Hi, if you’re reading this then this website will self-destruct in three months! I penned this a few weeks ago as a last goodbye to the site and the the whole WrestleWipe concept, and I’m posting it now because my baby boy is due any second and at that point I’ll be taking some time away to concentrate on nappies, dummies and being a typical beer-bellied dad. So it’s best to take the time to do a proper goodbye and leave early before the curtains fall.
In the last half of 2020, I knew that at some point in 2021 I would become a dad (or I would at least be on the road to becoming a dad), but I still had plans to continue with WrestleWipe. It’s was a lot of work to keep tabs on all the stories and shrink them into a digestible bite-sized paragraph, but I felt I found my niche in a crowded wrestling-content market. The articles on the site would fall away a bit, but I’d at least keep up with the monthly recap threads. That was the plan. Unfortunately, two events happened in 2020 that had a huge effect on the pro wrestling landscape, and on my willingness to watch and write about it.
Firstly, the pandemic effected my enjoyment of the pro wrestling in that, lets face it, empty venue wrestling is the shits. Clap crowds are the shits. Spaced out fans struggling to create noise is shit. 99.99% of cinematic matches are shite. It’s all fucking shit, lets not cherry coat it here. Pro wrestling is a live medium and needs that organic feedback from a live audience to thrive, and this period of empty, soulless wrestling was not for me.
I often found that I was forcing myself to watch wrestling in order to have an opinion of it. I mean, how can I comment on ‘ONE. FINAL. BEAT’ if I didn’t strap myself down in front of a screen and cry through the pain in real time? How can I dissect the atrocity that was Money In The Bank 2020 without watching every single frame? How can I enjoy Ilja vs Walter without the typical WWE production killing the moment?
It was a crap time to be a professional wrestling fan but it made for some EXCELLENT content. Believe it or not, it’s fun to write about how shit professional wrestling is! So much fun! Not nearly as fun as actually watching excellent professional wrestling, but enough to justify watching the tripe in the first place. It’s not exactly hate-watching either because I’m not watching whole episodes of RAW on a weekly basis (God fucking no) but I tried to keep up with the talking points, and what I did see I hated. Hated with a passion. Even the matches I found myself enjoying were tainted by bad production or lack of atmosphere or, in a lot of cases, both.
So I wasn’t enjoying the wrestling, and I wasn’t actively watching as much I used to, but it was the bare minimum to develop a patter about the pro wrestling scene. Enough to have a say in WrestleWipe threads and on social media. For a few months, that was fine. The banter around how the various wrestling companies were trying (and failing) to cope was grand, it made for some interesting think pieces and set the stage for WWE to be the ultimate wankers when they started releasing people to increase profits. There was still a lot to write about, albeit most of it was very negative.
But then came June 2020 and the whole thing got fucked. We always knew that most wrestlers are bastard-covered bastards with a bastard filling (I don’t expect people who throw themselves onto the ground for money to have particularly good ethics), but the sheer scope, tragedy, sadness and atrociousness of the accusations being leveled against the wrestling scene was overwhelming. You expect a few dodgy pricks in any business, and you gradually learn how to circumnavigate the waters and who to support, but it seemed EVERYONE was complicit in this. Everyone was guilty, and if someone wasn’t guilty of being an abuser then they were guilty of covering up abuse or ignoring it completely.
I looked at the older WrestleWipes, where I’m having a laugh about Travis Banks and Jordan Devlin experiencing NXT-UK follies in order to “create a WWE moment!”…but I was on their side. After all, WWE are guilty of “moment booking” even if it means removing advertised matches to put already-established talent over the new guys who need the good exposure.
Skip forward a few months, and I’m having a laugh about the David Starr debacle, where he upset Pete Dunne by stepping on the prestigious WWE UK Title (the worse crime a man can commit, apparently)…but I was on David Starr’s side. Pete Dunne has a whine on Twitter, hurr hurr look at Pete everyone, he loves the taste of boots, WE THE INDEPENTADNT, hurr hurr.
Then, go forward another few weeks to Starr vs Bobby Gunns at wXw 16 Carat Gold, and Starr loses his roster place in a Title vs Career match, and we all supported Starr in his quest for unionisation and the spirit of independence as we lay in the wake of WWE co-opting wXw right in front of our eyes in shitty little video packages. YES, FUCK WWE! WE LOVE THE INDIE LADS, OTT IS GREAT ISN’T IT? MAN, I CAN’T WAIT TO REWATCH THE STARR/DEVLIN/WALTER SAGA BEFORE THE MOXLEY MATCH! WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE!
Doesn’t seem real, does it? On the site, post-June 2020, I edited those entries to be less on the side of Devlin, Banks and Starr, and less mean to Dunne. However, you can still find the original tweets from the original WrestleWipe threads though, and it makes for uncomfortable reading knowing what we know now.
WWE are still shitheads, Pete Dunne was still whiney, but those other three names…what a complete fucking shower they turned out to be. Those are just the three names out of dozens and dozens that I care to bring up in this piece, but they’re also suitable as they’re three of the names that sting the most.
Wrestlers are always talking about working modern fans, and how difficult it is, but I applaud all of you motherfuckers for working me into believing that you weren’t disgusting human beings outside of the ring. I got worked, you got me. Well fucking done.
At worse, you did horrible shit. At best, you continued to communicate with people who did horrible shit. These were people that I had given my own time, praise and money to, and all they did in return was leave a trail of victims. As someone who grew up in the 90’s and 00’s, I’m built with the “Look at the art, not the artist” chip, but it’s so fucking hard to appreciate the gallery when every single person involved is culpable. I’ll identify as a decent person with a conscience first; being a “wrestling fan” is way, way down on my list.
Well, yeah that was that. I tried to carry on the WrestleWipe series through the summer and into winter, but I could barely scrape an August edition. As I said, I love talking about how shit wrestling is but I also love talking about how great is. You need both, and WrestleWipe quickly became a thread of despair, and as much as I love misery as company I also love joy as company to balance it out.
I initially planned to wait it out, take a much needed break, and maybe cover September 2020’s happenings in the cold air of January 2021, then do a mega October – December 2020 edition in February to get caught up. However, I came to realise that I didn’t care anymore. That moment came the very second I learnt that I was going to be a father. *poof!* There goes my give-a-fuck! Pro wrestling, and by extension WrestleWipe, is not worth my time and effort any more. Why dedicate my time to that when I now had something more important in my life?
The COVID-19 and Speaking Out one-two punch pretty much sealed the future of WrestleWipe. I could probably soldier on with the project if only one of those massive events happened, but both happening simultaneously was the death knell. I’m disappointed, because the other parts of the site (the Ladder Match reviews, H&H Podcast and the CZW rewatch project) were great fun and were getting regular positive feedback. It’s hard to work from home for eight hours then continue to work from that same desk for another six hours, and it’s hard work not knowing who’s going to turn out to be an utter shithead next. So it was best to call the whole thing quits, and just concentrate on watching what I wanted and when I felt like it.
I regret not starting the project and site sooner. Maybe if I started this in 2015 the outcome would’ve been better, as I could just as easily take the year off, but I barely got over a year out of this. All the excitement I had for this project drained away in the last half of 2020. That’s life though and it’ll mean nothing ten years down the line when I’m helping my kids with their homework.
Anyway, that’s that. The site will be shut down permanently in December, but until then it will remain as a bastion of one man’s charge into the dumbest hobby possible at the worst time possible. Professional fucking wrestling, baby.
Thanks a bunch, everyone. This would not have been possible if it wasn’t for Twitter, the world’s most toxic social media platform (well, it is if you ask pro wrestlers and pro wrestling promoters). I greatly appreciate every single retweet, like, comment, and share of my amateur hour nonsense. The support was immense and unexpected.
Also, thanks to those of you who have contacted me with help, encouragement, scoops, opportunities outside of the site and, of course, tremendous banter. Of all the people that I interact with on the hell scape that is Twitter, I’ve never met 99.99999% of them so it’s pretty cool that I managed to get as far I did with all this.
It was fun while it lasted. And hey, that AEW is a bit of alright, isn’t it?
Right, I’m off for a bit. I’ll see you all down the line, take care! Cheers!
Before we start, there will be references to Speaking Out here. Whilst I won't go into much detail, there are stories regarding the likes of Matt Riddle, Joey Ryan and Mike Quackenbush so please use this as a trigger warning forward.
Lets roll on with the July Wipe!
– New Japan announce a Twitter Q&A with Zack Sabre Jr. The Q&A is quickly cancelled and the initial tweet is deleted due to a massive surge in questions about Speaking Out and Zack’s stance on the matter.
– In what would be the least surprising news of July, Austin Aries made an absolute fucking fool of himself again. You know that rule about a bad TV show season cancelling out a good season until it's all terrible (eg The Simpsons), does this apply to ex-ROH champions too?
– The wrestling world is brought back to some normalcy when SANADA competes in the New Japan Cup tournament with a Skull End so loose you could park a fucking jumbo jet in it.
– Taz refers to AEW not running a "sloppy shop" on Dynamite, with Brian Cage making a gun gesture behind him. WON reports that this was taken as a shot at WWE's COVID outbreak & upset some people in WWE. You may hate it but fuck I love this petty shit. WRESTLING WARS, BABY!
– A proposed UK law that would close a loophole around football trainers being able to have sexual relationships with students between the ages of 16-18 is set to be amended following Speaking Out to also cover pro wrestling trainers. It’s said to be coming in 2021.
– WWE buys out EVOLVE, which includes the rights to use the branding on shows & full ownership of the video library. WWE loved EVOLVE's presentation of indie wrestling in front of quiet crowds in gyms & halls as it fits their "big leagues are better" narrative.
– The Wrestling Observer confirms that Kari Sane will be returning to Japan after her contract lapsed. It's a massive shame as she's a helluva talent and has all the tools to be a massive crossover star, but like 99% of all NXT hopefuls, WWE had no idea what to do with her.
– ON JULY THE FUCKING THIRD, WWE begin official enforcement of masks worn by everyone off-camera. It would later come out that these restrictions & more came into place due to Kevin Owens lobbying for more COVID-aware attitudes backstage.
– Unable to secure the trademark for GREAT AMERICAN BASH from WWE, Cody ‘And Brandi’ Rhodes settles for a logo that reads THE AMERICAN NIGHTMARE CODY in a very similar style to the classic GAB logo.
– Austin Aries further cements his fucking stupidity by going live on social media to talk about the hows, whys & whodunnits of COVID being a hoax. He looks like he’s aged 20 years since we last saw him wrestle in November 2019, most likely due to his big galaxy brain worms.
– As a complete 180 to Aries, Toshiaki Kawada declares infection control measures for his restaurant, like not allowing in customers who don't wear masks. Well that's the All Japan vs ROH argument sorted out then.
– Seven months after her main roster push, Shayna Baszler is taping matches for WWE Main Event. Most of us have accepted that NXT stars are reduced to nothing in WWE, but it still sucks to see. All those fans thinking Adam Cole will be a huge WWE star are in for a shock.
– Mayor KANE, the one guy you'd think who would advocate for masks, votes against a mask mandate in Knox County, Tennessee. The mask mandate still goes through though as ol'Glenn was the only one who shot it down.
– AEW starts to allow a small number of fans to their shows. Some fans are given a temperature check and are required to wear a mask, and there are buffer zones to separate these fans from those who are actually fully tested.
– GCW run a socially-distanced backyard wrestling show, which involved much blood, violence, scaffold bumps, handguns, fork lifts, cringe meme wrestlers and a dude getting hit by a car and having his dick presumably blown off by fireworks.
– Kelly Klein talks about how ROH released a small-time indie wrestler for harassing a female roster member, but how ROH still covered up several sexual harassment complaints about Jay Lethal. Lethal would go on to defend himself on Twitter via notes app screenshot.
– BIG BRAIN WWE begin the build to Seth Rollins vs Rey Mysterio in an EYE FOR AN EYE match at EXTREME RULES: THE HORROR SHOW (in July). Yep, one of these men will wrestle until the loser is missing an eyeball. What fucking timeline is this?
– Heath Slater appears on RAW, after being released in April, in an angle with McIntyre before he is booted off WWE screens for good. Heath really should’ve gotten more for eating shit for a decade. Real nice way to play up needlessly firing your workers during a pandemic.
– Nick Gage pops onto Cameo and almost immediately starts filming incredible statements about trans rights because he is the fucking GOD OF THIS SHIT! Murder Death Kill Gang! Eastern Block! Gang Affiliated! MDK ALL FUCKING DAY! The King! Nick FUCKING Gage!
– WrestleCade, a 3-day wrestling fest set to take place in North Carolina in November, is cancelled due to the pandemic. The organiser states that all guests & vendors will be refunded, & that they “want to be part of the solution & not a part of the problem”. Nice one, lads.
– Riddle tweets a video in defence of his accusations (whilst also admitting to having an affair with the accuser) & says he had a restraining order against the victim for two years despite photos showing them together a year ago…Oh, the video is 'liked' by Jordan Devlin.
– Keith Lee makes history by becoming the first wrestler to simultaneously hold both the NXT North American title and the NXT World Heavyweight title.
– IPW:UK, who were at the centre of some horrific Speaking Out accusations, try to do damage control by selling IPW:UK branded t-shirts with the "profits" going to "charity", which is probably a scheme to recoup the costs of that WrestleMania weekend show that drew 20 people.
– NXT Great American Bash defeats AEW Fyter Fest in the continuing ratings war, 759,000 to 715,000, proving that fierce patriotism and nostalgia will always beat old memes & out-of-date references.
– ZERO 1 is bought out by a new company and will be providing free off charge COVID antibody tests at their future shows.
