Friday, December 26, 2014

2014 Pro Wrestling Truth Awards Part 3 - Independent Wrestling & New Japan Year in Review

2014 was another amazing year for Independent Wrestling. The scene continues grow and promotions are drawing some of their biggest numbers yet. With mainstream wrestling not what it once was, many people have turned to independent wrestling (and puroresu/japanese wrestling) for their wrestling needs. I honestly can't say I blame them because ever since I began watching the Indies, I've been hooked.

None the less, this year in Independent Wrestling & Puroresu saw The Young Bucks & ReDragon bring tag team wrestling back to prominence by dominating every major promotion. From ROH to New Japan Pro Wrestling - these two teams had classics across the world against each other and just about any other team they stepped foot in the ring with. Matt & Nick Jackson and Kyle O'Reilly & Bobby Fish were on another level this year.

Meanwhile, Uhaa Nation & Brian Cage continued to revolutionize what it means to be a big man in pro wrestling by showcasing a combination of power & agility that isn't often seen. Nation made waves in Dragon Gate & Evolve and saw his first taste of PWG action while Brian Cage had some setbacks in the form of injuries yet still provided fans with some memorable performances, made his return to TNA, and closed out the year with a huge win in PWG over Uhaa himself, Tomasso Ciampa, & Biff Busick. The days of muscular men solely performing power moves are over.
Speaking of revolutionizing, there are two women on the Independent scene that transcended stereotypes by delivering two equally awe-inspiring performances on the same night. In July, Candice LeRae and Veda Scott took to the ring in two different matches for two different promotions and left EVERYONE talking. Veda Scott (pictured above) went to war with Gregory Iron in a Steel Cage Match for Absolute Intense Wrestling and came out on top despite bearing the proverbial crimson mask.

Over on the west coast, Candice endured the same fate as she took everything The Young Bucks had to offer in the form of a piledriver on the floor & a thumbtack filled superkick yet she still came back for more and BEAT them! It was certainly a crazy year for women's wrestling.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

2014 Pro Wrestling Truth Awards Part 2 - TNA Impact Wrestling Year In Review

2014 may have been the lowest point in the 12 year history of TNA Impact Wrestling. The guy they had built the company around, AJ Styles, left to New Japan & the Indies. The founder, Jeff Jarrett also made his departure. On top of that, they lost their TV deal near the end of the year although they thankfully would find a new one for 2015.

Despite all these negatives, there were several positives for TNA in 2014. The first being the signing of The American Wolves, Davey Richards & Eddie Edwards. The two had been tearing up the Independent Scene for quite some time and I'm sure everyone knew it was only a matter of time before they arrived in a mainstream company. Signing The Wolves was quite possibly the best decision TNA has made in awhile as they were a part of many of the best matches that took place this year. Most notably, the tag team title tournament with The Hardys & Team 3D which was without a doubt a classic series of bouts. The tag team division definitely shined this year aside from the idiotic decision to have James Storm & Abyss dethrone The Wolves in the latter part of the year. It's something that can be overlooked though because TNA was in a tight situation at the time.

The X Division also saw somewhat of a resurgence in 2014 as the Destination X TV Special on July 25th was one of the best events that TNA put on in the calendar year. It saw the returns of Low Ki, Homicide, & Brian Cage - all of which delivered in their respective matches. Samoa Joe also rose back to X Divsion prominence and reignited his classic rivalry with Low Ki by having several outstanding bouts. The most memorable one came at Bound For Glory where Joe, Ki, and Kaz Hayashi undoubtedly stole the show.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

2014 Pro Wrestling Truth Awards Part 1 - WWE Year In Review

2014 WWE Year In Review

2014 was an odd year for WWE. It went nothing like most people expected coming out of 2013. The year started off rocky with the departure of one of their most popular stars, CM Punk which led to a protest from fans when Batista won the Royal Rumble instead of Daniel Bryan.

With this horrible start to the year, WWE changed course and gave Daniel Bryan what he rightfully deserved, his moment in the main event of WrestleMania. From the night after WrestleMania forward, it felt as if WWE had turned over a new leaf and fully recovered from the loss of CM Punk. It looked like Daniel Bryan, Cesaro, Paige & Emma would be taking major roles on the roster alongside The Shield. However things would get turned upside down when Daniel Bryan suffered an unexpected career threatening neck injury and he was forced to surrender the WWE Title.

