Thursday, 28 February 2013


WWE Home Video UK are pleased to announce an exclusive signed sleeve competition. This time there are 40 Survivor Series 2012 sleeves (20 x DVD & 20 x Blu-ray) signed by the one and only RYBACK up for grabs. All you need to do is pre-order WWE Survivor Series 2012 from the website at and you'll automatically be entered. (Those who've already pre-ordered have been automatically entered.)
All pre-orders must be made before Monday 11th March in order to be entered.
Good luck to everyone who enters and please feel free to pass on this information!

Monday, 25 February 2013

Tyson Kidd Interview highlights

Tyson Kidd: 'Owen Hart put Ken Shamrocks head through the roof of Stu's Dungeon
By Phil Allely

WWE superstars Tyson Kidd and Natalya Neidhart have spoken out about their experiences training at the infamous Hart family dungeon.

In an article on the WWE's website high-flyer Kidd and his real life partner Natalya have told about their experiences when training at the legendary Hart training school in Calgary. Canadian legend Stu Hart not only ran his own wrestling promotion Stampede Wrestling, but he also sired two of the WWE's most respected and best-loved superstars. Bret 'The Hitman' Hart and the much missed Owen Hart. Stu (and later his sons Bruce and Ross) also had a hand in training many of the federations top wrestlers as well. This included DH Smith, Lance Storm, Chris Jericho, 'British Bulldog' Davey Boy Smith, Brian Pillman, The Dynamite Kid, 'Superstar' Billy Graham, Greg Valentine, Bad News Allen and even Japanese wrestling legend Jushin ' Thunder' Liger.

The dungeon was one of the industries most famous breeding ground for raw wrestling talent. Stu Hart famously put his students under intense 'shooter' style pressure to ensure they were ready for the career path they had chosen.

As seen in the documentary 'Hitman Hart Wrestling With Shadows' (which has been re-leased this month) the basement training area called the dungeon was a claustrophobic one.

'The dungeon had a very thick musk air to it. When guys hit the mat you'd see dust popping up and start floating in the air. It was really hard to breath. The room was tiny and had very thin padding. There were big pipes hanging from the ceiling. You could guarantee that in the first few weeks of training many trainees would run head first into them.' Said Kidd.

'There were also a lot of holes in the ceiling. Made by peoples head and feet going through it. Actually during the WWE PPV match between Ken Shamrock and Owen Hart (held in the dungeon) Owen put Ken's head through the ceiling.' He added.

Natalya also stated. 'I was one of the few female graduates, we always said if you can survive the dungeon you can survive anything. I do recall there being one other girl there (during training) and we had a heated rivalry, but that was mainly due to us being the only two females there. It was an amazing experience and one that made me who I am today.'

Kidd finished off by relaying who he felt when the Dungeon closed.

'I was there until the very end. It was an experience from all ends of the spectrum, both physically and mentally. When The Dungeon closed down it was very historic, it was really fun to train there.'

Fans old and new can learn more about the Hart Family training school and Stampede wrestling via the numerous WWE and non-WWE DVDs that are avilable.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

William Regal: I'm celebrating my 30th year in wrestling on the UK 2013 Raw Tour

William Regal: I'm celebrating my 30th year in wrestling on the UK 2013 Raw Tour
BY Phil Allely

WWE superstar William Regal has revealed he is set to celebrate his 30th year of wrestling by participating in the upcoming UK/Ireland tour.

Regal (Darren Mathews) is currently a commentator of WWE show NXT and has had a memorable in-ring career to date. The 44 year old has overcome battles with drugs, illness and heart issues to become a very valuable part of the WWE family. 

Many fans would love to see Regal take his mic work to either Smackdown or Raw and inject some of his humour and knowledge into those programes too. Fans have also been vocal about the fact that the veteran has been taken off the active roster (unless he is needed to fill-in for an injured star).

Those UK-based fans will be relishing this new announcement by Wiliam on twitter 'I've been told I will be on the UK Raw tour this April. Spoil yourselves and come see my almost 45 year old carcass in trunks. I'm thinking of having a 30th year anniversary (it will be 30 years since my first match this coming August) T Shirt made for this tour.'

Veteran Regal worked his way up from low-paying UK shows in the golden age of ITV wrestling, to taking up an offer by WCW, there he made a name for himself with countless hard-hitting matches against many of the companies top names. His feud with Ireland's Fit Finlay and Chris Benoit are stuff of legend.

Regal progressed to the WWE where various substance abuse problems unfortunately halted his progress. Regal did however get the opportunity to return to WCW and rebuild his career. This time when WWE came calling again he was fit and ready to join their roster. Although he has never won a world title Matthews has held gold in in the WWE, WCW and for UK promotions. Many of his matches have gone down in the history books and he is still a very valuable member of the roster. 

You can catch up with William Regal on WWE NXT shows and as part of April's WrestleMania Revenge UK/Ireland Tour.

Undertaker returns to the ring

Undertaker returns to the ring.

By Phil Allely
WWE legend Undertaker (Mark Callaway) has perhaps silenced his critics by stepping back in to a WWE ring. The 49 year old has been nursing numeorus injuries since he last graced a WWE ring.
That  match against Triple H saw Taker retain is unbeaten streak at WrestleMania. Recent months have seen many insiders specualte that Callaway was too beaten up to enter the ring this year. However there were rumours that he may indeed be returning to face the companies top bad guy CM Punk.
This past weekend (at a WWE house show in Waco, Texas) saw a well looking Undertaker team up with Sheamus to battle the Rhodes Scholars combo of Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow. Taker took the win for his team with a nice nostalgic 'Tombstone Piledriver' on Sandow.

