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ISSUE2 - NOVEMBER 2013

BRING THE

REIGN TW TALKS TO ROMAN REIgNS Also in this issue..... 1PW - The Untold Story The A-Z of Hulk Hogan Thank you, BJ Whitmer TW talks exclusively to Davey Richards

WIN A COPY OF SUMMERSLAM 2013 (DETAILS INSIDE)

Featuring Columns from: Sharkboy Matt Striker The Blossom Twins


FEATURES 8 12 14 16 20 22 25 26 28 30 32 35 40 42 44 46 49 52 54 56 60 72 76

GOTCHA! TOTAL PROFILE: HIRO TANAHASHI ON THE LINE WITH AJ STYLES AND BULLY RAY AJ STYLES: MODERN ERA STING? THANK YOU, BJ - PART ONE BELIEVE IN THE SHIELD FANTASY WARFARE ROH’S FUTURE...... TOTAL DIVA - ANGELINA LOVE BACK TO THE WELL: ROH AND GFL THE A-Z OF HULK HOGAN INTERVIEW: DAVEY RICHARDS TOTAL DEFINING MOMENTS - TLC II BRODUS CLAY THE NAKED TRUTH - RYBACK INTO THE CANVAS INTERVIEW: ROMAN REIGNS TOTAL MERCH WHERE ARE THE NOW? SHEAMUS INTERVIEW: DANNY RODD SWOTTING UP: WWE TOTAL GUILTY PLEASURES PODCAST CITY

CONTENTS

16

64 49

THE LOWDOWN 4 5 6 9 38 39

54

TOTAL WRESTLING ALTERNATIVE NEWS NEWS OF HONOR BY THE NUMBERS/ THE HIGHS AND LOWS OF ALBERTO DEL RIO SHOW US YER TWEETS WHAT’S IN YOUR FRIDGE WHAT’S ON YOUR IPOD

PURO 68

WELCOME TO PURO PART TWO

COLUMNS 10 64 66

SHARKBOY: THE INSIDE SHARK TANK BLOSSOM TWINS: KEEPING LIFE SWEET MATT STRIKER’S WRESTLING LESSONS

INDIE 74 75

INDIE FACT FILE - ADAM COLE ON THE ROAD WITH THE BLACKPOOL BLONDS

REVIEWS 78 80 81 82 83 84

WWE BATTLEGROUND TRIPLE H: THY KINGDOM COME GOLDBERG: THE ULTIMATE COLLECTION SHIMMER 53 WWE SUMMERSLAM SPANDEX, SCREWJOBS, AND CHEAP POPS

THE TOTAL WRESTLING TEAM SHEET Darren Wood – Editor editor@twmag.co.uk Columnists Matt Barnes – Editor mbarnes@twmag.co.uk Paul Fahey – NEWS David Schmida – Online Editor Sharkboy Jason Ridpath – Designer Matt Striker Mike McGrath-Bryan - Lead Writer The Blossom Twins Contributors Steven James Sutton, Matt Waters, Matthew Roberts, Phil Clark, Phil Allely, Adam Testa, Darragh O'Connor, Ross Mcqueen, Chris Gee Schoon Tsong (Chris GST)., D.R Webster, John Milner,James Simpson, Tony Knox, Sarah Leach, Maurice Kniesel and David Bridson TW would also like to thank: Matt Striker, Hannah and Holly Blossom, Sharkboy, The Blackpool Blonds, Paul Fahey, Nate Stein, Thomas Hewson, Naomi Totten, Matt Roche, Todd Starowitz, Ross Owen Williams, Fremantle Media, Danny Rodd and WWE DVD.... sorry if we’ve forgotten anyone, it’s been one hell of a month! If we’ve missed you, please know that we are eternally grateful for all the help we’ve received in setting this mag up. You are all absolutely awesome. Wanna write for Total Wrestling? Hell yeah, you do... Drop us a line at: editor@twmag.co.uk for info.


Editors Note Wow – what a first month it was for the revived Total Wrestling! Within the first few days we racked up over two and a half thousand readers based on the strength of social media alone, and numbers have continued to grow steadily from there. Jim Ross re-tweeted us (no praise from Hat, though...), our columnists plugged us across cyberspace, and readers in countries the world over sent their best wishes and told us they were pleased that TW has returned. In short, it was a phenomenal start. Heading into Issue 2, we wanted to continue to build on the success of Issue 1, but to bring you a few new surprises and plenty more to shout about. As such, we’ve snared an interview with upcoming WWE superstar Roman Reigns (although, as per the wrestling magazine curse, Reigns talked at length about his aspirations as tag champ, right before he and Rollins lost the straps! Still, it’s a good read, we’re sure you’ll agree). We also have more from our brilliant columnists, as well as all the ROH, Puro, WWE and TNA coverage you’ve come to expect from your new favourite mag. In another TW first, we’ve also got the thrill this month of welcoming what we think is the UK’s first female wrestling writer (although please correct us if we’re wrong!) – Miss Sarah Leach. Either way, she’s on her way to becoming the First Lady of British Wrestling Writing, and we’re sure you’ll enjoy her Guilty Pleasures piece on Eugene, who has always been a TW favourite. Anyway, enjoy the mag – it’s been a labour of love, and we’d love your feedback. Matt and Darren editor@twmag.co.uk mbarnes@twmag.co.uk https://twitter.com/TWrestlingmag https://www.facebook.com/totalwrestlingmag

Darren

Matt

WANT TO ADVERTISE WITH TW? TW is growing and expanding, and is always looking for new opportunities to link up with new partners, new brands and new media. If you’d like to advertise with us, link with us online or to sponsor one of our regular features or columnists, all you need to do is drop us a line and we’ll get right back to you. TW is happy to feature products across a wide spectrum, from DVDs to sports gear, and can offer preferential rates to small businesses, British companies and media partners. Get in touch via: editor@twmag.co.uk

WIN TICKETS TO SEE WWE LIVE! This just in: We have WWE Live tickets to give away. Head over to our Facebook page (details below) for more info!

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THE LOWDOWN

[ UK WRESTLING//FEATURES // PURO//INDIE //REVIEWS//COLUMNS]

A LT E R N AT I V E N E W S We all know the adage that wrestling news is out of date before a mag even hits the shelves, so TW presents our monthly Alternative News – the news that never goes out of date! Please note; we cannot guarantee the factual, moral or ethical accuracy of any of these news items.

The debate continues to rage over the JR’s Hat firing/retirement debacle. Some say Hat was fired some say he walked. Either way, he’s keeping the peace over the whole issue and Resistoling (see what we did there?) the urge to get too drawn into the debate. Despite the furore, Hat continues to blog and Tweet regularly about WWE goings-on, perhaps ruling out any move away from WWE in the longer term. It’s a shame. Taz would’ve looked great in a hat. Following a study, scientists have confirmed that Vickie Guerrero’s vocal range is much greater than many have thought, with sounds at the upper end of her shrieking audible only to dogs and dolphins. Regardless, TW feels that our ears are damaged enough by Vickie’s weekly warbling, and would highly recommend ear defenders as a precautionary measure to all our readers. Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and Sean Waltman tour the UK this month with a “Spoken Word” tour, following on from the success of similar tours from JR and Mick Foley. Rumour is that Shane Douglas asked to be on the tour, was accepted and was then squashed by Hall, Nash and Waltman, ended up wearing a cap and gown, and then was summarily fired from the tour and sent back to giving talks at high school gyms. Apparently.

As you may have read on the internet, Kurt Angle was inducted into the TNA Hall of Fame this past month, just before Bound for Glory. TNA fans, who have been clamouring for years for a physical TNA Hall of Fame, rejoiced when Dixie Carter announced that they had found a broom cupboard at Universal Studios to house Sting’s jacket and a replica of Angle’s medals. TNA officials have gone on the record as saying that this attraction may just be the financial boost that the ailing group needs, with fans set to flock to Orlando to pay homage to TNA’s two inductees. On a serious note, congrats Kurt – you fully deserve it.

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Lastly, we’d like to wish Sin Cara well on the long road to recovery from his broken finger. As we noted last month, the road to recovery from this kind of thing can be long and arduous, and TW was deeply saddened earlier this month to hear that the injury was complicated by an additional broken nail, which Cara received whilst opening a single piece of fan mail in a lonely motel room. Thankfully, he was able to alert staff, who in turn called an ambulance and had him taken from the facility on a stretcher. At the hospital, EMTs asked Cara to transfer himself from the stretcher onto a hospital bed, but he missed his spot and ended up on the floor. Get well soon, our friend: WWE is a far less entertaining place without you!


THE LOWDOWN

NEWS OF

HONOR

By Stephen James Sutton

Join us here each month for the latest news from America’s top indy promotion

Jimmy Jacobs has returned to the promotion and has been entered into a Trial Series in which if he wins three of the five matches he’ll earn an opportunity at the ROH Champion Adam Cole in Dearborn, Michigan on the 15th November. He’s already taken on Silas Young (on ROH TV), Kevin Steen (in Hopkins, Minnesota) and Mike Bennett (in Baltimore, Maryland). Left in the series will be Adam Page (in Chicago Ridge, Illinois at Glory By Honor XII) and the second ever triple crown champion Roderick Strong (in Cincinnati, Ohio on the 02/11/13). The main event of Glory By Honor has been signed as an eight man elimination match (with a two-hour time limit), and the teams will consist of all the ROH Champions taking an team made of ROH AllStars. If the ROH Champion is eliminated, however, then the man who eliminates him earns an opportunity at the ROH Championship in the future. The last eight man elimination match which had a two hour time limit lasted eighty minutes. The Allstars who will take on the ROH Champions team will be Caprice Coleman, Cedric Alexander, Jay Lethal and Michael Elgin. Paul London will return to the promotion at Glory By Honor. He’ll be taking on Roderick Strong. It will also be the Battle of the Piledrivers, as Kevin Steen takes on Mike Bennett. In a grudge match Mark Briscoe will take on Silas Young, and Outlawz Inc will also be at the show.

Adam Cole will have to defend the ROHChampionship against Kevin Steen on 02/11/13 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Also announced for the promotion’s return to Ohio, the ROH Television Championship will be on the line and also there will be a Four Corner Survival match to see who will face whoever the ROH Television Champion is at Final Battle.Jay Lethal, Mark Briscoe, Mike Bennett and Tomasso Ciampa will get the opportunity to see who will face whoever the ROH Television Champion is at Final Battle. In exciting news for fans, Delirious made a rare appearance during the Honor Rumble in Hopkins, Minnesota. Blk Out (Black Jeez Sabin and Ruckus) also recently made their return to the promotion, on the 05/10/13 show in Baltimore, Maryland.

Ring Of Honor’s COO Joe Koff has banned former ROH Champion Jay Briscoe from attending anymore upcoming events until he’s medically cleared to return to the ring. To protect both the promotion and him from himself, presumably.

Former two-time WWE Women’s Champion and four-time TNA Knockout Champion Lisa Marie Varon {Victoria (WWE) and Tara (TNA)} will be in attendance for Glory By Honor VIII. TW has had the pleasure of talking to Tara in the past, and she really is dedicated to her craft and an asset to the sport, so we’ll be looking forward to seeing if any working relationship develops between Varon and ROH.

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THE LOWDOWN

12 5 11

[ UK WRESTLING//FEATURES // PURO//INDIE //REVIEWS//COLUMNS]

2 5 27 12

The number of “Spin the Wheel, Make the Deal” matches at Halloween Havoc. In 1992, Sting defeated Jake the Snake Roberts in a “Coal Miner’s Glove” match. In 1993, Vader defeated Cactus Jack in a “Texas Death” match.

The number of Halloween Havoc events promoted by World Championship Wrestling between 1989 and 2000.

The number of times Halloween Havoc was held at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas Nevada, from 1996-2000.

Including the 2013 edition, the number of Hell in a Cell pay-per-views that have been held by WWE.

The number of title changes that happened at Halloween Havoc, from Stan Hansen defeating Lex Luger to win the U.S. title at Halloween Havoc ’90, to General Rection defeating Lance Storm and Jim Duggan to, ironically, win the U.S. title at Halloween Havoc 2000.

14,00 HIGH

The total number of Hell in a Cell matches that have been held by WWE, from Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker at Badd Blood in St. Louis on October 5, 1997 to Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan at Hell in a Cell in Miami Gardens on October 27, 2013.

The highest attendance figure at any Halloween Havoc event. This came at Halloween Havoc 1994 at Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena, which saw Hulk Hogan defend the WCW World Heavyweight Championship against Ric Flair.

The number of times that The Undertaker has appeared in a Hell in a Cell match, the most by any WWE competitor. ‘Taker is also tied with Triple H for the most victories in Hell in a Cell, with 6.

47:26

The length of the longest Hell in a Cell

HIGHS AND LOWS OF ALBERTO DEL RIO May 9, 2000:

Pre-2000:

Rodriguez’s debut appearance in Asistencia Asesoria y Administracion (AAA) comes as he saves his father, Dos Caras, from a beatdown from Los Consagrados (El Texano, Pirata Morgan and Espectro, Jr.). Known as Dos Caras, Jr., Rodriguez would make his in-ring debut on September 9 at AAA’s Verano de Escandalo event, teaming with Sangre Chicano, El Alebrije and La Parka, Jr. to defeat Los

2005: Caras Jr. signs with Consejo Mundail de Lucha Libre (CMLL) and advances to the semiJune 25, 2010: finals of the 2005 La Copa Junior Rodriguez, repackaged as tournament before losing to Dr. Wagner, Jr. A year later, Caras Jr. aristocratic Alberto Del Rio, begins appearing in taped defeats Wagner, Jr,, Heavy Metal, Apolo Dantes and Hector Garza to vignettes on Smackdown. He debuts on the August 20 e win the tournament. pisode, defeating Rey Mysterio, Jr. In the months to come, Rodriguez would defeat and injure Mysterio, Matt Hardy and Christian.

Alberto Rodriguez’s Consagrados (including El Cobarde). successful amateur wrestling career earns him a place on the Mexican national 2007/2008: Winning the Greco-Roman CMLL Heavyweight Chamwrestling team. pionship on July 8, 2007, Caras makes only four title defenses in 533 days before losing the title to Ultimo Guerrero on December 22, 2008

2000: Due to a lack of funding, Mexico does not send their wrestling team to the 2000 Summer Olympics.

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LOW

June 17, 2009: Rodriguez announces

he has signed a three-year contract with October 8, 2010: WWE. He believes he will go directly to the Mysterio returns from injury and main roster and retain the rights to his hands Del Rio his first WWE loss. name, mask and image. Instead, he appears The feud between the two in Florida Championship Wrestling as Dos, continues until January. Dorado and El Dorado and the unmasked Alberto Banderas. He later states he hates his time in FCW but learns a lot.

Text By John M. Milner


match on record. During the match, Triple H defeated Shawn Michaels on June 13, 2004 at the Bad Blood pay-per-view.

5:01

2

The length of the shortest Hell in a Cell match. John Cena defeated Alberto Del Rio, CM Punk, Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger in a Five-man Hell in a Cell match for the WWE Championship in a dark match at a Raw SuperShow in Kansas City on September 26, 2011.

0 3

The number of Hell in a Cell matches that have been broadcast on television. Both matches were on Raw is War in 1998. On June 15, The Undertaker and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin battled Mankind and Kane to a no contest in a tag team Hell in a Cell in San Antonio, Texas. Mankind and Kane would then battle each other, also to a no contest, on August 24 in Philadelphia.

15

THE LOWDOWN The number of Hell in a Cell Championship matches that have been held for titles other than the WWE or World Championships. The number of Hell in a Cell matches that have ever been held in one night. This came at the 2009 Hell in a Cell payper-view, when The Undertaker defeated CM Punk for the World Heavyweight Championship (the first time a championship had changed hands in the Cell). Randy Orton defeated John Cena in a WWE Championship match and D-Generation X defeated Legacy.

The number of WWE or World Heavyweight Championship Hell in a Cell Matches that have been held, including Orton/Bryan.

July 17, 2011: Del Rio wins the WWE Championship Money in the Bank ladder match. He cashes in at SummerSlam (August 14) after champion CM Punk had been attacked by Kevin January 30, 2011: Nash. He retains the title against Mysterio In the largest Royal Rumble of all the following night on Raw. time, Del Rio outlasts 39 other men and eliminates Santino Marella to earn a Championship match at Wrestlemania XXVII.

January 8, 2013: Del Rio, now turned face, defeats the Big Show in a Last Man Standing Match to win the World Heavyweight Championship and retains the title against Show at the Royal Rumble and the Elimination Chamber.

June 16, 2013: After working his way past Swagger to claim the #1 contender’s spot, Del Rio turned heel in his title match against Ziggler en route to regaining the championship. Del Rio would continue to retain the title against Ziggler, Christian and Rob Van Dam through the summer of 2013.

December 19, 2011: Del Rio suffers a torn groin muscle on an episode of Raw. The injury requires surgery and puts him out of action for six months.

March 18, 2011: World Heavyweight Champion Edge defeats Del Rio to retain his title at Wrestlemania XXVII. When the Championship is declared vacant when Edge retires, Del Rio loses a ladder match to Christian to fill the vacancy at Extreme Rules (May 11).

April 8, 2013: One night after retaining the Championship against Jack Swagger at WrestleMania 29, Del Rio faces Swagger and manager Zeb Colter in a handicap match. He wins that match but loses the title to Dolph Ziggler when the latter cashes in his Money in the Bank title shot.

May 20, 2012: After returning to Raw, Del Rio comes

up short in his attempt to dethrone World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus in a Fatal Fourway match at Over the Limit. To make matter worse, Del Rio suffers a concussion in June. Pulled from the No Way Out pay-per-view, Del Rio is unsuccessful in his title shots against Sheamus through the rest of the summer and fall.

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FEATURES

[THE LOWDOWN // UK WRESTLING// PURO//INDIE //REVIEWS//COLUMNS]

TEXT BY MATT WATERS

As you can imagine, Total Wrestling gets vast swathes of pictures landing on our desks each month. Most are action shots. Some are just pure comedy. In this regular feature, we rounds up the funniest wrestling screenshots we’ve seen over last month. Smile!

Roman Reigns looks on in delight as Dean Ambrose delivers the kiss of... death? Let’s say death. There are few things in Dragon Gate more ridiculous than the stable name Mad Blankey. This is one of them.

Ryback? More like Flyback. Willie Mack is capable of a great many feats of stunning athleticism, but they are all dwarfed by his uncanny ability to balance on the top rope for 46 uninterrupted seconds using nothing but his belly.

Somewhere in here is a clever pun about backbreakers and Brokeback Mountain, it’s just a matter of finding it...

Paul Heyman hates bullies, and those pesky neighbourhood kids playing on his lawn.

Headlock, shoulder tackle, step-over, leapfrog, bypass, arm drag, ridiculous flying headbutt missile attack directly into a hammer shot. A match formula as old as time.

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And finally, by far the funniest image to grace our TV screens in years. There’s no point in running this feature anymore, Gotcha! has peaked...


FEATURES

SHOW US YER TWEETS By matt waters

Oh, Twitter, you’re the gift that keeps on giving. Where else would you get to see CM Punk’s professional level put-downs, his new partner in crime Big E Langston hatching ingenious schemes, Akira Tozawa master the English language and Sami Zayn lament for the youth of today. All of this plus Noam Dar beating out Kevin Steen for The Rock’s number one stalker fan!

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COLUMNS

[THE LOWDOWN // UK WRESTLING//FEATURES // PURO//INDIE //REVIEWS]

Hello again, fin fans! It’s great to be back for another issue of Total Wrestling Magazine! If you are reading this, it means one of two things: Either… 1) You liked my first column and you are back for more of my witty and insightful banter; or… 2) You are curious about my writing style because you completely missed the first column, perhaps even falling asleep halfway through it. Either way, it’s good to have you back Inside the Tank this month. One of the things I am asked most often by fans and wrestling journalists alike is, “How did you break into the wrestling business?” This month’s column is dedicated to answering that question. Nearly as far back as I can remember, I had always dreamed of becoming a professional wrestler. From the moment I saw “Rowdy” Roddy Piper smash a coconut over the head of Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, a little voice inside my own head began telling me that pro wrestling is what I was born to do. It truly became my passion at a very early age.

But how does one go about becoming a professional wrestler? Fast forward years later to 1995. A much younger version of yours truly was attending the University of Cincinnati in Ohio, where I decided to major in Communication because they didn’t offer a degree in Professional Wrestling. In fact, no college that I could find offered a degree in Professional Wrestling. Imagine that.

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While living in Cincinnati, I discovered a small TV station (the kind you needed a ‘rabbit ears’ antenna for just to watch, if any of you are old enough to know what that reference means) and on that station they broadcast a different wrestling promotion every night. One night it was ECW, the next night it was Smokey Mountain Wrestling, the next night it was UWF, etc. While watching wrestling one night, a commercial aired for a wrestling radio talk show hosted by a man who I had recently seen in the role of an announcer on Smokey Mountain Wrestling. His name was Les Thatcher.


COLUMNS What I didn’t know about Les at the time was that he was much more than just an announcer for Smokey Mountain. Les made his debut as a professional wrestler in 1960 and spent the next 14 years working the southern wrestling territories with and alongside some of the biggest legends the business has ever seen. Then, in 1974, Les began his broadcast career when he hosted and produced Southern Championship Wrestling. Les is truly one of those people in the wrestling business who has “been there and seen it all”. One night while listening to his radio show, I heard Les say anyone who called in would receive two free tickets to an independent wrestling event in northern Kentucky, just across the river from Cincinnati. I called in and wound up attending the event where I was fortunate enough to meet Les in person. I struck up a conversation with him and asked him the question that he’s probably been asked 1000’s of times (I know I have): “How does one get into the wrestling business?” After listening to me gush for several minutes about my passion for wrestling, Les said he could tell I had a “fire in my belly” for the business and then he informed me that he was about to open a wrestling school in Cincinnati. “I don’t know about making you into a wrestler,” he said, “But we sure could use a good referee.” “Anything!” I replied. “I’ll sweep the ring or help set up the chairs. I just want to be a part of the business.” “Give me your phone number,” Les said, “And I’ll give you a call when we get things up and running.” “Sure,” I thought as I gave him my number anyway. “Never in a million years is this guy going to call me.” But a few weeks later… he did. Hope you enjoyed this month’s Inside the Tank. Be sure to visit SharkBoy.net and swim by here again next month when the topic will be my initial training to be a professional wrestler. Until then, I leave you all with another great big Shell Yeah!

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FEATURES

[THE LOWDOWN // UK WRESTLING// PURO//INDIE //REVIEWS//COLUMNS]

TEXT By Mike McGrath -Bryan

TOTAL PROFILE Real Name: Hiroshi Tanahashi Currently resides: Tokyo, Japan Age: 36 Height: 5‘11“ Weight: 227lbs. Finishning manoeuvre: High Fly Flow (Frog Splash)

Big Game Hunter He really is the total package, recognised by fans the world over as the premiere big-game performer in the business today, and holder of the record for most title defenses of the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, the truest of tests for any champion in puroresu, where wins and losses still factor heavily into a champion’s legacy, and a challenger’s worth...

But life has a way of throwing curveballs, and after literally being stabbed in the back by TV Asahi (a major network in Japan and NJPW’s television home, as well as an early investor) hostess and personality Hitomi Hara, an ex of his, mainstream interest was piqued, and his return played to a sold-out Korakuen Hall. Public sympathy may have played a factor in his promotion in the company, but there is no doubt he rose to the occasion, capturing the IWGP Under-30 title and IWGP tag team titles twice (once with Yutaka Yoshie, once with Shinsuke Nakamura) within months of his return, and returning to finalist contention in 2004‘s G1 Climax. Much like Cena again, it was 2005 when Tana arrived, headlining New Japan’s major annual show at Tokyo Dome on January 4th, ultimately dropping the U-30 strap to fellow rising star Nakamura in a symbolic ascent to the top for both men.

If there is a performer in all of the world that WWE and TNA should be envious of not having on their roster, 14-year pro Hiroshi Tanahashi, the man New Japan Pro Wrestling refers to as a “once-in-acentury” talent, is that man. Take the raw charisma, workrate and wrestling ability of a Shawn Michaels, weld it to the muscularity, power, and likeability of pre-boring John Cena, then add that intangible character and toughness that New Japan’s dojo instills in an athlete,

Brought up the hard way through New Japan’s dojo under the watchful eye of Keiji Mutoh, Tanahashi, much like Cena, seemed to be destined for success from the beginning. Debuting in 1999, Tanahashi quickly garnered traction in a company devoid of new blood, and early in his career racked up victories against Negro Casas, Scott Hall and others, even beating NJPW legend Kensuke Sasaki in under two minutes at the 2002 G1 Climax tournament.

2006 saw Tanahashi hit the top spot after winning that year’s New Japan Cup and preparing to face Brock Lesnar for the IWGP heavyweight strap. When Lesnar left NJPW before the match could happen, Tanahashi’s path to gold was once again obscured, as he was placed in another tournament, this time for the title. He persevered and overcame Giant Bernard to win the title, a championship he would hold for nine months and defend against Nakamura in

Hiroshi Tanahashi

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and you have the kind of company-carrying character that has led New Japan from near-bust to its current second golden age. And to boot, Vince McMahon could literally only dream of getting John Cena as over as this guy - men, women and children alike pop like nobody’s business for Tana’s version of the PG routine, from his goofy post-match air-guitar celebration, to his rallying cry of “Aish’temas’!” (“I love you!”).


FEATURES their ongoing rivalry, a classic dichotomy that took New Japan’s dynamic of lasting enmities and modernised it, with clean-cut Tana facing off against an increasingly unstable and flamboyant Naka. After losing the belt to Yuji Nagata, Tanahashi would face down the man that would end Nagata’s last IWGP reign in Nakamura once more, once more headlining Tokyo Dome on January 4th, and once more losing.

Tana World Tour While a contract dispute with New Japan was ongoing, Tana took his freelance game to competitor All Japan Pro Wrestling, partaking in their Champions’ Carnival tournament and taking on each of the company’s headline talent, including his mentor, Keiji Mutoh. In 2008, Tanahashi would also expand his reach, with an excursion to the then-growing TNA, following a one-off match with AJ Styles on PPV two years earlier. He immediately fell victim to the company’s track-record of misuse of name talent. Not bothering to cash in on his international reputation, the Florida-based company proved to be a damp squib for Tanahashi, squandering him in the low-priority X-Division and at one point having him berated by xenophobia act Sheik Abdul Bashir. Excursions to Mexico for CMLL have proven far more fruitful over the years in-between tours for New Japan: in 2005, Tana and Nakamura defended their IWGP tag belts successfully, while in 2010, he alongside Taichi and Okamura won the CMLL Trios tag straps. Even more

significantly, while tag team champ this past September, Tanahashi came out on top of a knockout tournament of champions, to become the Universal Champion in 2013, a honor similar to the WWE’s King of the Ring. Returning to New Japan in 2009, a rematch with Mutoh would provide him his third IWGP title reign, and reignite his feud with Nakamura over a classic series of title matches that saw them both take the reins of the struggling promotion, in-between challenges from Kurt Angle and Hirooki Goto, and a loss to Manabu Nakanishi that cost him the belt, but was swiftly equalised two months later in a title rematch. His fourth reign wouldn’t last either, as Tanahashi would vacate the top spot owing to an eye socket fracture inflicted on him by Nakamura.

Back on Top 2011 saw Tanahashi return to the main event after a year’s post-injury slogging through the ranks, feuding with Tajiri and heel stable CHAOS, to defeat veteran champ Satoshi Kojima for his fifth IWGP title, and going on to defend against Nakamura, Nagata, Charlie Haas and others on the way to a record eleven title defenses, before being overcome by Kazuchika Okada in a shock loss to a man being established as the new face of New Japan, in February of 2012. In regaining his championship in May of 2012, however, Tanahashi tied with former company ace Tatsumi Fujinami for most IWGP heavyweight championship reigns. Hitting the sweet spot of youth and experience, Tanahashi’s programme with the arrogant Okada cemented the

“Rainmaker” as an incorrigible heel, right up to his eventual victory over Tana in April of this year, with Tanahashi’s enthusiasm for star creation and professionalism shining through. In carrying the company through hard times, multiple changes of bookers and owners, and bringing the best out of a range of opponents, from his rivals, to nostalgia acts, to the upcoming generation of heels in recent feuding with Okada and Prince Devitt, Hiroshi Tanahashi has proven that for all the records he has, he’s still a young man in terms of puro longevity. Still firmly on the aforementioned sweet spot of youth and wisdom, his upcoming rubber match at the King of Pro Wrestling iPPV with Okada should pay further testament to his ability to co-operate for the common good, as New Japan builds Okada and high-flyer Tetsuya Naito for the new top spots and the leading rivalry of the next generation, culminating or possibly just beginning, at Wrestle Kingdom VIII at Tokyo Dome this coming January 4th. For his service to the company, and providing a readily marketable face to hold the company steady while new stars are solidified, watch for him to break Fujinami’s record for number of IWGP heavyweight title reigns, possibly sooner rather than later. And from there? Who knows. “The Ace of the Universe” still has puro in the palms of his hands for now, and nothing more to prove, surely, bar hindsight on how his legacy to New Japan shapes up compared to champions of bigger, more prosperous eras...

