Top Prospect Tournament Round 1
Brian Fury took on Shahim Ali in a decent match. Fury played the disgruntled veteran that would do anything to advance, and he did so when he held the referee’s leg to keep Ali from hitting a top rope maneuver, causing Ali to decend the ropes and wind up getting hit with a pop up power bomb and being pinned. I like how this told the story of Fury being angry, and determined to do anything to finally have “his time” in the spot light. Ali looked good, and there’s no reason not to bring him back as well.
Veda Scott & Cedric Alexander come to the ring next, and begin to say how happy they are to have won all this money from ROH. I enjoy this story as it can be used more and more, in multiple ways, and I hope that it is. I’d like to see Cedric dressing better, and living a life of privilege from their law suit winnings. Veda then says Cedric deserves top of the line competition like Jay Lethal, and Adam Cole, but Cheeseburger is announced as his opponent.
I don’t for the life of me understand why Cheeseburger is so over, as you can’t rightfully, or believably, ever really put him over anyone of any importance, or relevance. Alexander defeats Cheeseburger, before Cheeseburger can hit his dreaded palm strike, inherited from Jushin Liger (ugh) with the lumbar check.
Alexander then attacks Cheeseburger after the match, brutally beating him down, until Jonathan Gresham comes out for the save. I love how ROH is building Gresham as a world traveled wrestler, who can reverse any hold known to man, and twist guys up like no other. Veda mocks Gresham, and tells him he can face Cedric again right now. Jonathan Gresham frustrates Cedric, and seem on his way to another victory until Veda jumps in the ring and attacks Gresham. Alexander then proceeds to destroy Gresham following the match. Good stuff here! Cedric is over as a heel, Veda really helps his character, and Gresham being the guy to thwart his plans for the main event, helps get both guys, and this angle very well. I hope this is a long angle between the two, as both will come out all the better for it.
Nigel McGuiness then comes out, but before he can say anything he’s interrupted by World Champion Jay Lethal and Truth Martini. Nigel announces Lethal’s opponent for ROH’s 14th Anniversary show, Kyle O Reilly! Lethal isn’t impressed, and says he’s beaten Kyle before. Nigel then tells Lethal and company that he wasn’t finished. Nigel says that since Adam Cole defeated Kyle O’Reilly at Final Battle, it would make Adam Cole the number one contender in Nigel’s eyes. Cole then comes out, and says he’ll become the new champ at 14th anniversary, because Lethal has never defeated him in a match for the title. Nigel tells Cole that he didn’t let him finish either, and that at the 14th Anniversary show, it will be a triple threat for the ROH title with Lethal defending against Col,e and O’Reilly. O’Reilly then hits the ring, and says he wants a piece of them well before February 26th, and that he wants Cole and Lethal right here in Charoltte! Nigel then agrees, and makes Jay Lethal & Adam Cole vs rEDragon for next week’s main event…This is great stuff because Lethal has proven to be incredible as the champion, and Cole, and O’Reilly, have been predicted to be the future of ROH for years now, and it’s great see them both positioned in that way.
In the main event, Michael Elgin faces Jay Briscoe, but before the match begins, Stokely Hathaway is out with Moose, and tells the crowd that he saw and asked Nigel in the back, that since he was in the mood to make triple threats, how about one more, and Nigel agreed, so tonight it would be Elgin vs Briscoe, vs. Moose! In a very good match, Jay Briscoe overcame, and pinned Michael Elgin with a back slide. Elgin isn’t happy, and challenges Mark and Jay to team up at the Anniversary show to face him, and someone that has his back….Tanahashi! Jay, Mark, and Big Mike shake on it, so the match is made.
Over all this week’s show was solid, and built the wrestlers involved, as well as all angles going forward. ROH fans got ton of hype for the Anniversary show this week, with the matches announced, and the Top Prospect tournament kicked with a bang too. I often feel ROH needs better storytelling, but tonight I feel they did a very good job with that. Going forward ROH looks great, with a lot to look forward to.
