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, 17 April 2016

EVENT REVIEW: NWA Clash of the Champions 1

NWA CLASH OF THE CHAMPIONS 1 - 1988
March 27th, 1988
Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, North Carolina

By now, there shouldn't be too many long-term wrestling fans who don't know the story of how the NWA/WCW Clash of the Champions TV specials came into existence. In the days before the Monday Night War, the precursor to WCW as we remember it today were locked in a strategic battle with Vince McMahon's burgeoning World Wrestling Federation, with both companies using the PPV market as their battlefield. 

WCW presented Starcade and Bunkhouse Stampede, McMahon countered with Survivor Series and the first Royal Rumble. Having taken just about as much as they could from Titanland, Jim Crockett promotions looked to fight back by pitting a new, PPV caliber TV event, Clash of the Champions against McMahon's flagship event, Wrestlemania.






NWA CLASH OF THE CHAMPIONS 1 - 1988: Live at the Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, North Carolina
The results didn't work out in Crockett's favour, with 'Mania trouncing Clash every which way. Yet despite the poor return on investment, the show was a hit with fans, and would continue to run all the way up until 1997, the height of the war between the two companies.

When I was last posting regularly on this site (and I know it's been a while, I'm sorry), I was mainly covering WWE events from the mid-1990s, though I decided to change that around just recently. I cancelled my WWE Network subscription after Wrestlemania 32, and decided that for the proverbial shizzles and giggles, I'd watch -and review- some content that I won't be able to get my hands on elsewhere.

With that in mind then, let's turn on the Network and review the first ever NWA Clash of the Champions.

Is Sting finally ready to knock Ric Flair off his throne and become NWA Champion? With Dusty Rhodes by their side, will the Road Warriors take revenge on the men who brutalized them, Ivan Koloff and the Powers of Pain. Are wrestling's new breed of young gladiators equipped with what it takes to be victorious on a day where anything goes? There are so many questions, and the time has finally come to find out the answers. Now, TBS Superstation presents...Clash of the Champions
NWA CLASH OF THE CHAMPIONS 1 - 1988: Tony Schiavone & Jim Ross
After that dramatic introduction, complete with footage of the stars in question, generic 80s Movie style music played over pictures of the NWA championship belts before Tony Schiavone (complete with terrible 80s mustache) and Bob Caudle welcomed us to the show, running down tonight's big matches.

It was a simple, no-frills introduction that worked well in setting the tone for tonight's show, and ultimately took us to a youthful Jim Ross standing at ringside.

Ross put over our next match, and with that, it was up to the ring.

NWA Television Championship

NWA Television Champion Mike Rotundo (w/ Games Master Kevin Sullivan) vs. Gorgeous Jimmy Garvin (w/ Precious)
NWA CLASH OF THE CHAMPIONS 1 - 1988: Gorgeous Jimmy Garvin (w/ Precious) prepares to challenge Mike Rotundo for the TV title
"Just like in amateur rules, a one count will count as a fall, and there will be three, five minute rounds" decreed the ring announcer before the future IRS and the future Freebird locked up in a textbook opening contest.

With the Greensboro crowd popping huge for moves most modern fans wouldn't bat an eyelid over (hiptoss, bodyslam, hiptoss, work the crowd) both men went to-and-fro in a match which -though short- was as good as any card-starter you could hope for.

After trading the advantage in the first round, things became much more heated in the second round, with the respective managers getting involved. This was enough to distract referee Teddy Long (who I'm sure was itching to book a tag team match there on the spot) and for Rotunda to grab the quick one fall and retain his title.
Your Winner and Still NWA Television Champion: Mike Rotundo.

Post match, more shenanigans ensued, with Rick Steiner entering the fray, only to be drilled across the spine with a 2x4 courtesy of Precious, who then went further in her efforts to save Garvin from a Varsity Club beatdown by choking out Sullivan with -of all things- a coat hanger.

Dr. Death Steve Williams Promo
NWA CLASH OF THE CHAMPIONS 1 - 1988: "Dr. Death" Steve Williams cut a promo challenging Flair for a title shot
Though I'm sure he no doubt had plenty of fans, I never really saw the appeal of the late Steve Williams. Whilst I'm willing to accept that's probably because I've never actually seen most of his best work, his wooden promo here certainly did little to endear me to JR's favourite.

Asked by interviewer Bob Caudle about the recent events surrounding Dusty Rhodes, Willliams ranted on for at least a minute, mentioning Dusty by name at least every few seconds and sounding for all the world like he hadn't got a clue what Rhodes had been upto without actually admitting as such.

After that, I admittedly switched off, only barely paying attention when Williams said "one more thing...and another thing," and claimed to be ready for an NWA title shot against Ric Flair.

