Sunday, 21 July 2013

TNA Destination X 2013 Review

TNA Original unseats World Champ Bully Ray

By Phil Allely

This past week on TNA's flagship show Impact (broadcast last night on Challenge in the UK/Ireland) current X Division champion Chris Sabin gave up his X Division Championship for a shot at Aces and Eight's president Bully Ray in the main event of the X Division themed Impact TV taping.

Sabin has been with TNA for ten years so far and held the X Division gold multiple times, he also formed a formidable team with fellow high-flyer Alex Shelley for many years too.

Recent years have seen Shelley leave TNA and Sabin undergo major surgery on both his knees.

Those surgeries gave many critics the opportunity to write off Sabin as a serious competitor for any title any time soon. However here he was now poised to face off against one of the most sadistic and brutal performers in the world of wrestling and he not only stood up against him, he beat him at his own game too.

In the past Destination X was an X Division only themed PPV, that saw the companies mid-card roster members take to the big stage. This year of course due to the reduction in PPV events TNA opted to take the event down the Impact route instead.

Sabin was subjected to a huge amount of brutal offence from the A&8's head honcho here and you did really feel he was set for failure throughout. But the dogged enthusiasm and energy he offered up made you believe in him.

The match itself saw Ray unleash all manner of hurt on his foe. Chris sported some serious marks on his body form the get go. This was a hard-hitting scrap, we saw A&8's interfere, the Main Event Mafia even things up and for once justice prevailed.

Sabin pulled off the shock win after a number of run-ins and he used the much-used hammer to swerve events his way.

Elsewhere we saw Austin Aries beat Bobby Roode in a Bound For Glory series encounter. We also saw former TNA star Sonjay Dutt best Homicide and Petey Williams for a shot at the now abandoned X title. Taking himself to the same spot was the former Suicide (now Manik), who overcame the duo of Chavo and Kenny King. Next up we saw three younger TNA stars compete for the last X Division title match spot. The UK's own Rockstar Spud was on fine form here, but he did have stiff competition. Spud and Greg Marascuilo worked well with Spud, Marascuilo pulled off the win too.

The Destination X Impact show worked well and having less time than a PPV things progressed faster too. For the most part the matches worked well and the main event finish git many of us by (pleasant surprise).

TNA may be taking a gamble by making a man with such weak knees a World Champ, but this confidence in a company original shows they are one who are more than up for challenging their nay sayers.

I for one look forward to seeing were TNA and Sabin take things now.

Friday, 12 July 2013

WWE DVD Live in the UK - April 2013

WWE DVD Review: Live in the UK – April 2013

The WWE only travel to our shores twice a year here in the UK/Ireland and as such these events are highly charged ones for the most part. Recent years have seen the company bring as many of their big name stars and they can and even go so far as to record episodes of their weekly Raw and Smackdown shows here too.

This two disc set features all of the events that took place at the O2 Arena in London during the WrestleMania Revenge tour (April 2013). This means you get to see complete episodes of Monday Night Raw, Smackdown and never aired in the UK instalments of Main Event, Superstars and Saturday Morning Slam.

Talent wise the WWE brought a fair number of their big hitters here. Which was not surprising considering the shows were going to be broadcast. What was special was the inclusion of Undertaker on the shows. It had been a number of years since Taker stepped into a UK ring and yet here was participating in two matches (one for Raw, one for Smackdown). That name alone will insure this set sells well with fans.

Of course any of us who attended any of the April 2013 live shows will want to possess this snapshot of the tour, to remind them of what they witnessed. After all the matches may have changed slightly, but many of the grapplers featured here were at the other houses shows too.

Highlights from Raw include Dolph Ziggler facing Chris Jericho, Undertaker & Team Hell No versus The Shield and UK hero William Regal (on his farewell tour) battling Fandango. There are of course numerous other features here and even a few other matches.

Smackdown offers up a fine No DQ scrap between Alberto Del Rio and Jack Swagger, Layla versus Aksana, Undertaker tackling Shield member Dean Ambrose and Wade Barrett taking on fellow Uk star William Regal. As with Raw there are other features here too.

Of course we also have the episodes of Superstars and Saturday Morning Slam too. Both of which have a few nice matches as well.

On the extras front we get a fine outing from the UK-based PPV Rebellion held in November 2001. Which featured an on form Chris Jericho versus an equally slick Kurt Angle.

WWE Live in the UK : April 2013 is available now from and all good retailers.
RRP £17.99

By Phil Allely

Thursday, 11 July 2013

WWE DVD Review: WrestleMania 29

WWE DVD Review: WrestleMania 29

It is the biggest show in the WWE calendar and it also one of the most sought after wrestling show tickets too. It is of course WrestleMania. This is the show that even the most die hard anti-WWE fan will take notice of and maybe even watch as well.

WM is the event that kick started the WWE's rise to global domination and means so much to so many fans across the globe as well.

Now nearly 30 years on the event still send goosebumps down the spine of many as they eagerly await the action to start. The WWE have now rather cunningly made this a weekend long event too, with fan events, signing and memorabilia on show too. Alongside countless veteran and current roster members, there is also the annual Hall Of Fame Ceremony.

Now back to the DVD at hand. First up like many Mania's of recent years there are a few poor matches here, but when things kick off they really kick off in style.

This event was a card of three parts. First up we had John Cena taking on The Rock for the WWE Championship. Which was of course a marked improvement on their previous encounters. However it did come at a cost to Rock who absorbed some nasty injuries along the way.

