Cheap Pops - Wrestling News and Views - April 15, 2015

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by Chris Delloiacono, Mike Maillaro and Jeff Ritter

This week!

  • Former Wrestlers Suing WWE
  • Best in Our World - Favorite Matches
  • Lucha Underground Results
  • NXT Results

Mike: ARE YOU READY?  

NO!  I SAID, ARE YOU READY?

Oh...you’re not?  Well that’s disappointing.  Well, I guess we’re Cheap Popping without you.  


Former Wrestlers Suing WWE

This story comes from TMZ

Three wrestlers have sued the WWE on behalf of all current and former wrestlers who have suffered serious brain and other damage as a result of "egregious mistreatment" by the organization.

Big Russ McCullough, Ryan Sakoda and Luther Reigns (obvious stage names) claim the WWE has known for years ... the brutality in the ring has resulted in dementia, Alzheimer's disease and a lot more.

The lawsuit -- obtained by TMZ -- claims the WWE, "under the guise of providing 'entertainment' .... has for decades subjected its wrestlers to extreme physical brutality."

The suit acknowledges wrestling is scripted but nonetheless unrelentingly brutal, claiming "WWE is in the business of selling violence." ... The suit asks for an injunction, prohibiting the WWE from subjecting its wrestlers to such brutality, along with damages.  

Chris: These type of lawsuits started against the NFL, where they've had some success.  A spate of recent studies into head trauma, caused by sporting events, show a correlation to so many issues later in life.  Of late, wrestlers or their families are filing similar cases.  The NFL is close to a $1 Billion settlement with their retired players.  Many say the NFL got off very lucky with that number.  Thankfully, that money will help a lot of men with long term issues from their careers.

I can see why wrestlers believe their own lives have been damaged by their grueling job and a system where your job was on the line if you don't make the show.  I can't speak on the legalities of the situation or if the WWE can be held at fault, but there are certainly enough stories of pressures from management for the wrestlers to perform.  Hell, just look at all the deaths that occurred in the '90s and the early part of this millenium to see what the wrestling life brought to many.  Again, does this make WWE liable?

My takeaway, the NFL players all were unionized and ended up with a larger body fighting for their claim.  The NFL suit started as hundreds of smaller cases that were eventually combined at the Federal level.  It will be interesting to see if the handful of wrestling cases turn into a landslide as well.  Perhaps that banding together would get the wrestlers a de facto unity for the remainder of the case.  You gotta think, Vince McMahon and the WWE bigwigs must have some fear over where this case could go.

Mike: Yeah, it’s hard to look at the list of wrestlers who have died young over the years and not think that there is some kind of problem.  I read an article last year that pointed out that 12 of the men who completed in Wrestlemania IV had died….the oldest was 63 when they died.   In contrast, of the 44 starting players in the Super Bowl that year, only one had died.

Also, it looks like for the most part, the NFL has tried to make the league safer, putting rules in place to protect players in the most vulnerable situations.  I actually often think the NFL goes too far to protect quarterbacks and receivers, but that is a conversation for another time.

In many ways, the WWE has done some things to protect their workers better.  No unprotected chair shots to the head, tighter restrictions on wrestlers bleeding, the wellness policy.  I do give them credit for that.  But, you still have to wonder what can be done to help out the wrestlers of yesterday who suffer from lifetime illnesses because of the work they did in the ring.  Just from a public relations perspective, you think it would be good for the WWE to make more of an effort here.

Jeff: This is a subject that I think bears serious consideration. These three wrestlers were not top draws, so it’s easy to dismiss them. The effects of concussions are incredibly damaging, as anyone from Stone Cold Steve Austin to Bret “The Hitman” Hart will attest to. Long ago, Jesse Ventura tried to organize a wrestling union, and it got him a lot of heat back in his day. Jesse was ahead of his time--these wrestlers need health insurance and job security as it relates to injury now more than ever.

