Monday, 19 April 2004

12th-18th April 2004

Monday, 12th April, 2004;
So, did you all miss me?

I spent most of the past week away from my main computer, which meant that I couldn't offer you, my long-time fans, my views on the grappling action on the box last week. But this didn't mean that I didn't catch any wrestling shows this week. I just wasn't able to catch as much as I usually do.

I saw most of Raw this past Friday, and was intrigued by the new Eugene character. I'll probably go into this in more detail in my regular Two Sheds Review column, but I found it interesting some of the bad press the WWE creatives have gotten over this character. It shows me that perhaps we really are oversensitive these days. In years gone by, we've seen characters very similar to Eugene. Anyone remember George Steele and Norman The Lunatic?

Then I saw the first half of the Classic New Japan show, involving Andre The Giant. I first saw Andre in 1989. By then he was little more than a lumbering wreck, so it was with great interest that I watched this 30-year-old bout. It was a great match, with great psychology, and I hope that we get to see more of "Classic Andre" sometime soon.

A brief snippet from Smackdown, and I saw that they're still pushing the boat out for the new Million Dollar Man, otherwise known as John Bradshaw Layfield. I must be one of the few people looking forward to his feud with Eddie Guerrero.

Yesterday I caught the full supercard show, CZW's Best of the Best II. I've never really been a fan of the CZW style, but this tournament impressed me. The four first round triple threat matches, filled with high-risk spots, were followed by slower-paced matches in the following rounds, with the exception of Jonny v Jody chapter 3,287. It was an enjoyable show nonetheless.

Then it was on to the TNA International show. Another solid outing, with the announcement that Hulk Hogan could (possibly) be coming to TNA to challenge for the NWA title. Of course, we all know the story about what happened. The TNA show was still good, with the exception of the tag-team match involving Sonjay Dutt. This was the first time seeing the "Playa from the Himalayas". Like many things I suppose he's an acquired taste.

Not sure if I'll be able to do an update tomorrow. I'm having a tooth extracted. Mind you, it could be worse - I could be watching a 3PW show!

Tuesday, 13th April, 2004;
The wee-hours of the morning brings me a video profile of "The Anarchist" Doug Williams on FWA TV. For me, this is a good thing, and something more welcome than the hotchpotch of action we've seen on TWC since it began. The profile was well put together and was a perfect showcase for Doug's talents. Highlight of the piece had to be Doug's match with former ECW Champion Jerry Lynn. If the FWA are going to do more of these types of shows, and perhaps save their proper shows for the Supercard Sunday strand, then all the better I say.

After my trip to the dentist, where I found that before I could have my broken tooth extracted, I need to take a two-week course of antibiotics to get rid of the infection in my gums and jaws, I return home in eager anticipation of some new programming in The Wrestling Channel. I was very disappointed.

I managed to catch some of the scramble match from the Ring of Honor show. Their recent Supercard Sunday show was by far the best ROH show I've seen, but these scramble matches just ruin the whole thing for me. The entire proceedings seem to be nothing more than a cluster-f***, with moves that leave you wondering just what happened to the fine art of tag-team wrestling.

Sadly, this was the only new original planning on the channel today. Having announced before the channel began that the 9-12 slot would feature new programming every night, after the ROH show, we're given a 3PW show. I begin to think that instead of just being in pain from my jaw infection, it would have been better to get my tooth pulled, because it would have been better than watching this edition of 3PW TV. Still, the match between Gary Wolfe and Sabu for the 3PW title was entertaining, the fact that those commentators are still so damn awful detracts from the show. I don't care if 3PW made a special deal with TWC, but if this show goes on much longer, it may be the only show on the channel I avoid like the plague!

This was followed by another showing of the Road Warriors shoot interview. For weeks now we've been promised the Shawn Michaels Shoot Interview, but it has not been forthcoming. This is hardly new programming.

So as I've already given my view on this interview, there's no point in giving it again here, and I'm left disappointed by this. I know the channel is only in it's infancy, but mistakes like this, where certain shows are advertised only to be replaced at short notice with others is happening on a regular basis. It's something that the programme schedulers will have to address pretty soon.

Wednesday, 14th April, 2004;
Another good showing from the TNA pay-per-team here. The show was top notch from beginning to end. Building up the Hogan/Jarrett match that never was, the former Double J's heel turn was played to perfection, and made for compelling viewing. It's a shame that this match never came to pass, because if this was just the beginning to the build-up, then the rest of the storyline would have been something worth waiting for.

