Monday, 24 February 2014

WWE Elimination Chamber 2014

WWE Elimination Chamber 2014

Live from the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota on Pay Per View, WWE presented their fifth Elimination Chamber PPV on Sunday 23rd February. With the heavyweight title all to play for and six strong entries, would WWE be able to present a thrilling card also filled with fan appreciation? Would it be a one match event or would the rest of the card be tightly packed together in the lead up to the main event? Let's find out.

Intercontinental Championship
Big E. Langston (c) Vs Jack Swagger w/ Zeb Colter

The action was rather disjointed and awkward to watch. Langston charged through the ring at Swagger to cheers though was an awkward collision. Langston has made numerous interactions that have been neglectful and could seriously harm stars just as Ryback and Sheamus have been. Previous casualties include Dean Ambrose when liability Langston busted his face hardway with a sloppy collision. It's not personal, its professional. Langston needs to take care when performing and install cruise control without loss of traction. Swagger flung Big E. later from the top rope which was a decent display from both. Swagger followed with an awful misconnected low body shoulder dive which Langston also avoided sideways. Big E then escaped a Patriot  Lock from Swagger. Big E ran into a mid body boot only to come back with a power move easily. Langston re-entered a Patriot Lock reaching his feet to escape. Big E. Langston drops the Big Ending to drop Jack Swagger and keep hold of the Intercontinental Championship in a tentative tussle.

Langston needs to slow down and refine his aggression. Some others can also do the same as mentioned above. It is important not to injure as well as maintain compact skill and interaction.

Instantly after English tool Bad News Barrett arrived on a podium to laugh. 

Tag Team Championship
New Age Outlaws (c) Vs The Uso's

Lockups, takedowns and fast paced flying the tag battle was a competitive and consistent match. Though the New Age Outlaws are still workable, the Uso's worked excellently with a vicious hip toss into the corner of one of the Uso's by Road Dogg. Ground work continued well as the Uso's brought back momentum with Jimmy Uso and Mr.Ass with the kiss lips on his pink tights once more. Jimmy soon went up top to the corner as Road Dogg attempted to come in from outside which Jimmy kicked off the apron. The distraction allowed the New Age Outlaws to score a roll up for a three fall retainment of the titles. As fans see it, Triple H's friends retained the gold.

Barrett returned on a podium again for another whiney installment.  Barrett's release cannot come quickly enough.  

Darren Young Vs Titus O'Neil

After their short break up, O'Neil, once WWE's favourite new heavyweight prospect due to height and muscle requirements was set onto a pathway with his former friend. The action was mild but content.

After a quick fallout on Smackdown where Titus could not tag in to Young who was pasted in the match loss, O'Neil raised a boot to Young's gut. The fallout now continues this evening.

A lock up starts the pair as inseparable. A cheap touch followed as Titus botched a dropkick from Young to the knees with no connectivity. Backbreaker followed. A little watered down without any real enthusiasm but the match was respected by fans for the wrestling action involved. Young displayed capable qualities and clearly the stronger of the two. Young ran into a Clash of the Titus move as Titus O'Neil wins the match in a short and empty challenge which had good content in part.

Boring stain Wade Barrett returned again for another saddening dribble of nothingness.  

Six Man Tag Team
Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper and Erick Rowan Vs Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns

After disrupting the status quo for The Shield over the last month The Wyatt Family came to dominate the show as a contest of alpha males.

Rollins and Rowan go at it where Rollins takes an amazing flight. Reigns joins with tagged interplay. Whopping boy Rollins once more excels for The Wyatt's. Harper now feeds off of Rollins who is simply exceptional for the Wyatt's and without him they wouldn't be as strong as they hoped on the night. WWE need to have more respect for Rollins. Without him they would be in severe difficulties. Reigns now enters with Bray. Reigns goes after nutjob Wyatt as Bray stands own firm ground with comeback as equals. Harper rejoins who soon gets a piece of tagged in Ambrose. Rollins and Ambrose double team very well as a pair. Ambrose keeps strong offence against Harper. Rollins returns to be dismissed with frequent tags to Ambrose.  

Initial leaders Bray and Ambrose take the fight as Bray squashes Ambrose in a hard collision to the ring post. After more destruction Rollins was allowed to have his moment and took down all the Wyatt's with super athletic aerialism including a superb moment with a suplex from the top corner reversed landing on his feet which was respected until Harper smashed a hard slam. Rollins soon reverted to beat down rag after.

Reigns received crowd support when tangling with Rowan one on one. Reigns landed a number of 'Superman punches' while Rollins and Harper destroyed the Spanish announce table. It was a bad time for poor Seth. Bray watches as Rowan and Harper double powerbombed sap Rollins through the table.

Shortly after the hot action neared its end with the three Wyatt's battling Reigns whose might powered away from Bray's clutches when Sister Abigail attempted to join in. Roman Reigns received a headbutt to no effect to smash a Samoan drop on Bray. After hurling out Harper and Rowan in a sudden power surge, Bray Wyatt resurfaced quickly as Harper received the spear intended for his master. Bray then nailed Reigns with the kiss of his Sister to cover for the three fall to win the challenge over The Shield in a hotly fought thriller on both sides.  

Unified Women's Championship
AJ (c) w/ Tamina Vs Cameron

The platinum butterfly belt was defended in a short addition and impromptu match. Empty and littered with mistakes, the gals strained three and a half minutes in this one. After friend Naomi was busted by a messy botch from Aksana on Raw just weeks ago to the eye, requiring surgery, the result was an obvious one.

