Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Predictions For 2012 - Part 1

Ok so now that the first PPV of the year is out of the way, storylines have begun to take form and we can now figure out a rough picture of how things will go in WWE for the whole year. Predictions on what storylines will happen, who will turn face and heel, what matches we can expect and who will get bumped to the future endeavours list. Let us begin.

1) Zack Ryder vs Kane at WrestleMania:
This is more of a wish than a prediction but judging from how Cena will be involved in a match with The Rock and how Eve has been involved in the storyline, Kane will likely switch from targeting Cena at around Elimination Chamber to Ryder and thus we have the Internet Champion's first WrestleMania match. It has the potential to be a very emotional match for everyone though I guess I wouldn't rule out some kind of handicap match with Eve in it as well. I feel that Ryder will be kept off TV until the Elimination Chamber where he will return and give Kane a huge beating. Given the proper investment by the creative team, this could be one of the hottest WrestleMania matches to expect.

2) Alex Riley Will Turn Heel And Get Buried:
File this one under things I pray don't happen but WWE have a tendency to think the heel turn is something magic that will fix everything. I think Alex Riley has a lot of potential and he proved last year he could work as well as a face and if he got pushed properly again then he could reach the peak he was at before his injury. Sadly what WWE are most likely to do is give him some half-assed heel turn a la Tyson Kidd where he's maybe in the spotlight for about a month before he gets buried and becomes a jobber and therefore only a face turn will be able to save him. I pray A-Ry is in a better position at the start of next year than he is right now.

3) AJ Will Get Her Own Back On Daniel Bryan:
If WWE chooses to develop this D-Bry/AJ storyline going all the way towards WrestleMania (and they really should) they could have Daniel Bryan constantly manipulating AJ and playing with her feelings before finally breaking it off with her a couple of weeks before WrestleMania. Because AJ has that same quality Kelly has where the second her eyes water you just want to rush and hug her, this will help generate fan sympathy for her and help Bryan get over as a despicable heel. I see AJ then being at ringside for the match at WrestleMania and, if she doesn't get involved, after the match she'll slap Daniel Bryan in the face and be given a couple more opportunities to one-up him in the following weeks.

4) The Miz Will Turn Face:
The Miz has been a heel for nearly his entire WWE career and it's obvious he's a natural at it but as the episodes of Raw and Smackdown pile up, I'm wondering exactly what Miz has left to offer WWE as a heel. He's been champion, he's done the cocky arrogant cowardly heel bit over and over again. He's massively over as a heel and his feud with R-Truth is floundering. I felt he was taking steps towards a face turn last year but of course that didn't happen. I see the turn happening about halfway through the year and I get the feeling it'll be slow and he'll be hugely over when it happens. I mean, who would have guessed Sheamus would be such a natural face? Personally I can't wait for it.

5) John Cena Will Be Heel For A Month:
Of course everyone has tossed around the Cena turning heel rumour more times than I can count and the fans are going to make him the heel for his match against The Rock one way or another so the way I see it happening is Kane eventually convincing Cena to embrace the hate soon so he will be heel going into WrestleMania. At the end of the match he will shake hands with The Rock and go back to being the all around good guy who gets booed out of the building.

6) Undertaker & Triple H Will Finally Retire:
I can't say I've missed either Undertaker or Triple H when they've been off TV for so long and I'm expecting that this third WrestleMania match they seem to be building to will be the final match for both of them. I don't think I want Triple H to end the streak but perhaps the streak won't end and Undertaker will just announce his retirement if he wins the match anyway. Needless to say neither of them can go like they used to and really should go out on a high note before they seriously cripple themselves.

7) The Divas of Doom Will Split:
Beth Phoenix vs Natalya is probably one of the few dream matches left in terms of the WWE Divas and we still haven't seen it. I was hoping for it to happen at WrestleMania but I would like to see them develop more as a tag team like LayCool did and not split them until SummerSlam. I see Natalya remaining the heel and Beth as the face mostly because Beth works much better in that role and even her current character is more of a tweener while Nattie is a full blown heel. I'm not sure how or where Kharma fits into this but perhaps they'll have Kharma as champion and feuding with someone else while Beth/Natalya is a secondary grudge feud. Either way I don't see the DoD lasting the year.

8) Ted DiBiase Will Get A Huge Push:
Right now I can see WWE laying the groundwork for a huge DiBiase push much like Zack Ryder got last year. He's busy marketing himself and promoting himself online with the whole "DiBiase Posse" thing and his stellar match with Cody Rhodes at Night of Champions proved he can cut it as a strong midcard contender. I don't know if they'll have him feud with Cody Rhodes again or he'll challenge whatever new heel ends up with the belt but I strongly feel they will push him to the moon by the end of the year.

9) Kelly Kelly Will Turn Heel:
I know she is the most popular Diva on the roster right now but I think with Kharma as a valuable asset to the company (as well as Layla and AJ who are also quite popular) Kelly might go bad this year. There's been talk of turning Eve heel but that's just a stupid idea that I hope doesn't even make it to Vince. Kelly on the other hand has potential to be a good bitchy heel. She's already a heel in the ring come to think of it so I don't think her wrestling will take that big a hit. I would actually love to see a little feud between her and Eve when the whole Kane/Ryder drama is over.

10) The Future Endeavours List Will Be...
Heath Slater - I'm surprised he isn't gone already
Jinder Mahal - Ditto
Evan Bourne - I don't want this to happen but two suspensions less than three months apart spell doom for my favourite guy
Mark Henry - I see him retiring this year
Tyler Reks - they never really invested any time in him and he's pretty interchangeable
Ezekiel Jackson - uninspiring in the ring and really bland
Tamina - I doubt she'll so much if she gets a push and I don't think even her family will be enough to save her.

Royal Rumble 2012 In Review

And we're finally at the first PPV of 2012 and it's the event that everyone looks forward to. Even my brother who has admitted he would pay a hypnotist to get rid of my wrestling obsession, says he wouldn't mind watching the Rumble every year. This year WWE did the build up for the big one really well because I had no idea exactly who would be coming out on top and the unpredictability always makes the match more fun. Even though I got spoiled on a few things before I could watch it, the match itself still threw me a couple of surprises.

