Posts Tagged ‘The Miz’

Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: Extreme Rules 2017

June 10, 2017

WILPW

I arrived at the Royal Farms Arena around 5 pm. I had never been to a WWE show before, this was the first one after over 20 years of being a fan. Because of my inexperience, I was unaware of when the doors would actually open. I drastically overestimated how early that would be. Still, a line had already formed when I arrived and I walked to the end and leaned against the wall. Pretty soon, I was engaged in conversation with the band of misfits behind me in line. We made our predictions, talked about the state of the business, the past, and played entrance music on our phones. It is extremely rare that I get to talk to people who are knowledgeable about wrestling in person. Usually, it is only through Twitter.

20170604_182643

I was one of the first hundred people inside since I had gotten there so early. I snapped the above picture of the setup and then settled in with Twitter while I waited for the show to start.


Apollo Crews vs. Kallisto

We started with the one pre-show match. I have to admit that I have been bored by these two performers in the past because neither has received good pushes in a while. This new Titus Brand storyline has actually drawn more personality out of Crews and given Kallisto more purpose. Also, Titus O’Neill is really fun to watch live because he is so expressive. The match itself was a lot of fun. Both guys are fast and technically proficient and they have good chemistry. These two (former?) friends put on a great show with Titus getting embarrassed as usual. The crowd woke the crowd up pretty well.


The Miz w/ Maryse vs. Dean Ambrose

Then the main show started and right off the bat, the pyro scared the hell out of me but I recovered. We started with Dean Ambrose vs. The Miz. I really appreciate Mike Mizanin as a performer but I love hating The Miz even more. He has evolved as a wrestler and once again it showed in this match. Dean Ambrose is a perfect opponent for him as well. Miz was being a weasel the entire match and Ambrose was responding in just the right ways. I audibly cried out “No!” when Maryse slapped Miz. I didn’t want the match to end yet and not that way. The two false finishes were a great way to hide the real finale which kind of came out of nowhere but it was great.


Rich Swann and Sasha Banks vs. Noam Dar and Alicia Fox

Next, we had a match with my hometown hero, Rich Swann partnering with “The Boss” Sasha Banks against the insane pairing of Noam Dara and Alicia Fox. The match was a lot of fun and there were a lot of great moves and good laughs. I am not a huge fan of mixed tag matches in WWE because the flow is weird because the genders cannot mix. (Talk to Joey Ryan about intergender matches, please). This match actually went really well as they used those weird rules to their advantage. Watching Sasha Banks hit the double knees on Noam Dar on the outside was great. One of the highlights of the night for me was watching Swann beat the hometown curse and danced with Sasha after a fantastic win. Watching a happy Rich Swann jut makes me smile.


Bailey vs. Alexa Bliss

Bailey deserved better. I was so excited to see her entrance live and I was not disappointed. I got that warm, fuzzy feeling I usually get seeing her entrance. Unfortunately, the disappointment was not far behind. Bailey got in a flurry of offense and then it felt like a squash match in favor of Alexa Bliss after that. I love Alexa Bliss but I thought they would give the match more than they did. It was criminally short. After Bailey talked in a pre-match interview about studying the progenitors of extreme, I thought she would get to swing the kendo stick at least once. I thought she would have a brutal battle with Alexa ending with Alexa getting the victory. What they did fell flat for me and was not fair to Bailey (or Alexa for that matter).


The Hardy Boyz vs. Sheamus and Cesaro

I had never seen a steel cage match in person so I was excited to watch the Hardy Boyz face off against Sheamus and Cesaro. Their entrances were even more awesome live (though it was kind of funny to see Cesaro miss his mark during the blackout). These are two of my favorite tag teams in the WWE. Cesaro and Sheamus did not really work for me at first but now I really enjoy the team up. Cesaro has a way of melding well with whoever he is thrown together with. The action was back and forth with plenty of great chemistry. I shouted “Delete!” and chanted “Brother Nero” loudly along with the crowd so I hope WWE and the Hardys work together to move away from the stale Hardy Boyz gimmick. I stood up when Jeff jumped from the top of the cage. I was happy to see Sheamus and Cesaro win because that felt like the more interesting option.


