Say what you will about TNA’s mistreatment of their talent, ability to pay their production team, and ability to keep their wrestlers from cursing paying fans out on Twitter, they sure know how to stay in the news. I’ve actually been enjoying watching Impact Wrestling as of late, and was even planning on buying Slammiversary… until I realized all the matches I was looking forward to were actually airing on tonight’s episode of Impact Wrestling instead of the actual PPV. Silly me, thinking I would have to pay to see titles defended!
When my wife, Lindsay, and I went to our first live Ring of Honor show this past Friday it was the first time I’ve watched Ring of Honor in a while. I’ve tried getting into Ring of Honor’s tv show a few different times now and for whatever reason it never really grabbed me. I started regularly watching it when they first signed on with Sinclair, mostly to support independent wrestling and watch Kevin Steen sassing Jim Cornette and Davey Richards. But then there was a stable called SCUM, and other stuff kept getting in the way… so when we bought tickets to see them in Collinsville, Illinois I was fairly out of touch with the product, but still excited to see a wrestling show that was different, more intimate, and that wouldn’t involve me being stuck in a parking garage for an hour. I’m not really sure if they were recording it for tv, dvds, or if it was just a live show… Though Kevin Kelly and Steve Corino were there doing commentary, so I’m not really sure!
Despite being out of touch with the product, Lindsay and I had a blast at the show! I would roughly guess there were a few hundred people there (a legit sellout, standing room only), but the seats were all still really close to the ring. The fans were into the show the whole time and seemed very familiar with all the wrestlers. Nothing against little kids or anything, but it was also nice to be at a show where there weren’t kids screaming all night long, except for one adorable little kid who kept trying to get a “this is awesome” chant going all throughout the night- even before the show started. While I haven’t had much luck getting into the Ring of Honor television show, seeing it live gelled much more with me, probably because I was focused on the in ring action and not constantly distracted by Twitter, cats, dishes, the dog, laundry, etc.
Just about all of the matches were really great. The standout to me was Dalton Castle vs. Mike Bennett with Maria and Matt Taven. I didn’t really know who Castle was to start with (I later discovered I’d only seen him once before in Chikara as Smooth Sailin’ Ashley Remmington), but I was really impressed with his wrestling skills and how dedicated he was to his, uh, peacock strutting gimmick. Bennett, Taven, and Maria were also awesome in this match and later on when Taven fought Hansen from War Machine. The whole group of them really kept the matches fun and enjoyable by screwing around with the other wrestlers and referees, pointing out fan signs, and interacting a lot with the audience.
The Addiction (Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian) vs. Delirious and Matt Sydal was also really fun to watch and the crowd was really into it (probably in part because Matt Sydal is from St. Louis, only a short drive away). The Addiction were also pretty funny too, with Daniels telling us that Collinsville smelled like ass and feet wrapped up in armpit (I laughed).
All of the other matches were great too, such as Adam Page vs. Mark Briscoe, War Machine’s Raymond Rowe vs. Jay Lethal, and Cheeseburger vs. Silas Young. The crowd was actually split right down the middle for Cheeseburger vs. Young, with lots of audience members chanting “last real man” (Young’s catchphrase) during the match. Isn’t it a little weird though to chant that someone else is the last real man? What does that make you? I digress… The main event saw Jay Briscoe and Rodrick Strong take on Moose and Michael Elgin, in a match that got the crowd super hyped. Not to sound like a grade school teacher or anything, but I thought the crowd was a little harsh on Moose, chanting “Goldberg” at him non-stop, even though he spent most of the match getting the crap kicked out of him.
The only bad match on the show was The Romantic Touch vs. B.J. Whitmer. I’m not sure if it was because it took place right after the intermission or what, but the crowd was dead. Dead, dead, dead. Towards the end of the match some people at least began heckling Touch, but for most of the match it was just silence. Personally I was a little put off by his offense consisting of kissing and grinding on Whitmer. Maybe I thought it was funny when Rico did it in 2004, but I feel like we should’ve moved past that by now.