NWA United States Tag Team Championship Match

NWA United States Tag Team Champions The Midnight Express ('Beautiful' Bobby Eaton & Sweet Stan Lane w/ Jim Cornette) vs. The Fantastics (Bobby Fulton & Tommy Rogers)
NWA CLASH OF THE CHAMPIONS 1 - 1988: Midnight Express (w/ Jim Cornette) vs. The Fantastics for the NWA US Tag Team Titles
Introduced by their manager, a slim, young-looking Jim Cornette, Beautiful Bobby and Sweet Stan wasted no time in going after their Fantastic Opponents in a wild match where chairs were used liberally in the early moments like something out of ECW's heydey.

The pace of this one was pretty relentless. A fast, furious stormer of a match, with the heels doing everything to batter down their opponents (including slamming them onto folded-up tables at ringside ECDUB! ECDUB!) and keep the crowds up on their feet, cheering and roaring for Fulton and Rogers to fight back.

After one of the best tag team matches this writer can remember seeing for a long time, The Fantastics looked to do just that after Rogers leapt off the top rope onto Eaton and pinned him for the three count. The babyface celebration was shortlived however, as Fulton had -for whatever mad reason- tossed the referee out of the ring (a second ref appeared from nowhere to make the three count). The ref then returned, reversed the decision, and allowed the champs to retain their gold by DQ.
Your Winners via Disqualification and Still NWA United States Tag Team Champions: The Midnight Express.


NWA CLASH OF THE CHAMPIONS 1 - 1988: Jim Cornette with Ken Osmond from Leave it to Beaver
Man, that was fun. It wasn't over yet though, as Sweet Stan, Beautifully Bobby and even Jim Cornette ganged up on the Fantastics, the latter lashing one of the Fantastics with his belt as the former two held him over the ropes. This. Is. Hardcore.

After a quick advertisement for NWA Main Event, Bob Caudle showed us the barbed wire being wrapped around the ropes ready for our next match before taking us to a pre-taped segment with Ken Osmond from Leave it to Beaver and Jim Cornette.

Though I'm sure it made more sense at the time (and I'm aware that Cornette's gimmick was that he was a spoiled rich kid using mama's money to play wrestling manager), this was just a bizarre segment in which the two talked more about Cornette's mum and her mansion than they did The Midnight Express.

NWA CLASH OF THE CHAMPIONS 1 - 1988: Al Perez and his manager, Gary Hart, cut a promo on the show
Moving back to Caudle next, who was standing by with Al Perez and his manager Gary Hart. The interview mainly involved Perez looking confused whilst Hart hyped his charge's US title shot against reigning champion, Dusty Rhodes. Perez finally spoke up, insisting that the only way Rhodes could beat him would be to strike him with a baseball bat.

"Let's just hope they legalise baseball bats, Dusty Rhodes...." said Hart finally, before adding he indeed, invented the Dirty Deeds. Somewhere, a young Dean Ambrose was probably taking note.

Jim Crockett Snr. Memorial cup 

Up next, Frances Crockett announced the top ten seeds for the upcoming Jim Crockett Snr. Memorial Cup, all whilst looking as though it was the last place in the world she wanted to be.

Chicago Street Fight: Six Man Barbed Wire Match

NWA United States Champion Dusty Rhodes and The Road Warriors (Hawk & Animal, w/ Paul Ellering) vs. Ivan Koloff and The Powers of Pain (Warlord & Barbarian, w/ Paul Jones)
Dusty Rhodes and the Road Warriors, among the very greatest of all time. There was no possible way this could be bad, right?

Wrong?

NWA CLASH OF THE CHAMPIONS 1 - 1988: Dusty Rhodes & The Road Warriors lost a barbed wire match to Ivan Koloff and The Powers of Pain
OK, maybe bad's the wrong word here. Let's try boring. Uninteresting. Not worth watching. Yeah, that's more like it.

Indeed, I think the most interesting thing about this match was that Animal was wearing a hockey mask to sell the very face injury that had led us to this match, and that Dusty was wearing L-O-D style facepaint.

Beyond that, this was just several minutes of guys standing by the ropes rubbing each other with barbed wire and occasionally punching each other. Somewhere amidst the melee, you're likely to have seen Hawk busting out his trademark press slam/fist drop spot, and Barbarian accidentally nailing Warlord with a headbutt to give the win to the good guys, but that's only if you were still paying attention at that point.
Your Winners: Dusty Rhodes and the Road Warriors

Post match, the heels pretty much no-sold the loss, getting back up, ripping Animal's mask off and attacking him until his partner's made the save.

Nikita Koloff Reveals his New Look 

NWA CLASH OF THE CHAMPIONS 1 - 1988: Nikita Koloff revealed a new look at the show
After Tony Schiavone and Jim Ross stood around at ring side hyping the new NWA Main Event show, it was back to our man Bob Caudle for an interview with Nikita Koloff. Wearing a white suit, white shirt, and white tie, this was apparently Koloff's 'new look.' Since I was four at the time, and this is about the furthest I've ever gone back in watching NWA/WCW footage, I have no idea what his old look was, but hey, more power to the man. 