I don’t buy the WWE's long-standing mantra that their Superstars are independent contractors. At the very least that’s disingenuous because of Vince McMahon’s machinations to discredit his own company’s product as a sport. Wrestlers used to be “athletes” governed by state athletic regulations. Some states had pathetic regulations, and basically just signed off on everything as long as they received their athletic association fees  as required. Other states, such as Oregon, as I recall, were a lot more involved, and Vince hated running shows there. Now they’re exempt from state athletic regulations because their no longer performing a sport--they’re performing a simulation of a sport. I contend that as performers they should all be members of the Screen Actor’s Guild, and thus granted whatever rights they’re entitled to thereof. I would think this would include at least some kind of provision regarding healthcare and insurance.

When it’s a big name, Vince gets out in front of it. His tearful remarks after the death of Eddie Guerrero were probably mostly genuine--Eddie was loved by pretty much everybody--but he also used it, as he did with Chris Benoit’s unfortunate meltdown, as a way of diffusing public resentment against the WWE for rampant steroid abuse by highlighting their then-new Wellness Program and taking a hardline on hard drugs. Where is his remorseful explanation of the plight of Luther Reigns, Ryan Sakoda, and Russ McCullough? Where is his outreach to getting them the medical attention they clearly need, when he’s offered rehab and assistance to bigger names over the years, such as Jake Roberts and Scott Hall? And how effective were those efforts, when it eventually took still-not-a-Hall-of-Famer Diamond Dallas Page to clean those two up?

Most American companies are required by law to protect an employee’s position within the company if they are out of work for medical reasons--maternity, heart attack, stroke, etc. Why is the WWE able to conduct themselves any differently? EA Sports doesn’t make their programmers deliver their babies right in the office during the hectic product development cycle of their multi-billion dollar franchise. IBM can’t give you your pink slip while you recover from a triple bypass. Why is it perfectly fine for the WWE to “future endeavor” people who get injured on the job in their ring? And why isn’t it across the board--we would have been rid of the ceaseless onslaught of John Cena years ago if they treated their main event talents the same way they treat their undercard workers. Cena rips his pectoral muscle and is out for months, but gets to come back at the Royal Rumble and main event Wrestlemania like he never left. The Undertaker can get beat to Hell and back by Brock Lesner, take a whole year off, and then get a spot on the biggest card of the year over somebody who works the house shows, the Superstars and Main Event tapings, makes a couple of appearances on NXT to put over the younger talent and end up in another useless, short-lived tag team before getting “future endeavored” before the next PPV?

Jesse Ventura was right. I find that more often than not he usually is. That’s why the Democrats and Republicans are scared to death of him. Vince is too. If he organized a Pro Wrestler’s Union the WWE as we know it would be finished.  

Mike:  I agree with pretty much everything Jeff said, especially the idea of wrestlers unionizing.  That is especially dear to my heart as I’ve been involved in the labor movement for the last 15 years.

I have said for a while I would like to see some kind of off season for wrestlers. I say they should take October, November, and December off.  The travel alone is brutal on these guys physically and mentally.  Two or three months off a year to recharge would be great.  AND from a fan perspective, it allows them to keep things fresh.  

I also totally agree that the label of “independent contractor” is such BS. It often feels like while the business has grown up in many ways, Vince still tries to hold on to many of the “tricks” promoters and bookers used in the old carny days to exploit the wrestlers.  The wrestlers have made the WWE a global company, the least they deserve is health benefits, vacation, and pensions.  

Chris: The independent contractor status is probably the biggest reason these men suffer so much in later years.  You both nailed the root of the problem.  These men and women are at the mercy of an industry that rarely shows compassion.  An industry that still bullies its employees in a way that most corporations simply couldn't get away with anymore.  I doubt regular WWE corporate workers in Connecticut have to deal with similarly unsafe conditions.  

It comes down to that job status.  Independent contractors in many walks of life can set their own hours, work in a variety of places, and negotiate with some strength.  In WWE, I guess it's not much different, as long as you're top of the card.  The thing is, corporate people with that tag usually have long successful careers or are highly in-demand.  The workers at the bottom of the card or in developmental can't offer WWE any of those things.  Thus they get walked all over in a unfair caste system.


Best in Our World - Favorite Matches

Mike: It was a slow news week working on this column...and then Jeff reminded me that we didn’t do a “best of…” for this week.   He came up with Favorite Matches, and we’re working on this fairly last minute, so I am sure I am going to forget a lot of great matches that belong here.  It is very likely this will be getting a sequel at a later date.

