Cheap Pops - Wrestling News & Views - February 4, 2015

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by Chris Delloiacono and Mike Maillaro

This week!

  • Raw Gets Snowed out

  • NJPW

  • Pro Wrestling Syndicate: Frozen Fallout

  • NXT Update

  • Lucha Underground update

WWE Raw Updates -  January 26 & February 2

Mike: Last week, WWE was forced to cancel their live Raw from Hartford, Connecticut because of the impended snowpocalypse.  Now granted, we really didn’t get the 2 feet of snow predicted, but I don’t blame the WWE for cancelling.

In order to fill 3 hours on the USA Network, they filmed some set pieces at their studio in Stamford.  They also decided to show the triple threat WWE Title match and the “controversial” main event from the Royal Rumble.

2 things jumped out at me about that:

  1. I was surprised they kept referring to the Rumble as controversial.  In Kayfabe, there was nothing at all controversial about the match.  Daniel Bryan and Ziggler were eliminated cleanly.  I know the WWE constantly tries to blend reality with Kayfabe, but at times it feels weird.  To me, this was one of those times.  Though, I will admit, they really had no choice.  It’s not often you manage to have the crowd booing when you have The Rock standing in the ring.

  1. At this point, there are still people who buy PPV’s for full price.  Honestly, I can’t imagine why they would except in the situation of real crappy internet.  If you paid $60 for the Rumble, you’re probably going to be pissed when the two big matches of the night were given away for free the next night.  On the bright side, this did real big ratings for the WWE.  On the not so bright side, it’s probably not great when your reruns and commentators doing skits is bringing you in better ratings that your attempts at creating sports entertainment.

Chris: WWE had a putrid week from the Rumble, to the snowed out RAW, to the boring Smackdown.  Seeing Kane at the end of the Rumble and then closing out Smackdown, getting stuffed in a coffin by Daniel Bryan, exemplifies how much WWE needs to move on from tired old performers.  Let's not forget about the Big Show either.  Maybe Roman Reigns would come off better if he didn't have to work his spots on with a guy who's ten years past his prime.  Why these guys are still main eventing but Justin Gabriel has to quit WWE....

On the other hand, the 2/2 edition of RAW was strong from start to finish.  I don't know if Daniel Bryan is going to main event Wrestlemania, but I'm glad he's going to be involved in a key moment on the Road to.  There is also the upside of Reigns getting in the ring with Bryan, and they should have a really stellar match.  Connected with that, it's good Reigns finally got pinned in a singles match, although I'm not thrilled it was by Show.  I know they've been protecting him, but geez, he needs to pay his dues with a few jobs.

Beyond the Reigns/Rollins/Bryan moments there was quite a bit more to like this week.  Dean Ambrose beating down Curtis Axel and "eliminating" him from the Rumble was priceless.  There was some funny stuff with Miz and Mizdow, Luke Harper lost to Ryback in a surprisingly good one, and a strong match with Dolph Ziggler going down to Bray Wyatt.  Not bad, considering last week was the not good.

NXT Results 1/28/15

  • Wesley Blake & Buddy Murphy def. Lucha Dragons for NXT Tag Titles

  • Backstage segment with Bayley and Charlotte.  Bayley refuses to apologize for attacking Charlotte last week.   The two of them are in a tag match tonight.

  • Tyler Breeze cuts a promo about watching the #1 Contender’s Tournament closely after he was eliminated last week.

  • #1 Contender’s Tournament Match: Adrian Neville def. Tyson Kidd.  

  • In Ring Interview with Neville talking about having to face Bull Dempsey or Baron Corbin in the next round and promising to beat either of them.

  • Backstage interview with Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch talking about Takeover and tonight’s tag match.  Becky seems inclined to stab Sasha in back to take the title.

  • Backstage segment with Blake & Murphy talking about their shock victory over the Lucha Dragons.  They offer the Lucha Dragons a rematch whenever they want it.