The whole show was awesome though, and I’d easily recommend it to anyone who has any interest in wrestling. Even though Lindsay and I barely knew who the wrestlers were or what storylines were going on we still loved it way more than the last WWE house show we went to. I’ll admit that part of it was the atmosphere of the hardcore wrestling fans, part of it was that all the seats were really close, but most of all it was due to the skill of the men and women (well, the two of them) involved. I imagine a lot of you already watch Ring of Honor and enjoy it, but for those of you who haven’t given it a chance or think that it’s only full of WWE rejects, please give it a shot.
Ten years ago to the… year, one of my friends first introduced me to dirtsheets. We were in a computer lab at school waiting for a class to start when I saw him looking at Lords of Pain and I was BLOWN AWAY. I had just gotten into wrestling the previous fall, so I wasn’t all that knowledgable about the way the business worked. I know some would say that I still don’t know how it works, but I mean back then I didn’t know a push from a burial, a spotfest from a botched spot. I was completely new to it and I was in awe at how much was on Lords of Pain that detailed exactly how things were going to go down.
Eddie challenging Batista for his World Title? They called it way in advance. Dudley Boyz drama? They had the inside scoop. Again, this was before I knew that a dozen other websites would do it too, and WAY before backstage gossip broke on Twitter before any website- all I knew is that this had opened up a whole new way for me to enjoy wrestling. While I’ll occasionally stray to other dirtsheets to read reviews, the first website I check every day (many, many, times a day) is Lords of Pain.
Anyway, I tell you all that to tell you this: A week ago Lords of Pain posted an interview with Kevin Owens by Alfred “Big Nasty” Konuwa on his Podnasty podcast. Why did this matter to me (other than it being a really good interview)? Because, as you may have guessed, he commissioned me to do the logo for his podcast, so it was featured in the article. It felt pretty cool to see my art up on the website that really triggered my interest in the backstage workings of wrestling. I’ve seen people post links to my comics in the comments before, and I’ve had sites offer to put my comic on them for “exposure”, but to see this naturally occur on there was pretty cool. It makes me wonder if my old buddy Mario, who I lost touch with years ago, was looking at that picture thinking, “Wow, that’s a lot of text in that image!”
I know what you’re thinking. Big deal, Podnasty submitted the interview. Big deal, he could’ve commissioned anyone to do his logo. Big deal, Rob Schamburger’s art is on there like, ALL the damn time, and that one guy who did the pencil sketch of AJ and Punk sleeping together where she tells him to call her Lita got on there and that was probably the first comic he ever drew. Well, it is a big deal. To ten-years-ago me who gazed starry-eyed at rumors about John Cena not actually being stabbed by Carlito’s bodyguard, Jesus. It is to me.
While many people, including myself, have been hard on WWE for PPV overload, I can’t deny that I’m looking forward to this last minute addition of Elimination Chamber. Even though many of the feuds are rushed and underdeveloped, I’m still excited to see the tag team elimination chamber, Owens vs. Cena, and Ambrose fighting for the title. I don’t think we’ll see many big title changes or exciting surprises happening at the show, but I’ve been way off in my past few predictions, so who knows? Let’s dive in!
NXT Flashback: Neville vs. Bo Dallas
I remember liking matches between these two way, way back when I first started watching NXT, so I suppose I should be excited for this too. While Bo’s career has been pretty awful since getting called up, I really enjoy his character and in ring ability, so I hope this feud will push him back into relevancy. I’m a little worried about Neville though, as he would’ve been a much better fit for the Intercontinental Championship Elimination Chamber than falling back on an old NXT feud. I’m predicting Neville to win, mostly because Bo always loses.
Who will win: Neville
Nikki Bella vs. Paige vs. Naomi
It’s great to have Paige back from her time filming Santa movies with the Miz. I feel like the Divas division has been on autopilot for a while now, so I’m hoping Paige wins the title and brings it back into some prominence.
Who will win: Paige
Intercontinental Elimination Chamber: Sheamus vs. Ryback vs. R-Truth vs. King Barrett vs. Rusev vs. Dolph Ziggler for the IC Title
I really think this match could’ve been built better. Or at all. There should be some excitement in that there will be a new IC champion crowned at this show, but instead the title will be prop in the background for Ziggler and Rusev’s feud and Sheamus being a bully. Any of these men could’ve carried the title for the past couple of weeks leading up to the show and it wouldn’t have made a difference. I’m predicting Ziggler will win to add an extra wrinkle to his feud with Rusev.
Who will win: Ziggler
“Lets go Cena!” vs.
