Monthly Archives: May 2017

Review: WWE Backlash 2017

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Your opinion of how good/bad this PPV was might heavily rely on your opinion of the above.

 

Backlash was always going to have a hard time out doing NXT Takeover Chicago, even though it had the potential too. Saturday night we got the outstanding Tyler Bate vs. Pete Dunne match and unfortunately nothing came close to it here on the Smackdown exclusive PPV. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a bad show. It just wasn’t particularly amazing, everyone more or less just seemed to be going through the motions.

Now I know a lot of people are going to have a negative opinion on this PPV for the main event and that’s fine. But is Jinder winning really that bad? I can’t decide.

 

I’m going to skip past Luke Harper vs. Erick Rowan, Naomi, Charlotte Flair & Becky Lynch vs. The Welcoming Committee and Baron Corbin vs. Sami Zayn. The first two I just do not care about and Corin vs. Zayn was an okay match but unremarkable. I will say this though, either Sami Zayn is the best actor in the WWE or he worked the majority of the match with a bad back. Props to him either way!

Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Dolph Ziggler

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An underwhelming debut for Nakamura.

A little underwhelmed by Shinsuke’s main roster debut if I’m honest. Weeks off nothing and then this match with Dolph Ziggler. It had the potential to be really good, but honestly it felt like both guys were going through the motions.

 

Is it just be or has Nakamura peaked already in the WWE? His best match by far is still his debut at NXT Takeover Dallas against Sami Zayn, but has anything else even come close? From my perspective it feels like he’s been heavily watered down.

A disappointing start to the show I will admit, I was hoping for so much more. Nakamura has the ability to set the world on fire, we’ve seen it before inside and outside of this company but something isn’t clicking right now.

Smackdown Tag Team Championship
The Usos (c) vs. Breezango (The Fashion Police)

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Master of disguise Tyler Breeze and Fandango were over with the crowd and deserved their spotlight.

Best match of the show, if you can call it a match. It was more of a 10 minute comedy show. I loved every second of it.

 

Tyler Breeze as we all know by now is a master of disguise, came to the ring disguised as the janitor and used his mop for multi comedy moments. Although surely referee, that was a disqualification? Later in the match he came back out from under the ring disguised as an old lady. The commentators were fully on board with the gag, JBL playing fully along ‘not knowing’ who these people were. At one point he even criticised the referee for allow a 4 on 2 handicap match to happen.

The crowd loved every minute of it, I loved every minute of it. It was great. The Fashion Police have been doing great work as of late now that they’ve had a little bit of a spot light. They’re over with the fans and I would love to see them win the titles!

United States Championship
Kevin Owens (c) vs. AJ Styles

151_back_05212017ej_2375-b4655206da7f8a8e084f55c5553205d5A good match between two very talented wrestlers. Kevin Owens won via count out after AJ Styles’ leg got stuck in the announce table leaving this feud wide opener for a rematch. I’m happy with that, I want both of these men to be in the WWE Title picture but if they keep putting on good matches then I’m fine.

I feel like they left a lot for a rematch if I’m honest though, which is good. As I mentioned earlier I feel like the majority of wrestlers didn’t get out of second gear. Hopefully next time we see these two go at it they go all out and truly steal the show as we know they can. For now though, solid and enjoyable match with much more potential to come in this feud. Thumbs up!

WWE Championship
Randy Orton (c) vs. Jinder Mahal

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He only bloody well did it!

Well I’ll be damned, they actually did it. They actually bloody did it! Jinder Mahal is the new WWE Champion. Interesting side note, Mahal is the 50th different WWE Champion ever, quite the name forever etched in the history books.

I honestly can not decide if I love this or hate this.

This entire angle has come out of nowhere since Wrestlemania. When he was on Raw he couldn’t buy a victory and now suddenly he is WWE Champion. It makes Smackdown seem a bit rubbish doesn’t it?

I think that’s my main problem with this whole thing, how sudden it is. I get that the shock value will have people talking but whatever happened to a solid build, an Intercontinental title run and a hot angle to push you up the card.

At the end of the day I’m not totally against this but…it’s a bit weird isn’t it! Still, anything is better than yet another boring Randy Orton title run. Although I’m sure he’ll win it back sooner rather than later.

WWE now need to go all in on Jinder, this is not the time for half-baked plans. He’s your WWE Champion, treat him like one and maybe you’ll get a good return for your investment. It’s going to be an uphill battle though because the fan reaction to this from what I’ve seen hasn’t been good. The question is, is it good heel heat or change the channel heat?

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Predictions: WWE Backlash 2017

Simply put there is no way that Backlash 2017 can follow NXT Takeover Chicago. That Tyler Bate versus Pete Dunne match will be a match of the year contender for sure. Maybe the show is doomed from the start though, after all the main event is Randy Orton against JINDER MAHAL for the WWE CHAMPIONSHIP. Let that settle in for a moment, you might need to take a seat.