  • Sasha Banks & Becky Lynch Vs. Charlotte & Bayley - No contest (Charlotte and Bayley started to fight each other and ref called match)

  • Backstage interview with Finn Balor talking about fighting Hideo Itami.  Finn said all friendships go out the window when titles are on the line.  Itami interrupts him.  Itami says, “I am the one who brought you to NXT.  If I have to, I will take you out.”

  • Backstage interview with Emma saying she’s coming back to NXT next week for a fresh start.  Rematch against Carmella.

  • #1 Contender’s Tournament Match: Baron Corbin def. Bull Dempsey

  • Backstage segment with Baron Corbin promising to erase Adrian Neville last week.  Interrupted by Dempsey who says he got lucky the two times they fought.  Corbin smushes his face and walks off.

  • Contract Signing between Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens for their match at NXT Takeover.  Regal in ring, introduces Zayn first.  Introduces Owens next.  Staredown  between the two men.  Regal says he’s not going to allow this contract signing to end up like every other contract signing in the WWE.  If either of them touches each other, Regal will cancel Takeover match.  Sami signs.  Owens doesn’t sign.  Sami starts to gode him.  Owens stares him down.  Sami brings up their history all over the world fighting with and against each other.  Sami promises to beat the hell out of Owens at Takeover.  Owens finally picks up mike and says that he won’t sign unless it’s a title match.  His attack on Sami was not personal, he only fights for a prize...the NXT title.  Sami agrees to make it a title match, much to Regal’s annoyance.  Regal relents to Sami and the audience and makes it a title match.  Owens signs.  Owens throws the pen at Sami.  Sami goes to attack him, but Regal stops him.  

Mike: I had never sat down to do an NXT recap like this before.  It’s amazing how much they can squeeze into one episode.  And none of the matches felt shortchanged.  

I will admit, I had seen spoilers for this title change when they taped this episode a few weeks ago, so I saw it coming.  But it was still a very cool moment!  Rare to see a team suddenly appear in the tag division and made a huge impact like Blake and Murphy did in the last two weeks.   It’s been a long time since we’ve seen any title changes in NXT outside of their quarterly specials.   

During the entrances for the Neville Vs Kidd match, there was a little “glitch” with the screen going fuzzy, and then a test pattern, with Solomon Crowe’s name appearing on screen for just a moment.  This was a really cool way to help set him up...whenever they get around to finally debuting him on NXT TV.  He’s been working house shows for a while now.  I guess he’s the mysterious figure that has been lurking around NXT the last few weeks.

Chris: You make an excellent point.  As much, or more, happens every week on NXT than most episodes of RAW.  All of the matches were a little short for my tastes, but they were all booked so well. These aren't the Not Ready for Main Roster Players.  So many of these men and women could do it now.

You mentioned the tag title change, which was amazing on so many levels.  Granted, I knew about the change in advance, but it's still one of those moments you don't see coming from a mile away.  It also had a well thought out finish--Kalisto hit his finisher, the Salida del Sol, on Wesley Blake, but didn't realize there was a blind tag to Buddy Murphy, who rolls up the unsuspecting Kalisto for the title change.  It wasn't overdone, and it truly came from nowhere if, you know, you didn't read the spoilers.

That would have been enough, but there was so much more to enjoy.  For the umpteenth time Kidd and Neville put on an amazing match of high spots and near falls.  There was Baron Corbin squashing Bull Dempsey again.  The women's match was short, but it was well worked and set up the next special's Fatal Fourway.  Not to forget that quick little tease of Solomon Crowe.  Damn, that's a lot for a 50-minute program.

Hey, that's leaving out the Sami Zayn/Kevin Owens contract signing.  I'm so excited these two are bringing their ROH feud to NXT!  Wasn't Regal's comment about this signing not ending like every other one in WWE brilliant?  

Mike: When Regal said that, I was actually expecting Owens would end up power bombing him through the table.  

The tension of this last segment was played so damn well.  I love that they are using Sami and Owens’ history to such great effect.  Too often, some of these guys seem to exist in a vacuum, with the WWE almost selling it like they just mysteriously appeared in WWE one day fully formed and ready to go.   NXT seems to celebrate the Indys, and I think that’s a real good thing.

