when TNA and Spike together announced the signing of Hulk Hogan. Alas with ratings slipping and millions wasted on Hogan, Eric Bischoff and others, Spike were not willing to offer TNA a better deal than previous and so TNA will air on 61 Destination America from January 2015.


PURO // EXCELLENCE

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WELCOME TO

PURO

NJPW’s Tournaments and History of Excellence Wrestling fans are no strangers to tournaments. Whether you bask in the pageantry of WWE’s King of the Ring, or if you’re riveted by the Infinite Crisis presentation of Chikara’s King of Trios, tournaments have an appeal to wrestling fans of every promotion. From the competitive matches, to the unpredictability, and possible career making moments, tournaments are an excellent way for wrestlers to take their career to the next level and show fans the best talent their promotion has to offer. New Japan Pro Wrestling’s tournaments have a long and complex history, as well as career spanning implications for everyone who’s ever set foot in this ring. In taking a look back at the history of these tournaments, we’ll find industry defining moments and a narrative where controversy meets kayfabe.

MSG Singles League New Japan Pro Wrestling tournaments differed from its western counterparts. Whereas a western event might have a one-off tournament which lasts a day or two, NJPW tournaments typically ran larger and longer than other tournaments at the time. Some events such as the New Golden Series and Big Fight Series lasted for several weeks while other events such as Tohkon Series I & II lasted several months. New Japan Pro Wrestling, as well as their Japanese audience was familiar with the significance of Madison Square Garden. Simply put, if an event was at the Garden it was the biggest event of the year. In an effort to invoke a similar public consciousness of its own

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events, NJPW started its first MSG Singles League. The first event in this series took place on April 21st, 1978 at the Kuramae Kokugikan arena in Tokyo, Japan. With only four matches (two ending in a draw, one by DQ and one by count out) the beginnings of the MSG Singles League, much like its card was modest to say the least. However, the MSG Singles League carried NJPW’s success by taking an existing approach to talent and expanding on it. When Antonio Inoki broke away from JWA and formed NJPW in 1972, he had a much smaller talent pool to work with but he made the best of it. His feud with Tiger Jeet Singh would turn both men into icons, while natives such as Seiji Sakaguchi and Strong Kobayashi helped keep fans interested in the product but that wouldn’t be enough. During the 1970s and 1980s, Japanese wrestling promotions were heavilly dependent on American wrestlers coming over for various tours. Foreign wrestlers seen in NJPW promotions included Billy Graham, Bob Backlund, Nikolai Volkoff, Andre the Giant, and Hulk Hogan. While these wrestlers were household names in the United States, they would grow a following in Japan as well. Every Japanese fan can remember May 6th, 1978 when Andre the Giant defeated Seiji Sakaguchi in Okinawa, or when Andre the Giant defeated the country’s biggest face Antonio Inoki on May 11th. Future MSG Singles tournaments would see the participation of big names such as Peter Maivia, Chavo Guerrero, Dusty Rhodes, and Sergeant Slaughter to name a few. A combination of the success of MSG Singles League and competition from other promotions


PURO // EXCELLENCE would later lead to NJPW adding more matches, more wrestlers, and more match types to an already sucessful formula.

MSG Tag League Between November 21st and December 10th 1980, NJPW hosted its first MSG Tag League. While singles matches were still a major part of these tournaments, the tag team competition would be the focus over the next few years. The added tag element led to an increase in both native and international talent on the card who would go on to wrestle in future events. The first MSG Tag League event saw Hulk Hogan team with Stan Hansen to defeat Tiger Jeet Singh and Umanosuke Ueda. There was also a six-man tag match where Antonio Inoki, Kengo Kimura & Tatsumi Fujinami defeated Bad News Allen, Johnny Powers and Ox Baker. The first MSG Tag League was a highly competitive tournament where foreign and native wrestlers competed almost every day for the duration of the tournament. As both a wrestler and head of NJPW, Antonio Inoki knew what the business needed and gave the fans what they wanted, but never too much of a good thing lest the product get stale and the fans lose interest. The MSG Tag League was new and it gave fans and wrestlers a unique experience. As such, MSG Tag League tournaments only took place once a year between November and December, with the last event being held in 1984, an event where Andre the Giant won an 11-Man Heavyweight Battle Royal. New Japan Pro Wrestling had a variety of tournaments which brought together wrestlers from around the world, each bringing together their own style and changing the ring psychology. NJPW found a formula that resonated with its fanbase and the 1980s was a decade of experimentation and growth. It was also a decade of controversy.

International Wrestling Grand Prix & Kayfabe Controversy In 1981, New Japan Pro Wrestling and All Japan Pro Wrestling entered a promotional war. During this time, a number of foreign wrestlers left NJPW and went to AJPW and vice versa. NJPW’s biggest coup was the acquisition of Abdullah The Butcher. However, NJPW would lose Tiger Jeet Singh to AJPW later that year, as well as the British Bulldogs in 1984. In 1983, Inoki decided to stop using the NWA titles and introduce the NJPW titles in order to elevate the brand. This lead to the creation of the International Wrestling Grand Prix (IWGP)

tournament which was held annually. Only the winner of this tournament earned the right to call himself the best in the world. By 1983, Hulk Hogan was arguably the most over wrestler in the United States, add on his experience with NJPW and popularity with the fans it came as no surprise that he was invited to wrestle Antonio Inoki in the first ever IWGP. However, neither the fans nor Inoki could have known that this would lead to one of the most controversial finishes in the history of Japanese wrestling. On June 2nd, 1983 Hogan and Inoki squared off in a very competitive match. At one point Hogan knocked Inoki out of the ring and when Inoki tried to make it back in to beat the count, Hogan hit Inoki with an Axe Bomber and knocked him unconscious, preventing Inoki from answering the referee’s count and costing him the match. Rumors about the finish abound from Hogan purposely trying to injure Inoki, to Inoki faking being knocked out so he could avoid the Yakuza by hiding at the hospital. Other rumors claim that the match ended exactly as it was intended. Regardless of the legitimacy of the finish, Hogan became an iconic figure in Japan for defeating Inoki who was very much a living legend and the number one face in the country. Inoki would go on to beat Hogan the following year. Andre the Giant would win the IWGP in 1985 while Inoki would emerge victorious in 1986 and 1987. It bears mentioning that while fans of NJPW are familiar with the IWGP championship belt, there wasn’t a physical belt awarded for this tournament during its first few years as the actual IWGP Heavyweight Championship belt would not be created until 1987. In 1985, NJPW lost its partnership with WWF and its partnership with NWA in 1986. Around this time, rival company UWF lost nearly all of its promotional power and was forced to join with NJPW to start an inter-promotional feud. Tensions between the two companies and bad blood between the talents would lead to a feud that blurred the line between kayfabe and reality, but the collaboration was good for business nonetheless. Over the next few years, Inoki’s business acumen and industry expertise would again be put to the test as NJPW would undergo a trial-by-fire.

G1 Climax The 1990s was a game-changing decade for Japanese wrestling. Despite the success of the 80s, fans began to lose interest in wrestling. Many legendary wrestlers such as Giant Baba, Seiji Sakaguchi, and Antonio Inoki himself were retiring, and the legends that fans watched over the last 20 years would no longer be in the limelight.

