Real American Wrestleblog

This blog predates Jack Swagger's gimmick shift by a year. I named it after Hulk Hogan's entrance theme.

Posts Tagged ‘Gail Kim

Why I won’t miss AJ Lee (as a part of the WWE roster)

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Let’s get things clear right from the start.  I’m not writing this to try to belittle AJ Lee or her accomplishments over the past 3 years.  I’m not going to throw around negative buzzwords like overrated.  I’m just going to share my personal feelings, opinions and maybe a few critiques about her career and the way wrestling fans have responded to her.

Right off the start, she’s been the best performer in the women’s division over the past 3 years.  I’m not here to dispute that.  She has had her fair share of moments of brilliance.  But where it all started for AJ was back in 2012, the angle with CM Punk, Kane and Daniel Bryan.  She was featured highly in an angle with 3 performers that have pretty much always been on the right side of things with the most vocal segments of the fans.  Whether they were heel or face, all 3 of them have always been very much over (not counting Glenn Jacobs’ time as Isaac Yankem or Diesel II of course).   So, working with those 3 gave AJ a great rub with the segment of the audience that watches every week and is the most passionate about the industry.  And to her credit, she played her part incredibly well and started to go over huge.  Without that angle, AJ still would have been successful, I’m sure she still would have held the Diva’s Championship multiple times.  However, without that angle, I doubt that she would have gotten there as quickly and then maybe she wouldn’t have been in the right place at the right time when Total Divas started up and was able to be the vocal performer running down the girls on Total Divas every week.  Now, those same fervent members of the audience who watch every week and discuss it with their friends or with people on the internet, for the most part those people don’t care very much for Total Divas and very much dislike when storylines from that show, which they don’t care about, make their way onto Raw and Smackdown.

With that being the case, of course that most vocal segment of the audience was going to respond when AJ came out and talked trash about Total Divas.  She was saying the same things about the show that they felt and so they turned her into this messiah of the division in their eyes, there to save them from the big bad Bellas.  However, Total Divas didn’t just go away.  Total Divas just wrapped up their third season not that long ago and while I have not watched a single episode and don’t care about anything that happens on that show, I acknowledge that the show has it’s own substantial fanbase and is doing quite well for itself.  So, while the segments on Raw and Smackdown that call back to Total Divas storylines aren’t appealing to me, I see why they are there.  It makes all the sense in the world from the perspective of a producer to try to attain cross-pollination between the audiences of Raw / Smackdown and the audience of Total Divas and the easiest way to do that is take your attentive Raw audience and put Total Divas in front of them every week.  But this is about AJ, not the Total Divas and I’m getting sidetracked.  AJ wasn’t saying anything overly insightful or in a way that was more talented than the way any other diva worked the microphone.  She was just the one given the time to speak and she used it to send a message that the fans agreed with.  Good for her, but let’s keep that segment of her reign at the top of the diva’s division in perspective.  Just because people agreed with what she was saying doesn’t mean she was any better on the microphone than the rest of the divas.  She didn’t make a fool of herself like the Bellas did when given the spotlight during their brief Bella vs. Bella rivalry, but you put pretty much anybody else in that particular spot and tell them to talk trash on the cast of Total Divas and they were going to come out of it as an undeniable fan favorite and were going to gain a pretty solid following.  You take that and put it on top of the rub that she got from working with Daniel Bryan and CM Punk the year before and she was the face of the division and head and shoulders above everybody else.  Then you factor in what Cameron leaked last summer – that there was a policy in place that prevented any cast member of Total Divas from winning the Divas championship due to the fact that the episodes are filmed so far in advance that it would cause confusion if somebody on the show were to win the championship during filming and then no longer have the championship by the time the episode aired, but still be carrying the championship on Total Divas.  That policy is obviously no longer in effect, as evidenced by Nikki Bella holding the title since November.  But at the time, the policy was in place, AJ was pretty much the only diva on the roster who wasn’t on the show.  So, she was able to have that lengthy title reign from 2013-2014, but nobody else in the division would have been allowed to hold the title at the time due to being on Total Divas, so she was essentially the champion by default.  And I’m not saying she didn’t deserve to be champion for all that time.  I don’t think she was undeserving.  I don’t think she dropped the ball.  I’m just pointing out that a key factor in why it went down had very little to do with her ability.  Now, if she weren’t as over as she was, could that policy have changed at the time and significantly shortened her reign as champion?  Absolutely.  But I’m not going to get into the “What Ifs”.

