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"WWF/WCW/WWE/TNA Wrestling History"

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On the 14th February 1999, the unscrupulous boss vs. defiant employee storyline between Steve Austin and Vince McMahon came to a head at the St Valentine's Day Massacre PPV. Drawing 450,000 buys for their singles match inside a steel cage, coming off a then-Rumble record 650,000 buys for the engrossing storyline where the pair entered the annual event at numbers 1 and 2, the feud had been a tremendous financial and artistic success.

Since that date, WWE and many other promotions have attempted on numerous occasions to recreate the Austin/McMahon magic with other similar GM/owner/booker/CEO vs. wrestler feuds. It is an angle that has been to death, with diminishing financial rewards and fan enthusiasm for each subsequent retread.

On the 20th May 2012, WWE, at Over the Limit, gave it another shot when they presented a John Cena vs. John Laurinaitis main event. The added benefit on this occasion being that Laurinaitis is a trained worker, who hopefully could work credible spots with the uncoordinated Cena.

It failed again ... miserably.

Cena vs. Laurinaitis was a terrible one-sided comedy match main event. It was pathetic. The pair demonstrated none of the charisma or presence that Austin or McMahon had done 13 years earlier. The only similarity between the two matches was the interference. Just as he had done at the close of the 2/14/99 cage match, The Big Show interfered. This time, however, it did not backfire. Laurinaitis pinned Cena and retained his job. At least for this week,

Disregarding the fact that everyone saw the turn coming, in storyline terms, it made no sense. Had Show and Laurinaitis claimed that their dispute was a ruse, it would have been one thing. However, the storyline emerging from RAW was that it was a reluctant heel turn by Show in order to earn his re-instatement. As Cena, himself, pointed out (in an ill-advised promo, considering the circumstances), the new GM would surely have done that anyway after Laurinaitis had been removed from power. Furthermore, Laurinaitis stated in his promo that he had rehired Show on Saturday before the PPV, which contradicted the entire storyline which dictated that the Board of Directors would have fired any active wrestler that interfered in the Over The Limit match. This was not a fluffed line, this was what had been scripted. WWE cannot even keep track of its main event stipulations now, and this is the same company that is planning to expand RAW to three hours in less than two months.

Even worse still, Cena vs. Show is scheduled to be the main event of the next WWE PPV: No Way Out. Cena and Show had two of the worst WWE PPV matches in 2009. The last thing paying customers deserve to witness is these two lummoxes wrestling again. WWE should consider renaming the event to WWE No PPV Buys, because that will be result of this entire shambles. Furthermore, in McMahonland, it's fine to have John Cena stare at the lights for John Laurinaitis, but heaven forbid he do the same for Brock Lesnar.

The rest of the show was not entirely devoid of merit. In fact, prior to the shambolic main event, it was a decent show. The filler matches were dross, but the opener was satisfactory and the two World Title matches delivered quality encounters. On the PPV front, I'm convinced that this show will do poorly. The key matches had so little drawing power that I would be surprised if it didn't turn out to be one of the least purchased WWE events of the last few years. Aside from the main event, four-ways usually be a weak draw, and there was a series of Punk/Bryan matches already broadcast on free TV just a few months ago.

CM Punk retained the WWE World Title against Daniel Bryan in an excellent 24 minute encounter when Bryan trapped Punk in the LeBell/Yes lock and leaned back so far that his shoulders were on the mat. The referee counted the pinfall just prior to Punk tapping out to the hold. I thought that this finish was rather creative, in a way. It allowed Punk to retain the title, but did so in such a way that you can justify a reason for a rematch. Technically, this was Punk's finest ever WWE outing, although it didn?t have the crowd heat of last year's MITB match with Cena, nor the drama of the TLC match with Jeff Hardy (Summerslam 2009). After the artistic failure of his feud with Chris Jericho, this dispute should set CM Punk back on the track. Daniel Bryan, however, is stuck between a rock and a hard place. Whilst there have been a few exceptions, the growing trend is that his superb heel character is just too effective. Since Wrestlemania, Bryan has been so good in almost everything he has done, he is almost turning himself babyface. This means that his matches are having a "duelling chant/split reaction" atmosphere and he is finding it difficult to extract some real heel heat. His current character is so good, that the thought of turning him face seems like an extremely bad idea, but the fact remains that his drawing power as a heel may be getting compromised. The most effective, money-drawing heels are the ones that have been detested by fans.

Sheamus retained the World Heavyweight Title in a very good Fatal Four Way match over Randy Orton, Alberto Del Rio and Chris Jericho. The match was marred slightly by far too much unrealistic selling and "waiting for their next spot", but it was exciting and dynamic enough to overcome these short-comings. Sheamus hasn't quite gotten over as a babyface as much as management would have liked. It was clear here that Randy Orton is still the crowd favourite when they are forced to choose between the two. If the plan is to turn Sheamus in a super babyface, he needs to be kept as far away from Orton as possible for the time being.

In full results from the show held on the 20th May 2012 held in Raleigh, NC.

A. Kane pinned Dolph Ziggler in 6:55 following a chokeslam as Ryder was preparing for the jumping leg lariat.

B. Christian won a tedious battle royal to earn a shot at either the US Title or Intercontinental Title later in the show, by last eliminating The Miz.

1. WWE World Tag Champions Kofi Kingston and R-Truth bested Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger in an enjoyable encounter. This followed the standard WWE Tag Team formula. The finish came when Ziggler levelled Kingston with the Rocker Dropper, but R-Truth broke up the pin attempt. Truth then decked Swagger with a pescado, as Kingston hit the Trouble in Paradise on Ziggler for the conclusive pin. Poor Vickie was not at all happy ? and this is before she's heard Jerry Lawler's malicious and tiresome commentary. (**1/4)

Prior to the third match of the night, Eve Torres instructed Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder to venture into the crowd and confiscate any anti-John Laurinaitis signs that they find. Who says WWE can?t laugh at themselves?

2. WWE Diva's Champion Layla overcame Beth Phoenix at 7:10. They made a commendable effort. Really, they did. But the match that had been laid out for them was clearly too advanced for them to pull off. They worked hard, and the match told a logical story at least until the finish, but it just kept falling apart due to bad timing and botched execution. Phoenix worked over Layla?s knee, whilst Layla made valiant counters to Phoenix's power-based arsenal to try and scrape the victory. Layla scored the clean win with the neckbreaker. The finish was abrupt. (1/2*)

3. World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus overcame Chris Jericho, Alberto Del Rio and Randy Orton in an exciting Fatal Four Way match when he pinned Jericho (***1/2)

4. Brodus Clay pinned The Miz at 4:12 following a big splash. The pre-match shenanigans were considerably more entertaining than the actual match. (1/4*)

5. Christian defeated WWE US Champion Cody Rhodes to win the title in a reasonable encounter at 7:25. There was nothing wrong with the match, but it was too short to leave a lasting impression. Additionally, because of the thrown-together nature of the match and Christian's sudden and unexplained face turn, there was little crowd reaction to it. Rhodes threw a tantrum after Christian kicked out of a moonsault allowing Christian to hit the killswitch. (*3/4)

6. WWE World Champion CM Punk pinned Daniel Bryan. (****1/4)

7. Ryback squashed Camacho in a dreadful match. (DUD)

8. John Laurinaitis rolled over John Cena in an abysmal main event. (NR)

 1 Comment 
From an in-ring standpoint, Extreme Rules was the best PPV since last year’s Money-in-the-Bank. Viewed in isolation, it was a superior show. When looked at from a larger perspective, the entire Extreme Rules show had exactly the same effect on the promotion as Vince McMahon taking $5 million of company money, live-on-air, and setting fire to it.

Around Wrestlemania time, Lesnar signed an extremely limited date schedule which was one of the most lucrative in wrestling history. The belief was clearly there that Lesnar could make a difference to the company. If McMahon had not believed this to be the case, he never would have agreed to the Lesnar deal.

The Lesnar storyline practically wrote itself. A legitimate mainstream fighter, uninterested in pro-wrestling, with a dangerous aura. He would blast his way through the WWE’s top names leaving destruction in his wake, leading up to a match that had the potential to be the biggest drawing in history: Rock vs. Lesnar at Wrestlemania 29. There, on the biggest show of the year, the WWE’s biggest mainstream name would finally give the detestable Lesnar his comeuppance and restore some dignity for the WWE roster. There is no way that this could be botched up.

Somewhere between Wrestlemania and Extreme Rules, Vince McMahon (gasp!) changed his mind. How much in advance of Extreme Rules is debatable, but I’m personally inclined to believe that the decision to put Cena over Lesnar must have been made prior to Cena’s loss to Lord Tensai on the April 16th Raw. Considering that Cena had lost clean to Rock at Wrestlemania, that defeat logically meant one of only two things: either Cena was turning heel after Extreme Rules, or he was going over Brock Lesnar in Lesnar’s first match back. If anyone was honestly foolish enough to believe in the former direction, that hope was erased on April 23 when WWE scripted a segment to ensure that Brock Lesnar looked like an arrogant prima donna to the audience with his contract demands. This was clearly designed to try and sway crowd reaction towards Cena in their Chicago showdown.

