The Last Ride

Watch! Undertaker: The Last Ride | Season 1, Episode 5 — “Full ...

There can be no denying it.  The WWE is fantastic at creating documentaries.

These docs have been great over the years and many of the tremendous examples can be found on their WWE Network.  However, the most recent documentary series may be the best they have ever done.

The Last Ride is a five-episode documentary series on the career of perhaps the greatest character ever in the history of the profession, The Undertaker.

Now watching : UNDERTAKER THE LAST RIDE : WWEThe Undertaker, whose real name is Mark Calaway, pulls back the curtain of the character, a character that has been protected for decades.  One of the major draws of this documentary was the chance to hear about the career of the Undertaker in the words of the Undertaker himself.

It was more than just a career retrospective.  The Last Ride was an investigation into the psyche of the man, Mark Calaway, and his struggle to find a way to step away from the WWE and go out on his own terms.  He talks about the physical aspects of a life in the world of professional wrestling and how his pride and career determination kept dragging him back to the squared circle.

WWE's Michelle McCool Prepares for Emotional Finale of 'Undertaker ...Each episode looked at a moment of his career and dove into the trials and tribulations of the event.  It is not strictly chronological in its storytelling narrative.  For example, as the last episode was dealing with the internal struggle of the Undertaker deciding if he would return again to Wrestlemania to take on A.J. Styles, they went back to the WWE Attitude era to focus in how the Undertaker’s character changed with the times from the “Dead Man” to the “American Bad Ass” character.

This five episode series has been airing on the WWE Network, concluding this weekend.  The documentary gives us a view of the Undertaker unlike any other moment that we have seen before.  Although he does not come right out to say it, the Undertaker said that he would be retiring from the ring to spend more time with his family and to move into the next phase of his life.

10 Things We Learned From WWE's Undertaker: The Last Ride (Chapter ...If you have ever been a fan of pro wrestling or the WWE, The Last Ride is absolutely a thrilling look into the world behind the camera, and there is no better man to star in the series than the Undertaker, one of the most respected performers in the locker room.

Ninjas on Bikes- Backlash 2020

The Street Profits & Viking Raiders brawl in parking lot: WWE ...

Surprise.

Prior to the start of the Backlash show, WWE announced that there would be a RAW Tag Team Championship match between the Street Profits and the Viking Raiders.  It was unexpected and felt last minute, but no one would expect what we wound up getting.

5 Ups And 7 Downs From WWE Backlash 2020 – Page 8The two teams have been having filmed vignettes competing against one another in “Anything you can do, we can do better” challenges.  Bowling. Sword fighting. Axe throwing and the such.  They were tied at 2 each and split events at their “Decathlon” last week on RAW so it made sense that they would break the tie with a championship match.

We should have seen it coming.

The match never happened as the segment turned into another cinematic presentation where the two teams fought each other in the back.  They destroyed Braun Strowman’s windshield again, attacked each other with the props from previous skits, speared each other through window glass and so on.

We had not seen anything yet.

WWE Backlash results: Street Profits vs. Viking Raiders in a ...As they were facing off, a group of motorcycles pulled up and WWE wrestler Akira Tozawa stepped up and pulled off his ninja mask.  It was ninjas on bikes.

The Street Profits and the Viking Raiders then decided to team up to take on the ninjas as the Viking Profits (there was a logo for the group too).  They battled the ninjas and knocked them all out (using the power of the turkey leg, which apparently, like Thor with Mjolnir, Ivar can summon by holding out his hand.

Identity of the giant ninja who appeared at WWE Backlash during ...Then, Tozawa unleashed the giant ninja who had a sword.  Eric wanted to take him on but wiser heads came through and they ran away.

They wound up on the top of a truck and started fighting once again.  They all fell into a dumpster and were attacked by a monster with a long tentacle, which was an allusion to the dianoga from Star Wars: A New Hope.

Holy cow.

The Viking Raiders, Street Profits Battle Each Other and Ninjas at ...Yes, this was ridiculous, but I laughed many times.  It breaks up the show and it gives these four talented men a chance to show off their comedic timing.  I liked the shots, I liked the music.  Was it stupid?  Of course.  Was it a good stupid?  I think so.  I liked this more than the last cinematic match between Adam Cole and Velveteen Dream on NXT Takeover: In You House.

Will these kind of bits get old?  Maybe.  It depends on how they use it and what they do with it.  It made sense to do this after the series of vignettes that these teams had done.

But come on….

Ninjas.

Identity Of 7 Foot Tall Ninja At WWE Backlash Revealed

The Greatest Wrestling Match Ever- Backlash 2020

WWE Backlash 2020 - Full show results and video highlights

WWE Backlash happened on June 14th and the show was highly considered a mixed bag.  There were several weird finishes and just a completely insane cinematic “match” between the Street Profits and the Viking Raiders.  However, the main point I want to discuss today is the match between Randy Orton and Edge.

Yes, the “Greatest Wrestling Match Ever” as the WWE promoted, setting a bar that was invariably going to be impossible to reach.