Many fellow WWE superstars were quick to tweet their response to Undertaker's re-appearance.

Randy Orton: Got to watch Undertaker perform in Waco tonight at the Smackdown live event. Very motivating to watch him do his thing.
Ricardo Rodriguez: Ca't describe the feeling we all got here tonight in Waco, Texas after having the Undertaker compete. I legit got goosebumps.
Wade Barrett: Hell of a night at #wwewaco. Expect the unexpected.

This live appearance by Undertaker must surely be a clear sign that we will see him return to TV and defend his streak. Whether that is against CM Punk is yet to be seen, but as the next few weeks play out all will become clear for the WWE's biggest event of the year.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Hulk Hogan - UK Interview Highlights

Hulk Hogan: The UK is high in our priority

During the recent UK/Ireland Tour TNA wrestling's most famous face Hulk Hogan not only participated in a number of media appearances, but also appeared live in the ring for two Impact Wrestling TV tapings (Manchester and London). Alongside fellow veteran grappler Sting (who our Phil interviewed exclusively during the tour) Hogan was very high on the UK/Irish fans and highlighted just why these shores are special to TNA.

Here are some of Hulk's comments during his few days in the UK.

'You know wrestling is not just a job it is a lifestyle. The UK guys and girls (on TNA's Bootcamp series) know that and they have done a great job. I have really enjoyed meeting them  and watching them in action. Rockstar Spud was a worthy winner of the show and I look forward to seeing how he does in TNA.'

'The UK is one of our main fan bases and we love coming here. Our shows on Challenge are ratings winners and we aim to keep that building up. the UK fans are louder and more into the TNA product than the US fans are at times. I Think this is because we only travel here once a year and it is all the more special to our UK/Irish fans. In the states we get to visit cities more often.'

'The TV tapings in the UK have been very successful and we aim to do the same this year. We promise big matches, big names and the best action we can offer. These are hot tickets.'

'Magic happens at Tv tapings such as this and this year will be no different'

'Look out for much more TNA activity in the UK. It is high in our priorities and we love coming here'.
By Phil Allely

Phil Allely

WWE Live Show Review - Elimination Chamber 2013

WWE Live Show Review: Elimination Chamber 2013

The Elimination Chamber may be one of the WWE's more recent gimmicks, but it has also become one of the company's most popular and inventive. The (now) annual Elimination Chamber is always an interesting event and one that helps build up the hype for WWE PPV highlight WrestleMania.

This year was no different, alongside the highly anticipated EC bout we had a few Title re-matches and some pretty decent encounters too.

The pre-show match (which may well become a DVD extra) saw the reunited Team Rhodes Scholars tackle the oddball combo of Tensai and Brodus Clay. Whilst Rhodes/Sandow did exactly what we expect of them it was Tensai/Clay who impressed in this one. The short bout ended with a surprise win for the big man duo. The future of the tag team division may well be Clay/Tensai and you know what it may just work.

The event properly kicked off with the World Heavyweight Title match between Champion Alberto Del Rio and Big Show. Show was on fine form here and really worked hard to put ADR over as a worthy title holder. Del Rio pulled off the win with a very decent looking arm-breaker submission.

The big shock was that we never saw Dolph Ziggler make a Money in the Bank cash-in (which many of us speculated).

Antonio Cesaro's United States Championship was on the line next and his opponent The Miz really did try to make this a watchable affair. The DQ finish did nothing to elevate either grappler and proved to be a flat way to end the scrap. Odds are we will be seeing a rematch sometime soon.

The EC match to determine the #1 contender to the World Heavyweight Championship was then upon us. The combatants were all former world title holders and they all had their work boots on. Daniel Bryan and Chris Jericho kicked things off in style and for the rest of the match the pace was perfect. Early on in the match there were some nice spots and they grew along the way, each elimination worked perfectly with the storyline and told a wonderful tale. To be honest, even after all these years of wrestling writing this was a match that really did hold my attention throughout. The 30 plus minute match saw some surprise eliminations and career shortening moves. The finish was even more of a shock, as the newly re-packaged Jack Swagger pulled off his biggest win in recent times.

Swagger has of course been associated with Zeb Colter (Dutch Mantel) as of late and perhaps this character change may be the big break he needs. A World Heavyweight Title match may be the prefect way to take him to the next level and beyond.

As six man matches go the following one was superb. The early all-out brawl between the combatants worked well and let us see the potential of this match-up. The 'Let's Go Cena/Cena Sucks' chants were abundant as usual and helped elevate The Shield's profile over that of their opponents Cena, Sheamus and Ryback.

This was yet another good example of in-ring storytelling and also helped build up the newer members of the roster too. The Shield not only pulled off the win (in a superbly times finish), but now see themselves as genuine stars in the company.

Ziggler turned up next and had an impromptu match with Kofi Kingston. This was short and somewhat sweet. This felt like a forced encounter and one that the PPV didn't really require. Ziggler's cohorts AJ Lee and Big E Langston had a hand in the finish too. Langston even went as far as to assault Kingston post-match as well.