But, here are five of my all time favorite matches:

  • Dean Ambrose vs William Regal (FCW, July 15, 2012) - Unfortunately, it looks like the WWE has done everything possible to ensure this match can’t be watched online anymore.  If you can find it, it’s incredible.  One of the most brutal matches I’ve ever seen.  It truly felt real in a way I have rarely seen in the WWE.  This match had a build up of a year with William doing everything possible to try and end Ambrose’s career.  Ambrose gets his revenge throughout this match, basically ending Regal’s career.  Everything about the build up and the match itself was so well done.   So many of the talents in WWE right now did some of their best work down in FCW (check out the series of matches between Ambrose and Rollins for some more classics...if you can find them).

  • Road Dogg Vs The Rock for WWF Title

I am going to say up front, this might not have been the most technical match ever, but I was fully engaged in this match.  When I look at it logically, Road Dogg had no chance of winning this match, but the way they performed it, you truly believed that Roadie could very well win the Title on this night.  It was such a total mark out moment for me.  I will always remember Roadie saying “As soon as I get done whipping the Rock’s ass, I’m going to be the WWF HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION OF THE WORLD!”   It was great booking, in a period where the WWF had so much unpredictability.    It’s a match that has stuck in my head for decades, and because of that, it has to be on my list.  

It amazes me when I read about this match years later and realize how much pain Shawn Michaels was in.   You definitely could not tell it at the time.  Mike Tyson was a perfect way to help sell this match.  I didn’t realize it at the time that a big part of that was to cover up the problems Shawn Michaels was having, but everyone involved in this one made it such a huge spectacle, and to this day, it holds up as a great match.

  • Sting Vs Ric Flair (Last Nitro March 26, 2001) -

This might not have been their best match, but it’s stood out for me for a long time.  This match was the last WCW match ever, and it was just a perfect way to end everything. Sting and Flair had so many great and bad storylines together over the years, but this wasn’t about that.  It was just one final farewell to the WCW fans, and it achieved that brilliantly.

Including this one might seem strange since a few weeks ago, I had said that Taker’s match with Bray Wyatt, not to mention HHH and Shawn Michaels were probably better matches.    BUT, this is about favorites, which don’t necessarily have to be the same thing as BEST.  I was at Wrestlemania 29, with Chris, Grey, and our friend Josh.  Josh is probably the biggest Undertaker fan I know.   After the match, the two of us were jumping up and down hugging like idiots.  It was pretty awesome.  The crowd was hot, most of them started out cheering for Punk, but by the middle of the match, it was about even...and by the end, everyone was basically cheering for Taker.  It was just a cool match and both men worked the crowd so well.  And watching it with my nearest and dearest makes this match extra special for me.

Chris: This is a nearly impossible task, but I'm going to go much like you and choose the matches that stand out in my mind above everything else.

Ricky Steamboat vs. Ric Flair - 2 out of 3 Falls - Clash of the Champions VI

The series of matches these men had were incomparable.  This one is my favorite even though the others could probably make my list, I'll just leave one of them here.

At the time everyone figured Steamboat's victory earlier in the year was just one of those quick switches they did in the NWA.  Flair won the first fall and the belt going home seemed a foregone conclusion.  After that, Steamboat made Flair submit to a double chicken wing.  He made The Man submit, that shit didn't happen in 1989.  Mind blown!  The match came to a close after nearly an hour with a double pin where Steamer got his shoulder up at the last second.  Brilliance.  

Watch it!

Kevin Steen vs. El Generico (Ladder War)

Before they were Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, these two put on one of the most brutal matches you'll ever see.  The love/hate relationship between these two came to an epic conclusion in a match that puts most WWE ladder events to shame.  This has to be seen to be believed!

Tully Blanchard vs. Magnum TA (I Quit)

This match seemed so real to me when I wad a kid.  This was an absolute bloodbath.  The live mic being brought in by ref Tommy Young amplified the intensity so much.  When Tully finally gave up, what an incredible, unforgettable moment!

Kota Ibushi vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (Wrestle Kingdom IX)

I wrote about this in an earlier column.  This is the best match I've seen this year, by far.  Probably in a few years.  The bout builds up slowly, but it features stunning near falls and some amazing spots.  Ibushi hits a German suplex pulling Nakamura off the apron into the ring, and it's incredible.  So is the whole damn match.

