Monday, 29 March 2004

22nd-28th March 2004

Monday, March 22nd, 2004;
A busy day today, as the old Two Sheds Review website gets a slight makeover on the main page, with brand spanking new logs. Not much time to watch the old TWC until around 9pm, starting off with the first new show of the day, TNA Xplosion.

To be honest I don't think I'll be watching much of this show. Apart from a couple of squash matches featuring X-Division Champ Michael Shane and America's Most Wanted, it was basically a recap of the previous pay-per-view. Mind you, if Never Mind The Buzzcocks hadn't finished their last series last week, I probably wouldn't have watched it anyway.

Then it's on to CMLL. I'm not a little more clued in with regards to the opening six-man tag-team matches, but at times they still seem a little confusing to me. The match to watch though pitted tag-team champions Rey Buccanero and Ultimo Guerrero against Shocker and La Parka, although he goes by the name of L.A. Park these days. This brought back memories of the good old days of WCW Nitro, when more often than not the show would be opened by a tearaway cruiser weight match. This was a hard fought match as Rey and Ultimo fought to retain the titles they had held since the summer of 2002. A tag-team holding a championship for over a year? You certainly wouldn't see this sort of thing in America now, would you? But they didn't retain the title for long, as Shocker and Parka beat them for the gold. A highly entertaining bout.

Then it's on to Pro Wrestling NOAH. Only a brief snippet here. The only NOAH that's been shown seems to have been tag-matches, followed by more tag-matches, followed by even more tag-matches, which left me wondering if NOAH puts on nothing but tag-matches. I need some variety in my wrestling shows. Needless to say, I soon turned over.

While waiting for the legend that is David Letterman to appear before me on my television screen, I caught the final few minutes of the FWA repeat from last week. Jody and Jonny going at it again in match-up number 2,349. I know that "The Wonderkid" and "The Phoenix" had a great chemistry together, but how many more times can you see these guys go up against each other and continue to get excited? Answers on a postcard to the usual address.

Finally, it's CZW action. A friend of mine put it perfectly the other day - why is this group called CZW? Because, what I've seen, there's very little wrestling action. So it's back to the Jerry Springer rerun, rather than watching a bunch of guys hammering thumb tacks into each other's backs.

Tuesday, 23rd March, 2004;
FINALLY! THE ROCK, HAS COME BACK.....TO MERRY OLD ENGLAND! The People's Champion, The Great One, The Rock, has come to Britain to promote his latest film, Welcome to the Rundown Jungle, by appearing on Live At Johnny's on BBC3. Although it's not actually live, it's recorded.

Once again Mr. Johnson comes across as one of the nicest guys in the world, and looks to accomplish far more in the acting world than Hogan and Piper combined. We see a segment of his flick, before Mr. Vaughn shows him a clip from the Doug Williams/Paul Birchall match from the Premier show in Worthing a few weeks ago. Both men try to compare the Premier Promotions product to that of the mighty WWE, which isn't rally fair, before the Rock tells us all that it doesn't matter if the ring is small or large, of if there's ring barriers or not, it's about entertaining the fans.

Then it was back to TWC, for the Road Warriors shoot interview. One thing was plainly obvious from this - their dislike of Vince McMahon. Some of their comments could have been considered slanderous, so it's possible that Vince has never seen this interview. But it goes to show that even though I work in the wrestling business, I really am from a different walk of life as far as some wrestlers were concerned. When they spoke of their dislike, perhaps you could even call it hatred, of Vince McMahon, I began to ask myself the same question over and over again - if they hated the guy that much, then why did they go back to work for him on two separate occasions? But then it occurred to me, it's all about one thing isn't it? The almighty
dollar.

It wasn't all sour grapes though, as Hawk told a funny story of how he and Jimmy Snuka were travelling and became lost. The phrase "I remember that tree!" will stay with me for ages!

Wednesday, 24th March, 2004;
It's on to what appears to have already become the highlight of the week as far as The Wrestling Channel is concerned - TNA International. Okay, it's about six months out of date, but who cares. Last week I told of how I really think that given time and money, TNA could become a viable alternative to the WWE. As Roddy Piper said in his interview - it's a rocket ship waiting to take off.

The majority of this show was entertaining, but the main event was something of a let down. As Jeff Jarrett & Dusty Rhodes teamed to go up against A.J. Styles and Vince Russo, I began to think once again that Russo does not belong in a wrestling ring. There is no doubt that the guy is a talented writer. Raw magazine was an enjoyable read while he was in charge. But just think about it for a minute, compare Russo to other "creative" types in wrestling. At least Eric Bischoff is a trained martial artist. At least Vince McMahon has received a great amount of wrestling training. What has Russo done? Shamed the once great WCW title by putting it on himself, and very little else.

TNA also seems to be the place where former WWE employees rejuvenate themselves. While they floundered in the WWE, the likes of Raven & D'Lo Brown seem to be excelling in TNA. And as for "home-grown" stars, America's Most Wanted & Christopher Daniels continue to impress me.