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Overseas, American wrestling moved towards televised events and this would greatly diminish the number of foreign wrestlers who could participate in Japanese events. This had a backlash on storytelling as well, as previous decades saw heroic Japanese wrestlers battle it out with foreign devils in the squared circle. Without the legends figures or convenient plots to rely on, NJPW needed new talent to take it into a new era. The “Three Musketeers” had the talent to do just that. In 1991, three wrestlers stood out more than anyone else in the company. Called the “Three Musketeers” they were Masahiro Chono, Keiji Mutoh, and Shinya Hashimoto. All three would participate in the first ever G1 Climax which took place between August 7th - 11th. The G1 Climax is a tournament where wrestlers are arranged into two blocks: Block A & Block B. Each wrestler receives two points for a win, one point for a draw, and zero points if they lose. The wrestler who had the highest number of points in their respective block would go on to face each other in the finals. The winner of the G1 Climax would be the number one contender for the

IWGP Heavyweight Championship. The first G1 Climax included the participation of American wrestlers such as Big Van Vader and Bam Bam Bigelow. The mix of different wrestling styles, the reappearance of foreign wrestlers, and the matches themselves made the G1 Climax quite the spectacle. Chono, Mutoh, and Hashimoto more or less dominated their respective blocks, with Chono and Hashimoto actually being tied for points. During the tie-breaker, Chono made Hashimoto tap out to an STF. Chono then went on to wrestle and defeat Mutoh in the tournament finals, after which all three men stood in the ring and declared that they were the future of professional wrestling.

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Chono would later win the 1992 and 1994 G1 Climax tournament while Mutoh and Hashimoto would claim a top spot at the tournament some years later. After Masahiro Chono won his third G1 Championship in 1994, he shocked wrestling fans around the country in not only turning heel, but joining with fellow G1 competitor Hiroyoshi Tenzan, and Hiro Saito. Calling themselves “Team Wolf” they formed the Japanese faction of the NWO. The new stable nWo Japan would later team with America’s NWO faction in 1996, and Chono’s longtime rival Keiji Mutoh would also join the faction. The collusion between native and foreign wrestlers would build more complex stories carried by controversial matches. While other promotions might say “Anything can happen” this is usually little more than a marketing ploy. At the G1 Climax however, literally anything can happened and indeed, has. The 2014 event was one filled with surprise matches, unbelievably competitive bouts, and stunning upsets. Who could forget when underdog Tetsuya Naito defeated both AJ Styles and Kazuchika Okada, the company’s biggest heel and face respectively, back-to-back? Everyone remembers the titanic bout between Doc Gallows and Bad Luck Fale which threatened to tear the Bullet Club apart. Also, the 2014 G1 Climax saw tensions between Suzukigun and Bullet Club explode into several allout brawls that nearly derailed the tournament. Over the years, the G1 Climax saw an influx of prominent foreign wrestlers including Steve Austin, Rick Rude, Arn Anderson, Steve Regal, Rick Flair, Prince Devitt, Karl Anderson, AJ Styles, and many others. Japanese wrestlers whose careers skyrocketed from their participation in the G1 Climax include Hirooki Goto, Katsuyori Shibata, Shinsuke Nakamura, Hiroshi Tanahashi, and Kazuchika Okada. NJPW and its score of talent would build on the success of the G1 Climax.

G1 Tag League


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In 1991, NJPW introduced a tag team event which would follow the G1 Climax and serve as the last event of the year. Originally called the Super Grade Tag League until 1999, the tournament was created to continue the tag leagues of the 1980s and capitalize on the G1 name which had become a powerful promotional resource. Similar to the 1980s tag leagues, the G1 Tag League was an elimination style tournament. In 2006, it adopted a block system similar to the G1 Climax and the winning tag team would be awarded number one contendership for the IWGP Tag Team Championship. The G1 Tag League can have a variety of different tag teams. Some tag teams are composed of young up and comers, while other teams might consist of a veteran teaming with a younger talent, and then there are those tag teams that appeared specifically for this tournament. Since 1991, the G1 Tag League has a long history of unique teamups including Road Warrior Hawk & Power Warrior teaming in 1994, Keiji Mutoh & Rick Steiner teaming in 1996, and several matches featuring nWo Japan. In 2006, two cross-generational tag teams Masahiro Chono & Shinsuke Nakamura, and Koji Kanemoto & Hiroshi Tanahashi made it to the finals where Chono and Nakamura picked up the win. Various stables also participate in the G1 Tag League such as Chaos. Other stables like Suzukigun and Bullet Club have tag teams composed of Japanese and foreign wrestlers.

January 4th Dome Show Since 1992, the January 4th Dome Show has been the biggest NJPW event of the year. In 2007 the event was renamed “Wrestle Kingdom” but the event is largely identified by the significance of its venue which makes it the wrestling equivalent to the Super Bowl. Each year, NJPW invites other promotions from around the world to participate in the dome show. Previous attendees have included

WCW and TNA, along with several of NJPW’s rivals such as UWF, AJPW, and Pro Wrestling Noah. Mexican promotions have also been involved in the event as well, and Lucha Libre style wrestling has been heavily influenced by Japan since the 1990s. With many different promotions participating in the event, it’s not unheard-of for a company to lose a title to a different promotion. The “Wrestle Kingdom” events have always been a huge draw for crowds and while NJPW is no stranger to promoting foreign talent, a large number of non-Japanese wrestlers have been able to use these events as milestones in their careers including tag teams such as Team 3D, the Young Bucks, the Time Splitters, Beer Money Inc., Killer Elite Squad, Forever Hooligans, and reDRagon. Singles competitors who have also seen career success from these events includes Mistico, Kurt Angle, Rob Van Dam, and Jeff Hardy. Wrestle Kingdom IX is shaping up to be the largest event in NJPW’s history with the launch of NJPW World and its partnership with Global Force Wrestling which will allow people from around the world to view the PPV on their televisions, computers, and mobile devices

Best In The World New Japan Pro Wrestling is a company that has weathered every storm. From the promotional wars and backstage politics of the 1980s, to the decline of wrestling during the 1990s, and financial troubles in the early 2000s. While NJPW has had periods of smooth sailing, it’s been a bumpy road as well. However, the company’s leadership, innovative ideas, willingness to embrace foreign talent, and its readiness to listen to its fanbase and give the people what they want, rather than force on them the things they don’t want, are all integral components to NJPW’s formula for success. While the company may not specialize in the pageantry or reality television like sports entertainment, it focuses on the core aspects of what makes a wrestling promotion successful and it builds upon it at every opportunity.

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PURO // BITE THE BULLET

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BITE THE BULLET :

A LOOK AT THE BULLET CLUB Wrestlers are a resourceful lot. They perform in an industry where the ability to adapt and overcome is crucial to career success. Strategy is an essential component of surviving in the squared circle and for some wrestlers this boils down to one very simple rule of thumb: there’s strength in numbers. Matthew Allen Whetstone takes a look at one of the most over and most sinister stables in wrestling today, the Bullet Club.