I guess the pressure of what to do after losing yet another top star due to injury caused WWE to totally lose focus on the stars they made at WrestleMania & the night after in the form of Cesaro & Paige as both wandered with little to no creative direction. Despite those two new stars beginning to flounder, The Shield stayed strong and arguably led the company through Bryan's injury as they main evented two PPV's thus being made into stars at the hands of Evolution.

Meanwhile, the guy that WWE can almost always count on, John Cena, took charge in the WWE Title picture only to be stopped by Brock Lesnar in August. Cena suffered two beatings like we've never seen him face before and soon after, the WWE World Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar rode off into the sunset, not to be seen again until December.

In the midst of this, each individual member of The Shield began branching out into their own. We saw Dean Ambrose become the lunatic fringe that all the fan's love while Roman Reigns earned his rep as the superman of the WWE despite suffering a groin injury that kept him out during the final few months of the year. As for Seth Rollins, 2014 was arguably his year moreso than Ambrose & Reigns as he became The Authority's protege, won the MITB briefcase, and ultimately defeated Dean Ambrose to end their feud. Rollins may have resorted to cheap and distasteful tactics, but they almost always led him to victory. Beyond that, Rollins delivered top notch performances throughout the year while Ambrose & Reigns had short periods of time off TV. Regardless of which member of The Shield succeeded most this year, the point is that they all came into their own in 2014.

Monday, December 15, 2014

WWE Monday Night Raw Review - December 15th, 2014

WWE Monday Night Raw Review - December 15th, 2014

Opening Segment - Raw is Jericho
I thought the opening segment tonight's show was great. It wasn't anything that will blow you away however the time flew by and it was something different. Rollins was the highlight of the segment for me along with Heyman. Both guys delivered fantastic promos and did a great job of foreshadowing things that would happen later in the evening.

1) Dolph Ziggler & Erick Rowan vs. Luke Harper & Big Show
After the hell that Ziggler & Harper put themselves through at TLC, it wasn't surprising that they didn't go all out here. Both guys seemed tired and worn out and rightfully so. This was a pretty short match with the only highlight being Ziggler and Harper brawling over the announce table. The two deserved any easy night after they stole the show and put their bodies on the line the previous night so I can't complain. One thing I will complain about though is that Big Show pinned Erick Rowan for the second evening in a row. I don't think that's a smart decision especially if they're trying to build up Rowan. They could have atleast had him pick up the surprise win here over Show to give him some sort of momentum.

The Highlight Reel with Rusev & Lana
This actually went better than I thought although it wasn't as eventful as I expected. Jericho ragging on Lana was pretty funny and this was a nice rub for Ryback to be introduced by Y2J as the guy who wants to stop Rusev. Basic segment that accomplished what it set out to do. Looks like Ryback & Rusev will be feuding going into the new year.

3) Xavier Woods & Big E vs. Gold & Stardust

ROH TV Review - December 15th, 2014 - Tag Wars 2014

ROH TV Review - December 15th, 2014 - Tag Wars 2014

Coming off their year end PPV Final Battle, Ring of Honor has graced us with airing some events from the past. The first of these is Tag Wars 2014 from a month or so ago. There are three first round matches and the winners will go on to face ReDragon in a four way elimination match for the ROH World Tag Team Titles.

1) The Briscoes vs. Jay Lethal & J Diesel
I wasn't sure what to expect here considering Lethal & Diesel aren't really a team and beyond that, I've never even seen Diesel wrestle before since his mainly been a body guard. None the less, I was surprised that this bout was as enjoyable as it was. It kept my attention from bell to bell and was a great way to get this show going. Fun opening bout that sees The Briscoes advance!

Match rating - **3/4

2) Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian vs. BJ Whitmer & Jimmy Jacobs
Daniels & Kazarian have been on quite the tear since returning to the Independents however this match doesn't quite reflect that. Sure, they had some nice flurries here, but I struggled to really get into it. Not saying it was their fault or even The Decade's for that matter. This match just felt like it was there and nothing more. Decent match.