CM punk cheers from the crowd. 252 days is the "longest reigning divas champion of all time" AJ explains adding there was "Zero competition".  The match then began with Cameron, who danced. AJ ran into a touch for Cameron's splits leg drop. AJ hit a roundhouse kick as Cameron ran into it barely touching. Cameron predictably used roll ups and then danced in between. AJ predictably used headlocks again to stall time. AJ skipped. The pair ran into each other with no connectivity. Cameron hit a legdrop to air instead of AJ's head as intended.  Cameron was soon sent outside. "CM Punk" rang from the crowd as AJ used the pom pom's to cheerlead. Tamina hit a superkick on AJ by accident as Cameron put AJ inside for a two count as Tamina saved AJ. Cameron went after Tamina who floored her with a hot clothesline. Once again, Tamina is the only standout star in the division.

WWE are clearly going to need to find some strong females to place on the card for Wrestlemania if it is serious about booking a female match up.

AJ was defeated by Cameron, however, through a disqualification to maintain their brief feud. AJ still holds the title as a result.

Batista Vs Alberto Del Rio

Del Rio arrived on crutches after Batista delivered a brutal bash through the announce table on Raw of the Mexican Aristocrat previously. Batista has since gone back to hot black tights than previous MMA short pants. As often as people don't understand, pants and smaller details are crucial to success. For the record, they look better.

Rio said he would not be able to compete this evening, then stuffed a crutch into Batista's face with an assault. Rio ripped off his sweat jacket stripping his clothes to his scarf and tights bearing a smile for good measure. The crowd cheered "Ce" for Del Ri-o. Huge boos instantly for Batista's first move since the bell began. Fans have not responded well to The Animal's return since a Royal Rumble victory catapulting him to the main event at Wrestlemania. "Boo-tista!" the crowd bellow as Rio locks a leg hold on the ropes for the beefy Batista. Batista showed a fair amount of pain for Del Rio in arm hold as fans held onto the hope that "CM Punk" might return. Fans often agree this is disrespectful to the performers when it isn't related to the content on show. "Y2J" was also mentioned. WWE clearly have a problem. It needs to produce content that supports the crowd, however fans must be aware not all fan favourites can be placed in such fantasy situations inside of a business approach. This would be called a compromise to deliver a better product. Fans won't be respected by WWE for "going into business for themselves " which will affect the product given back by WWE.

Rio contained dominance over Batista with a two fall. Rio countered a finisher and kicked the head of Batista who kicked out at two again.

Rio made a split rookie mistake turning his back as Batista nailed the Batista Bomb to cover Alberto Del Rio for a three fall and win the match heading to Wrestlemania with much heavier momentum.

The crowd did not feel that one, but WWE won't worry about them as disregars them as fantasists for their "CM Punk" boycott chants. This is the way they view it. Batista was booed heavily. To his credit he sold heavily for Rio despite upset in the back at returning stars worries sidelining long term workers. 

WWE World Heavyweight Championship
Elimination Chamber
John Cena Vs Christian Vs Randy Orton (c) Vs Daniel Bryan Vs Antonio Cesaro Vs Sheamus

The Chamber looms. Comprising the pods are, John Cena, Christian, Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan.

The first two to battle the opening match would be Antonio Cesaro and Sheamus. Cesaro, accompanied by Zeb Colter outside, has re-adopted the white tights with red streak and rugby socks which is a good return and a new look. The name will be a fail if WWE doesn't quickly revert it.

Cesaro began strong with a charge and dominance of Sheamus instantly. Sheamus then quickly returned one punch to regain the control. Cesaro was allowed to maintain strong offence whilst working Sheamus to a capable entry. Sheamus then dived over the top rope with a shoulder block in comedy fashion. Sheamus hit a sloppy clothesline once more of Antonio which is another liability. Sheamus, among others could seriously injure WWE performers. Someone needs to read him the riot act. He must work with people than destroy them completely. Sheamus almost bungled being lifted over the top rope to the outside grill.

Orton gave a sexy smirk from his pod as Cesaro kept control. Cesaro mocked Cena in his pod whilst going for Sheamus with the hand wave. Cesaro planted a huge uppercut on Sheamus, who sold it for thirty seconds before climbing to the top rope. Cesaro stalled him with another as the countdown for a new participant begins. In enters Daniel Bryan. Pocket rocket Bryan instantly charges a missile dropkick from the top to Cesaro. YES! kicks on Sheamus after, taking him down with a heavy running clothesline. Bryan then trades YES! kicks with both guys on their knees. No one was able to get the roundhouse kick as the crowd anticipated. Understanding the motion, Cesaro quickly used ring psychology to take a kick by Bryan. Both improvised fast and well.

Cesaro regains control over Bryan.  Relentless Cesaro took Sheamus to the outside then stopped by Bryan who was reversed and swung into the pod window smashing through shoulders first. It was another great interplay between the two. Sheamus quickly then backbreak rolled Cesaro to the grilling followed with a two fall in ring. "Let's go Cena. Cena sucks!" chants ring as the countdown starts again. The next entry? Christian. He shoves Sheamus off the top and works onto Bryan to cheers for being in the match but boo's for going for the favourite. With only Cesaro and Orton as rogue battlers, WWE needed an obvious balance. Christian displayed strong qualities and ripped Bryan's injured shoulder padding off to hit him onto the pod for extra damage.

WWE had earlier planned to consider removing Christian from the match after we touched on the Jeff Hardy stairwell whodunit in which fans cost Christian a sustained push with online gossip and spoilers, something WWE felt highly distasteful and irrespective.

Christian followed further power slamming Sheamus down. Cesaro attempted a swing on Christian who blocked and then reversed a door gate assault landing on the chamber only to be powerbombed by Cesaro into the pod. Quick thinking Antonio attempted a cover in ring for a two fall only. Phew, Christian wasn't laid to waste so easily. This is highly beneficial in the absence of WWE stars.

