Mega Powers Running Wild!

The legendary 'Macho man' Randy Savage teams up with 'The Immortal' Hulk Hogan to take on Ted Dibiase and Andre The Giant in the first ever WWF Summerslam!

Shawn Micahels vs. Mankind

The Heartbreak Kid defends the WWF Championship against Mankind in a thrilling main event at WWF In Your House: Mind Games.

The Birth of the nWo

From Hulk Hogan's shocking turn at WCW Bash at the Beach 1996 to the addition of Ted Dibiase, THe Giant Syxx and more, relive the very beginning of the New World Order.

Austin 3:16 Says I Just Kicked Your Ass

It's one of the most famous promos of all time; Stone Cold Steve Austin wins the 1996 King of The Ring and serves notice on all the WWF superstars. Check it out in our complete review

Wrestlemania 12 Review

The boyhood dream comes true as Shawn Michaels battles champion Bret 'The Hitman' Hart in a classic 1-hour iron man match. Plus, Diesel vs. Undertaker and more.

WCW Fall Brawl 1996 Review

Was Sting in cahoots with the New World Order? Would Lex Luger be able to get along with the Four Horsemen as they faced the nWo in War Games? Find out in this review

Sunday, 14 December 2014

WWF Championship History 1990 - 1991 - As told by Hasbro Wrestling Figures

WWF / WWE - Hasbro wrestling figures
Time for something a little different today, dear readers: I'm getting rid of my old WWF Hasbro Action figures. 

Though before they finally leave my life once and for all, I thought it might be fun to go back and recreate some classic moments, matches and more from years gone by.

Today, here's how I imagine the promo pics  for the three big WWF Championship matches of 1990 - 1991 might look if they done with dusty old wrestling figures that had been in my loft for ten years.

Wrestlemania 6
Hulk Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior 

WWF / WWE - Hasbro Wrestling Figures - 1990-1991: Hulk Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior

In a epic battle of the immortals, WWF Intercontinental Champion The Ultimate Warrior challenged Hulk Hogan for the WWF Championship at Wrestlemania 6. Following a classic back and forth struggle, The Warrior prevailed, only for Hogan to steal his thunder in the post-show celebrations.

To relieve the action, here's my WWF Wrestlemania 6 review, and just for the sake of completion, here's Hogan and Warrior with their stunt doubles:

WWF / WWE - Hasbro Wrestling Figures - 1990-1991: Hulk Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior - two versions

WWF Royal Rumble 1991
Ultimate Warrior vs. Sgt. Slaughter 

WWF / WWE - Hasbro Wrestling Figures - 1990-1991: Ultimate Warrior vs. Sgt. Slaughter - Royal Rumble 1991

Warrior held on to the title for the remainder of 1990, but by early 1991, his run as the WWF's leading star would come to an end at the hands of Sgt. Slaughter. Slaughter was riding a wave of momentum and attracting heat like no other heel at the time thanks to his Iraqi sympathizer gimmick, and was the perfect choice to dethrone the Warrior at the 1991 Royal Rumble

The only real difference between the real thing and this picture? Slaughter's vest was in better condition at the Rumble. 

Wrestlemania 7
Sgt. Slaughter vs. Hulk Hogan

WWF / WWE - Hasbro Wrestling Figures - 1990-1991: Hulk Hogan vs. Sgt. Slaughter - Wrestlemania 7

A year after he dropped the title to Warrior, Hogan finally reclaimed his title by taking on Slaughter at the Stars & Stripes spectacular that was Wrestlemania 7. Hogan would hold the WWF Championship throughout the spring, summer and early Autumn before finally dropping it to The Undertaker. Sadly however, my Dead Man hasbro figure -complete with BRIGHT ginger hair- was lost somewhere in transit, so that's where today's story ends. 

Sunday, 7 December 2014

PPV REVIEW: In Your House 1

WWF / WWE - In Your House 1 - Event poster / cover
May 14, 1995,
Onondaga War Memorial, Syracuse, New York

Though Monday Nitro was still a few months away, with Eric Bischoff squarely at the helm of World Championship Wrestling, the period that would come to be known as The Monday Night Wars was ready to begin. 

Taking the first shot, one of Bischoff's opening acts as WCW overload was to increase the number of PPV offerings put out by the company. Not to be outdone, WWF boss Vince McMahon responded in kind with the In Your House concept, offering cheaper, two hour PPVs in between what was then the company's annual Big Five - Royal Rumble, Wrestlemania, King of the Ring, Summerslam and Survivor Series.

Despite a depleted talent roster (evidenced in two Bret Hart matches) and a main event pitting Sid against World Champion Diesel, the inaugural In Your House event nonetheless showed plenty of promise for McMahon's latest creation, at least, it did to begin with.

Here's what went down.

Welcome to In Your House
And so the new era in the World Wrestling Federation got underway with Todd Pettingill giving us a run down of tonight's card, which as well as the aforementioned World Title clash, also featured a Wrestlemania 11 rematch pitting The Smoking Gunns against tag team champions Yokozuna and Owen Hart, and a match fans had been dying to see for years, Adam Bomb against Mabel. 

WWF / WWE - In Your House 1 - Commentators for the evening were Vince McMahon and Doc Hendrix
Pettengill also reminded us that tonight, live, one lucky WWF fan would win a holiday home in Florida.

We are live
Cutting to the arena, McMahon growled like a beast in welcoming us to the show, before introducing his broadcast colleague Doc Hendrix and the Spanish Announce Team.

With that out of the way, it was on to our first match.

Hakushi w/ Shinja vs. Bret 'The Hitman' Hart
In the better of his two enjoyable performances tonight, The Hitman took to the ring to face off against Japanese star Hakushi.

Before his entrance, Bret put Hakushi over as a great, undefeated competitor, yet vowed that his opponent had 'never seen anything like The Excellence of Execution.'