Looking sharp in his new suit, Koloff claimed that he'd spent the last two months talking to young people about taking care of their health, cleverly transitioning this into talking about how the heels of the company had tried to take his health, making him a fighter.

I'll be honest, the thick, faux-Russian accent made it hard to understand every word of Kolloff's promo, but the points were delivered well enough, and despite not being particuarly memorable,t his was so far the best promo on the show.


NWA World Tag Team Championship Match

NWA Tag Team Champions 'The Enforcer' Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard (w/ JJ. Dillon) vs. Barry Whindham & Lex Luger 

So much of me wants to refer to the champs here as The Brainbusters, but I'll refrain, and instead tell you what an enjoyable bout this was.

Following the same non-stop pace of the first two matches, this was another textbook, old-school match with barely a dull moment in sight. All four men worked hard, the big, brawny challengers putting their size and strength up against the smaller champions speed and dastardly heel tactics, the very same tactics which ultiamtely cost them the match.

NWA CLASH OF THE CHAMPIONS 1 - 1988: Barry Windham & Lex Luger beat Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard for the NWA World Tag Team TitlesAfter a good match, JJ Dillon jumped up onto the apron with a chair, only for Lex Luger to throw Arn Anderson head-first into it. One pinfal later, and The Total Package leapt into the air, celebrating his and Windham's victory.

Your Winners and NEW NWA World Tag Team Champions: Lex Luger & Barry Whindham

Prior to our main event, we were introduced to the match judges; Gary Juster from the National Wrestling Alliance, former wrestler Sandy Scott, Penthouse Playmate Patty Mullen, Jim Cornette's buddy Ken Osmond, and 'The Wonder Years' Jason Harvey, all of whom randomly stood around at ringside looking like they couldn't find their seats. 

NWA World Heavyweight Championship Match

NWA World Heavyweight Champion 'The Nature Boy' Ric Flair vs. Sting (w/ JJ. Dillon)

NWA CLASH OF THE CHAMPIONS 1 - 1988: Ric Flair kept his NWA World Heavyweight Championship in a 45 minute draw with StingWith JJ suspended in a cage at ringside, WCW's two biggest stars went at it in an gripping main event that proved why both men still enjoy the kind of acclaim they do today.

Challenger Sting fought desperately to claim the title, using everything in his arsenal to take it to the champion. Flair meanwhile, played the cowardly heel to perfection, backing into the corner whenever Sting went on the rampage, begging for mercy and taking cheapshots whenever possible.

Though it may not have been the best match the two would ever have (that's certainly not for me to say), this one was certainly a riot from start to finish.

Speaking of the finish, both men went the full forty-five minutes, leaving the decision up to the judges. The fact that three celebrities held the fate of the most prestigious wrestling title in the world at that time in their hands kind of spoiled things a little bit for this fan, but only a little bit, and I'll admit I'm nitpicking here.

In the end, the match was -somewhat predictably- declared a draw.
Match Result - Draw: Ric Flair retains the NWA Championship


NWA CLASH OF THE CHAMPIONS 1 - 1988: Sting holds Ric Flair in the Scorpion Death Lock in the closing moments of their World Title Match
And that was all she wrote folks. Though not the greatest event ever recorded in the history of televised professional wrestling, this was nonetheless a very good card, with the only low-point being the dull barbed wire match and a couple of wooden promos. In fact, I enjoyed the whole thing so much, that I'm seriously reconsidering cancelling my WWE Network subscription.

Writing this has been just the thing I needed to rediscover my passion for pro wrestling, and this blog, a passion which has been slowly battered away by a current WWE product that I can sadly no longer relate to.






'Til next time,

Thanks for reading.


BOOK REVIEW: CHRIS JERICHO - BEST IN THE WORLD (AT WHAT I HAVE NO IDEA)

I began my recent review of Chris Jericho's first book,  A Lion's Tale: Around the World in Spandex, by noting how my main motivation for picking up a book I'd read several times over was to prime me ready for delving into his most recent tome, Best in the World (At What I have no Idea). 

Reading both back to back, what struck me the most was just how different the two memoirs are in almost every conceivable way. Sure, Jericho's trademark wit was there in abundance on every page, and sure it was still an enjoyable read for the most part, but beyond that, if you didn't know it to begin with, you'd be forgiven for thinking the books were written by two entirely different people.

Look, I get it. A Lion's Tale is a story about a young kid chasing his dreams and overcoming every obstacle hurled in his past to do so. Best in the World is about a man who achieved his dreams and is now living the high life as a famous Superstar. The man born Chris Irvine leads a much different life today than the one he describes in his first book, so it's not going to be the same kind of story, but there was more to it than that.

As a fan of wrestling, rock 'n' roll, and generally of anybody who chases their dreams and eventually catches them, I have nothing but respect and admiration for Chris Jericho, but reading Best in the World, I did find myself questioning whether or not I should. There was just something about Jericho's book that made me feel uncomfortable, and it was only when I got half way through that I realised what that something was.