I’m not a fan of the WWE main roster shows. RAW and Smackdown and boring, silly, and predictable. I love much of the roster, guys like Owens, Ambrose, Kalisto, Cesaro, and Neville, make me wish RAW and Smackdown were good. I want to enjoy WWE, but they make it so difficult to do so. Every PPV, or now that they are on the Network I guess you might call them events, or specials, WWE has a chance to do something special, to do something shocking, or at least slightly surprising, to get fans buzzing, yet they seldom do so. Tonight’s Royal Rumble is the talk of social media, and you can just tell most fans want to see something new, something different, something that will make them excited, and anxious for RAW tomorrow night. But will we get it? I’d say no, because WWE just never seems interested in that. Most are predicting either a win by Roman Reigns, or just as it seems he’s going to win, Triple H enters the Rumble and eliminates him to win the title himself. Yawn.
Many others want to see AJ Styles come in as a surprise entrant, and win the WWE title on his very first appearance. How awesome would that be? Some are even boldly predicting that is exactly what will happen. Look, I love AJ Styles, and I would love to see that happen, but it’s absolutely not going to. There is no way Vince McMahon puts the WWE title on a guy making his debut in the WWE. Many WWE diehards don’t even know who Styles is (as sad as that may be). If Styles appears, I suspect he will get a few eliminations before being tossed by a guy on the current WWE main event level. That doesn’t mean however that there’s nothing WWE could do to shock us, to surprise us, to get us all buzzing, and anxiously awaiting tomorrow’s RAW.
The Wyatt family have been presented as scary, unpredictable, crazy, etc. since their debut. Bray Wyatt has pulled off some shocking wins, while his “brothers” have torn through some of the toughest guys on the roster, but ultimately they’ve been mid-card guys, unable to become the main event attraction. In the Royal Rumble I’d have all four men, Wyatt, Harper, Rowen, and Strowman working together, protecting each other, eliminating man after man. Strowman has been presented as unstoppable so far, so I suspect he’s this year’s Kane, coming in and eliminating over ten other participants at least. I’d even have him toss Lesnar with little effort to solidify him as your resident monster, and the new “beast.” With four men working together, and three of them being very large, it’s very believable that they could win the entire thing working as a cohesive unit.
Here’s how I’d end it. As the Rumble comes down to only the Wyatt Family, I’d have the debut of “Sister Abigail.” I’d have her walk to the ring slowly, as Bray laughs, and Harper, Rowen, and Strowman look mesmerized. As she arrives at ring side, I’d have her walk around the ring slowly, finally stopping, removing her sheep mask, and locking eyes with the men in the ring. At that time, Harper, Rowen, and Strowman hop over the top rope, eliminating themselves, earning Bray Wyatt the title, as WWE commentators lose their minds, asking how anyone in the WWE will ever deal with this! Asking how anyone will ever find a way to overcome the Wyatt family?! With an ending like this the Wyatt’s are finally established as a serious faction of likes the WWE has possibly never seen. Browman is your FULL TIME “beast,” the Diva’s have a new top contender, who I would have issue a challenge to the Diva’s champion on Monday, as well as having Harper and Rowen win the tag titles. Then when Styles gets some friends from Japan, pitting them against the Wyatt’s is instantly a top drawing program as well. I know the WWE won’t do this, or anything even half this exciting, because the WWE hasn’t been this creative in years, and years. Tonight either Roman Reigns or Triple H wins the Rumble, because that’s “Best for Business.” Note- The return of Daniel Bryan to win the whole thing would be nice as well, and if he’s cleared (that’s a BIG if) I could see WWE possibly going that way…..possibly.
The hottest story making the rounds right now is the press release TNA released late Friday night, January 22nd 2016, regarding them having some sort of deal (at least verbal it appears) with AJ Styles to return to TNA for their re-debut on Pop TV. Apparently, Gallows and Anderson were also part of the deal, set to arrive in TNA as soon as their New Japan contracts were up. One report even says that all three men met with Dixie Carter on December 12th, and had gone so far as to complete a story line that would have taken them six months into the year, and a logo had been designed for whatever Styles, Gallows, and Anderson would have been calling their faction in TNA. Soon after making this deal (verbal or in writing, no one knows for sure except the parties involved) word has it Styles agent got upset that it was done without his participation and put a halt to it, supposedly because nothing was official unless he was involved with it. Soon after that, Styles signed with WWE, and it appears likely that Gallows and Anderson shall do the same.
