Sunday, September 03, 2006

WWP Summer Meltdown

20/08/2006, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne

Well, the day starts out innocently enough. It's any other Sunday - Hollyoaks on T4 followed by a big Sunday lunch then a few hours lounging around before the football starts. Then I get a phone call. "Alright mate, fancy doing a shoot interview with Roderick Strong?" Bizarre. "By the way, we're filming in 40 minutes so get ready. Fuck.

The shoot itself lasted about an hour and Roderick had plenty to say about his (short) career thus far and gave us his opinions on anything and everything. He grew up watching Hogan, he loves tag team wrestling and his favourite of all time is Dynamite Kid. Can't really argue with that. I even got to ask him about STING~! Also to be filmed for the DVD release was that evening's match in Newcastle for the upstart WWP promotion. I don't know what WWP means (World Wrestling Promotion perhaps?) but it led to the old favourite - Wrestling Road Trip!

We got to the venue with seconds to spare at which point myself and 3CW/1PW ring announcer/commentator Stevie Aaron decide to find a takeaway somewhere and shoot the shit. We eventually found a place that will make you a pizza from anything they have on the list, including eggs. No idea if you have a say in how the eggs get cooked ("two scrambled, one raw please mate") and I ended up getting a cheeseburger anyway. Conversation ranged from 1PW stories to reminising about when Bobby Heenan brought Ric Flair into the WWF in 1991.

Needless to say, we arrived late for the show.

Omér Ibrahim vs. Boogie Knights

Missed it. Boogie Knights was apparently doing a Mick Foley gimmick and this was a hardcore match so I doubt it was anything special. Omér does a Turkish gimmick which is something I've not heard since that episode of Porridge - "Godber, this room now smells like a Turkish wrestler's jockstrap!" I have thus far declined permission to give Omér's panties a whiff to experience that particular nasal nasty for myself. Omér won, btw.

Team England vs. Team Scotland

Only just made it back in time for the end of this as The Wright Stuff (representing England) beat baldy 'Highlander' Colin McKay and buff 'Bad Boy' Liam Thompson just as it should be. Paul Gascoigne would have loved it, even if the English team looked like jabronis. Post match, Team England dances in the ring for AGES with a drunk guy. Way too long.

Rio vs. Lexx

I don't really know either girl to be honest and I didn't know who was who for a long time since I was too busy polishing off my chips to notice ring introductions. It was okay stuff for indy girls and there weren't any noticable fuck ups like I was (perhaps unjustly) expecting. Match ended when Assassin interfered on behalf of Lexx and she took the cheap win.

Davey Richards vs. Shaun Avery

At last! Something I was looking forward to. This was my first look at Richards (in the flesh OR on DVD - I really need to catch up on the 2006 ROH) and I saw for myself where all the hype is coming from. He was the first guy on the show who actually combined looking like a wresler with acting like a wrestler and working like a wrestler, everyone else look like a scrawny kid or had the talent but not much of a look or a comedy gimmick. Speaking of scrawny kids, enter Shaun Avery who looked completely out of his depth against Richards. He had some decent ring gear (not so much with the entrance gear though), and was skinny as a rake, really pale and had face that said "I'm 14 years old and I'm about to get the shit kicked out of me". It actually looked like it was going to be a WWE weekend TV squash match looking just based on the look of each guy but sadly Avery was booked to get his offence in rather than get killed and it really hurt the match for me. His comebacks just weren't believable since Richards was clearly league ahead of the guy. Not that Avery didn't have some nice spots, it's just his timing and selling weren't really believeable. Imagine Rey Mysterio beating Mark Henry or The Great Khali - sure, at the time he should have been getting the underdog wins, but realistically, it's just not believeable. He was getting far too much in and getting up far too quick from attacks for me to want to engage myself into the match, and I was scared he was going to win at one point. Fortunately, sense prevailed and Richards went over which reaffirmed my belief that Raven knows everything (on one of his Secrets of the Ring DVD's he says the big names should [mostly] go over because it's what people want to see and that was very true here - I was pleased Richards won and would have been pissed off if he hadn't). As for Richard's performance, he was the first guy who realised he didn't need to take bumps on a spot show like this and stalled accordingly, being thoroughly hilarious in doing so. Highlight was probably Roderick Strong (sat with us in the corner) throwing empty bottles at Richards until Richards' screamed "I'm not wrestling until he gets taken out of here!"

Interval -- Tracy Smothers says hello and young WWP promoter Shiny Shoes comes out with a triple album of "The Best Rock Hits...Ever!" and asks Roderick to "pick a number, any number". So THAT's why everyone is coming out to ridiculous power ballads and 80's hair metal. I did wonder. Hell, this thing even has Wheetus on it! Nobody will pick that though, not in a million years!