Chris: You nailed it!  Between the nod to the wrestlers' past and just how much the program relies on the in-ring product, it makes NXT so unlike regular WWE programming.


Chris: WWE hyped the fact they've reached 1 million Network subscribers this past week.  New Japan has their own service that's got nowhere near the subscriber base but has as much to offer to wrestling fans, if not more.  Up until recently, I'd only seen a small selection of matches from Japan.  Being a Wrestling Observer subscriber various times over the years, you couldn't read an issue without Dave Meltzer gushing about NJPW or the other Japanese groups.

New Japan World was finally my all access pass to get to know wrestling in the Far East.  The interface is a similar setup to the WWE Network.  The majority of New Japan's greatest matches and shows can be found here.  There's a handy integrated Google Translate feature, if, you know, you aren't proficient in Japanese.  Much like WWE this month, there is currently a free trial available.

You may ask if the commentary is in English.  I'll tell you no, and it doesn't matter.  NJPW is all about the in ring product.  There are almost no backstage segments and the wrestlers only cut an occasional in-ring promo.  If you're into fantastic wrestling you should check it out.

Not only do you get thousands of classic matches, but there's constantly new live content.  NJPW isn't built around a TV show.  Instead it's monthly tours with house shows built towards a big PPV event.  I subscribed at the tail end of December.  In January alone, there have been six live events.  The wrestling on each one was entertaining from top to bottom.  The events included Wrestle Kingdom 9, the "Wrestlemania" of NJPW.  The show headlined by Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Kota Ibushi & Horoshi Tanahashi vs. Kazuchika Okada is as good of a wrestling show as you've ever seen.  Trust me, I'm not coming on like the mayor's wife for the sake of bluster!  

In the middle of the month, there were a couple of shows that were from the joint tour with the Mexican CMLL.  This is actually the competition group to AAA who provide most of the talent on Lucha Underground.  It was a nutty spot fest of high flying craziness.  It gave me a chance to see Mistico, Ultimo Guerrero, Atlantis, La Sombra, and Barbaro Cavernario.  If you've never seen it, Cavernaio does a Snuka dive off the top rope to the floor.  Looks brilliant, but I can't imagine what damage he's doing to his body.

The month closed out with two shows this past weekend that are part of the current New Beginning tour.  It's going to culminate with shows on Feb.11 and 14.  Probably the most anticipated match being AJ Styles vs. Tanahashi for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.  Styles lost the belt to Tanahashi late last year.  This is his rematch.  Styles may be the best American wrestler right now and Tanahashi is the Ric Flair/John Cena of Japan.  He's seven time champ!  My buddy Rob and I are planning on getting together to watch this one!

It may seem like a tough sell to subscribe to a network that's not in English.  In fact, between watching Lucha Underground in Spanish and NJPW, my wife, Mike's sister, recently asked if I watch everything in a foreign language these days.  When the stoytelling and athleticism is this amazing, it doesn't matter the language.  Plus it's really a steal!  With the money conversion, the NJPW World streaming service is less than $8.50 a month.  I'm not kidding when I tell you how addictive it is.  I've only been on board for a bit more than a month, but I have to give it my highest recommendation.  It's as good a deal as you'll ever find for such a brilliant product.  

Be ready, I plan to do regular coverage of NJPW in the weeks to come.

WWE 24

Chris:  WWE 24 is the latest WWE Network program to show a lot of promise.  It's billed as a behind the scenes look at WWE.  I've gotta say, the Network needs more shows that break Kayfabe.  I have no interest in preshows and postshows that posit wrestling is real.  The podcast with Stone Cold & Vince McMahon, the Ultimate Warrior documentary, and WWE 24 are just the type of thing I'm interested in.  Unfortunately, at 30-minutes in length, the show is bare bones.  Also, a great deal of its running time are elements from the Warrior doc and the moving piece about the recently deceased Connor Michalek.  

