The ‘Big’ Issue: WWE and Size.

Wrestlemania has seen us learn many things, Reigns will botch in the most important match of the show, the women are the best – their matches were flawless and WWE has a real issue with dealing with wrestlers who are not the new WWE average.

Nia Jax and Braun Strowman have been booked until Wrestlemania as being unstoppable and no matter what happened at ‘the show of shows’ this could cause a problem, its a wrestling rock and hard place. Jax losing in this situation where she has dominated for months is terrible but winning is an even bigger issue – how do you sell a win over the undefeatable when no one is equal to her in power?

Braun Strowman’s match was the Andre The Giant Memorial, a recent tradition at ‘Mania for WWE, this was won by Mojo Rawley, which though happy for him makes no sense at all. Strowman winning this match would have made complete sense, this man is practically indestructible, a man you’re lucky to survive 10 minutes with, ala Sami Zayn, yet he loses in a match like this that would have made his dominance clearer –  I thought he would be Taker’s opponent this year, but apparently not.

This is an issue that WWE have been dealing with for so long as their roster changes. No longer the days of big guys such as Cena and Lesnar the increase of wrestlers coming into the WWE are much smaller. This leads to another problem, who could beat Lesnar realistically other than Reigns on the current Raw roster? Not many, I suspect Roman Reigns is being set up to be that guy, however where do you find Brock’s competition? He has no realistic opposition due to his largesse.

We can also see this issue crop up with people such as Rusev. A man who was made undefeatable, he has fallen deep down the midcard with Jinder Mahal and is not looking to move back up. A powerhouse of a wrestler, Rusev has become filler on Raw and he is just one of a litany of wrestlers who have arrived and often eventually depart in WWE who aren’t the new norm and disappeared mostly gratefully (remember The Great Khali? No? You’re lucky). This list could be so long, and it’s a shame as when booked well the unusually large can work, see Matanza Cueto in Lucha Underground.

There are ways to tackle this. WWE could just stop hiring people who end up leaving in the end and actually give the Universal title to someone who wrestles all year round and could adapt to the fact that they have changed the face of their company or they could  make a whole new Super Heavyweight division, as Lesnar and Goldberg fit that perfectly. Others could include Big Show, Mark Henry, you can add in whomever you like.

WWE hanging on to former glories is however going to be tough one to change, I hope it does.

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Natalya & Nikki – A Feud For The Wrong Time?

The WWE Women’s division is the best it has been for a long time, with great wrestlers returning such as Mickie James but also new talent such as Alexa Bliss – and this for me changes how WWE should be building story lines, it should be about talent and not how atrociously embarrassing and misogynist the feud between Nikki Bella and Natalya has become.

It’s the shaming that I truly do not like. Granted the Bella’s are or were never the first thought when you think of great wrestlers, but this whole attacking Nikki for basically ‘personal issues’ is not the right time, the right time being about 1973, for attacking how women live particularly in a division that is now truly based on talent compared to this time in 2012.(Anyone remember those classic Candice Michelle moments? No me neither). I don’t blame the women for this storyline but this is a storyline that should never have happened in this day and age.

Whatever decision women make in their lives, dating, having children, creating a career, has always been an issue for women in society. If you don’t date you’re a prude, if you do date you’re considered like chewed gum, used up, if you stay at home you’re lazy, if you work you care about your job more than family and women who don’t want children are still considered weird or ‘it’s just a phase’. And that internalised misogyny from Natalya is just awful to watch, the only thing that is redeeming is that she’s the heel.

Has the division really improved for this? I don’t hold out much hope for WWE, whose owner Linda McMahon tries to get elected for the Republicans and gave millions to a president who has no respect for women, I’m just grateful with these changes WWE no longer makes women bark like a dog. I understand that women need feuds but I doubt I would see a storyline about Randy Orton not being home making babies, and competition for the WWE title wouldn’t be based on misandry, it would be based on real competition.

In a time and place where views such as this are becoming normalised due to the rise of well what some have called Nazis, this is not the time for Natalya to sound like WWE’s own anti-feminist particularly when it is feminism that has enabled WWE to make a division that has never been so good and it has never been so clear the writing team is just men.

 

 

 

National Wrestling Day & Chikara Pro.

Source: Chikaro Pro.

Chikara Pro are putting on matches today in honour of National Wrestling Day, which benefits the Superkick Foundation. A foundation that is so needed, helping those who are veterans, or those or those who are dedicated to the craft of wrestling and need help living.

(I am sorry if it’s not detailed, this is a live blog, not to mention my first look properly at Chikara Pro- I know, it’s shameful). 