Earlier in the day I had a chance to catch up on some more classic British wrestling. This was the first time I had seen Count Bartelli in action. This was some years after his famous feud with Kendo Nagasaki, which resulted in the count losing his mask. It's a shame that it seems that TWC isn't going to show some of the action from the 1960's, with the likes of Count Bartelli in his prime. But then again, like many other television shows from that era, the footage may not exist anymore.

It was also great to see Jim Breaks again, going up against the masked Kamikaze. I'd forgotten how good a wrestler Breaks was, how great he was at not just wrestling, but at working the crowd, getting them really riled up. It's an art we don't see much of these days, and I for one hope that it returns sometime soon.

The viewing day ends with a trip to Japan, with the first round matches of the recent IWGP World title tournament. I must say I'm very disappointed with the TWC programme schedulers here. I've read about the great matches in this tournament, and how exciting it was. Surely it would have been better to show the tournament in one go in the Supercard Sunday slot, rather than breaking it up into several sections. The action was still good, nonetheless. This week's New Japan show ended with a six-man tag involving Christopher Daniels using his Curry Man gimmick. Having previously appeared on the FWA show and the TNA pay-per-view earlier in the day, it's my personal belief that Mr. Daniels is perhaps the most exposed wrestler on The Wrestling Channel at the moment. The guy is a great talent, no doubt about that, but with all of the repeat showings on the channel, will the Fallen Angel be suffering from a case of overexposure soon?

Steering away from the actual programme content for a while, I had the chance to see the latest TWC viewing figures. Some have been very critical about the channel's lack of advertising in some quarters. They have also been critical of the fact that the most watched shows get "only" around 10,000 viewers. What people have to consider is this - The Wrestling Channel is, for want of a better term, a minority channel, and it's only been up and running for a few weeks. It isn't really fair to compare it's viewing figures to those of the BBC or ITV, or even Sky Sports. Give it time, I say.

Thursday, 15th April, 2004;
Wrestling classics again on Sky Sports, as for the first time in ages, I watch the old WCW Worldwide show with some friends. Everyone in the room more or less agreed on one thing - wrestling was far better back then than it is now.

The appearance of some stars caused some surprise, though. As "Stunning" Steve Austin came to the ring, at first, someone thought it was Shane Douglas. They couldn't believe at first that this guy with long, blonde, flowing locks turned into "Stone Cold" five years later. Someone else remarked that Austin's multicoloured tights looked good. That's something Eric Bischoff would have agreed with as well.

Two other things were agreed upon - that Madusa was perhaps one of the best female workers to come out of America, and that Van Hammer universally sucked.

Friday, 16th April, 2004;
Raw is put on the back-burner again, as for the first time I take a look at GAEA. And I'm impressed.

Those who have followed my work will know that since I met a certain person over two years ago, I've become an avid supporter of women's wrestling, and while I can't remember many of their names, the girls at GAEA really impressed me with their work. Note to self - must watch more of this.

Saturday, 17th April, 2004;
For some reason I don't feel like watching much wrestling today, not even the World of Sport shows. Ah well, guess I'll have to find something else to do.

Sunday, 18th April, 2004;
Supercard Sunday time, as we're presented with Ring of Honor's "Expect The Unexpected" show. For some reason I enjoy watching the ROH supercards more than the ROH weekly show. Strange that, isn't it?

And guess who's on the card - yep, you guessed it, the most exposed man on The Wrestling Channel, Christopher Daniels, here defending the tag-team titles with Xavier against the Amazing Red and possibly the second most exposed man on the channel, A.J. Styles. This tag-team match is highly entertaining, something I really enjoyed.

But match of the show goes to the great technical bout between Chad Collyer and Matt Stryker. Young Chad, a student of the great Dean Malenko, impresses me with each and every outing.

One thing I must say about ROH though - I find the Special K faction really annoying. For some reason, they really piss me off. I don't enjoy their gimmick, and I don't enjoy their work.

Also caught the majority of the FWA profile show on Jonny Storm. These kind of shows are definitely better than the hotchpotch of FWA action that was shown before. Although I'm not a big fan of spot fests, the matches on this show impressed me, even if the production on the final match, which saw Storm teaming with Christopher Daniels (him again!!!) against Doug Williams and Jody Fleisch did leave a little to be desired. Two spotlights in full camera view kind of put me off a little.

And Memphis Classics continues to rule. Great to see one the man who inspired me to grown a goatee in the first place, Jim Neidhart, even though he had a full beard here. TWC is truly the place to be for nostalgia buffs like me.

Highlight of the week - CZW Best of the Best II. A great card from beginning to end. Lowlight of the week - anything involving Special K.

On a side note, and related to this column, you can read my interview with TWC programme director Sean Herbert when it's posted here on Wrestling X, or by logging onto