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Sunday, May 31, 2015

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ROH Review 5/30/15

Ring Of Honor Wrestling Review 5/30/15
By Nathan Neumann Twitter @Headliner5

Hello Eyes On The Ring faithful! After taking a few weeks off from reviews due to recap shows, I am back with another one of my reviews of ROH Television.  The show started with a pre-taped promo from the Briscoe Brothers hyping tonight’s main event match against the House Of Truth and its members Jay Lethal and Donovan Dijak.  Jay Briscoe also addressed the title for title match with Jay Lethal come ROH Best In The World in June. 

From there we head inside of the arena and are joined on commentary by Kevin Kelly and Steve Corino.  Kelly and Corino run down all the action that we will see tonight as the show comes to us from Toronto, Ontario, Canada and the Ted Reeve Arena.  From there we head down to the ring for the first match of the night.

Match 1
Kushida vs. Will Ferrara

Thoughts: Although I’m still not a fan of Will Ferrara, it was nice to see Kushida in Ring Of Honor once again. The two start off the match by feeling each other out and Ferrara gets the first real advantage after hitting Kushida with a neck breaker to create a near fall situation for himself. Moments later, Kushida rolls to the outside of the ring to catch his breath but Ferrara springs over the top rope and takes Kushida out with a tornado DDT. 

Back in the ring, Kushida recovers and hits Will Ferrara in the face with a punch, Ferrara hits the mat and Kushida follows it up with a standing moonsault for a near fall.  The finish came when Kushida locked Will Ferrara in a arm key lock which forced Ferrara to tap out and as a result Kushida picked up the win via submission.

Match Result: Kushida defeats Will Ferrara via submission with a key lock.

Match Rating: **

From there, the Addiction makes their presence felt at ringside and cuts a quick promo targeting reDRagon which will lead into the tag team title rematch that reDRagon will receive next week on TV. Silas Young makes his way out to the ring for the next match of the night.

Match 2
Silas Young vs. Takaaki Watanabe

Thoughts: The match starts with the two men trading offensive maneuvers before setting up their bigger spots.  The match picks up when Watanabe hits a backdrop on Young and then picks Young up and hits him with a release German Suplex.  Silas Young manages to recover long enough to hit a clothesline from the second rope to Watanabe in order to pick up a near fall. 

Watanabe recovers and rolls back to the outside of the ring, Young follows him out and gets driven into the barricade.  Watanabe then charges Young but catches a boot to the face.  Watanabe recovers and locks Young by the waste and delivers a German suplex on the floor.  Back in the ring and Silas Young who has recovered by now, picks up Watanabe and airplane spins Watanabe around the ring before hitting a TKO to score the pinfall victory.

Match Result: Silas Young defeats Takaaki Watanabe via pinfall with a TKO

Match Rating: **1/2

From there, the Decade makes their way out to the ring BJ Whitmer grabs a microphone and begins talking about how Steve Corino’s son Colby Corino joined the Decade and how Colby’s father Steve Corino is a loser.  BJ Whitmer says that he is supposed to face Moose but then says he doesn’t feel like it so instead it will be Colby Corino in the match as his replacement.

Match 3
Moose vs. Colby Corino

Thoughts: The match starts and the two immediately go to the outside where Moose throws Colby into the barricade like a rag doll. Moose then grabs Colby by the ankles and repeatedly tosses him into the barricade with a Giant swing.  Still outside the ring and Moose picks up Colby and delivers an Apron powerbomb and then follows it up with a powerbomb on the arena floor.  Moose brings the match back into the ring and puts his foot on Colby Corino to get an easy pinfall.

Match Result: Moose defeats Colby Corino via pinfall

Match Rating: *

There wasn’t much to this match it was pretty one sided but I don’t think it quite deserved the dud rating therefore it gets one star. It’s then revealed that Truth Martini and Jay Lethal may have something up their sleeve for Jay Briscoe leading into their match at Best In The World. So, we will have to wait to see what that is.

From there we are treated to the return of Inside ROH with Mandy Leon where they recap the ACH/Adam Page feud. It is then announced that at Best In The World on Friday June 19th, it will be Matt Sydal and ACH taking on BJ Whitmer and Adam Page of the Decade in Tag Team action. After that we head into the main event of the evening which was a tag team match.

Main Event - Match 4
Donovan Dijak and J Diesel vs. Jay and Mark Briscoe

Thoughts: This match was supposed to have Donovan Dijak teaming with Jay Lethal but instead they threw in J Diesel into the match as a last minute substitution while Jay Lethal sat the match out on commentary.  The match starts and Mark begins his redneck kung fu antics almost immediately by throwing chops doing the crane and a bunch of other crazy stuff that he normally does.  Lethal who like I mentioned was on commentary grabbed Jay Briscoe’s version of the world title and tried to strike a pose with it but Jay Briscoe saw it and snatched the belt out from Lethal’s hands and pulled it into the ring where he quickly discarded it.

Mark Briscoe brings Donovan Dijak into the corner and runs full steam at him and kicks him in the face. Will Ferrara tags in and tries to mount some offense but is unsuccessful, Dijak is brought back in and he returns the favor from earlier by choking Mark in the corner with his boot.  Mark tags in Jay, he comes in and delivers a backdrop on Dijak followed by a neck breaker on Diesel for a near fall.  The match comes to an end when Jay Briscoe picks up J Diesel and Mark Briscoe comes off of the top rope to nail the doomsday device to pick up the win over Diesel via pinfall.

Match Result: Jay and Mark Briscoe defeat Donovan Dijak and J Diesel via pinfall after a Doomsday Device on J Diesel.

Match Rating: **1/2

After the match, Dijak hits Feast Your Eyes on Mark and Jay Briscoe hits Jay Lethal with the Jay Driller as the show goes off of the air for the week.

This show was good but I’ve said this before and I can’t stress it enough that I’m not a fan of shows when they cram four matches into an hour block of television. Things always seem rushed and it doesn’t make for a good ROH TV viewing experience. This wasn’t a bad episode by any means but I really wish they would stick to the 2 or 3 match format instead of jumping back and forth the way they do.

That however will do it for another Ring Of Honor TV review for EyesOnTheRing.com. As I said earlier, this show seemed to have too much going on during it but it was still an enjoyable show so make sure to check it out if you are sick of the mainstream wrestling and want something different. Make sure to follow me on Twitter at @Headliner5 and make sure to follow the Eyes On The Ring main account, @EyesOnTheRing. Also check out EyesOnTheRing.com as I continue to bring you my thoughts in regards to Ring Of Honor or whatever else I decide to review. Plus make sure to check out all the content that the rest of the Eyes On The Ring team will bring you throughout the upcoming weeks. 

Finally make sure to check out Eyes On The Ring radio as we are presented to you live via the Elite Podcast Network over at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/ElitePodcastNetwork as we come to you each and every Sunday night at 11:00pm EST.  We bring you the entire week in wrestling as we saw it with our own Eyes.  Finally please make sure and check out Facebook.com/EyesOnTheRing and while your there make sure to hit that like button.  For now this has been Nathan saying so long and until next week make sure to keep your Eyes On The Ring, so long Ringers!

Friday, May 29, 2015

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WIRTB Review: Katie Vick

By Speed on the Beat (@SpeedontheBeat)

Years ago, I was a pretty huge wrestling fan. True and I, since we went to the same middle school, we'd end up staging our own wrestling matches with our sixth-grade class when the teachers left the room. It was a great way to get out that pre-teen aggression without killing each other. I had mostly every WWF, WCW, and (through connects) ECW game. But, as the Attitude Era moved past its expiration date, the tastefulness of WWE went even further out the window while being more "real," and I found myself distancing myself from the product. Not because I didn't like distasteful tomfoolery, but because I was busy trying to get laid and the "bad bitches" didn't watch Smackdown. They watched One Tree Hill, for whatever ungodly reason (even though, before the time skip, it wasn't that bad of a show).

In 2002, I was in high school. That's also around the time we got one of the worst storylines in WWE history. As cliched as it is to speak on it, I'm talking about Katie Vick. Yes, WrestleCrap has beat it into a bloody, convoluted, clusterfuck of an epic fail, but the sheer stupidity behind this storyline has to be known, lest WWE repeats the same mistakes again. But, was the Katie Vick storyline that bad?

I'm Speed on the Beat and this is WIRTB Review where I review the crap, so you don't have to. This is a "bonus" WIRTB, as I'll restart my Souled Out series in June.

So, in October 2002, WWE, in the beginning of its RUTHLESS AGGRESSION! era, decided to play Raw Roulette, which was a thing until recently. What that meant is that wrestlers spun the wheel and did what the wheel said. So, if the wheel asked Rikishi and Taker to do a bra and panties match with each other, they would have to do it--and I'd have to kill myself thrice over with bleach because I just saw Rikishi and Taker stripe each other. Everything's going swimmingly, until we get to the main event.