Sheamus and Cesaro trade blows. Cesaro amazingly gut wrench suplexes Sheamus to the steel floor outside. Another star is coming in. John Cena enters to vicious disagreement. He flings Christian onto Cesaro and climbs the top as Bryan hurricanrana's Cena. Cena takes kicks from Bryan but fails to sell the impact. Christian gets a sneak attack on Bryan to cover for a tense two fall. Now Cesaro grabs the legs of Christian for a swing, halted by a flying Cena. Cena then drops Christian for a five knuckle shuffle, only to be planted by Sheamus with White Nosie. Cesaro and Sheamus go back at it. Uppercuts versus punches as Christian kicks Sheamus in the head, Sheamus counters Cesaro's finisher as Christian drops over Sheamus and drops a Jump Swinging DDT. Cena catches and smashes him into the steel wall. Cena lightly taps the flying elbow run on Cesaro as Antonio smacks an uppercut to Cena's face to huge cheers.

Cena, Cesaro and Bryan take centrestage with attacks as Sheamus and Christian try outside. Sheamus holds Cesaro as Bryan attacks only for Sheamus to viciously shove Bryan into the steel wall. In his pod Randy Orton looks on, thrilled. Cesaro drops a huge suplex on Sheamus as the final countdown sends Orton into the fray. Orton clears the ring with attacks on everyone. Fans give Orton a little "boring" sound as Orton taunts.

Now flanked by Cena, Bryan and Sheamus, the champ is caught in all directions. Orton retreats to his pod. Sheamus stares at Orton in the pod. Fans lower the tone chanting "p***y" as Orti smiles and licks his lips. Sheamus then brogue kicks the door apart as Orton is knocked down and Sheamus smashes him inside the ring. Cena knocks an Attitude Adjustment followed with missconnected five knuckle shuffle. Cesaro hurls Cena out. Orton gets caught into the fabled super swing for thirty rotations. Damn, that looked hot.

The action changes quickly with everyone as Sheamus stands tall. Surging for a Brogue Kick on Christian, he ducks as Cena is knocked instead. Christian takes a quick two fall on Sheamus and then Cena. Christian retreats from Sheamus with pleas as the Celtic Warrior tries a dominator. Christian uses the elevation to climb the top as JBL likens Christian to a mnonkey. Jerry Lawler drops the "spider monkey" for a little laugh. It was okay in quick context. We giggled. Orton stopped Sheamus and retook charge. Christian, atop the pod, hits a flying splash down onto the Irishman then glides over Sheamus for a three fall elimination. "This is Awesome!" the crowd say. Christian then flung Orton over to be nailed by Bryan in a hard flying attack and is eliminated with ease.

The four go hammer and tongs. Cesaro/Cena and Orton/Bryan. Bryan and Cena stare down on opposite parts of the ring to huge "YES!" agreements. The pair battle with fists as Bryan tries the YES! Lock as Cena "powers through" Cesaro from behind double German suplexes Cena, who holds Bryan in hold. Cena counters all of Cesaro's manoeuvres to smash him to the outside with the plexi-fibre glass. Cena gets a quick submission hold on, debatably and forces Antonio Cesaro to tap out. Fans were miffed. Cena then puts Orton into a hold as the Wyatt's black out the arena. All three are in the chamber, unexplainedly as they go for Cena. Cena suffers a mauling by the family as Bray plants the kiss of Sister Abigail to Cena. The crowd appreciate with "Thank You Wyatts!"

Orton quickly covers John Cena in a weak showing as champion to protect Cena taking the action down to two. Either Bryan or Orton will win the title. Kane tells the Wyatt's to leave. As Kane checks on Cena being helped out the door, Bryan launches to Kane, as Orton quickly regains control from the advantage. Bryan gets the better of Orton with running YES! kicks to crowd entrustment. Two fall follows a strong suplex from the top on Orton. Bryan scales the corner post again, which Orton halts with a jab. Orton smacks the DDT from the ropes at the turnbuckle. Orton readies himself on the ground stomping as Bryan knocked a knee on Orton where Michael Cole screams "Bryan's going to Wrestlemania!" Kane stops the referee count as Randy Orton smacks Daniel Bryan with the RKO. Bryan kicks out at two to stay in the fight. Offering the WWE Universe hope, Bryan was kicked by Kane again as Randy Orton followed a swift RKO to cover Daniel Bryan for a three fall and raise the WWE World Heavyweight Championship once more. 

WWE showed close ups of the WWE Universe fans dismayed with the result. What fans fail to understand is that WWE are sending their message. With so many spoilers and idiocy from online silliness WWE cannot and are unwilling to accept fans' points of view. This was clearly sent with the finishing angle on Bryan, as well as possibly removing Christian from the bout. They want fans to learn the lesson. Once agreed, the product could become better without too many smarks around thinking they know how WWE are going to do something with spoilers costing the show forcing it to change direction.  

PPV Rating - 7/10

Men/Women of their matches - Jack Swagger, Jimmy Uso, Darren Young, Seth Rollins, AJ, Alberto Del Rio, Antonio Cesaro

Man/Woman of the PPV - The Wyatt Family


Goldust and Cody Rhodes defeated Ryback and Curtis Axel in a standard tag match to kick off the interest of the Chamber card. Axel had Larry Henning with him at ringside. This may be a positive sign WWE are moving Axel and his name away to a better place. He is still being lumbered with useless stone Ryback until creative figure where to place him. 