Next on the fans hit list was the ultra intense 'No Holds Barred' scrap between Brock Lesnar and Triple H. They certainly had their work boots on here. You could feel every bump like it was your own body.

But of course the match most people were yearning to see was the return of Undertaker to defend his winning streak against young upstart CM Punk. Punk had after all belittled the memory of the late Paul Bearer and was certainly a hated man before the get go. Considering he rarely makes more than one appearance a year these days Taker showed no signs of slowing down. Although by the end you could see his pain and delight in what he had just participated in.

Elsewhere on this well put together CD set you get the pre-show encounter between Wade Barrett and The Miz for the Intercontinental Championship. The Shield making their WM debut against the trio of Randy Orton, Sheamus and The Big Show. The Tag Team titles on the line as Team No Hell defend against Dolph Ziggler and Big E Langston. Chris Jericho facing the over the top Fandango and Jack Swagger tackle the World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio.

The under card and World Title match are all worthy additions here, the main issue is that some play out to indifference. Fandango, The Shield and Ziggler come out of proceedings very well indeed I must add.

On the extras front we are as always spoilt for Mania moments and choice. The Hall Of Fame footage is superb and very interesting. Younger fans may skip through a few inductions of course, but those old enough to remember Bob Backlund, Bruno Samartino and even celeb Donald Trump will enjoy their montages and speeches. Backlund is hilarious and Samartino seems very moved to be there.

More modern entrants Mick Foley, Trish Stratus and Booker T are also very well received and each makes us feel their pride as they give their speech. It was especially nice to see Booker's brother Stevie Ray on TV again. Foley was as expected totally over the top with his section of the show, but we come to expect that from him these days.

There is also the post-show event from the MetLife Stadium too.

Blu-Ray owners get even more bang for their buck here with some episodes of Monday Night Raw, the Triple H/Lesnar contract signing, CM Punk challenge to end the streak and a Q&A with John Cena and The Rock.

WrestleMania 29 is a roller coaster of a ride from start to finish. There are some dips along the way, but when it climbs it does indeed climb. The final flourish of matches here will certainly leave you on an adrenaline high.

WrestleMania 29 is available now via Freemantle Media. and all good retailers.
RRP £24.99 (DVD), £34.99 (Blu-Ray)
By Phil Allely

Monday, 1 July 2013

WWE DVD Review: War Games - WCW's Most Notorious Matches

WWE DVD Review: War Games – WCW's Most Notorious Matches

Cage matches have been part of wrestling for a long time now. More modern viewers of course be aware of such structures as the 'Hell in a Cell' and 'Elimination Chamber' cages. But long before they saw the light of day there was the formidable feud ending 'War Games' match. Up until then the cage match was a rather clunky affair that offered up blood, but no real excitement.

War Games changed all of that. Created by WWE hall of famer Dusty Rhodes this was a match that took the traditional cage environment and put a unique spin on it.

Hosted by Rhodes himself this three disc set takes a look at each and every War Games encounter ever made. The design of the match was simple and yet very effective, WCW took two rings and encased them in a steel cage. Two teams would face off in the match, but as per the stipulation two men started and then after an allotted time members of each would enter alternately.

In the majority of these scraps the heels would always hold the advantage (even though a coin toss was supposed to make that a random thing). This of course added to the atmosphere and made us the fans cheer on the faces.

For the most part the matches here are above average. There are a few duds, but fair play to the WWE for including them all and letting us make the decision as to what works and what doesn't.

Highlights for me are the original match (1987) featuring Rhodes, The Road Warriors, Nikita Koloff and Paul Ellering versus The Four Horsemen (Lex Luger, Ric Flair, Tully Blanchard, Arn Anderson) and JJ Dillon. Which set the standard for this type of match and really does stand the test of time.

Another stand-out match is the 1991 Wrestle War bout between The Four Horsemen (Flair, Sid Vicious, Barry Windham, Larry Zbyszko) and the unit of Sting, Brian Pillman and The Steiner Brothers. This was a very brutal and hard-hitting affair and one that showed all involved at their best.

Other worthy additions are the ones involving Stings Squadron and The Dangerous Alliance, the Tower of Doom match and of course the first time we saw Hulk Hogan enter the structure in 1995.

On the minus side some matches, as stated previously are less worthy of repeated viewing. They still possess some interesting moments. The N.W.O. Make an appearance or two and some work better than others. The infamous Shockmaster turns up too (the former Fred 'Tugboat' Ottman) making a very bad first impression on WCW fans.

War Games was a wonderful concept and one that I do hope the WWE resurrect even for a one-off event.

Yes we have Hell in a Cell, Elimination Chamber and other similar matches, but there will only ever be one truly exhilarating cage match and it is War Games.

This set is slickly produced (as expected) and will most certainly appeal to many fans of WCW and those who long to explore the history of the industry beyond the WWE. Newer fans may find it less interesting, but to be perfectly honest everyone who says they like wrestling should give this. The matches here are (mainly) from an era where the action spoke for itself and storylines were more of an afterthought. Which is something we do not see as much these days. The matches themselves are also predominantly stiff and at times bloody. They are also unbelievably inviting and innovative at the same time.
Blu-ray buyers get a match Rage in the Cage match from Smoky Mountain Wrestling (1993), the Ultimate Jeopardy scrap from ECW's December to Dismember (1995) and a similar encounter from ECW's Cyber Slam 1999.

War Games: WCW's Most Notorious Matches in available now from all good retailers.

RRP £29.99 (DVD), £39.99 (Blu-ray)
By Phil Allely