So, we have a four-way TLC Tag Title match between Hurri-Kane (the people who do these sort of forced portmanteaus should be shot. In the face. With a rusty arrow), Bubba and Spike, Chris and Christian, and Weedaholics Anonymous--err, Jeff Harvey and RDV--I mean, Jeff Hardy and RVD. This match lasts for over twenty five minutes and Kane wins (single-handedly, because Hurricane got attacked by HHH in the back...). Out comes Space Mountain and Prep-H (look at me! I'm pandering to the mid-2000s IWC today) who reveal that Kane has a deep, dark secret.

He got drunk and killed his girlfriend in an accident.

So, the man who, at one point:
  • Was thought to have burned his parents alive
  • Rose from the bottom of the ring like Satan during his debut
  • attacked anyone who said "May 19th"
  • was alluded to have kidnapped, raped, and impregnated Lita and more...had a drinking problem?
Now, that's not to say "hey, alcohol abuse and drunk driving are fun and hilarious." But, for fuck's sake. Hell's Favorite Demon isn't supposed to be human. Plus, what message does that send to THA KIDS about alcohol? Anyway, let's keep moving.

On the October 21st edition of Raw, shit started to hit the fan even more. And so far, I've got to tell you, it really is as bad as advertised. But, I digress. On this edition of Raw, we get to see the "sex" seen around the world. Trips, dressed as Kane, goes into a funeral parlor, and proceeds to fuck a mannequin. But, here's something I realized in later viewings: the mannequin's dressed up in high school cheerleader clothing. So...not only is Kane a drunk and a necrophiliac, we can apparently add ephebophilia (a sexual attraction to teenagers) to the list of fuckery Kane and Triple H have indulged in.

They have a match. Kane stuffs Trips in his car. Kane screams that he's going to screw Triple H. So, if you're keeping score at home, here are the fucked up things about this angle:
  1. Drunk driving
  2. Necrophilia
  3. Ephebophilia
  4. Sodomy
  5. Rape
  6. Kidnapping
  7. Lying
  8. Other random shit that I'm probably forgetting...
And the sodomy aspect continues the next week, when we get the enema video.

Ok, you know what? Fuck it. 2002 WWE was the drizzling shits, for the most part. It was the epitome of fucktarded. It was sophomoric gobbledygook that made about as much sense as, well, this storyline. You know what's the clincher about this? It was supposed to make Kane a "star" and ended up devolving (evolving?) into a feud between Triple H and HBK.
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Brock Lesnar: What His Return Means

By True (@TrueGodImmortal)

Well, after being "suspended" for about 2 months or so, it appears Brock Lesnar is on the way back to WWE TV to start his usual summer angle. But, this time is a little bit different: Brock is confirmed for a ton of dates in a row. This, since his return in 2012, has been rare, if not unseen. He's scheduled for a return in about three weeks on the June 22nd edition of RAW, and his schedule from there is pretty interesting. 

Usually, leading up to a match, Brock is there about three out of seven weeks for the build-up, and he never works non-televised live events. Well, that changes in June and July, as Brock is scheduled for about six RAWs in a row along with being set for the secondary WWE PPV, Battleground.

Brock is likely to wrestle at Battleground and SummerSlam, with the very possibility of working Night of Champions as well, which would make it the first time in over a decade that he worked three PPVs in a row and only the third time that he has worked two PPVs in a row since his return. A lot of questions have been raised with these schedule announcements, but the biggest shocker came a little earlier.

Brock will travel to Japan to wrestle on a non-televised event in July. His first in over a decade. Who is his opponent? Logic would say Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns or even a Kane or Big Show. Brock has been connected to those names somehow for the most part in his recent tenure, so why not one of those, right? Well, it looks like Brock is going to have a great squash match, as he will take on Kofi Kingston in Japan. That's very confusing for two reasons:
  1. The match is not going to be competitive, and is honestly one of the most random pairings I've seen in a bout.
  2. If you were going to use Brock for a match on a live event, why not put him against someone that will put on a competitive match and is believable in going toe to toe with him?

WWE likely just wanted to showcase Brock for his draw ability in Japan, while giving him an easy night. So, that's likely why they booked him vs. Kofi, but it's still strange. However, with Brock already facing guys like Reigns, Big Show, HHH, Taker, and Cena, my excitement for him returning is rooted in the fact that he will likely be working with newer wrestlers going forward. I suspect we will see a one-on-one match with Brock vs. Seth Rollins for the title, along with Brock vs. a big guy like Rusev perhaps. We could very well see that long awaited Brock vs. Orton match,along with a match that I predict will take place within the next year or so: Brock Lesnar vs. Kevin Owens.

That match, along with a Brock Lesnar vs. Samoa Joe match as well as that elusive Brock vs. Daniel Bryan contest are all possibilities in the next year or two, and this is exactly how Brock needs to be utilized. Putting Brock with top notch workers, great characters and people we've never seen him face before only adds to his legacy as it continues to grow. Likely after SummerSlam and/or Night of Champions, we won't see Brock until the Royal Rumble for his WrestleMania 32 storyline, but we can enjoy this next two-or-three month run, and think about what's next with great hope for the future. It feels like it's been a while since we could say that. 

Regardless, welcome back home Brock.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

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Destination America Picks Up ROH

In a move that's both perplexing and applause-worthy, Ring of Honor has been picked up by Destination America in what one can only assume, for now, is a syndication deal similar to ROH's deal with NESN (or possibly something similar to NJPW's deal with AXS).

Yep, that's right. The same network who was cancelling TNA picked up another wrestling program. But, what does that mean?

Well, two of the top alternatives to WWE are on the same network, for starters. Whether that proves to be a good thing in the long run remains to be seen. We could see TNA pick up the slack, we could see ROH pick up its production values. Or, we could see people still flock to NXT because, while the WWE Network isn't free, it's still more readily available than Destination, thus rendering this move somewhat moot.

Destination America is, in theory, available in half of America's households. But most still don't know how to get to it--or care enough to watch. Now, if the rumors are true and this is a syndication deal, and even if only a couple hundred thousand people tune in, it's progress for ROH and Destination. This could push Destination to open the floodgates and push its brand for mass consumption. Granted, I don't want to watch "Hillbilly Blood" or whatever other shows they have. But, if TNN (Spike's predecesor) could do it, for a while, with ECW and WWF/WWE on their airwaves...why not?

More wrestling's always a good thing. Except when it sucks. I'm looking at you, Three Hour RAW. But...what will it mean for TNA? I guess we'll have to wait and just...keep our eyes on the ring.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

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WWE Discontinues Second Screen Experience

By Speed on the Beat (@SpeedontheBeat)

Well, this is...Tout-esque. WWE has come out and said that their app's biggest feature that isn't the Network, the "Second Screen Experience," is being done away with in an effort to have that experience given to every social media component of the app. It does make sense, since WWE would often showcase some of these second screen "exclusives" on their websites, during the shows, etc. However, the WWE App loses some of its functionality/purpose through this move, as it was the biggest draw of having the app installed (aside from, again, the network). It'll be interesting to see how this plays out, especially since WWE indicates they'll be utilizing every other social media format to showcase these vignettes.

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CJ's Top Five Tag Teams

In the spirit of the upcoming six-team Elimination Chamber match this Sunday for the WWE Tag Team Championship, I thought I would share my top five WWE tag teams. Now, fair warning. This may one of the oddest lists you read, but keep in mind that these are my personal favorites.

5. Edge & Christian

"For the benefit of those with flash photography..." 

As great as Edge and Christian were as members of The Brood, they both really came into their own when they broke away from Gangrel. They made the most out of what they were given, and because one of the most successful, and entertaining, teams in history. They went on to win the tag teams titles on seven different occasions, and helped set a standard for tag team wrestling.

4. The Shield

Hands down, the most dominate team of the 2010s so far. They debuted in my hometown of Indianapolis at Survivor Series 2012 and proceeded to rule and wreak havoc until the day they disbanded. They won the tag team titles at Extreme Rules 2013, and also won at back-to-back WrestleManias (29 & 30). The Shield is the perfect example of bringing up 3 fresh faces and giving them the opportunity to carve out their own path, and in the process, created 3 new stars in Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, and Roman Reigns.

3. The Hardys
Be honest with yourselves. Even though both Matt and Jeff have gone a bit off the deep end at times, we all wanted to be The Hardys as kids. It was an excellent dynamic that captivated wrestling fans in the '90s and early 2000s. Matt's more grounded, solid style of wrestling, coupled with Jeff's high flying and out of this world charisma, became a recipe for success that culminated in six WWE Tag Team Championship reigns. We all wanted to be Jeff because of his acrobatics,...but we really envied Matt because he had Lita on his arm. If you want a screenshot of the late '90s, look no further than Team Xtreme.

