Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Vintage Week In Review For Women's Wrestling #3

This is the week beginning December 2nd-December 8th

The first Diva to make an appearance is the Duchess of Dudleyville at ringside for Bubba's match against Kane. During the match Stacy grabs Kane by the foot and he stalks her at ringside (oh how times have changed). She gets involved again by climbing up on the apron and this helps Bubba to get the win. Once again, managing is an art in itself and it's always good to see a manager do more than just stand at ringside and clap. Stacy really should have done more managing in her WWE career as she was pretty good at it, though she doesn't really work as a heel. She's just a natural face in my opinion.

More of the Team Xtreme drama moves along as the brothers are bickering backstage and Lita tries to separate them but of course that only intensifies the war of words. Matt then announces that Lita will be the special guest referee for his and Jeff's match at Vengeance. Things just got extra juicy.

Trish Stratus is walking backstage and she bumps into Crash Holly (!) who wishes her good luck this Sunday for her match against Jacqueline. She's looking for The Rock actually and Crash helps her out. Oh and the Brooklyn Brawler was there too.
Later on she enters The Rock's (surprisingly small) dressing room to thank him for saving her from Vince McMahon which in WWE language is a peck on the cheek. The Rock gives her the WWE language for "you're welcome" which is of course a big passionate smooch on the lips. And yes the arena did explode.

Trish Stratus & The Rock def. Kurt Angle & Vince McMahon:
Our main event has the Women's Champion competing against two former flames and Vince does a rather creepy booty-pop as she makes her entrance. Naturally Rock and Angle work most of the match by themselves and the action is none too shabby. When Vince tags himself in he actually knocks Trish right off the apron. She tags herself in and starts stomping the holy hell out of Vince before laying a well placed heel to the McMahon family jewels. Kurt Angle takes exception to this and knocks her down from behind. The Women's Champion responds with a low blow and tags The Rock back in. Vince chases Trish from ringside but Stone Cold appears to sort him out and that helps Rock get the win.
Not much in the way of wrestling but still highly entertaining to see Trish go to town on Vince, the fans were eating that up. And of course it's always good to see a Diva in the main event. Minimal build up for the title match on Sunday since the challenger hasn't actually been seen on TV since the last PPV so we can see that WWE's build-ups haven't always been that fleshed out. 7/10

Stacy is up to her old tricks again at ringside for a 6-man tag match. She throws William Regal a set of brass knux to use but she gets her comeuppance as Big Show drags her into the ring, puts her over his knee and gives her a good old spanking. Hmm, he's in tears after bumping into AJ but that he's okay with? Ah, there's something nostalgic about seeing that. Until I was 13, I thought the only way to punish a woman was with a good spanking.

And as a result of losing to The Rock & Trish on Raw, Vince must now kiss The Rock's ass on Smackdown. During the in-ring promo, The Rock brings Trish out with the implication that Vince is going to kiss her ass instead. Trish lowers the back of her pants and Vince is drooling but Rocky stops him and announces that he's got an even bigger ass for Vince to kiss. And it's the return of Rikishi. You can pretty much guess where this goes from here. WWE do those good old humiliation congas so well.

Crash Holly def. Jacqueline:
The video for this is unavailable but this is the second of four intergender matches these two have had. The description just says Crash pins Jackie using the ropes for leverage. She gets in his face afterwards and ends up knocking him out with a hard forearm.
Gotta love it whenever Jackie got in the ring with the guys. It seems to be a thing that they'd often have her do intergender stuff if they wanted to give her momentum going into a PPV. The match with Trish at Vengeance certainly doesn't seem to mean anything though at the time it was good to give her actual competition in a match after all she'd been doing is all the silliness with Stacy. N/A

So the final week before a PPV didn't inspire much hope for the actual match itself but it had the women featured very prominently, the Women's Champion in a main event segment and one with the boss at that while the #1 contender got some build up. Lita also was heavily involved in the Team Xtreme storyline while Stacy shows us the art of managing.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Week In Review For Women's Wrestling #35

Well we've officially got the last PPV before WrestleMania down but in terms of Diva action, that PPV probably generates the least amount of hope and excitement every year. Oh well. TNA meanwhile have an incredibly silly and overbooked storyline to develop for their next PPV but let's see how they followed up. And oh yeah, the Divas' title was defended too.

Elimination Chamber - Beth Phoenix* vs Tamina Snuka (Divas' Championship):
Not too shabby I must say. Tamina looked the best she's ever been in the ring and that's including her match with Natalya. No awkwardness and no sloppy moves, everything was done well and Tamina passes the test. The match wasn't as show stopping as Beth's match with Eve or as exciting as her ones with Kelly but still pretty good. Beth and Tamina added a lot to the match with their little bits of personality, Beth mocking her poses etc. If you compare Beth now to when she was in her first Women's title reign back in 2007 the difference is extraordinary. She just has so much charisma now and is really rocking this new role they have her in. The match was longer than I thought it would be especially since they like to have the inexperienced workers wrestle as little time as possible, but it was the better for it. It was interesting to see Beth use the Glam Slam on someone as big as Tamina and it was very impressive. Speaking of impressing, she's now clocked a record five title defences which is the most of any Divas' Champion ever. I think it's safe to say she's been established as a strong champion, and her and Kelly's reigns really built the belt up a little. 6.5/10

Raw - Kelly Kelly & Aksana vs The Bella Twins:
Was Alicia Fox busy ducking a drunken Chris Brown? WWE have a habit of not being able to follow up the momentum of a PPV but this was a new low even for them. The champion wasn't even on TV this week. I fell asleep twice during the Triple H/Undertaker promo so that proves that everyone else on the show should have been getting more time, not just the Divas. Anyway the way to get someone comfortable wrestling on live TV is not throwing them out there with less than two minutes to work. I really want Aksana to be given more opportunities to show off her skills. I think a "demotion" to NXT or Superstars would be welcomed. Bellas win, which is a refreshing change but this clearly isn't going anywhere. 2/10

Eve Turns Heel:
On the other hand...this makes up for the piss poor excuse of a match we got. I stand by what I've said for ages now that the storyline seemed to be heading towards Eve being manipulated by Kane, but they saw how much heat she was getting last week and turned her heel. I'm not crazy about her being a heel because she is a natural face, but that doesn't really matter considering she's now got more heat than the Divas' Champion. The boos and jeers she was getting was insane, almost as big as when Trish turned on Jericho. People complaining about being called a "Hoeski", well it's better than crickets every time you come out. Please continue to feature Eve regularly and keep this momentum going. I've heard the rumours about bringing Layla back to feud with Eve, pairing her with Zack Ryder etc. I think that's a good idea because, while Layla was fairly popular before she got injured, she may have lost a lot of momentum coming off her big win so pairing her with someone as over as Zack and putting her against someone as hated as Eve would be a nice way to fix that. Mixed tag at WrestleMania? I'm assuming Eve will be paired with Swagger since he's the US Champ and maybe her and Vickie's combined efforts might save him from the abyss.

