Monday, January 8, 2024

WCW Bash At The Beach 1996 Review - July 7th, 1996

WCW Bash at the Beach
July 7th, 1996
Daytona Beach, Florida

“It’s more than just the bash at the beach. It’s the attempt at a hostile takeover.”

WCW World Champion: The Giant (since 4/29/96)
WCW US Champion: Konnan (since 1/29/96)
WCW Tag Team Champions: Harlem Heat (Booker T & Stevie Ray) (since 6/24/96)
WCW TV Champion: Lex Luger (since 3/6/96)
WCW Cruserweight Champion: Dean Malenko (since 5/18/96) 

Commentators - Bobby Heenan, Tony Schiavone, & Dusty Rhodes

The boys open the show talking about the morale of the locker room heading into tonight’s event and the unknown about the Outsiders, their attempted takeover, and their mysterious third man. 

1) Rey Misterio Jr. vs. Psychosis 

I don’t know where to start with this one. Or really even the words to say to properly review such a legendary match and one that holds up here, almost 30 years later. I had seen this match a few times before, but this was my first time in about 10 years. And man, I can’t lie. I watched it 3-4 times before moving forward with this show. It was just such a statement match and completely groundbreaking for its time. These two put on the most insane display of highflying and Lucha style pro wrestling. Just watch this match. Good lord. One of the best 15 min sprints ever in pro wrestling. Misterio wins at 15:18.

Match rating - ****1/2

Backstage, Konnan makes a statement toward Ric Flair and says no matter what he’s leaving with his US Title still in tact tonight. 

2) John Tenta vs. Big Bubba (w/ Jimmy Hart) - Carson City Silver Dollar On A Pole Match 

“He’s got a leash around his neck, maybe he’s gonna take him outside.. maybe it’s that time of day.” -Bobby Heenan

Russo baby. Two 300+ boys climbing a pole. We are here. And it’s about as dumb as you’d expect. But atleast it’s entertaining.. sort of. They do shit. Choke each other with a strap. Jimmy climbs the pole for Tenta, but Bubba knocks Tenta on his ass while Hart is on the pole and takes the silver dollars from Hart when he comes down to win the match. 

Match rating - **

Backstage, Macho & Luger are fired the fuck up and they’re honored to be a part of the team representing WCW against the outsiders tonight. Sting says the unknown makes his mouth water so it doesn’t matter who the surprise man is. LETS GOO.

3) Diamond Dallas Page vs. Hacksaw Jim Duggan - Lord of the Ring Taped Fist Match 

WCW Monday Nitro Review - July 1st, 1996

WCW Monday Nitro
July 1st, 1996
Landover, Maryland



WCW World Champion: The Giant (since 4/29/96)
WCW US Champion: Konnan (since 1/29/96)
WCW Tag Team Champions: Harlem Heat (Booker T & Stevie Ray) (since 6/24/96)
WCW TV Champion: Lex Luger (since 3/6/96)
WCW Cruserweight Champion: Dean Malenko (since 5/18/96) 

Tony Schiavone & Larry Zbysko open the show. Before they can cover much, Diamond Dallas Page interrupts and says his ring has been stolen. He wants the building shut down and searched. They shew him away and replay the incident from last week where The Outsiders showed up and Harlem Heat stole the tag titles from Luger & Sting. That leads us into our first match of the evening. OO also, this was the first mention of "New World Order" as Zbysko said verbatim "there will be a new world order in professional wrestling on Sunday"... interesting. 

1) Harlem Heat (Booker T & Stevie Ray) (c) vs. The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott Steiner) - WCW World Tag Team Title Match

The Horsemen were shown at ringside watching this with their ENTOURAGE. This is decent. They go back and forth with stuff. There's some decent near falls down the stretch and some confusion on who the legal man is. Just as The Steiner's are building some momentum, Colonel Parker gets involved and it gives Harlem Heat the opening they needed to finish this one off and retain the titles. 

Match rating - **1/4

Mean Gene approaches the Four Horseman at ringside after the match. They all get a few minutes to speak. Mongo talks about why he did what he did and joined the horsemen and it's because MONEY MAKES THE MONKEY DANCE. This gets Flair all sorts of fired up.