2. L.O.D.

Domination. That's the first word that comes to mind when I hear the names Hawk and Animal. While the majority of they're rule over tag team wrestling may have been with other organizations, they were, without a doubt, my favorite tag team in WWF. They held the tag titles on three separate occasions during their WWF run, and made an impression on millions of young fans, myself included. Everytime they set up for that dreaded Doomsday Device, you knew a 3-count wasn't far behind. To this day, I'm still trying to find some old shoulder pads so I can attach some spikes to them.

1. The Dudleys

Not only are Bubba and D-Von my favorite tag team, but I think they're the greatest tag team in the history of pro wrestling. Not only are they the most decorated, but for my money, they are the most entertaining and polarizing tag team as well. I remember seeing the TLC match from Wrestlemania 17, seeing Bubba and Matt getting pushed off the ladder through that wall of tables, seeing all of the carnage that they not only dished out, but took as well, just showed how far they were willing to go to be the best. Not to mention, they are the owners of the greatest tag finisher in history, the 3D. As a former trampoline wrestler (yes, that's a real thing. YouTube it; it's pretty awesome), whenever I did tag matches, we always used the 3D to put away the opponent. The Dudleys are still the measuring stick for tag teams everywhere, and I don't see them getting eclipsed anytime soon.

Friday, May 22, 2015

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Life In The Attitude Era Vol. 2: The Beginning.

So, here's where the story begins. Life in the Attitude Era.

Wrestling was a very different place back then. Companies took chances, fans were vocal and involved. TV Networks wanted wrestling as part of their schedules. Dare I say it, wrestling was "cool". All of a sudden, you weren't a weirdo or a nerd if you admitted you watched wrestling. Everybody we know, or knew, has at least watched some of the Attitude Era in their time. Even those people who give you shit now for watching it, they've watched it in the past when it was "OK" to do it. Virtually all of your friends from school/work knew who Stone Cold, DX, Sting, the nWo, Mr McMahon, the Rock, Mick Foley, DDP, Undertaker and countless others were, but what kicked it all off?

It's pretty hard to nail that down specifically, but 1995-96 would get my vote.

Scott Hall and Kevin Nash had walked out on Vince to take up their fat contracts at WCW, Haitch-Ah(Triple H) was in the doghouse for the whole Garden curtain call thing, and a certain Stone Cold Steve Austin would deliver his breakthrough performance and promo at King of the Ring 1996.

"You sit there and thump your Bible, and you say your prayers and it didn't get you anywhere...talk about your Psalms, talk about John 3:16...Austin 3:16 says I just whipped your ass!!!"

That short, sharp burst there stood out from everything else because it didn't feel like a "wrestling promo". It felt authentic. It felt real. Very real. Austin was Austin, and didn't give a shit if you loved him or hated him. He did what he wanted, when he wanted, and however the fuck he wanted to do it. It was completely different to the comic, over-the-top stuff that was around at the time.

Interest in the WWF was waning at that point. You have to remember that by this time, Vince McMahon had lost almost ALL of his established, big-name stars. Hogan, Savage, Hall, Nash, Flair and others had all either left, or returned, to WCW - seen as the promised land because of Turner's seemingly endless pile of cash and his TV network.

The landscape of the land of the giants - WWF - had changed dramatically. No offense to anyone who was around at the time, but when WCW had all these stars, what did Vince have? Doink the fucking Clown and other cartoonish, bullshit gimmicks that were out of touch, and out of date(Man Mountain Rock represent, yo).

Vince had a great opportunity to make a tremendous statement in 1995-96.

When the character of Goldust originally debuted, you'd be lying if you said that it didn't creep you the fuck out. Goldust was a uniquely weird, creepy, sexualized character that played into the "fears" of "normal" society. It was something that had never been done on as big a scale as the WWF, and Goldust got very real heat. People HATED him because he played into their misconceptions.

Dustin Rhodes has done, and did do, a terrific job in that role. Not only did he completely immerse himself in the character, he bought into it. The Goldust character needed to be very weird, out-there, but you couldn't have just anyone do it. You needed to have a tremendously gifted performer, and a highly-skilled wrestler, to be able to pull that off in the right way. And it was brilliant. Utterly and completely mesmerizing.

There was so much more heat on Goldust than on any other character at the time, heel or babyface. Usually, the most over character in the company works at the top of the card, and becomes champion. Although Goldust had a couple of runs with the IC title (during that initial run), he should have had a run with the WWF Championship. There's absolutely no doubt about that whatsoever.

Remember troops, this was a time when Vince didn't have shareholders to answer to. It was his company and while the networks may have had concerns about it, there's no doubt that people would have continued to watch, if only to want to see Goldust get his ass kicked. And that's the whole point of being a heel. The crowd in the arena - and the people watching at home - are supposed to want to see the hero overcome the bad guy. And while he maybe wasn't a traditional bad guy, Goldust was the best heel in the company at that time. Without question.

However, Vincent Kennedy McMahon, the genetic jackhammer himself, must've left his balls in his wife's purse, because he didn't go for it and WWF missed a HUGE opportunity to make themselves stand out.

If you believe what you read on the net, Vince had to be persuaded by Shawn Michaels and Haitch-Ah(HHH) to go in a VERY different direction or face the real possibility of extinction. And how did he do that? By using a very real situation to create arguably the greatest wrestling heel of all-time.

You could say that if Bret Hart hadn't have left the WWF, the company wouldn't exist today.

Think about it. If Vince hadn't "screwed" Bret Hart at Survivor Series in 1997, we wouldn't have had the Mr. McMahon character. If we didn't have the Mr. McMahon character, we wouldn't have seen the brilliance of Austin-McMahon (in some way) for virtually all of Austin's run on top.

Don't get me wrong though. I'm not - for one second - saying that the Austin character wouldn't have worked without McMahon. It would have. Austin was THAT good, and his connection with the fans - even to this day - is one of the most genuine, authentic, real bonds that you could ever expect a wrestler to have with his fans, and vice versa.

The McMahon character was so utterly absurd and over-the-top, but he was the perfect foil for Austin. They complemented each other tremendously well. You believed that Vince was a complete and utter dick. You wanted to see Austin kick the shit out of him. Slowly. And repeatedly. Austin was the working man, fighting the machine and doing whatever it took to get what he wanted, all the while sticking it to the man whenever he could.

Let's go back a second though. Why did we think Vince was "a complete and utter dick"? Because people think he "screwed" Bret Hart. Come on now. Did he really? Put yourself in Vince's shoes. Your champion has decided - albeit reluctantly - to move to a different company. Bret's reasons were genuine. He wasn't looking for a way out, but he had to leave.

Different suggestions were made to Bret about how and where he could drop the belt before he left, but the two sides couldn't agree on the best way to do it. Vince had decided he wanted Shawn to be the champion because Bret was on his way out, but Bret's own insecurity led to him refusing to do the job.

This is just my opinion, but Bret was clearly a mark for himself and for the wrong reasons, he refused all options given to him. What the fuck else was Vince meant to do? Just let him win on the way out, and let Bret swagger away with the belt? Fuck no. Vince did what he had to do to protect his company.

I might give him all the shit in the world for what he's become - I do, and some of it's deserved - but in that situation, under those circumstances with all of that on the line, I'd have done exactly the same as Vince. It takes a brave man to make a decision of that magnitude, without knowing what the reward/payoff would be. Simply put, Vince didn't have any other choice. He did what was - pardon the pun - best for business.

And you know what? It proved to be the right choice. He made a very brave, very real decision, knowing that he'd forever be blamed for what happened. But he did it anyway, and because of that one decision, the WWF survived the war and they're still here today.

That seems as good a place as any to leave off for this time. Check back shortly for the next installment of the series, when we'll talk in depth about DX, the nWo, the rise of young stars who went on to become icons, and the veterans who became legends.

As always, make sure you're supporting True and the team, and keep your eyes on the ring!


Thursday, May 21, 2015

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The (Real) Samoa Joe Debut

By Speed on the Beat (@SpeedontheBeat)

Well, at least we know they won't call him "Joey Samoey" or some other sort of played-out joke.

OK, it's not that tired. But still!

Last night, after Kevin Owens decided to all but kill Sami Zayn at TakeOver Unstoppable, we heard some guitar riffs. We heard some heavy drums. We heard fans screaming. And then?

Yeah. I definitely marked out like a five-year-old when John Cena tosses his hat in my general area. And I'm not ashamed by it. But, marking out aside, now that Joe's here, what happens next? We know that Owens is challenging for the US Title against John Cena at Elimination Chamber. So, let's play Devil's Advocate. Let's say Owens wins the US Title. He then gets into a match at the next NXT event to determine whether or not he'll be the first NXT and WWE champion. The participants of this match?