– Minoru Suzuki develops a fever and is pulled from New Japan events whilst he recovers. We all join hands as a wrestling community and pray for a COVID-negative diagnosis and a speedy recovery.
– WON reports that Vince McMahon doesn't "conceptually grasp" Shayna Baszler's style and that she doesn't "check his buttons" when it comes to what he likes in the women's division, hence her push ending abruptly in May, her two month absence & sporadic July appearances.
– A few promotions post statements pledging to do better after Speaking Out but lacking essential transparency, which stems from the problematic secrecy of wrestling, so you have wrestling schools announcing opening dates whilst "finalising policies". It's not a good sign.
– Fighting Spirit puts out a vague statement regarding their safeguarding polices in which they mention how they're not "virtue signalling on twitter". The statement is deleted soon afterwards & is a clear indicator of what some UK promoters think of Speaking Out.
– "I wouldn’t say it's helped the UK scene. I would say it’s helped the wrestlers who have been signed, but outside of that, I don’t think it’s been beneficial." – Stu Bennet talking about NXT-UK in an interview with 411Mania. Hindsight is truly marvellous, isn't it?
– Over at NJPW, things are looking very normal as over the space of two days; EVIL turns heel, joins Bullet Club with a debuting Dick Togo & defeats Naito for the double crown whilst being horrendously boring and all-round crap. Yep, nothing to see here, everything is normal.
– During a live stream, Rusev lets loose that he has COVID and the same day Lana would reveal that both parents also have COVID. Ah, pro wrestling; the world's most hygienic contact pseudo-sport.
– The far right-wing underbelly of WWE has always been visible, but the culture of red-pilling and QAnon schooling takes a big upswing in July with Drake Younger and Bobby Fish hitting the child trafficking lectures hard on social media and in real life meet-ups.
– NOAH posts information about participation at Korakuen Hall shows. This includes; no shouting or chanting, social distancing, no banners, no streamers, no intervals and no gifts will be accepted by the wrestlers.
– Tammy Sytch finds herself in jail once again when she is arrested for driving whilst suspended and eluding a police officer. Boy, the lengths that ex-wrestlers go to get that thrill again.
– Remember TRUST Wrestling? Well it turned out to be a co-opted vanity project by people in wrestling who wanted to control the narrative, including one person who defended Bubblegum for entering into a relationship with a 17 year old trainee. It all pipes down within a week.
– Will Ospreay, who became a big focus for Speaking Out frustrations, reveals on Instangram that he came close to suicide. The outcry against Will is very understandable & demanding answers is good, but hoping he paralyses himself in the ring or kills himself is vile behaviour.
– All in all, BritWres is in a dogshit state of disrepair; there's a thick layer of "Can't we just enjoy wrestling?" to go along with all the bullshit 'anti-bullying' lines & wrestlers using any link they can to associate themselves with the unfortunate passing of Hana Kimura.
– AEW announce that they'll be supporting the Florida COVID operations by releasing a Fight For The Fallen charity t-shirt, with ALL PROCEEDS going towards the First Coast Relief Fund and Feeding Northeast Florida.
– After shutting down CHIKARA & his students/colleagues making measures to distance themselves from him, Mike Quackenbush goes on record to say, “It does feel like a couple weeks ago like a mob ran into our house, lit it on fire and ran out”. Riiiiight.
– Video is posted showing Ricochet, Moose & others practising backflips at the TEAM VISION DOJO, the school run by infamous slot badger, Chasyn Rance (who was also in attendance) .Moose defends the nonce video by doing the "STOP BEING SO NEGATIVE!" routine & Ricochet plays dumb.
– To the surprise of no one, when notable wrestling journalists would comment & report on the Chasyn Kids/Moose/ Ricochet saga, Impact Wrestling fans get really defensive and weird and oh my fucking God why are Impact Wrestling fans always so terrible.
– Chris Jericho gets into a back and forth with Sebastian Bach, where the Skid Row frontman ruthlessly owns Jericho by mocking his hair and his habit of miming songs at gigs.
– Born-again Christian Penis Wrestler Joey Ryan posts an hour long video where he tries to defend himself against all the allegations made against him. It doesn't go well, obviously.
– Eric Young debuts for NWA-TNA at Slammiversary as a surprise replacement for either Micheal Elgin or Tessa Blanchard. Also at Slammiversary, the Motor City Machine Guns answer The Rascalz open challenge. This would be Chris Sabin’s first match since January 2019.
– At EXTREME RULES: THE SUMMER HORROR SHOW IN JULY, Seth Rollins successfully extracts Rey Mysterio's eye by pressing Rey's face into the steel steps. Rey is seen holding a rubber eyeball against his mask whilst Seth throws up near the barricade. Honest to fucking God.
– WWE accidentally books Aleister Black to win every one of his televised singles matches for an entire year. Seth Rollins then beats him on RAW in 11 minutes with no mention of his streak at all. WWE had their new Undertaker handed to them on a plate & they still fucked it up.
– CZW alumni Z-Barr sadly passes away.
– Mark Haskins tweets that he wants everything to go back to normal so he can wrestle in front of crowds. It's a naive move, & I believe Haskins was genuinely tweeting about COVID, but he should've realised how tone deaf his "I WANT RESSLIN BACK UWU" act comes across.
– The King Of Pro Wrestling title is born (a comedy championship with different stips for each qualifying match) and thus New Japan continues to cope with the pandemic by alienating it's audience.
– Ricochet gets lumped into the Akira Tozawa ninja storyline, battling over the 24/7 title and appearing in sketches to make an extremely old man laugh through his steak wraps. WWE have possibly the most stacked roster of all time and have no idea what to do with it. It's insane.
– Eddie Kingston makes a surprise debut for AEW when he challenges Cody for his TNT title & cuts two great promos (but what's new?!). He'd be signed by AEW before July ended & it's a genuine feel good wrestling moment after a month of sheer bleakness.
– Over on NXT, William Regal puts the newly-vacant North American championship on the line in ANOTHER ladder match. To make it even better, all the entrants have to qualify by winning triple threat matches. Regal has obviously been binging his CZW Best Of The Best tapes.
– Sammy Guevara returns to AEW after his suspension. Tony Khan comments on the matter, saying, "He’s shown that he’s very sorry & that he can change. He’s spent every day over the past month trying to prove that.”.
– On the AEW post-show, Taz and JR talk about WWE's lack of self-awareness and the absurd nature of them not talking about the real world situation. JR also adds; "Why is there even a choice on Wednesday night? Ya know, DVR NXT. Watch it later, our shit's better.".
– During an interview with Pat McAfee on the American Sports Personality’s podcast, Adam Cole storms out after Pat throws jibes at Cole’s title run and stature. Cole even drops some FUCKS like a grown ass man. Even then, it still came across a cringey worked-shoot.
– He came…he saw…he became a weed-soaked sponge with real bad political opinions! Val Venis takes to Twitter to say “Black lives matter is equal to the KKK!”. Big galaxy brain thoughts there from the man with no dick.
– SHLAK posts a video denying his affiliation with nazis. This comes after evidence mounted against him, such as old photos of him with nazis & an earlier video where he said “fuck Nazi Shit & fuck Antifa”. It seems like he’s turned a corner, & I hope he has, but be cautious.
– Avert your eyes! Enzo Amore launches his own "wrestling school" on OnlyFans! That's right, come learn professional wrestling from the man who can't exit the ring without getting concussed, and then have a sneaky wank afterwards.
– After being linked with AEW's high ratings in the 18-49 demo, & talking about the NXT-beating demographic during AEW Dynamite, Chris Jericho launches his own DEMO GOD 18:49 t-shirt in an undercover sting to collect the personal details of potential bush dodgers.
– Lio Rush makes his return to the independent scene when he sneak attacks Joey Janela at a GCW show. Rush was disguised as Yoshihiko's anonymous morphsuit assistant in an awesome angle.
– Andy Quildan does a 4 hour podcast about Speaking Out. On one hand he was the only big BritWres promoter to put himself out there, which is commendable, but there were concerns about him openly discussing the accusations, & he often bordered on likening it to Cancel Culture.
– Due to the financial difficulties presented by the pandemic, DDT and NOAH merge into a subsidiary of Cyber Agent called Cyber Fight. Both promotions will still be separate from each other though, so dream matches such as Danshoku Dino vs Takashi Sugiura will have to wait.
– The Yorkshire Evening Post runs an article on Speaking Out where, due to the two minutes of Twitter research & interviewing one of the accused wrestlers, they compared Speaking Out to online bullying & trolling. The article is eventually taken down after several complaints.
– The CHIKARA twitter account is suspended, most likely due to Quack unfollowing everyone and Twitter automatically detecting it as suspicious activity. Well, they're half-right.
– The former Zack Ryder, Matt Cardona, makes his AEW debut in the Impact Zone by coming to the aid of Cody Rhodes and fending off The Dark Order. It's my second favourite Ryder moment, with first place going to him furiously whipping off his dad's hat at WrestleMania.
– TEE JAY PEE logs on to say that he has NEVER learnt anything from having in-ring experience with a 'name' wrestler. The man has wrestled Jushin fucking Liger, and believes that he learnt nothing from that confrontation. I cannot describe how easily dunkable TJP is.
– Texas reaches 400,000 COVID cases, thus becoming the fourth state to reach such a critical number. Ex-WWE dweeb Tyler Reks sees this a great opportunity to film himself walking around shops without wearing a mask as he's now he's a big old ex-WWE anti-masker dweeb.
– PROGRESS overhaul their HR & safe guarding team and release a new set of written procedures. It's a positive step after a month of real bad decisions, but we'll see how they shape up when it comes to booking shows again and whether certain wrestlers are involved.
– Some old PWG footage of Excalibur dropping a racial slur comes to the forefront & the AEW announcer is suspended. The footage was from the very early 00's & Excalibur had already recently apologised & expressed regret for it.
– Mark ‘Rollerball’ Rocco sadly passes away.
The big brains at NXT gift Ricochet’s somersault stick-the-landing spot to known high-flyer Dexter Lumis, in a clearly edited moment during a triple-threat match with Finn Balor and Timothy “Deserves Better Than This” Thatcher. Wrestling is dead.
– Mom-&-Pop WWE have a good quarter due to their in-house production & taping schedule during the pandemic. According to WON, they profited over £43 million, which is $30 million above their expectations. Tell me again WWE diehards; why did they fire so many people back in April?
And this concludes the July 2020 WrestleWipe! I hope you enjoyed this waltz through time. Please share and all that good stuff.
Before I properly begin, here’s what happening with the biggest collective story to come out of June, and possibly the biggest wrestling story of the past ten years, Speaking Out.
WrestleWipe tends to have an air of heavy satire, sarcasm, slight bitterness and pseudo-social criticism. For this reason, I don’t think it’s suitable or acceptable to review Speaking Out in the same pompous, air-headed fashion.
It's also irresponsible of me to run through the story without giving a trigger warning, and it's irresponsible of me to muddy any legal waters surrounding these cases.
So firstly I’m going to go through the month of June without mentioning Speaking Out or any story related to the movement at all. After the last news piece of June is done, I’ll then go into the Speaking Out portion.
This part will be done in a much more straight-laced manner, and it will also include an explanation beforehand. It will also act as a chance for people to exit and avoid carrying on to read about the subject.
I meant to get to June thread a lot sooner but I had to let a lot of things play out first. Again, this is potentially the biggest story of the decade and hindsight is a blessing.
Now that's all out of the way, let's begin the JUNE 2020 WRESTLE WIPE!
– After the passing of his wife in April, Danny Havoc sadly passes away.
– Jaxon Ryker tweets out that he is "thankful" for the Trump US presidency, and ends it with his super-dumb catchphrase. This prompts Ali, Batista, Joey Janela, Kevin Owens, Ricochet, Sami Zayn and more to come down hard on the fucking idiot.
– To make matters worse, an old FB post from Ryker gets posted where he declares that he is baffled by BLM & challenges any person of colour to watch '12 Years A Slave' and "realize how good you all actually have it", showing that Ryker hasn't grown or learnt anything at all.
– Ryker and the Forgotten Sons (Cutler & Blake) haven't appeared on WWE TV events since May, as it looks like their push on Smackdown was halted due to this. It's a shame for Cutler & Blake as they tried to distance themselves from the Ryker's incredibly stupid outbursts.
– Big Trump Fund Raiser WWE and Owl Nazi Impact Wrestling start their weekly shows with boilerplate, generic statements regarding George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement.
– Drake Maverick loses on the final of the Cruiser weight Classic & makes his way up the ramp looking sad because he is now jobless. But PSYCHE! Out comes Uncle H with a contract that Drake signs with a big, teary smile on his face without even reading it. Hooray! Shitehawks!
– With "Pull up yourself up by your bootstraps, poor people!" capitalist propaganda becoming the focus of the CWC, no one cares who actually won it. The winner was El Hijo del Fantasma. Wait, the guy who used to be King Cuerno? He should've won the big NXT strap on his debut.
– WWE tries doing training sessions online, starting with the new recruits. It must be a difficult task, I mean how do you teach indie wrestlers to perform loud, mid-match in-ring monologues over Zoom?
– Fightful Select reports that Shawn Michaels got into a heated debate with another WWE producer about systematic prejudice and equality in America, with Michaels taking a left-wing stance. I bet half my ballsack that the producer in question was Road Dogg.
– A fan asks CM Punk why AJ Styles hasn't spoke out about BLM, with CM replying, “Well. Come on. That one has been obvious for years".
AJ later dodges this during an interview, saying he doesn't respect Punk, & that his WWE job is to distract fans from the outside world.
