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 ‘TNA

Why you should be watching Lucha Underground

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If you’re tired of seeing the same old thing every Monday Night on Raw, you really don’t have anybody to blame for it but yourself.  From 2001-2005 there were no other alternatives to WWE programming.  Then TNA came along and there was an alternative, although it was crap.  TNA tried too hard to beat WWE at being the WWE and as a result failed miserably to provide quality entertainment.  They provided excellent wrestling at times, but we all know that there is more to a wrestling show than the wrestling and what TNA tried to do to fill that part of the show was some of the most god awful crap ever to make it on the air.  But now there are alternatives.  And don’t get me wrong, I still love WWE programming.  I still watch Raw and Smackdown every week.  But WWE in some respects is a victim of their own success.  In trying to satisfy the demand created by putting their competition out of business, WWE has steadily increased the amount of weekly programming they create, thus creating a much more watered down product.  It’s still fun.  It still has it’s high points every week.  But 5 hours of Raw and Smackdown every week makes for a lot of down time and failed entertainment experiments.  Plus, WWE has become more about using Raw and Smackdown to promote the WWE Network, the WWE App, the WWE iPhone games, etc., etc. and less about providing a show.  In 3 hours of Raw, it feels like roughly half the show is spent plugging products or other WWE branded shows.

Lucha Underground, however, only provides one hour of programming per week, and it is always stellar.  The storytelling is compelling rather than a rehash of reality tv episodes.  The promotional segments are always focused around the wrestling and what you are going to see in the ring either that week or the next.  There is no prolonged two or three months of promotion for one match before you finally see the guys fight that you want to see fight.  The wrestling is top notch.  It can become a bit of a spotfest at times with all of the high flying that is going on, but it’s always well connected and not just something that the performers do to try to keep the crowd interested.  If you watch the crowd during the show, they are always on the edge of their seats.  And whereas the WWE fans will frequently try to hijack Raw and Smackdown with sophomoric though sometimes amusing chants, the Lucha Underground audience is a part of the show without distracting from the performance with a different chant every two minutes.  This is from beginning to finish a well put together wrestling show with a great and varied cast of characters, a dastardly authority figure who doesn’t make himself the center of attention every week and announcers who genuinely love the product and hang on every second of action in the ring.  And that’s without delving past the surface of the in-ring product at Lucha Underground yet.

If you were a fan of wrestling in the attitude era, Lucha Underground gives you the brutality and violence that has been missing from the WWE product for the past decade.  If you can’t or don’t want to go back and watch every episode of Lucha Underground from start to finish (which I highly recommend), then at least check out a sampling from among some of the better matches that they have put on the air so far.  Watch Mil Muertes vs. Fenix in a Casket Match.  Watch the Best of 5 series between Drago and Aero Star.  Watch the Trios Championship tournament matches.  Watch the Aztec Warfare Battle Royal.  You can find most of those matches on YouTube or full episodes on dailymotion or various other video streaming sites.  And I’m not in any way advocating that you replace the WWE with Lucha Underground.  I am advocating that you broaden your horizons and that you supplement the entertainment that you are getting from WWE every week by also watching Lucha Underground.  WWE has made it clear over the past decade that they are going to follow a certain business model and more power to them.  Regardless of whatever criticism they receive from their vocal detractors, what they are doing works.  You can’t refute that.  They are the global leader in the industry and they just keep growing and expanding with each passing year.  So, enjoy WWE for what it is and stop trying to pressure them into being something that they aren’t any more.  By watching both WWE and Lucha Underground, you get the best of both worlds.  You get the entertainment brand that WWE has become and you also get to witness a young thriving promotion that’s filling the void left by the WWE outgrowing what they used to be.

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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.

In the Wake of a Dream Match

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Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar.

It’s a dream match that I personally have wanted to see since Brock Lesnar made the WWE Championship disputed once again in 2002 by declaring himself and the title the exclusive property of Smackdown rather than defending the title against Triple H, who was subsequently awarded the reinstated World Heavyweight Championship.

Had that happened and had those two titans first met in the ring ten years ago, who knows what implications that would have had on the WWE history books.  And that’s something that we can never really know.  All we can do is speculate.