Origins of The Bullet Club Every faction has a long and storied history, interestingly enough, Bullet Club’s origins begin with Prince Devitt and the two-time Junior Heavyweight Champion Ryusuke Taguchi, two wrestlers who aren’t actually part of the group’s current members. In January 2009, New Japan Pro Wrestling held Wrestle Kingdom III where the Motor City Machine Guns (Alex Shelley & Chris Sabin) wrestled as representatives from Total Nonstop Action (TNA). The Guns defeated IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions, No Limit. After several tag teams rose up to challenge the Motor City Machine Guns, Ryusuke Taguchi announced that he would team with Prince Devitt in pursuit of the gold. However, Taguchi and Devitt later lost to No Limit. Taguchi and Devitt became the defacto number one contenders after No Limit were defeated by the Motor City Machine Guns. On April 1st, 2009, Taguchi announced their team would be called Apollo Go Go (or Apollo 55). Four days later, Apollo 55 would face the Motor City Machine Guns but they too were defeated. It wouldn’t be until Apollo 55 received another title shot in July when they were finally able to defeat the Motor City Machine Guns, ending their sixmonth title reign, and bringing the tag titles back to NJPW. Apollo 55 had a very successful year, even making it to the G1 Tag League Finals and starting 2010 with four successful title defences. However, on April 21st, Apollo 55 would vacate the titles after Devitt was sidelined with an injury. After Devitt returned at the Super Junior Tag Tournament, Apollo 55 defeated El Samurai and Koji Kanemoto and regained the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships which they soon lost to Kota Ibushi and Kenny Omega. After regaining the titles in January of the following

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year, Apollo 55 would have a very successful run, holding the titles for 260 days and feuding with No Remorse Corps (Davey Richards and Rocky Romero). Devitt was experiencing single’s success in the junior league while Apollo 55 more or less dominated the junior tag division until the Time Splitters (Alex Shelley & Kushida) brought their momentum to a halt in November 2012 at the Super Jr. Tag Tournament. In March 2013, Devitt turned heel and began to disrespect his opponents as well as his partners with the exception of Taguchi. On April 7th, Devitt brought a new, more vicious attitude to Invasion Attack where Apollo 55 faced the Time Splitters in a rematch for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship. Much like in November, Apollo 55 came up short and after the match a furious Prince Devitt attacked Taguchi with help from Bad Luck Fale. Prince Devitt who by now dubbed himself the “Real Rock ‘n’ Rolla” teamed with “The Underboss” Bad Luck Fale and defeated Taguchi and Captain New Japan at Wrestling Dontaku. During this same event, Devitt and Fale tried to attack Hiroshi Tanahashi who had just defeated Karl Anderson but Karl Anderson defended Tanahashi, only to hit the Gun Stun on Tanahashi moments later. Tama Tonga who was partners with Karl Anderson joined the attack on Tanahashi. Wrestling Dontaku marked the end of one of the most prolific junior tag teams in the history of NJPW and marked the beginning of the Bullet Club.

The Underboss Bad Luck Fale debuted on April 4th, 2010 but lost to Olympian Manabu Nakanishi. Fale would have a mostly unsuccessful rookie year, but turned things around in 2011 with a big victory against Kyosuke Mikami (El Desperado of Suzukigun). He also joined Seigigun and fought alongside big names like Yuji Nagata, Super Strong Machine, and Wataru Inoue in their battle against NJPW’s second largest heel stable “CHAOS.” Against the larger numbers and greater experience of CHAOS, Seigiun came up short throughout 2011. Ever the savvy competitor, Fale knew he needed to get stronger and so he left NJPW to hone his skills in America. Fale returned at Invasion Attack as Prince Devitt’s heavy “The Underboss.” This newer Fale had become hungry and therefore dangerous. He soon set his sights on former IWGP Heavyweight Champion Togi Makabe, whom Fale


PURO // BITE THE BULLET

himself eliminated from the 2013 G1 Climax. Fale and Makabe would do battle again in a King of Destroyer match at 2014’s Wrestle Kingdom 8. Although Fale lost, he later defeated Makabe at the New Japan Cup. Fale essentially dominated his division and made it to the finals but his ascension crashed to halt when he was defeated by the leader of CHAOS Shinsuke Nakamura. In June, Fale would have a rematch at Dominion where he not only defeated Nakamura but became the new IWGP Intercontinental Champion and struck a major blow to CHAOS in the process. Fale competed in the 2014 G1 Climax where he had six wins and four loses, the forth being delivered by his nemesis Nakamura. Fale would later run into some bad luck of his own when Nakamura defeated him in September and won back the IWGP Intercontinental Championship. CHAOS has been an ever-present roadblock to Fale and the bad blood between he and Nakamura will only get worse overtime. While Bad Luck Fale is the Underboss of the Bullet Club, after Devitt’s departure leadership of the group was seized by the Machine Gun Karl Anderson who would arguably make Bullet Club even stronger than it was before.

The Machine Gun Karl Anderson is a long-time tag competitor but he has also had singles success having beaten the likes of Frankie Kazarian, Michael Elgin, and even Roderick Strong. Anderson began his NJPW career in 2012 when he entered the New Japan Cup and defeated some of the best wrestlers in the company including Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Shinsuke Nakamura, before being defeated by a man who would later become one of Bullet Club’s most dangerous foes, Hiroshi Tanahashi. Anderson saw a measure of revenge at the 2012 G1 Climax where in addition to winning four out of his seven matches he also defeated Tanahashi in a rematch and advanced to the finals where Anderson was in turn defeated by “The Rainmaker” Kazuchika Okada the man who is now Bullet Club’s most hated enemy. Anderson would feud with Okada over the next several months but was met with defeat at every turn. Anderson would join Bullet Club on May 3rd at Wrestling Dontaku. That same night Anderson delivered a message through the brutal beat down on Tanahashi and set his sights on Okada.. “The Machine Gun” competed with “The Rainmaker” at Power Struggle, a struggle which Anderson lost. These defeats would feed Anderson’s evolution and although Devitt was still acting leader of Bullet Club during this time, Anderson’s plans to bring NJPW under Bullet Club’s control were already in motion.

Doc Gallows With Bullet Club struggling against the CHAOS faction, the group needed to regain momentum and sought to do so on the tag team front. Having served as CM Punk’s heavy in the “Straight Edge

Society” (S.E.S.) and the “Director Of Chaos” in TNA’s “Aces & Eights,” Doc Gallows was quite familiar with stables and was firmly in his element where tag teams were concerned. Gallows joined Bullet Club on November 23rd, 2013 at the World Tag League where he and Karl Anderson dominated the tournament with a record four wins and two losses. They advanced to the semi finals where they defeated G.B.H. (Togi Makabe and Tomoaki Honma), and even defeated Tencozy (Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Satoshi Kojima) winning the 2013 World Tag League. On January 4th, 2014, Doc Gallows and Anderson would defeat IWGP Tag Champions K.E.S. (Davey Boy Smith, Jr. and Lance Archer). With Gallows, the Bullet Club’s tag team domination reached as far as Ring of Honor (ROH) when on May 17th, he and Karl Anderson defeated Jay and Mark Briscoe for their fourth successful title defence in only five months. Despite impressive gains throughout 2014, Anderson knew that these victories were only temporary in the face of CHAOS. In order to stand against The Rainmaker, Bullet Club would need someone phenomenal.

The Phenomenal AJ Styles A multi-decorated athlete whose career spans 15 years, AJ Styles is best known for his history with TNA and he was arguably the most influential talent who helped put TNA on the map. AJ Styles debuted at NJPW’s Invasion Attack 2014 where he attacked IWGP Heavyweight Champion Okada and revealed himself as the solution to Bullet Club’s CHAOS problem and the man who would put an end to Okada’s reign as champion. The Phenomenal One and The Rainmaker clashed on May 3rd, 2014 at Wrestling Dontaku where with the aid of Okada’s own stablemate Yujiro Takahashi, Styles defeated Okada and became the new IWGP Heavyweight Champion and took his place in history as the sixth nonJapanese champion to hold the title. In one night, Bullet Club unseated Okada as IWGP Heavyweight Champion, destabilized CHAOS, and added Takahashi to their ranks. Like other Bullet Club members, Styles’s animosity toward Tanahashi would only grow stronger but he also found a new rival in Tetsuya Naito.