BJ Whitmer vs. Carbon vs. Liam 'The Player' Atkinson

More ROH next and more "experienced guy plays it smart and does nothing whilst the nobodies kill each other in front of the 50 or so on hand". He must have stood for a good 8-to-10 minutes in the corner while Atkinson (so non-descript that I don't remember a single thing about him, and I've seen him twice now) and Carbon (who's got a decent look and plays a solid babyface character but has a rubbish name) battled it out. Whitmer eventually got involved, Carbon eventually won, that was that. Oh, apart from the fact Carbon came out to Wheetus. What a geek.

Tracy Smothers, Darkisde & Jed Masters vs. Los Pervitos & El Ligero

50 minutes this went. No, really. Started with about 20 minutes stalling from the ever amusing Pervito brothers (though they didn't explain why mortal enemy Ligero was suddenly teaming with them, damn promoters not following other promotions' storylines!) Tracy meanwhile was visibly cracking up like never before at the antics of the Mexican team (who hail from Leeds and Canada as it happens). Tim hit the old squeaky voice routine which had everyone in fits, particularly Smothers. Speaking of Smothers, once the action got going, he was ON. Ordinarilly he would come out, do his FBI gimmick, dance a little then go home but the former Smoky Mountain Wrestling Beat The Champ Television Champion was an absolute house of fire here. I guess he somehow inherited the workrate of Scottish talent Darkside who did uncharacteristically little in this one (with what later transpired to be a broken wrist courtesy of Matt Sydal from the previous evening's 1PW show). It started to drag a bit at this point and then just kept going. On and on it went before it turned into a complete clusterfuck and Tracy got mad since he wanted to get in a 619(!) but never got the chance. Dance-off came and went with Shiny Shoes playing the wrong music (Tracy wanted the FBI theme) and not playing it long enough for The Wild Eyed Southern Boy to get his entire routine in. Completely sick of the whole thing, Tracy fucked up Ligero with a powerbomb for a pinfall that couldn't have come soon enough before he stormed out leaving Darkside and Masters to celebrate. It was later noted that this was probably the worst match any of the other five guys had had but likely not the worst match Masters has had which I think says a lot about the look and the overall talent of the majority of wrestlers from the Newcastle-based IWF promotion (who are providing the majority of the show tonight).

Roderick Strong vs. Dragon Aisu vs. Lance Thunder vs. Sean David vs. Youngsta Avery

Shiny Shoes had at some point realised this show was really overbooked and running far too long (a triple threat followed by a six-man tag and then this!?) and had actually bumped ANOTHER scheduled multi-man match pitting 3CW talents Sean David, Cameron Kraze and Dan Evans together in a three-way and whilst Kraze and Evans sat it out in the crowd, David somehow managed to worm his way into this match turning a four-way into a five-way. It was actually his first ever match too so he'll always have the footnote of being in a ring with ROH and former TNA star Roderick Strong in the first bout of his career. Sadly for David, it didn't go down too well as a his pre-match mic work earned him a quick pasting and he was gone. Back to the four-way then. Dragon Aisu clearly couldn't be arsed (how do I know? He told me so) and didn't bother wearing the mask out to the ring. Some wrestlers have indications of when they're phoning it in or not, that is his. He went pretty quick. Youngsta Avery (skinng, young, pale, pony tailed kid in a t-shirt and kickpads) went after the loudest chop I've ever heard courtesy of Roderick Strong. Strong meanwhile was in full ass-kicking mode, and like the Richards/Shaun Avery match earlier was clearly a much more polished performer than Lance Thunder. Now don't get me wrong, I think Lance Thunder's a pretty fair talent - he's got some size and he's got some skill, he just needs the muscle mass - but you could see just the little things like timing put Roderick on a whole higher skill level.

Roderick killed Lance with an endless stram of chops and a kick to the face then decided to go walkabout. He put Thunder on the social club's bar and beat him up some more, stole some electrical tape from a boistrous kid in the front row and choked him out with it then slapped him across the back...with a foam finger. "Boo!" Then, a drunk guy who had been on the ring earlier shouting obsenities at Tracy Smothers whacked Roderick in the back with a foam finger of his own. Selling it at first, Roderick soon realised it was the drunken idiot and promtly unleashed a loogie right in the guy's face.

Back in and Roderick killed him some more before Thunder got the fluke win to retain his WZW title. Earlier in our shoot interview, Roderick had said he'd never really had the chance to cut any promos before so actually took the opportunity to do so here, both before and after the match. Despite Thunder's limited comebacks, Strong called him "one tough motherfucker" and "a worthy champion".