Smackdown - Eve's Promo:
Well this technically didn't air but WWE put it up online so I'll slot it in there anyway. Even more great heat for her, which we can tell is legit since this was a live Smackdown. Eve has always been fairly decent on the mic but she does need to work on her delivery with a few lines. However she worked the crowd like a pro and she has the attitude down. I hope WWE allows her to cut more promos because besides Maxine we really don't have a Diva known for her mic work. If she works hard to adjust to the heel style of wrestling, she could very well become the whole package for a Diva.

NXT Watch:
Great segments with Kaitlyn and Maxine as usual and both of them were entertaining in the segments, though I'm glad they're not going with the typical romance angle with Kaitlyn and Derrick Bateman. They seem to be just keeping them as friends which seems a little too sophisticated for the WWE creative team. They're getting another match next week which I will look forward to. The fact that they're hyping it up suggests that it'll be getting more time and maybe even it'll be the main event. Either way, I'll be looking forward to it.

Impact - Gail Kim vs ODB:
A really interesting match to see, especially since when they technically feuded back in 2007/2008 it was Gail as the face and ODB as the heel/tweener but now of course the roles are reversed. Eric Young was awesome as always and I'm glad they kept the two of them together. The Flying Dragon looked extra impressive this week for some reason, maybe because we've never seen it done on someone ODB's size before. Naturally she wins to give herself momentum and, hey it's a clean enough win to make her look a little less weak. Still not sold on this match with Madison because it's still unclear who's meant to be heel and face. I'm hoping they'll have the match and just drop the feud because it could get messy. Madison shouldn't turn face because she's such a good heel and Gail shouldn't turn face because it's too soon for her. Disappointed that there was no Mickie this week because they've really lost all the momentum from her potential heel turn and that's not a good thing. 6/10

So there still seems to be no hope for the girls going into WrestleMania and I guess we can't bank on a celebrity getting them a spot on the card this year. I hope they'll give the girls something on the card because they do deserve to be featured in a good way. Give us Beth/Natalya or hell even Beth/Alicia. A normal match with plenty of time and a good build up would be more than satisfactory. 10 minutes on a four hour show is not that much to ask for. TNA meanwhile will hopefully drop this dumb Gail/Madison angle after the title match and push someone who deserves a crack at the singles title. Insert Velvet Sky rant here.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Vintage Week In Review For Women's Wrestling #2

This is the week beginning November 26th-December 2nd

Our first Diva sighting of the night is Lita accompanying Jeff Hardy to the ring for his European title match against Christian. Matt comes down to the ring halfway through the match and tries to stop Jeff from going to the top rope when he already has the match won. Christian then pushes Matt into the ringpost and that knocks Jeff off, allowing him to get the win. Backstage Jeff is getting medical attention and Matt criticises him for taking stupid risks. Lita tries to get in between the argument but Matt shuts her up. Lita says it's obvious he only cares about himself and storms off. More drama between Team Xtreme, though I'm wondering exactly how Jeff qualified as the face in this when Matt had a very good point. Again, going back to what I said last time about giving Lita a high profile storyline while Trish was Women's Champion.

Later on Michael Cole (sporting some Backstreet Boys inspired highlights) interviews Stacy about challenging Trish again for the title in a bra and panties match. Stacy makes an obvious crack about ending up on top before leaving.

Trish Stratus def. Stacy Keibler in a Bra & Panties Match to retain the Women's Championship:
Stacy actually slams Trish right onto the title belt starting off and we have a standard catfighting sequence to start things off. Trish injects some excitement into the wrestling enthusiasts and the purists by rolling right over Stacy and using a school girl to try and pull her shorts down (the ref forgets what match he's in and actually counts). She is not successful and Stacy clotheslines her before removing the champion's top. It takes Trish an eternity to remove Stacy's top but she gets there. Stacy boots Trish in a way that makes her happy she's not a man. Trish goes for the Stratusfaction but Stacy crotches her between the ropes. Stacy does that hand-standing-on-the-hair thing but Trish rolls through into a cradle (the ref counts *again*) and rips Stacy's shorts off. Stacy attacks Trish anyway but Trish Chick Kicks her and pins her, making the ref count to three.
More good horny fun though you know what they say about too much of a good thing. Some parts were awkward but Trish brought some wrestling to the table and showed off some skills, though I can't believe I'm talking about technical skills in a Bra & Panties match. The spot at the turnbuckle was incredibly brutal and actually the spot of the match. I liked the little bit after the match. If people are going to protest against this excessive T&A stuff, I think they're overloading it right now so that Jazz's upcoming push has a proper basis. 5/10

More of the Team Xtreme saga has Lita and Jeff backstage talking about how Matt has been acting lately. Matt enters the room unbeknownst to them and hides for a moment before walking in and announcing they have a #1 contender's match for the Tag Team titles at Vengeance.
In the match itself, Lita goes to get involved by climbing to the top rope for a Litacanrana. Kane catches her and sets her gently on the top rope but Jeff dropkicks him into the ropes and that knocks Lita to the floor, which causes Kane & Big Show to get the win.
Backstage Matt yells at Jeff for losing the match and blames him for everything that has happened lately. He then challenges his brother to a match at Vengeance. Another good development in the feud and this way it puts Lita in the middle, though once again Matt has a point yet he's meant to be the heel.

Trish Stratus vs Jacqueline For The Women's Championship is a No Contest:
Before Jacqueline even enters, Vince McMahon appears on the stage and informs Trish that since she betrayed him all the way back at WrestleMania X-Seven she will become the next member of the "Kiss My Ass" Club. In the ring he pulls his pants down and orders Trish to get down on her knees. Thankfully she is saved by The Rock which leads to a lengthy promo hyping up Vengeance.
Not much to talk about here except thank the lord Trish didn't have to kiss Vince's ass, she'd already kissed practically every other part of him as it is. For those feeling a little cheated, Trish/Jacqueline made it to the Vengeance card. N/A

Vintage Week In Review For Women's Wrestling #1

Well as you all know my addiction to writing random stuff keeps increasing so I decided to dip down into the archives and do my typical week in review for the good old days. We can relive old feuds, rewatch classic matches and reminisce about the good old days for the WWE Divas. I had a big debate on when was best to start but I eventually decided to go with when the WWE Women's title was reinstated at the end of 2001. Let the nostalgia begin.