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Mr. R Rated Takahashi has an extensive wrestling background, having taken up amateur wrestling in college passing NJPW’s dojo test on his first try. Yujiro’s first NJPW run lasted between 2004 and 2009 and it was during this period he’d find mixed singles success during his battles with Ryusuke Taguchi, Prince Devitt, and Tetsuya Naito, but Yujiro’s highest profile victories would be found in the tag league where he and Naito would defeat Prince Devitt and Minoru Tanaka to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship. Takahashi was on the fast track to singles success and entered the May 2011 Invasion Tour - a tournament to determine the first ever IWGP Intercontinental Champion which Takahashi nearly won but was defeated by CHAOS stablemate Toru Yano. This was but the first of many tensions that arose between Takahashi and CHAOS. Over the next two years Takahashi was successful in both single and tag divisions and even pulled double-duty wrestling in CMLL and NJPW at the same-time, but his rivalry with Tetsuya Naito and dissatisfaction with CHAOS came to a head in 2014. At Wrestling Dontaku, Yujiro Takahashi interfered in the IWGP Championship match between The Phenomenal AJ Styles and The Rainmaker Kazuchika Okada. Takahashi hit Okada with the “Miami Shine” which allowed AJ Styles to finish him off with the “Styles Clash” and bring the IWGP Heavyweight Championship to Bullet Club. This move shocked CHAOS and Japanese fans alike as Takahashi turned his back on NJPW and became the first Japanese wrestler to join the formerly all-gaijin Bullet Club.

The Global Force Kingpin

Also known as “Double J” and “The King of the Mountain,” Jeff Jarrett. He announced his new promotion Global Force Wrestling (GFW) on April 7th, 2014 and the promotion entered into an agreement with NJPW on June 21st, 2014. The deal was made official on August 10th at the G1 Climax. Later that evening, Tanahashi was surrounded by the Bullet Club after his match but Jeff Jarrett came to his aid. It appeared as though Tanahashi and Jarrett would hold-off the Bullet Club together, but Jarrett nailed Tanahashi with his guitar and allied with the group. At the October, King of Pro-Wrestling, Jarrett accompanied AJ Styles to his championship match with Tanahashi but was attacked by Yoshitatsu who prevented Jarrett from cheating on Styles’ behalf. Jarrett and Styles would gain a measure of revenge at Power Struggle, where Jarrett helped Styles defeat Yoshitatsu.

Kenny “The Cleaner” Omega Kenny Omega began wrestling at age sixteen for Top Rope Championship Wrestling in Winnipeg. During the 2013 Best of the Super Juniors, Omega almost defeated Prince Devitt but was attacked by members of Bullet Club and was unable to advance to the finals. On October 26, 2014 Kenny Omega’s contract expired with DDT and he was signed to NJPW. Omega dismissed speculation that he’d join Bullet Club and wanted to represent the lion i.e. NJPW. At Power Struggle, Bullet Club revealed that their newest member was in fact Kenny Omega. Dubbing himself “The Cleaner,” Omega confessed that he lied to the fans and only wanted the money. He also had unfinished business with Apollo 55 rival Ryusuke Taguchi who Omega would challenge for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship.

The Young Bucks One cannot address the topic of the Bullet Club without discussing Nick and Matt Jackson, The Young Bucks, one of the most celebrated tag teams in the last decade. After a run in TNA as Generation Me, The Young Bucks made their NJPW debut at the 2013 Super Jr. Tag Tournament where they represented the Bullet Club. The Young Bucks had a successful NJPW debut and with some assistance from the rest of Bullet Club, would advance to the semifinals of the Super Jr. Tag Tournament, but it didn’t take long to encounter old enemies in the form of CHAOS. In a house show, Anderson would lead the Young Bucks in a six-man tag against CHAOS members Jado, Gedo, and the IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada, Anderson’s longtime enemy. Bullet Club would be defeated in this contest and the Young Bucks were handed

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their first loss in NJPW. Down but not out of the tournament, the Young Bucks struck a blow to CHAOS when they defeated Jado & Gedo, as well as Forever Hooligans, to win the 2013 Super Jr. Tag Tournament. On the November 9th Power Struggle, the Young Bucks received a shot at the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship which was held by Taichi and Taka Michinoku. In winning this match, not only did the Young Bucks walk away with the gold but in doing so the Bullet Club claimed another victory over Suzukigun, increasing animosity between the factions. The Young Bucks would face the Time Splitters again on June 21st at Dominion, where their seven-month reign as champions came to an end. The Young Bucks received a rematch at King of Pro-Wrestling in October in a three-way match which saw the participation of Forever Hooligans, but the Young Bucks were defeated here as well. Determined to win back the gold, the Young Bucks entered the 2014 where they essentially dominated the tournament but were defeated by reDRagon in the finals.

The Bad Boy Wrestling under the name previously used by his father, Tama Tonga debuted in May 2010 at the Super Junior Tag Tournament where he teamed with Davey Richards. Tonga soon hit a string of losses, not the least of which was delivered by Kenny Omega himself. Tonga travelled to Mexico

to hone his craft with NJPW’s partner Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL). He returned to NJPW in 2013 and eventually joined Bullet Club with Anderson at Wrestling Dontaku. Bullet Club’s long-time enemy, Tanahashi would team with Jushin Liger and win the CMLL tag titles from Tonga and El Terrible. However, Tonga returned with a new partner Rey Bucanero and won the titles back from Tanahashi and Liger. “The Bad Boy” would operate with Bullet Club while also defending the CMLL World Tag Team Championship in Mexico throughout the year. He vacated the title when Bucanero was sidelined with an injury, and recently teamed with “The Underboss” Bad Luck Fale. While Tonga and Fale have yet to claim the NJPW tag titles themselves, they’ve served as a formidable roadblock to many who might challenge Anderson and Gallows.

It’s Real Despite being dwarfed in size by Suzukigun and CHAOS, Bullet Club has proven itself to be the most dangerous in stable in all of New Japan Pro Wrestling. Its members have extensive experience in every area of wrestling and the group has mastered how to improvise, adapt, and overcome. What ever challenges and successes lay in Bullet Club’s future the NJPW locker room knows to give the group a wide berth. Whether you love the Bullet Club or hate them, it can’t be argued that everything they do is just too sweet.

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AJPW// Rising

TOTAL ACTION ZONE

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AJPW // Rising

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THE LENS

2014 THROUGH

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January 2014 - CM Punk’s name has been on the lips of fans since his hasty departure the night after the Royal Rumble. He would again make headlines in late 2014, announcing he’d signed with UFC. WrestleMania XXX, April 2014 – The three biggest icons that professional wrestling has ever produced, stood in the same ring to celebrate 30 years of WrestleMania However, the fan fare suddenly growned to a halt as Brock Lesnar shocked the world defeating The Undertaker and thus making the streak 21-1. By the end of the night, fans shared jubilation as Daniel Bryan overcame all the odds and lifted the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.

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April 2014 – Warrior’s inception into the 2014 HOF was met with much fanfare. A couple of days later, The Ultimate Warrior passed away and broke the hearts of fans who followed his storied career. April 2014 – It was announced the Jeff Jarrett would launch Global Force Wrestling and exchange talent with other promotions from around the world. Later in the year, Jarrett announced that GFW would co-promote New Japan’s Wrestle Kingdom Pay Per View in January 2015, with Jim Ross and Matt Striker on commentary. May 2014 – AJ Styles, who’d only just become the new leader of The Bullet Club in New Japan


UK // NETWORK?

Pro Wrestling, won their IWGP Heavyweight Championship, defeating Kazuchika Okada.

the El Rey Network, showcasing a really different product to the other promotions in North America.

June 2014 – WWE releases no less than 10 superstars from their roster, included in those was Matt Sydal (Evan Bourne).

