THIS WEEK: Shania Twain cuts a Promo with Kevin Owens (Seriously), Enzo Speaks Out, Cody's Triple Crown Crusade Begins This Weekend, A Canadian legend returns to the Ring this weekend, and Rey Mysterio's WWE Debut revisited...
1. Enzo Speaks Out
It was a very interesting episode of the Steve Austin Show this week. real1, aka Enzo Amore, aka Eric Arndt, gave his side of the story of his departure from WWE. According to him, he was blindsided by his firing, and it changed the scripting of RAW 25 – where he was to be heavily featured in an angle that involved the legends poker game.
Ardnt went on to call out the Phoenix police department, saying the only reason he was investigated was because of the tweet his accuser made. He claimed that he and his lawyers were constantly questioning the police about the investigation, and were awaiting to see if charges were going to be pressed. He said that he paid to prove his innocence, which while his accuser didn't change her story, police admitted to not having evidence to consider pressing charges, and closed the file.
As for wrestling, Arndt said that he is dealing with injuries, and also said that he has no immediate desire to return to WWE. While it would seem that would be the case for both sides, it’s all an unfortunate series of events for what used to be the most anticipated main roster debut for stars from NXT. While fans seemed to turn on the two after a while, accompanied by a series of changes which seemed intended to make both Big Cass and Enzo singles stars, things just didn’t seem to pan out for the “Realest Guys In The Room”.
A couple weeks ago in this column, I expressed concern for Arndt, the person. After hearing him on Austin’s podcast, my opinion has actually changed. While I didn’t fully understand or appreciate his music video, nor did I quite get his “rally” in Times Square, I do have a better understanding of a man wanting to clear his name, especially in the face of heinous allegations.
Whether right or wrong, Arndt’s confidence in what he’s doing now and in the future is actually quite admirable. For that, I wish him well.
2. CODY'S CRUSADE STARTS FRIDAY: ROH BEST IN THE WORLD THIS WEEKEND
If you haven't been following along, let me get you up to speed.
- Billy Corgan, NWA Owner, appears at ALL IN Press Conference in Chicago
- Corgan declares NWA Championship will be defended at ALL IN
- Current Champion, Nick Aldis, "agrees" to the match, on the condition that if Cody wins the Ring of Honor World Title at Best in the World this Friday, that title is ALSO on the line.
- Since then, it has also been announced that Cody will face Kenny Omega for Omega's IWGP (New Japan) Heavyweight Championship July 7 at the G1 Special at the Cow Palace in San Francisco
In other words, Cody is now vying for 3 of the biggest championships outside of WWE... within just a few months of each other.
One could almost argue that these three brands are forming their own "Super-Indy", although the "indy" term would only apply to New Japan's efforts into coming into the US Market, as they are incredibly established already.
That said, all three companies are becoming the "cool alternative", all by working together. It will be interesting to see if Cody obtains all three championships - and if so, what it will mean for the future of all three organizations.
CANADIAN LEGEND RETURNING TO THE RING
This Friday, I’ll be ring announcing for High Impact Wrestling at the Hungarian Club in Regina, Saskatchewan, for a TV taping. Tickets are available at the door, or details are at hiwcanada.com. However, next month, HIW announced that a mainstay in Canadian Professional Wrestling, “The First Nations Sensation”, Wavell Starr, will be making his return to the scene.
In the 90’s and early 2000’s, Starr was among a crew of Canadian wrestlers who were all prospects of WWE and WCW. While Wavell had a few runs with WWE as a non-signed recurring performer, he did have a developmental deal which saw him perform as "Standing Thunder", as well as himself from time to time on shows like Sunday Night Heat. After his WWE departure, Starr maintained his presence wrestling in Canada and around the world.
While Starr has teased retirement a few times, he has never officially hung up his boots. The question remains what his intentions are now, whether he will make a full time run at wrestling again, or if these are to be special appearances.
4. Kevin Owens v. Shania Twain
When I first started working in country radio, I was told that I wouldn’t be able to make my love of pro wrestling relatable to the audience, so I needed to keep it on the D-L. Well, I think that philosophy can officially be tossed out the window after Global icon Shania Twain recently shared HER stage with WWE’s Kevin Owens.