1) Daniel Bryan* vs Mark Henry vs Big Show (World Heavyweight Championship; Steel Cage Match):
And yet another PPV opens with the WHC match and I don't like it though they didn't really have any other match that could have been a decent opener to the show. I wonder if they'd ever have a WWE title match open the show? Anyway this was surprisingly short and barely reached the 10 minute mark which was a little disappointing but I still enjoyed some of it. Mark Henry really didn't do much which I'm guessing is because of his injury but he was always going to be the spare part in this match. Big Show did well and I was loving that spear towards the end. Daniel Bryan was his usual self and I expected him to win by escaping the cage but as I already said, it happened a bit too soon for my liking. That tornado DDT was the spot of the match, especially when Big Show sold it perfectly and that's not always possible for him to do. Good enough but not great. 6/10

2) Divas of Doom & The Bella Twins vs Kelly Kelly, Eve Torres, Alicia Fox & Tamina:
File this one under matches I wasn't expecting. I thought Beth might compete in the Rumble match itself or we'd get another Natalya/Tamina match but this works too. This one wasn't too shabby for a match added at the last minute and that's the second PPV now where the Divas have been an eleventh hour addition and still delivered a good match. Obviously not as fun as the Beth/Kelly and Beth/Eve singles matches but the girls got a good amount of time to work and they all looked fine out there. Tamina managed to hold her own on her first PPV match since Fatal 4 Way. When Alicia got tagged in I thought it would be over then but they went on for a bit longer. Kelly's spot with the crossbody to the other divas was cool and it was a good idea to have the heels win. It's a good clean win that makes Beth look dominant as ever. 6.5/10

3) John Cena vs Kane:
This went pretty much the way I was expecting it to, WWE sticking to their tried and tested formula, and it worked. It was really just a brawl, which is Kane's forte at this stage in his career. He's able to make those type of matches entertaining like he did with the Undertaker at Night of Champions 2010 but of course it was slightly repetitive. Involving Zack Ryder was a good idea and I loved his part of the segment. I'm wondering if they're going to build to a Ryder/Kane match at WrestleMania? With the rumours of Triple H/Undertaker III and the obvious Cena/Rock that leaves Kane with nothing to do. This could be one of the hottest matches we've seen in a while and it would be a great rub for Ryder. It was good to involve Eve as well though WWE's PG constraints show again and make a trained jiu-jitsu blue belt cower in fear like a damsel in distress. 6/10

4) Drew McIntyre vs Brodus Clay:
Can't believe they booked a squash match on PPV but I guess since Brodus wasn't in the Rumble that's what they wanted to go for. And for McIntyre, any TV time is better than none at all. Anyway I got my fill of the Funkasaurus and the crowd were hot for him. An extra point for THE FUNK. 2/10

5) CM Punk* vs Dolph Ziggler (WWE Championship):
I was expecting this to be match of the night but it didn't have much in the way of competition. If I'm being honest, this match was a bit of a letdown. It didn't excite me in the way Punk's matches with Cena and Del Rio did or even Dolph's match with Edge at last year's Rumble, which was superior to this in every way. I did however like the idea of them both trying their finishers early on as well as their signature submission holds, and the action was all solid enough. One complaint though is that Punk controlled too much of the match. I mean after he broke out of the sleeper hold there was just a solid stream of offence from him and almost none from Dolph. As a challenger it makes him look a bit weak, even with the couple of spots that got thrown in. If you're a face champion you need to look vulnerable in places so that your victory means something. Punk's match with Del Rio had that, as did Dolph's match with Edge. The pin after the GTS was also a really bad looking moment as the ref very obviously looked at Punk making the pin and quickly looked away. It was a good enough match but didn't live up to standards or expectations. 6.5/10

6) Royal Rumble Match:
This year's rumble was very entertaining, as it always is. I remember hearing someone call it that Alex Riley would be the number 2 entrant so there you go. It was good to see Mick Foley back in action but the part with Ricardo Rodriguez in the ring did look a bit awkward and was probably the worst moment of the match. However the Cobra/Socko face off was something I never would have thought of and such a great idea. A part of me realised where they were going with the commentators when Booker T got entered and others don't seem crazy about it but it was a nice touch which I liked. I never really liked the idea of people who had competed in other matches in the being allowed to enter the Rumble so as far as I'm concerned Big Show and Ziggler were wasted spots. It was fitting to have Hacksaw Jim Duggan show up since he was the first winner and I suspected Road Dogg would make an appearance though I was praying Billy Gunn would show up as well. Hope dashed. Oh well, there's always next year. Kharma's appearance was a real treat because I had no idea she had her baby over a month ago. Talk about a tough cookie. I was backing Wade Barrett to come out on top but I'm happy for Sheamus. I was honestly wondering when he'd finally get the push for the title he deserves because for the first time since he joined WWE, I feel he's ready for the title. I think it would be very fitting to have him vs Daniel Bryan for the title since they got bumped off last year's card. I wasn't crazy about the final moments of the match because they dragged on for too long. When you have two people left in a battle royal, it shouldn't last longer than 3 minutes or else it'll get dull. Nonetheless this year's Rumble was hugely entertaining and the winner had a bit more oomph than last year's. Roll on Road To WrestleMania. 8.5/10

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Wrestling Matches To See Before You Die - Classic WWF Edition

After a recent trip to the bookshop I happened to see a series of books titled “1001 Movies To See”, “1001 Songs To Listen To”, “1001 Games To Play” Before You Die. That got me thinking…and well the title of the article speaks for itself. I was going to make it 1001 Wrestling Matches but then I realised I hate math and this way there’s no limit on the matches I get to include. I was originally going to keep it to just one entry but I’ve decided to split it all up into different sections. There will be a good few more videos for different eras and different companies. Feel free to suggest matches of your own in the comments. Below is the video for the Classic WWF, meaning from the 80s to 1997. Obviously this is just matches that have actually been filmed.


Sgt Slaughter vs The Iron Sheik (Boot Camp Match):
Sgt Slaughter of course was a classic All American Face and the Sheik was the classic Evil Foreign Heel, so as the laws of wrestling physics dictate they obviously had a big feud. They had many matches throughout 1984 before eventually culminating in a special Boot Camp Match that took place in a sold-out Madison Square Garden. In case anyone is a bit confused it’s pretty much a hardcore match though obviously not quite as intense as some of the ones Attitude Era fans are used to. It’s still worth a watch purely for the crowd’s involvement and to see how hardcore matches were back then. This type of match was a real treat for the fans and the two guys bounced well off each other to produce a pretty entertaining brawl.

Roddy Piper vs Jimmy Snuka:
I definitely wanted to include both of these guys on the list but as I wasn’t around in the 1980s I can’t say I have any nostalgic memories to tell me which match to choose. Indeed I looked through a lot of matches featuring these two and it was pretty hard to find one that didn’t end in DQ or count-out but the one I ended up choosing does have a count-out ending. Even so it still is a pretty good match and it has Lou Thesz (he of the Press fame) acting as the special referee. You really do need to see Roddy Piper in action as he was the original dirty heel. All his punches and forearms look like they would hurt and he just oozes the persona. Jimmy Snuka on the other hand was your proper high flying face. His moves don’t look like much today but they got the crowd going back in the day. Even with a count-out ending it’s still really entertaining.

Hulk Hogan vs The Magnificent Muraco [Steel Cage Match]:
Sorry, the name got spelled wrong in the video. The Magnificent Muraco was one of many challengers Hulk Hogan had to face in his reign of dominance in the months after the first WrestleMania. Muraco would headline three shows at Madison Square Garden challenging Hogan for the title before eventually their feud came to a climax in a cage match. As with the Boot Camp match, the cage match might be boring to some people today but it is useful to see what cage matches were like back in Hogan’s days. At the time this would be highly anticipated and it’s certainly a bit fresher than Hogan’s typical singles match routine. If you can stomach the “Hulking Up” then you’ll probably enjoy this one just fine.