The show hosts a tradition of Chikara today, the Young Lions tournament, which Chikara are hosting right now (for free, though you should donate here) on their Facebook page here.  The first eliminator got the show started excellently, with  some great mat work from Delmi Exo and Ashley Vox and an excellent Hurricanrana ending from Space Monkey to win.

I don’t really get the Justin Bieber thing that Everett Connors has, maybe I have missed something but the second eliminator has some great moments, especially from Razerhawk, the pace from the competitors and the show just continues on this show, moving on to the next eliminator with real speed.

Travis Huckabee vs Sonny Defarge is how the third eliminator ends and what an ending it is, Huckabee’s smaller size doesn’t make him any less of a competitor against Defarge on this show, and the surprise win from him in this match gets the crowd with him instantly. The superkick to the face is a highlight and the Springboard is a must see – the spots on this show are so good.

The last eliminator is Sylverhawk vs Steven Mainz vs Hermit Crab vs The Whisper (names are odd in Chikara, if this this the first show you see from Chikara, you might notice that). The Whisperer has a real methodical approach that is really great to watch (and an unsurprising winner eventually), the match staying a lot on the mat in this match not to say there’s no highflying moments. Sylverhawk has some great aerial maneuvers in this match and Hermit Crab’s signature sideways walk on the rope, is pretty cool to see.

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Space Monkey v Cornelius Crummels is the first semi-final in the cup. Never in a wrestling match have I seen anyone punch anyone with a banana peel, but 2017 is a new horizon lately for a lot of people, as Space Monkey really is annoyed his snacking is getting interrupted. Crummels hs some good moves, however Space Monkey takes the win and moves on to the final.

One thing I have noticed is that if you’re a big guy, you’re probably going to lose, which is becoming a little bit cliche quickly, especially as the only women in the competition were both eliminated by Merlok in the first round, the largest competitor in the competition. (It’s not classy if big guys can only pin women, it’s not good for women in Chikara much either, it makes it look like there’s a hierarchy and it is a bleak one).

Travis Huckabee v The Whisper comes up next, Huckabee’s amateur background is really clear here and he does have an incredible bridge in this match that doesn’t surprise me aches. The Whisper works with him well on this mat based work and does the classic heel thing with some cheating getting the pin to move on to the final. The two have a great dynamic in this match and they set up a great final here.

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Space Monkey v The Whisper. The Lions cup can only be held by someone under 25, and it  the longest competition in Chikara Pro and you can tell there’s a lot of respect for it here. The chant of ‘monkey is gonna kill you’ is sometimes an accurate reflection of what might happen with an incredible monkey flip on The Whisper that knocks him on to the mat and then the Moonsault from the top rope on to concrete is madness in wrestling form.

The Whisper comes out with moves too, with a huge Blockbuster to Space Monkey that looks incredible too, though this doesn’t allow him to have any momentum especially when Space Monkey does a springboard like a cannonball into him and then a tailwhip, a literal tailwhip to his face to gain the pin. This match isn’t a long one, however this is hardly surprising after enduring two other matches on the card.

There are other highlights on this show, the speech from Ultra Mantis before the main event was bloody brilliant and definitely worth reading a transcript of – everyone needs this guy telling them they are powerful, especially right now. The holds in the Dasher Hatfield v De Coronado match  were excellent too, the other non-cup patches were high class.

A really good competition, go check it out, probably some of the best independent wrestlers here that I’ve seen, it’s a must see.

 

Thoughts On The Royal Rumble.

The Royal Rumble took place for the 20th time last night in San Antonio, Texas and actually, for the most part, I liked it.

The retaining of the title from Kevin Owens made it clear to me, it would be someone on Smackdown winning the Royal Rumble – Kevin Owens is a great wrestler, but I just can’t imagine working with anyone on the Raw roster that was in the Rumble, except Sami Zayn or if he appeared (I wish he had appeared) Finn Balor, who is out with the injury he sustained gaining the title Kevin Owens currently holds.

John Cena and AJ Styles’ feud has felt like it has gone on forever, yay, go you, you beat him up again (it’s like Styles is the new Orton, oh, wait) however this match was good, really good and probably one of Cena’s better victories lately – he had more than five moves as his critics say and the crowd were into it from what I could see.  I guess the rivalry is now over due to the plans that are coming along if Orton decides of course to go for Cena’s new title, but a good way to end the story.