But we don’t have to speculate about what would happen when those two titans of the ring finally collided any longer because last night at SummerSlam, it finally happened.  The match would have no doubt been a much larger draw for die-hard fans 10 years ago when Triple H was still in his prime instead of wrestling his current 2 or 3 Pay Per View matches per year.  However, since then, Brock has gained notoriety on a much larger scale as a result of his time in the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship), assuredly drawing more outsiders to purchase a SummerSlam ticket or buy the Pay Per View than might have without getting the rub from the top-of-the-line legitimate fighting organization.

Looking back at the match, it had a large portion of the same elements as Triple H’s last match against the Undertaker at Wrestlemania XXVIII.  Triple H was once again put in the ring with the supposed “unstoppable force”.  If you take away the allure of Wrestlemania, you take away the mark-out high points of the year like a Hell in a Cell Match and Undertaker’s streak going up another notch, you take away one or two extra false finishes and the Special Referee and what you’re left with are two matches being sold as brutally physical and bringing lots of striking and brawling and very little “wrestling”.

I was at Wrestlemania XXVIII live in Miami and I didn’t hear a single person in my section saying anything about the the End of an Era match that didn’t equate to that match alone being worth the price of their ticket and their travel expenses.  And this dream match between Triple H and Brock Lesnar that we witnessed last night came as close to that match as it possibly could have in my opinion.  There was no way of generating the euphoria that the fans have when Undertaker wins at Wrestlemania for this match.

This match did not fall short of expectations at all.  However, for some reason, I still feel unfulfilled despite having watched the dream match that topped my list of potential dream matches that had a possibility of occurring.

A lot of people would say the dream matches at the top of their list included the likes of Shawn Michaels vs. The Rock or Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. CM Punk or Sting vs. The Undertaker.  However, each of those matches have intense philosophical or physical issues preventing them from ever occurring.  I don’t see Shawn Michaels ever going back on his word and coming out of retirement like Ric Flair did (yet again – why were we surprised?) when he went to TNA and wrestled that godawful match against Jay Lethal where he flopped around and got stripped out of his street clothes.  Stone Cold’s knee injuries have prevented him from having the capability to wrestle an intense wrestling match and his pride won’t allow him to wrestle at anything less than his peak and I give him all of the respect in the world for that.  And of course, when it comes to Sting, rumors have swirled around on three different occasions that I can remember since the downfall of WCW that Sting was close to signing a deal with the WWE, but something always comes up to turn Sting away – be it the WWE’s exhaustive schedule or their treatment of his WCW co-workers during the Invasion angle.

However, when it came to Brock Lesnar vs. Triple H, even when Brock had left the company and was thought to never be coming back, I never really lost hope that that match could someday happen.  Nobody can realistically fight in the UFC forever and even most of the big names of the sport are only around for 4-5 years, if they are incredibly lucky, with the elite exceptions of guys like Randy Couture or Anderson Silva.  And once his fighting career was over, Brock was likely going to need something to keep the money coming in and it wasn’t long at all after he announced his retirement after losing to Alistair Overeem back in December that rumors started swirling about a WWE return and barely four months later it was a reality and Brock Lesnar was walking back out onto the set of Monday Night Raw once again.  From then on, it was only a matter of time before we finally got that huge dream match.

And while I can’t say that I feel fulfilled as a wrestling fan by what I witnessed last night during SummerSlam, I can’t honestly sit here and tell you that Triple H and Brock Lesnar failed to deliver.  That was one of two matches the entire night that held my undivided attention throughout (the other being Jericho vs. Ziggler) and while I keep expecting Triple H to go out with a bang and hang up his boots after these huge matches against Undertaker and against Lesnar, you can go ahead and sign me up to witness a rematch should one ever come to pass.

That’s one dream match off the top of my list that can be scratched off without any regrets.  Next up on the list – CM Punk vs. The Rock.

Real American Top 10 – Potential Choices to replace John Laurinaitis as General Manager of Raw and / or Smackdown

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With the Era of “People Power” thankfully over at long last thanks to John Cena’s victory over Big Show at No Way Out and the subsequent firing of John Laurinaitis by Vince McMahon himself, there exists a power vacuum at the top of the WWE.  Will one individual be put in charge of both Raw and Smackdown or will we go back to having a separate General Manager for each show?  Could Teddy Long get his job back as Smackdown GM?  Could we see Vickie Guerrero returned to power?  Could one of GM Johnny’s former lackeys (David Otunga or Eve Torres) be promoted?  Will Vince or Triple H step up to retake responsibility for the shows?  Tonight, I assume we’re going to find out just how that power vacuum will be filled, but until then, here are some suggestions and possibilities courtesy of the Real American Top 10.