This last bit is the part that may get more harsh.  Maybe it’s just that she didn’t get the opportunity to work with anybody to push her to be better during her record setting reign as divas champion in 2013-2014, but the divas matches of that time, including hers were all very bland to me.  And when she did get the opportunity to work with a great young talent like Paige throughout the summer of 2014, I didn’t feel like they had very good chemistry together and that match at Battleground in particular struck me as pretty bad.  Their other matches together were better and I’d say they were probably some of the better singles matches of AJ’s career, but when you examine AJ’s best matches – were any of them as good as the matches Trish used to have with Lita?  Were any of them as good as the matches Trish used to have with Victoria or Jazz or Mickie James?  Were any of them as good as some of the things Gail Kim has been doing in TNA?  Were any of them as good as the matches Charlotte and Bayley and Sasha Banks put on in NXT?  I don’t think they are.  I can’t think of any matches that she has had that are on that level.  I can’t remember at any moments watching an AJ Lee match and thinking those ladies did an incredible job in that match.  AJ has had a lot of bright spots as a performer when she wasn’t wrestling.  She’s created a lot of memorable moments during promos and run-ins.  And again, maybe its just that she never had the right dance partner, but she never went out there and wrestled an elite level match and a lot of times didn’t even come close in my opinion.  I guess time well tell if she can ever reach that level because while her relationship with the WWE and also the relationship of her husband with the WWE likely means that we won’t see her back in the Diva’s division, once the required amount of time has passed and maybe once she and CM Punk perhaps get their family started with a few little Punkers, we could see her return to the ring in somewhere like TNA where we can see her get in the ring with greats like Victoria and Mickie James and see just what she really has to offer.

The Point of Impact – 05/24/12

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After a stellar episode of TNA Impact Wrestling last week, the stage was set for the second monthly episode of Open Fight Night on Impact.  Last week we saw some great matches between Kurt Angle and Samoa Joe, Jeff Hardy and Ken Anderson and Rob Van Dam and Bully Ray and as a result of last week’s episode, we knew coming into tonight that Robert Roode would be forced to defend TNA’s top championship against either Bully Ray, AJ Styles, Jeff Hardy, or Kurt Angle.  On the verge of becoming the longest reigning champion in the ten year history of TNA, all eyes would be on the promised world title match to see if Roode could continue his seven month title reign or if one of his four potential challengers could wrestle the title and the record out of his grasp.

The rules for Open Fight Night are simple.  Either the TNA World Title, Tag Team Titles, Knockout’s Title or X-Division Title is going to be defended at some point in the night and slowly throughout the night, General Manager Hulk Hogan systematically eliminates one of the potential four choices to challenge for the title until he ultimately settles on one of the choices and sends his choice out to compete for the title. On top of that, an up and coming star competes in the TNA Gut Check segment for a chance to win a TNA contract.  And throughout the night, anybody under TNA contract can demand a match with anybody else on the roster and they will be forced to accept.  Not too bad, right?  It’s certainly the most entertaining concept TNA has come up with in several years.  It definitely beats all we and they the “mystery” storylines about the Immortal and Fortune factions that bored the living crap out of us for the past two years.  It took awhile after the “Wrestling Matters” campaign that TNA launched for wrestling to actually matter on their show again, but they’ve finally started living up to it.

Coming into the night, Bully Ray was the only potential challenger for Roode’s title that had not already been a singles World Champion previously.  The other potential contenders included 5-time TNA Champion Kurt Angle (6-time champion in WWE), 2-time TNA Champion Jeff Hardy (3-time champion in WWE) and 4-time TNA Champion AJ Styles.  Of the four potential challengers, only AJ Styles was never previously pushed by the WWE and it would be Styles’ record for longest title reign that Roode looked to eclipse.  Styles is also currently under attacks on his character by Christopher Daniels and Kazarian, who have systematically begun exposing an alleged romance between Styles and TNA President Dixie Carter.