Mike:  I loved the idea for this show, but I did think it was odd to have it only be a half hour.  They only really got to give quick glimpses at a lot of things that happened around Wrestlemania 30.  Like the end with the Undertaker.  We find out he was in bad shape backstage and had to go to hospital...but that was it.  

I did love that they revealed that HHH’s attendants during his entrance were Charlotte, Sasha Banks, and Alexa Bliss.  That whole segment was my favorite part of the show.

Like Chris said, a big part of the issue here was that they reused footage we had already seen in the Daniel Bryan and Ultimate Warrior specials.  With such a limited timeslot, it would have been been better to see more new stuff.

But, it was still entertaining for what it was, and I hope that they do more specials like this in the future.

WWE Network Celebrates Black History Month

Mike: They did do something real cool on the Network,  To celebrate Black History month, they uploaded a ton of new material to the Network.  Including some NWA shows, Mid-South Wrestling shows, Mid-Atlantic shows, and a lot of promos and features starring famous and lesser known black wrestlers.  This was awesome, and I really hope the Network does lots more things like this.

This also might have been the most new stuff they have added to the Network all at once pretty much since the Network started.

Lucha Underground Results 1/28/15


  • Show starts with Cage pumping weights backstage.  Dario Cueto comes in and offers him a title shot.  Cage says he will win the title tonight.

  • Fenix def. Mil Muertes will a small package after Mil superplexed him.

  • Promo video for Cage

  • Six Man Tag - The Crew def. Super Fly, Argenis, & Aerostar with their finisher (3D into a Codebreaker)

  • Vampiro has a sit down interview with Prince Puma and Konnan.  Konnan keeps interrupting and answering for Puma.  Vampiro is getting frustrated with this.  He almost comes to blows with Konnan until Puma gets in between them.

  • World Title Match - Cage Vs. Prince Puma - Puma wins via DQ after Cage pushes the referee and low blows Puma.  After the match, Cage attacks ref and Puma. Konnan comes in to make the save, but Cage levels him with the title leaving Konnan a bloody mess.  Cage then rips the title belt in half.

  • The mysterious woman who has been lurking in the Temple the last few weeks goes into Dario’s office.  She is looking for someone here who owes her money.  She doesn’t know anything about this man other than one word (I couldn’t pick up what she said).  Dario says he doesn’t know who that refers to. She leaves, and Dario looks nervously at a closed door in his office.

Mike: Usually, I am Lucha Underground’s biggest cheerleader, but I did have two major problems with the main event...specifically how it ended.

  1. How do you have a great ten minute back and forth match end with a low blow?  And not even one that made sense?  It’s not like Cage was in danger of losing the match at that point.

  2. Cage ripping the title in half looked awful.  It really looked like a cheaply made belt, and I actually groaned out loud when he did it.  This could have been a real badass heel moment, but instead it just looked kind of awful.

El Rey always posts the match of the night on Youtube, so check out the main event here (you can see what I meant about the title at the 13:30 mark):

Other than that, it was another great night of wrestling. The opening match had a great finish.  Fenix was basically getting pummeled the entire match before he pulled a huge surprise win.  I did think it was weird that the crowd was chanting “Cena sucks” at one point in that match.

And I was really impressed with Cage.  For a big man, he puts on a great match.  I also like that they showed him wrestle a real match and not just squashes.  This was a great back and forth title match until the meh ending.

Next week, Johnny Mundo returns to action!!   I’ve really missed him the last three weeks. Huge fan of Mundo/Morrison whatever you want to call him.

Chris and I got to meet Morrison at the PWS show last Saturday.  He could not have been cooler.  I’m sure it helped that I introduced myself by gushing how huge a fan I am….He talked to us quite a bit about Lucha and how much fun he’s had doing it.  

He even gave us some spoilers about who he’s facing in upcoming Lucha Underground episodes.  The only problem is this show tapes so far in advance that it will be a while before we get to see the matches he was hyping.  He said he had a hell of a cage match against <<SPOILERS>> but it probably isn’t airing until late March or April.   