At this stage, most insiders had surmised that Cena was probably going over. The idea seemed so stupid that most observers prayed that WWE would have an epiphany on the weekend of the show. The last two matches where the result really mattered was Cena vs. Rock, and Cena vs. Punk at MITB. On both occasions, Cena was booked to go over. On both occasions, McMahon came to his senses on the weekend of the show. This time, he did not…

Perhaps the disappointing RAW ratings were what led McMahon to believe that Lesnar was not the game-changer that he had originally envisaged. It’s PD’s inclination that this was at least part of the reason. However, if Wrestlemania should have taught them anything, it’s that TV ratings are not necessarily an indicator of how well a PPV will draw. Even for UFC, Lesnar hardly sent ratings through the roof on Ultimate Fighter. He was a PPV draw. People were willing to pay to see his big matches. It’s also possible that the majority of RAW viewers simply do not subscribe to the fact that “real is better”. History certainly supports that notion: remember crowd reaction during the “Brawl for All fiasco”, or “boxing matches”, “sumo matches” and the like. Wrestling fans want to see wrestling matches. They are not concerned with Lesnar’s success in UFC anymore than they were with Ken Shamrock, Dan Severn or Tank Abbott. When Kurt Angle debuted, he had to be a heel because the Attitude era fans could not have given a toss about his Olympic or NCAA accomplishments. Angle needed to be established as a WWE creation before he could get over with the fans.

The difficult with comparing Lesnar to Angle, Shamrock, Severn etc is that you are looking at an era before MMA became very popular. There is now more crossover between the two genres, but UFC draws so much better on PPV, not because it’s real, but simply because it is better at the moment from an entertainment standpoint. When Steve Austin was setting attendance, PPV and merchandise records in 1998-1999, no-one cared that he was just playing a role. He was so entertaining and the shows were so creative that it didn’t harm fan’s enjoyment any more than other scripted forms of entertainment. No-one finds the likes of NCIS, CSI, Bones etc any less entertaining because they are not “real cases”. We watch these shows for escapism. If, however, an episode has a particularly bad or unconvincing actor, it does ruin our viewing pleasure – just as it does when we are forced to watch badly delivered promos, poor selling, contrived angles or fake-looking offense in pro-wrestling.

One of the reasons why pro-wrestling became a work was so promoters could ensure that matches, feuds and angles were as interesting as possible. In today’s WWE creative dearth, they are failing to use this to their advantage. When done right, wrestling can be infinitely more entertaining and memorable than UFC. It’s just that neither of the two biggest US promotions (WWE and TNA) appear to have the slightest idea about how to book and present wrestling effectively enough that it is capable of appealing to the casual audience.

On the 29th April 2012, in Chicago, IL, WWE presented one of the most ill-advised main event results in the history of the promotion. Only with the benefit of hindsight at next year's Mania, can it be properly assessed just how much damage they have done. But there can be no question that Lesnar (pocketing a whopping 5 million) will not draw anywhere near as much as he could have. Prospective matches with Austin, Rock, Undertaker, Orton and Punk no longer have the same drawing power now Lesnar has jobbed to John Cena.

There is some truth to the assertion that Cena, as the biggest full-time star on the road would have been harmed by two consecutive losses to Rock and Lesnar (two performers who don’t even qualify as part-timers). So McMahon, likely, was motivated by the desire to protect his lead babyface. However, if Cena is indeed taking time off, this justification can surely no longer apply. Additionally, if you are that concerned with rehabilitating Cena, why book Lesnar against him in his first match back? There’s a roster full of guys that Lesnar could have defeated, and the Cena vs. Lesnar match could have been saved for Summerslam at which point Cena would have recovered from The Rock defeat.

If Lesnar’s drawing power is indeed linked to his authenticity, could there have been a worse person to sacrifice him to in a streetfight? Is there any main eventer on the roster that would have less of a chance against Lesnar in a real streetfight? The fact remains that it’s fine for Cena to do a job to Lord Tensai, who is not over in the slightest, but heaven forbid he do a job to Brock Lesnar. In Vince’s eyes that could mean a public admittance that UFC is better than WWE.

Even worse, any opportunity to mitigate the loss was not taken. Lesnar simply left the ring after the finish. If he had obliterated Cena after the match, it would have been a small improvement: a reminder that a simple one-two-three is irrelevant in an environment where everybody leaves on a stretcher after facing Brock Lesnar. Instead, Cena had enough energy to cut a post-match promo. You simply could not make this lunacy up.

The pre-occuption with protecting Cena and his babyface character caused damage to The Rock in the build-up to Wrestlemania. The fact remains that no matter what WWE tries, John Cena has reached the ceiling of his career. His star cannot climb any higher. Cena will never be the draw that Austin, Rock or Hogan were. In comparison terms, he is the Bret Hart of the 2000s. The best draw of the company, who is simply occupying the top spot until the next superstar babyface can be found. A despicable heel Cena would greatly freshen up the headline scene, but of course it’s not going to happen. PD has been told, ad nauseum, that turning Cena would be an error because of all the lost revenue in Cena merchandise sales.

Let’s look at this:

In 2011, WWE grossed about $33.9 million in Merchandise Sales. Profit contribution was around the $11 million mark. Even if you assume that Cena merchandise is responsible for half the overall sales (it isn’t), lost profit by a heel turn would be $5.5 million.
To offset that decrease, WWE would have to attract around 550,000 extra PPV buys (average PPV profit to WWE is $10 per buy) this year with a heel Cena. Over a 12 event schedule, this is around 45,000 extra buys per event. Is this possible? You can form your own opinions…

Admist all this negativity, it’s easier to overlook the fact that Cena and Lesnar had a superb main event. This may have been Cena’s finest ever performance. Cena who is often criticised (and rightly so) for his phoney offence and selling, deserves a ton of credit for allowing Lesnar to work as stiff as he did. This was so different from your average WWE main event, that it stood out and had you gripped from start-to-finish. Lesnar and Cena were perfect in their roles. It was Vince McMahon that dropped the ball.

The main matches all delivered. Daniel Bryan was incredible in the “best-of-three-falls” outing with Sheamus. The booking there was spot on. CM Punk and Chris Jericho had a lengthy, quality match that fell apart on occasion, but was still very good nonetheless. Even Orton and Kane exceeded expectations.

In quick results and notes from the show:

They announced attendance of 14,817, which is an inflated number. No exact numbers were available at time of writing, but the attendance for last year’s sellout Money in the Bank in the same arena was around the 12,000 mark (they announced 14,815 on television last year), so the real number is likely just north of 12,000, with a gate approaching $800,000. Genuine attendance should be available in a few days.

1. Randy Orton bested Kane in a protracted falls-count-anywhere opener. Because Orton was involved, the two were granted the usual shortcuts reserved only for matches high on the card like multiple weapon shots, backstage brawling and (ineffective) interference (from Zack Ryder). A pipe was introduced to the proceedings early on, before Orton and Kane brawled through the crowd, production area and backstage. Ryder tried to attack Kane backstage but it had zero effect. Back in the ring, Orton went nuts with a chair and DDT’d Kane off the announce table to the floor. An Orton superplex and Kane chokeslam yielded near falls before Kane attempted a tombstone onto a chair. Orton slipped out of the hold and decked Kane with an RKO onto the steel object for the pinfall, as the clock approached the 17 minute mark. On the bright side, this was probably better than most people’s expectations, the crowd was reasonably into the action, and the walkabout brawl with little selling is fine for a match in this position on the card. All that people really cared about was seeing an end to this dismal feud and it appears that that’s what we got. The current outlook for both men is mixed. Orton (more than likely) has a Summerslam meeting with Brock Lesnar looming, and a dispute with Daniel Bryan at some point. Kane, on the other hand, has had two of the worst feuds anywhere this year so far (vs. Cena, and vs. Orton). The booking of the match seemed designed to protect him, which probably means that a demotion is not on the cards and the rest of the upper-card performers are playing “rock-paper-scissors” backstage to see who gets lumbered with him next. If I was CM Punk, I’d be really worried … (***1/4)

2. Brodus Clay pinned Dolph Ziggler. Interference from Jack Swagger allowed Ziggler to gain some offence in the match, but it was all for naught. Eventually Swagger was sent crashing off the apron, and one headbutt and big splash later, Ziggler was staring at the lights. The most puzzling thing about the match is that Ziggler has not fallen into disfavour with management. They still view him as a potential future main-eventer. Surely then, someone else could be used in such a disposable role. (3/4*)

On the pre-show, the wheel was spun backstage to determine the stipulation for the Rhodes vs. Show match. Luckily it turned out to be a tables match. Lucky because WWE was already selling event t-shirts which advertised Rhodes vs. Show as a tables match. That Vince McMahon: now he can predict the future. There really is no end to his talents.

On a serious note, unfortunately the stipulation gave away the match result before Rhodes and Show had even made their entrances. You see a tables match (like a cage match won by cage escape) is one of those stipulations that WWE love to book so someone can go over by a fluke without the losing guy having to stare at the lights.

3. To no surprise, Cody Rhodes bested WWE Intercontinental Champion The Big Show to win the title in a rubbish tables match. The ludicrous finish to this five minute filler affair saw Show accidentally step through a table to regain his balance after a dropkick from Rhodes. This poor substitute for a proper finish was inadvertently hilarious, between the sheer absurdity of the booking and Show’s expression when he realised his mistake. He then slaughtered Rhodes in the post-match with a spear, chokeslam through a table, and finally a press slam through a ringside table. Logically, why bother putting Rhodes over at all, if you are going to do it in a way that he gains absolutely nothing from the victory?

At this stage, the show is approaching the sewer. Any event that severly harms genuine talents like Dolph Ziggler, The Miz and Cody Rhodes to the benefit of comedy characters and lummoxes like Marella, Clay and Show is one that is booked by an imbecile.