“Cena Sucks!” “Fight Owens, Fight!
For a feud that’s only two weeks in the making, this has been pretty awesome. The WWE introduced Owens to a whole lot of people as a very legitimate force to be reckoned with and gave Cena a great reason to kick the crap out of him. What more could you want? While I’d love for Owens to win, I don’t think Cena is going to lose to a guy from NXT who’s not even officially called up yet.
Who will win: Cena
Tag Team Elimination Chamber with The New Day vs. Tyson Kidd and Cesaro vs. whatever other teams they got to fill it up.
While this match is going to be a highlight of the show, it really shows the lack of depth in the tag division. I’d like to be excited about guys like Los Matadores and Ascension getting a spot in it, but they’re both too damaged for me to believe they have any shot at winning it. While I could see the WWE finally giving The Prime Time Players or Lucha Dragons a shot with the titles, I’m going to play it safe and pick The New Day to retain.
Who will win: The New Day
Seth Rollins aaand the Authority! vs. Dean Ambrose
I don’t think there’s any chance that Ambrose will win. I love him and I’ve loved this feud, but, like I said in my Payback predictions, I think they’re filling time until Brock comes back for the title. That being said, I’ve really enjoyed Ambrose fighting with Rollins and The Authority. He fits the “anti-Authority” roll much better than Roman Reigns or Randy Orton, who both seem like they’d be fine faces of the WWE compared to the scraggly, unpredictable Ambrose. Since Roman and Dean have been acting extra buddy-buddy lately, I’m thinking Ambrose will get “injured indefinitely” in his match and then Roman will slip into the main event spot to avenge his pal… and get a title shot to boot.
Who will win: Rollins
So that’s the card! In truth there are only a couple of matches I’m truly excited for, but honestly, the Elimination Chamber is a selling point for me. I hate to admit getting excited over a gimmick match, but the chamber truly feels like one of the few special match types left, especially with steel cages being so overexposed and Hell in a Cell matches having peaked when Foley fell off of one almost two decades ago. I’ll be really curious to see if they have the Elimination Chamber end the show or not. I’d hate for Kane to go to interfere in the main event like he always loves to do, only to find out it’s the Intercontinental Championship match.
Did you know? The WWE is making their fans go through a gauntlet match of Pay Per Views. We just had Extreme Rules, TWO WEEKS after Payback is Elimination Chamber, and yet they’re still expecting us to get excited for this placeholder Pay Per View between placeholder Pay Per Views. When I look at the card for Payback it doesn’t really look bad or anything, and I’m sure several matches will be quite good, but I’m having trouble believing that anything at this show will be really memorable. Hell, most of these are rematches from Extreme Rules! Will anything be different tomorrow on Raw than it was on last Thursday’s Smackdown? As you will see in my predictions, I seriously doubt it:
Meta Powers vs. Ascension
Wrestlers doing impressions of other wrestlers has never done anything for me. There’s no future in it. It doesn’t make the wrestler look any better. It doesn’t bring back any nostalgia or anything. It’s just a giant sign saying “HEY, remember when we had wrestlers that people actually wanted to see?!” Axel doesn’t even make any sense! At least doing impressions is Sandow’s gimmick, but Axel being Hogan was totally just thrown in when he was saying that he was still in the Rumble. I’m predicting Meta Powers to win, but only because it seems like an unwritten rule that if NXT talents don’t get over within three matches of being called up, they’re doomed for life.
Who will win: The Meta Powers
Rusev vs. Lana (with John Cena)
Since we know that Cena will never say “I quit”, I’m guessing the real story behind this match will be about Lana and whether or not she breaks it off with Rusev. I was surprised that this feud was pushed into a fourth match, but if Vince is set on turning Lana into a big solo act, having her screw Rusev over by helping his sworn enemy (for now) is probably the best way to do that.
Who will win: Cena
Neville vs. A Guy in a King Costume
The “King of the Ring” always reminds me of the old Batman villain King Tut, who was a normal professor of Egyptology until he’s knocked on the head and “awakens” as the reincarnation of King Tut. So kind of like a crazy person who believes they’re royalty with no real reason behind it. And, in the WWE, being a king means they lose a lot of matches. Neville, on the other hand, is the hot new thing and while he hasn’t started off with the best win/loss record, he’s at least had lots of time to show off what he can do and gain some fans in the process.