10) William Regal – Formerly the Commissioner of the Alliance during the Invasion storyline and also formerly the General Manager of Raw, Regal plays the part of authority figure pretty well and he also never fails to entertain when that authority is stripped away with him, usually taking his dignity with it.  During his last stint running Raw, he would attempt to manipulate the crowd by turning out to the power in the arena until they gave him the respect he felt he deserved.  Other than his one backstage segment on Raw last week where we were reminded of him being inducted into the dreaded “Kiss My Ass” club, he hasn’t been on Raw or Smackdown in a very long time and the last time I recall seeing him compete was in the “People Power” Battle Royal at Over the Limit.  Since his in-ring career may be winding down or finished as far as WWE is concerned, we could perhaps see him return to a position of authority.

9) Kevin Nash – He tweeted earlier today that he would be running Raw tonight, but I don’t really buy it.  He could be a solid option because he’d add another veteran presence and he is obviously still on good terms with the company after returning at the Royal Rumble last year and also being involved in a program with Triple H all the way from SummerSlam to TLC.

8) Ric Flair – Having recently ended his association with TNA, Flair is back on the market and I’ve heard rumors that Flair could be returning to WWE as a manager and his name has been linked with that of Dolph Ziggler.  However, he’s another solid choice to run a show and the young stars in WWE have always been able to benefit from having Naitch’s veteran presence in the locker room to go to for advice.  He also has been an authority figure in the past as a “Co-Owner” of the WWE following the end of the WCW / ECW Invasion storyline.

7) Mick Foley – Formerly the commissioner before the era of the brand extension and one of the best management personas in the history of the WWE.  Foley still makes regular appearances.

6) Stone Cold Steve Austin – He’s been Co-General Manager of Raw and easily the #1 ass-kicker in WWE history.  Nobody gets a louder ovation than when that glass shatters and Stone Cold appears.  We missed out on Austin this Wrestlemania season and I doubt we could be seeing him back on Raw on a regular basis in the near future with his time being taken up by his new show Ledneck Island and he’s still in demand for several B-movies a year.

5) Shane McMahon – Easily the most beloved on the McMahon family.  He has been a part of some of the most death defying stunts in the history of the WWE, from falling off the TitanTron at SummerSlam to putting Kane in a limo and sending him into a speeding crash into a tractor trailer.  It’s questionable whether or not Shane would ever come back to being a regular on screen talent, but I think we’d all love to have him back.

4) Shawn Michaels – The Heartbreak Kid shows up around Wrestlemania season every year, but surely that can’t be enough.  Like Foley, he’s been the commissioner before with some terrific results in the late 1990s when we all thought his career was over.  Since he returned in 2002, he’s firmly entrenched himself in the hearts and minds of fans forever, but he isn’t about to go back on his word and come out of retirement as a wrestler.  However, he would gladly be welcomed back with open arms to run the show.

3) John Bradshaw Layfield – The man knows money.  The man knows business.  The man knows wrestling.  If we can’t have him back at the announce desk, maybe a new job in management would be great.   However, I don’t think it’s very likely.

2) Paul Heyman – We’ve seen Heyman back recently as Brock Lesnar’s representative and he hasn’t lost a step on the mic, and as the former General Manager of Smackdown and with his experience innovating the business in ECW, he’s a very solid choice to lead Raw and / or Smackdown forward.

1) Edge – His surprise appearance to pump John Cena up for his match against Brock Lesnar before Extreme Rules was amazing.  The guy genuinely loves the business and he’s universally loved by the fans.  Since he suffered a career ending injury, running the show would be a great way for him to stay close to the business and continue to entertain, especially since he doesn’t seem to be swamped with acting jobs.

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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Real American Top 10 – WWE vs. TNA Dream Rivalries

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10) Sheamus vs. James Storm – James Storm’s affinity for a cold beer is well known and drinking and fighting are the two traits most associated with the Irish.  These two men could go beer-f0r-beer and have it be just as entertaining as a wrestling match between the two.  Both characters love a good fight and are among the best brawlers still in the business.  You wouldn’t see a whole lot of mat wrestling or submission attempts in a match between these two brutes, but sometimes a good old-fashioned brawl can be more entertaining than a wrestling match.  If only Stone Cold could be involved somehow.

