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Wrestling’s 4Rs 7.04.14: WWE Monday Night Raw & NJPW on iPPV
Posted by Larry Csonka on 07.04.2014

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 need 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.

 photo superawesomeloopkick_zps657ebdd1.gif

It's quite hypnotic….

 photo NJPWroadtokizunaroad22014_zps47c59f46.jpg

NJPW Kizuna Road (Day 2) – 6.29.14
By: Larry Csonka

  • Jushin Thunder Liger, Tiger Mask & Mascara Dorada beat BUSHI, Yohei Komatsu & Fuego (6:29) when Dorada used a Tornillo on Komatsu. {***}
  • Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima & Ryusuke Taguchi beat Yuji Nagata, Manabu Nakanishi & Captain New Japan (9:05) when Kojima used a lariat on Captain. {**½}
  • Toru Yano & YOSHI-HASHI beat Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka (10:04) when Iizuka was DQ'd. {**}
  • Hirooki Goto & Katsuyori Shibata beat Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma (10:29) when Goto used the Shouten Kai on Honma. {***}
  • Tetsuya Naito, Kota Ibushi & El Desperado beat Hiroshi Tanahashi, KUSHIDA & Alex Shelley (10:56) when Desperado pinned Shelley. {****}
  • Bad Luck Fale, Karl Anderson, Doc Gallows & Tama Tonga beat Shinsuke Nakamura, Kazuchika Okada, Rocky Romero & Alex Koslov (14:33) when Anderson pinned Romero after the Magic Killer. {***}
  • NEVER Openweight Title Match: Yujiro Takahashi beat Tomohiro Ishii (c) (21:41) with the Miami Shine to become the 4th champion. {***}

    The Tirade

    The NJPW Kizuna Road (Day 2) iPPV was one of the lower tier shows that the company puts on iPPV for people like me to keep up with the company. The show has a purpose, to build to a bigger show, but in large, they are not shows you need to watch unless you are desperate to watch as much NJPW as possible. The show was a pretty good wrestling event overall. There was nothing bad on the show, but a show that may feel long due to the fact that it was filled almost entirely with tag team matches. That is one of my few gripes about these shows, I get why they do it, I see where they are going with a lot of it, but it can be hard to sit through; basically it can be tedious. But when there is nothing bad and I get one really good match I am a bit more forgiving.

    Of note on the show: Mascara Dorada made his return on the tour, picking up a win in the opener. Toru Yano & YOSHI-HASHI vs. Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka was perfectly fine, but I felt as if I had watched this about 30 times already, because I have. Tomoaki Honma is gaining traction with the NJPW audience, the fans love him and he makes them believe. If booked right, a marquee win on a bigger show should be received well. Tetsuya Naito, Kota Ibushi & El Desperado vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi, KUSHIDA & Alex Shelley was tremendous, and set the stage for Ibushi vs. KUSHIDA as well as Shelley vs. Desperado. Rocky Romero had one of his more (in my opinion) impressive performances in a long time in his tag match. I hate to use the term "taking the night off," because that implies not working hard, but Shinsuke Nakamura and Kazuchika Okada didn't do much in their tag, which led to a little disappointment to me. But those guys do deserve to take it easy from time to time. The main event was a very mixed bag for me. On one hand I love the Bullet Club and their dominance over NJPW right now. But the ruin ins and bullshit become tiresome, especially in main event matches. I watch NJPW to escape a lot of that nonsense. While it made sense, and should have been the only way that Yujiro Takahashi beats Tomohiro Ishii, it hurt the match quality overall for me.

    In closing, for a $15 show, this was a good little event, but a bit under whelming. Tetsuya Naito, Kota Ibushi & El Desperado vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi, KUSHIDA & Alex Shelley was the match of the night with ease, but I do want to stress that there was nothing was bad. While good, there was nothing special or memorable on the show and I was not a fan of the main event booking, because while I love the Bullet Club, I watch NJPW to get away from that bullshit and cliché booking that I get from North American wrestling. I'd definitely give it a pass and save your money for the G1 shows.