Survivor Series 2001 - Trish Stratus Wins A Six Pack Challenge To Become The New Women's Champion:
At this point in time Chyna took the title with her when she left WWE and they couldn't crown a new champion until her contract expired, which it did in November. So this match was booked for Survivor Series, with Trish, Lita and Jacqueline representing the WWF and Ivory, Mighty Molly and a mystery Diva representing The Alliance. Of course the mystery Diva is the debuting Jazz (fun fact: Nidia was originally meant to debut here but management felt it was better to have someone who already had a history with WCW/ECW especially since it was the last night of the angle). Jazz and Lita start off with literally three moves before Jacqueline and Molly tag in. We get a proper exchange between them until Ivory tags herself in and then there's a series of pin reversals, ending when Ivory catapults Jacqueline into the top rope. Trish tags in to an amazing pop but is quickly double teamed by The Alliance girls. The match breaks down as Molly hits the Molly-Go-Round on Jackie, Trish Chick Kicks Molly, Ivory plants Trish with the Poison Ivory, Lita hits a Twist of Fate on Ivory and then lands a moonsault. Molly is thrown out of the ring, Trish backdrops Lita out and Jazz goes for what was obviously meant to be a suicide dive through the ropes but botches it and Lita has to pull her out. Trish gets the Stratusfaction on Ivory to win her first title.
I enjoyed this one though it wasn't without some problems, namely time and a couple of botched spots. The girls could have done with maybe three more minutes to work since Jazz and Molly were really lost in the shuffle here, though Molly was amusing with some of her antics. The action was nice and fast-paced though it was more like the match was on fast forward. The breakdown at the end was really fun and the reaction Trish got when she won was insane. Bear in mind at the time Trish winning was greeted with similar reception to Kelly Kelly winning her title or even Michelle McCool. And look what we think of her now. 6/10

Also, Stephanie made her presence known in nearly every backstage segment where she claimed she was terrified that she would have to become a normal person if the Alliance lost that night. When they did, her reaction backstage was priceless. Also Torrie Wilson came down to the ring after Tajiri lost to William Regal, though she probably shouldn't have since Regal gave her a powerbomb as well.

Raw - Trish Stratus def. Lita to retain the WWE Women's Championship:
Well isn't this is a way to kick off Trish's first title reign. Lita has Matt Hardy with her for moral support, the announcers drawing attention to the night before when Lita caught Matt coming out of the same locker room as Trish. There's an incredibly awkward series of Irish Whip reversals to start us off before Lita spears Trish rather aggressively. Trish actually does body slams and Lita drops her with a weird looking flapjack. Trish misses an elbow drop off the top rope but when Lita climbs up for the moonsault, she pushes her off and sends her flying right into the security wall. Trish then baseball slides both Lita and Matt Hardy through the bottom rope. Matt puts Lita back in the ring and Trish gets the win with a backslide. They play up tension between Lita and Matt afterwards.
Well they've had good matches and bad matches and this one wasn't without its flaws, namely that painful looking attempt at chain wrestling at the beginning, Trish not moving out of the way after a catapult and her very obviously waiting for Lita to get into position for an elbow drop. Everything else was fine though, interestingly it was Trish who was playing the heel figure in this match. Notice here when she had her first title, she was not polished in the ring and neither was Lita really. It's to be expected since she was only wrestling for nearly one year. But we do see a vast difference in that a Women's title match was just given away easily on Raw, one night after a PPV too. And the girls got five minutes for their segment, and accomplished plenty with it. If WWE could give their girls 6 minutes on Raw and Smackdown every week then the matches would be more than satisfactory. 4.5/10

Elsewhere in the night, Stephanie tried to smarm up to Vince and claim that everything was Shane's fault and that she'd only been doing what he told her. Predictably Vince told the audience to say goodbye to Daddy's Little Girl. The amount of heat Stephanie had was insane. Also Stacy Keibler was managing the Dudley Boyz for their match, though she did nothing of note.

The Coach (who also happened to be Trish's WWF Excess co-host) interviews the new Women's Champion and asks her if she'll accept Stacy Keibler's challenge for a Gravy Bowl match. Trish says she'll accept any challenge. Oh lord...
Sharmell was also doing her thing as a backstage interviewer, interviewing Tazz about something we don't really care about.

Trish Stratus def. Stacy Keibler in a Gravy Bowl Match to retain the Women's Championship:
Oh my, is this mood whiplash or what. This is actually billed as a "Gravy Bowl Invitational" and the women are wrestling in dresses. There's also a table beside the gravy bowl, set with a Thanksgiving dinner. You know what that means - Food Fight! Stacy draws first blood with a helping of mashed potatoes and Trish gets her own back with a pitcher full of cider. Stacy takes further punishment with a pie to the face and is nearly drowned in the cranberry sauce. In revenge, Stacy drags Trish through the rest of the food but finds herself being catapulted right into the gravy. The champ jumps in herself and actually gives Stacy an Alabama Slam and makes her submit to a Camel Clutch. An enraged Stacy throws the referee into the gravy after the match.
That was one of the most amazing things I've ever seen. I could complain about undermining the women's division but it was still a hilarious little skit. Sometimes you need to have good horny fun on the show and it was pretty entertaining as opposed to awkward like those silly pillow fights. My only problem is the title being defended in a match like this. A regular match is fine but you shouldn't have the title on the line. 5/10

Backstage we also see the Hardy Boyz bickering about their loss at Survivor Series. Lita enters the argument and yells at Matt for being selfish in their relationship before walking out. Pretty good that eventhough they had one big babyface as Women's Champion they still had Lita heavily involved in another storyline so as not to let her get lost in the shuffle. Sadly it reminds us that WWE has always been extremely trigger happy with breaking up tag teams.

So there's a look back at history in WWE. It reminds us that Divas have always had to struggle with bad calls from management but they have also always taken the ball and run with it, making the best of their situation. The Gravy Bowl match undermined the division but the girls still made it fun and entertaining instead of cringeworthy. We also get a reminder that inexperienced girls holding the title isn't just a new problem, and I can also remind people that Brie Bella and Kelly Kelly had more experience wrestling than Trish did when they won their first titles. And I'm sure plenty of people are relieved that we haven't seen slop matches in years now.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Elimination Chamber 2012 In Review

And the final PPV before WrestleMania is upon us. Not that I'm being negative but this usually has the habit of being WWE's worst PPV of the year, mostly because there's barely any matches and instead just endless segments setting up possible storylines, or else just killing time. Nonetheless I watched the PPV with high enough expectations so let's get going.

1) Raw Elimination Chamber Match For The WWE Championship:
Wow, I was not expecting the Raw match to open the show. But I like it. It's cool that Smackdown gets to have the upper card placement, though strange considering the Raw match was full of legitimate world title contenders (well Kofi is probably borderline). Anyway first of all can I say about Vickie Guerrero...DAYUM. The actual opening exchanges between Punk and Kofi were nice to see, though unusual to see guys actually wrestling in an Elimination Chamber match. I can't remember if Punk and Kofi ever had a full blown match before since they were always on different brands. I loved that mid-air collision off the springboard. R-Truth surprised me with how fast he moved. He's not really known for moving around that fast. I honestly was expecting Kofi to be the first one out but I found Truth's elimination to be a bit abrupt. I mean, this is someone who WWE wants to do serious things with. I wasn't expecting Dolph Ziggler to be out so early either but that DDT from Kofi was nice. He lasted longer than I expected him to and he gave Jericho the required build up to make him a big heel. I might be clutching at straws but could this signal the start of a Kofi/Jericho match at WrestleMania? I'd prefer that to Punk/Jericho anyway. Interesting move to have Jericho eliminated without being pinned or submitted. The end exchanges between Punk and Miz were great and I want these two to go at it at WrestleMania so bad. Really good Chamber match. 8/10

I liked these Santino skits but there were a little too many of them considering how few matches were on the card. Lol at Eugene's music making an appearance.