We start off the night with the four potential contenders in a locked room with Hulk Hogan and segments like this have usually been a bit too melodramatic for my taste.  At times, Impact Wrestling tries to be a bit too much like a reality show.  This segment, I don’t think was so bad.  There was some really good back and forth between Bully Ray and Kurt Angle and Angle and Styles with Hardy keeping his mouth shut for the most part.  I think Angle and Ray come out ahead on the verbal game, at least based on this segment and I think Bully Ray has been the most entertaining part of Impact Wrestling in 2012, but unfortunately, Bully Ray was the first name scratched off the list by Hogan, leaving Hardy, Angle and Styles to still potentially challenge Roode for the title.

In the first challenge of the night, the Knockout’s Champion Gail Kim came out with Madison Rayne and put herself over before calling out ODB and Eric Young or as she called them “Mr. and Mrs. ODB” for a tag team match.  Eric Young is a funny guy and his segments are usually pretty entertaining and he’s also a pretty good wrestler, but we know from past experience that the only things he’s going to do in one of these Knockout’s Tag Matches is take his pants off, tie-up with the referee and maybe put the girls in an Airplane Spin or two.  He’s not going to throw any other offensive moves and ODB and the other two girls are going to carry the offense for the match.  This match played pretty much true to form and in the end, Rayne was able to interfere from the outside tripping ODB and holding her feet down, which allowed Gail to pin ODB for the win.

Rob Van Dam would make the second challenge of the night and he would call out Gunner to settle some “unfinished business” between the two of them.  Their unfinished business dates back to Genesis this past January when Gunner put RVD on the shelf with a DDT on the concrete floor.  It’s a good thing they showed the video reminding us of what happened because it certainly wasn’t an important enough even for me to remember.  Goes to show you just how memorable or useful the push Gunner got earlier this year with Ric Flair as his manager really was.  (Not very)  Tonight, Gunner made the mistake of bringing a chair into a match with RVD and so of course he got it kicked into his face.  RVD then flew 80% of the way across the ring to deliver the Five Star Frog Splash and beat Gunner.  It was a pretty short match that didn’t do much to showcase Gunner’s talents.  It really only served to put RVD over some more, but I don’t think RVD could ever go over any more than he already is or lose any of his credibility.

The Television Champion Brother Devon then called out Garrett Bischoff for his weekly Television Championship defense, giving Bischoff props for eliminating him in a Battle Royal last week which was ultimately won by AJ Styles to earn his spot as one of the four potential contender’s for Roode’s title tonight.  I believe this was the first title match in Bischoff’s career.  However, the match was interrupted by Robbie E and Rob Terry or “Big Robbie and Bigger Robbie” as they like to be called.  Devon and Bischoff then dominated the intruders and threw them out of the ring.

From there, it was time for Hogan to make his second elimination from the three remaining potential World Title challengers – Jeff Hardy, Kurt Angle and AJ Styles.  For me, I’ve already started to lose interest because while Bully Ray probably doesn’t have the wrestling ability of Angle, Hardy or Styles, he’s definitely been the most entertaining and he’s already been eliminated.  Plus, we’ve already seen Roode vs. Hardy and Roode vs. Styles done several times during Roode’s title reign.  Angle or Bully Ray were easily the two best options to me.  Jeff Hardy was the next one eliminated by Hogan, which to me was definitely the right call.  Hardy has squandered too many opportunities and given in to his personal demons too many times and I question whether or not there is anything Jeff Hardy has left to give us that we haven’t already seen before.

Bully Ray, aka “Calfzilla”, then would make his way to the ring for our next challenge of the night.  Bully Ray cuts a promo about how he’s in a bad mood after being eliminated and antagonizes everybody and then starts talking about Joseph Park (Abyss’s brother), who is sitting in the crowd with a bag of popcorn watching the show, and Bully Ray challenges him to a match.  Park very slowly and reluctantly gets over the barricade with some peer pressure from the crowd, but then asks for a mic instead of getting in the ring.  Park then tries to talk Bully out of fighting him and asks the crowd of whether or not Bully Ray is guilty of making Abyss’ disappear, despite the fact that Abyss showed up on Impact two weeks ago.  Bully then punched Park in the gut and whipped him with the chain before leaving.  By the way, for those of you that don’t already know, Abyss and Joseph Park aren’t actually brothers – they’re the same person. And the reason Abyss has not been on Impact for most of the last several months is because he’s been making various appearances for AAA wrestling in Mexico and for TNA’s Ring Ka King promotion over in India.  He’s currently one-half of the AAA tag team champions with Chessman.