Neville vs. Austin Aries

I was excited to watch the next match but I seemed to be in the minority. All of the energy seemed to be sucked out of the building. Maybe it was how long they took switching the ropes out unnecessarily. I thought it was a great match. There were so many great false finishes and they continued the story of Neville protesting too much while Aries never backed down. I really thought that A Double would pull out a victory but the finish was brutal and interesting.


Bray Wyatt vs. Seth Rollins vs. Samoa Joe vs. Finn Balor vs. Roman Reigns

Finally, we got to the main event. Once again, the entrances were so much more amazing live (even without some of the camera tricks). I held up my cell phone to be one of Bray Wyatt’s fireflies and I got chills. I held up my arms in time with Finn Balor’s music. I even got to boo Roman Reigns even though I appreciate him as a performer. I felt like the match lived up to its potential. I was intrigued by the continued team up of Samoa Joe and Bray Wyatt. I was also glad to see Bray shine as bright as he did after continued mistreatment of his character. In the end, I hoped to get my wish to see Finn win but I am not mad at Samoa Joe being the one to face Lesnar next.

Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: Other Media

October 29, 2016

I was wondering what to do with this last Saturday before Halloween. I know I wanted to do a WILPW segment because I have not done one in a while. I was wondering what would be a good topic so I sat and had myself a think. I mean, I have already written a post about the Undertaker and another one about spooky performers or gimmicks. I thought about doing a segment on vampire wrestlers to match up with Monday’s theme but there are really only four or five of them. Maybe I will let that one simmer a bit longer and come back to it next year. Instead, let’s talk about Beyond The Mat and representation of sports entertainment in other media. By Beyond the Mat, I mean the episode of Supernatural and not the well-known documentary that led to a career resurgence for Mick Foley. This is going to be more spoiler-y than most of my reviews because I feel like it.


Shawn Harley vs. “The Hangman” Larry Lee

We start off immediately with a shot of Mike “The Miz” Mizanin before his most recent white hot Intercontinental title run. Of course, Miz was not playing himself or his WWE character. He played “Lightning” Shawn Harley, a rookie in the Top Notch Wrestling promotion. His character struck me as kind of Dolph Ziggler mixed with pre-sober Shawn Michaels. He is a young, promising talent who is a bit of an asshole backstage. The Miz has been on fire this year and this episode definitely has a bit of that Miz magic. I can think of few other performers suited to be ambassadors on the level that he has been. Plus, every single opportunity he gets in Hollywood just feeds his gimmick. The bigger his gimmick’s ego gets, the more of a treat he is for fans.


The Hangman’s unprofessional attitude pisses off Harley.

Anyway, the Winchester brothers are pulled into investigating Top Notch Wrestling when bodies start turning at each stop of their tour. At first, we are led to believe that it is Miz who is killing people. However, we know that he would just get Maryse to do it. The Miz faces an unprofessional oldtimer named The Hangman who gets hanged after their match. The brothers decide to attend the funeral to honor their dad. It turns out the Winchesters are huge marks for Top Notch Wrestling. Their father, John, used to bring them to shows when the three of them were not otherwise busy killing monsters. It really is a shame that none of this was mentioned in the previous ten and a half seasons. Even a shot or two of Dean watching an old wrestling tape in the Bunker would have been cool. Still, it’s cool that the brothers enjoyed sports entertainment.


Gunner Lawless makes his way to the ring.

The two have not really kept up with the product but Dean’s hero is an oldtimer named Gunner Lawless. Gunner is kind of a mix between Kevin Nash and The Undertaker and is played by a good stunt man. Anyway, the bodies that have been found have a symbol carved into them that indicate the soul has been stolen. Soul stealing was kind of a running theme in Season 11 so the boys are wary but think it is a demon. It has to be connected with one of the wrestlers on tour. Though if this was ECW, I would suspect Sign Guy. Cane Dewey? That monster!

The original Cane Dewey promo for those who are uninformed.