4. World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus overturned Daniel Bryan in a best-of-three-falls match. Prior to the match, Bryan cut a promo insulting the Chicago crowd to try to ensure cheers for Sheamus. It didn’t really work. Bryan lost the first fall by DQ at around 14:30 after he had thrown Sheamus shoulder-first into the ringpost. Moments later with Sheamus trapped in the ropes, Bryan refused to cease his assault and the referee called the bell. Around two minutes later, Sheamus passed out in the “Yes Lock” and the second fall was awarded to Bryan via stoppage. There were some dramatic moments before it was confirmed that Sheamus would be able to continue. A Bryan charge led to a Brogue kick from out of nowhere, but with Sheamus slow to make the cover, the match continued with both men now struggling to recover. A missed diving headbutt by Bryan minutes later led to his downfall, and Sheamus scored the three-count after the second Brogue kick. An excellent performance from Daniel Bryan and one of those instances where both the winner and loser of the match were enhanced by the match. (****)

5. Ryback squashed Aaron Relick and Jay Hatton. We would like to say that I don’t know what WWE or Vince McMahon sees in Ryback, but unfortunately that’s not the case. We know exactly what it is they see in him and its sending the wrong message to its talent. For legal reasons we can’t comment any further. (DUD)

6. WWE World Champion CM Punk toppled Chris Jericho in a Chicago streetfight. They went 25 minutes, and had an awful lot crammed into that time period, perhaps a little too much. At times, this was bordering on superb, but there was just too much sloppiness and blown spots involved for wrestlers of this experience level, so it had to settle for being “very good”. (***1/2)

7. Layla overcame WWE Divas Champion Nikki Bella to win the title in a nothing match that was far more notable for WWE changing its direction at least three times in one week. The plan was for Bella to drop the title to Kharma to begin a build to a Phoenix vs. Kharma programme. So they created a storyline injury so Phoenix could drop the title. They then put Beth Phoenix back in the match because it had gotten on the internet that her injury was a work. Then they changed their mind and went with the “mystery opponent” which was presumably going to be Kharma at some point, but Khama was told to stay home because it was felt to be too predictable. Finally they decided on Layla. No-one cared. (1/2*)

8. John Cena rolled over Brock Lesnar in a brutal, outstanding main event when Cena levelled Lesnar with an Attitude Adjustment on the ring steps. (****1/2)


“What’s wrong with being on the pre-show? It’s like a pre-party� � - Matt Striker with one of the stupidiest comments of the year thus far in WWE.

Despite Striker jubilant at the opportunity to call the pre-show, The Miz was not as impressed with his position on the card, as he expressed to the Chicago crowd in his pre-match promo. Similar to the speeches he delivered prior to Wrestlemania, he mentioned that he was in the main event of last year’s show and had been the one who won John Laurinitis control of both WWE broadcasts. Reigning US Champion Santino Marella interrupted his catchphrase and pinned The Miz in a quick, basic match with the Cobra, after Miz had missed a corner charge. The match was passable, aside from some of Miz’s punches which clearly did not come within a couple of inches of Marella. For those interested: around 63,000 watched the pre-show across the different mediums.
WWE Night of Champions 2010 Review9/22/10
First available on Facebook here : http://www.facebook.com/notes/piledr...

On Sunday, 19th September, WWE presented the first of 3 PPV offerings in the space of 5 weeks. Night of Champions, as the name suggests, has every championship defended, pretty much guaranteeing at least one title change, which is the main reason this gimmick PPV gets better than average buys. The PPV comes to us from the Allstate Arena in (Rosemont) Chicago, IL, renowned for it's heavier concentration of smart/long-term fans (translation : Cena will be booed louder than normal)

The card itself was promoted based on the six-pack challenge for the WWE title, featuring RAW's perennial main-eventers (and Wade Barrett, whose title shot amounted to nothing) and Undertaker and Kane going at it for the very first time. On PPV. This year. Same goes for Ziggler and Kofi, who have wrestled each other in singles competition (not counting tag matches and segments) 6 times since the end of July. Lads...

Tonight's commentators are the loveable Michael Cole, Matt Striker and Jerry Lawler, who surprisingly didn't bicker much. The set looks very similar to last year, with large banners of every title (the tag titles really stick out, as well as the Diva's Butterfly belt) and some foam pillars.

Intercontinental Title Match: (if Dolph gets DQ/Countout he loses the title)
-Dolph Ziggler (c) vs. Kofi Kingston

The crowd were hot for the match. It was a decent opener, with no real great spots. Striker amusingly quipped that Vickie Guerrero looked like 'Pat Benatar stung by bees'. The finish came when Kofi escaped the sleeper hold, but missed the trouble in paradise, and Ziggler -- who chastised Vickie for trying to interfere on his behalf -- hit the Zig-Zag and got the win. Most people are telegraphing the swerve where Dolph leaves Vicki for the muscular Kaitlyn. They teased a break-up but were all hugs after the match.
Result : Dolph retains in a completely forgettable opener.

Backstage Edge says there's a reason why he's the Ultimate Opportunist. After 9 short title reigns, this gimmick is beyond stale.

Match with no title on the line despite this being Night of Champions :
-Big Show vs. CM Punk

Punk (the hometown wrestler) gets a pop, cuts a face promo, saying he loves everything about Chicago, before saying he hates it's inhabitants and the White Sox suck. He hilariously said that they should burn Chicago down to the ground again, at this point people didn't take it seriously. The promo was decent; the match was short, around 5 minutes, a nothing match which Big Show one with his trademark punch, which WWE are still really pushing for some reason. Maybe they're doing it to promote Big Show's upcoming movie, Knucklehead, or they're just really out of main eventers on SmackDown.
Result : Big Show wins in a nothing match.

Backstage Jericho reiterates his previous accolades in a meh promo.

Unites States Championship Match:
-The Miz (c) vs. Daniel Bryan

Unfortunately not the great in-ring match it could be, but it was their first encounter (see you at Hell in a Cell) and was a good match, 2nd best of the night. The announcers kept mentioning Bryan's finisher, the LeBell Lock (Omoplata crossface). The crowd seemed to have lost interest, only picking up at the end. Funny to see Miz's protege, who is the same age (29), who looks about 6 years older than him. Reilly dresses and acts just like the Miz, which won't get him over. After 12 minutes Danielson locked in the LeBell Lock and got the tap out and the US title. Surprising as WWE haven't been booking Danielson the best lately, exposing his gimmick, haircut and mic work.... After the match, Miz looked visably (kayfabe) upset at the title loss. Will he cash in his MITB as many have predicted? If we see a backstage vignette, then definitely......but we didn't.
Result : Daniel Bryan wins the US title in a good match.

Cena cut an interesting, good face promo talking about percentages (hilariously saying that there's a 10% chance that Edge is actually Rated R, since this is a PG show) Much better than his usual promos.

WWE Diva's/Women's Title Unification Lumberjack Match (The WWE Divas Will Act As Lumberjacks):
-Melina (Diva's Champ) vs. Michelle McCool (Women's Champ)

The story behind the match is that Layla and McCool had a falling out, as Michelle cheated to be picked to face Melina. Striker sounded astonished that Jillian still worked with WWE (despite her doing a backstage segment with Edge on RAW Roulette last week) Melina's work was average at best, McCool has really gotten better as a wrestler and character. Good times that Nattie had a few spots outside the ring too. Typical lumberjack spots, there was one where Jillian and Rosa start to fight, then don't, and then laugh to each other about it -- on camera. Wow... It felt like this match was pretty much left to it's own devices. McCool grabs the win after distracting the lumberjills, as Layla lays out Melina.
Result : McCool (and Layla) are now the Unified Women's/Diva's Champion in a short, bearable women's match.

Backstage Barrett cuts a short, OK promo as he says the winds of change will continue to blow.

No Holds Barred Match For The World Heavyweight Championship:
-Kane (c) vs. The Undertaker

For a match that needed a gimmick (see you in 2 weeks for Hell in a Cell) and needed to be short, this one got 18 minutes. Good on them for trying to work a wrestling match, but wow, these lads can't go. Kane got the lion's share of the offence, and the right man won, as Kane retained (for the next two weeks anyway). For what they are capable of, it was good, but compared to matches in general, it was poor. They did fight up the ramp, where Kane hilariously knocked off a piece of foam from a pillar, and hit it away. The crowd didn't care in general. The finish came when Kane reversed the tombstone into one of his own, and for the first time in history, Kane hooked the leg after a tombstone (i.e. didn't just hold the hands down)
Result : Kane retains in a slow, boring match (which was relatively good if you know how good a straight wrestling match with them could be in 2010)

Backstage, Orton has a one-word promo ("no").

WWE Tag Team Turmoil Match:
-The Hart Dynasty vs. The Uzos, then Santino/Kozlov, then Henry/Bourne, then McIntyre/Rhodes

Oh, so it's a gauntlet match! WWE had not announced the match on TV before the PPV, only that the titles would be defended (via Michael Cole's twitter) -- so you can imagine how much effort went into planning the match. Surprisingly, the tag champions had to come out first. The Hardy Dynasty get jobbed out immediately by the Uzos (huge blow). Comedy jobber Santino got taken out via a Samoan Drop, Bourne pinned an Uzo, then Dashing Cody got the pin, getting the titles in 12 minutes flat. The match felt extremely fast (in the "get it over with" kind of way). I personally don't care for Drew Mac any more, and think being in a tag team is a step back for Cody Rhodes and his new awesome gimmick. Ha, did you know WWE has 5 tag teams? They don't. Two singles tagging together aren't a tag team!
Result : McIntyre/Rhodes win the tag titles in a disposable, hurried gauntlet match.

Backstage, Sheamus reiterates his resiliency to keep his title.