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FEATURES

[THE LOWDOWN // UK WRESTLING// PURO//INDIE //REVIEWS//COLUMNS]

on the line with....

AJ STYLES AND BULLY RAY

Once again this month, TW had the pleasure of sitting in on a TNA conference call – this month featuring two of the biggest stars in the company right now. Sit back and enjoy as we relay the duo’s take on life in the TNA fast lane... AJ on... character evolution I think it’s just all the things that have ever happened to me personally, I’ve been able to bottle up and transform this character that I have into this darker, more evil character. I don’t have sympathy. My character doesn’t have sympathy to stop or not do a move or not go the extra mile to hurt someone. It’s not just about just pinning you. It’s about beating you and doing it convincingly. If he can’t beat you, he’s going to make you wish you had never gotten in the ring with him. That’s the difference between the old AJ Styles and the new. He is going to go all out and not hold everything back. You aren’t going to have to put him down, but you are going to have to keep him down. He is determined.

AJ on... life imitating art in TNA People want to feel like they are a part of what you’re doing. I’ve tried to get answers for the same questions they’ve asked, and it’s becoming a real-life issue. There is stuff that I want to know, these fans want to know. I’ve called Dixie out on it, and I think that is a good thing. People want to be entertained, and they also want to have a bit of that real-life story going on. It doesn’t get much more real than what Dixie and I are doing. It’s good television. It’s not reality television, but it’s good television.

AJ on... losing the six-sided ring I never thought we would get rid of the six-sided ring, but the first time I took a bump in the regular old four-sided ring I was much happier. I didn’t realize how stiff the six-sided ring was, compared to the square one.

AJ on... entering the TNA Hall of Fame I will tell you, if they try to induct me before Jeff Jarrett, I will not accept it. He is the guy who started this company and is responsible for my career at this company. The fact that he put so much time and effort and money, in my opinion – as much as I love Sting and Kurt - Jeff would have been my first choice. Jeff isn’t done wrestling, neither is Kurt or Sting. I want to be done before I want to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. That’s just my opinion.

AJ on... what’s left to achieve

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I think it’s to put on quality matches where people go, “you know what, I watched other pay-per-views, but this one was different. I got my money’s worth when I got this pay-per-view.” Or, “I turned on Spike TV and what a great show that was. I didn’t even pay for it, but gave me everything I wanted.”I want them to say that about AJ Styles… I think that is the thing that keeps me going. Sometimes when I jump in the crowd and fans are grabbing on me, excited to be part of it all, that is what it’s all about. That’s when it’s fun. And I guess what I’m saying is when it stops being fun, there is no reason to be in this anymore.


FEATURES INTERVIEW BY JASON RIDPATH TEXT BY DARREN WOOD Bully on... being versatile I think what makes me so versatile is I’m just being me. There is really no huge answer there is no big formula. I’m just out there being me, just doing what I do. I’m extremely comfortable when I’m out there. Whether it’s pro wrestling, or hitting a baseball, or throwing a football, or shooting a hockey puck, you have to be comfortable with whatever you’re doing to be a successful performer. I know how to go out there and draw emotion from people. I know how to strike a chord with them, I know how to get under their skin, I know how to get a reaction. And I’m proud to say there is probably nobody in the wrestling business who can do it quite like I do.

Bully on... giving advice to the newcomers If you ask me what advice I give to younger guys, I say relax, go out there, speak from the heart and get your message across and get to the point. People in this day and age don’t have a huge attention span. Get in, get on, get off, get out. Say what you’ve got to say and get the emotional investment you want to get from the fans.

Bully on... becoming a singles star I’ve enjoyed the transition. It’s not something that I ever thought I would do and not something that I ever really wanted to do: I got into wrestling to be a successful tag team wrestler. I guess the biggest challenge was getting into the shape I’m in, because I had never been in phenomenal shape, not that I am in phenomenal shape, but I’m in the best shape of my life. That was a challenge. And the other challenge is being in the ring without a partner. When you’ve wrestled all over the world for 15 years and you’re used to having somebody by your side, it’s a little different when you turn around and look at that corner and there’s nobody there. But in terms of real challenges, I’m pretty happy with the way everything has gone so far.

Bully on... good guys and bad guys The world has had good guys and bad guys ever since Jesus Christ and Satan. You always need the black hats and you always need the white hats. There are a lot of guys who choose to go down more of the good guy path and people who choose to go down more of the bad guy path, but I have always said, I’m not a good guy and I’m not a bad guy. I’m not a baby face and I’m not a heel. I’m me. And I have always been me, from day one. The difference between me and a lot of other guys is, I can be loved on Monday, hated on Tuesday and then loved again on Wednesday. As a performer it’s your duty to your art form to be able to take those people on an emotional roller coaster ride and get them to respond the way you want them to respond. And that’s what I have been able to do and I’ve been blessed with that ability.

Bully on... what’s going on in TNA I don't know about TNA's current financial situation, I'm a pro wrestler, I don't work in the front office. I’m not privy to the TNA books so to speak. All I know is I get paid a very nice salary from TNA and I have been getting paid a nice salary for the past seven years. In terms of steps for success for TNA, it's simple: we just go out there and continue to give people a product that they are interested in seeing every week. We need to continue to go out there and give people a live event which is fun and interactive alongside compelling TV shows as well as hard-hitting pay-per-views where people are happy to spend their money.

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AJ Styles: Text By Matt Waters

The Modern Era Sting?

One of the best wrestlers of his generation, AJ Styles has competed in front of adoring audiences across the globe and collected dozens of championships. But with employment in WWE nowhere to be seen on his resume, just how much has the Phenomenal One truly achieved? Indeed, is WWE really the “Be All and End All” of professional wrestling? At his Pique? Headlining TNA Wrestling’s biggest show of the year, Bound For Glory, for the second time at age 36, closer to the end of his career than the beginning, the odds of AJ Styles ever wrestling a match inside a WWE ring seem incredibly slim. Indeed, if internet dirt-sheet gossip is to be believed, those with hiring and firing power in World Wrestling Entertainment have little to no interest in their chief competition’s most popular talent, 36 years old or not. In the eyes of some, this theoretical assessment of Styles’ current value to the world’s biggest wrestling company is a damning indictment of his entire fifteen year odyssey in the industry. Indeed, to a significant portion of wrestling critics and media, especially those arguing ad nauseam on message boards, a wrestler’s career is only truly validated when they sign their name on the proverbial dotted line of a WWE contract; You haven’t really made it if you don’t have the Vince McMahon stamp of approval. GE PA 16

There’s certainly something to be said for that school of thought, given that seven hours of original WWE programming are broadcasted to

over 150 countries on a weekly basis, reaching more than 650 million homes. WWE wrestlers perform live across the globe up to 320 days a year, not counting promotional appearances, interviews and autograph signings, with a chance to appear in films, reality shows, magazines, video games and more. Headline acts are reported to bring home seven figures each year, and the likes of Hulk Hogan, The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin have been forever immortalised in pop culture as household names, recognised even by those who have never watched a moment of professional wrestling. The likes of Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Ric Flair, Randy Savage, Andre the Giant, Iron Sheik, Ultimate Warrior, Rowdy Roddy Piper, Undertaker and Sergeant Slaughter rank amongst the popular stars of the televised era, every one of them spending significant time in WWE. But there’s one legend who bucks that trend: Sting.

The Icon Sting was without question one of the absolute biggest stars of the 1990s, a main event babyface during the white-hot Monday Night Wars. Almost anyone who has seen

a wrestling match knows his name and recognises his face. Children across America painted their faces to emulate his signature black and white Crow-inspired make-up. He electrified audiences, appearing in the rafters of arenas, clad all in black, wearing a long trench coat and gloves and carrying a baseball bat, seldom speaking. He is a six time WCW World Heavyweight Champion, two-time NWA World Heavyweight Champion, and four time TNA World Champion, as well as a record-setting four-time PWI Most Popular Wrestler of the Year award winner. By almost any measure of success in the industry, Sting is a legend. And yet something has kept him out of the renowned Wrestling Observer’s Hall of Fame, while modern contemporaries John Cena, Chris Jericho and Kurt Angle have all been inducted. There are dozens of possible reasons why Sting has been left off the prestigious list, but there’s one that loudly and proudly beats its chest: he has never wrestled for World Wrestling Entertainment. The fact that it has been Sting’s own repeated choice to never go there may be irrelevant, a true demonstration of the powerful


FEATURES as well as the two men he will forever be associated with: Samoa Joe and Christopher Daniels.

connotations behind the label of “WWE Superstar”. One label Sting does wear proudly is that of the Best Wrestler to Never Appear in a WWE ring. While not an officially recognised title, it is one that many sources have bestowed upon him, most notably the WWE’s own website. Dipping back into the dubious well of hearsay, WWE management have tried to lure Sting into making a Wrestlemania appearance multiple times in recent years, only further cementing his elusive legacy as the one that got away from Vince McMahon. AJ Styles, ‘Lone Wolf’ But what does Sting have to do with AJ Styles? Well for one, AJ has spent this year indirectly mimicking several of The Icon’s distinct character traits. In March, Styles debuted a new gimmick; that of a mute loner clad entirely in black – a sweeping departure from the wildly colourful, bombastic costumes he had been known for in years past. He began using a leg-based submission hold as his finishing move and refused to choose a side in the all encompassing faction warfare storyline that his company was enthralled in at the time. Sound at all familiar? Yes, a few parallels can be drawn between the 2013 edition of AJ

Styles and the 1997 version of Sting. But when comparing the wrestling industry today with the glory days of decades past, it’s not a few borrowed attributes that tie these two together, but rather the aforementioned label of the best wrestler to never appear in the WWE. Technically speaking, Styles has performed as an enhancement talent on the short-lived WWE show Jakked in the early 2000s, but technically speaking the WWE had already purchased WCW when Sting wrestled in the main event of the final episode of Nitro in 2001, so for argument’s sake, both are eligible for the title.

The Phenomenal One Could AJ Styles be considered the best wrestler of the modern era (post 2000) to never appear in the WWE? He’s certainly a strong contender. Debuting on the very first Total Nonstop Action Wrestling show, AJ has been the backbone, heart and soul of the company literally from day one, capturing two championships in the first three weeks of the organisation’s existence. He helped pioneer the X-Division alongside Jerry Lynn, Low Ki, Chris Sabin and Petey Williams,

The X-Division, boasting that it wasn’t about weight limits, it was about no limits, was absolutely loaded with impressive athletes, but none could match Styles’ physical gifts. In fact very few wrestlers anywhere could compete with AJ in his youth. Blending the breakneck speed and high flying antics of the recently defunct WCW cruiserweight division with the kind of smooth technical wrestling associated with early 2000s WWE mid-card performers like Chris Jericho, Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit and Kurt Angle, and the daredevil high spot tendencies of Jeff Hardy, Styles was a better wrestler than a typical cruiserweight, and a better acrobat than the majority of technical wrestlers. His persona (or rather lack thereof) of a soft spoken religious everyman from rural Georgia with a wife and children made him easy for the audience TNA was courting at the time to latch onto, while his hooded entrance jacket and big-time mannerisms gave him just enough cool factor to be a believable main event talent in a young upstart company short on recognisable names. His exciting moveset and propensity for dives from ladders, steel cages, scaffolds and any other structure TNA has dared to put in front of him, made him a monster Internet hit, with footage of his death defying feats circulating throughout the wrestling community like wildfire. The famous Unbreakable triple threat match between Styles, Daniels and Joe earned an elusive post-2000 five star rating from famed wrestling critic Dave Meltzer and put all three men on the radar

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The Stigma of TNA

of wrestling fans with only a passing familiarity with TNA. His tag team with and feud against Christopher Daniels led to even more acclaim and popularity, and in their multiple meetings, he has proven himself one of the few men on the planet capable of keeping pace with Kurt Angle, one of the greatest technical wrestlers in history.

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he’s even dyed his hair with blonde highlights, thrown on a robe and feather boa and pretended to be a womaniser like his then-mentor, Ric Flair.

He’s competed in almost every single gimmick match the TNA brain trust has dreamt up, typically providing the most-viewed highlights of said While TNA has had a rocky history matches, and has won every single in terms of personnel and creative championship he has been qualified decisions, it has always been able to compete for. Three times NWA to lean on two things: the X-Division, World Champion, four times NWA and one of its godfathers, AJ Styles. World Tag Team Champion, once Whenever the company is in a jam TNA World Heavyweight Champion, they call on their go-to-guy and he twice TNA Legends/Television has always delivered, no matter the Champion, twice TNA World Tag circumstances. He’s been the top babyface and the top heel, a leader, Team Champion and a record six and a lackey, he’s been comedic and times X-Division Champion, Styles has also won the Bound for Glory been deadly serious. Singles or tag. Short trunks or long tights. He was series. He’s been a member of Sports once married to Karen Angle, and Entertainment Xtreme, the Christian

Styles’ achievements are certainly impressive when viewed within his place of employment, but unfortunately, while TNA may be the second biggest game in town, the gap between numbers one and two is a colossal one. With a litany of financial woes, far inferior viewing figures, PPV buys and merchandise sales, struggles to fill arenas outside of their former home base in Orlando, Florida, and near constant abuse from critics due to convoluted stories and thinly-veiled imitations of WWE ideas, a TNA resume may be far too tainted to earn one a place amongst the all-time greats. AJ Styles is simply not as famous as even the lowest-rung WWE performer, and while he has made a comfortable living, his pay grade is likely well below the vast majority of his peers up north. He may have been cast in a role similar to Sting in 1997, and more recently CM Punk in 2011, as he claimed to be on an expiring contract heading into a major championship match in which he won the title, all the while drawing the ire of the company’s owner, before leaving to “defend it elsewhere”, but none of it is as big as it was in WCW and WWE. In a nutshell, AJ Styles has


FEATURES given TNA his entire prime in wrestling, and that loyalty may be rewarded with relative anonymity in the history books due to the company’s shortcomings.

WWE Tunnel Vision But then again, who is to say the WWE is in fact the be all and end all of professional wrestling? Hundreds of wrestlers have achieved major superstardom internationally despite never appearing on the television screen of WWE’s viewers. If anything, John Cena et al’s popularity is dwarfed by the likes of El Santo and Blue Demon in Mexico, where wrestlers are worshipped as genuine folklore heroes. Even Konnan became a mainstream star and appeared in a soap opera. Likewise, Giant Baba, Keiji Mutoh, Mitsuharu Misawa and Kenta Kobashi are all considered icons and Hall of Famers in Japan. But given the prevalence of American wrestling, the media and critics who access wrestling can perhaps be absolved for some national bias. Does any of this mean WWE is the be all and end all for American wrestlers? Well, what about the dozens of American-born wrestlers making waves in other countries? Karl Anderson may not have made much of a name for himself in his native land, but he is considered one of the top performers for the very successful New Japan Pro Wrestling, which also employs Prince Devitt, Harry Smith, Lance Archer, Alex Shelley, Rocky Romero and Alex Koslov. Vampiro is probably best remembered for his appearances for WCW in the late 90s, feuding with Sting, but years prior he became an overnight sensation in AAA in

Mexico. The list goes on and on. Nobody is arguing whether WWE is the biggest wrestling company in the world, or that it is the dream of over 99% of the thousands of aspiring professional wrestlers in America and the UK to make it big there. Everybody wants to appear in the main event of Wrestlemania. WWE is king. But the idea that failing to join the very best makes one worthless is preposterous. Stepping into a ring with a television camera pointed at it already places Styles in an elite category that the vast majority of would-be professionals never achieve, regardless of how many viewers are tuning in each week. Like millions of others, Allen Jones set out hoping to become a wrestler in his teens. Within three years he was on television, and by 2002 he was a featured performer in what became the second largest wrestling company in the country. He has been paid well enough to not require another source of income, and while he may not have a mansion with dozens of luxury cars parked outside, he does better than the indie wrestlers destroying their bodies for a few dollars in front of twenty people. Far from it, Styles has performed in front of over 8,000 fans in Wembley Arena due to his association with TNA Wrestling, a company that has allowed him to share a ring with Kurt Angle, Booker T, Kevin Nash, Scott Steiner, Rob Van Dam, Jeff Hardy, Christian, Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan and of course, Sting. In any other walk of life, being paid to do something you love, something you’re good at, and doing it to a high enough standard to achieve a ranking position within an international organisation would be

considered a rousing success. Being cast for even a bit-part in a theatrically-released feature film would be considered ‘making it’ to millions of struggling actors. If one considers World Wrestling Entertainment to be the biggest of Hollywood blockbusters, and its employees the A-List elite, then AJ Styles could be compared to an excellent character actor in a midlevel, lower-budget film. Is it a shame AJ Styles never got to ‘truly make it’? Sure. But make no mistake, AJ Styles has achieved an awful lot in the wrestling industry. His body of work has received stellar reviews and he’s been the number one guy for an internationally-known company, where he has captured championship after championship. AJ Styles is unlikely to ever receive a place in the Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame, and he’s almost definitely never going to be a WWE Superstar, but he might just be worthy as the modern recipient of Sting’s legacy as the best wrestler never to appear in WWE. In the grand scheme of things, he has definitely ‘made it’.

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THANK YOU, BJ! PART 1 TEXT By STEPHEN JAMES SUTTON

retirement at Ring of Honor’s Death Before Dishonor event this past September. Startin’ Out

With his career having come to an untimely end, TW pays tribute to one of the hardest working men in professional wrestling. In part one of this two-part feature, we look at the years 2001-2005, where the great man cut his teeth on the independent scene and paved his own path to becoming one of the biggest stars on the indies.

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On 3rd August 2013, in the Mattay Athletic Centre at the Garden (formally known as the Maple Leaf Centre) at ROH’s All Star Extravaganza V event; BJ Whitmer suffered a neurological injury after a piledriver on the ring apron thanks to the hand of Mike Bennett. This is not the first time a piledriver seriously injured a wrestler. Two other wrestlers have felt the same fate; Stone Cole Steve Austin (SummerSlam 1997 against Owen Hart) and Masahiro Chono (NJPW Battle Autumn 1992 night eleven against Steve Austin). This led to the difficult decision to announce his

BJ started training in Heartland Wrestling Association in Cleveland, Ohio with Les Thatcher and made his in ring debut against The Xtremist on 23rd January 2000 in Eastern High School in Russellville, Ohio but came out on the losing end. He got his revenge over The Xtremist in March. On 10th May, BJ made his IWS Mid South debut, once again on the losing end – this time, against TW’s own scribe Shark Boy. In 2001, BJ had the honor of being scouted by the top companies in Japan, and subsequently had the opportunity to over to Japan to wrestle in Pro Wrestling NOAH in the spring, taking on such stars as Takeshi Morishima, Tamon Honda, Takeshi Roki and Tsuyoshi Kikuchi. Plus, he was able to team with Scorpio formally known as Flash Funk in WWF (1997) and Too Cool Scorpio (ECW (1998) and WCW (1993)). When BJ returned to the States after his first taste of Japan he returned back to both HWA and IWS: Mid South. He had the second taste of NOAH in the winter and had an opportunity wrestling Naomichi Marufuji. After two years of wrestling, BJ captured his first ever piece of championship gold in the form of the HWA Cruiserweight championship on May 4th 2002, defeating defending champion Shannon Moore, Matt Stryker and Jamie Knoble in an Four Way Elimination match in Dayton Ohio. He would hold to the championship for two

months before losing it to Rory Fox in Cincinnati, Ohio. In the summer of 2002 he received an opportunity to wrestle in National Wrestling Alliance Total Nonstop Wrestling in a dark match against follow Heartland Wrestling Association trainee Matt Stryker (another TW mainstay!). The only other time BJ would wrestle in a NWA-TNA ring was teaming with Stryker taking on the Spanish Announce Team the following year on an episode of Xplosion. Whilst teaming with Stryker, BJ appeared in NWA-Wildside on 21st December, debuting on their television tapings taking on the Palm Beach Boys (John Holcombe and Scott Ross). He also debuted in IWC (Independent Wrestling Cartel) on 16th November, taking on Shirely Doe. In IWS Mid South, BJ went on to win the first ever Ted PettyTournament {it originally was known as the Sweet Science Sixteen, but was renamed in honor of Ted Petty (former ECW Tag Team Champion Rocco Rock) who died back on 21 September 2002} and also captured the IWS Mid South Championship, defeating CM Punk. BJ lost the championship back to Punk at the following event. Buzzsawing through the Indies In 2003, BJ debuted in four independent promotions: BPW (Buckeye Pro Wrestling), IPW (Insanity Pro Wrestling), ROH (Ring Of Honor) and PWG (Pro Wrestling Guerrilla). It was, however, in ROH where Whitmer truly made his mark; having an opportunity for the ROH Championship against Samoa Joe in Dayton, Ohio at Wrath Of The Racket and making it to the final of the promotion’s first-ever


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Field Of Honor

Starting the Legacy

After the ROH Championship match (at Final Battle 2003) between Mark Briscoe and Samoa Joe, and while Punk was in the ring, it was confirmed that BJ attacked Lucy (formally known as WCW’s Daffney) back at Wrath Of The Racket for the Prophecy (Allison Danger, Christopher Daniels and Dan Maff) in order to join the faction. Convoluted, perhaps, but definite progress for The Buzzsaw.

Back in ROH, where Whitmer was fast becoming a mainstay, BJ and Dan Maff left the Prophecy after their leader was taken out by CM Punk and then captured the ROH Tag Team Championship from the Second City Saints at Round Robin Challenge III. Sadly, they lost the straps the same night to the Briscoe Brothers. They went on to win the first ever ultimate endurance match at World Title Classic, and joined forces with Mick Foley to show that ROH stood for Ring Of Hardcore.

Over in IWS Mid South, BJ won the first ever Revolution Strong Style tournament by defeating CM Punk, before making his final appearance for Heartland Wrestling Association in an War Games match teaming with Cody Hawk, Nigel McGuiness and Quinten Lee against a BPW team featuring Carlton Kaz, Dean Jablonski, Fabulous Frederick, Matt Stryker and Shark Boy. Around the same time, BJ made his final appearance in NWA:Wildside. When 2004 came, BJ made his debut in six other indie promotions, including CZW (Combat Zone Wrestling), FIP (Full Impact Pro),NWA, NWA No Limits, PWI (Pro Wrestling Iron) and Pro Wrestling Zero One USA. In IWA Mid-South, he recaptured the Championship by defeating Jerry Lynn at Bloodshowers, only to lose it to shortly after to Pete Williams at A Shot Of Southern Comfort.

In 2005, BJ became a four time holder of the ROH Tag Team Championship: once with Dan Maff and twice with Jimmy Jacobs. In IWA Mid-South he joined a faction known as the Fannin Family with Eddie Kingston, JC Bailey Mark Wolf and Steve Stone (the faction didn’t last long, going their separate ways after a three team War Games match at No Blood, No Guts, No Glory 2005). It was clear that BJ’s career was burgeoning, and from there he had another opportunity to tour Japan with Pro Wrestling NOAH, teaming with Bison Smith, Eddie Edwards (who was on his first tour with the company), Low Ki, Mushiking Joker, Richard Slinger and Ricky Marvin. What a line up! In 2006, BJ broke off his partnership with Jimmy Jacobs after Lacey got in-between the former tag team champions. These two battled throughout the year,

in a feud that saw BJ powerbomb Jimmy into the front row at In Your Face in New York City. BJ was also heavily involved in the interpromotional war between ROH and CZW; and was the “ROH sacrificial lamb” at Arena Warfare when John Zandig tied BJ to the ropes and stapled a CZW ticket to his head in a compelling visual moment. He fought beside Adam Pearce, Samoa Joe, Ace Steel, Colt Cabana, Bryan Danielson and Homicide over the four month ROH/CZW feud, then made his debut in the UK with ROH when he took on James Tighe at the FWA:A (Frontier Wrestling Alliance: Academy) Honor Academy show in Hayling Island. He also made a joint debut in IPW:UK (International Pro Wrestling:UK) and FWA (Frontier Wrestling Alliance) when both promotions, along with ROH, held “Frontiers Of Honor 2”. BJ also debuted for Premier Promotions in the UK that year, taking on Davey Richards, and worked for WXW (Westside Xtreme Wrestling) in Germany, taking on Marc Roudin. Back in the States, BJ returned to ROH’s sister promotion in Florida FIP and joined forces with Bryan Danielson in DP Associates, but once again this relationship was short lived. Seriously, BJ – what do you say to these dudes?

Join us next month for Part II, where we bring the Whitmer story up to date and take a detailed look at how he became one of the greatest grapplers in ROH history

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TEXT BY adam testa

BELIEVE IN THE SHIELD was in the midst of a WWE Championship defense against John Cena and Ryback when Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns made their way through the crowd, jumped the guardrail and assaulted Ryback, lifting the monstrous man and triple-powerbombing him through the announce table. The sight offered a glimpse into the future and piqued the curiosity of even the most casual fans. A new force had clearly arrived in WWE.

Since debuting at last year’s Survivor Series pay-per-view, the trio of Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns has certainly given WWE audiences plenty of reasons to do so. Of course, the creative minds behind the scenes deserve some of the credit, too. One year later, the question remains the same: Do you believe in The Shield?

The Road to the Top

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When Ambrose and Rollins, known to independent wrestling fans by their pre-WWE names of Jon Moxley and Tyler Black, toiled in the developmental system in Florida, fans clamored for their main roster debuts, wondering what kind of impact they would make upon arrival.

Rollins secured a place in WWE history as the first NXT Champion, while Ambrose made noise through a feud with veteran William Regal. The two independent standouts, noted for their tenures in promotions like Ring of Honor, Combat Zone Wrestling, Dragon Gate USA and Chicago’s AAW, seemed poised for success in WWE. Reigns was enjoying success of his own in developmental. He challenged Leo Kruger for the then-Florida Championship Wrestling Heavyweight Championship and won the Florida Tag Team Championships with Mike Dalton. His name may not have appeared on as many Internet message boards as Ambrose and Rollins, but Reigns was building a foundation of his own. The night of Survivor Series, CM Punk

Breaking the Mould But the dust had barely settled before the negativity began. Critics immediately drew comparisons to the Nexus, another recent example of young stars looking to establish themselves as a destructive force. Much like in that case, Cena became entangled with this new trio, called The Shield, and embarrassment appeared inevitable to many for the three young stars. As the weeks went by, though, The Shield never faltered. The group continued attacking various superstars, making it clear they wanted no alliances, only what they perceived as justice. As they started being placed in matches, they started winning. And they kept doing so. Debuting superstars are often presented to fans as successful wrestlers, defeating low-level opponents. Rarely, though, are new performers handed


FEATURES opportunities to work with the top echelon of the company’s stars. Randy Orton’s run in Evolution, alongside Triple H, Ric Flair and Batista, came early in his career, but Orton first had to contend with the likes of Hardcore Holly and Stevie Richards. There was no slow build for The Shield. Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns were immediately thrown to the wolves, facing trios comprised of top and rising WWE stars week in and week out. Early on, they developed a rivalry with Daniel Bryan and Kane, of Team Hell No, who enlisted a variety of friends to help defeat The Shield and end their undefeated run. From Cena to Sheamus and Ryback to the Undertaker, no one could form a successful strategy to combat the teamwork and self-sacrifice employed by Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns. Fans began waiting for cracks to show in The Shield’s foundation, but they didn’t. And, as of nearly a year later, the group’s bond is as strong as ever. Champions of Justice But, despite the success, the group had to lose. It came as a surprise to many when that first loss came in an innocuous tag team match on a pre-taped episode of Smackdown, but when examined in context, the move makes sense. For several months after their main roster debut, The Shield had been unstoppable to the point where the undefeated streak became their overarching story. When WWE wanted to shift the focus from the group to the individuals, the unit fell for the first time. The loss, however, wouldn’t prove to be as devastating as many expected. Instead of being the beginning of the end for the stable, which continued to gain popularity and renown despite their often less-than-righteous attitudes and behaviors, the loss became the

beginning of the next chapter of The Shield. Moving on from the loss without much issue, the members of the Shield soon gained a sense of vengeance, making people forget about the grandeur of the winning streak, by capturing championship gold. At May’s Extreme Rules pay-per-view, almost six months to the day after their main roster debut, all three members walked away champions. Ambrose defeated Kofi Kingston to become United States Champion, while Reigns and Rollins captured the Tag Team Championships, putting an end to Team Hell No’s enjoyable and noteworthy reign. It would be in the following months that things began to seem bleaker. For many fans, the act of The Shield seemed as if its hot streak had come to an end. Rather than having stellar six-man tag matches with top WWE stars, the stable members were now split and facing lower-level competition. Ambrose suffered from a shortage of challengers for the United States title, while tag teams were built up seemingly only to fall to Reigns and Rollins. Gaining Ground, Proving Ground But, once again, perspective is key. While these three men are not necessarily wrestling talents the likes of Cena, Sheamus and Orton as of late, they have become involved with Bryan, now a WWE Championship contender, once again. They also remain a key part of WWE’s weekly television product and a staple of the top of Monday Night Raw. Many talents enjoy a short run of success followed by an absence from television or fall from grace. Look to performers like Wade Barrett and Zack Ryder as examples. The fact all three members of The Shield maintain a prominent role represents a very positive sign about their futures.