WWE felt compelled to change Cesaro's name. Now known as a surname only, Antonio was dropped by WWE's head office because they feel the name Antonio was one that was weak. Yet every superstar and human being has a forename. Obscure WWE logic always threatens a career opportunity. Cesaro has made the name Antonio strong. It's also his WWE identity. WWE need to add it back pronto in order to avoid a long term backlash. Fans do not accept the name change either and still call him Antonio. The longer WWE abstain, the longer they will look the fool. Though defiance is something the John Cena project has evolved into today, with mixed results. The name Antonio has also been linked to and strong in theoretical areas and philosophers. Hmmm. Interesting. 

The title chamber itself was a strong and interesting fight to watch. Even those disliked by fans were watchable in this battle, a key imperative for WWE to have with six stars it requires in different camps. WWE could bother to re elevate Christian to a decent level to keep on the sidelines, help train others and interest fans for ticket sales. Though WWE don't get his appeal, Christian has that in part and something fans want to spend time on. With a child recently born and serious about his career stalled in part, Christian is serious about a WWE future. 

Returning to the ring in his first real match after winning the Royal Rumble mega match, The Animal hammered past Alberto Del Rio as expected. They went for eight minutes as Batista held strong levels of power as well as helping Del Rio retain his profile in the loss. Rio gave Batista a helping hand too, which is a sign of strong match portrayal and future support. They had a competent battle for the short run through.

The tag titles will be seen as the DX continuation for Triple H's fun filled moment on screen. Unable at this time to participate, Hunter's fan club in which "no one else can join" is seen as pointless. Despite the fact both guys can work well still, fans are past the nostalgia stage and politely decline their involvement in such strong storylines for a title run that is just for record books and no development overall.

Swagger was boring and gave no real interest. Langston was above him because Swagger was so lowly. Neither have really shone, but, as WWE hope for, Langston is still a fan favourite, for now at least. Care and attention to detail will benefit a longer role over time. As a rushed prospect the effect is taking its toll on Big E.'s character interest.

Darren Young and Titus' collision was short and empty, but did show a level of skill involved. A long think on the drawing board will benefit. However, as noted previously, Young provided a bearable battle.

AJ's title reign has always been uneventful. The reminder of the title holding and pointless reign does her no favours. Though her point of "no competition" is true. How sad that in 2014, this is a shining reality of the female division. People need skilled workers not girl's next door with model attributes. No competition also highlights AJ's title reign with such accessory is regarded as highly empty of any contest.

The Shield and The Wyatt's was the hottest match of the evening for fans. Delivering skill, spots, fun and frenzy, the six men can be proud of this corker. 

Overall, the chamber card was a watchable event without too much strain to get through the show. When a PPV flows well, fans will be able to engage whilst respecting those on opposing sides as part of a business understanding. When it is not a legitimate partnership, fans will become distant, even if they do part with cash now and then and possibly, forever. 

©  Max Waltham 24th February 2014

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Obituary: Mae Young

Westling Legend passes at landmark ninety 
years shaping way for female wrestling

In this Obituary, Wrestling Wonders celebrates the career and influence of one of it's most decorated performers. As a tribute, we look back at the glorious times of the sporting delight that will forever be Mae Young, wrestling's most unforgettable wrestling diva.

Mae Young proved to be an influential force for good in the industry of Women's Wrestling. Taking up her position in the wrestling business at the age of sixteen, Young would cast a guiding light on the change in appreciation of female wrestling.

At the age of fifteen, Johnnie Mae Young, the youngest of her family, Young was placed onto her high school wrestling team integrated with the boys. Unafraid to mix it up and prove her strong will for the sport, Young began honing her skills with huge determination.

Coming from a background affected by poverty in the Great Depression, Young's family troubles increased with the absence of her father and siblings in times of strife.

Young appeared at a professional wrestling event challenging standout wrestler Mildred Burke, champion at that time on a trip to Tulsa. She later battled Gladys Gillem proving popular with a victory in mere seconds. It was here she met notorious agent Billy Wolfe who convinced her to become a professional wrestler. Mae then spent two years training forcing her to leave home.

One of Young's most defining moments came when she would inadvertently become an ambassador for female wrestling. On December 7th 1941 Young entered a match, as this day is now know as Pearl Harbour. During the Japanese attack the United States entered World War II. During the war Young was instrumental in the fight for female acceptance. Young focused her attentions and rose among the adversity to strengthen the bond of the sport and females among male interactions also.

After the war ended Young and Burke, who established a strong relationship to boost female grapplers were the first to tour Japan easing tensions. Shortly after this Young was catapulted through the National Wrestling Alliance with flying colours as its first recognised NWA Florida Women's Champion. She also joined an infamous Battle Royal five years on in 1956 to crown a new NWA World Women's Champion, won by her close friend The Fabulous Moolah.

In 1968 Young became the first NWA's first United States Women's Champion.

It was a long while until Young joined the WWF on the September 9th Smackdown. Jeff Jarrett invited Moolah, seated with Young in the audience to the ring. After accepting, Jarrett smashed his synonymous guitar over her head. Here, Young attempt to intervene only to be locked into a figure four submission hold. Thereafter Young and Moolah were inseparable on WWE television in numerous appearances and skits helping advance the careers of growing future stars. 

Always up for a laugh and good sport Mae often endured some comedy skits which were terrible. However, the majority, even the bad one's were made pleasant by Young's attention to detail and transforming the situations into her own. Young was stripped to her bra and panties by Ivory on Raw and also named Miss. Royal Rumble 2000 winning a bikini contest to the current divas' disapproving. Though many divas intended to embarrass Young on the national stage, Young revelled in her sexuality. Feeling confident, empowered and tenacious, Young refused to be upset by her exposed body. Turning the tables on the calculating females, she would lure them into a false sense of security. Comfortable with her near nudity shocking other ladies, she struck down her foes instead to rise above victorious.