6 Pack Challenge Elimination Match For The WWE Title:
-Sheamus (c) vs. Randy Orton vs. John Cena vs. Edge vs. Wade Barrett vs. Chris Jericho

Aggravatingly, the champion Sheamus came out first; while Orton (WWE's most over babyface) came out last. WWE announcers and Jericho had previously mentioned that if Jericho failed to win the title, he'd leave WWE forever (just as he's been kicked off RAW/WWE a few times in his career) but didn't really enforce the stip tonight. Jericho got pinned straight away (by Orton), which really woke the crowd up. They stayed with Jericho's anguish and slowly leaving; but nobody really believed he was done. He will however be done with WWE in a few weeks. In general though, the match was a bit of a cluster, which wasn't that interesting until the closing few minutes. This can also be attributed to that, apart from Barrett, these 5 contestants have cumulatively held the world/wwe title over 30 times. So who really cares? (lol)

They teased Orton vs Cena (what would that be like!) although they didn't do it. Late into the game, Nexus interfered and Barrett eliminated Cena, which would've meant so much more had any focus been on Barrett in the build up to this match. It was great to get that momentary hope that something shocking would happen, before reality sunk in. By this point the crowd were invested. RKO to Slater and to Barrett and it's down to Orton and Sheamus; who finally hit the RKO and got the win and his 7th world title reign after 22 minutes.
Result : Orton wins the WWE title in an OK main-event.

Overall, the show was OK, definitely not worth paying for, and OK to watch for free. Nothing too memorable or worth going out of your way to see. The best matches on the card were the US and WWE title matches, but we'll likely get better ones in 2 weeks at Hell in a Cell.
HALF-YEAR AWARDS 2010 (January to June 2010)6/21/10
It's time again for the third annual Piledriver Wrestling Half-Year Awards. Given that viewership is split between several different mediums at the moment, the polls will be conducted by e-mail in the same vein as the 2009 Awards.

Send your ballots to piledriver@piledriverwrestling.net. Closing date is 6th July 2010
Our thanks go to everyone in advance.

The categories are:

1. Wrestler of the Half-Year
2. Match of the Half- Year
3. Feud of the Half-Year
4. Babyface of the Half-Year
5. Heel of the Half-Year
6. Worst Match of the Half-Year
7. Worst Wrestler of the Half-Year
8. Promotion of the Half-Year
9. Card of the Half-Year
 1 Comment 
TNA Slammiversary VIII: 8 years in purgatory6/21/10
TNA Slammiversary, on 13th June 2010 in Orlando, FL, was an average TNA pay-per-view, highlighted by some good matches and dragged down (as usual) by some pitiful mid-card meetings, an undeserving main event and some typical Russo booking.

The show marked the eighth anniversary of TNA. Given the occasion, if this was any other promotion in the world, an eventful card would have been expected. With TNA, the best that can be hoped for is that the PPV is not a complete washout, which Slammiversary wasn't. Given TNA's current woes, the odds of them surviving another 8 years have to be considered extremely slim unless drastic changes are made. There was no sign of any change of direction here. If TNA ever lose Kurt Angle and AJ Styles, they are in deep trouble. No two wrestlers are more responsible for keeping the company alive than that pair.

In results from the show:

1. In the opening match, Kurt Angle rolled over Kazarian in an excellent match. Whilst the crowd was relatively subdued early on (mostly because they didn't believe that Kazarian had a chance of winning), the exciting near-falls eventually dragged them into this 14 minute encounter. The match was booked like it was in the semi-final or main event position which hurt almost everything else on the show as nothing could follow it. The finish came when Angle reversed an attempt at an Omori driver into an ankle lock for the clean win via tap-out (***3/4)

2. TNA X-Division Champion Doug Williams overcame Brian Kendrick in a quality encounter. Williams was so effective in his role that fans had little difficulty in cheering fellow heel Kendrick. The finish to the affair saw Kendrick block Chaos Theory but fall prey to a Tornado DDT for the three-count. Following the match, the announcers made sure that everyone knew that Williams was a hypocrite for using such a move when he had denigrated his fellow "X-Division" wrestlers for using aerial tactics in their matches (***1/4)

3. TNA Knockout's Champion Madison Rayne downed Roxxi in a decent Title vs. Career match. Prior to the match, Rayne somehow managed to convince Roxxi to put her career on the line and then busted her open hardway from a mic shot. Not that this would have drawn any extra buys had the stipulation been announced beforehand, but it did expose the difficulty of taping all your TV in a block a month before the actual PPV. Furthermore, poor Roxxi was only informed of the stipulation (and the fact she was being fired), just minutes before the match actually happened. To their considerable credit, a bloody Roxxi (who was having a terrible day) and Madison Rayne had, by far, the best match of Rayne's short career. Roxxi was in tears after the loss. (*3/4)

4. Jesse Neal defeated Brother Ray in a poor encounter. Prior to the match, Ray apologised to Neal and Moore and it appeared as if all their differences had been resolved. It was a swerve, of course. As the parties made their way back to the locker room, Ray attacked Neal. As the entire segment was thoroughly predictable, it does make you question why they bothered doing it in the first place. Ray and Neal did not have a good match, and the finish saw Ray distracted by a debuting Tommy Dreamer (the "surprise") and then blow a senton attempt. Neal speared him for the three-count. First Dragon Gate and now TNA: why are people to continuing to hire a no-talent bum like Dreamer? Dreamer has not contributed anything notable to wrestling since his feud with Raven almost 15 years ago, and even then it was Raven that carried that dispute in every way imaginable. (*)

5. Matt Morgan overcame Hernandez by DQ in a worthless match. Morgan came out prior to the match in a neck brace street clothes (in reality he had lost his luggage) and waved a doctors note in the direction of the assigned referee and claimed that he was not in a condition to compete. Naturally, Hernandez emerged and ripped of the neck brace and chucked Morgan in the ring. Ludicrously, the referee threw away the doctor's note and rang the bell to start the match. Morgan did not sell his neck injury competently, so either it was meant as a ruse or he really is that incompetent. With TNA, it's hard to know for sure. Hernandez choked Morgan with his t-shirt, which was TNA's way of giving WWE the middle finger. He then shoved the referee and was disqualified. Post-match, Hernandez accidentally kicked the referee and chased Morgan to the backstage area. Everyone was really concerned about the referee (Brian Hebner) in the post-match fracas rather than the dispute between Morgan and Hernandez, which meant that the whole exercise accomplished nothing (3/4*)

In a segment, Hulk Hogan spoke of the "wrestler's code", in one if those interviews that tried to mix kayfabe with reality but failed miserably. In short, the code that everyone (apparently apart from Sting) lives by is that you never purposely try to injure another wrestler. So that's why Sting is a nasty piece of work. If TNA had any sort of a memory, they would recall that they tried this angle with Eric Young only last year and it sailed over everyone's head then as well.

6. Abyss overcame Desmond Wolfe in a Monster's Ball match. Abyss vs. Wolfe has to be the leading contender for the most-ballsed up feud of the year thus far. At Sacrifice, Abyss won the services of Chelsea for 30 days and naturally nothing happened to advance the feud. Unlike the Goldust/Brian Pillman dispute in 1997 concerning Terri "Marlena" Runnels, there were no vignettes or information about what happened during those 30 days. Here, with the pointless exercise completed, Chelsea was back in Wolfe's corner despite the fact that the 30 day period had not yet expired. Apart from maybe a dozen fans, no-one gave a toss about the match. Not that they were given much reason too, it was the usual disjointed Abyss garbage match, and probably one of the worst matches that Desmond Wolfe has ever had. The finish came when Wolfe whacked Abyss with a kendo stick and he fell into some broken glass. Wolfe then demanded that Chelsea throw him her purse. When Wolfe opened it, he was dismayed to discover that there were no brass knuckles inside. Chelsea then tossed the object to Abyss, who decked Wolfe and then nailed with a Black Hole Slam for the pinfall (1/2*)

7. Jay Lethal pinned AJ Styles in an exciting match, marred by a lack crowd heat. The finish saw AJ Styles, over-selling the effects of a very brief stint in a figure-four leg lock, leapt clumsily off the top into a Lethal Northern Lights Suplex for the upset pin. Post-match, Flair was furious with Styles for losing. (***1/4)

8. Jeff Hardy and Mr Anderson toppled Beer Money Inc in a heated match. Hopefully, this tag team alliance between Hardy and Anderson will be short-lived, because it's a monumental waste of Hardy, who was the most over babyface in wrestling in 2008 and 2009. We can fully understand why TNA chose not to put the TNA World Title on him until his legal woes are over, but even taking that into account, they've failed to anything significant with him since his debut. This was a good, enjoyable tag match with a really silly incident just prior to the halfway mark. Hardy nailed Roode with a Swanton, but Storm yanked the referee out of the ring and blamed Anderson. Despite the fact that it made no sense whatsoever, the referee believed Storm. The finishing sequence was a little messy and ill-planned, but Anderson eventually scored the pinfall over Storm with the Mic Check. (***)

9. TNA World Champion Rob Van Dam bested Sting in a barely passable main event. TNA had to reduce Sting vs. Jarrett at Sacrifice to 12 seconds because Sting was suffering from a shoulder injury, which made it incomprehensible that the next night they would announce him as main-eventing the next PPV. They brawled at ringside for the first half of the match. Toward the finish, the referee took a bump. Jeff Jarrett (who was not over in the slightest) then emerged, having made a miraculous recovery, and decked Sting with a baseball bat. Van Dam hit the rolling thunder, but Sting kicked out in a pointless false finish. Seconds later, Sting made a miraculous recovery of his own but missed a Stinger Splash. Van Dam then capitalised with a frog splash for the win. (*1/2)
WWE FATAL 4 WAY: Title Changes Galore6/21/10
WWE Fatal 4 Way, a show that almost no-one cared about, turned out to be a welcome return to form by WWE. It was eventful, strengthened the Fatal 4 Way concept and provided ample entertainment. In short, it was everything that Over The Limit was not.

