The Small-for-All Sunday News Report 7.23.06
Posted by Ryan Byers on 07.23.2006
Due to an elevated level of liver enzymes, Jeff Small will be unable to write this week's report.
Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the Small-for-All News Report. I would have changed the name to something catchier, but there are no good rhymes for "Byers." I've done sub duty on weekend news reports before, and there's generally nothing to talk about, but the wrestling gods (not JBL) have smiled on me this time around, as we have several major happenings to cover. With that said, let's get to . . .
NEWS FROM VINCE'S CIRCUS
Great American Blunders
Of course, the big news that you've probably all heard by this point as that several changes have been made to this evening's Great American Bash pay per view. As was already discussed by Double M, Mark Henry split his patella in two and also did damage to a related tendon, keeping him out of action for roughly eight months. Though this is incredibly unfortunate for Henry, fortunately for WWE it occurred early enough that they were able to make an announcement about a substitute on this week's Smackdown. Mr. Ken Kennedy . . . . . . . . Kennedy . . . . . . will be taking the place of the World's Strongest Man as the cannon fodder for Big Dave's PPV return.
However, the company did not have time to make televised announcements about two other individuals who will be off the show. In the past forty-eight hours, it was announced that both Bobby Lashley and the Great Khali will be removed from the card due to elevated levels of liver enzymes. Though several people have been drawing their own conclusions (well, one particular conclusion) about what could have caused these elevated enzyme levels, in all fairness it should be noted that there are numerous potential causes for such a condition. With only one high test result, it could even been an anomaly if it isn't backed up by any other testing. Of course, we all know what the leading candidate for the cause of the problem is, and the fact that two incredibly large men were busted at the exact same time with the exact same symptom lends some credence to that theory.
Lashley will not be replaced on the show, as his two opponents in a scheduled triple threat match, William Regal and Fit Finlay, will now have a one-on-one match for the United States Title. Though heel versus heel encounters are notoriously bad for the heat of a show, enough of the casual audience has taken a shine to Finlay and his midget that they should probably be able to turn him during the match, even if it is just for one night. Meanwhile, the Big Show is coming in from ECW to take on the Undertaker, in what is still being billed as a Punjabi Prison Match. I'm in favor of keeping the gimmick around even though Khali is gone, because part of the build was the mystique surrounding the stipulation, and fans will at least get that pay-off even if Khali will not be delivered to them.
I've read a lot of people in various columns and on various messageboards complaining about the last minute changes, which really goes to show you how fickle and illogical wrestling fans can be sometimes. It was less than one year ago that everybody was mourning Eddy Guerrero's death and there were editorials everywhere about how great it would be for WWE to institute a drug testing policy to prevent such "tragedies." Now WWE has actually implemented this system and is being VERY strict about it, and what do we hear? We hear people bitching and moaning about how their precious pay per view main events are changing. As Larry Csonka recently noted on our 411 Forums, the WWE PPV schedule is so full of shows that there is literally no way to ensure that a round of testing will not come after a pay per view match has already been announced. You can't have your cake and eat it too, kids. If you want a WWE that is very tough on investigating and punishing potential drug use, you're going to have to accept it as fact that individuals will periodically vanish from television or get pulled out of major shows at the last second.
Besides, when did Bobby Lashley, the Great Khali, Mark Henry, or the Great America Bash become such massive fan favorites? For months, all I hear is a series of rants about how Henry/Khali/Lashley have no business in WWE rings given their levels of talent and/or experience. In the buildup up to this pay per view, absolutely nobody was giving it a shot to be any good whatsoever. So now three men generally disliked by those who discuss wrestling on the internet are removed. On top of that, the Bash card actually looks STRONGER than it did before, with Big Show definitely being a better wrestler than Khali and Regal vs. Finlay in a singles match being able to deliver just as much as (if not more so) than the three-way. Everybody should be happy, right? Wrong. Instead, there are threads and columns decrying the changes as "bullshit" and folks claiming that they were now not going to order the pay per view or see it live. I've never really bought in to the mentality that "People on the internet look for every excuse to say WWE sucks," but the actions of many people this weekend are certainly pushing me in that direction.
