Between The Ropes Wrestling Podcast Talking WWE Raw, Daniel Bryan – June 5, 2013

btrlogoBrian and Steve talks about the Rampage Jackson conference call and thoughts of him getting in the ring for TNA Wrestling, Raw from Monday night including the awesomeness of Daniel Bryan and his future there, Triple H vs. the McMahons, John Cena against Curtis Axel, the Payback PPV coming up in less than two weeks, show ratings and much more.

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WWE Smackdown Rundown – May 31st, 2013

wwe smackdown logoVery entertaining edition of WWE Smackdown last night.  Check out the breakdown below.

The Good:

Opening Match – Kane def. Seth Rollins: Great way to kick off the show. Rollins and Kane worked a slow, methodical match pace, and WWE gave them some real time to do what they wanted. Rollins looked smart here for trying to take Kane out at the knees, and Kane really put the younger star over here by selling as well as he did (this is a true veteran).

I liked the ending of the match, where Bryan interfered and allowed Kane to get the chokeslam and pin. This match made Team Hell No look unified (after a few weeks of dissension), and it was fun to see them steal a page from The Shield. Since Rollins looked so strong throughout the match against a former world champion, I don’t think the loss took anything away from him. Similarly, this continues the feud between the two teams in a logical manner by making Kane seem like a credible threat.

Roman Reigns def. Daniel Bryan by DQ (due to Kane’s Interference): Really loved how this match picked up immediately after the last match – tying these two segments together not only makes sense, but it makes for great continuity on the show (where so many times pro wrestling events feel like a stiched-together circus of events). Reigns looked solid here by showing his strength, and Bryan did a great job (as always) of building momentum in the match and getting the fans behind him.

The ending was fun. Bryan rolled a pin attempt into the ‘no-lock,’ and Reigns used his strength to fight his way to the ropes. I loved how Reigns then provoked Kane, who retaliated with a punch, thus causing the DQ. This is a genuine heel tactic, and a great way to put heat on The Shield. I’m also glad the emphasis was put on Kane causing the confusion here instead of Bryan. Short, but fun, match, and great segment overall.

Curtis Axel def. Sin Cara: Let me start off by praising WWE for not making them wrestle under those stupid Sin Cara lights. Paul Heyman did a great job of building up Axel before the match. Seriously, the man could sell a baby kitten as a World Champion. Axel also took the mic and sounded intimidating without turning into a monotone robot (see: Ryback).

Match was quick. Sin Cara got a few botched offensive moves, but Axel quickly shut him down and finished him with the perfect plex. It made him look very strong, and able to quickly adapt. I think this is good for his build. He needs more easy wins like this against lower and mid-card talent, while brushing shoulders with the big boys.

Big E Langston def. Alberto Del Rio: Decent back-and-forth. Big E wins after AJ grabs Del Rio which let Big E throw him into a ring post. The match was only OK (not as good as their other two outings), but does a lot for Big E’s continued momentum.

Ryback dismantled Kofi Kingston: Ryback entered via an ambulance. Is this a thing now? Kofi looked game by attacking Ryback head-on, and not showing any fear. While I question the decision to give Kingston so much offense against Ryback, the ending of this segment sold me on it. Ryback put Kofi through multiple tables, and looked like a monster. The announcers also did a good job by recapping the seriousness of Kingston’s injuries.

Jericho def. Cody Rhodes: Jericho is such a good worker, in great shape, and able to keep up with wrestlers much younger than him. These two put together a fast-paced match. Fun reversals with good near falls. Short but sweet. My favorite match of the night.

Wyatt Family Video: Apparently I missed this Monday night? Kudos to WWE for replaying it here, and for revisiting the promo videos as a way to introduce superstars (I feel like they’ve done a lot less of this in recent years).

Ambrose vs. Randy Orton ends in count-out (The Shield interferes): Ambrose wrestling in the main event is big. He looked like a serious threat here – this is how you build a star (and props to Ambrose for running with the ball). These guys put together an entertaining 10-minute brawl that elevates both men while leaving the possibility open for future encounters.

The Shiled interfered, but then Team Hell No came out to help Orton. I’m hoping this leads to a fruitful Ambrose vs Orton rivalry.

Submission Reversals: I really like the chain wrestling out of submission moves (both the no-lock and cross-armbreaker were broken-up). It’s believable, and creates an air of unpredictability in the match.

Overall Show: While Smackdown has always been the “B show” to Raw (and has become even less important since the brand extension ended), the creative team did a great job here of building an entertaining, wrestling-heavy show. Almost every match had some greater implication behind it, made sense in context of the larger story, and showcased fun in-ring action. No major surprises here, but that’s not always a bad thing.