Taking a moment to dedicate the match to Helen Hart (it was Mother's Day after all), Hart then stormed to the ring to a huge ovation and got the In Your House series off to a fantastic start in a wonderful match.

WWF / WWE - In Your House 1 - Hakushi took on Bret Hart in the opening contest
It's a shame Hakushi didn't stick around much longer. If this highly enjoyable affair was anything to go by, he could deliver between the ropes and add some much needed depth to the roster.

Yet despite a valiant effort, the man in white was dealt his first WWF loss at the hands of The Pink and Black Attack in what would prove to be the best match broadcast on tonight's show*
Your Winner: Bret 'The Hitman' Hart

After celebrating with the New York faithful, a victorious Hitman appeared to tweak his knee in leaving the ring, surely a good omen for his next opponent, Jerry 'The King' Lawler.

Win a house with Stephanie Wiand
You remember Stephanie Wiand, right? Introduced as a, erm, Christmas present for Todd Pettengil on an episode of Saturday morning favourite, Mania, Steph showed up here to remind us that later on, they'd be giving away that big vacation home in Florida.

She even took the time to show us footage of an armoured car escorting all the entries to the arena, you know, because this was such a big deal.

Handicap match:
WWF Intercontinental Champion Jeff Jarrett & The Roadie vs. Razor Ramon
WWF / WWE - In Your House 1 - Razor Ramon took on Jeff Jarrett and The Roadie in a 2-1 handicap match
Having dropped the Intercontinental Championship to the would-be country star back at Wrestlemania, Razor Ramon's troubles with Jarrett and his Roadie were far from over by the time In Your House rolled around.

Originally scheduled as a tag team contest pitting Jarrett and Roadie against Razor and his buddy the 123 Kid, an injury to the latter sadly forced him out of action.

Undettered, The Bad Guy took the fight to his rivals in what proved to be a very entertaining handicap match.

OK, so this one didn't quite match the techincal brilliance of our opening contest, though for pure drama and excitement, Ramon's struggle to overcome the odds certainly had the Syracuse crowd pumped.

On video too, this was a good, fun encounter that finally ended with good triumphing over evil. Razor planted the Intercontinental Champion with the Razor's Edge and scored the three count.
Your winner: Razor Ramon

WWF / WWE - In Your House 1 - Savoi Vega made his WWF debut, coming to the aid of Razor Ramon The fight continued after the opening bell, with Ramon setting up Roadie for the Razor's edge, only to be attacked from behind by Jarrett and locked into the figure-four leglock.

Aldo Montoya of all people then rushed to the rescue, only to be quickly disposed of by Jarrett and Roadie. With our hero still writhing in pain, a mysterious man in a short-sleeved shirt appeared from nowhere and finally saved the .day.

Not happy about a supposed 'fan' being in the ring, officials rushed to break up the fracas before the man was escorted backstage by New York's finest.

Lawler demands the match happen right now
Backstage, The King was found yelling at WWF President Jack Tunney, demanding that his scheduled match against Bret Hart be bumped up the card so that he could take advantage of The Hitman's earlier knee injury.

Whilst we're on that subject, wouldn't have made much more sense for Bret to injure his knee during the match with Hakushi, rather than whilst simply leaving the ring. For one thing, it helps establish Hakushi as a dangerous threat, though perhaps more importantly, it makes the company's number two babyface look like less of a clumsy idiot.

Anyway, the long and short of it here was that Tunney refused to rearrange the card, leading us instead into our next thrilling encounter.

King of the Ring Qualifying match
Mabel (w/ Oscar) vs. Adam Bomb 
WWF / WWE - In Your House 1 - Mabel defeated Adam Bomb in their King of the Ring qualifying match
Having recently turned their backs on happy-go-lucky manager Oscar, the more serious, the new look Men on a Mission walked menancingly to the ring for Big Mabel's qualifying match against Adam Bomb.

Before the opening bell, Hendrix gave the nod to the man from Three Mile Island, pointing out Mabel's lack of experience in single's competition.

Alas, experience or not, Mabel picked up the win in a match that was actually much better than you might expect.

Let's not get carried away here, I'm not saying this was actually good or anything, but at just under two minutes long (most of which Bomb spent jumping around and delivering flying clotheslines), it never really had the chance to suck.

Unfortunately for Bomb, all that flying was to be his downfall. After dominating the bulk of the match, he bounced off the ropes with a flying cross-body, only to be caught and squashed by the former tag team champion.
Your Winner: Mabel

WWF / WWE - In Your House 1 - Razor Ramon introduced Savio Vega as an old friend from the Caribbean
Backstage, Todd Pettengil and his Mullet of Doom caught up with Razor Ramon in the Superstar Hotline room. With him, the mysterious man who saved his bacon earlier, and who was finally revealed to be 'Caribbean Sensation' Savio Vega.

Ramon told us was an awesome guy Vega was, only to be cut off by Pettengill, who was eager to get to the ring for our upcoming tag team team title match.

World Wrestling Federation Tag Team Title Match
WWF Tag Team Champions Yokozuna & Owen Hart (w/ Mr. Fuji & James E. Cornette) vs. The Smoking Gunns (Billy & Bart 

As the contenders made their entrance, an irate Jerry Lawler stormed to the ring, again trying to get his match against the injured Hitman moved up the card.

Again, Lawler was denied, and it was on to our tag team title rematch.

If you remember, Owen Hart goaded then-champs The Smoking Gunns into a match for the gold at Wrestlemania 11, promising to reveal a mystery partner on the night.

WWF / WWE - In Your House 1 - Owen Hart teamed with Yokozuna to successfully defend the WWF Tag Team titles against the Smoking Gunns
That partner turned out to be former champion Yokozuna, who hadn't been seen since his losing effort, in a casket match, against The Undertaker at Survivor Series 1994.