Owens, Finn Balor, and Samoa Joe (notice I left Zayn off, as, for now, his feud with Owens is over and done with). Balor is amazing, but I don't see him winning the title off of Owens. I do, however, especially based off the interaction last night, see Samoa Joe winning in similar fashion to Owens. You build Joe up as this guy who's big, he's brolic, he's a brawler. But, he hates bullies and people who take it too far. Yes, the same guy who people chant "Joey's Gonna Kill You" about has morals. Why? Because he may kill you, but he's not going to eviscerate you. Add that element in, and you've got the makings of a classic match.

But, what if Owens loses at Elimination Chamber? Well, it'd be a similar situation. Either way, we all should truthfully shut up and enjoy the ride. But, it's fun to speculate.
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What If TNA DOES Close Up Shop?

In wrestling, rumors are like assholes. Everyone has one and they all stink a good portion of the time. In recent times, the biggest victim of the rumor machine has been TNA. With the initial shock of being cancelled by Spike fresh in their and fans' minds, Dixie Carter and company probably had to deal with being linked to everyone from Disney to a WWE buyout. When Destination America announced they'd inked a deal with TNA, fans (myself included) rejoiced. Yes, it was a market smaller than Spike's. However, competition and alternatives in wrestling are always a great thing--even if they don't promote Monday Night Wars.

On the heels of TNA's purported cancellation by Destination America, one has to wonder: what would happen if TNA really did close up shop? TNA is in the same boat as ECW at the end of their initial run--except worse, in some ways. For starters, ECW's cancellation by TNN was still during an age where tip hotlines existed, where every "IWC" member wasn't considered a smark by every other "IWC" member. Essentially, while both situations sting, Paul Heyman could just say "screw it, let me call in some favors at WWF and try to help out myself and as many of my guys as I can."

But, if TNA does close up shop, there are endless possibilities. None of them, however, seem to lead TNA back to being the number two promotion in America. Most of these possibilities seem to end up having TNA talent go to ROH, PWG, CZW, and other indie promotions with a few maybe getting a whiff/another whiff at the WWE. Some of these possibilities would lead ROH to become the new number two, which would be...interesting to say the least.

At any rate, should TNA close up shop or even actually be cancelled, it's going to be a disaster in one way or another.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

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NXT TakeOver: Unstoppable Preview

By Speed on the Beat (@SpeedontheBeat)

So, WWE is vying for your attention almost as much as it did during the Attitude Era. Who would've thunk that all it'd take was turning the spiritual successor to Tough Enough (pre-Tough Enough reboot[s]) into a legitimate breeding ground for up-and-coming talent--and a developmental league, if you will, for the indie legends of the world to hone their skills before facing off on the main roster? I mean, ever since NXT has began their PPV schedule, WWE's getting mainstream press. Granted, it's not "The Rock's stopping by on The Tonight Show" or anything...yet. But, we're in another wrestling boom, it'd seem. So, tonight's TakeOver: Unstoppable event is one we should watch...and closely, mainly because of its implications. These are my predictions, in no particular order.

Triple Threat Match for Number One Contendership to NXT Championship
Finn Balor versus Tyler Breeze versus Unknown Hideo Itami Replacement

The triple threat number one contender's match for the NXT Championship has been altered due to Hideo Itami's injury. Word is that Itami will still be "represented," per Triple H. So, one has to wonder. Who will represent Itami? Now, we've heard rumblings/rumors that Uhaa Nation, Samoa Joe, and others could be the "representation." I could see Uhaa, mainly because of his friendship with Finn Balor (therefore, they'd probably be able to work the match and crank out a beauty). But, whoever takes Itami's place, mark my words: if they win, they're feuding with Itami first, not the NXT Champion. And yes, I know that Itami's going to be out for months. But, still, mark my words. If I'm wrong, I'll review Bash at the Beach '98. Yep, that's how sure I am of this.

NXT Championship
Kevin Owens (C) versus Sami Zayn

I've already spoken about Owens in depth. I see a John Cena interference, furthering their feud and thus promoting Owens to the main roster. Why? Well, for starters, Cena's been treating the US Title better than he's probably treated Nikki Bella on-screen in, like, ever. So, any affront to that belt is an affront to him and will cause him to spaz out and open a can of flat Whoop-Ass on someone. That someone, tonight, will probably be Kevin Owens. That's not saying Owens is going to get leveled by Cena; it's just saying there will be outside interference. Sami Zayn will regain the NXT Championship because of this. Now, with the NXT crowd, Cena would become even more "heelish tweener clusterfuck" than he already is, mainly because the crowd loves both Owens and Zayn.

NXT Tag Team Championship
Blake and Murphy (C) versus Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady

Enzo and Collin win the NXT Tag Titles in a match that I probably couldn't care less about. I mean, both teams are good. It's just, I'm legitimately "eh" towards it.

NXT Women's Championship
Sasha Banks (C) versus Becky Lynch

Sasha is main roster-ready. That's the long and short of it. She's like A.J., but less "Let's Light It Up," more let's eff you up if you deny my bawse-ness. Simply put, there isn't a "Diva" on the main roster that can match up to her at the moment. Yes, that includes Paige. Because, while Paige has been wrestling for her whole life almost, Sasha Banks has made leaps and bounds in a shorter time to put her on a level that matches (and, in some ways, surpasses) Paige.

Rhyno versus Baron Corbin

It's sink or swim time, in some ways, for Baron (yes, again). He's lost pretty much every ounce of momentum he had upon his return in December. Rhyno, on the other hand, looks the best he has in years. I'm still unsure why Rhyno is in NXT, but I've enjoyed what I've seen so far. Rhyno wins in a match that doesn't really mean much.

Bayley and Charlotte versus Dana Brooke and Emma

Remember this time last year when Emma was doing Santino's Cobra and Bayley was, well, Bayley's just Bayley. She's perky with a booty that just don't quit. Mild sexism aside, the pairing of Bayley and Charlotte will win to give Heel Emma and Brooke their comeuppance. Plus, Charlotte needs one more match to showcase (remind?) people that she's main roster-ready. Why not get it in an easy match where she'll probably lock the Figure Four on Emma and make her tap for her ally Bayley...or something.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

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Classic Rivalries: Taker versus Mankind

There are some once in a lifetime rivalries that can never be duplicated. For me, the rivalry that is Undertaker versus Mankind is one that's legendary. I remember watching Mankind's debut, the night after WrestleMania 12, and as a child, I was instantly intrigued. Undertaker, at the time, was a creepy supernatural force that received power from an urn and his manager Paul Bearer. Taker was a draw all by himself without having to be WWF Champion or even in the picture at the time. Mick Foley, fresh off his departure from ECW, did a complete change, as he went from the character of Cactus Jack, to the slum dwelling, cellar living, rat befriending weirdo that became Mankind. The dichotomy that was built between these two characters was perfect. When Mankind arrived and set his sights on Taker, you knew you were in for something epic.

This feud essentially was a long running two year feud from 1996 to 1998, with very few breaks or different opponents in between. After the feud kicked off on RAW following Wrestlemania 12, we didn't see Mankind go after The Undertaker for a few weeks, when he helped Goldust to bear down Taker, setting up their first encounter at King of The Ring 1996, which Mankind shockingly won. Essentially, Undertaker went ahead and put over Mankind, solidifying him as a threat, as well as making him a made man. The feud continued with what is probably their 2nd most known encounter, the Boiler Room Brawl at SummerSlam 1996.

This match was significant, because it was the first of its kind, and it featured the ultimate swerve of Paul Bearer turning on Undertaker to manage Mankind. In reflection, that might be the biggest story of this entire feud. Bearer, who was Taker's manager for years at this point, found someone who he saw as much more worthy of his power than Taker, and the ultimate mind games were beginning. Thus far, Mankind had been dominating the feud, winning both matches and taking Taker's manager and urn. Keeping up with energy of having such an inventive feud, Mankind and Taker would clash at a PPV called In Your House: Buried Alive, in the main event. This was the first ever Buried Alive match, with the objective to put your opponent into a makeshift grave. One would assume that this would certainly mark the feud's end, as there is nowhere to really go after a Buried Alive match. The Undertaker technically won the match, but end up buried under dirt by Mankind and some heels, almost guaranteeing the feud would continue.

The feud had one last big 1996 encounter at Survivor Series, with Taker picking up the victory and going on to feud briefly with The Executioner, who helped save Bearer from an ass whooping from Taker. After Survivor Series, it seemed as if this feud had simmered down, until Wrestlemania 13, where Taker won the WWF Championship from Sycho Sid. Who would Taker's first PPV opponent be?? You guessed it. Mankind vs Taker took place at the April 1997 In Your House PPV, with Taker soundly picking up the victory, seemingly bringing that feud to an instant close again. Taker would go on to feud with Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels and Faarooq through the rest of 1997, before getting trapped in a huge feud with his "brother," Kane.