The Bad:

Damien Sandow “Challenge” Segment: First off, where’d his robe go? I’m not a big fan of the suit. I liked how WWE followed up last week’s segment with another “Ancient Greek Challenge” segment (with a follow-the-ball game), and I thought there were a few really funny lines by both men: Sandow’s “Congratulations – your idiot license is good for another year!” and Sheamus’s “playing with your cup and tiny balls” retort. However, I hate how foolish Sheamus made Sandow look here. Is this a feud? If so, why should we take Sandow seriously?

The Ugly:

Show him your balls chant during the Sandow segment was pretty funny. But, to quote Sheamus, “I don’t think anybody wants to see that.”

Sin Cola: Apparently this trends a lot on Twitter, as a way to both make fun of Sin Cara and confuse the masses (people asking what ‘Sin Cola’ is just keeps it trending). Either way, I approve.

Between The Ropes Wrestling Podcast – May 29, 2013

braywyattBrian and Steve discuss the latest in wrestling including the youth movement in the WWE with The Shield, Bray Wyatt and family coming in and others, CM Punk being advertised for his return at the WWE Payback PPV and whether or not he will face Chris Jericho, what to do with Punk once he returns, Curtis Axel and his first two weeks on Raw, the Ryback – John Cena dynamic, the WWE app, TNA Slammiversary (which is actually this Sunday) and more.

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Between The Ropes with Bob Holly – May 21, 2013

Hardcore-Truth-coverBrian talks with “Hardcore” Bob Holly about his new autobiography “The Hardcore Truth” (available at bookstores everywhere and on Amazon.com), his reputation of being a bully, younger guys coming up in the business, who he likes in the WWE right now, if he would consider coming back and why he is not a road agent there right now, how guys handle their business with one another and how he did it, his impressions of his career, his life now and more.

Follow Bob on Twitter @TheBobHolly

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Between The Ropes Wrestling Podcast – May 21, 2013

hhhaxelBrian and Steve are back to talk about the WWE Extreme Rules PPV from over the weekend, what wrestlers can learn from Brock Lesnar, Raw from Monday night, the debut of Curtis Axel, more young guys getting involved in WWE and where they could be going with them, The Shield and their current run, Ryback’s promo to start the show, the Triple H storyline and how much he may be wrestling going forward and more.

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WWE Raw Rundown – May 20th, 2013

rawSolid night for WWE Raw on Monday. While it didn’t change the landscape of the WWE (or even slightly alter it), the well-paced show gave us a few intriguing segments and some entertaining matches. Let’s dig in.

The Good:

The Opening Segment w/Ryback (first 5 minutes): This segment was a hot way to kick off the show. The ambulance driving into the arena at the opening caught the attention of viewers, and Michael Cole sold the mystery of the whole thing (my wife joked that Del Rio must have brought back the car gimmick). Then Goldberg…er, Ryback came out of the back.

I liked Ryback here at first – he seemed intense, focused. The way he put over his conquering of Cena from Sunday night, while also laying the seeds for an Ambulance match at Payback, created a great wrestling promo. This was the best Ryback has been on the mic. And then he started talking about the audience… (see below)

Sheamus def Titus O Neil: At first, I hated seeing a tag-team split up for singles action. Then, WWE surprisingly made Titus O Neil feel like a legitimate prime-time player.  O’Neil looked big and solid, espeically with another big man like Sheamus, and got a surprising amount of offense against the main-eventer.  In fact, O’Neil dominated Sheamus for most of the match, picking him up and tossing him around like a rag doll.  Is WWE prepping us for an eventual Prime-Time Players split?

Sheamus wins only by fighting his way back into it, but O’Neil looks strong in defeat. Fun, lengthy match.

Paul Heyman’s “New Guy”: With the rumors of RVD and a Ryback switch floating on Twitter shortly before the show, I was disappointed with the eventual reveal of McGillicutty…er, Curtis Axel.  On the flip-side, this gave people at home incentive to watch Raw, to see what happened. I also appreciate the fact that they gave us a reason, and a good one at that, for his new name (too often WWE has selective memory loss).  I also like how Heyman put him over even more by using Lesnar as the example, pointing the finger back and the audience and reminding them how they never took Lesnar seriously at first, either. Also liked how the announcers put his “pedigree” over.

I think this segment finally took off when Triple H came in as an unexpected surprise, though. Love him or hate him, he understands what it takes to sell a moment. His intensity during this face-off was great, and the challenge set up an intriguing main-event later in the night. Anytime Heyman and Hunter share the ring, I’m glued to the TV.

The Shield Gloating Segment: “The Shield brought power back to these titles.”  Ambrose is such a good talker. His swagger, his intensity, it’s infectious.  He has a unique promo style.  You’ll notice that the audience doesn’t “WHAT?” him, they actually boo him.  It’s called talent, folks.  They do, however, “WHAT?” Roman Reigns.