PPV Gets Taken to the Extreme What Passes for Extreme These Days
In another bit of news that is not getting quite as much press as Lashley and Khali being pulled, Dave Meltzer is reporting that this weekend's ECW house shows were cancelled because it was decided that ECW talent will appear on the Great American Bash PPV. Though this announcement was made prior to the Bash card being subjected to changes, Da Meltz has since gone back and noted that the decision to bring the "extremists" in was directly related to the Khali/Lashley situation. The only individual confirmed as being added to the PPV is the Big Show (as noted previously), though the wording of the stories make it seen that more than just one outsider will be popping up tonight. This is particularly interesting when you consider that Gregory Helms is set to face a yet unnamed opponent.
Aside from some appearances at One Night Stand II: Sloppy Seconds, there hasn't been much interaction with Smackdown since the ECW relaunch. It's an odd situation, because, when Raw guys appear on Smackdown, it's pretty clear that the intent is to give ECW a rub. However, with Smackdown and ECW doing ratings that are roughly equal and with WWE definitely treating ECW as the more important brand of the two, it's difficult to determine who is the rubber and who is the rubbee in this situation.
Biggest Injury of the Week
Apparently the young diva Maria broke her thumb not too long ago. I attempted to reach CM Punk's rectum about the situation, but he was apparently far too shaken up to comment. Hopefully Maria is at 100% soon so the sex sessions of those crazy kids can start going full tilt again.
Big Show, Tiny Cell
Also from Meltzer: It appears that the Punjabi Prison Match on the PPV will be some form of battle in a small cage with escape rules. Original reports were that it was to be a bodybag match, but something involving a cage makes a lot more since given the "prison" name and all of the cage iconography that has been used in video packages for the last couple of weeks. On one hand, the escape rules should be helpful because, in a Show/Undertaker match, nobody can really afford to job at this point. However, if you've seen the ridiculous "shark cage" match that was on the Wrestling Gold DVDs and has periodically reared its head in other promotions, you are currently shaking your head and hoping for the best.
NEWS FROM JEFF JARRETT'S VANITY PROMOTION
Everybody and their dog decided to flip out becaue the TNA rating dropped to a 0.81 this week, despite the fact that the show was one of their strongest episodes since moving to SpikeTV. So, do you want to know what this low rating means, kids? It means ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Far too many people these days post one number, have a knee-jerk reactions, and then run out their front doors screaming about how the sky is falling for the whole company. You can't draw those kinds of conclusions by looking at one number. Promotions are made or broken by trends, not be single statistics that could just be blips on the radar when considered over time.
Alex Shelley is Better Than You
Seriously. This man has been seven shades of awesome since coming back to TNA after the horrid "Baby Bear" gimmick, and he's added shades of awesome numbers eight and nine to his repertoire since teaming up with Kevin Nash. If TNA would just allow the guy to win a match once in a while, he could be on the fast track to being one of the most over wrestlers in the company.
Um, That's Really It
With their pay per view having taken place last week and nothing major on the horizon, there's not a hell of a lot of news coming out of TNA. Personally, that doesn't bother me too much, as it frees up space to talk about promotions that deserve the press a little bit more.
Really, for all of your ROH news, you should just go read the Column of Honor. Ari always brings the goods, and this week is no exception, including analysis of how the ROH talent roster will evolve in the aftermath of the CZW feud. Apparently Catagnoli is in, Necro Butcher is in for at least one more match, and Alex Shelley is on his way out, presumably focusing on training in Madagascar.
Billy Firehawk Passes Away
Granted, I haven't been keeping up with the wrestling zone like I used to, but I've seen little to no mention of the passing of NWA Cyberspace promoter Billy Firehawk here on 411Mania. The guy certainly had an . . . interesting . . . reputation among those that he worked with, but you still have to feel bad for the man's friends and family. From what I understand, he passed away due to complications from diabetes, which is a lesson for everybody out there: If you are diagnosed with diabetes, LOSE WEIGHT. I saw this man a year ago, and he was well over the three hundred pound mark. Had he managed to shed some of those pounds, it could have been the difference between dying at forty and living to sixty.