Here’s the interesting part of the story…was this deal a “signed” deal? Was it only verbal? If it was signed, is it true that no deal is legal unless Style’s agent is involved with it as well? Whatever the answer to that is, what kept this deal from happening for TNA? Did Styles, Gallows, and Anderson simply “change their minds?” Did WWE catch wind of TNA’s plans and scoop in to steal the Bullet Club members away? Did Styles, Gallows and Anderson use the TNA deal to leverage WWE themselves? Chances are we’ll never know, but if TNA has a signed deal, surely they will take it to court, right? Was their press release a warning shot to Vince and the WWE not to proceed with their plans for Styles this weekend at The Royal Rumble? Or, as many TNA haters are saying, is it just TNA being silly, and spiteful, trying to seem relevant because they couldn’t finalize the deal with Styles, Gallows, and Anderson? I’m not sure we will ever know, but it’s going to be fun to follow and try to find out.
Finally, I honestly would have preferred Styles, Gallows, and Anderson coming to TNA. While I love WWE’s NXT, their main roster shows are terrible, and have been for some time now. I can’t even stand to watch RAW, and Smackdown isn’t much better at all. WWE has done a few things well over the years though. Daniel Bryan’s story was done wonderfully, and CM Punk was pushed, and used extremely well too. Kevin Owens has been pushed to the top pretty quickly, but of course lost the battle with perennial face of the company, John Cena. Seth Rollins was given the title, but came off horribly weak in his title run, and Dean Ambrose, while not doing poorly, deserves the Roman Reigns spot far more than Reigns does. WWE never used Sting well at all, even jobbing him out at his only Wrestlemania, and now there are strong rumors that Vince McMahon’s new favorite is The Wyatt Family’s Braun Strowman. Part of me wants to believe that Styles, Gallows, and Anderson are going to come in strong, instantly getting a main event push, and will be used like the superstars they are. However, another part of me worries that Styles will be eliminated from the Rumble, shortly after getting in the ring, by someone like Strowman, as the commentators blurt out something like “this is the big time AJ!” I also have nightmares of Gallows and Anderson having to put over the Vaude Villains, or get beaten up by Baron Corbin single handedly as he screams at them to go back to Japan.
TNA needs some work, they need to keep finding their identity, but I am certain they would have used the Bullet Club in a remarkable, big time, fun to watch way. I know AJ would have won the world title, and Gallows and Anderson the tag titles, and that would have made TNA look important, that would have made TNA look different, strong, and exciting. I suppose there’s a danger, or concern that TNA might collapse, and as such not be able to pay out on promised contracts, but people have been predicting TNA’s collapse for years, and years now, and it’s not happened. I think Styles, Gallows, and Anderson might have been the thing to finally put them over the top. I’ll cheer for Styles, Gallows, and Anderson in WWE, but I’m a little sad for TNA. Wrestling fans who cheer for their bad luck, and misfortune, annoy me. TNA has a lot of top notch talent that deserve success, and watching people who supposedly “love wrestling” wanting them to die, is really pathetic.
Lucha Underground, season 2, will soon be upon us and I cannot wait! I never suspected that I would like Lucha wrestling, but it captured me from day one, and has quickly become one of, if not my most favorite wrestling company on the planet. While I’ve cringed at a story line here or there, as I’ve done for every wrestling company I’ve ever watched, Lucha Underground breathes much needed new life into a stale product. It’s colorful, fast paced, yet offers every style of wrestling there is, not just the over the top Luchadores the name implies. Texano, Cage, and Big Ryck, bring power, Vampiro brings hard core, and Johnny Mundo brings the classic America style. Even the star of the show, Prince Puma, while very much a Luchadore, also brings the classic “super indy” style to the temple! If you’ve ever considered watching Lucha Underground, but held off because you’ve never been a big fan of the Lucha style, stop allowing that to keep you away. Lucha Underground offers everything any wrestling fan could ever want, and more.
