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Cheap Shots: South Beach Checkup

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In a rather awesome bit of fortune, my Extra-Terrestrial captors have FINALLY released me! Not just anywhere, too. I was set free to land along the coordinates of The Bermuda Triangle, in Miami. Vinnie took his talents to South Beach last night. Like most everywhere else though, he was stepping in someone else’s footprints. This time they belong to Eddie Graham. Why should fans of the art form revere that sir name? Three reasons: Sam Steamboat, Dusty Rhodes, And The Champ, David Von Erich! While I pick up the mic, allow me to explain.

While running the Florida Territory in the Mid 60s, a performer from The Hawaiian Islands (shoot), would come to Florida and dominate the territory as a baby face partner of Graham. Richard Blood is from New York. Thanks to his connections with Verne Gagne; and a striking resemblance, Blood acquired a Kayfabe Uncle and a new name before his run in Mid-Atlantic. Without Eddie Graham, there is no Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat!

Flash forward to 1977, Dusty Rhodes was arguably the biggest wrestling star in The Southeast at the time. So big in fact, a certain promoter in New York wanted in on the action because fans there had already heard of Dusty Rhodes. How does this happen? Eddie Graham and Vince McMahon Sr. pulled together a 3-Match Showdown between “Superstar” Billy Graham and The “American Dream Dusty Rhodes at Madison Square Garden. All this did was awaken the modern art form. “I came to New York to kick your ass!”

Conventional wisdom was: if you wanted to test yourself, alter your gimmick, or get ready for a Championship run: The NWA would send you to Florida and Eddie Graham to find out if you had the chops. The Patriarch; Fritz Von Erich had a dynasty to cement, and David got the call at just 22 years of age. David had just started his legacy in Texas. Even so, those who saw him in Florida swear he was ready to take Flair or Race out. A wrestling community still wonders: “What if?” Following a fateful trip to The Rising Sun. Tragically, Eddie Graham would meet a similar end in 1985, after Rhodes bought him out and sold Florida to Crockett.

With that epic backdrop and history, the latest Monday Night Raw from South Beach opens with a shot we haven’t seen in months. Brock Lesnar is in the building. Did anyone else think this was weird the whole night? Get him out of the hallway. Anyway, no surprise when Roman Reigns calls him out, only to get Paul Heyman instead. Heyman says Lesnar has fulfilled his contractual obligations for the night and will only get in the ring if he feels like it. One problem with that logic, Mr. Walrus. This is scripted, and Vince has already shown him. We know they are going to use him. WWE struggles with manufactured heat. This was no different. Felt like I was waiting on a dentist’s appointment all night.

First, Heyman says Brock is headed back to UFC with Universal Gold. This is part of the reason scripted promos make no sense. Brock is still serving a USADA suspension for six months. He CAN’T compete there until January at minimum. Why would WWE undermine their Main Event at one of The Big Five like this? Eventually, Roman tells Paul to shut up. “Brock Lesnar will go back to UFC…as Roman Reigns Bitch!” Does anybody believe that? This is why Roman is not capable of being John Cena. Did someone say scripted promos were stupid?

Heyman struggled to get his client to do anything all night. At one point Brock said he doesn’t watch the show, GASP! Somebody please explain to me why this man is a wrestling draw the second time around? Later, Paul was sulking as only he can when RAW GM Kurt Angle interrupted him, dropping a typical ultimatum of the art form in his lap. Unless Lesnar got in the ring last night, the advocate would be fired. Stop this nonsense! Vince isn’t gonna fire one of a handful of guys who can get authentic heat. By the end of the night though, Heyman was on his way to being terminated in another way. For only the second time I can recall, Brock Lesnar actually put his hands on Heyman with bad intentions. “We are not friends, Paul. You work for me. Go out there and do your job.” Who remembered that Brock can talk? At this late stage, Roman Reigns had been escorted from the building on orders of Stephanie McMahon. He wasn’t gonna interfere. Though nobody bought it. Kurt Angle; accompanied by Constable Corbin, called Heyman to the ring. He did The Brock Intro with no emotion, in fear of the outcome. Upon coming through the cables, his stress level escalated as he turned into his whiny self, Kurt Angle got the words “you’re fired” out with Heyman groveling at his feet, only to have The Beast’s music hit. I hate wrestling logic sometimes. Brock got in the ring with a mic and a simple question for both. “Do you have a problem with me?” Angle took an F5 for nothing and The Walrus got his face squeezed, forcing him to the mat. Interesting TV finish at the dentist’s office.