BOLA (Pronounced like "Holla")
It's still over a month away, but the full lineup Pro Wrestling Guerilla's annual Battle of Los Angeles Tournament has been announced, and it's perhaps the most stacked West Coast indy lineup that I've ever seen, topping the best of APW's King of the Indies shows. Tickets for the three night event are now available through PWG's website for the three nights of action on September 1, 2, & 3. Here's a breakdown of what you will be seeing if you pick up tickets for the event:
Colt Cabana vs. The Disco Machine – The great thing about this match is that you don't know exactly what you're going to get before it happens. Both Disco and Cabana great at wrestling both serious matches and comedy bouts, and they could bust out either depending on what a particular show needs. The big question is actually whether they'll be as good in the ring together as they are when they're doing commentary together.
El Generico vs. Delirious – These two have encountered each other in the past, and I've heard many people call their contests among the funniest in wrestling history. They've got a lot to live up to in that department, but my faith in Delirious is so great that I feel he could truly overcome any obstacle thrown at him. The fact that the winner of this gets the winner of Cabana/Disco in the second round could lead to even more hilarity ensuing.
CIMA vs. M-Dogg 20 – This match is a real question mark. Though he's lost a step since his earlier days, CIMA is an awesome heel and will hopefully get a good long run in the tournament. In fact, the way the brackets are set up, he's got a pretty good chance of making it to the finals. On the other hand, I'm not nearly as familiar with M-Dogg 20. I saw some of his tag team worth with Josh Prohibition, but that was several years ago, and I don't know how well he has adapted to being a single. Of course, that point may be moot, because if he's even close to decent CIMA should be able to carry him to something watchable.
Kevin Steen vs. Matt Sydal – Sydal is one of the tiniest men on the indy circuit, while Steen is one of the pudgiest. Given the underdog story that they could do and given the fact that Sydal has some experience with Dragon Gate, I'm guessing that he goes on to face CIMA in the second round. Of course, PWG has always had about twenty times more faith in Kevin Steen's abilities than I ever have, so they might just put him over.
Quicksilver vs. The Dragon Kid – I like Quicksilver just fine, but the Kid is such a great high flier that Quickie is just miles out of his league. Hopefully the Japanese native advances so that we can see him against an opponent that will produce a great match as opposed to just a good match, which is what this will be.
Chris Sabin vs. Roderick Strong – These two have clashed in a few TNA matches, though I don't know if they've ever had a one-on-one matchup against each other. Even if they haven't, this will most likely be the greatest match on the first night of the show. It pits Sabin's high flying against Strong's technical, hard hitting offense, and that sort of contrast can be used to tell some great stories in the ring. Even if they don't get the story off the ground, they should at least be able to highspot each other to death, and that might be enough for the crowd.
Davey Richards vs. TJ Perkins – Though I haven't personally seen him yet, Richards has been getting a crazy amount of positive press over the last couple of months, and I can't imagine him losing to somebody like TJ Perkins who, though talented, is about half the star.
American Dragon vs. Austin Aries – And this is probably your match of the night for the second evening of the tournament. Dragon has been on an insane roll since winning the ROH title, putting on great matches with anybody who walks within a five foot radius of his body. Aries is a more than capable opponent, even if he does now look like the love child of Jesse Ventura and Razor Ramon Hard Gay. A second round match featuring Dragon vs. Davey Richards could really help to give Davey a rub, even if he loses, so that's what I'm betting we'll see.
Jack Evans vs. Claudio Castagnoli – STYLE CLASH ALERT! These two are usually wrestling on entirely different pages, and I can't see a good way for them to mesh. Hopefully I'm wrong. The one positive thing that I can say about the pairing is that at least Claudio is a pretty big guy, which means he should be well suited to catch Evans after his insane five hundred rotation whoop-de-doos to the floor.
