Friday, April 10, 2015

Extreme Rules 2009 review

Countdown to Extreme Rules: ER 2009 review
By Ben Smith 

Match #1: Kofi Kingston vs William Regal vs MVP vs Matt Hardy

This was a terrible way to open up the show. First of all I don’t know what is so “extreme” about a fatal 4 way, but I guess WWE sees any non singles/tag match as an extreme match. The horrible thing about this was that Kofi dominated most of the match and the two guys I like in this match (Regal and Hardy) barely got any offense in outside of a few cookie cutter moves, most of the time they were just punching bags for Kofi’s sloppy moves. The way this 4 way was booked was terrible too, basically two guys go at it while two others are hurt outside the ring, then  one of them knocks out one of the guys in the ring and the process continues, its lazy booking and it dragged down the match. Then Kofi won, lol this match somehow just got even worse, somehow his terrible spotty moveset used to be even worse, who knew. Awful match with terrible booking, please WWE if you’re going to do a four way don’t make it just a rotating singles match, that is so damn boring. 

Rating: *

Match #2: Rey Mysterio vs Chris Jericho in a No holds barred match

Oh shit I didn’t know we were going to get a match from this amazing 09 feud, hopefully this is on the level of their other matches, can’t remember if this one was good but I’ll assume it is. This completely lived up to expectations and them some. This match was almost the polar opposite of the subpar opener in that it flowed perfectly and didn’t feel too structured. The counters by Rey and Jericho were so unique and the story they told in the ring of Rey doing anything he could do to keep the fans from seeing his face resulted in him losing the match. Jericho was such an amazing heel in this, just being the biggest asshole in the ring and him yanking off the mask in the middle of countering the 619 from Rey was awesome, just made the crowd hate him so much. Funny think was that a good 85% of the crowd was cheering for Rey but the 3-4 guys in front of the camera HATED him and booed every time Rey would hit a move. So Jericho gets the win and the IC title, not to mention the mask. I’m going to need to check out the rest of their series because this one was just so fun to watch.

Score: ***3/4

Match #3: CM Punk vs Umaga in a Samoan Strap match

So what is the difference between a Samoan Strap and a regular strap? Fun fact: pretty sure this was Umaga’s last WWE match as he was released soon after (RIP L). Shit this is the type of match that has that shitty stipulation where in order to win you have to touch all 4 corners, the evil stip that made a Henry vs Sheamus match absolute shit. This actually wasn’t THAT bad, it still was pretty mediocre because the strap match stipulation limits what the workers can do so much. The strap itself was used well in the match which means that if they didn’t have to use that fucking four corner rule then the match would actually be pretty damn entertaining. They did what they could though and while most of the match was spent laboring back and forth between ring posts, it certainly could have been much more boring. I personally thought the ending was awesome, Punk hits the GTS on Umaga and essentially collapses into the 4th ring post for the win. It was an exciting ending and a surprising one as I thought Umaga picked up the win to set up Punks big moment later a la Seth Rollins, but Punk needed the win against a monster like Umaga so I liked him winning. Decent match that could have been much much worse.

Score: **1/2

Match #4: Tommy Dreamer vs Christian vs Jack Swagger in a hardcore match

Interesting match here, I didn’t know that Dreamer was still wrestling with the WWE in 2009 tbh, thought he had retired by then, this should be decent just based on the fact that its hard to find a bad 2009 match featuring my man CHRISTIAN. This was a really good match just because of the story they told in the ring, it was basically Tommy Dreamer channeling his past and going all out in a hardcore ECW esque match to keep his career alive. I personally thought that while the action in the ring wasn’t fantastic, it worked as a hybrid between a hardcore spotfest and a good story told in the ring, something you don’t see too often, and it made up for the workers not putting on a very good performance in the ring in technical terms. Dreamer winning the ECW title was a nice moment, probably the last old ECW guy to hold the title before it was retired and it just made his whole career come full circle I guess, even if Christian would win it back relatively soon. The match was entertaining and was a good emotional victory for Dreamer, and sometimes you gotta take that over awesome wrestling skills.

Score: ***

Match #5: Santina Marella vs Vickie Guerrero and Chavo Guerrero in a hog pen match

Yeah my new promise is to not skip matches when I review shows, even if they are literally the worst sounding matches ever, such as this match which takes place in like a mud pit, who thinks of this shit?   There's not much I can say about this tbh, its basically the grossest match possible with mud and pig slop being thrown throughout the match, I don’t think too highly of Chavo but even he deserves more then this shit, just terrible.