While one could easily argue for a more concerted effort to showcase Ambrose and the United States Championship, Reigns and Rollins have done tremendous work stabilizing the tag team division, which once again seems to be a focal point. The champions have battled The Usos, the Prime Time Players and, more recently, the brotherly duo of Cody and Dustin Rhodes. A match with the latter at the inaugural Battleground pay-per-view received high praise from fans and critics alike, and much of that comes from how emotionally invested fans have become in The Shield’s reign and the Rhodes’ struggle. Beating Reigns and Rollins was an accomplishment, a crowning achievement for the two sons of an everyday man. With the WWE Championship held up in the corporate image story involving Bryan and Triple H, the WWE had an opportunity to present the other championships as priorities. As of this writing, however, that hasn’t happened. Rather than build up Ambrose’s United States Championship with a serious contender, WWE opted instead to have Cena return from injury and challenge for Alberto Del Rio’s World Heavyweight Championship at the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view. Ambrose is more than capable of carrying a singles rivalry, and if given the chance, he could show more of the skills and personality his independent fans adore than he’s been able to yet. He and Regal worked magic in FCW, and with the right opponent, he could do it again on Raw, Smackdown, Main Event and pay-per-views. There are many candidates on the roster ripe for that kind of opportunity. WWE just needs to pull the trigger. Reigns and Rollins are continuing to help re-stabilize the tag team division, even despite dropping the straps to the Rhodes brothers, and their momentum

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[THE LOWDOWN // UK WRESTLING// PURO//INDIE //REVIEWS//COLUMNS] time and time again how difficult it is for new stars to be created given WWE’s creative and booking tendencies, including start-stop pushes and random gimmick changes. The no-nonsense, brash young superstar gimmick works well for each of these men, and there’s no sense fixing something that isn’t yet broken.

should definitely continue. They have tremendous matches with The Usos, and there are a number of other teams sitting, waiting, to get “the rub” from the relative newcomers. Darren Young’s coming out announcement is far enough in the past that a Prime Time Players win over The Shield wouldn’t seem like a gift from management for the positive publicity he brought the company. Add in teams that could be called up from NXT, and Reigns and Rollins could easily carry the division through WrestleMania season. Staying on Top As long as WWE continues to provide The Shield with relevant opponents who represent credible threats to their championships, the group will continue to succeed both in the ring and in the eyes of the fans. Complacency is the worst thing that could happen, leaving things in a holding pattern, much like what has happened with The Wyatt Family, who started off really hot and have flickered out since Kane went on hiatus to film “See No Evil 2.”

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Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns have all enjoyed a tremendous and surprising first year on the main roster. Rollins and Ambrose have succeeded as their fans expected them to, and Reigns has turned from just another developmental talent into a top prospect for the future. Together, they’ve enjoyed a lasting staying power because they

each bring something different to the table. Unlike Evolution, where it was a clear leader, pupil, mentor and enforcer, or Nexus, where one rookie led a group of his peers, The Shield are a cohesive unit whose whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Ambrose excels in the charisma and speaking departments, while Rollins’ technical and selling abilities stand out. Reigns has the mainstream appeal in his looks, physique and mere presence. Individually, each has potential, but together, they represent one of the best factions WWE has seen in a long time. Part of the appeal of The Shield has been their longevity. Often in wrestling, groups form, dominate and fizzle within months. TNA’s Aces and Eights are an example of a prominent stable that has dealt with issues, tension and turmoil for the better part of its existence, and that, among other factors, has brought the storytelling aspect down. For a solid year, The Shield has been a cohesive unit, and if WWE wants to build proper momentum, that trend will continue. Do You Believe? While Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns all deserve solo runs in the future, likely at the top of the card in a few years, the best thing for them right now is to stay together as a unit. It has been proven

Down the road, The Shield could potentially shift to a more pure sense of justice, standing up against the wrongs in WWE. Perhaps they’d be better suited challenging the unjust leaders of a manipulative corporation than serving as its personal security. What if Ambrose and Rollins were aligned with fellow independent wrestling standouts like CM Punk, Bryan or Antonio Cesaro? That’s part of the fun nature of professional wrestling – the ability to speculate “what-if” scenarios. About this time last year, many fans had their “what-if” dreams as they related to the former Black and Moxley. Main roster debuts seemed imminent, and each person had his or her own fantasy idea. It’s highly unlikely, though, that anyone at the time imagined them making their way through the crowd accompanied by the former Leakee, interrupting the main event of one of the company’s “Big Four” pay-per-views and unleashing a new brand of justice upon the WWE. Watching the continued progression of Ambrose, Reigns and Rollins, as they continue to add stability to their respective divisions and championships despite infrequent defenses, has been a highlight of the past year. These three men will surely be part of many more Survivor Series events, as well as SummerSlams, Royal Rumbles and WrestleManias, in the years to come. As WWE continues to build for a future without in-ring performers like Cena, Triple H and The Undertaker, these three seem poised to be cornerstones for the next generation. So, much like on the night of Survivor Series last year, the answer is yes; we believe in The Shield.


FEATURES

E R A F R A W FANTASY TEXT BY D.R WEBSTER

TALE OF THE TAPE

Imagine a world in which two all-time greats could face one another at their prime. Imagine the possibilities as two eras collide, two generations clash and philosophies, ideologies and emotions are brought to life. Welcome to TW Fantasy Warfare. Welcome to TW’s Fantasy Warfare once again. In last month’s Fantasy Warfare, we booked a match between Daniel Bryan

ANDRE THE GIANT VS. THE BIG SHOW This has been a dream match for most ever since Big Show debuted as The Giant in WCW in 1995 (and was initially billed as the son of Andre the Giant, considered the heir to Andre’s throne, adding a “passing of the torch” aspect to the match). There have been very few legitimate giants in the business, and these two gargantuans are the cream of that crop. Seeing them collide to find out who belongs in the throne of “King of the Giants” would be just incredible. They are both marquee attractions and a clash between these two would draw huge money (no pun intended). A match of high work rate and technical excellence this would be not, but the sheer spectacle and hype around this clash would supersede the lack of technical ability during the match.

Andre The Giant Hometown: Grenoble, France Height: 7ft 4in Weight: 530 lb Finisher: Sitdown Splash

and WWE Hall of Famer, Bret “The Hitman” Hart, based on a battle of technical skill and pure wrestling ability. This time around, we will be creating a epic “Clash Of The Giants” between the two biggest and best super heavyweight giants to ever appear in the squared circle. It’s an obvious one to guess but a spectacle that everyone, even non wrestling fans, would

THE RUNDOWN

Andre has the slight edge of height and weight advantage over Big Show, but what Show lacks in size and strength in this encounter, which isn’t much, he makes up for with significant quickness and agility for a super heavyweight, in addition to his close strength, which could cause problems for Andre.Both men have similar move sets, relying on their size to overpower their opponents, but both in this case may prove ineffective due to the almost perfect match. Big Show does have more effective finishers than Andre, however, utilising both the spear and the chokeslam to good effect. When it comes to championships, The Big Show surpasses Andre by a country mile, with several reigns as WWE, World Heavyweight, WCW and ECW World Champions, as well as being a Triple Crown & Grand Slam Champion in the WWE. In contrast, Andre only ever won the WWE Championship once in a reign which lasted only 8 seconds, as he sold the belt to Ted DiBiase, and also has a one-time reign as Tag Team Champion with Haku to his name. Andre was, however, the

THREE COUNT A match of this magnitude would have to be showcased at Wrestlemania – no other show anywhere in the world could do it justice. As we’ve said, this would not be an in-ring classic by any stretch of the imagination, but as an attraction and spectacle it would draw huge money and pique interest. This, paired with the story telling alone would surely have it go down as one of the most important matches in WWE history and create moments which would stand the test of time. Our verdict? After a unbelievable clash of strength

The Big Show Hometown: Tampa, Florida Height: 7ft 0in Weight: 425 lb Finisher: KO Punch/Chokeslam

pay good money to see and one which fits in with current WWE storylines pretty well, with one of the men involved in this fantasy match being one of the main parts of the New Corporation storyline. Of course we are talking about The Big Show, irrefutably the greatest giant of this era, challenging the legendary original giant of wrestling, Andre The Giant.

inaugural inductee into the WWE Hall Of Fame in 1993, in addition to having his own statue made by WWE last year, proving that he was so special that championship reigns weren’t needed to add any degree of validity or respect to this legendary giant. The forte of both men has never been 5-star wrestling classics, instead providing unforgettable attractions and memorable moments. For Andre, the Bodyslam challenge against Big John Studd at Wrestlemania stands out, as does his gamechanging clash with Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania III which helped take the WWE, and Hulkamania, to new heights in a match which drew a kayfabe 93,000 fans to witness this moment in history (the reality was closer to 78,000 fans – Eds). Big Show, for his part, has had some big Wrestlemania moments, taking on sumo Akebono at Wrestlemania 21 (in a sumo wrestling match!) and boxer Floyd Mayweather at Wrestlemania 24, thus cementing his status as a draw and big attraction on the biggest stage.

and power, Andre misses a patented sitdown splash before slowly getting to his feet to be met by a KO punch from Big Show, which only stumbles Andre to everyone’s shock. Show then hits a spear, followed by an unprecedented second KO punch, finally knocking the giant to the mat to get the three count, validating his status not only as a deserving successor to Andre, but also legitimising this role as a new breed of giant. After the match both men stand tall together showing respect for each other in a special moment that could never be duplicated or seen again.

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[THE LOWDOWN // UK WRESTLING// PURO//INDIE //REVIEWS//COLUMNS]

ROH’s Future Text By John M. Milner

Lies in the Hands of Adam Cole ROH: Reborn?

Once considered to be the modern day version of the original ECW, Ring of Honor has fallen on hard times as of late. No longer does it have the buzz of even five years ago. Many of the top stars, including Samoa Joe, CM Punk and Bryan Danielson, have left and while ROH has done much to build up new stars, including Cole, few seem to have the “It Factor”, compared to those who headed to TNA and WWE. Then, over the last year or so, ROH began having issues with their iPPV feed failing at key moments of the events (which you can read about elsewhere in this issue). At a time in history when wrestling promotions live and die by the success of their pay-perviews, even a one-time occurrence would be a major misfortune for ROH. But to have these mishaps repeat themselves means that, in short order, will make fans hesitant, for fear of getting burned. This makes it that much harder for an organization struggling to maintain its spot in wrestling’s food chain.

Every successful wrestling organization needs a compelling World Champion, a standard bearer to be relied upon to put in a performance to send the fans home happy and ready to return (or, in the case of TV and pay-per-view, tune in) next time.

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Flair was that standard bearer for Jim Crockett Promotions as they battled the WWE in the ‘80s. Yes, he was a heel, but he did it so well with his promos and in-ring work that it didn’t matter. He made the NWA World Championship compelling. Fans tuned in to see what Flair had to say, how he might back it up in the ring, and which face might knock him off his perch. Then, in the 1990s, there there’s no

argument against the fact that, without a captivating protagonist like the blue-collar, beer-drinking, foul-mouthed “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, the McMahon/Austin program would have fallen flat. The organization now known as WWE enjoyed perhaps its most successful period because it had a strong and compelling champion in Austin. To say that a wrestling organization’s fortunes depend simply on the strength of their World Champion may be oversimplifying things a bit. But if an organization has a strong champion, they have a good start on being successful. Which begs the question: How will Adam Cole, newly installed as the Ring of Honor World Champion, fare in leading his company forward?

And, to make matters even worse, Ring of Honor’s spot in that food chain certainly took a hit after circumstances forced the company to strip then-champion Jay Briscoe of the title and begin a tournament in order to fill the vacancy. ROH did its best to maximize the appeal of the tournament. Every major player in ROH from Jay Lethal to Matt Taven to Kevin Steen was involved, and no clear favourite emerged. Would ROH put the title back on Steen or Roderick Strong? Would Karl Anderson or Michael Bennett be given the title to cement a new contract with ROH? Was this tournament the breakout moment for Michael Elgin? Jay Lethal? Tommaso Ciampa? The finals of the tournament, held on September 20 at Death Before Dishonor XI, saw Adam Cole defeat Michael Elgin in a thrilling match. Despite his reign as


FEATURES Television Champion, many might have been surprised with Cole as the choice to be the man to fill the vacancy atop the ROH World Championship picture. After all, Elgin had been tabbed as Ring of Honor’s breakout star for 2012 and the tournament could have been used to take “Unbreakable” to the next level.

Switching Lanes In the young and, to use a phrase Jesse Ventura once coined, “ruggedly handsome” Cole, the ROH World title belt was placed on a rather un-ROH-like champion. He looked less like Steen or even Davey Richards and more like… well, more like another former World Champion. No, not John Cena…but former AWA World Champion Rick “The Model” Martel. While Martel was another young, handsome, athletic superstar who seemed out of place alongside an AWA title lineage that included the regal Nick Bockwinkle, the elder statesman of Verne Gagne and the rugged (if not ruggedly handsome) Crusher. It was clear that the AWA wanted to appeal to a different demographic than they had in the past by making Martel, then a face and long before his days as “the Model”, their World Champion. But what worked okay in Minneapolis and Las Vegas in 1985 probably isn’t going to work in Baltimore and elsewhere in 2013. And so, what did the future hold for Ring of Honor with a pretty boy face as their Champion? Perhaps it’s best that we will never know the answer…because the championship picture in ROH changed dramatically just moments after Cole was crowned champion. His attack on former titleholder Jay Briscoe and a fallen Michael Elgin means that that Adam Cole wouldn’t be the next Rick Martel, but he might just be the next Shawn Michaels. No, your writer doesn’t mean that Adam Cole is already on a par with the legendary Shawn Michaels. At least not yet. Instead, Cole would be smart to pattern himself after the Shawn Michaels that was Intercontinental Champion in 1992-93, the brash, cocky heel that was emerging from the fallout from the Rockers and was becoming “the Heartbreak Kid.” He might have been years away from becoming the beloved veteran superstar that was Hall of Fame bound, but he was getting over as a heel and laying the groundwork for a successful career to come.

that Ring of Honor has seen.

Going for Broke Some might argue that Cole is a risky choice to be placed in the position of representing Ring of Honor as World Heavyweight Champion. After all, Michaels was four years away from achieving his boyhood dream of dethroning Bret Hart when he superkicked former Rockers partner, Marty Jannetty, through the Barber Shop window. And while that doesn’t mean that Cole is four years away from being ROH’s version of WWF Champion Shawn Michaels, it also doesn’t guarantee that Cole will ever achieve that level in his career. And so, the next question must be: why did ROH go with Cole instead of Steen or Elgin or Lethal? Certainly, part of it must have had something to do with Cole re-signing with ROH after attending a WWE tryout back in February. If the WWE can put the World Championship on Kane in 2010 out of appreciation for his service the organization, why can’t ROH give Cole the title out of appreciation for remaining with the company? And perhaps Ring of Honor officials saw the same thing in Cole that WWE did, and felt that Cole had what it took to one day be among the elite in wrestling. Certainly, anyone who has watched Cole during his Ring of Honor career (or in or any of the other ndependent promotion he’s appeared in) has seen the same glimpses of the future

And with Cole as a heel, there also remains more opportunities going forward than there might have been with him as a face. There is no shortage of face challengers from the ROH roster to choose from, and the quality of those challengers will help elevate Cole as a champion. After all, Flair needed Dusty Rhodes, Barry Windham and Lex Luger. Austin needed the Undertaker, Triple H and the Rock. Even if they didn’t put the ROH World title on Elgin at Death Before Dishonor, there’s nothing to say a title reign isn’t in his future. Meanwhile, his hunt for the title will make for intriguing television, live events and pay-per-view, should that be the route Ring of Honor decides to take. And if not Elgin, then perhaps Steen, Lethal or a returning Jay Briscoe, who is hungry to regain the title that he never lost in the ring. But no matter who ultimately dethrones Cole, the next chapter in ROH history, coming at a time when the company needs to take a positive step (or perhaps positive steps) forward, is firmly on the shoulders of the young superstar. If his new heel character can engage the audience, and the organization he represents can prevent any further mis-steps, it will go a long way towards Ring of Honor recapturing the stature it once had in pro wrestling. Not to put too fine a point on it, but the future of Ring of Honor may depend on Adam Cole.

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[THE LOWDOWN // UK WRESTLING// PURO//INDIE //REVIEWS//COLUMNS]

TEXT By Mike McGrath- Bryan

FEATURES

the preminent female wrestlers in the world...

Diva in Development

Very few women in professional wrestling can lay claim to being among those who broke the mould. Fewer still can say that despite all the pressures of a WWE-mandated “ideal look”, they had what it took to take said mould and subvert it. Lauren Williams, known to TNA fans as Angelina Love, is among that elite in women’s wrestling.

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On the face of it, she looks like an identikit dumb blonde with little to say, and doesn’t look like she has much to offer in or out of the ring. You’d be a fool to be taken in by such appearances. A former TNA Knockouts champion, a world-travelled athlete with experience in Mexico’s AAA, India and the US indies, and an entertaining character in her own right, Angelina Love has established herself among

Getting into the ring in 2000, with the aim of emulating lifelong favourite Shawn Michaels, the then-Angel Williams got her start training under luchador El Fuego, wrestling around Canada’s indie scene and valeting for wrestlers like Chris Sabin, pre-TNA. In 2004, TNA briefly took up the promising rookie, matching her against Trinity on their Xplosion programme. It wasn’t long, however, before TNA’s inaction in snapping her up would cost them, and in late 2004, Williams inked a deal with WWE. While in WWE’s developmental system, as part of the ill-fated Deep South Wrestling, starting off strong with a win over Michelle McCool, before feuding with DSW GM Krissy Vaine and her cabal of heel “Divas”, before allying with her as a co-GM for the territory, until its closure in April of 2007. In May of 2007, Williams was released from WWE, in a move that they surely came to regret... Before being snapped up by TNA, Williams put in several appearances in AAA as The Canadian Angel, as part of the heel Foreign Legion, in June of 2007. Four years later, she returned to compete in an eight-woman tag with Velvet Sky, Mickie James and Sexy Star against the Apaches,

Cynthia Moreno and Lolita, in the opening bout of the promotion’s centrepiece, TripleMania XXIX.

Making an Impact Her greatest years, however, were firmly in the Impact Zone. TNA picked Williams up in late 2007, pitching her in a ten-Knockout Gauntlet for the first TNA Women’s/Knockout’s championship, before rechristening her Angelina Love, and teaming her with fellow female undercarder Velvet Sky. Casting them initially as VelvetLove Entertainment, the babyface team soon happened across the moniker that would define their careers:

The Beautiful People. Becoming a duo of airheaded bimbos whose understanding of others extended about as far as superficial appearance, The Beautiful People quickly became a highlight of a growing, super-over women’s division already packed with superior in-ring talent. Insufferably shallow and stupid, the disingenous rah-rah, girly-girl gimmickry the team espoused bordered on a grin-inducingly acerbic depiction of WWE’s “Divas”, yet in the ring, the pair delivered on their potential, becoming top heels in the company in their own right after a daft spot of battle-royal booking resulted in the Beautiful People shaving Roxxi bald, and parading


FEATURES Stretcher matches. Despite all the games, Love defended her title with interference from the group, leading to a feud with a debuting Tara, where the cracks began to appear. Tara, whose name was handy wordplay on “tarantula”, carried a spider about, taunting her opponents, and when left alone with said spider in a vignette, Sky freaked out, appearing to turn on Love for leaving her alone in such a situation. Sky and Tara eventually had their match, and in a show of support in the post-match, Love put her title on the line and lost the title as a result, laid out with Widow’s Peak.

around the ring with locks of her hair dangling. Haranguing the babyface Knockouts to no end, the Beautiful People would go on to feud with just about every woman on the TNA roster, dishing out “beautification” to Gail Kim and ODB in cracking confrontations, and antagonising under-rated babyface champ Taylor Wilde, their weekly humiliations and callings-out becoming among the highlight’s of TNA’s weekly broadcast. Their obnoxious behaviour and alienation from the Knockouts locker room ended in an Impact main-event, as Wilde and Kim finally brought the Beauts down a peg or two in a tag team match. Feuding further with Wilde and Sky in the ring and out, in ridiculous beauty pageants, the addition of Billy Gunn as “Cute Kip” to their ranks further bolstered their place in the Impact Zone’s future plans. More than just a flash in the pan, the dunderheaded mannequins and their “fashionist” would go on to hold down TNA’s upper mid-card through 2008 and 2009. Convinced by an impostor (a howlingly-funny Daffney) that Republican politician Sarah Palin was in the Impact Zone and hanging out with them, their real skill, comedy, was showcased to the world, as Kip attempted to talk sense into the duo and counter their stupidity and sycophancy. Upon receiving a “makeover” from the Governor that would make them into frumpy, aged-looking politicians (ouch!),

it was revealed that the Palin angle was a ruse to humiliate the pair, launching them into further heel opposition to Wilde and Roxxi, the women responsible. While the angle didn’t quite catapult Wilde and Roxxi into the limelight the way TNA had hoped, it did give the Beauts the opportunity to expand, adopting rookie Madison Rayne into their fold, and subjecting her, sororitystyle, to initiations, in matches and angles against Wilde and other enemies of the group. The duo turned out to be hilariously daft mother hens, and upon accepting Rayne into the group, formed the phoney sorority Mi Pi Sexy, an occasional by-name for the stable after the onscreen departure of Kip for questioning Love and Sky. The hazing concluded when Rayne attempted to cut the hair of Awesome Kong, earning the group the ire of the giant champion, and a ticket to Lockdown, where Love was trapped in a cage with enemies Kong and Wilde. After a brutal match that saw a near-miss on Love from a Kong somersault leg-drop, Love rolled-up Wilde for a three-count and became Knockouts Champion.

Beyond Beautiful The stage was set, then, as the sisterhood had to stand against the wrath of the crossed women’s division in the rest of its entirety, led by Kong and her Kongtourage, who crashed a celebration the following night, and went through Sky, Rayne and even a returning Kip in quick order in a succession of

The group, unfortunately, became victims of increasingly unfocused booking by the end of 2009, with Rayne suddenly getting kicked out and Love getting released from the company over visa issues in September, competing briefly with Women Superstars Uncensored. In her absence, Rayne nonsensically rejoined the group, with Love replaced with heat void Lacey Von Erich. The new trio lacked the dynamic at the centre of it that Love and Sky had, but TNA made a stab at it nonetheless, initially at least. But upon Love’s return, her face turn on the depushed group was missing the impact such a move would have had a year earlier. A tepid feud with the new group, and an absurd pseudo-lesbian angle with Winter that saw Love somehow “spellbound” (read: drugged) into doing Winter’s bidding all but killed her heat. Fading into the background along with the rest of the Knockouts, Love secured her release from TNA in 2012. Spending late 2012 and early 2013 on the US and Canadian independent circuits, sometimes in tandem with former partner Velvet Sky, Love has slowly rebuilt, and remade, her name in women’s indie company Shine, travelling to the UK for Pro Wrestling:EVE, and competing with big New York indie FWE. It seems indie wrestling is among other projects the former Angel Williams is involved in right now, but with female indie stalwarts like Sara Del Ray being called up by WWE in non-active wrestling roles, perhaps the next (or E NXT) chapter of her career mightn’t AG involve as prominent an onscreen role, P 29 regardless of where she winds up.


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[THE LOWDOWN // UK WRESTLING// PURO//INDIE //REVIEWS//COLUMNS] Text By Chris GST

Back to the Well: Ring of Honor and Go Fight Live

Once again, Ring of Honor has fallen victim to issues when running iPPVs. TW’s resident indie columnist, Chris GST, vents his frustration...

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I was sitting at my office desk looking forward to going home, grabbing a Corona, and doing more sitting while getting ready to post ROH Death Before Dishonor XI results when it came across my screen that it was going to be on iPPV, and it was going to be free. FREE!! I, along with fans all over the world, were going to get to see the crowning of a new ROH Champion and it was going to be live! Then I read the next line, which stated that ROH was teaming with Go Fight Live (GFL) and gulped a little bit. GFL... DOA?

Back in April of 2012, ROH split ways with GFL after their Wrestlemania shows were plagued with issues; some GFL’s fault and some not. But the issues were already too much to ignore. Over the past year, ROH has had some good and some very bad issues with doing live iPPV, to the point where they stated they were no longer going to do them and just do tape to VOD. We were all under the impression that this was how Death Before Dishonor was going to work, until they let as few people as possible know that they were going to test out GFL’s new equipment as GFL had reportedly been working with them for months to become clients again. While GFL still runs some wrestling and MMA events on their site without issue, some of which we have

viewed personally, it was hard not to be hesitant because this was a new building for iPPV and that was not something that could not be overlooked. The first half was okay past some small audio and lag problems, but right up to intermission and beyond, trouble ensued. About five minutes into the second half, I had audio issues. I had video issues. Then I was done. Many tweets, facebook posts, emails, and other forms of communication spread the word that this was a failing venture again and no one but ROH and GFL were to blame. Joe Koff went on several interviews following what I can only describe as a fiasco despite the historic crowning of Adam Cole as new ROH World Champion to temper


FEATURES the flames of the fans and to explain what happened. He informed us that ROH and GFL might still be doing business together in the future and it is here where my interest dropped. While I understand that ROH is too big at this point to not be doing some sort of live iPPV, yet too small to be doing traditional PPV, I think this did more harm than good when it came to the goodwill of the fanbase. ROH had issues before this and while it was free and people probably were putting some time aside to read results anyway, this was another failed attempt and perhaps one that could have been avoided.

they use. I do not understand why Ooyala was such a failure: it was a company that many larger brands use to this day. But I can’t delve into that, as the focus here is on GFL and ROH going forward. GFL has the experience and apparently they invested in some new equipment. So what happened? Was it their internet connection, was it the hardware, was it the number of people logged in that caused server issues, was it the building? These, and others, are all questions doing the rounds, and all are questions that ROH should be asking GFL until they get satisfactory answers for the next time. If there is a next time.

TFIF... Who knows if the VOD would have had as many views? Statistically it is well reported that live iPPV always does much better than delayed VOD within pro wrestling. That is another discussion I’ll be writing about in the future, but for now the iPPV situation with ROH seems to be back to square one, needlessly. Of course a test was probably necessary and I will give them credit where it is due: they made it free and timed it so that perhaps the smallest audience would be in attendance for the iPPV if something occurred. Unfortunately, it did occur and we are now left wondering what ROH is going to do next instead of being excited that we got to see something as memorable. This is not to say I am giving up on ROH or ROH on iPPV like some of my peers. I understand tech issues occur perhaps a little bit more than most, and perhaps I’m also a tad more forgiving. But no matter what the reason is, I cannot argue that ROH perhaps needs to do a little bit more when it comes to the platform

While it is definitely a factor that numbers can cause issues, it is for me an almost dead topic when someone brings up that (insert indy wrestling promotion) does iPPV without issues, why can’t ROH. To a degree, it holds some water, but overall not many other indy promotions are getting the volume of views ROH does. WWE and UFC also in the past have had iPPV issues and they obviously have the money to take care of such things, so perhaps the US market just isn’t ready. I can’t understand why as NJPW uses Ustream and have had reportedly huge multiples of buyers beyond ROH with no issue. Perhaps that should be an avenue that ROH travels. I still have my doubts, but GFL and ROH obviously have been talking enough and have a good enough relationship that they are willing to still do business and while I could listen to any “common sense” argument any fan would have against it, I don’t know what goes on behind closed doors and that is as important as anything else when it comes to doing business.