It was at a show in Montreal, where she “picked” KO out of the crowd, and brought him up on stage to chat. He requested her song, “When”, and she said she would only do it if he could beat Braun Strowman at the upcoming Extreme Rules Pay Per View. The chat is actually pretty fun to watch, as Owens is his typical self – telling fans “don’t touch her!” as they walk through the crowd together, and even tells Shania that he has more Twitter followers than she does.
5. Classic Match of the Week: Rey Mysterio's WWE Debut v. Chavo Guerrero
With all signs pointing to some sort of return to WWE by Rey Mysterio, the latest being his inclusion as a bonus pre-order character for the WWE 2K19 Video Game, it seemed fitting to look at the match that brought him to WWE in the beginning.
Minus the “Jr’s” in their names, there was no better way to finally bring Rey into WWE than with a match against Chavo.
I’ve always felt that Chavo was underrated as a performer. In this match, both men delivered a fantastic introduction of Rey, and set him apart from the rest of the roster, while not deviating from a style that would see Rey continue his career as a wrestler who could convincingly face any opponent.
While Mysterio is currently confirmed for the ALL IN show on September 1, don’t be surprised to see him make a comeback in a WWE ring, and possibly an induction into next year’s WWE Hall of Fame class.
That’s all for this week, thanks for reading!
THIS WEEK: NXT Helping or Hurting WWE, MITB Fallout, and the Return of Podcast/Classic Match of the Week!
1. OPINION: Is NXT Helping or Hurting WWE?
NXT Takeover Chicago II was the talking point of a LOT of fans this past weekend. The entire card featured matches that likely exceeded expectations. If you haven’t had the chance to see it, it’s definitely worth a watch, but the question I can’t help but ask is, “where do they go from here?”
I want to preface that I am LOVING what everything these girls and guys do, but Velveteen Dream and Ricochet epitomized this thought. Great false finishes, stealing each others’ moves, and no wasted motion… but after watching this match, I couldn’t help but see these guys falling into some sort of “mutual respect” storyline after that match. Maybe next time they just throw each other off of some buildings… for a two count.
Follow that with the Gargano/Ciampa Chicago Street Fight… where there is still, unbelievably, room for this rivalry to grow. Again, if you haven’t watched the show, this was a match that took the main event spot – following the NXT Championship Match, and deserved to. These two may have introduced the first match to justify NXT’s journey into the Hell in a Cell, or at least a Steel Cage match. There has to be a line, right?
NXT is undoubtedly the “mature fan’s” WWE Product. Quick, meaningful shows, with rivalries that remain uncomplicated but captivating. Time and time again, critics will say that the “NXT show out-did the main brand shows”. Unpopular as this will be, I disagree. While it’s true that a lot of the NXT shows draw just as big of crowds for events like Takeover, NXT satisfies the taste of NXT fans. WWE is a global brand, which has the unbelievably difficult job of trying to cater to everyone. NXT’s fan base is loyal, and passionate about hard-hitting, uncomplicated action. In short, it’s great at what it does.
Is NXT better than WWE’s two big brands? To NXT fans it is – NXT fans who subscribe to the WWE Network to watch it, which in the end, makes it good for WWE. With the announcement of NXT UK, they essentially split the brand, and take advantage of a passionate audience on the other side of the world, who haven’t had their own brand… until now.
2. Mike’s MITB Picks: 8/10! MY BEST RESULTS EVER!
I’ve never been this close with picks in my life. Either I’m extremely lucky, or perhaps the writing was on the wall in some cases. Either way, the only two matches I didn’t predict were the Men’s MITB Match and Sami Zayn v. Bobby Lashley.
As for surprises, while I didn’t see her cashing in that night, Alexa Bliss’ win of the MITB Briefcase and the WWE Raw Women’s Championship make a lot of sense. Considering it gave Ronda the reason to really bust out of her shell the next night on Raw, the women’s division on the red brand is one of the most interesting things to watch on weekly TV.
Plus, I know I'm not the only one who was stoked to see James Ellsworth back... right? RIGHT?!?!
Post your likes/dislikes from MITB in the comments below!