I mentioned earlier that occasionally a story line has let me down. Do you know why that’s acceptable to me? Why I get over it? Because these guys do solid story lines that are like nothing you’ve ever seen anywhere else. Lucha Underground doesn’t just put two guys against each other for the hell of it, and anytime you think they have, something happens to make you realize there’s something more to it than that. Either the general manager Dario Cueto makes an announcement that causes the match to be a big deal, or something is revealed to do so. Gimmicks are also first rate in Lucha Underground. While my faithful readers know that I hate gimmicks such as policemen, clowns, or street wise rappers, that doesn’t mean I hate gimmicks over all. In Lucha Underground the gimmicks are honoring a tradition, and based on ancient Aztec principals of war, and battle. While we enjoy Prince Puma, and Fenix, never are we lead to believe these men under those masks really believe they are these animals, or creatures their masks represent. Taxano wears a cowboy hat, and carries a bull rope, but it’s about his heritage, it’s not because he thinks he’s the Roy Rodgers of professional wrestling. Drago is the coolest looking guy I’ve ever seen in a wrestling ring, but doesn’t believe he is an ancient beast of legendary tales.
While every other company is out there ripping off WWE, with briefcase matches, and “Special battle royals,” Lucha Underground is inventing their very own specialty matches. When fans pined for a “secondary title,” Lucha Underground gave them a belt where at least seven wrestlers would vie for, and yet while doing so, not having any idea what the “medallions” they were fighting for lead to. Instead of tag team titles, Lucha Underground went with a trios title, with the first set of champions being a hodgepodge of wrestlers no one ever thought would work, but wound up being very special. The old NWA had a six man tag team title that meant something for a few years, but lost its luster, and went away. Lucha Underground is showing how good six man tag matches should be, and making them as meaningful as any regular tag title in the business.
My favorite thing about Lucha Underground is that I love every wrestler (well outside the transgender Pimpe, who thankfully I’ve not seen in some time). Face or heel, I just love watching all of them. There’s never a bathroom break, or play with your phone a while, performance. The camera work, style, and presentation is also second to none, and I greatly appreciate that they never copy WWE’s style of presentation in any way either, nor are they out to be the new ECW. Lucha Underground is setting their own trends, and I love it. The only complaint I have is a small one. I don’t care to see Lucha Underground wrestlers in other independent companies. Outside their Lucha gimmicks is cool, but watching them in PWG was…odd. They were just as talented, but outside the temple, the magic of what makes them special was lost. They just sort of seemed out of place. My last issue, is that having a break from Lucha Underground was hard to deal with, but it sure made their return that much more exciting! Wednesday January 27th cannot come fast enough!
“You have to respect the business.” This is the phrase uttered by every talentless hack that calls himself a professional wrestler today, in order to protect him or herself from any kind of criticism. While I agree that wrestling should absolutely be respected, the problem is that we’ve allowed people into this business that by their very existence disrespect professional wrestling. Now some of you are going to ask “Who is this guy to say these things?” so let me answer that for you. For years I was a green, ignorant, goofball that thought he knew and understood wrestling. I paled around with, and “trained” with some “professional wrestlers,” or so I thought. I believed I was part of the business, because I had been in the ring, bumped, and knew guys that did it in front of 30 people in a venue that was falling apart, and smelled like cat piss. I really thought I had it made when a promoter told me I was going to “go over Doink!” Then I met Dusty Wolfe and Ken Timbs. If you don’t know who they are, then you really need to freshen up your wrestling knowledge. Granted, I only met Dusty and Ken online, during the height of American Online, and message boards, but those two helped me more than anyone ever had. I got to the point to where Ken and I were talking on the phone, planning a show together to rock Pennsylvania with “Wrestling Done Right!”
You see, Ken and Dusty could have laughed at me (and likely did some) when I told them how I was a wrestler, when I told them that I went over Doink the clown (Dusty legit played Doink for Vince in the WWF for years) and when I tried to come across like a real “worker.” Instead, they re-taught me. They were patient, and told me everything I had been taught was a joke, and how too many guys that claimed to be “wrestlers” were poorly trained, or even self-trained, and many simply went and purchased a ring and held shows for their friends and family. I was shocked, and felt like a fool. They then handed me off to Bill Moody, better known as Percy Pringle III, or Paul Bearer. I helped Bill run his message board, moderating it for over a year for him. I was excited to be “in the business” but anytime I got too wrapped up thinking I was, Bill would say to me “Adam, you can’t work a worker!” It used to annoy me back then, but I now understand what he meant by it. It was his way of saying “you’re not a worker yet, calm down.” Ken and I kept discussing the big show we wanted to put on, and I secured a nice venue. Sadly, before it could happen Ken fell ill, and shockingly passed. Dusty continued to teach me online. He told me everything I preach today about gear, looking good, getting paid, training right, and not allowing anyone that doesn’t do those things to get into the business. He taught me that anyone that didn’t do those things, didn’t respect the business, and weren’t really “workers.” He taught me that the absolute worst thing that could happen to wrestling would be if those kind of people got in, and were really considered “legitimate” pro wrestlers.