December 2014 – The intense ROH World Champion successfully defended his title against Adam Cole at ROH’s biggest show of the year, Final Battle

August 2014 – In one of the most shocking events in TNA history, president Dixie Carter was put through a table by Bully Ray, in front of a rabid New York City crowd August 2014 – Alberto Del Rio fired by WWE, due to “unprofessional conduct” following an altercation with an employee.

December 2014 – NXT R Evolution aired, culminating in Sami Zayn finally gaining the NXT Championship in an emotional and quite frankly match of the year, calibre contest. However, his victory wouldn’t be the last image of the night as his long time rival Kevin Owens would attack the new champion.

October 2014 – Lucha Underground debuts on

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Gail Kim // BB2

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THE LIFE AND TIMES OF A TNA KNOCKOUT BEST OF BRITISH BOOTCAMP 2 The past year was an amazing one for me with Impact Wrestling not only because of the proud work we all accomplished in the Knockouts division but also because I had the honour of being a judge on British Bootcamp. I was lucky enough to share this experience with an amazing crew, the show creator Jeremy Borash, plus my co-judges Samoa Joe and Al Snow; and last year’s winner Rockstar Spud. Not to mention all the behind the scenes crew who made this show a success. It was an emotional roller coaster for all and one I didn’t expect to experience. I just thought it would be fun to judge, pass on some knowledge and be a part of choosing the next great talent. Little did I know I would get emotionally attached. I felt the hunger and desire from those competing and it brought me back to my independent days when I was in their shoes. Although I always said after experiencing BB2 that I don’t know if I would’ve even made it through the first round funny enough. It’s a tough audition process in actuality and the pressure to be “on” and charismatic is high. Forget about being a great wrestler because you really don’t get that chance to show those skills unless you make it to the next round. I actually thought I was the “nice” judge. The so called Paula Abdul on America’s Got Talent of the panel. In reality at work, I’m straight to the point and probably a bit tougher. Al was the Simon Cowell and Joe was the Randy Jackson. Al has done so many of these competition shows before that we gave him the responsibility for the most part to be the bearer of bad news, which I was glad for because it was hard enough to watch the disappointment on some people’s faces when judgement called.

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In the end, I think we made all the right choices for the main show in London. It was an all star show of talent and they all proved why they are considered the best in the UK. When I say everyone was on their “A” game, it is not an exaggeration by any means. There was not one single bad match and the show from beginning to end was one of the best pro wrestling shows I have seen. The crowd was invested and very vocal about who and what they liked and did not, I got hair raising chills on many moments during the night, with them also being so supportive of their home grown talent and many a time you would never know who the heel or babyface was because they cheered so loudly for whoever was in the ring. Even the biggest heels got chants and cheers from their supporters. The highlights of the night for me were Dave Mastiff vs Rampage Brown and Grado’s entrance. The last thing I ever thought I would be impressed with was a “big man” wrestling match. These two put on a clinic, best storytelling match of the night and not only that, but the agility from both wrestlers blew me away. It was also nice to see Rampage recover from his poor promo at the initial auditions. I had heard about Grado’s infamous entrance but to see it in person and experience it first hand is a whole different ballgame, with the crowd loving every second as did I. Talk about energy! He had me dancing in my judges seat to Madonna’s classic ‘Like a Prayer’ from beginning to end. There are exceptions in this business in terms of what we all expect a pro wrestler should look and be like. We didn’t get to see the final judges comments on the show due to time constraints. However, after the match, I told Grado that he wasn’t exactly fit or knew how to wrestle technically sound. Before I could finish my comment,


Gail Kim // BB2 the fans started chanting, “we don’t care, we don’t care!” It made me laugh because I was just about to say it didn’t matter because In the end, he did what many people couldn’t do and that was win over the fans. Big time! I also can’t wait to see Grado vs Al Snow at the SSE Hydro. The roof is going to come off that arena I’m sure and im going to make sure I have a front row seat. An unfortunate circumstance occurred with the news of Kris Travis announcing that he has cancer, absolutely left us speechless. I just know with his perseverance that he is going to kick cancer’s ass and never look back. He overcame that initial audition and came back so strong that I could not even doubt for a second that he deserved one of the final six spots to go to America. It’s been amazing to see the pro wrestling community rally behind him and show their support. You will be back soon Kris and will have the opportunity to show the whole world your talent in the ring!

lot more of her in the future. She’s hungry and dedicated and I know that nothing will stop her from achieving her dreams. I think we picked the right top three in the end despite it being very difficult to choose. Rampage Brown has all the tools to be a part of the TNA roster. His promo skills in the end is what hurt him the most, but I know he has it within him. He brought it that night in London when it mattered and if he can be more consistent, he would be unstoppable. The winner, Mark Andrews in the end was the right choice. He was charismatic from the very beginning, he was genuine, athletic and is a true underdog. He is also a great addition to our X-Division, a division that our company was built on.

As a judge, I had the opportunity to see first hand how good the potential Knockouts were. First, at the show where the four girls had a four way match and then in the final three going one on one with Kaylee Ray.

Everyone had their favourites and opinions on who the winner should be but if you watch that last episode you can see clearly why the right person came out on top. When Dixie Carter asked each one of the contestants why they thought they deserved to be the winner, Mark Andrews was the one who connected the most on an emotional level. In this business, the fans want to connect with you and that’s exactly how you do it. His connection was genuine and everyone could feel it. I can’t wait to see what Mark Andrews has to bring to Impact Wrestling in 2015. I’m sure he will be flying higher than ever before!

In my opinion, the girls were one of the top three matches of the night and also told a good story with the twins. They all showed great display of athleticism on par with the males in the competition.From the fan reaction, it seemed as though everybody really enjoyed my match with Kaylee. It was very competitive and she showed without a doubt that she could hang with all of us no problem. I’m sure we will be seeing a

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The show also gave an unknown wrestler a platform to be seen and heard. Richard Parliament, the politician who was not even known by the other independent wrestlers, had everyone, from wrestlers to fans thinking ‘who is this guy?’ I can’t lie, when he first walked in, I thought I had my decision made. He didn’t look the part to me but once again I learned that you can’t judge a book by its cover. He had a firm grasp on his character and it was unique. Then he showed us in the second round that he could back it up in the ring. I do wish that the tag match with him and RJ Singh vs Martin Stone and Oliver Grey were two singles matches. Unfortunately we didn’t have the time to do that in the show and you have to take the hand you are dealt and shine. I also want to make a special mention to Sha Samuels, who’s an exceptional wrestler and when he was performing he had a great mind in the ring. He was definitely one that I would’ve liked to see go through. The competition was so fierce though and there were other considerations to be made when choosing who would go through.


El Ligero //PCW vs ROH

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EL LIGERO THE MEXICAN SENSATION

With the Christmas tree now fully back in the loft, over the festive period I looked back on the past 12 months and can honestly say that from a wrestling perspective, 2014 was a year I really enjoyed, as well as my busiest since I’ve started. I wrestled 195 matches, spanning 35 different promotions and it’s a testament to how good British wrestling is right now that I’ve been afforded the chance to do what I love on such a regular basis, while also having some amazing opportunities this year. I’ve had the chance to wrestle people that I looked up to when I first started wrestling, people that were big influences on me as a young trainee and people who I have a huge amount of respect for. People like Brian Kendrick, Sonjay Dutt, Low Ki, Juventud Guerrera, Christopher Daniels, and Petey Williams in his last year in wrestling. I also wrestled Chavo Guerrero.