Playing the Fool Perhaps one day we will have completely flawless ROH iPPV streams and ROH will reap the rewards of putting money and time into this revenue stream, but until then it comes down to the consumer experience. That experience up to this point has been bad and it cannot be ignored even though there is an argument to be made that ROH is a television-geared product now, no longer following the methodology used by a DVD reliant company. That is also another argument for another time. For now I would assume a lot of you reading this who have been fans of ROH or are new fans probably have some sort of opinion on this technology and whether or not you’re going to buy an iPPV from ROH in the future. Only time will tell but if history is any indication, I don’t know how long it will take for ROH to gain back the trust from us. It took almost 3-4 months after the Showdown in the Sun issues to subside along with near perfect iPPV events. While this event was free and that should count for something, it was after a previously horrendous iPPV experience, one that was severe enough for ROH to proclaim it was done with the platform. This time around I would hope for the same kind of forgiveness, but I am not so sure of it. How does that saying go again? Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice…

Chris GST can be reached at cgstong@pwponderings.com and you can find him and his social media tags at: http://about.me/cgstong http://twitter.com/cgstong

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[THE LOWDOWN // UK WRESTLING// PURO//INDIE //REVIEWS//COLUMNS]

A-Z

the

ofHULK HOGAN TEXT By Mike McGrath- Bryan

Tie up your do-rags, tear off your tanktops, Hulk up and get ready for the ride of your life, brother, ‘cause you and the rest of the Maniacs are gonna take a trip down the rundown of Hulkamania, the most unstoppable force in the universe... brother!

A - Andre the Giant The Hulkster’s most legendary opponent, the towering Frenchman continues to defy the laws of science by expanding in height and weight some twenty years after his death, if Hogan’s boasts are to be believed. Currently billed (by Hogan) at 8‘10“ and 2000 tonnes, Andre died shortly after their match at WrestleMania III, although his body didn’t stop moving for a few years, according to video evidence... B - Brooke Hogan One of the Immortal One’s progeny, young Brooke was bred for success, and seems to be very naturally talented, but at the hands of her father’s unending media presence, wound up atop the heap of manufactured pop wannabes, a situation Hogan Knows Best did nothing for. Her spell in TNA was fraught with stupidity, also, but that wasn’t her fault, in fairness... C - Children’s Music

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Some few years after the steroid trials of 1992, Hogan attempted to regain his good public standing, and following his 1994 jump to WCW, did a children’s album, wherein most of the songs were Jimmy Hart compositions about... Hulk Hogan. Hogan, to his credit, shows up on about half the

album, which is a small mercy, but his story about the proceeds going to an English fan who died at Summerslam ‘92 before he could see Hogan is bullshit because Hogan was never booked for Summerslam ‘92...

his role, and remains one of wrestling’s more likeable broadcast babyfaces, though his premium-rate gossip numbers got a lot of people in trouble, himself included...

D - Dirtbag

The weird cocktail of ‘80s superficiality, hokey Reagan-era “patriotism” and a groundswell of interest from the new wrestling fans of the time that defined Hogan’s run on top of the business, that ran wild for a few years before kinda petering out by 1990. Currently on life support as a result of being worked into the ground far past its prime...

Avid 30 Rock fans will get this - when series deuteragonist Tracy Morgan worries about losing his rep as a hard-partying playboy, his fears are assuaged when his director, played by Tina Fey, chirpily reminds him: “Hulk Hogan called you a dirtbag!”. Morgan stops sobbing, looks up and nods proudly. Instant classic...

H - Hulkamania

I - Internet E - Extensions, Flap of As nuts as The Ultimate Warrior is (watch his shoot on Hogan on YouTube, watch him laughing), he can’t be far wrong on this one. Hogan’s blonde skullet has been intact a little too long, and is a little too well-maintained, to be the natural preserve of a man of Hogan’s age. Legend has it, if you lift it up, you can get to his control panel...

Something the Hulkster has had trouble getting to grips with, like most gentlemen of his age. Tweeting vids of himself taking a dump post-surgery, retweeting dudes boasting about going balls-deep on his daughter, blaming fans for WCW’s demise before claiming he was hacked, shilling weight-loss cookies. Yup. An innovative and engaging exponent of social media...

F - F**king People Over

J - Jack, Brother, Dude, etc.

Hogan must always be on top of your promotion. Always. No matter how little a post-reality show Rent-a-Centre shill can move a company’s needle. The Rock? Jabroni. Gotta play face on him. Ultimate Warrior? He’s not me, brother, better steal his thunder, man! Bobby Roode? Naw, brother, people wanna see Hogan turn face in 2011, dude! Chris Sabin? And so on and so forth...

Well, let me tell ya something, brother! These smart fans, dude, they talk down the Hulkster, for talking in jive, dude, like he’s still a beach bum from the seventies! Talking a lot of trash, but they’re just talking smack, jack. Right here, in Michigan, brother, they never bodyslammed the giant, dude, not like the Hulkster and all these TNA Maniacs! Et cetera... K - Kids

G - Gene Okerlund, “Mean” Hogan’s straight man in his various promos throughout the eighties and nineties, Mean Gene actually got himself over quite well in

We’ll slag Hogan off a lot in the space of this column, but in fairness to him, many a child was given a good example to follow, espousing training and taking one’s vitamins


FEATURES (f**k you and your prayers). At least until we saw what Hogan’s own vitamins were... Another legitimate good point about Hogan’s kid-friendly nature is he drew a lot of kids who became the stars and legends of our generation into the business. Just look at how Edge made something of himself to emulate his childhood hero. If he has a saving grace here, it’s that kids took the suntan superman’s message at face value...

one of Hulk’s cars. Hogan actually fought paying for the poor kid’s ongoing treatment while in a vegetative state, and phone recordings reveal Hulk and Nick telling each other he was permanently incapacitated because of negative vibes or whatever the f**k. These days makes a living as “DJ Hogan”, which we won’t even get into because commercial DJing is as bullshit a living as wannabe auto-racer and reality TV star...

L - Linda Hogan O - Orndorff, Paul Another one we’ll cut the Hulkster slack for, if only because it’s impossible to tell who was wrong or right in their divorce and nasty public discourse soon after. The Hulkster alleges gold-digging on her part, whereas she accused the Hulk of beating her, which is a bit less likely of a story. Either way, we don’t really care except that she’s the reason he’s still on telly when he should be tucked away nicely on WWE’s Legends programme and growing old gracefully...

The guy that cemented Hogan as a top WWE babyface, a longtime ally that turned on the All-American blue-chipper and made him look like a million dollars repeatedly, then got depushed for the second half of the eighties, for some reason. Later revealed he wished he’d “played the game” more back then, to avoid having to worry about paying for cancer treatment today. TW wishes Mr. Wonderful all the best as he was the star of this particular feud and could have been the guy too, except for politics. Wonder why...

playing bars, dude. The band he was in when the local wrestlers spotted him, apparently. You can still see him miming bass in certain cuts of his WWE entrance video... S - Steroids The entry around which so much of Hogan’s public rep hung for so long, Hogan was a pretty obvious steroid user for decades (water retention, just look at him in the ’80s), but of course denied it up and down, including on the talk-show circuit (in character), until the McMahon steroid tribunal, where he admitted gassing up and was immediately made out to be a compulsive liar. Also set a terrible precedent for what main-eventers should look like in wrestling, costing a lot of the next twenty years of guys their health, sanity and in some cases, their lives in attempting to match Hogan’s faux swell. Good job...

P - Pythons, 24-Inch

M - MTV Instrumental in Hulk Hogan’s career, and funnily enough, neither time in a musical capacity, which speaks to his mythical, Metallica-level bass chops. In the eighties, the MTV juggernaut was linked to the USA Network, and WWE hopped on the bandwagon, with Cyndi Lauper in Hogan’s corner, getting involved off the back of Captain Lou being in the Girls Just Wanna Have Fun video. Second time around, The Hulkster presented his version of reality in Hogan Knows Best, complete with French-style mansion and fleet of cars, complete with convenient wrestling cameos and all the fun of a middle-aged hack playing his wrestling gimmick at home!

The largest arms in the world, brother, twenty-four inches all the way around! Amazingly, they have stayed twenty-four inches this whole time, if commentary and promos are to be believed, throughout the eighties, after he stopped juicing up, all the way through to today, despite a noticeable drop in outward size and vascularity. Now beset by ill-placed ink and the onward march of time... Q - Questionable Stories Old wrestlers are by and large still in that mindset of protecting the business and working the public. Hogan, on the other hand, is evidently just a five-star bullshitter. Being asked to join Metallica. Andre weighing close to a ton at Mania. Calling himself a movie star. Layla Ali making the phone call that interrupted his suicide attempt. Passing on the George Foreman grill to do Pastamania. Being in the running for President of the US in 1998. The little Hulkster missing from the front row at Wembley in ‘92. Hokum, and shaggy dog stories, the lot of it...

N - Nick Hogan

R - Ruckus

The Hulkster’s other kid. Fame, money, and that rancid “laws of attraction” mumbo-jumbo The Secret fooled loads of people into all got to him when his friend was paralysed in an auto accident involving

The cover band that Hogan played in at the outset of his career. Apparently the biggest and most lucrative cover band in Florida in the ‘70s, brother, so big he could afford two cars and make a couple grand a weekend

T - Thunderlips The sole mega-star movie role Hogan ever received, as an overconfident wrestler in Rocky III. Only here because without this, we would have been spared Mr. Nanny, Santa With Muscles, Suburban Commando (One of our guilty pleasures – Ed), Thunder in Paradise, those episodes of the A-Team, No Holds Barred, Secret Agent Club, Gnomeo and Juliet, 3 Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain, The Ultimate Weapon, Assault on Devil’s Island, Assault on Death Mountain, McCinsey’s Island... U - Undertaker, The Can you believe Hogan tried to lobby against Mark Callaway coming in as The Undertaker in 1990? How stupid is that? If you’re an All-American Babyface, the first thing you want for good business is a satanic zombie representing all that is morbid in the opposite corner for you to fight off with good vibes and crowd support! This is how sport works, dag nab it! Seriously, though,

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[THE LOWDOWN // UK WRESTLING// PURO//INDIE //REVIEWS//COLUMNS]

only Mark Calaway could have made the Undertaker idea as palatable as he did, and still does. A vastly superior performer to Hogan in every way, especially in terms of longevity and relevance... V - Vince McMahon The Barnum of pro wrestling, the carnival barker behind Hulk Hogan, and let’s face it, the sh*t-filter that Hogan and others sorely lacked when left to their own devices. The Dungeon of Doom and all of those stupid matinee-hero vignettes would never have happened on Raw. Or the Warrior appearing to Hogan (and the camera) in the mirror. Or Hogan burying Billy Kidman right as he was about to get over. He has his own highlight reel of terrible ideas, but none of them top that monster truck match in 1995 where Big Show fell off a building... W - WWE The house that Hulk built, with a long list of

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pay-per-view, closed-circuit and live-gate triumphs that set the tone for national and international expansion in the eighties. The Hulkster’s energy and Vince’s brains were a dynamite team, and for a long time were the official beginnings of the company, until an archaeological dig in the New York area this spring unveiled evidence of a WWF existing pre-1984, and its champion, Bruno Sammartino, getting a Hall of Fame spot before being quickly tossed back into the tar pit before he could ask for his movie and videogame deals... X - XXX Tape That sextape he did with a woman he couldn’t remember for months ‘cause it was after his divorce and he apparently was shagging all around him, only for him to suddenly remember it was his best friend, radio imbecile Bubba the Love Sponge’s wife. He remembered ‘cause Bubba filmed it, you see. You don’t often forget something like that. And hell knows none of us will

forget what we saw of it. Because we can’t unsee it... Y - Yellow and Red The famous colours of Hulkamania, splattered across T-shirts and do-rags and action figures and bubble bath and videotapes and lunchboxes and cartoon shows and microwave burgers and cleaning products, and George Foreman knock-offs and deodorant and rented electronics and weight-loss cookies and Japanese air-conditioners and... Z - Zeus Either as the character Tom Lister played in Hogan cinema vehicle No Holds Barred, with that manky “Z” on his head, or the Greek deity Hogan played in certain tax write-off Little Hercules in 3D. It’s not good either way you look at it. Not at all...


FEATURES

The Rise and Rise of Davey Richards Text By Darren Wood

today. How are you feeling after your hard hitting match against Dave Mastiff last night for Preston City Wrestling? Davey Richards: I’m feeling as good as can be expected after having a one on one match against a big ass bastard.

Undoubtedly, Davey Richards is one of the finest wrestlers in the world today. A mainstay in Ring of Honor, respected by fans and workers worldwide and a genuinely talented professional with his feet firmly on the ground, Richards is surely heading along the same road of former ROH alumni Daniel Bryan and CM Punk.

“What we do is dangerous. If you play with fire, you’re going to get burned” With the recent rumours swirling a WWE tryout for Richards and his American Wolves tag partner Eddie Edwards, TW managed to grab a word with Richards as he prepared for the last night of a month-long European tour. TW: Hi Davey, thanks for taking the time to talk to us

You’re coming of the back of one hell of a UK and European tour which has seen you perform in Germany for WxW as well as most of the promotions here in the UK. How’s the tour gone, and what have your highlights been? Definitely the Rev. Pro show against Zack Sabre Jr was a big highlight, as well as last night with Dave Mastiff and also Tommy End at Southside was a big highlight. I also really enjoyed going to PBW up in Scotland: they were great guys to work for. It was also great to work with Jack Gallagher for Future shock. The whole thing has been a good time, I’ve enjoyed it a lot.

Is there any UK talent you can see that would do well in ROH? All of them, pretty much. I think the UK has some excellent talent, I really do. I think some of the talent I’ve faced on this tour have been better than most of the talent I face in the United States. Zack Sabre Jr would be awesome in Ring of Honor, and Dave Mastiff.

Speaking of ROH. What were your thoughts after the unfortunate injury BJ Whitmer suffered at All Star Extravaganza V? It was unfortunate, you know. That’s definitely the word to describe it. There’s two sides to every coin: what we do hurts, there’s no doubt about it, and everything you do in that ring is dangerous. I know fans think they

understand wrestling, but unless you’re in there, putting your life on the line, you don’t understand the extremely small margin of error between a really well-educated move or it going wrong and somebody suffering an injury like paralysis - which for BJ is fortunately temporary, but there is a fine line and wrestling is very dangerous. What we do is dangerous. If you play with fire, you’re going to get burned at times.

Did the incident take away from the atmosphere of the event? Oh definitely. We were main event and we could definitely feel out there that the crowd had other things on their mind and were affected.

Do you think changing the tag titles on three separate shows helped the ROH tag team division in any way? Nah. Those belts don’t mean nothing anymore, anyway.

What do you think of the iPPV issues that ROH has been experiencing (which we look at in depth elsewhere in this issue)? I don’t care. It doesn’t bother me. If they can’t get their crap together that’s their problem. I just worry about showing up, doing my job in the ring and they can do whatever they want with that stuff. It’s their deal

Were you surprised that neither you nor Eddie were included in the ROH Championship Tournament? No; we weren’t surprised, as we had

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[THE LOWDOWN // UK WRESTLING// PURO//INDIE //REVIEWS//COLUMNS] factors, and Jim unfortunately got the bump. I saw Jim recently at a convention and he looks good and healthy. He looks happy as well, which is a definite plus. I was a Cornette fan when he was there; Jim’s one of these people who wants everyone on the card to succeed. The guys he didn’t like he was open and honest about it: whether they were wrestlers that didn’t fit his mould or whatever, I don’t know, but he gave people opportunities. He didn’t lie to people and was honest with them, which made him easy to work with.

the WWE tryout coming up so we couldn’t compete, so it was better to give our spot to guys who can benefit and need to shine.

Speaking of the ROH Championship, what are your thoughts on the Jay Briscoe controversy? Well here’s the thing, brother: I guess he’s got his own belt now. He comes out saying he’s pissed off and that now he’s the real world’s champion. It is what it is, really. Adam Cole is the champion now. He’s a great wrestler, so is Jay and so is Michael Elgin, so whoever holds that belt is going to do well with it. In my opinion the whole thing is a bit screwy, but it is what it is. I don’t book the shows but you can’t fault the talent. If you stick any of those guys in the ring you’re going to get a good match, so it’s entertaining for the fans.

Speaking of Elgin, were you surprised that Cole was chosen to win the ROH Championship over him? Of course I was, and that’s not taking anything away from Adam. I just think it should have been Elgin. That’s not saying that Cole should never be champion – I just think it was perhaps Elgin’s time more than Adam’s. It was a surprise to me.

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What are your thoughts on Adam Cole as both PWG and

ROH Champion? It’s great for him. He’s really growing in a short space of time. He’s making a great name for himself as a guy who works hard and is really humble. I’m happy for him.

You’ve been ROH Champion yourself – what are your thoughts on what it means to be at the top of the tree and the responsibility that comes with it? In my opinion that title has been devalued vastly for the last few years. The booking of it has been really substandard and screwy. It helps guys get bookings when they’re holding it, but it’s kind of a death touch because you work hard to get it and then it’s like you realise how screwy things become. And now the booking is so screwy with it, it’s just like a piece of metal, unfortunately. It has a rich history: I mean, look at the guys who have held it. Most of them have been very deserving in my opinion.

Who do you think is the next ROH breakout star? They need to start making more stars, that they do. I dunno, I think the guys in the UK are better. There’s a lot of guys there who can make it like Michael Elgin, he’s definitely ROH’s next guy. I think, if they brought over Zack Sabre Jr and Dave Mastiff that would be awesome. Dave Mastiff in particular is frigging awesome.

The rumour doing the rounds right now is that TNA is up for sale. Do you think the upshot of a TNA sale may be more talent heading over to ROH? Who’s even in TNA? No idea. Apart from Aries, Joe; guys like that. Oh, and TJ, but they’ve got him wrestling as some stupid skeleton man.

Let’s talk WWE. How did your tryout go recently, and have you heard back from the company? No comment. I can’t talk about that. Not at all. Legally, I can’t talk about it.

Let’s talk former ROH booker Jim Cornette – what went down there?

So... what’s next for Davey Richards?

I can’t really talk about that, as it’s a backstage thing, but it was just a difference of opinions thing I think. Cornette was good, but perhaps his structure of doing things was outdated. I don’t think Cornette was the problem, I just think he butted heads with people. I believe there were a lot of

I go back to Ring of Honor, then Canada and then I’m in Japan for 13 days. It’s cool to go to Japan, but it’s a job at the end of the day. I like to wrestle, I enjoy coming to some places like the UK, but Japan is a job. it’ll be alright, I’m just not too keen on the flight.


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THE LOWDOWN

[ UK WRESTLING//FEATURES // PURO//INDIE //REVIEWS//COLUMNS]

WHAT’S IN YOUR FRIDGE

Name the leading five must-haves

in your fridge?

s some milk, orange I’ve got to have eggs in there, plu juice, tomatoes and chicken. What food do you cheat with? to get when you’re on Mainly just fast food which is easy oons. the road. Or anything from Wethersp n frozen peas in your Do you keep anything other tha freezer? some broccoli too.

I have Frozen chicken breasts, oh and What dessert do you enjoy?

an style pancakes are

I’m not a big dessert guy, but Americ definitely high on the list.

g the ring?

What meal do you eat before enterin

ta with sweetcorn.

It’s normally got to be tuna and pas

have completely different bodies to them. Luckily I don’t have to stick to a strict diet in order to stay reasonably cut, because of my metabolism. However, without sticking to one, it’s hard for me to gain weight and size. Other people will have completely different problems because of I have a nut allergy, so yeah I’m What’s your one biggest tip in gonna go with nuts. regards to diet for any aspiring their body type. wrestlers or those wanting to get Which one food do you absolutely What is your ideal three-meal day? in shape? love? My ideal “three meal day” is a “five Know your own body. Most people meal day” ha ha! This would take general advice off others who Sweet potato. What food do you look forward to consist of porridge, scrambled most eating after a match? eggs on toast, chicken and veg, something with sweet potato and As I’m normally starved after a then some protein shakes. With show, I’ll sink my teeth into that being said, I’ve found it hard anything with meat. to stick to a strict diet, so this is ideal.... not necessarily accurate Least favourite type of food? though.

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Pepsi or coke? Pepsi sweet CUCUMBER Margarine or butter? Butter Brown or white bread? Brown

Milk or beer? That’s hard, but milk

Coffee or tea? Tea,

Salt or pepper? Salt

Chocolate or cheese? Cheese Sweet or savoury? Sweet

Brown rice or white? Brown


THE LOWDOWN What do you use to listen to music?

WHAT’S ON YOUR IPOD?

I have an old iPod, it’s only 8gb which means I’m constantly stuck choosing what music I want to keep on it, and what I need to delete. What is your favourite genre of music? My favourite genre is pop punk. I also listen to a lot of midwest emo and acoustic music, which fits in nicely with the pop punk scene.

MARK ANDREWS

Do you listen to music when you train? I listen to my iPod when I train in the gym: it’s a lot more motivational than the music they play in my gym! Do you have a favourite artist? Blink 182 and The Wonder Years are probably up there as my favourite bands. I’m real into bands or artists like Seaway, Into It Over It, and Inertia, too. Do you have a signature theme music you use for coming down to the ring ? For the last few years I’ve used a song by Ice Nine Kills called “Last Words”. I really like the song, it has a good build for an entrance theme, and the lyrics are suitable, so I’ll be sticking with that for a while.

Favou rit e s Could you just name five songs which you absolutely love and why?

Penfold - I’ll Take You Everywhere I listen to a lot of music like this whe n I travel for wrestling. This is written by an upc oming band as they have to travel in the same way that wrestlers do, so it’s kind of relatable. 
 Into It Over It -Ravenswood How lovely is this song? It’s hard not to love. Those harmonies! 
 The WonderYears - All My Friends Are In Bar Bands This one’s also pretty relatable with wrestling, as it

talks about band members who gav e up on their ambitions in music and stopped pro gressing in their industry. I think the same applies for people on the wrestling scene, and this motivat es me not to end up in the pro wrestling equivalent of a “bar band”.


Have Mercy - Let’s Talk About You

r Hair

These guys rock. Popped out of no where with this badass song. In Her Own Words - We Fight Another song about travelling the world in non luxurious circumstances and mak ing the most out of your life. Super motivational, thes e guys rule!

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T E X T By D a

r r a g h O’C o

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DEFINING MOMENTS TLC II - Bubba Ray & D-Von Dudley vs. Matt & Jeff Hardy vs. Edge & Christian in a Tables, Ladders & Chairs (TLC) Match for the WWF World Tag Team Championships WWF Wrestlemania X-Seven - April 1st, 2001.

KEY PLAYERS The Dudley Boyz - Bubba Ray &D-Von, Dudley Boyz: Were the WWF Tag Team Champions at this point. They became Team 3D in TNA.

Edge & Christian - These “brothers” were the eventual winners of the match, and are one of the most successful Tag Team Champions in WWE history.

The Hardy Boyz - Matt and Jeff were Wrestlemania X-7 - Considered by many to known as “Team Xtreme” and were expected to take crazy risks in this one using be the greatest WWF PPV of all time. It took place on April 1st, 2001. ladders. The Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match, often abbreviated to TLC, was born of the WWF in the late 90’s. In its most basic form, the TLC match is a variation of a ladder match, which was modified to co-emphasize two other weapons: tables and chairs. The goal is to acquire the item (usually championship belts) which is suspended above the ring before the match. Table, ladders and chairs are all legal to be used in the match.

The Terrific Trio

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The match concept was originally conceptualized around the tag teams of the Dudley Boyz, the Hardy Boyz, and Edge and Christian. The idea was to incorporate their particular weapons of choice – tables(Dudleys), ladders(Hardys) and chairs(Edge and Christian) – into a series of matches that would end

with TLC II. This was a plot device used to spice up their three-way feud and extend the life of the programme. The feud kicked off in a tag-team ladder match for the managerial services of Terri Runnels between Edge and Christian and the Hardy Boyz (The New Brood) at WWF No Mercy 1999. Over the few

following months, the Hardy Boyz faced the Dudley Boyz in tag-team Tables matches. Eventually, the three teams were brought together in a Triple Threat Ladder match in Wrestlemania 2000, in what would be the forerunner of the TLC in many ways, the Triangle Ladder Match. Again, they went back and forth until the first TLC match at WWF SummerSlam 2000. This would


FEATURES but nevertheless ensured their part in WWE highlight reel footage as a result for all time. This is match is still looked upon fondly and is thought of as the last great tag match from the “Golden Age” of WWE’s tag team wrestling. A bold claim, certainly, but not one without merit. We cannot recall a time since where a match like this was given the time or the build toallow it to create an impact and make the careers of all six men involved. recall many elements from the other matches, but it was not a conclusive ending to this feud and thus set the stage for TLC II... The second TLC match occurred at Wrestlemania X-Seven the following year. This match is ingrained in the fabric of the current WWE and its long-term fanbase. Many of us recall with glee the world-class spots peppered with JR’s magical commentary. Everything about this match was designed to make this an epic conclusion to a truly storied rivalry. There could be no better venue than Wrestlemania X-7, a show that is considered by many to be the greatest PPV of all time. This finale of this heated rivalry saw everything you could imagine in this type of match and much, much more. There were crazy spots galore, with every one of the wrestlers falling off ladders, being driven through stacks of tables and getting their heads smashed in with chairs. Alongside this reckless abandon for personal safety, the match also saw outside interference from Lita, Spike Dudley and Rhyno. The latter two coming thanks to the buyout of the recently defunct ECW.

Crash, Burn, Crash Again... The match itself was nothing more than a human car crash; basically, there would be a huge spot with one set of guys and then another set would take over to allow some recovery time for the two that had smashed into a table, ladder etc. After the match the ringside area was covered with remnants of broken tables, mangled ladders and dented folding chairs. This was not a pretty match but did tell a great story. Golden Greats Why was it so important? In a nutshell, it literally defined careers for Edge and Christian, who are 3-0 in these three team ladder matches. The goodwill created by these matches sustained the Hardys and Edge and Christian for the next ten years. The most notable of these were Jeff Hardy and Edge, who would at different points cite this match to hype their current programme. To this day, Matt and Jeff Hardy, Christian and Edge are all viewed as “gurus” of the ladder match. TLC became “Edge’s match” during his single run. The Dudleys didn’t do quite as well from this match

There have been a number of TLC matches since this encounter, with varying success. Then it became a feature of singles competition, before finally becoming a PPV in its own right in 2009. It is now a rarity in the current WWE. Why? This is due to the impact that the “toys” of this match inflict on the body: concussions, neck injuries, bruising, bloodloss... Edge himself had to retire due the long term effects of this match. These men all gave their bodies to fans in this match. If you haven’t seen it, we absolutely urge you to do so. Immediately. In fact, go here and watch it: http://www.youtube. com/watch?v=KT-pYmHFqn8 This match, in this way, will never be done again, and it doesn’t need to be. There is no way that this match could be topped without a similar build and the same physical investment. There is no need for this level of self harm for entertainment anymore in wrestling. Despite the nasty realities of the match, it remains a gem from the later Attitude Era. TLC II is a match that everyone needs to see, as it defined what wrestling was during the height of the Attitude Era.