Here was the problem, highlighted as such by my viewing of Twitter during the show.  The wrestling fans had approached this with such negativity that there was no way Edge-Orton was going to be considered in the argument.  The fans came into the match with a closed mind, and that was because they do not like WWE trying to tell them how to think.

Edge Suffered An Injury During BACKLASH Which Could Keep Him Out ...The fact is that this match was absolutely spectacular and should be in consideration for the Match of the Year at the end of 2020, but did it reach the status of “Greatest Ever?”  I don’t know, that is all subjective.  And because it is subjective, the fans had their opinions already made up.

There were also tons of “Greatest Ever” jokes on Twitter leading up to the match and they were really unfunny.  I saw several tweets about people hating on the match, which I find difficult to believe, since it was an amazing work.

Another load of anger came from Twitter about the crowd noise that was piped in and the camera shots that were experimented with.  It became just one more thing that the vast audience could snatch onto to fill their hate.  I was not bothered by either.  In fact, I appreciated the WWE trying something different to enhance the viewing experience of the match.  The crowd noise and the camera shots had some drawbacks, but overall I think it went well.

WWE Honors Howard Finkel During Edge vs. Randy Orton Match at ...The best part of the enhancements was the inclusion of the ring introduction from Howard Finkel, who passed away earlier this year.  The lights dimmed and there was an MSG microphone dangling in the ring and we heard a recorded intro for both wrestlers in Howard Finkel’s distinctive voice.  It was a truly wonderful honor for “The Fink” and gave the match that extra gravitas.

My own personal viewing of the match was hampered a bit by the news that had come out that Edge had injured himself during the match.  Reports of Edge tearing his tricep came out and distracted me as I was watching the match with an eye on seeing the moment when it happened.  If that news had not slipped out (the match was reportedly filmed on June 7th and the WWE has been keeping Edge’s injury under wraps since), I thin my own enjoyment of the match would have been elevated.  That is not the fault of the show or of the WWE, it just was one of those things.

I loved the story that these two told as the match moved on with the use of so many other moves as homages such as the Unprettier, The Pedigree, The Rock Bottom, The Three Amigos, The Olympic Slam.  It was as if they were including all of these other wrestlers in their “Greatest Match”.

Edge injured in Backlash 2020: this is known for nowIn the end, Randy Orton won with a low blow and then a Punt, a move we have not seen Randy use in years.  It was a dramatic finish to a match that went over 40 minutes and had two men work extremely hard.  The match started slowly (which people on Twitter also complained about) but built up to the ending very well.  And after the pinfall, Randy got down into Edge’s face and told him to go home to Beth and their children and for Edge to tell them that “Uncle Randy says hi.”

Great storytelling.  Great physicality.  Blood.  Drama.  Everything here says this was a 5 star match.  Plus, when was the last time the WWE so openly promoted that this was a WRESTLING match?  Not sports entertainment, but wrestling.  It has seemed as if the word wrestling is a dirty word to Vince McMahon and the head honchos, but there it was, front and center in the promotion for the match.  That has to be a positive thing.

Was the whole tagline hyperbole?  Of course it was.  Was it meant to just stir up the trolls?  I don’t think that was the sole reason, but I am sure the WWE saw that as a benefit of the tagline.  It was never going to live up to such a brazen claim, but it was most likely the best match that Edge and Orton could possibly put together.  I mean, remember, Edge has not had a proper wrestling match for over 9 years, let alone one that went 40+ minutes.  There would be plenty of active superstars who would be blown up way before the 40 minute mark.

I certainly hope Edge is not injured as badly as it sounds.  He carried on with the match and I never noticed where the injury happened, so you have to respect him for that.

 

 

WWE Money in the Bank

WWE Money In The Bank Ladder Matches Filmed On Special Set On Roof ...

WWE just completed their 2020 Money in the Bank PPV and there were some amazing things that happen.  Yes, the absence of the audience has been a major issue, but they are moving forward and I get tired of hearing that complaint.  The lack of a live audience forces the WWE to bring out some creative ideas, and there was nothing more creative than this year’s Money in the Bank Ladder match.

The Men’s and Women’s Ladder Matches were going to go on at the same time, which was a first.  Then, the match itself was completely new.

WWE Money in the Bank 2020: Wrestlers to Climb Corporate Ladder in ...After the cinematic matches at Wrestlemania went over so well, they came up with a concept for this match that was extremely intriguing.  Six men and six women started the match at WWE Headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut on the ground floor.  A ring was set up on the roof of the building with two Money in the Bank briefcases suspended above it.  The wrestlers had to fight their way from the ground floor to the roof and the first person, male and female, to retrieve the briefcase would be proclaimed the winner.

The match was pre-recorded, allowing the WWE to pull off all kinds of fun scenes and cameos.  We saw Brother Love coming out of the bathroom.  Vince McMahon inside his office.  Stephanie McMahon just floating around.  Paul Heyman was in catering which, of course, led to a food fight.