2) Beth Phoenix* vs Tamina Snuka (Divas' Championship):
I wasn't expecting that much from this match for obvious reasons but it wasn't terrible. They gave it a decent amount of time and Tamina showed some remarkable improvement. Obviously not as fun as Beth's matches with Eve and Kelly, this one was respectable enough. Tamina showed a lot of charisma and I especially liked that moment where Beth tried to headbutt her, it didn't work and Tamina headbutted her right back. Beth was really entertaining with all her antics like how she mocked Jimmy Snuka's pose. Props to Tamina for taking the superplex and her splash looked good tonight as well. Beth got a great rub from kicking out of it and looks very strong and dominant coming out of the match. Interesting to see her Glam Slam someone as big as Tamina. Hopefully Beth can feud with Natalya now. 6.5/10

Wasn't a big fan of the in-ring promo since a match would have been preferrable. Though I was amazed that Christian managed to cut a decent heel promo. I thought Alberto Del Rio was looking a bit faceish to start off and wasn't sure if he was returning as one. I expect this is setting up a match for WrestleMania to decide who gets control of both shows. I doubt it'll be Teddy Long vs Johnny Ace (at least I hope not) but rather them picking a wrestler each to represent them. Or maybe a team of Christian, Del Rio and Mark Henry vs Teddy Long's team. I'm predicting Santino but can't think of anyone else.

3) Smackdown Elimination Chamber Match For The World Heavyweight Championship:
I thought this one was actually a lot better than the Raw match, which is surprising considering half the participants didn't have any right to actually be in there. Great Khali being in there was a complete waste of time since he was the first out and I think he clocked the least amount of time in a Chamber ever. I know there's a LOT of people in India but I doubt they'd all tune in just to see Khali in and out in less than three minutes. Really enjoyed everything done by Cody Rhodes and Wade Barrett in this match because they are two of the best heels in the company right now. I seriously want them both to get serious matches at WrestleMania. Cody got a great rub by beating Big Show and his credibility was preserved with Santino eliminating him via distraction roll-up. Speaking of the Milan Miracle, he really impressed in this match. This reminds me of Jeff Hardy's ladder match against the Undertaker where you knew there was no way in hell he was going to win and yet for a few moments it seemed possible. The crowd were so into this and that made it all the better. Naturally Santino made it to the finals because he's someone WWE don't care about jobbing out to Daniel Bryan. As for Big Show, I thought he did great in this match with the whole breaking into Daniel Bryan's pod. Really happy that both champions retained their titles tonight because both of them deserve to headline WrestleMania. 10/10

As I said on Twitter yesterday, Natalya can play "pull my finger" with me anyday. You make fun of Vickie's appearance when Hornswoggle is in the room?

4) Jack Swagger* vs Justin Gabriel (United States Championship):
File this one under waste of time. But that's not their fault. WWE gave them a three minute match on a PPV that was filled with pointless excessive hyping for the main event, a dumb promo for The Rock and John Cena's feud which will doubtlessly be repeated three times on every Raw and Smackdown until Mania, and of course the dumb segments. They did the best they could to make the match entertaining but it just seemed sloppy and badly thrown together. The spot of the match of course is Gabriel's suicide dive closely followed by his spinning kick in the corner. I think there's just no hope for Swagger anymore. He's got no mic skills, no charisma and not even Vickie has been able to get him heat. Give these two an actual feud and you know, actual effort into booking him as a champion to change my mind. 4/10

5) John Cena vs Kane (Ambulance Match):
50% of this match was lame. Kane's Ambulance Match with Shane McMahon at Survivor Series 2003 was much more exciting. Typical Cena getting beaten down then making a comeback with his five moves of doom. Though when the match got to ringside things picked up heavily and I was actually interested. I'm a sucker for garbage wrestling so the various weapons were pretty inventive like the wheelchair and the ring steps. I'll admit I marked out a little for the chokeslam through the Spanish announce table. Predictably Cena wins to end this feud and move onto The Rock at WrestleMania. I was honestly expecting Zack Ryder to interfere at the end but I guess we'll see him on Raw. Not so good at first but more exciting as it went on. 6.5/10

Friday, 17 February 2012

Week In Review For Women's Wrestling #34

It's my favourite part of the month for women's wrestling - a TNA PPV one week and a WWE one the very next. We see the continuation of one angle and the build up towards another. Well at least in theory anyway. A lot of girls are getting featured on the TV screens so let's take a look at how things played out.

Against All Odds - Gail Kim* vs Tara (Knockouts Championship):
Yes, yes, yes! Finally! This is the match I've been praying for the Knockouts to have. I loved the non-title match they had on Impact and, while I was critical of the booking behind it and afraid they'd given too much away, they managed to top it. There was great back and forth action between the two women and they definitely benefited from having the storyline behind it. These two have insane chemistry and, barring their awful match when Gail returned, have always put on good matches together. It would be interesting to see a full blown match between them with Gail as the face and Tara as the heel because I think they could tear the house down together. I was genuinely afraid for Tara's health when she was fiddling with her knee brace considering she still has a torn ACL. Believe it or not that's only the third time in her career that her moonsault has made contact (I'm not counting the time Lita fucked up). Hopefully the Knockouts can keep this ball rolling but judging from the storyline continuation, I'm guessing that'll be a problem. 7.5/10

Raw - Tamina Snuka vs Brie Bella:
Wow, this is a random match though I am grateful it's Brie and not Nikki because it was sad that the better wrestler of the twins was acting as the jobber to the faces. This match was nothing special considering Brie and Tamina have their own five moves of doom but they were done well and the match served its purpose. I might not be crazy about Tamina getting a push but the build up for this feud has been fun so far and the match feels decently built up. I don't see a rematch as WrestleMania worthy but we'll wait and see what the next few weeks have to offer. Beth was good on commentary, she didn't take away from the match and she spoke well enough. As an aside, I like that Tamina has a last name now. It's a bit annoying that a lot of the Divas only have first names. They should give Natalya her last name back as well. 4.5/10

Eve/Zack Ryder/John Cena Triangle:
The folks at Melrose Place probably applauded this twist. I'll admit it was a nice swerve and I'll offer up my two cents on where I think this angle is headed. I believe it will go either of two ways - Eve turns heel and allies herself with a heel Cena. Judging from the heat she was getting, this could prove well for her provided she can actually play a convincing bad girl. The second option which I think is more likely is that Eve will have been manipulated by Kane into kissing Cena just to mess with them both. It does remind me of the Kane/Lita/Matt triangle from 2004 though thankfully we know Eve won't be dropping Kane's sprog since we're on a PG show now. Though I won't be surprised if he has her tied up backstage next week. Also look at her expression after she kisses Cena. It seems like she didn't want to do it and she did seem genuinely upset for Zack's wellbeing after he got thrown off the stage. If WWE gets her to do something big to get her ownback on Kane then they could turn that heat into incredible popularity. Hopefully both Eve and Zack are featured heavily at WrestleMania.

