Monday, 22 March 2004

15th-21st March 2004

Monday, 15th March, 2004;
What the hell was I thinking? The freakin' Wrestlemania show was nearly five f'n hours long. Hey, I know I'm a diagnosed insomniac, but even staying up until nearly five in the morning was a stretch for me,

But my views on Wrestlemania XX can be read elsewhere on the Internet. There's more important things happening in the wrestling world today. Yep, The Wrestling Channel, the world's first channel dedicated to the world of sports entertainment launches in good old Blighty today.

However, having emerged from my slumber in the early part of the afternoon, I'm a little dismayed to find nothing but previews on until nine in the evening. However, when I do switch on, I begin to mark out like a f***er at an advert for the old World of Sport shows, especially as they show one of my all time favourite matches - Marty Jones wrestling Owen Hart for the vacant World Mid-Heavyweight title. If they're showing this in one of the first shows, then I'm not going to complain. There were also shots of the great man himself, Kendo Nagasaki. Man am I going to be happy.

So when the channel actually officially starts, we're presented with TNA Explosion, dating from sometime last December. I've only caught TNA during the preview showings on Friendly TV, and I was impressed. Back then it reminded me of WCW when they weren't trying to copy the WWF. This show features the confrontation between one of my all-time favourites, the original Rowdy Man (sorry Ricky), Roddy Piper, and the man who knows how to use a few million, Vince Russo. It's compelling viewing, and highly entertaining.

Afterwards, it's down to Central America for some CMLL action. At first I'm a little confused about what's happening, as the only Spanish I know comes from watching Fawlty Towers and an old Saturday Night Live sketch with Steve Martin, so all I can say is "Where is Paul? Paul is here!" Unnaturally for me I resist the temptation to mimic a certain series of sketches from The Fast Show. However, Mo Chatra suddenly chimes in with a voice over, and even though he sounds like he's speaking to us from beyond the grave, he quickly lets us know what's happening.

We start off with a six-man tag featuring some familiar faces, Super Crazy, La Parka, and Vampiro, although the rules leave me a little confused. One minute there's a ton of action, then there's none, then there's a scantily clad bird coming out carrying a card saying "segunda" or something.

One man who does impress me is a blonde-haired dude called Shocker. From what I've heard he's appeared for MLW before, and the guy really impresses me with his ring-style. So, although a little confused, I'm already looking forward to my next instalment of Lucha Libre action.

Tuesday, March 16th, 2004;
Got an e-mail from my good buddy Paul Tyrell today, inviting me down to the Ultimate Wrestling Alliance show at the Ipswich Corn Exchange this coming Saturday. So I guess you won't be getting a diary kind of entry for this Saturday, eh? This also means that I'll probably have to miss the classic British wrestling show on Saturday afternoon. But as I've said many times in the past few years, there's nothing like a live show.

Managed to catch a few moments of the Jake Roberts shoot interview. To say that the Snake Man has received a bit of bad press the past few years would be an understatement. Indeed, yours truly has been responsible for some of the bad press. I've met the man. I've spoken with him. Get him on a good day with a clear head and he's a delight to be with, especially when he's telling you one of his stories about life on the road.

This interview was obviously from a few years back, as the segment I saw made reference to writing reviews of Raw and Nitro on his website, Jakethesnakeddt dot com or whatever. Last time I looked at that particular sight a young lady was offering me a web cam service, so I have no idea what happened. Before you ask, no I didn't take her up on her offer.

Wednesday, March 17th. 2004;
The day I had been waiting for, the chance to see a full TNA pay-per-view for the first time, even though it was about six months old. Some may view the Jarrett's group as nothing more than a retirement home for former WWF, WCW and ECW stars. But as a viable alternative to Raw & Smackdown, it cuts the mustard. Every match left me wanting to see more of this group.

This was also the fist time I had seen "The Fallen Angel" Christopher Daniels in a singles match, and although he lost to Jeff Jarrett, I was impressed. It's a little early to say that Daniels has another follower, but give him a little more time, he may have. The gimmick, and the wrestler, really impress me.