It was the Kane feud that would bring things full circle for one last epic encounter. Mankind had aligned with Kane, and cost Taker a no. 1 contender match against him, rekindling the feud and setting up an epic Hell In A Cell encounter at King of The Ring 1998, two years exactly after their first match on PPV.

This match is one of the most famous matches in both of their careers, mostly for the sheer brutality. Foley took a huge fall off the top of the cage, and a chokeslam through the top of the cage soon after. Taker picked up the victory, but Foley walked away with fans' respect forever. That iconic image of him in mid air falling from the top is one of the greatest moments in wrestling history. Which goes back to the point I made earlier: Undertaker helped make Mankind into a formidable star in 1996 during their year long feud, and at the end, he helped get him that long lasting respect and validation that Foley had searched for his whole career.

The feud finished up the next month with a tag team title match at Fully Loaded 1998 with Austin as Taker's partner and Kane as Mankind's partner. They crossed paths on RAW after that feud ended a time or two, but that rivalry had finally come to a close. Two years of intense matches, breaking new ground and introducing two new matches to the WWF, Taker vs Mankind is hands down one of the best rivalries period, and definitely Foley's defining rivalry in his career.

Until next time,
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The Curious Case of Kevin Owens

Kevin Owens isn't your typical WWE talent.

That's the so-called bottom line that many drew upon learning that Owens (nee' Steen) had signed with WWE. In the ten months since, Owens has made waves, both among casual fans and "IWC" fans. He debuted in NXT by beating the crap out of CJ Parker, destroying Sami Zayn, destroying (Adrian) Neville, then winning the NXT Championship. Mind you, that was all in about three months' time. 

The man is being fast tracked to stardom, especially considering the events of last night's RAW. If you missed it, just watch the below clip.

Just like his NXT debut, Owens beat the crap out of a face of the promotion (let's face it: Cena, for better or worse, will always be a face for WWE), put himself and his skills above all--including the US Title, then stomping out the US Title. Add this to Owens seemingly being handpicked by Triple H and we potentially have two things going on here.

1) The Authority ends up becoming a "Kliq"-like situation, where Triple H handpicks guys and gives them free reign (even more so than typical RAW)
2) WWE is actually going for talent over looks and putting faith in a guy who's, arguably, a bigger name in the indie circuit than Punk, Joe, or Bryan were/are. If that's the case, it's going to be interesting to see where he turns up. Owens can work almost any gimmick, so "Mini Brodus" Owens, should he get buried by everyone under the sun, would still probably be a decent guy to watch. 

But, if Owens is being called up now...what happens to the NXT Championship?

Will things become inZAYN again, or will Owens defend two belts in a brand-meshing free-for-all? I see the latter. Why? Because the guy is that good and NXT's slow burn through the main roster is happening at a good rate (i,e., no New Nexus foolishness). Therefore, it'd be kind of silly for Owens to not reign supreme over both for a little while.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

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WIRTB Review: New Blood Rising

After venturing outside of my comfort zone and reporting the news and happenings of current promotions, I'm back to my bread and butter. That is, even though my bread's molded and my butter is coagulated goo now. I'm Speed on the Beat and this is WIRTB Review. For the unbaptized, WIRTB is a segment of EyesontheRing.com where I review horrible PPVs and determine whether or not they deserve the venom they get from wrestling fans. Usually, however, I've seen the PPVs in question in pretty much their entirety.

2000's New Blood Rising, however, is the first that I'm going in blind. For those who stayed away from 2000-2001 WCW, it was a train wreck. And, no, I don't, as some do, put it all on Vince Russo. This era of WCW, the blame for its clusterfuck nature needs to be spread around. For if it's not, we shall repeat the mistakes of the past.

NBR was designed to put over the New Blood faction of "new" wrestlers who came into WCW to start shit and take it over (yep, another "takeover" angle). It also was designed to replace the Hog Wild PPV. There are a few problems with that. For starters, by the time NBR came about, the New Blood had disbanded. Secondly, they disbanded about a month or so before the PPV. Thirdly, since I want to actually get into the PPV versus backstory, Hog Wild was crap. But, NBR, with its nonsensical approach, made many wish that they saw The Hulkster swinging around a motorcycle...or something.

So, the program begins with some pretty crap early-2000s graphics (which really look like they're from 1991) and fans who look way too turnt up. Next? The WCW sparkler load-blow. Our first match is a ladder match between 3 Count (with Tank Abbott--who probably wishes he could fucking kill everyone out here tonight with his "scissors") and the Jung Dragons. I forgot that Abbott, with his nipple-exposing cutout shirt (for no reason), actually sang during his time with 3 Count. His singing is about as bad as that one match in that one 2001 WCW PPV.

Which one, you ask? Ex-fucking-actly.

So, this match is actually the one I spoke of a while back as being one of the highlights of later-year WCW. I forgot that this shit was over a "gold record" and a "recording contract" for 3 Count. Pretty much, if 3 Count lost, they couldn't sing again, because kayfabe. If they won, they'd continue to sing and the Jung Dragons would, I assume, continue to beat the shit out of them, because kayfabe in WCW. It doesn't take long for this match to go outside, because ladder matches. Wow, seeing Jimmy Yang go here, I'm even sadder that he was just a three-way stereotype (as opposed to, I guess, a two-way one here) in WWE.

Now, if their match at Mayhem was SPOTS!, this match was...well, SPOTS! SPOTS! SPOTS! SPOTS! SPOTS! and more spots. And it was glorious. It wasn't technical at all. And seeing this match, I'm not surprised that the people involved didn't have longer American careers. They were probably broken in half just off this one. 3 Count ended up getting the win, even though Tank almost killed 3 Count.

A backstage promo between The Filthy Animals and WCW Commissioner Ernest Miller later, and we're back to Oriental Riff Rip-off Number Three (a/k/a The Great Muta's 2000 WCW theme) and our next match. Miller and Muta are up for our next match. As a sidenote, all matches are no DQ. Even though eye pokes are shunned, we're given a PPV that's (supposedly) no DQ (hi 2010s WWE). Also, fuck the announcers for using terms such as "real heat." Muta and Miller go back and forth for a bit (yawn) until...interference from Tygress. Yep.

I think we all know where I'm going, but I might as well say it anyway. Fuck this company.

Up next, we have what is possibly one of the worst ideas ever in wrestling. This match almost makes Katie Vick" look sane and makes the "Mr. McMahon Blows Up and Dies" storyline make sense. We've got the Judy Bagwell on a Pole match. Yes, Buff Bagwell's mom has been involved in the feud between Buff and Positively Kanyon because...I truly still don't get why. Fuck this match. Fuck it right in the pussy. My God, if you want to see how not to book a match, here's an example.

After seeing six minutes of brawling (and hearing six minites of Judy scream like some bastard child of a banshee and Sarah Silverman), Kanyon has David Arquette come out for interference, but somehow still loses (and pretty badly).

Afterwards, we get yet another trainwreck. This one is in the form of a fatal-four-way tag team championship match. All that I can say on this match is that it manages to one-up the previous match in terms of sheer brain dead logic (or lack thereof). Run-ins, mistimed spots, announcers working within "shoot" territory, a finish that makes no goddamned sense, a guy getting a push who probably doesn't really need one (Muta, considering he appears at least thrice tonight). Yep, sounds like "classic Russo."

So, what else happens in this shitshow?

A Rip off the Clothes (ROTC) match between Major Gunns and Stacy Kiebler where Stacy miscarries her kid?

A worked shoot where Goldberg says "fuck you" to Russo?

Billy Kidman winning via pinfall in a strap match?

A ref-bump heavy WCW Title match between Booker T and Double J (complete with guitar)?

A "Canadian Rules" match between Lance Storm and Mike Awes--y'know what? Fuck this pay-per-view. I can't seriously get through the rest of this without bleach and a couple shots. And since I'm trying to do the non-drinking thing, fuck this shit. New Blood Rising shows what's wrong with 2000/2001 WCW and what can potentially go wrong with Russo's Jerry Springer Show-like writing style. Too much, too quickly leads to confusion and anger.

But, about that worked shoot match, the Nash/Steiner/Goldberg match. What in the high unholy fuck made Russo think that'd be a good idea? Yes, wrestling fans, even the casuals, have an idea on how booking works. However, to book a match where the "booking" involves one of your top guys losing just because, you're digging two graves for your promotion. One grave is for what could've been had you not been fucktarded. The other is for what is, and what's dying in front of your audience.