Impact - #1 Contender's Battle Royal:
I enjoyed 75% of this match. I've never witnessed a TNA Knockouts battle royal before and it was quite fun, especially since all the women had to go over the top rope. There were a whole list of people I would have liked to see come out with a win like ODB, Sarita, Velvet Sky, even Winter. As soon as Tara got eliminated I was really excited because the final three women left in the ring were all ones I would be happy as a #1 contender. The final three in the ring just dragged on for ages and less is more in those situations. Those extra minutes were not needed and I just wanted it to end already. My cheers of joy immediately turned to boos of outrage when Madison got in the ring. Oh, TNA, no doubt you think you're being clever. They clearly have no idea how to book one storyline at a time. What is the point of putting tension between the Tag Team Champions? Why the hell would Madison want to face her tag team partner in a match when she's already a champion? Is it too much just to crown a number 1 contender and put the belt on them, then you can have Gail and Madison feud all you want. Hopefully Velvet gets included to make this a triple threat, especially since Sting really doesn't like Madison. And who the hell is the face in this? Gail seems more like the face in this considering her friend one-upped her. Neither woman should turn face at the moment. Oh well please let Velvet become a 2-time Knockouts Champion. 6.5/10

Superstars - Aksana vs Maxine:
I was relieved to see Aksana finally get to wrestle a full match and I could spot some mistakes I see in guys at my gym all the time. She clearly came off like a heel in the match because she's so used to working as a heel down in FCW. Which makes WWE look even more idiotic because why would they have her as a heel in FCW when they wanted her as a face on the main roster? That being said, Aksana can play a face well enough as seen on NXT and the actual moves in this match were pretty good. Both women looked like they knew what they were doing, apart from the one sloppy moment when they were brawling on the mat. The spinebuster looked perfect though and it's great to see a Diva have a move like that in her arsenal. Hopefully Aksana will adjust to working as a face in weeks to come. 6.5/10

FCW - Raquel Diaz* vs Audrey Marie (Divas' Championship):
I miss Daniel Moinet's announcing, Caylee Turner should stick to wrestling. Not Raquel's best promo if I'm being honest. The delivery was fine but the lines themselves just didn't work. That being said, I enjoyed this match. It was better and more fun that the match where Raquel won the title. Audrey has really improved her pacing in the ring as all the moves at the start were so fast and flowed together seamlessly. Raquel needs to tighten up her bumping but she's covering for her inexperience by using her character and getting the crowd involved. You just know she'll be great one day. The ending was interesting, I liked it anyway and the pin looked convincing. It's a different way to end a match. 7/10

Smackdown - Tamina Snuka & Alicia Fox vs Divas of Doom:
I was happy that this match was longer than the ones we've been getting in the last few months and hopefully Smackdown can have matches that are at least this length from now on. I liked that the Divas inserted a bit of comedy and extra little things to make this match a bit more fun than the usual two minute "let's get all our spots in" ordeal. Alicia does a Matrix and spanks Nattie? Is she channelling Trish and Kelly? Is that her new gimmick? I could roll with a psychic Alicia. Anyway I loved seeing her work with Beth and Natalya though what was up with the moment where she just unlocked the Sharpshooter? Some reports say she farted in the ref's face but it didn't seem that way to me. Anyway Tamina does only two moves but I get the feeling she'll actually surprise us come Sunday. The ending moments were a nice little touch and it does give a little bit of a tease for the PPV where people will want to see Tamina splash Beth. I'm probably overrating it a little but this is the first Smackdown that has satisfied me in months. 7/10

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Week In Review For Women's Wrestling #33

Today was an interesting week on paper anyway as it seems like we have the start of an actual feud on the rise in WWE while TNA has a special episode taking place in the UK, not to mention what looks like a budding heel turn. Should be a good one.

Raw - Divas of Doom & The Bella Twins vs Eve, Alicia Fox, Kelly Kelly & Tamina:
Not only is it a rematch from the Royal Rumble but 6 of the 8 girls in this match were wearing the same things they wore at the PPV. Only difference is Eve is leading them to the ring now - pretty awesome stuff. Can't wait until she properly becomes the top face again. Anyway this match was a bit on the bland side and now that we know about Eve's injury that explains why as she tagged out a bit early so those few minutes were probably improvised. It didn't offer much in the way of action but Beth developed her character a lot more. I guess Tamina's getting a push now. I can't say I'm that excited about it but she put on a good match with Natalya on Superstars and hopefully Beth can do good things with her, prompting her to add more moves to her arsenal would be a start. I saw Tamina's post-match interview and I was very impressed with how natural she spoke. At least it'll be a fresh match in the division. 2/10

NXT - Maxine vs Kaitlyn:
And NXT finally gives us a longer match, even if it's still too short. I didn't like this one too much as it seemed like they were working against each other instead of helping each other out. It almost seems like they went out there and freestyled the whole thing. Their match back in October remains their best encounter anyway. The moves were done well but there was no real rhyme or reason to them, making the whole thing seem a bit sloppy. Hopefully NXT gives us some longer matches in the next few weeks. On the plus side, Kaitlyn is now involved in the storyline between Bateman, Maxine and Johnny Curtis so we got some pretty fun segments on the show this week. 4.5/10

Impact - Gail Kim & Tara Brawl:
Excellent. Loved this whole segment, even if Gail did seem a bit stiff with her last line. I had to lol at none of the extras stopping to see what was going on. I'm loving the way this feud has been progressing and I think this could be *the* feud that the TNA Knockouts need to get back on track. Mickie/Madison was okay with build up but the matches sucked while Mickie/Winter had the booking against them. Hopefully the bookers can show some restraint this time. Segment rating: 9/10

Mickie James vs Velvet Sky:
What's this? Is Mickie "sweeter than granny's apple pie" James going bad on us? I'm excited for that and I was expecting one of them to tease a heel turn in the match and I'm relieved it wasn't Velvet. Mickie has played the heel in most of her face vs face matches ever since she joined TNA and she seemed pretty good at playing nearly a full blown heel in this match. The action was okay but the big thing was the story being told and I see Mickie turning heel slowly in the next few weeks rather than simply showing up on Impact next week as a heel. I'm a little worried that if she isn't psycho like she was last time then she could be a little boring. 6.5/10

FCW - Audrey Marie & Kaitlyn vs Raquel Diaz & Sofia Cortez:
Excellent to see Sofia Cortez in another match though I was missing Caylee Turner. About 75% of this match was fine, except for the end when things looked really strange. Audrey didn't tag Kaitlyn and did the comeback all by herself when she had been getting worked on for the whole match. Anyway this was a much better showcase for Sofia/Ivelisse's skills than her match back in December. Her clotheslines and forearms looked great and that northern lights suplex was perfect. Aside from how sloppy things were towards the end the rest of the match was fine and all girls were on form. 6/10