    Score: 6.7

    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.

     photo wwe-raw-logo_zps506d1388.jpg
    By: Jack Stevenson

    Raw 6.30.14:
  • Seth Rollins d. Rob Van Dam
  • The Wyatt Family d. Sheamus & The Usos
  • The Funkadactyls d. Nikki Bella
  • Kofi Kingston d. Cesaro
  • Dolph Ziggler d. Fandango
  • Goldust & Stardust d. Rybaxel
  • AJ d. Paige
  • John Cena & Roman Reigns d. Randy Orton & Kane

    Sheamus & The Usos vs. The Wyatt Family: This was a big bag of brilliant, the first real high point of the show. Obviously the Wyatt Family are darn great, and I think everyone generally respects the Usos and their high flying, super-kicking ways, even if their relentless chirpiness can get a bit grating, so let's talk about how underrated Sheamus is! He suffers from the fact that he's a no-nonsense, at his worst kind of stolid wrestler trying to be a modern WWE babyface. As we all know, when the working day is done, modern WWE babyfaces- they want to have fun, oh modern WWE babyfaces just want to have fun, they want to have fun, they want to have fun. Fun doesn't come naturally to Sheamus. Scowling does. Kicking people in the face does. Fun loving Irish caricature who has a real passion for fun and putting smiles on people's faces doesn't, it's not a great role for him. But when it comes down to it, he's a hard working, hard hitting wrestler who has been in some terrific bouts this year, particularly with some partners alongside him to add sizzle to his steak, or potatoes I guess since hey did you know he's Irish? The Usos are a good fit with him, and it would be nice to see those three form a loose faction, particularly if it led to more barn-burning six mans like this. He gets booed a lot by supercilious fans who believe any wrestler who can't come up with 10,000 intensely quotable catchphrases while simultaneously kicking out of a pin at 2.99999999 is beneath them, but he's a thoroughly enjoyable and completely dependable wrestler, and someone any roster in the world would be improved by. As for the match, it was rather excellent in the usual six man tag way- the fan favorite in peril sequences were timed to perfections and the near falls were really exciting- but the fact that 100% of the participants are equally as happy trading bomb-like strikes as they are spectacular moves gave this a more intense and meaty feel than some of the other six man outings this year. A great match which gave an indication that this show could go somewhere good after an uninspiring opening 40 minutes or so.

    Awesome! Raw is Jericho following the buzzards: More things happened in this one segment than in some entire episodes of Raw from May of this year! First, having teased the return of a former WWE Champion and cross-platform media star, WWE delivered the Miz, a man who unbelievably does just about fit that criteria. I thought this in and of itself was really well done- the 'big' return wasn't hyped so much that the appearance of the Miz was a disappointment (well, no more so than your usual Miz appearance) but it got enough build-up that I personally thought a genuine conquering hero was going to stride out the sleek black limousine and back into our hearts. Miz hit the ring looking every bit the cosseted movie star, and cut a fine promo establishing himself as 2014's answer to 2003's Rock- not the best answer, but not the worst, either. And then we did get a legitimately huge, exciting return! Chris Jericho! Hooray! Everyone likes Chris Jericho and it's always a good time when he makes his sporadic returns to action. He dropped Miz, launched into one of his favorite catchphrases, and all was well. Then the Wyatts showed up and mauled him! Bray dropped him with Sister Abigail, and Jericho found out how he'd be spending his summer. This is the one part of the segment I'm not totally enamored with- I mean, it'll be a super fun feud, obviously, given that it'll produce several first time matches and everyone involved is varying degrees of 'hella rad-' but it kind of turns Jericho's return into an exculpatory mission for WWE over their poor recent handling of the Wyatt Family. They squandered an initially promising feud with John Cena and punctured Bray Wyatt's soaring momentum, but it's OK, because Chris Jericho is here! Everything will be fine as long as Chris Jericho is around! Don't think about what will happen when Chris Jericho leaves! Chris Jericho will never leave! Still, let's not allow the future to stop us from enjoying the present- this was a tremendous, action packed, energetic segment and one of the best Raw moments of 2014 so far.

    Dolph Ziggler vs. Fandango: It must be strange being Dolph Ziggler- your life is a farrago of fans greeting your relentless failure with equally relentless adulation, and now Summer Rae wants to kiss you passionately despite the fact you've got hair like overcooked instant noodles and a personality that's a cross between a charmless Barney Stinson and someone who really enthusiastically loves the Expendables. Regardless, if Ziggler is just going to float around the midcard forever, he might as well look somewhat good while doing it, and having Summer Rae throw herself at him isn't the worst way of going about it. Slotting him into the love triangle between Summer, Fandango and Layla isn't going to create inspiring television or anything, but this, and Jack Swagger's patriotic crusade against Rusev, and Bo Dallas' interaction with Daniel Bryan is a decent indication that WWE is trying to find some things for the midcard to do which are actually consistent with their characters, is positive step indeed.

