Cheap Pops - Wrestling News & Views - March 15, 2016

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This week!

  • Wrestlemania Preview
  • Does Big Boss Man Belong in the WWE Hall of Fame
  • A real WWE Hall of Fame?
  • NXT Results
  • Lucha Underground Results

Wrestlemania Preview

Jeff Ritter: Howdy fellas--I say without a trace of Sheamus’ brogue. Sorry I’ve missed out on the last couple of weeks, but I’m ready to make the hot tag this week! Let’s get ready to...um...man, Wrestlemania looks like a steaming pile of Rikishi...

Mike Maillaro: As I’ve said quite often, I really don’t watch much Raw or Smackdown lately, but I still look through the highlights and results each week just to make sure I’m not missing anything exciting.  I don’t want to sound like a cynical jerk, but it typically seems to me that I’m not missing much.  Even though Wrestlemania is only about a month away, they really haven’t announced much for the show that’s made me consider this a must see PPV.

BUT, I will always give compliments where they are do.  FINALLY, this week, WWE did manage to setup a match that I cared about! Kevin Owens was facing off against Neville when SAMI ZAYN finally returned to Raw to get some revenge!  If they book Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn for Wrestlemania, that match should steal the show!

Chris Delloiacono: I only watched some of the show his week, but I did see Sami’s return.  Wow!  They teased things nicely at the Royal Rumble, but I'm thrilled WWE is going to give us more of this epic feud.  Whether it was Generico vs. Steen in ROH or Zayn vs. Owens in NXT, these two have given the fans some brilliant moments.  I can't imagine what they'll cook up for ‘Mania.


Does Big Boss Man Belong in the Hall of Fame?

Chris: I received the text alert from WWE last Monday, while I was talking to the  service agent at my auto dealership.  I just glanced down quickly as I listened to his spiel about how I needed new tires.  Long story short, I sprang for the new tires, but while I was making that decision, my brain was running down the merits of that text message.  You see, it was the announcement that The Big Boss Man was joining the class of 2016 in the WWE Hall of Fame..   

Before I made the decision about the tires, I had decided that the Boss Man was a worthy addition to the HOF.  This one is pretty close to a no-brainer.  Ray Traylor was a main eventer as a heel that came off as a legitimate opponent for Hulk Hogan.  He also stepped across the aisle as a babyface and did some excellent work as a top of the card, albeit not main event talent.  His feud with The Mountie was pretty special and a good indicator of his face talents.

Boss Man’s positioning on the card wasn’t the only thing that made him special.  First, he put forth some ultra intense interviews that really sold whatever feud he was involved.  Not to mention, Cobb County’s own could work a solid match.  He moved around far better than most big men of his era.  I never once remember being anything less than entertained watching him work.  He was a multifaceted talent that didn’t have any meaningful weak areas.

When it comes to the Hall, I don’t believe in inducting the gimmick, so I like to look at the performer’s entire career.  I got to know Ray Traylor as Big Bubba Rogers in the NWA where he was the hulking bodyguard for Jim Cornette.  He helped the Midnight Express on many occasions and seemed a solid foil for the indestructible Road Warriors.  I thought Big Bubba was just about the coolest thing ever in those days, but he was nowhere near the performer he would become as the Boss Man.  Bubba didn’t talk and didn’t do too much wrestling.  It’s amazing how much he grew and what he became after leaving for the WWF.  It’s stunning how badly the NWA missed the boat on him.  He should have been so much more than a bodyguard.

In the WWF he was.  He was a Hall of Famer.  It’s just sad that he’s not here to enjoy the accolades.

Mike: IF the Big Boss Man’s career had ended before the Attitude era, I would have no hesitation to say that he belonged in the Hall of Fame.  But part of me can’t help but wonder if he stayed too long and if that ended up tarnishing his career.  He was a real bad fit during the Attitude era, as far as I am concerned.  The SWAT team police outfit was cool, but that was pretty much all he had going for him.  He had a ton of memorable moments in the Attitude era...but none of them were memorable for the right reasons…

He stole Big Show’s father’s corpse from the funeral.   

 

He made Al Snow eat his own dog.   He even managed to participate in the worst Hell in the Cell in history...AGAINST THE UNDERTAKER AT WRESTLEMANIA.  That match did end with a hanging, which was pretty damn crazy.  Though Big Boss Man was back without any issue just a few weeks later.