Smackdown - Beth Phoenix vs Alicia Fox:
Well I guess this gives some closure on the Beth/Alicia feud which never happened though I'm still going to hope for a singles match on Superstars in the next few weeks. This one was short but still somewhat entertaining and better than their atrocious match on Raw back in December. I'm sad that Alicia has been thrown aside in favour of Tamina when she is far more talented but again the build up to this feud has been interesting enough and Beth delivered a really strong backstage interview. Hopefully this will be a one-and-done deal for the Elimination Chamber and more importantly, it gets enough time. Overall rating: 5/10

Monday, 6 February 2012

Wrestling Matches To See Before You Die - Attitude Era Edition

And we come to the period that every WWE fan knows and (most of them) loves. It was certainly a boom period for wrestling in the United States during the late 90s when WWE were facing huge competition from WCW and so upped the ante by moving their programming away from the traditional family friendly image. Now WWE television featured a lot more violence, gore, profanity, sexual content and a whole lot of randomness. Obviously I tried really hard to prevent this from turning into the Rock/HHH/Austin show. The video is in two parts below:

Stone Cold vs Shawn Michaels:
And of course we kick off the video with the very match recognised as the one that kicked off the Attitude Era. For the 14th edition of WrestleMania we had the now-a-star Stone Cold Steve Austin challenging the Heart Break Kid Shawn Michaels who was also in a faction you may have heard of. What was the name? Oh yeah D-Generation X. In order to give some more spice to the big title match, none other than Iron Mike Tyson was acting as the special guest timekeeper though the weeks leading into the PPV gave us the impression that he was going to be a teeny bit biased towards D-X. At the PPV it was a different story entirely as the iconic moment where Mike Tyson counts to three and gives Stone Cold the win is recognised as the beginning of the Attitude Era.

Kaientai vs Bradshaw & Taka Michinoku:
I know a good few of you are probably scratching your heads wondering who these people are and I’m sure nearly 90% of fans don’t even remember this match but it is definitely worth seeing. WWE did try to create a Light-Heavyweight division to compete with WCW’s Cruiserweight division but of course we all know how that turned out. Nonetheless we had four very talented guys bringing over the hard-hitting Japanese style of wrestling and putting on a fast paced and thrilling little match. Bradshaw held his own in there as well and it just goes to show the actual pedestal Kaientai used to be on before they got reduced to jobbing out while having their voices dubbed by Jonathan Coachman.

Mankind vs The Undertaker [Hell In A Cell]:
The second HIAC match in WWE history took place at the 1998 King of the Ring event and certainly had a tough act to follow in its predecessor which you saw in the last video. Within the first two minutes it topped the inaugural HIAC match when Mankind was thrown right off the top of the cell and landed smashing into the announce table, prompting JR to scream his now famous line “my God! He’s dead, he’s broken in half!” but of course Mankind not only leapt off the stretcher the trainers tried to wheel him out on but immediately ran back to the ring and continued the match. We get to see the iconic Foley spots such as the sack full of thumb tacks as well as another moment that I loved recreating on the video games – Undertaker chokeslamming him through the roof of the cell. Ye Gods.

Owen Hart vs Ken Shamrock [Dungeon Submission Match]:
I was hoping I’d be able to include Owen on the list again and thankfully this match came to my attention. Even if you’re not a fan of either men, it’s certainly worth a look considering it takes place entirely within the famous Hart Family Dungeon and goes to show how much the WWE superstars can do when they don’t even have a wrestling ring. This was clearly the fore-runner of the backstage fights and Falls Count Anywhere matches that were all over the Attitude Era but this one has a twist – the guys wrestled and wrestled perfectly fine without a ring. It isn’t the longest match but it’s certainly one of the most unique and impressive you’ll ever see.

Triple H vs The Rock [Ladder Match]:
As much as I didn’t want to turn this video into the Triple H/Rock/Stone Cold show, I couldn’t leave this match out. Ladder matches were growing in popularity and SummerSlam 1998 featured one between two guys who were slowly climbing up the (pardon the pun) ladder to become the main eventers of the company. What’s surprising is that this is a main-event calibre bout but it’s only for the Intercontinental title. Obviously the standards for ladder matches were still being set at this stage but the guys gave it their all and produced a fun match that’s held up reasonably well over time.

X-Pac vs D’Lo Brown:
Hold up your hands and admit that a few “X-Pac Sucks!” chants just zipped through your head when you read the title. Well now that that’s out of the way, let’s reflect on this doozy of a match for the European title (which Mr Brown is currently tied for most reigns with, the other being William Regal) that was booked for Judgment Day 1998. It’s amazing to see X-Pac in the face role because he plays it quite well and this is him at his peak, before he fell victim to his own X-Pac Heat. Need I say anything else except mid-air X-Factor?

Mankind vs The Rock:
This is the match that nearly the whole world knew the result to before it aired and yet still sat down to watch anyway. The geniuses at WCW thought they were being clever the night they revealed the result of Raw’s taped episode, jokingly saying “that ought to put some butts in the seats”. Well thousands of viewers immediately switched from Nitro to Raw and eagerly awaited Mankind winning his first WWE title. Obviously Mankind was something completely different from the image WWE’s top guys normally fit and so for him to win the world title was an amazing achievement back in his day. The match isn’t the longest but it’s one of the most emotional you’ll find in terms of crowd involvement.

Billy Gunn vs Ken Shamrock:
Of course I mark unashamedly for Billy G and do the same moonlit vigils for him that I do for Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian but I’m not being biased by putting this match on the list. Billy Gunn was certainly a great combination of strength and athleticism as one of my trainers put it, he could military press guys over his head and still leap as high in the air for a dropkick as any of the Cruiserweights. And as for Shamrock, well it’s Ken friggin Shamrock. This is a fun and fast-paced match with some great action in it and some cool spots like the facebuster from the apron to the announce table and the Kitchen Sink countered into a school boy. Certainly a strong showing from the midcard guys back in the day.

Triple H vs X-Pac:
Former DX team mates now turned enemies and no, X-Pac is still the face which I am more than fine with. 1999’s Backlash PPV offered this juicy match and the two guys delivered big time. If your main exposure to Triple H is his sluggish brawling and repetitive moveset like mine is then you’ll be surprised to see just how good a wrestler he was before his injury in 2001. It’s great to see him actually wrestle a match and not just throw punches and kicks, hit his five moves of doom and bring out the sledgehammer. He and X-Pac shared a real chemistry together which this match is proof of. And can I just say Chyna, what an outfit. It’s like she comes complete with her own safe word.