3. PODCAST OF THE WEEK: Everything Is Wrestling with Yukon
I owe my good pal Yukon an apology, as it has taken me much longer than it should have to check out his podcast, “Everything is Wrestling”. That said, I think the only episode of rINgSIDE Radio he ever listened to was the one he was on ? - and he got a T-shirt out of the deal!
Yukon is the broadcaster I grew up wanting to be – even though he is only a couple years ahead of me in the industry. His success is a credit to bosses who believed in him, and his own natural talent to steal the show and make audio captivating.
Listening to his podcast, it’s great to hear Yukon talking to wrestlers, promoters, and fans, in a way that while not condescending, reminds us not to take this stuff so seriously. Wrestling is supposed to be fun, an escape, and a chance to live vicariously through the characters we watch in the squared circle.
“I was thinkin… about wrestling…” is a hilarious feature – the only ones I’ve heard are about 5 seconds long each, but they’re great interludes between some fantastic, positive content. Hit that subscribe button!
4. Classic Match of the Week: Johnny Saint v. Mick McManus - World of Sport
Let's just get the elephant out of the room right now. If you have never watched any World of Sport wrestling, this is going to seem completely chaotic to you. Wrestling matches in rounds, 2 falls to a finish, and moves that kinda look like wrestling, but also look like something completely different.
World of Sport was professional wrestling in the UK when there was no other kind like it in the world. With the appointing of World of Sport legend Johnny Saint as the GM for NXT UK, as well as a revived interest in professional wrestling "across the pond", I thought it might be fun to look back on two of the greatest in UK History.
McManus was the classic heel - burly and mean, cowardly yet confident. In this showing, the newly crowned light-heavyweight champion Saint, would face off against the established veteran.
World of Sport had a rich, beloved tradition. William Regal often spoke fondly of watching it for years, labelling these two, as well as the cartoonish Catweazle (seriously, look for McManus v. Catweazle for a laugh) as early influences.
This match doesn't go the full scheduled 8 rounds, but it is a great trip back in time for any wrestling fan.
That's it for this week! As always, thanks for reading, and feedback is always welcome!
This week: Thoughts on CM Punk and Colt Cabana's Trial Verdicts, Jericho's Intercontinental Championship Win, PWA Night of Champions Coming Soon, and Mike's Totally Useless WWE Money in the Bank Match Predictions
1. Colt Cabana and CM Punk
Coming up for a catchy headline for this segment was difficult, as in many ways, CM Punk faced two major fights within days of each other. The first, the culmination of a legal battle which has drawn on for four years. As the jury would find, Punk and his friend Colt Cabana were found innocent of all accusations brought against them in a libel and defamation lawsuit.
The claims against Punk and Cabana were found to be groundless, and while it undoubtedly cost them a lot of money, they fought for what they knew was right - which makes me proud to be a fan of both of them.
Colt Cabana, whose “Art of Wrestling” Podcast has shifted to a weekly audio blog of his life, followed him through his side of the trial – keeping account of his thoughts, feelings, and fears during the process. On the line was millions of dollars, and in some ways, his own perception of self-worth. From listening to the episode, I don’t think Colt equates his life to the podcast, but rather the podcast is about his life. To have that be on trial, and essentially be told whether or not he could even have a platform to discuss things among friends must have felt devastating. I commend Colt for having the courage to defend himself, and for the willingness to share his experience.
Fast forward to the following weekend, and it was the much anticipated second attempt by Punk to get his first victory in the UFC Octagon. Set in his home town of Chicago, Punk went in as the local hero. His opponent, Mike Jackson, knew he was going in the antagonist. While Punk far outshone his debut against Mickey Gall, Jackson easily took the fight, while the commentators praised Punk for having the heart and passion to try.
CM Punk will remain one of the greatest pro wrestlers in history. While MMA fans are quick to balk at that statement, the level of skill and athleticism to make a wrestling match engaging, believable, and dramatic isn’t as easy as it seems. While someone will stomp on the ground while making a punching motion saying “See? I can do that?”, they obviously haven’t watched pro wrestling in years. Their loss.
2. NJPW = New Japan Praises Winnipeggers
It was a stunning week in New Japan Pro Wrestling, as Kenny Omega and Chris Jericho both became champions at "Dominion". While Omega's win adds more fuel to the fire of the brewing rivalry between he and Cody within the Bullet Club, Jericho's win is a bit of a surprise.