Iceman vs. Assassin

Earlier in the night, Assassin had cut a promo with a guy dressed like Iceman (which was a bit lifted from the DX parodies of the Nation of Domination in 1997) but it hadn't been accurate enough for my liking. It gets noted that "he didn't say 'shit' in an attempt to get heat so it's not really that good of a parody". The real Iceman then comes out and calls Assassin "a piece of shit" in his first sentence. That's the thing with Iceman, unlike a lot of UK promo guys, he's legiable and doesn't sound like a timid little boy or an all out tool but he relies on calling people "shit" to get noticed. Anyway, this is the blowoff for the angle, Iceman does his usual (needlessly slapping Assassin around hardway) and hits the cannonball before Assassin got the win after Highlander Colin McKay ran in and decked Ice Cream Man with a steel chain for seemingly no reason. Iceman then helpfully explained that McKay had been chasing him all around the country and he was sick of it. "Chain match, right here, right now!" Ye'gads. Fortunately for everyone, McKay declined, setting it up for the next show instead. Thank fuck.

Far too long, and loads of bad wrestling in a dingy little working men's club. Awful.

Highlight of the night - Shiny Shoes announcing on the P.A. that some lazy fuck has parked in the disabled car space to prevent being faced with an extra 12 yard walk round the corner. Rise then local wrestler General Trent Steel, to rapturous applause.

Post show - Tracy Smothers talks things out with Ligero then comes up to me and says we really need to get our shoot interview finished. I'd love to get it done too but unfortunately I don't think we'll be able to catch up anytime soon. We touch knuckles in a show of solidarity however. 3CW promoter Mike Groom is ready for bed, as am I. Unfortunately, myself, Dragon Aisu and 3CW referee Matt Wilkinson end up at Stevie Aaron's house to order the SummerSlam pay-per-view. Thoughts on that:

Sabu vs. Rob Van Dam (Ladder Match) - From ECW on Sci-Fi just before the pay-per-view, Big Show chokeslams Sabu on a piece of paper. DANGEROOUUUUUUUUS!

Rey Mysterio vs. Chavo Guerrero - How the hell did they manage to make people hate Rey? Everyone resents the angle and why the hell does Vicky Guerrero need to be involved. Ended up a decent match but it could have been a decent match without the horrible angle.

ECW Title: The Big Show vs. Sabu - Probably better than expected, not particularaly good. Big Show retains.

Hulk Hogan vs. Randy Orton - Two bad knees and Hogan still wont lie down for anyone, not even the guy who's gimmick is that he beats legends. Match was Hogan, crowd was hot.

I Quit match: Ric Flair vs. Mick Foley - Foley dominated and Flair bled, then Flair dominated and Foley bled. Then Flair won when Foley quit to prevent Flair from nailing Melina with a barbed wire baseball bat. Did I mention the blood?

World Title: King Booker vs. Batista - The only outright stinker of the show, just a boring match with no interest and a screwy finish.

DX (Shawn Michaels & Triple H) vs. The McMahons (Mr. & Shane) - As good as these guys were ever going to get, overbooked enough to be entertaining throughout. Spirit Squad runs in (killing Aisu's wretched belief that we were going to get a Spirit Squad/Highlanders tag title match) and get creamed. William Regal, Fit Finlay and Ken Kennedy run in and also get creamed. Big Show runs in and he and the SmackDown! guys put HHH through the ringside table long enough for the McMahons to get a heat segment on Shawn. They run through some classic double-team moves (The Hart Attack, The Demolition Decapitation [called as such which made me giddy], The Doomsday Device), Hunter comes back, Umaga runs in, Kane (who I'm not a fan of) runs in and runs him off, Shane comes off the top, Michaels catches him with the superkick, pedigree and that was that. Helmsley got a weaker reaction than Hogan. Take THAT!

WWE Tite: Edge vs. John Cena - Cena's stuff looked as piss weak as ever, the guy is just useless when it comes to actual moves and he pissed us all off royaly. Still, they put forward a match that was never predictable as we really had no idea who was going to win. It was Edge btw. "Imagine if they ran the second biggest show of the year and put Hogan on third and over their top investment for the future then had the heel win the main event over the hometown babyface" said I. And they only fucking did.

Overall, a fun show but nothing you'd watch again. Maybe Foley/Flair. What I did notice though was how things in WWE have changed. They used to run the B-PPVs as build-up shows for big events like SummerSlam, but with three different brands now, they can sell the A-shows on the novelty of Raw, SmackDown! and ECW guys all on the same show with three major singles title matches, and not one feature match included anyone below mid-card status. In turn, that has now put WWE in a position where they don't need to worry about having a big blowoff match for the show just as long as they have a big match and something to sell the single branded pay-per-veiws with. Look at like this - Rey/Chavo had a screwy finish and will continue (possibly to WrestleMania after Rey has his knee fixed). Sabu is still chasing Big Show (who likely wont drop the belt until December To Dismember). Hogan/Orton and Flair/Foley both look to be done but with a lack of heel challengers of SmackDown!, Batista's title win has been held off for a while yet, DX/McMahons are moving on to a Hell In A Cell match next month (and their bout set up a future Umaga/Kane (who I'm not a fan of) showdown also likely for the next Raw branded show), and Edge retained his WWE title against Cena when a big babyface win to blowoff the feud looked likely, and they'll now meet in a TLC match next month. How times have changed.


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