Steve Blackman vs Ken Shamrock [Lion’s Den Match]:
I found one more offering from Ken Shamrock to squeeze onto my list before his abrupt departure from the WWE and I always liked Steve Blackman. He was always really underrated to me and definitely one of the baddest guys there was. These two had a big feud over the summer of 1999 and it warranted a special Lion’s Den match at SummerSlam. For those unsure of the rules (I know I was at first), it takes place inside a cage to the side of the ring and you win by knocking your opponent out. Weapons were allowed in this match and displayed around the top of the cage. This went about the way you’d expect with these two badasses inside a cage together and, despite a confusing ending, is definitely must-see.

Edge & Christian vs The New Brood [Ladder Match]:
In case you were a bit confused, the New Brood is really Matt and Jeff Hardy in their initial gimmick when they got a big promotion to the main roster in 1999. WWE’s fun with acronyms continued with Terri Runnels introducing the Terri Invitational Tournament which culminated in a ladder match at No Mercy. A bag of $1000 was hanging above the ring and the team that claimed it would also snag Terri’s managerial services as well. Now given that these two teams helped shape this kind of wrestling as we know it today, it’s amazing to see them go at it back then and this match still holds up today. The crowd cares a lot more than the crowds today because they had literally never seen stuff like this before. It’s safe to say that with this match, the two brothers from North Carolina became stars.

Kurt Angle vs Steve Blackman:
The Armageddon event at the end of 1999 featured the PPV debut of the WWE’s first Olympic Gold Medalist. Kurt Angle at the time was a huge contradiction in terms of character as he displayed many characteristics associated with faces but turned them around and made them work as a heel. For anyone interested in seeing Steve Blackman actually wrestle instead of hitting people with everything but the kitchen sink, you’re in for a treat as he was as good at grappling as he was in hardcore competition. It’s a shame the crowd was so dead because this match really was a treat to watch.

Hardy Boyz vs Dudley Boyz [Tables Match]:
The first PPV of the new millennium kicked off with the first ever tag team Tables match in WWE and pitted the already flashy Hardys against the new team of the Dudley Boyz. The Dudleys were the third team along with the Hardys and E&C that helped shape this kind of wrestling leading to the creation of the TLC match which will be covered in more detail in my video for gimmick matches. This of course is a huge spotfest and is just complete chaos from the moment the bell rings, which is a good thing I might add. Though Jeff Hardy’s painkiller addiction is getting easier to believe with each match I watch.

Scotty 2 Hotty vs Dean Malenko:
Now maybe I’m a bit biased because Scotty is the only wrestler on this list I’ve actually met but on asking him what he thought his best match was, he replied this one from Backlash 2000. On watching it back, I quite agree. Scotty was a strong character and really over with the fans for it but he was a great wrestler as well and demonstrated how he could have been one of the stars of the Light-Heavyweight division had WWE invested actual time into it. Malenko of course could gel with just about everyone but this is a combination that really worked and these two could have had a full blown feud if WWE had gotten behind both of them. I’ll leave this entry by saying – super Impaler DDT!

Kurt Angle vs Chris Jericho:
Mr Angle certainly had one of the best rookie years anyone could ask for in WWE as he became a Euro-Continental champion (he held the EU and IC belts at the same time for those who can’t put two and two together) and walked out of King of the Ring as royalty. I watched the finals match from the PPV and considered putting it on here but this semi-finals match with Chris Jericho was just so much better. Watch Jericho here and watch his matches now and you’ll see that he can still go like he used to while guys like Triple H and Undertaker are struggling to keep up. And even if you don’t like these two guys, it’s worth it to see Jericho locking lips with Stephanie.

The Rock vs Chris Benoit:
As you all know (and as much as WWE would like us to forget) Benoit finally got his hands on WWE Championship gold in 2004 but he actually got a taste of main event status as early as his first year in the company. While Benoit was booked as a face throughout most of his career, he played a really good heel here and dominated the People’s Champ. Of course having Shane McMahon at ringside adds some colour to the match but thankfully he doesn’t take away from the wrestling, which is exceptional. You might get your hopes up towards the end there when Benoit is declared champion but even when the match gets restarted, it’s still a nice back and forth contest that doesn’t bury him at all. Good match from this rare combination.

Chris Benoit vs Triple H:
No Mercy was hailed as being WWE’s absolute worst PPV of 2000 but the trainwreck of a show had a 10/10 match from another unlikely pairing. Going back to what I said in the entry with Triple H/X-Pac, my reaction to this was really “holy hell, Trips used to be a fucking great wrestler”. Seriously, this is one of his best matches, period. He doesn’t brawl, he doesn’t cheat, he wrestles and does it exceptionally. Just look at that leg grapevine. There’s certainly an interesting psychology going on here with Triple H going after the leg and Benoit targeting the arm and it makes for a really enjoyable contest.

Kurt Angle vs The Undertaker:
King Kurt of course snagged himself the WWE title at No Mercy and became a star. Going into the Survivor Series though he was up against some stiff competition in the form of the Undertaker who had dropped the dead man gimmick and repackaged himself as a badass biker called the American Badass. Wrestling in one of the most epic pair of snakeskin pants I’ve ever seen, Taker gave as good as he got and tore the house down that night. And of course you have to mark out whenever you see a Figure 4 done around the ring post. The ending will go down as one of the most creative in history and I’m sure the Bella Twins used this as inspiration for nearly every other match they’ve been involved in.

Billy Gunn vs Chris Benoit:
Billy G returned from a knee injury in late 2000 and was rechristened “The One” complete with a great entrance theme that now is one of the most played songs on my iPod. He got a good singles push and defeated Eddie Guerrero to win the Intercontinental title. Of course the reign was short lived as he dropped it to Chris Benoit three weeks later at Armageddon. The night wasn’t a total loss though as Billy put on the best match of his career, even wrestling with earrings in at that. Of course it was nigh impossible for Benoit to have a bad match and this is one of his best as well.

Chris Benoit vs Chris Jericho [Ladder Match]:
Lillian Garcia recently gave us a nice bit of trivia in that the feud between Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit came about when she accidentally goofed and announced Benoit as Jericho so they built the storyline off that initially. WWE’s hot potato with the IC belt continued as only weeks after winning it off Billy Gunn, who himself had only just won it from Eddie Guerrero, Benoit dropped it to Jericho at the Royal Rumble. Like Billy Gunn, Benoit lost the title with a bang in what has got to be the best ladder match in history. Seriously, the video game developers most definitely got most of the crazy stuff we can do with ladders in the games from this match. The spot of the match has got to be that suicide dive right into the steel chair shot though the Octopus hold on top of the ladder is a close second.

The Rock vs Stone Cold:
And what would an Attitude Era appreciation video be without the grand finale? WrestleMania X-Seven is widely hailed as one of the best Manias in history (though personally I thought 19 and 22 were way better) and it’s this iconic confrontation, the second in an epic trilogy, that sent the fans home in complete shock. The standard formula for an epic main event involving Stone Cold ensues such as brawling, spots on the outside and robbing your opponent’s signature moves. But then there’s of course his infamous heel turn where he sides with his arch-nemesis Vincent Kennedy McMahon. Not exactly the best technical match but certainly one of the most memorable.