Some have told me since that time that the battle has been lost. Jim Cornette has made a small fortune making “shoot videos” saying that battle has been lost. I’m stubborn though, and I love wrestling so much that I don’t want to give up on it like Jim has, like so many old school guys have. Yet as I “worked” in the indy business, to some degree or another, over the last few years, I’ve learned that the battle has been lost. People that have no right to have been allowed into wrestling have no only been allowed in, they’ve been heralded as important, worthy, and good for the business. Even when I found a home at places that didn’t promote or book nonsense, they have to “respect it” out of some kind of fear, some kind of worry that not doing so will cost them something. I’m not even saying it wouldn’t cost them something. Maybe it would? What I’m saying is that I can’t respect things that I know (yes I said know) are garbage. I can’t look at some of the stuff out there today and say it’s as worthy as those, and that which are worthy. I can’t write garbage off as “just someone else’s flavor.” I can’t look at guys like Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Nick Bockwinkle, Roddy Piper, Dusty Rhodes, and others like them, and then look at some of the utter and complete nonsense out there parading around as “Professional Wrestling” and say that they are of the same profession. I certainly can’t say that the same “respect’ is due to them both. I rest comfortably absolutely KNOWING that many workers, legit, real, workers agree with me. The problem however is that they aren’t allowed to say so. The keys to this industry have been given to those that don’t have the first clue about wrestling, about working, nor about “respect.” All I can do is hope that somehow, magically, sanity prevails one day. That somehow the silent supporters of “Wrestling Done Right” will win out in the end. Right now those that are the most vocal, and control much of the “voice” on independent wrestling are hurting it, by insisting that it’s all “worthy” in some way, even when I know many of them know damn well it’s not. When those who know better refuse to be “shushed” and step up, then wrestling can be done right again all over the place. Until, and unless that happens, you’ll just have to keep searching for it here, and there, appreciating it when you find it.
I’ve had my fill of the “indy” scene. There are great workers out there that I can’t wait to see really make it one day, but there are far too many snakes, far too many talentless goofs, far too many under trained nobody’s getting on cards for selling enough tickets, and far too many guys that are laughable, being pushed as legitimate physical threats, for me to take indy wrestling as serious as I’ve tried to take it over the past numerous years. Today you don’t have to look good, you don’t have to talk good, you don’t have to look imposing, all you have to do is kiss the right people’s ass, show up for training, and never, ever, ever, question anything, and you’ll eventually get a “push.” It doesn’t matter how good you are either because no one can question that, because they would be “disrespecting the business.” Sorry, but there are way too many “wrestlers” already doing that just from someone, somewhere, green lighting them to get inside a ring. Finding “wrestling done right” on the indy scene has gotten to be far much too work for me, so from this point forward we’ll be about NXT, Ring of Honor, New Japan, and Lucha Underground. Four places I know get it right more often than not. If these four companies want to comb the “indy” scene for guys they feel are “worthy” at least the guy doing that is getting paid to sit through the bullshit, I’m not, so I’m done. I’ll watch where the workers already are, and maybe actually and enjoy wrestling again.
We've been singing his praises since "The Juicy Product," and he's been a top guy at Legacy Wrestling since day one, but The Product, David Starr has really been kicking things up as of late on the wrestling scene, to no surprise to anyone here at WDR. PWInsider reports that The Product had a TNA tryout during their TV taping's in Bethlehem, Pa. and impressed. You can see that report at the following link-
PWI David Starr/TNA
Starr was also in Ring of Honor's Top Prospect tournament this past weekend, also drawing praise from numerous people. Here is a shot from his match on the show-
There is no doubt that the future belongs to Starr, and we can't wait to see what's next for him. The sole reason this site exists is to help spotlight the best wrestling has to offer, the future of this great sport, and yes, "Wrestling Done Right," of which David Starr has always clearly, and obviously, been a major part of. After all, he is "your favorite wrestler's favorite wrestler!"