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Wrestling's 4Rs 5.04.14: WWE Smackdown & NJPW on iPPV Reviewed
Posted by Larry Csonka on 05.04.2014





How the 4Rs of wRestling Work!
Here is a quick explanation of the 4R's. The column will run TWO times a week. We will group our feelings on the shows in various categories: The Right, the wRong and the Ridiculous. The Right is stuff that worked very well: a great promo, a great match and so on. PuRgatoRy is a section between the right and wrong. It shows equal traits from both sides that cannot be ignored and needs discussed. It is not a bad place per say, as things can get remedied or go the wrong way the very next week. The wRong is what it sounds like: bad matches, bad or boring promos and so on. The Ridiculous is stuff that had no right on TV: Stupid angles and so on. And there is always a possibility of a 5th R, which is as bad as they come. This column is supposed to be analytical, and at the right time very critical of the shows, it was the whole reason it was created. This is not a "mark" column, nor a "smark" column, our goal is to analyze the show from many different fronts, reward the good and call out the bad. We will not apologize for our opinions, they are as they are, whether positive or negative.



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We're looking for someone to write the Rs of Impact each and every week for the column. You have to be able to have the work completed by 6PM ET on Sunday evenings. If you are a TNA fan and wants to make sure the company gets a fair voice on the site, then this is for you. If interested, please send me a sample (using the basic Rs format) here.






Smackdown 5.02.14
By Daniel Clark

  • The Wyatt Family def. The Usos and Sheamus at 7.32 by pinfall
  • Rob Van Dam def. Jack Swagger at 1.48 by pinfall
  • Rusev def. R Truth at 1.04 by Disqualification
  • Dolph Ziggler def. Damien "Magento" Sandow at 3.21 by pinfall
  • Big E def. Titus O'Neill at 2.14 by Disqualification
  • Dean Ambrose def. Curtis Axel, Ryback and Alberto Del Rio at 8.29 by pinfall to retain the US Title

    THE RIGHT:
    The Wyatts vs. The Usos and Sheamus: Really good match to get the show under way and these six men continue to deliver exciting TV matches week after the week. The Wyatt Family has gradually improved not just in their characters but also in the ring. The Usos have become some of the most consistent workers on the roster and rarely have a bad match these guys, which is a massive leap from where they were when they debuted. And although Sheamus' character is a little bit stale, what he does in produce high quality performances in the ring each week. So it is no surprise that these six men produced an excellent match – just a shame that we only got 7.32 of it as I would have liked it to go a lot longer. The closing stages of this match were outstanding and really drew the crowd into what they were doing. The Usos losing the match doesn't harm them too much as they lost to Bray Wyatt, who is being positioned as an equal to John Cena, and it also came off a blind tag anyway when they were on the verge of victory. I'd expect the Wyatt Family to be next in line for a tag team title shot and given a good amount of time, they could produce a really good match. Great start to the show.

    Rusev vs. R Truth: Didn't get much time, but it didn't need much to get across this story. Rusev in his actions during the match was clearly going to be far too much for R Truth to handle and got a glimpse of what he could do, but against both Truth and Xavier Woods, he might not quite be so dominant as the two of them working together could cause Rusev some problems. By building Woods and Truth up as a duo that could challenge Rusev, it means that when Rusev runs through the two of them quickly at Extreme Rules, it makes Rusev look that more impressive. By building up Truth and Woods here, it means Rusev's victory will be more meaningful.

    Daniel Bryan promo: This promo did exactly what it needed to do to set up the title match at Extreme Rules. Bryan against Kane isn't the most exciting first title defense, nor does it have any chance of main eventing the show, but with the Shield facing Evolution, at least this feud has some history behind it and will allow Bryan to get a win under his belt. And by making a personal feud with Kane trying to attack Brie Bella, it gives the match a bit of a fire to it and a reason for the two of them to beat each other up. It also helps to get the Bella's over as faces as this association with Bryan will get her cheered, which they haven't really been able to do on their own. Bryan's promo was passionate and fiery, stating that this is more than the title following Kane's actions and this will be a war. Sets up the match nicely, but hasn't really done anything to convince you that Bryan isn't going to win clean, but Kane becoming psychotic again, anything could happen for him.

