By Haydn Gleed, Prowrestling.net Staffer (@haydngleed)
Hello from a sunny and warm Wales where it hasn’t rained for four weeks, but we’re not worried about a drought. The country to the East of us are crying over football changing their travel plans, so not only will the tears of the English flow over the border but the Welsh, Scottish, and Irish are peeing ourselves while laughing. With that piece of banter that I had to get out of my system, which I’m sure will cost me some twitter followers, lets take a look at the world of wrestling this week.
-I’m going to start this week with New Japan and more specifically the G1 Special from the Cow Palace in San Francisco. Because of the time I have to invest in other pro wrestling, I don’t get much opportunity to watch New Japan, but I always try to catch the North American offerings. The latest certainly delivered a great show. From start to finish, I enjoyed mostly everything although the show ran too long. I’ve heard grumblings about the post main event angle, but I thought it was a genius move. While these criticisms have a lot of validity, and it’s probably how I would react to a Progress or ICW angle that I thought had talent in slots that I was concerned that they could not deliver in, I thought it was a clever way of getting the more casual viewer into wanting to see more of the product once the company left the American shores. I think people who know what they are talking about when it comes to talent in companies they watch on a regular basis lose sight that this isn’t how the casual viewers react.
By having this angle play out after such a good main event, if I was still a casual viewer of wrestling who was only watching New Japan for the first time, I would see the next chapter and would be more likely to go out of my way to check out the next big show, etc. I agree Tanga Loa, Tama Tonga and Haku wouldn’t be my first choice as main rivals on top of the card, but for the average viewer who knows nothing about them the angle was so well done that I would want to find out what happens next.
-The biggest disappointment was obviously the after effects of the Hiromu Takahashi vs. Dragon Lee match. If you are at all squeamish, I wouldn’t go out of your way to find the clip of Takahashi doing damage to his neck. It wasn’t pleasant viewing. Whether or not the bar has been set too high in 2018 in terms of the risks that wrestlers feel they need to take is a subject for a blog of it’s own, but if Takahashi has indeed broken his neck then it does open up the debate as to whether or not wrestlers need to slow down and rely on more traditional ways to tell stories in the ring. Nevertheless, I certainly wish Takahashi well in his recovery and I hope he is able to make a comeback when he’s fit and healthy.
-Watching the G1 special it did remind me of my wrestling arena bucket list. There are venues steeped in pro wrestling history that I want to visit before I die. In no particular order, the five arenas on my bucket list are the Hammerstein Ballroom, Madison Square Garden, the Cow Palace, Staples Center, and the ECW Arena (now the 2300 Arena). I genuinely would love to hear from you gals and guys about whether you’ve been to these venues and if they were as impressive as you thought they would be. For that matter, if you have a wrestling arena bucket list then I would love to see it. My contact details are below.
-There are two matches that you have to go out of your way to see this week. The Undisputed Era vs. Moustache Mountain for the NXT Tag Team Championship is first up. It’s not the most athletic match you will ever see, but the pure drama and the way they built the story of the match was just tremendous. The story of the young Tyler Bate watching his mentor Trent Seven get crushed and the genuine emotional agony of him having to save his best friend and father figure from himself was so well played by everybody involved from the wrestlers to the referee to the announcers. The story was clear and the emotion that the crowd and the viewers at home felt was real. One small nitpick would be the trainer who was tapping Seven’s knee lightly as if he had some form of angel healing powers made me laugh at the wrong moment, but that’s about as much of a criticism as I can make. I’ve said it a million times, but Bate is going to be a huge star if he can get his promo skills anywhere near his unquestionable in-ring ability. The crowd was reasonably quiet for half of the match, but when he got the hot tag and came in and hit the fireman’s carry and swing at the same time the crowd came unglued. A wonderful match. I would love for this to be a catalyst for a feud between the Moustache Mountain pair on the new NXT UK television show.
-My second recommendation is Bully Ray against Cheeseburger in a no DQ, no count-out match from ROH television. For those who have not been following ROH or have no idea who I mean by Cheeseburger, essentially he’s a gentleman of about a 135 pounds soaking wet who put Bully Ray on the spot to come out of retirement to team with him in a match. Bully didn’t take kindly too. What has followed is Bully Ray essentially raging war on the “entitled” wrestlers who he feels don’t belong in the business and has focused primarily on Cheeseburger, which culminated in the match that aired on this week’s television show.
In what was essentially a pretty tame hardcore match from an action point of view, this was another emotional charged match where Bully visited his self from twenty years ago in ECW by riling up the crowd, antagonizing the ring announcer, and former ROH owner Cary Silkin while generally beating the holy hell out of Cheeseburger. The way that the story of the match played out and the huge reaction the contest got when Cheeseburger finally got his hands on a kendo stick to unleash his own anger on the bully was pro wrestling at his finest. Bully had been the perfect heel getting the crowd so desperate to see him get his that when it happened briefly the place went crazy. Later, after Bully started attacking the referee, Colt Cabana made the save the crowd again equally went crazy. This is presumably leading to a Colt vs. Bully feud which is okay with me.
-Both of those recommended matches were reasonably safe. Any high risk or dangerous spots were restricted to being part of the story and the emotion that the crowd felt and the enjoyment that was provided are what keeps me watching wrestling and doing what I do here on Dot Net, so it’s been a good week. Just know if you watch ROH TV, I recommend turning it off after the Bully vs. Cheesburger match or you’ll have to subject yourself to a segment involving Caprice Coleman and The Kingdom that ironically is a reason I would stop watching wrestling if I had to watch that type of tripe all the time.
-World of Sport Wrestling on ITV here in the UK finally has a start date on July 28. I am looking forward to it. The official WOS twitter account is promoting the roster day by day so check them out if you want to know who’s going to be involved. On the male side, it is a bit of a misfit cast of the UK indie scene line up, but it should make for a lot of fun. I am more excited about the female side of the roster, which is going to be headed up by Viper and Kay Lee Ray, who are both phenomenal wrestlers that you may remember from the Mae Young Classic. Their matches and feuds should be the highlight week in week out, which is exciting.
-It’s not coming home, folks, it’s not coming home. In fact, I think football is an estranged child who likes it’s birth place less than the rest of the world does, which is saying something……Ok I might lose a few more twitter followers following that comment but their tears will water my lawn nicely. I’ll get out of here now before I become the most hated British wrestling analyst on the Internet. Have a good week, everybody!
If you want to discuss anything in this blog or talk to me about your wrestling arena bucket lists, then by all means get in touch via twitter @haydngleed or via email email@example.com or even leave a comment below the blog.