– WWE consolidates the creative teams into one, with long-time bootlick Bruce Pritchard at the helm & Paul Heyman being removed from his executive director role. WWE refer to this move as "streamlining" whilst I refer to it as "plugging a round hole with a square plug".
– More reports about the COVID testing & health measures at WWE tapings flare up; it ranges from the audience being barred from wearing masks, a report saying that masks aren't "enforced" & WWE saying that only friends & family are present whilst also not denying the mask ban.
– In a class action complaint against WWE, an anonymous ex-employee confirms most, if not all, of the harrowing details behind the infamous Saudi hostage situation, including armed guards blocking exits & being told by stewards that 'somebody' doesn't want them to leave.
– Over on RAW (yes the show still exists), Christian makes his return to face Randy Orton in an unsanctioned match. He is swiftly beaten by the Chinlock Master and RAW gets a slight ratings bump that I'm sure will kickstart an upward trend for WWE.
– WWE's vision of heatless indie wrestling in cavernous gyms & halls is laid to rest as EVOLVE goes on hiatus, WWN splits into multiple companies, Facebook pages are shut down, refunds on tickets aren't delivered & the indie scene loses it's most notable finishing school.
– Ares El Guerrero sadly passes away, aged 50.
– NXT hold a special edition of IN YOUR HOUSE, with the most notable takeaway being the fucking awful comedy segments with DX. Fucking hell lads, pack it in.
– The Impact rumour mill runs heavy with Russo's name, indicating that he may have a secret creative role within Impact & that he was set to 'debut' during their April TNA-themed show. I wish I could base my entire career off 2 years of success & 18 years systematic failure….
– Big E and Kofi Kingston both take a knee together in the ring on Smackdown in solidarity to BLM.
– The utterly trite Jeff Hardy DUI angle continues with Sheamus getting covered with Hardy's own slash on Smackdown. This actually happened.
– On the topic of SD!, AJ Styles moved over to the blue brand after having a horrible time on RAW under director Paul Heyman. Apparently, AJ couldn't get along with Paul & he couldn't handle the RAW locker room taking the piss out of his bad politics & Flat Earth bollocks.
– Total Bellas beats both AEW and NXT in the week-long RATINGS WAR, proving once again the drawing power of the modern day Misawa, Nikki Bella.
– R-Truth joins the BLM protests like the wonderful human being that he is. I've always got time for K-Kwik. Splendid bloke.
– New Japan USA holds top-secret TV tapings in LA, which is good news for those who want more weird, empty venue wrestling. At least this project has Tom Lawler though, and keeps customs camera men in business.
– Edge sustains an injury whilst filming the GREATEST MATCH EVER, further cementing his comeback as the most incredibly unrewarding return storyline since Ahmed Johnson's WCW run.
– So THE GREATEST MATCH EVER; it was taped & blemishes were removed so it can't be talked about as an actual pro wrestling match, and it also suffered from WWE's usual COVID shit like embarrassing fake crowd noise & sterile production, but it was….fine, I guess? Maybe?
– On a positive note for Edge vs RKO, I 'll give credit for the nice touch of paying homage to the Fink during the introductions. It's just a shame that Micheal Cole never offered the same kind courtesy when Fink made a cameo for CM Punk's entrance at Survivor Series 2011.
– Bruce Pilchard cements his postilion as top WWE writer by having Akira Tozawa dress up in a gi with a gang of ninjas, and also having the Big Show return to RAW in 2020. Welcome back to the shit show, sir.
– 'Good Egg' Randy Orton chats to CBS about BLM;
"I started listening to my black brothers & sisters, especially the ones I've known for years…I was hearing firsthand accounts of interactions w/ cops that took advantage of the situation…Thats when the light bulb went off."
– Not only does WWE have issues with COVID, they also have security issues as the mad fan who was shot outside the PC years ago whilst stalking the joint returned to the scene of the crime, and had to be removed by WWEs security.
– WWE cancels a set of taping as developmental wrestlers test positive for COVID. WWE employees aren't even immediately told about this, as most only find out when the news hit social media, along with rumours that WWE did not allow the audience to wear masks at a RAW taping.
– Nathan Cruz logs on to kickstart another fucking rant about star ratings, YOU'VE NEVER TAKEN A BUMP!, fans not being fans etc etc. If the wrestling biz wants to be taken as seriously as movies, games & videos, it has to stop being so thin-skinned when it comes to critique.
– As an epilogue to the Cruz saga, he would soon delete his Twitter account after he got triggered by an "OK BOOMER" reply from Mad Kurt. Such luminaries as Mikey Whiplash & Aston Smith also get up in a huff because, again, WRESTLERS HAVE THE THINNEST SKIN IMAGINABLE.
– This of course leads to more wrestlers rushing to their social media apps again to compare how the 'abuse' they receive online compares to that of Hana Kimura, because wrestling, wrestlers and the wrestling community is a full-on dumpster fire, even at the best of times.
– After numerous positive tests, WWE finally starts testing for COVID (as in the nose gimmick, not just temperature checks). Mojo Rawley even films himself enthusiastically getting tested, almost as if he is thrilled WWE are finally fucking doing something.
– Under the watchful eye of Brucie Pritchard, WWE becomes a haven for cartooney bullshit trying to masquerade as 'comedy'. I have to believe that the average WWE writer loves Dane Cook, Mrs. Brown's Boys and Big Bang Theory, as this is lowest-common denominator trash.
– New Japan comes firing in with their first show of the pandemic era! It was a triumph seeing all the big boys back, they didn't over stay their welcome & they did a better job of it than WWE had. Unfortunately, the stench of empty venue wrestling was still thick in the air.
– Hey, we haven't talked about Tammy Sytch in a while! She logged on to state that rioters are all 'animals' & that having a DUI doesn't make herself a criminal. I dunno, I'd say I'm more in danger of being hit by a fucking drunk driver than someone looting a Walmart. Fuck off.
– Oh, Tammy also doubles down with this shitheap tweet when confronted about her garbage opinions:
– PWInsider’s Mike Johnson reports that the WWE locker room and staff are very worried for themselves and their family's health, except for one talent who believes it's all a "big work". I'll bet my other nutsack on Ryker, Weurtz, Dogg or AJ.
– During what was a looooong day of taping various shows, WWE's schedule is thrown into jeopardy in the middle of a session as COVID test results slowly trickle out throughout out the day. The whole situation is said to be a clusterfuck.
– Pat Buck is brought back to WWE as a producer after being let go back in April, which makes him the first COVID rehiring during WWE's collar-tightening cost-cutting CASH IS KING measures.
– ICW (the grotty American one, not the grotty Scottish one) part ways with Chris Dickinson as he couldn't make their July 4th date. The two feds have had a strained relationship ever since Josh Barnett worked himself into a shoot & pulled Chris from an ICW 'Mania show.
– Sammy Guevara is suspended & his salary goes to the Women's Center of Jacksonville after comments he made about Sasha Banks on a 2016 podcast surfaced; "When I was at WWE, I wanted to just go fucking rape that woman". Sasha later says that Sammy apologised to her.
– GCW holds one of the first public COVID wrestling shows in the US with an event at an outside venue in Indianapolis.
It looks well policed & socially distanced, but I hope this doesn't give them too much confidence to go bigger because that would be very ill-advised…
– After being released by WWE as part of their cuts in April, Sarah Logan says that she is done with wrestling for the foreseeable future.
– Ricky Starks appears on Dynamite to answer Cody's open challenge, with Tony Khan stating that Starks had now signed with AEW.
– There's rumblings of a COVID outbreak at AEW due to a fair chunk of the roster having close relationships with members of the WWE/NXT roster, as well as some still taking indie bookings. This makes the whole scene and business look real grim.
– Renee Young confirms that she does indeed have COVID, which bridges that direct gap between the AEW and WWE rosters. She is then throttled with abuse by the typically crazy WWE fans and Jon Moxley stans.
– Tessa Blanchard is released by Impact Wrestling after refusing to send in promos and looking increasingly likely that she wasn't going to leave her husband in Mexico in order to appear at Slammiversary.
– Eager to be as weird & annoying as possible, WWE nicknames the Extreme Rules PPV as "The Horror Show". Not only does it make no sense & doesn't roll off the tongue well, it's a horror-themed wrestling show in the middle of fucking summer.
– The Fifth Pillar (or "The Supporting Wall") Jun Akiyama leaves All Japan to embark on a lengthy DDT excursion.
– NOAH announces that they will no longer be running Sumo Hall in November due to the on-going pandemic.
– In what is a staggering turn, the original DVDVR thread for the infamous Wrestling Sleaze List is unearthed and the original poster was a user by the name of COACH TONY K. Yep, you read that right! Tony Khan started the infamous sleaze list!
– QT Marshall is pulled from Dynamite after coming into contact with a COVID positive person.
– WrestleTalk get reprimanded by TJ Wilson for incorrectly reporting that he had COVID.
– AEW holds a Fyter Fest press conference on Dynamite, and the video is uploaded to AEW's official YouTube channel with the unfortunate typo of "TNA CHAMPIONSHIP PRESS CONFERENCE".
– After AEW begins their Fyter Fest build, NXT announce that the Great American Bash will take place on the same day! I'm sure Trips has had this booked since May 2009, it's just a coincidence & not at all NXT being weaponized to stop AEW hitting a million viewers every week.
– Another boatload of COVID-positive tests land in WWE's lap. Despite this, WWE still go ahead with their regular taping schedule. Hell, Jamie Noble reveals he tested positive for the virus & WWE carried on with that day's tapings regardless.
– Sean Ross Sapp reports that Micheal Elgin & Sami Callihan got into a fight backstage whilst putting together their match. According to SRS, it started to brew when they couldn't agree on how their match should start before it escalated & Scott D'Amore separated the two.
– TJP logs on to r/WrestleWithThePackage (probably NSFW, btw), to argue with people who think he's lost attractiveness since unleashing his real bad opinions on the world. A very, very normal thing to do.
– NXT has a surge of popularity, as they beat AEW in the demos, tied them in another and only very narrowly lost the 18-49 demo. Can they take advantage of this opening? Will NXT rise to the top of their stupid fucking tree?
– WWE confirms that Velveteen Dream has been released………………from hospital after getting into a car accident the same day. So close.
– CZW Tantrum Master Low Ki posts about "respect"; he "respects" our right to "remain ignorant" & "be ruled by fear" & we must "respect" his decision to not wear a mask, take vaccines & socially distance…..I hope Low Ki respects my decision to refer to him as a bellend.
– WWE have this seriously weird 'Undertaker Appreciation' night on Smackdown, & it ends with a load of wrestlers around the ring chanting, clapping and wanking off Undertaker whilst Jeff Hardy does 'Takers pose. He's not actually dead you daft fucking plebs.
– Wrestling Inc reports that WWE higher-ups weren't very happy with Renee Young going public about her COVID diagnosis. Apparently, contracting this major illness during a pandemic in a contract sports environment must be kept on a hush-hush, need-to-know basis.
– Bryan Alverez reports that Vince McMahon thinks COVID is just the flu; "There’s a lot of people in this country that still believe, at worst, it’s a bad flu. The impression that I have been given from people within the company is that’s Vince’s mindset".
That explains a lot.
– "A lot of the stuff he says, I say 'Dude you're right but say it a little differently'…The best thing about (him) is he's a disruption, whether you agree with him or not, he's not the status quo" – Mayor Kane's opinion on reality TV Star, Donald Trump.
– Necro Butcher confirms that he has stage 3 Hodgkin's disease, which is sad but unsurprising considering how he's looked during his few annual public appearances. He's 46 but looks like he's 76.
This is the end of June 2020! Carrying on below after this will be the Speaking Out portion of June 2020. If you’re choosing to exit here, let me first say thank you for reading.
Hi, this is the Speaking Out portion. This is how it’s going to work;
1. I am not going to name any of the accusers. 2. I am not going to post screenshots, photos or tweets. 3. I am not going to go to into much detail about the accusations.
4. I will be naming those accused, but only where there has been notable follow-up stories or their involvement plays a key part in the movement. I have no desire for this to turn into one of those questionable Twitter accounts that just lists names with little context.
I did my best to include as wide a scope as possible and weave a basic narrative whilst keeping from mentioning specific cases and accusations for the most part. If any case or person has been left out, it's either accidental or there was no further action to report.
A lot of these cases are active police investigations and/or about to go to court so please don't ask me for any evidence/Tweets/examples of what is laid out here. These are legal deep-waters.
If you want to find out more information on any of the names mentioned here, or even any of the names not mentioned here, just search Twitter using the Speaking Out hashtag.
Apologies if you're after something more in-depth, but I don't have the backing of a journalist's legal team (also I'm not a journalist, far from it).
In future Wrestle Wipes I might elaborate a bit more on certain cases if they pop up again during that month, but right now it's not something I'm comfortable with when talking about so many names and so many cases all at once.
Thanks for understanding.
Now the recap of the Speaking Out timeline will begin.
– The wrestling world is shocked to it's core when numerous people come forward with horrifying accounts that deal with abusive wrestlers & promoters.
Every hour brought more stories & accusations, and deafening silence from others, and would become to be known as Speaking Out.
– The landslide began on June 17th with David Starr being outed as a consistent abuser. Starr posted several defensive notepad tweets and even mentioned that he penned these initial statements a while back, almost like he knew this public reckoning was coming.
– After running a paid-for Twitter ad campaign with a series of promoted tweets to defend himself, Starr seemed okay at this being the end of his career, stating, "No matter what I say, I'm the bad guy. No pity party. It is what it is", before deactivating his Twitter account.
– After Starr's takedown, wrestler's such as WALTER post "Yeah I told you all so, didn't I?" tweets to celebrate. Y'know, gloating about this whilst obviously having prior knowledge beforehand & still not doing anything about it doesn't make you good the guy here.