The men started in the weigh room.  The women started in the lobby.  Then, anything went.  Poor A.J. Styles had some bad moments.  He had a weight set placed across his chest by Otis so he couldn’t move.  He ran into a poster of the Undertaker, showing off what may be some PTSD from his Boneyard Match at Wrestlemania.  He fought with Daniel Bryan into Mr. McMahon’s office and got yelled at by the Boss.  He also had the briefcase literally slip through his fingers.

Asuka Wins Women's Money In The Bank Ladder MatchThe star of the female side of things was clearly Asuka, who wound up winning the case.  She started the match by leaping on the rest of the women from above and rushing into the elevator, inside which she continued her weird Asuka dance.  That elevator spot was just so smart and I popped big time for it.  Asuka also knocked King Corbin off the ladder as he was climbing up the opposite side, even though he was not going after the same case as she was.  I guess even Asuka did not want to see King Corbin win.

Honestly, Asuka has been on absolute figurative fire lately and has been one of the most entertaining parts of the quarantine time in WWE so she really deserved this.

The men’s match ended strangely.  After Rey Mysterio and Aleister Black were thrown off the roof (at least, that is was it looked like had happened… RIP guys), Styles and Corbin fought over the briefcase only to have it slip out of AJ’s hands and drop into the waiting hands of Otis.

Otis Wins Men's Money In The Bank Ladder MatchYes, I said Otis.

I never would have guessed that Otis would have won that match and, although I was cheering for Asuka, I figured that either Nia Jax or Shayna Baszler was going to win.  I was extremely happy when “The Empress of Tomorrow” secured the briefcase.

The MiB ladder match was unbelievably entertaining.  It had moments of laughter. It had moments of drama.  It had painful looking blows.  There was a ton of storytelling going on.  It was a rousing success.  I was not sure how they were going to pull this off, but it was tremendous.

And the PPV ended after just 2 1/2 hours.

We are in new times right now.  Sure, I want the crowds back, but these cinematic matches are gold.  Give the creative people a chance to do something creative and good things will happen.

Other match results included:

Drew McIntyre defeated Seth Rollins in the WWE Championship match.  Drew shook Seth’s hand after.

Braun Strowman defeated Bray Wyatt to retain his Universal Championship.  Strowman pulled a fast one on Bray, using the Black sheep mask as a way to get over on Firefly Funhouse Bray.  More coming with this one as the Fiend will surely make his way into this feud.

Bayley defeated Tamina with a distraction help from Sasha Banks.

The New Day retained the WWE Smackdown Tag Team Championships in a fatal four way match.

Bobby Lashley (replacing MVP) defeated the ever-entertaining R-Truth.  Later R-Truth decided to go after the 24/7 title and he threatened to sack Tom Brady.

Jeff Hardy defeated Cesaro on the pre-show.

WWE news on what happened during filming of Money in the Bank ...

Wrestlemania 36 Night Two

WrestleMania 36 Results - April 5, 2020 (NIGHT TWO) | EWrestling

Night Two of the event that was “so big it had to be two nights” is in the books.  Wrestlemania 36 Sunday had high expectations because Saturday night was so strong.  Would night two be able to stand up to what we saw before?

Honestly, there are so many strong points that I would say the answer to that question is “yes.”

The one thing that really stood out on Sunday was the bizarre Firefly Funhouse Match.

Before I hit on that, let’s hit the other matches.

Pre-show match had Liv Morgan defeating Natalya.

Kevin's WWE WrestleMania 36 Night Two Review | 411MANIACharlotte Flair defeated Rhea Ripley in a stiff opening match.  I noticed that all of these matches seem to be having the wrestlers hit each other harder than normal.  I assume that is to cover from the lack of crowd sounds.  Charlotte became the new NXT Women’s Champion, by the way.

Aleister Black defeated Bobby Lashley with the black mass out of nowhere.  Lashley and Lana had some dissension teased.

Otis wound up with the girl after Mandy Rose showed up, gave Dolph Ziggler a low blow and Otis pinned the 2-time former World Champ.  Otis and Mandy shared a kiss in a great Wrestlemania moment.

WWE WrestleMania 36 Night Two ResultsEdge defeated Randy Orton in a Last Man Standing Match which was dramatic as could be, but went probably ten to fifteen minutes too long.  The ending sequences was truly excellent though.

The Street Profits defended their RAW Tag Team titles against Austin Theory and Angel Garza.  After the match, Bianca Belair showed up to rescue her husband Montez Ford.  Curious to see if this is Bianca’s RAW call up.

WWE WrestleMania 36 (Night Two) results: Trouble between Bayley ...Bayley retained her Smackdown Women’s Championship in a fatal five way match.  An already eliminated Sasha Banks returned and helped Bayley finish off Lacey Evans.  More dissension was teased between Bayley and Sasha.