We then find out that Joey Ryan, a former Wrestling Society X and Ring of Honor performer, would be competing in the Gut Check segment this week.  Alex Silva competed in this segment last month and despite losing to Robbie E, he was awarded a contract.  Ryan’s opponent was announced as the X-Division Champion Austin Aries.  Throughout Aries entrance, Ryan leaned back against the corner and stuck his pelvis out, immediately showing us all that his character is a real douechebag and a poor imitation of some kind of porn direction and that image is enhanced by the scarf he wears around his neck.  Aries himself wears that ridiculous miniature cape that kind of makes him look like he belongs in a gay wizard porn film.   However, Austin Aries is probably the best wrestler on the TNA roster right now in my opinion and he’s right up there with Ken Anderson and Bully Ray as the most entertaining talkers that TNA has on the roster.  Aries has earned the right to dress however weirdly he wants.  Ryan however, not so much.  Aries and Ryan have actually been in the ring together before and probably more times than we’re aware of because they’ve competed in Ring of Honor and Pro Wrestling Guerrilla at the same time.  So, their match was pretty decent and Aries ultimately beat Ryan with his Brainbuster.  If TNA stays true to form, Ric Flair, Al Snow and Bruce Pritchard (formerly Brother Love in WWE) will determine whether or not Ryan gets a contract on next week’s show.  In my opinion, neither Silva or Ryan measure up to what TNA already had on the roster before they showed up.  Neither one was all that impressive to me, but they only had one chance to prove themselves.  Maybe they’ll prove me wrong.  However, the fact that we haven’t seen Silva compete on Impact since he was given his contract last month leads me to think that my first impression was probably right.

Bobby Roode then makes his way to the ring for the Main Event, but there’s still 40 minutes left in the show, so it’s looking like we’re going to get a pretty great Main Event title match.  At this point, with all things considered, it’s looking to me like they’re going to give the title match to AJ.  It’s his record on the line, Angle’s still wrestling a little hurt with his knee taped up every week and giving AJ the title match would give Daniels and Kazarian further ammunition to use against Styles to continue their storyline.  And sure enough, Hogan ultimately awarded the title shot to Styles.  And I like to see AJ wrestle just as much as the next guy.  He’s one of the most talented in-ring performers to ever step into the squared circle.  However, I was hoping for something a little more unique out of the title match tonight and Roode vs. Styles already headlined two Pay Per Views at the end of last year.  I can’t really find any fault in the title match, but it was far from a classic.

The title match wrapped up with 12 minutes left to the end of the show, so you could kind of feel something else was going to happen and maybe even something big.  They’d hinted that Hulk Hogan had a guest arriving at the arena, so I’m thinking that perhaps TNA is going to debut a new signing like King Mo or somebody might be making their return or something.  Roode grabs some champagne and starts his celebration and he orders his confetti to be dropped from the ceiling, but there is still five minutes left to go.  So, what’s actually going to happen?  Hogan finally responds to Roode’s invitation to the ring and takes a glass of champagne and congratulates Roode, but informs him that somebody else wants to join in the celebration.  The lights then go out and Sting returns to the Impact Zone and beats the hell out of Roode and knocks him out of the ring and Roode scoots away to the back and Hogan lets him know that when Impact changes time slots and moves up an hour next week, Roode is going to have to have to face Sting in a Lumberjack Match.  Not the biggest of announcements, but I’m sure everybody is going to be happy to see Sting compete some more and extend his legendary career.

Written by I Am a Real American

May 24, 2012 at 10:00 pm

Posted in Abyss, AJ Styles, Al Snow, Alex Silva, Austin Aries, Bobby Roode, Brother Devon, Bruce Pritchard, Bully Ray, Christopher Daniels, Eric Young, Gail Kim, Garrett Bischoff, Gunner, Gut Check, Hulk Hogan, Impact Wrestling, Jeff Hardy, Joey Ryan, Joseph Park, Ken Anderson, King Mo, Knockout's Championship, Knockout's Tag Team Championship, Kurt Angle, Madison Rayne, ODB, Open Fight Night, Ric Flair, Rob Terry, Rob Van Dam, Robbie E, Samoa Joe, Sting, The Point of Impact, TNA, TNA Championship, TNA Tag Team Championship, TNA Television Championship, Wrestling Matters, WWE, X-Division Championship

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