Match rating - **1/2

3) The Young Bucks vs. ACH & Matt Sydal

Sunday, December 14, 2014

WWE TLC 2014 Predictions

1) Big Show vs. Erick Rowan
When Harper & Rowan were separated, I never expected to enjoy Rowan as much as I have. I know I've talked about this before, but the way they've added more dimensions to his character is a brilliant move. The rubix cube bit never gets old and now that he's got one of JBL's corny nicknames ("Big Red Rowan"), I think it's safe to say that Rowan is here to stay. This will most likely be the biggest match in his career as it's pretty obvious he'll be going over here. There's no reason for Big Show to win and I doubt WWE would book it that way. This is one of two matches that I expect to end rather quickly. Rowan for the win.

Who I think will win - Erick Rowan

2) Miz & Mizdow vs. The Usos - WWE Tag Team Title Match
I've really enjoyed this feud over the past few weeks. For one, Mizdow is gold. And two, Naomi getting more TV time is a plus. I hope this leads to her having a more prominent in-ring role because as unpopular of an opinion as it is, she's my favorite diva to watch wrestle. None the less, I think she'll have some sort of role in this match since it's been revealed that Miz is trying to mess with her just to distract her husband from this match. This is gonna be an interesting one for sure. Miz and Mizdow retain.

Who I think will win - Miz & Mizdow

Friday, December 12, 2014

Indy Power Rankings for the Week of December 8th, 2014

Indy Power Rankings for the Week of December 8th, 2014
1. “Bad Bones” John Klinger (@TheGermanPsycho) - On a week where ROH (perhaps the biggest independent in the U.S. by our standards…for the rest of 2014 at least) has their biggest show of 2014, it’s tough to take the top spot over the winner of the main event and ROH World Champion. That’s exactly what “Bad Bones” did as “The German Psycho” ran through the competition with 4 wins and no losses in Europe. The wXw Shotgun Champion defeated Chris Masters on 12/5 to retain the title, then defeated Brian Myers on 12/6 to retain again, then defeated Martin Stone on 12/6 at IPW:UK to win the IPW:UK World Championship, then defeated last week’s #1 Uhaa Nation on 12/7 to go 4-0 for the week. With 7 straight wins, it was almost impossible to deny “The Best in Europe” from the top spot this week. That being said, it wasn’t a straight sweep of the voters as there was a huge debate as to who should be #1.
2. Jay Briscoe (@jaybriscoe84) - The ROH World Champion defeated Adam Cole at Final Battle in a Fight Without Honor and many felt that was the win that would return him to the #1 spot for the first time in 2014. It was a spot that he had finally gotten to in 2013 before he was sidelined with the well-documented injury that kept him out for a few months. It wasn’t to be, unfortunately. Maybe it was due to his tag team losses in the UK last week. Maybe it was the fact that he had just ONE match as opposed to four like some of the other vote-getters, but regardless, a #2 ranking is nothing to sneeze at. Jay has been tearing it up in singles competition as of late, winning 8 straight matches in singles. Unfortunately for him, it was some of his tag losses that may have ultimately cost him the #1 spot. Not known for a lot of matches outside of ROH, it’s unlikely he’ll reach the #1 spot before the end of the year, but again, this ranking will definitely help his standing in the IPR 100 like Bad Bones before him.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Evolution of Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens from a Fan's Perspective

Tonight, I sat down to re-watch the PWG farewell's of both Kevin Steen and El Generico in order to prepare for tomorrow night's NXT special. Needless to say it brought back many memories and got me even more excited about what the future holds for both men. However, before I get too deeply into this article, I'd like to give you all a little backstory.

I began watch Independent Wrestling and PWG in particular back in 2013 right around the time that Generico signed with WWE. The first show I got was All Star Weekend 9 which took place directly after Generico's farewell. Since I was knew to the Indy Wrestling world, I had no idea who he was although I heard his name repeatedly so I did my research on him & the history of Pro Wrestling Guerrilla. That combined with my instant addiction to PWG led me to going back and watching Generico's rise to superstardom along with Kevin Steen's.

The first two DVD's I picked up to accomplish this were "Steen Wolf" which featured the classic Ladder Match between Steen & Generico and "The Many Adventures of El Generico" which chronicles Generico's entire career in PWG. Between those and the other PWG & ROH DVD's I bought to catch up, I instantly became a huge fan of both Steen & Generico. By the end of 2013, I owned all the landmark shows in both men's careers as well as obscure ones simply because I loved both guys and PWG so much.