 

WWE WrestleMania 36 Night Two: 5 Takeaways | ComplexDrew McIntyre defeated Brock Lesnar for the WWE Championship in a match that was, basically, a repeat from the Saturday night Universal Championship Match with Braun and Goldberg.  This was easily the match that suffered the most from the lack of a crowd.  This was quite a disappointment of a match and I would have liked to see a better struggle for Drew before he took the title.  Still, I am happy he is the new champion and I am curious to see what happens next for the Scottish Psychopath.

WWE WrestleMania 36 Night 2 Results: The Firefly Fun House And The ...Okay, let’s get into it.  Certainly, what is going to divide the wrestling fan the most was the presentation of the Bray Wyatt vs. John Cena Firefly Funhouse Match.  Again, much like the Boneyard Match from Saturday night, to call this a match would be inaccurate.  This was bonkers and confusing to watch, but you have to give it to the WWE and the talents involved for giving us this cinematic experience and making it totally different than the Boneyard Match.

John Cena and Bray Wyatt wind up in the Firefly Funhouse dimension, going back and looking at the history of both characters.  It gave me a distinct “Black and White Lodge” feeling from Twin Peaks.  Funhouse Bray narrated most of the “match” and we looked at Cena’s past mistakes, such as the arrival with the “ruthless aggression” promo with Kurt Angle to the Dr. of Thuganomics to the Wrestlemania 30 match with Bray.

WrestleMania 36 results: Firefly Fun House match defied belief ...We also got comparisons of John Cena to Hulk Hogan, and a look at what could have happened had Cena gone heel after Wrestlemania 30.

This was as meta as you have ever seen from the WWE.  There was a line that talked about how Cena was just a “body with muscles” bit no talent.  I cannot imagine how this got receives an approval from one Vincent Kennedy McMahon.

The concept of the entire piece was a deconstruction of the character of John Cena and how his selfishness and bullying tactics affected Bray Wyatt.  John Cena could have been considered the villain of this piece, even after the Fiend finally dispatched Cena with the mandible claw.

There were flashbacks that featured significant performers from the past including Eric Bischoff, Kurt Angle, CM Punk, among others.  All of the Funhouse puppets were here too, with Evil Vince delivering the funniest line of the performance with a “That’s good shit.”

WWE WrestleMania 36 (Night Two) results: Bray Wyatt channels the ...Both Cena and, particularly, Wyatt played their roles to perfection and both were remarkable with their acting skills.  Bray Wyatt could be the best actor in the WWE right now.  Cena’s willingness to dive back into his “Prototype” outfit or the old Yankees jersey speaks a great deal about the character of this man, even as they are devastating the WWE character.

The Firefly Fun House Match Took John Cena on a Trip at ...In the end, the Fiend did pin Cena, as Funhouse Bray counted his shoulders down.  Then, Cena disappeared from the ring that they were in.  Totally vanished.  I assume this is a way to write off John Cena for the foreseeable future, if not for good.  I picture him trapped in the dimension of the Firefly Funhouse much like Agent Cooper was trapped in the White Lodge at the end of the season two of Twin Peaks.

titusMy second viewing of the match really helped as, after the live viewing, I felt very much like Titus O’Neil and his perplexed comment which directly followed the presentation.  I have seen reactions to this match anywhere from “total crap” to “art.”  It took a direction that was remarkably creative and risky.  I wonder how much of this came from the mind of Bray Wyatt and where he goes from here.

You could say the same thing about the WWE.  Will they take some time off and stay at home or will they try to continue with original programming during the uncertain times facing the world?  Hard to say (though they did show a promo for Money in the Bank PPV on May 10th), but the WWE and, specifically the wrestlers, should be commended on their work on Wrestlemania 36.  They could have easily phones this in, but they did not and they provided two nights of entertainment for all of us quarantined viewers.

Wrestlemania 36 Night One

WWE WrestleMania 36 Night One Results - Boneyard Main Event, New ...

For the first time ever, Wrestlemania was split into two nights of action.  Saturday night The WWE announcers continued to hype the reason that they divided the show into two parts was that it was “too big for just one night.”  However, the real reason, of course, is that the COVID-19 virus has become a pandemic across the world and there are orders for people to stay at home and avoid large group of people.

WWE decided against postponing Wrestlemania 36 and decided to push ahead at their WWE Performance Center in Orlando.  They taped, edited and designed the show in the weeks prior to the event.

I was very excited about the event this year.  Not that I’m not excited every year for Wrestlemania, but this year had just a little bit more.  I don’t know if it is because of the current state of the world and the quarantine surrounding it, but I was ready for the show.  Not having to watch 8-9 hours of consecutive wrestling on one night was appreciated as well.

Of course, I was on Twitter when the show started and I was amazed at the level of negativity crossing the site.  I guess I shouldn’t have been as Twitter is a reputed hotbed for the trolls of the world, yet I enjoy spending time tweeting there.  However this was really a chore having to watch the vitriol coming across in 280 characters or less.