Can we talk about the art form now that that the aliens have let me go? Am I the only one noticing that PPV matches don’t matter anymore? Finn Balor defeats Baron Corbin at Extreme Rules, then has The Constable beat him up for the next month? Don’t get me wrong, matches between these two are always decent. Finn Balor could wrestle a chair and make it interesting, despite his move set being a bit predictable. Corbin went over with an End of Days. The only practical reason to continue force-feeding this down our throats is to have The Demon make a SummerSlam appearance since we haven’t seen him in a while. As long as this moves The 8-Pack Irishman forward, I’m alright with it.
Recess kicked off this week as cameras cut to the back and we saw Shark Bait. Ronda Rousey is back! Geography should’ve told us that Miami was next, although Buffalo got lucky. The Next Rowdy One was here to back up Nattie in a singles match against the resident weirdo of The Raw Women’s Division, Alicia Fox with Alexa Bliss in her corner. Solid contest, although wrestling physics got involved when The Queen of Hearts did not get out of a modified Abdominal Stretch by hitting the mat for the pin, as Fox was behind her. Alicia went over after shenanigans from Little Miss Math Class. This made Ronda furious as she went after The Champ outside the ring. Bliss squirmed away, which left Fox to take her non-submission finish that looks like a separated shoulder if the person taking it is not careful. This left Ronda exposed for Alexa to sneak in and attack her; and it was as vulnerable as Rousey has looked to this point. Though, the “danger” with bringing Rousey in is simple. Experienced watchers know there is no way for Alexa Bliss to kick Ronda Rousey’s ass. It will still lead to something fun next week. Ronda’s first televised match on Monday Night Raw!

Our other recess segment involved the newly “friended” Sasha Banks and Bailey taking on the Riott Squad. Maybe it’s because I’m one of the biggest practical Sasha marks out there. I noticed my girl wasn’t wearing her typical jewelry to the ring? In a twinnish wardrobe, the “besties” looked very good once again, dismantling Logan & Morgan. For everyone losing their minds over why this is happening, RELAX, we’ve got three months to figure this out. As for Evolution itself, I will have more to say down the road.

Sadly, a couple of nondescript moments this week. First, is Jinder Mahal finally finding his place as a glorified jobber? I can only hope. The Indian Brooklyn Brawler was placed in a match with Brawn Strowman. He actually won by count out because Kevin Owens is a great instigator, and Stephanie McMahon is reading my stuff! Quoting Mr. Stevens: YOU’RE WELCOME! As we all know, Steph hates baby faces. Why not put Strowman and Owens in a match for the Money in The Bank Briefcase at SummerSlam? I’m taking full credit for this. Steph, where’s my cut? Something I cannot take credit for? Apollo Crews Beating Akam of The Authors of Pain because we have nothing else for these guys to do. My sincere apologies.

Two promos to set up other matches at The Biggest Party of The Summer. First, Elias was talking up his “album” while executing his tweener promo to perfection. Of course, Miami sets up for a Rock shout out. The Guitar Man made one mistake, mentioning Bobby Lashley. The Army Veteran came down to confront him. After a root canal of a segment that saw Lashley try to sing; not a work, he took a guitar shot to the back. Why not have a program between these guys? Elias is getting more mileage out of this then some initially thought, and he’s getting better. Next, we go to the locker room where Mojo Rawley is running down the carpenters. Easy jock, you’ve beaten two of them in a month. In a very 3 o’clock High moment, Robert Roode walks up. “Wanna say that to me?” fists start flying. The Canadian deserves more. This is better than nothing.

Can someone PLEASE explain the fascination with The B-Team? Comedy doesn’t sell. Painful is unwatchable. These guys have legacies that should get them passed The Three Stooges “What the Hell are we doing?” phase. Sheep hate everything, and these guys are over like it’s 1988? Dallas & Axel are better than clowns in the ring, right Charles? Anyway, Tag Champs are cutting a typical gee whiz promo when they are interrupted twice. The Deleters of Worlds come to run them down again, while The Revival follow suit with the former champions. This leads to a tag match between both contending teams with The B-Team on commentary. Stop the presses! The Revival win clean with A Shatter Machine! Guessing this sets up a Triple-Threat at SummerSlam for RAW Tag-Team Gold?

Final televised athletic competition of the night found Seth Rollins taking on Drew Galloway. Dolph Ziggler would involve himself as usual. This was a fantastic match, faster than normal because the boys got squeezed for Lesnar. Galloway is a physical freak, and Rollins can push anybody at this point. Speaking of which, he hit The Curb Stomp and Ziggles jumped in before he could complete the clean pin. Seth Rollins got the win by DQ. He later got jumped backstage while cutting a promo. Ambrose is healthy. Maybe next week? Hang in there Brickyard! For WWE, South Beach got a very good show. Florida itself has am awesome Territorial History. This time, Vinnie added another solid night to a proud legacy.