Monday, May 11, 2015

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Ring Of Honor Wrestling Review 5/9/15

By Nathan Neumann, Twitter @Headliner5

Hello Eyes On The Ring readers, Nathan is back at it once again with another one of my reviews for Ring Of Honor Television.  This show only featured two matches and it was a pretty solid hour of wrestling. So, before I get to carried away and begin rambling on and on about nothing let's get into the action! The show starts and as we head inside the arena, Kevin Kelly and Steve Corino both welcome us to the show. Not long after, Adam Cole makes his way down to the ring and grabs a headset and joins the commentary team for the night.  From here, we go to the first match of the night.

Match 1
Chris Sabin vs. Kyle O’Reilly

Thoughts: Chris Sabin makes his way through the curtain and begins to make his way down to the ring, only he stops halfway and goes off to the side of the entrance where we can’t see him.  Kyle O’Reilly comes out with a huge bandage on his head from an apparent laceration that he suffered in a previous match and gets attacked by Sabin who was lying in wait for O’Reilly. Sabin had complete control over the match in the early going and repeatedly began whipping O’Reilly into the steel guardrails on the outside. Approximately two minutes later, both men make it into the ring to signal the start of the match.

Immediately after the bell rings, Sabin again slides out of the ring and is followed by O’Reilly.  This time O’Reilly manages to get the upper hand and whips Sabin onto the floor, O’Reilly then locks on an Armbar but Sabin escapes.  Later on in the match, Sabin again gets the advantage and hangs O’Reilly’s head on the bottom rope. Sabin who is on the outside of the ring runs and kicks O’Reilly in the head as we go to a commercial break. Upon returning from break we get a warning that reads “unsuitable content featured in the next segment."  From here we go back to the match where Sabin unwraps the bandage from O’Reilly’s head to work on the head wound that O’Reilly has. O’Reilly gets busted open immediately and due to this show being on basic cable I am then forced to watch the rest of the match in beautiful black and white like I’m back in the 50’s or something.

O’Reilly manages to come back with a trio of butterfly suplexes followed by locking on an armbar but Sabin makes it to the ropes before he is in any real danger.  Later in the match the two men make it to the corner of the ring and Sabin hits O’Reilly with a tornado DDT to pick up a near fall. O’Reilly then comes back and takes Sabin’s head off with a rebound clothesline and follows it up with a brainbuster to score a near fall of his own.  The finish to the match came when Chris Sabin defeats Kyle O’Reilly with the Cradle Shock after interference from the other two Knights Of The Rising Dawn members (Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian).

Match Result: Chris Sabin defeats Kyle O’Reilly via Cradle Shock due to interference from Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian better known as The Addiction.

Match Rating: **1/2
And now, we return to color!

From here, we are treated to a video package hyping the ROH vs. NJPW War Of The Worlds and Global Wars events. Afterward, Mark Briscoe comes on the screen and threatens to slap my mom if I dare change the channel.
...Happy Mother’s day to you, too, Mark.

We then find out that, next week, ACH will take on Adam Page in a one on one match.
From here we head back into the arena and into the next match of the evening.  Alberto El Patron makes his way out to the ring for the next match, which is a six-man tag team match.

Main Event – Match 2
Alberto El Patron, ACH and Matt Sydal vs. Roderick Strong and The Briscoe Brothers (Mark and Jay)

Thoughts: The match starts and Mark Briscoe starts things off with ACH, they don’t do much of anything until El Patron enters the ring along with Jay Briscoe and Alberto hits Jay with a hip toss for a very quick early cover that barely gets a two count.  ay tags Mark back into the match and Mark quickly takes control of the match by stomping away at El Patron, ACH tags in (as does Roderick Strong) but ACH finds himself backed into a corner getting chopped in the chest by Mr. ROH, Roderick Strong. Matt Sydal comes off of the top rope and Strong catches him in mid air to deliver a devastating back breaker. Sydal makes his way onto the apron and jumps off but gets caught by Roderick once again and this time he gets slammed into the barricade on the outside of the ring.

Back in the ring, Roderick kicks ACH in the face and picks up a near fall. Strong tags in Jay Briscoe, but ACH presses the advantage and gets Jay in a venerable position in order to deliver a double foot stomp off of the top rope to the back of Jay’s head. Sydal tags back into the ring and is in there with both Briscoes, he grabs both of them and hits one with a chin breaker and the other with a leg drop as the other was on the mat. ACH comes back into the ring and hits a springboard flatliner for a near fall on Mark Briscoe. ACH tags in Alberto El Patron and Patron hits Mark Briscoe with a double footstomp while Mark Briscoe is tied up in the tree of woe. El Patron tags in ACH and Matt Sydal comes off of the top rope with a 450 splash while ACH hits a shooting star press to pick up the pinfall victory over a fallen Mark Briscoe.

Match Result: Alberto El Patron, ACH and Matt Sydal defeat Roderick Strong, Jay and Mark Briscoe after a shooting Star Press from ACH to Mark Briscoe.

Match Rating: ***
After the match, Alberto El Patron, ACH and Matt Sydal celebrate their victory as the show comes to a close for the week.

That will do it for another Ring Of Honor TV reviews for EyesOnTheRing.com.  This show was highly enjoyable especially for me when you have Alberto El Patron featured in a match because he is my favorite wrestler in all of wrestling right now. We had two matches this week and both more than delivered, my only complaint is that the first match had to be shown in black and white for the last half. But, that’s not a knock on ROH but the network that they are on.

Be sure to follow me at @Headliner5 and make sure to follow Eyes On The Ring at @EyesOnTheRing. Also make sure to check out EyesOnTheRing.com as I continue to bring you my thoughts and analysis on Ring Of Honor each and every week.  Plus the entire Eyes On The Ring team brings you all we can as it pertains to pro wrestling.

Last but certainly not least make sure to check out Eyes On The Ring radio as we come to you live via the Elite Podcast Network over at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/elitepodcastnetwork each and every Sunday night at 11:00pm EST.  We will bring you the entire week in wrestling as well as all of the other stuff that we decide to ramble on about.  Finally be sure to head on over to Facebook.com/EyesOnTheRing and like us.

As a final, final parting note, I just want to mention that there will most likely not be a review of Ring Of Honor from me for next week as they will be showing matches from the Conquest Tour show in Hopkins, Minnesota. I already reviewed this leg of the tour right here.

But, for now this has been Nathan saying so long, and until my next review make sure to keep your Eyes On The Ring.

Friday, May 8, 2015

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Eyes on the...Injury?

By Speed on the Beat (@SpeedontheBeat)

Is it too early to panic?

As you're aware, in the past 96 hours or so, we've gotten word that Sami Zayn and Hideo Itami have suffered shoulder injuries and are out indefinitely. These injuries come, somewhat, on the heels of Kevin Owens himself returning from injury a few weeks ago and Alex Riley going under the knife. Now, Zayn and Itami being injured automatically throws a few monkey wrenches into NXT's plans.

At the next NXT Arrival, Zayn was booked to face Owens. When Zayn went down after his match with Cena (save the "Cena injured him" talk, though. It's been reported that Zayn injured himself backstage), it was bad. However, WWE and NXT still had a contingency plan. Put one of the most over NXT talents not named Zayn or Owens, Hideo Itami (the former KENTA) in the match versus having him just square off in a triple-threat match with Tyler Breeze and Finn Balor for the right to be the next number one contender.

And then, Itami gets injured.

What does that mean?

For starters, two of NXT's top faces are out for months. NXT, while full of depth, also doesn't have many players that have connected with the crowd in the way a Zayn or an Itami have done. Tyler Breeze can't be a face (not even a Ziggler-lite), because his persona is wrapped around being the self-absorbed asshole. Balor could/should step up, and we'd probably get a classic match out of Owens and Balor, but what would it mean?

That's the question: if Balor gets the rub from the Number One Contender match, do you have him beat Owens or do you have Owens retain? And if so, who do you have oppose him? Do you bring up a mid-carder and build them up as the next big thing? Do you automatically bring in Uhaa Nation? Do you keep having Balor versus Owens until Zayn comes back, says "fuck the bullshit. It's my time to get my rematch" and have him regain the belt?

All in all, it's an exciting time to be an NXT fan. It's also a critical time in the brand's development, one that will determine if NXT truly is the best brand of WWE or just an "overrated" breeding ground/feeder system. Because, let's face it. If you can't pull out a win with your B+ players (ugh) and you have people claiming you're the best, you may just not be the best...

As always, that's just my opinion. Until next time.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

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SOTB!!!'s ROH/NJPW War of the Worlds '15 Preview

Once a year, for the past two years, NJPW and ROH have teamed up for an incredible showcase of each promotion's talent. Now I know that ROH is typically Nathan's turf, but I wanted to step up to give a bit of a preview to the upcoming War of the Worlds '15 PPV. I'm Speed on the Beat, and this isn't WIRTB Review.