People immediately began ragging on the show for things that they could not prevent and I got real tired of the posts saying comments like “they should have postponed” or “this is awful.”  Every time someone posted a tweet about “Being done with the show” or “I tried, but I can’t watch this any more” I wanted to respond with a “BYE”, but I decided not to engage with them.  That was probably a wise choice.  Heck, Twitter would be a better place if more people stopped and thought BEFORE they tweeted.

cesaro hashtag on TwitterMoving on to the show itself, the pre-show kicked everything off as always.  They featured a match between Drew Gulak and Cesaro.  I was shocked by this because Cesaro never gets the win any more, but he pulled this one out.  I love Cesaro and I think he could be a huge main event player in WWE, but there always seemed to be something or someone holding him back.  He used a no-arm airplane spin to get the victory in a spot highlighting just how awesome Cesaro is.

The main show began with a video compilation of “America the Beautiful” from performances over the years at previous Wrestlemanias.  It featured such artists as Aretha Franklin, Little Richard, Boys 2 Men, Willie Nelson and Gladys Knight.  It was a really well done video and kicked off the event wonderfully.

The video at the beginning of the show was epic as well.  It featured some amazing animation and turning of WWE superstars into mythic heroes and pirates.  WWE does these kind of things so well.

The first match on the main card was the Kabuki Warriors vs. Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross for the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship.  It was a decent match with four women who worked hard during it.  Again, I got tired of the negative respond on Twitter and I was very close several times in just dumping it.  In what I thought was the first upset of the night, Bliss & Cross won the match and became new tag team champions.

This was followed by King Corbin vs. Elias.  This match was not one I was looking forward to as I am not a huge fan of either performer, but it was fine.  It was a hard-hitting contest and both men did what they could.  Elias won with a roll up and a handful of tights.

Next, somewhat surprisingly, was the RAW Women’s Championship match with champ Becky Lynch defending against Shayna Baszler.  Becky was in the main event last year at Wrestlemania 35, and now she is in match number three.  Even more shocking was that she won the match as most people believed that Baszler would come out on top.  Becky had a reversal into a pin after being dominated for most of the match so I believe that this is far from over between the two of them.

The Intercontinental Championship was next as champion Sami Zayn defended against Daniel Bryan.  Zayn pulled all kinds of whiny, cowardly heel moves during the match, making you want to see him just get his butt kicked by the “Yes” man.  However, Zayn hit Bryan with a Helluva kick after Bryan had been distracted by Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura at ringside.

After the first four matches, there had been a feel of rushing, which was weird considering they had split the event into two nights.  Everything was solid up unto this point, but nothing out of the world.

That would change.

5 Biggest Headlines From WWE WrestleMania 36 Night One | CultaholicNext we had a triple threat ladder match for the Smackdown Tag Team Championship.  This was a match that was affected by the COVID-19 situation.  It was supposed to be champs Miz & John Morrison defending against the New Day (Kofi Kingston & Big E) and Jimmy and Jey Uso.  However, Miz was sick and was not allowed to be involved in the match.  As far as I know, Miz has not been diagnosed with COVID-19, but you cannot take any chances so he was out.

Instead, the ladder match continued as a triple threat single match for the tag team titles, which was weird, but turned out amazing.  Morrison, Jimmy Uso and Kofi Kingston engaged in the ladder match and put their bodies on the line for the empty arena.  They did some breathtaking spots and told a fantastic story about these three men desperately seeking the titles for their teams.  There were some amazing spots, my personal favorite was John Morrison tight-rope walking across the top rope from one turnbuckle to the other.

In the end, John Morrison won the match with one of the most creative endings to a ladder match in many years.  All three men were on the top of several ladders struggling to gain control of the belts which hung above the ring.  All three men had their hands on the titles and Kofi and Jimmy delivered a head butt to John Morrison who fell backwards onto a set up ladder below.  However, Morrison had held onto the titles and both of them fell with him, leading to his victory.  It was a great ladder match and these three men put it all on the line for the fans.

KOfliesThis was followed by a one on one match with Set Rollins against Kevin Owens.  They had a heated rivalry on Monday Night RAW over the last several months and this match is meant as the blow-off match.  After some good in-ring action, Rollins gets himself disqualified by striking Owens with the ring bell.  Still, Owens gets on the microphone and challenges Rollins to keep going with the match and make it a no-DQ match.  Rollins accepts, but that would be a bad choice for the “Monday Night Messiah.”  After some brutal chair shots, Kevin Owens lays Seth out on the announcer’s table, climbs the Wrestlemania set and leaps off with an elbow in the spot of the night.  A Stunner later and Kevin Owens defeats Seth and wins the match.

WWE WrestleMania 36 (Night One) results: Braun Strowman is the new ...The universal Championship match was next and this one was controversial heading into the show.  Roman Reigns, who was originally supposed to challenge Bill Goldberg for the Universal Championship, had pulled himself out of the event because of concerns over COVID-19.  Reigns, famously, had two battles with leukemia, one very recently, and his immune system would be compromised.  For concerns for his health and that of his family, Reigns announced a couple of weeks ago that he was out of Wrestlemania.