As a promotion I just hope that TNA get a chance, and don't go the same way WCW did, because that would be a shame. Vince McMahon has a monopoly on the national industry in America at the moment. Hopefully TNA can give him a run for his money.

An acute bout of insomnia sets in later in the evening, so I catch the first half hour of New Japan. The show starts with a group of old timers in what resembles a battle royal, except it's not the kind of battle royal I'm familiar with. Two guys start the match, one gets the upper hand, and then everyone pins the guy who was beaten down. This goes on for a number of minutes, and I'm left scratching my balding head wondering what's going on.

The confusion soon ended when I saw not just one of my favourite wrestlers of recent years, but one of my favourite MMA fighters of all-time as Ken Shamrock makes a first appearance on my television for a few years. Great to see the World's Most Dangerous Man in the ring. He may have taken something of a pasting in the UFC in recent outings, but this outing showed that he could still cut it in a WWE ring. I'd love to see Shamrock and Benoit go at it in a submission match, but I don't think this is ever going to happen.

Fatigue finally begins to set in. The last image I see is a big black woman marching down the aisle with a masked man behind her. She's dressed in leopard skin, and has catlike eyes. She looks tough. But then again, this may have been something I imagined as I headed into the land of nod.

Thursday, March 18th, 2004;
With the last minute cancellation of WAW's show in King's Lynn, I managed to get home earlier than expected and catch some snippets of action on TWC.

Although I've only seen CZW once before, I still don't like what I see. The Internet smarks seems to drool over everything this promotion does, and for some reason, I just can't see why.

This was followed by another brief snippet from Memphis Classics. It was great to see Jimmy Hart and Jerry Lawler keeping kayfabe alive in their segments.

Finally, a few moments of FWA Seasons Beatings while waiting for Letterman confirms that A.J. Styles is definitely one of the best on the American indy circuit right now.

Friday, March 19th, 2004;
Having secured a week's worth of supplies from my local Safeway (soon to become Morrisons), I settle down in front of the TV to catch the final few moments of Johnny Vaughn's show on BBC3. At this moment in time I am considering legal action against Auntie Beeb - think about it, an entertainment show based around a shed. Perhaps I do have a case.

The Geordie lassie who used to be in a pop group is wearing an awful green top which does nothing for her. She's one fit looking bird but this fashion statement is not good. Thank god Rachel Hunter is on hand to provide us with some eye candy.

In recent weeks we've seen tons of action courtesy of their exclusive deal with Premier Promotions. Having seen the Essex Boys versus the U.K. "we may be freaks but at least we're not from Potter's Bar" Pitbulls, with Roy "you can tell he's not Jewish" Knight against Hot/Luke Warm Stuff last week, this week the legendary Dickie Davies introduces a match featuring Johhny Kidd & Phil Lea against the Masked Emperor and Paul Tyrell. Casual viewers to the show may be a little confused, as Tyrell is now playing the heel, whereas two weeks ago he was the beloved hero. The cowardly heels gain the victory, but the referee reverses his decision because of the heel's cowardly tactics. Apparently next week is the last week of the show, which makes me wonder, will we finally see the PWF Heavyweight Champion?

Then it's back to TWC, as I get my first look at the Blue Meanie's 3PW promotion. First impressions - I was not impressed. The show as introduced by two guys who looked like they belong in one of the photos the UKFFers take whenever they congregate at a show. I felt the urge to shout, in my loudest Homer Simpson voice; "NERD!!!!"

Anyway, the action was okay, but it didn't grab my attention and keep hold of it. And at the end, the hard-core triple threat match between former ECW stars New Jack, The Sandman and Sabu didn't make for pretty viewing, especially when New Jack began carving open his opponents with some kind of large kitchen knife.

Another problem with the show was that for two of the matches, there was no commentary at all. It's the commentator's job to bring the viewers sitting in their armchairs into the match, to get them involved, to get them to connect to the wrestlers in an emotional way. This may be one of the reasons I wasn't impressed with this show.