Bizarre times we live in for sure. However, there should be at least two good matches. Kevin Owens vs. AJ Styles in all sorts of a dream match and I’m expecting big things from Nakamura’s main roster debut against Dolph Ziggler.

The rest of the show though, oh dear. It’s not exactly gripping stuff is it? Actually I tell a lie, this show has The Fashion Police on it. So automatically its going to be a five-star show.

Enough ramble, let’s do some predictions!

Luke Harper vs. Erick Rowan

I mean, does anyone actually care? Either man could win or lose and it will make absolutely zero different in the long or short-term. Prove me wrong WWE!

Winner: Luke Harper

Baron Corbin vs. Sami Zayn

20170509_1920x1080_bl_zayncorbin-a90bc9dcd9038c1fc9a708a744bdf274I imagine that Big Banter Baron Corbin will pick up the victory over Sami Zayn. I’d prefer Zayn to win, but considering his gimmick is ‘wrestler who tries real hard but always loses’ there doesn’t seem to be all that much hope. Potentially a good match though in fairness!

Winner: Baron Corbin

Naomi, Charlotte Flair & Becky Lynch vs. The Welcoming Committee

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I’ve always been a big fan of the Women’s Champion being lost in the shuffle of a multi-women tag team match on PPVs. Not.

What would be the point of The Welcoming committee existing if they don’t pick up the victory here? Then again, what a terrible world it would be if a team consisting of the Women’s Champion, Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch can’t defeat Natalya, Carmella and Tamina Snuka.

Expect a screwy finish for certain here is all I can think of and either Becky or Naomi to take the fall.

Winners: The Welcoming Committee

NXT Chicago: Thoughts On Wrestling Podcast

Join Rob and Dan for the Thoughts On Wrestling Podcast as they discuss all the going on from NXT Takeover Chicago, including the sensational match for the UK Championship between Tyler Bate and Pete Dunne.

Review: NXT Takeover Chicago

NXT Takeover you’ve done it again! Another good show, with one exceptionally great match. I always say that while I don’t look forward to Takeovers as much as I used to, I still expect them to be a good show and I was not disappointed.

The Chicago crowd were as raucous as you’d expect. A friend of mine suggested that WWE should exclusively tour in Chicago and the UK to always have great crowds, he’s not wrong. Great crowds can make good wrestling great and great wrestling phenomenal. The Chicago crowd were specifically good last night though for one reason in my mind because they didn’t try to make the show about themselves but they were loud and appreciative. At one point they even booed a section trying to do a CM Punk chant! Finally!

While I still miss Corey Graves on commentary, Nigel McGuinness is absolutely brilliant. He has a calm, confident and knowledgeable style of his commentary. He’s able to do the play-by-play and the colour commentary depending on who he is working with. Excellent addition to the team. Percy Watson was okay, I still don’t think a third man is necessary when you have the underrated Tom Phillips and McGuinness but that’s fine.

Roderick Strong vs. Eric Young

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Roderick Strong finally started to show what he was all about in Chicago.

This was the first time I’ve been really impressed with Roderick Strong since he came to NXT. WWE have been running some vignettes for Strong which have given him detail and more meaning. Something for fans to get behind, rather than just being ‘Roderick Strong from the indies’.

A good opener, made better by a hot crowd fully behind Roderick Strong as he finally got a chance to show what he can do on a Takeover stage. I had predicted that this feud might go a similar route to Tye Dillinger versus Sanity, being constantly put down by the numbers game match after match but I’m delighted he got the win and looked so impressive in doing so. The NXT Title picture is going to be stacked soon!

WWE UK Championship
Tyler Bate (c) vs. Pete Dunne

 

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Tyler Bate made an aeroplane spin look like a deadly manoeuvre. If Dunne had lost there and then I would have accept it. 

Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant match. Match of the night without a doubt, nothing else was even close to it. Sensational work by Bate and Dunne. A match of the year candidate for WWE for sure.

 

Honestly this match was incredible and the Chicago fans ate up every last-minute of it. This match had it all; hard-hitting action, drama, despair, reversals and an aeroplane spot that genuinely looked like it could have won a match. It rightly earned ‘this is awesome’ chants (which are given out far too willingly these days, ‘fight forever chants’, chants of ‘UK, UK, UK’ and ‘holy shit!’ as well as TWO standing ovations for near falls.

This match could have gone either way, the back and forth was awesome. In the end Pete Dunne managed to avoid a dive to the outside by Bate, throw him back into the ring and hit him with the ‘Bitter End’ to win. A rematch at some point down the line is inevitable and I for one am already looking forward to it.