In an attempt to get the concept over, WWE changed four titles on the show. Three of them changed hands in the Fatal 4 Way matches. The idea was to position the Fatal 4 Way as a gimmick match where conceivably anyone could walk away with the title. It may have worked to a certain extent, but it was far too late to save this buy-rate although it should make the show an easier sell next year. This was possibly something that WWE had to do if they want this gimmick PPV to have any sort of endurance. WWE has promoted scores of Fatal Four Way matches over the last few years and we can only recall a defending World Champion losing the title once (Randy Orton at Backlash 2008 ), and this was actually done under elimination rules.

Sheamus walking away with the WWE Title was a minor surprise, but one perhaps that has some sort of long-term purpose to it. Perhaps the plan is to align Sheamus with the NXT faction, which is a logical step but would require explanation by WWE as to Sheamus's background in FCW. Given the events in the opener, Drew McIntyre (another recent development guy) also seemingly has a believable motive for joining the renegade group. Given the apparent departure of Bryan Danielson (at least for now), there is an urgent need to move someone who can work a decent match into the NXT group to help carry the load with Wade Barrett and Justin Gabriel. The most believable candidate would be a performer who is just out of WWE development themselves.

The show had one great match (Jericho/Bourne) and one rubbish match (The Diva's). The rest of the card was consistent and solid.

The show opened with a short promo by Vince McMahon who announced that Bret Hart would not be appearing on the show due to injuries inflicted by the NXT crew. He stated that he would make a statement about Bret's future once he had met with his representatives.

1. WWE Intercontinental Champion Kofi Kingston downed Drew McIntyre in a good, well-received opener. This was, by far, the best match of McIntyre's WWE career thus far. Toward the finish, Charles Robinson took a ref bump just moments before McIntyre hit the Future Shock DDT, which left McIntyre in quite a predicament. The Scotsmen solved his dilemma by tossing Teddy Long in the ring and making him put on the ref's t-shirt and take over ref duties for the remainder of the match. It backfired when Long stalled his count at "two" and refused to slap the mat for a third time. Matt Hardy then stormed to the ring and belted McIntyre with the Twist of Fate in full view of an approving Long. Seconds later, Kingston nailed McIntyre with Trouble in Paradise and scored the tainted pinfall.

This was quite peculiar booking. Giving McIntyre a legitimate gripe seems to only undermine his character, which has used his association with Vince McMahon to keep getting his own way. There must be some storyline reason why WWE has decided to go in this direction, perhaps giving a reason for Teddy Long being removed as Smackdown GM and giving the role back to Vickie Guerrero. Also there was a lack of logic in Long taking over refereeing duties. That said, the live crowd (which was hot for the match from start to finish) loved seeing McIntyre get his comeuppance, and at the end of day, that's probably the most important thing. (***)

2. Alicia Fox dropped WWE Diva's Champion Eve Torres, Maryse and Gail Kim in a lousy Fatal Four Way match. Rather amusingly, Striker referred to former WWF Women Tag Champions The Jumping Bomb Angels during the match and Lawler and Cole seemed to have no idea who they were. The finish to the five minute affair occurred when Torres nailed Maryse with a lousy moonsault (Maryse noticeably had to move to get into position for Torres); Fox then threw Torres out of the ring and stole the pinfall. (1/2*)

Chris Jericho then came out for a promo and after expressing his jealousy at all the attention that Wade Barrett is attracting, he challenged Evan Bourne to an impromptu encounter. It always make the participants look so second rate when they have to wrestle in a match that is deemed by the company to be so important that they couldn't be bothered to advertise it (even a few minutes) beforehand. That said, no-one was complaining that WWE chose to add the match to the show.

3. Evan Bourne pinned Chris Jericho in an excellent match, the second best WWE match of the year thus far. Bourne scored the clean win after he blocked a Jericho superplex attempt and connected with a shooting star press to Jericho's back. The preceding 12 minutes were virtually flawless in execution. The only negative is that Bourne was booed by a sizeable percentage of male spectators. Post-match the announcers sold it as a huge win for Bourne, which it definitely was. However it would have been even more effective, if Jericho had not spent the last few months jobbing to everyone in sight. (****)

4. Rey Mysterio toppled World Champion Jack Swagger, CM Punk and The Big Show in a good, although too short, Fatal Four Way match to win the title. Reminiscent of Mysterio's first title win, this match barely went more than ten minutes which was surprising because they had tons of time to spare and could easily have allocated the match an extra five minutes which would have made all the difference. The finish saw Kane emerge after Punk had nailed Swagger with a GTS. Kane chokeslammed Punk through a coffin, and then chased Punk and Luke Gallows (who made the save) back to the locker room. In the ring, Mysterio belted Swagger with a 619 and springboard splash to lift the title. This was his reward for cancelling his vacation. (***)

5. The Miz rolled over WWE US Champion R-Truth to win the title. In a priceless moment, The Miz was supposed to mock R-Truth by performing a rap during his entrance, but he forgot half the words. The match between Miz and Truth was a decent six-minute match that was stretched out to cover 13 minutes (which may have been because Miz and Truth were told to go long at the last minute and don't have the skills to improvise). Consequently, parts of the match were dull and lacked heat, mostly because it was booked far too high on the card. The Miz scored the clean pinfall after blocking an attempt at a head scissors and falling on top of Truth for the pin. (**)

6. WWE Unified World Tag Champions The Hart Dynasty and Natalya bested The Uso's and Tamina in an entertaining six-man match. The crowd was dis-interested early on but did start to react in the second half of the encounter. The finish came when Tamina missed a Superfly splash on Natalya, and Ms Neidhart decked her with a clothesline for the pinfall. The Natalya/Tamina exchanges were much better than those witnessed in the Diva's Four Way earlier on the show. (**3/4)

7. Sheamus overcame WWE Champion John Cena, Edge and Randy Orton in a decent Fatal Four Way main event to win the title. This followed the same formula as most Fatal Four Way matches do, and was a mild disappointment as a main event. Toward the finish, the dastardly NXT crew attacked Evan Bourne, R-Truth and The Hart Dynasty (who were watching the match on a monitor backstage) and made their way out to the ring. The crew ran riot once again attacking Cena and Edge. Somewhere amongst the chaos, Sheamus covered Cena to win the title and then fled through the crowd with the title belt. As Edge, Orton and Cena were left laying in the ring, Sheamus made his way to the stage, at which the point the NXT crew chased after him to end the show (**3/4)
WWE RAW 6/7: INVASION 2010 meets CYBER SUNDAY 20106/9/10
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There was good news and bad news coming out of WWE's RAW broadcast on 6/7. The bad news was that the bulk of the show (apart from the last 15 minutes) was thoroughly abysmal with a collection of pointless (and often childish) stipulation matches thrown together with no thought put into the booking. The term "circus act" has rarely been appropriate than it was tonight.

If you endured the first 165 minutes, WWE had a reward in store, with a booking decision that few could have predicted would be considered, and even fewer could have believed they would ever have the guts to actually execute. It's almost as if WWE purposely booked the show to be a washout, so that the final angle would be the talking point and nothing would overshadow it. To that point, they succeeded.

The final match saw John Cena vs. an opponent to decided by viewer poll. The choices were Rey Mysterio (23%), CM Punk (45%) and Jack Swagger (32%). Aside from some scattered "you can't wrestle" chant, this was a largely pro-Cena crowd with made the big angle even more effective. The Cena/Punk match wasn't very good. Approximately 90 seconds after the bell rang, Cena trapped Punk in a headscissors and the entire attempt at mat wrestling afterward was a complete mess. As the finish line beckoned, Wade Barrett appeared in the ring aisle to distract Cena, who abandoned an attempt at an Attitude Adjustment to stare down the winner of NXT. The NXT rookies then emerged through the crowd and attacked the Straight Edge Society. As the crowd stared, glued to unfolding drama, the rookies surrounded the ring which housed a defenseless John Cena. As Wade Barrett gave the nod, the NXT squad entered the ring, tossed the ref out and beat the living daylights out of Cena in a very convincing angle.

At ringside, Jerry Lawler and Matt Striker were assaulted. Michael Cole ran for his life. The rest of the production crew were swifty beaten up too. The NXT crew then destroyed the ringside area: tossing over the tables, ripping up the ring mats, destroying the ring and barricades.

The crew then re-entered the ring and continued to pound on Cena. Even CM Punk (in what was a superb storyline twist that made it looked so much more realistic) tried to help Cena, but was attacked again for his trouble. Daniel Bryan (who was outstanding throughout the entire angle) even spat in his face. Wade Barrett walloped Cena with his finisher. Justin Gabriel hit a stunning 450 splash. The NXT group then strolled off, point proven, leaving complete carnage behind them. Cena was then stretchered out to end the show. The only thing that would have made this angle better was some sort of appearance from a team of security, which could have been beaten up too. It seemed odd that they did not emerge to try and restore order.

This was a terrific angle. And WWE knows it too. From the backstage reaction after the show, they knew that they had done something special.

Very few of the wrestlers knew about this in advance, apart from those that there were directly involved in the angle or those with clout. WWE went to great lengths to ensure that this was kept as a surprise. WWE wanted Mysterio to be picked as John Cena's opponent (for obvious reason), but we feel that it worked even better with Punk. His attempted save of John Cena elevated the storyline a notch.

Where they will go from here is a different matter. They will have to come up with a storyline explanation as to why the likes of Evan Bourne etc did not run out and aid John Cena. And they will have to allow the NXT crew mic time to explain their actions. This does need to be explained, and we're sure it will. Also, they have got a lot of work to do with the rookies if they want the storyline to last more than 2 weeks. These are guys that have been presented as green newcomers, who are not perceived as stars, and who are still reeling from the awful way that NXT season 1 was booked. Additionally, there is the added problem that several of the "rookies" are not even close to being good enough (in the ring) to work a main event level match. Only Daniel Bryan is good enough, at present, to work a quality PPV match. However, Wade Barrett and Justin Gabriel are close to the grade if given the right opponent. Heath Slater could be valuable as well. But you will need to give these guys at least 4 weeks of annihilating the WWE stars in angles, before any potential match will do significant business. WWE needs to book the group, in the short-term, like Eric Bischoff booked the NWO in 1996. And when push comes to shove, the top stars will have to job to Daniel Bryan and Wade Barrett. You cannot have a match like Cena/Miz on last years Bash PPV.