Taken completely by surprise, the cowboys proved no match for a super-sized Yokozuna, and lost the titles. Yet tonight was to be their revenge. With no surprises, Billy and Bart were well prepared and ready to take back the titles.

Unfortunately for them, the King of Harts and the sumo star had other ideas.

Moving at a much slower pace than our previous matches, this was nonetheless a decent effort for what it was, namely a five-minute filler that saw the champs retain when Owen pinned Bart following a Yokozuna legdrop.
Your Winners and Still WWF Tag Team Champions: Yokozuna and Owen Hart

Backstage, Todd Pettengill caught up with a pensive Big Daddy Cool Diesel. Covering a lot of ground in a rather somber interview, the WWF Champion first talked about his mother passing away at Christmas, a recent attack at the hands of Henry Godwin, and of course, his renewed friendship with Shawn Michaels.

If you recall, HBK hired Sid to be his bodyguard for his Wrestlemania title match against Diesel, only for Sid to inadvertantly cost the challenger the match. The following night on Raw, Big Sid didn't take too kindly to being given 'the night off' and handed in his notice by powerbombing Michaels to oblivion.

That brought Diesel out to the rescue, turning Michaels babyface in the process and setting up tonight's main event.

After vowing to put an end to Sid on behalf of his buddy, Diesel then cheered himself up by referencing 'Beatles hit I Am The Walrus, and was all smiles as he promised to win later on.

Jerry Lawler introduces his mother
With his match against The Hitman about to happen, Lawler was in a much better mood as he made his way to the ring next. Though before he went into action, The King took time to introduce us to his 'mother,' who in actual fact was some young model/bad actress.

WWF / WWE - In Your House 1 - Bret Hart lost to long-time rival Jerry Lawler after interference from HakushiI'm not sure whether the implication here was that Lawler was so young his mother looked like a super model, or that the King had some sleazy incestual relationship going on, either way, it was prety weird, and all led to 'mother' urging her 'son' to defeat The Hitman.

Jerry 'The King' Lawler vs. Bret 'The Hitman' Hart
The King was looking forward to doing exactly that, planning, no doubt, to take out Hart's injured knee. Yet Bret had other ideas. In a brief backstage promo, The Excellence of Execution to be a rouse. His leg was fine, and he was looking forward to destroying Lawler.

And destroy him he did, at least for the first couple of minutes. With The King playing the cowardly heel to a tee, Hart battered his long-time rival (don't forget, this whole thing began at King of the Ring 1993) from pillar to post.

Just when it looked over for The King, shennanigans came into play. Hakushi's manager Shinja put in an appearance, which somehow led to the referee falling through the ropes, getting his foot caught, and dangling upside down outside the ring.

With the official, erm, tied up, Hakushi rushed to the ring and helped Lawler by attacking The Hitman. By the time referee Earl Hebner returned to the ring, The Hitman was so stunned he couldn't kick out of Lawler's pin attempt, and this one was over.
Your Winner: Jerry 'The King' Lawler

WWF / WWE - In Your House 1 - Todd Pettengill and Stephanie Wiand revealed the winner of the Florida vacation home
Backstage, an intense Sid told us, in typically creepy, whispered tones, that he was indeed The d that, much like grains of sand in an hourglass, Diesel's time as WWF Champion was coming to an end.

Todd Pettentigill dials a wrong number, some guy wins a house
It was the moment we'd all been waiting for, no, not the main event, the moment one lucky fan won that big vacation home in Florida.

Before the winner was revealed, the ever excitable duo of Pettengill and Wiand raked through the entries. Todd then threw Steph into the big glass box which held all those entries and had her run back and forth across them for a while. I'm not sure why either, that's just what happened.

Once Wiand was done with whatever she was doing, she joined Pettengil in first dialing a wrong number, before finally reaching the winner, who, despite watching the show live on PPV, was convinced it was a joke.

WWF / WWE - In Your House 1 - Diesel defended the WWF Title against Sid in the main event
As the largely apathetic crowd went mild at the reaction, we cut back to Vince and Doc, who finally took us into our main event of the evening.

World Wrestling Federation Championship match
WWF Champion Big Daddy Cool Diesel vs. Sycho Sid (w/ Ted Dibiase)
When reviewing pro wrestling matches, it's sometimes important to keep a little perspective. OK, so by no means was Sid vs. Diesel for the WWF title a classic match, though let's remember that this took place back in 1995, an all-time low for in-ring quality in the World Wrestling Federation.

It's also worth pointing out that there's been far worst matches than this, and no doubt will continue to be so for a long time to come.

Sure, as the second longest match on the card, this certainly seemed to drag in points, but to give both men their credit, at least they seemed to try.

WWF / WWE - In Your House 1 - Diesel and Sid square off in their WWF title matchStarting off slowly and rarely picking up the pace, both men traded the advantage several times before Diesel gained the upperhand and planted his nemesis with the Jacknife powerbomb.

Yet before he could score the victory, Sid's Million Dollar Corporation teammate, Tatanka ran in and attacked, ultimately leading to the same result we would've had without the interference: A win for Big Daddy Cool.
Your Winner via Disqualification: Diesel

Afterwards, Tatanka and Sid continued their beat down of the champion, only for Diesel's new ally, Bam Bam Bigelow to race down for the save. This led us nicely into Tatanka vs. Bigelow, the first of three post-show dark matches to take place at the first In Your House.

For the record, the othe dark matches were as follows: The Undertaker beat Kamala and Davey Boy Smith went to a time-limit draw with brother-in-law Owen Hart in a King of the Ring qualifying match taped for an upcoming episode of Raw.