But like you said, his work as Big Bubba and his first run in the WWE as Big Boss Man featured a lot of great work.  So I think that even with all the questionable work later on, I would be inclined to agree with you and say that he belongs in the Hall of Fame.  

Chris: You bring up some interesting points about the later work in the Attitude Era.  It's easy to wax nostalgic for that bygone age.  Your summary of Boss Man’s accomplishments in the late ‘90s drive home just how uneven those times were.  For all the historic moments around The Rock, Steve Austin, Mankind, and Triple H, there was just as much garbage.  

In the end, his later career wasn't main event magic, but he was still a featured player.  He hadn't changed much in the ring, it was just bad material he was given to work with.

Jeff: I think you both make valid points, but what the spiritual charter member of the Shield did in the 90s was not bite the hand that feeds  him. Even the big names went through some lean times creatively in that era--what the Hell was with Steve Austin playing that ukulele or guitar or whatever the heck it was? That bit went on and on and on, and I know I’m in a tiny minority but I tune in to watch some actual wrestling. I couldn’t care less about Vince’s car getting filled with concrete, everybody from Mae Young to Donald Trump taking Stone Cold Stunners at the end of long “WHAT?” ass “WHAT?” slow “WHAT?” as “WHAT?” hell “WHAT?” promos. “WHAT?” Ray Traylor did what Ray Traylor had to do. He kept his mouth shut and drew his check. If that meant impounding a corpse or sentencing Al Snow to a German Shepherd Whopper (I don’t know what breed it really was, or what breed Whoppers really are, and I don’t care) because Vince Russo thought he was witty, that’s what an aging star he wants to keep working does. He was at the point where Kane’s been for some time. He’s made his mark, cemented his legacy, and could put other people, up and coming talent, over without looking weak or losing street cred.

Mike: When we were discussing Miz a few weeks ago, I had said that I do think that being a reliable hand should count for something, and it’s hard to deny that The Big Boss Man definitely did whatever was asked of him.  Even the most misguided of storylines, he seemed to always handle them as well as could be expected.  I may cringe whenever I think of him with that coffin, but I will never forget it.  

Chirs: That said, I agree that “Twin Towers” era Bossman, his feuds with the likes of Hulk Hogan, the impact of his moveset and the graceful way he moved for a man his size earn him a spot in the Hall of Fame. Besides, it’s much too late to get stringent with enshrinement standards iif Pete Rose and Rikishi are already in.

I hate to harp on The Godfather, but they are classmates in the HOF, after all.  Can you remember much of anything about Mr. Pimping Ain't Easy that doesn't revolve around his entrance?  It's hard to remember a single big match or amazing promo he cut.  Bossman has so many great moments.  Even his Attitude Era output was more memorable than most of what The Godfather did in and around the squared circle.

Mike: I won’t say there were any amazing promos, but I did find it entertaining when he would offer hoes to various wrestlers instead of wrestling and their responses.  Like Mideon asking, “Do you have any pigs instead?”  I have no idea why I remember that after all these years, but it was just so out there it’s always stuck with me.

Chris: I have nothing personal against The Godfather, I really don't.  I loved his shtick and still do, but there's no comparing his legacy to that of The Big Boss Man.

Mike: I think what sets the Boss Man apart is that his in-ring work was excellent.  And whether face or heel, he always managed to get a reaction from the crowd.  Godfather had a ton of personality, but like you said, I’m not sure he really did anything that was all that memorable or had any real impact on the business.  Man, this is now three weeks in a row, we’ve pointed out The Godfather doesn’t belong in the Hall of Fame.  We are just awful people…

Jeff: Papa Shango was far and away Charles Wright’s best gimmick. And even he doesn’t belong in the Hall. ‘Nuff said.

Chris: Well, he’s lucky we aren't making the call.  Just saying!


A real WWE Hall of Fame to open before Wrestlemania 33?

Sources within Universal Studios have told Attractions Management that its park in Orlando, Florida, is to open a WWE-museum-cum-restaurant, which will be open by the time the world’s largest wrestling brand rolls into town for Wrestlemania 33 in 2017.

Similar in style to The World – WWE’s former restaurant which occupied a prime spot in Times Square until its closure in 2003 – the restaurant element would incorporate WWE merchandise with a retail area, and multiple screens would show wrestling action while visitors eat their WWE-themed meals.