Young's most infamous skit involved then boyfriend Mark Henry. She also endured a shocking powerbomb in WWE history which is now the most renowned and extraordinary act ever. Young was previously announced as pregnant beforehand, now posing concern for the seventy-seven year old. Giving birth, fans and Henry were shocked when Young's birth was nothing more than a blood stained hand. Fans were meant to believe the powerbomb had torn her child into fragments, remaining inside Young's womb. Naturally the angle received upset debate from certain fans. A tricky subject to address, Young praised enthusiasm for the stunt. At that time in wrestling and able to work with any scenario thrown her way, Young still made the scene compelling today.

Young appeared on Raw 1000 in the dressing room backstage next to her son. With a young guy in a hand, Young addressed her "son" with adoration. Her son loved her back proud of one another. The divas locker room were somewhat perplexed. Fans found the segment in acceptable taste, given the time passing. 

Young's final appearance with WWE was on the Old School Raw edition. She celebrated her ninetieth birthday. Backstage Young received a gracious gift presented by Triple H and Chairman Vince McMahon with a divas championship replica. The idea was implemented by Stephanie McMahon, to which Young respected. 

On New Year's Eve 2013 Young was drastically rushed to hospital. Disgraced publication The Charleston Post & Courier quickly reported Young had died. Highly inaccurate and shaming themselves sparking outrage and fear for fans, the post attempted to make a cheap cash in on the WWE legend. Despite the tasteless appeal for flocking readers, Young sadly passed away shortly after on January 14th 2014. On the January 17th episode of Smackdown WWE dedicated a fitting tribute to Young. Shamefully Impact Wrestling attempted to 'get in first' for publicity and give a tribute to Young on the 16th. Young had no involvement or wrestling detail with TNA. It was seen as a completely tasteless disregarded move by clueless TNA President Dixie Carter for publicity and mocking the WWE's impending tribute, to which Young was highly notorious with in her later years.
 TNA invaded and embarrassed themselves with such a shameful move which had no involvement on their part. It was not their place and could have made a mockery of the legend's name if it weren't for such strong following from fans and industry experts.  
Young made such notorious headway in her career that she was inducted into the Professional Hall of Fame in August 2004 and the WWE Hall of Fame in the class of 2008. Wrestling Wonders has also respected Mae's accomplishments over 2013.
Moolah and Young, Women's Wrestling pioneers. 
With her natural bond with close friend The Fabulous Moolah and a pinnacle for female wrestling, Young helped the movement strive forward. In times of unappreciation Mae's accomplishments alongside others will continue on in a positive manner. Delivering exemplary standards and precision in her in ring talent, appearances and publicity where counted Young held prominence. Now, in 2014, Young and others have laid a foundation that has allowed female talent to strive for a real  chance at a future in the business.

Unrivalled with her comedy skill and natural warmth, Young will be one of wrestling history's most respected females making it as a nonagenarian veteran. Wrestler. Woman. Friend. Young has added a huge definition to the label of female wrestler that has been highly valued. May one of wrestling's finest divas truly rest peacefully.

©  Max Waltham 19th February 2014

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

2013 Year in review, Part Four: Japan and Women's Wrestling

2013 Year in review, Part Four: 
New Japan, All Japan, NOAH, 

Outdoing the Independents and standing firm on their own, the scene has changed drastically for Japan and female promotions across 2013. More so, in Japan, New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) lost its core being through ignorance and mismanagement allowing its rival All Japan Pro Wrestling (AJPW) to catch up and give them a real chance at competition. With only Kazuchika Okada firmly in place shining brightly for New Japan, All Japan launched the likes of SUWAMA, Go Shiozaki, Jun Akiyama, Joe Doering and others to stand sturdily against the flawed rivals of NJPW. New Japan made fundamental errors which proved costly.

Adding another blow was NOAH. KENTA's rise and the use of strong support structures from outside and continental visitors boosted their reputation. Able to provide expert matches, sheer quality and intrigue, the position of NOAH could indeed catch up with All Japan and supplant New Japan as Japan's number one promotion. Both should avoid hasty moves with foreign western countries that can harm their rise. One wrong move could destroy everything worked for. The next few years are crucial to re-position the core companies to dominate Japan's wrestling scene.

The bottom line is clear. All Japan and NOAH are rapidly catching New Japan's heels. Costly mistakes and stupidity with thought and placement have expose NJPW as somewhat awkward and resigned. It could be pushed into third or even third place as the national promotion of talent and skill. The evolution should be more than interesting to see unfold. Roster selection of new over shore signees is also a serious test for company devaluing. Choices must be careful researched than ignorant split choices made on a whim for a quick buzz wearing off in two minutes.

Even Dynamic Dream Team (DDT) manage to keep their credibility with comedy matches in expert and well thought out fashion, including such comedians as Golden Loves Kota Ibushi and Kenny Omega. This could even be an up and comer for Japan and that is no joke.

The Women's Indy scene has developed vividly over the past three years. With a strong reputation and the real place to go for female wrestling action, all promotions elsewhere have allowed themselves to become inferior.  The interest on the scene for the ladies is now about how they can capitalise on their success and choose the right outlets to help. Making ludicrous ones will be costly and they understand this. They are keeping themselves distant, and for very good reason. Able to survive on its own, with a host of battling beauties, the real wrestling babes can really draw.

Top promotion SHIMMER has managed to not only build its reputation but maintains its credibility. With virtually every serious professional female wrestler flocking to its nest the promotion is currently winning hands down. Now, it needs to drive an extra push. It should not pair up with other promotions overseas or the big nationals for two minute publicity. If it seems good at the time, it could be costly when the magic fades soon after the deal is struck. Only fools rush in.