9) Chris Jericho vs. Christopher Daniels – Jericho and Daniels are both masters of the Moonsault.  Jericho has been using his Lionsault to put away some of the all time greats for many years while Daniels professes himself to be the master of the Moonsault, labeling his finishing maneuver the Best Moonsault Ever.  These two also possess great technical wrestling skills and any match between these two men would include some of the best mat wrestling you’ve ever seen combined with some tremendous aerial maneuvers.

8) Dolph Ziggler vs. Bobby Roode – The Show Off vs. The It Factor and what would be a match-up of two of the best young performers WWE and TNA possess.  Roode’s time in the spotlight has been a long-time coming and it’s only a matter of time before Dolph Ziggler becomes the go-to-guy for great performances in the WWE.  Both of these men appear to have long and successful careers ahead of them and putting them in the ring together would have the potential to measure up against some of the greatest matches of all time.

7) Jack Swagger vs. Kurt Angle – These are two great amateur wrestlers who have an affinity for the Ankle Lock.  While Swagger certainly doesn’t have the credentials that Kurt Angle does (2-Olympic Gold Medals, Double Digit World Title Reigns, King of the Ring Winner), Swagger would have a better chance of keeping up with Angle’s amateur wrestling than anybody currently on the WWE or TNA roster, with the possible exception of Brock Lesnar, who has “quit” the WWE.  And you know Angle wouldn’t take kindly to Swagger trying to use his own Ankle Lock against him.

6) John Cena vs. Samoa Joe – Perhaps John Cena’s greatest set of matches against a big man were against “The Samoan Bulldozer” Umaga, which included one of the greatest Last Man Standing matches of all-time at the 2007 Royal Rumble.  So, why not put Cena in the ring with another Samoan Wrecking Machine like Samoa Joe?  A match with Samoa Joe could go a long way to showing us all what progress Cena has made or could make in his mat wrestling.

5) Rey Mysterio vs. AJ Styles – Nobody makes flying through the air at rapid speeds look easier than Rey Mysterio and AJ Styles.  The torque that these two have been able to put on some of their aerial maneuvers is rarely seen anywhere else in the business.  Rey has slowed over the years due to a series of injuries, but he can still run circles around some of the much younger competition in the WWE.  Styles does possess a big advantage in mat wrestling over Mysterio, but in a match between these two men, nobody would want to see the match go to the mat.  High spots galore should these two men ever square off one-on-one.

4) Kane vs. Abyss – These two behemoths are some of the most underrated performers in their company despite their size.  I think a lot of people look at these guys and think that they’re just another big body, but Kane has been wowing crowds for years and he plays the psychology of his character perfectly.  Abyss is one guy similar to Mick Foley in that he’s willing to put his body through anything.  Throughout the years, these two have been probably the most mysterious and intimidating characters that WWE and TNA have put in a ring and they certainly have what it takes to tear the house down in what likely would not be just your typical battle of two big men.

3) Daniel Bryan vs. Austin Aries – These are two of the best wrestlers to come out of Ring of Honor.  They are both great mat wrestlers who also have the ability to fly and strike.  Both of these guys are the total package when it comes to ring work, but up until this year, they hadn’t been given a lot of big opportunities, which probably has to do with their small stature.  Aries is still competing in the X-Division, but he’s starting to step out and get more involved with TNA headliners like Bully Ray, whom he beat this past Sunday at Sacrifice and was also involved in Lethal Lockdown.  Meanwhile, Daniel Bryan held the World Heavyweight Championship for nearly 4 months and remains in contention for either the WWE Championship or the World Heavyweight Championship at any time.  Both men are more than capable of hanging with guys two or even three times their size, but just imagine what these two men could do if we were able to put them in the same ring at the same time.

2) CM Punk vs. Rob Van Dam – These guys were on ECW at the same time in 2006-2007, but RVD was reaching the end of his rope with WWE and Punk had just arrived on the scene.  Since then, Punk has skyrocketed while RVD has fizzled a little bit in TNA.  However, these guys both throw some of the best kicks the wrestling industry has ever seen.  Plus, you have the added clash of lifestyles with RVD being well known for his laid back lifestyle and use of marijuana while Punk remains “Straight-Edge”, meaning he doesn’t smoke, doesn’t use drugs and doesn’t consume alcohol.  This could be very similar to Punk’s rivalry with Jeff Hardy in 2009, but with the potential for even better matches.