OTHER GREAT TLC MATCHES WWF Smackdown, May 2001- Chris Jericho & Chris Benoit WWE One Night Stand 2008 - Edge vs. vs. Edge & Christian vs. The Dudley Boyz vs. The Hardy Boyz: The Undertaker: http://www.youtube.com/ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=flEA8EHGF_g watch?v=ks0jtNTb7bM

WWE SummerSlam (2009) - CM Punk GE vs. Jeff Hardy: http://www.youtube. PA 41 com/watch?v=4NgPp1IwZyE


FEATURES

[THE LOWDOWN // UK WRESTLING// PURO//INDIE //REVIEWS//COLUMNS]

BRODUS CLAY TEXT By Mike McGrath -Bryan

For weeks, his “debut” was teased, despite having served time on WWE’s lesser television shows. A hulking, tattooed mountain of a man was promising unprecedented destruction in ominous vignettes, while phone conversations onscreen with EVP of Talent Relations, John Laurinaitis, suggested the young beast’s impatience was growing, likely fuelling the eventual desecration the world would witness. And then, Ernest Miller’s music played, and it was revealed that the Mastodon had turned out to be… a Funkasaurus. Colossal Career Building George Murdoch’s WWE career trajectory has been an odd one, since signing with the company for the first time in 2006. A former bodyguard for geriatric rapper/ corporate shill Snoop Dogg, his connections no doubt played a major role in his hiring, as they have for the likes of David Otunga, such is WWE’s desire to be seen as mainstream and a place to be seen. His initial spell in developmental, at the ill-fated and short-lived Deep South Wrestling, hinted at said desire being the sole usefulness of his role, cast as generic gangsta G-Rilla. As G-Rilla, he would align and feud with various heels in DSW, acting as an enforcer for tag team Urban Assault, as well as working dark matches on occasional SmackDown tapings against the like of Scotty 2 Hotty. In 2007, when WWE relocated its developmental facilities to Florida, G-Rilla made the transition, winning a battle royal to take on Florida Championship Wrestling’s Southern Champion, Harry Smith and challenge for the belt. When he lost via DQ, the feud continued on, with the first line-up of the modern Hart Dynasty, including Teddy Hart, Ted DiBiase Jr., and the artist now known as Tyson Kidd opposing his path of rage. When the feud petered out, he was unceremoniously dropped from WWE in February of 2008.

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Re-signing in 2010, G-Rilla reappeared in FCW, and allied with the Uso Brothers and Tamina, among others, before teaming with

powerhouse Donny Marlow as The Colossal Connection, feuding with the Usos and Los Aviadores (Los Matadores, Primo and Epico) over the Florida tag titles. It was around this time that Rilla’s name was changed, to Brodus Clay, his first name of course being a play on his former employer Snoop Dogg’s real surname (Snoop Dogg/Snoop Lion/Snoopzilla’s mother knows him as Calvin Broadus). The Colossal Connection feuded with the Usos, the Aviadores and even the team of Johnny Curtis (Fandango) and Derrick Bateman (TNA’s Ethan... Fandango & Ethan!), in their unsuccessful quest for the Florida tag straps. However, it wouldn’t be long before the main roster came calling, and in December of 2010, Brodus Clay was announced as a participant in the fourth series of NXT, at that time a worked reality TV show whose concept was bang-on on paper, but sorely badly executed... It seemed like it was destined to work. Alberto del Rio, announced as Clay’s WWE “pro”, was being groomed for the top spot in the company, a spot he would go on to hold briefly but never quite get the grasp of. It seemed like the only thing the Rolls-riding “Mexican Aristocrat” needed to complete his heel aura was some hired muscle to separate del Rio from his dirty work, a henchman hewn in his own image. It seemed to be all worked out, right from his victory in a four-way elimination to pick a new pro after a pallid run with the heat-sapping duo of Ted DiBiase Jr. and Maryse.

Upon picking del Rio, it was assumed that thanks to the WWE preoccupation with physical anomalies, Clay and his stegosaurus-like build were being railroaded to the top. But after a tepid feud with Edge and Christian, wherein Clay attacked and interfered on del Rio’s behalf as a supporting player in the run-up to WrestleMania XXVII, del Rio was drafted away to Raw, leaving an inexperienced Clay on the SmackDown undercard. After Extreme Rules that year, the partnership disintegrated, and bar some time away to shoot straight-toDVD flick No-One Lives, it seemed as though Clay would be as lost in the shuffle as most of the WWE undercard.

Call Our Mamas! Reappearing on Superstars and going through opponents in time-tested WWE big-man style, Clay drifted for a few weeks, until a chance offscreen skit involving Clay dancing in a white suit caught Vince McMahon’s attention. The planned push Clay was to receive as a Vader-like mastodon was put on hold, explained away on television with Laurinaitis’ incessant stalling, while the details of this comedic discovery were worked out. The first Raw of 2012 saw the doomsaying vignettes hyping his planned Raw debut air once more, promising the mammoth athlete’s debut that night. That he did, though to the surprise of everyone, an energetic spoken-word intro heralded Raw’s return from commercial, and “the only living,


FEATURES behind the idea that the former “Hip-Hop Hippo” somehow got a lordship while overseas. That and Brock Lesnar came back the same night as him, thus placing him in the shadows of WWE’s short-attention-span planning. Dropping the gimmick eventually, Tensai was placed in a comedic feud with Clay, participating in numerous dance-offs. That failed too. Out of sheer disinterest, one can assume, the monolithic pair were thrown together to fill out the ranks in WWE’s floundering tag-team division, where they’ve stayed in the latter half of 2013, under the fan-chosen moniker of “Tons of Funk”. Aside from an entrance that, admittedly, is mega-over with WWE’s much sought-after kids’ market, WWE has entirely lost interest in both men, as evidenced by recent losses on Raw.

brrrreathing, Funkasaurus in captivity”. The much-hyped big man emerged in a bizarre clash of the ages, to say the least, and as a mirrorball adorned the gaping maw of the Titantron, a 300+ lb. man jiggled and jived his way down the ramp to a sterilised approximation of Kool and the Gang’s famed boogies, clad in a Run-DMC-esque tracksuit and accompanied by two cheerleaders, explained to be his “Funkadactyls”. Much head-scratching commenced. Yet, as people were wondering who Clay had angered to be stuck in such a ridiculous circumstance, the leftturn immediately drew attention from WWE on the gigantic dancer and his posse, as the denizen of “Planet Funk” went on a parade of squash matches, culminating in a Royal Rumble victory over Drew McIntyre. Barring a baffling appearance at WrestleMania XXVIII, where someone finally did “call his mama”, resulting in a horrific dance routine, Clay’s push was relatively sustained, at least by modern WWE standards. Feuding with Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger, The Miz and other upper-midcard WWE denizens, Clay’s

winning streak on television extended to 24-0 before being cut off in a go-nowhere series with The Big Show. Feuds in July and August with Damien Sandow and David Otunga failed to inspire, however, and Clay’s initial push tailed off, in a classic case of WWE start-stop booking.

Tons of Fun? Confident in a gimmick of their own creation, WWE did as they do so often and pushed an outdated or unrealistic gimmick, then bailed on the man portraying it when crowd response was tepid, rather than working with the wrestler to accentuate his natural strengths. By Royal Rumble 2013, Clay was a nonfactor, eliminated by five men hoisting him over the ropes. Clay has spent 2013 feuding and then teaming with another victim of juddery WWE booking, Tensai. The former Albert/A-Train, a 2012 transplant from New Japan Pro Wrestling after a previous WWF run in the nineties and early noughties, Matt Bloom was brought in as some sort of imperialist overlord or something. The gimmick failed because no-one got

WWE insists it doesn’t give guarantees, just opportunities. However, it is blatantly obvious that the McMahon family’s penchant for motivating talent by constantly giving them the wide berth and hoping this will drive them forward isn’t working. Paranoid after the departures of Brock Lesnar and Bobby Lashley after colossal pushes, WWE have been extremely leery of placing new talent in top positions. One must draw attention on themselves, apparently, yet one is never afforded the opportunity. This is a shame: it seems, as in the case of Clay and Tensai, even the simplest of booking manoeuvres would result in a fresh heel team and an obstacle for new face teams to overcome. Utilising both mens’ size and intimidation factor, as worked for the Road Warriors, The Natural Disasters and their line of imitators, tag teams like the Usos and the Rhodes would have a real threat to deal with, earning them sympathy and emotional investment from fans. Tensai could finally utilise his polished ring skills to better younger wrestlers over the course of a feud, and Clay would finally be central to angles on main television. Alas, in a world where WWE feels its main competition is the next channel on the dial, long-term booking and star creation are far from priority, barring Clay and Tensai insisting on a new direction. Either way, the decision is theirs.

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FEATURES

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THE NAKED TRUTH

RYBACK

TEXT By matt roberts

The Naked Truth is back to once again to analyse another WWE talent and showcase what makes them good, bad or indifferent. It’s all too easy to focus on the negative, and the professional wrestling industry in general is often filled with misery and moaning. All across the internet you can see a torrent of comments, which more often than not don’t seem to praise the wrestlers which we know and love. We respect that most of these guys and gals work exceptionally hard to provide entertainment for us, so each month we look past the internet critiques and the dirtsheets to provide a balanced, fair view of a big-name talent.

THE DRAWS

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His Look

case, the look is most definitely an important factor.

You can’t deny that the look/ size of a WWE Superstar is relevant. Yes, it is not everything and shouldn’t be the sole factor in whether or not someone gets a push, but given that the whole notion of pro-wrestling is based on one’s ability to suspend their disbelief, you cannot deny that if you saw someone like Ryback on the street and he wanted to fight you, you would have cause to be legitimately scared (yes- we’d shit our pants! – Eds) because, well... look at him! He looks like he could actually kill you!

Power Moves

Undoubtedly, being the owner of an impressive physique is a huge mark in the plus column for Vince McMahon. Luckily for him, Ryback stands at 6ft 3in and weighs in at 291lbs. When you compare someone of Ryback’s stature to say The Miz, it becomes hard to suspend your disbelief. It is, in fact, impossible to imagine that The Miz could go in there and throw Ryback around – in fact, it’s hard to imagine many superstars in WWE today throwing Ryback around. This is why, in Ryback’s

When Ryback gets in the ring his ring style is “smash mouth”, to say the least. Being a big guy, it is obvious he possesses a tonne of strength and the best way to get a guy like Ryback over is to put him in positions where he can demonstrate his strength over and over again. The initial booking of Ryback vs local indie wrestlers was fantastic. The formula of a squash match is simple – you place the wrestler you want to push against a no name local indie wrestler and have them bump like crazy for your soon to be established star. It allows your up-and-coming star the opportunity to show his move set and look dominating by beating someone and having his way with them. Simple. What WWE did exceptionally well was allow Ryback to come out each and every week and beat people decisively with his finisher The Shellshock. That he was also booked in handicap matches and

was able to pick up BOTH opponents for his finishing manoeuvre made him look all the more powerful. Adding the “Meathook” clothesline, which is a modified if albeit stiff move to his repertoire, this has only helped Ryback look even more like a modern day Bill Goldberg.

Student of the game Whether you like or don’t like Ryback, it would be pretty hard to deny that the man knows what it takes to work a crowd and get over. Granted, his “feed me more” chant may seem a little silly on the surface, but when the entire audience is chanting this as he walks to the ring and during his matches, it is proof that it WORKS. Another small thing that Ryback does to work the crowd is move his shoulder along in a nudging motion to the crowd in order to get them to chant “feed me more” before he hits his Meathook clothesline. Another small but effective gem, this allows the audience to get involved in his matches – something too many name wrestlers these days forget is important.


FEATURES THE FLAWS In Ring Without the power moves, unfortunately, Ryback is not a great worker. Unless he is being booked in a short squash match that allows him to show off his strength, he is decidedly average. He is certainly not a talent you can count on in a 20 minute plus match to get someone over: after the bell rings and the match starts, the audience tends to switch off. He’s had numerous singles bouts this year

and unless they’ve contained any gimmicks (such as his passable 3 Stages of Hell bout with John Cena at this year’s Payback pay per view), they tend to be well below average. Dis-honourable mention goes to his match with Mark Henry at Wrestlemania 29, which given the limitations of both men should never have been booked.

Promo Skills Simply put, there aren’t any. Ryback may

have a commanding presence in terms of his look and size, but when he gets on a microphone he has nothing of note to say. This is all too common in the heavily scripted world of WWE, but even when Ryback is given a script word for word, his delivery is just awful. There’s no conviction in what he is saying and you just don’t believe he truly means it. Given his recent heel status and alignment with Paul Heyman that certainly should be rectified, but on his own merits Ryback should not be allowed near a microphone.

THE VERDICT The best way to currently describe Ryback is a work in progress. He has all the tools necessary that WWE looks for in a star. You cannot question his confidence after he has made several interviews stating he wants The Undertaker at Wrestlemania 30 and short of them choosing John Cena instead that just MIGHT be a possibility. When you put Ryback in a short bout which requires limited selling he can be extremely effective, and as a heel his potential upside is enormous. However, if you put him in lengthy matches that require a lot of work he’s going to struggle. Unless he’s in there with Shawn Michaels the results are going to be bowling shoe ugly. For now, his partnership with Paul Heyman suggests faith in Ryback and it seems WWE is going to go all the way with him. Putting him with someone who can conceal his weaknesses is a smart idea and one that will hopefully work for him in the future.

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THE NEXT GENERATION OF WRESTLING MAGAZINE IS HERE! Want to keep up to date with all the latest goings-on in professional wrestling? Fancy reading about promotions from all over the world, with in-depth analysis? Do you want the latest wrestling news as it occurs? Enjoy engaging in discussions about the good and bad of wrestling? If you’ve answered yes to all these questions then join us online today! Head on over to www.twmag.co.uk for all the latest magazine action. With in depth analysis of promotions from all over the world, competitions, DVD reviews, exclusive interviews and sneak peeks of the latest Total Wrestling Magazine issues, this website is one not too be missed! Get involved further by liking us on facebook at

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FEATURES

BRINGING THE

TEXT BY ADAM TESTA

Reign The quiet man of WWE’s “Shield” trio, and a man without an extensive background in the indies, Roman Reigns is too often erroneously treated as an afterthought in the grander scheme of things. In reality, he’s a tremendous athlete with a great upside and the power to match. TW predicts huge things for Reigns in the years ahead, and was thrilled to have the pleasure to talk to the big man for this month’s big interview.

TW: When The Shield made their debut at Survivor Series, as a fan, it felt like something fresh and different. What was going through your mind coming through the crowd for the first time and immediately making your presence felt in the WWE?

through it. That set the tone of, man, these guys are aggressive; these guys are looking to do some damage. Looking back over this past year, I think we’ve done just that.

Seth and Dean had their built-in fan bases from their time on the independent scene and were known to hardcore RR: A lot of things were running wrestling fans, whereas through our minds. I can’t speak you came from a different for Dean and Seth, which I imagine was even more so for them, because background. Did you ever feel like you were the “third they came a different route than I did. They worked on the guy” with them, and how independent circuit for six-plus did you combat some of that years at that point. I just know we and build it to where peoall wanted to get it right, and we ple view you as deserving in wanted to make an impact. your own right? One thing we wanted to establish is that we’re like wolves, just aggressive and foaming at the mouth, and we’re just trying to break stuff. I think the debut accomplished that, just the way we attacked Ryback, just the way we ripped up the announce table and bombed him

To be honest, I wasn’t really aware as to quite how popular they were on the independent circuit and with the Internet crowd, but it was never really a big deal for me. I figured it would take a few months for people to get a feel for me, and not only that, you have that fan base and you have the mainstream fan base.

I’ve always known that with my look and my presence, I’d be fine in that regard. It was a good, competitive feel for me, but I never worried. I know who I am; I know what I can do, what I look like. I’ve always been confident in my abilities. That confidence is paying off now.

Early in your tenure, you had the opportunity to work with several of the company’s top stars and headliners. Being a relative newcomer to the main roster, what was that like getting to work with Cena, The Undertaker, Sheamus and others like them? It was great. That’s a great opportunity, and that’s how you can learn some things on that level feeling how people react. It was an absolute honor, but at the same time, we feel like we should be there. I think if you look back and you see the type of magic we created with those guys, it speaks for itself. That’s where we intended GE on being, that’s where we are and PA49 where we intend to push it even


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[THE LOWDOWN // UK WRESTLING// PURO//INDIE //REVIEWS//COLUMNS] WrestleMania, the competition is stepping up, the division is coming back, so it’s going to be interesting for sure.

Seth and Dean have that independent background, but you come from a wrestling family. How has that affected your career? Has it been a benefit or has it put more pressure on you because people have higher expectations?

farther. We all want to get to the point where the three of us are fighting for the WWE Championship, where the three of us are those guys and people are coming into the company to work with us. But to work with those guys, I think we really hit a homerun with it, and we really impressed them. Not only are we in there feeling them and seeing how they do it, they’re in there feeling us and seeing how we do it, and we bring something different to the table, too. We may still be a little new, and at that point nobody really knew us, but we stepped up and we gave the world something to bite on. They know exactly who we are and, to a certain extent, what we can do. There’s still a lot to come, though.

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You mentioned the WWE Championship, but right now, you have the Tag Team Championship to worry about. How does it feel to be a champion this early in your career and carry those titles with Seth Rollins?

It feels good; it’s a big responsibility, especially for a division that hasn’t been highlighted like it used to be, say, back in the Attitude Era with Edge and Christian and the Hardys and the Dudleys and all those guys. It was a challenge to get the titles, to retain them, to keep them interesting and to get people into them. But right now, I feel that Seth and myself are on top of the tag team mountain, and when we look down, we see all these competitive tag teams. They’re starting to multiply now, and they’re starting to climb, and they all want a shot at what we have. But we have the high ground and are one of the best teams to ever step foot inside a wrestling ring, so they’re going to have to do a lot more than decide they’re ready to climb the mountain. They’re going to have to convince themselves they’re going to be able to beat us, and once they get to that point, they’re going to have to step it up another notch to be able to compete with us. It’s going to be a good year this year. Going into

There’s always a lot of pressure. It’s a big responsibility, but that’s a good thing in my mind. Having that challenge makes you step up. If you’re just coasting, you’re never going to reach your full potential. But if every day you’re reminded of who you are and what you have to stand next to, it really drives you. I mean, every single day I wake up, I ask myself, “What can I do to make people forget every single thing my family has done? Can I be that good? Can I take it to a whole ‘nother level?” That’s what I strive to do. Any time I’m in the gym, anytime I’m doing anything pertaining to wrestling or sports entertainment, I take it very seriously. This isn’t just my job and my lifeline, this is what I want to do; I want to create the coolest art anyone has ever seen. It’s a challenge; it’s a competition. Within my own family, even the guys who aren’t in the business any more challenge me to be better than they were; they challenge me to be better than I am now, and they challenge me to be better than my potential is set to be and to break through that glass ceiling and be the best ever.

You’ve had a chance to work with some of them, as well. We’ve seen a lot of


FEATURES

interaction between the Usos and The Shield, and you had brief involvement with The Rock. What is it like being able to share those experiences in the ring with your family? It’s cool. When you get butterflies, they seem to be like WrestleMania butterflies, they’re bigger butterflies because you’re not only nervous for yourself, you’re nervous for them. There’s a lot going on there emotion-wise. It’s been a really cool opportunity and a really neat way for us to celebrate our family and where we’re from. There are a lot of people who went to high school with us, and I think it’s cool for them to be able to see it and say, “That’s what they’re doing now; they’re wrestling each other on worldwide TV. That’s awesome.” That makes me proud. It’s always a proud moment to step in there and mix it up with those guys.

Coming up on the one-year anniversary of your main roster debut, looking back to when you were playing football and before, did you ever expect you’d be in the position you are today? Before I started playing football, myself and Manu and others, we

all wanted to be wrestlers. Even when I started getting into higher-level football in college, I always wanted to be significant. I always had the fear of being mediocre and just doing regular things. For some people, that’s fine, but for me, I always wanted to be a superstar, someone cool, someone people looked up to and wanted to be. That’s never changed from when I wanted to be a wrestler to when I wanted to play football to when I started to play football to when I started wrestling. That goal has always been the same, so to have the opportunity I have now, to be in the position I’m in now, is a nice feeling to see everything from day one to now develop. It’s going to be interesting to see where I go from here.

Through the years, a lot of superstars have used the spear as their signature move. Is there anyone you modeled your spear after or that was an inspiration to you? A lot of people have used the spear; I use Roman’s Spear. My spear is better than every other spear. I didn’t watch anybody’s tape. I played football for 15-plus years; I know how to hit a dude. If there’s one thing I know how to do, it’s knock a dude off his feet. I like to think I didn’t copy anybody’s deal or review anybody’s tape. I’ve seen a bunch of other people’s, but they never look like mine, I’m proud to say. I’ve been speared; I’ve been speared by Big Show, but my spear

is better than everybody’s. I’ve never been pinned by a spear; I’ve only been pinned once in my career, and it took like five guys to do that. No one kicks out of Roman’s Spear. It’s kind of a cool tradition now that someone has the spear in WWE, but I think I’m pushing it to the next level, which The Shield tries to do with every aspect of the business.

In October, WWE partnered once again with the Susan G. Komen foundation to raise money for breast cancer research. Why is it important for WWE to get involved with causes like this? We have such a big outreach. We connect with people worldwide; billions of people watch our product, so any time you have an opportunity to spread the word on such a great cause, it’s an opportunity of a lifetime to help people. That’s what we’re here for in the long run. Outside of WWE and money and all that other stupid stuff, we’re here to help people. We’re here to make this world a better place, to help your fellow human being. To be able to link up with Susan G. Komen has given us a great opportunity to do what’s right, to help people who are down, and it has really been a great opportunity to sit back and see all the good WWE can do for them and so many other organizations and charities. It’s a great opportunity for everybody to be able to dig in and do what’s best for people, what’s best for the world. *This interview was conducted in collaboration with The Southern Illinoisan newspaper in Carbondale, Illinois, USA.

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TOTAL MERCH TEXT By Mike McGrath- Bryan

Too much money? Not enough badass stuff? Congratulations, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll show you the faces of the gods of merch, monthly, and link you to the twerps silly enough to want shod of them…

GOLD RIBBON: EDDIE GUERRERO - ADDICTED TO THE HEAT (T-SHIRT) In honour of the great Latino Heeeeeeeat’s birthday this month, there’s only one choice for this month’s Gold Ribbon - this cheeky but classic riff on Scarface, featuring the man himself, wearing his trademark grin, being insufferable and no doubt making trouble for someone, WWE strap on his shoulder; just as we’ll always remember him. While WWE may have been cock-a-roaches in exploiting his legacy, this one dates back to the Chicano champ in his prime, vato loco. http://www.extremewrestlingshirts.com/servlet/the-82412/Eddie-Guerrero-Scarface-Addicted/Detail

MITSUHARU MISAWA - LEGEND (T-SHIRT) Plain and simple: the face of the most unf**kwithable athlete to ever step foot in the squared circle, perfectly capturing the man’s aura and penchant for badassery. In stark monochrome, scrawled with symbolic green, it not so much embodies the primal machismo that drove Misawa to his stellar career as takes it up for a vicious Tiger Driver and nails it. Wear it, and you have licence to elbow your flatmates in the neck over and over. http://www.bumpdrunk.com

HXC WRESTLING - LADIES’ HOODIE The resurgence of British wrestling in recent years has seen a wide variety of promotions in different genres stake their claim to being the top promotion in Britain. When it comes to supporting homegrown talent and putting on a product with a bit of an edge, HXC has been one of the leading lights in Britwres. Get yer hands on this, hardcore/deathmatch fans, and help support your own. http://www.hxcwrestling.com/content/hxc-short-sleeve-ladies-hoodie

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KINGS OF WRESTLING - AUTOGRAPHED 8“X10“ (PHOTO) Exactly why collectors of scrawled-on stuff haven’t hoovered these up on the cheap are beyond your writer. Signed by the artists now known as Antonio Cesaro and Kassius Ohno, these pics, from NOAH’s European Navigation tour in 2011, are going for a song. And when WWE finishes teaching these guys to “eat sh*t and like the taste” as is the custom, they’re gonna be main-eventers and you’re gonna wish you had one on your wall. Fix that in the near future. http://www.amerchandise.co.uk/store/index.php?_a=viewProd&productId=5157


FEATURES BIG DADDY - WHO’S THE DADDY? (BOOK) Ryan Danes’ detailed and sympathetic look at the life of Shirley Crabtree takes apart both perceptions of a deeply divisive figure in British wrestling. The pensioners’ and kids’ favourite, as stubborn and unremittingly British as a bulldog, is highlighted, as tales of his relatively simplistic victories are relayed with aplomb, while the egg-shaped stiff that was hot-shotted to the top until Joint Promotions had booked itself into a corner is humanised. A good read. http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/Whos-Daddy%3F-Ryan-Danes/9781909178601 NEW JAPAN PRO WRESTLING - GREATEST MUSIC VOL.2 (CD) No, CD isn’t dead, in fact, Japan is set to take over as the single biggest consumer of music in the world across physical and digital formats. Aside from that, a huge part of NJPW’s appeal to jaded Western fans is the plethora of great tunes heard throughout the company’s shows and across genre lines, from incidental music to excellent entrance themes, a world away from current WWE’s tepid chart-a-likes. NJPW composer Yonosuke Kitamura’s excellent knowledge of character subtleties shines in his work, from the whacko pop-step of Prince Devitt’s theme, to the pacey electro-thrash of PPV opener theme SURVIVOR. Excellent. http://www.cdjapan.co.jp/detailview.html?KEY=KICS-1968 WCW CLASH OF THE CHAMPIONS - THE BEST OF (DVD) If you missed this when it came out through Silver Vision a year or two back, silly you. If you didn’t pick it up when the licence changed hands and that ridiculous clearout happened, double silly you. If you don’t pick this underrated set of great matches (and poor segues from a near-incomprehensible Dusty Rhodes) from the NWA/WCW series of televised specials from the new WWE DVD site (or preferably, your local DVD retailer, because bricks and mortar are important), then that’s triple silly you, not just for missing out, but for failing to argue the case for more WCW boxsets like this. http://www.wwedvd.co.uk/clash-champions-p-11726.html KURT ANGLE - CHAMPION (DVD) If, like your writer, you miss Silver Vision, and the fact they gave a s**t about anywhere outside the UK, their parent company’s acquisition of the TNA DVD licence must have been some consolation. And though TNA is in a rough patch presently, this double-disc, bargain-priced behemoth is hefty with the Olympic Hero’s early TNA classics, including stone-cold must-watches with Yuji Nagata at Tokyo Dome, and Samoa Joe in an unprecedented MMA-style match that should have been the foundations of the future of wrestling. Grab it. http://www.clearvision.co.uk/products/TNA-Kurt-Angle-Champion-DVD-2-Discs.html BROWN BROWN RIBBON: PRETTY MUCH EVERY CURRENT TNA T-SHIRT Looking through TNA merch is unfortunately another reminder of what the company is getting wrong: much like the company makes no effort to make stars, neither does it self-accessorize its existing roster in anything that captures the attention. It’s all so generic, from Jeff Hardy’s endless fields of self-portraits, to the cod-Affliction douchewear people pitied three years ago being relentlessly recycled. Aces and Eights? Sons of Anarchy. Actual bikers would stick you if they saw it on you. If WWE makes a cool shirt, you bet your ass people go to the effort of buying it and putting it in their regular rotation. TNA is missing a huge pop-culture trick, and missing out on much-needed merch income as a result. All it takes is a few shirts functioning adults would wear outdoors.

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WHERE ARE THEY

NOW? SHEAMUS Text By matt roberts

In an alternative take on our regular “Where are they Now” feature, Matt Roberts takes a look at Sheamus, currently persona non grata in the mad, bad world of WWE... – what the hell happened to Sheamus?? In all the hustle and bustle of a Randy Orton heel turn, Daniel Bryan’s rise to the top and John Cena leaving and returning, Sheamus has been lost in the shuffle somewhere. So how did one of WWE’s hardest work horses go from being a focal point of the show to the bench and the back of everybody’s minds in just a few short months?

The Irish Curse A controversial topic in WWE at the moment is the return of former WWE Champion John Cena. Sustaining an injury that saw him take some time off following Summerslam, it looked like Cena was not going to be on television for the foreseeable future. However, in an alltoo-predictable WWE swerve, Cena has made a remarkably quick recovery and will return to action at the Hell in a Cell ppv to take on Alberto Del Rio and returned to beat Alberto del Rio for the World Heavyweight Championship at Hell in a Cell.