    Dolph Ziggler vs. Damien Sandow: This was utterly inoffensive and fun and is at least giving these two something to do at the moment and they are committing to this Sandow as "magneto" bit for the time being. Can't see it lasting very long but it has slightly re-invigorated Sandow and both men look as if they are having fun with this. Sandow incorporating the cape into his move set was a nice touch as well, while JBL's totally over-the-top rant about the cape blinding Sandow at the end was fun. Not necessarily going to lead to much but is a few brief minutes of fun.

    Bray Wyatt promo: Another good promo from Bray who continues to keep this feud with John Cena interesting as he has taken it to a level that hasn't often been seen before in Cena feuds. Bray, in stating that the children are the future and that he offers them hope, is a similar kind of thing that Cena believes in. But for the first time, with the children's choir on Raw, these fans are choosing to worship Bray rather than Cena and that the Ce-nation are indeed deserting him. It's a great way to follow up the legacy angle that ran into WrestleMania – Cena may have protected his legacy, but now, if he doesn't have the young fans on his side, then what does he has left? Still don't believe that Cena will actually turn heel, but the groundwork for a heel turn is actually being done so that if it did happen, there would be a logical reason for it.

    US Title match: This match was set up by the authority as a way to try and punish Ambrose and get the title off him – not entirely sure that these three men would be the best opponents to do so, but they have all had their issues with Ambrose and the Shield recently. Match started off a little bit disjointedly but got a lot better as the match went on, with Ambrose and Del Rio being the stars of the match. Ambrose put on a great face performance and he was always there in the right place to break up pin attempts, while Del Rio was dominant when on the offensive. Ambrose gets the win by rolling up Curtis Axel, but instantly gets beaten down by the others, only for the Shield to come and make the save and stand tall at the end of the show. Good match, and good for Ambrose to get a title defense as he needs them if he is going to keep the belt.


    puRgatoRy:
    Big E vs. Titus O'Neill: Quite unsure how to end up rating this segment as it had plusses and minuses for both men. Big E ends up looking strong with the beatdown he puts on Titus after the match has finished, and that kind of dominance and ruthlessness bodes well for his future. Of course, when the match was taking place, he was the one on the end of the beatdown and he was being dominated by Titus which perhaps doesn't help him when he has a title match coming up this weekend. Titus on the other looks quite weak following being beaten up at the end of the match, but on the other hand, looked impressive during the match that he was able to physically dominate Big E. Titus seems to be impressing since turning heel and seems to be putting on good performances every time he steps into the ring, but keeps losing matches which is going to weaken any potential push that he does look like he could get. A match and segment that helped and hindered both men at the same time.


    THE wRong:
    The Contract Signing: On the face of things, the contract signing wasn't that bad of a segment as it did what a contract signing should do; a little bit of trash talk, the contract gets signed and then a brawl occurs. And there were some nice moments in this, particularly with some of the demands that Hornswoggle wanted and El Torito signing the contract with a hoof print. But the whole thing just seems so pointless and unnecessary. No one is going to buy a show to watch Hornswoggle or El Torito perform and there doesn't seem to be much context to the feud other than they are both little and thus have to fight. It is also a bit of a waste of the talents of Los Matedores and 3MB, both teams who are far better than being the support acts in this feud. As it is, at least they seem to be trying to do something with this, but there just doesn't not seem to be a massive point to it.


    THE RIDICULOUS:
    Jack Swagger vs. Rob Van Dam: If anyone can come up with a logical explanation for what is happening in this feud, it would be good to hear. A feud between Swagger and Cesaro writes itself easily with the former tag team partners splitting up and having a blow-off match between them – and with the added element of Paul Heyman and Zeb Coulter as their managers just to add some more spice to the feud. Instead, they seem to have had two matches on TV in which Cesaro has won both of them clean, and now, Swagger loses cleanly in less than two minutes to Rob Van Dam, whose inclusion in this feud has been shaky at best and baffling at worst. There is no real reason for RVD to be involved in this and it almost comes across them not having anything to do for him so just threw him into this. And given that he too has now beaten Swagger cleanly and quickly, what is the point of Swagger being in the match on Sunday as he has lost twice to both of these men easily. Furthermore, it is really dampening the excitement that Cesaro had coming out of WrestleMania. People want to cheer him, but when he is being coached by Heyman, who is staying as a heel, and attacking RVD after the match, it is hard to do so. This whole feud just is poorly written and executed as the end purpose is just not really clear. A Swagger/Cesaro feud and match at Extreme Rules would have made perfect sense. As could have RVD vs. Cesaro. But the three of them aren't working as a feud at the moment. RVD's return and placing in this feud has caused a problem that didn't need to exist – as really – he didn't need to come back at all.