Who will win: Neville
Sheamus vs. Ziggler in a Match That Doesn’t Involve Kissing, Asses, or Kissing Asses
While I’ve no doubt that these two men will have a great match, I wish more was going into it than “he was supposed to kiss my ass but didn’t!”. Both of these guys are great, but I don’t see them headed to anything better anytime soon since the main event is so stocked up right now. I’m predicting that Ziggler will win to get his revenge on Sheamus, and maybe… MAYBE… even get him to kiss his ass.
Who will win: Ziggler
Bray Wyatt, The Eater of Worlds vs. Ryback, The Eater of, uh, Everything Else I Guess
I’m not sure who asked for this feud, but I don’t like it. These two wrestlers are very different types of characters, and seeing them together just doesn’t do it for me. I think part of it is that, unlike Cena, Bryan, Jericho, and the Undertaker, Ryback doesn’t have a really well defined character, so when Wyatt wants to rise against him because… he came back from an injury? I just don’t buy it. I’m predicting that Ryback will win though, if only because Wyatt always seems to lose in his feuds.
Who will win: Ryback
The New Day vs. Kidd and Cesaro in a Match That Will Be Much Less Exciting Than Their Elimination Chamber Match Coming In Two Weeks.
Seriously. There’s going to be a tag team Elimination Chamber match just a couple of weeks from now, which really kills the specialness of this match. However these two teams have been great together, so I don’t mind seeing them fight again. I’ve enjoyed the New Day as heels about as much as I hated them as faces (a lot!). How can you not enjoy Xavier getting angry with fans for booing them? “We’re winning!” Great stuff. I’m predicting that New Day will win this one so they can take the titles into the Elimination Chamber. I also wouldn’t rule out run-ins by other tag teams to build hype for the Chamber.
Who will win: New Day
Naomi and Tamina vs. the Bella Twins
So we can all agree that Vince’s response to #GiveDivasAChance (“We hear you. Keep watching.”) pretty much means nothing, right? Not long ago there were four divas storylines going on during Raw, and now it feels like the Bellas are spinning their wheels until they retire. It doesn’t help that we keep seeing random face and heel turns in the division too. A year ago we were seeing the seeds planted for Brie vs. Stephanie at Summerslam and this year the Divas are at the bottom of the list of priorities.
Who will win: Bellas
Fatal Four Way for Kane’s Job AND the World Title!
Since WWE likes to do long term booking for their World Title plans, I’m trying to think of who they want facing Lesnar at Summerslam in order to figure out who will win this match. Since Brock vaguely turned face after Wrestlemania (or during, depending on how you feel about Reigns), I think Rollins is that man. I could see them trying out a brief title run with Reigns or maybe turning Ambrose heel, but this is a filler Pay Per View, so I’m not expecting anything too dramatic.
I’m really not sure what to make out of the Authority storyline heading into this either. They’ve been teasing Kane turning on Rollins and the Authority for a while now, but it’s not something fans want (unlike Sandow turning on the Miz) and I don’t know or like what Face Kane means for the World Title situation.
Who will win: Seth Rollins
So that’s Payback. I won’t deny that I’m more excited for Elimination Chamber in two weeks, simply for the sheer spectacle of the chamber itself, but there are still several matches that look promising at this show too. I’m hoping we’ll see some sort of resolution to the Authority storyline and some serious progression to Rusev and Lana’s fighting, but I’m not holding my breath.
After a couple of Pay Per Views off, Botched Spot is back with predictions! Ironic, because I’m far less excited for Extreme Rules than I was for Fastlane or Wrestlemania 31. I mean the second match at Wrestlemania is now the main event of Extreme Rules only a month later! Sure, there’s a title on the line and a steel cage, but it’s the same guys fighting it out. And it’s also hard to feel that there’s any urgency going into Extreme Rules or that anything big will happen when we just got through ‘Mania season. In the past Extreme Rules has managed to deliver though (Cena vs. Lesnar in 2012, for example), so I’m not giving up hope yet. Alright, let’s dig into these matches!
The New Day (Sucks!) vs. Tyson and Cesaro (Are pretty good actually!) for the Tag Titles.