This is one part of TWC programming that I am really looking forward to.

Thursday, 25th March, 2004;
It's been a while since I caught an episode of WWE Classics. You can thank FX298 and Duncan MacCleod for this. So seeing as I'm doing this brand new column, I thought it was time to take another look back in time.

This show takes place just after one of those old Clash of the Champions shows. Lex Luger is still WCW World Champion, and Sting has just lost the U.S. title to "Ravishing" Rick Rude, having been previously attacked by Luger. It's the beginning of what was possibly one of the hottest angles in WCW history as Paul E's Dangerous Alliance takes their first formative steps. It was one of the few things that made WCW watchable about ten years ago. The Enforcers, Arn Anderson and Larry Zybyszko, have just been recruited by Paul E, and the Alliance are about to go on a tear.

It's also around the time that WCW introduced their Light-Heavyweight title. The champion is none other than "Flyin'" Brian Pillman, who won the title by defeating Richard Morton in the tournament final. We also see possibly one of the worst gimmicks in wrestling history - Brad Armstrong as "Arachnaman". It's not surprising that Stan Lee got out of his Bullpen and threatened WCW with legal action. Thank god he did. But I'm left to wonder if Mr. Lee is considering a similar action against All-Star's Brian Dixon at the moment.

The show is main-evented by York Foundation member Thomas Rich going up against Big Josh in a "Submit or Surrender" match. The less said about these two the better.

After watching the excellent vampire v werewolves film "Underworld", I caught the last match of the FWA's weekly offering, the main event of which was the Doug Williams v American Dragon from Vendetta last year. I was intrigued by this match because of all the rave reviews their series of matches received last year. But for me, this match wasn't anything special. Sure, it was a good match, but it wasn't the match of the year everyone said it was, and while I'm not surprised their later match for All-Star in Croydon won "Match of the Year" on 1 Stop Wrestling, this match did leave me wanting a little more.

Friday, March 26th, 2004;
The great thing about The Wrestling Channel is that it gives long-time devotees of the mat game a chance to catch up on action we haven't seen for years, and to also acquaint ourselves with legendary stars we have never seen before.

Take for example the old World of Sport shows. With the channel running fifteen minutes late because of technical difficulties, I managed to catch the last few minutes of an old match between Marty Jones and the Dynamite Kid. The crowd were really into this one, and I hope to catch the match in full tomorrow afternoon.

This was followed by the Classic New Japan show, with a match from the early seventies pitting Antonio Inoki and Seiji Sakaguchi against Lou Thesz (he of the oft-mentioned Press fame) and German grappler Karl Gotch. Newer fans will probably describe this match as boring, because it didn't feature spot followed by spot followed by spot. Instead, it featured tons and tons of great wrestling action with some of the greatest stars to have ever graced the squared circle. To be honest with you all, if it came down to watching either the old World of Sport or New Japan shows or watching Ring of Honor's latest offering, I'd take the old stuff any day.

But I must mention some new stuff. Once again Raw was shunted around the Sky Sports schedule because of their coverage of a poker game. Since when has poker been considered a sport? And when will Sky Sports treat one of their highest rated shows with a little more respect? With news breaking this week that Wrestlemania XX pulled in about half a million viewers for the live showing, you'd have thought that by now they'd have realised just what a gem they have.

But back to the show itself. It was by far the best Raw I've seen since the return of ECW in 2001. With the Draft Lottery seeing stars going from one show to another, it truly had the feeling of an inter-promotional show, more than the 2001 InVasion ever did. And the shocking news that Triple H was heading to Smackdown, and Paul Heyman was quitting following his drafting to Raw made for compelling viewing. And the two title matches weren't that bad either. Despite all the bad press he receives, Triple H showed that he can still put on a good match. Mind you, being in there with Eddie Guerrero helped a great deal. And the Rhyno/Benoit match was also very entertaining. The man-beast, like many of his fellow former ECW stars, has been sadly under used as of late.

I was glad to see to stars jumping ship to Smackdown, in the form of Rob Van Dam and Spike Dudley. In my recent column on The Wrestling Channel website, I wrote about how it would be good to see RVD mixing it up with the Cruiserweights, because it would rejuvenate his career a little. And I remember saying years ago that Spike would be a welcome addition to the Light-Heavy/Cruiserweight division. It would make a refreshing change to see LSD go up against guys nearer his own size, rather than being used as cannon fodder for the monsters of the company.

At least with Raw's earlier starting time, I didn't feel the need to see the 3PW show this week. Mind you, there's always the repeats. Suppose I better give it a second chance sometime.

And can someone please tell me what happened to the wrestling action on Johnny Vaughn's show tonight? In short, there wasn't any! With the show having now finished, it looks like we won't be seeing much of Premier Promotions on our screens now. Let's hope John Freemantle cut a deal with the BBC and that he'll be able to release some videos or DVDs sometime soon. And if you need a commentator, Mr. Freemantle, I do have some prior experience.