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On my travels I returned to France, Ireland and Switzerland this year, and I also won gold along the way. I captured my first GPW title after 11 years with the promotion, became the first ever Tidal Champion, was able to reform HubbaBubba-Lucha to win the IPW Tag Titles, won my first title outside of England with PBW, and my first title outside of the UK by capturing the SWE Title in Switzerland! I was fortunate enough to step into the ring with some amazing UK talent on a regular basis, as well as work with some

I don’t get the chance to often, such as Sha Samuels, James Mason, Zack Sabre JR and Johnny Moss. I also got to wrestle two of my favourite tag matches of the year in my team with Kay Lee Ray, against The World’s Cutest Tag Team and The Vulture Squad, as well as see both JC Thunder and Cameron Knite step back into the ring after long absences. Some of the events I took part in were things I never thought I’d ever have the chance to do, and gave me exposure I never thought I’d have. Getting to watch Iron Maiden and Metallica at Sonisphere Festival, then wrestle in front of the same audience for Progress was such a buzz. Getting to work on weekenders ran in association with both ROH and CZW felt like a massive achievement, as did everything that appearing for TNA on British BootCamp 2 brought. I appeared at Newcastle’s Lucha-inspired Vamos¡ Festival for the second year in a row. I even got my photo in Kerrang! Magazine, and my feet on Geordie Shore! I got to see so many promotions grow over the year with PCW, Southside and Progress constantly selling out, as well as being a big part of the NGW arena shows. I got to wrestle in front of literally thousands of fans day in and day out on the camps for All-Star. I’ve had the chance to see my students improve no end and continue to dig deep and work hard. I even got off my arse and finally learnt to drive and bought a car!


El Ligero // Subheading

I honestly cannot thank every promotion I’ve worked for and every fan who might have been entertained by me enough. You make my life a very lucky one, and I do not know what else I would do with myself if I couldn’t do this. But, more importantly than all that is the friendships I’ve had with people over the last year and what they’ve meant to me. With everything that’s happened to Kris Travis and with the retirements of two of my oldest friends in Mad Man Manson and RJ Singh, I honestly cannot place

enough value and importance on the people in my life who mean so much to me. I’ve had the chance to get to know and to reconnect with some amazing people this year, as well as form closer bonds with people I’ve known for years. I’m extremely lucky to have the people I have in my life, and I hope they know just how important they are. Friendship in this life is crucial, because you never know how long you have. Value every single day. Thank you for 2014.

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Bauer // CESARO

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Court Bauer is a TV Producer and brand developer who worked as a WWE creative executive from 2005-2007. Before working with WWE, Court founded Major League Wrestling and worked for All Japan Pro-Wrestling. In addition to his work within TV, Court serves as a consultant for Ring of Honor. Follow Court on Twitter: @CourtBauer

SEARCHING FOR CESARO

“He doesn’t quite have the charisma, he doesn’t have quite the verbal skills. Maybe it’s because he’s Swiss, I don’t know in terms of European style… at the moment, he lacks it.” -Vince McMahon on Stone Cold Steve Austin’s podcast on WWE Network (December 1, 2014) What a strange year it’s been for one of wrestling’s true blue chippers. Going into WrestleMania XXX, all signs pointed to Cesaro climbing the ladder to greater heights. The Big Swing was one of wrestling’s most over moves and who can forget that amazing elimination of the Big Show en route to Cesaro winning the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal? All seemed to be going great for the Lucerne, Switzerland native… or so it seemed. Instead of following-up the WrestleMania babyface turning moment for Cesaro, WWE took a detour by placing top heel manager Paul Heyman with Cesaro. Heyman, a master of developing talent attached to a prospect earmarked for a big 2015? Sold! Only, it didn’t quite go as expected. Instead, Cesaro was an afterthought on WWE programming, given pedestrian angles on the rare occasion, but often booked as a wallflower most of the spring and summer of 2014. Then, randomly, Paul Heyman and Cesaro “decoupled” in a discreet way as if it was an amicable divorce. Over the course of the next several months, Cesaro would continue to be a work horse for WWE’s

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Bauer // CESARO midcard and a critical cog in their overwhelming cycle of weekly programming, but seemingly on a treadmill going nowhere and fast. How could someone with so much going for him be in WWE creative purgatory? Many within wrestling were at a loss… including “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. On December 1st, things get weird and real fast during the live “Stone Cold” Steve Austin podcast featuring Vince McMahon on the WWE Network. Austin asked what’s up with Cesaro and in one of many awkward moments, the Chairman of the Board muttered his way through some peculiar conclusions as to why Cesaro’s ascension in WWE has been stunted. He’s Swiss. Really? The “European style” he employs during his matches isn’t clicking? Oh, you mean that dope European uppercut that people go crazy for? Or maybe the Chairman was referring to the bad ass big swing Cesaro got over huge doing until they told him not to use it anymore? As “Stone Cold” would say, “WHAT?!”

himself in NXT? Having Cesaro away from the Chairman and WWE backstage for a period of time might freshen everyone’s perspective on this truly valuable player that’s been underutilized. However, one must use caution when reintroducing Cesaro to the main stage. It’s imperative that a well-defined short and longterm creative vision be constructed for his WWE reemergence. Cesaro is reminiscent in many ways of a young Kurt Angle both in in-ring aptitude as well as his versatility as a performer outside the ring. What if Cesaro was the Super European Athlete? Repackage him as a violent, European wrestling machine with several vignettes showcasing his training in unique settings throughout Europe. Redebut him when you come through Europe with TV after WrestleMania and watch how hot that crowd is for this re-calibrated rugged wrestler. Follow this up by having him make quick work of several undercard wrestlers and let him shred through the competition. Perhaps Brock Lesnar inks a new WWE deal and you keep the WWE Championship on him… and book a major football

It became evident by the end of this WWE Network special that the near 70-year old czar of sports entertainment doesn’t have the creative gusto he once possessed. Perhaps the emperor will take an honest look in the mirror as his profits continue to dive due to the cannibalization of the WWE Network. Perhaps he will calcify his beliefs and stay the course for the foreseeable future. No one knows but the brash impresario himself. But… what if WWE did attempt to address refurbishing Cesaro this year? Unfortunately, there isn’t a reset button we can magically push that undoes the past. In the territory days, when a wrestler would hit a wall or wasn’t realizing the potential that many thought was there, he would simply go elsewhere for a bit. A wrestler would often go to another territory or continent and hone his craft, tweak his gimmick and learn in a new environment. That isn’t an option today. What does exist today is NXT, where guys like Tyson Kidd have found a new purpose, identity and relevance. The old adage of taking one step back to take two steps forward might be the pathway for Cesaro and his future at WWE. What if Cesaro were to go away and reinvent

stadium in Europe for a Pay-Per-View in 2015. Cesaro chasing Brock Lesnar could be legendary and have a big fight feel. Just imagine Cesaro entering the capacity stadium as the challenger for the big title bout. Close your eyes, visualize and listen to the audience wearing Cesaro branded rugby jerseys count the reps as Cesaro gives Brock the big swing 20+ times! You instantly have a moment that perhaps eclipses Davey Boy Smith winning the Intercontinental Title at SummerSlam ’92 and a new franchise in one of wrestling’s hottest regions. Maybe that’s not the idea or character concept for Cesaro. Surely there are many ideas that could be utilized for a can’t miss talent like Cesaro. Hopefully we will begin to see new ideas implemented for Cesaro in 2015 as it’d be criminal for such a great wrestler to remain an enigma to Vince McMahon.

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FACT FILE // O’REILLY

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TOTAL INDIE

Welcome to the section that sees the Total Wrestling team scouring the indie circuit each month in order to introduce you to the best workers out there...