Oddly enough, the WWE continued to promote the match until this past Friday on Smackdown, where they basically stated that Braun Strowman was now in the match.  They did not explain it, nor did they even speak the name of Roman Reigns.  It was strange and seemed to miss an opportunity, but I do not know the circumstances so I will not criticize.

Braun Strowman faced off with Goldberg for the title.  Goldberg hit four spears on Strowman, who then kicked out.  This was followed by four power slams by Strowman, who pinned Goldberg for the Universal Title.  All in all, it was a weird match and went about 3 minutes.

 

WWE WrestleMania 36 LIVE RESULTS: The Undertaker BEATS AJ Styles ...The show ended with the Boneyard Match, pitting A.J. Styles against the Undertaker.  No one knew what a Boneyard Match was going to be and I am not sure anyone was prepared for what we got.  It was about a half hour in length and it was glorious.  It was more like a movie than it was a match.  Undertaker and Styles fought each other through a graveyard with special effects and big moments and a running commentary by the two men.  There was background music, including a Metallica song as the Undertaker arrived on a motorcycle.  This was much more of the American Bad-Ass version of the Undertaker than that of the Deadman, but this character seemed to have pieces of both of them.

Matt Hardy reacts to Boneyard match between Undertaker and AJ ...Reminding one of the Ultimate Deletion from the mind of Matt Hardy, the Boneyard Match was certainly a cinematic creation featuring two of the greatest performers in the WWE.  Styles and Undertaker are masterful storytellers and they brought every bit of that to this production.

To call it a match would be inaccurate, I would say.  It was more of a fight.  This is something that you need to go see.  It really makes me anticipate the Firefly Fun House Match scheduled for Sunday night with Bray Wyatt and John Cena.

I really have to say how appreciative I was for the performers of this card because they went all out to perform even though there was nobody in the stands cheering them on.  And while the lack of a crowd hurt certain parts of the show, WWE did the absolute best they could have done in the situation.  The Boneyard Match was astounding, the ladder match was brutal, Kevin Owens was insane and the show exceeded expectations.  So all of the negative Nancys out there can just head over to Twitter to complain.  I had a heck of a good time.

Bring on Night Two!

 

Dark Side of the Ring

Image result for dark side of the ring part 2

I watched the first hour of the second season premiere of Vice’s Dark Side of the Ring, which was released on YouTube recently.  The premiere dealt with the case of Chris Benoit.

Chris Benoit was a hugely popular wrestler who was considered one of the best workers of all time.  He murdered his wife, Nancy, and his young son before taking his own life in 2007 in an act so horrible that it was shocking, especially to those who knew Chris Benoit.

I had no idea about this series before this taste, and the first part of the Benoit story was unbelievably compelling and engaging.  The doc episode focused on the relationship between Benoit and Eddie Guerrero, leading toward the tragic death of Eddie and how that affected Benoit.

The series used interviews with wrestlers interspersed with real footage and artistic, dramatic reenactments to tell the story of the wrestler.  In the Benoit story, we heard from Chavo Guerrero Jr., Vicki Guerrero, Benoit’s son David, Chris Jericho, and Jim Ross.  The part that I saw was remarkably emotional, as I listened to Chavo tell about finding Eddie on his hotel bathroom floor.

Part two of the doc airs tonight on Vice.  I do not have access to that network so I hope to find it somewhere online.  Apparently, it should be available on the Vice TV website on Wednesday.

While I was searching for places to watch the doc, I found the first season on Amazon Prime.  I purchased the series and have watched two of the episodes.  One was about the stabbing death of Brusier Brody and the second one I watched was the mysterious death of Gino Hernandez.  There was also episodes about the Montreal Screwjob, the Von Erichs, Randy Savage and Elizabeth, and the Fabulous Moolah.

Season two of Dark Side of the Ring will feature the Owen Hart tragedy, the Brawl for All, Jimmy Snuka and his girlfriend’s death, and the death of Dino Bravo.

This doc series is extremely well done and gives you a glance into the dark side of the wrestling business.

King of the Ring

wwe king of the ring brackets

Brackets for the King of the Ring tournament that begins on Monday Night RAW tomorrow night came out and there are some wild matchups.  Some very unexpected matchups too.

Let’s predict.

On the RAW side, this is what I think…

Cesaro vs. Samoa Joe.  I so want Cesaro to win this.  What a match it could be.  I think Joe wins however.

Ricochet vs. Drew McIntyre.  Another great match.  Another one that could go any way.  I think Drew wins this, but I would not be shocked if Ricochet pulled it out.

Cedric Alexander vs. Sami Zayn.  This is the only gimme on this side of the bracket.  Cedric wins.  Sami has not won much of anything since he returned form injury.

The Miz vs. Baron Corbin.  I hate Baron Corbin, but I think he wins here.

Second round would be Joe vs. Drew M and I have Drew.  Cedric vs. Baron and I’ll take Cedric.

Drew defeats Cedric to make the finals.

On the Smackdown side…

Kevin Owens vs. Elias.  KO gets screwed over and Elias moves on.  Hope I am wrong.