Genki Horiguchi vs. Chris Hero – This will be a real test for Hero, as we will see if he can blend is European style mat wrestling with the much more intricate mat wrestling often utilized by graduates of the Ultimo Dragon Gym. I'm wagering that the answer to that question will be "yes," as the matchups that I've seen between Hero and Milano Collection AT have been quite good. Hopefully this will produce more of the same. The interesting question is who wins this one. It would seem unrealistic for all of the Japanese outsiders to win their first round matches, and Chris Hero is the biggest domestic star paired up against one of the Asians. Based on that, I wouldn't be surprised if he came out on top. Super Dragon vs. Necro Butcher – If you like two men hitting each other in the face really hard, this should be the match for you. There are a lot of guys on the indy scene who all use the ultra-stiff brawler gimmick, and Dragon is probably the guy from that group that I mind the least since he can also integrate bits and pieces of a couple of different styles of wrestling in to it. Hopefully that's enough to make this match with Necro Butcher entertaining, as usually Necro's matches don't do much for me unless he's doing something insanely dumb like running barefoot across thumbtacks.
Scorpio Sky vs. Frankie Kazarian – Personally, I think this is the match where you do your big first round upset. Both guys are good enough to make this competitive, and Scorpio has been performing consistently well enough that it may be time to bump him up. A win against Kazarian could do that, even if he would wind up being decimated by the Super Dragon in the second round.
All in all, Nights 1 and 2 of the BOLA tournament look like they could be among the best indy cards of the year. If that's the case, just think about Night 3, in which the talent pool becomes even less watered down and chances are good that each match will be given much more time. This may be one of the rare indy shows that I snap up the second that it comes out on DVD . . . and those of you who live in Southern California and haven't purchased tickets yet should lose your ability to call yourselves wrestling fans.
WHAT I WATCHED THIS WEEK
Because the report needs a little bit more material and because I generally don't get an opportunity to discuss 90% of what I watched in any given week, here's a quick and dirty rundown of what the week in wrestling entailed for yours truly.
NECW Internet TV from June 2
For the uninitiated, New England Championship Wrestling is an indy located in the Massachusetts area, promoted by wrestling historian Sheldon Goldberg. You can catch their weekly TV show by logging on to Sparks is a seventeen year old girl who started training at thirteen, which is quite the odd little story. Unfortunately she looks like she's still thirteen, and that made this match really uncomfortable since it appeared to be a grown woman beating on a child. Maybe Kayla could do a gimmick in which she's sent to shows by Perverted Justice to trap pedophiles in the locker room. Anyway, the two ladies here did some basic moves and looked solid enough in their execution but failed through their body language or selling to convey any actual emotion in the match. It's the same problem you find in a lot of indy matches these days, except there weren't nearly as many highspots as here to compensate.
Match Two: Scott Reed vs. Brian Fury – Fury decided to steal CM Punk's straight edge gimmick. Otherwise, both men looked VERY generic, both in terms of their appearance and their performance, though Fury broke out of the mold and pulled out a couple of decent looking moves towards the end of the match. The best was a reverse neckbreaker that he hit while his opponent was rebounding off of a chest-first bump in to the turnbuckles. I was also really annoyed by the ring positioning of everybody in this match, as there were far too many nearfalls counted while the men were in or under the ropes. Otherwise, they looked decent. Fury particularly looks like he could be something with a bit more seasoning.
Match Three: John Walters vs. Eddie Edwards – The morbidly obese referee in this match probably outweighs both wrestlers put together. Seriously. This guy would walk between the wrestlers and the camera, and I'd be unable to see either competitor through the wall of vertical stripes. Walters was light years ahead of anybody else on this show in terms of putting on a good match, though I still doubt he'd cut it in the big leagues. Edwards and his two cornermen did a good job of getting heat on Walters for a while, after which Walters made a fantastic little comeback, running around the ring at about seventy miles an hour and hitting some solid, believable offense, including a Widow's Peak for the win.
SHIMMER Women Athletes: Volume One
Yes, after it received several months of hype, I finally decided to break down and take the plunge in to SHIMMER. Though it wasn't the greatest card of all time, it was something different and wound up being quite fun. I'll definitely be ordering more of their product in the future. Hopefully they'll be taping the next time that I take one of my trips through the Chicago area.
Match One: Shantelle Taylor vs. Tiana Ringer – This was a pretty run of the mill wrestling match, though there was a nice spot that stuck out in which one woman cartwheeled out of a waistlock and then the other tried to do the same thing, only to have her opponent cartwheel through with her and hold on. There were some rumblings that WWE was interested in Ms. Taylor, and they could certainly do worse when it comes to adding to the women's division. In fact, they're doing worse right now, and it's called the Diva Search.