Kaitlyn defended her Divas Title against Tamina Snuka in a short and un-emotive match next. The moves were basic and the action limited. It is a shame to see the once exciting Divas division fall so low. Kaitlyn retained her belt here and we do hope the WWE get some of their developmental talent (like the UK's Paige) trained up and moved up to the main roster asap.

The main event saw new WWE Champion The Rock face former champ CM Punk (with Paul Heyman). The stipulation was that if Rock was counted out or disqualified he lost his gold. Paul Heyman was key here, his role is pivotal in many of Punk's matches and even more so here. The action took place both in and out of the ring and even saw the announcers tables utilised (which always proves to be fun). Considering his lack of ring time and movie career Rock showed no signs of ring-rust and worked well with Punk. A ref bump and Heyman's botched interference led to Rock retaining his belt.

As EC went off the air a graphic show the much anticipated Cena/Rock re-match will happen at Mania and now we all hope that Undertaker is fit enough to meet CM Punk on that show too.

Elimination Chamber was a very good PPV for the WWE and one that offered up some nice finishes and story line developments. We also now have one half of the Mania main event. Who knows what the WWE have lined up for us between now and WrestleMania weekend.

By Phil Allely

Monday, 18 February 2013

WWE DVD Review - The Attitude Era

WWE DVD Review: The Attitude Era (3 disc set)

For many younger fans of the WWE, the product they see today is the only show they know and to be honest that is perfectly fine. But if you are someone who has a few more miles on your clock then this DVD box set is for you.

The Attitude Era is the term commonly used for the peak period in the WWE (then known as the WWF) between 1997 and 2000. This was the time that Vince McMahon was under extreme pressure from rival company WCW and their owner Ted Turner. Turner and Co. (with his millions of dollars in the bank) were on a roll during this time in the late 1990s, their deep pockets were attracting many big name wrestlers and with each new signing the viewing figures for the WWE product were falling. 

This was a time where Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall (all WWF regulars) had jumped ship to the Atlanta based WCW. The viewing figures for WWF programming were slumping and yet it was a time fans will forever remember, as this was the moment wrestling became must see TV. Both major companies pulled out their big guns during this time frame and for the first time in years we saw pay-per-view calibre matches on TV for free.

To combat this all out assault on their core audience the WWE took a bold step and offered up an assortment of wild, wacky and in some cases downright crude storylines. What is nice in this presentation (The Attitude Era) is that the WWE have not pulled any punches and they have indeed allowed us fans to see the mistakes they made, alongside the significant successes that accompanied them. 

The Attitude Era saw the rise of such wrestling superstars as 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin, The Rock, DX, Mick 'Mankind' Foley, Chris Jericho, Christain/Edge, The Dudleys, APA and Diva's such as Lita, Sable, The Kat and Trish Stratus. 

So what can you expect from this boxset I hear you say? Well first up we get a glimpse back at a time where the wrestling industry was a very close two horse race and the WWE were worrried (we will get this thrill again as TNA grow) and they put up one hell of a fight. This was a time where fans were spoiled and we loved it, each week on live TV we saw PPV quality matches and our heroes were always there to see as well. 

This a time where Steve Austin could drink beer and flip the bird when he wanted, blood would flow freely and DX would advise us all to 'Suck It'. This was also a time frame where the WWE presented us with an assortment of offbeat characters including Val Venis, The Godfather, Goldust and much more. 

The Attitude Era Three Disc Set is a wonderful look at a key period in the WWE/WWF's history and will not only appeal to older fans, but newer ones too. The main feature paints us a nice picture of the 1997-2000 years involved. It then leads on to (disc 2 & 3) a selection of pivotal in and out of ring moments.

I give The Attitude Era DVD (3 disc set) a 4 out of 5 and highly recommend it.

By Phil Allely

Sunday, 17 February 2013

TNA DVD Review - Bound For Glory 2012

TNA DVD Review - Bound For Glory 2012

By Phil Allely

TNA's annual PPV Bound For Glory is an event the entire roster and loyal fan base cannot wait to be a part of. This is the companies biggest event of the year it features a weekend full of fan interaction events and guest appearances by roster members old and new. BFG 2012 not only promised to deliver in the ring (Ace's &8's vs Bully Ray/Sting, Roode vs Storm, Hardy vs Aries), but also paid homage to the Icon Sting with the first TNA Hall of Fame induction.

This DVD is the first to become available via TNA's new deal with UK distributors Clearvision and it is a long-awaited release (fans have been without TNA DVDs for some months now).

The opening match saw Rob Van Dam challenge Zema Ion for the X Division Title in a fun match-up.

Former tag team partners Magnus and Samoa Joe then had a pretty decent scrap for Joe's TV Title next.

Surprisingly a match the magnitude of the Storm/Roode Streetfight was relegated to third of the night. The good news was that the pair really had their work boots on here and risked life and limb to put forth one hell of a match-up. Weapons we used frequently, blood flowed and special enforcer King Mo kept his distance, allowing the former best friends to pulverise each other in and out of the ring.

The Joey Ryan/Al Snow encounter had potential and even saw an appearance by one of company's best big men too.

Of the three thrown together teams in the Tag Team Title match (Styles/Angle, Kazarian/Daniels) the combo of Hernandez/Chavo have rove dot be the one with the most potential. They do that old school thing of combining strength, speed and experience. Making their team a formidable one. The match was fun and well-paced. The result went down a storm too.