I purposely left out Generico's final show, DDT4 2013, so I could watch it only after I had relived his entire career so I could realize the importance of him leaving the company. Needless to say, it was worth the wait because to this day, I get chills when watching that event which ends with his farewell speech where he states "This has been the best time of my life, you have no idea. This place will always be home, you will always be my family, I will never forget what you did for me, you made me. I love you so much, thank you." It's moment like that which remind me of why I loved wrestling in the first place.

While I didn't watch Generico's rise as it happened, I went back and watched it, so this final farewell had the same effect on me as it did most other long time fans of his. Beyond that, I didn't watch any of Generico (Sami Zayn)'s matches in NXT until I had finished reliving his PWG career. While that was mostly because I have shitty internet and don't have the WWE Network so I couldn't watch NXT without having to go through a bunch of stuff, I'm glad I didn't watch because now when I see him on WWE TV, it feels special because I've watched his work from as far back as 2004 and saw him grow into the performer he is today.

As for Mr. Steen, he's a guy that I was actually able to watch during his hottest period for nearly 2 years although I did go back and watch his previous stuff as well. In the process, I became a huge fan of his. I remember the evening that I realized how awesome he was. It was just after I had finished watching the Generico DVD and I recieved Night 2 of the 2013 Battle of Los Angeles in the mail. On that night, Steen shocked the world by aligning with The Young Bucks, the team that he & Generico feuded with years and the team that screwed him out of the World Title multiple times. After the event, he cut a promo that I've listened to multiple times since because of how awesome and passionate it is.

That's the one thing that always stood out to me about Steen. You could always tell how much he loved wrestling because he put everything into it. None the less, I watched him through 2013 and into 2014 up to his farewell at ELEVEN. Just like with Generico, this was a pretty sad one to watch simply because during all the PWG shows I've watched, he's been at the center of most of them. And to see him leave the company that he's been at the forefront of for many years brought alot of mixed emotions. It wasn't quite as tear jerking as Generico's, but there's one line that stood out to me tonight when I re-watched it. If you're a fan of Generico, Steen, & PWG, you know that the joke is that Generico went to Mexico to take care of orphans and that Steen went there to join him so basically when Steen says "the orphanage" and "orphan care takers", he basically means "WWE" and "Wrestlers". None the less, Steen said "I'm going to go help Generico show the world that the best orphan care takers in the world come from P W G!" As the crowd erupted, I thought to myself, man this is really going to come full circle pretty soon isn't it?

Speaking of coming full circle, let's get to the point of this post. The point of all this is that tomorrow night/tonight, depending on when you're reading this, Kevin Steen & El Generico are going to be main parts of a WWE show along with PAC (Adrian Neville) who is another guy I watched progress before checking out his WWE work. For someone who's seen these men wrestle in companies that not many people know about, it's beyond exciting to know that they are going to be out there for the whole world to see how talented they are.

I know that Zayn & Neville have been on NXT for awhile, but it still is crazy to think about for me. The main reason I wrote this is because of Kevin's debut tomorrow however I couldn't go through this without mentioning the other two, especially Generico/Zayn.

The main reason I went back and watched the farewell's of both men was because of two reasons. The first being obvious - because they're gonna be on a WWE show together. The second being the potential for tomorrow night to also be the start of their feud being reignited on a whole new level.

In the weeks leading up to this event, I've heard ramblings of Steen debuting to feud with Zayn by attacking him after the NXT Title match and honestly, if that happens, I'll probably mark out more than ever before. The Steen/Generico feud is probably one of the best feuds in pro wrestling history as it is, but just imagine how many more layers could/will be added to it if WWE decides to play into it throughout both men's careers? Especially if it begins in their debut.

I'm sure some of you are saying "You're giving WWE too much credit, they won't do that."

Yeah, it's doubtful however I'm not here to be negative. I'm sure no one expected Daniel Bryan to ever main event WrestleMania yet it happened. I'm sure no one expected CM Punk to become a top superstar, but it happened. With that being said, I think that Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens will be the next two guys to make it big. No, I take that back. Not big. HUGE.

The story that Steen & Generico told across the Independent circuit over the course of the past decade was amazing. Pair that already successful rivalry with the biggest sports entertainment company in the world and you've got potential for a feud that could reach the heights of Austin/Rock.