Fans love gang angles. The MEM angle in TNA coincided with IMPACT's best ratings run. The NWO angle set WCW on fire. The interpromotional feud with UWFI was box office gold for New Japan. Now WWE has a hard task in front of them. They must steer clear of the mistakes that they made with the WCW Invasion angle in 2001, like the cop-out of having a top star join the NXT squad. They must stick to their guns and this storyline will be a success as a result. Unfortunately the guy that caused the WCW guys to be booked like idiots in 2001 is still with the company (Kevin Dunn). One thing is for sure, no-one now is saying that NXT Season 1 was a waste of time.

The rest of the show, however, was a horrendous waste of time with nothing much worthy of note (or more accurately praise).

The show opened with Bret Hart and Teddy Long coming to the ring to explain the concept of the show. They also revealed that all the entrants in the Fatal Four Way main event would have a match on the show against an opponent chosen by a viewer poll on wwe.com. The first name they dealt with was Randy Orton (whose arm was a sling), and he demanded a match with nemesis Edge and advised Hart and Long to disregard the "Viewers Choice" theme. Edge was up for the challenge too. Messrs. Long and Hart decided that Orton would face Edge in:
a) a debate
b) a sit-up contest
c) or a match where Edge would have to wrestle with one arm tied behind his back.
The decision was made via a poll by the live crowd for (c)

The Big Show vs. Chris Jericho
a) submission match (41%) b) over-the-top rope challenge (11%) c) body slam match (48%)

1. The Big Show defeated Chris Jericho in a rubbish body slam match. Of course, Jericho was completely overmatched. To bury him further, Show forced to him tap out to a camel clutch after the match and then tossed him over the top rope for good measure.

The Hart Dynasty vs. ?
a) The Uso's (36%) b) The Dudebusters (10%) c) Hornswoggle and The Great Khali (54%)
2. WWE Unified World Tag Champions DH Smith and Tyson Kidd overcame The Great Khali and Hornswoggle in another terrible outing. Kidd wound up the mess by pinning Hornswoggle in 60 seconds after he had missed a frog splash. After the match, the champions were attacked by The Uso's again, but the faces got the upper hand in the resulting brawl. You know fans are dissatisfied with the product when they reject the feud that has been built up for the last few weeks as a match.

The A-Team were hired by announcer Jerry Lawler to find out who had stolen his crown. Quinton Jackson believed he had indentified a likely culprit.

Vladimir Kozlov vs. Santino Marella
a) Dance off (84%) b) arm wrestling match (7%) c) wrestling match (9%)
3. Vladimir Kozlov beat Santino Marella in a dance off. It always amuses us greatly when wrestling fans decide that they would rather two comedy characters in a "dance off" rather than an actual wrestling match. Considering the talent of Vladimir Kozlov, a dance-off was probably infinitely more entertaining than a match would have been and the comedy was well-received by the live crowd. Afterwards, Kozlov laid out Santino with a headbutt.

a) 12 Diva's battle royal (73%) b) 6 vs. 6 tag (11%) c) champion vs. champion (16%)
4. Maryse won a 12 Diva's battle royal by last eliminating Jillian Hall in a complete mess.

In a nauseating example of manipulation, Sheamus was confronted by Kane backstage. Kane accused Sheamus of being the mystery man who attacked The Undertaker. Sheamus, of course, denied the allegation. Kane is no Sherlock Holmes, that's for sure. What motive could Sheamus have that would make him a prime suspect in Kane's investigation?

Sheamus vs ?
a) Kane (88%) b) Evan Bourne (9%) c) Mark Henry (3%)
5. Kane rolled over Sheamus by count-out in another poor match. Can you believe 3% of voters actually wanted to see a Sheamus vs. Mark Henry match. The biggest disappointment of the show has to be that they did nothing to really continue or capitalise on the push of Evan Bourne. The preceding segment made it abundantly clear that WWE wanted fans to pick Kane. And they did. The finish came after Sheamus missed the bicycle kick and wound up getting chokeslammed. He rolled out the ring and voluntarily took the count-out loss. Weak match, lousy finish.

In a segment, Wade Barrett cut a promo claiming that he was going to accomplish something that had never before been done in WWE.

Also backstage, the A-Team were still searching for Lawler's crown. They accused Ted Dibiase of the dastardly deed, and Jackson threatened to punch Virgil. IRS then showed up with crown and announced that he had stolen the crown because Lawler had not paid the taxes on it. To make the entire plot even more of a shambles, WWE thought it would be a great idea for the heels to "gas" the room and render the A-Team unconscious.

R-Truth & ? vs. The Miz & ?
The next match was a "choose the partner" gimmick. The choices for R-Truth's partner were Christian (29%), John Morrison (54%) and MVP (17%). The choices for The Miz's partner were Zack Ryder (45%), Dolph Ziggler (38%) and William Regal (17%). Certainly didn't expect Ryder to win.

6. The Miz and Zack Ryder overcame WWE US Champion R-Truth and John Morrison in a nothing match. The Miz scored the clean pinfall over Morrison after sending him crashing into the ring post and then nailing him with the skull crushing finale. Sensible booking in the respect that The Miz needed a win after jobbing to R-Truth and Daniel Bryan on the last two episodes of RAW.

Backstage, after Bret Hart stood his ground with a moaning Edge, Kane showed up and accused Bret Hart of being the mystery man. Hart was incredulous. No doubt this was his legitimate reaction when he read the script for this show.

7. Randy Orton toppled Edge by DQ when Edge untied his arm. Post match, Edge whacked Orton's injured shoulder twice with a chair.

Backstage, Evan Bourne thanked John Cena for choosing him as a partner last week.

Drew McIntyre vs. ?
The choices for McIntyre's opponent were Yoshi Tatsu (4%), Goldust (8%) or a Mystery Man (88%). It was made crystal clear that the shadowy mystery man was Matt Hardy.

8. Matt Hardy pinned Drew McIntyre in an astounding booking decision. Before the match, McIntyre tried to weasel out of the match by claiming that Hardy was suspended, but Long claimed that such suspension only applied to Smackdown. Hardy then proceeded to beat McIntyre all over the place at ringside and then hit the Twist of Fate back in the ring for the pinfall. The live crowd were happy, at least.

We thought that WWE had been booking this dispute rather well, but to script something like this, which totally buried Drew McIntyre, makes the exercise a joke. We understand that McIntyre is in the bad books, but why throw away a potentially interesting PPV match just to "teach him a lesson". That may be the only time we use the words "Drew McIntyre" and "Interesting" in the same sentence.

Longtime fans will remember an angle that WCW did in 1998 between Dean Malenko and Chris Jericho (which was WCW?s best feud of 1998 ). They had Jericho defeat him at Uncensored 98 and Malenko was so depressed at the loss that he apparently went home and had left wrestling. Jericho then cut some priceless promos on Nitro at Malenko's expense (some of these were pure gold). At Slamboree, Jericho was set to defend the cruiserweight title against the winner of a battle royal. The final two were Ciclope and Juventud Guerrera. Guerrera then, to the bemusement of the crowd, eliminated himself and walked off, leaving Ciclope as the winner. As Ciclope stood face to face with Jericho, he slowly removed his mask. It wasn't Ciclope ... It was Dean Malenko. The crowd (who had not seen it coming at all) went nuts and Malenko beat Jericho in a red-hot match to win the Cruiserweight title. A year earlier, in a Nitro angle, Diamond Dallas Page had blindsided Randy Savage by hiding behind a La Parka mask and pinned him during a Parka vs. Savage billed-match. This was another killer angle. This is exactly how the eventual singles match between Hardy and McIntyre should have been booked.

Back to the present day crap. In another segment, Jackson was tied up backstage by Dibiase, Uncle Irwin and Virgil. The heels then brought him out to the ring and handcuffed him to the ropes. Dibiase revealed that someone had paid him off to deliver "BA". The mystery man ... was Roddy Piper. The plot was that Piper wanted revenge for Mr T stealing his thunder at Wrestlemania I. Come on, WWE. None of your target audience was even born back in 1985, so why would you expect them to give a toss about a 25 year old feud. Of course they didn't. Dusty Rhodes, Gene Okerlund and Sharlto made the save. Personally, we felt, that it would have been a far more sensible idea to involve Roddy Piper with Drew McIntyre on the show. Its not exactly rocket science, is it?

TNA IMPACT 6/3: Lets book a PPV with matches between wrestlers that aren't feuding6/5/10
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Just 10 days away from Slammiversary, IMPACT was supposedly all about setting up that event. Aside from the opening segment, which was appalling, the rest of the show was an average, ordinary episode which for the most part was not particularly entertaining, but also was not terrible by their standards.

The biggest problem is still Vince Russo's insistence on over-booking the feuds and programmes by making them far more complicated than they need to be. So AJ Styles is facing Jay Lethal at the event, does he really need to be bickering with Kazarian to build up the match? Roxxi is battling Madison Rayne, so why was the focus of the programme on newcomer Rosie Lotta Love declaring war on The Beautiful People? Kurt Angle's new storyline is that he is going to defeat each of the Top 10 contenders one by one starting with Kazarian, so why is he attacking Ric Flair instead? Bubba Dudley is set to clash with Jesse Neal on the show as well, but instead the focus is: who is that mystery man that attacked Neal backstage?