Match #6: Batista vs Randy Orton in a steel cage

This is what we almost got as our WM 30 main event (thank you Bryan). Going in I wanted this to be relatively short due to the match not sounding like it would be very good, but 7 minutes for a WWE title match? That’s a joke, especially in a stipulation like the steel cage. The match was ok for the time it got, Orton and Batista don’t have the best chemistry but they did an average job here, especially given the time they got was so limited. Was also surprised Flair didn’t make any sort of appearance due to his involvement in the feud, but maybe Orton beat him so badly that he was just selling the injury? Anyway this was just an average RAW match with a cage involved, in the end Batista hit a Batista Bomb and won the match. Honestly, why use this stipulation if the finish is just going to be a standard finisher for a pin? Seems like a waste of a usually decent stipulation to me. Anyway average match, not very good or very bad and they didn’t really have the time to develop any sort of story, like I said, felt like a RAW match for most of it. Batista wins the title only 2 months after Randy gets his big main event win at mania, short title reigns seemed to dominate 2009-2010 so I guess it’s nothing out of the ordinary.
Score: **1/2

Match #7: John Cena vs The Big Show in a submission match

Ugh, these two have  the worst matches, and I can already see the terrible STF with Cole marking out, this will probably get tons of times too L. My WWE network stream kept freezing throughout this as if god was telling me THIS MATCH SUCKS STAY away, I probably should have listened. This match is basically exactly what you would expect it to be, a pretty boring slow match that in the end Cena overcomes the odds against the giant. These Cena vs Show matches are always booked as CENA CANT WIN, but has Show ever actually beaten Cena on PPV? Pretty sure these matches exist just to have Cena overcome the odds and be super Cena at his finest. I don’t mind Cena most of the time but this was just way too obvious of a finish and I don’t like Show at all but these two simply have zero chemistry. They would wrestle on PPV once more in 2012 and that sucked too, and they’ve stayed away from each other since for the most part, but this was just awful stuff.

Score: *

Match #8: Jeff Hardy vs Edge in a ladder match

If it wasn’t for the great IC title match this would probably me my match of the night, which certainly isn’t saying much given this lackluster card but this was pretty much exactly the kind of match you’d expect from these two in a ladder match. Some good callbacks to the early 2000’s TLC days and plenty of exciting spots throughout the match. I thought they did a good job at making sure both guys got good offense in, and both men seemed like they legitimately beat the crap out of each other. The selling is what you’d expect from these guys who basically just act like whatever crazy spot they just took absolutely knocked them out, which I guess makes sense given the violence of the spots themselves. Ending to the match was really weird, with Edge basically just getting stuck in the ladder while Hardy wins, kind of a stupid finish tbh after the pure violence that these men had taken throughout the match. Crowd really wanted Hardy to win so that ended the show on a happy moment right?

Score: ***1/4


Match #9: CM Punk vs Jeff Hardy

Hardy actually stays alive through this short match, kind of a good way to make sure this became a feud and not just a squash and move on. Punk obviously wins this and gets his second World Championship reign, this one was much better then the first  one though and led to an excellent program with Hardy.

Rating: N/A 

Friday, April 3, 2015

WrestleMania 31 review

WrestleMania 31 review
By Ben Smith 

Yes I know it’s been quite a while since I've posted on here, but that’s because after I just simply became tired of WWE’s lackluster product last summer I had to take a break, so this is the first time I have watched any WWE show outside of the rumble since Summerslam. It was weird not knowing the build for the matches and I didn’t know who was expected to win, so it was a different experience to say the least. But regardless of how I didn’t like WWE post mania last year and how I was completely turned off by Reigns winning the rumble, I have decided to once again try watching WWE once again. I mean, I was always going to watch WrestleMania, but I think I will stick with the product for now as long as my patience holds. I have been seeing fans call this one of the greatest Manias ever, which I think is an exaggeration, but I still thought it was pretty damn good. So without further ado, here is my WrestleMania 31 review!