Randy Orton apparently was odds on to win the Royal Rumble, but for me he sort of came outta nowhere (how new for him). In a time where WWE is loaded with talent and Orton is trapped in the Wyatt Family (there was me thinking he was going to destroy it from the inside!) he wins the Royal Rumble. I don’t get it, but I see why it happened, but if any shows needs a boost however to its main event cast it is Raw, as it centres around four people – Rollins, Owens, Jericho and Reigns.

I feel like the Rumble establishes more than the winner as potential main event talent and this year I felt like this was not the case, people like Sami Zayn (who would be so good in a feud with Owens) was just thrown out nonchalantly, Apollo Crews I can’t remember him even being thrown out and they just got rid of The New Day, Cesaro and Sheamus together (I remember having such high hopes for Kingston once).

I suspect a rubber match at Mania with Goldberg/Lesnar after Goldberg just chucked the guy around, maybe Rollins/HHH match too, and Undertaker versus Reigns? I can’t imagine it, but then I couldn’t see Orton winning either.

An odd and mixed show, the Smackdown main event is a strong outing on this show and the Rumble is always worth seeing no matter who wins it.

 

Aztec Warfare III.

Warning: Spoilers ahead!

 

I have been watching Lucha Underground since about halfway through season one and its been a promotion that has grown on me especially its wrestlers, particularly Sexy Star. Sexy Star’s storyline leading to this title win begun with the feud with Marty The Moth (who does creepy guy brilliantly!) with his sister Mariposa (Cheerleader Melissa!) and ended with the feud with Johnny Mundo and it ended brilliantly.

Aztec Warfare had some incredible spots throughout the match, Angelico’s dive from the top of the temple is incredible, Rey Mysterio’s pinning of Matanza due to double 619’s felt like some amazing nostalgia not to mention that collective breakdance move that Mundo, PJ Black and Jack Evans participated in, was something worth seeing. The story post AWIII when it comes to Matanza and Dario Cueto is going to be interesting to see.

With the removal of Matanza Cueto from the competition the build up had led me to really believe the person set to win the title was Mundo, considering he’s given over his savings to hold the title and hold the Gift Of The Gods title, but that was not to be. Mundo was pinned leading to some amazing wrestling between Sexy Star and Mil Muertes, which brought some carnage – broken tables and a rock to the head couldn’t stop Star from winning the title.

I don’t know how long Sexy Star will be wrestling, as in July she unmasked and said she would be becoming a professional boxer and of course the match was filmed in April, which is a huge delay considering the match premiered just this week. However to see a woman reach the top of the temple is incredible, no matter how long she is there (like a Zack Ryder at Wrestlemania moment)

“All women are sexy, all women are stars” – Sexy Star.

 

 

Notes On: No Mercy.

I’ve been meaning to write about wrestling for a while, and I know there are plenty of people doing it, but here is some thoughts on WWE’s latest pay per view No Mercy, if you haven’t seen it, there will be spoilers ahead.

The Main Event for me, highlighted more than ever the change WWE has had in the last decade, and the divide between talent more than ever – the impact of roster changes and where WWE gets its talent is more visible than ever and it’s becoming bitter. I may be wrong, but since the arrival of talent from different promotions, particularly from Ring Of Honor merged with talent from WWE’s own training camps the difference between the standard of the wrestling is so visible, for example, those trained in OVW.

John Cena can be a good wrestler, I’ve seen Cena have some great matches, his Money In The Bank match with Punk and his match with Shawn Michaels in London in 06′ are a couple that come to mind, however it is clear that Cena has become a little passé. No longer really matching the standard that WWE has put in place in the last few years with the introduction of excellent independent talent and sometimes it seems out of place – he is however still extremely popular with kids, I do think we are entering a new age of WWE, moving on from PGWWE.

I think this is also clear in the Women’s division as well, the changes over the last year to the women’s division is extensive with women such as Becky Lynch, Carmella and Sasha Banks coming in, making wrestlers like Nikki Bella really show up their technical weaknesses more than ever, she’s a capable wrestler, but not on their level and in this day and age it’s clearer than ever.

However where some have sunk, some have been swimming hard, and the match between The Miz and Dolph Ziggler was awesome. Miz’s character is grotesque, and WWE timed his pride before the fall perfectly, building this story brilliantly on Smackdown. Their skill was on show, Ziggler working through an injury (or faking it incredibly well either way it was good) and bringing that match to an end. Though many believed Dolph would lose and take some time to create a new gimmick, I’m glad this didn’t happen.

These were in particular the stand out moments for me from the pay per view, it actually had a pretty strong card and worth watching particularly for Ziggler v Miz match.