Bret Hart vs Ricky Steamboat:
Now this is a match I specifically tried to find. Bret Hart is…well…Bret Hart and Ricky Steamboat is truly the ultimate babyface. I wanted so badly to see a match between them and I was happy as a clam when I found it. This match is truly everything you’d expect and hope for from this pairing. Great psychology and storytelling by Bret Hart and athletic manoeuvres from The Dragon. Dream match potential fulfilled, to say the least.

 Randy Savage vs Jake Roberts :
This is another recommendation from WWE’s Best of the 80s DVD and the bout in question comes from Saturday Night’s Main Event in December of 1986. Not being well schooled in exactly how things were back then, I was left a bit confused as to which of the men was face or heel but I copped on eventually. This is another match that doesn’t exactly have the best ending but the calibre of the work before it outweighs the end. You’ll certainly be enjoying the Macho Man’s first match on the list and yes you will get a featured cameo from Jake’s snake whose name I didn’t catch.

Hart Foundation vs British Bulldogs:
Two dream teams having a dream match you might say. Of course the British Bulldog would make it to my list a couple of times, what with him being my fellow countryman and actually being successful in WWE but I’ll hold my hands up and admit I didn’t know he was in a tag team until I started researching for this video. I did however know all about the Hart Foundation because any wrestling fan who doesn’t is just plain ignorant. What else can I say about this match apart from it was great which is why it’s on the list?

Randy Savage vs Ricky Steamboat:
Well this one was a no-brainer. Ask any old school wrestling fan what their favourite match was and 80% of them will respond with this encounter from WrestleMania III. Indeed ask any 90s wrestler and they’ll reference this as the match that helped inspire them. Obviously the match had a lot of hype to live up to when I checked it out but it most certainly delivered. Macho Man and The Dragon had insane chemistry and their match stole the show that night. Hell, if people are still raving about it over 30 years later then you know it’s must-see.

Hulk Hogan vs Andre The Giant:
This will be a head-scratcher to some and a no-brainer to others. Neither man in this match is exactly renowned for technical skill (or charisma in Andre’s case) but this encounter, from the same event as the previous one, is certainly sealed in the back of many 80s fans’ minds. You don’t exactly see a great display of technical wrestling but you do see a good story being told and of course the iconic moment of Hogan body slamming Andre with the crowd on their feet. It’s been said that once Hogan did that, he had it made as a star and he couldn’t be touched.

Bret Hart vs Randy Savage:
It’s Hit Man vs Macho Man in this classic from Saturday Night’s Main Event in 1987 and we have the Macho Man playing a face role to combat the storybook evil Canadian, the first lady of wrestling Miss Elizabeth at his side. This match does not, as my introduction may have implied, feature swashbuckling, damsels in distress or fire breathing dragons (Jim Neidhart was never actually proven) but it does feature a fine combination of technical wrestling and crowd-pleasing spots. Think of it as vital homework for the new generation of wrestlers-to-be.

Randy Savage vs Ted DiBiase [Steel Cage Match]:
Mr Savage really does keep popping up on this list doesn’t he? Well it’s for justified reasons as anyone watching these matches in their entirety will agree. Here he tangles with the Million Dollar Man in a rematch from their much hyped feud. Obviously it doesn’t feature the emotional impact of Randy Savage winning the title but as a cage match it offers more thrills and comparing it to the Hogan/Muraco cage match you can see the steady evolution in terms of hard-hitting spots. I certainly enjoyed it more than their WrestleMania match anyway.

The Brain Busters vs The Rockers:
Aha, do we see a familiar face? This is Shawn Michaels before he became the Heart Break Kid and his old buddy Marty Janetty. Back in the day The Rockers were one of the ultimate face tag teams, with their loud ring gear, enthusiastic entrance and flashy crowd-pleasing moves. Here you have a nice and long well-storied match with the classic Ricky Morton storytelling at play but it’s done in a great way and showcases The Rockers nicely. The finish is a thing of beauty as Michaels lands a splash off Janetty’s shoulders for the win.

Randy Savage vs Hulk Hogan:
Fans of the Hulkster may be a little annoyed that he hasn’t appeared on this list as much as Randy Savage has so far but I am basing the matches off my personal enjoyment and how influential they were. Here from WrestleMania V we see a personal favourite of many. Though not as breath-taking as Savage’s match from WrestleMania III it definitely gives the crowd their money’s worth though personally I wasn’t exactly rooting for the same guy as them. The clip I used had an awful blooper over the finish so it didn’t make it to the video but you all know what Hogan’s leg drop looks like anyway so no harm done.

Bret Hart vs Mr Perfect:
Now we take a close look at one of the original arrogant heels in Mr Perfect, father of the nothing special Michael McGillicutty. We also get a gander at Bret Hart in his face persona, complete with giving his pink shades to a random little kid in the front row. You’re probably all bored of me describing technical skill and great ring psychology by now but it’s there in the match and naturally it’s enjoyable. It is Mr Perfect after all.

Shawn Michaels vs Razor Ramon [Ladder Match]:
You all knew that the only way Scott Hall was getting onto this list was the first ever ladder match. Yep, at the tenth edition of WrestleMania WWE offered us an innovative match where a title belt was suspended above the ring and the only option was to climb a ladder and retrieve it. I had been told that since I’ve been spoiled with many TLC matches that I’d find this one boring but I was happily surprised with it and found most of the spots to be entertaining in their own right, and even more so if you think that the fans in attendance had never seen a TLC match before. And yes, HBK does drop an elbow from the top of the ladder while his pants are down.

Owen Hart vs Bret Hart:
 This is another no-brainer for old school wrestling fans. As someone who knew all about the Harts I was excited to see Bret and Owen face off when I started making this video and, like the WrestleMania III match, this had a lot of hype to live up to. And yet again, the hype was matched. Some have called it the Greatest opening match in WrestleMania history. Watching it back I couldn’t believe it was an opening match as it was main event quality in my opinion. Other people have said that wrestlers in training should study this match so as to grasp psychology better which I whole-heartedly agree with.

British Bulldog vs Owen Hart:
Obviously anything following the Hart vs Hart match is going to seem like something of a letdown but I myself was curious to see a match between Owen and Davey-Boy so naturally this King of the Ring qualifier from Raw in 1996 made the list. I’m not sure if this was a face vs face match since they did shake hands at the start but Owen eventually played the heel, judging from how aggressive he got. Once again the ending was less than satisfactory but once again the work before that eclipsed it. Anyone wanting to see these two face off should check it out. And the original Diva Sunny is at ringside and plays a role in the finish as well.

Stone Cold vs Bret Hart:
Here’s another classic you’ll probably have heard a lot about but not had the chance to look at. I assure you, it’s a match you should devote your attention to. Here is a young Steve Austin in his prime, before a neck injury left him a repetitive brawler. He’s pretty fun to watch in the ring at this point in his career and of course working with Bret Hart is a real treat for anyone. What makes this match famous is the well-remembered face heel double turn. Bret Hart went into the match as a respected face and left WrestleMania as a gloating winner while Stone Cold entered as a punk-ass redneck and exited as a huge fan favourite. And hey the ring work ain’t too shabby neither. And yes that is Ken Shamrock as the special guest referee.