The one thing that had made A Lion's Tale such a captivating, deeply engaging book was sorely lacking in Best in the World; that one thing was a simple word called humility.

That first book is my favourite wrestling memoir ever (and yes, that include's Foley's), partly because it was so easy to get behind the young dream-chaser as he made mistakes, learned lessons and kept pushing to make it to the big time no matter what happened. The Chris Jericho in that story was easy to relate to, the kind of guy you want to get behind, root for, and cheer for when he finally makes it to the promised land.




The Chris Jericho I've just spent reading about -and as a big fan of his it pains me to say this- came across as something of prima donna not opposed to throwing a tantrum or two to get his own way.

In a way, I kind of bizarrely admire that, a man who won't take no for an answer and will do all he can to succeed, but there were times in reading this book that I found it really hard to like the guy I was reading about, and that was disappointing.

Sure, some of the anecdotes were insightful (and that's all this book feels like, a collection of anecdotes Jericho wrote down whenever they happened to occur to him), and there were still a few belly laughs to be had, but the Chris Jericho in this book is -sadly- not the Chris Jericho I became a huge fan of years ago.

Other pro wrestling book reviews: 


Tuesday, 12 April 2016

BOOK REVIEW: Chris Jericho - A Lion's Tale - Around the World in Spandex

This past Christmas, good ol' Santa Claus brought me a copy of The Best in the World (at what I have no idea), the third memoir from WWE Superstar, Fozzy frontman, and one-time Goldberg-goader, Chris Jericho. Before I got into reading it however, I wanted to go right back to the beginning of Y2J's journey, and picked up my old copy of A Lion's Tale: Around the World in Spandex. 

Though I'll often claim that A Lion's Tale is up there in my top three all-time favourite wrestling book's (Foley's original bestseller and Bret Hart's epic autobiography being the other two), it's been a good few years since I last sat down to recount Jericho's journey from body slamming his buddy in their high school Big Time Wrestling Federation to his memorable WWF debut in the summer of 1999.


Going back through it over the past week, I've remembered quite clearly why I fell in love with this book in the first place. Jericho's remarkable attention to detail, coupled with a level of humility that's pretty rare in the pro wrestling industry, make him a captivating storyteller as he pulls you along the proverbial rollercoaster of emotions.

One minute you're laughing out loud at some of the more awkward interactions a young Chris Irvine has with his heroes (My name's Chris, too), the next you're rooting for the plucky young Lion Heart as he scratches and claws his way through an industry littered with over-inflated egos and backstage politics. In between, Jericho tugs at the heartstrings when talking about his mother and her tragic accident and his genuine love for his wrestling brothers, provides fascinating insights into the less-than-glamorous side of working his way up in the industry and then returns to the trademark Y2J humour.






I have no shame in admitting that the former Undisputed Champion is something of a personal hero of mine, as much -if not more- for his work ethic and unwavering commitment to pursuing his dreams as anything he's ever done on television to keep me and millions of other fans entertained. As such, though I doubt the man will ever read this review, I do need to say thank you to Chris for documenting his journey in A Lion's Tale. 

The story is nothing short of inspiring, and having been unable to put this book down over the last couple of days, I feel more motivated having just finished this book at 8.30 on a Tuesday morning than I have in a long while. 

The book has also rekindled my love for pro wrestling, something that I've found severely lacking in the last couple of months since I last wrote anything here on Retro Pro Wrestling. Though I'm pretty sure I'll never be as passionate about the current product as I was about the stuff I grew up with, Around the World in Spandex was the perfect reminder of why I fell in love with this unique sport in the first place, and for that, if nothing else, I consider this book not just one of my top three, but quite possibly the best pro wrestling memoir ever written. 

Saturday, 26 December 2015

TV SHOW REVIEW: WWE SMACKDOWN - December 11th 2009

WWE Smackdown: 11/12/09
Houston, Texas

**NOTE: This review was written live at the time in December 2009. I recently found it in my writing archives and decided to post here**



With just two days to go before he locks up with World Heavyweight Champion The Undertaker at TLC, Batista takes on a returning Rey Mysterio in a street fight whilst Luke Gallows makes his in-ring debut and Intercontinental Champion John Morrison indulges in a bit of racial stereotyping.

Such fun.

Batista Speaks


As he prepared to challenge The Undertaker for the World Heavyweight Championship in a chairs match at TLC, Batista made his way to the ring to speak his mind, and he had a lot to say.

Hyping up his forthcoming battle with The Phenom, Big Dave also took the time to play down his street fight later on in the show with Rey Mysterio, insisting that the masked superstar did not deserve to be in the same ring with him. Furthermore, The Animal insisted that not only did he not need Rey, he didn't need the fans either.