Team WWF vs Team Alliance:
Now I know that the Attitude Era officially ended at WrestleMania X-Seven but I didn’t want to make a separate video for the Invasion since this is the only noteworthy match to come out of that storyline and so it finishes off this video in grand fashion. The months long feud between the WWE wrestlers and the WCW/ECW Alliance came to a close in a Winner Takes All match at the 2001 Survivor Series and, while the result may have been predictable, the execution was the best SS match ever. Clocking at around 45 minutes, this was one of the most epic and highly anticipated confrontations between the two sides and there’s not much else I can say about it except that Stone Cold, The Rock, Kurt Angle, Chris Jericho, Undertaker, Kane, Big Show, Booker T, Rob Van Dam and even Shane McMahon worked their asses off to give the storyline a grand finale. With that, the Invasion was over and the Ruthless Aggression Era began…

Friday, 3 February 2012

Week In Review For Women's Wrestling #32

And with the Royal Rumble behind us and the Divas' Champion finally back on TV, this week was certainly a lot more promising on paper for the girls at WWE. Over in TNA we have a new #1 contender crowned and lots of build up to get in before the title match. Should be a good one.

Royal Rumble - Divas of Doom & The Bella Twins vs Kelly Kelly, Alicia Fox, Eve Torres & Tamina:
I wasn't expecting an actual match to get added onto the card, probably getting Beth in the Rumble at the very most but this was a nice surprise. What's even more surprising is that it was still pretty good and decent enough to watch. The girls actually got a good amount of time to work and each of them got some ring time without making the match feel too cluttered or overbooked. And what an outfit for the twins, ye Gods. Out of all the mini-matches we saw, I enjoyed Eve/Beth the most for obvious reasons. Their interaction was so crisp and smooth. When Alicia got tagged in I thought that would be the end of it but nope the match continued. Her screaming when she was getting choked at the ropes made me chuckle. Kelly's spot where she body blocked every other Diva was cool and it looked a lot smoother than those spots sometimes do, as all the girls fell down at the right time. Beth gets a good clean win to remind everyone she is dominant and powerful yadda yadda yadda. This is sort of a way to reintroduce her to the audience after being off TV for so long and it wasn't too shabby a night for them anyway. 6.5/10

Kharma In The Rumble:
I expected one day Kharma would enter the Royal Rumble but I had no idea she'd had her baby over a month ago or even that she would make an appearance. Judging from what else has happened this week, she's not back full time yet and I wouldn't expect her to return until WrestleMania. I'm not positive but I'm sure she has officially clocked the most time in the Rumble out of any time a woman entered. She technically got two eliminations as well and did you hear the pop she got when she got Dolph with the Implant Buster? Good night for the girls as Cameron and Naomi got on PPV as well. Everyone on PPV except AJ, Aksana and Kaitlyn so I think that's a winner.

Raw - Beth Phoenix* vs Eve Torres (Divas' Championship):
Wow, one of the fastest title defences ever. If it was anyone other than Beth I'd be annoyed but she is the Glamazon and this gives her another good title defence. She's now recorded four defences with the belt, something no champion has done since Maryse held it back in 2009. I guess in kayfabe Eve was too concerned with Kane to focus on the match and that works fine. I'm happy she's involved in this storyline, which I say every week and I'm expecting this to lead to Kane vs Zack Ryder at WrestleMania, with Eve at ringside. You never know, they might throw a Diva out there and make it a mixed tag though I can't imagine what Diva would want to team with Kane for the evening. I lol'd at Eve's screaming, she should really stick to looking scared but bring us more segments like these in *additon* to storylines involving the title. 1/10

NXT - Maxine vs Alicia Fox:
File this one under waste of time. No real need to have Maxine in a match at all if they were going to waste half the time they were allotted with a pointless replay of Maxine and Alicia getting into a scuffle. I long for the days when NXT gave the girls actual time to wrestle. On the bright side it looks like Kaitlyn is getting involved in this storyline as well. Even if we aren't getting satisfactory matches then hopefully in the coming weeks we can be satisfied outside of the ring. 1/10

Impact - Tara vs Gail Kim:
First of all, I don't agree with this. It makes no sense to have a non-title match when Tara is already the #1 contender. If they wanted to use this as a way of making her the next challenger then it would make sense but it's just not a good idea to give too much away. Having Tara face Madison would have been more logical. However, that aside I really enjoyed this match. It's one of the best ones they've had on Impact in months and definitely Gail's best match since she returned. She's adjusted to working as a heel and of course she and Tara have amazing chemistry. I'm really excited for the PPV match now so I guess a good thing came out of the silly logic behind this one. I've been critical of TNA for the past few months (for obvious reasons) but they have stepped up in terms of booking and they seem to be putting a lot of effort into this feud. 8.5/10

Xplosion - Velvet Sky vs Angelina Love:
I didn't know this aired last week so I'll review it in this entry. I was actually trying to find a good singles match between these two before I even knew about this one and I was pleasantly surprised. It would take honours for Match of the Week but of course it happened last week. It's definitely the best match Velvet has been in during her TNA career. She and Angelina didn't always have the best chemistry but there was definitely something here in this match. I loved all the mat wrestling at the start and also Angelina's clotheslines really stood out. I can't explain it but I just love the way she does them. All of Velvet's offence looked especially sharp and the end sequence of finisher reversals was nice too though I would have preferred her to use the double underhook instead of the DDT. 8.5/10

Superstars - Kelly Kelly & Alicia Fox vs Bella Twins:
Alicia is pulling triple duty this week and double duty in the one night, hopefully she'll at least get one title match on PPV because she really deserves it. I liked the opening moments of the match with the double baseball slide and the twins did their usual thing isolating one body part. Thankfully Alicia toned down the screaming that she was doing on Sunday so the match was less unintentionally funny. Kelly's hot tag sequence was good, she was emulating Melina with that little facecrusher but hey it looked good. The end was bad though. It lacked any excitement and there was no one big move from whichever Bella it was, nor was there any interference which is how it should be done. It was a decent match overall but the flat ending just brought it down a bit. 6/10

Smackdown - Divas of Doom vs Aksana & Tamina:
Well that's all Divas utilised this week though I'd prefer if Aksana had a different theme and you know...actual time to wrestle. Anyway Aksana bumped well for the heels and hopefully she'll get something like three minutes to show off something she's learned in FCW. The DoD look especially dominant this week and it looks like we might be seeing the start of the Beth/Natalya feud we've all been craving. I guess they might use all these losses Natalya's been having as basis for the break-up, Beth saying she's not living up to the standards and turning on her. I'd prefer if they didn't rush this as this is a match that is WrestleMania-worthy. WWE does tend to do fast turns so hopefully it'll be a few more weeks until Beth and Natalya actually split. Not much of a match but getting a storyline is a bit better. 2/10