Shawn Michaels vs Undertaker [Hell In A Cell]:
At the event In Your House: Badd Blood, WWE fans saw the introduction of a revolutionary gimmick match – the Hell In A Cell. Shawn Michaels had the honour of competing in the first HIAC match in addition to the first Iron Man and Ladder matches and it seemed like this wasn’t his night as the Undertaker was really keen on delivering as much punishment as possible both inside and out of the cell. Unlike cage matches and hardcore matches, the HIAC has held up really well over the years and the first one is just as exciting as some of the modern day ones (maybe because the cell isn’t so high that the wrestlers can actually take bumps off it). And yes this is the famous debut of Kane that everyone was raving about.

Bret Hart vs Shawn Michaels:
When it comes to a big feud or a series of matches, only one will be represented (unless there’s a variation in the angle of course) so there’s no other way to represent the HBK/Hit Man feud than with the infamous Montreal Screwjob. Bret Hart’s contract with WWE was set to expire after the Survivor Series PPV in 1997 and he was expected to appear with rival WCW. Now as Hart was the reigning champion, Vince didn’t want a repeat of another incident where WWE Women’s Champion Alundra Blayze showed up on Nitro and dumped the title belt in a trash can live. The original ending to the match was meant to be a double DQ with the Hart Foundation interfering and Bret claims he would have forfeited the title the next night on Raw. However that wasn’t the case as the referee calls for the bell when Bret Hart is in the Sharpshooter and he never submits. At the time the ending was a huge cop-out to the fans but these days it is legendary in itself and in my opinion only makes the match even more must-see. You’ll see that this is a fitting end to the old school WWE edition of this video and next we move on to the infamous Attitude Era.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Week In Review For Women's Wrestling #31

And it's the final week before the Royal Rumble and we have a truly astonishing development - the Divas' Champion finally returns to TV, in a fresh match at that. We also have the in-ring debut of another Diva and a new number 1 contender being crowned in TNA. Alas, still no Diva match announced for the Royal Rumble and there likely won't be one added at the last minute either.

Raw - Eve & Zack Ryder Drama:
While I'm always pissed when there's no proper match, I'm still really happy with where Eve is right now. Of course I'd love for her to be wrestling but when you get two minute matches and no proper storylines then this is clearly a step-up. Her acting wasn't the best but this is pro wrestling so who cares? At least she didn't corpse when Zack was being wheeled out (unlike Paul London when a certain chairman's limo blew up). The fact that she got to speak properly with John Cena was great. She's been involved heavily in this angle and it really does give the fans a sense of who she is. I doubt her blaming Cena is signs of her turning heel and I hope she stays face because she still has more to offer in that role. Kelly on the other hand is someone I could see becoming a good heel. N/A

NXT - BateMax & Johnny Curtis Drama:
Our shows are wrestling-lite but some heavy segments in there too. From the looks of things, Bateman and Maxine are still heels but so is Johnny Curtis. This storyline is getting a little messy and they should fix it by turning Johnny face properly. How they'll do it I have no idea but they had him interacting with Kaitlyn so maybe she'll come into play. I'm expecting some form of mixed tag match next week but right now all I want is for NXT to give the girls plenty of time to wrestle like they used to. All in all it was a passable night. N/A

Impact - Velvet Sky vs Tara vs Mickie James (#1 Contender's Match):
It's certainly a refreshing idea to have all the participants as faces which makes sense considering you have a heel champion. I was expecting Mickie to play the heel role in this match and she kind of did, anchoring it together. While the moves and spots were fine, I didn't really enjoy this match as much as I was looking forward to it. It seemed very slow overall and I don't wonder why considering the last time Mickie was in a triple threat was in 2008 and I can't remember Velvet or Tara being in one recently either. Even the best wrestlers will have trouble if they stray into an area they're not used to. I like Tara's new gear and I especially liked the end spot with the Spider's Web onto Velvet. The post match interviews were nice as well and I feel this feud will be a lot more exciting than Mickie/Gail. I don't want Tara to become champion again but two good high profile matches with some good storyline behind them should make for some nice TV in the coming weeks. Not much of a match but the start of a promising new storyline. While TNA have made the belt a hot potato again recently, Gail's reign has been quite good so far and she's adjusting to her new heel role. 6/10

ODB & Eric Young vs Angelina Love & Winter:
I loved the backstage segment. It's a nice change of pace in an intergender situation for the women to be the heels and everyone probably got a chuckle out of Angelina's failed groin attack. The match on the other hand...the antics were fun last week but this week I actually fast forwarded until ODB got tagged in. Seriously Eric it's not a PG audience just go ahead and chin the bitch (sorry, I was watching Dog Soldiers earlier). ODB's work in the match was fine so I'm expecting more follow-on to this little story since it gets the girls TV time and hopefully we can see a competitive intergender match soon. 5/10

Superstars - Beth Phoenix vs Brie Bella:
When I heard about this match I was a little puzzled since both of them were heels. Actually watching it however put my fears to rest. Neither Diva came out of this match looking faceish. Beth was  the strong dominant Glamazon and the Bellas were bitchy conniving opportunists. It's a relief to have the champ back on TV though I'm hoping they haven't dropped the feud with Alicia Fox or the DoD pairing. We will need to see next week to get a full view of the situation. The match was passable as it was heel vs heel and Brie isn't exactly a singles genius - she works better in tag team competition, isolating body parts and having chemistry with Nikki. Here she mixed up her moveset a little, adding that nice effective neckbreaker and it was interesting to see her play the bigger heel role and control the match. Certainly a year or so ago this would have been a squash but Brie got a bit of a rub here. And this is another big strong win for Beth who I still suspect will appear in the Royal Rumble match. They have drawn attention to women entering in the promos so it's something to hope for. All in all a fairly decent match. 5.5/10

FCW - Audrey Marie* vs Raquel Diaz (Divas' Championship Match):
I actually loved this match. True there were those awkward moments you only get with inexperienced workers in there but it was still really enjoyable and Raquel was looking much more polished than her last match where she won the crown. Now that she is champion and queen she will no doubt be featured regularly in matches and help her improve in the ring. She's a great heel right now and she's slowly gaining the wrestling ability too. Audrey as well improves in every match I see her in, especially with that nice headscissors. Raquel's selling was a bit off but once again, experience has to be gained. She had a good run with the title so now let's see what happens in the next few weeks. I want me a Sofia Cortez singles match. Oh and the Gory Bomb looked amazing this time around. 6.5/10

Smackdown - Aksana vs Natalya:
Well I've been hoping Aksana would become a part of the women's division and we've been teased for a while but here I think it's official. But this was just a complete waste of time. As much as I love Aksana there was no need for her to pin Nattie like that. Give Nattie the win to make her feud with Tamina less one-sided. While she did put Aksana in the Sharpshooter and lose thanks to a distraction, it still leaves a sour taste in the mouth with each bad step WWE takes with her. She should not be losing so much like this. I'm surprised the feud with Tamina isn't over considering it's been completely one-sided with Natalya being the designated villain. I might be reaching here but perhaps they'll get a blow-off match at the Royal Rumble where Beth will appear and help Nattie get the win. It'd be a good way to kind of re-introduce the DoD after Beth's absence but knowing WWE that likely won't happen. 1/10

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Week In Review For Women's Wrestling #30

And we're counting down the days until the Royal Rumble which happens to be the first Big 4 PPV of the year. Still no Diva match announced but the last two years the match was announced last minute and at TLC the match was added on the fly. TNA meanwhile have a big match this week as well as what looks like two storylines developing nicely. Should be a good one.