Our event card looks something like this, per Wiki:

Night 1
1Delirious vs. GedoSingles match
2Kushida vs. Roderick StrongSingles match
3Jay Lethal (with Truth Martini) vs. Takaaki WatanabeSingles match
4The Addiction (Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian) vs. The Kingdom (Matt Taven and Michael Bennett) (with Maria Kanellis) vs. The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson)Three-way tag team match
5Michael Elgin vs. Tetsuya NaitoSingles match
6Hiroshi Tanahashi and Jushin Thunder Liger vs. reDRagon (Bobby Fish and Kyle O'Reilly)Tag team match
7A.J. Styles vs. TBASingles match
8The Briscoes (Jay Briscoe and Mark Briscoe) vs. Chaos (Kazuchika Okada and Shinsuke Nakamura)Tag team match
Night 2
1Adam Page vs. Takaaki WatanabeSingles match
2Kushida vs. Michael ElginSingles match
3Kyle O'Reilly vs. Tetsuya NaitoSingles match
4Jay Lethal (with Truth Martini) vs. Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Mark Briscoe vs. Shinsuke NakamuraFour-way match
5Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Roderick StrongSingles match
6The Addiction (Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian) vs. Chaos (Gedo and Kazuchika Okada)Tag team match
7Jay Briscoe (c) vs. Bobby FishSingles match for the ROH World Championship
8Bullet Club (A.J. StylesMatt Jackson and Nick Jackson) vs. The Kingdom (Adam ColeMatt Taven and Michael Bennett) (with Maria Kanellis)Six-man tag team match
  • (c) – refers to the champion(s) heading into the match

Essentially, while there are few overarching storylines, there don't need to be many. The lineup sells itself, as you have two types of matches. First, you have matches where you see guys such as Jay Lethal going up against (for at least the second time this year) Jushin Liger. In other words, you see the new talent getting to rub elbows (and potentially throw elbows) with some of the most legendary wrestlers. Secondly, you have the overarching feud between The Kingdom and Bullet Club, one which has also managed to ensnare The Addiction. This is the type of feud that, for instance, The Invasion angle wishes it could be.

But, that's another post for another time.

Until next time.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

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ROH Review 5/2/15

By Nathan Neumann (Twitter @Headliner5)

Hello everyone and fellow ringers, Nathan back again this week this time with my traditional ROH TV review. Last week, I reviewed the ROH House Show/TV taping (not sure what it actually was) that I attended this week and didn’t provide an ROH TV review. This week we are back to the regular schedule of ROH TV reviews. This show only featured two matches which is something I like and have stated before in previous reviews. One of those matches was Tommaso Ciampa’s final match (for now, at least in Ring Of Honor). But, without any further ado lets get down to talking about what took place during the hour.

The show opened up with the ROH intro video. From there, we head inside of the arena (located in San Antonio, Texas) and join Kevin Kelly and Steve Corino at ringside as they will bring us all of the action of the night. They intro the show and then send it down to ringside for the first match.

Match One: Davey Boy Smith, Junior and Lance Archer (with Michael Elgin) vs.Hanson and Raymond Rowe

Thoughts: Smith and Archer jump Hanson and Rowe before the bell rings and Smith hits knees to Rowe and follows it up with a European uppercut while Archer hits Hanson with a flurry of forearms.  Rowe gets thrown out to the floor and Smith and Archer hit Hanson with some punches but Hanson gets back into the ring and joins Rowe as they hit the KES with closelines and Rowe hits some knees to Smith.  Archer whips Hanson into the corner to hit his own partner (Rowe) but Rowe moves out of the way and Hanson splashes Smith Jr. Archer tries a splash of his own and misses but hits Smith in the corner.  Rowe hits a running drop kick that sends Archer into Smith in the corner and Hanson follows both men and hits a seated splash on Smith. 

Archer rolls out to the floor to make the match one on one for the first time, Rowe sends Smith to Hanson so Hanson can hit a knee.  Rowe hits a knee and Hanson hits a closeline to the back of the head.  Archer goes to attack Hanson but Hanson counters it with an elbow.  Smith kicks Hanson into the corner.  Smith and Archer then concentrate on Hanson connecting with a double shoulder tackle and Smith follows it up with a leg drop while Archer hits a splash which allows Smith to get a near fall.

Smith throws Hanson into Archers boot in the corner and we get a tag. Archer hits Hanson with a forearm and a chop.  Hanson punches Archer but Archer hits a knee to the midsection and follows it up with a slam.  Archer waits for Hanson to get up and hits a running shoulder tackle that sends Hanson to the mat.  Smith gets the tag into the match and snatches Hanson by the beard and follows it up with a series of knees.  Smith hits a gut wrench suplex for a near fall and then goes for a cross arm breaker.

Hanson manages to put his foot on the rope, which causes Smith to have to release the hold. Smith acts like he’s going to hit Hanson in the grain but instead hits the abdomen.  Smith locks in a rear chin lock but Hanson punches him in the face.  Smith lands knee and follows it up with some kicks to Hanson.  Archer comes into the match after a tag and hits a few forearms in the corner.  Smith capitalizes on his advantage by choking Hanson and Archer hits a splash as we go to a commercial.

Aack from a commercial and Hanson hits a punch and a back first but Archer runs Hanson into the corner and hits him with forearms.  Smith receives a tag into the match and Archer with an Irish whip and then both men hit splashes in the corner.  Archer takes out Rowe and Smith hits a powerslam and Archer comes off of the second rope with a splash.  Smith picks up a near fall, Smith hits a surfboard and Hanson reverses it but Archer tags in and connects with a few forearms to the back of the head.

Archer locks in an Armbar on Hanson and Rowe shows frustration that he hasn’t been able to get into the match since the bell rang. Archer sends Hanson to the mat and then whips Hanson, Archer follows it in for a splash but misses.  Hanson punches Smith when Smith tries to interfere. Archer knocks Rowe off of the apron and tags Smith back in.  Smith lands multiple kicks to the chest of Hanson.

Smith goes for a piledriver but Hanson blocks the attempt, Smith hits some knees and kicks but Hanson puts the match in his favor by hitting a side slam causing both men to be down on the mat.  Rowe gets the tag and closeslines Archer, Archer with an Irish whip but he misses the follow up splash.  Rowe grabs Archer by the waist but Archer escapes and lands some kicks.  Rowe lands a forearm but Archer comes back with one of his own.  Rowe hits another forearm, Archer goes for a closeline but misses, which allows Rowe to hit a German Suplex.  Smith tries to interfere, Smith and Rowe both try for German suplexes, Hanson hits a closeline and Rowe hits a closeline on Smith as they roll out to the floor.

Archer sets both Hanson and Rowe up for a double chokeslam but they stop him and hit a double chokeslam of their own on Archer.  They hit Fallout and Elgin pulls the referee out of the ring.  Hanson hits a suicide dive and takes out Elgin and the referee doesn’t know what to do.  Smith comes in and kicks Rowe and connects with knees.  Smith hits some kicks to the chest and then kicks Hanson off of the apron.  Smith and Archer hit a heart attack for a near fall.

Archer with a full nelson and Smith sets up for a double team move but Hanson is able to stop it from happening.  Hanson slams smith but Archer hits a slam of his own on Hanson.  Rowe hits a suplex on Archer and Smith lands a kick and an exploder to Rowe.  Smith hits a beautiful Tiger Suplex for a near fall on Hanson.  Rowe hits a Superman Punch on Smith, he then goes to do it to Archer, Archer lands a punch of his own.  They trade blows and Archer hits a chokeslam on Rowe.
From here, the referee loses complete control of the match and calls for the bell.

Match Result: No Contest via Referee stoppage
Match Rating: **1/4

Hanson hits a cartwheel closeline to Archer following the ringing of the bell. Elgin attacks Hanson while streamers come flying into the ring, Hanson and Elgin get into it while Smith and Rowe are off doing battle themselves.  Security comes out and can’t contain the anarchy as Archer, Elgin, Hanson, and Rowe all brawl.

From there we go to a commercial, ending the segment.

Not a bad match at all, Hanson and Rowe have really gelled together even more since Rowe came back from injury.  It was great to see the Killer Elite Squad (Archer and Smith) in Ring Of Honor and I hope this is a recurring thing for them and not a one-time deal.  We will see but I have a feeling that this was done to hype up the upcoming ROH/NJPW joint shows in Canada and New York City, which if it was they did a great job of hyping the events and generating more interest in them.