Ali vs Buddy Murphy.  This could be the match of round one.  I give it to Ali.

Chad Gable vs. Sheldon Benjamin.  This is round one sleeper.  Chad Gable wins.

Apollo Crews vs. Andrade.  This is Smackdown’s no-brainer. Andrade is the winner.

Round two has Elias vs. Ali with Ali getting the duke.

Chad Gable vs. Andrade with Andrade winning.

Semi finals Ali vs. Andrade.  I’ll go with Ali because of who I picked on the other side.

Finals Drew McIntyre defeats Ali to become the new King of the Ring.

KoR

I would love to have Cesaro win this tournament, but I don’t think he will.  Some of the matches that we could get are insane (Ricochet vs. Cedric Alexander?  Cesaro vs. Drew McIntyre? )

The tournament runs across WWE TV until the Clash of Champions on WWE Network on September 15th.

SummerSlam 2019

Image result for SummerSlam the fiend

Yesterday was the WWE’s big show of the summer, SummerSlam.  As one of the “Big 4” shows of the year, the expectations are high.  Did the show deliver?  Let’s look at some of the highlights.

Pre-Show.

The Pre-show was actually fairly interesting as a few notable things happened.  Drew Gulak defended his Cruiserweight Championship, and Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross defended the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship against the IIconics.  Both were fine matches.

But the rest of the show was the big news.  First, in a Buddy Murphy vs. Apollo Crews match-up, Rowan attacked Murphy outside the ring during the match and yelled at him to keep “my name out of your mouth.”  This is, of course, the next step in the ongoing “Who attacked Roman Reigns” storyline as Buddy Murphy accused Rowan of driving the fork lift that pushed over the stage set onto Roman recently.  I really like that they are moving this storyline along slowly.  Too many times, WWE rushes the results and it does not allow us to develop a story effectively.  Now I don’t want them to run this through to Wrestlemania of course, but a few weeks of story development is a good thing.

Related imageAnd them Edge interrupted Elias’ put down Toronto concert and Edge gave Elias a spear!! It was an amazing thing since I was under the implication that Edge was on the no touch list because of his neck troubles.  I don’t know what this means, but Edge got one of the bigger pops of the evening from the hometown crowd and the spear was absolutely beautiful.

On the main show, I enjoyed most of the night.  There were good parts and weaker parts for sure, but SummerSlam was a solid show.

Becky Lynch forced Natalya to tap out to the Disarmher, which ended a fairly brutal match.  I thought both ladies did a great job.  I especially enjoyed the sharpshooter on the top rope, which was something that I had never seen before.

Image result for goldberg summerslam spearI saw lots of complaining about the Goldberg/Dolph Ziggler match, but I thought this was just what needed to happen.  Dolph Ziggler does not get enough credit because he made Goldberg look like a million bucks by selling those spears as if he were hit by a car.

It’s funny that the last two pics on the post are of wrestlers getting speared.  I may try to make it a theme.

Image result for ricochet summerslamWe had some matches in a row that were fine.  Kevin Owens beat Shane McMahon, which was highlighted by KO kicking Shane directly in the balls.  Bayley defeated Ember Moon in a decent match that had zero crowd reaction.  AJ Styles defeated Ricochet to retain his US Title.  The OC was involved quite a bit with distractions for Ricochet.  Ricochet came out in his Nightwing attire, which was cool.  Ricochet did some amazing stuff too.  At one point, he stepped across the shoulders of both members of the OC to hit a hurricanrana on Styles on the outside of the ring.  It was something we have never seen before.  There was a great finish to that match too as AJ caught Ricochet doing one of his flips and turned it into the Styles Clash finisher.

Charlotte Flair defeated Trish Stratus in a compelling yesterday vs. today match-up.  Trish was performing in front of her hometown crowd and they really worked a solid match.  Charlotte was able to get Trish to tap out from the Figure-8.  This was advertised as Trish’s final match and she went out passing the torch to one of this generations best female grapplers.

Kofi Kingston vs. Randy Orton was a disappointing finish for almost everybody as they were both counted out.  The countout seemed to happen incredibly fast too (especially when you compare how much time Brock and Set would be outside the ring later in the night).  The crowd did not seem to be into the match that much as they had several derogatory chants during the match and chanted “Bull$^%t” after the countout.  Clearly this feud is not finished.

Image result for the fiend summerslamThe last two parts of the card were easily the best.  Bray Wyatt debuted his new Fiend character in the most horrifying way possible.  The new entrance was frightening and enthralling.  He carried a lantern down to the ring that looked like it was the severed head of the previous rendition of Image result for the fiend summerslamBray Wyatt, with the light coming out his mouth.  When the camera zoomed in to it, I legitimately said, “What the hell is that?” New music, a metal interpretation of the Wyatt Family theme was absolutely perfect.  Bray crushed Finn, who did get a touch of offense when Bray appeared to be having a mental struggle with himself.  As if the happy, Firefly Funhouse host Bray was fighting against the Fiend.  It did not last long and The Fiend put Finn down with the Mandible Claw.