Former friends and knockout tag champions Tara and Miss Tessmacher faced off for Tessmacher's Knockouts Title next. As women's matches go this was above par and allowed each the chance to shine.

Highly anticipated (due to the pacing of the storyline) was the Ace's & 8's versus Sting/Bully Ray match. This was a good old fashioned brawl, no finesse at all in the moves and it suited the ageing Stinger and rough-housing Ray to perfection. Sting and Ray fared well until the numbers game got the better of them. This match is worth re-viewing for the run-ins and shock ending too.

In the main event spot was the World Heavyweight Title encounter between Champ Austin Aries and the back in form Jeff Hardy. This was a match where moves came thick and fast, both men chose their spots and for the main hit them perfectly. Your reviewer does wonder what a match between an in his prime Hardy and Aries would have been like (we can but dream). The bout flew along at a decent rate and allowed both to take risks. The ending came as a total surprise to many. I'll not ruin that for you here.

DVD wise we get a nice set of extras too. There is the Before The Bell show, Stings Hall of Fame Ceremony footage, interviews and fan interaction footage.

Bound For Glory 2012 is available now form Clearvision and all good retailers.

RRP £14.99
By Phil Allely

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Tommy Dreamer Interview highlights

Kayfabe Wrestling Radio interviewed former WWE and TNA wrestler Tommy Dreamer Tuesday evening. Here are some highlights from the interview.

The earliest he went to a WWF/WWWF event in the New York Area and seeing the “Superfly” moment: “I’m not that old, for the three W’s; come on I’m not that old. No it was the WWF when I went. I’ll actually be 42 tomorrow; tomorrow’s my birthday, thank you. I started watching wrestling when I was 9 years old and my father took me to my first event at the County Center for my birthday; I saw Bob Backlund, he was my favorite and the first wrestler I ever saw. Then, he snubbed me and I went on a long, long tirade of me hating Bob Backlund when he snubbed me for an autograph but we have since made up then. Me, Bubba (Dudley), Mick Foley and I want to say I know Paul Heyman was there, he was shooting ringside; we were all at the show where Jimmy Snuka first climbed to the top of the cage and missed the dive on Bob Backlund and we were all there, it was just us fans and Buibba and I always talk about that. We always talk about special (Madison Square) Garden events that we went to, you know, and no matter what, you still gotta be a fan and that’s what I am. I’m still living my dream and I’m happy to be doing it.”

What it was like to work Madison Square Garden for the first time: “It was a dream come true for me. My first time there, at Madison Square Garden was against Perry Saturn, some I wrestled a bunch of time before and I know this is hard to believe for a lot of my fans, but I actually got a little teary-eyed and I got emotional; it’s still real to me dammit, and it was really, really great. The best two minutes of my career was when I worked the Royal Rumble in Madison Square Garden and I was in the ring with the Undertaker, Shawn Michaels and a bunch of other guys and for two minutes, people just kept chanting my name; I was eliminated in two minutes, but it was the greatest two minutes of my life. I love myself and Rob Van Dam main eventing on Monday Night Raw there, when we unified the Intercontinental and the ECW Title; I cried in the back as well. I cry a lot as you know in my career, and I love this business and I never thought I would achieve my dream and I was really, really happy for those events.”

His WrestleMania experience and the match of ECW against the New Blood: “It was really, really food. I did it with my friends and my family was there, it was a really great experience. Never thought we were all going to make it to WrestleMania but we did. I was at WrestleMania 1 as a kid, so, I mean, it was really, really cool. There’s a lot behind that match going in, and at one point we were actually scrapped from the card. So, I think they did a Diva’s Playboy match, and we had done a test run in Mexico the week before and the match was so good that we were main eventing all the shows in Mexico and then when we got back from Mexico, the match was supposed to be 12 minutes, then it was supposed to be 10 minutes, then 8 minutes, then it was cut from the show, then we had 6 minutes. So, just the fact that it happened with all the behind the scenes BS was a great accomplishment for all of us.”

Monday, 11 February 2013

Kayfae commentaries: Tammy Sytch/Sabu news

Trouble viewing this email? Read it online
 Kayfabe Commandos, Breaking Kayfabe is back to try and sort out one of the more bizarre and self destructive unfoldings in wrestling.  Tammy Sytch sits down with Sean and lets him crawl around in her head in the series that tries to get to the bottom of some of the more interesting personalities to grace the wrestling business.  Plus, a classic Timeline ECW 1997 told by Sabuhits our OnDemand channel as well.  Check it...
 Inside the Insane Headlines...Inside Tammy.
  Our latest guest to bare their soul on our newest series probably has more to sift through than any guest to date. Tammy Sytch's battery of arrests and rehab visits has catapulted her back into the national spotlight in unflattering portrayals in every media outlet. Now she sits with Sean, in a sober and reflective interview, in an effort to get down to who she really is.

Will this even be possible? Tammy has admitted to concocting lies and tall tales in previous interviews. Now, in the psychologically probing series "Breaking Kayfabe," Tammy is challenged by Sean to cut the B.S. and try and really fix the deep issues she undoubtedly has.

The series that shows the stars as people is back with an episode ripped from the headlines.

Check it out here!