 

Chris: To quote that card at the end of many Universal films, When in Orlando Visit Universal Studios.  A physical WWE Hall of Fame and an accompanying restaurant would be a nice addition to the park.  I won't make the trip down just to see it, but if I'm there, I won't miss it!

Mike: I am really excited about this, but mostly just because I had some many great memories at WWE New York (later The World).  We used to go pretty often.  I lived in Jersey City at the time and it was just a quick ten minute train ride to get there.  Chris and I even took one of our co-workers (at the time, we both worked for K-B Toys) there for his birthday.  I was just a great place to go, watch wrestling, and buy some pretty unique merchandise.  I’ve always been kind of bummed out that it closed.  Was it touristy?  Oh hell yeah, but those are some of my favorite places to go in New York.

It just makes sense to have a physical Hall of Fame at this point.  It’s sort of awkward that the Hall of Fame basically only exists as some ethereal entity.  Granted, that is so fitting for the wrestling industry.  But it will be nice to have someplace to visit and check out all the terrific history.  I hope they include things from the entire wrestling world, not just the WWE. The Hall of Fame does include quite a few guys who never really made much of an impact in the WWE, so that makes me pretty hopeful.

Chris: The old restaurant was always a good time.  I loved eating in the seating area that was enclosed in the steel cage.  Probably the only time it's appealing to be involved in a grudge match while you eat.

I actually have two menus from the restaurant.  Just a little piece to remember the good times.  The new place will be much further from home, so the times visiting may be fewer, but I'm hoping just as memorable.


Curb Stomp edited out of NXT DVD

The "WWE NXT Greatest Matches Volume 1" DVD and Blu-ray is already being released and according to WrestlingDVDNetwork.com, the first match in the compilation features a significant edit. The Jinder Mahal vs. Seth Rollins NXT Title tournament finals from 2012 cuts away to a crowd shot while Rollins is doing his Curb Stomp finisher, which was reportedly banned or "put on hold" by WWE officials last year due to the concussion lawsuits. The match replay features Rollins pinning Jinder without showing the Curb Stomp, causing a glitch as the music playing in the background doesn't quite match up.

Mike: When I saw this headline, I really thought it was click bait or just some kind of odd joke I wasn’t getting.  I honestly can’t imagine someone putting this ridiculously underrated match on a DVD set, and then editing out the ending of the match.  But that is exactly what the WWE did here.  They have effectively “Benoit’d” the Curb Stomp.  Look, I get that the WWE is concerned about concussions and people at home imitating things, but this just seems like a ridiculous overreaction.  Are they planning on editing all of Seth Rollins matches this way moving forward?  I can’t wait for future versions of Wrestlemania 31 where Seth Rollins miraculously won the world title without laying a hand (well, foot) on Brock Lesnar.   

The Curb Storm/Black Out is one of the most unique finishers in the WWE, and I thought it was dumb that the WWE stopped Seth from using it.  Especially when they replaced it with The Pedigree, which isn’t a great move anyway, and even worse when Seth does it.  The sad part is that Seth has a lot of awesome finishers he used in the indys, FCW, and NXT.  Avada Kedavra, Skywalker, God's Last Gift, and the Phoenix Splash would all work just fine.  But nah, let's make him a Triple H clone.  

Chris: This is so stupid.  I don't understand WWE at times.  There are so many high impact maneuvers that would cause serious brain injury if they were actually employed.  Hell, a bevy of ten barefisted punches to the head would probably kill a lot of people.  In WWE it's just a throwaway.  Kids shouldn't do any of this at home.  I just hate how they set their sights on random, ridiculous things.  Banning further use is one thing, but changing history--stupidity.


NXT Results - March 9, 2016

- Regal comes out to start show.  He announces that he is not suspending Corbin for attacking Austin Aries.  Aries asked for a match against Corbin at the NXT Takeover Dallas show on April 1.  

- Samoa Joe def. Sami Zayn in two out of three falls match for #1 Contender (and a match with Finn as NXT Takeover Dallas).    Joe took first fall with Muscle Buster, Sami took second fall with Koji Clutch, Joe took the final fall with the Coquina Clutch.  Sami refused to tap, but passed out in the hold

Mike: It was cool that they gave this match the entire show.  I also liked that the commentators kept hyping other matches that were supposed to be on the card.  It gave the match a real unscripted feel to it.  The announcers hyping American Alpha Vs Vaudevillains, and appearances by Bayley and Asuka made me expect a far shorter match.  The whole match was given a real big fight feel to it, starting with the in-ring announcements and the many “celebrities” in the arena.  