Similarly, Matt Morgan is (last we heard) facing The Band in a tag team encounter at Slammiversary, but he's busy feuding with Samoa Joe, and that's the dispute that the announcers were hyping on tonights show. Then we come to the main event, Sting vs. Rob Van Dam. Sting even mentioned in his promo in the opening segment that he didn't really have anything against RVD. His real beef is with Eric Bischoff and Hulk Hogan. Worse still as IMPACT went off the air, RVD was arguing with Samoa Joe to set up a feud down the line. In short, if the Slammiversary line up was: TNA World Chamion RVD vs. Joe vs. Morgan, Sting vs. Bischoff, Angle vs. Flair, Styles vs. Kazarian, and Love vs. Rayne, then TNA would have done a terrific job in building up the show. Instead the line-up now features a bunch of matches where the wrestlers are not really feuding with their opponents. Why would you bother to pay for that?

The show opened with Sting strolling to the ring for a promo in which he proclaimed that: "there are meanings behind my actions". Everything is not what it seemed, Sting stated: "White is Black and Black is White". Never has TNA scripted a more truthful line, it's virtually impossible sometimes to work out who are meant to be the faces and heels in this promotion. Sting promised that everyone's true colors would be exposed when he defeated Rob Van Dam at Slammiversary. The lights then went out and a video played on the big screen featuring Sting's latest attacks on individuals with his baseball bat. Bischoff then came out and stood on the ramp and declared that Sting was "no superhero".

"The problem is you put yourself in front of everything," Bischoff told Sting. "You put yourself in front of this company. You put yourself in front of all of the rest of the talent of this company. And that's the difference between you and Hulk Hogan and myself. That's not what we're about. We put this company first. We put these fans first." What a whopper that line was. We almost can't believe that Eric Bischoff delivered it with a straight face. All credit to him.

Bischoff then announced that fans wanted to see Sting in action. We bet the Slammiversary buy-rate proves the exact opposite. Samoa Joe then crept up behind Sting and hence this was our opening match.

1. Sting fought Samoa Joe to a non-finish. This complete calamity went about 20 seconds before Matt Morgan ran in to attack Joe. The referee did not disqualify Sting and simply stared. And get this: Hebner actually counted as Matt Morgan choked Samoa Joe in the ropes. Then Rob Van Dam sprinted out to make the save.

"This isn't over" proclaimed Eric Bischoff, who had re-emerged on the ramp. He announced that there would be a tag match between Samoa Joe and RVD against Matt Morgan and Sting later on the show. Bischoff grinned evily as he reminded Sting about Matt Morgan's history with tag team partners. No wonder the crowd continues to cheer Sting. Rob Van Dam, who must be the dumbest wrestler alive, then suggested to Bischoff that he change the match to a four way (thereby negating the disadvantage to Sting). Bischoff, who had obviously given this matter careful though, immediately proclaimed "I agree! But I don't have that authority. Let me go back and check with Hogan!"

So who was it that just booked that tag team match then? Could have sworn it was Eric Bischoff. Ah now we get it: he saw the interference and ran to Hogan's office and got approval for the tag match in approximately 10 seconds. What complete tripe.

Never fear, the 'Mighty Hulkster' is here. Hogan's music played and Saint Hulkster trotted out and told Rob Van Dam that he had "raised the bar in TNA sky high" and he was booking the Four Way. This was just a horrendous, nonsensical segment from start to finish.

Backstage AJ Styles was upset. When Christy quizzed him as to the source of his bad mood, Styles proclaimed that he had just found out that he had a three way with Kazarian and Jay Lethal later on the show. Flair arrived and Styles berated him for not informing him earlier. "What am i? Your secretary?" asked Flair. Kazarian wandered in and thanked Ric Flair for giving him a watch. Styles was miffed.

2. Roxxi pinned Rosie Lotta Love in a terrible 90 second encounter. Rosie's downfall came after she missed a butt bump in the corner, which looked ridiculous as Roxxi had moved out the way so much in advance. As Roxxi rocked Love with forearms and a dropkick, Madison Rayne nailed her in the back with a pathetic belt shot as she was running the ropes. Rosie argued with Rayne over her interference, and consequently was surprised with a poorly executed small package for the pinfall. Post match, Rayne berated Rosie for the loss and was walloped with a tree slam. JB interviewed Rosie on the ramp, who stated that she was going to take out The Beautiful People, so presumably she's a face. Rosie then kissed a shocked JB.

On one hand, we can see why TNA is interested in featuring Ms Lotta Love. The character certainly stands out from the rest of the generic, charisma-free, females that make up the bulk of the TNA and WWE women's division. Like ODB and Awesome Kong, TNA has always proven itself to be a little more willing to feature women that don't fit the WWE mould. This attitude should be commended and it's one of the most positive things that you can write about TNA. The promotion is willing to try and push people that don't have the "WWE superstar look". However, this latest hire does not have an iota of a clue what she is doing in the ring, which makes her a complete liability.

3. Jay Lethal downed AJ Styles and Kazarian in a five minute three way. This was all about the storyline rather than the action. Styles and Kazarian played a five-minute game of trying to outdo each other and predictably it led to their demise. The finish came as Styles attempted a springboard but Kazarian casually leaned against the ropes causing Styles to lose his balance. As the pair bickered, Lethal rolled up Styles for the three count.

After the match, Ric Flair was seriously peeved with AJ. "Do you understand that I gave you the gift of being my protege?" he asked the former TNA World Champion. Is there anything that has been more detrimental to AJ's career than this "gift"? Flair then sent AJ Styles home to "look in the mirror" and get his act together. The viewer can only assume that Flair was too busy "Naitchin" with the female ringsiders and not paying attention to the match.

As a dejected Styles departed, Kurt Angle appeared on the ramp via the elevator. The pair had a brief stare down, but Styles was too upset to deal with Angle. Kurt strolled to the ring and confronted Kazarian. Angle explained that he had forfeited his number 2 ranking to start from the bottom, and as Kaz was number 10, he was the first man on his hit list at Slammiversary.

As if matters weren't already complicated enough (TNA should never have booked the Styles being sent home and Angle promo in the same segment), they made matters worse by scripting Ric Flair to berate Angle for disrespecting him. Flair then cut a lengthy interview about the history between himself and Kurt Angle. All very well and good, but the bloody match is Angle vs Kazarian. And Flair is feuding with Jay Lethal, remember? This is what you call overbooking 101. Frustratingly, this would have been a really good promo to build up a Kurt Angle vs. Ric Flair match, it was one of Flair's better ones since joining TNA. He even repeated the notorious "my world titles>your sexual conquests line". To further make sure that the match everyone wants to see is Angle vs. Flair, Kurt Angle attacked Flair (after holding the ropes open for him as a ruse) and hurled the strutting Nature Boy off the ramp in a humourous moment. The segment could have been salvaged by having Kazarian attack Angle and leaving him laying, but no ... Angle overwhelmed Kaz and sent him running for cover.

Backstage Matt Morgan, still referring to himself in the plural which apparently Russo thinks is highly amusing, tried to make an alliance with Sting. Sting said nothing and walked off.

Also backstage, AJ Styles threw a tantrum and starting muttering to himself stating "I gotta kill Jay Lethal". He then resolved to ask Bischoff for a match against Lethal at Slammiversary. You know what they say about the first sign of madness, AJ ...

Mr Anderson's big announcement was momentarily delayed when he became mesmerised by Christy Hemme's breasts in an interview segment and earned himself a slap for his perving. At least the "Anderson asshole" thing seems to be getting over. To cut a long story short, Anderson revealed that he and Hardy would team up against Beer Money Inc at Slammiversary. Hardy came out and he and Anderson were all chummy matey, until the party was spoiled by Beer Money Inc. BMI commented that the new "BFF's" knew nothing about tag team wrestling. According to Robert Roode, Jeff Hardy was carried in his previous team with his brother. Hardy made the "V1" sign to the crowd to elicit a loud pop. That's right, TNA provoked its fans into cheering for a wrestler who currently works for WWE. Anderson retorted by questioning Robert Roode's hair and Storm's sunglasses. Storm promptly lost his temper and attacked Anderson. The segment ended with all four men brawling as security flooded the ring. By Impact standards, this was a good segment.

4. Jeff Hardy pinned James Storm in an enjoyable match. Hardy and Storm brawled for a while at ringside before the bell rang to officially start the match. This was below the quality of what you might expect from them as some spots were not that well executed, but the layout was fine and delivered just enough to have you interested in what the men might deliver on a PPV setting. The finish came when Storm swang a chair at Hardy but missed and the shot rebounded off the top rope into Storm's face. Hardy then capitalised with a Twist of Fate.

5. Robert Roode bested Mr Anderson in a "We're taking the night off" match. The number of actually executed moves in this five minute match that were not called punch, kick, clothesline or head/chinlock could not have numbered much more than ten, so it was a passable, basic outing which ended when Anderson attempted a sunset flip off the second rope and Roode blocked and fell down on him, grabbing the ropes in the process.

TNA X-Division Champion Doug Williams was not concerned about his upcoming Slammiversary match with Brian Kendrick in the slightest. Casually sitting in his dressing room with his feet up, Williams delivered another lecture at the expense of the "acrobats" whose "attention seeking ways" are doing wrestling a disservice. This was a strong promo.

6. Rob Terry and Abyss dropped Desmond Wolfe and Orlando Jordan. This was only just out of the starting block before Orlando Jordan started getting touchy feely with Chelsea at ringside which earned him a slap. This appeared to surprise Taz, who apparently forgot that Jordan is bisexual and not gay. Not surprisingly, Wolfe was furious with his partner for coming on to his girl, but strangely was also irritated with Chelsea. "I don't know if he likes you or he likes me" he shouted at Chelsea and berated her for slapping his tag partner. Abyss then attacked Wolfe at ringside. Terry then flipped Orlando Jordan into the ring from the apron and nailed him with the freakbuster for the pinfall. A peculiar angle, more than a match. It didn't really seem to accomplish anything as the focus was on Wolfe and Jordan arguing over Chelsea, rather than their individual disputes with Abyss and Terry.