Timeline: ECW 1997 OnDemand NOW!
Also over at our OnDemand Channel we're dropping another KC Classic...this time it's the debut of the first spin-off in the Timelinefranchise...The History of ECW.  This got the series off to an amazing start as Sabu candidly recounts all the major goings-on at ECW...from the ring to the locker room to the hotel rooms, ourTimeline series covers it ALL.

Join the usually silent Sabu as he talks and talks about this crucial year in the short, but dynamic lifespan of the federation that changed the game.  His take on everything happening, including the in-ring dress-down by Paul E, is honest and emotional.

He's known for being one of the most hardcore, and his recounting the year 1997 in ECW will not disappoint! 
We have plenty more to come as 2013 is shaping up to be a great year at KC.  Timeline: The History of WCW returns in March as JJ Dillon takes you back to 1988, and then Timeline: The History of WWE is up to bat with Brutus Beefcake covering 1989 in the big fed. 

This is the only place you'll EVER get the unedited, unsanitized story of the WWE told by the stars that were there.  They can tell you they're "shooting straight" but they ain't shooting shit if they're not going to show the dirt as well as the glitter.  Join our line-up of former WWE stars as they give you the straight dish in our ongoing, open ended, year-by-year chronicle of the big one.  Sean Waltman takes you through 1994 coming this June!

DDP's YouShoot heads your way on May 7th, plus Wrestling's Most...Awesome Managercountdown show is coming also.  More Breaking Kayfabe, more great, high-quality shoot programming is coming your way!

Stay tuned...


Saturday, 9 February 2013

The Wrestling Writer Experience

 The wrestling writer experience.

I must admit I have a dream job in many ways. As a wrestling fan for over 30 years I never for one moment thought I would be in a position where I not only get to see my heroes wrestle, but also get to physically meet them.

During the recent TNA Maximum Impact tour live show in Dublin, Ireland I had the thought that maybe it was about time I shared my back stage and insider experiences with our readers here.

My wrestling writing career started about seven years ago now. A simple email and DVD review were all it took to get my foot in the door. Since then I have many hundreds of articles/reviews and interview pieces for numerous websites/columns and I am extremely proud of them all.

Even before I first put pen to paper, I was one of those young men who spent Saturday afternoons watching the bets of British Wrestling talent on ITV. I also found myself drawn to US promotion WCW, which was broadcast late at night and also on various Sky channels. Of course Sky in the 1980s also offered us the hugely popular WWE (then WWF) and there my story begins.

Maybe it is something underlying in me as a person, but I always seem to root for the underdog and as such, even though I watched the WWF avidly and purchased their Videos (yes I am that old). I did however spend an awful lot of time sourcing WCW/NWA videos and I soon got into rising promotion ECW too.

Over the years I was fortunate enough to see both WCW and WWF shows live in Belfast and Dublin and see such stars as Shawn Michaels, Randy Savage, British Bulldog, Sting, Lex Luger, Diesel, Bret Hart, Catcus Jack and many others in action. I now look back on these times fondly and know that my enthusiasm back then was what drove me to get to the position I am in today.

In those good old days, I was more than happy to maybe get to shake a wrestlers hand or nab a sneaky autograph. I did once get to meet WWE/WWF legend 'Rowdy' Roddy Piper at a record signing as well.

But it was not until I began monitoring the upcoming company TNA in the early 2000's that my life would change forever.

Since the company was small and yet to make its mark many wrestling writers gave it a miss. Which left me an opportunity to grab and it is one that I will never regret.

As TNA grew so did my coverage of it. With each PPV event the promotion gained more respect. Along the way the company mixed some veteran performers with home grown stars and it was a privilege to be able to write about it all as it unfolded.

Backstage wise I have a few stories to tell. There is the infamous one where I personally was barred from interacting with a certain (big name) company's talent in any way at all. This was due to my coverage of their rival. So imagine my glee when that particular company saw their touring roster stranded in my home town for days (due to an ash cloud) and I was able to capitalise on the interview opportunities the situation created. I am now back in that companies favour by the way.

Meeting your heroes can always be a double edged sword. After all we love them the way we see them on stage or screen and don't want to ever think they are any different in real life. Fortunately I have never really found any wrestler to be any different than I expected. Many of them have been so nice and friendly that I felt even closer to them (whether they were face or heel).

My first real backstage experience was during the first TNA tour. I made the trip to Liverpool to join a few key wrestling writers I worked with (and still do). I had no real expectations back then. I knew it was perhaps my coverage of the company that had helped elevate it in fans minds. But I was after all just a simple wrestling from Belfast and I was a very small fish in a big pond.

Well firstly once we (the writers) hooked up and finally met in person. As many will know much writing work is done online and as such you can go years without meeting a colleague. Secondly we headed to a very posh hotel and there we met TNA President Dixie Carter. Dixie is a lovely person and one that every roster member I have spoke to has no bad words to speak of. I also met her husband Serge too.

After exchanging pleasantries and a few ideas about UK talent that TNA may be interested in (at that time it was Nick Aldis and Pac). FYI Nick was signed soon after and is now Magnus. We were then taken to the arena and I got to witness my first backstage experience. In my first few moments I was introduced to a man mountain of a man called Chris. He was very softly spoken and friendly. He also turned out to be the un-masked Abyss. Abyss was a scary character back then and I was amazed that Chris was so nice and respectful to a bunch of journo's.