Regardless of whether or not they end up working together, we are witnessing the evolution of Kevin Steen & El Generico into Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn. The fact that they are both going to potentially have the biggest moments of their respective careers (Steen debuting in WWE & Zayn winning the NXT Title) on the same night in the same company - scratch that, THE company is completely mindblowing.

If you're a fellow fan of these guys' pre-WWE work, you probably feel the same way. If you're new to both men, there's no shame. Don't let anyone tell you that you're a fake fan because you started liking them now. The whole point of them being on WWE TV is to introduce them to a whole new audience and the only thing I'm more excited about than seeing them reach this success is the fact that the world is going to get to see one of the best talents in the world do what he does best.

None the less, thanks for taking the time to read this. Feel free to share it with your friends and get pumped about the event that is only hours away. It's almost time for the Takeover!

Follow me on Twitter @EthanPWT and this blog @ThePWTruth!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

ROH Final Battle 2014 Review

While I haven't been all that into ROH lately, the card for this event was simply too good to pass up. Whether it was the six man tag that looked insane on paper, the Fight Without Honor that was a year in the making, or the highly anticipated rematch between ReDragon and Timesplitters - I couldn't miss this event. Thus, I ordered it which leads us to my review of ROH's final PPV event of 2014!

1) Mark Briscoe vs. Jimmy Jacobs vs. Hanson vs. Caprice Coleman - Four Corner Survival Match
At ROH's last PPV offering in June, Best in the World, a six man mayhem match opened the show. This go round, we got a four man match that was quite similar as it served it's purpose of getting the crowd pumped up. It started off a bit slow however soon turned into chaos near the end and the result was an overall enjoyable opening match. Hanson picks up the win in a match that he was clearly the star of.

Match rating - **1/4

2) Roderick Strong vs. Adam Page
I've said it many times before, but I'll say it again - Roderick Strong is the perfect opponent for young talent trying to make a name for themselves. Roddy rarely has a bad match and has been wrestling the independent scene for the past decade so he's very experienced. Adam Page is a guy who I've enjoyed watching over the course of 2014 so I was really looking forward to this match. Thankfully it lived up to expectations. Page got his chance to shine several times by hitting his signature moves including the vicious clothesline over the barricade on the outside. It was a pretty competitive bout with Roddy giving Page one hell of a hard time. In the end, Strong's experience would prevail as he defeated Page. It was definitely a good performance for Page though, I'd venture to say he came out looking better than he went in. Solid match.

Match rating - ***

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

WWE Monday Night Raw Review - December 1st, 2014

WWE Monday Night Raw Review - December 1st, 2014

Opening Segment
I actually really enjoyed the way the show started. We were left with alot of questions coming out of Raw last week which made this segment very interesting. I didn't quite realize where it was going until the brawl broke out and superstar after superstar hit the ring. Things like this normally come off as flat, but the array of new stars involved in the segment made it feel very fresh. Seeing Rowan, Harper, Ziggler, & Ryback all being positioned in the main event scene alongside John Cena is awesome. One other thing I'd like to touch on about this opening segment is the announcement made for TLC. It was announced that John Cena and Seth Rollins would face off in a TLC match and if Cena loses, he's no longer the #1 contender. I like the stipulation, the tables stip & the #1 contender stip, but this announcement left me wondering what would go on last at the TLC PPV.

I originally expected some sort of Ladder Match for Seth Rollins' MITB briefcase involving Dolph Ziggler (since he pinned Rollins at SS) and Roman Reigns & Randy Orton since they both have scores to settle with Rollins. You'd kill three birds with one stone and most likely get an epic match in the process. Then again, that'd leave Cena without major plans so that was probably the deciding factor in this dilemma. None the less, back to the point. Cena & Rollins have great chemistry together, but I'm not sure a tables match is the best main event for TLC. Tables match usually have the same basic format of each guy attempting to put their opponent through a table because having a pure wrestling portion of the match wouldn't make any sense. The stipulation limits what the competitors can do. Not to bash the stipulation though because I'm looking forward to the match, I just hope it's not the main event.

Overall, this was a great opening segment that got me hyped for the rest of the show and left me wondering what other matches would be announced for TLC.

1) Tag Team Turmoil Match - Gold & Stardust vs. Big E & Kofi Kingston vs. Cesaro & Tyson Kidd vs. The Usos vs. Adam Rose & The Bunny