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This has put quite the spotlight on injuries and the recuperation period necessary. You’d be forgiven for completely forgetting that there is also another former WWE Champion currently on the shelf – a man who has been for a large portion of the year. We are, of course, referring to a certain pale skinned, flame haired Irishman named Sheamus. In prepping for this month’s WATN feature, it suddenly struck us

New Year Blues It’s fair to say that 2013 didn’t exactly get off to a stellar start for The Celtic Warrior. Wrestling mainly in tag and 6-man tag matches against The Shield, Sheamus was mostly playing second fiddle to the Ortons and Cenas of the world for the first half of the year. Wrestlemania 29 saw him team up with Randy Orton and The Big Show to face The Shield in a 6 man tag which the babyface team lost. Giving The Shield a win on the biggest pay per view of the year was undoubtedly a no-brainer, but what was perplexing was the brevity of the match. At just 12:35, it wasn’t given the time it needed to develop into something memorable. Perhaps understandably, Brock Lesnar vs. Triple H, The Undertaker vs. CM Punk and The Rock vs. John Cena were all given at least 20 minutes, but this didn’t do the babyface trio or the up and comers any justice to have to perform in such a brief window. To make matters worse, after The Shield won the bout Randy Orton and

Sheamus argued with The Big Show, only to be knocked out cold by WWE’s resident giant and made to look like fools on the biggest event of the wrestling calendar. It didn’t get any better the next night on Raw. Sheamus and Orton collided once again, this time in a singles bout to determine who would face The Big Show in a one on one contest. The post-Wrestlemania Raw has been known over the years to draw the hardcore WWE fans that at times can be difficult to please, and Orton and Sheamus found this out the hard way as the East Rutherford, New Jersey faithful pelted two of WWE’s top babyfaces with chants that ranged from random wrestlers’ names (such as X-Pac!) all the way to “end this match.” When Big Show came out and interfered, resulting in no content, fans jeered “thank you Big Show.” Not the best weekend for WWE’s friendly Irishman. Orton and Sheamus teamed up one last time to take on Big Show on the April 15th Raw and defeated him via pinfall, ending the feud. Sheamus had to be glad to draw a line under that one. The whole thing didn’t do him any favours, and in fact in certain parts of the country there were small segments of the audience that turned on him. His babyface charm was starting to wane, and WWE needed to do something fast to protect him. Their answer? “The World’s Strongest Man” Mark Henry.

The Irish... Tweener?


FEATURES Heely, Heely Good The Sheamus character has a lot of ammunition in his arsenal to use on the WWE Universe. He could talk about how he was doing them a favour by trying to rid the world of The Shield and beat Mark Henry, and how the audience treated him with disdain after Wrestlemania. It’s excellent heel turn fodder, and could set up a classic run, if done right. To that end, however, the question must be asked: does anyone really miss Sheamus? In all honesty, your writer almost forgot he was even on the shelf until it was brought up by a friend. In this respect, it would be hard to argue that the time isn’t right to go with the Irishman as a bad guy once again. He’s done it before and flourished with the role.

On the surface this seemed like it might work: maybe not in terms of match quality, but in booking nonetheless. The babyface would wrestle the heel bully and put him in his place for embarrassing the roster after Henry held regular “tests of strength” contests. It’s difficult to tell if it was intentional, given Sheamus’ injury and subsequent layoff, but during these contests Sheamus began to act more like the heel than Henry did. There’s an excellent chance that the booking may have not intended for that to happen, but when Sheamus lost a test of strength to Henry he resulted by booting him with The Brogue Kick. To put it much more simply – the babyface was going to use all his strength against the big bully in a competition of honour in which he lost. When he did lose, he threw his toys out of his pram and beat up the bully! Doesn’t sound like your typical babyface now, does it? The brief Henry feud at least ended with a Sheamus victory as The Celtic Warrior bested Henry in a by-the-numbers strap match at Extreme Rules. The remainder of the year would be a washout for Sheamus, as he was programmed with perennial mid carder Damien Sandown, all of which did nothing for either man. At least our man was entered into the Money in the Bank ladder match, which saw Randy Orton take the briefcase. It was during this bout that Sheamus suffered a serious shoulder injury, which would worsen over the coming weeks. His final match of the year was against Alberto Del Rio on Raw July 22nd, before WWE.com announced he would miss up to 6 months of action.

Blessing in Disguise? The injury was the best thing that could happen for Sheamus in terms of booking. Growing tired of the happy, smiling babyface, the WWE audience either needed to see a heel turn or for him to take a break. With WWE deciding not to turn him the resentment would have continued to grow, and this wouldn’t have served anybody in the long run. With Sheamus out for the remainder of the year, it looks like a January Royal Rumble return is on the cards. Given that Cena’s own injury indicated a possible return at The Royal Rumble, it seemed more likely that Cena would receive the lion’s share of the hype and the big push upon his return. With Cena now coming back much earlier than expected, all eyes will be on Sheamus, and there are a number of positive scenario’s WWE could go with. With Sheamus sat on the bench for so long, there’s an excellent chance that the audience will embrace The Celtic Warrior with open arms. With Daniel Bryan, CM Punk and John Cena as the company’s top babyfaces, there quite likely isn’t room at the top for another and, given Sheamus’ history with Daniel Bryan, and John Cena in particular, there are plenty of fresh matches available that we haven’t seen in a while. If his return is promoted ahead of time, who’s to say that it couldn’t even boost a buy rate? Admittedly, Sheamus isn’t going to be drawing massive money any time soon, because in all honesty there are many people who don’t even seem to care that he’s gone. With this being the case, the WWE braintrust should at least explore the possibility of a Sheamus heel turn.

Sheamus’ first WWE Championship victory came as a heel over John Cena. He’s faced current COO Triple H and laid him out after a memorable segment involving Shawn Michaels’ retirement. Sheamus could even join forces with the new “Corporate regime” to unleash terror on the rest of the roster. He’s not going to be playing the top heel anytime soon, as that role belongs to Randy Orton and Triple H, but being in the company of the two top heels of the moment certainly wouldn’t harm Sheamus’ aura and would, in reality, be a massive coup. A heel Sheamus could be matched up with The Big Show, Daniel Bryan, John Cena and maybe even CM Punk. Working alongside The Corporation would be hugely beneficial to Sheamus and definitely would give the character the much needed facelift that’s been coming for a long time. It wasn’t that long ago when Vince Mcmahon used to listen to the audience and would make a decision on whether or not a WWE superstar would turn based on the audience reaction to them. To that end, it’s quite clear that sections of the WWE Universe have made a decision with Sheamus. They have becoming increasingly tired of his good guy ways and if he were to turn heel then it would provide a fresh coat of paint for him. A heel turn would revitalise Sheamus. Given his overall ability as a worker, TW is looking forward to the return of the Celtic Warrior, and genuinely hopes to see a return to his bad guy ways. It would provide a side to Sheamus that we haven’t seen for a long time and WWE is sorely missing high quality heels at the moment. Indeed, returning alongside Hunter and Orton to terrorise the rest of the roster could give a whole new meaning to the phrase “The Irish Curse”.

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Danny Rodd: The True Story of One Pro Wrestling – 1PW With Darren Wood

1PW is a name that's synonymous with UK wrestling and its fans. During its heyday the promotion regularly drew some of the biggest professional wrestling crowds in Britain, utilising some of these shore’s finest talents as well as importing some of the biggest stars from North America and beyond. However, in 2011 the company finally closed its doors amidst raging controversy, with the result of a cancelled show featuring WWE Hall of Famer Shawn Michaels having a massive financial backlash for fans and employees of the company. Now, nearly two years later, many questions are still unanswered, and many feel out of pocket and aggrieved to this day. In this 100% exclusive interview, TW sits down with former 1PW owner Danny Rodd to discuss the running of the company, what really happened regarding the Shawn Michaels situation and how the company’s finances span out of control..

TW: Hi Danny, thanks for talking with us today. So, going all the way back to the beginning, let’s talk about how you got started with 1PW in the first place, and how you eventually wound up being owner?

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Danny Rodd: I started out in 1PW in 2007 for 1PW Resurrection, the comeback show from the first downfall. I replied to a post on their website, they asked if anyone could pick up some talent from the airport on the way to the show. I said I'd help out by going to Manchester airport and pick up two guys for the show. It carried on like that for a few shows and as time went on I got further into the 1PW “Family” I started running the website, started doing a lot of transport stuff, sorting lifts out, arranging hotels for everyone, things like that. I did that for around a year or so, and it came to a head in June 2008. I'd had enough of Steven Gauntley's false promises and basically messing me over with stuff. I was due to move to London, so I got out and told him I'd had enough. A few months later he went bust again. This time, a few wres-


FEATURES tlers and a friend of mine approached him about taking the company over. A friend of mine Dan White, got in contact to let me know they were taking over and ask would I be interested in joining. Having been burnt by Gauntley I was a bit reluctant, but went to a show that the new owners were putting on, liked what I saw and decided I'd come on board. After a few shows with them and a few more issues which had crept up, a lot the new team left. I had a lot of personal stuff going on at the time, but around August 2009 I decided to take over 1PW and give it a go along with G Man, who was a wrestler with 1PW called Chris Garrett. My vision at the time was to learn from Gauntley's mistakes and cut down on the imports. I wanted to try a different approach which included less imports but higher quality workers.

Did you have any previous experience of running a wrestling promotion at all before 1PW? If not, who were the major players who helped you out in the beginning? Nope. 1PW was my first wrestling company, but I had promoted beforehand for music events in the area I lived with a friend of mine, which was very successful. Wrestling, however, is a totally different kettle of fish. There is no one really that wants to "help" you – they always have different motives. I got pretty friendly with Alex Shane, and he taught me a few things, so I have to give him credit. We had some good ideas for future storylines, but nothing ever came of it. My first action when I took over was bring back Ruffneck, I had always liked him before he fell out with Gauntley, so I made an effort to reach out to him. Looking back, I was played very well by Ruffneck. I assumed he was a friend but, as I learnt later on, no workers are really your "friend" in this business. They play you to get what they want.

At the time, 1PW was one of the biggest names in UK Wrestling, with a history of using major talent and producing some top quality shows. At the same time however, the company began garnering a reputation as a promotion which perhaps was living beyond its

means. Was it a daunting vision to take over a company like this, and did you fully understand the magnitude of the task in hand? You know, it wasn't daunting really. I was excited. I had been around the company long enough to know what to do and not what to do. Did I understand just how big the task was? No, not at all. It was a lot harder than I imagined. Other owners had people there to help them, family members or more people in the company to help, I pretty much took it on and did it alone. Adam Curtis focused on story lines, G Man did filming. Everything else was me: I ran the shop, sorted the venues, marketed the events and company, handled promotion, money, booking talent and legal work. I did the lot. It was long hours, lots of work and it only got more stressful as show days loomed. Looking back, I wish I had someone there to help share the day-to-day running of it from day one. I don't think it would have had half as many issues as it did if i had help. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

Once taking over the company what were some of the first actions you decided to take? My first action was calling Ruffneck, then it was paying Martin Stone as he was owed (money from the July show in Sheffield). The next action was securing money to get Rob Van Dam for our 4th Anniversary Show. I never officially moved 1PW to Ellesmere Port until after 4AS had been and gone. In my head, though, I wanted the belt off Martin Stone. But Curtis had a few storylines he wanted to play out at 4AS, so I agreed Martin could keep the title until the next show. In the run up to 4AS, we had a show in Leeds. It was the old management’s last show under their reign, so myself, G Man and Curtis went up to watch the show and to make sure things went ok. Just as well we did really, as it was a clusterfuck. Ultimately, Curtis ended up paying for that show, as the previous owners didn't have the money. I had just spent a few grand on buying all the rights off Gauntley for the 1PW library and all its rights.

So let’s now go through the first couple of months in charge of the promotion, when you started to get

the wheels in motion for your vision of the company. What was next in the plans for 1PW? Was it scrapping the use of big name imports in an attempt at saving money? My main thing was to try and regain the trust of the fans that were burnt by the company previously. That was always going to be the hardest thing to do, but it was a challenge and it was something I wanted to do. Aside from that, I moved the company and based it out of Ellesmere Port, it just didn't seem to be logical to have to kart everything back and forth from Ellesmere Port to where the company had previously been based. The 4AS event proved something to me: we didn't need a dozen imports to make a show successful. I wanted to build on quality over quantity.

1PW's 4th Anniversary Show was held in the Doncaster Dome, which 1PW over the years seemed to adopt as its home. Why was it important to go back there, seeing as the company was now running from Ellesmere Port? As you say, it was "home". It had a pre-built fan base, and when a show was running at the dome everybody in Doncaster knew about it, and to be fair we could get away with near enough murder in that venue. They loved it as much as we did, though maybe our setting off fireworks was taking things bit far!! We always had a real good time there. RVD, after his match with Davey Richards, came up to me with his wife and said he loved the venue. It felt like the old ECW style to him, with the passion and atmosphere of the fans and the workers.

You've gone on record saying that at 4AS you and your investors lost money. Why do you think this is? Were the imports brought in for the show too costly, or were there just not enough people through the gate? It wasn't a huge loss, if I’m honest. I had a friend on board who did invest money in the show and he did lose out, but the plan was to always be running and that the money would eventually come back to us.

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As for 4AS, to this day I stand by the fact that the reason the show didn't draw as well as it should have is because fans simply didn't trust it. A lot of old fans saw Gauntley running an afternoon show for PW101, and I think leading up to it they thought that me and him were working together, which we weren't. He did ask to merge, he did ask to do 101 vs 1PW, all the stories you can think off. He wanted it to happen, but in all honesty I wasn't interested.

After 4AS, did you feel that you were now building a stable UK roster of talent? I was happy with 4AS apart from the main event, but overall the show went well. We got great feedback, and I thought we had the right blend of UK and Import workers./ Business at that time to me was fine, but personally I was a bit of a mess. Mentally, I just wasn't there; I was having a tough time with some issues and I had, and used 1PW as my escape from it all.

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1PW was the escape I needed. I shut off from the outside world and was hell-bent on nothing but 1PW. Once 4AS had passed, I had nothing to focus on. The show had gone and I said to G Man that I needed out for a bit. I really wanted to be normal again, clear my head, as I hadn’t had chance to let

go of things in my personal life – I avoided it instead of dealing with issues I had.

and Val Venus) not showing up to the event. What happened there?

The next show was aptly named Will Not Cancel, which was very tongue in cheek. This show, which didn’t feature any imports, still ran at a loss. What was going through your head at this point?

The New Divide was a troublesome show. Pope got injured so he had to pull out, so we used his money to pay for the rest of the fee for Beer Money. We had a few issues with TNA over flights, but it was sorted and we were happy. As for Venus: I Had him booked for The New Divide, I then decided to cancel the booking for a number of reasons. One was money – the show simply was not drawing interest at all, so I decided to cut back on things and talent we didn’t really need.

Will Not Cancel wasn't my show. By this time, I needed time away to sort myself out, so I let G Man know that if he wanted to run a show then to go for it – just keep to the story lines we have. I just couldn't do a show at that moment in time. So he ran it, paid for it and lost money on it. It caused issues internally, though. G Man was running this and he wanted it all his way, and it really pissed Curtis off. G Man was trying to twist and change story lines, so I eventually stepped in and they found a middle ground. If truth be told, I put his loss down to lazy promoting on his part. He also ran the show in a new area for 1PW, which didn't help.

Now we come to The New Divide, which it's fair to say had its fair share of problems; most significantly, two imports (The Pope

We obviously agreed he could keep his half of the fee, which he already had, and as far as we were concerned that was that. He then demanded I send him the rest of the fee, plus other monies on top. Naturally, I refused and that was the last I heard of it.

The New Divide was held at the Liverpool Olympia, which looking back seems to be a pretty ambitious arena to run. You must have been very confident in 1PW to feel you could fill that arena? With Liverpool being a few miles from where the company was based, I thought it would work in our favour. With the talent we


FEATURES had and the matches we knew we could advertise, I didn't think we would have a problem. I was wrong. I knew when I saw the poor queue on the day that we were in trouble. I'd spoken to Alex Shane about the venue, to see if it would work, and he talked about the times he'd ran ROH & TNA there and said that I should give it a go. From day one it gave me headaches, but you have to come across these issues to get past them and learn from the mistakes. I really wish we had never run that show from a financial standpoint, but the show itself was ace. We couldn't fault it, qualitywise, but everyone was too interested in the backstage drama. Some workers were not happy about this but understood and carried on, apart from Johnny Moss. He was drunk and furious, he was the worst.

Your mindset at this time seemed to be that you would use your budget to book a number of mid to high-card level imports. I guess you were perhaps thinking that more attractions would equal more casual fans through the gate. Did this work? I initially tried to run shows with one big name, but later I changed my mentality to booking a number of mid size name imports that would appeal to every type of fan and to see how that worked. Did it work? Nope. I put this down to myself not putting 110% into promoting the show (The New Divide) to the best of my ability, so ultimately that show’s failure was nobody else's but mine. I think my mindset was that the promotion had name value, we've put on shows with top talent, we've had amazing matches and that people would just come through the door anyway without much promotion, which they didn't.

I believe you went into The New Divide with a gate figure that you needed to achieve. Was this projection made? Nope. Not even close.

You've gone on record saying the presales were not great for the show, with issues of the web shop earlier on in the year being highlighted. Did New Divide run at a loss, and did you think about cancelling at all?

A mega loss. Myself and G Man had spoke a few weeks before about cancelling this show, but I still wanted to gain trust from fans. The last thing I wanted was to cancel a show. Looking back I wish we did. You can't change the past.

What was your outlook following this show, in terms of how to run 1PW and gain the fans’ trust? To be honest my head at this moment in time was fucked. I owed a lot of money, talent was unpaid. I was just fucked, and I wasn't sure how to get out of it. I knew I still had a show planned for August and I was thinking, “I can’t run a show while people are still owed money”.

Pain in the Park was up next and you had advertised The Hurricane to appear, so I guess having a rather big name import was still the mentality at this stage? Why did this event not go to plan? Was it because of the financial fallout from New Divide? Hurricane had been booked for a while before The New Divide, but this wasn't going to be a massive show by any means. I wanted one guy. A mid-card import name that would draw interest. He hadn't been to the UK outside of WWE, and I thought his fee was ok for this show and wanted to run with it. Soon after the failings of The New Divide I knew I couldn't run another show. I had to focus on bills and wages from the last show before running another, so we cancelled.

What sort of debts were there still to sort, and was everyone refunded who pre-ordered tickets to Pain in the Park when it was cancelled? I had to pay wages to workers, payments to Mark Sloan for his entranceway, things like that. I hadn't really put the word out for Pain in the Pain, so not many tickets were sold. A few were, mind you, and they were nearly all refunded apart from two; but they were used for the next set of shows, which was agreed upon not long after I announced 1PW would return in December 2010.

Cancelling an event is obviously something that no promotion wants to do as it can impact reputation

massively. How much did you try to avoid this situation? In my head after The New Divide I knew it had to be cancelled and I had to accept it. No more avoiding bad situations: just look what happened at The New Divide. So I made the announcement pretty early on and made it known.

Around this time you noted that you didn’t think it was wise to run a promotion when you were losing too much money. How much money are we talking here, Danny? Are we talking an amount that can potentially put the company out of business, and what were your thoughts about how to regain this amount? It was a lot of money I had lost. It’s funny: in the 1PW book that was wrote, it was made out that I was a "money mark". I had all this money to spare. In reality I was just sensible with it at the time. I had money saved and I saw an opportunity to make more money so ran with it. In terms of what I lost, it's in the tens of thousands of pounds. I believed I had to get to work again quick and make money to pay back the debt that was owed. I was thinking that maybe I'd see where it ends up a few months or a year down the line. October 2010 came around, and I had messaged Mark Sloan and every worker out of the blue and gave them their money. I know everyone thought they wouldn't ever see their wage from the The New Divide, and that I would never been seen again, but that was not the case. Everybody apart from Dave Mastiff was paid. He got sent a cheque and sent it back ripped in half as he didn't want a cheque. He wouldn't send me his bank details, so he was never paid. In fairness, the way he spoke to my mum at the The New Divide I wasn't going to go out of my way to pay him. I'd made an effort and it was thrown back, so fuck him.

Join us again next month, when Danny Rodd opens up about the Shawn Michaels affair, public perception of his business dealings and the ultimate implosion of Britain’s most controversial wrestling company!

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Swotting up:

WWE

TEXT By Mike McGrath -Bryan

STRENGTHS The Machine: WWE is the number-one company in professional wrestling for good reason - Vince McMahon and crew have spent 30-odd years identifying income streams and tailoring his product to suit them. From cable television and pay-per-view changing the WWF’s narrative, to the dawn of social media and mobile phone apps creating a constant presence in people’s everyday media intake, WWE has been ahead of the curve from the beginning, emphasizing slick production values and changing the definition of professional wrestling.

Pop-Culture: An obsession with becoming a mogul in some industry, any industry, has driven Vince McMahon to create an empire filled with

unforgettable athletes and personalities that were ready for crossover to Hollywood, mainstream television and beyond. Breaking from the wrestling tradition of creating serious bad-ass athletes and brawlers, the WWE’s Superstars down through the years have become heroes and familiar faces to millions, with the childhoods of generations of fans and casual observers marked by the WWF/WWE’s biggest moments and stories. From the Hulkamaniacs and little Warriors, to nu-metal-listening Austin and Rock fans, everyone has had their “wrestling phase”. Some of us have been lucky enough to stay there. But for a sure sign of the WWF’s impact on a generation, one need only see the outpouring of tributes and nostalgia on social media from the mainstream when news of Randy Savage’s

WEAKNESSES

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death broke.

The Place To Be: Despite all of the drawbacks of working in WWE, the time on the road, the creative restraints, the apparent clashes between talent and corporate culture, and the demands it makes of individuals on and off-screen, being the top company in the game and having the relative beginnings of a multimedia mainstay at its disposal can do wonders for your recruitment drives. WWE remains the place to be for every professional wrestler in Western culture, and an increasing swathe of workers in traditionallystrong territories like Mexico and Japan are looking toward Titan Towers for their big opportunity.

Youth Problems: Despite having an

Lack of Direction: In WWE, the idea

absolute surplus of talent in its ranks at any given time in the last thirty years, a machine like WWE, much like major record labels, Hollywood, or the likes of EA, is a big operation, whose size alone makes it hard to steer in new directions quickly unless under titanic pressure. The reluctance to create new, serious main-event stars is typified in the list of breakout headliners made in the last ten years. John Cena and C.M. Punk are the only guys that can carry the company at present, and Punk wasn’t even a WWE creation. With Ryback, Curtis Axel, Sin Cara and others falling flat, and a whole generation of mid-carders stuck at station thanks to stop-start booking, it’s evident that WWE’s Performance Centre comes along at the right time, yet is still at the mercy of management’s fickle attention span.

when booking is that anyone can change the channel within a few seconds of losing interest, so focus is always on the short-term, and nothing really means anything. The Nexus angle failed because of this, so did the Punk pipebomb angle when Vince got greedy and brought him back two weeks after his career performance and sacrificed him to Kevin Nash, etc. Remember when the Miz and R-Truth went on about a conspiracy? How awesome for continuity that would have been if that same conspiracy had gone on to deprive Punk of victories and given him something to fight, only to be unveiled as the McMahons and the old Kliq pulling the strings Illuminati-style? That would have made Punk Austin-over, and made main-eventers of Miz and Truth. Alas, that would make sense. Granted, three or four months of foresight are possible, like

with Bryan-Orton, but there’s no call for not having a plan for everyone and making the show worth staying tuned in for.

PG: Times have changed and shock television is over. This is not a call for the second Attitude era, but some of the content restrictions (blood, language) simply do not suit any convincing sort of wrestling. Meanwhile, while families are turning up at live shows and buying toys, they’re not swelling TV ratings, PPV and home video sales that have been lost since the end of the Monday night wars, and even the usuallytrusty videogame revenues are down due to licensors THQ & 2K prioritising nostalgia and catalogue content over current names and faces. Even a PG-13 rating would allow talent more freedom to speak in relatable terms, alongside the upcoming changes to improvisation in promos and matches...


FEATURES

OPPORTUNITIES New Management: The switch to Stephanie McMahon and Triple H that’s ongoing in WWE finally brings some new blood to the top, and more importantly, some stability, as Steph pursues Vince’s beloved corporate end of business, while Triple H intends to book the show in the old NWA style, building around the title and hyping both legit athletes and worthwhile characters. NXT has progressed well under Triple H’s watch, to become WWE’s most rewatchable weekly show, and bodes well for the future of the big show, when Paul finally gets the reins.

New Media: The company’s grasp of new technology has so far played to its advantage, and as integration between television, online streaming and mobile/tablet apps becomes more integral to content delivery, watch as WWE marches with the times, both with main wrestling shows and short-form secondary content. Pioneering paid online rights deals and second-screen experiences is right at home with the company’s previous innovations. Look for this knack for content to continue.

New Markets: The world is shrinking, and

business, but as we’ve seen in the past, when they get lazy or over-confident, there’s always someone at their heels, ready to strike and exploit their weaknesses. New ideas, new talent and new creative directions need to be priority at all times, to keep the curators of professional wrestling in the West, and thus wrestling as a mainstream artform, fresh and relevant, such is the burden of dominating any industry.

fresh and current to culture and events is key to the entertainment industry, while in the international markets WWE so treasures, native forms of pro wrestling are still vastly more popular and better able to put up a fight than, say, the UK in the late eighties. Asia in particular will be tough as New Japan’s continental expansion is already underway and striking a chord in Taiwan and Singapore, while NJPW’s search for Chinese television is allegedly nearing closure. Which leads to…

Competition: WWE is entertainment, and not just in the ring. As such, it’s beset on all sides by the attention and dollar of potential fans being stolen away by UFC, boxing, movies, mainstream television, and to a lesser extent, indie wrestling and Monday Night American football. Keeping

Sports-Entertainment: While creating a huge new form of entertainment with a mashup of cartoon heroes and solid wrestling fundamentals was key to WWE’s success in the 1980s, said strategy isn’t doing it in 2013, as we see with

WWE booking itself into a corner with John Cena. We live in an era of MMA and boxing dominating PPV, and indie promotions garnering cottage-industry traction, while more serious puro and lucha styles continue to prosper on iPPV platforms. WWE’s supposed changes upcoming in its developmental and in-ring styles may not be enough in the face of other athletic disciplines and a potential split of audiences in favour of smaller and international shows by the time HHH takes control. WWE needs to absorb the best aspects of MMA’s grappling and submissions, boxing’s big-fight atmosphere, and, say, puro’s emphasis on a wrestler’s fighting will to rebuild its pro-wrestling into something more respectable and current.

thanks to WWE’s excellent international television coverage, demand is hot everywhere, with recent years seeing expansions into emerging markets like Brazil, the Middle East, China, India and Russia. Tours, merch licensing and home video are all burgeoning sectors for growing companies, and expect WWE to capitalise on the shock of the new in these markets over the next few years.

THREATS Complacency: WWE is the major name in the

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UK WRESTLING

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BREAKING NEWS WITH PAUL FAHEY

In the first instalment of Breaking NEWS I touched on setting up the business, advice I received from people and the first show. These things will be the focus of this instalment.

shores, were not only happy to help me but they were keen for me to listen to their words of wisdom so they could ensure I was doing things in the right way.

Crash Course

It’s an approach I always adopted when the time came for people to ask me for advice. I don’t want to name names for fear of missing someone out and offending them, but those who helped me know who they are and know how grateful I will always be for their assistance over the years. There is quite an unofficial fraternity of reputable promoters who constantly keep in touch, discussing talent, promotional methods, booking ideas, etc. and I was lucky enough to give and receive help to and from many such promoters over the years.

When setting up the business I knew I had enough contacts in wrestling to get the advice I needed on that side of things. What I needed was advice on how to set up and run a business. I was lucky to find an excellent business advisor at East Durham Business Service, who had weekly meetings with me to discuss my plans and options and helped me produce an interesting business plan which helped me obtain important funding. Over a period of months Dave – the business consultant – and I discussed everything in great detail. The meetings were always interesting, as Dave educated me on business practises and I gave him a crash course in independent professional wrestling. I am pretty sure he learnt as much from me as I did from him, although I am not sure what he learnt from was as important or vital as the things he taught me! The advice I received from Dave was priceless and really helped me be realistic in my plans and made sure I didn’t overlook essential set up costs. The next step was seeking advice from those within the industry. There will always be promoters out there who are very territorial and protective of their local area, but in my experience I have often found such promoters to be those who are insecure and fear any competition. The promoters I tapped into for advice, some of the best promoters on our GE PA62

Nothing would make me happier than to see all the poorly ran groups across the UK disappear to leave companies like NGW, Future Shock, Southside, PBW and a handful of others to run all the shows throughout the UK. And that’s without even mentioning the legendary All Star Wrestling, which has operated nationwide successfully for over 40 years.

Being The Boss The first show came around very quickly. I had acquired the talent I needed, almost exclusively through people I had worked with at wZw. The one exception, Cameron Kraze, was someone I had enjoyed watching at 3CW where he had risen to be their main antagonist and Prince Mohmed Ameen, his partner in crime at 3CW, was insistent about me adding him to the NEWS roster. This was a decision I never regretted during the time NEWS operated. The only doubt


UK WRESTLING

in terms of things I could control going into the show in was how to handle the talent on show day. I had many doubts around things I couldn’t control such as ticket sales, and my doubts proved to be built on solid ground... but more about that in a moment.

story short, I sold 42 tickets for my first show and I knew 37 members of the audience personally! Having opted to do the ring announcing myself to save one more wage I discovered that I am possibly the worst ring announcer in the UK!