– The allegations, accusations & harrowing stories then start flooding in thick and fast; big names, notable names, small names, local names, some remain nameless, but all paint a picture of an ungoverned, corrupt & horrific wrestling scene where abuse is rampant & normalised.
– The movement had a domino effect. Jordan Devlin, Scotty Davis & Jack Sexsmith all got hit with their own accusations after posting statements about Starr's allegations.
– Josh Bodom then gloats about the scene crumbling before he's quickly served with an allegation of his own.
– This is when all the Notes App defences starting coming out, that honestly were so badly written that they did more harm than good. Themes such as victim blaming, gas lighting , "Oh woe is me" and "Oh I was drunk" are consistent throughout.
– Dan Maloney is supportive and very vocal during all of this, posting tweets, statements and videos about the movement. He's passionate, angry and raw with his output. Pete Dunne is also very vocal and puts himself out there as much as possible in solidarity with the movement.
– The BBC reports that the West Yorkshire Police are "carrying out initial enquiries" in regards to the Speaking Out cases.
– WWE holds an emergency meeting to discuss the NXT-UK talents with allegations, and they release a statement regarding accusations levied at Jordan Devlin; “We take any allegation of this nature very seriously and are looking into the matter.”
– Some wrestlers & trainees go all out in defending the accused against trainer/trainee relationship allegations ("It's not illegal!" & "16 IS THE LEGAL AGE IN THE UK!", for example), which is a startling example of how deep and fast the rot has set in the British scene.
– Bobby Fulton takes to Twitter in order to defend Jim Cornette against allegations, but 90 minutes later he is backtracking on his own previous comments after properly investigating the situation.
– We The Independent dissolve David Starr's relationship with the company. WTI's aims for unionisation and protection for British pro wrestlers is now quite weary, as Starr was the major force behind them and they'll now be forever be soiled with his image.
– PROGRESS release their first statements regarding Speaking Out. Their initial posts are ill-advised at best, & boil down to them referring to SO as the "Darkest Timeline", pointing out that they aren't responsible & attempting to absolve themselves by any means necessary.
– Matt Riddle questions the credibility of his accuser by DM'ing a BritWres interviewer and saying that WWE is going to press charges. Matt Riddle's wife also DM's people about the situation, claiming that they got a restraining order against the accuser last year.
– On June 19th, Speaking Out is covered as the lead story on Talksport's late afternoon news segment. Alex Shane, who was associated with Talksport, would step down from all his TS postilions after allegations are made public about him.
– WWE rolls out the same old boilerplate corporate speak about Matt Riddle's accusations where they state they're "taking these matters seriously" for the time being.
– Bayley uses her large social media platform to tweet out a statement that shows her support for the Speaking Out movement. She ends it with "We're here for you. My heart is with you all".
– Many more show their support for the movement on their social media accounts including Paige, Big E, Kay Lee Ray, Mia Yim, Big Swole, Tucker, Shazza McKenzie, Allysin Kay & Keith Lee.
– Any mention of Matt Riddle's incoming Smackdown debut are removed from WWE's website, inciting rage in a few sad few WWE hardcores who believe that this is all an online scam by AEW fans to ruin Riddle's debut.
– Rockstar Pro Wrestling severs all ties with the OI4K Wrestling Academy after several allegations are made against Dave Crist. Then promotion then states that they'll be launching a new wrestling school fronted by Zachary Wentz.
– Black Label Pro servers ties with Jonathon Wolfe after allegation are made against him.
– PROGRESS update their talent suspensions & departures by announcing that Starr, Banks & Marc 'Paz' Parry are gone, & suspending Devlin & Scotty Davis, but some question why Devlin & Davis are simply suspended & not outright let-go.
– Whilst not naming any names, TIDAL Wrestling states that they will no longer be working with those accused, and that includes halting their relationship with 4GW.
– The London School Of lucha Libre puts out a statement that they're formally committing to having a female present at their training sessions and appoint Nina Samuels as the assistant coach.
– Jim Cornette states that chat screenshots that accuse himself & his wife are faked as they show recent profile pictures, but he is quickly shot down when it's pointed out that FB always updates the photos of users in messages, regardless of if the parties are still 'Friends'.
– David Lagana resigns from his position as NWA VP after allegations made towards him. NWA also halts the production of NWA content whilst they restructure the management team.
– As more pressure is mounted in regards to accusations against WWE talent, WWE rolls out a statement to wrestling media outlets stating that they have "zero tolerance for matters involving domestic violence, child abuse and sexual assault".
– Matt Riddle's lawyer posts a statement about the on-going allegations, only he does so by printing out the statement on an A4 sheet of sticky labels and taking a photo of it.
– Devlin and Ligero release statements on their accusations that are ten minutes apart from each other and contain almost identical language. Both deny the accusations and talk about taking legal action.
– Rev Pro, Attack Pro & wXw release statements about Speaking Out; Attack Pro cuts ties with all accused parties, Rev Pro's statement reassures it's staff & fans that they can always come to them with any issues, & wXw state they'll be investigating every mention of wXw.
– After accusations are made public in Speaking Out, Kobald is removed from the CHIKARA roster.
– AEW announces that Jimmy Havoc has entered rehab to address his "mental health and substance abuse challenges". They also state that they are evaluating his status within the company.
– Inspire Pro Wrestling ends their working relationship with Andy Dalton after allegations about him emerge.
– Meltzer doesn't make much of a social media statement on SO but he does approach the subject in the WON with a pretty generic report that doesn't reveal anything substantial, although he does regale with revulsion how back in the territory this was all considered 'normal'.
– WWE releases Jack Gallagher, with no future endeavours or good luck statement, after allegations are made against him.
– Schadenfreude releases a statement that addresses the Speaking Out movement but it comes way too late considering how close the four are to the scene and how popular they are with the younger audience.
– Martin Zaki is removed from the Fight Club Pro management team after allegations are made towards him. FCP tweet out a Trent Seven-penned statement but it's questionable how much they knew beforehand considering Zaki used the FCP Twitter account.
– Fight Club Pro come under more questioning due to their heavy ties with several of the accused (including their head trainer), their long meet'n'greet sessions & their after-party culture.
– MLW releases ring announcer Mark Haggerty after allegations are made public, and other promotions also severe all ties with him.
– Dave Meltzer says that WWE have known about Matt Riddle's allegations fore a long time, so they most likely came to a conclusion about them way before SO began. Riddle was still being a pushed as a featured star through the rest of June.
– A tweet from the PROGRESS account talks about how huge change is needed. It alludes to a new management team taking over from the previous owners, and that Vicky Haskins and James Amner are taking on leadership roles. It is signed off by Michael Oku.
– Joey Ryan and BAR Wrestling deactivate their Twitter accounts after a huge flurry of accusations and allegations come out against Ryan.
– wXw respond to allegations made against two former trainers at their wrestling school by reassuring people that the names in question hadn't been with the company since 2018, and they'll privately give out those names to anyone who asks.
– Mike Quakenbush resigns as the head trainer of the Wrestle Factory and closes down CHIKARA after several allegations about him, his promotion and his wrestling school come out.
– Hallowicked, Kimber Lee, Frightmare and Dasher Hatfield all announce their resignations from CHIKARA in the wake of the Mike Quakenbush allegations, as well many other wrestlers and students.
– Due to the CHIKARA fallout, the planned CHIKARA video game is quickly stripped of any association with the brand by the developers.
– The Joey Ryan Memorial edition of Being The Elite, and other episodes that heavily feature Joey Ryan, are removed from YouTube. HighSpots also remove BAR Wrestling from their On-Demand Network.
– Impact Wrestling release Joey Ryan and Dave Crist due to their associated allegations.
– wXw sever all ties with Julien Pace and Jay Skillet after students come forward with inappropriate actions they took.
– Horrifying stories surface around promotions such as IPW-UK in regards to a 16 year old girl being fed alcohol and passed around locker rooms in sexual situations.
– In what would become an infamous post that will have fans demanding a follow-up for months, ROH announces an investigation into the allegations made against their roster members and assures us that they'll let us know when the investigation concludes.
– After being suspended by Impact Wrestling a week prior due to being implicated in several Speaking Out accusations, Impact Wrestling announce that "Michael Elgin will not be appearing in any further IMPACT Wrestling programming".
– El Ligero and Travis Banks are released by WWE due to SO allegations. Much like Jack Gallagher, their profiles are completely deleted from WWE's website and they aren't listed in the alumni section.
– Brandon Stroud deletes his Twitter account after several allegations are made against him before he is fired from Uproxx.
– RIPTIDE and ATTACK! announce their indefinite hiatus from wrestling shows.
– Marty Scurll issues an apology/explanation of accusations about him, and it goes down so badly that he has to issue a second one.
– Several talents remove themselves from ECCW's roster after numerous accusations against the promotion.
– O'Shay Edwards cuts all ties with Prime Time Pro Wrestling after accusations against the promotion come out.
– An accusation made about Trent Seven is deleted by the accuser due to action from Trent Seven's legal team. The accuser then tweeted an apology to Trent Seven and directed all question's to Trent's legal representation.
– Due to the sizeable number of implicated names on the BritWres scene and in NXT-UK specifically, there are reports of more emergency meetings within WWE to determine the future of the bottom-tier off-shoot NXT brand.
– Mike Quackenbush and Joey Ryan both release their own videos that attempt to defend themselves against the allegations, and these are not very well received.
– Michael Oku leaves his new leadership position at PROGRESS after leaked private messages show him using inappropriate language.
– It's reported that El Ligero's parents are harassing his accusers with guilt trips and insults. Ligero deletes his Twister account after this is publicly addressed.
– Whilst PROGRESS experience severe ups-and-downs with their handling of the situation, ICW are thrown into a similar pit with FCP, what with their connections to many of the accused and their own their after-party culture.
– NXT UK referee Joel Allen is released from WWE after comments he made on a leaked pre-Speaking Out David Starr video.
– NXT UK referee Chris Roberts is released from WWE due to accusations made about him during Speaking Out.
– Joe Coffey is suspended whilst WWE investigates his Speaking Out allegations.
– The much anticipated NXT-UK meeting comes and goes without much change to the brand or roster. It was simply there to serve as an internal dialogue and lay down the next steps, and those next steps include NXT-UK staying putt.
Thanks for reading. Please consider supporting the following campaigns & causes;
We're back…for a bit! We're taking a mini trip around the 2010's and fast-forwarding to 2002 to cover CZW's Best Of The Best 2! Why? All will be explained in this episode! Anyway, it's not like we need an excuse to cover one of the best indie shows of the 2010's…
Links and plugs:
Shane on Twitter
Liam on Twitter
Episode Five is here! Join us as we talk about Beyond The Mat, Chris Hero’s DMs, Secrets Of Wrestling, moonsaulting little children and bald men slapping other bald men. Also we talk about the entire APW King Of The Indies 2000 tournament, featuring Christopher Daniels, Scoot Andrews, Mike Modest and many more!
We're back…for a bit! We're taking a mini trip around the 2010's and fast-forwarding to 2002 to cover CZW's Best Of The Best 2! Why? All will be explained in this episode! Anyway, it's not like we need an excuse to cover one of the best indie shows of the 2010's…
Links and plugs:
Shane on Twitter
Liam on Twitter
Survivor Series is a weird’un for me. It shows up frequently at pivotal points in my wrestling fandom.
I was first introduced to WWF and wrestling in general through Survivor Series 1989. My younger brother (Liam, my co-host on the Hotdogs & Handshakes podcast) got it on VHS for Christmas when I was about 6 and that was my gateway drug. All the colourful characters and big teams and Hulk fucking Hogan really hooked me. From the opening video montage to the cocaine-fuelled interviews and the McMahon-tastic match run-down, I fucking loved every second.
Despite me having very negative opinions now for some of the talent on this show (racists, homophobes, abusers, murderers, The Bushwhackers, etc) it’s still a show I can watch with thick-rimmed rose tinted glasses. Just magical stuff.
By 1996 I had kinda fell out of wrestling. My little brother was still a WWF fan and would be gifted videos like Mega Matches ’95 and assorted wrestling annuals, but the characters and action really did nothing for me. Street Sharks, Biker Mice From Mars, Jim Carrey and Mighty Max were way cooler than Lex Luger, Tatanka, The Smoking Guns and Doink The Clown. That all changed when Liam got gifted Royal Rumble 1996 on VHS and I was addicted once again, largely due to being captivated by Shawn Michaels’ performance.
Despite not really following month-to-month, I got my WWF fix through random shows that were rented or borrowed, and the occasional glance at WWF magazine at the cornershop. Through all this, the one constant was Shawn Michaels; he was the best wrestler ever and my absolute fave, so I was crushed to find out through Royal Rumble 1997 (which my Grandad had taped for us the night prior) that he had lost the title two months ago to Psycho Sid at Survivor Series 1996. You see, WWF magazine was always three months behind, so in January 1997 it was still October 1996 for me.
I was heart broken.
Shawn winning back the title from Sid at that 1997 Royal Rumble wasn’t good enough, despite the poetic nature of becoming a HBK fan at the previous years Royal Rumble. Survivor Series ’96 had ruined me without me even seeing it and, twenty four years later, I still haven’t even watched the show for fear of breaking down into tears and throwing myself into an oven.
I kept up with the WWF though, even through that trauma. I purused through WWF magazines (despite all the news and coverage being 12 weeks old) and marvelled at the wrestling world being opened up through Powerslam (which was outdated by a couple of months as well). My Granddad would tape the shows when he could so I managed to keep up every now and then through the first half of 1997. Shawn lost his smile, found it again in his bumbag full of somas and came back, and wrestling was a bit good again.
