Hello Friends, Welcome back. Or, to any new readers, welcome to the happy column. Wrestleworld UK’s resident hippie is back again to sieve out the negative and bring to you all the things I liked about WWE this week.
Lets get right to it, because this week there was huge news. You all know what it is:
Welcome Home, Kurt Angle
Boys and girls, it’s true, IT’S DAMN TRUE! Kurt Angle is back!
Obviously I watched him in TNA, I saw YouTube videos of some of his indie matches, I am a huge fan. Ask me my top 5 wrestlers of all time on any given day, and the order may change, but the same 5 names always appear. Austin, Punk, Flair, Lesnar and, of course, Kurt Angle. When I was coming to the end of my teens my taste in wrestling was changing, yet my addiction grew stronger. Angle, single handedly, morphed me, from a kid who liked the stories and the characters and wasn’t too bothered about the matches themselves, into a guy who learned the names of every single move, who obsessed about the stories being told DURING the match. Kurt Angle made me a wrestling fan.
I should sit talk about his best matches. How? Every single one of them was a work of art. They were all his best matches. Aside from the 2 obvious ones against Brock Lesnar and Shane McMahon, the 2 that really stick out to me happened in 2000, and, weirdly, Angle lost them both. Firstly, at the Royal Rumble. An undefeated Angle issued an open challenge which was met by Taz. I’d never seen Taz before, he had been teased for a few weeks, and Angle was interesting me. By the end of that match I was obsessed with both guys. I’d seen matches before that were technical, but this one was the first one that gripped me, I cared about every single hold, every single suplex, there were an awful lot of suplexes. I wanted both guys to win. It felt so real. It still does!
The second came at Wrestlemania 2000. In the 2 months since the Rumble, I had become hooked on Angle. I remember one lad in school had video taped Mania and we all borrowed the tape for one night each. We loved it, we watched it so many times. I remember being annoyed that all my friends couldn’t stop talking about the tag team ladder match between The Hardyz, The Dudleys and Edge and Christian (which was a very good match to be fair). All I wanted to talk about, though, was Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit and Kurt Angle in a 2 falls match for both the Intercontinental and European championships, which Angle, still technically undefeated, held. It was stunning! The dream match that I didn’t know I wanted. A Showcase of pure talent. Move after move, spot after spot, in a match that never let up. 3 guys at the top of their game, stealing the show on a packed ‘Mania card. Kurt eventually lost both belts without conceding a pin or submission. He lost 2 belts without losing! I hated it. It was all I thought about for months. It was what I tuned in every week to see. It was genius!
Angle went on to do many great things, have a bunch of fantastic matches, and make Smackdown the show to watch. I remember his feud with Shawn Michaels after they eliminated each other from the 2005 Royal Rumble, and they had an interpromotional match at Wrestlemania 21, which I held with me for many years as my favourite match of all time. 2 huge babyfaces. A divided fanbase. Obviously, I was team Angle, and HE WON!! He nailed the comedy segments, during the invasion. He then got stacked and became the wrestling machine and was genuinely scary, swapping his technical style for a more powerful game. Any task that the WWE had for him, he smashed out of the park. A phenomenal talker. A brilliant story teller. The greatest wrestler of all time. I truly believe that!
I watched the superb video packages on Raw and Smackdown. They brought home the significance of the man and the company. Then his music hit, and the entire arena chanted “You Suck! You Suck! You Suck!” I got goosebumps.
I don’t know what this means. Right now I don’t care. Kurt Angle is home. Kurt Angle is back in the WWE. He may have one last match, he may not. He may get a TV role, he may get a training role at the performance center, who knows? All that matters is: Kurt Angle is back in the WWE. There will be new T-Shirts, he will be in WWE video games, commentators will talk about him. He will finally be recognized by the biggest wrestling organisation on Earth as what he is: A hero!
Tag, you’re it!
We got a fairly good episode of Raw. There was plenty to like, and some stuff I didn’t like. The tag team championship match certainly fell into the former. Sheamus, Cesaro, Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows. I knew I’d like this match, these guys never fail to entertain. I loved Sheamus going full psycho mode. When he first debuted, and he was put straight into a feud with a babyface Triple H, and the dude was scary! I really thought he was ready to take over from Kane as the company’s new monster heel. Despite a good, convincing Rumble win, Sheamus never really lived up to that initial potential. This tag team scenario he is in with Cesaro is giving him a different push, and that I am on board with. I like Sheamus as a worker.