Undertaker vs. Triple H (Wrestlemania 28)

Shawn's matches with Taker were probably better, but like Mike said, some matches just have an extra specialness.  The storytelling here is second to none.  Having Shawn Michaels refereeing as his best friend can't get the win, and looking on in horror as these two men brutalize each other, it's just awesome!  Then, all three walk out arm in arm. There's nothing else quite like it.

Jeff: Heck yeah! These are moments that will live with me forever.

The Great Muta vs Jushin “Thunder” Liger - 1996

These are two of the biggest names in the history of Japanese Puroresu. The Great Muta, the demonic persona of Keiji Mutoh, the first wrestler that I can personally remember performing a Moonsault. Jushin Liger, one of the best cruiserweights of all time, his character is an industry unto itself. Muta, the mysterious heel, Liger, the diminutive babyface. BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE! You see, Liger is a masked wrestler. And you do not, and I mean never, rip off your opponent’s mask. It’s bad juju, my friends. So what does Muta do? Yep. He rips off the mask. BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE! Liger, under the mask, is...Muta?!? Mind. BLOWN!

Taka Michinoku vs Triple H - Monday Night Raw

There was a lot of hype around the Heavyweight Champion’s Triple H’s mystery opponent for the title. His opponent turned about to be the former Light Heavyweight Champion, Taka Michinoku. I know what you’re thinking--this is a squash match, what’s the big deal? Not so fast, hombre! Taka was accompanied by Sho Funaki, Ron Simmons and John Bradshaw Layfield. They kept Triple H’s entourage at bay while Taka whittled down the champ. Does he win? Well, no. C’mon, Hunter would never go for that. But he DID make Taka look like he had a chance. Jim Ross did what Jim Ross does better than anyone else in the business, he sold the ever-lovin’ crap out of Taka on the broadcast, and the crowd got into it. Taka got several near falls, and the audience started to believe they might see history in the making. I did too, at home. I was shaking my head, jaw agape, mumbling, “No freakin’ way does Taka win this...1...2...OH DAMMIT! I can’t take this!” It wasn’t exactly Steamboat-Flair, but thanks to Jim Ross and a hot crowd, it was unforgettable. I sincerely wish the WWE would book stuff like this more often. I wish I could believe that SOMEBODY would actually beat John Cena once in awhile.  

Hulk Hogan vs The Rock - Wrestlemania 18

I would probably be the last guy you’d expect to put Hogan or the Rock on this list, but what happened at the SkyDome in Toronto at Wrestlemania 18 was something that had me mesmerized. I’ve seen face and heel turns before. Macho Man Randy Savage was a hated heel until Elizabeth saved him and reunited with him. Just moments after booing The Macho King and Scary Sherri Martel, the exact same audience was crying with joy at seeing Savage back in the arms of the lovely Elizabeth. Hogan joining the nWo at Bash at the Beach was such a huge deal that people who didn’t even watch wrestling were talking about it. It made the front page of USA Today if I’m not mistaken. By the time this card arrived, Hollywood Hogan had been a heel for a few years, and the Rock was the People’s Champ. But not in Toronto, not on this night. The crowd was done with the two-tone beard-stache combo and the black rip-away t-shirts. They wanted the red yellow of Hulkamania, brother! Hogan came out first, did his pose, and...got a huge face pop! What the…?!? I can only imagine Vince backstage having a total meltdown! “There’s supposed to be booing him, goddammit!” Hogan goes through the motions, but you can read it on his face as clear as day--what am I gonna do with this? “And his opponent...BOOOOOO!” ROCKY SUCKS!” Dwayne Johnson hits the ramp and strides to the ring in total arrogance, heedless of the jabronis in the SkyDome screwing up the plan. He gets in the ring, give Hogan a nod and a couple of quick words, that amount to, “Yeah, we’re doing this. You’ll be coming out to that old Rick Derringer number again tomorrow on RAW, Mr. Superhero. Follow my lead.” Say what you will about both of these men, but on this night, they pulled off the biggest fan mandated double-turn you may ever see. .   