Around the summer though, Granddad dropped the Sky Sports package and I was back in the dark ages for a while. The next time I saw a current WWF show was, yep you fucking guessed it, Survivor Series 1997. I was behind on everything by then and ,the last I knew, Shawn had accidentally twatted ‘Taker with a chair at Summerslam.
It was an accident, mate! Surely ‘Taker would understand the incident after watching the PPV replay and seeing that dastardly bastard Bret Hart spit in Shawn’s face first or, at the very least, Undertaker would become the bad guy going after the misunderstood good guy, HBK.
So there I was, sitting through Survivor Series 1997, and seeing all the video packages and flashbacks and interviews throughout the show, and colour me fuckless…Shawn was a fucking baddie and I almost threw myself into an oven. Gas mark 6, middle shelf, all the trimmings. Not you, Shawn! Beacon of light, man of hope and wisdom. A fucking bad guy! I was devastated. Again.
I stuck around with WWF (despite that devastating breach of trust) and became an avid fan throughout 1998 and all the way until late 2001. By then I had found out about WCW and ECW, and was eating up as much as I could even after they had both closed down. However, I had dropped out of wrestling almost completely by the later months of 2002. The drab and disappointing Invasion angle left a very sour taste in my mouth and there seemed to be no other alternative seeing as the competition was dead and I hadn’t been alerted to the existence of tape trading yet.
I was out of the WWE pool completely when I saw No Way Out 2002. Christ, what a sad state of affairs that was. The set comprised of two trucks and a couple of projectors, the NWO were shoehorned into the fed post-Invasion, Chris Jericho was miscast as the weaselly double-champion, Steve Austin clearly couldn’t give a fuck and the whole heap just felt heartless, heatless and uninteresting. Reminds me of New Japan in 2020 the more I think about it.
I was done with modern pro wrestling….until I moved school later in the year and one of the guys I started to hang out with copped on to my previous WWF fandom somehow. Maybe he caught me listening to ‘Tell Me A Lie’ on my Sony Walkman. He borrowed me Survivor Series 2002, which had only taken place a couple of days prior. Well fuck me, what a show! And what a difference a year makes;
Beware: The above highlight video contains over six minutes of Saliva, so I recommend muting it and playing something actually good in the background instead like ‘I Got The…’ by Labi Siffre.
HBK was back and won the big strap! Rey Mysterio turned up! Some beast called Brock Lesnar was tearing shit up! RVD looked amazing! Jeff Hardy had turned into an alien! The Dudleys reunited even though I never knew they broke up in the first place! New cage match! Bald Kurt Angle! Bad ass Eddie Guerrero! Kane with a non-burnt chin! Eric Bischoff was…around!
Survivor Series 2002 felt fresh, invigorating and exciting. The roster had been given a massive shake-up and a kick up the arsehole, and it felt like everyone was out to put on quality performances to win back those fans who had given up. Reminds me of Dragon Gate in 2020 the more I think about it.
Also, it was at Madison Square Garden with the classic TV set-up, just like Survivor Series 1996 (not that I’d know, obviously) so not only did it look fucking fantastic, it tickled the nostalgia buds.
The show became one of my favourite WWE shows. A really easy watch with loads going on and a great atmosphere. It also led me to dive into WWE’s post-brand split catalogue and thus really enjoying the vastly underrated May 2002 – July 2003 period (one of my favourite WWE runs, probably only second to January 2000 – June 2001). It also became my real jumping off point at exploring other promotions as after that I wanted more and more wrestling than I could handle. My interest in WWE would rise and fall throughout the years afterwards, but without Survivor Series 2002 I don’t think I would’ve given wrestling the same attention that I have for the past eighteen years.
And now, we wind the clock to a more recent time. I had been a happy subscriber of the WWE Network since the UK launch in January 2015. If a WWE PPV was a bit shite there was always other WWE archived content to dig into but, most of the time, the shows were usually quite good to average. Bang on the money (nine ninety-nine), lovely stuff. Honestly, I don’t expect the absolute best all the time from the world’s biggest professional wrestling company but I do expect consistency in regards to a decent level of quality.
However, there was a steep decline in quality in 2017. Smackdown, a brilliant little show that had me clamouring for more every week, had gone to shit. RAW was the usual turgid bollocks that I had been actively avoiding for years. 205 Live was performed in front of dead crowds and total indifference, even after the sublime Cruiserweight Classic. NXT Takeover was the only shining point left as the week-to-week show was getting increasingly bland at this point.
Well, as long as I can watch an average-good WWE PPV or two for my 9.99, along with the occasional Takeover (which were always great back then) I’d be happy with the service and the company. Yeah, I wasn’t bothering with the other content and I stopped watching Smackdown and I skipped through NXT like my finger was plastered to the FF button, but it seemed worth it. Keeping in touch with WWE programming on a regular basis was like having a child I had lost in a custody battle pop over to see me every other weekend (but a child I was relieved to be away from when they fucked off back to their mum’s house).
What show brought all this down? What show was so fucking terrible, wall to wall, that I just gave up and yanked the life-support machine from the wall? You can probably guess.
Survivor Series 2017.
This show. This fucking show. I had stuck with WWE through thick and thin for eighteen years. Sometimes at a distance, and sometimes up close and personal. But this show. THIS SHOW. Jesus fucking Christ. It finished me. I was done.
Survivor Series 2017 was a wankfest that left me so dissatisfied with the current product that I cancelled my WWE Network subscription very soon after. I actually waited to see where it was all going for a few weeks before declaring it all worthless, and even then I gave WWE yet another chance for redemption and waited until after the next PPV had faded to black before declaring the fed unsalvageable. It was total shitshow but the journey was over.
Just to think that the 2016 edition was so bloody well received, especially the 5-on-5 main event and Lesnar vs Goldberg, that I thought WWE had found a happy medium for it’s product. Yeah, the weekly TV was always going to be crud but at least the PPVs would deliver. But now we had Triple H and Shane McMahon shitting up the gaff and taking the spotlight away from a roster who desperately needed it, incredibly poor booking, WWE’s production habits cemented in place with solidified anthrax, and an unhealthy obsession with insulting their fanbase. The 2017 edition of Survivor Series, as a climax to a year that got steadily worse and worse, was the fork to my turkey.
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, Survivor Series 1989 to Survivor Series 2017.
I attended WrestleMania in New Orleans the following April. This had been all bought and paid for the previous year, around the time of 2016’s rather good Survivor Series. Me and my friends had been planning this trip for over a decade, as it coincided with our 30th birthdays. It was an excellent fortnight, one the best times of my short 32 year old life. It’ll be really hard to top. The end of the week was propped up by ‘The Grand Daddy Of Them All’ with great seats and even better company.
The first half of the 2018 WrestleMania was like attending a wake. All the good memories of the fallen came flooding back. We had beers, ate food, reminisced, saw the old faces, saw some new ones, saw the current crop. It was nice. A really bloody good time.
Then the second half hit and it really hit home just how terrible WWE had gotten. Disappointment after disappointment after sheer disappointment. Have you ever heard 78,133 people leave a giant venue in complete silence and apathy? That’s how it felt when we were all queuing to leave after the mess that was Roman Reigns vs Brock Lesnar. You could hear a pin drop in the dark, endless pit of dismay.
I had no hopes that WWE would grab me back with that edition of ‘Mania. I had learnt my lesson from all the years of diminishing returns that no matter how good they could be on one night, hell how good they could be for one hour, that it always end in disaster. But they couldn’t even handle one WrestleMania.
Being a WWE fan is like being in a abusive relationship; the solution is to just get out and break it off, no matter how much the other side apologies or promises to change. It’s flowers at your door one night, then Kofi Kingston losing the title in mere seconds to Brock Lesnar the next.
If all the spectacle of a live WrestleMania with my best friends isn’t going to seal the deal, then nothing will.
Episode four is finally here! We review the final night of the IWA-MS Sweet Science 16 2000! We cover the quarter-finals all the way up to the finals, as well as some non-tournament action too! Also, we chat about The Invasion, WCW being cheapskates, Chris Hero’s hair, Ian Rotten shoot promos, Gangrel elbow drops, huge IWA conspiracy theories and HARDCORE CRAIG.
We're back…for a bit! We're taking a mini trip around the 2010's and fast-forwarding to 2002 to cover CZW's Best Of The Best 2! Why? All will be explained in this episode! Anyway, it's not like we need an excuse to cover one of the best indie shows of the 2010's…
Links and plugs:
Shane on Twitter
Liam on Twitter
– The Santino Brothers close down their wrestling school due to having no monthly income during lockdown.
– Big Japan unveil their crowd funding campaign with hopes of making through the lockdown season in one piece.
– ROH cancels all the events scheduled for June due to COVID-19 to keep wrestlers, fans and staff safe.
– Governor of Florida Rod Desantis announces that Florida is open for business, meaning that WWE can continue with their shows, & can even look for venues in FL to have live fans. It also means that Florida indies can start up again, including Chasyn Rance’s peado wrestling ring.
– Ian Rotten, the incredibly clean and wholesome wrestling promoter, lets the world know that IWA-MS plans to run FOUR shows in June, just mere days after Indiana reduce the restrictions.
One show? Fine. Four of the fuckers? And by IWA-MS, at that? Christ alive.
– In another massive casualty of COVID, GCW is forced to cancel their junkyard joint show with Zona 23.
– RAW hits a 1.560 rating for the third hour, which borders on what Dynamite pulled in during AEW’s first shows.
– Some lad called Brendan Vink pinned Ricochet on RAW in a tag team match. Yeah, I am not making that name up. Brendan…Vink. Over fucking Ricochet. What the fuck…
– NJPW cancels the Best Of The Super Jrs tour, which would’ve gone ahead between May 12th and June 6th.
– Enzo Amore, bright spark that he is, has a rant about wearing masks during a pandemic. He states that his parents have Corona but believes the best way to protect kids is to NOT wear masks. Is common sense also something they don’t teach, mate?
– Former announcer Chris Cruise, tired of nobody knowing he is as and begging for a job with Vinne Mac, tells on AEW to the Maryland State Athletic Commission for using weapons and blood in the Omega vs Moxley match at Full Gear. AEW are fined $10,000 & people still don’t know who Chris Cruise is (apart from being a fucking cop caller).
– CZW is forced to cancel their up-coming annual Tournament Of Death due to, believe it or not, safety concerns during a pandemic. Who’d a thunk it?!
– Scarlett Bordeaux and Karrion Kross debut on NXT, with a really over-the-top choreographed entrance. Which is fine and all, and it’s certainly a look, but Scarlett’s lip syncing during the entrance was embarrassingly bad. Minus points to whoever suggested and okayed that one.
– AEW holds TV takings in Jacksonville, and they coincide with UFC’s 249 event in the same vicinity. Ariel Helwani reports that most of the staff and talent from both companies are sharing the same hotel, and three days later Jacare Souza tests positive for COVID-19.
– Rumours about AEW’s leadership also appear around this time. Apparently Tony Khan took December to mull over the dire status of Dynamite & took more control of AEW’s booking/creative direction in 2020, which caused the Bucks to begin sulking & being distant & hard to contact.
– Jake Roberts cuts a really uncomfortable promo on Dynamite where lays on top of Brandi Rhodes in the missionary position. Creepy, needless shit, even when we’re not in a pandemic.
– Total good boy & very nice person Brad Sheppard is fired from his postilion at Pro Sports Extra, with PWS citing reasons such as Brad starting a wrestling group & filling it with fake bloggers, & realising that there are more people who hate him than there are real fans of his.
– Wrestlenomics reports that WWE is on track to record massive profits for 2020, and it may be WWE’s most profitable year to date. I’m sure WWE upper-management will pass this cash around to the wrestlers and staff, and make sure everyone’s job is secure…
– Roman Reigns reveals that he isn’t back as he’s trying to protect his family & children (as well as himself due to his impaired immune system). What a top bloke. WWE continues to avoid mentioning him wherever possible though, including editing clips from the past to remove him.
– In what had to be an undercover sting operation to lure sweaty wrestling fans into a woman’s DMs, Charly Caruso tweets out her phone number. I’m sure this went very well.
– Former XPW wrestler Supreme sadly passes away at the age of 49.
– Chris Jericho records a message for Triple H’s 25th anniversary, where he sarcastically mocks their chemistry and matches. Fantastic work.
– Kazuchika Okada donates 5 million Yen (around £37,000) to the Nippon Foundation’s COVID relief fund.
– Alberto Del Rio is arrested for physically and sexually abusing his partner, and then threatening to take her son and “drop him off in the middle of the road somewhere.” Hope the prick fucking rots, to be perfectly honest.
– After severing ties with WWE and much of the wrestling circuit last year, ACH says that he’s regretful in the way that he handled the situation but feels like he is in a good place after some time to reflect. Those WWE t-shirts are still the dirt worse though.
– New Japan postpones their up-coming Wrestle Dynasty MSG show to a TBA date in 2021.
– Ever the mature and healthy company, WWE edit out Roman Reigns from a video package that shows Seth Rollins cashing in his MITB briefcase and winning the WWE title during the Lesnar vs Roman match at WrestleMania 31.
– The Revival have the traditional post-WWE podcast interview with Chris Jericho only to serve up a dull, lifeless chat that falls incredibly short of the Moxley and Brodie interviews. Very disappointing.
– Former WWE champion Kofi Kingston, who won the big strap in an emotional, culturally important match at last year’s WrestleMania (before shortly dropping in to Lesnar in mere seconds), goes onto an interview to talk about how ‘special’ WWE’s tag team division is. Christ.