Chris: My son, Nate, sat on my lap watching and playing with a car for almost the entire show.  He loves to watch the masked wrestlers!  The kid has great taste.  Oh, and if my wife and I chant, "Lucha, Lucha, Lucha," he dances around in circles having a blast.  He's quite the little fan.  Just wanted to get that out there.

This wasn't the best episode so far, but it was still enjoyable.  Mil Muertes looks like an absolute killer in the ring.  He beat the spit out of Fenix, but that outta nowhere finish was excellent.  If I recall, Randy Savage beat Dynamite Kid the same exact fashion at the Wrestling Classic back in 1986.  That's a match worth watching on the Network, let me tell you.

The main event was a strong match until the DQ.  Cage is someone that spent time in WWE developmental.  With Vince's fascination with guy's of that body type, I'm stunned he didn't stick.  The moonsault he hit was sick!  I agree with you on the low blow serving no purpose but I liked the belt destruction.  The belt tatters could have looked better, for sure.  Still, it was a cool gimmick that shows Cage just doesn't care.  

Meeting Morrison, Hennigan, Mundo, pick your surname, was so cool.  The guy has so much personality and charisma.  He was one of the nicest wrestlers I've ever met.  I found it odd, he signed our pictures: John Morrison.  I figured he'd go with Hennigan or Mundo.  Just one of those weird things.  Btw, that picture timing was awful on my end.  What's up with my face?  You and Morrison look like movie stars, and I look like I'm starring in the new Planet of the Apes.

Pro Wrestling Syndicate TV Taping - Frozen Fallout


  • The Lifeguard pinned Trent Baretta in a 1st Round match for PWS TV Title Tournament

  • The Heavenly Bodies defeated The Rock 'n' Roll Express

  • Chris Payne pinned Eddie Kingston  in a 1st Round match for PWS TV Title Tournament

  • John Hennigan (fka John Morrison) defeated Sabu

  • The Handicapped Heroes won the PWS Tag Team Titles from the Reynolds Brothers

  • Bobby Wayward won the Suicidal Six-way Title by making Amazing Red (c) tap out Other participants: The Drunken Swashbuckler, "Darewolf" PJ Black (fka Justin Gabriel), Brian XL, & CPA
    Fallah Bahh retained the PWS Championship over Mario Bokara, Bonesaw, & Dan Maff

  • Dan Maff won a Royal Rumble to win the On the Spot Title Shot medallion

  • Kevin Matthews beat Brian Myers (fka Curt Hawkins) in a barbed wire match

Chris: Top to bottom this was a great wrestling show.  PWS has hit on the perfect format for an Indy show.  The event kicked off with a two-hour meet and greet.  We had a chance to meet Ricky Steamboat, the Rock 'n' Roll Express, Justin Gabriel, Gregory Iron, Zach Gowan, John (Morrison) Hennigan, etc.  After all that fun, it was time for the actual wrestling.  Now, we aren't talking a couple of hours either.  This was a four-hour extravaganza.  For me, it would be hard to pick a match of the night.  What do you think, Mikey?

Mike: In terms of pure wrestling, the match of the night was probably the Tag Titles match.  I intentionally tracked down all four men during intermission to make sure to tell them how great that match was.  Tons of great spots and false finishes.  I was literally on the edge of my seat the entire match.  

The PWS title match, the Six-Way match, and the two tournament matches were all great too.  And the Rumble featured a BWO reunion between Stevie Richards, Nova, and Blue Meanie, so that was a highlight too. The Rumble was kind of inconsistent, but I did think the finish was much more thrilling than the WWE’s Royal Rumble last week.

But it would be hard to talk about this best parts of the show without talking about the main event: the barbed wire grudge match between Brian Myers and Kevin Matthews.  Both men went balls to the walls to tell a story here.  It was brutal, but not bloody.  I had a whole new respect for Brian Myers after this match.  This was the first time I had ever seen Kevin Matthews, and I see huge things in his future.  I said after the show that was one of the best main events at any wrestling show I’ve ever watched or been to, and I’ll stand by that.