2) Disco Inferno vs. Kurasawa (Manabu Nakanishi)

Friday, January 5, 2024

2024 Match Rating Archive / MOTY Tracker



JANUARY: 


Darby Allin vs. Konosuke Takeshita - AEW: Dynamite - 1/3/24 - ****1/4

Daniel Garcia vs. Swerve Strickland - AEW: Dynamite - 1/3/24 - ***3/4


Utami Hayashishita, Saya Kamitani & AZM vs. Syuri, Ami Sohrei, & Saki Kashima - STARDOM: Gate - 1/4/24 - ***3/4


Giulia & Suzu Suzuki vs. Maika & Megan Bayne - STARDOM: Gate - 1/4/24 - ****


Mayu Iwatani (c) vs. Syuri - IWGP Womens Belt - STARDOM: Gate - 1/4/24 - ****1/2


Kazuchika Okada vs. Bryan Danielson - NJPW: Wrestle Kingdom 18 - 1/4/24 - ****


Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii, Jon Moxley, & Bryan Danielson vs. Zack Sabre Jr, Mikey Nicholls, Shane Haste & Kosei Fujita - NJPW: New Year Dash - 1/5/24 - ****


Eddie Kingston (c) vs. Trent Beretta - AEW Continental Crown Title Match - AEW: Collision - 1/6/24 - ****


Hangman Page vs. Claudio Castagnoli - AEW: Dynamite - 1/10/24 - ***1/2


Darby Allin & Sting vs. Konosuke Takeshita & Powerhouse Hobbs - AEW: Dynamite - 1/10/24 - ****1/4


Rocky Romero & Soberano Jr vs. Volador Jr & Mascara Dorado - NJPW: Battle in the Valley - 1/13/24 - ***1/4


Zack Sabre Jr & Bad Dude Tito vs. Matt Riddle & Jeff Cobb - NJPW: Battle in the Valley - 1/13/24 - ***1/4


Eddie Kingston (c) vs. Gabe Kidd - Continental Crown Title Match - NJPW: Battle in the Valley - 1/13/24 - ***1/2


Jon Moxley vs. Shingo Takagi - No DQ Match - NJPW: Battle in the Valley - 1/13/24 - ****3/4


Christian Cage (c) vs. Dustin Rhodes - TNT Title Match - AEW: Dynamite - 1/17/24 - ***3/4


Samoa Joe (c) vs. HOOK - AEW World Title Match - 1/17/24 - ****1/4


Adam Copeland vs. Dante Martin - AEW: Collision - 1/20/24 - ****


Daniel Garcia vs. Buddy Matthews - AEW: Collision - 1/20/24 - ***3/4


Jon Moxley & Claudio Castagnoli vs. Lee Moriarty & Shane Taylor - AEW: Collision - 1/27/24 - ***1/4


Eddie Kingston vs. Bryan Keith - AEW: Collision - 2/3/24 - ***3/4


Bryan Danielson vs. Hechicero - AEW: Collision - 2/3/24 - ****


HENARE vs. Gabe Kidd - NJPW: Road To New Beginning - 2/4/24 - ****1/4


Swerve Strickland vs. Hangman Page - AEW: Dynamite - 2/7/24 - ****1/2


Jon Moxley, Bryan Danielson, & Claudio Castagnoli vs. Hechicero, Volador Jr, & Mascara Dorada - AEW: Dynamite - 2/7/24 - ****


Kazuchika Okada vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi - NJPW: New Beginning In Osaka - 2/11/24 - ****


Bryan Danielson vs. Zack Sabre Jr - NJPW: New Beginning in Osaka - 2/11/24 - ****3/4


United Empire vs. Bullet Club - Steel Cage Match - NJPW: New Beginning in Osaka - 2/11/24 - ***3/4


Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Is AEW back?





Ever so often nowadays, we hear the phrase “pro wrestling is back” when something cool happens. I’m a frequent user of the phrase. This morning, though, I had a different sentiment in mind. It’s more of a question than a phrase. 

Is AEW back? 

Many of you are probably retorting that question with more questions. Where did AEW go? Or… how could they be back? Next week’s Tuesday Dynamite taping hasn’t even sold 2,000 tickets yet. Both of these and many more are valid questions to ask. 

I can’t necessarily answer those questions with an affirming response. I can’t even answer the question that I titled this post with. What I can do, however, is explain the feeling I have coming out of Wrestle Dream and into tonight’s episode of Dynamite live from Stockton, California. 