It is always tough for one match to run an entire show.  It’s not very common for singles matches to last a good 50 minutes these days.  But this match worked really well. It started with a slow deliberate pace.  I have a short attention span, but even I never felt bored during this match.  I loved watching Sami trying to wear down the big man. And Samoa Joe kept trying to hit big moves to take Sami out.  

This match had an old school feel to it with 2 veterans.  Every move felt intentional and like it was building towards something bigger.  It really felt like a war, and in the end, both men seemed to have given it everything they had.  I also liked that this was a real 2 out of 3 falls match.  Too often in these matches, you get two quick falls, and the match is settled with one long final fall.  This time we went close to a half hour before the first fall took place.  And all three falls basically came out of nowhere, which helped amp up the intensity.

Chris: We got a lot of lengthy matches in the early days of NXT, but this was an epic worthy of a PPV.  Sami and Joe are very talented wrestlers, and they delivered a brilliant back and forth war.  I bet several other WWE superstars could deliver similar quality TV matches if they were given more than two standard segments.  

Mike: My only real complaint with this match was too many commercial breaks.  But at least most of them were fairly well placed.  Though the one right after Samoa Joe hit a huge power slam could have really thrown the pacing off.

Chris: It's a shame WWE has to do breaks at all on the Network, but I guess they're there for Hulu and international airings.  If some breaks are the price to pay for this quality match, I'll take it any day.  I knew how this one was ending since I read the spoilers when it was taped, yet I was mesmerized by one of the finest WWE matches so far in 2016.  

Mike: I suspect this match is basically Sami’s last hurrah at NXT.  He will be main roster after NXT Takeover Dallas.  There is no doubt in my mind.  Part of me wonders if NXT can really survive without Sami Zayn.  I guess since he’s been out with injury for eight months, so that should say yes.  But I will say that during that time, it was probably the dullest NXT’s single’s scene has ever been.  The women and tag team decisions covered it well, but at it’s core, wrestling is pretty much also going to revolve around male singles matches.  

Chris: It sure seems like Sami is main roster bound, and NXT will miss him for certain.  We are totally in agreement on what the single’s scene was like when Zayn was on the shelf.   That said, it will be worth it if he gets a fair shake from Vinnie Mac.  


Lucha Underground - March 9, 2016

- Sexy Star is backstage.  The Mack is worried about her.  He offers to help her squash the bugs.

- Marty the Moth def. The Mack.  Marty was creeping on Melissa Santos before the match, getting him a “no means no” chant.  Sexy Star came down to the ring with The Mack.  The light go out during the match.  Creepy music plays.  Mariposa comes out distracting The Mack.  Marty takes advantage and hits a top rope stomp on The Mack for the win.  Marty gets on the mike after and tells everyone to bow down to his sister  Sexy is freaking out in the corner.  Mariposa kicks Sexy Star in the head.

- Great promo video for Fenix.  He grew up poor, so he sought the release of fantasy by becoming The Fenix.  “They say I can’t defy death, but I proved them wrong.”  And now, he’s the Gift of the Gods champion twice.  He will become the next Lucha Underground champion, fulfilling another fantasy.  Some myths become legends.

- Jack Evans is in the locker room.  Drago attacks him.  PJ Black arrives with nunchucks.  All three men now have nunchucks.  PJ and Evans start to beat Drago down. The lights go out.  Aerostar appears.  He’s got nunchucks too.  Jack and PJ take off.  Aerostar helps Drago to his feet.

- No DQ Match Cage Vs Johnny Mundo.  When Johnny is announced, Taya comes out instead.  She insists that the match is now against her, since Johnny already kicked Cage’s ass once.  Now it’s her turn.  Johnny ends up running out during the match and clobbers Cage with a lead pipe.  He drags Taya on top of Cage for a pin, but Cage kicks out.  Johnny gets a cinderblock and beer bottles.  Cage beats down Johnny and tries to curbstomp him through the cinderblock.  Taya saves Johnny.  Johnny breaks two beer bottles over Cage’s head.  Cage doesn’t even flinch.  Mundo shoves Taya at Cage and runs off.  Cage hits Weapon X on Taya for the win. Mundo talks trash outside the ring.