PWS is a fast growing indy promotion, and they really know how to put on a great show.  Everything was well organized and fun, even in such a small venue.  I’ve been too many cons where you had chaos, but even though there were some big names here signing (including Ricky Steamboat, John Morrison and Justin Gabriel) the lines were never long and everyone stayed calm and cool the entire night.   And the prices were very reasonable...though I will admit I went a little overboard.

I did end up with one regret though...after seeing Brian Myers and Kevin Matthews, I am kicking myself for not getting pics with them.  Next time I go to a PWS show, I’m skipping autographs and just getting pictures.  

Chris: Wow, you really broke down the whole night so well.  Let me piggy back on a couple of things.  We have to mention the insane dive Brian Myers did off the ladder.  The damn thing was setup in the ring and he came down on Matthews who was laying on a board stretched from barricade to the apron.  Utter chaos!

Clearly Sabu and the R'n'R Express are long past their primes, but they came in and hit some of their classic spots.  It was so cool seeing Morton & Gibson do their classic doubleteam knee lift as well as their tandem drop kick.  Sabu hit one of his signature chair dives as well!  These types of attractions are like going to a classic rock concert.  It's all about the hits, baby!

Let's be clear, if it wasn't for the homegrown PWS talents this show wouldn't be anywhere as much fun.  You already mentioned Matthews, who I feel has to be on WWE's radar.  The main event players put on an entertaining match as well.  The ongoing turmoil between Bahh, Bokara, Bonesaw, and Maff is really entertaining.  You've got the old school month-to-month focus like the classic territorial days.  Each card leads to newer hotter developments the next month.

I have to mention the Suicidal Six Way match which featured veteran talent like PJ Black (Gabriel), Brian XL, & Amazing Red.  They did some some excellent spots that really showed off their high flying ability.  Especially Red & Black who really stole the show.  Then you add in the homegrown guys like Bobby Wayward, CPA, and Drunken Swashbuckler.  These guys brought a mix of comedy and hard hitting action that make this one of the most insane matches in, and around, the squared circle.

PWS is back at NJ's Rahway Rec Center on February 21st.  The show will feature all the regular talent including Kevin Matthews going for the PWS title against Fallah Bahh, as well as Jushin "Thunder" Liger vs. Colt Cabana, plus appearances by Jimmy Snuka and Mick Foley.  I already have my tickets!  Check out their website to find out more.

Mike: Sadly, I will be missing that show, but I am planning on being at the April show which will feature both Duh-Duh-Duh-Dleys!

Chris: Get the tables (tickets)!

Mike: CPA in particular was kind of awesome.  His whole gimmick is that he seems terrified to be in the wrestling ring.  And the crowd was going nuts for him.  That frog splash he did off the first rope was just brilliantly executed.

I also loved the ridiculous gimmicks you can only get from a small Indy show.  Cobra Commander, Lifeguard’s “Baywatch” gimmick, and Starman (from the old NES Pro Wrestling game) were just so weird that I was immediately in love.  And the stolen theme music they probably had no rights to use for each of them added to the entertainment.  

I also need to point out Chris Payne.  His match with Eddie Kingston really showcased the talent of both of these men.  Chris Payne has a great look and some promising talent.  This match was really early in the card, but went a long way to setting the tone for the entire night.  And Kingston had the hell mannerisms down to a science.  When he ended up knocking Tessa Blanchard down after the match, I thought the crowd was going to rip him into shreds.  

OH!  And a special shoutout to the shrill woman who was sitting behind us (not right behind us...the people behind us were cool...this shrill woman was a few rows back):  WHEN EVERYONE IN THE VENUE IS ON THEIR FEET BECAUSE A MATCH IS AWESOME, STOP YELLING “SIT DOWN!” AT A NINE-YEAR OLD KID TRYING TO SEE.  Drag yourself out of your seat and get over it.  Thank you, and good night.