Raw - Kelly Kelly & Alicia Fox vs The Bella Twins:
Not a fan of Perez Hilton but who is judging from the amount of X-Pac heat he was getting when he showed up. That being said if he hadn't been on Raw then the match would be even more pointless. Another unspectacular Divas match that didn't even clock two minutes and more probably could have been accomplished with a backstage segment. I'll give the girls their due, they are doing their best with what they've got but really what's the point when they've abruptly taken Beth off TV and stopped any plans they seem to have had for Alicia. They could have had her get the win here as at least she would be featured and they could pick things up when Beth finally returns. I get the feeling they will actually make her return in the Rumble match itself while the Divas are either left off the card completely or in a mini-Rumble type of match. 3/10

Eve and Zack Ryder:
On the flip side of things, I'm enjoying what WWE are doing with these two. I do think it was a little unnecessary to take the title off Zack this early but let's talk about Eve for a moment. She got to be featured prominently in the interview, the match and the backstage segment. She's probably clocked more TV time in this storyline with Zack Ryder than she did when she was Divas' Champion. Both times. Her line delivery wasn't the best but promo time is promo time and I'll take iffy promos over pointless matches any day.

NXT - Maxine's Wedding:
This went about how I expected it to though they probably could have done more with Maxine as a Bridezilla. The wedding was fine but I enjoyed Aksana's a lot more the year before. The way this ended does confuse me a bit as it seems like Maxine and Derrick Bateman have turned face which would be a huge mistake. The heel side is extremely shallow and Maxine would be a huge asset to the division as a heel. I do see them still being heels which would be easily established once we see next week's show. Perhaps they'll swerve us and turn Johnny Curtis face instead. He works well either role so let's just wait and see.

Impact - Mickie James vs Madison Rayne (Steel Cage Match):
Finally. This is the Knockouts match I've been waiting for Mickie to deliver. She had two good street fights with ODB and Winter but in those cases it was her opponents who were the real stars. However in this match she was at her best. It was a million times better than her cage match with Tara and all her matches with Gail Kim. The action was fast-paced, exciting and back-and-forth. I feel like this is almost an apology from TNA since we were deprived of their cage match at Lockdown due to Mickie's injury. For once the Knockouts made good use of their time to deliver a fun and fiery match. There's not much else I can say to praise it without repeating myself but hats off to Mickie for finally showing that she can hang with the Knockouts. 7/10

Angelina Love vs Eric Young:
I'm a big fan of intergender matches but of course this one didn't offer anything in the way of in-ring thrills, instead giving us some more comedy which is perfectly fine since we had a competitive match earlier on the show. The brawl backstage with Winter and ODB was nicely done and finally gives Winter that much needed exposure that she hasn't been getting from some random throwaway matches on Impact. In fact, this show was practically 50% Knockouts centred since we had nearly all of them on TV which is pretty much unheard of for TNA. I think this was probably one of the best episodes TNA have done in terms of Knockouts action. I don't know exactly how they can follow on from this but I suppose having Eric Young face Winter in a match and ODB vs Angelina then leading to the intergender tag match, possibly on PPV? Stranger things have happened. Combined rating: 8/10

Superstars - Natalya vs Tamina:
I really hate one-sided feuds in WWE and I would personally love to see a rematch next week with Natalya finally getting a win for herself. I remember a time in WWE when faces didn't win all the time and yet their credibility wasn't damaged at all and everyone who wasn't the top heel didn't get buried. Nonetheless third time was the charm as these two delivered, obviously due to getting actual proper TV time. I think working in a face role will be good for Tamina. As a heel she did look awkward dominating her matches but now as a face she's the one getting dominated and it does help to mask her inexperience, while allowing for her to put on a good performance. She is improving and Natalya got a small rub from this match as well as she dominated and made herself look a bit stronger, even if she did lose again. The end sequence was nice though I will be praying for the day when Natalya gets to win matches as well. 7/10

FCW - Audrey Marie* vs Caylee Turner (FCW Divas' Championship):
I was really looking forward to finally seeing Caylee/Christina in a singles match and I wasn't disappointed. I did prefer Caylee in a face role but she works just as well as a heel and being able to work both roles will help her out immensely in the future. They had some creative spots in there to impress me and they looked pretty solid out there. Obviously there was that small amount of awkwardness that you see when there's inexperienced wrestlers out there but consistently working matches is how you get rid of that. I might be a bit biased towards Caylee but she is shaping up to be quite a good wrestler. I'm not saying she's ready to be called up to the main roster right now but she's getting there. Audrey too has shown nice improvements since she's held the title. Aside from that iffy-looking backslide I can't find anything to fault about the match. Good job by both ladies. 7/10

Raquel Diaz Promo:
This girl is really solid on the mic. She doesn't even have to wrestle when she inevitably gets called up to the main roster as she has the makings of a great heel manager, much like her mother. She has the same evil laugh as well. N/A

I'm well aware that Vickie was in a dance-off on Smackdown but I don't feel I need to recap that in any great detail. Brilliant week for TNA, so-so week for WWE. On one hand we had some good storylines developing but still nothing in the way of the actual title. Oh well, perhaps something next week.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Week In Review For Women's Wrestling #29

And the second week of 2012 offers us a TNA PPV and the third in a succession of singles matches for the title. Meanwhile this week we had the Divas mostly out of the ring but still making their presence felt nonetheless.

