Thursday, 31 January 2013

TNA PPV Review: Genesis 2013

By Phil Allely

TNA's opening salvo into the PPV world of 2013 saw World Champ Jeff hard retain his gold over the troublesome duo of Bobby Roode and Austin Aries.

Genesis was also the first of only four (real) PPV's for the company in 2013. This year will see (as your writer has hinted) scale back their PPV schedule to one that they can successfully build up to. The normal monthly scatter gun effect has been hit and miss at best,so a revamp was long overdue. We will now see the months in between the PPV's being filled with a stand alone themed event. UK fans will of course still see theses three hour offerings on Challenge for free. US viewers will get them at a reduced rate.

The opening match between the combos of Joey Ryan/Matt Morgan and Chavo Guerrero/Hernandez (for the TNA Tag Team Titles) was a fun encounter and a nice opener. Ryan took a nasty looking series of moves to lose this one for his team. Morgan must have been relived to have not tagged in there. The champs kept their gold once again.

Mr Anderson tackled Samoa Joe next. This big man outing was a fine one that highlighted Anderson's ability to perform well with the right foe. Joe fell to a mic check to see the Aces & 8's affiliate pick up a well-earned win.

Kenny King and Christian York's match to be the number one contender for the X Division rattled along at a fine pace next. York and King were on fine form and worked well together. York however was the man fortunate enough to pick up the pin fall, but a post-match beat down by King dampened things somewhat.

X Division Champ RVD hit the ring next. He and York's mutual respect was on the back burner here. Van Dam showed his renewed enthusiasm in the sport and York (in his second match of the night) had to dig deep to match him. RVD retained his gold, but did show respect to his fallen opponent post-match too.

In your reviewers mind the Joseph Park character has outlived his use. The return of Abyss must happen soon. His match with Devon here was bearable, but limited. Both men are capable of so much more. A&8's man Devon scored the pin to put this one to bed. The TV champ performed a post-match beat down on Park too.

The Knockouts Gauntlet cat fight for the No 1 contender spot picked up the PPV momentum however. This one was all about Gail Kim and the recently re-signed Velvet Sky. Kim put away the competition (Tessmacher, ODB, James) until Sky entered the fray and put her down for the three count.

Daniels versus James Storm was pretty decent outing for the talented pair. Each got the opportunity to highlight their skills and Kaz at ringside proved to be a useful component too. It was Kaz's interference that saw Daniels net himself a number one contender shot over fan favourite Storm. Storms time will come we are sure. (Your reviewer met the man himself at the Dublin live show recently, see our pic)

Stings match with A&8's member DOC proved to be a fun encounter. DOC and 'The Icon' fought in and around the ring here. Each trading the advantage, even with interference from a few Aces and 8's members this was the Stinger's night. Bully Ray made an appearance to stop the gang from beating down on his fellow face.

Jeff Hardy's World Title defence against Bobby Roode and Austin Aries was a perfect showcase for the trio involved. Hardy was on fine form, Roode was his usual dependable self and Aries highlighted just how vital he is to the main event picture in TNA.

The Roode/Aries combo work well together and if given a chance will become the pairing to rejuvenate the tag team scene.

The only downside here was Hardy's swift disposal of his opponents. Roode and then Aries were put away (unfortunately) too quick and we the fans were left feeling short-changed by the finish.

Perhaps the move to four main PPV's per year will see us loyal fans appreciate the TNA product more. The new format will allow the creative team time to build storylines and make feuds a lot more believable. The introduction of themed three hour events (to fill the gaps left by the missing PPV's) may just be what the company needs. These shows will concentrate on such areas as the X Division, Tag Team matches and much more throughout the year.

Genesis was a fair to good effort by TNA. Their subsequent UK/Ireland tour heralded exactly what your writer has said for many years. The Impact Wrestling live product has always been one you simply need to see and this year was nothing different. The tour may have lacked World Champ Hardy, but it did feature Sting and the much hyped TV tapings included title changes, Aces and 8's member reveals and live appearances by Hulk and Brooke Hogan.