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Cheap Shots: Mad Man’s Testing Cheese in The Mouse’s House

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Gliding over The World’s Largest Golf Ball for SmackDown Live this week. I believe Orlando was nothing more than a spot show for Graham. In his infinite wisdom, Eric Bischoff used Universal Studios for WCW TV Tapings. What’s he getting paid for now? Doing a podcast? Big deal, a ton of my colleagues have podcasts, and they’re smarter than him. Dixie Carter’s TNA Wrestling reminds us that a talented roster cannot overcome a lack of inside knowledge. Impact Wrestling currently resides in the mouse’s zip code today. The latest effort from The New York Big Top wasn’t on a cheap PPV level. I have praised SmackDown Live as the better show for months. Others have done so for much longer. Instead, WWE hands us something between a glorified house show and a week early go home show for SummerSlam?

Let’s find out if Vince left Mickey ANYTHING interesting. Randy Orton has been on The Main Roster for a generation now. He does psychopath extremely well. Not all psychopaths talk though. Creative should be more careful with Randy. He needs a very focused promo, and reason to talk. They should’ve kept him on a singular path here, Jeff Hardy. A tunnel-visioned Viper is a more dangerous Viper. Randall Keith Orton is neither one of The Authors of Pain. Don’t give him a generic heel promo. We know he’s capable. Let Jeff Hardy continue to twist in agony. If you must give Orton a verbal point, do a better job writing it, and save it for after SummerSlam.

Recess started with a backstage promo which would be unnecessary if Vince didn’t book Triple Threats. The fracturing friendship angle is fine, if not required in the art form. However, can anyone pull it off without it feeling forced? Stamford sure can’t. Why were Charlotte and Becky apologizing like it was Middle School? Vinnie put both of you in the match. Break the fourth wall and get mad at him. The Lass Kicker struggled to hide building frustration. Anybody surprised with this? She’s Irish. They teased a possible tag match with The Dragon Huggers at Evolution? I EFFING HOPE NOT! Vince, get your head out of your ass. Unless it results in Sasha Banks being traded, put this mirrored storyline possibility on ice, since you can’t get it right on Monday! Sorry for the tangent. The Tuesday Besties went over The IIconics, who have hit a wall recently.

Here’s a crazy thought, WWE has approximately 14 ladies on The SmackDown Roster. What’s wrong with holding a storyline off TV for a week instead of repeating it? Give us the illusion that friends took a week to work things out without telling Aiden English he’ll be Ron Killings in a month or two. Lana is getting better in the ring, Let’s find another way to stunt her. Put Almas’ Mini Me over again and break up one of our most popular factions. My apologies, I must have hacked into Vince’s email.

Creative got too many compliments on proms last week. Dammit boys and girls, y’all can only rope the moon once every six months. They tried again anyway, bad move! Outside of The New Day; who can read Facebook and make it good. everything else was yawn inducing. Later, WWEs modern answer to The Free Birds went on to beat The Bar in another great TV Main Event.

Random Observation: if smart marks need proof promoters and bookers view Championship Gold as nothing more than a prop, look at R-Truth. Never mind New York’s original name for him. He was respected during his previous run in Orlando for Dixie Carter and TNA. He held Top Gold and was prominent there for a while. Why not? Dude is a fantastic athlete with good mic skills. Back in WWE, he is a glorified carpenter who cuts nonsense promos. I hope the paycheck is worth it, Sir? After setting up a match no one wanted, Truth lost to Shinsuke Nakamura in under ten minutes.

Sometimes, WWE looks dumber than usual in the age of social media. Can anyone tell me why they broke Mike’s match signing with Daniel Brian on Twitter? Did they have a reason? Does anybody really think Mike was on set? Vinnie, suspension of disbelief? Where is it? They could’ve rebooted Cena/Taker from Mania. They reboot storylines far less personal and more pointless. Yes, Daniel got to wail on Mike for a minute. Can’t we do better than to jump the gun so poorly on both fronts?

If Vince wants us to take one thing away from the Styles/Samoa Joe Angle, it is that Joe clearly has both the physical and psychological advantage heading into SummerSlam. Why does everything appear so lopsided though? Not saying The WWE Gold doesn’t fit Joe. If he can stay healthy, it most certainly does. Yes, Joe is a badass, but AJ Styles is capable of rock-solid heel work too. Ask The Con Artist and Big Match John. Hell, Samoa Joe himself knows Styles’ heel talent from elsewhere. It is disappointing the WWE might make fans wait months to see these two work up to their ability, if the trigger ever gets pulled correctly. Maybe by Hell in A Cell or Survivor Series? Given New York’s reputation among smart marks, I wouldn’t hold my breath. Speaking of which, if anyone did so on Tuesday waiting for a typical good show, I apologize. They got a glorified house show. Mickey Mouse deserves better cheese.