– Irony strikes the Wrestling Observer when they have to issue an apology for accidentally referring to Akira Tozawa as “Tajiri” in their coverage of Jerry Lawler’s “Ramen Noodle” comment the month prior.
– The Money In The Bank match is a gigantic mess of cringe ‘comedy’ and an accurate representation of WWE’s stagnant creative output and direction. This was an embarrassing display of bad ideas, bad direction and a frustrating lack of self-awareness. Fucking awful, all round.
– During the MITB match, Baron Corbin throws Mysterio and Black off a roof, seemingly to their deaths. There are cartoon sound effects added to in post. Black and Msyterio would appear unharmed on the very next RAW.
– Also, Bray Wyatt is defeated by Braun Strowman, who put on his old goat mask while Bray hammed it up in the ring, but it was a distraction for Braun to win with his slam. It was also shit. Very, very shit. There’s no justification for how shit everything was on this show.
– Seth Rollins takes out Rey by injuring his eye and WWE runs a storyline about this ‘critical injury’. THE MAN WAS THROWN OFF A FUCKING THE ROOF THE PREVIOUS NIGHT, FOR FUCKS SAKE.
– TJP logs on to spew some COVID conspiracy bollocks, only to be dunked on by everyone, and for all those dunks to be liked by ‘Good Lad’ Kevin Owens.
– The night after MITB, Becky Lynch reveals on RAW that she is pregnant and awards the Women’s title to MITB briefcase winner Asuka. It’s a very rare, emotional, organic scene from WWE and apparently Asuka had no idea it was going to happen.
– WWE kickstarts the promotion and hype machine for Edge vs Orton 2: THE GREATEST WRESTLING MATCH EVER, and they will escalate the hype further and further with each passing week. The stock in Edge’s comeback plummeted harder and faster than the Gobbelygooker.
– Michael Elgin has a big ol’ moan on Twitter about how he doesn’t like wrestling anymore, how everyone is “so soft”, and how fans and outsiders dictate how wrestlers should act. He would later claim that he was just tweeting in-character. Riiiggghhhtttt.
– WWE fans prove themselves to happily brainwashed mutants when the opinion of Otis being the “new Dusty Rhodes” is widely circulated online and readily agreed with. Fucking hell.
– After signing Rachael Ellering and barely using her (she worked the NXT house show loop and dark matches), WWE releases her (after she spent a year out with a torn ACL) as part of their COVID budget cuts.
– NOAH cancels their June 14th Korakuen Hall event due to the pandemic.
– AEW hit’s their lowest TV rating with 654,000 viewers despite being up 25% in the females 12-34 demographic.
– Keeping the boring ratings talk going, NXT’s see-through aesthetic as the hip, cool show for young adults is clearly working as they continue to lose all the key demos to AEW Dynamite apart from the all-important adults over 50 demographic.
– Jim Cornette goes on a massive rant during his podcast about how Becky Lynch chose to have a baby than make a million dollars a year, conveniently forgetting that her partner is Seth fucking Rollins, who has more than enough cash flow to help compensate for that. What a creep.
– CZW continues it’s wholesome programming with PPVs like CZW GIRLZ: TOP HEAVY AND TOUGH, CZW GIRLZ: ALL ASSETS REVEALED & CZW GIRLZ: HOT & SWEATY COMBAT. CZW issue a non-apology on this, saying that the media distributor has the right to utilise their footage without limitation.
– Undertaker (or Mrs Undertaker with his Twitter password), in all the hype of his right-wing t-shirts getting attention in the The Last Ride, decides to become very online by vanity searching his ring name and talking about THE FLAG USA USA USA USA USA USA USA USA USA USA USA
– DDT re-brands it’s on-demand service from DDT Universe to Wrestle Universe, and now houses NOAH, Ganbare Pro and Tokyo Joshi Pro.
– PROGRESS cancels the Super Strong Style 16, all their UK shows up until September and their US tour.
– With CZW’s name out there for being really skuzzy, more wrestlers tell their tales of dealing with the company & DJ Hyde, including Hyde booking hotel rooms with women so he can “cuddle with them” & former ref Kris Levin talking about the incredibly toxic atmosphere & bullying.
– After a well received match vs Daniel Bryan on Smackdown, Drew Gulak is released by WWE as his contract expired. WON reports that Gulak asked for more money & WWE declined, leaving Gulak on the open market without a 90-day no-compete clause.
He’s quickly rehired 2 weeks later.
– Sami Zayn is stripped of the IC title (as he’s being a good lad & staying at home during a pandemic). The Observer reports that WWE aren’t happy with Zayn exercising his option to stay at home…y’know, the option that they gave to all their staff without fear of reprisal.
– After being released, Lio Rush alludes to being done with the wrestling business for the foreseeable future, and more permanently for WWE. He also noted in an interview with Forbes the utter lack of African-American representation in WWE’s backstage crew.
– Wrestling reviewer mainstay Larry Csonka sadly passes away. Wrestling fans and wrestlers have raised over $38,000 to date in order to help Larry’s family.
– John Oliver rips into WWE on ‘Last Week Tonight’ for their continued, consistent clumsy handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
– In the lead up to the Owen Hart Dark Side Of The Ring, Martha Hart goes on Talk Is Jericho to reveal the hellish legal battles with Vince McMahon’s unlimited supply of lawyers. During this, Vincels spew bile about Martha & how “OWEN NEEDS TO BE IN THE HOF!!!”. Fucking gross.
– NJPW senior guy Harold Meij conducts a charming online address, where he doubled down on wrestler/staff safety as the number one priority in regards to live events. Meij also mentions terms such “pandemic” & “Coronavirus” instead of “current events” & “current circumstances”.
– Francis Kaspin, wXw regular and up-and-comer, announces hit retirement due to a herniated disk in his lower back.
– Stardom announces that Arisa Hoshiki has officially retired due to neck and head injuries. Her Wonder Of Stardom title is relinquished.
– WWE’s Vice President Of Global Television Production, Michael Mansury, leaves the comp[any after giving in his notice several months prior. This is another blow to the Paul Levesque regime as he was part of his inner-circle, and was unofficially dubbed as the “next Kevin Dunn”.
– A piece on PROGRESS’s hefty bank balance causes a stir (they’d been asking for fan donations & begging for merch buys over the past month), causing Brit Wrestlers to ask the wrong questions & conjure up weird arguments about fans not being fans anymore.
– Shad Gaspard sadly passes away whilst swimming with his son in Venice, LA. He was swept away by a rip current, but in one last selfless act made sure his son was rescued by lifeguards first. It’s a massive tragedy that sweeps the wrestling world.
– Matt Striker is a contestant on a new reality TV show called ‘Labour Of Love’, where a group of men try to win the affection of a woman who is desperate to have a baby. Yes, you read that right; Matt Striker competing in a reality TV show to shoot his load & win a baby.
– The Owen Hart Dark Side Of The Ring breaks VICE TV records, & the lack of immediate investigation around Owen’s death garners mainstream attention. More WWF nutters flood social media, begging for Owen to be inducted in WWE’s HOF so they can have him as DLC in WWE 2KWankFest.
– WWE’s hellspawn shitbag Jerry McDeviit comments on Martha Hart; “(she) was not even remotely interested in finding out what happened that night; she just wanted to use it as a vehicle to beat up a business that she didn’t like that her husband was in.”
– Marty Jannetty goes on FaceBook to ask whether or not a girl looks 20 & get opinions on his plans to head to Alabama to have sex with her AND her mother. In another twist to the story, it’s revealed that someone was just trying to catfish Jannetty and that the girl was 16.
– CJ Banks drops some worrying tweets that feature several racial slurs. It’s later revealed that he was suffering with mental health issues and was apparently was in a bad place, and thus a discussion arises on how much mental health plays into someone spewing offensive terms-
– During an episode of The Last Dance, Sandman appears out of nowhere to celebrate Michael Jordan’s 6th ring
– Drake Maverick secures his place in the Counterweight Championship finals by defeating Kushida and Tony Neese. Oh boy.
– Mauro Ranallo refers to Damien Priest as the “Toxic Toxophilite”. This commentary audio actually aired on the USA Network during a two-hour episode of a professional wrestling show called NXT, where actual people with actual ears heard it and processed it.
– After attempting to use the name THE REVOLT, ex-WWE superstars The Revival are sent a ‘cease and desist’ by established indie tag team The Revolt. The Mechanics then issue an apology and stated that they “never interned to use the name as a team’. Sure thing, lads.
– Brian Cage debuts at Double Or Nothing, winning a ladder match with weird battle royal rules to become the number one contender to the AEW title.
– Also at DoN, COdy defeats Lance Archer to become the first AEW TNT champion, complete with a nasty looking belt that wasn’t even finished. Like, you couldn’t have found a solution in this fake predetermined industry to work your way round that??
– Mike Tyson, acting as an enforcer during the Cody vs Archer match, is shown yawning on-screen during the engaging contest. Almost on queue, he is then shown afterwards suddenly all engaged and emoting.
– AEW hold their own madcap DDT-style match at DoN and, with the exception of some very questionable stuff with Matt Hardy being dunked in a pool, it’s a rousing success. Fresh, innovative, exciting and with little-to-no embarrassment for any fans watching. Wonderful stuff.
– Crap comedian Tom Segura does a bit mocking wrestling. It’s not my kind of comedy (It’s lowest-common denominator shite) but Satin, wrestling fans & wrestlers throw their dummies out over someone taking the piss out of this very serious sport involving men in their underpants.
– In an interviewer, Undertaker does indeed confirm the long-lasting rumour that has had forums and social media battling for decades; he is indeed afraid of cucumbers, especially cut-up cucumbers.
– Ricochet, still plugging away at Main Event, goes online to talk about how thankful he is to be part of the WWE family and bigs up Main Event. He’s thankful for his paycheck, you can’t deny that, but you also can’t deny that the fucker should be in the upper-card of PPVs.
– Hana Kimura passes away at 22 years old due to the incredibly toxic social media around her appearances on reality TV show, Terrace House. It’s a tragic and alarming story that details just how vicious social media can be.
– Shitty professional wrestles will constantly use this horrible tragedy as a way to moan about fans being critical of their work, as if telling someone to die and saying “Well I didn’t really enjoy this match…” are the exact same.
– Rob ‘Why don’t you have a seat?’ Feinstein is caught selling fake autographs of the British Bulldog for $500.
– Tony Khan reveals the original plan for Fyter Fest 2020 was to hold it in London, but this was scuppered by COVID. The UK collectively & openly weeps at this.
– Tony Khan also talks about how the Young Bucks have a “Deadpool inspired” booking approach. A fucking what, mate?
– Sunny has a rant about how she was bullied & called horrific names in the business, and then swerves us all by saying “not ONCE did I ever think of killing myself over it” and how she just made money of it all instead. Get in the fucking trash.
– WWE takes the next steps with their robotic shell of a promotion by filling the PC with NXT wrestlers to act as robotic fans for the RAW, Main Event, 205 Live and Smackdown tapings. No chairs, no pillows, just straight-up standing for hours and hours and hours of WWE content.
– OTT cancels two more of their up-coming shows, as live wrestling seems to be a blurry distant pastime of a generation ago.
– Despite filling their shows now with crowd members, Meltzer reports that WWE still isn’t swab testing at the PC, opting only for temperature tests.
– Jim Cornette rants about AEW’s Stadium Stampede and swears off AEW for good this time! (And he really means it this time, I swear!).
– FTR debut on dynamite on the same show that has Mike Tyson, Vitor Belfort, Henry Cejudo, Rashad Evans and some actor called Mickey Gooch in weird black face paint for some reason. I hope the TV rating was worth it (it wasn’t), because most of this was terrible.
– In the immediate wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of the police, Washington-based wrestler Rob Rollenbeck takes to FaceBook to demonstrate that the hold applied to Floyd is apparently ‘harmless’, which is easy to say when you’re a white man in a controlled environment.
– On NXT, the Kushida vs Drake vs Atlas match ends with possibly the worst finish of 2020; KUSHIDA catches Atlas in an armbar, & Drake drapes his arm over Atlas at the same time, so the referee counts three for Drake, despite Kushida’s legs also being on top of Atlas. Fuck me.
– We won’t gloss over the Drake Maverick ‘redemption’ story line either, where either it’s all work and extremely tasteless, or it’s legit and speaks volumes about how to stay afloat in a toxic, carnivorous industry.
– Wales-based wrestler Sierra Loxton announces her retirement due to a lower-back injury.
– After being postponed back in March, AJPW announce that the Champion Carnival tourney will be going ahead in September.
– Nigel McGuiness is furloughed by WWE. Remember those high-profit projections laid out by Wrestlenomics? Yeah, real high protections. Very promising.
– Despite being at the high price point of $50 for a wrestling event during a pandemic, Meltzer reports that DoN did well over 100k buys. Well worth the accolades for the Stadium Stampede alone in my very humble, very important opinion.
– Randy Orton begins his online face turn by advocating hard for the BLM movement. Good lad!
– WWE run an incredibly ill-advised angle involving Jeff Hardy getting arrested for an apparent drink driving-related hit and run. He is shown being taken away by a group of police officers whilst Elias is loaded into an ambulance. Holy Christ.
– Bushiroad cut executive salaries in order to ensure no one loses their jobs during the pandemic. With ROH, AEW and Impact firing nobody and actually signing people where they can, WWE are still cutting wrestlers and staff despite their profits looking astronomical.
– Chris Jericho bounces back from his great Trans Rights stance to become problematic once again when he takes a stand for All Lives Matter. He then doubles down by telling people to stop rioting and “spread peace and love instead”.