By Phil Allely

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Ric Flair misses Japan match due to injury

Injured Flair forced to miss Japanese Match
By Phil Allely

Two time WWE Hall of Famer and former 16 time World Champion Ric Flair was forced to miss his scheduled in-ring return in Japan this past week

The living legend (of NWA, WCW, TNA and WWE fame)  was lined up to tag with Japan's own icon The Great Muta against the formidable duo of Seiya Sanada and Tatsumi Fujinami for All Japan Pro Wrestling. 

Flair however developed a health issue that warranted a visit to the local emergency room, which subsequently saw him removed from the match. Sources say that many fans were unhappy to hear that they would not see the veteran US star once more step into the ring for a match. 

This health scare is rumoured to be a blood clot in his leg, which caused severe swelling and had the possibility of becoming far more serious if untreated. 

Flair's son Reid took his place in the scrap and joined Muta in a pretty decent encounter. Flair senior (against hospital wishes) made an appearance at the show and threw a few of his trademark chops at Fujinami and Sanada. His interference proved to be futile however, as Muta and Reid fell to the superior might of their foes.

Ric is now back in the US and said to be fulfilling his indy obligations and forthcoming ones with the WWE in the lead up to WrestlMania as well.

I hope Ric learns from this medical fright and re-addresses any future in-ring plans. Flair has the potential to be everything from a manager, mentor and even an on-screen  authority figure in the WWE if he so wished. There will always be a place for men like him in the business and we sincerely hope to see 'slick' Ric on our screens for many more years. 

I met Ric two years ago at The TNA live show in Dublin. He was warm, friendly and everything you hope your hero will be. I'd hate to see him come to harm by trying to enter the ring as a grappler again. 

Velvet Sky - New Pics

Monday, 28 January 2013

Jake Roberts seeking fan support for surgery

WWE Legend Jake Roberts seeks fan support for surgery
By Phil Allely

Financially struggling former WWE superstar Jake "The Snake" Roberts recently created an IndieGogo page to raise money for much needed shoulder surgery.

Roberts (aged 57) has to date lost 60 pounds in excess weight and been sober for over 75 days, the longest stretch in over a decade, but his shoulder injury is getting in the way of his new exercise regimen.

Jake recently agreed to work with former WCW and WWE wrestler Diamond Dallas Page and vowed to get himself back into shape. With decades of abuse to his body (through drug and alcohol dependency), this is a brand new 'Snake' and one that many fans would love to see appear in the ring one more time.

The amount needed for surgery and rehab is $9,200. A figure that the grappler cannot cover at present.

At his peak Roberts was not only a genuine talent, but also the master of in-ring psychology and the art of the killer promo. His subsequent fall from grace has been painful to witness for fans across the globe. His appearance on the documentary Beyond The Mat highlighted just how far the legend had fallen.

Recent years have seen him no show indie events and cause promoters much grief along the way.

Page's offer of help has been welcomed by not only Jake and his family, but also the loyal fan base who still adore the man who made the DDT a wonderfully brutal finishing move. His legacy will live on forever, but perhaps this is Jake's chance to shine one more time and finally net himself that elusive WWE Hall of Fame nod.

Fans wishing to make a donation can learn more here.

Rewards for supporting this worthy cause include a signed photograph, a personal phone call from Jake, signed tee shirts, dvds, training advice and even an 'accountability crib' experience with Roberts and DDP.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Velvet Sky New Pics

Exclusive: Sting Talks to Phil Allely

Exclusive Interview: TNA's Sting Talks to Phil Allely
By Phil Allely

Pro wrestling icon Sting may have wrestled his last UK matches last year, during TNA's Maximum Impact Tour. But when the company's world champion Jeff Hardy was unable to make the tour this time around due to injury, the Stinger stepped up, taking his place at very short notice. Not only highlighting his dedication to the company, but his enthusiasm for the business.