So I’ve really been digging Tysaro (or Ceson? Season?) as a tag team and I’m also glad that The New Day have finally turned heel. I may be in the minority with this, but I believe that The New Day’s heel turn was part of the plan all along, with the WWE realizing that the crowd would really hate three guys who are really positive. So I’m not sure if this is supposed to be a heel vs. heel match, but I think it should still be fairly entertaining. I’m picking Tysaro to win because I’m thinking the WWE will want to push the Lucha Dragons into a feud for the titles as soon as possible, which means they won’t want to keep The New Day in the title picture for long.
John Cena vs. Rusev in a Texas Chain Bullrope Russian Strap Match
How is this gimmick match still around? I’ve really enjoyed the feud between these two, matches and all, so I’m warily looking forward to this one too. I don’t know man, it’s just that this gimmick of touching the turnbuckles is so unnatural. Matches where guys try to knock each other out or climb a ladder for a title makes sense. Trying to touch all four turnbuckles doesn’t. It doesn’t help that the last time they did this- as a strap match at Extreme Rules 2013, I believe- the turnbuckles didn’t even light up properly for the start of the match. I’m predicting Cena to win though and continue on with his open challenges.
Daniel Bryan vs. Bad News Barrett in a Bryan’s Neck Hanging On By A Thread Match
What is it with Bryan getting injured as soon as he holds a title? Long time readers will know I’m a huge fan of Bryan, so I’m disappointed that he might not even make it to the show. It’s hard to predict this match without knowing if it will even happen, but I’m giving Bryan the benefit of the doubt that if there is a match he’ll walk out the champ… however that’s mostly based off of fan-boy mentality more than logical reasoning.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Sheamus in a Kiss My Ass Match
As much as I’d like to see Ziggler win, I’d feel pretty bad if Sheamus lost his first pay per view match right after rebranding himself as a stupid looking heel. I’m glad Sheamus is heel again though, and I bet that this will be a great match, except for that stipulation. I don’t know how Dolph goes from winning the main event of Survivor Series 2014 to getting Sheamus’ pasty ass forced on his face only five months later, but there you go.
Nikki Bella vs. Naomi
The Bellas are turning heel and face more often than the Big Show! I don’t really think Naomi will win, except that I’m not sure why they’d turn her heel if not to feud with Paige over the title. I think the WWE are going to play it safe and keep the title on Nikki. The real question is will fans chant for CM Punk or AJ Lee?
Roman Reigns vs. the Big Show in a Last Roman Standing Match
While I don’t find myself excited by the idea of another Reigns vs. Big Show feud, I guess having these two square off is a good way to get people to cheer Roman (y’know, because no one’s supporting Show). I’m definitely predicting that Roman will win though, and will soon be inserted back into the title picture. I don’t know that we’ll see anything in this match that we haven’t seen before, but it’ll give Roman something to do while all of us fans forget that we hated the idea of him winning the title.
Dean Ambrose vs. Luke Harper in a Chicago Props Fight
This match… I don’t even know what to say about this match. I imagine if any matches are cut for time, it will probably be this one. It will probably be more about Chicago themed props than anything (deep dish pizza? CM Punk?), but I expect both guys to bring their A game and show why they deserve to be doing something more. I could see this going either way, so I’ll just give the prediction to Harper, if only because Ambrose always seems to lose.
Seth Rollins vs. Randy Orton in an All Finishers Banned Match Oh Yeah And A Steel Cage Is There Too
Seriously, is there a worse time to have Rollins ditch the curb stomp than right as they’re building a match around Randy not being able to use his finisher? It makes no sense! I’m confident in picking Rollins to win, mostly because it would be really weird to have him lose the title this soon after he won it. I imagine that with Kane as the Groundskeeper there will be some shenanigans with him acting all face-like only to turn heel on Randy and let all of the Authority and all of their stooges into the cage. Rollins already did something screwy like this once before where he made Randy think the Authority was breaking up only for them to stay together, so I’m imagining that something like that will happen again.
Well that’s a lot of matches! After going through the whole card I find myself a little more positive about it, but not by a lot. I’m at least looking forward to the main event more than the undercard, which is a pretty rare thing for me to say. I guess I should at least give the WWE credit for having their “extreme” stipulations be a little unique this year, but at the same time I can’t say I’m really looking forward to hearing JBL squeal about Ziggler kissing Sheamus’ ass.