At one point, Shawn Harley spots Gunner meeting backstage with a suspicious man and overhears this man reminding Gunner what he owes him before giving him a packet of some kind. It looks like a steroid drug deal so Harley calls him out on it in front of the rest of the roster in the dressing room. Steroids used to be a rampant problem in the industry and, if you pay attention to headlines, they are still a problem. It was nice to see it addressed even if it was a little clumsy.


The crossroads demon himself.

However, we find out that Gunner has not been using steroids. He has gotten his longevity in the business from a deal with a crossroads demon. Crossroad demons have been part of the show since the first season. IT was nice to revisit the whole “deal with a devil” bit from way back when. When Harley (The Miz) gets too close to figuring out the truth, the demon urges Gunner to kill him. We get a great scene where Miz is begging for his life while tied to a chair. Gunner kills him anyway and we will never know if “Lightning” Shawn Harley would have won the belt. Dean and Sam burst onto the scene and are almost taken out by the Crossroads demon. At the last moment, Gunner pulls a face turn and takes the demon out. As the Hell hounds close in, looking for Gunner, he decides to take his punishment and turns down Dean’s offer of assistance.


The Winchester Brothers taking in a live show.

I really liked the plot of this episode. Finding out about normal things that John Winchester did with his boys is always great. Those kids had a hard childhood and knowing they had fake heroes similar to the ones I had is a great thing. In fact, at one point Dean gets a chance to play around in a ring. He takes a moment to strut and Wooo! like the Nature Boy and does a quick Macho Man impression as well. I do not know if Jensen Ackles is or was a wrestling fan but it was believable. In addition, Dean’s FBI alias for the episode is Agent Roussimoff which was Andre the Giant’s real last name. These details were really appreciated.

Woooooooo!

It is also neat to see the southern mythology of the crossroads demon mixed with a form of entertainment that draws a lot of its roots from the American south as well. It was also interesting to see the juxtaposition of the world of pro-wrestling and what the Winchesters do on a daily basis. Sports Entertainment, as we have discussed, has kayfabe which is the “fakeness” of the business. At the same time, Sam and Dean fight and kill things that everybody knows are fake but are actually real. I felt the whole mix of “fake” and real stuff very interesting.

Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: Johnny Mundo

July 23, 2016

WILPW

I know that the WWE Draft is currently rocking the headlines of the world of Sports Entertainment. I watched the draft on Tuesday night but when I watched it, it was a little less than live since I could not get to the television until after ten o’clock. I really enjoyed Raw and Smackdown this week. The draft was intriguing and in my heart of hearts I definitely correctly picked the first two drafts. I cannot wait to see how they utilize their separated talent pools. In addition, there are plenty of other recent headlines in the business or adjacent to the business. UFC 200 happened and Brock Lesnar was victorious. As much as I like Brock Lesnar, I could care less because I don’t care for UFC. Ah well. The Final Deletion exploded the internet making millions of wrestling fans sit up and say “Wait, TNA still exists?” The Final Deletion was hilarious but maybe for all the wrong reasons. Only time will tell.

All of that aside, I want to pay tribute to the other big news for the past three weeks. We are officially nearing the end of Season 2 of Lucha Underground. At the end of each season, the twisted temple holds an event called Ultima Lucha. This is an eight-hour event that is aired on El Rey network over three weeks. It is amazing and entertaining and pretty brutal. So let’s take a look at the leader of Worldwide Underground, one of the hottest new factions in Lucha Underground. Let’s take a look at Johhny Mundo.

John Hennigan was given a chance on WWE’s annoying reality show Tough Enough 2. Tough Enough was a show where people trained to be pro-wrestlers and competed for a WWE contract. It was a little annoying because, like other shows of its kind, it encroached on the mainstream product and threatened kayfabe. Kind of the same reason I hated the Diva Search, early NXT and Total Divas. Anyway, Hennigan stood out enough to earn a spot in Ohio Valley Wrestling which was a development territory that fed the WWE at the time. He was good enough to appear on WWE programming while working with Matt Cappotelli at OVW. He was trained by Jim Cornette and “Nightmare” Danny Davis at OVW. He obviously benefited from the training as it was not long before he debuted on WWE Heat and then WWE Monday Night Raw.