Backstage, Jesse Neal is shown unconscious with an Ace of Spades on his chest. TNA does love its mystery man angles, doesn't it?

7. TNA World Champion Rob Van Dam rolled over Sting, Samoa Joe and Matt Morgan in a Four Way match when he pinned Morgan. The finish saw Morgan distracted by someone in the crowd that he thought was Hernandez. That was really stupid. Even when the camera zoomed in, you couldn't make out anything, so how TNA expected Matt Morgan to see it all the way from the ring is ridiculous. This allowed Joe to surprise him with a Muscle Buster. Joe turned around to be levelled with a top rope kick from RVD. Van Dam then levelled Morgan with a frog splash (which looked awful due to a really stupid camera angle) and scored the pinfall.

Post-match, opponents at the PPV, Sting and Rob Van Dam had a staredown. No ... We're joking of course. Rob Van Dam instead had a staredown with Samoa Joe, who was upset that RVD had stolen his pinfall. Has there ever been a wrestling TV show worse than IMPACT at selling a PPV?
One has to assume by the line-up for the second season of NXT that WWE simply has not learnt it lesson by the failures of season one. However it has made one improvement. The voting has to be changed to a 50-50 format between the pro's and on-line voting via wwe.com. We hope that this voting will be given more attention than TNA gives their on-line ranking polls (which is none at all).

Season 2 features 4 guys that will be somewhat familiar to most fans who follow product outside of WWE: Kaval (Low Ki), Joe Hennig, Alex Riley and Johnny Prime.

Wade Barrett (real name: Stuart Bennett), who had been ranked No.1 in the pros poll for the last few weeks, emerged as the winner of the first season of NXT. Most observers seemed to agree that he was the most sensible choice for winner after it was decided that Daniel Bryan should be eliminated from the show for storyline purposes.

UK fans might be familiar with Barrett, 29, from his stint in Andre Baker's NWA Hammerlock promotion in Kent, England in June 2004 (under the ring name "Stu Sanders". WWE signed him to a development contract in 2007 and he spent time in FCW (where he captured the FCW tag title with Drew McIntyre) and earlier OVW (where he lifted the OVW Southern tag title with Paul Burchill).

It's not known, at time of writing, what title WWE will book Barrett to challenge for. The original idea was for Barrett and Jericho to challenge for the WWE Unified Tag belts at the MITB PPV, but there is a general feeling that WWE wishes to book the title shot on the Fatal 4 Way PPV, which may necessitate a different direction to be taken. There was even talk about Barrett challenging for one of the singles title (against Kingston or R-Truth), but realistically this would be throwing him into a spot which he is not ready for. A stint in the tag division would be the most ideal solution for the next few months.

Barrett has the look, charisma and verbal skills to be successful in WWE. Whether or not his ring work will ever be at the same level is likely to be the determining factor. However this opportunity means that Barrett is now receiving the opportunity which so few British wrestlers ever receive: the chance to make it big in World Wrestling Entertainment. It's now up to WWE to nurture this raw talent, and Barrett himself to learn from his peers and evolve into an elite in-ring performer. Taking Barrett down the "Drew McIntyre route" will benefit no-one. He needs to be given the chance to learn in a low-pressure spot first. This is the technique that worked wonders for The Miz, a gifted performer who is now virtually a lock as a future main eventer.

As for the future of other rookies, one would hope that WWE will find something for Justin Gabriel to do. Although he lacks that star quality, his ring work was the best out of all the rookies (aside from Daniel Bryan, of course).

The show opened with Matt Striker introducing the eliminated rookies sitting in the front row at ringside: Michael Tarver, Daniel Bryan, Skip Sheffield, Darren Young and Health Slater. None of the five provoked any audience reaction, which in the case of Daniel Bryan was a major disappointment.

As is now customary, the pros then strolled out to their seating position on the stage: Chris Jericho, The Miz, Matt Hardy, R-Truth, William Regal, Christian and the masked CM Punk. Striker then introduced the rookies: Wade Barrett (ranked #1), David Otunga (ranked #2) and Justin Gabriel (ranked #3).

As Striker announced that there would be two pros polls held on tonights show, and that the three finalists would battle in a Triple Threat match later on the show. There was virtually no reaction for either of these announcements. Considering that the Smackdown Taping was already over at this point (they taped Smackdown before NXT this week), you have to wonder why these fans bothered staying if they were so dis-interested in the show.

The first rookie for Season 2 was unveiled to be Husky Harris . Boy, is that a dumb ring name. Harris acknowledged that he was the grandson of Blackjack Mulligan and the son of Mike Rotunda (better known to WWE fans as "IRS" in the early 1990's, and current WWE road agent). Harris, who has had his hair cut and dyed black, previously competed as Windham Rotunda. His mentor will be family friend Cody Rhodes .

Backstage, John Morrisson revealed that he would be mentoring Eli Cottonwood , who was described as being 7'1" and over 300 lbs. He's not much of a worker, but when you're that size, those kind of matters tend to be overlooked.

1. In the only match of the evening, Wade Barrett (8-5) won a Triple Threat elimination match over Justin Gabriel (7-4) and David Otunga (6-5). The three-way portion of the match was pretty grim as Otunga looked horrible (as usual) and Barrett botched a catch when Gabriel executed a pescado. Otunga was eliminated after Gabriel nailed him with the 450 splash. Gabriel was then dragged out of the ring by Barrett, and the Englishman stole the pinfall. Barrett pinned Gabriel a few minutes later after Gabriel?s 450 splash had connected with Barrett's knees. The Barrett vs. Gabriel portion featured some hesitant moments by Gabriel, but overall was much better than the three way.

As the pros debated prior to the first vote, MVP was unveiled as the mentor of Percy Watson , who resembles a young Eddie Murphy in almost every respect. He teamed with NXT Season 1 rookie Darren Young in FCW. The nicest thing we can write about him is that he certainly stands out. Cole describes him as a self-professed "ladies man", which was strange, because the thought occurred to us that his character and Orlando Jordan would probably get along famously.

Zack Ryder is revealed to be mentoring Titus O'Neill . Ryder is more concerned with teaching his rookie how to "dress" and "pick up girls", which we suppose is fair enough. Ryder certainly has no wisdom to offer from an in-ring perspective. Have not had the opportunity to see O?Neill perform as he is a newcomer to the industry. He was described as being "worse than even David Otunga" by a source, which certainly doesn't bode well.

Matt Striker interviewed the eliminated rookies as to who they felt should win NXT. Michael Tarver had nothing relevant to offer apart from when being asked who should be eliminated, he answered himself (what a moron). Daniel Bryan picked Wade Barrett, stating that Otunga couldn't wrestle and Gabriel "couldn't talk". Skip Sheffield answered "I don't care". Both Darren Young and Heath Slater also picked Barrett.

In the first pro's poll, Justin Gabriel was eliminated. Gabriel cut a promo in which he vowed to be back and was a future World Champion. The crowd gave him a nice ovation. Matt Hardy consoled him on the ring ramp.

The insufferable Lay-Cool were unveiled as the pro's for Kaval, better known to mat devotees as former IWGP Jr Champion Low Ki, who inevitably will be the butt of the "nothing done outside of WWE matters" jokes for Season 2. One way or another, Kaval is moving to the main roster anyway (possibly to a feud with Rey Mysterio), so what happens here is not particularly relevant. If the show was actually legitimate, there would be little point in actually running the Season as Kaval is so much more advanced in every category than the other "rookies". The 12 year pro was trained by Homicide.

Johnny Prime, who should be familiar to most readers, was revealed to be mentored by Mark Henry . Prime has had the ridiculous ring name of Lucky Cannon forced upon him. The "story" hyped by Michael Cole is probably that he was nearly killed multiple times when he was a Sherrif. Prime is a good size, but isn't anything special as a worker.

Wade Barrett and David Otunga then had some verbal jousting to showcase their promo skills. Otunga called Barrett "ugly", with a "face that only a mother could love". "You don't intimidate anybody but your dentist", Otunga quipped. Otunga did concede that he would pay to see a PPV Triple Threat between Barrett, Aqua Fresh and Listerine. Barrett predictably ripped on Otunga's ring skills in response, commenting that he had seen The Great Khali move with "more balance and poise".

Kofi Kingston revealed that his rookie was the son of Mr Perfect: Michael McGillicutty, who is of course Joe Hennig. He's the second best worker of the bunch.

The Miz delighted viewers by announcing that he would be back for Season 2! Next season his rookie will be Alex Riley, who is the current FCW Champion, and has wrestled for the main WWE roster on a few house shows. Riley is another guy that will probably wind up on the main roster regardless of the NXT result. Not a bad worker, but his personality is his strong point.

Before the winner was officially announced, frustration boiled over for William Regal who has had "15 weeks stuck on this show without a microphone", which basically summarised almost everyone's feelings toward the show. When he prematurely congratulated Chris Jericho and Wade Barrett, R-Truth (the mentor of David Otunga) took exception and the two got into a yelling match. "Regal you better sit down." Christian commented, "You haven't won a fight in a year". Chris Jericho tried to placate Regal, but when he took too much credit for Barrett's success, Regal became annoyed. "Chris, Chris" he muttered "I've always liked your two moves, but you know as well as I do that [Wade Barrett] would have won this with any of us as his pro". Damn that William Regal! His ring style may be as exciting as watching paint dry, but he's still one hell of a talker. This was a funny segment.

Wade Barrett was then revealed to be the winner. Otunga was not exactly gracious in defeat.
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