Athletes such as Mercedes Martinez, Cheerleader Melissa and others retain its core foundations and draw respect from fans. It is able to survive whilst it plans its next move if it draws up plans. If not, it may need an expert fixer to do it for them. Choose wisely though. Regardless, SHIMMER will be able to keep expert matches flourishing for the scene, keep healthy competition and drive female empowerment whilst keeping the doors open. This is one Indy promotion that can keep its standards high and boast success.

SHINE is a lagging but catching promotion. Its major flaw is that it tries to move in such ways which are predictable, obvious and similar to other partnerships. Owned by the EVOLVE group, SHINE is starting to fizzle out. It is clear favouritism in decision's is once again affecting the product from bookers at the top holding on to their 'luvvies' instead of professional and title upholding. Becoming a slight throwaway promotion where action and gold mean nothing is a troubling sign. Stick to SHIMMER until another becomes available. Noticing how shows and companies are booked by certain people in the same context can be very costly to the output overall. Many careers are often on the line, especially in the women's field of blasé inferiority. 

©  Max Waltham 18th February 2014

Sunday, 16 February 2014

2013 Year in review, Part Three: The Independents

2013 Year in Review
Part Three: Ring of Honor, 
Dragon Gate and the Independents

Ring of Honor won't have any relevance nor will it be of real, comparative interest. Ring of Honor proved it was in no way a wrestling company at all. Taken on by the Sinclair Broadcasting Group, with lacking management of PR disasters, abusive staff and general barbarians on television, ROH has nothing to offer. Currently pinching talent and stars from elsewhere including popular Alex Koslov, AJ Styles and advice with booking ignorant Adam Cole, to the heavyweight title from Wrestling Wonders, the direction is clear. Picking up scraps from the table is a measly mistake. Those crumbs will not become golden nuggets. ROH needs to fire or dispel current problems, act fast and stop the 'I do what I want even if people are wrong' mentality. Such bad attention will always stain a mark on the company. 

Lack of respect.
 Cole as unconvincing champion in 2013. 
Ring of Honor were in a bind. They needed to sell the company to someone who could distribute the airwaves. Facing problems with the now dropped internet PPV's for failure to understand how to conduct the procedure, Sinclair bought the show with the intent to gain more investment capital. That's fine, it's a business ideal. Though it has not had constructive management nor support in how to deal with mounting problems. Filled with scandals, abuse and allowance from management will always make ROH a non-entity. It will just be there in the mist. Somewhere to go when all other options fail. A stop gap come halfway house. Talent should avoid going there as much as possible, unless there is nothing else to do. That is its core being. Bookers at the time had to sell, but now, perhaps this is a lesson all can learn. The lesson being not to sell to the first buyer who comes along and promises an 'all teeth and suits' glory. This company is travelling down the TNA route of hiring anyone. TNA, has slumped to a categorical new low. ROH is following that trend in a drastic manner.  

Dragon Gate USA in its failure to drop Johnny Gargano as champion proved the promotion is booked on a fan mentality based of promoters with talent adoration as friends and not fan audiences. Every booker needs a dependable mannequin, but in order to make a business and truly, a company evolve, strong options than just friends in the back need to be adapted upon. Over the two years as champion, the DG heavyweight title has not made any progress, and hasn't elevated the stage of Dragon Gate USA. In fact, after shining as a company in 2012, Wrestling Wonders recognised it as the top promotion of the year. Despite naming it the Promotion of the Year in the WW 2012 Awards, Dragon Gate has dropped the ball. With extraordinary talent on the roster, as well as some levels of ignorance, DG is one company that moves slowly and simply fades away in the background. It should be high value and yet it is simply surplus to requirements when everyone is bored of everything else. It is the last toy to be played with in the playpen. When it is used, this is only for passing time and no one really cares about it until they are re-integrated into the national promotions instead. Full of trust issues with questionable talents, Dragon Gate needs to think about company appeal and not a booker's friend to be carried for favouritism which devalues the industry. Counting the string beans will not make Jack's beanstalk rise. Ditch the cows, plant the seed, bloom with golden water. Lose the ego. 

Tony Nese upholds strong
Indy scene foundations.
The real independent circuit is one that is very appealing. With likes of Christian York, Tony Nese and others the scene is looking rather handsome. With strong appeal, wrestling values and support in tow for fans and interaction, the shows deliver for attendees. The problem, as always, is that it is independent. While talent can make enough money on the scene to live a decent life, many leave the indy scene because there isn't much growth with career opportunities. This is no ones fault overall. This is simply the way it works. Fans go to indy shows to see pure wrestling without many, if any, storyline emphasis. Characters are welcome but story is not needed here. The formula cannot be changed as this offers an alternative when all else fail. How a star develops their career, however, is something that they have to contemplate themselves. The indy scene does however think cleverly on who it should book, rather than pick anyone. That is one of the key imperatives that keeps the scene flowing. Change that, and the beginning foundation of failure would rot the core fragments built upon. 

Indy wrestling doesn't have and could require 'brains' in the sense of those individuals that can really drive something further. The only problem with this understanding is that the only people left in this bracket who aren't new, young or fresh for today's market are the older generation of 1980's wrestling. Hiring those to run parts of the background show mentality would be a pitfall for the scene itself. Choices must be logically thought out as to who could really help make it a rising, yet stable opportunity. We don't see anyone able to do this. Perhaps others can see one? Remember, you shouldn't just hire anyone who is a fan favourite or booking adoration.

©  Max Waltham 16th February 2014

Thursday, 13 February 2014

2013 Year in Review Part Two: TNA

2013 Year in Review
Part Two: TNA

TNA had its most diabolical year to date. From a company that never turned a profit since its inception and the struggle to interest fans, critics and outside advertisers enough as a legitimate company, the future looks bleak.