While Jericho's victory over Naito is a big deal, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that Jericho will NOT be making any appearances at any of the New Japan shows in the United States.
Jericho has said in an interview wrestlinginc.com that he isn’t trying to strike a blow at WWE, nor does he want to do anything to sour that relationship. He also said that doing indy shows would devalue him, and unless there were offers in the six-figure range, they wouldn't be worth it.
Jericho has a point on both counts. Even though it’s viewed globally, New Japan is still something a North American fan seeks out more than it is discovered. If anything, this move helps New Japan more, as they continue to see increases in their subscription service, New Japan World. That said, will enough eyes be drawn to New Japan to make their likely expensive investment pay off in the long run?
3. Steamboat, Lethal, More in Edmonton for PWA Night of Champions
Alberta's Prairie Wrestling Alliance is bringing in a legend and future legends for their annual "Night of Champions" special event. June 23 in Edmonton, with Jay Lethal, Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat and "The Fallen Angel" Christopher Daniels appearing.
Lethal will be challenging PWA Championship co-holder Michael Richard Blais for the PWA Championship, where Daniels will face PWA's resident heel, Sheik Shabaz.
What may be most worth the drive, on top of a stacked card which features some of the best independent talent in Western Canada, is a scheduled appearance by WWE Hall of Famer, Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat. Steamboat will be serving as referee between BVD and "Sky Flyer" Jeff Tyler.
Also slated, Brice "Slammer" Sova defends his Mayhem Championship against Titan, Shaun Moore defends the PWA Commonwealth Championship against Mo Jabrai, Team Hall of Fame (Dirty Duke Durrango and Chris Steele), will defend the PWA Canadian Tag Team Titles against Flex Appeal and the Above Average Joes, and Kat Von Heez takes on Miss Danyah.
4. Mike's Completely Wrong WWE Money in the Bank 2018 Predictions
I make no claims to be anything more than a fan, which should justify how incorrect these predictions are about to be.
Women’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match
Ember Moon v. Alexa Bliss v. Natalya v. Sasha Banks v. Charlotte Flair v. Becky Lynch v. Lana v. Naomi
Mike’s Pick: Alexa Bliss
Alexa has been radio silent since losing the Raw Women’s Championship to Nia Jax, which seems so unusual considering what a great antagonist she is. Even though her win-loss record as of late is less than stellar, it makes her the perfect sleeper candidate to take the briefcase. If you thought Carmella with the MITB case was irritating, just wait til it gets a touch of Bliss.
Men’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match
Braun Strowman v. Bobby Roode v. Finn Balor v. Kevin Owens v. The Miz v. Rusev v. Samoa Joe v. a member of the New Day
Mike’s Pick: Big E
Assuming a Raw superstar takes the Women’s briefcase, it would make sense to have the Men’s case go to the blue brand. I really wanted to pick Samoa Joe for this, as I think the only thing that could make Joe more menacing would be the looming threat of him cashing in for the championship match. Still, Big E has had a couple of moments this year where he has taken the spotlight within the trio. It is possible that the rumored New Day split occurs, but what about having the unit staying together, just long enough to help Big E win the championship – and THEN have him turn on them?
WWE Championship – Last Man Standing Match
AJ Styles (C) v. Shinsuke Nakamura
Mike’s Pick: AJ Styles
I WANT Shinsuke to be WWE Champion, but I don’t think this feud needs to end just yet. While Brock Lesnar is once again MIA with the Universal Championship, the rivalry between these two needs to keep going. At first, it was the battle of the low-blows, but with the exception of outside interference helping Nakamura score the victory, I believe Extreme Rules would be the place to have an even more intense rematch.
WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship
Carmella (C) v. Asuka
Mike’s Pick: Carmella
Wouldn’t it be something if Asuka came in undefeated, had her losses, and NEVER became a WWE Women’s Champion outside of her record-breaking NXT run? I don’t think that will actually happen, but somehow I see ‘Mella being Money a little while longer.