Hennigan debuted on Raw as Johnny Blaze and then he changed his name to Johnny Spade and then finally he became Jonny Nitro, assistant to Eric Bischoff on Raw. Thankfully this did not last long but it gave Johnny some more time to work on his promos and develop his streak of arrogance that has lasted through his career so far. He ended up debuting during a great time period. It set him up in the lower mid card at just the right time. It also allowed him to walk around the WWE while people like John Cena and Randy Orton were getting their first big pushes. Still, he was nothing special quite yet but few people get their big push overnight. I mean, neither John Cena or Cody Rhodes were too exciting early on either.

Finally, they found something real for Hennigan to do. They let him keep the Johnny Nitro name even though it was designed as a rib on Eric Bischoff and WCW. Now he was joined by Melina and Joey Mercury. Melina played Johnny’s girlfriend and was a great performer in her own right. Mercury was great too but ended up being more successful as an NXT trainer now. Together they formed MNM, a new stable fresh from Hollywood who were rich, successful and complete assholes. A tag team is a great way for new talent to break into the public consciousness. The trio started winning titles. Most importantly for Hennigan, they started to win tag team titles over and over. MNM went the distance and, in my opinion, remains a very memorable and fun tag team in a field of more bland or weird tag teams. I mean, Heidenreich teamed with Animal around that time. Come on.

Johnny Nitro and Melina jumped back to Monday Night Raw where Hennigan stepped up and started a singles career. He battled some of the greats and held his own and looked even more impressive than he had before. He won the Intercontinental championship from a triple threat with Shelton Benjamin and Carlito Colon. These guys are two extremely talented wrestlers who were both in an early point in their careers. He went on to feud with Jeff Hardy during one of his more lucid periods which ended up being great. Then he feuded with John Cena which says a lot about his skills and the confidence the company had in him. He lost Melina but briefly regained Joey Mercury in a brutal feud with the Hardys. He proved he could be tough and innovative as well as technically proficient and charismatic.

In 2006, tragedy struck and Chris Benoit murdered his family and then committed suicide. In the midst of trying to repair the damage, Nitro won his first heavyweight title when he picked up the ECW World Championship. He then changed his ring name (this is ring name number five, by the way) to John Morrison and added inspiration from Jim Morrison of The Doors to his character. This launched him up to a higher level in the company as this new character took off. He teamed with former reality star The Miz in some of the best chemistry I have seen in the business. In addition, he started to add a lot more to his moveset and became a lot more memorable. I was glued to the Miz and Morrison Dirt Sheet segments and I wanted to see what he would say next. At the time, I blatantly stole his tagline of “Be Jealous”. He definitely shone brightly in his new tag team role.

Of course, he had to break out as a singles wrestler again eventually. This began when Miz and Morrison were drafted to separate shows. I knew we would get back around to the draft eventually! After an attack by the Miz and a feud with heel Chris Jericho, Hennigan became a babyface for the first time since… well maybe the first time ever. He added to his moveset even more, finally adding his current finisher which is a split-legged corkscrew moonsault. He started to add more high flying and parkour elements to his style and got to show off just how athletic he is. It seemed to me that John Morrison was becoming bigger and bigger and should have been a heavyweight champion in the WWE at some point. He had all three of the things it takes to be truly successful in the business: Good mic skills, technical prowess/athleticism and the it factor. Instead, he left the WWE and disappeared into the independents.

Then he finally resurfaced in the Asistencia Asesoría y Administración down in Mexico. Now I never really watched any of that because I found it hard to access at the time. However, then I found out about Lucha Underground which is basically a US spinoff from the AAA. The Lucha style suits John well who adopted name change number six and became Johnny Mundo. He ditched a lot of the Jim Morrison stuff but kept a lot of the cocky heel humor and oozes arrogance. He is doing great things for Lucha Underground as he has excelled in every single spot they have put them. He has had great feuds with Prince Puma, Alberto Patron and Cage along with pissing off everybody along the way. He is arguably the leader of a new faction called Worldwide Underground. Mundo, Jack Evans and PJ Black are cocky heels who do not give a fuck about your rules. Blatant nut shots, blatant cheating, cowardly behavior and class clowning makes them the heels I love to hate. There are great things in John Hennigan’s future.


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