Then it back to Sky Sports 1 for my does of Raw action. As the age of Benoit began Triple H once again proclaimed how great he was, and Vince McMahon made a huge announcement, so big in fact that he felt the need to interrupt the Stacey v Miss Jackie match. Next week there's going to be a lottery draft, and it's going to shake up the entire Raw and Smackdown rosters. Didn't we already do something like this two years ago? We saw teams ruined, then reform, and lose the original lustre they had. I am having grave doubts about this.

Final wrestling of the evening comes from the Classic World of Sport shows. My original intention was to catch a few moments before Letterman came on. That idea went on the back burner when I saw that the first match they were showing was one of my all-time favourites - Marty Jones v Owen Hart for the World Mid-Heavyweight Championship. Again, I begin to mark out like a f***er. If they show this match again, watch it. It's a great match between two of the world's most technical wrestlers, and one of my favourite Owen Hart
matches of all time.

Then I begin to think that I made the right decision. Up next, Indian wrestler Tiger Dalibar Singh, who would later go on to win the British Heavyweight title, against Bret "The Hitman" Hart, or rather, "Cowboy" Bret Hart. I've never seen much of Bret's pre-WWF career, and as a massive Hitman mark, I was more than interested in this bout. No flashy gimmicks or moves in this one, just solid wrestling action, and it made for a very enjoyable match. Let's hope they show more of Bret's matches soon.

Although with only two matches shown in the one-hour show, I'm left wondering if any of today's fans would say it was something of a disappointment.

Saturday, March 20th, 2004;
Not much wrestling on television for yours truly today. Today I was meant to be at the UWA show in Ipswich, but Mother Nature, and Anglia Railways, conspired against me, meaning that I couldn't get to the show. Want to know exactly what happened? Read my latest Two Sheds Review column, available on this very website!!!!

Did manage to catch a few moments of Smackdown on Sky One. It's nice to see that they actually went to the trouble of creating an explanation for Ron "Farooq" Simmons' departure from the company, instead of just announcing on their website that he'd just left. Simmons has been a faithful servant of the company for years. He may not be regarded as one of the greatest of all-time, but I'm sure that many would give their right arm to have the sort of wrestling career he has had.

Sunday, March 21st, 2004;
It's Supercard Sunday on The Wrestling Channel, but having not logged onto the Internet for long today, and with Sky's Electronic Program guide not offering any information, I have no idea what the show is. In this day and age, information is everything, and it's this information I need in order to make my decision. So I decide to watch the BAFTA Bob Monkhouse Tribute instead.

But before this, I catch a bit of the Classic Memphis Wrestling show that was first broadcast a few days ago, as Jerry Lawler talks about the most famous feud of his career, against the late, great, Andy Kaufman.

When you think about celebrities entering the wrestling business, most people think of the celebrity appearances at Wrestlemania down the years. But Kaufman's appearances in Memphis in the early eighties have become legendary. Although it was just the early stages of Kaufman's "wrestling" career that were shown, it made me wonder, it made me compare Kaufman's wrestling-related appearances to those of
other American mainstream media celebrities. I found myself asking the question, will Jay Leno's appearance for WCW still be remembered in twenty years time? I don't think so.

The week's viewing ends when I manage to catch the final two hours of the first Sunday supercard, MLW's "Re-Loaded" from the Manhattan Centre in NYC. Didn't they used to host Monday Night Raw here a few years ago? Rumour has it that before they went under, Vince McMahon considered MLW a threat to the WWE, and that's why he stopped Jerry Lawler wrestling for them. This was my first taste of MLW action, and I was impressed. Impressed by the fact that although he's pushing sixty, Terry Funk is still going strong. Also impressed by the overall wrestling action, especially the main event pitting Jerry Lynn against Satoshi Kojima. Solid wrestling throughout.

Thus concludes the first week of The Wrestling Channel. Some hits, and some misses. Mix it in with Sky's WWE action, and the Premier Promotions highlights on Johnny Vaughn's show, and the British wrestling fan certainly has something to look forward to each and every day.

Highlight of the week - seeing Owen Hart v Marty Jones from all those years ago. It really brought back memories. Lowlight of the week - the 3PW show. By far the worst thing on The Wrestling Channel at the moment. A show with very poor production qualities fronted by a couple of Internet nerds. Not the best way to be introduced to a new wrestling promotion.