When AEW first began, I didn’t miss an episode. I’d say all the way from 2019 to about September of 2022, it was appointment viewing for me. It was something I scheduled my week and day around every Wednesday and sometimes even Fridays for Rampage. There was a buzz. An excitement. A feeling that I hadn’t felt for wrestling since 2013ish. 

Somewhere along the way, that was lost. I am not going to blame the “Brawl Out” fiasco for it, but that was around the time where things changed for me. The product seemed to lose something following that incident for me. Peak AEW was a year prior, if we are being honest, but 2022 leading into All Out was still far from where it would fall afterward. 

Since All Out 2022, I would sometimes go weeks without watching Dynamite. It became less of an exciting part of my week and more of a “well, let’s check cagematch to see if any good matches happened”.. and that sucks to say and admit and realize. There’s been good matches in AEW in the past year. Jon Moxley is the best professional wrestler in the world right now and he has killed it at every turn. I sometimes wonder, though, if AEW putting everything on the ace’s back made them lazy. Or maybe they just lost their charm after Brawl Out and Mox, along with a few select others, have been the only ones to be able to maintain it since such a demoralizing moment in the company’s history took place. Not everyone can be the ace, so I get it. 

So, shit, now that I think about it. Was CM Punk’s petty drama the issue? I’m one of the minority that found a lot of humor and entertainment in the Punk saga. No one brings the realism and controversy to pro wrestling like he does. My only issue is that it never fully paid off. We never got the Kenny match, the Bucks match, the Hanger rematch, the Mox rematch. That’s where the money and momentum were. Instead, we got a broken company split by two brands based off some of the company’s biggest stars not wanting to get over it and work together. Is it Punk’s fault? The Elite’s fault? Tony Khan’s fault? I’m not sure, I’m not backstage, I’m a fan. So I don’t really care to find out, all I know is that it put the product into a weird funk completely. It was already headed there, don’t get me wrong. Things began to grow stale before this moment, but this is what fully spiraled things, in my opinion. 

Fast forward to this year and All In, the biggest show in company history and one of the largest attended wrestling shows ever takes place. And it’s fine. 80,000 people paid to see it so much how can you complain or critique, but in reality, it wasn’t even a Top 5-10 AEW PPV. The vibes were off and they’d been off for a hot minute. And how much can you expect from a show headlined by a World Title feud showcasing some of the most horrible traits of American sports entertainment. I left that event no more excited about AEW. I left that event saying “well, that happened” and not even caring to watch dynamite the following week. Hook/Perry and Joe/Punk are the only two matches from that show I’ll ever go out of my way to watch again. 

The following weekend, I traveled with some of my best friends to Chicago for All Out. It was a fun experience as always, and honestly a surprisingly better one than I anticipated. The episode of Collision was whatever, but the All Out event itself felt like a slight step up. I personally attributed that to getting the bullshit out of the main event spotlight and giving it to the two best workers in the company. And maybe that’s also an overarching theme I need to take a closer at, also. None the less, I didn’t leave that event thinking or feeling like we were headed toward better days. I felt like it was a diamond in the rough. The two workhorses of the company getting their deserved main event slot for the International Championship, one of the best of all time bringing even more out of Ricky Starks than CM Punk did, and a mixed undercard with an overrated Takeshita/Omega match and a match that overdelivered in the form of Hobbs/Miro. It seemed about par for the course for post All Out ‘22 AEW. 

That leads us to this past Sunday’s Wrestle Dream. All Out felt like one of the better AEW PPV’s in a while. The Dynamite’s that followed were once again mostly skipped by me. However, with this Sunday’s Wrestle Dream PPV, a true light began to shine through this darkness. 

Sure, you had throwaway matches like MJF/The Righteous and the clusterfuck (in a bad way) of a four way tag. But as long as you have the MJF’s (in his current form) and the Young Bucks & Lucha Bros around, their negatives will shine just about as often as the positives, so that’s a risk that has to be taken. The good thing is when you have things like Danielson/ZSJ, Swerve/Hangman, and Christian/Darby. It completely covers up those negatives. Having lowercard bangers like Kingston/Shibata and Stat/Julia definitely help also. I don’t want this to turn into a review of Wrestle Dream because that’s coming later this week once I finish re-watching, but those are my general thoughts. 