And so, after getting off to a thrilling start with Bret vs. Hakushi, the first In Your House event limped to a lackluster finally, decreasing in quality every step of the way. With the exception of that opening content, and quite possibly the Razor vs. Jarrett/Roadie handicap match, you're not missing a great deal if you never see this show, yet whilst the actual card was nothing to write home about, in terms of historical significance, it has to be argued that In Your House 1 deserves a least a footnote in the story of the WWE. From here on in, there was no going back, it was regular pay per views all the way. Indeed, if you've ever felt the need to bemoan the E's Pay Per View overkill and needed something to blame, you can probably start here. 

Monday, 17 November 2014

Archived Writing: GPW Slam Jam 2009 Preview

Grand Pro Wrestling - Slam Jam 2009
April 18th 2009,
Monaco Ballroom, Hindley

Garage Pro Wrestling return to the Monaco Ballroom later this month for their first Saturday show in nearly four years. Featuring a packed card with all three of the company’s titles on the line, here’s a run down of what you can expect at GPW Slam Jam.

*This is an archived piece which I originally wrote in 2009 for The LINC, a magazine/website based in Wigan. GPW have since rebranded as Grand Pro Wrestling*

Miss North West Invitational 4-Way
Si Valour vs. ?? vs. ?? vs. ??
The reigning Miss Northwest, and current Miss England semi-finalist, Rebecca Billinge, announced at Livin’ On The Edge that there will the first ever GPW Miss North West Invitational Match at GPW: "Saturday Night SlamJam" and here it is.

The rules are simple. The match is open to any 4 wrestlers to battle it out in a 4-way rules match, the winner of which will gain the managerial and valeting services of Miss Northwest. The first person to put his name down for the 4-way is Si Valour.

Having been much the forgotten man so far this year, Valour has had to force his way onto shows in order to get noticed. Making the save for Bubblegum in January, making an impromptu No.1 Contenders challenge to Juice in February during the British Title contract signing and at Livin On The Edge it was Valour who again found himself in an impromptu match against Jak Domitrescu.

It was in February that Valour vowed to make 2009 the year he puts GPW gold around his waist for the first time. Winning this 4-Way and acquiring Rebecca as a valet and manager could be just what he needs to further his career, and get the gold he desires.

But with three other names still to be announced, how much chance does Valour stand in this intriguing match up? And who else may think a beauty Queen would look good on their arm? More names to follow in the coming weeks!

GPW Tag Team Trophy Main Event
The Young Offenders © vs. Paradise Lost
GPW Tag Team Champions, The Young Offenders found out at Livin On The Edge just who their closest competitors for the trophy are. Heresy unveiled who "he" was as he introduced his mystery tag team partner be the masked monster Kastor LeVay. The newly formed team of Heresy and LeVay, (Paradise Lost) destroyed all competition to earn a No.1 Contenders spot against Damon Leigh and Joey Hayes, and wasted no time cashing their spot in.

The title match has been signed in a huge Saturday night main event. Heresy blames both Leigh and Hayes for the loss of his titles, the break up of his SIN faction and everything else that had gone wrong in his life, and as a result he wanted to eliminate them forever to finally give people the chance to look up and beLIEve in something better.

He claims "the time for questions is over and that the time for answers is now" as he brings in Kastor LeVay to help him rid GPW of the Young Offenders forever. With a well documented and deep seeded heated rivalry already between Hayes, DDL and Heresy this takes on a new direction with LeVay involved. Can Paradise Lost end The Young Offenders honeymoon with the trophy, or can good overcome evil in this gripping main event?

GPW Heavyweight Title Match
Bubblegum © vs. Juggernaut w/ Alan A.A Tasker
Fresh from a truly superb series of matches with arch nemesis, Dirk Feelgood, Bubblegum now enters his ninth month as Heavyweight Champion, but there is no rest for the immensely popular crowd favourite as he prepares to face arguably his biggest challenge as champion yet. Since defeating Johnny Moss in a huge heavyweight clash in October last year, Juggernaut has waited in the wings for his time to strike.

After putting El Ligero on the injured list twice in 3 months, he now has the reigning GPW Heavyweight Champion isolated and in his sights. Gaining the all important pinfall over the Heavyweight Champion, Bubblegum in the main event tag team match at Livin On The Edge, Juggernaut's Attorney & Law, Alan Alan Alan Tasker has brokered a first ever title shot at SlamJam for his former Nigerian prison monster.

The GPW Heavyweight Title is on the line, the last time Juggernaut challenged for a title - he won. Bubblegum has defended the title with some of the best matches in GPW history and deservedly takes his spot as the most popular man on the roster.

Giving up a lot of size to the monster Juggernaut can Bubblegum extend his impressive reign as champ? He has taken on all opposition and never shown signs of ever giving up, and has given fans everything he has, but this time he is faced with the strength and size of the Juggernaut along with the brains and smarts of his Attorney & Law, Alan A.A Tasker.

Will it be Bubblegum entering a 10th month as champion, or will Juggernaut be lifting his first GPW Heavyweight Championship and consigning Bubblegum to the injured list to join El Ligero? This is set to be a battle for the ages, don't miss this!

6-Man Showcase
The Mystics & Chris Echo vs. Lethal Dose & William Gáylord
No GPW supershow would be complete without one of the matches that has been the foundation of every supershow we've done in the past - the 6 man tag!

Two of the teams who battled it out in the 4-Way No.1 Contenders Match at "Livin On The Edge" once again face off. Both Lethal Dose & The Mystics have both been allowed to select partner of their choosing.

The Mystics have chosen to bring back fan favourite Chris Echo to complete their threesome and Lethal Dose have recruited GPW training school graduate - William Gáylord. The Mystics have had two unsuccessful outings so far, having been stopped in their tracks both times by Heresy and Echo was last seen on the roster in a loss to Heresy in January.

So the three join forces and look to get back to winning ways in this intriguing 6-man clash. Gáylord debuted in winning fashion against fellow training school graduate Ricky J. McKenzie. His debut caught the eye of many and he gained much acclaim but has since suffered a loss to Sam Bailey. Lethal Dose, who are themselves looking for their first win of 2009 hope the Gáylord's winning touch will rub off.