If you only have time to watch one match from this weekend, make it this one.

NXT Women’s Championship
Asuka (c) vs. Ruby Riot vs. Nikki Cross

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Asuka is holding onto her title by her finger tips at times.

Understandably the crowd were a little worn out from the previous match and were noticeably quieter for this one. That coupled with the fact that there was a 0% chance of Asuka losing her title in a triple threat match.

 

The match had a couple of good spots as well, specifically Nikki Cross trapping Asuka in the ring apron and unleashing a barrage of punches in her direction. While the finish itself was a little flat, I don’t think the fans expected that to be the end really the story is a good one though. Asuka is getting desperate to keep hold of her title and cracks are starting to show in her armour. These are no longer the dominate victories from a year ago. In the end, she took advantage of a situation as Riot and Cross basically took each other out of the equation. Their disdain for each other being their downfall.

NXT Championship
Bobby Roode (c) vs. Hideo Itami

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Who will be the man to defeat Bobby Roode for the NXT Title? McIntyre? Strong? Cole?!

I’m not sure how I feel about the NXT Championship match (or Women’s) not being on last but I suppose if any division deserves to main event in NXT it would be the Tag Team division. After all, its been sensational for years now.

This was another good NXT Championship match for Bobby Roode. I think he’s brilliant personally and despite the fact that he plays an arrogant heel he actually wins his matches fairly. The two Glorious DDT’s to end the match were beautiful as well, I loved him not letting go and just moving straight into the second to finish the job.

I’m not sure where Itami goes from here to be honest. Maybe a heel turn but who would that be against? 205 Live perhaps? Or maybe they will just try to rebuild him as a top star on NXT and hope that he can stay injury free.

I’ve got to sing the praises of the Chicago crowd once again as they booed a section of the crowd chanting ‘CM Punk’ after Itami hit the ‘GTS’. Finally, we might have turned a corner on the CM Punk chants. I hope so at least.

NXT Tag Team Championship
The Authors of Pain vs. #DIY

A really good tag team main event, granted maybe not as good as previous tag team matches of Takeover’s but still very good. The crowd was again fully behind #DIY and were devastated when they didn’t win. I thought before the match that the reason for the ladder match stipulation was for #DIY to win but not have The Authors of Pain lose by pin fall or submission. Instead the dominate and destructive path of The AOP continues on, who can possibly stop them now?

How Johnny Gargano didn’t come away with a serious injury is beyond me. First he takes a nasty fall from the top of a ladder almost landing on his head. Then he takes a ladder straight to the face. It looked brutal, it must have been brutal!

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Unexpected, heartbreaking and perfectly timed. Ciampa turns on his best friend.

Then just as the end slate appeared in the bottom left hand corner of the screen indicating the end of the show, Ciampa attacked Gargano.

A perfectly timed heel turn, when very few expected it or wanted it. Instead it was like a knife to the heart as Ciampa assaulted Gargano after the match. Had they done this last year, I believe it would have received cheers as people were excited about the potential feud. Now though, people just wanted to see them succeed as a tag team. Granted we’re still going to get great matches and a hopefully awesome feud but still, man… that sucked. Why Ciampa, why?

Predictions: NXT Takeover Chicago

While I don’t get as excited for NXT Takeovers as I used to do, I look forward to them. They are always a lot of fun, full of surprises and packed full of brilliant wrestling.

Once again I’m looking at a card that in reality could go either way. Every single match (excluding the NXT Women’s Title) could be won by either competitor(s). That’s one of the main reasons I love NXT, it is far more unpredictable than the main roster.

Great wrestling + unpredictable outcomes = happy Rob. However, just because the show is unpredictable doesn’t mean I’m not going to try to predict it though!

Roderick Strong vs. Eric Young

20170516_nxttakeover_chicago_temp_strongyoung-b65c2296361150f141a09132056823d6I am assuming that Eric Young and SAniTY will pick up the victory here due to the simple fact of the numbers game. I think Strong will look…strong…against Young but in the end it will be a very similar picture to the Sanity versus Tye Dillinger story. You can put up a good fight, but eventually you’ll get beaten down.

If Young does indeed pick up the victory, I would expect Strong to win the rematch so that he can then move into the title picture. Which all of a sudden is starting to look a little bit crowded.

Winner: Eric Young

NXT Tag Team Championship
The Authors of Pain vs. #DIY

20170516_nxttakeover_chicago_tagteam-ff1d616f9359d111ca63662cbff79b36Ah the NXT tag team division, sparser than it once now that The Revival have moved on but these two teams are still brilliant. The Authors of Pain have held the titles for a while and beaten everyone available, including #DIY several times. Will they continue their reign of dominance here? Potentially yes.