I caught up with Sting (real name Steve Borden) at the opening night show in Dublin, Ireland. This was a poignant night for him and also his loyal Irish fans. It was after all in Ireland that he held and lost the prestigious WCW World Heavyweight Championship in 1993. A fact that your reviewer was only to happy to share with his hero.

'Yeah I guess you are right. I seem to remember being in Belfast and hearing how my hotel was in the Guinness Book of Records as the most bombed hotel in the world (The Europa Hotel in Belfast). I must admit that was a bit scary to hear and yet fun to know too. I definitely know I held the belt then (in Belfast), but now you prompt me, I do recall losing it to Vader in Dublin the next day. That was one heck of a match, Vader really gave me a run for my money. I loved those shows. Didn't I get it back a few days later?'.

Sting did indeed win the belt back during the UK leg of the March 1993 UK/Ireland tour.

‘The Irish fans really enjoyed having an alternative to the WWE back then (with WCW) and here we are (TNA) doing the exact same thing. The fans here have always appreciated what we do and we want to give them the best show we can each and every night.’

Even though he has no need to, Sting still pushes himself both in and out of the ring. Recent years have seen him rejuvenated as a wrestler.

'I still enjoy wrestling and I am fortunate to be a part of a wonderful roster here (in TNA). I am enjoying the meaty storylines we have and especially the Aces & 8's stuff. I can't wait to get out there tonight and tear the house down.'

'I am so happy to be back in Ireland. It has unfortunately been so long. I always love coming to the UK and Ireland. I really did want to come back (but schedules never worked out) and yet the last few years have seen me do just that. This Irish show is a real bonus for me and I am pleased to be able to be here and to wrestle before these loyal fans. The crowds here are unbelievable, we all genuinely do want to be on the UK/Irish tour roster.'

This opening show of the latest UK/Ireland tour saw the following results:
Chavo and Hernandez retained their Tag Team belts against the team of Kaz and Daniels in a very decent opener.
Velvet Sky and Miss Tessmacher overturned the combo of Tara and Gail Kim in a fun and sexy Knockouts tag team encounter.
X Division Champ Rob Van Dam overcame the fast and frantic Zema Ion with a nice 'frog splash'.
James Storm stole the show in a triple threat scrap. Overcoming the talented duo of Bobby Roode and Austin Aries.
Bully Ray put Magnus through a table to stop the UK grappler's egotistical rants, to a huge pop.
Sting and Kurt Angle overcame Aces and 8's Devon and DOC in a cage match main event.
Sting proved himself to be a genuine legend here. He carried his match (while Angle sold a beating by Mike Knox). The icon also overcame the combined might of DOC and Devon as well. 

As UK/Irish tours go this was one of the finest your reviewer has seen. The venue perfectly suited the TNA product, the roster were pumped up and late addition Sting was on fine form too.
Don't forget to check out Challenge TV to see what happened at the subsequent TV tapings at Manchester and London. Which were set to feature Hulk Hogan and his daughter Brook.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Phil Allely Meets TNA Wrestlers, Dublin Jan 2013

This January Phil Allely caught up with a number of TNA wrestlers at the first night of the Maximum Impact UK/Ireland Tour. Here are some pictures, interviews and more coming soon.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

DVD Review: Brock Lesnar - Here Comes the Pain Collector's Edition

This re-released 2003 WWE DVD (with a few additions) is a reasonable and yet not too exciting a release for wrestling fans. Lesnar in his prime was an in-ring monster and his matches usually gave us viewers exactly what we wanted, hard-hitting action and many highlights.
But now 9 years on we see them for what they were. Some plodded along and of course we now see the combatants in their present guise too.
When Lesnar returned to the WWE in 2012 he did indeed make a mark and his feud with Triple H was a sight to behold. However his limited appearance contract has seen the initial thrill somewhat lessen.
So what can you expect form this release? well overall it is an entertaining look at Lesnar's WWE peak, the documentary (which at the time seemed to be one of the best) has not worn too well though. The faults are the way some participants drift between reality and their on-screen character. Ideally we want one or the other and this does not hap[en here. But on the plus side we do get some interview footage before each match and that helps build them up nicely.
Speaking of matches these range from abysmal to excellent and most fall into the mid range of being memorable for one reason or another.
There are a few classics here and some that stick out in your mind for one stand-out moment alone. The scraps with Hulk Hogan, Kurt Angle and Undertaker all stand out here. The ill-fated match with Goldberg at WrestleMania (featuring a botched shooting star press) not so much.
But for fans of Lesnar this revamped release will tick all of the right boxes and be an essential purchase.
Non Lesnar enthusiasts may find they already own many of these matches on other DVDs.