This 6-man throws up some interesting scenarios and some first time ever clashes, but who will leave with their hands raised? Can the team of The Mystics and Echo get their first win of the year? Or will it be Lethal Dose celebrating their first win of 2009?

GPW British Title Match
"Super" Sam Bailey © vs. The Juice
With the ink on the contract dry and the warm up matches done, both The Juice and Sam Bailey prepare to finally square off one on one for the British Title. Juice earned himself a No.1 Contenders spot back in December at Christmas Crunch in a 4-Way against Dylan Roberts, Chris Echo and Harry Doogle. He then went onto successfully defended his spot against Dylan Roberts in a one on one match in January at Back With A Bang.

In preparation for his title shot, Juice has surrounded himself with his carefully selected personal "Fight Team", consisting of dietitions, nutritionalists, personal trainers, and trained fighters.

The suspense is nearly over in this wonderfully captivating feud as two of the most gifted athletes in the UK do battle over the coveted GPW British Championship. Can Bailey hold on to the title he won back in December? Or can Juice add to his CC-08 title with more gold? Don't miss the conclusion to this at SlamJam!

Street Fight
Danny Hope vs. Jiggy Walker
There really is no other type of match these two could settle their differences in. The former tag team champions finally square off in a match where anything goes, no rules apply, and anything is legal - a Street Fight.

Together, Walker and Hope held the GPW Tag Team Trophy for a record 18 months as the Mil-Anfield Connection, however cracks in the team were for all to see as they disintegrated at Back With A Bang 2009.

The loss to the Young Offenders in the 2/3 Falls Title Match saw them lose the trophy that had defined them for so long, and proved to be the undoing of the duo. Since the split, it has been Hope who has been welcomed with open arms by fans and Walker who has mocked and attacked his former partner from behind. The two were separated by members of the GPW roster and GPW officials in February at "Carpe Diem" and at "Livin On The Edge" Walker blind sided Hope after claiming an "injury" meant he couldn't compete in a signed one on one match.

There will be no running, no hiding and no excuses as these two finally clash in what will be a brutal, unforgiving Street Fight not for the weak at heart. Mil-Anfield will always be remembered as the most successful tag team in GPW history, but who is the better man?

Find out on April 18th as one of the most personal rivalries in GPW history finally comes to a head!

Friday, 14 November 2014

Archived writing: Top Ten Wrestlers of the 2000s - 2000 - 2009

Kurt Angle celebrates a big win
With 2010 rapidly approaching, it’s that time when people start to look back over the past decade and pick out their favourites in all different areas.

*As you may have gathered, this is an archived piece I originally wrote in December 2009. It was published on the website of a regional magazine I used to work for as a journalist.*

The last ten years in professional wrestling have brought us some memorable moments, matches and stars, and in this piece, it’s the latter that we’ll concentrate on.

Kurt Angle

It was in the latter days of the 1990s that Kurt Angle, Olympic Gold Medalist, first stepped foot inside a professional wrestling ring, but it was with the turn of the millennium that Kurt Angle, Wrestling God, became known as one of the best in the world.

Following an eight-year run with the WWE/F, during which time he captured numerous titles and participated in scores of epic matches, Angle’s personal problems prompted him to take an early contract release and eventually wind up in TNA Wrestling, where he continues to impress.

Whilst his problems outside the ring have all been well-documented (one need look no further than his woes with both Trenesha ‘Rhaka Khan’ Biggers and Jeff Jarrett over the summer months of 2009), Angle has remained a consistently outstanding in-ring performer, frequently getting the best out of his adversaries.

Shawn Michaels

The Heartbrak Kid Shawn Michaels
After missing most of the Attitude Era he helped form due to a crippling back injury, the long-time veteran made a surprise return to action in 2002 and hasn’t looked back since.

On top of his game, The Heartbreak Kid has had more spectacular matches than he’s had dud ones over the past eight years, including his amazing performance against The Undertaker at Wrestlemania 25.

Arguably even better now than he was in his mid-90s heyday, the Showstopper deserves to be on this list as much, if not more, than anyone.

AJ Styles

In 2002, a new wrestling company by the name of TNA was born in the wake of WCW’s demise.

Still trudging along in a bid to be seen as serious competition to the global powerhouse that is the WWE, only three men who were there at the beginning remain with TNA to this day; James Storm, the increasingly-elusive Jeff Jarrett and ‘The Phenomenal’ AJ Styles.

Throughout his tenure with the company, Styles has earned his reputation as one of the decade’s finest; capturing multiple TNA Triple Crown Championships (with three NWA World Championships, one TNA Championship, the X-Division and Tag titles), becoming the company’s first Grand Slam Champion (winning the Legends/Global title meant he’d won everything TNA had to offer) and entering into a string of memorable performances against a variety of opponents.

Arguably TNA’s biggest home-grown star, the next decade looks set to be even bigger for The Phenomenal One.

Samoa Joe vs. AJ Styles (from

Samoa Joe

Another TNA stalwart to make the list, Samoa Joe has enjoyed a strong rise to prominence over the last several years.

A run with the TNA World Championship was well-received by many fans who had longed for the Samoan Submission Machine to reach the top of his game. Add in strong efforts against AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels, not to mention his unforgettable efforts against CM Punk in Ring of Honor, and you have to admit that the noughties have been very nice for Samoa Joe.

Bryan Danielson

Daniel Bryan in Ring of Honor
‘The American Dragon’ makes this list primarily for establishing himself as one of the hottest wrestlers in the world without having the backing of a major company (no, ROH are not a ‘major company’, sorry fanboys).

Instead of the backing of a company like the WWE or TNA, Danielson relied on his prowess as an in-ring performer to establish a reputation as one of the best of the best.