Match #1: Daniel Bryan vs Wade Barrett vs Dean Ambrose vs Dolph Ziggler vs R-Truth vs Stardust vs Luke Harper

First of all, I was pretty confused at why R-Truth is in a ladder match with 6 awesome workers, oh well, he didn’t really do much anyway. I had high hopes for this match, and it had its good moments, but there were plenty of things that brought it down as well. It was a spotfest, like pretty much all ladder matches are if they’re more than three people, so it’s what I was expecting, but I wish the spots didn’t have to be so damn predictable. Outside of the Ambrose spot, I feel like I had seen a lot of the spots before, and none of them we’re that shocking or awesome to me because I had seen them in matches like these before. Other than that, there wasn’t that too much to complain about, it was your run of the mill Money in the Bank style match, which are usually pretty damn awesome so it’s nothing to complain about. I’m glad Bryan won, even though the announcers tried to pretend that opening Mania a year after main eventing was somehow a good thing, if WWE is going to put Bryan in the midcard rather than the main event scene, then the least they could do is not to pretend it’s an honor. So I was relatively disappointed with this, but it was still OK, it could have been worse, and the last few minutes of the match we’re pretty freaking awesome, loved the head butt war and the Bull Hammers. Above all else, the right guy won, let’s hope he’s back in the main event scene by next year!

Score: ***1/4

Match #2: Seth Rollins vs Randy Orton

 I didn’t even know that Orton had turned face, as far as I knew up until I saw this card, I assumed Orton was still going strong with the Authority. Anyways a face turn seems like a step in the right direction for Orton simply because it’s something fresh. Orton’s good but not great as a heel or a face. I prefer him as a heel, but I like his face character just based off of this video package. This match seemed just average on the first watch but it went way up on the rewatch. This was a lot of fun. I liked that they kept this relatively short was a positive, nothing in the match felt like filler and it was exciting throughout. Orton winning really surprised me at the time, but by the end of the show I understood why. Overall it was just fun and really exciting to watch, I love the curb stomps by Rollins and the cowardly heels role played by J&J security, and the nearfalls made the match really fun. Now, the RKO at the end is in my opinion the best RKO I have ever seen, though looking back at it Orton letting Rollins run at him like that while looking ready to get up made the move looked a little too obviously set up, the move itself was still fucking awesome though and that’s all that matters.

Score: ***3/4

Match #3: Triple H vs Sting

This match seems to me like it is getting the most varied reactions from fans, which makes since. I personally was really excited for this, despite not being that big of a Sting guy, he was always just OK to me. This match was honestly a letdown for me, and I thought it was horribly booked throughout.  That being said, it was certainly not the absolute disgrace to humanity that I hear it described by people. My big issue was the way the whole WWE vs WCW angle was handled. I understand that WWE won the war, but if we are going to do a WWE vs WCW angle in 2015, does it have to be used to just pretend WCW was nothing compared to the WWF? I get Stephanie calling WCW a “small pond”, but when the entire commentary team seems to get behind that, it makes me think the WWE is just trying to prove that they are “better” than WCW, even though there is not much to prove 14 years after it closed.

My other issue was Hunter winning, yeah I get that they want WWE to triumph over WCW, but it goes back to my last point about how no one really brands themselves as a “WCW fan” because the company doesn’t exist, so it’s silly to have Sting lose his first WWE match just to once again further the WWE’s agenda of burying WCW. Now the WWE is put in a bad position with Sting, we all see the possibility of Sting vs Taker, but the end result of that would be either Taker losing 2 Mania matches or Sting going 0=2 at Mania, and this could have been avoided had Sting simply have gone over here. Despite these complaints, I thought the match wasn’t the worst thing ever, NWO helping Sting was horribly inaccurate, but it was fun having those guys out there, but H winning the match really just brought it down for me, not because I don’t like Hunter (I do) but because it just was not the right decision. The in ring work was fine, Sting looked in shape, but the silliness behind it all made the in ring work appear minor, which I didn’t like at all.

Score: **3/4

Match #4: Paige and AJ Lee vs The Bellas

Surprisingly entertaining match here, I was not expecting anything out of this match since unfortunately WWE has had trouble booking good divas matches 99%  of the time, maybe that’s something that’s changed since I’ve stopped watching. This got a perfect amount of time, not too long that it felt they were trying to hard to shine more light on the divas division, but enough time so it didn’t feel rushed (like most WWE divas matches do). As of this writing I now know that AJ has decided to retire, which caught me by surprise for sure but she had her last hurrah at mania and got the clean pin. Can’t think of any genuinely entertaining womens matches at mania before, and this certainly wasn’t a classic by any means, but it was pretty damn good.