CM Punk & Luke Gallows vs. Matt Hardy & R-Truth

After assisting CM Punk, in demolishing both Hardy and Truth over the past two weeks, Luke Gallows made his official in-ring debut as he teamed with the Straightedge Saviour to take on a team looking for revenge.

Before the match began, Hardy gave out copies of his brother Jeff's new DVD, much to the chagrin of Punk, who urged the audience not to accept what he called 'poison'.

It was a fun way to kick things off and was followed by some equally fun action between the ropes. A decent opening contest saw both teams trade the advantage before Gallows picked up the win with his 12 Steps finisher.

Your Winners: CM Punk & Luke Gallows

Backstage in Teddy Long's office, the Smackdown General Manager was joined by bitter ex-lovers Vickie Guerrero and Eric Escobar.

Escobar laid into his former girlfriend in Spanish before helpfully translating for Teddy to reveal that he was basically insulting her. Not surprisingly, this resulted in Guerrero urging Long to book Escobar in a match against Chris Jericho.

From the Vault: Kane defeated US Champion MVP in a non-title match (June 2007)

Remember when MVP was one of the hottest new superstars on the Smackdown brand? When he was a larger-than-life, egomaniac heel and was thus entertaining as hell?

If not, this match showed the man also known as Montel Vontavious Porter in a better light than his usual three-minute appearances on Raw usually do as he battled Kane in a decent contest. The Big Red Machine won after a chokeslam. Yep, that happened.

Mike Knox vs. Kane

As Kane walked backstage with his music blaring (I wonder if he has his theme tune randomly playing wherever he goes, like in the Supermarket or at the hairdressers), he was stopped in his tracks by Mike Knox.


Knox insisted that he and The Big Red Machine were a lot alike, and claimed that he enjoyed fighting him on last week's show. Kane denied being anything like Knox, but admitted that he enjoyed their match too. Because of this, the two behemoths agreed to fight again later on in tonight's show.

Eric Escobar vs. Chris Jericho

Following a short exchange of offence between the two combatants, Vickie Guerrero interupted to change this into a handicap match, with Jericho's partner The Big Show joining the fray.

What followed was a mildly entertaining destruction of Escobar by the Unified Tag Team Champions, resulting in a win for the pair with the Walls of Jericho.

Your Winners: Chris Jericho & The Big Show

Afterwards, the champs took the microphone to hype their upcoming Tables, Ladders & Chairs match against Shawn Michaels and Triple H, vowing to end DX once and for all.

Drew McIntyre & John Morrison face off

In a final confrontation before they meet for Morrison's Intercontinental Championship at TLC, the champion and his challenger, Drew McIntyre, faced off in the ring.

McIntyre began by bemoaning the lack of attention afforded to him by WWE Magazine (his opponent features on the cover of the latest edition) and liking the chances of Morrison retaining at the PPV to a Scottish fable like the Loch Ness Monster.

This brought out Morrison himself, decked in full Braveheart attire as he claimed to be William Wallace (ask your history teacher) and addressed his rival in a faux Scottish accent.

The Shaman of Sexy verbally put down McIntyre, made fun of Scottish background for a while then beat him up.

Racial stereotyping aside, this was actually pretty fun.

Kane vs. Mike Knox

Smackdown's resident giants collided in a decent rematch from last week's show and faired slightly better than they did in their previous encounter.

The two behemoths battled back and forth, yet even Knox's ever-impressive flying cross-body block was not enough to secure victory as Kane planted his foe with a chokeslam to earn the three count.

Your Winner: Kane

Please let this go somewhere. As much as your reporter has always been unimpressed by Kane, Mike Knox does appear to have a lot of potential and it would be great to see him fulfil it.

Maria & Mickie James vs. WWE Women's Champion Michelle McCool & Layla

In what was probably the best match she's had at least since moving to the Friday night show, Mickie James looked good as she teamed with a returning Maria to take it to the woman she'll face for the Divas title at TLC, Michelle McCool, and her best friend, Layla El.

As short as most Divas matches usually are, this was nonetheless a good show from all four women, resulting in a win for the Number One Contender as James pinned Layla.

Your Winners: Maria & Mickie James.

After Todd Grisham and Matt Striker ran down the final card for Sunday night's TLC pay per view, it was on to the main event.

Street Fight: Batista vs. Rey Mysterio

Making his return following a knee injury, Rey Mysterio looked to extract some revenge from his friend-turned-foe, Batista in a good main event.

Batista looked better than he has in a while thanks to the efforts of his diminutive opponent as Mysterio flew around the ring in the early going before The Animal took it to the outside and proceeded to demolish his foe with a series of heavy blows involving the ringside furniture.

Not surprisingly, Big Dave maintained his momentum as he headed into a World Heavyweight Championship fight with The Undertaker by pinning Mysterio following a brutal chairshot.

Your Winner: Batista

In the post-match, The Animal continued to assault Mysterio before the lights dimmed and The Undertaker arrived on the scene, sending his upcoming opponent packing as Smackdown came to a close.