Training at the Shawn Michaels’ Wrestling Academy in Texas before making his debut in 1999, Danielson frequently thrilled die-hard fans throughout his tenure with Ring of Honor and a handful of indie-feds.

Having signed a contract with World Wrestling Entertainment in the summer of 2009,  one can only imagine just how far The American Dragon could go in the next decade if he combines his in-ring skills with the company’s penchant for creating global superstars.

Trish Stratus

Few women have done more for modern women’s wrestling than the Canadian beauty, Trish Stratus.

Making her debut in 2000 primarily as a manager, the former fitness model eventually made her way into active competition and, over the next several years, worked hard to develop her wrestling skills, charisma and overall persona to the point where she was regarded as one of, if not the, best of her generation.

A former seven-time WWF/E Women’s Champion, Stratus captured her last belt in her final match against Lita, retiring as champion and moving on to pastures new having captured the hearts of scores of wrestling fans.

Trish Stratus flashes her ass


Despite being currently out of action, and having suffered several other devastating injuries during his rise to the top, the past ten years have been rather kind to the Rated R Superstar.

Breaking away from his friend and former tag partner, Christian in 2001, Edge embarked on a successful solo career which saw him capture multiple Intercontinental, World and WWE Championships, as well as the 2001 King of the Ring and the inaugural Money in the Bank Ladder match.

Brilliant matches against the likes of The Undertaker and Jeff Hardy, along with his natural charisma, ensure that things are never dull when Edge is around. Here’s hoping he returns to action sooner rather than later in 2010.

John Cena

Perhaps the most controversial entry on this list, Cena has divided popular opinion amongst the wrestling community like no other performer of the past ten years, but it’s hard to deny the impact he’s made.

Touted as the WWE’s franchise player, the five-time WWE Champion has had an incredible run over the last several years and, despite the criticisms he receives, has enjoyed a number of good-to-great matches.

Eddie Guerrero

He may have been a long-established veteran by the time the new millennium came around, competing in tonnes of thrilling matches not only in Mexico but also in the original ECW and the erstwhile WCW, but it was the first half of this decade that Latino Heat really became a true superstar.

After leaving WCW in January 2000, Guerrero, along with Perry Saturn, Dean Malenko and the late Chris Benoit jumped ship to the then World Wrestling Federation (now WWE) as The Radicalz.

Whilst his life outside the ring was plagued by troubles including substance abuse, Eddie was joy to watch throughout a career which peaked with him capturing the WWE Championship in 2004.

Guerrero died the following year, but left behind a legacy as a remarkable performer.

Rey Mysterio

After delighting audiences in AAA, ECW and WCW throughout the 1990s, it was his move to World Wrestling Entertainment in 2002 that finally catapulted Rey Mysterio Jr. into the upper echelons of the pro-wrestling elite.

A World Heavyweight Championship run in 2005, following the death of his friend Eddie Guerrero, may have been the peak of his career, but even now Mysterio continues to impress; just look at his fantastic feud with Chris Jericho over the Intercontinental Championship in the summer of 2009.

One of the most entertaining superstars to compete in a ring, Mysterio may not be competing in ten years time, but for the past ten years and more so, he’s been a joy to watch.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Archived writing: Hulk Hogan signs with TNA Wrestling

On Tuesday October 27th 2009, history was made when Hulk Hogan announced he had signed to work for Total Non-stop Action (TNA) wrestling. 

*Another archived piece originally published on October 31st, 2009 on an old website I used to write for*

TNA Wrestling - Hulk Hogan Arrives

The move was dubbed by many as pro wrestling's biggest news story of 2009, and it's hard to argue with that; even some 25 years after he captured his first WWF championship (in a match against the Iron Sheik) Hogan's name remains more synonymous with wrestling than any other.

The acquisition of such a household name is undoubtedly a huge victory for TNA in their on-going battle to shed their reputation as a glorified indie league and be seen as a viable threat to Vince McMahon's WWE empire in much the same way that the erstwhile World Championship Wrestling was back in the late 1990s.

Already, the signing has attracted Dixie Carter-Salinas’ organisation a great deal of attention. Within hours of the story breaking, TNA became a top trending topic on micro-blogging service Twitter, whilst every wrestling website, magazine and newsletter on the planet, not to mention a number of non-wrestling-specific sites, have covered Hogan's move to the number two wrestling promotion in detail.

TNA Wrestling - Hulk Hogan and Dixie Carter

What's more, when The Hulkster finally steps foot inside The Impact Zone (the studio where TNA tapes their weekly Impact television shows and numerous pay per views) it's almost certainly going to be a good move for business. Though after the initial spike in television ratings, merchandise sales and pay per view buys, will TNA's version of Hulk Hogan really be the answer to all the company's prayers?

'Doing the right thing'

A large portion of hardened wrestling fans believe it won't, backing up their argument by looking at Hogan's history of playing backstage politics, claiming all the best positions on the roster for himself and his friends and generally looking out for number one.

Hogan has already claimed that he may be involved more as an on-air personality or in an authority figure role (because Lord knows TNA needs more of those) than he will as a wrestler. Then again, Mick Foley said the same thing and look what happened there. Besides, can you really see Hogan not donning the famous yellow-and-red ring attire at some point?

Most anti-Hogan/TNA fans can't, and claim that once he comes in, the veteran star will immediately push young TNA mainstays like Samoa Joe, Christopher Daniels and current TNA Heavyweight Champion, AJ Styles, down the card, thus ruining all the hard work put into establishing these performers as credible home-grown talent.

They seem to insist that Hogan should be kept away from the Heavyweight Championship picture and spend his days jobbing to Joe, Daniels et all in the mid-card, in a tradition referred to in wrestling circles as 'doing the right thing by the business'.

In this writer's opinion, they are all wrong.