My main point in talking about Wrestle Dream is how elated I felt after the event and in the days leading up to Dynamite tonight, particularly today. The PPV closed with the much talked about debut of Edge, under his real name, Adam Copeland. Copeland saved Sting from an assault by Christian Cage, Nick Wayne, & Luchasaurus. 

I haven’t been a huge fan of Edge’s return run in WWE aside from the initial monumental moment at the Royal Rumble a few years ago. This is a huge acquisition for AEW, though and in that main event match and closing segment, a true line between good & evil was drawn. Christian Cage delivered one of the best matches of his entire career against Darby Allin and proved himself to possibly be the best thing going in AEW right now. You had the shocking betrayal of Darby at the hands of Nick Wayne and to follow it up with Copeland making his debut to save Sting and come face to face with one of his best friends inside and outside of the ring? Chef’s kiss. Good shit. 

That’s the stuff that leaves you dying for more. Wrestle Dream felt like a complete company reset outside of the fact that MJF is still World Champion. He doesn’t even feel like it anymore, in fact, the title feels extremely irrelevant which isn’t a good thing. Everything else is just so good right now. 

All day I’ve been thinking about how excited I am for Dynamite tonight. It reminds me of the 2013 days when Daniel Bryan & The Shield were on their tear of fantastic television and I was chomping at the bit every Monday because I needed to know what was next and on top of it, I knew the matches were gonna deliver. The latter part of that feeling is yet to be determined and this could be just a fleeting thing coming off the buzz of a PPV. 

Despite that, I needed to get these words out and document these feelings. I think Wrestle Dream set into motion a lot of new stories and character arches. Outside of the main event stuff, Swerve and Hangman in particular have me super intrigued. Not to mention what’s next for Bryan Danielson. Hell, even Ricky Starks and Wheeler Yuta made the absolute most of their time and I’m itching for what’s next for them both as well. 

A lot of people have stepped up recently and it’s showing in the overall vibe of the company. I just hope AEW can stick to it, accentuate and become what it at it’s core can be when they channel their energy in the right direction - the best pro wrestling company in the modern history of the business. Don’t get me wrong, I am no AEW apologist. I will give them just as much as raw honesty as I give the fed when it’s warranted. They stray far from the path sometimes and some consistency would be nice, but when this company is on, there’s nothing better and the best could be yet to come if we have more nights and stories like this past Sunday. 

Maybe this is what Tony Khan meant by it being a new era.. I sure fucking hope so. 

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Ruthless Aggression Era Project: WWE Unforgiven Review - September 21st, 2003

WWE Unforgiven 
September 21st, 2003
Hershey, PA

World Heavyweight Champion: Triple H (since 12/15/02)
Intercontinental Champion: Christian (since 8/10/03)
World Tag Team Champions: La Resistance (since 6/15/03)
WWE Women's Champion: Molly Holly (since 7/28/03)


Commentators - Jim Ross & Jerry “The King” Lawler 

Video package hyping H/Goldberg airs. They make sure to show Bret Hart when H says a line about watching Goldberg in WCW beating a “bunch of nobodies.”

1) La Resistance (Rene Dupree, Rob Conway, & Sylvan Grenier) (c) vs. The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray & D-Von Dudley) - Tables Match for the World Tag Team Titles

To win this, you have to put every member of the opposing team through a table. This was a decent little opener and went probably about how you’d expect. D-Von goes through a table a few minutes in and Bubba fights from underneath. Somewhere in here, Bubba throws some randomly sick overhand chops while fighting up. D-Von recovers and he & Bubba put every member of La Resistance through tables to become the new World Tag Team Champions. 

Match rating - **1/4

Video package highlighting the Test/Stacy/Steiner saga. This feud has sucked but the video pack with “Suffocate” by Cold as the soundtrack was HARD and nostalgic af. 

2) Test vs. Scott Steiner - Winner gets Stacy Keibler 

“When you go to Hooters, do you get takeout?” -Jerry Lawler 

Ruthless Aggression Era Project: WWE Smackdown Review - September 18th, 2003

WWE Smackdown 
September 18th, 2003
Raleigh, North Carolina - NC State University 

WWE Champion: Kurt Angle (since 7/27/03)
WWE United States Champion: Eddie Guerrero (since 7/27/03)
WWE Tag Team Champions: Shelton Benjamin & Charlie Haas (since 7/3/03)
WWE Cruserweight Champion: Rey Mysterio (since 6/5/03)


The show begins with Mr. McMahon hyping up the iron man match main event. He is interrupted by The Undertaker. Taker says he knows that Vince orchestrated the interference in his title match, but he isn't gonna mess up the title match tonight. He just wants Vince to know that he doesn't forget... or forgive. Take says he respects the title, but not Vince himself.