Final Thoughts: With TLC just two days away, tonight's edition of WWE Smackdown did everything it was supposed to do. Hype for three of the pay per view bouts (the TLC tag match, Batista/Undertaker's chairs clash and the Morrison/McIntyre bout) was played well and generated interest in the matches, whilst the in-ring action ranged from decent to good.




Certain parts of the opening to the Punk/Gallows vs. Hardy/Truth bout where edited out of the UK broadcast (all we missed was Punk badmouthing Jeff Hardy and his DVD again), but I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the intro to that match, with Hardy giving out the DVDs and Punk doing his best to be heard over R-Truth's rapping, simply because it was something different.

And with that, I'm out of here and off to look forward to this Sunday night and WWE TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs.

Friday, 18 December 2015

GAME REVIEW: WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2010 (X-Box)

I've always thought that wrestling games probably have quite a limited appeal when compared to a lot of games, but as a huge wrestling geek, I have to say I loved this latest instalment of the WWE franchise.

**NOTE: This was written back in 2010 when Smackdown vs. Raw first came out. I recently found it in my writing archive and decided to post it here**

Mainly, I love that there's just so much to do in this game; Smackdown vs. Raw is no 'play it once, get to the end and never bother with it again' experience.

Instead, the game offers a multitude of modes, challenges and games to enjoy that will keep fans coming back to it time and time again.

Road to Wrestlemania mode






To start with, there's the much-hyped Road to Wrestlemania in which you take on the role of a number of WWE Superstars (John Cena, Triple H, Edge, Randy Orton, Mickie James and your own created character) and guide them through various scenarios and matches to the main event of WWE's flagship event, Wrestlemania.


Playing this mode as your own created character is perhaps the most fun of all as you play the part of a fan who finds himself thrust into the bright lights of sports entertainment and at war with wrestling supremo; Vince McMahon. It's probably the longest and most challenging storyline of them all as McMahon throws one seemingly-impossible-to-conquer obstacle in front of you after another; but hey, that's part of the fun, right?

What's weird about the Road to Wrestlemania storyline mode, is that most of the story-lines are actually better than half the things WWE produces on its TV shows; intricate, well-thought-out plots with entertaining beginnings, satisfying middles and logical conclusions.

Game play

That's not the only way Smackdown vs. Raw matches up to its real-life counterpoint; the in-ring action comes as close to emulating an exciting WWE match as I've seen in any wrestling game; holds and counter-holds, slams and counter-slams are all accounted for, and in this writer's mind make for a realistic experience when battling other stars.

At least it does on most levels, because the game does have its flaws, and they can make for very frustrating game-play at times.


Ever seen a wrestling match in which a referee gets in the way of the combatants and accidentally gets knocked out? Well in Smackdown vs. Raw, it's like the referees love nothing more than to get in your way and no matter how many times you aim for your opponent, it's almost inevitable that you'll end up solidly decking the official on more than one occasion. What's worse, if it happens too often, the stupid referee thinks nothing of disqualifying you!

This is just one of the problems with the target-system within the game, with the biggest problems being completely exposed in tag team matches.

Flaws

Playing the Career Mode (in which you work your way up the ranks, winning match after match and capturing title after title), your reviewer found himself competing for the tag team championships with Evan Bourne as a tag team partner.

If Bourne struck me once, he struck me a thousand times and, if that wasn't bad enough, he even cost us the titles in a ladder match by throwing me, his own partner, off the ladder and putting me in a submission hold whilst our opponents climbed to the top of the ladder and captured the gold. Needless to say, I throw stuff at the TV whenever I see Evan Bourne now!

The same tag team matches also saw our opponents turn on each other and start fighting (this was an obvious glitch, not part of the storyline), then stand around doing nothing until I had recovered from a recent beating and was ready to fight again. Weird, huh?

If all that becomes too frustrating for you, you can always step out of the ring and into one of the game's many opportunities to create stuff.

Create a character

The create-a-character mode has lots of options, and you really can customise every minute detail of your own ring-warrior, including adding your own pictures and logos for attire and tattoo. The only problem with it is that this mode comes with a point system, with each item carrying its own number of points. Once you've used up your points quota, you can't add anything else to your character, which can be a bit frustrating if you have an ideal image in mind but can't quite free up two points to add in that kick-ass tattoo.


Once you've got your own character created, you can head into the wonderful 'create a finisher' mode, where, well, you get to create your own finishing moves. I had lots of fun with this, and my own character now comes complete with an entirely impossible finishing move where he leaps off the top rope, completes a number of forwards, backwards and sidewards flips in mid-air and somehow lands flat on his head into a foe's midsection. It's brilliant.

You can also make your own entrances, using stock music from the game's library or by uploading your own, using videos (again either from the game or create your own), add in poses, pyro and fan reactions and much more.






If it seems like there's a lot to take in, that's because there is, though, for the sake of brevity, we'll leave it here for today. All of this, however, means that if you like WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2010, you'll find yourself going back to it time and time again and getting tonnes of enjoyment out of it long after you first bought it. 