Led by the most clueless lady on the wrestling planet, Dixie Carter has irked the industry more than she realises. Her naivety at running a wrestling entertainment company and assuming fan disinterest in her order of production is just 'heat' is one of wrestling's biggest absurdities. Worryingly, Carter shocked the audience tenfold by moving TNA into a gaggle of new disasters. In January she attempted to find a British wrestling star with Hulk Hogan featuring ignorant contestants in a pre-worked six part TV drama. She thought it was brilliant. It was a bumbling disaster. Not to mention ignoring warning signs and defiantly, or more so, stubbornly continuing with her brainless initiative on ideas, Carter hit rock bottom. With a lavish launch party overseas and flying British fans over to TNA studios with prize money, hotel stay and a flight, as  a competition winner flown over to the states for free was also plain ridiculous. In a time of financial crisis, Carter should have had more sense than that.

Continuing into the gallivance of Dixie, she chose to rename her company Impact Wrestling and more recently TNA Entertainment after falling with fans like a lead balloon.  Dixie copied WWE once again by attempting to go on the road with her travelling circus. For such extravagance, costs mounted high, and so, staff had to go. Dixie then culled a hoard of talent, being the operative word. The most humourous detail here was not Dixie's need to cost control. Fans realised Carter was out of her depth by releasing all the talented staff and keeping the useless ones taking huge pay packets instead. Her culls included scores of divas including Tara, rising up and comer Christian York and developing rookies Alex Silva and Crimson.

PR hungry Dix failed to act when lacklustre botch prone champion Bully Ray displayed insane levels of homophobia. The 'nicest female in wrestling' decided not to act and sweep it under the carpet, whilst keeping Ray as champion throughout most of the year in a lousy reign based on in-ring work alone. Ray famously sat himself on a table at ringside in a match, too. Carter swiftly reprimanded Austin Aries for throwing his crotch into ring announcer Christy Hemme's face mid year. After losing further respect, with the ridiculous #AskDixie chats on Twitter, Carter allowed useless staff in Joseph Park, Ray, Magnus and others to destroy the product from within. Now Hogan has finally left soaking up the purse, leaving Dixie completely dumbstruck, she even denied a possible attempt at selling the company off.

Now chasing the WWE dream, one last time.
The next option for Dixie may well be to sell, but the problem is who wants to buy an already tainted and debt swollen pothole? Carter should have found those people in wrestling who would be able to revamp the product with the talent available. She didn't and has thus failed. She even rejected a lucrative ownership deal from wrestling guru Paul Heyman at a time some few years ago when it really mattered.

In TNA, anyone can be its champion. Without any meaning to its lineage and the rate at which it packs off talent, TNA is more than troubled. Selecting tawdry and illogical choices as champions only further destroys the structure for growth. TNA's title also on its own merit, is rendered as a throwaway centrepiece.

So how can the company develop from all of its problems?

There is a way, but simply put, TNA do not deserve my input unless they wish to open talks and get me backstage. TNA's product has been stubborn, uneventful and outrageously abusive, and not in the correct sense. Jeff Jarrett bailed on the disaster after realising he didn't need that pitfall any longer. It is not needed, but is available if TNA move themselves. Of course, the offer must be high. This isn't essentially down to merely financial circumstances alone. That being said, TNA is a risk for any talent and is not a fully sound investment. I give it three years maximum as a turnaround period. That's being generous. I cannot foresee any sustainable talent on this roster apart from Jesse (Jessie Godderz) Jeff Hardy and to a lesser extent, Sting. Gail Kim and ODB are the only standout females. Kurt Angle will always add something to the product despite his next real-life drama. At least his heart is in wrestling, but such actions outside the ring with postmodern pop tarts for lame exposure makes the man lack credibility. Did such action help TNA's (or even Angle's) exposure?  

If all TNA can do is copy the national promotion and take from Wrestling Wonders to adapt storylines from ideas that cannot be implemented or performed well it doesn't deserve any respect. Once you respect the fans, product, industry and talent, the audience will support you. Until you do that, there is no value. Copying others will always cause anyone to get it wrong, because they simply cannot do what one other, who is simply, better at deliverance and guidance, than those unequipped with such understanding. TNA was adored for being its own space, granted slow, but grew on its own standing. Now, it is a spare pocket of mediocrity. If you can't think fast and get with the program, the program will be forever gone. The essence of this notion is apparent. Fans may still watch, but the former shell of what TNA was to fans has been evaporated. Fans have lost the respect and cannot support it any longer. That, is the worst possible response to any business model. 

©  Max Waltham 13th February 2014

2013 Year in Review, Part One: WWE

The Year in Review, 2013
Part One: WWE

The 2013 wrestling year was a tough, interesting and a confusing one at the best of times. From headline company WWE to wayward TNA and radar dipping independents the scene is changing for 2014 in a way no one can expect. Below, in this four parter, Max Waltham looks back at the year in review, what can be done to make it better and the options for talent and producers if they care to bother for a greater year as a standout promotion.

Beginning with the number one national promotion in the land, WWE served up numerous details and scenarios which nabbed it the most successful company of the year. Regardless of whether liked or not, filled with such opportunities, talent had options. Still a slow process, WWE did provide the best entertainment for a number of reasons.

WWE's heavyweight division is extremely sparse. With Randy Orton and often John Cena as its two main footers, having surplus in Alberto Del Rio and recent upgrade of Daniel Bryan in the wings, all are stable names at the top. The problem is that all these four are seen as one dimensional, simplistic in a negative context and uneventful of a greater than great match, despite efforts. Fans are often bored and tired of the same feuds and enhancing its talent will remedy this predicament. WWE are often slow on this front and should develop the staff they have as many on the current roster are capable.