I was confident in the approach I intended when it came to dealing with talent, but sought help from my first boss in wrestling to see if I was on the right tracks. I have managed football teams at various levels from youth to semi professional, so I was used to dealing with a collection of big personalities and strong characters at the same time, and I wanted to take the same no nonsense approach I had in football with the wrestlers. I ran this by my mentor who agreed that I should be assertive from the start, explain the rules of my shows to them and ensure they were clear in my instructions from day one.

It is certainly something I haven’t done since and won’t ever do again. The show itself was a creative success, entertaining all 42 attendees and setting the scene nicely for our second show. The attendance there would increase to just under treble figures with maybe 35-40 people returning from the first show, but more on that next month..

In football I had always been firm but fair; approachable but decisive and, at times, stubborn. I figured if I appeared just happy to be there like the stereotypical “money mark”, the roster would quickly try to walk all over me. Instead, I called a meeting when the entire roster for the show arrived and advised them of my intentions for NEWS and how I planned on operating as a promoter. It seemed to work and I always felt respected while running NEWS. If I wasn’t then people must have said such things behind my back, because I never felt out of control as NEWS boss. I never felt like I had to butter up any wrestlers, nor did I ever feel like someone else was dictating my actions. The talent I used always did what was asked and always appeared comfortable offering advice and input into how to make NEWS better. Heading into that first show, I got my first taste of promoting shows, and how unsuccessful, draining and costly they can be. To cut a long GE PA63


COLUMNS

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Keeping life sweet! With the Blossom Twins

“This is a column on all things Blossom, sn ippets from the road and where our wrestli ng journey has taken us so far!”

Hannah and Holly Blo ssom Age: 25 Hometown: Stockport England Current location: Loui sville Kentucky. OVW Lei D Tapa has been our toughest oppone nt yet here at OVW It seems now she ha ! s her eyes set on th e Knockouts over on Impact. Don’t miss her path to dominat ion as she makes everyone in her way bow down by tuning in to Impact on Spike TV every Thursday ni ght at 9/8c and Chall enge TV in the UK at 9pm every Sunday !

Climbing the Ladder

Hendrix and Lei D Tapa, made Last month we, alongside Taeler W. It es 4-Way Ladder Match” at OV history in the first ever “Ladi y eers and is something we are ver has to be a highlight in our car der g up watching some amazing lad proud of. We remember growin z. Boy rdy Ha stlers at the time The matches with our favourite wre t there and have a match like tha It was a great feeling to get in girls are made of! of our own and show what us incredible moment to be the one Hannah: For me also, it was an ome the new OVW women’s to make it to the top and bec were The crowd at the Davis arena Champion for the second time! ut! like that are what it’s all abo awesome that night. Moments

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Nutrition

Knowhow

This mon th’s Nut rition/ Training tips are a ll about eating un -processe d and simple fo od along w it Mental s tate of m h your ind and being foc used! Che ck it out here https://w ww.faceb ook.com/ TheUltim ateNutrit ionPhilosophy


COLUMNS , CM UST watch!!!! s like John Cena ar st ch su r This month’s M fo ng ground on. These on and on and being the breedi go of d t ul as co bo t n lis ca e OVW es.... th Michael Hayes,

livencia, on, Mickie Jam such as Jamin O s nt of this Punk, Randy Ort le ta le ib ed s only one out of incr e’ e er m th ho e ut B th . ’s w it days, name a fe only is he Paredyse. Not Ali Vaez, just to is d t an ha T ry : er any ss T ce in ob R it! If you watch valicious, pop pr of di t c, ou ti ed ac al nt rg le te ta your world, in is seriously ings and beyond e ring, but he en th op s in as ng ck ni ki ai e rt shirts ente e guy behind th ome posters, tth es ’s aw he y , el on em ti tr uc sure to OVW prod hind the ex below and make He’s the guy be l . ne os an de vi ch e n io ub T at imagin out his You s. So go check gn si de D V D d an sexoxo witter @paredy follow him on T

Treat of the month

our healthy and yummy recipes in new up ing ipp wh n bee e hav This month we : French Toast ipe is our treat for the month rec y lth hea so not e On ot. crockp ds and, well, usly how we love breakfast foo casserole. We mentioned previo g it as . This is a simpler way of makin list the of top the at is st French Toa let it cook for rything into the crockpot and eve ow thr is do to e hav you wake all bed and leave it on low and you to go you ore bef it ke Ma a few hours. just don’t tell our brother!! up to a delicious breakfast...shhh

, h t n o m t ex ly l n o l i H Unt h and a n n a H

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MATT STRIKER’S

WRESTLING LESSONS Ever notice how a superstar goes from loved to disliked many times throughout their careers? As we get to know and invest emotionally in our favourite wrestlers we develop a relationship with them. Over the course of those relationships , much like our relationships in real life, we have ups and downs. The best relationships in our lives have a good emotional connection, and with a good emotional connection comes real, true feelings. When I first started to wrestle people would often ask whether I was a “good guy or a bad guy “. I never had an answer. I always knew that within the first few minutes of watching me wrestle, or speak, people would automatically know if I was someone they liked or disliked. Naturally. I never chose a direction. I always just wrestled or spoke however my current mood had dictated. Even at times, when people would suggest or direct me to be “more” of a good guy or a bad guy, I always felt most comfortable allowing my natural tendencies to impact the viewer. If more wrestlers would be natural, instead of trying too hard to be liked or disliked, the fans will, if nothing else, have more respect for the athlete and for the sport in general. GE PA66


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In society, the same applies. If you go back into the annals of wrestling’s rich history, there are many colourful characters that stand out... but try and think back to the stars that you never questioned in their authenticity. Did anyone ever question that WWE Hall of Famer Bob Backlund is really, truly, a kind, honest and dedicated man? Did anyone ever question if WWE Hall of Famer Harley Race was genuinely a tough, hard-nosed individual? The legendary “Fit” Finlay is world renowned for being tough. No one ever questioned the authenticity of this assumption. Those that did only helped to further the legend. The younger generation of today, and even a large percentage of the older generations, are drawn to someone such as John Cena because of his undeniable charisma, presence and passion. You can’t fake the passion that Cena brings to everything he does. You cannot fake the feeling inside when watching Fit Finlay that confirms for you that what you are seeing is indeed the genuine article. Now, I use Cena as an example because he is such a polarizing figure. So many adore John Cena and still many loathe him. Why? John Cena has the ability - the natural ability - to elicit a real emotion from a fan - independent of whether it is negative or positive- it is authentic... and authentic emotion will forever attract us- especially in a world where everything is at our fingertips in a blink of an eye. A musician once said : “If it looks good, you’ll see it. If it sounds good, you’ll hear it. If it’s marketed right, you’ll buy it. But... If it’s real... you’ll feel it.” Technology has yet to find a way to recreate real, true, emotion. For this we turn to the beautiful and authentic living breathing art that is professional wrestling, that when done right, can never be mistaken Now, bugger off! GE PA67


PURO

[THE LOWDOWN // UK WRESTLING// FEATURES//INDIE //REVIEWS//COLUMNS]

Welcome to Puro: Part 2 TEXT BY JAMES SIMPSON

Last time James Simpson gave a brief history lesson on early puroresu: the stars, the promotions, the classic bouts. Now, in part II, he takes a look at what is considered a golden era of Japanese wrestling, its decline and potential rise from the ashes that all happened within the past 20 years...

Becoming Greatness Keiji Mutoh struggled at first. Turning pro in 1984, the young man was a certain jerker and job boy for NJPW. Apart from a very brief IWGP Tag Team Championship reign he didn’t accomplish much. Going on a ‘learning excursion’ come the end of the eighties Mutoh would re-invent himself as The Great Muta. Finding success in the still powerful NWA, the face painted mistspewing oriental star made a big impact on the fans. New Japan, in early 1990, decided they wanted Mutoh back as he was ‘ready’ to rise to the top.

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Mutoh would quickly cement his place in the main events, along with friends Masa Chono and Shinya Hashimoto, by wrestling in a series of now-classic bouts. In the summer of 1992 Mutoh would officially become top dog in New Japan by winning the prestigious G1 Climax tournament and the IWGP Heavyweight Championship within a matter of days. The fact Mutoh won the top NJPW belt by defeating legend Riki Choshu gave his title win a ‘passing of the torch’ like vibe which fans took note of.

It would be Mutoh and his friends at the top of NJPW for quite some time. They feuded over championships and were in high-profile matches. The IWGP Championship became one of the most important titles in wrestling as a result. Mutoh held the belt for over a year at one point and Hashimoto had two runs in excess of a year each. But it was Keiji gaining the most fame as he still ‘wowed’ US audiences as The Great Muta from time to time. His experience led to him gaining an understanding of ‘sports entertainment’ that allowed him to tweak his performances and mannerisms. It also gave him a grasp on the finer points of creating heat with a crowd, something he honed perfectly.

Legends in Decline Mutoh joined the New Japan Pro Wrestling version of the new World order in 1997. Now a heel, he became part of the hottest angle in wrestling at that point. It breathed new life into the Great Muta character and allowed him to stay at the top of the card. Mutoh knew the importance of

changing his act into order to maintain longevity. However, by 2000, he returned to WCW a shadow of his former self in an attempt to recapture some of the old magic. While fans were pleased to see the Great Muta, it wasn’t the same as his glory days a decade before. Muta was showing his age as his thick black hair thinned and he struggled to work his regular high spots due to worn down knees. The only highlight was a short run with the WCW World Tag Team Championship alongside Vampiro. Muta had disappeared by the end of the year and headed back to Japan. Many thought his days as a top performer were over, but 2001 would be the year Keiji Mutoh proved the expression “You cant teach an old dog new tricks” was way off the mark in relation to him. To explain what allowed Mutoh such an impressive comeback the history of All Japan Pro Wrestling during the 1990’s has to be explored. In August 1992 the former Tiger Mask II Mitsuharu Misawa reached the top of the mountain in AJPW by defeating Stan Hansen for the


PURO Triple Crown Championship. This cemented his place as the top star in that company. Misawa would hold the title many times during the rest of the decade with lengthy reigns. His matches were the talk of the industry and won numerous awards or were nearly always rated 5 stars out of 5. His feuds with Stan Hansen, Toshiaki Kawada and, especially, Kenta Kobashi helped guide All Japan into a golden era. During this success AJPW owner and former top star Giant Baba was in decline. He took a backseat while Misawa and co. thrilled crowds at every show. In early 1999 Baba died of cancer at the age of 61. This left his widow now in charge of All Japan. For the first year or so it seemed things were still as they were for the company. Then Misawa, the guy who fans adored, left the promotion and he wasn’t alone...

The Shining Wizard In June 2000 All Japan Pro Wrestling was crippled by a mass talent walk out. Nearly every name wrestler joined a disgruntled Misawa as he quit to go create his own wrestling company. Pro Wrestling NOAH was born. It left Giant Baba’s promotion in serious trouble and in need of serious star power. They reached out to stars who had previously been blacklisted by Baba such as Genichiro Tenryu or top talent of other promotions. This led to the new look Mutoh ‘invading’ AJPW (after returning to NJPW in January) and beating Tenryu in a classic

match for the once prestigious Triple Crown Championship. Keiji was riding high thanks to yet another career overhaul, and the invention of the Shining Wizard, as he and Taiyo Kea won the AJPW Double Tag titles months later, then the IWGP tag Championship just days after that. Mutoh now had a massive gold haul of 6 championship belts. He then shocked many by jumping to All Japan full time and becoming its new president. He had gone from top dog in New Japan to the most powerful man in its rival company. While this was happening Misawa and his NOAH were quickly getting bigger and bigger. Their early shows were the talk of the business. Junior heavyweight stars such as Naomichi Marufuji and KENTA complimented a stacked main event scene with the likes of Kenta Kobashi and Jun Akiyama. Within years, NOAH was staging supershows with tens of thousands of fans attending, witnessing classic wrestling like Kobashi vs Misawa in March 2003. Many of its stars would go the world over and gain critical praise. Takeshi Morishima wowed Ring of Honor with brilliant bouts against Bryan Danielson and Nigel McGuinness. Even Kobashi would travel to the States and have a brutal battle with Samoa Joe. NOAH looked as if it were ready to surpass All Japan as ‘#2’ for a period. But Misawa would not let go of his top star as he felt no other

wrestler on the roster was capable of carrying the company (apart from Kobashi, but he was mainly injured). It led to many feeling NOAH needed new stars and fresh talent in the top spots and business began to drop. Scandals broke, claiming the group was involved with the Japanese Mafia, and they lost their TV slot. Then, when things seemed there most bleak, it got worse...

All Change Mitsuharu Misawa died in the middle of the ring during a tag team match in June 2009. It was just days before his 47th birthday. One of his opponents, Akitoshi Saito, gave him a back suplex and his spinal cord snapped. Years of in-ring damage had taken the ultimate toll on Misawa. NOAH was now without its top star and business became even worse. Attendance dropped, they struggled with various cash flow issues and they had no top dog. They could no longer afford to pay its biggest stars and had to let some go, whilst others quit in disgust. Jun Akiyama, Atsushi Aoki, Kotaro Suzuki , Go Shiozaki and Yoshinobu Kanemaru all joined All Japan. While this seemed a massive coup for AJPW, another mass talent walk out awaited them, too. With Mutoh in charge of All Japan, even becoming coowner for nearly a decade, they were struggling themselves. Attendance and ratings were down. They had issues with creating new main eventers

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and had a weak undercard. Keiji resigned as president in 2011. A year later he and the other share holders were bought out by Speed Partners who had big plans to finally shake up the promotion. Mutoh was not happy with his treatment and rumours began that he would leave and create his own wrestling group much like Misawa in 2000. In spring 2013 the former Great Muta bought out his own contract and attained financial backing for his own company. Many other AJPW workers did the same, amongst a lot of controversy, with names like Minoru Tanaka, Koji Kanemoto

and Kaz Hayashi all leaving. By the summer Keiji and countless others had walked out in order to be part of Japan’s newest promotion: Wrestle 1. New Japan, meanwhile, had been on shaky ground for some time after Keiji Mutoh left. Owner Antonio Inoki became obsessed with shoot fighters (‘real’ wrestlers) and started using them way too much on his shows. The likeable big lug Bob Sapp was pushed as a mega star and the dreadful Kazuyuki Fujita was made champion a few times. Genuine talent like Yuji Nagata had to take a back seat to this MMA love fest. Control was wrestled away from Inoki and,

after a few years, NJPW got back on track. Super workers like Shinsuke Nakamura and Hiroshi Tanahashi were having classic matches in the main events, whilst new Junior heavyweight stars such as Prince Devitt and Kota Ibushi made the undercard must-see. Wrestle Kingdom was established, the biggest show of the year for New Japan. Even new owners couldn’t stop the progress as Bushiroad gave them a vital cash injection. New Japan is in a stable and secure place that many fans hope will give birth to a new ‘golden era’ while its rivals are on shaky ground.

Puro Classics If this has gotten your attention, do find out for yourself the complex, but fantastic, history of Puroresu.

Genichiro Tenryu vs Keiji Mutoh (June 2001, All Japan) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PS1yA7OWfM8

Mitsuharu Misawa vs Kenta Kobashi (March 2004, NOAH) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1CyGiX1TtQ

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TEXT BY sara

h leach

FEATURES

GUILTY PLEASURES

They say like life is like a box of chocolates, because you never know what you are going to get, and nothing could be closer to the truth when it comes to the wonderful world of WWE. Some of the strangest character ideas have been thought up in the creative department of the WWE, and many of them have made it into the wrestling ring. Of all of the guilty pleasures that there are in the wrestling universe, none stand out quite like one man. Eugene.

Ultimate Underdog Eugene first appeared as Eric Bischoff’s not too intelligent and overly excited nephew back in 2004. He won his first match on Raw, and soon went on to feud with Jonathan Coachman, further helping to sell Coachman’s heel status. The feud was petty, and even The Rock was brought out to sell it to the fans. As time went on though, it became clear that the fans wanted to see more of Eugene. Hulk Hogan, The Rock, and Kurt Angle were all involved in selling this newly popular character to the WWE Universe.

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With his messy hair, hand me down wrestling attire and childlike personality, he was the ultimate underdog, and the last man you would bet on in a fight. However, and perhaps surprisingly, it was not long before fans were chanting his name and rooting for him to win. Eugene was quickly paired with William Regal, and a more unlikely duo has never been seen. Despite Regal’s apparent initial displeasure, he could not help warming to Eugene just like the rest of us. It was with William Regal that Eugene won his first and only

championship belt when they beat La Résistance on the November 15 episode of Raw for the World Tag Team Championship. This victory was as far as the writers were allowing Eugene in terms of holding championship gold, although you cannot help thinking about what would have happened had they decided to give him a championship title all to himself. Whilst it would have been easy for wrestling fans to immediately dismiss him as a creative decision gone bad, there was something about Eugene that kept fans wanting more. There was something they could identify

with, and that was a love of wrestling. The boyhood dream of being a wrestler and wishing to be in the same ring as the stars you look up to is something that many fans know well. We all know that it takes dedication, hard work and skill to become a Superstar, and Eugene did it, albeit in his unconventional way. He did not have his own finishing moves, but instead used those of his wrestling heroes. There was the suspense in wanting him to win; doubting that he would and wondering whose finishing move he would use to gain victory. There was something in his childlike attitude towards his heroes and the disbelief at being in the same ring


FEATURES Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

as them that resonated with fans who grew up loving wrestling and would have given anything to be in that position. He was also a shining example to the younger generation of fans who in today’s world are only too aware of the slim chance of making those dreams a reality. Eugene never ran away from a fight and always faced an opponent with nothing more than the determination to do his best and have a go. He even faced Kane with this attitude. GM for the Day Eugene wanted to believe that everyone was good, even when the truth was clearly very different. There was no ego or boasting of his success: in fact Eugene always seemed pleasantly surprised by the whole series of events. Each win was as much of a shock to him as it was to the fans. Part of what drew fans to Eugene was the fact that he clearly did not come across as a trained wrestler, although Nick Dinsmore who brought the character to life has had a wide ranging pro wrestling career and is currently under employment by WWE as a trainer. He was not the smoothest in the ring, and was probably the most easily distracted What Eugene lacked in technical elegance and prowess in the ring, he sure made up for with enthusiasm. There was no grace or technique to his style, just heart and determination, though it ought to be said that perhaps his less than intelligent demeanour could have been used

as WWE’s marketing gimmick for their ‘Don’t try this at home kids’ adverts. There was an obvious comic element to the character that the creative team clearly had a field day with. Just when you thought that you had seen it all, Eugene was made General Manager for the day. This was Eugene’s chance to shine, and indeed he did. From making Superstars such as Ric Flair and Chris Jericho play musical chairs to setting up his office in a bouncy castle, which led to footage of Triple H being forced to hop around in the bouncy castle in order to convince Eugene to let him have his match, it was constant fun for Eugene. The humorous scenarios between Triple H and Eugene built up until things reached an obvious turn of events. The run up to his feud with Triple H was utterly predictable; and it was only a matter of time until The Game tired of Eugene and revealed his true colours to him. The charm and naivety of Eugene, though, meant that this betrayal was more shocking than many of the others that had gone before it. Eugene’s very nature meant that he always wore his heart on his sleeve, and the mix of sadness and anger was more than apparent. This battle of David and Goliath had the fans thoroughly on Eugene’s side, and they were along with him for every move of the match. By the time that the match was over, Eugene was a bloody mess and The Game’s heel status was firmly secured in place.

Following the feud with Triple H, and an absence from the ring due to an on screen injury, Eugene made his triumphant return to face his “Uncle Eric”, with William Regal by his side. This feud led to a match at the first Taboo Tuesday, in which the fans chose the stipulation. In true WWE style, the fans chose the stipulation for the match was that the loser would have his head shaved. Eugene’s hair was pretty crazy, so he may not have minded too much, but Eric Bishoff did not seem too pleased with the outcome, as Eugene beat him with a little help from Mr McMahon. On the plus side, it did allow Eric to stop using the Just for Men, which must’ve saved him a small fortune... Eugene was also featured in a comedy vignette promoting WrestleMania 21, parodying Forrest Gump, and also made a surprise appearance at WrestleMania 21, delivering a trademark Eugene promo before being interrupted by controversial heels Hassan and Daivari. This was the prelude to the much anticipated return of Hulk Hogan, who came to the ring to save Eugene from the double-team beating, which naturally was followed by an extended period of flexing and posing. The use of Hogan was a sure sign that Eugene’s days were numbered. It was clear from the start the Eugene was a character that did not have a long shelf life. There was only so much that the writers could do with him, and it was inevitable that at some point he would be replaced with fresh talent. In essence, Eugene was the Forrest Gump of professional wrestling – the unlikely hero made good. But instead of shouts of ‘Run Forrest run!’, fans were chanting Eugene’s name. By August 2007, Eugene’s time was up. The gimmick had run its course and he was phased out of WWE programming. He may be gone, Eugene will not be forgotten. He will always be one of Total Wrestling’s guilty pleasures. Thanks for the memories, Eugene.

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INDIE

[THE LOWDOWN // UK WRESTLING// FEATURES//IURO //REVIEWS//COLUMNS]

TEXT BY CHRIS GST

Weight and Height: Bill at 190 lbs. (86 kg) at 5’11’’ (1.80 m) Birthplace: Panama City Beach, Florida (United States of America) Date of Birth: July 5th, 1989 Debut: June 21, 2008

Training: Trained at the Combat Zone Wrestling Wrestling Academy by Jon Dahmer and DJ Hyde in November 2007, despite still being a high school senior, Cole made his CZW debut at No Pun Intended on June 21, 2008, teaming with The Reason in a loss to GNC (Joe Gacy and Alex Colon), before wrestling at the Chri$ Ca$h Memorial Show that September, where he battled Tyler Veritas in what was billed as a “CZW Wrestling Academy Showcase”.

Promotions Worked For:

Titles Held:

CZW, ROH, PWG, BJW, ECWA, PWX, IWA Mid South, MCW, wXw (Germany), and many more.

MCW Rage Television Title 2010/02/27 - 2010/07/31 CZW Junior Heavyweight Title 2010/05/08 - 2011/11/12 ROH Television Title 2012/06/29 - 2013/03/02 PWX Heavyweight Title 2012/11/30 - 2013/02/23 NHPW Art of Fighting Title 2013/08/23 - 2013/08/24 PWG World Title 2012/12/01 - now ROH World Title 2013/09/20 - now

Summary Adam Cole is one of the most sought-after talents in the world. He is the World Champion for two top promotions in PWG and ROH. He is also part of a stable called Suplex Wrestling which includes Zack Sabre Jr. and Dan Mastiff. According to ProFightDB.com he has a 46 (44.66%) win record in ROH, a 12 (66.67%) in PWG, and 38 (61.29%) in CZW (the first number is the number of matches won). Adam Cole is for sure a star on the rise and has had interest from the WWE in the past. Having recently resigned with ROH, he is a talent that deserves all of our attention. GE PA74

Adam Cole

I n d i e Fact Fi le


INDIE

ON THE ROAD WITH

THE BLACKPOOL BLONDS

Each month we take you down dark lanes and fast motorways of Great Britain with the UK’s hottest tag team, The Blackpool Blonds. Two weeks ago. Whilst coming back from Wales, I decided to take a different route back. It wasn’t long till I deeply regretted this move. My sat nav missed the steep hills as I had hoped, but instead took me four miles down an extremely tight country “road” that was coated in thick fog, with Zack telling me how this scenery was similar to the latest Evil Dead movie and Axl stressing out about how my fuel Light just flicked on. It took just took a second to think “yep, we’re going to die... After 10-15 long, gruelling and

ridiculously petrifying minutes there was the light: there was the light at the end of the tunnel, thank God. Never in my life have I been so happy to see a duel carriage way! The next tale is one that happened over a year ago now. I know what you’re thinking: why am I reading about a road trip that’s not recent? Well, this tale is the most heart racing journeys of my entire life. August 21st 2012, Myself and Axl had a booking in Ryhl for All Star wrestling. The day was going smoothly and we had just set off with two hours to play around with in case we hit any traffic and oh my lord did we hit traffic!

After 5 minutes on the M6 we were forced to a stop after a lorry decided to tip over two lanes (luckily no one was hurt). Not only did we lose those 2 extra hours, but by the time we set off again, our scheduled time to arrive at Ryhl’s town hall was 7.30pm, Oh yes: I forgot to mention, the show start time was 7.30pm! Now I know what you’re thinking, it’s no big deal, just slip in through the back and everything will be fine! Well that’s what we had in mind until we got a phone call and our hearts sank. “What’s that? We’re on first?? Shit1!” To be continued...

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FEATURES

[THE LOWDOWN // UK WRESTLING// PURO//INDIE //REVIEWS//COLUMNS]

PODCAST CITY Text By Stu Rodgers

Support British Wrestling…NOT Just When An Import Comes In Each month, Podcast City hosts guest slots from podcasting legends from across cyberspace. This month: The Indy Corner! Oh British wrestling fans. Over at the Indy Corner podcast, Adam and I are big fans of the current British wrestling scene. We have some excellent wrestlers here, and there are a number of promotions that are drawing say from good to very good numbers, but there are some that are not drawing that well at all. Now, I am not a promoter or a wrestler – just a fan for over two decades – but some of these lesser drawing promotions are not that well-run and include wrestlers not trained or not trained very well at all. But there are many that are trained and put on a hell of a show to entertain the fans. I am not out here to berate anyone, as you can see by the title: I just want British fans to come out and support all the guys that work their behinds off in and out the ring on the many shows that take place here on our shores. I’ll often say on the podcast, whther I agree with a direction a promoter is booking his product or not is unimportant, because it’s their promotion and they need to do what they feel will draw

for them and if that means bringing in imports, be that current US indy guys, wrestlers from Japan or ex WWE/TNA guys, then so be it. My issue at this current time is, even though I am a fan of many of the indy guys brought over and I appreciate the Japanese guys that come over, I feel that the promotions who are pretty much using just the British guys are not getting the support they need. I really want the Britsh wrestling fans to come out and support British wrestlers on British shows. Don’t just come out when there is an import or two on the card! I know times are not great at the moment, but if you’re a British wrestling fan, come out and help the promotions and wrestlers because, believe me, they need your support.

FOLLOW us http://twitter.com/TheIndyCorner LIKE us http://facebook.com/TheIndyCorner LISTEN http://theindycorner.podomatic.com

Introducing... The Wrestling Mania The Wrestling Mania started in December 2012 as a project to cure site co-owner Dean Puckering's boredom during a two-week stay in hospital when he was hooked up to an IV drip and confined to an isolated room that strangely had a decent wi-fi connection! The site started life as a simple information website with title histories etc... until a chance conversation with some wrestling fans at a TNA taping in Manchester that lasted over five hours ended with drunken conversation about a podcast. Dean figured that he might be onto something with the podcast idea and invited the guys he met that night to appear on the very first show. The show was extremely amateur and very poorly produced but things improved week on week and continued until the crew started getting superstar guests. The big break came when an Ahmed Johnson interview in which he made some controversial comments went viral. Interviews with Lex Luger and Chris Jericho followed and after being contacted by a promoter in Kent, Dean brought in the now co-owner Michael Owen.

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That trip was extremely successful and laid the foundations for what TWM is today. More invites from promoters continued and at a FutureShock show in August where Jay Lethal was interviewed, Dean and Mike decided this was the way to go, and have been travelling around the UK interviewing wrestlers and covering shows ever since. The Wrestling Mania was also invited to the official launch party by 2K Sports and continues to go from strength to strength.

Check TWM out for yourself here: http://www.thewrestlingmania.com/


REVIEWS

http://twitter.com/TheIndyCorner

http://facebook.com/TheIndyCorner http://theindycorner.podomatic.com

The UK’s Number 1 Independent Wrestling Podcast

Snitch (2013) - On DVD/Blu-ray WRITTEN BY JAMES SIMPSON

The Snitch promotional poster is a little deceptive. It makes the film look like a typical Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson action-no-brainer. Snitch does have elements of the nice and easy action genre, but it is mainly about lead character John (The Rock) trying to be a good father in a very difficult situation.

Through Daniel (Bernthal), an ex-con trying to stay out of trouble, John gradually earns the trust of gang leader Malik (Michael Kenneth Williams) who in turn brings him close to a major player in the Mexican drug cartel (Benjamin Bratt). Desperate to free Jason, John’s already dangerous venture turns potentially deadly.