Roman Reigns v. Jinder Mahal
Mike’s Pick: Roman Reigns
I want Jinder to win. Jinder deserves to win. For how much flack he took during his WWE Championship run, a victory over Roman Reigns could make Jinder Mahal a credible threat to any champion – including Brock Lesnar. You might think I’m crazy, but let’s be honest: How many people were excited when Jinder won the championship out of nowhere? As fans, we are always hungry for something new to surprise us. That said, Roman Reigns is just as capable. He IS likeable. Roman Reigns is a main event player who is in a slump right now – and the only thing that can change that is by seeing a new Roman Regins – one who is ruthless in taking down all challengers – starting with a former WWE Champion.
Bobby Lashley v. Sami Zayn
Mike’s Pick: Sami Zayn
Sami Zayn is the set up to Kevin Owens and Lashley feuding. So far, KO has been leaving Sami on his own to deal with Lashley, which makes it plausible that Owens costs Lashley the match. Perhaps this builds to a 2 on 1 Match where Lashley faces the Sami and Kevin show, which would only establish him as a top power contender, joining the likes of Strowman and Reigns.
WWE Intercontinental Championship
Seth Rollins (C) v. Elias
Mike’s Pick: Seth Rollins
How this doesn’t end with a disqualification seems impossible to me. These two have been making the Intercontinental Championship matter, with Rollins openly declaring that he is a better champion than Brock Lesnar, because at least he shows up. Elias has taken cheap shot after cheap shot, and has the look and intensity to continue to be a strong rival for Rollins.
WWE Smackdown Tag Team Championships
Bludgeon Brothers (C) v. Good Brothers
Mike’s Pick: Bludgeon Brothers
This match has all the potential in the world to be a train wreck – in the best possible way. Gallows will provide the power v. power, and Karl Anderson’s speed will add a dynamic that should keep fans interested. As for who wins? I have to give it to the Bludgeons – in what could be the start of a series of matches.
Daniel Bryan v. Big Cass
Mike’s Pick: Daniel Bryan
Cass needs this win – but if he can’t win, he can make a statement by losing to a DQ. This could be another Extreme Rules setup, or it could separate the two onto new opponents. Either way, I’m not expecting this match to last long, with either a clear decisive victory or a quick end by way of Cass and some shenanigans.
WWE Raw Women’s Championship
Nia Jax (C) v. “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey
Mike’s Pick: Ronda Rousey
All eyes are going to be on this match. Billed as the main event, it’s these two women whose faces are on all the latest promotional material. There are those who say it’s too soon for Rousey to win the championship, but who better to stand on top of the division? Love her or hate her, Ronda Rousey holding that championship will get mainstream eyes, and even MMA fans tuning in to see why she’s “so good”. After her Wrestlemania performance, she proved she was taking this seriously – so why not have her take the top spot? Think of what it will do for the woman who manages to beat her for the championship!
What are your picks? Post them here and THANK YOU for reading!
I've missed telling stories, creating content, and frankly... having an outlet. While they won't be this long that often, I thought I'd bring back what brought me to the web - the webisodes!
Some weeks will be journals like this... others may be interviews... or who knows what. Frankly, I'm living a pretty fun life not knowing what's around the corner, and enjoying it! Hope you do as well :)
This Week: THIS is Why Women in Wrestling are Worth Watching...
Thunder Rosa to Ring of Honor, Von Heez a Champion Outside The Ring, Women's Wrestling in WWE BEFORE Attitude and Divas, and Ladies Lead the MITB Main Event
1. No Doubt About It: Ronda Rousey and Nia Jax are Main Event Material
Last month, the talk focused on women not being allowed to compete at WWE's Greatest Royal Rumble event in Saudi Arabia. That remains a valid concern moving forward, and for now we can only hope that the women of WWE get the chance to do what they do best at future events sooner than later. Looking ahead, whether it's a "make good" or not, the level of star power headlining the Money in the Bank Pay Per View in a week and a half is undeniable.
The Men's and Women's briefcase ladder matches will be noteworthy, as they are often the launching pad for the respective winners, but the real match arguably anyone watching this show will be curious about is the Raw Women's title match.
Ronda Rousey and Nia Jax are THE main storyline on Monday Night Raw right now - on a show that is starting to develop a nice collection of stories. The rivalries for the briefcases are heating up, making the viewer believe that the guaranteed title opportunities inside each case are the main focus for anyone who isn't Elias - who is also becoming more intense in his pursuit of Seth Rollins' Intercontinental Championship.