Score: **1/4

Match #5: John Cena vs Rusev

I love Rusev, the dude is just the best badass heel in the company outside of Brock. The entrance for Rusev was the tops, the song playing reminded me of Nikoli Volkoff insisting they play the Russian national anthem back in the 70s and 80s. Was expecting some more out of Cenas entrance, but it was fine I guess. I really enjoyed this match. Up to this point it’s probably a tie between the Rollins/Orton match and this for MOTN. What I enjoyed about this was that it was just a really entertaining big man match, certainly we would see that again later but I just enjoyed the big power moves these guys were pulling off. I loved Rusev in this, Cena was alright, he seemed to just be going through the motions, but it’s what I’ve come to expect from Cena these days. I usually am not too happy when Cena “overcomes the odds” against an up and comer like Rusev, but here it worked. Not only did Rusev get the win at Fastlane so Cena got his win back here, setting up the rubber match at Extreme (or Axtreme) Rules. Also its WrestleMania, and in a battle of USA vs Russia, its hard to root against the red white and blue as an American. Overall the match was really entertaining, much better then I had envisioned it as, and I look forward to a no holds barred or street fight match at ER to end the feud.

Score: ***3/4

The Rousey/Rock/Authority scene happens here, I thought it was meh tbh, belonged on a RAW in my opinion.

Match #6: Bray Wyatt vs The Undertaker

When I got a WWE notification that Taker was going to wrestle Bray, I was shocked. I had just assumed Taker was retiring for good after the end of the streak. So because of this I had no idea what this would be like, would Taker be in shape and could he still wrestle? I was skeptical after last year, so my expectations for this was that Taker was going to be at the same physical state he was in last year. This match was pretty damn awesome, before I go further into detail, any Undertaker mania match is going to be a little more lenient in my critique of it due to my sheer marking out at seeing the dead man wrestle in 2015. My favorite part in the match by far was the spider walk/sit up moment that just made me mark the fuck out like crazy. I’m not exactly a huge Bray Wyatt fan, I like his gimmick and his mic skills but not that big on his in ring work. However, in this match with Taker, it just worked. It was a slower match, which I guess makes sense, and it didn't detract from the match too much. This wasn't about amazing exhilarating action, this was about an awesome moment seeing the dead man once again, and Taker and Bray ultimately delivered here with an awesome match.

Score: ***1/2

Match #7: Roman Reigns vs Brock Lesner (Vs Seth Rollins I guess)

Honestly, the first time I watched this match I was too terrified that Roman Reigns would win to truly get a feel for the quality of the match. Brock Lesner is my favorite wrestler of all time, so there was little doubt in my mind that any match that he just fucked the other guy up wouldn't be epic, and it was epic. Somehow this got even more awesome the second time around. The booking in this is just fantastic. I think of this match as a match with three parts.
70% of the match was just Brock beating the absolute shit out of Reigns, and I loved it. I think there was 10 or 11 suplexes that Lesner hit on Reigns, which is a great callback to the Summerslam match against Cena (Suplex city bitch!). The only thing I didn't like was the fact that Brock had to hit 4 F5’s. I didn't mind the fact that Reigns kicked out of two, that didn't really bother me, but the fact that he had to hit 4 and Brock still hadn't won just irked me a bit. But whatever, Brock was still showing off just how great of a badass heel he is, possibly one of the best in terms of just coming off as a true beast, every move he hit was STIFF and looked painful as shit, which just got me more invested.

Once Brock got hit with the ring post, I could feel the Reigns hulk up coming, and although it did in a way, the best part about this was just how amazing Brock's selling of the hit to the ring post was. Brock literally looked like he was about to die, but still somehow came off as the beast incarnate, that’s special. I loved how he just no sold the superman punches as  they only got him down to one knee, again showing off how much of a beast he truly is. However, when Roman hit the spear on him, I got scared, and I’ll be honest when I say I thought Reigns was going to pin him right there in the ring, basically turning into Cena. However, Brock came back and I got HYPE, and then when he hit that 4th F5 I thought it was all over. This was just Brock at his best and Reigns did a  decent job here too, I loved this part of the match almost as much as the Brock domination part at the beginning.

I was really surprised when Rollins music hit in the middle of the match, especially since it seemed like the match was just about to end and I assumed that if a cash in would happen, it would be after one of those guys won. WWE however, booked this perfectly and made sure only one fall had to be taken, so Brock still hasn’t been pinned in two years and Reigns still looked pretty damn strong. The end to this match was just amazing, and I was downright giddy when Rollins won. I wanted Brock to win of course, but he doesn’t work full time so it probably wouldn’t of worked, but Seth is probably my third favorite wrestler in the WWE after Brock and Bryan so it was great to see him with the belt. This match just worked, it flowed perfectly and every moment felt like the match could end at any second. This was for sure my MOTN and managed to single handily turn this show from a good Mania to a great one.

Score: ****1/4 

Your thoughts on mania? Comment!