1) Undertaker vs. Sting – Rumors were flying last year about Sting signing a deal with WWE to face Undertaker at Wrestlemania 27, but it obviously never materialized and Sting returned to TNA.  Both men are clearly in the twilight of their careers, but these guys have helped carry the torch for opposing companies for a large part of the last two decades with Undertaker becoming perhaps the most respected star in WWE history and Sting being the top face of WCW and then providing a huge verteran presence in TNA.  There were plenty of other headliners along the way, but Undertaker and Sting outlasted them all and this is one match that it’s a shame we never got to see and almost certainly never will.  We can still hold out hope though that maybe Undertaker has 1-2 more Wrestlemanias left in him and pray for Sting to sign a deal with WWE, even if it’s just for one match with Taker.

Written by I Am a Real American

May 17, 2012 at 10:34 am

Posted in Abyss, AJ Styles, Austin Aries, Bobby Roode, Brock Lesnar, Chris Jericho, Christopher Daniels, CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger, James Storm, John Cena, Kane, Kurt Angle, Mick Foley, Pro Wrestling, Real American Top Ten, Rey Mysterio, Rob Van Dam, Samoa Joe, Sheamus, Sting, Stone Cold Steve Austin, TNA, Undertaker, WCW, World Heavyweight Championship, Wrestlemania, WWE, WWE Championship

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Real American Top Ten: Matches that need to happen in 2012

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10) Chris Jericho vs. Dolph Ziggler – These are two of the greatest performers on the roster, but I don’t know that they’ve ever had the opportunity to work against each other.  Ziggler has made leaps and bounds as a performer since Jericho took some time away from the ring for Dancing with the Stars and a new book.  But since Jericho made his return at the beginning of the year, Ziggler has been reduced to facing Brodus Clay on a regular basis instead of continuing to pursue the WWE Championship.  While both of these guys are currently heels, this potentially match-up is too good to let go unrealized.  Jericho could easily be embraced as a fan favorite, but I think Ziggler could benefit from spending some time as a face and as talented as he is, he could easily make it work.  Both of these guys are great heels, so I kind of hate to push for one of them to make an abrupt face turn, but the potential payoff of this great match-up should be worth it.

9) CM Punk vs. Wade Barrett – After Punk unceremoniously seized control of the Nexus and kicked Barrett to the curb, we never really got to see these two get after each other for a substantial period of time.  Barrett immediately left Raw for Smackdown and created the Corre and for a short while the Nexus and the Corre were ready to go at each other’s throats, but that – as well as both groups – failed to hold up long term.  And just because the dust has settled on the graves of both factions, that doesn’t necessarily mean that all of the bad blood between these two superstars has been thoroughly worked out of their systems.  When Barrett gets back from his injury, Punk could be one of his first targets.

8) Rey Mysterio vs. Sin Cara – Two of the greatest lucha libre stars to make their way to the States could put on one heck of a show if given the opportunity to face off against each other, although it might be more likely that they could be paired together as a tag team at some point before Rey rides off into the sunset.  Both men are currently recovering from injuries and Mysterio has a suspension to deal with as well, but when both men come back, this is one encounter that we’re going to need to see happen before the end of Rey’s career.

7) CM Punk vs. Christian – These are two of the wrestlers who are among the most respected by long-time fans that are still on the roster.  They are also two of the biggest standouts in the realm of the ladder match and with TLC coming up in July, perhaps we could see these two meet in a Ladder Match for the WWE Championship if that place isn’t still held by Daniel Bryan.  Any kind of match between these two would certainly put on a great show.

6) Beth Phoenix vs. Kharma – The two most dominant divas on the WWE roster and easily the two most dominant women’s wrestlers in the last five years in WWE and TNA respectively.  While Kharma has had a lot of tragedy to deal with, she did manage to return for one night only for the Royal Rumble and it remains unclear what her status with the company is going to be for the rest of the year.  And with Beth sidelined by an ankle injury, real or kayfabe, it isn’t certain that the Glamazon would be around for Kharma to face off with even if she were to return in the near future.  It’s unclear how soon we will see either woman back in the squared circle, but this clash of female wrestling’s titans needs to not go unfulfilled.