During our walk around the empty arena we met and chatted to many roster members. I was even fortunate enough to take part in my first wrestling one-on-one interview that day. My interview subject was legendary referee Earl Hebner.

We were of course told to allow the wrestlers a chance to rest, relax, work out and eat prior to the show. Something which you always adhere to folks. The term Kayfabe in wrestling is one of high meaning you know. It means that the fans should never see the wrestlers interact personally and to a degree not see you out of character. I for one did not mind this.

On a trivia note here, this was back when TNA utilised the wonderful six-sided ring and I for one wish they still did use it.

The venue in Liverpool (Playhouse) was an old theatre and was perfect for the TNA product (which today as then is more suited to an intimate venue, in my opinion). I even ended up sitting in one of the raised boxes with Dixie (whilst I reviewed the show).

Since then I have of course interviewed (via phone and in person over 30 wrestlers) and along the way I have learnt one vital thing, that is to not actually prepare for the interview. The reason being as long as you know the current storyline, you can wing it from there.

Over the subsequent years I have been very fortunate to have been able to continually get backstage access to TNA UK tour shows. In Dublin I almost became a wrestling mark, when one of my all time heroes Ric Flair walked out from the 'wrestler only' area and talked to me. This was a dream come true for me. Luckily I do have photographic record of it too. During this live show I met TNA founder Jeff Jarrett, D Lo Brown, Dixie, Mickie James, Tara, Matt Morgan and many others. I was also fortunate enough to be given interview access to (ECW legend) Rob Van Dam and Knockout Madison Rayne.

This was the tour where Flair decided to cause problems for TNA and ended up being left behind in Dublin. I now wish to clarify that, even though I was drinking with the roster in their Dublin hotel that very night I was not responsible for Flair's actions (lol).

What is nice is that my work promoting TNA has seen me gain a level of respect from not only them, but companies they work with. I have been able to review TNA new DVD releases and much more because of my coverage of the company. I have also been able to amass a wonderful study full of signed pictures and other merchandise. All of which I treasure and am amazed at possessing.

So what am I getting at? Well the wrestling world is a weird one, wrestlers can be good or bad. Smart fans know that the guys in the ring beating each other black and blue may be real good friends and yet they still do it. Us fans love it, writers like me savour the industry and some wonderfully talented sports men and women strive to be a part of it.

I guess if you are still reading now I have you for the long haul here. Recent years have seen me being able to interview many of my all-time heroes and gain some level of respect as a wrestling writer.

Now to bring us back full circle I must say this. In 2012 I ventured to Manchester for a TNA live show. My reason was twofold, this year the company decided to miss Ireland off the tour and I also simply had to see Hulk Hogan and Sting both wrestle.

Roll along to 2013 and TNA came back to Ireland. So of course I was right up there with the journo's to maybe get a wee bit of interview time with a TNA wrestler of two. The one thing I have begun to realise is that what I take for granted now is so special to a wrestling fan. So since 2008 I have ensured I take a non-journalist person with me to each wresting show I attend. They are now my eyes and ears (as perhaps the multiple backstage passes I have had may blemish my memories).

January 2013 saw perhaps my best TNA/wrestling back stage experience. Within the first minute I saw two Knockouts chilling out. My interviewing/writing partner (Kate McMichael) and I then saw (heel group Ace's & 8's main man) Devon sitting on his lap top. He was courteous and so nice to speak to. We then walked into the main back stage area, here we saw the majority of the TNA roster all chilling out. Olympic Gold Medalist Kurt Angle was one of the first to rise and shake my hand. I had of course interviewed Kurt when he was hoping to participate in the 2012 Olympic Games. Mr Angle was wonderful here, he also by his kindness allowed 'Cowboy' James Storm to stand up and chat too. This was after all Kate's wrestling hero, so this meeting did indeed so down a 'Storm'.

Along the way we also met and chatted to Rob Van Dam (who I interviewed during the last Irish tour for TNA).

Once in the allocated interview space we were surprised to learn that we would be in the position of chatting to four top TNA grappler's.

Over the next hour we got to talk to Miss Tessmacher, Chavo Guerrero, Bully Ray and Kurt Angle. Three of the four were wonderful, the other was, as we now know from experience out to wind up the interviewer(but funnily enough not the girls). That is not to say that I (well we) did not enjoy our interview time. You our loyal readers will be seeing those interviews here very soon.

What TNA do over their rivals is bring a personal touch to proceedings. If you are ever fortuate enough to be backstage at a TNA show you will be made to feel welcome. This was perfectly highlighted by Kurt Angle, when he took it upon himself to bring James Storm upstairs to meet Kate (something that Kurt had no reason to do if he did not want it) . Storm subsequently arrived and we all had a brief chat and got pictures taken.

This however was not the end of or night, after all the matches had yet to start and I had hoped to catch up with Dixie Carter too.

Upon returning to the arena we were informed that Sting would be replacing World Champion Jeff Hardy on the tour and we also got to meet the lovely Ms Carter again too. I was also stunned to learn that Dixie could set up a short meeting between us and my hero Sting.

This meeting has already been covered here and for once I did become a real fan and fluff some words when talking to Sting. The man was all I expected him to be and so much more. 