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CheapShots: Mad Man’s Panhandle Rush (WWE Raw)

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The penultimate stop on the Florida loop found the Cessna in the panhandle. One of the good things about the territory back in the day was proximity for travel. According to Kevin Sullivan and Austin Idol; Google them millennial nerds, it was common to work close enough to home that performers could sleep in their own beds most nights. If I am not mistaken, the original Free Bird nest of Jacksonville (music), was a regular weekend stop for Eddie Graham.

Vince’s latest offer started as 90% of them do. Someone is headed to the ring to cut a promo. This time it was RAW GM Kurt Angle and Stephanie McMahon’s watch dog, Constable Corbin. Angle proudly reminded us that one UFC Fighter would be making her TV Match Debut Monday night while openly taking shots at the other on the roster. Corbin’s prompted retort was met by Kurt saying he had to get this off his chest. Half-way through, Roman Reigns comes out because he can.

Eventually testosterone related to last week starts flowing between opposing forces. This leads Angle to make an opening match featuring Reigns vs. Corbin. In my opinion, the crowd was odd during this encounter. It felt like they needed 15 minutes to wake up. Strange when an audience doesn’t have a pulse, even a negative one. The match was physical and decent, though we have seen it before. Experienced watchers could tell Corbin was looking for an escape. He thought he found one, only to have Finn Balor cut him off. Corbin was forced back to the ring, where he took A Spear for the clean loss. After the bell, The 8-Pack Irishman took his turn; delivering a dropkick and Coup de Gras.
As a younger fan Vinnie’s circus did a much better job of keeping athletes apart unless it served as fuel for an angle. The locker room dustup between Bobby Roode and Mojo Rawley three weeks before a PPV would have led to squash matches featuring the two, or a tag match where they barely touched. He used to admonish agents and bookers: “Get the match in the ring.” Thanks to six hours of programming a week, now he says: “Get the match in the ring now. The PPVs are so cheap, they hardly matter.” This angle is the latest victim of that drug-induced logic. WWE will do their best to say it’s different in two weeks, even though Roode went over clean Monday night. Why does Stamford think smarks are clueless?

The very next segment saw our latest example of poor execution. I actually wanna see Elias take on Lashley. Vinnie forgot the Novocain to get me there. Heels don’t even worry about suspension of disbelief anymore. There is no album, Elias. Four tracks are barely a demo. WWE shot that ”documentary” to fill time on the network. No other reason. You don’t like the way it made you look? It’s scripted, talk to management. I don’t like you as a heel when the crowd wants to cheer you. I can’t do a damn thing about it. Speaking of “I can’t do anything about this:” Bobby Lashley was not brought back to New York because he could talk. Take the microphone OUT of his hand. Crickets come out whenever the man opens his mouth. The ending was plausible. Find a better way to get there. Proof WWE doesn’t care if I’m in pain watching; and, Sports Entertainment is total bulls***!

In another case of coin flip booking, Razar destroyed Titus because Apollo Crews beat Akam last week. Vince can’t get out of his own way. We saw this around a month ago. Even Less sheep wanted to watch this than hear Lashley cut a promo. We were stuck with both. Sorry folks, this was your weekly piss break

Back from the restroom. Smarks who hate Reigns, and their insider cousins are freaking out. It’s “The Kevin Owens Show.” Give The Fat Canadian a mic, and he can run down anyone in the art form. Like him or not, Owens is such a good heel that he manipulates other heels regularly. His latest pawn was Jinder Mahal. The Indian Brooklyn Brawler was his guest, but Owens wouldn’t let him speak. Eventually, the host mentioned Braun Strowman, and their contest for The MITB Briefcase at SummerSlam. Reminding us that if The Big Man loses, it doesn’t matter how. He loses his guaranteed shot at Gold. Mahal was roped into another match with The Monster Among Men just before the stage was flipped over! Why not? Unfortunately for the big man, he has been turned from human being to pit bull in an obnoxious game of fetch. Owens has stolen the briefcase twice. Forcing a count out last week and a DQ Monday. Anybody wanna punch Creative?