    Goldust & Stardust vs. Rybaxel: OK, there's nothing particularly right about a third consecutive five minute-ish match between these teams, won yet again by the 'Dusts, but I haven't had an opportunity to rave about Stardust yet, so bear with me. Hey, Stardust is pretty good isn't he? Great mannerisms and facial expressions, distinct moveset, humorous without being ridiculous. Cody Rhodes is so ridiculously underrated as a performer, he's evolved effortlessly from good natured tyro to brash young upstart to moustachoied dasher to paranoid protective mask-wearer to traditional, handsome tag team good guy to Goldust 2.0, he just makes every transition look so easy and has been totally convincing in every role. He's thrown himself into this new gimmick whole-heartedly and it's paying off for him, he's terrific at it and it seems to be getting over. I hope this exotic new duo can move on to something else soon though.

    John Cena & Roman Reigns vs. Randy Orton & Kane: While the match itself wasn't up to much, a mostly plodding encounter which ended, as all Raw matches seem to this year, with Kane attempting to paralyze someone in the most uninteresting way possible, the exciting post match antics lift this well into the right. First, Kane's tedious torture of John Cena was justified when Seth Rollins stormed down to ringside, briefcase in tow, seeming intent on cashing it in. It really did seem like he was going to do it as well, until Dean Ambrose appeared out of nowhere to fulfill the promise he made earlier in the night that he would never allow Seth to cash in his briefcase. He chased Seth into the crowd, and then Roman Reigns returned from fighting backstage with Randy Orton in order to crush Kane with a spear and glare Triple H away. It doesn't sound so great on paper, but the whole thing felt energetic and spontaneous, with Seth and Hunter desperately trying to persuade a reluctant referee to allow the briefcase to be cashed in on a lifeless Cena, and then Ambrose bringing his usual whirlwind of energy to the fray, and then the crowd coming unglued at the prospect of Reigns taking out the Game. Roman's support seems both immense and a diffuse in a way no wrestler has enjoyed since perhaps Cena in 2005, and segments like this make you think that for all his in ring shortcomings, he really can be the star of the 2010s that WWE want him to be. I'm still not excited for the Fatal Four Way main event at Battleground, but it's certainly not the fault of this segment.

    Rob Van Dam vs. Seth Rollins: This was a decent, athletic match, but not as good as last week's, and I find it hard to care about Rob Van Dam matches when he so obviously doesn't. It was another good victory for Rollins though, who's definitely got the best deal out of this shambling Shield break-up, and the post match Dean Ambrose promo was excellent because Dean Ambrose is excellent. The idea of him stalking Seth, preventing him from ever cashing in his briefcase, is really cool. An OK segment.

    Colter meets Lana: In one respect, this was a really cool segment. Swagger and Rusev, as largely directionless midcarders who are both inordinately proud of their countries, are practically crying out for each other, and the crowd was more excited for both than I would have thought they could be as recently as last week. Their matches could even be pretty good. I'm kind of uncomfortable that Zeb Colter, vicious racist, is now meant to be an admirable, patriotic fan favorite though. He's not even had a mea culpa moment for all his bigotry. I think one of the less talked about reasons for WWE's creative issues over the last several years is that WWE's courted an audience of young, angry, casually racist conservatives who don't want to see in their heroes any deviation from a violent, white, loud-mouthed, misogynist prototype. With the success of cheerful, geeky environmentalist Daniel Bryan it seemed the times could finally be a-changing, so this is a bit of a shame. Regardless, it also remains to be seen whether an old fashioned USA vs. Russia angle can sustain itself long enough for a satisfying rivalry. So, yeah. great on the night, but I have reservations.

    Kofi Kingston vs. Cesaro: This was middling, mildly entertaining, but I thought ending the match during the commercial break was really, really cool. The Raw format has been so predictable for so long I'm in favor of anything that makes it seem a little more off the cuff and less neurotically scripted- it's worth sacrificing a couple of meaningless midcard match endings to create that effect. I didn't like the Cesaro post match attack, it seemed disproportionately aggressive considering he'd lost a fairly insignificant match. It cheapens that level of aggression when it's thrown out for forgettable angles in forgettable portions of Raw.