Thursday, 10 December 2015

TV SHOW REVIEW: WWE SUPERSTARS - December 10th 2009

WWE Superstars: 10/12/09
(UK Broadcast – 11/12/09)

**NOTE - This review was written live at the time in 2009. I recently found it in my writing acrhives and uploaded it here**



The newest addition to the WWE Universe finally d├ębuts in the UK with two matches from Smackdown and a Raw main event between long-time rivals MVP and Jack Swagger.

Here's what happened on our first glimpse at WWE Superstars.

Dolph Ziggler vs. Finlay


As Smackdown kicked off tonight's show, the Belfast Brawler looked to give the cocky Ziggler a lesson in respect in a tough contest.

With some hard-hitting action flowing back and forth between the grizzled veteran and the rising star, the two delivered a decent opening contest which saw Ziggler pick up another win thanks to the Zig Zag.

Your Winner: Dolph Ziggler

Backstage, Josh Matthews interviewed MVP. Porter recapped his rivalrly with Jack Swagger before making fun of his opponent's lisp.

The Hart Dynasty vs. Slam Master J & Jimmy Wang Yang


In a short -but fairly entertaining- contest, David Hart Smith and Tyson Kidd made short work of their seldom-seen opponents. Even Natalya got involved, bodyslamming Yang on the outside in a move which the announcers insisted had 'changed the world'. A slight exaggeration perhaps?

Your Winners: The Hart Dynasty

Prior to tonight's main event, Jack Swagger took to the microphone to rile up the crowd and talk down his forthcoming opponent, MVP.

Jack Swagger vs. MVP


Afforded much more time than any number of their three-minute Raw outings, Swagger and Porter were free to really showcase their talents in a fine main event by TV standards.

MVP looked to be in control for the bulk of the contest, with both men impressing with some solid action in a well-paced, enjoyable affair.

Yet despite Porter's best efforts to finally overthrow his arch-rival, he eventually found himself eating the pin when The All American American landed his patented Gutwrench Powerbomb.

Your Winner: Jack Swagger

And that just about does it for tonight's show.

Final Thoughts: Whilst fans in the US are well accustomed to this show, for us Brits, this was our first chance to take a look at it on TV, and I have to say, WWE Superstars made a strong first impression.




Whilst the two undercard matches were decent enough, the MVP/Swagger match was a joy to watch, and you only wish they'd be allowed to do more of this stuff in front of a bigger audience on Raw.

Away from the ring, your reviewer was surprisingly impressed by the look and feel of the show. Far from feeling like some third-rate B show (think Heat in its dying days or Velocity), Superstars felt like something special, and I for one look forward to more shows.


Friday, 4 December 2015

PPV REVIEW: WWE TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs 2009

WWE - TLC 2009: Event Poster
WWE TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs
Sunday December 13th 2009,
San Antonio, Texas

**Note: This review was written live at the time. I've since found it in my writing archives and am posting it here for the sake of completion**

World Wrestling Entertainment's final pay per view of the decade brought about a number of big changes to the WWE Universe, with young stars such as Sheamus and Drew McIntyre competing for gold, DX looking to capture the tag championships for the first time and, of course, ECW's Christian & Shelton Benjamin looking to steal the show.

Here's what went down when WWE presented TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs







Dark match: CM Punk vs. R-Truth


In a match not shown on the pay per view broadcast, R-Truth defeated rival CM Punk, but don't be surprised if their bitter feud continues come Friday night.
Your Winner: R-Truth

With that out of the way, it was on with the show.

Ladder match for the ECW Championship: Christian defends against Shelton Benjamin


WWE - TLC 2009: Christian vs. Shelton BenjaminIn the run up to TLC, Christian and Shelton Benjamin vowed to steal the show with their ladder match for the former's ECW Championship, and they didn't disappoint.

Giving it everything they had, the two veterans put forth a phenomenal effort to deliver a well-paced, exciting opening contest with plenty of action and jaw-dropping spots.

After both men thrilled the crowd for the best part of twenty minutes, it was Christian who reached the top of the ladder first to retain his championship.

Your winner and still ECW Champion: Christian

Following a hype package for tonight's Unified Tag Team Championship match it was on to a title bout of a different kind as Smackdown took centre stage.

Intercontinental Championship: John Morrison vs. Drew McIntyre


WWE - TLC 2009: John Morrison vs. Drew McIntyre
Proving he can do far more than simply destroy people in short TV matches, challenger McIntyre stepped up his game as he took the match to his opponent, pummeling him around the ring in a decent title match.

Morrison made the inevitable comeback, but the sadistic Scott proved to be too much for the Shaman of Sexy, and following a nasty Kobashi DDT, it was McIntyre who won the match, and his first WWE title.