Saturday, 27th March, 2004;
Saturday afternoon is very much nostalgia afternoon on TWC. Tuning it at 3pm to see the classic World Of Sport wrestling, I was a little disappointed, in a small way, that the first show was another showing of the Owen Hart/Marty Jones match from 1987. So, tuning back in an hour later, I got to see the show I really wanted to see, the first of the shows focusing on the Dynamite Kid.

First off we had a classic encounter with the legendary Mark "Rollerball" Rocco. By this time Dynamite had already relocated to Calgary, but he was still a regular visitor to these shores. This was British wrestling at it's finest, with the bout only ending after Dynamite used a back suplex to send both him and his opponent to the outside of the ring. The bout was declared a no contest.

In the second match Dynamite played the visiting heel to perfection as he went up against Marty Jones. Watching this match made me realise just how much influence the American product has on the British scene these days. Commentator Kent Walton reminded us that under British rules, much of Dynamite's high-flying, top rope moves were outlawed. It made me wonder how the likes of Jonny and Jody would have fared twenty years ago. I doubt if they would have been anywhere near as popular as they are today.

The Dynamite/Jones match was even better than the Dynamite/Rocco match, full of great wrestling action, with a great story line. I'm not surprised that the old World of Sport shows have become one of the most popular shows on TWC. Well, according to the forum on the TWC website, that is.

Then it was down to Memphis for some classic action, and boy did the memories come flooding back. We saw Randy Savage in his prime, during his feud with "The Universal Heart-throb" Austin Idol. I have to admit that I've never really paid much attention to Idol. When I've seen him before, he's always seemed like a bargain basement version of Ric Flair. But in his day, Idol had it all, the looks, the charisma, the ability to work a crowd, and the ability to carry his side of the load in a feud.

This show also reminded us of some of the great tag-teams of the past, as we caught glimpses of the Moondogs, the Fabulous Ones, and the Rock 'N' Roll Express. And we also got a look at the Ugandan Giant himself, Kamala, as he strode through the jungles of his "homeland", although Uganda did bear a striking resemblance to the swamp-like home of the Moondogs. Perhaps those guys were neighbours or something.

The day was rounded off with the late-night showing of Smackdown. The lottery/trade story line continued with Triple H being traded back to Raw in exchange for Booker T and the Dudleys. This may give the Duds the boost they are desperately in need off, but given the current state of the tag-team division in the WWE, that remains to be seen.

But Booker T's heel turn has left me a little confused. Booker definitely works better as a face, and what momentum he's gained in the past year or so may go down the drain with this turn. It may have been better for him to begin a feud with RVD straight away, although this feud will probably happen sooner or later.

Now to annoy the rest of the Internet. I've been a fan of John "Bradshaw" Layfield for some time now, ever since I saw him kicking the Undertaker's backside in a slobber-knocker of a match years ago. The big Texan takes a hell of a lot of stick both from the Internet and the wrestling press. Yet I've always found him highly entertaining. Well, perhaps not during the Blackjacks era when he teamed with Barry Windham. But his heel turn and new gimmick, heavily based on his real-life accomplishments in the stock market game, has a lot of potential. It has the makings of being a "Million Dollar Man" gimmick for the 21st century, and I'm really looking forward to see how this plays out, even if it does earn him a WWE title shot against Eddie Guerrero on pay-per-view. And if you Internet fans and magazine writers don't like that, then you can kiss my portfolio.

Sunday, 28th March, 2004;
It's Supercard Sunday again on The Wrestling Channel, as this week we're presented with Ring of Honor's first anniversary show from February 2003.

I haven't paid that much attention to ROH since the channel began. I hadn't really been impressed when I saw their shows on Friendly TV. This is probably one of the reasons why I haven't gone out of my way to watch one of their shows, but what with it being Supercard Sunday and all.....

After last week's tremendous MLW Reloaded show, the ROH show is something of a disappointment. While the Code of Honor is a refreshing change for the wrestling business at the moment, I just can't get excited over the ROH content. Maybe I'm just getting too old, but the action seems very fast paced, a little too fast at times. There are moments where I'm left wondering what happened to applying a few, good, old-fashioned wrestling holds.

Of course, the main talking point will probably be the riot that followed the Homicide/Steve Corino match. Was it a work? I really can't comment. But the heat Corino got from that crowd was incredible, and it wasn't the usual smart-mark kind of stuff. It's not surprising that some of the fans were baying for his blood.

One thing I must mention is the commentators, whose names escape me at the moment. At times they seemed a little too "smart". They didn't help those of us watching on television suspend our disbelief at times. That is the mark of a good announcer, someone who is able to bring you into the action, and someone who doesn't try to constantly tell you that everything is a work.

Overall, the show wasn't that bad, and although I'm not really a fan of Ring of Honor, I will probably make the effort and watch a few more of their shows. After all, the rest of the Internet keeps telling me how great their shows are.

Highlight of the week - the classic British action featuring the Dynamite Kid. Lowlight of the week - no wrestling on Johnny Vaughn.