Brock Lesnar - Here Comes The Pain : Collector's Edition is available now on DVD and Blu-ray.
By Phil Allely

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Chris masters interview highlights

Chris Masters was interviewed by Kayfabe Wrestling Radio on Tuesday Night. Here are some highlights.

His feelings about the current status on the indies and if he wants to see himself in TNA: "I mean, I really enjoyed working for TNA and the Ring Ka King project because it was a great crew all around; Jeff Jarrett was awesome. It was definitely a different environment from the WWE and I did do a dark match with them and it went very well, but I will say this: I am happy with what I'm doing because I'm able to have the freedom of my schedule in being able to book myself out there for indy shows. For instance, if I was with TNA right now, I wouldn't be able to do Crossfire, because they don't let their guys do TV gigs anymore. It's definitely something I have interest in, I mean it just comes out to my only passion is wrestling and I've devoted my whole life to it. So, you just have to look at what your options are on the table and, you know, there's not many. You pretty much have it laid out; you can do what I'm doing right now where you can aspire for TNA but the only place you're going to get rich is WWE. So that's just the comparison I make, throwing off TNA a little bit. I would definitely love to be with WWE again possible but it's like a trade-off. WWE is a very stressful job that basically devours your life; you've got to be married to it and it's hard to always enjoy it. So, with what I'm doing now, you can't get rich but you can make a living and you can still perform the art of professional wrestling and just enjoy doing it.

"Not all indy shows are the best, obviously, but there's pockets here and there that you can go to, like Crossfire for instance, where you have live and passionate fans; if you have a venue that's built for 2,000 and it's filled, you get the same adrenaline rush as you would, say, for 19,000 people because you have that condensed energy. So, it's a lot of fun to me and I just enjoy doing it so I'm going to keep doing it as long as I can whether it be continuing indy wrestling, Whether it be TNA or WWE or Japan, whatever. But I'm also at other revenue streams, of course."

If being in the ring with veterans like Big Show and Kane at his first Wrestlemania helped: "One thing about, especially that first run in WWE was that I worked with a lot of guys like that. I worked with Big Show and Kane and Shawn Michaels, Ric Flair, Hunter. I mean, you would think one would be more nervous, probably, going out to work with those guys but, to be honest, I mean there's just more comfort because they've been in every situation in the book and these guys are, they just; things do go wrong and they will fix it, you know? So, I could always at that point in my career, especially if I was with a guy like Big Show or Kane or Shawn Michaels or someone that was better than me, I could have a good match. I couldn't necessarily lead a guy that at my level or below to a good match. That was something, in my second run that I learned to develop; just through years in the business and it just takes time. I got signed at 19 and was rushed onto the stage within a couple of years so by the time the second run came around it was I had been wrestling for about 8 years and you start to understand what they mean by storytelling more, and not thing of matches in the same terms; not of moves and what not but in being emotionally invested. So, that kind of stuff helped me lead guys in my other run, like I became the guy that could have good matches with guys that had less experience than me and pull good matches out of them, you know?"