    Stand back! Damian Sandow is here: This week, Damian Sandow impersonated Vince McMahon! The vast majority of Vince McMahon impersonations are at least a little amusing, but this gimmick is too hit and miss to go above purgatory really and it's doing little for Sandow. The Great Khali wrapped things up by knocking him out with a chop.

    AJ returns!: Hey AJ Lee is back and she's the Divas Champion now! This was a cool surprise, and it's good to have AJ back, she's perfectly acceptable in the ring, but on the microphone she's lightyears ahead of everyone else in the division. A couple of things marred this a bit for me though. One is the lazy booking, as AJ reclaimed the title from Paige in a matter of moments and instantly undermined the now dethroned champion, who was struggling for credibility anyway, seemingly in the hope of creating of some kind of poetic justice. Things just happen to WWE women without there being any rhyme or reason to it, as if they live in a separate, godless universe to the rest of the roster. They win and lose their titles randomly, feud with people and then stop feuding with them, and behave inconsistently from week to week. Case in point- Paige loses her championship out of nowhere, her budding rivalries with Alicia Fox and Naomi and Cameron went nowhere, and this rivalry with AJ. who has conveniently and barely explicably decided to change her ways, will almost certainly follow suit. My other problem with this, although this is largely out of WWE's hands, was the Hartford crowd greeting AJ with a deluge of 'CM Punk!' chants, as if what Punk really wants to see is the in ring efforts of his wife completely disrespected and ignored in favor of hearing his name shouted for the 90th time the evening. AJ must feel so happy and rewarded hearing that! It's a shame because for the rest of the night, the fans were tremendous, but this was just chauvinistic and rude.

    Guess where the Champ is? HE'S ONLY FUCKING RIGHT HERE MUCH TO THE DISDAIN OF TRIPLE H: Raw began the way you'd expect it to- John Cena is the champion, John Cena is pleased, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon aren't, threats are made. Triple H does a crushingly unfunny Cena impression, Cena has to defend his WWE Championship in a difficult match at Battleground. It wasn't that bad as a segment, but it's set up a main event direction for the next few weeks that doesn't sound appealing- a rebellious John Cena, quite possibly attempting to tell jokes, interacting with Randy Orton again even though he has interacted with him in every conceivable way apart from fucking him, building up to a Fatal Four Way match which is almost exciting in how unexciting it is. This started a pretty good episode on a down note.

    A Bo-ring segment: Bo Dallas' recent good run came to a screeching halt this week when he insisted on holding a minute's silence for the injured Daniel Bryan and Bad News Barrett. This was a funny enough idea but in execution it didn't really work. It was just dull, rather than humorous. I think maybe that was the point, in which case, great! Boring is the new black. Just ask Lance Storm.

    Nikki Bella vs. The Funkadactyls: There was a moment in this where Jerry Lawler made a comment about how none of the WWE Divas have been able to remain friends for very long and it was the most unintentionally damning insight into how lazy and misogynistic WWE's treatment of its female wrestler still is. Naomi and Cameron are the latest duo to fall out for no particularly good reason and I'm sure their feud will go on to headline many a PPV. The match was nothing.


    No change, although the six man this week was really really good.

    1. 2.17.14- John Cena vs. Cesaro

    2. 3.03.14- The Shield vs. The Wyatt Family

    3. 5.5.14- The Shield vs. The Wyatt Family

    4. 2.03.14- Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton

    5. 2.10.14- Sheamus & Christian vs. The Real Americans

    6. 1.27.14- John Cena, Sheamus & Daniel Bryan vs. The Shield

    7. 6.2.14- The Usos vs. The Wyatt Family

    8. 4.21.14- Sheamus vs. Bad News Barrett

    9. 5.5.14- Daniel Bryan vs. Alberto Del Rio

    10. 6.9.14- Sheamus vs. Bad News Barrett

    The 411:

    An up and down show, but it probably had the most high points of any Raw since the night after WrestleMania. There was a great six-man tag, two shocking and exciting returns, a wild ending, and some small green shoots in the undercard. I don't think we should expect a great follow-up next week, I don't think John Cena raging against the machine is going to make for three weeks of compelling television, but as a stand-alone episode this was pacy and largely entertaining and well worth watching.

    Show Rating: 7.5

    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

    The 901st edition is over…

     photo 20140630_RawGIF3_zps45f38542.gif

    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

    Your heart is free. Have the courage to follow it…TO CSONKA'S TWITTER!



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