Ultimo Guerrero vs Atlantis - 2014

Mask vs mask matches are a big deal in Lucha Libre. I’ll never forgive WCW for making Rey Mysterio unmask to Kevin %$#@ Nash in that weak ass mask vs hair match. No, mask vs mask is the ultimate culmination of a feud and more important and more personal than any World Championship. I’ve been a big fan of Ultimo Guerrero for a long time. I don’t particularly care of Atlantis, but he’s still a top draw at 52. In 2014, he squared off against his arch enemy once more. It was a beautiful thing. I wish CMLL was more readily available. Maybe Vince should give them a call and make them WWE-Mexico. Nah...he’ll screw it up until it makes AAA look competent.

Sami Zayn vs Adrian Neville - NXT R-Evolution

I can’t get video for this one, but you can if you subscribe to the WWE Network for just $9.99 a month. I can’t say enough good things about NXT, and this match should probably be the Match of the Year when the awards come out this winter. The former indy darling El Generico and the Man That Gravity Forgot put on the most entertaining American match I’ve seen in a couple years. Zayn hits this flying through the turnbuckle DDT thing that just has to be seen to be believed. Near falls galore! The crowd is white hot from bell to bell. Of course, Kevin Steen’s fat, boring ass comes out at the end and ruins it, but hopefully he’ll mumble himself out of a job soon enough. Blah-blah-blah family...who cares?!? Mick Foley had a family too when Undertaker threw him off the Hell In The Cell and Jim Ross nearly filled his britches. Kevin Owens--even his new name is boring--sucks like a vampire feeding frenzy….but I digress. This match alone is worth $9.99. Seriously, it’s that good.


Lucha Underground Results 4-8-15

- Dario Cueto is in his office talking to Prince Puma and Konnan.  He tells Puma that he needs to find two partners to fight with him in the Trios title tournament in a match next week.  King Cuerno will be on the opposing team...and will be fighting Puma for the Lucha Underground title tonight.

- Trios Title Tournament Match - Son of Havoc, Ivelisse, and Angelico def. Drago, Aerostar, and Fenix.  Son of Havoc hit Shooting Star Press on Drago.

- Puma is working out backstage.  Konnan says Hernandez is on their trios team.  Puma’s friend/rival Johnny Mundo arrives and says Puma offered him the third spot.  Johnny also promises that he’s got Puma’s back against Cuerno tonight.

- Sexy Star def. Super Fly in a Mask Vs Mask match with a roll up.   After match, Super Fly asks Sexy Star to take off his mask.  She’s reluctant, but does so.  They hug after the match.  Then Pentagon Jr arrives, attacking Sexy Star and snapping Super Fly’s arm.

- It is revealed that Cuerno’s Trios partners are Cage and Texano,

- Lucha Underground title match - Prince Puma def. King Cuerno with the 630 Senton.  After match, Cage attacks Puma and Hernandez, and a six man slobberknocker breaks out.

Mike: The Trios Tournament match was awesome.  There was just so much great storyline development.  Aerostar and Drago have been involved in a war against each other, and they hated being partnered in this match.  They refused to tag each other, and kept interfering in each other’s pin attempts.

On the other side, you had Son of Havoc with his ex, and the man who basically broke them up.  Poor Ivelisse, everyone kept stealing her thunder during this match, and she went nuts as a result.   Son of Havoc ends up winning this match by himself, with Ivelisse ditching the team and Angelico unconscious on the floor.  SoH has become very popular in Lucha Underground.   I loved Angelico celebrating after the match after being unconscious for most of it.  That was hilarious.

And Fenix’s tight rope walk to a elbow drop on Angelico hanging in the ring ropes was insane.  Every week, you see lots of new things in Lucha Underground.

Chris: This match had one crazy spot after another.  Ivelisse's dive to the outside had a hilarious build.  I agree with you on Angelico's reaction to winning, but what about Ivelisse at the top of the stairs?  After having no clue what was happening while she went up the stairs then realizing somehow Son of Havoc pulled out the win!  That was priceless.

Mike: Ivelisse is definitely one of my favorites.  She really puts a lot of emotion into her ring work and promos, and I’d love to see her get a bigger push.  Lucha Underground does a decent job giving women opportunities to show what they can do, and seeing athletes like Sexy Star and Ivelisse is one of the many things I love about Luchae Underground.