With plans to switch Damien Sandow from an aggressive gent to an honourable one instead has been debated and tested to fan communities who cannot fathom the idea. For WWE this is a sustainable choice, but in doing so, must require strong foundations for change with promos, detail available in script and storylines with match support.

Who if anyone should WWE launch into its headline programs over the coming year? As we have briefly explained in previous articles over the past three months, a number of stars should be enhanced upon. These include Damien Sandow, Antonio Cesaro and Seth Rollins. Up and comer Bray Wyatt and the family will be supportive structures in their own strong gathering. Rollins and Dean Ambrose can comprise the tag division with an imminent break up with Roman Reigns. There is no need to disband The Shield and could see two more members expanded into the group, including a diva. Paige is nowhere near equipped for these expertise and should be avoided.

After Unifying its heavyweight titles (at least for now) the 'E should not integrate unifications with all other titles. Unifications are meant to be a sacred and important change in the landscape of product. Plus it has never been more crucial for talent to rise to mid level status and only one of these titles will halt any progress multiple stars could achieve.

Randy Orton's recent turn to the darkside has been slightly uneventful. In parts the charisma has been kept very well, but the full effect has been mildly numb overall. Orton should have a level of distance, agreed, but does need a hard emphasis elsewhere to make up for his unpredictable, smooth and sweet glaze.

So who should WWE throw up to the top of the WWE main event? WWE need a number of varied challengers than the same old faces. Ditch the automatic rematch clause unless a certain circumstance when it was a shrewd move to have placed in contract. Earning the title opportunity is far more valid than automatic technicality. Names below do not mean making a heavyweight champ automatically but those needed to float around the surface and have involvement for strength to product.

Leading names for main event include Daniel Bryan, Antonio Cesaro, Damien Sandow, Sheamus, Alberto Del Rio, Brock Lesnar, John Cena, Randy Orton, Christian and The Rock.  

Rookie call ups from NXT can find comfortability in midlevel matches, work ways to mid titles and someone can be an exception to  a certified made man by gaining a title quickly when credible. Only a strong option should receive this opportunity. Other NXT call ups can tangle in the tag scenario. A few names of note worth are Corey Graves, Sasha Banks, Konnor, Jake Varner, Mojo Rawley, Charlotte, Adrian Neville, Colin Cassady, Aiden English and Sami Zayn.

Aiden English. Also has a
wonderful tie somewhere. 
After dropping its calamitous divas division outright, Triple H has moved into tag team wrestling instead. Finishing a niche to boost his name to a flourishing division once sunk, Triple H can not only gain bragging rights but have scores of teams available that fans wish to see and appreciate.

For the divas, WWE should hire those who can help behind the scenes. Neglecting this, it should prioritise wrestling values as most important to its selling point as most model divas cannot handle even the basic of moves and turn the division into a farce which could have goldmine written all over it if WWE really bothered than devoting one year before getting bored. AJ, Tamina and Natalya are the obvious names to include.

For the tag scene The Shield need to grow. Showing vulnerability has been a great launch for them. There is no need to remove them outright and let them run a new path as a unit. As mentioned above new stars could join and Ambrose and Rollins can become a standout tag team tandem whilst holding individual status and sometimes singles action. Both would gain more in-ring experience for cleaner futures as well.

Legends come and go. They are necessary in certain circumstances but others are simply washed up and pointless. The Rock, Chris Jericho, Brock Lesnar and returning beefcake Batista are just four WWE need to keep on the books where available. Others like returnees for a paycheck alone with unstable trust issues like Hulk Hogan and Stone Cold should be avoided as they do not offer the product any real development and only soak up a portion of TV that destroys future growth for a bland nostalgic two minutes on screen. 

WWE had all the storylines. Though many levels of competition were not apparent and lacklustre, WWE put on a decent spread. From the CM Punk and Paul Heyman bitter rivalry and the Wyatt Family rising up with influential script elsewhere, both were strong encounters for all involved. Nothing could topple the story of the Summer. Daniel Bryan, the underachiever that came good despite all hierarchies expressing disinterest climbed the mountain. His fall from grace that followed was one that was daft by many but held a comforting protection pad at the bottom to break his fall. Bryan was insanely over and could not be harmed. Despite the upset of removing the title, the pocket rocket superstar was made, title or not. How WWE now capitalises on this mainstream name while not overdoing it and burning Bryan out with fans will be the test leading to the April supershow.

With all involved for 2013, WWE romper stomped and clawed its way back to the top with borrowed storylines, star influence and strong technique in wrestling. What it should do once more, as always suggested over the last how many years, is the need to invest in talent uprising. Launching more superstars that are credible, have options and potential, even if they initially flop, is vital to gain audience reception. Adding to WWE pecking order, at least they will be seen as countable stars to rely on in future. The main event would be better if there were scores of challengers rather than the same old floating around the scene. It does not mean everyone has to win or be continual. Having surplus in waiting is important for a division that has only four to five active heavyweights, all of whom the audience are bored with to some degree. If WWE can resist the urge to overdo the John Cena and returning legends for a paycheck mentality and focus on the current landscape it has available, it may be able to redefine fan interest. 2014 will be a test that develops WWE talent further. All in all, WWE made the most entertaining and thrilling year in wrestling and claimed all the attention. Simply put, there were no challengers. The action was red hot, encouraging and appealing. That was all that was needed to capture the year that provided content needed for the industry. Wrestling, like the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, was firmly put back on the map. 

After CM Punk's recent headlines of leaving WWE on his own terms, WWE should decide where to place CM Punk. Whether CM Punk is a new type of star called up or whether it regains and willingly puts the original CM Punk in setting, the profile of such star should be upheld for the landscape than to ignore and decrease an extra name to the mix of contenders available in WWE. 

©  Max Waltham 09th February 2014