Match Two: Team Blondage vs. Cindy Rogers & Nikki Roxx – Yes, two Nikki Roxx matches in the same column! Yes, she's still unspectacular here! Team Blondage are great, though, as they're essentially doing a gimmick in which they're everything that SHIMMER stands against – prissy girls who care more about their looks than athletics. They play the role well, and they're not horrible wrestlers either. Rogers was probably the real star of the match from an in-ring perspective, though. The sad thing is that, even in a company like SHIMMER where woman aren't supposed to be judged on their looks, she's far too generic looking to be anything special.
Match Three: Ariel vs. Rain – The first two matches were okay, but watching Ariel was when I first said to myself, "You know, this company may be on to something here." She's a tiny woman who just has awesome snap to everything that she does and isn't afraid to dish out or receive hard shots . . . sort of like a mini-Benoit in those two regards. (No, I'm not saying that she's anywhere near his level. Calm down.) I've seen Rain before, and she's one of those wrestlers who is just there. She's competent enough to be carried to a good match, which is what happened here, but I don't know what would happen to her if she was put in the ring with a less capable opponent.
Match Four: Lexie Fyfe vs. Christie Ricci – Yawn. Fyfe was the most experienced of the women on the show, though Ricci seemingly wanted to work the same style as the other younger women. Fyfe just wasn't game for it, and this wound up being pretty bland as a result. Seeing these two in different roles in the future wouldn't be a bad thing, but putting them against each other was death.
Match Five: MsChif vs. Cheerleader Melissa – Now this is where the show really got kicked in to high gear and became something special. These two women went out there and worked their asses off, hitting each other with moves some of which I hadn't seen before and moves that I had seen before but hadn't seen executed this well in a long time. It was a nice fusion of technical wrestling and brawling, and I actually wound up being a little bit disappointed when Melissa dropped the fall. I did have some problems with the pacing of the match, though, as they seemingly transitioned from high impact offense to low impact offense without any rhyme, reason, or build. Despite that, this was probably the best match of the entire show.
Match Six: Allison Danger vs. Beth Phoenix – This made me much more excited for Beth's return to WWE than anything that the company will actually do to build it up. She looked great here, both in terms of her work and in terms of her appearance. She was doing a completely over the top airhead gimmick, and her selling was really amusing and cartoonish whenever Danger would get the upper hand on her. I enjoy watching Danger as well, because, even when she is working a more serious gimmick like she was here, you can tell she's having the time of her life in the ring. When the wrestlers are having fun, I'm having fun.
Match Seven: Sara Del Rey vs. Mercedes Martinez – These two went out and did a twenty minute draw, which, though it's not quite a sixty minute Broadway, definitely helped to establish exactly the style of professional wrestling that this company wants its women to be working. Personally I thought the match was a little bit bland, even though the two did break out some fine nearfalls in the closing minutes. However, the crowd did react strongly to it, so maybe my reaction is not the norm.
Match Eight: Lacey vs. Daizee Haze: I'm guessing that these two were placed in to the main event because they had established themselves a bit in Ring of Honor before SHIMMER began. It's a bit of a shame, really, because there were girls lower down on the card who are much better wrestlers. That's not to say that Haze and Lacey aren't good. In fact, I quite enjoy Lacey's heelish tactics, particularly when she goes off on the audience for being sick perverts. You can tell that there's a part of her psyche that really does think that . . . which raises the question of why she stays in the business, but I digress. The match itself was a good back and forth affair, with Lacey doing a good job of dominating on offense for a long period of time. Most women would have run out of things to do in a similar situation, but she kept the match fresh, and I thought it was great. Daizee didn't have much to do aside from her comeback in the end, but that was well executed. This, like the other top matches on the card, was much better than most wrestling that you see on free TV these days.
So SHIMMER gets a massive thumbs up, people complaining about the GAB changes get a massive thumbs down, and Maria gets her thumb snapped in half. Between those three topics, it sounds like we've hit a good stopping point for our beloved Small-for-All. Assuming that Jeff isn't brought down in a hail of sniper fire, he'll be back next week. Until then, check out my Cheap Wrestling for Cheap People on Thursdays, and feel free to shoot me an e-mail with any feedback on this column.