5) Sheamus vs. Kane – The Celtic Warrior matching his might against the Big Red Machine could be in store for the very near future with Kane almost certain to wrap up his rivalry with Randy Orton after Over the Limit.  Regardless of whether Alberto Del Rio manages to wrestle the World Heavyweight Championship away from Sheamus, the Great White could be the next victim to come into Kane’s crosshairs as he’s transitioned from John Cena to Randy Orton already this year and a World Title push shouldn’t be counted out for the devil’s favorite demon this summer.

4) Daniel Bryan vs. Chris Jericho – Not all that likely a match to happen with both guys embracing their inner bad guy at the moment, but either one is always ripe for a face turn because they are so beloved by the fans regardless of what they do to the younger fans heroes and how underhanded it may be.  And while this match has occurred in the past, Bryan was never on any kind of equal footing with Jericho.  However, Bryan is now on top of his game, transitioning right from a lengthy World Heavyweight Title reign to being next in line to challenge CM Punk for the WWE Championship at Over the Limit.  If Bryan ends up on Raw full time as a result, it could be only a matter of time before these two square off again, no matter who’s wearing the white hats or the black hats.

3) Sheamus vs. Lord Tensai – This match may not be all that probable with Sheamus carrying Smackdown! as the World Heavyweight Champion and Tensai running roughshod over the Raw locker room.  However, the red and blue brands have bled together into purple since last summer and it seems that belonging to Raw and Smackdown is going to mean less and less for the foreseeable future.  This could be a great clash of East vs. West and yes, Tensai is not really Japanese, but he legitimately did become a big star over there and has embraced various aspects of their wrestling culture.  This powerhouse clash could have a lot of potential if it happens.

2) CM Punk vs. The Rock – The People’s Champion came back on the scene in a big way in 2011 despite only making a dozen or so appearances, several of which were via satellite and only wrestling the one match at Survivor Series before his epic Once in a Lifetime encounter with John Cena at Wrestlemania XXVIII.  But now Rock has promised to try to once again become the WWE Champion.  And while some might expect John Cena to be holding the gold when Rock comes asking for a title shot, it would be great to see two of the greatest talkers in the history of the company trade verbal barbs leading into a title match.  Rock still possesses some of the athleticism that helped make him stand-out in the 1990s and if anybody is going to get the most out of what Rock can still bring, Punk may just be the guy to go to.

1) Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar – A dream match that never quite happened back in 2002-2003 because of the brand extension with Triple H carrying the World Heavyweight Championship on Raw while Lesnar carried the WWE Championship over on the blue brand.  If WWE hadn’t been so overly successful that it was able to carry two separate brands and two separate World Championships for the past decade, we could have seen this match with both men back in their prime, but we missed out on that privilege.  However, you can never say never in this business and now that Lesnar is back and has taken out his rage on the veteran superstar and rookie figurehead, it seems this match is just a matter of time and chief speculation among any fans I’ve talked to is that we’ll be seeing this match at SummerSlam in a little over three months.  However, if Triple H chose not to return to the ring after his End of an Era Hell in a Cell Match with the Undertaker, nobody could blame him.  There simply isn’t much of a better way to go out that with a send-off like that.

Written by I Am a Real American

May 6, 2012 at 5:54 am

Posted in Alberto Del Rio, Beth Phoenix, Beth Phoenix vs. Kharma, Brock Lesnar, Chris Jericho, CM Punk, CM Punk vs. The Rock, Corre, Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Dwayne Johnson, End of an Era, Friday Night Smackdown, Hell in a Cell, John Cena, Kane, Ladder Match, Lord Tensai, Monday Night Raw, Nexus, Once in a Lifetime, Over the Limit, Pro Wrestling, Real American Top Ten, Rey Mysterio, Rey Mysterio vs. Sin Cara, Sheamus, Sin Cara, SummerSlam, Survivor Series, The Rock, The Rock vs. John Cena, TLC, TNA, Triple H, Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar, Undertaker, Wade Barrett, World Heavyweight Championship, Wrestlemania, Wrestlemania 28, Wrestlemania XXVIII, WWE, WWE Championship

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