KYLE O’REILLY Height: 5’11 Weight: 215 lbs Debut: October of 2005 Trainers: Aaron Idol, Scotty Mac & Davey Richards Trademark holds: Ankle Lock, Rolling Butterfly Suplex, Tornado DDT, Tornado Brainbuster Following a long tradition of great wrestlers out of Canada, Kyle O’Reilly (who is currently ROH & IWGP JR Tag Team Champion) has seemingly had one of the strongest runs of his career recently. A PWG World Championship run that lasted 203 days, tours of Japan with New Japan Pro Wrestling which is the #2 promotion in the world plus he’s one of the most entertaining and technically savvy wrestlers in what is arguably the #2 promotion in the United States, ROH and so much more. Kyle O’Reilly first gained notoriety when he won the NWA Junior heavyweight Canadian Championship in 2007. Since then he was taken under the wing of Tony Kozina and Davey Richards and worked for several promotions including FIP & EVOLVE Wrestling before Ring of Honor came calling. While wrestling on the debut show of EVOLVE, O’Reilly would defeat his future partner Bobby Fish, but when they both made it to ROH they have since become one of the top teams in wrestling and one of the most entertaining duos in ROH history. It would seem that Kyle O’Reilly’s future is bright and he’s definitely one of the talents to keep an eye on in the future for greatness.

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Heading// Subheading

Indie Wrestling Feature

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AJPW // Rsiing

TOTAL ACTION ZONE

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Reviws // ROH - SOTF

TOTAL REVIEW Survival of the Fittest 2014 Night 1 and 2 Company: ROH No. Of Discs: 1 Web: www.rohwrestling.com RRP: $19.99 Traditionally Survival of the Fittest is the one of the underrated indie tournaments of the year. In recent years it has not been as highly anticipated by the fans, and perhaps that speaks more to ROH’s booking than their talent pool. It has been said that the roster has facing some depth issues and while that can’t really be disagreed with, SOTF proved that there are some young diamonds in the rough ready to take a more prominent role on the roster. And isn’t that what this event should be about anyway? Overall, the two nights of wrestling were good to very good. The first night is fully recommended as it featured some great wrestling between Cedric Alexander and Adam Page, Delirious and Adam Cole in what was a unique match if not a bit overbooked, Jay Lethal and Hanson, and finally ACH in his bout with Matt Sydal. The rest of the card was good and nothing was unwatchable. Will Ferrara versus Tommaso Ciampa was a good glimpse into what Ferrara could do in the future. It wasn’t the break-out match for Ferrara because the match also was putting more meat on the bone for Ciampa’s out-ofcontrol temper story, but it was certainly more than the squash match it looked on paper to be. Roderick Strong versus TD Thomas was fine but really didn’t do anything for Thomas. Strong just looked like the dominant force in this match with Thomas getting a few shots in which may have done more for Thomas than with the crowd, but it didn’t prove anything really. Strong is back to being a baby-face and that seems to be where the crowd wants him although at this point the anticipation for Final Battle may have contributed to that. This is in contrast to the next match between Adam Page and Cedic Alexander where both men put on what was a damn good match. Each participant is very familiar with each other because of their Mid Atlantic region roots and they could have more going on in the future. Page’s growth within the Decade here is showing and his win put him in the Final 6-way elimination match which gave him more credibility, while Alexander wasn’t hurt because of the interference. Both young men looked to be strong talents for the future. Delirious versus Adam Cole was really good, but a bit over booked. When you have a former ROH Champion facing off against a man who wrestles as infrequently as Delirious, the amount of offense Delirious got in

and the kick outs of significant moves seemed out of place. Granted, it was a fun match and if this was 2007, it would have been even more fun. However, it’s not so why Delirious got in so much against Cole is not something that can be ignored. Still a great match and one not to miss. Lethal versus Hanson and ACH versus Sydal were two stand out matches from this event and really tip the scale when it comes to recommending this to buy. It was clear Hanson was being built as something special and when he got the win over the TV Champion, it was a special moment. It’s unsure what they have in store for him with Rowe in 2015 but he’s going to be remembered for this and his work in the Finals. The rest of Night 1 was fine with the Decade up against the Addiction and the Briscoe Brothers losing to the Kingdom with these being chapters in the story rather than matches that are must see. Night two was really just built around the main event of the Finals, which it should be. The eventuality of that though is none of the matches before the main event except two felt important in any way. Except for Alexander versus Lethal and The Addiction versus the Briscoes, there’s nothing to say about anything in between because they didn’t really further any storylines and will have no impact on the future, unfortunately. The Finals are pretty much going to be what is recommended on this DVD. Hanson’s progression combined with Elgin or Ciampa’s interaction and the great wrestling in the match are worth seeing. Cole’s match, in particular has a great story built up in the near twenty minutes with it not feeling like just another match, there were important storyline progressions built in. While that seems predictable, I’ts sad to say that it’s not always done that way in wrestling, so it seems more impressive when it’s done right. While both are recommended, Night One certainly shines more than Night Two and if you are going to buy both, maybe buy on Video On Demand to save some money or wait til there’s a sale and you can get both at a discount. Chris GST

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Review // TRUE GIANTS

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TOTAL REVIEW TRUE GIANTS Company: WWE No. Of Discs: 3 Web: www.wwedvd.co.uk RRP: £19.99

Given that WWE has always been keen to promote superstars who are larger than life, it is no surprise that there has been a laundry list of wrestlers who either tower over the general public or are a lot heavier. The McMahon family have always been keen to feature grapplers who will turn heads and capture the public’s attention away from the ring, and this new set that WWE have produced looks to showcase the biggest and best across three discs. If Andre the Giant is the greatest of the golden era, then the Big Show is certainly the most recognisable of the modern day. His childhood and entry into the business is showcased, with Paul Wight himself talking about what it is like to be a 7 footer in and out of the business. The legendary Gorilla Monsoon is discussed next with Pat Patterson presenting the archive footage of Monsoon’s career including the legendary (albeit, absolutely terrible) encounter with Muhammed Ali in the 1970s. His more memorable career at announcer and straight man to Bobby Heenan is touched on as well, and evokes some fond memories. The giants of the ring weren’t limited to the main event attractions however. The mid-card had its fair share of larger

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wresters, and this is highlighted by the inclusions of short sections on the One Man Gang (arguably more famous as Akeem when he teamed with the Big Boss Man in the late 80s, and it’s fun to see the inclusion of his morphing from one character into the other), Haystacks Calhoun and the atrocious Giant Gonzales. The archive footage is an interesting watch, but it’s difficult to encapsulate how unbelievably bad Jorge Gonzales was in both of the main promotions in the early ‘90s. He had nothing to offer apart from his enormous size. Big John Studd is up next, and it’s immediately apparent that Studd had a presence on the mic and in front of the camera. Ken Patera (including making the ludicrous claim that Studd gained 3 inches of height through training) hosts the footage of Studd’s early tag team run under a mask, his time in Georgia and JCP before his spell in the WWF in the ‘80s, including his feud with Andre the Giant and 1989 Royal Rumble win. This is followed by Kevin Nash, highlighting his early days in gimmick hell with WCW and his very successful move to WWF as Diesel. Nash went on to have an incredibly successful career as the longest reigning world champion of the 9’0s and founding member of the