I guess the reason for writing this is to give you the reader an insight into the wild and wacky world we wrestling writers live is. It is down to loyal readers such as yourselves that allow us to do it and we are unbelievably thankful.

By Phil Allely

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Royal Rumble 2013 - Live Review

WWE Live Review: Royal Rumble 2013

The Royal Rumble serves many purposes in the world of the WWE. The very nature of the event itself see's it stand out from the rest of the company's PPV output. This is after all a show that features a (usually) exciting over-the-top-rope battle royal style match-up. This scrap see's 30 wrestlers (inc. some surprises) battle it out and win a World Title shot at that year's WrestleMania. The Rumble is also not only the first WWE PPV of the year, but it is also what we fans like to call 'the first step on the road to Mania'. 

The Royal Rumble is normally the place where the first seeds are sown as to what we may look forward to at the WWE's biggest show of the year WrestleMania. Last year of course we all knew that we were to expect a Rock/John Cena bout at that very event. However this year we were still in some doubt as to what may unfold at the Rumble and what effect it may have in relation to Mania.

First of all there were hints at a Rock/Cena re-match and of course we all want to know if Undertaker will make his annual appearance to defend his WrestleMania winning streak.The good news is that one of these questions was (pretty much) answered at the 2013 Royal Rumble.

Royal Rumble 2013 was kind of overshadowed by the main event encounter between (Hollywood action star) The Rock and the WWE's best bad guy CM Punk. 

But the rest of the card was well worth a look too. The dark match (ie for live fans and DVD viewers only) saw United States Champion Antonio Cesaro battle The Miz. Your reviewer may not be a fan of Cesaro, but for what it is worth he did fare well here and his win over former world  champion The Miz bodes very well for his character. Miz's face turn seems to be coming along well too.

World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio then kicked things off proper by beating The Big Show in a 'Last Man Standing' encounter. Show and Del Rio worked well together here, using the available weapons to the best of their ability and also pulling off a few nice stiff moves. Show's chokeslam through a table looked great and the finish was well worked. Del Rio retaining over his much larger foe shows the WWE's faith in him and his tenure as champ.

Team Hell No (WWE Tag Team Champs) then successfully defended their belts against the formidable and fun combo of The Rhodes Scholars. Am I the only one amazed that Cody Rhodes moustache can at times receive more attention than him? The match here unfortunately wasn't much to talk about. We have all seen this before and we also get the idea that the WWE will keep the gold with Kane/Danielson until they feel they have lost their charm. 

The Royal Rumble itself had its moments and whilst much of the 30 man match was predictable. There were some nice touches and some pleasant surprises too. First up were surprise entrants Chris Jericho (a man who we have interview here and reviewed his rock band Fozzy too), Goldust and The Godfather. Jericho entered the match at number 2 and he lasted almost 50 minutes. Goldust had a memorable few moments and his exchanges with his brother Cody may lead to a match down the line. Godfather did his usual nostalgic thing and it went down a storm too. There were also a few returns by formerly injured stars , Rey Mysterio, Santino Marella and Sin Cara all received a nice pop when they made their entrance. The final four saw Ryback dispatch Randy Orton and Sheamus with ease, he then as we feared fell to John Cena to see Cena move one step closer to a rematch with The Rock.

Speaking of that result. The Rock did indeed best WWE Champion CM Punk in the main event of the show. Punk's recent knee injury did not seem to slow him down here and even though he lost his beloved title, he did leave the match without too much tarnish to his name. With only a few mistimed moves, this was a fine outing for both men (considering Rock's long in-ring lay-off and Punk's injury). 

Royal Rumble ended with us now knowing that Cena could very well (or may have by the time you read this) decide to challenge Rock for the title at Mania. Hopefully Rock/Punk will get a re-match at Elimination Chamber to address the few faults we saw at the rumble and maybe now we almost have one half of the main event, we will see Punk challenge Undertaker to a match.

Royal Rumble 2013 was very good in parts and the Ruble itself had some extremely fine points and moments. The build up to WrestleMania is now in full swing and I cannot wait to see what else we get along the way. We also have the Hall Of Fame coming up too, so far Mick Foley and Bruno Samartino have been given the nod and of course many more will follow.
By Phil Allely

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Velvet Sky Interview Highlights

Velvet Sky appeared on The Big WrestleShark Show this past Tuesday discussing her TNA career and plans for 2013. Here are some highlights from the interview.

What led to her return to TNA Impact Wrestling: “TNA is my home, I came here almost six years ago at Bound for Glory and this is my family. All the knockouts all the guys: I couldn’t stay away for too long because I missed it terribly. So the powers that be worked it out for me to come back.”

Anyone she is particularly close to in the company that encouraged her to come back: “I wouldn’t single just one person out…maybe Madison Rayne. She’s one of my best friends here. She would text me almost every day ‘When are you coming back, we miss you, we love you.’ I mean we go back to the Beautiful People days when we would travel the globe together. But you know I’m friends with the guys, and they would reach out to me and the office would reach out. It just made my decision to come back all that easier.”

What led to her initial departure? “It was just business issues, it was never personal with anybody. It was just a business decision I had to make is all I’ll say, I had to do what was best for me at the time. It was just me looking out for me. But everything is all worked out now and this is what’s best for me.”

Had she considered going to the competition? “No…never say never, but you know I never considered it while I was away because this has been my home. TNA gave me my first shot at my dream, so as I said this is my home.”