Yes, Hogan should help TNA's young roster establish themselves as legitimate main event players. Let's be honest; outside the community of hardened wrestling fans, nobody has any idea who AJ Styles is. A programme with perennial icon Hogan could, and most likely will, change all of that.

Yet the way to go about this is not by having Hogan job out to all and sundry. This is Hulk freakin' Hogan we're talking about here, the biggest name in the business, and having him come into the company and loose to everyone will, despite the fabricated nature of pro wrestling, cause a certain amount of damage to Hogan's reputation in the eyes of the casual fan.

Let's not forget, it's Hogan's reputation, probably more so than his experience and natural ability to whip a crowd into a frenzy, that TNA are paying for.

There are ways to put a fellow wrestler over without loosing to him, and it's those methods that Hogan should be exploring when locking up with TNA's stars.

Championship material

He should also be given the title.

Wrestling promotions tout their world champions as 'the best we have to offer’. It's an established rule in professional wrestling that the World Heavyweight Champion acts as a representative of sorts for the entire company, and who bigger a star to represent your company than Hulk Hogan?

That said, this reporter doesn't believe he should be handed the belt on his first day with the company. Hogan as TNA champion should be built up into something special, and it's almost entirely plausible that TNA fans, aware of the kind of political clout Hogan carries, would riot should Hogan come in and be crowned champion without any effort.

Of course, the hardcore fans will probably riot anyway, regardless as to whether Hogan wins the belt on his first day or two years down the line. Let’s face it, some people just do not like the aging wrestler and would rather see TNA’s younger stars than the established veteran.

This is fine, and everyone is entitled to their opinion, but if those same fans want TNA to grow to any kind of prominence, they have to realise that having a star name like Hogan is really the only way to go about it.

Friends in High Places

Political power won't be the only thing The Immortal one is likely to carry with him to TNA, he'll likely bring a number of his friends along for the ride too.

Most long-time fans remember Hogan's 1993 arrival in WCW, after which he swiftly managed to get many of his old WWF buddies signed up to contracts, meaning fans were treated to such brilliant gimmicks as John Tenta playing a shark and of course, the million and one faces of Ed Leslie, none of which got over in the slightest.

In this reporter's mind, TNA will be committing a bigger sin by brining in the Hogan Massive than they would by putting the title on him right off the bat.

For all their flaws, TNA are capable of producing some top quality wrestling when they can be bothered to do so, and there can't be a single person in the world (except for Hogan and his boys, of course) who would rather see the boring Brutus The Bootyman than exciting stars like Daniels, or have The Nasty Boys walking around with the tag straps instead of teams like Beer Money.

Hogan vs. Russo

Then again, Hogan may need his friends around him when it comes to confronting old enemy, current TNA writer/booker Vince Russo.

Back in the dying days of WCW, Russo and Hogan had a spectacular falling out when Russo, known for his love of injecting as much reality into his shows as possible, took a planned angle and turned it into a shoot which the Hulkster deemed to be so offensive that he sued Russo and WCW.

Unless the former nWo leader uses his backstage leverage to have Russo fired (no doubt becoming a hero for the legions of Russo haters that exist), the two will have to learn to work together well if TNA and Hulk Hogan are to have a successful run together.

At time of writing it's too early to say whether they will or not; Hogan has yet to début for the company and, when he does, all the above factors, plus more besides, will contribute to either TNA's greatest success or worst failure to date.

Yet Total Non-Stop Action Wrestling has at least achieved one thing with the signing of Hulk Hogan; they've got us all talking.

Thoughts on this article - November 2014. I seriously thought Hogan should have been the TNA champion? I was an idiot when I was younger. 

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Live Event Review: WWE - DX Invasion Tour - November 2009

Echo Arena, Liverpool
Sunday November 7th, 2009

*An archived report I originally wrote and published in November 2009.*

As part of their current tour around the United Kingdom, the superstars of World Wrestling Entertainment's Raw brand made their way to Liverpool in early November. 

Performing in front of an enthusiastic crowd, WWE Champion John Cena teamed up with DX (Shawn Michaels and Triple H) to defeat Legacy (Randy Orton, Cody Rhodes & Ted Dibiase) in an exciting main event. During the match, the Legacy boys had their backsides exposed by the crowd favourites, but that was nothing compared to the bare-faced cheek of the ever-popular Hornswoggle, who got involved in proceedings for no real reason. 

Champion Cena picked up the victory for his team by pinning Cody Rhodes.

Elsewhere on the card, United States Champion The Miz successfully defended his title in an entertaining bout with MVP. The cocky champion was loathed by the Liverpool crowd, who cheered on MVP in the hopes that the challenger could dethrone Miz, but it wasn't to be on this night.

MVP's partner, Mark Henry, fared a little better, picking up a win via disqualification when his opponent, Chris Jericho, nailed him with a chair to end a match which was much better than anticipated.

Santino Marella put in an appearance, informing the Liverpool crowd that he had created his own unique form of martial arts; Marella's Martial Arts...or MMA for short! Luckily for the hapless Itallian, his skills, martial arts or otherwise, served him well in a victory over Chavo Guerrero.