The Shield def Team Hell No & Kingston:  Overall, great match with good tags that shifted the momentum back and forth. One thing I really liked seeing was effective tagging in-and-out, and effective usage of corners. The middle of the match was slow, but it picked back up at the end. These guys all work well together. And good decision on WWE’s part to give the match to the Shield – they needed this win to cement their victory from last night. The frenetic-pace down the stretch made for an entertaining 20 minutes. Better than the Tag Team Championship last night.

Langston def. Alberto Del Rio: Good matchup here of “technique vs strength.”  These guys matched up well, and both played to their individual strength.  Big E was spotlighted in a big way, and the fact that he walks away with the win is both surprising and refreshing (and since it was due to AJ’s interference, it takes nothing away from Del Rio).  Also, this helps make Del Rio’s number one contendership story a lot more interesting.

AJ def. Layla: Michael Cole – “I cannot wait to see the Bellas on Total Divas in July on E! It’s going to be something.”  Yes, it is going to be SOMETHING…  Good athleticism here, but the crowd is dead. The Diva’s division is dead.  This AJ Lee – Caitlyn rivalry needs to pickup to stick some life back in it.  AJ looked very impressive with her submission, and I’m glad they’re giving her some wins towards what looks like an eventual championship match (and run?)

Randy Orton def. Jack Swagger: Little bit of catch-as-catch-can wrestling to start off the match. Nice. These two have some decent in-ring chemistry. Jack Swagger wrestled out of the RKO, and turned it into a Patriot Lock. Fun stuff. But Swagger loses clean, so where does he go from here? He needs a revamp again, or something, I don’t know. However, Orton chasing Ziggler as champion could be fun (yes, I know Del Rio gets a title match first).

Pecking Order: WWE understands something that TNA historically has not – Main Eventers and World Champions should look generally stronger than the rest of the card, without completely burying the other performers. I’m glad Sheamus won, because he’s the more “seasoned” wrestler, but Titus O’Neil still looked great in defeat. Makes sense for the ‘pecking order.’ On the other hand, Del Rio’s loss doesn’t take much away from him – but it does a whole lot for the rising stock of Big E Langston.

PPV Recap: WWE did a good job of recapping the important events from ‘Extreme Rules.’

 

The Bad:

Opening Segment w/Ryback (after the first 5 minutes): WWE needs to learn that with Ryback, less is more. He’s a hulking monster, not Hamlet. His promo on Cena was FANTASTIC. The he started fumbling through something about the audience going to the hospital.  Blah Blah Blah. Booring.

Look, I get it.  WWE wants desperately for the fans to hate him, so they think that having him directly insult the audience will achieve that.  If he had just stopped with the Cena stuff, he likely would have gotten more cheers than boos. Unfortunately, he’s still not a good enough talker to warrant this much mic time. This is why I believe his current heel push came too soon.

Wade Barret’s New Music: Seriously, this man is very talented, but WWE has NO IDEA what to do with him. They try to throw a new shine on him every few weeks and see what sticks.

Jericho and Miz def Wade Barrett and Fandango:  As the first match of the night, the audience was hot.  Too bad this was a giant waste of time for everybody involved. Fandango started dancing in the middle, leaving Wade Barrett to get buried by Miz and Jericho. He got hit with every finisher, and looked bad in defeat.  Way to treat your IC champion. Then, Fandango ran out afterwards. Are we to assume the Fandango – Jericho feud is continuing? I hope not.

Cody Rhoes def. Zack Ryder: Bleh, short match where Ryder loses again. Ryback came out afterwards to put Ryder in an ambulance. The whole segment felt lifeless.

Triple H vs Axel: Nice to see Axel get a little bit of offense in here. Also, putting a young talent in the ring with a veteran is good experience, and helps sell the match. Unfortunately, the Triple H injury was a minor miss for me, and created a weird ending to an otherwise entertaining show. What’s the storyline here? Are we supposed to worry about Triple H’s in-ring future? Like Michael Cole pointed out – this is his first match on Raw in years. What’s the endgame?

Live Audience Interactions: Fandango pushed a fan over on the way out. Audience members are CONSTANTLY touching The Shield. Something needs to change here.

PPV Fallout: While they recapped the events, they didn’t discuss the fallout very much (the Instant Replay comes to mind). Also, John Cena was noticeably absent. Why have him no-sell the injury by refusing an ambulance, just to have him stay off Raw?

 

The Ugly:

Shameless Product Placement: Last week Dominoes, this week Sonic. At least the audience gets free stuff? Michael Cole sold this better than he did any other match of the night.

Jerry ‘Horn Dog” Lawler: This isn’t the attitude era anymore, fellas.  Making a statement about Summer Rae like, “I would like to read her book, and I would prefer the brail edition,” just feels inappropriate.

Kevin Jonas – SOCIAL MEDIA AMBASSADOR: There aren’t enough curse words in the English language to express my disdain over this. Way to be a Twitter whore, WWE.

 

Think I got it all wrong? Give me your opinion on Twitter – follow me @therealwiseman