– April 1st, 2020: The Governor of Florida, Rob DeSantis, issues a stay-at-home order. The new ruling allows for ‘only necessary movements’, and hits in the middle of WWE filming their TV shows and WrestleMania.
– With shows being cancelled, promotions across the world are in big danger of folding due to the lost business & revenue. Smaller promotions in Japan are especially at risk as running live shows is their bread & butter, with Big Japan being one of those really struggling.
– Kylie Ray, once the face of the AEW women’s division and sure to become their red hot underdog babyface, signs a long term deal with Impact Wrestling. I won’t ask any questions about this I’ll will be immediately swamped by Kylie stans, Impact hardcores & those who still refer to the wrestling media as ‘dirthseets’.
– WWE sends out a survey that tests the waters of potentially having fans live stream their reactions onto the screen during RAW via web cam. THANKFULLY, as of August 2020, they haven’t gone through with this monstrous idea. (EDIT: THEY FUCKING DID END UP DOING THIS, BUT ON A LARGER SCALE; THUNDERDOME).
– New Jack’s Dark Side Of The Ring documentary airs, with Jim “BREAKING KAYFABE IS A CRIME” Cornette explaining how blading works.
– All Japan’s 2020 Champion Carnival is cancelled, and New Japan cancels their Wrestling Dontaku shows set for May.
– WWE’s attempts at empty venue wrestling are a disaster of awkwardness, robotic habits and cringe. There’s little-to-no attempt at adapting the shows or matches to work in such a dead atmosphere, which is amazing considering the dead crowds they usually work in front of.
– On NXT, Keith Lee, Damien Priest & Dijakovic do battle in a hilariously awkward three-way that doesn’t work because there’s no crowd to react to all their impressive moves. They even do the spot where they all trade moves & fall down to evoke imaginary “THIS IS AWESOME!” chants.
– Jake Atlas debuts on NXT without any of his rainbow gear and is destroyed by Sam fucking Shaw and his super dumb offence.
– As for AEW, they fare better at putting on something worthwhile (despite having Shawn Spears in the main event) because the company is still somewhat fresh, but good fucking God the antics of Matt Hardy reach boiling point, with the AEW ratings dropping considerably.
– Ryan Satin continues to plead that he is an unbiased wrestling reporter, and adds to his bootlicker resume by defending his time working with noted anti-immigration aficionado ‘Sheriff’ Joe Arpaio on’ Smile…You’re Under Arrest!’, a show about luring felons with outstanding warrants into fake scenarios for the waiting police. Classy.
– So with ‘Mania still scheduled to take place within mere days & Roman Reigns still being advertised for the main event despite pulling out to keep himself & his family safe, HHH explains in an interview that Roman will eventually be removed from the match in a “Unique Manner”.
– HHH goes on to say, “…there’s going to be critics of everything. I think we’re doing this to provide what we believe is an essential service in entertaining our fans”. Lads I assure you, WWE is not an essential service to anyone, & if it is they should be put on a register.
– Bear in mind that in order to provide this essential service, 18 matches are taped with 45 wrestlers brought in and out the Performance Centre to mingle with the production team and on-site staff.
– Black Label Wrestling raise over $5000 for independent wrestlers due to appear on cancelled shows.
– With ‘Mania already being taped and spoilers being strictly guarded, we do learn from reports that the tapings went overnight from 11pm to 5am. Fuck. Imagine working a ladder match at 2am for a company who do not give a fuck about your own well being.
– It’s also reported that The Miz turned up but didn’t wrestle as he was feeling ill. No word on if he was feeling ill at the time when he arrived. Either way, this is probably what caused Roman to throw his hands up and say “FUCK. THIS”, ever so rightly.
– To make ‘Mania even more of an awkward slog to watch, WWE refuses to announce the complete line-up for any of the nights, meaning you’ll still have to watch both shows if only a few matches tickle your fancy, with traditional PPV demanding $30 per night. The way this company makes even the simplest shit so hard is baffling.
– So, let’s have it it then. Wrestle fucking Mania. The Grand Daddy of them all. Stephanie opened the show & alluded to the “CURRENT CIRCUMSTANCES” which is inline with WWE’s ethos of not mentioning the outside world at all (for fear of reminding people that there are better things to do).
– Braun Strowman is announced as Goldberg’s opponent for WrestleMania with no explanation at all. Huh. Really unique, that.
– There’s a ladder match that was probably filmed at 3:30am, with three guys sweating all over each other, taking bumps onto ladders to the sounds of silence and bumps onto off-camera crash pads. Undertaker & AJ had a cheesy fight in someone’s back garden, that split everyone evenly into either “IT’S SO BAD, IT’S GOOD” and “IT’S JUST BAD”.
– You can read about my extended thoughts on the ladder match (which included Kofi Kingston, the man who won the WWE Championship at the previous year’s Mania in an incredibly rewarding moment, now demoted to the mid-card tag division) HERE
– Gronk was there throughout the show to play the annoying twat figure. He dives off a staging area onto a big pile of NXT dweebs (a move which Vince had to do himself to prove it was safe) & ends up winning the 24/7 title, which I’m sure will pay off handsomely for WWE.
– Edge & Randy Orton do battle around the PC in the most overly-long, scenery chewing, boring as fuck Last Man Standing match ever, & it also included a Benoit tribute spot with Edge hanging Orton in a weights machine. This match so bad that it was even mocked by UK media critic Charlie Brooker on national television.
– I just want to reiterate that the Edge vs Orton walk’n’brawl was 36 MINUTES AND 41 SECONDS LONG, & is the 2nd longest match in ‘Mania history. I’m sure Edge isn’t too bothered by this because of his big paycheck, but no one imagines their big comeback match to be something so dull & shite.
– After taking Shayna’s place as the Rumble winner, Charlotte defeats Rhea Ripley for the NXT Women’s title in booking so politically predictable that my I almost lost consciousness as I buried my head deep into my hands. Rhea then cuts an emotional promo afterwards where she admits that Charlotte is better. Way to build new stars there. Christ.
– Oh, and Braun beat Goldberg for the big strap with little-to-no explanation of why Roman wasn’t there, even on the night. Still, it was only 2 minutes long and is thus automatically the Match Of The Night.
– AEW shuts down temporarily after filming multiple weeks of TV, including most of the TNT title tournament, in someone’s garage in Georgia. A simpler and more ethical way to handle things, but still a bit shit.
– BritWres wunderkid Mad Kurt begins his campaign of showing up the old guard and tripping up the establishment when he upsets Pete Dunne on Twitter, with burner accounts suddenly appearing out of nowhere to call Kurt a bully. NXT-UK; not the way.
– With plans to also pre-tape several weeks worth of content in a single week, WWE lets slip that they’ll be changing the ring ropes, canvas, turnbuckles and aprons between every match. I hope the staff there get paid by the hour.
– Rhea Ripley’s VISA expires and she returns to Australia, where she’ll hopefully think about how she was used at WrestleMania and get real fucking mad about it.
– RAW loses it’s marbles as Aliester Black vs Apollo Crews goes 27:30 and runs through three commercial breaks. I wouldn’t really recommend seeking this one out unless you’re a glutton for punishment.
– It’s 2020 and, after winning the big strap at WrestleMania, Drew McIntyre is challenged by the fucking Big Show, everyone’s favourite up-and-coming rookie.
– Gargano and Ciampa do battle in an NXT-HBK Wankerpiece of cinematic proportions. This was so fucking cringe that my body actually rejected my ability to turn my head away. Holy Christ. One Final Beat? One Final Beat-Off, more like.
– The NXT-UK tapings scheduled for May are cancelled, hopefully for good.
– There’s a whole to-do on Twitter when people are SHOCKED that Cody Rhodes, a rich white straight man from the south, just might have a hint of right-wing about him when he liked a clearly sarcastic post about Sami Zayn’s left-wing views. Twitter never ceases to frustrate me.
– 70 year old Jerry Lawler, who has a history of major, public heart problems, returns as an announcer to RAW. IN THE MIDDLE OF A FUCKING PANDEMIC.
– After months and months of teasing and whining, WWE release The Revival from their contracts, as fans of proper professional tag team wrestling rejoice. They even get a “future endeavours” post with a photo on the main WWE twitter feed. Lucky them!
– Throughout the pandemic, WWE fans online still shower WWE shows with praise for being ‘brave’ and ‘creative’ during all this. “We just want escapism!” they collectively cry, as watered down, over-produced wrestling takes place in-front of an empty warehouse and cold silence.
– Despite putting their performers & staff in danger by going along with these shows, WWE still go through the motions of releasing advice videos regarding COVID safety such as washing your hands and avoiding touching your eyes. This, coming from sweaty professional wrestlers.
– WWE tapes a whole episode of Smackdown only for Vince McMahon to scrap it in favour of going live. All these unaired shows are going to make for a hot-seller BLU-RAY in a few years.
– So, instead of just going down the route of doing mass tapings and shutting down completely until the next set, WWE returns to live shows for RAW, Smackdown and NXT. Essential service, remember.
– Without a USA-based cruiserweight champion, WWE announces a tournament to crown a new interim champion with two groups of four battling for the highly prestigious honour.
– Right before they’re due to commence with live shows, WWE confirms a positive COVID-19 case with an on-screen talent. Surely this will have them be more careful now, right? Especially with all their fly-in talent and old timers, Right?
– BTW, shout ” YEAH BUT TV DEALS!!!” at me all you want, but how many meetings did WWE & the TV networks have in order to find a more suitable path through this incredibly delicate and perilous situation? You telling me something couldn’t be worked out? Eat the rich, you fucks.
– In order to give their decision to go live some stability, WWE release a ludicrous statement where they claim that WWE is “woven into the fabric of society” and that they “bring families together and deliver a sense of hope, determination and perseverance”. The sheer delusion.
– On RAW, Jerrly Lawler refers to Akira Tozawa’s “ramen noodle moonsault” in an ill-advised line that was edited out of the Hulu version. Oh, you daft racist.
– After shutting down all day-to-day operations, terminating all team & league employees in a 10 minute conference call with no questions taken, & filing for bankruptcy, Vince McMahon puts the XFL up for sale in order to pay off it’s creditors. Oh & he also tries to cheat his partners out of money.
– Vince McMahon joins such luminaries as Dana White, Adam Silver, Jerry Jones, Rob Manfred, Robert Kraft, Roger Goodell and Gary Bettman in Trump’s “Won’t somebody please think about the rich people?” advisory board in kickstarting the economy with sports, for some reason.
– Linda McMahon’s Super PAC (no not the Newcastle one) pledges $18.5 million to Florida on the same day that WWE is officially declared as an “essential business” by Florida. That transaction wasn’t exactly subtle, was it?
– “Originally, they were not deemed an essential business. With some conversation with the governor’s office regarding the governor’s order, they were deemed an essential business.” – Mayor Of Orange County Jerry Demings, with a puppeteers hand moving majestically up his arse.
– April 15th: WWE cleans out their closet in order to scrimp and save every dollar despite being on track for record profits. The releases come thick and fast through the day, and more emerge a few days later. It’s a travesty & example of the greed that flows through the company.
– Vince McMahon prepared his staff and talent for the incoming cutbacks, firings and furloughs in a five minute conference call. People would be notified via text in regards to their future. This all actually happened.
– List of people fired or furloughed by WWE:
Heath Slater EC3 Curt Hawkins Karl Anderson Luke Gallows Lio Rush Erik Rowan Rusev Mike Chioda (been with WWE since 1989!) No Way Jose (travelled all the way to RAW during a pandemic only to be fired 48 hours later) Kurt Angle Aiden English Ace Steel Drake Maverick (kind of) Serena Deeb Zack Ryder Tino Sabbatelli Sarah Stock Kassius Ohno Curtis Axel Primo Epico Lance Storm Billy Kidman Shane Helms Eric Young Mike Rotunda Fit Finlay Pat Buck Shawn Daivari Scott Armstrong Sarah Logan Mike Kanellis Maria Kanellis Deonna Purrazzo Dan Matha Kendo Kashin Taynara Conti Gerald Brisco (after 36 years with the company…) A whole slew of PC trainees All released into an extremely unstable environment for the sake of profit. Indefensible and utterly gross behaviour.
– Drake Maverick posts a heartbreaking video about his release & how he’s going to miss his friends & family. We’re all extremely supportive & feel for him as he’s fired during a pandemic. Wearing a WWE tshirt & mentioning the cruiserweight tournament is a little fishy though…
– In this time turmoil and hardship, we all look to Seth Rollins for moral support, who lets us all know that we need to “come together on this, unify and lift each other up”. He could lick a boot through a garden hose.
– A large bulk of Japanese wrestling companies come together for a meeting with Japanese officials to ask that testing be made available to talent, and compensation made available for their unemployed wrestlers. They did this as one unit, together.
– During this meeting, Tanahashi spoke passionately about how pro wrestling should be the very very last sport to return. That man…God bless him.
– Vince’s week (oh boy);
– Howard Finkel sadly passes away, aged 69.
– Whereas WWE are slashing people’s livelihoods left, right & centre all in the name of cold hard cash, New Japan continue to pay their employees full salary and benefits. ROH also continue to pay all wrestlers on guaranteed contracts as well as paying staff for cancelled shows.
– COVID-19 throws a major nail into the coffin of NXT-Japan as we all rejoice and shout to the heavens with glee.
– WWE begin their build to Money In The Bank (in which the contestants start at the ground floor of WWE HQ and make their way to the roof) with the tagline “Climb The Corporate Ladder!”, in the same time frame that they released a shed-load of staff and talent.
– Wrestling fave Maffew is informed by Vimeo, his primary upload haunt, that they will CHARGE HIM $10,000 annually for all the bandwidth his videos use up. Averaging 17,500 hits per video is too popular for them to handle, apparently.