This Bray Wyatt character is MONEY!  There will be so many things the WWE can do with Bray that I really hope they do not ruin it.  Rumors indicate that Bray Wyatt did much, if not all, of the creation for this character and, if that is the case, it shows how creative wrestlers can be.

Image result for seth rollins summerslamThe main event was tremendous as well.  Seth Rollins defeated Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship.  The build to the match had been absolutely terrible and was threatening to completely derail the career of Seth Rollins.  You could hear how much he had been hurt as, when Seth hit the ring, the reaction to him was split, with a lot of boos being heard.

However, Seth did exactly what he had to do, and he won over that crowd once again.  Brock grabbed Seth and gave him a German suplex, except Seth landed on his feet, hit Brock with a superkick and then a stomp, and got a two count immediately.  Brock got back in control and beat on Seth a bit.  One of the best moments was when Brock picked up Seth by the tape that was around his waist for the damaged ribs and swung him by it.

Image result for Seth Rollins frog splash brock SummerslamSeth reversed Brock outside the ring and rammed him into the ring post.  This led to Set doing a frog splash from the ring post into the broadcast table. The frog splash looked just brutal to both competitors.  I thought Seth may have knocked himself out because he hit his own head right into Brock’s shoulder.

Seth wound up hitting a third stomp on Brock and pinned The Beast to become Universal Champion for a second time.  I will admit, I popped huge when he pinned Brock as did that entire audience that had booed him when they started.

The main event and the debut of the Fiend was as good of a section as the WWE has done this year.  The rest of the card was good to great, with only the finish of the WWE title match being a clunker.

Seth Rollins seemed to have saved his character, which had been tarnished terribly by the WWE in the build to the event.  Hopefully, they have learned their lesson after Seth’s previous title run (no more Baron Corbin, please).

Where does Bray Wyatt go from here?  Rumors have Finn Balor taking some time off, but the eventual Fiend vs. Demon match is unavoidable, isn’t it?

Big shout out to the NXT Takeover match of Adam Cole vs. Johnny Gargano from Saturday.  Insanity.

I want to know more about the Roman Reigns mystery.  Is Daniel Bryan the mastermind behind it?

SummerSlam successfully made me wonder what the WWE is going to do next and I am excited to see RAW tonight and that means the company did their jobs.

Image result for Seth Rollins frog splash brock Summerslam

NXT Takeover: War Games

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Hanson launches himself onto O'Reilly and sends him crashing through the hardwood!

Tower of Doom!

Ricochet hits a double rotation moonsault from the top of the cage!

Dream goes for his second Purple Rainmaker, but Ciampa rolls out of the way...

WWE Photo

Photos from WWE.com

NXT Takeover WarGames 2 happened last night and one has to wonder why this show NEVER FAILS.  No mater what NXT performers are on the card, the show just is filled with amazing action, great drama and wrestling.

We see the main roster events and they, more often than not, are nowhere near as entertaining as NXT specials.  Now, there are few NXT events on the WWE Network than WWE PPVs.  That has to be taken into account, but still.  There has not been one Takeover special that has been a disappointment.

WarGames last night was insane with Ricochet, Pete Dunn and the War Raiders defeating the Undisputed ERA after Ricochet and Dunn co-pinned Adam Cole (Bay Bay).  This followed some fantastic storytelling inside the match as well as insane spots that looked amazing.

And an argument could be made that this brilliant WarGames was the third best match on the card.

Johnny Gargano vs. Aleister Black and Tommaso Ciampa vs. Velveteen Dream were perhaps the best back-to-back singles matches in history.  Both matches would be pushing five star classics.  Johnny Gargano has been in more Match of the Year candidates than any other performer in WWE.  By far.

Ciampa is maybe the best heel going today.  The Velveteen Dream is going to be a massive star, and he is only 23 years old.

Then the show kicked off with a quick squash match for the King of the Bros, Matt Riddle.  Plus, an entertaining women’s match with Shayna Baszler vs. Kairi Sane, what more could you want?

I think a major issue with WWE is how these unbelievably entertaining and remarkably talented performers get lost when they arrive on the main roster. They obviously thrive in the world of NXT,but the main roster seems to chew them up and spit them out.  Why is that?  Is it the performers fault?  I have a feeling that is what is being said backstage, but when there are more performers who were amazing at NXT but under-performing on the main roster, shouldn’t creative have their share of the blame?

Andrade “Cien”Almas is the latest example of a man who will be in the Top 10 matches of the year list on NXT but lost in the shuffle at Smackdown.  There really can’t be that big of difference is there?

It has taken Bayley years to recover (if she has) from the disastrous run on the main roster.  She was once one of the hottest acts on NXT.

Thankfully, it looks as if the Authors of Pain have been allowed now to become what they are instead of becoming the next Ascension.

There are too many to be coincidence.  Creative is the problem.  Vince is the problem.

One day, perhaps we could have WWE giving us one success after another.  Maybe.

Until then, we are NXT.