I have always buzzed around Tag Team wrestling, from the days of Legion of Doom, The Rockers and The Steiners, up until The Hardyz and The New Age Outlaws. It’s much faster paced than singles action, and when done correctly, double team moves can look so cool. It lost some steam after the attitude era. But then, between 2015 and 2016, NXT went crazy with tag teams, we got American Alpha, DIY, Blake and Murphy, The Dusty Rhodes tag team tournaments, and best of all, we got The Revival, all helping make tag team wrestling cool again. Raw and Smackdown haven’t really been able to keep the momentum going, but this week we got 3 tag matches on Raw, and 2 of them were fantastic.
This one, the best of the bunch, ended with a good storyline finish. Sheamus, in his fit of rage, throwing punches left, right, and right in the middle of the ref’s face, knocking him out. The Club took advantage of the distraction and hit their finisher, as another ref ran out to call the 3 count. The downed ref then got up and changed the decision, disqualifying Sheamus, meaning he and Cesaro kept the titles, and also the feud can continue. Which means we get more Anderson and Gallows. This will hopefully be the first step towards a huge push for The Club, because they rock.
Does anybody know why, historically, the championships don’t change hands if the champion loses by disqualification? It’s always seemed a bit daft. That’s another conversation for another day. Or just tweet me @mrfoxon and EXPLAIN THIS!
A bit of a theme occurred this week. How fitting that the WWE used the week that ‘The Queen Of Crazy’ Mickie James made her return, to send the entire women’s roster bat-poop crazy? We had another Alicia Fox meltdown. We had NXT’s Nikki Cross… well… being Nikki Cross. We had Natalya and Nikki fighting at the merch stand. Nattie called Bret Hart her “ex Uncle”, it was so awesome!! We had a cool little Facebook bit, where they showed an empty arena and Sasha Banks running the ropes to rehabilitate her knee, only to have Nia Jax (in full wrestling gear) beat the shit out of her. All of this stuff was fun.
We obviously got the cage match between Becky Lynch and Alexa Bliss. I’m torn between the tag match from Raw and this as to what should be my match of the week. This match was brilliant. Becky looked strong, delivering some evil looking corner bumps, and the girls really used the cage to it’s full potential. Becky’s springboard kick that she does looked great when done from the top rope against the cage. The ending was a bit odd. Obviously this match was used to introduce Mickie James, but why was it in a cage? The match stipulation was designed to keep interferers out. Also, having Mickie reveal herself, in a ring that was surrounded by a cage, took away a bit of the emphasis, as there was a cage around the ring! But, I’m here to talk about what I liked, and this match, I liked. Mickie James is back too.
NXT announced a fatal 4 way for the NXT Women’s championship. Asuka vs Billie Kay vs Peyton Royce vs Nikki Cross. I am loving Nikki Cross. She is brilliant to watch, I am terrified of her though! I can’t call that match.
Remember The Rumble
Speaking of matches I can’t call. The Royal Rumble is 2 weeks away. Both Raw and Smackdown did a great job promoting the event. Brock Lesnar cleaned house, looking like the monster he was before Goldberg. We had a little tease of Brock and Braun coming face to face. I wasn’t keen on Braun backing down, but I guess this protects him more than taking a suplex from Brock. It’s the best way to build up the Rumble, having a ring full of big guys fighting. My favourite part though, as Lesnar’s music hit, we saw the whole ring look towards the entrance, and as Brock stormed to the ring, we saw Jericho cross something off the list. This made me laugh out loud. Sometimes, it’s the little things…
Smackdown took a different approach, having Shane come out to promote the Rumble and announce the Elimination Chamber 2 weeks after the Rumble. AJ Styles, John Cena and The Miz all came out, and the segment was brilliant. John Cena playing AJ and Miz off each other, stirring the shit, while Shane sold each insult perfectly. As for The Miz. Honestly, is there anybody better on that microphone than him in the whole company? In the world? From the moment he held open the ropes for Maryse and said “there you go, dear”, to mimicking Style’s southern accent and saying “while you were in Japan, growing your hair out to be America’s Next Top Soccer Mom, I was beating John Cena at Wrestlemania”!!! The guy is pure gold. He was met with a chorus of Boos as he claimed he would main event Wrestlemania. I totally want to see that!
While I am on the subject of Smackdown Live’s talking segments. Did anybody else notice that Dolph Ziggler threatened to KILL JERRY LAWLER? That actually happened didn’t it? Or did I just dream it? I’m not saying I liked it. But it happened! (I liked it).
Also… why did they show a video package of Lita during a promo for the new XXX film?
Are we actually heading into an unpredictable Royal Rumble?
Kurt Angle is back, who knows what’s real anymore?
Finally, one last thing I loved from this week, is this picture, Created by Boom! Studios (www.boom-studios.com)
Same time next week, chico. Be good!