Genesis - Mickie James vs Gail Kim* (Knockouts Championship):
This was a big improvement over their two previous matches which were only okay. I'll give Mickie her credit, she has been looking a bit better in the ring in this recent push though this feud hasn't really excited me much. I actually loved the stipulation of Madison having to be hung in the shark cage above the ring because it was just brilliant. I couldn't stop laughing and Madison played off it so well. As for Velvet being the possible new VP of the division, I would prefer to have her wrestling but I guess anything that gets her on TV is good enough. This match was pretty crisp and I enjoyed most of it, not getting bored like I did in the first match or feeling like they were holding back like the second. The ending was a bit silly though. If they had really sold the hate between Gail and Mickie then having Mickie use the brass knux would make more sense. If it had been Traci or Velvet or even Tara then it would make more sense. Nonetheless the match was still enjoyable even with the ending. I guess Mickie forfeits any claim to the title with that little stunt. Gail has still yet to get a clean title defence. 6.5/10

Raw - Eve vs Kane:
At least Beth Phoenix got a mention this week. Seriously the Royal Rumble is in two weeks and they haven't even bothered to build up any storyline for it. I'm actually foreseeing them leaving Beth off TV for the next two weeks and having her return competing in the Rumble. I actually wouldn't mind that idea as long as the rest of the Divas had maybe a mini-Rumble of their own to earn a title shot against Beth. There obviously seems to be a few challengers left out there even though Alicia Fox is the only one with an actual pinfall win over Beth. Anyway, I was thrilled that Eve was included in this storyline. People claiming that Eve and Zack's pairing is a punishment should take note that the two of them are in a high profile storyline and were featured in the main event of Raw. In the Raw Rebound the two of them were featured prominently, which I loved. It's great to have Eve in a big storyline and this could help build sympathy for her and help her get that rub with the fans she needs if she's going to be a top Diva in the future. I'll give the Raw writers credit, they have been giving the girls something to do while they're keeping the champ off TV for some reason. N/A

NXT - Maxine vs Alicia Fox:
The promo at the start was pretty good, almost Knockout-like with all the sexual innuendos. Alicia isn't exactly the strongest woman on the mic but she said most of her lines well enough. The match on the other hand was ridiculously short. It was pretty uninspired as well and their other match was a lot better. The exchanges looked awkward and the ending was too abrupt. Not to mention incredibly silly. It's not that big a deal to have Alicia win with a big move. Anyway it's also good to see Aksana on the show and I'm looking forward to the big wedding next week. Who knows what could happen? 4/10

Impact - ODB vs Winter:
Yes! More ODB and Eric Young. They're a great pairing and of course I want to see ODB get a push against Gail for the title. Some of ODB's best work in the past was against Gail and she could add some much needed colour to the division. On the other hand, perhaps pair her up with someone and feud for the tag titles. Anyway the match was fun and it got Winter and Angelina Love back on my screens which is welcome any time. It wasn't the most technical match but ODB missing the Bronco Buster made me lol. Which is funny considering I compared her to X-Pac a few months ago. Eric Young knocking Angelina dizzy with the Airplane Spin was great, as was the finish. Also, Madison continues to deliver comedy gold. As for the cage match, well at least we'll get an idea of what things would have been like at Lockdown though with Mickie's track record in those matches I'm not expecting much. 6/10

Superstars - Brie Bella vs Kelly Kelly:
And the first Superstars match of 2012 is a rematch from both Money In The Bank and Over The Limit. This was probably the longest Diva match this week and usually in WWE that goes hand in hand with being the best. It was standard stuff from Brie and Kelly, pretty much some similar moves as their last few matches but that one spot with the bridge into the arm reversals was really nice. Is it me or does Kelly kind of come across as a heel in the ring sometimes? She uses an illegal submission hold, gets pretty aggressive and does a lot of stomping. I guess if she does turn heel then she won't be too lost without her hurricanranas and headscissors. Perhaps losing constantly to the Bellas could prompt a heel turn from her? It's a thought considering Eve seems to be getting groomed to be the top Diva in the future and Kelly could make a good heel. Once again refreshing to see the twins get a win and usually beating a face two weeks in a row makes you a title contender in WWE. 6/10

Smackdown - Natalya vs Tamina:
This didn't even clock one minute as far as I know and yet was a million times better than last week. I guess Tamina did turn face anyway which I'm not too happy about. She has better ring presence as a heel and the heel side of the division is pretty shallow right now. I don't know why Natalya keeps getting squashed like this. I'm happy she's still a heel but she doesn't deserve to have to be the heel jobber right now. This match served no point except to show Tamina's a face now and Beth still isn't on TV. I hope to the lord this doesn't mean Tamina is getting the next push for the title. Unlike Eve, Kelly or Alicia, Tamina has yet to show actual brilliance in the ring and give us a hint that she could put on a great match. True Melina and Alicia got decent matches out of her but the likes of Alicia and AJ would be better candidates to feud with Beth. But on the bright side, I'm happy this week we had two Divas in main event storylines. Including AJ in the Daniel Bryan angle does raise a lot of questions such as will she turn heel along with him? The heel side is left with one vacancy after Tamina turning face but AJ can't play a heel believably so let's hope it doesn't go that way. You do have to lol at the crowd chanting "she's ok!" because she really should have gotten hit with a chair to be believably knocked out. 2.5/10

So a bust this week in terms of WWE as the Rumble approaches us and still no sign of the Divas' Champion. She did make history by competing in it before so perhaps they're waiting to bring her back then. Perhaps we're also getting ready for a certain Flawless return? And in TNA we have a big cage match to look forward to next week as well as hopefully more of ODB's antics with Eric Young.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Week In Review For Women's Wrestling #28

Well it's the first week of 2012 which could mean that it's the last time we ever see the first Raw, Smackdown, NXT or Impact for the new year. I'll be honest, the year has started off better times than this but let's have a look at how the women have started to shape their respective divisions for the next year.

Raw - Eve & Kelly Kelly vs The Bella Twins:
It's actually been a while since we've had this match but it still felt predictable, not to mention complete filler while Beth is being left off TV. I'm annoyed that something as simple as a facial injury justifies leaving her off since she can still appear in backstage segments and promos. But WWE does do short build-ups better than long term ones so we likely wouldn't be getting much if she was on TV anyway. This match was longer than what we have been getting in a while though I would have preferred to nix one of the entrances to allow more time. All the moves were done well enough though the ending was sloppy. It would have been much simpler for Nikki to hit an X-Factor rather than an iffy looking small package. Good to see the heels win to switch things up. I'm reaching but any chance this could be building towards the Tag Team titles being reinstated? As an aside the backstage segments were all fun and the girls sounded very natural. 6/10

NXT - Maxine vs Kaitlyn:
Another match that gets Raw/Smackdown time and that's just not acceptable. What we saw was fine but for the NXT standard it's ridiculously short and therefore prevented me from enjoying it too much. Both Kaitlyn and Maxine continue to improve whenever they step into the ring and this match demonstrated that. There's not much else I can say except it was all over way too soon and these two have shown they can produce great stuff at more time. Good that Maxine earned herself a win at last. Anyway I look forward to the eventual wedding on the 100th episode because WWE always do them much better than Eastenders and Coronation Street. 4/10

Impact - ODB/Eric Young:
Eric Young is a legend. He is just brilliant and therefore him and ODB together is just pure comedy gold. The segment in the women's locker room was hilarious and thank the lord someone finally caged The Beast. I was laughing so hard it hurt to breathe afterwards. Perhaps if things don't work out with ODB then he can move onto Madison as well and do a little love triangle.