For Sexy Star vs Super Fly, the commentators did a great job explaining why this mask vs mask match was unusual and Dario was disrespecting Lucha tradition.  But, I still thought it was a real bad idea to do the Lucha Underground’s first Luchas de Apuestas match with no build-up and no promotion.  Apparently, he has already lost the mask to Aerostar back in December, so I guess it didn’t matter to Super Fly, but I still thought it was real odd.

Chris: This was a weird situation.  In my mind, it would have made more sense if Pentagon took Superfly's mask.  Even still, I understand why they had to hotshot the match into place.  Some people seemed annoyed he worked two matches with the mask after the Luchas de Apuestas.  That's a real no-no.  Since they have used the AAA title in some storylines, the best solution would just to show footage from Superfly's unmasking.  All told, it was pretty well done.

You can see how good the main event was just because it wasn't overshadowed by the earlier matches.  Interesting to set up the Trios match with a World Title match, but it worked.  

Mike: Lots of interference in the main event setting up some conflict between Hernandez and Prince Puma.  Hernandez used to team up with Konnan in TNA (they have referred to the Latin American Xchange on Lucha Underground a few times since Hernandez showed up), and I expect this will probably lead to Konnan splitting away from Prince Puma, something they have teased for a while now.  I also loved that Puma came out wearing a puma headdress, sort of mocking King Cuerno who comes out with a massive dear headdress.

I do think El Patron would have made a little more sense for the Trios team instead of Hernandez.  I wonder if he was already injured by this point, because they seemed to be teasing potential feuds with both Puma and Johnny Mundo in the last few weeks.  Especially with Texano on the other team.

Chris: It was a weird setup to be sure.  Cuerno recently lost a high profile cage match to Mundo, yet he gets a title shot.  On top of that, the title match is used more so to build up a Trios match next week.  Using the big belt to help build the Trios was very cool, though, and something you never see WWE do anymore.  

As for Hernandez, I guess they are trying to work him into the mix immediately.  His ties to Konnan are creating some excellent tension with Prince Puma.  I love that we are so unsure about Konnan and what he's going to do next.  There's clearly some cool events we are building towards.  Lucha may not be perfect storyline wise, but so far most of their writing has led to a logical conclusion.  

Mike: But, all in all, this was just another real solid episode of Lucha Underground.  Another week where they let the ring work do most of the talking. 

Chris: Definitely! This episode followed TV-101, it made me excited for next week.  That's a big reason why the show is so good.  No PPVs means the viewers payoffs are being strung along week-to-week instead of month-to-month.  


NXT Results April 8, 2015

Mike: This was a strange episode of NXT as it basically started out just as an ad for Wrestlemania Axxess.  There were a lot of quick shots of what the NXT superstars were doing at Axxess and the NXT house show in San Juan during Wrestlemania weekend.   

I will admit, I almost turned it off. It was fun, but not really what I watch NXT for.  BUT, they did show some of the complete matches from the tournament that decided which NXT superstar got to compete in the Andre the Giant Battle Royal.  If you’ve already seen Wrestlemania, you knew who won, but the matches were still entertaining.

  • Semi-finals: Hideo Itami def. Adrian Neville with Shotgun Kick

  • Semi-finals: Finn Balor def. Tyler Breeze with Coup De Grace

  • Finals: Hideo Itami def. Finn Balor with Shotgun Kick

All three of these matches were excellent, especially the finals. Itami and Balor had a high-paced match full of terrific counters.  When Itami won, it was a well deserved victory.

The show ended with a great video about Itami’s journey to Wrestlemania.  His kids were so cute.  I loved when one tried to hit the GTS on the other one.

Next week, Dana Brooke debuts and Sami Zayn fights Rhyno.

Chris: The matches were good, but that video package was on an otherworldly level!  Itami is starting to make me believe he has the it-factor to get over in an American ring.  

Mike: I will agree with that.  I had some doubts at first, but he’s quickly winning me over too.