    The 411:

    RAW may be the flagship show for the WWE but can be very hit and miss in terms of the quality of its episodes. Smackdown on the other hand is a lot more consistent in terms of its quality and rarely has a bad episode and this was no exception, although was a slightly filler episode with Extreme Rules on Sunday.

    We got two very good TV matches on this show; the six man tag to start the show, and the fatal-four-way to close the close, and continued the streak of good matches that the Wyatt Family, the Shield, The Usos, Sheamus and Alberto Del Rio have been putting on recently. The Wyatts in their victory continue to look strong and are probably next in line to challenge the Usos for the tag titles in the near future, and later on Bray Wyatt delivered a promo on John Cena that continued their feud and outlined that Cena's fanbase seems to be deserting him. It does set the stall out for a reason for a heel turn if it was to happen.

    Dean Ambrose got a much needed title defense as well as it had been a running joke that he never defends the title, and did so in a good match that allowed him to put on a showcase as a face. I would expect the title to be taken off Ambrose soon-ish, particularly if the Shield continue to feud with the Authority, and but if he keeps winning these matches then it allows the crowd to get behind him.

    Daniel Bryan and Kane's feud for the title was also advanced by their feud getting personnel. Bryan in stating he is hoping for a war on Sunday and that he will drag Kane to hell with him adds a little bit of oomph to the feud that wasn't necessarily there beforehand and gives you a reason to watch the match.

    The rest of the show was really just there, but did its job anyway. Rusev being knocked off his feet by R Truth and Xavier Woods means that when he does beat them easily at Extreme Rules, it is a lot more impressive and is meaningful. Sandow and Ziggler put on a fun, if ultimately meaningless, little match in the midcard, and this feud that they are having is at least giving them something to do.

    The Swagger/Cesaro/RVD "feud" rolls on as well, although I'm not sure that RVD beating Swagger in less than two minutes does anything to help anyone and the whole feud continues to be a mess that isn't exactly helping anyone at the moment.

    However, on the whole, this episode of Smackdown was decent without there being anything too bad on it. The contract signing was reasonably well done, although is leading to a feud that no one wants or asked for, and although nothing on this show was groundbreaking, it was perfectly watchable and provided two good matches and helped to set up Extreme Rules.

    Show Rating: 7.0

    As a reminder, I will be going by the 411 scale…

    0 - 0.9: Torture
    1 - 1.9: Extremely Horrendous
    2 - 2.9: Very Bad
    3 - 3.9: Bad
    4 - 4.9: Poor
    5 - 5.9: Not So Good
    6 - 6.9: Average
    7 - 7.9: Good
    8 - 8.9:Very Good
    9 - 9.9: Amazing
    10: Virtually Perfect



     photo njpwwd14_zps0733b91e.jpg

    NJPW Wrestling Dontaku 2014 – 5.03.14

  • Captain New Japan, El Desperado, BUSHI & Mascara Dorada beat Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Tiger Mask, KUSHIDA & Yohei Komatsu (9:16) when Desperado used the Guitarra de Angel on Komatsu [***]
  • IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Title: Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson (c) beat Rocky Romero & Alex Koslov (9:15) when Matt pinned Romero after the More Bang For Your Buck (4th defense) [***½]
  • Toru Yano & Takashi Iizuka beat Minoru Suzuki & Shelton Benjamin (9:02) when Suzuki was DQ'd [½*]
  • NWA Heavyweight Title: Satoshi Kojima (c) beat Wes Brisco (9:25) with a lariat (3rd defense) [**]
  • Hirooki Goto & Katsuyori Shibata beat Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi (10:50) when Goto used a Scorpion Deathlock on Nakanishi [***]
  • IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title: Kota Ibushi (c) beat Ryusuke Taguchi (14:03) with a Phoenix splash (3rd defense) [***½]
  • NEVER Openweight Title: Tomohiro Ishii (c) beat Tomoaki Honma (14:07) with a brainbuster (3rd defense) [****¼]
  • Special Elimination Match: Hiroshi Tanahashi, Togi Makabe, Tetsuya Naito & Jushin Thunder Liger beat Karl Anderson, Doc Gallows, Bad Luck Fale & Tama Tonga (15:36) when Tanahashi used the High Fly Flow on Gallows [***¼]
  • Wrestling vs. Jiu-jitsu MMA Fight: Daniel Gracie & Rolles Gracie beat Shinsuke Nakamura & Kazushi Sakuraba (8:30) when Rolles used a sleeper hold on Sakuraba [Not… Good]
  • IWGP Heavyweight Title: AJ Styles beat Kazuchika Okada (c) (24:31) with the Styles Clash to become the 60th champion [****]