1) Chris Benoit & Rey Mysterio vs. Tajiri & Rhyno 


This absolutely rocked. 5 minutes or whatever and not a moment wasted. Everything crisp and does its job to hype Rey/Tajiri for next week more and also touch on the bad blood between Benoit & Rhyno. I would watch this go 10-15 any day of the week. Benoit & Mysterio get the win and leave the heels reeling. Perfect little opener, I just wanted a little more time. 

Match rating - ***

TONIGHT: Los Guerreros defend the Tag Team Titles against Charlie Haas & Shelton Benjamin 

Backstage, it’s Stephanie, Big Show, Vince, and Sable. Vince is shocked Steph didn't quit last week, but he's not gonna fire her, he's just gonna make it even more rough on her since she wants to play it this way.

“From the GQ cover guy to the Playboy cover girl…” -Michael Cole’s transition from promoting The Rock on the cover of GQ to the following match 

2) Torrie Wilson & Nidia (w/ Dawn Marie) vs. Shaniqua (w/ The Basham Brothers) 
Another Shaniqua squash. She even destroys Dawn too after the match. 

3) Shelton Benjamin & Charlie Haas (c) vs. Eddie & Chavo Guerrero - WWE Tag Team Title Match 

The review I had written this for match mysteriously disappeared so just enjoy my rating and know that it was really fucking good :) .. Los Guerreros win the straps too!!! YEAH!!!

Match rating - ***3/4



MEANWHILEE.... IT'S POKER TIME BACKSTAGE BEFORE DA MAIN EVENT

4) Kurt Angle (c) vs. Brock Lesnar - 60 Minute Iron Man Match for the WWE Championship


I have seen this match a handful of times. I loved it on first watch probably a decade ago. I watched it again a few years ago and I thought it was good, but not above a 4 star effort. I think my tastes are much different and more refined now, so I think my take on it in this moment will stand the test of time. Things can change, though. But as of this writing.. I fucking loved this match. Brock's dominance and control and the entire way he paced this match was just brilliant. You do see some of Kurt's flaws here in minor ways. Nothing big enough to hinder the match to a detrimental extent, and nothing Brock's strengths couldn't hide and make you forget. This is an all time Brock performance and one that everyone should see. Just absolutely phenomenal when on top and also when selling Kurt's comebacks. Kurt's selling is hit or miss as always, but he does a decently better job than you may expect. They made 60 minutes fly by and put Kurt down multiple falls due to some ref bumps and Brock blatantly cheating. Everything works, though. Somehow, it all fucking works and never drags or feels overbooked. I can't quite explain it and don't wanna try to break this down too much and over explain. I just know this was a ride. And that's what a match like this HAS to be. You can't run an exhibition for 60 minutes, you have to work these style of matches a certain way and god damn if they didn't lay out a phenomenal blue print for iron man matches to come. Kurt fighting from under almost the entire time and still coming up short at the end made the last stretch of this a fucking nail biter. At the end of this, I was still wanting more. 

Match rating - ****1/2

Ruthless Aggression Era Project: WWE Monday Night Raw Review - September 15th, 2003

WWE Monday Night Raw 
September 15th, 2003
University of South Carolina - Columbia, South Carolina

WE IN MY HOMETOWN TONIGHT BABY. 

World Heavyweight Champion: Triple H (since 12/15/02)
Intercontinental Champion: Christian (since 8/10/03)
World Tag Team Champions: La Resistance (since 6/15/03)
WWE Women's Champion: Molly Holly (since 7/28/03)


The broadcast opens with Triple H walking backstage with his title over his shoulder. He runs into Eric Bischoff. Bischoff reminds H how much he supports him and knows he will win on Sunday. H says he needs one more favor from Bischoff.. he wants to throw a going away party for Goldberg tonight. Eric asks what they’re gonna do if Goldberg shows up, H says “…invite him to the party” as he smirks and walks off. 

TONIGHT: Last Man Standing Contract Signing between Kane & Shane McMahon