Review // TRUE GIANTS

New World Order, which kickstarted the WCW boom period and subsequent Monday Night Wars. Always charismatic, Nash describes his career in a colourful way as always. Two of the most famous black giants of the business are showcased next, with sections on “Big Cat” Ernie Ladd and WWE stalwart Mark Henry. This is followed by King Kong Bundy, who had a cup of coffee in the main event against Hulk Hogan in the ‘80s and even headlined a WrestleMania. “Sycho” Sid Eudy’s impressive physique and incredible presence made him a star attraction wherever he went, and Sid himself is honest about that. Vader is probably the most talented super heavyweight to put on wrestling boots, so his inclusion is pleasing here. Yokozuna and Great Khali may not have been much in the ring, but get a rightful shout out prior to the final section, which covers Andre the Giant himself. Whilst size might equal an impressive visual, it doesn’t necessarily mean great in ring action. There are some decent encounters on discs two and three (Diesel vs Razor Ramon, Sycho Sid vs Bret Hart,

Big Show vs Eddie Guerrero and also against Rhyno), there are some absolute stinkers included as well. The Great Khali against Shawn Michaels is one of HBK’s poorest bouts, El Gigante vs One Man Gang is so bad it doesn’t deserve a description and Yokozuna vs Hulk Hogan was a poor effort with an even worse ending. Some of the older matches like Bruno Sammartino vs Ernie Ladd and Kamala vs Andre the Giant are interesting if nothing else. A set that is based on wrestler’s that make their careers on size and presence as opposed to wrestling acumen is never going to be legendary. Whilst some of the documentary is interesting, each part is too short for the viewer to learn much. Some of the wrestlers deserve a documentary of their own, and this hurts what WWE are trying to achieve. With that being said, there is something of interest for newer fans who want to learn about the history of the larger guys in the business. True Giants is worth a watch, but don’t expect entertainment from beginning to end. Neil Topping

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Review // PWG - UNTITLED2

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TOTAL REVIEW PWG: UNTITLED II Company: PWG No. Of Discs: 1 Web: www.prowrestlingguerrilla.com RRP: $14.99

The apocalypse is upon us all! Repent! It is truly the end of days! The Four Horsewomen have assembled in Reseda… oh wait, false alarm everybody, they’re just here to watch some good old fashioned wrasslin’, so there’s no need to nail your windows shut. Instead you can join Ronda Rousey, Jessamyn Duke, Marina Shafir and Shayna Baszler and kick back relax and take in some hot PWG action! The show centred around PWG World Champion Kyle O’Reilly defending his title against a dangerous, motivated Roderick Strong. He became number one contender by defeating former champion Adam Cole and then made things more personal by assaulting the champion so viciously during the Battle of Los Angeles that Kyle was forced to withdraw from the tournament. In a company that tends to lean more on the in-ring action and uses very few ongoing storylines, this was a real grudge match and was wrestled like it. Strong and O’Reilly beat the heck out of each other, seemingly spurred on by the four MMA fighters in the front row... and Brad Maddox. Despite an entertaining and definitive finish, this issue seems far from over, but if there was any doubt that O’Reilly is absolutely ‘for real’, it was put to bed on this night. The night didn’t just end with hard hitting, cringe inducing (in the good way) strikes

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however, as Tommaso Ciampa and PWG newcomer Biff Busick tore the roof off in a brutal opener that even saw UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey get physically involved. That both men escaped this brutal battle of Boston brawlers without major head injuries is little short of a miracle. Busick was one of many standouts back at BOLA, and his impressive crowd following only grew against the ever-popular Sicilian Psychopath. Speaking of PWG newcomers, Uhaa Nation made his hotly anticipated debut for the promotion after fans had been clamouring for him for months based on his work in Japan for Dragon Gate, taking on fellow action-figure-made-flesh Brian Cage. As expected, this match quickly devolved into a game of ‘can you top this?’ with both men trying to prove they were the most shockingly agile, launching their massively muscular physiques through the air with the greatest of ease and executing manoeuvres normally exclusively seen in cruiserweight matches. The fun and games nearly took a turn for the tragic when Brian Cage landed square on his head in Hayabusa fashion while attempting a Lionsault, but stunningly, managed to continue the match, which ended up being the most must-see of the entire show. Trevor Lee continued his meteoric rise


Heading // PWG - UNTITLED2

reigning champion in company history, Adam Cole (Bay-Bay!) in a real changing of the guard affair. Cole sought not only to prove Lee as little more than lucky, he also wanted a measure of revenge on behalf of his former Mount Rushmore teammate, Kevin Steen, who lost to Lee in his final match with the promotion before signing with the WWE. The Panama City Playboy was in top form as a cocky heel once more, and if the highly athletic contest weren’t good enough on its own merits, the commentary by Chuck Taylor and Excalibur pushed it over the edge. Elsewhere on the card, ROH regulars Cedric Alexander and Bobby Fish got a chance to shine in a longer singles match than either is normally featured in, Chuck Taylor and former best friend Johnny Gargano challenged Joey Ryan and Candice LeRae for the PWG World Tag Team Titles, with Candice in particular capturing the hearts and minds of the Four Horsewomen, and the best tag team on the damn planet, the Young Bucks did battle with AR Fox and ACH in what was less a match and more an exhibition in ridiculously over the top athleticism. Fox continues to take bumps that a crash test

dummy would turn down while the Bucks remain transcendent. Anyone capable of not audibly reaction to at least one of the many high-spots in this match is made of truly stoic stuff. The crowd were on good form all night, with their reaction to adorable real life couple Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae locking up standing out as a particular highlight. The celebs in attendance seemed to have a thoroughly good time like so many had before them, and spoilers for the next DVD, Black Cole Sun: they’re back. While this show obviously can’t compete with the annual extravaganza that is the Battle of Los Angeles tournament, with its dozen or so fly-ins, Untitled II is yet another incredibly solid wrestling show from a company that hasn’t really put a foot wrong in over two years. With not a bad match to be found on the card, PWG continue to offer incredible value for money with their DVD releases. Matt Waters

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Reviews // 30 YEARS OF MANIA

TOTAL ACTION ZONE 90

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Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re giving away this excellent WRESTLING! t-shirt courtesy of www.merch-stand.spreadshirt.co.uk To be in with a chance of winning, please email the correct answer to the following question to totalwrestlingmagazine@gmail.com

WHO WON THE 2014 ROYAL RUMBLE? A) BATISTA B) DANIEL BRYAN C) ROMAN REIGNS Please mark competition e-mails with (t-shirt comp) in the subject line and include your postal address. The closing date for entries is February, 1st 2015 TERMS AND CONDITIONS: 1) This competition is run by Total Wrestling Magazine 2) By entering our competition, you agree to be bound by all rules relating to the competition (and which may be changed at any time without notice.) 3) Entrants must be 18 years or older. Only one entry per email address is permitted. Multiple entries from the same email address or from the same individual will be counted as one entry. 4) In the event of any dispute, Total Wrestlingâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s decision is final, and no correspondence shall be entered into. 5) One winner will be drawn on January 1, 2015. 6) The prize is one WRESTLING! t-shirt. There is no cash alternative. 7) The winners will be contacted via email regarding their successful entry, and their prize will be sent out to that address. If a successful entrant does not claim the prize by the date given in the email, it will be voided and a new winner will be drawn.

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[ Planet Wrestling // Features // Interviews // UK // Puro // Collumns // Indie // Reviews ]

NEXT MONTH: The next issue of Total Wrestling is out February 6, 2014 Keep up to date with all the latest by going to www.totalwrestlingmagazine.co.uk

Feel The Force! We catch up with Global Force Wrestling leader, Jeff Jarrett as he discusses strategy. TNA Reborn? With the company finding a new home on Discovery America, we investigate what this means for the Nashville based outfit. Fighting Females TW takes a look at the resurgence in UK womenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s wrestling

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Total Wrestling Magazine - January 2015