On the Smackdown Live Side, the Last Man Standing stipulation between AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura adds mystery to WWE's most established championship, and the mystery of which New Day member will be in the Men's MITB match adds another dimension to the match.
Still, the real spotlight continues to shine on the women, because frankly, that's where the biggest stars are right now. Next week, I'll make my first PPV Picks for #WrestlingOnAWednesday. I'm traditionally horrible at this, so feel free to start putting your lists together as well!
2. Thunder Rosa to Ring of Honor
A couple of years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Thunder Rosa. Then under contract to Lucha Underground, she came to the region a virtual unknown. I was ring announcing, as well as handling production, which meant coordinating lights and music.
Upon meeting her, she was embarrassed to tell me she had forgotten to bring a copy of her entrance song - something she told me she insisted the students she trains ALWAYS remember (HINT HINT WRESTLERS).
I managed to find the song she wanted, and I was glad I did. Any wrestler worth their salt should be able to come out to any music and make it work... to a degree. As she was new working with us, and as she was making a name for herself elsewhere, I wanted to do my best to accommodate. A performer DESERVES to feel comfortable with every part of their appearance. That's entertainment, friends.
The match was Thunder Rosa vs. Gisele Shaw, another rising name on the Canadian independent scene. While both women delivered with a strong, physically intense match with a few potatoes being tossed among other solid move, Rosa's entrance established a presence that I didn't expect.
Quiet and keeping to herself before the face paint and gear came on, the woman who sauntered to the ring, in perfect sync to her music, set a mood which set up the match as something to watch.
Clearly, others were taking notice. Rosa has competed around the world, both as part of a tag team and now, once again as a singles wrestler. Her work has now created an opportunity for her in Ring of Honor, as she'll be making her debut against Tennille Dashwood June 15 and 16 in Texas.
I'm not the first to say it, but keep your eye on Thunder Rosa. She's something special.
3. Kat Von Heez Wins Strength Competition
Continuing with women in wrestling doing amazing things, Edmonton's Kat Von Heez took home some hardware in her first Strength competition.
I had the chance to chat with Kat about her win. While she's no stranger to the gym, working out an average of six times a week, she said there was a different type of weekly training that prepared her for the competition.
As for how it has affected her wrestling, Von Heez says, "I did find that this style of training gave me more strength, in positions and moves that require awkward lifting or catches. It improved my functionality and sense body control. It will allow me over time to be a much better base, as well as increase my strength for moves that I found difficult to do on any of my opponents."
Keeping her momentum going, Kat is also planning on competing again on June 16 in Ashmont, AB. "It is a fundraising event for Ashley Albert-Hunter, who a beautiful woman and mother that was a lifting partner of mine along with her husband. She recently found Cancer in her body and fought that battle."
After recently reclaiming the HIW Wildside Provincial Championship at Battle Arts V in Saskatoon, Von Heez makes her way back to PWA in Edmonton for Night of Champions on June 23. Jay Lethal will be appearing, taking on Michael Richard Blais for the PWA Championship. For information on that show, head to www.pwawrestling.ca. She's also scheduled to be a part of the Pile O'Bones Rumble, August 31 in Regina, featuring Mick Foley and Chelsea Green. www.hiwcanada.com has your info there.
4. Classic Match of the Week: Bull Nakano v. Alundra Blayze - SummerSlam 1994
While the current "Women's Evolution" in WWE touts that the matches are more hard hitting and serious than many of the "Divas" era, it's important to remember that hard-hitting women's wrestling hasn't been a complete stranger to the big stages of professional wrestling.
Impact's Knockout Division, with Gail Kim as a cornerstone, set a trend of modern day North American Women's Wrestling being given an equal platform, but WWE had a pair of wresters whose chemistry and physicality went largely under-appreciated by audiences of the time.
Bull Nakano, with Luna Vachon as a spokesperson, was brought in as the evil foreign foil against Madusa, here known as Alundra Blayze. Going back and watching this match, the level to which these women performed would have today's fans applauding. After watching this match, I can't suggest enough that you find some of Nakano's matches in All Japan and elsewhere. Amazing stuff.
That's it for this week's edition! Thanks as always for reading, and would love your comments and suggestions below!