    The Tirade

    The New Japan Pro Wrestling "Wrestling Dontaku 2014" event is in the books, and there was both big news and questions coming out of the show. Like almost every NJPW event, the show was a tale of two halves. The first half was filled with the multi-man tag team matches, the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Title match and the usual "why is this match on the card because it sucks" match. The opening eight-man was fun, lots of action and designed to get Desperado a strong victory. The Young Bucks retained the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Titles in their usual good match. The main problem with the Jr Tag Division is that nothing seems to change. The teams are the same, the matches are the same, the times are the same and it all runs together. The only real addition to the division over the past year has been the Bucks. Unfortunately they (the juniors) have not been given the time to shine. It is very unfortunate, but a problem nonetheless.

    Toru Yano & Takashi Iizuka vs. Minoru Suzuki & Shelton Benjamin took too long to get to the finish and just wasn't a good match on any level. Shelton Benjamin continues to mail in his wrestling career, which is a shame. Satoshi Kojima defeated Wes Brisco to retain the NWA Title in a match; just a match, and unfortunately a Wes Briscoe match. I am fine with Kojima, but he is given no one to work with. Wes Brisco continues to be the drizzling shits as a wrestler, Kojima got as much out of him as he could. Hirooki Goto & Katsuyori Shibata beat Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi in a tag match that was better than I thought it would be. Nagata is the reigning NOAH GHC Heavyweight champion, and was protected here, but this was certainly an upgrade from the previous match.

     photo b0be6559-c786-4861-907d-ced9b76486c5_zps96bf7ab1.jpg
    Wes Brisco may suck, but at least we have Bruce Tharpe!


    Kota Ibushi defeated Ryusuke Taguchi to retain the IWGP Jr Heavyweight Title. This was a good juniors match, but the crowd, which has not been very good through out, really hurt a match for the first time on the show. In front of a better crowd, it gets a better rating, but these people apparently just did not care no matter what they did.

    Tomohiro Ishii defeated Tomoaki Honma to retain the NEVER Title. Ishii is having one hell of a year so far, and is a big part of the reason I find myself caring about the NEVER Title. Honma has a great underdog charisma, and in many ways feels like Ishii from a few years ago; a hard working undercard guy, having good performance, just waiting on the right push. This was the match of the night, tremendous work from both and they got the crowd to come alive for the first time in this. Ishii retains and post match gets the challenge from Ibushi. I am fine with this.

    Next up was the elimination tag, essentially a Survivor Series rules match. Good action over the time allowed, with Tanahashi & Makabe scoring the win on Doc. This is further set up the Tanahashi & Makabe team to challenge for the tag titles. Shibata challenged Tanahashi to a singles match after this, most feel that Tanahashi & Makabe will win the tiles and they feud with Goto & Shibata over them. Again, I am cool with this, especially since Tanahashi is being used to make seemingly every title in the company important and it is working.

    I love pro wrestling. I love MMA. At one point in Japan it meant something to use "shooters," but in 2014 no fucks are given, especially with the lowest level of the Gracie family involved. I say that with respect and as a Gracie Jiu-jitsu practitioner. If you got Royce or Renzo involved maybe people would care. But not here, and on top of that, it doesn't come across good and is a waste of both Sakuraba and Nakamura. You can mix MMA and wrestling as a hybrid style sometimes, Daniel Bryan did it well in ROH at times and I loved it, but this does not work. Do not watch, so not share, move on and forget about it like you would a Wes Briscoe match.