Your winner and NEW WWE Intercontinental Champion: Drew McIntyre

In the backstage area, Vince McMahon congratulated the new Intercontinental champion on his win, only for Josh Matthews to interrupt as he sought an interview with the WWE Chairman. Instead, McMahon implored Matthews to speak with McIntyre, who insisted it wasn't much of a surprise that he had won before Sheamus arrived on the scene to claim that the Scotsman wouldn't be the only one leaving with the gold tonight.

WWE Women's Championship: Michelle McCool defends against Mickie James


WWE - TLC 2009: Michelle McCool vs. Mickie James
With the ever-present Layla by her side, champion McCool looked to retain her gold and further humiliate her popular rival following weeks of abuse on Smackdown. Yet James wasn't about to take this lying down, and looked strong against her foe in this passable contest which seemed to send the live crowd to sleep.

In the end, it wasn't to be Mickie's night as a distraction from Layla enabled McCool to hit the big boot and pick up the win.

Your winner and still WWE Women's Champion: Michelle McCool

Wasting no time in getting on with things, we head back to Raw for another championship match.

Tables match for the WWE Championship: John Cena defends against Sheamus


WWE - TLC 2009: John Cena vs. Sheamus
After his hot-shot rise to the main event thanks to Jesse Ventura's Breakthrough Battle Royal, The Celtic Warrior Sheamus looked to dethrone John Cena in this enjoyable title contest.

Cena brought his usual game, which tonight impressed against his Irish adversary and helped to create a good match before, in a move that shocked just about every pro wrestling fan on the face of the earth, Sheamus hurled his foe off the top rope and through a table to capture the WWE Championship.

Your winner and NEW WWE Champion: Sheamus

Admit it, you didn't see that coming.

Chairs match for the World Heavyweight Championship: The Undertaker defends against Batista


WWE - TLC 2009: Undertaker vs. Batista
In the week's leading up to tonight's event, The Animal appeared to have the advantage over The Phenom; beating him senseless with a steel chair on at least two occasions.

Yet as the two met in the ring, The Undertaker finally gained a modicum of revenge in this mediocre title match.

At one point, Big Dave looked to have the win after he pushed his opponent into the referee then blasted him with a low-blow and a chair shot to the head for the three count. Unfortunately for Batista, Teddy Long arrived on the scene, explaining that whilst chairs were legal, low-blows were not and ordering the match to be restarted.

Coming so close to losing his title seemed to motivate The Undertaker further, and as the match began again, the champion wasted little time in blasting his foe with a vicious chairshot. A Tombstone Piledriver then sealed The Animal's fate.

Your Winner and still World Heavyweight Champion: The Undertaker

Backstage, Ted Dibiase and Cody Rhodes confronted Kofi Kingston, trying to instil fear in him prior to his match with their Legacy co-hort, Randy Orton. Kingston was not intimidated by the duo, and promptly barged into Orton's dressing room to see him face-to-face before they met in the ring.

Randy Orton vs. Kofi Kingston

WWE - TLC 2009: Randy Orton vs. Kofi Kingston

One of the most intense rivalries the Raw brand has seen in a long time came to ahead in this very entertaining match between bitter enemies Orton and Kingston.

The latter looked impressive as he continued to bounce back from his opponent's typically calculating offence, but it wasn't to be his night as The Viper countered a Trouble in Paradise attempt with an RKO to steal a victory.

Your Winner: Randy Orton

Backstage, Orton's erstwhile Evolution team mate, Batista, threatened to beat up Smackdown General Manager Teddy Long with a chair if he didn't 'make things right'.

TLC Match for the Unified Tag Team Championships: Chris Jericho & The Big Show defend against Shawn Michaels & Triple H


WWE - TLC 2009: DX (Triple H & Shawn Michaels) vs. Jericho (Chris Jericho and Big Show)
Though Christian and Shelton Benjamin had done plenty to fulfil their promise of stealing the show at the start of the night, the two teams competing for the Unified Tag Championship certainly gave them a run for their money in a very exciting Tables, Ladders & Chairs match which quickly spilled out of the ring and down the entrance ramp.

All four men battled back and forth, trading vicious blows and innovative spots in this agreeable main event before DX finally put an end to Jerishow's remarkable run as champions when the Heartbreak Kid scaled the ladder and retrieved the gold.

Your winners and NEW WWE Unified Tag Team Champions: Shawn Michaels & Triple H

And that just about ends tonight's show.






Final thoughts: It's the end of the year, the end of the decade, and World Wrestling Entertainment certainly went out in style. Top-and-tailed by two thrilling matches in the ECW Championship ladder match and the tag title main event, TLC was a good show by all accounts.

Personally, this writer is happy to see both Drew McIntyre and Sheamus holding gold, not only for the big surprise factor that came with the latter's shock victory, but simply because it's a strong indication that the Big 'E are putting plenty of faith in their rising stars.
By the way, didn't John Cena say that, if he did lose the title, he'd cash in his rematch clause immediately?



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.