Opinion on the current Knockout Division: “Well it is a lot different now, but either way we still have a really great group of girls who make up the division. It’s not the same as it used to be and only because I was here since the birth of the Knockout division six years ago and all the girls like Roxy and Taylor Wilde and Kong are no longer with us. They were the bread and butter of the Knockouts Division, they helped create what is so special now and like I said, the girls we have now are great, but it will never be the same, it will never have that same feel because all the girls that started are no longer with us. But I love the Knockouts we have now.”

On The Beautiful People: “People ask me what’s my favourite time in TNA and I will always say, we had so much fun, the original, heel Beautiful People; with the makeovers and the brownpaper bag treatment and just our heel antics. We had a good run, unfortunately Angelina is no longer with the company but I am going to push all the time for a Beautiful People reunion and hopefully once they get tired of me asking so much, hopefully they’ll bring her back. It’s been my best time in wrestling so far."

Her reaction to Angelina Love leaving: “I was so upset, but you know it was out of her hands: she didn’t wanna leave. But she is doing phenomenally well in her outside projects: she’s doing movies and conventions all over the world, she’s right where she was meant to be right now. But I still bother them all the time to let us do one more Beautiful People run but I don’t know if it will happen. I mean never say never, but I don’t know if it will."

On Beautiful People imitations: “My reaction to that is always ‘Often Imitated, Never Duplicated’. We are proud that the success of our tag team inspired other girls to…try and be like us or to imitate us, but there is only one team of the Beautiful People. I say that humbly! So humbly! But the chemistry we had together…no one can replace that, it was an irreplaceable tag team.”

In 2013: “I’m going to prove to everyone that I am a credible Knockouts champion. I’ve had to fight my way through almost everyone in that division to earn my way to it and I will hold that title soon."

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Friday, 1 February 2013

DVD Review: Hitman Hart - Wrestling With Shadows (10th Anniversary Collector's Edition)

DVD Review: Hitman Hart - Wrestling With Shadows (10th Anniversary Collector's Edition)

Wrestling DVD fall into two distinct categories. There are those that present us with wrestler bios and matches (these are usually done in character). However on the other hand there are DVD releases that take us behind the scenes and let us into a world that very few fans ever get to see.

One such release that falls into the latter category is this one. Hitman Hart - Wrestling With Shadows takes us on the road with legendary wrestler Bret Hart, taking in every aspect of what would be a remarkable year for him. In 1997 Bret was not only the most popular man in the WWE, but he was also the World Champion. But when rival company WCw came calling Hart took the decision to remain with the WWE and forgo a large pay rise, for 20 year contract with Vince MacMahon's company.

The real story here was that as the year progressed McMahon decided to withdraw this multi-year deal and force Bret to open up negotiations once more with WCW. As Hart drew near his final days with the company McMahon grew even more cagey about the situation.

By November 1997 Bret was still the WWE Champion and he was more than happy to lose the belt before he moved on to pastures new. The only snag was that he did not want to lose it on Canadian soil (Bret is a loyal Canadian and his family are very well respected there). Which meant that Hart would retain the gold at Survivor Series (held in Montreal) and subsequently lose it the next day at Monday Night Raw.

But as history now states that was not the way things panned out. McMahon for some reason felt that (the loyal to WWE) Hart may decide to break character and sully the belt. So he decided to insure the title was taken away in Montreal instead.

The event itself is a shocking one and one that filmmaker Paul Jay has been able to capture perfectly. Referee Earl Hebner and opponent Shawn Michaels were both in on the plan and knew that McMahon was about to pull the rug out form under Hart's feet. The match itself was fine and yet now it is almost forgotten, its aftermath is now the thing we all know about.

Fans of wrestling will love this new edition of the DVD and especially the extras.

Firstly we all know that Bret Hart is only one member of a wrestling dynasty and that whilst he is the most famous, one other brother made a name for himself in the WWE. The second disc here looks at the life and sad death of Owen Hart.

Owen was a talented wrestler and yet throughout this release we learn that he only grappled to provide for his young family. He longed to have a normal day job instead.

Unfortunately just as his career rose and he began to main event shows across the country, 'The Montreal Screwjob' happened and Owen was left to fend for himself in the WWE (without his big brother). This meant Owen was saddled with some dodgy storylines, he was also involved in an infamous match with rising star 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin. During this bout Hart botched a piledriver and severely injured Austin. Austin never fully recovered form this and Hart had to live with the knowledge that he could have killed or paralysed a fellow wrestler.

But an event even worse was about to happen. With Bret in WCW, Vince Mcmahon and his creative team decided to mock many of their rivals top stars. They used Owen (as The masked Blue Blazer) to do so. Poor Owen was even forced into using a harness type of device to drop into the ring (like WCW's Sting).

On one fateful night live on Pay-Per-View Owen plummeted to his death. Falling nearly 80 feet into the ring the wrestler stood no chance (his head snapping back on the ropes during impact. Your reviewer was one of the millions who were watching the event live and can still remember the chaos and drama that occurred when Owen fell. The PPV did continue though and many felt that was in poor taste.

This bonus DVD takes us into the life of Owen. It features some moving tributes by many of his peers and also some key family members too.

Hitman Hart - Wrestling With Shadows is available now from all good retailers.

By Phil Allely