– Nia Jax adds another reckless assault charge to her wrestling CV when she drops Kari Sane hard into the buckles, resulting in turnbuckle powerbombs being banned by WWE. I’ve seen Josh Bodom work safer than Nia Jax.
– Former XLF commissioner Oliver Luck sues Vince McMahon as he alleges that Vince fired him in order to take his contract out of the equation in regards to bankruptcy proceedings.
– Gronk, our lovable and extremely well liked 24/7 champion, returns to football with the championship still intact. I’m sure this will lead to worldwide exposure for WWE and their exciting, cutting edge, innovative brand of sports entertainment.
– “I’m fighting my opponent and myself…maybe everyone was right about me” – Drake Maverick in a backstage interview with NXT, after his continued participation in the cruiserweight tournament. The exploitative nature of this angle is just absurd.
– During a live Q&A session, Corey Graves admits out of nowhere, to a very surprised Carmella, that he no longer wants to have sex with her in lockdown. The clip will be included in cringe compilations for the next decade.
– Kenny Omega has what some would call a competitive match with a local wrestler, Alan Angels, on Dynamite. Queue some excruciating discourse about whether Omega loses ‘star power’ because of this. I guarantee none of you even remember this happened until I just brought it up.
– In their quarterly earnings conference call, WWE pass off all the cuts, redundancies and furloughs as just being “properly cautious” and Vince personally adds that “cash is king”. Get to fuck, lads.
– Also, Vince comments on their current position regarding wrestling shows with no fans; “I don’t know if we’re going to be in the live event business as we were before…It’s going to be more content oriented. It’s not a problem, it’s an opportunity.” This isn’t a good sign.
-Vince McMahon also talks about the pandemic and the dangers; “Our talent has taken this as a challenge. Our talent has taken this almost as a duty.” GET TO FUCK.
– WWE confirms that there will be no 2K game this year (good) but we will find out that it will soon be replaced with a lazy-looking ugly beat-em up called BATTLEGROUNDS (bad).
– An anonymous WWE employee named ‘John’ submits public comments to the Orange County Board of County Commissioners, stating that they’re being forced to work despite the stay-at-home orders, and that he’s remaining anonymous to avoid disciplinary action.
– Vince McMahon, obviously losing the last of his marbles, cuts a really odd promo on Smackdown during an already cringe HHH Appreciation Wank-Off, where he mentions Katie Vick, the Gobbledey Gooker and Bayley’s THIS IS YOUR LIFE segment.
– Despite all the releases and cuts, WWE stock shoots up a little! Hooray for the investors! Hooray for capitalism!
– Although Maverick released a video about his release and subsequently being entered into the cruiserweight title tournament, WWE constantly deny that the initial release was a storyline. Whatever the case, it’s a sure-fire hot contender for ‘Most Disgusting Promotional Tactic’.
– AEW confirms that they’ll be going ahead with some live shows from the start of May, as well as announcing a PPV . The whole thing feels real icky. You can argue the toss about their TV obligations but did they really need a PPV? Disappointing.
– Velveteen Dream is accused of conducting inappropriate relations with a minor, with some damning evidence including pics & a voice capture where he asks “What school do you go to?”. Dream denies the accusation and would still go on to face Adam Cole for the title in May.
– Former NJPW & AJPW wrestler Hiroshi Hase is accused of sexually harassing an underage girl at a Colabo bus cafe (a group set up to help girls suffering from poverty and abuse). Hase apologised for his actions but still denied the harassment allegation.
– In their continuing quest to engage their fans when there are no live events, FITE TV tweet out a photo of Chris Benoit and ask for Twitter’s opinion on him. The tweet is quickly deleted, and they’ll soon move on to asking fans about their first cars & favourite pasta dishes.
– Rumours of Sami Zayn being difficult to work with backstage are abound, as he’s clearly lost his enthusiasm and love for wrestling, and who can blame him when you’ve had WWE beat that passion out of you?
– After his “Ramen Noodle” comment, Lawler issues a weak ‘apology’ where he refers to “heel heat” and the good ol’days.
– After releasing, cutting & furloughing a whole slew of staff & wrestlers, WWE reported a net income of $26.2 million (31 cents a share), with a 60% improvement in revenue compared to the prior year quarter ($182.4 million to $291 million) in their first-quarter revenue report.
– “It’s like, my goodness…I do everything you ask and, like, I can’t get a bone?!” Heath Slater on the mental toll that ten years of WWE booking can have on someone.
– In another example of “WWE FANS WILL BUY ANYTHING!”, WWE sell authentic dirt from the Boneyard Match (during a pandemic, no less). Be sure to hang it on your wall whilst evaluating your life choices.
– After an amazing career spanning two matches in seven months, WWE releases Cain Velasquez. He leaves behind an incredible legacy RIP KING.
– The copyright heathens at WWE take down the TDE Twitter account, because people are quickly realising that WWE’s product is so shitty that they can get the highlights in 3 minutes on Twitter. Even then, TDE was always incredibly positive about WWE no matter what.
– Joey Ryan has a go at Vader for being an alleged ‘bully’ when working with jobbers, only for one of the jobbers who worked with Vader to compliment him on how safe & good he was. Hindsight is a wonderful thing to have in August 2020. The fuck can Joey Ryan call anyone a bully.
– Bill Eaver records an incredibly shit and weird promo in his car where he name drops infamous BritWres nonce D*n E***r for some fucking reason. (Censored the name because the guy is a vanity searching noncey cunt).
– After a good TV match, Darby vs Cody Rhodes has pretty weird finish that sees Darby hit the Coffin Drop on Cody, but Cody rolls slightly immediately after the impact for Darby’s shoulders to be on the ground for the win, making Darby look stupid and his finisher look useless.
– NXT continues to be a weird bag of shite by having Keith Lee awkwardly say “I…am…limitless” in an empty venue whilst his opponent, Damien Priest, just stood next to him like a fucking lemon. How do people watch this?
– WWE rename the build for Money In The Bank by adding the tagline “THE RISK IS WORTH THE REWARD”. Honest to God, this tone deaf, gross fucking company.
– Wednesday Night War standings for the end of April: AEW leads 24-5-1.
NXT Takeover: Tampa Bay NXT Episode #398 – 08/04/2020
WWE NXT Women’s Title #1 Contendership Ladder Match Candice LeRae vs. Io Shirai vs. Mia Yim vs. Dakota Kai (w/Raquel Gonzalez) vs. Tegan Nox vs. Chelsea Green (w/Robert Stone)
Ah yes, empty arena wrestling! My favourite! And it’s NXT, my favourite cutting-edge wrestling sub-division and it features Mauro Ranallo, my favourite energetic commentator!
This was filmed before THUNDERDOME and before Full Sail was filled with developmental talent being told how to react, so the women are wrestling in front of black curtains and guard rails. Feels like the house show set from WWF Attitude on the Playstation.
Io Shirai makes her entrance and Mauro fucking Ranallo immediately shoots off the “JOSHI JUDAS!” tagline, making me want to turn off this VLC player window…that’s streaming the award-winning WWE Network, of course!
Good save there, Shane.
“The daughter of the devil herself!” – Mauro, again. Y’now, I can’t possibly comprehend it anymore. He does it on purpose, right? Apparently, Io said her dream opponent is Charlotte Flair. She knows how to work the media, I’ll give her that.
Out comes Tegan Nox, and I’ve seen her in a few good multi-person ladder matches at local promotions when she was on the indies. I swear, during one month she did three of them and I was there live for two. Robert Stone accompanies Chelsea Green, and he looks like a Poundland Mortimer Plumtree. No fucking socks with his suit and shoes either, the heathen.
Christ, I hate how soulless these entrances are. The “Here I come, here’s my entrance, here I come, here’s my pose in the middle of the ring, now I’ll stand in the corner” choreography of this is so sterile. No character or feeling of it being real. Io tries to inject something into it, but it’s awash in a sea of drab.
Imagine telling two MMA opponents “Right you; sulk in the shadows whilst your opponent makes his entrance. And you; meet with Clair and James to iron out your pose, routine and correct walking footwork”.
Mauro just rolls out catchphrases and bullshit as Mia comes out, and all of it goes right through me. It still sucks but I’m at least able to ignore the majority of it now. Ah, here comes Shawn Michaels and Diesel! I mean, Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzales. Great looking double team here. Real potential for that 90’s throwback. Talking of the 90’s, Dakota has the same hair style that my mom sported at the start of that decade.
Christ, Candice as well? Do we really need this many people in this match? Oh, her music is bad, and I’m saying that as an unapologetic pop-punk fan. I still have no idea why there are guard rails. Gotta keep those invisible fans at bay, am I right?
So six women fighting in a ladder match during a pandemic (in a venue where there’s little-to-no actual COVID testing). Cool, cool.
Kai gets surrounded by the babyfaces at the start for trying to get Raquel to help out, and with it comes the first bit of NXT over-acting cringe, with all the faces milking it and taunting Kai like it’s an amateur stage show. JUST HIT HER, FOR FUCKS SAKE. The silence makes it so much worse too.
Candice finally takes it to Kai with her Super Dragon tribute strikes and they all take turns battering Kai. The three faces work like a team, helping each other with big smiles on their faces and none of it works because, a) this isn’t a tag match and ,b) there is no crowd for this high energy to bounce off.
We don’t even get the moment where the faces all square off and battle it out, because Io interrupts with a missile dropkick. This match is basically a 6-person tag from this point. I know it’s tough to work face vs face and heel vs heel, but you also didn’t have to book a big mulit-person ladder match either.
Io and Candice battle over a ladder until Chelsea interupts with what I assume was a double facebuster but it looked off so it could’ve been anything. It’s also time for everyone to indulge in the ‘Survivor Series Selling’ trope, where regular moves hurt more because they’re in a ladder match, so the wrestlers spend ages outside the ring, licking their wounds from devastating bodyslams and dropkicks.
Tegan and Kai go through a sequence that might be good if there was a crowd to react to it (I know I keep bringing that up but, honestly, it can’t empathised enough just how important that factor is), so it just comes across as flat. Mauro calls Tegan “Lady Kane” for using a chokeslam and adds that it’s “Big Red Machine approved”. I swear to fuck.
There’s an awkward tug-of-war spot and it’s then that I’m glad I’m alone watching this. I met up with some friends at a socially distanced BBQ a few weeks back and my wife brought up the empty venue WrestleMania that she caught me watching (Edge vs Orton, FYI) and she went on about how embarrassing, and bad it was. Surprised she didn’t file for divorce there and then.
Candice and Tegan find themselves at opposite ends of an upright ladder, and they simultaneously pause for dramatic effect because they’re both wholesome, good people and they can’t comprehend the inherent moral quandary that they find themselves in. OH FUCK OFF.
All six women suddenly recover from their Survivor Series finishers on the outside and race up and down the ladders at a manic pace. Chelsea gets her foot caught in a ladder and waits patiently for Mia to hit her with a chair. Honestly, even with all the complaints it’s still just your average WWE TV ladder match so far but it’s hard to even enjoy the averageness without a live audience. It’s still got nothing on the empty atmosphere of a Fight Club: Pro show though, where most of the crowd treats the wrestling as a coffee shop acoustic guitar act.
To highlight a general positive about the match, you can’t go wrong with Io. I am all in on Io; everything she does is crisp and done with urgency and character and life. Even the shitty ladder-in-the-ropes slingshot spot is made better because of her sheer aura. Raquel then sends Io off the top of the ladder onto everyone outside the ring, which takes Io out too despite her turning it into a crossbody.
Raquel grabs Dakota and carries her into the ring and then up the ladder, but she has to stop and think about it first, staring at the briefcase before climbing. Can anyone in this company act naturally and on a whim? Why does every little act and reaction require some sustained, prolonged thinking time? AmDram hour.
Yim stops Raquel in her tracks and Candice drags Dakota off the ladder very roughly. She lands awkwardly on her leg, not pleasant at all. Yim and Tegan send Raquel through a table with an Awesome Bomb ’99 but the camera cuts on impact because this is WWE and nothing can just be allowed to be good.
Dakota then sends Nox down to her doom with a brutal kick, sending her off the ropes and through a ladder in a crazy bump. Io springboards in to knock Dakota off the ladder in what was probably a botch but who the fuck knows, and then Candice and Io exchange German suplexes. Mauro is still referring to Io as the JOSHI JUDAS and it fills me dread.
Chelsea’s leg is fucked so ROBERT ‘LAUNDRY DAY’ PLUMTREE takes matters into his own hands and he climbs the ladder to help pull Chelsea up (really showing off those ankles Rob, for fucks sake.) Fucking hilarious hearing the refs deadpan shout “Get down Stone!” with all the enthusiasm of Willy Wonka pleading with Mike Teavee.
She grabs the briefcase after Robert pulls her up but of course she has to fuck around a bit and feign idiocy whilst Candice and Io get in postilion to send them both to the ropes and to the floor.
It’s now down to Io and Candice (because I guess Yim has broken her tailbone, or something?) and she sends Candice off the ladder onto another bridged ladder in the ring , and Io grabs the case.
Man, that would’ve been a bit of alright if there were a crowd, despite the usual WWE habits and tropes. The big bumps were devastating and they came off as organic without much bullshit, it’s just that the actual bullshit wasn’t able to hide behind a natural atmosphere created by live fans.
Still, it was fast-paced with little down time, which for a 22 minute match in an empty venue, involving the best women’s division in North America, you kinda expect nothing less than that. The first two thirds are iffy, but the final third with all the destruction is fun.
Shame about the lack of audience and shame about the WWE/NXT-isms but it’s probably about as good as a multi-person WWE TV ladder match with no fans can get.