- Another Famous B commercial.  He’s wearing a wizard hat.  He can make anyone famous...with the magic touch.

- Ivelisse comes out of Catrina’s office  She got her team a trios title match next week.  They either win, or they are banned from the temple.  Angelico and Son of Havoc are not happy by this.  Ivelisse tells them to man up.

- Mil Muertes def. Pentagon Jr and Puma in a triple threat match for the Lucha Underground title, hitting a double Flatliner.  After the match, Fenix comes out and cashes in his Gift of the Gods title for a title match against Mil for next week.

 

Mike: We start with a pretty short match.  I like The Mack a lot, but Marty The Moth doesn’t do much for me in the ring.  He’s got a great presence, and that’s helped by Mariposa who was damn creepy.  But, his in-ring work just can’t sell that character for me.

Chris: The Temple features dragons, pumas, the unkillable Mil Muertes, yet Marty sticks out as the lame gimmick.

Mike: For me, part of it is that Drago, Prince Puma, Mil, Fenix, Cage, Johnny Mundo, etc seem to have bought into their gimmick whole heartedly.  Marty just doesn’t seem to have that same connection to his character.  I am having the exact same issue with Kobra Moon.  She seems like she could have some talent, but being shackled to a gimmick that is just not the right fit seems like a career killer.  Granted, these aren’t exactly the best gimmicks ever, but I’ve seen a lot of wrestlers turn questionable gimmicks into something iconic.  Undertaker, Dusty Rhodes in yellow polka dots, Big Boss Man.

Kind of odd to turn PJ Black into a heel.  The locker room brawl with everyone armed with nunchucks was just ridiculous, but someone Lucha Underground makes me enjoy that absurd overly produced segments.  If nothing else, it makes Lucha Underground different from anything else in wrestling.

Chris: The segment had a goofy ‘70s Kung fu flick vibe, but it was a blast.  If a heel turn gives PJ Black something to do besides lose, then I guess it's a good thing.  I want PJ to be more than a jobber!  I saw too much of that in WWE!

Mike: Taya was almost as tall as Cage...and I’ve met Cage.  He’s one big dude.  Taya took a hell of an asskicking here. It was almost uncomfortable to match at times. She did get in some solid offense, and definitely looked impressive.  But Cage is a force of nature, and very few people can do toe to toe with him, man or woman.  But it took a lot to take Taya out, even her getting superplexed through two tables set up on the floor.

Chris: That superplex bump was monumental.  Wow!  It's great that she looks like a reasonable match for many of the male performers.  Taya is going to be a key player the rest of the season.  

Mike: The main event was incredible. I usually watch Lucha Underground and NXT back-to-back on Saturday mornings.  This match, along with Sami Zayn vs Samoa Joe was a hell of a way to start the weekend. I loved that Puma and Pentagon couldn’t decide if they were going to work together or fight each other.  Even when they teamed up, Mil was mostly able to hold his own against both men at once.  This match told a brilliant story.  No one man can stop Mil, but the Temple creates such competition that no one is able to work together long enough to stop Mil.  

This fight went all over the Temple.  It was just an insane match with all three men trying to seriously hurt each other.  Lucha Underground season 2 got off to a slow start, but it’s really been picking up.  And in two weeks, we get Aztec Warfare, which was one of the highlights of season 1.

Chris: The featured matches were brilliant on both shows.  You can't ask for much better.

Hey, I heard a rumor that Lucha season 1 may be added to Netflix soon!  I hope it's true.  If that doesn't bring eyes to the product, nothing will!

Mike: Yeah, every little bit of exposure helps.  They also have added Lucha Underground to Itunes, though I am not sure anyone would be willing to pay $3 an episode to give it a shot.  I am in favor of “a la carte” TV viewing instead of spending hundreds of dollars to the cable company for literally thousands of shows I will never watch.  But the price point on individual shows/channels is still oppressive.  Look at the WWE Network.  I think it’s a great value at $10, even though I pretty much only watch NXT on it these days.  If I end up paying $5-$10 a month to watch each individual show I like, I’d be in even worse shape than I am with the cable companies...