Gail Kim & Madison Rayne* vs Mickie James & Traci Brooks (Knockouts Tag Team Championships):
I enjoyed the segment that came before this match as it gave it some form of importance other than making it seem like a random title defence. Maybe it was unintentional but the whole thing was hilarious. Oh, TNA, making women dive bomb each other in swimming pools ;). The match itself was pretty good and I liked all the fire the faces were showing at the start. Solid enough action all around though I think Traci needs new gear. As I've said before, once Gail is done with Mickie I'd love to see her get a proper one-on-one feud with Traci because they could do good things with it. And next week I'd like to see the likes of Velvet, Winter, Angelina etc back on TV. 6.5/10

FCW - Audrey Marie vs Aksana vs AJ:
A triple-threat non-title match? Doesn't make much sense and watching it didn't make sense either considering how much time Aksana spent out of the ring. The interaction between Audrey and AJ was good enough though Audrey definitely works better with Naomi and Aksana. Speaking of the Lithuanian, I wish she could have had more spots in the match because she was just the odd one out who only really broke up pins and got a couple of hits in. That being said triple threats are hard to do and it's the sort of thing you just have to watch over and that will help you improve. The bulldog from AJ was really well done and I liked the ending sequence. 6/10

Smackdown - Natalya vs Tamina:
Just who is the face here? Is either of them a face? I guess this was more anticipated when the Usos were feuding with the Hart Dynasty but I get the feeling it would have been better. I don't want to call Tamina useless because she has done alright in the past but this sucked. There was hardly any time too but neither of them did anything to make it exciting or must-see to be honest. The splash looked fine but not enough to make it satisfying. I was hoping when I saw the little video packages that we'd see a long match but hope dashed as is typical with Smackdown lately. This does seem like the start of a face turn for Natalya, which I'm not exactly thrilled about since I'd prefer a Beth/Nattie rivalry with her as the heel and Beth as the face. Hopefully WWE's negative continuity comes into play again. 2/10

Not the best week to start off the year though hopefully towards the Royal Rumble we can get some development and announce a title match for it. I'd like Alicia and Beth to get a good build up because they deserve it. Here's hoping Gail will end her feud with Mickie and move onto someone else as well. Plus we have a wedding to look forward to on the 100th episode of NXT.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

WWE: A Look Back At Some of the Best of 2011

And 2011 is behind us, closing another year for WWE. It was a year ago that I made a video celebrating some of the best matches from 2010 (though not a year since I wrote about said video, check the July entries for reminders) and I certainly kept up with matches from all of WWE’s shows including those now airing on the internet. Once again in choosing 15 of the best it was 10 Superstar matches and 5 Diva matches, and of course WrestleMania was left out as were all the big gimmick matches such as Elimination Chamber, Hell In A Cell and Money In The Bank. With regards to John Cena vs CM Punk, I debated it but everyone knows it was a great encounter and there was no way I was going to try and edit that. Sadly this year not every title got represented but what can you do?

1) The Miz* vs John Morrison (Falls Count Anywhere; WWE Championship) – Raw January 3rd:
What a way for Raw to kick off the new year though I suppose when Cena isn’t your champion you already have your main event sorted. The Miz was one of the better booked MITB champions in recent years and I enjoyed his reign while it lasted (forgetting that awful I Quit match). Anyway I recognise this as his first clean title defence and it certainly made him look strong. Morrison used his flash to create some interesting spots and Miz delivered as well such as the back body drop onto the railing and the Starship Pain into the table. The match was an exciting back and forth affair that put itself on my list within the first five minutes. It was a great way to start off the year for Miz though I guess you could call it Morrison’s final great WWE match.

2) Daniel Bryan & Gail Kim vs Tyson Kidd & Melina – Superstars March 24th:
I wasn’t expecting an intergender match to make it to the list so it took a lot of debating and thinking over which category was going to have a match cut to accommodate it. In the end I decided since the men were involved in the decision, it’d be them. So that’s 9 Superstar matches in addition to this one. This is definitely *the* best mixed tag WWE have ever put on because it’s the only one where I’ve seen the women’s action to be just as solid as the men’s. I was surprised with Melina who couldn’t really go like she used to after her injury but she pulled out some great spots like the Matrix to dodge the crossbody and seeing her and Gail trade submissions was hot in every way. Tyson could have gotten more offence in but everything else about the match was amazing enough to make me overlook it. Need I say anything more except – double missile dropkick!

3) Melina & The Bella Twins vs Eve Torres, Gail Kim & Natalya – Superstars March 31st:
As was the case last year, Superstars remained a haven for the Divas in 2011 though admittedly a couple of the Raw and Smackdown matches nearly made the list, something none of last year’s Raw Diva matches could even dream of. The Divas have been main eventing the show several times and this was by far the best of them. On the face side all three women got good ring time though Eve could have gotten a chance to do more in her hot tag. Gail played the Ricky Morton role very well and the heels were great with their double teams and the way they isolated her. The girls busted out some new stuff as opposed to the same five moves of doom we normally see to make the match more important and exciting. It is a shame Melina and Gail are no longer with the company now.

4) Evan Bourne vs Zack Ryder – Superstars May 5th:
In the video it’s been moved back a bit to help the flow so don’t mind the little goof in the order. I was going to get Evan Bourne on the list somehow and thankfully this bout from May popped up and met the expectations. I realise this is the third Superstars match in a row on the list and it has been good for someone like Zack Ryder who certainly rose to the top this year. The match had a few surprisingly entertaining mat wrestling sequences which neither of these two are known for so it made the opening parts a lot more interesting. The spot at the security wall was cool and Ryder’s offence was also fun and unique. This was miles better than the match they had on the show almost exactly a year before this one (Ryder actually pulled out the win in that one if you believe it).

5) Michelle McCool vs Layla (No DQ, No Count-outs; Loser Leaves WWE) – Extreme Rules:
And our first PPV match on the list is one nobody is surprised to see. Really this match had been anticipated for nearly a year since we expected LayCool to split as soon as Layla won the title. Despite being less than six minutes it was a complete thrill ride with the two trading hard-hitting moves and intense spots on the outside. Michelle of course went out with a bang, going back to her feud with Melina for some really cool moments. The near-falls were really well done, especially Layla busting out her Face Lift finisher so early. When Michelle hit the Faithbreaker I thought they were going to swerve us and her retiring was just a bogus story. I do miss her on Smackdown, Layla too, and hopefully she’ll be able to deliver a match to get on my list next year.

6) Sin Cara vs Daniel Bryan – Smackdown May 13th:
I knew I would get at least one Sin Cara match on here from this year. Internet fans are divided on the guy but he does entertain me when his opponents can actually sell his moves. Thankfully on this good episode of Smackdown the suits finally gave him a worthy opponent in Daniel Bryan, coincidentally to hype up a PPV match against Chavo Guerrero. In my opinion, the roles should have been the other way round as this was a back-and-forth competitive match while the PPV one was a one-sided spotfest that was mildly entertaining. Bryan did play the heel in the match but he got some great spots and my favourite would probably countering the springboard elbow into an arm bar. You’ll notice I cut Chavo out of the video because he’s not really needed in it.