Or, the fact that this has been set up as a ladder match is a way for the destructive heels to lose their titles while still remaining strong. After all, losing in a ladder match is nothing in comparison to being pinned or forced to submit.

A loss the monsters would freshen up the tag team division and allow #DIY to have another run in which they could feud with a smaller tag team and bring them up. Although, the Authors of Pain could just win the titles back at the next opportunity and reassert themselves as the yard stick in the NXT tag team division.

Either way I’m fine and expecting a great match.

Winners: #DIY

Review: WWE UK Championship Special

 

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Inaugural UK Champion Tyler Bate vs. Mark Andrews was an excellent match. 

After the brilliant success of the United Kingdom Championship Tournament, specifically the second night, I was looking forward to seeing more of the WWE’s UK scene. This special, taped a little while ago in Norwich, was the first opportunity for this. Yes, I know they’ve been wrestling on NXT as well but this is something different. It is their own show and in front of British fans again.

Ultimately though, I was slightly disappointed by this special. Let me explain why before you start raging at me as I realise there were two good matches on this card.

Firstly, the crowd were heavily edited and muted, that is a terrible sign for the WWE UK scene. Part of British wrestling is the crowd, if you try to control them like WWE used to edit Smackdown it will only succeed in killing the entire vibe. Do not, ever, edit a crowd. They might not being doing what you want, but that is life. In general the audio of the entire show felt wrong and was very noticeable to me, it was a distraction. Perhaps it was just me, but I’m sure others felt that way too.

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Green screen commentators…TNA? Is that you?!

Secondly, the blatant green screen additions of Jim Ross and Nigel McGuinness made the show feel much more like Impact Wrestling than they probably intended. If you want to record the commentary after the fact that is fine, I would prefer it live but it is not a big deal. The green screen however did not work for me.

I did enjoy the commentary itself though. It’s fantastic to have Jim Ross back in the WWE and I really do enjoy Nigel’s calm commentary style. It’s so different to what everyone else brings to the table. Sure there was some of the ‘first show together awkwardness’ but over time that will disappear.

The opening two matches left me feeling cold too. Joseph Connors versus Wolfgang and the bizarre 205 Live tag team match of TJP and Brian Kendrick versus Rich Swann and Dan Moloney were not exactly barnstormers put it that way.

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I loved that Pete Dunne came out with his PROGRESS Championship

However, this is where it all turns around because the number one contenders match between Trent Seven and Pete Dunne was really good. Dunne is an absolutely detestable heel and while I love it, I do still want to see him be beaten because fuck that guy. What an utter dick. He’ll be a star for sure.

The UK Championship match between Tyler Bate and challenger Mark Andrews was also really good. I know everyone raves about it, but it really is mind-blowing that Bate is only 20 years old. He is so smooth and confident in the ring.

I just wish these two matches, the whole special actually, had been broadcast a week or so earlier because we already know who is fighting who at NXT Takeover Chicago tonight for the UK title. It just took the edge of the proceedings. I do not like knowing spoilers, I realise that sets me aside from the majority of wrestling fans these days who want to know everything in great detail before it happens though.

Overall, the UK Special had a rough start and made some mistakes that I hope they learn from but the quality of wrestling in the number one contenders match and championship bout saved the show completely.

Review: Paramore – After Laughter

After Laughter: Thumbs up or thumbs down?

Hayley Williams and Paramore are finally back with their fifth studio album! After Laughter is the follow-up to their self-titled 2013 release and a lot has happened with the band since then. Bassist Jeremy Davis left and sued the band, then former drummer Zac Farro returned and in the meantime the bands musical sound has continued to evolve too.

I personally love the 80’s synth-pop and new wave influences but I can understand why some people do want ‘the old Paramore’ back. However, I loved 2013’s ‘Paramore’ sound (it is my favourite album by the band so far) and I really enjoy this one too. At the end of the day, if I like the music they produce who cares if it is not in their original style.

AL2After Laughter is a fantastically produced and crafted album which is full of crisp hooks to catch your attention. Honestly it sounds amazing, I love the mix.

After only a few listens I can recommend first single ‘Hard Times’ and ‘Rose Colored Boy’ as definitely worth a listen, I am particularly fond of the latter. While the first half of the album is initially stronger than the second half I do have faith that after a few more listens they will all prove to be ‘growers’.

Lyrically Hayley Williams is at odds with the upbeat rhythms created by the rest of the band but I really like the combination. Songs with sad themes do not actually have to be depressing after all and obviously Williams is brilliant as always vocally too.

This new record might not be immediately as awesome as 2013’s ‘Paramore’ but its pretty darn good. Consider me a fan. A fan of old and new Paramore, because I’m allowed to be both. Although some angry people on the internet say otherwise…

Now if we could avoid any other members leaving the group in between this and the next album then that would be great!

Verdict: Thumbs up!