We come back from commercial and see the crowning of the new Tag Team Champions from last week’s episode.  The reveal is then shown once again as we found out last week that Christopher Daniels, Frankie Kazarian and the debuting Chris Sabin were the KRD (Knights Of The Rising Dawn). We head back into the arena and match number two which also happened to be the main event of the evening

Match Two: Tommaso Ciampa vs. Jay Lethal (with Truth Martini and Donovan Dijak) {C}
ROH World Television Championship Match

Thoughts: This was Ciampa’s last match in Ring Of Honor (for now) and the crowd is split right down the middle as far as supporting both the challenger Ciampa and the champion Lethal. These two have had a storied history so this one should be a good one.Lethal hits a kick and follows it up with a suplex but Ciampa pops up unbeknownst to Lethal.

Ciampa plays possum as Lethal gloats over the suplex and it’s impact while Martini warns Lethal, however it’s too late and Lethal walks in and Ciampa rolls him up with an inside cradle for a near fall.  Ciampa hits a chop and some forearms and follows it up with a hard Irish whip.  Ciampa punches Lethal but Lethal kicks Ciampa into the corner.  Lethal pulls down his kneepad to mock Ciampa and the running knee but Ciampa reverses it with a knee of his own.  Ciampa pulls down his kneepad and chops Lethal but Lethal goes to the floor in order to avoid the running knee.

Lethal takes his time out on the floor as he recuperates, he gets back into the ring and locks up with Ciampa, Ciampa backs Lethal into the corner where he connects with a thumb to the eyes and sends Lethal into the turnbuckle.  Ciampa goes over to where Lethal is and climbs the turnbuckle and punches and bites Lethal in the forehead.
Truth pulls the rope down and Ciampa goes over the top rope but he lands on his feet.  Ciampa takes off Martini’s bandana and uses it as a handkerchief.  Meanwhile Lethal who’s still in the ring hits a suicide dive on Ciampa.  From there Lethal hits a second one followed by a third one where Ciampa flies over the guardrail and into the front row at ringside.

Lethal slams Ciampa’s head into the apron, they make their way back into the ring where Lethal gets a near fall.  Lethal starts punching Ciampa as we go to commercial.We come back from commercial where Lethal gets a near fall.  Lethal sends Ciampa into the turnbuckle where he chops him.  Ciampa pushes Lethal away but Lethal lands some kicks to Ciampa and chokes him in the corner.  Lethal uses the ropes to choke Ciampa while the referee warns him.

Lethal hits a snapmare and locks on a reverse chin lock. Lethal then lands a boot to the head before talking about how great he is before blowing snot onto Ciampa and dropping an elbow for a near fall. From here, Lethal locks in a sleeper on Ciampa, who recovers and hits some elbows on Lethal followed by a chop and a forearm.  Lethal whips Ciampa and Ciampa misses a clothesline, Lethal manages to hit an Elbow drop as we go to another commercial break.

Back from commercial and Lethal locks in a chin lock, Ciampa recovers and punches Lethal.  Lethal hits a knee and follows it up with an Irish whip but Ciampa lands a boot and a closeline.  Ciampa grabs Lethal by the waist and hits Lethal with elbows.  Ciampa hits a German suplex and then hits a running knee, which sends Lethal out to the floor.
Ciampa looks to hit a suicide dive but Martini stops it by getting on the apron, Ciampa slides through Martini’s legs and connects with a forearm that sends Lethal into the ringside barricade.

Ciampa sends Lethal into the corner of the barricade, Ciampa hits a running knee to Lethal’s head, Ciampa whips Lethal to the other corner of the guardrail and sets up for another running knee, which he connects with and lands in the crowd.  He then takes a photo with a fan at ringside while Lethal is busy trying to find his nose and everything else that’s supposed to be on his face.Ciampa throws Lethal back into the ring and goes to the top rope but Lethal counters with a punch to the head.

Lethal sets up for a suplex but before he can hit it, Ciampa rolls him up for an inside cradle for a near fall.  Ciampa hits a closeline, Lethal goes for a super kick but it’s blocked, Ciampa goes for a kick on Lethal but doesn’t connect.  Lethal lands an elbow to the back of Ciampa’s head, Ciampa shakes it off and hits a jumping knee, he tries for a discus clothseline but Lethal manages to block it.  Ciampa blocks a superkick attempt and connects with a jumping knee.  Before Lethal goes down he connects with an Enzuiguri, which sends both men down to the mat.

Both men get up to their knees and exchange punches, Martini slides the book of truth into the ring, Lethal goes to grab it but Ciampa stomps on it.  Ciampa hits a flatliner and gets a near fall.  Ciampa picks Lethal up and sets up for Project Ciampa but Lethal reverses it by running Ciampa into the turnbuckles and hits a chop.

Ciampa hits a running forearm in the corner, Ciampa catches Lethal and goes for an Air Raid Crash but Lethal makes it to his feet.  Lethal hits a belly to back into a neck breaker for a near fall.  Lethal makes his way out to the apron and goes to the top but Ciampa gets to his feet when Lethal took too long.  Lethal leaps over Ciampa and Ciampa goes for a discus closeline.  Lethal ducks the attempt and hits the Lethal Combination.Ciampa counters a Koji Clutch and locks in a cross face, he then turns it into the Sicilian Stretch.  Lethal manages to get his foot on the ropes and Martini calls the ref’s attention to it.  Lethal rolls out onto the apron to try and recover as we go to a commercial break.

Back from commercial and Ciampa fish hooks Lethal on the apron and goes for a suplex into the ring.  He gets Lethal up and Martini grabs Ciampa’s leg and holds on but Ciampa is still able to kick out. Ciampa rolls out to the floor causing Martini to fall to the ground due to being scared.  Dijak stands in front of Marini to protect his boss, however Ciampa pushes his way past Dijak as Marini attempts to escape.  Ciampa smacks Dijak and Lethal sets up for a suicide dive.  However Ciampa manages to stay on his feet and hit an Air Raid Crash on the floor.

Ciampa rolls Lethal back into the ring and picks up a near fall, Ciampa puts Lethal on the turnbuckle and sets up for a second rope Air Raid Crash which he is successful at hitting. The referee gets pulled out of the ring and Dijak hits a discus boot on Ciampa however the referee didn’t see it as he was too busy dealing with Truth Martini.  Lethal puts his arm on Ciampa for a desperation cover but Ciampa kicks out.
Lethal punches Ciampa but Ciampa comes back with an Irish whip.  Ciampa is sent out to the apron, Ciampa hits a cannonball onto Dijak who is on the floor.  Ciampa makes his way back into the ring but is met with a super kick from Lethal. 

Lethal sets up for the Lethal Injection but Ciampa recovers, Ciampa goes for a maneuver of his own but gets caught up in the ropes.  This allows Lethal to hit a drop kick to Ciampa’s head, Ciampa comes back with a discus closeline for a near fall.Ciampa makes his way to the top rope and hits his own version of Jay Lethal’s “Hail To The King” because of course he does. 

Ciampa sets up for Project Ciampa but Dijak makes his way into the ring to stop it from happening.  Dijak gets dumped to the floor which prompts referee Todd Sinclair to send both Dijak and Martini to the back.  Lethal hits a low blow on Ciampa with the referee distracted.  The referee turns around just in time to count the deciding three count after Jay Lethal hits the Lethal Injection.

Match Result: Winner and Still ROH World Television Champion Jay Lethal via pinfall after the Lethal Injection

Match Rating: ***

After the match, the referee checks on Ciampa as Lethal celebrates his victory over Ciampa. Ciampa stands up and the crowd applauds Ciampa’s efforts as streamers are thrown. Ciampa extends his hand to the referee but kicks him low and hits Todd Sinclair with multiple running knees to the head as the other officials storm the ring to make sure that Todd Sinclair is still breathing. Ciampa throws the streamers on the mat and then makes streamer angels, from there Ciampa leaves the ring as the show draws to a close for the week.

And that’ll do it for me and another one of my ROH reviews for the site.  This show was really good in my opinion, we only had two matches and both matches were given adequate time to be good and tell a proper story.  This is the format that I like and I hope it continues.

However that’ll do it for me and another Ring Of Honor television review for EyesOnTheRing.com.  I hope you enjoyed reading this review as well as my other reviews that I write not only for Ring Of Honor but for NXT or whatever it is that I decide to review.Make sure to follow me on twitter @Headliner5 and also make sure to follow Eyes On The Ring @EyesOnTheRing.  Check out EyesOnTheRing.com for more of these reviews from myself as well as everything else from the entire Eyes On The Ring team.

Finally make sure to check out Eyes On The Ring radio this week and every other week as we come to you Sunday’s at 11:00pm EST.  We will bring you the entire week in wrestling as it happened as well as other news and reactions from all of us.  Last but certainly not least head on over to Facebook.com/EyesOnTheRing and like us.  For now I am Nathan saying so long and for now and until next week ringers, keep your Eyes On The Ring.