Was his first run with the WWE a case of 'too much too soon': "It was a number of things, you know what I mean? It was too much too soon in that I was too young and immature that I didn't really appreciate the opportunity that was handed to me because they really had the machine behind me the first time. But, at the same time, I mean I was on course; I would have done well but I did a lot to sabotage myself, as far as I was supposed to win the IC Title at one point and all kinds of things, but I had my personal issues and I had to go to rehab and that was the halting point of my career. So, I wouldn't have had my personal problems, I don't think it would have been 'too much too soon', and I think I would have been able to develop and get better and continue progressing; my career wouldn't have hit such a dramatic halt. And then, after I did hit that halt, it was such a climb from that point thereafter just to get any kind of momentum or faith from the office at the same time. So, I'm not putting the blame onto the WWE for putting me up too quick, I'm just saying it was a combination of me being young, being too immature and being too much too quick (like you said) and then me making bad decisions."

What he feels his best match was and the use of ring psychology in matches: "You watch, when you get the chance, it was on WWE Superstars but fortunately we got about 15 minutes, watch myself versus Drew McIntyre from 2011. It's like a 15 minute match and I guarantee you, I'd love to hear your feedback on it. But, if you're big on psychology and storytelling, I think you will really appreciate that match because I think that s one of my top matches. That's all stuff I got in my last year, it just takes time to develop and WWE had become such a revolving door that not everyone can be Kurt Angle and get it in a year. But, it does come down to getting past move and spots; thinking in terms of psychology and storytelling; the biggest art in the whole match is just telling, you know what I mean.

"Like. being a babyface, being able to convey pain to an audience, and believing yourself so that they also believe. And it's not to say, we hit each other hard; so that it's not hard to believe but that is the art of it. If you're the babyface and you taking a heap, emotionally invest yourself in it and believe that person is beating you down and then bring that into the comeback and that's how you have an organic comeback and not have something that is forced or somebody is just running up and down screaming; it's because they went through that whole heap and they got so emotionally invested that they believed it. And then, when it became time to to give it back to that heel, they give it back, you know what I mean? And that story is told with the face, and I'm sure you guys have heard Vince is big on facials (expressions) and that's why; that's the reason why. You've got to get those emotions but it's just little things; the psychology, the story telling. You've got stuff you just can'; learn within the first year or necessarily the first few years, it takes time."

DVD Review: The XWF Lost Episodes

When US wresltings number two organisation (well one for a while) WCW floundered and failed, a few key grapplers decided to take the WWE on at its own game and try to create their own wrestling league. So the XWF was born and even though it did not live for long this was a show that perhaps allowed many other companies to tackle the same thing (some to greater success over others).
The XWF was fronted by former WWE, WCW and many other promotions manager extraordinaire Jimmy 'Mouth of the South' Hart and Nasty Boy Brian Nobbs. Wrestling legend Hulk Hogan was along for the ride and so were a number of the industry's stars old and new.
This DVD is billed as the lost episodes for the short lived XWF series of recorded events and perhaps these are the best to view also.
From a talent point of view we have an all star list that any promoter would be proud of. The results are often surprising too, you can tell how the roster here hoped this promotion would work by the way some big names laid down for the pin fall loss.
Old school fans will love seeing Buff Bagwell, Marty Jannetty, Jimmy Hart, The Nasty Boys, Curt Hennig, Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan, Vampiro, Konnan, Jerry ' The King' Lawler, Jimmy Snuka, and even The Road Warriors all appear in matches and segments.
When you throw in XWF CEO Rena 'Sable' Mero, XWF commissioner 'Rowdy' Roddy Piper, talking heads by rock stars Alice Cooper, Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Willie Nelson and other too and you have a show that entertains at many levels.
The XWF did something right, they left storylines to the background and let action speak for itself. The matches were exciting, the combatants were current and the concept worked well.
This may be a highlight reel for  a promotion that fell short of its expectations, but where else could you see some of the 80s-90s finest compete with some of the industry's best up and comers.
A special bonus on this three hour DVD is a unique interview with Hulk Hogan himself, but there is even a better bonus, because we get to see something I for have never seen. A match between the late Curt Hennig and Hulk Hogan.

The Lost Episodes of XWF is available now from all good retailers.
By Phil Allely