Other matches, and full results from the show as follows:

  • Kofi Kingston beat Chris Masters
  • The Hurricane beat Paul Burchill
  • Sheamus beat Primo
  • United States Champion The Miz beat MVP
  • Santino Marella beat Chavo Guerrero
  • WWE Divas Champion & Kelly Kelly beat. Alicia Fox & Jillian Hall
  • Mark Henry beat. Unified Tag Team Champion Chris Jericho via DQ.
  • WWE Champion John Cena, Shawn Michaels & Triple H beat Randy Orton, Cody Rhodes & Ted Dibiase

The 2009 WWE DX Invasion Tour continues through early November, highlighted by a live episode of the company's flagship television show, Raw, on Monday November 8th. If you missed out on this tour, then fear not, the company have recently announced plans to return to these shores in April for the Wrestlemania Revenge Tour 2010.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Archived review: Garage Pro Wrestling - Livin' on the Edge 2009

Grand Pro Wrestling - Livin on the Edge 2009 poster
Garage Pro Wrestling – Livin’ on the Edge
March 20th, 2009
Monaco Ballroom, Hindley
, Wigan

*This is an archived review which I originally wrote in 2009 for The LINC, a magazine/website based in Wigan. GPW have since renamed themselves Grand Pro Wrestling*

The stars of Garage Pro Wrestling were living on the edge at Hindley’s Monaco Ballroom as they delivered a top-notch night of action which saw bitter rivalries continue and, of course, some great work between the ropes.

GPW have carved a niche for themselves as one of the premier grap groups on the British wrestling circuit, and at Livin on the Edge, it wasn’t hard to see why.

With a commendable attention to detail (right down to such subtle aspects as flagging up each bout’s time-limit on their graphic displays) and superior production values to many of their rivals, the company really seem to go out of their way to deliver.

And boy did they deliver.

Getting things underway, Ricky J. McKenzie took on The Juice in a British Title Warm Up match.   Both men worked the crowd well in the early going, with The Juice particularly effective in retaliating to the crowds enthused chants of you’re a muppet!

After as entertaining an opening match as you could want, ‘Juice walked away with the win.

Taking a change of pace, Jak Dominotrescu and his Eastern Block stable made their way to the ring to call out Si Valour and, apparently, challenge hi to a karaoke contest.

What followed was one of those moments in wrestling that is far more hilarious than it really has any right to be, as Dominotrescu put his own comical take on The Pussycat Dolls. Though before Valour really had chance to find his grove in retaliating with a tune of his own, he was cut short by the Eastern Block and what seemed like an impromptu match was underway, with Valour getting the three-count.

Another British Title Warm Up bout followed, with reigning champion, Sam Bailey facing relative newcomer, William Gaylord.

With last month’s debut behind him, Gaylord already appeared to be a natural in his role as the archetypal British Snob, with his traditional European style working well against the flash and panache of Super Sam Bailey.

And despite number one contender to the British strap, The Juice, scoping him out from the entrance way, Bailey managed to keep his focus in another entertaining bout and pick up a victory.

A four corners tag team elimination bout came next to determine the number one contenders to The Young Offender’s tag team trophy.

The Gentlemen’s Club, Lethal Dose and the newly formed team of The Mystics were already set for battle, though before they could they waited anxiously along with the GPW faithful to find out who Heresy had chosen to tag with him.

Making his way on to the entrance, the man from Sin city delivered a superb verbal performance on the microphone as he introduced his new tag-partner, Kastor LeVay.

LeVay proceeded to go on a unhinged rampage and, along with Heresey, dominated proceedings to earn the final elimination and the number one contenders spot.

Returning from the break, things looked set to heat up as former Milan-Field Connection partners, Danny Hope and Jiggy Walker were about to collide in a much-anticipated grudge match.

However, things didn’t quite pan-out that way.

In true heel fashion, Walker delivered another strong piece of mic work almost on par with Hersey’s earlier performance; claiming to have pulled a hamstring whilst warming up which had rendered him unable to compete.

Instead, an enjoyable bout between Hope and Walker’s replacement, The Model followed, with Hope picking up the three count.

Somewhat predictably, Walker revealed his injury to have been a rouse in the post-match shenanigans; attacking his former partner and finally agreeing to a match of Hope’s choosing at the next show. Once again, Walker delivered the goods here and his natural ability to get the crowds riled up was one of the more subtle highlights of the evening.

Speaking of highlights, there was nothing subtle about the next bout as Hindley resident, Martin Kirby went one-on-one with long-time GWP favourite, Joey Heyes.

Prior to the bout, Kirby thanked his adopted hometown crowd for the support they’ve shown him since his GPW debut earlier this year and proceeded to put Heyes over as one of his wrestling heroes.

The two then went on to have arguably the best match of the night; a fast-paced affair building from a sold foundation of chain wrestling to a gipping crescendo, with Heyes bagging the three-count thanks to a nice cross-body from the top.

But Heyes’ night didn’t end there, as he and Kirby were promptly attacked by Hersey and his masked partner. A number of faces tried their best to intervene but swiftly had theirs handed to them before Joeys’ Young Offenders partner, Dangerous Damon Leigh appeared from nowhere to make the save.

Finally, the night’s action concluded with a gripping tag team bout pitting Heavyweight Champion, Bubblegum and El Ligero against the team of Dirk Feelgood and the imposing Juggernaut.

As Juggernaut’s manager, Alan A.A Tasker worked the crowd with aplomb at ringside, the four combatants put on a text book display of tag team wrestling, as the heels quickly cut the ring in half and isolated Ligero from an anxious and infuriated Bubblegum.

The inevitable comeback came, but with Ligero going over the ropes in what looked like a nasty fashion, it was up to the champion to try and overthrow Feelgood and Juggernaut single-handidly.

Yet after as strong an effort as he could muster, even the unwavering support of the crowd couldn’t help Bubblegum defeat two men, and it was Dirk Feelgood and Juggernaut who took the pin.

Over all, a good show from all concerned.  They say you can’t please all the people all the time, but that didn’t stop GPW from trying, and succeeding, with their third show of the year.

With a mix of comedy and drama to appeal to the younger fans and families and some impressive in-ring work to appeal to hardened wrestling fans, Livin’ on the Edge delivered on almost every level.

Retro Pro Wrestling

New reviews of classic WWF/WWE events recalling every moment from Wrestlemania 1 - 30. You'll also find reviews of WCW, ECW, TNA and the occasional indie event, along with a look at old school magazines, merchandise and more.