Cue the calliope. Earlier in the night, Seth Rollins went to GM Kurt Angle saying he was sick of being jumped by Ziggler & Galloway. Angle told him to find a partner. At this point, I could feel a colleague hoping like a Super Mark. Must wait again, sorry Brickyard. Though, even I thought they might set up an Ambrose swerve because they said he wouldn’t show up. Of course, Roman Reigns offered to help his brother out. However, Stephanie called Constable Corbin threatening to pull The Samoan Hype Machine from his showdown with The Beast at SummerSlam. SHUT UP VINCE! You have been shoving this match down our throats for years. Even after this, global smart marks fear you aren’t done with it. As for the match Monday, Rollins couldn’t find a partner. He fought hard but took the pin from Ziggler.

A tag team match was next. Participants: The Revival & our Tag Champs, The B-Team. Of course, Vince has an aversion to wrestling. “We MUST ‘entertain’ them, they’re sheep!” Match started off solid. Five minutes in; lights go out. Opposing partners have been torn off the apron and replaced by The Deleters of Worlds. Match got thrown out. Two reasons I despise Triple Threat Matches. First, wrestling companies have forgotten how to book longer programs and draw money. Second, the overwhelming majority of Triple Threats allow for weird finishes. Especially the way WWE books them. “Never mind we have 5 hours of TV to fill. Let’s throw everybody in and finish this in five minutes. Building to an outcome used to matter.

A double shot of recess to close Monday Night Raw this week. First up: The Dragon Huggers had to deal with The Riott Squad for consecutive weeks. Something had to be up, and it was. Despite Sasha & Bailey looking very good again, including a modified Power & Glory spot. Youtube it sheep, the heels went over when Ruby Riott did her best CM Punk impression. Go ahead weirdoes, freak out because I mentioned him. The Squad Leader dawned a gray hoodie long enough to slip through the audience. She got physical with The Human Elmo, and distracted Lady Banks so she would take the pin. Welcome back Ruby. Your girls haven’t mattered since February.

Whenever Hayes & Gordy’s Jacksonville namesake would close a Skynyrd concert, Ronnie and the boys would always ask: “What is it you wanna hear?” prior to hitting their opus’ first chord. Right now, Vinnie’s answer to “Free Bird” is Ronda Rousey. Rather appropriate then that The Baddest Woman on The Planet’s TV wrestling debut was in Skynyrd’s House. I think Michael would agree. Ronda’s first competition came in the form of Alicia Fox. She had length, experience, and zero chance Monday. Fox got some offense in, but Rousey overcame the distractions from Little Miss Math Class, got pissed, and tapped her opponent out in less than ten minutes. The champ tried to jump her afterward, epic fail! Ronda took the mic and cut a very solid promo. Has there ever been a long-term champion who looks more scared than Alexa Bliss? Good music in this show. We’re gonna find out if Mickey Mouse can Rock’N’Roll like that!


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WWE EVOLUTION Is The Double Edged Sword

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Last week, Stephanie McMahon announced that the past, present and future of women’s wrestling would come together and create the first ever all women’s PPV called Evolution. To say that women’s wrestling has made strides from what were once called “toilet break” matches to women’s Royal Rumbles, Ladder Matches, and now their own PPV is something to be said about how women are being taken seriously in a sport that is based on machismo. 

Yet, while it shows that women wrestlers are now seen as equals to their male counter part, it also shows that the WWE is dividing women. Think of it this way, its just like the cruiser weights having 205 Live. Yes, it is great that the talented high flyers can show off their skills in their own show, but 205 has not made the impact that everyone thought it would after the Cruiserweight  Classic. They are never in matches with the rest are the main roster on Raw and Smackdown Live and are segregated. 

While the indie scene has done mixed matches (Candice LaRae being a prime example of this) . The WWE almost make it seem that they have rewritten history with Evolution, but women’s wrestlers were ahead of their times in the indies, it has been the WWE that has been playing “catch up” all these years. 

WWE Evolution isn’t a bad thing, it’s a great example of how far the WWE have come, but it also puts a syntax on the PPV. By creating a women’s only PPV it shows that women’s wrestling is being showcased, but it creates this undertone of questioning to fans and pro wrestling critics that women cannot stand out the way men do in wrestling so here is their own PPV to show case that. 

The PPVs announcement and lead up will be debated till October when all eyes are set on the production of what is to come. And while as a fan I am excited to see what the past, present and future, have to offer, there is also some dread as to what this really says about what the WWE thinks of women’s wrestling as a whole. 


Always Use Your Head and visit the official Pro Wrestling Tees store for The Chairshot All t-shirt proceeds help support the advancement of your favorite hard-hitting wrestling website, The Chairshot!


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