    AJ Styles defeated Kazuchika Okada to win the IWGP Heavyweight Title. Yujiro did a run in, joining the Bullet Club, and attacked Okada to help AJ win. They had a really good match, as most expected, but it was a match that was held back by the crowd. The crowd was not into this, similar to some of the early matches. The worst part was that by the time they got into the match, they were taken out of it by the booking. Something I rarely say for New Japan. Most expected AJ to win, and they worked well together, but like a lot of booking that gets too cute or isn't needed, it took away from the in ring, which shouldn't happen. I get why they did it, but it didn't add to anything in my opinion. Ok, the Bullet Club celebrating was fantastic, but as far as how it came off, i wasn't enthralled. Congrats to AJ though, this is a huge accomplishment for him. More on this below.

     photo bd1d583c-99c8-41f7-bd97-b32831c7de3d_zps81d40268.jpg




    OVERALL: Many are down on New Japan this year. I get it; one reason is because they are not putting on "super awesome shows" like in the last two years. Another is the fact that they are running so many shows, watering down cards, something I discussed earlier this year. The final this is the booking, which had been so great, is now looking questionable in many ways for the first time. This show felt like most NJPW cards, which is good and bad. Softer first half, a shit match or two that never needed to not be booked and the strong second half with the big matches delivering and carrying the show. Unfortunately the second half wasn't amazing, which is what people have come to expect.

    There are negatives. No body wants to see Wes Brisco and no one wants Nakamura working the lowest levels of the Gracie Family. Shelton Benjamin must work cheap, because his performances are lazy as shit these days. The Junior Tag Division still needs an overhaul as does the Junior Division. The singles is doing a bit better, but using the Junior singles champions to create faux dream matches only for them to lose to the heavyweights does them no good.

    And then there is the main event booking. As a mid-card act the Bullet Club worked when they did the, for lack of a better term, "North American style" stuff with the run-ins and interference. The people accepted it, and in the big matches, they failed and it never upset them. I won't say that it pissed off the crowd, but the lack of reaction told me that it was something that they did not want to see. It wasn't something I wanted to see either. I watch New Japan because it's different, it's not WWE, TNA or ROH; it's New Japan. But they did it here, and I am not enthusiastic about it, because I fear that now that Styles is champion, that we're going to see way too much of this. Again, I get why they did it, and maybe it will work, but at first look, I am not happy about it.

    While I did have issues, New Japan still put on a good wrestling show overall, one that I enjoyed. But the concerns with the booking needed to be addressed, in some cases again, because if it continues, it is going to become a very major issue. I wish that they would go back to New Japan of 2012-2013 more in terms of booking, it along with the tremendous performances, is what turned New Japan around. For now I will give them a chance; although the leash is very short.

    Score: 7.2

    As a reminder, I will be going by the 411 scale…

    0 - 0.9: Torture
    1 - 1.9: Extremely Horrendous
    2 - 2.9: Very Bad
    3 - 3.9: Bad
    4 - 4.9: Poor
    5 - 5.9: Not So Good
    6 - 6.9: Average
    7 - 7.9: Good
    8 - 8.9:Very Good
    9 - 9.9: Amazing
    10: Virtually Perfect

    As a reminder, this is not a basic "how good was the show" number like a TV show, as I have always felt that a PPV is very different from a regular show. I have always judged PPV on how they built to a match, the match quality, crowd reactions to matches and angles, the overall booking, how the PPV leads into the future, PPV price and so on and so forth. I have added this in here for an explanation since so many have asked, and I have previously discussed it on podcasts. I understand that this may seem different, but that is how I grade. Obviously your criteria may be different.



    Have you checked out the Csonka Podcasting Network? If you haven't, you should We run anywhere from 15-20 shows a month, discussing pro wrestling, the world of MMA, the NBA, general sports, popular TV series of the past, bad movies, battle rap, interviews, MMA & Wrestling conference calls and more! Around 10 different personalities take part in the various shows, which all have a different feel; so you'll likely find something you like. All of the broadcasts are free, so go ahead and give a show a try and share the link with your friends on the Twitter Machine and other social media outlets! Running since May of 2011, there are currently over 500 shows in the archive for you to listen to.

    Listen to internet radio with Larry Csonka on BlogTalkRadio



    The 884th edition is over…

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