Jeff: This show was pretty poorly produced overall though, in my opinion. What good does it do to show a tournament where the winner goes to Wrestlemania...which already happened? Weak programming, Hunter! I’d have preferred a series of interviews with all of the NXT Talent, especially the ones that don’t get much mic time, like Jason Jordan, Marcus Louis (where’s he been? How’s that hair?), an update on Mojo Rawley, try to make me care one bit about that weird ass Oompa Loompa Solomon Crowe--anything would be better than show that should have run BEFORE Wrestlemania. I really struggled to get into the matches, and I also don’t quite feel the same as you fellas about Itami. I’m pretty disappointed with KENTA overall. If they aren’t going to let him hit “Go To Sleep,” quit teasing it. He kicks a lot. So what? RVD kicked a lot. Tajiri kicked a lot. They brought Rhyno and Brian Kendrick, but I want to see Tajiri come out, spray the mist in Itami’s eyes, and kick him back to Japan. He’s one dimensional.


Kane and Paige Visit BBC Studios

kaine paige.pngMike: During the WWE’s UK tour, Paige and Kane got the opportunity to drop in on the Doctor Who set.  I will admit, this story has no real news value at all, but as a huge Doctor Who fan, I really just wanted to share this awesome picture of Paige and Kane playing with the TARDIS controls. 

Now I want to see Paige as the Doctor’s next companion...she’s British, young, and hot.  Make this happen, BBC!

Later on Noel Clarke (Mickey from Doctor Who) was hanging out with Paige at the WWE taping for tonight.  

Again, none of this is all that newsworthy...but in my defense, it was a very slow news week!  We didn’t have a lot to pop about.  

 


Jeff: Here’s a teaser to pop about--I may very well be covering the Bellator 138 card at Scottrade in St. Louis on June 19th. The card thus far: a Featherweight Title Bout featuring Patricio Pitbull (23-2) vs Georgi Karakhanyan (24-4-1), Michael Chandler (12-3) vs Derek Campos (15-4), TNA Wrestling’s Bobby Lashley (12-2) vs James Thompson (20-14), and the one a lot of folks are talking about, big bad Kimbo Slice (4-2) vs former UFC and WWE phenomenon Ken Shamrock (28-15)! I cannot wait for this! If you want to know more about Bellator, the fighters, and cards coming to your town, check out http://www.bellator.com/ for all the details!

And last but not least…

I watched “The Sheik,” a documentary about the life of Khosrow Vasiri, aka the Iron Sheik. I thought it was very well done. The Sheik (as he’s popularly known, though that can be confusing since there was another wrestler who went by The Sheik before him)  has had a crazy life. He was the top amature wrestler in Iran, a country that historically was crazy for wrestling. His fame earned him a job as the bodyguard to the Shah. When things in Iran started to get a little out of control Vasiri moved to America and became the coach of four consecutive AAU championships and assistant coach of the Olympic team. He eventually wound up working in Verne Gagne’s AWA territory as a solid hand, but opponents were often afraid of his legit toughness, strength and temper. Eventually he turned heel, creating the Iron Sheik persona,, which happened to coincide nicely with the Iran Hostage Crisis, making him the biggest heel wrestler in the world in very short order. His life was in danger constantly. He signed on with Vince McMahon and the old WWWF and became the Heavyweight Champion. Gagne famously offered him a fat sum of money to break Hogan’s leg and bring the WWWF belt back to Minnesota, but The Sheik is a man of  his word and did a clean job to Hogan, launching Hulkamania. As his career wound down and his injuries mounted, Vasiri became increasingly dependant on drugs and alcohol to numb the pain. A terrible tragedy in his family really sent him over the edge, but he’s now found a new bit of pop stardom as the internet celebrity that will praise you one second and threaten to bugger your buttocks the next. He’s a Twitter favorite these days, and in his early 70s seems rejuvenated in spirit if not body. It’s on Netflix right now, and if you’re a wrestling fan check it out. Contributors include Hulk Hogan, The Rock, Mick Foley, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, “Brother Love” Tom Pritchard, Jake “The Snake” Roberts, Jim Ross and Nikolai Volkoff.

Director Igal Hecht does a wonderful job detailing the early days and the more recent trials and tribulations of a wrestler I think many take for granted. The man is truly in a class by himself. Here’s the trailer:

We’ll do it again next week! And who knows, maybe The Iron Sheik will see this and grace us with a cheap pop all our own!