Dwayne puts forward a credible performance. It appears after years of acting ‘The Great One’ has finally reached a point where his experience on the big screen allows him to have a good range of expressions and emotions. Scenes where his character shows the strain of his son in prison are believable. Jon Bernthal is good too as he struggles with having to deal with his murky past in order to provide for his family. Susan Sarandon isn’t featured much, but earns her paycheck by doing her usual ‘drawl’ very well.

The direction of the film is highly innovative in places. Director Ric Roman Waugh has the camera right in the face of John as he finds himself in a potentially deadly scenario, which serves to enhance the actor’s performance. The brief action scene that closes the film is entertaining and will satisfy those wanting guns and explosions.

In a nutshell, John Matthews is a successful businessman whose estranged son Jason (Rafi Gavron) is arrested for drug trafficking when a friend couriers him illicit drugs without his knowledge. When Jason turns down an offer from the politically ambitious U.S. Attorney Joanne Keeghan (Sarandon) to reduce his sentence by manufacturing evidence against someone else, John begs the authorities to let him go undercover instead.

Overall, Snitch is surprisingly good. More than an action flick, it is also a drama, a thriller and a tale of a family in turmoil. Plus, there’s a 47 minute long ‘Making of’ extra which has plenty of talking heads and clips of the movie. There are also deleted scenes and a directors commentary available Buy it here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Snitch-DVD-Dwayne-Johnson/dp/ B00AW9M7NW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1381517369&sr=8-1&keywords=snitch

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REVIEWS

[ THE LOWDOWN//UK WRESTLING//FEATURES // PURO//INDIE //COLUMNS]

wwe battle ground review WRITTEN BY D.R WEBSTER

Doctor’s Diagnosis- A decent match with some good spots. It didn’t feel like a real hardcore match, but just like every other Extreme Rules match WWE has done in the PG Era. Also, there was no cash in for Damien Sandow, who they played up as suffering a knee injury in the pre-show match defeat against Dolph Ziggler. With RVD now gone for a break, Del Rio will move on to face John Cena at Hell in a Cell.

Santino Marella and The Great Khali w/ Hornswoggle v The Real Americans w/ Zeb Colter This match was what you would expect, with several comedy spots from Marella and some slow, stiff work from Khali. The only moment worthy of mentioning was the awesome big

from Raw, but at least The Real Americans won and are starting to get over as a team.

Intercontinental Title Match: Curtis Axel w/ Paul Heyman v R-Truth Axel spent a lot of time on the outside and the match had a slow pace from the get-go, with the most significant early move being Axel driving Truth into the barricade on the outside. Truth took control with a scissors kick and a front sitout suplex, before Axel turned the tide with a flapjack to the turnbuckle and nailed his neckbreaker finisher to end and retain the IC title. Doctor’s Diagnosis- Like the tag match before it, this match felt like something from Raw. The feud

From Extreme Rules to Summerslam, WWE had a great run of PPVs. It started to go downhill at Night of Champions, howere, and the slide continued with Battleground, in what was probably the worst PPV of the year so far.

Hardcore Match for the World Heavyweight Title: RVD w/ Ricardo Rodriguez v Alberto Del Rio A fast-paced match to open the show, which spilled to the outside with RVD hitting a nice moonsault from the barricade before a chair was introduced in a nice leapfrog DDT spot by Van Dam. The chair was the main weapon of choice in what felt like just a normal TV match with weapon attacks thrown in. RVD brought out a ladder, which was used sporadically in some decent spots, along with a trashcan. After trading signature spots and finishing moves, RVD went for a Van Terminator with the chair, but missed it, allowing Del Rio to take advantage, destroying Van Dam’s arm, which was wrapped in the steel chair, then locking in the cross armbreaker with the chair, forcing RVD to tap out to retain his title.

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swing from Cesaro to Khali in an amazing feat of strength. A memorable spot which thankfully gave The Real Americans the win.

had very little build-up, meaning most people didn’t care about it and the slow boring pace and predictable match didn’t help at all.

Doctor’s Diagnosis- Not sure how this one got on the card. The Primetime Players or The Usos should have faced The Real Americans to showcase the best of the tag division. This match was a waste of time and felt like a filler match

Diva’s Title Match: AJ Lee w/ Tamina Snuka v Brie Bella w/ Nikki Bella Brie started out going after AJ and controlled most of the action. The tide turned when AJ


REVIEWS smashed Brie off of the ring post in a hard shot, then went to work on Brie’s arm with several strikes and holds. Brie managed to mount a comeback and nailed her knee to AJ’s face and was about to set up her finisher until Tamina grabbed Nikki Bella on the outside, distracting Brie and allowing AJ to steal the victory with a rollup. Doctor’s Diagnosis- This match was more enjoyable than the previous two, with some decent in ring work – particularly from AJ. Brie is also improving. The crowd actually got involved here, and they got more reaction than Axel/Truth. This feud won’t end here, and I could see a tag match between AJ/Tamina and The Bellas at the next PPV.

The Shield w/ Dean Ambrose v The Rhodes Brothers w/ Dusty Rhodes The match started fast, with quick tags and offense from both teams until The Shield managed to isolate Cody Rhodes. The crowd were behind the Rhodes brothers, and Cody managed to tag his brother Goldust, who took control with some signature offense, even hitting a nice cross body from the top. After missing a running cross body, Goldust was almost counted out as The Shield took control again, before isolating Goldust until he managed to make a hot tag to Cody, who exploded on Reigns and Rollins, almost beating Rollins in two close falls. From there, the match then broke down. Ambrose distracted Cody to give Rollins the advantage, before Dusty got involved and nailed Ambrose with the bionic elbow in a great moment. Goldust took out Reigns and Cody finished off Rollins in ring with Cross Rhodes to a massive pop, winning their jobs back. Doctor’s Diagnosis- This match felt like a PPV quality match, with everything that came before it feeling like a pre-show warm-up. The feud had a great build, which made people care about the match and its outcome, and the match itself delivered. The storytelling was beautiful and the crowd were very much behind the underdog Rhodes family and popped big for the win in a defining moment of the new Corporation storyline.

Kofi Kingston v Bray Wyatt w/ Erick Rowan and Luke Harper Kingston got some offence in at the start of the

match with some kicks, but Wyatt took control early and brought the match to a slow pace. Kingston managed to take back control hitting his signature spots before trying for Trouble in Paradise, which Wyatt countered with a stiff modified spear, and then performed a creepy crab crawl like something from a horror film. After taking out the whole Wyatt Family with a flip over the top rope, Kingston set up Wyatt for SOS but got nailed with Sister Abigail out of nowhere for the three count. Afterwards, Rowan and Harper destroyed Kingston. Doctor’s Diagnosis- Again, not enough build for this match and, again, a come down from the previous match. It started slow, but ended with some decent spots and action, looking like like Kingston may at points have pulled off the victory. An average outing for both men in a match which hardly set the world alight.

Grudge Match: CM Punk v Ryback w/ Paul Heyman This match went back and forth with both men on equal ground in the early going. Punk had some initial success, but Ryback soon took control with his arsenal of power moves. Punk made a comeback and was setting up the GTS until Heyman got on the mic and distracted Punk by screaming about being “the best in the world”, allowing Ryback to take almost put Punk away with a powerbomb, Punk came back again and went for another GTS, which Ryback countered into a slam, Ryback then put Punk in between the ropes as Heyman went to use a kendo stick, but the referee caught Heyman, allowing Punk to low blow Ryback for the win. Doctor’s Diagnosis- I didn’t expect a lot from this match and didn’t get a lot from it. The

Heyman-Punk feud has cooled in recent weeks, and it looks like the end is near for the pair in the form of Hell In A Cell at the next PPV between Heyman/Ryback and Punk, with Punk moving on into the WWE Title scene.

WWE Championship Match: Daniel Bryan v Randy Orton After an annoying power cut delay, the main event began. Starting slow, with both men trading holds, the pace remained plodding for a while, before shifting gears when both grapplers started trading their signature spots with several close near falls. After around twenty minutes it looked like it Bryan was going to take the title after taking everything Orton had thrown at him and still managing to lock in the Yes! Lock. Then out came Big Show, firstly taking out the referee before he could end the match,

and looking broken while doing it. Bryan was hot at Show and started to scream at him, until Show knocked him out, which brought out Raw GM Brad Maddox. Maddox called out the previously fired official Scott Armstrong to screw Bryan, and Orton made the cover. Big Show had other ideas, pulling Armstrong out of the ring and nailing him with a KO Punch. Show then got in the ring and delivered a third KO Punch to an irate Orton. Amidst the chaos, the match came to an end with no new champion crowned. Doctor’s Diagnosis- A disappointing match with an even more disappointing finish. These two have had better matches previously, but this encounter took too long to heat up and didn’t fit well within a PPV full of filler matches and slow encounters. A bad end to an underwhelming PPV.

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REVIEWS

[ THE LOWDOWN//UK WRESTLING//FEATURES // PURO//INDIE //COLUMNS]

Triple H: Thy Kingdom Come WWE/Fremantle Media

Hunter Hearst Helmsley has had many home video releases detailing his career. Our Time (with Chyna) in 1999, That Damn Good in 2002 and The King of Kings in 2009 yet these titles always left the viewer feeling there should have been so much more. Thy Kingdom Come tries to rectify that. Disc one of the DVD release, concerns itself with a 2 hour long documentary on The Game’s life and career. Whilst insightful in places, such as with the footage of a young HHH starting off his career, it has many oversights and omissions. It could be argued as this is a video praising Triple H it can be excused for this. However, the WWE happily rewrite history in a document that is supposed to reflect history, not distort it. One prime example of this comes in the form of Chyna. While she is acknowledged in relation to Hunter’s career, the release plays down her role and ignores key factors as to why she was used in the first place. Hunter claims he and Shawn Michaels spotted her in a hotel in 1996 and talked Vince McMahon into hiring her. The truth is she was already in a relationship with HHH after they met at Killer Kowalski’s wrestling school. They were together for a lot of years and broke up after Triple H started an affair with Stephanie McMahon in late 2000 (after being an onscreen item for a year). The difficulties with Steph and Hunter seeing each over is covered, yet they say it was hard as she was the boss’ daughter, when at the time Chyna still being on the scene was the true issue. Based on Chyna’s fall from grace (most recently involved hardcore porn) WWE have conveniently forgotten her involvement to satisfy the egos of Hunter and Steph, and of course to make WWE appear squeaky clean for the ‘PG Era’. The documentary is brilliant in places, but the last 30 minutes undo all the hard work of the previous 90. The arse kissing on display when fellow wrestlers appear on screen to talk about HHH being such a good, hard working man now that he is in an office job at WWE and a father of three kids is blatant sycophantic behaviour of the highest order. Yes, he wants to be a good dad. Yes, he wants to be a good husband. But the truth is he clearly loves his new, powerful

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written by James Simpson

role in WWE as he is essentially second in command behind Vince McMahon. After years of politicking, manipulating and pulling of strings in order to stay at the top of the card Triple H is in his element now he has got his feet firmly under the table. Another issue is the glossing over of HHH’s ‘reign of terror’ from ‘02 – ‘05. More often than not he was the World Champion and burying any potential threats. The documentary mentions how he helped elevate Batista and Randy Orton, but fails to reflect on how Hunter derailed Randy’s momentum as champion in the summer of ‘04. The reformation of DX in 2006 is treated as if it were a laugh a minute thrill ride loved by all. The truth is the skits and ‘jokes’ used were horrible and appealed to the lowest common denominator of the fan base. The ‘extras’ on 2 discs of matches include a little seen WCW Saturday Night bout featuring Ricky Steamboat, which is entertaining – as is Helmsley vs Dude Love from One Night Only (September 1997). Hunter’s classic Iron Man match against The Rock from 2000 is included, which plays host to The Undertakers re-birth as the ‘American Badass’. His gripping Last Man Standing Match against Shawn Michaels from Royal Rumble ‘04 also makes for compelling viewing, but, unfortunately there are massive gaps between the bouts chosen (up to 3 years in some cases), which leaves the set feeling as if it isn’t a fair overview of his career. There are no matches from his first 2 years in the WWF, and neither are there any of the classic Hell in a Cell matches he had over the years. This, coupled with the brown nosing documentary, leaves the viewer feeling deflated and let down. Thy Kingdom Come starts off strong but finishes rather weak. Like earlier home video releases detailing Triple H’s career, this is nowhere near the release that diehard fans have been seeking for so long. Get it here: http://www.wwedvd.co.uk/triple-kingdom-comep-11766.html


REVIEWS

Goldberg: The Ultimate Collection WWE/Fremantle Media

It has been a long time since Goldberg made his pro wrestling 'debut' on September 22nd 1997 during an episode of WCW Monday Nitro (he actually wrestled on some house shows prior to this), and it's been over 10 since he joined WWE and had limited success there. But Goldberg’s popularity endures to this day and he still has that “big star” feel. Because of this Fremantle Media and WWE have released Goldberg: The Ultimate Collection. Bill Goldberg tore through WCW in record quick time. During the era of the ever-dominant nWo, it is amazing to think 'The Streak' was able to do such good business until established stars were threatened by the power of Goldberg and put an end to it (Kevin Nash becomes booker, makes himself the one to end the streak straight away, steals heat... selfish-booking 101). Goldberg's i mpressive win record is of course detailed, yet the set offers more than just matches from his undefeated period of Sept '97 – Dec '98. Disc one and two cover Bill from his debut until the closure of WCW. WWE have attempted to include matches that haven’t before been featured on home video releases, or may be little-seen by fans. This produces some interesting yet entertaining choices. Goldberg vs The Barbarian, just a week after The Streak began, is sloppy in places but shows 'Da Man' had more than just the Spear and Jackhammer in his move set. A match against Sting from a September 1998 episode of Nitro is thrilling. An ultra bloody battle against Sid Vicious from Halloween Havoc '99 is just brutal. The same can be said for a match against Scott Steiner from Fall Brawl 2000 (despite an appearance from the clueless Vince Russo). Disc three is all about Goldberg’s brief run in WWE from '03/'04. A lot of these bouts have been made available on plenty of releases so there is little in the way of 'forgotten gems'. A gripping cage match against Christian from May 2003 is a highlight. That Goldberg opted to leave WWE after Wrestlemania XX meant fans were denied a chance to see more at a time when he was finally becoming

written by James Simpson

comfortable within the promotion. As a result, his year spent there feels like a footnote to an otherwise noteworthy career.The set has its good points but feels more like a way to cash in on Goldberg’s remaining name value than a genuine effort to tell his story. There is no interview with the man himself, not even recycled footage, just an occasional clips package with 'serious voice-over man' saying something related to the footage shown. It could be argued this was done in order to cram more matches onto the collection. Could the very existence of the 'Ultimate Collection' be a sign that WWE are trying to lure Goldberg back ahead of Wrestlemania XXX? Possibly – at this stage, who knows? What it does signify is that WWE believes that Bill Goldberg was, in fact, about more than just a manufactured streak. Admittedly, WCW embellished his record by adding ' victories' that apparently happened on house shows in matches that never actually took place, but this did do what it was meant to: get him over. While Goldberg's defeat at the hands of Nash at Starrcade '98 was a phenomenal mistake, even after the defeat 'Big Bill' was still massively popular. A month later he had a stunning ladder match against Scott Hall (which should have been on this set) that worked the fans into a right frenzy. On reflection, Goldberg was one of the few reasons to carry on watching WCW as it careered its way towards closure. The Fall Brawl 2000 bout features a sense of realism and brutality that the company was otherwise devoid of at the time. When Goldberg had to 'leave WCW' after losing a match at the Sin PPV in January 2001 (said contest is on the set) countless fans were left speechless: it was clear how much he meant to them. The Ultimate Collection is a fond reminder for Goldberg fans of the capabilities of 'Da Man' and a great way for new fans to enjoy his work. Order it from the official website: http://www.wwedvd.co.uk/ goldberg-ultimate-collection-p-11765.html GE PA 81


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[ THE LOWDOWN//UK WRESTLING//FEATURES // PURO//INDIE //COLUMNS]

SHIMMER Volume 53 written by Maurice Kneisel

Calling Volume 53, which was taped on April 6th 2013, a special event in SHIMMER history would be an understatement. For one, it took place in the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus, New Jersey as part of WrestleCon in front of a SHIMMER record live crowd of over 700 attendants. What really made this show stand out, though, was the amount of emotional moments the fans got to experience. The opener saw Amazing Kong’s return to the company as she faced off against one of women’s wrestling’s up-and-comers, Mia Yim. It was a short but intense matchup between two athletes who both learned their craft in Japan. Right afterwards Serena Deeb, who was last seen on Volume 44 before missing 18 months of action due to a concussion, made her comeback just to get attacked by a debuting Jessicka Havok, Sassy Stephy and Nevaeh.

competition. While she wasn’t yet back at one hundred percent, the veteran proved her class, as did McKay. The rather short match provided a couple of fine spots, including a hilarious double cartwheel. The clear-cut match of the night saw Ayako Hamada face off against Athena, granting the Wrestling Goddess the rematch she requested after losing their first encounter on Volume 52 due to a knee injury. What started off slowly with mat wrestling and a couple of submission holds, quickly turned into a fast-paced bout with both women playing up to their strengths. While Hamada worked over her opponent with a variety of stiff moves from her large arsenal, Athena fired back by making best use of her quickness and agility. SHIMMER once again did a great job of both portraying their veteran as dominant while putting over the young talent. If Athena doesn’t end up a star in one of the big companies someday, it would be a travesty. The young Texan, who was trained by the legendary Skandor Akbar, is one of, if not THE fastest rising star in women’s wrestling today.

The match between Mercedes Martinez and Ayumi Kurihara marked the first highlight of the show. It was Kurihara’s last fight in the USA, as she went on to retire on August 4th after suffering several severe injuries during her eight years in professional wrestling. The Joshi took multiple chair shots, a stalling Brainbuster and a running Yakuza Kick to the head, once again proving why she has been considered one of the stiffest competitors throughout her career. After the match Ayumi, who will be remembered as not just one of the most talented Joshis, but female wrestlers from her generation in general, bid her farewell to a huge ovation from the crowd.

While the co-main event delivered a wrestling firework, the final bout was an emotional one: the feud between SHIMMER champion Sweet Saraya Knight and Cheerleader Melissa – without a doubt the most intense in SHIMMER in recent years – culminated in a steel cage match. Knight, the grappler from Norwich, England, did her best to stir up the quiet crowd right from the start, pretending to attack a couple of fans, beating down two security guards und cursing at the audience. The fight was just as intense, with commentator Dave Prazak repeatedly playing up to their long-lived feud. Starting off as a pure brawl, both women went on to focus on each other’s injured legs before picking up the pace towards the end.

While Kurihara left SHIMMER, a former Champion returned: Madison Eagles. The Sydney native, who was named Number 1 on the PWI Female 50 of 2011, severely injured her knee in a car crash back in December 2011 and was forced to seriously consider retirement. Eagles, who returned to action in February, was booked against her former student and fellow Australian Jessie McKay, thereby easing her way back into SHIMMER

Overall, SHIMMER 53 was an average show that mostly suffered from a quiet crowd. At no point during the event did the atmosphere get even remotely close to the vibe at the Berwin Eagles Club, despite several attempts from wrestlers to animate the audience. Nonetheless, Hamada vs. Athena is an absolute must-see for every fan of women’s wrestling, as are the large number of comebacks and Kurihara’s departure.

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Price: $15 Order at http://shimmerwrestling.blogspot.de/p/dvds.html


REVIEWS

SUMMERSLAM 2013 DVD (WWE/Fremantle Media)

WRITTEN by James Simpson

plucky underdog trying to overcome odds that clearly don’t favour him. A mega-over babyface chasing the arrogant heel for the title is ‘Wrestling Booking 101’ and the decision to put D-Bry in this position is one intended to help elevate him even higher in the minds of the wrestling fans. It demands comparisons to Steve Austin battling Mr McMahon 15 years ago, with the difference being that Bryan did actually make it to the top, only to be denied by a conspiracy hell-bent on keeping him under the glass ceiling.

Summerslam 2013 was built around two matches. One was CM Punk vs Brock Lesnar, and the other was John Cena vs Daniel Bryan. The hype in the weeks leading up to these bouts was carried out brilliantly and made Summerslam a talking point amongst wrestling fans. Come the night of the show, the build paid off, making the show a success. But it wasn’t just the hyped contests that delivered: the show had a solid undercard and important storyline developments that left most fans eager to see what happened next. The biggest piece of news coming out of the show was Daniel Bryan finally winning the WWE Championship only to lose it minutes later to Randy Orton. The fact it came after a hard fought victory over top dog Cena made it even more bittersweet to see Bryan grabbing the brass ring and finally capturing then losing the biggest prize in North American wrestling. Fans at the Staples Centre were firmly behind ‘The Beard’ and this injustice created brilliant heat: exactly what WWE wanted. It also set up the top of the card for months to come, with Bryan now the

The other heavily promoted contest was billed as ‘The Best vs The Beast’. Punk and Lesnar had a surprisingly spirited match. While Phil Brooks is the self proclaimed best (he’s good, but maybe not the best), Lesnar is a beast of a man. Much of the scrap was Brock knocking the living daylights out of Punk, which brought a degree of realism to the affair and heightened the atmosphere within the arena. Despite the size difference it was believable at times that Punk had Lesnar in trouble. A triangle choke had The Beast very nearly tapping out, and a top rope elbow drop assisted with a folded steel chair also delivered a very close near fall. Paul Heyman, of course, became involved, as he is prone to do in Lesnar matches, and this altered the outcome of the battle. Overall, this was a brutal, compelling and rewarding contest which will hopefully bring about a rematch in the near future. Bringing up the rear, Cody Rhodes continued his path to the top with an 11 minute long scrap against former ‘bestie’ Damien Sandow. Rhodes used the Muscle Buster for a second pay-per-view in a row, and this was another decent outing for both men. Christian had his ‘one last match’ against a battered World

Champion in the form of Alberto Del Rio. The champ had gotten into a bar fight, oddly, with Drew McIntyre alongside him, and took a vicious beating (he had the black eyes to prove it). If Bill Watts was booking WWE that would have been grounds for Del Rio to lose the title. Watts believed that champions should not be losing legitimate fights when they are, effectively, a promotion’s figurehead. Regardless, Del Rio retained in a brilliant contest nonetheless.

Opening the show, Bray Wyatt made his long-awaited in-ring debut against Kane. This was a ‘Ring of Fire’ match (modified Inferno match) where the ring was surrounded by fire. While visually impressive, it couldn’t disguise a substandard bout. Wyatt needs to improve. There was the token Divas’ contest, which was surprisingly decent. Natalya defeated Brie Bella (notice how WWE have stopped ‘twin magic’ now one Bella has big breast implants?). The pre-show match offers up a United States Championship bout with Dean Ambrose vs Rob Van Dam with plenty of wrestlers at ringside.

Overall Summerslam was a very good supercard. Great wrestling and brilliant storyline developments made it one of the best WWE shows of the year. Highly recommended.

Buy it here: http://www.wwedvd.co.uk/summerslam-2013-p-11764.html

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REVIEWS

[ THE LOWDOWN//UK WRESTLING//FEATURES // PURO//INDIE //COLUMNS]

Spandex, Screw Jobs and Cheap Pops, by Carrie Dunn written by Jason- Lee Ridpath

For most casual wrestling fans, “spandex” is a term synonymous with the business. My brothers would often ridicule myself for watching oiled up men in tight spandex “touch” each other up (the joys of being the youngest in my family!), so it is no surprise that with a title of “Spandex, Screw Jobs and Cheap Pops.” This book catches the imaginations of the readers before you have even turned a page. Author, Carrie Dunn is one of the pioneers of UK wrestling journalism which is looking to stamp out misinformation and the dirt sheet culture that we find often ourselves in. Carrie is no stranger to strong opinions of her peers in the field of wrestling journalism and she is not shy from giving her own opinions on the UK wrestling scene through here cleverly titled website, “The Only Way Is Suplex.” Now let’s get down to the meat and bones of this review. The book is unique in its field in that, rather then simply looking into the past glories of UK wrestling scene or focusing on the revival of the UK wrestling scene, it is firmly placed in the present. Straight off the bat, we must commend this as a brave move: on the whole, wrestling fans love nostalgia – just look at ECW. Indeed, it’s fair to say that more wrestling fans enjoy ECW now then they did when it was around. All the same, the modern world of wrestling is one it which many fans are entirely unfamiliar with; a world which barely graces the pages of mainstream media or dirt sheet websites. For those fans who crave insider knowledge, or just more information on wrestlers and promoters based in the UK, this book delivers by the bucket load. Do not be fooled, however, into thinking this is for the hardcore UK wrestling fan; this is simply not the case. The book can be read by anyone - there is no prerequisite to GE PA84

have any prior knowledge of the current UK wrestling scene. Indeed, the narrative of the book is pure and genuine; Carrie has no ulterior motive in her narrative. She is not trying to force-feed her opinions to the reader. She is not trying to expose the seedy underworld of professional wrestling. She has simply and quite elegantly created a book which has one major theme: that is, of course, the UK wrestling scene. What Carrie has done magnificently is that she has created a shop window for wrestlers to be able to share their stories with a wider audience. Whether she realises it or whether the participants of the book realise it, this book is now a superb source material for those in the future who want to learn more about the UK wrestling scene. The book offers  a great insight into the minds, and hearts of those involved in the UK wrestling scene. A few wrestlers talk about Andre Baker in the book. Andre was always a polarising figure in UK wrestling, and is still so even now after his death. Regardless of people’s opinions of Baker, he is a part of so many stories of UK based wrestlers.  Looking at Andre in relation to the wrestlers featured in the book, and as somebody who has interviewed many of these wrestlers and has heard first hand their personal experiences, I found this an interesting experience. Some of the characters here may never reach the dizzy heights of headlining Wrestlemanias, and some of them, like too many others, will continue late into their 50’s wrestling on shows around the UK in front 200-300 fans. One thing is for certain: right now, in a town near you, these wrestlers are putting on some of the best wrestling in the world.  Carrie has once again proven her worth as one of the best UK based wrestling journalists, and TW hopes that this is not her last wrestling related book. At times hilarious, and at other times completely heartbreaking, but always captivating, TW gives “Spandex, Screw Jobs and Cheap Pops” a huge thumbs-up.

Buy it here

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Spandex-ScrewJobs-Cheap-Pops/dp/1909178462


UK WRESTLING

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COMING NEXT ISSUE

TW quizzes Jim Ross, wrestling’s most famous announcer on his part in wrestling’s rich history, hiring and firing talent and life after WWE Is TNA in 2013 really any better than WCW in 2001? If not, what’s the point? Lead writer Mike McGrath-Bryan investigates. Danny Rodd on 1PW continues as we look at the final days of UK wrestling’s most controversial promotion ever! We talk exclusively to Yonosuke Kitamura, the man behind the music of NJPW! Our tribute to BJ Whiter continues in Thank You BJ, part two ROH faces our SWOT analysis ECW – From A-Z Plus columns from all our regular contributors and much, much more


WIN! WIN! WIN! A COPY OF WWE SUMMERSLAM 2013 ON BLU RAY OR DVD!

In conjunction with WWE Home Video UK www.wwedvd.co.uk

Don’t miss your chance to win a copy of WWE Summerslam 2013 on Blu Ray or DVD. John Cena defends the WWE Championship against Daniel Bryan in the main event of a card which also sees CM Punk face off against Brock Lesnar in a no disqualification match. It’s the hottest event of the summer and it could be yours... The seven-match card features: Bray Wyatt vs. Kane in a Ring of Fire match Cody Rhodes vs. Damien Sandow Alberto Del Rio vs. Christian for the World Heavyweight Championship Natalya vs. Brie Bella Brock Lesnar vs. CM Punk Dolph Ziggler and Kaitlyn vs. Big E Langston and AJ Lee John Cena vs. Daniel Bryan for the WWE Championship To be in with a chance of winning a copy of WWE Summerslam 2013, please email the correct answer to the following question to editor@twmag.co.uk Who did Brock Lesnar defeat in the main event of WWE Summerslam 2012? a) Triple H b) The Rock c) CM Punk Please mark competition e-mails with “WWE comp” in the subject line and also please state which format (either Blu Ray or DVD), you would like. The closing date for entries is November 25, 2013.

Terms and Conditions This competition is run by Total Wrestling Magazine The prize is a copy of WWE Summerslam on Blu Ray or DVD, there will be no cash alternative In the event of any dispute, Total Wrestling Magazine’s decision is final.


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