7) Randy Orton* vs Christian – Over The Limit (World Heavyweight Championship):
Just to clarify for you, when it comes to a series of matches like this feud only one of them will be represented and of course I’ll pick the best one (in my opinion anyway). The first title match on Smackdown was lacking something because with the spoilers everyone knew Orton would be winning. This was probably the most unpredictable of the matches and had a certain dynamic that wasn’t there when Christian turned heel. Orton really shined this year and he and Christian complement each other so well that they were able to deliver six big matches this year and each of them was worth a watch. This one had me on the edge of my seat with all the near falls and nice little spots like the Samoan Drop into the arm drag and who didn’t mark out when Christian used the spear? Hopefully creative will realise how awful a heel he is and turn him back face so we can have more matches like this one.

8) Wade Barrett vs Daniel Bryan – SummerSlam:
When I heard these two would be having a match at SummerSlam I had a feeling they had the potential to steal the show and deliver a match of the night. Low and behold, I was right. Anyone who read my review of the PPV won’t be surprised at this making the list. For a match that had minimal build-up, it tore the house down and was definitely the sleeper hit of the night. Here you have two guys who will be headlining the PPVs this time next year and hopefully they might end up feuding because more matches like this can only be a good thing. Wade finally got the strong win he needed with a sick clothesline off the top rope and a clean finish. And yes, Bryan has now set a record by appearing three times on the list.

9) Eve & Kelly Kelly vs The Bella Twins – Raw August 15th:
This one will raise some eyebrows considering the girls involved and the well-known fact of me not having any feelings towards the Bellas. However I was a little stuck as to what the final women’s match would be on the list and I felt this was a strong encounter and definitely the best of this combination of Divas. Kelly’s offence was impressive and the twins were excellent with their chemistry, isolating the leg and that hold looked painful. Eve is a lot better at the hot tag stuff than Kelly is and I do mark for a well-done moonsault. Who would have thought a Raw tag match would make it to the list?

10) Tyson Kidd vs Trent Barretta – NXT August 23rd:
It seems this year NXT replaced Superstars as the place to go if you wanted to see your favourites who weren’t in the spotlight. While Superstars allowed for lengthy competitive matches, NXT allowed the lower card guys to be involved in proper feuds and storylines, not to mention showcasing their talents in a way that they couldn’t normally do when they’re getting squashed in three minute matches on Raw and Smackdown. Tyson Kidd caught my eye last year when the Hart Dynasty reigned supreme and this match has made sure he remained in my vision. I also saw something I liked in Trent Barretta in his brief little program with Drew McIntyre at the start of the year. This match took place in Calgary and the crowd were hot for Tyson, and rightfully so, because this is definitely the best match he’s had in WWE and he really should be in line for a US title or IC title shot in the near future because he certainly deserves it. Don’t agree with me? Then watch that baseball slide-DDT spot again.

11) Kelly Kelly* vs Beth Phoenix (Divas’ Championship) – Night of Champions:
Kelly and Beth have had a fairly interesting feud. True WWE didn’t really invest in it as much as they could have but think of their feud as a good movie that got bad marketing. Because the two of them brought it where it counts – on PPV. SummerSlam was a pleasant surprise, Hell In A Cell was really good and even TLC delivered despite being an eleventh hour addition. But Night of Champions was definitely the best match these two put on. I’ve never heard a crowd so into a Divas match in years, not since Trish/Mickie in Chicago or Trish/Lita in Toronto. I mean Beth gets dead crowds everywhere else but here her hometown crowd supported her and she even got cheered against Kelly Kelly, WWE’s golden girl. Aside from the crowd’s involvement the girls added plenty to the match with what was going on in the ring. Kelly was looking the sharpest she’s ever been with that ‘rana off the top rope and big props to both her and Beth for that superplex. This was actually their shortest match but it definitely felt epic anyway.

12) Cody Rhodes* vs Ted DiBiase (Intercontinental Championship) – Night of Champions:
Well NOC delivered yet again this year as anyone who read my review of the PPV will remember how I couldn’t get enough of this match and how I voted it Match of the Night. Watching it back a good few times and I was still right. Cody has really shined this year in everything that’s been given to him. He got a rather filler angle with Rey Mysterio for WrestleMania but turned it into a cool match and got over as a heel. He’s really been one of the best heels in WWE this year and one of the best IC Champions in recent years. Ted DiBiase also impressed me with his face run because he is so much better in that role than he ever was as a heel. WWE just needs to invest time in him and we could have another big midcard star on our hands. And that double bridge-out just gets me every time.

13) Beth Phoenix* vs Eve Torres (Divas’ Championship) – Vengeance:
The final women’s match on the list is the best of the lot. I always saw something in Eve during her first Divas’ title push and then again this year she showed little flashes of brilliance in matches with Layla and Natalya but I was extremely excited to see what she could do with Beth on a PPV with 10 minutes to work. She didn’t quite get 10 minutes but I’m not complaining. She and Beth had electric chemistry and Beth got to be even more dominant than she could be in her matches with Kelly. Eve gave as good as she got and that submission hold really opened my eyes. The entire end sequence was beautifully done and at the time I was especially pleased because it gave Beth her first clean win as champion.

14) Alberto Del Rio* vs CM Punk (WWE Championship) – Survivor Series:
Is anyone really surprised this is here? Once again, anyone who read my review of the Survivor Series PPV will see how awesome I thought this match was. I did strongly consider including Punk/Cena but this match trumped that one in my opinion. Del Rio is a much better worker than Cena and the New York crowd was way more intense than the Chicago one if you ask me. As I said in the review, I had a feeling we’d be treated to a great wrestling match and indeed we were. Del Rio and Punk had really good chemistry together and I wouldn’t have minded a full blown feud but anyway it was great that Punk got the belt and I’m so glad that even though I didn’t get to watch the PPV live I was able to avoid any spoilers when watching it back. And yeah I want those Ice Cream Bars as well.

15) Dolph Ziggler* vs Zack Ryder (US Championship) – TLC:
It’s only fitting that I end the video with probably the biggest success story of 2011. Here’s a guy who was virtually nothing last year, I liked him well enough but I don’t know if I could call myself a fan. I, like many others, discovered his Youtube show and anxiously awaited for WWE to pull the trigger on him and thank the lord they finally did. I never actually thought Zack Ryder could pull off a babyface role but he has been one of the ultimate underdogs of this era. This match featured another rising star who is poised for big things this year. Ziggler is a true champion in the making and I can’t wait to see him with a world title. It almost gives me the same feeling of passing the torch that I saw from Miz/Daniel Bryan at Night of Champions last year. Just seeing Ryder embracing his father at ringside made sure there were more than a few misty eyed fans watching at home.

Strong contenders that didn’t quite make the list. If you ask me why they’re not on there, it’s because the ones that are were better. Duh
*Edge vs Dolph Ziggler – Royal Rumble
*Edge & Kelly Kelly vs Dolph Ziggler & LayCool – Smackdown
*Daniel Bryan vs Sheamus – Raw (title change)
*Natalya vs Eve Torres (lumberjill) – Raw
*Christian vs Alberto Del Rio (ladder) – Extreme Rules
*Gail Kim vs Melina – Superstars
*Alicia Fox vs Natalya – Superstars (the 10 minute one)
*John Cena vs Rey Mysterio – Raw
*Sin Cara vs Sin Cara – Hell In A Cell