National-Pro-Wrestling-Day

Matches Announced for “National Pro Wrestling Day” on February 8, 2015

As of today, the following matches are being advertised for the National Pro Wrestling Day event:

  • Ashley Remington vs. Drew Gulak
  • Flying Francis (Branden O’Connor and Matt Novak) vs. NRG (Hype Rockwell and Race Jaxon)
  • Fire Ant vs. Juan Francisco
  • Blaster McMassive vs. “Mr. Touchdown” Mark Angelosetti

This is the third annual National Pro Wrestling Day event.  It will take place this coming Sunday, February 8, in Norristown, Pennsylvania at the Greater Norristown PAL Gym.  Admission is free, and the event supports the Seva Foundation.  This foundation works to prevent blindness, restore vision, and create healthy eye care programs for the disadvantaged in 20 countries.

You can find more information about the National Pro Wrestling Day event and the Seva Foundation by visiting NationalProWrestlingDay.com.

 

mizdow

Wentz’s Blog – Time for a Curtain Call in the Stunt Double Act of Damien Mizdow

So, what do you get when you take two guys who look nothing alike and book them into an act where one is subservient to the other as a “stunt double”?  You get a tag team that has been effective in giving the subservient role player traction with the fans.

For the past five months, Damien Sandow has played the role of Mizdow in a tag team with The Miz.  Mizdow has been the method actor, the stunt double who bumps when Miz bumps.  He mimicked Miz’s offense, his hand motions, his promos.  The act, despite it being something that has short shelf life, gave life to Mizdow.  Fans want to see him in the ring, but Miz hasn’t always granted that opportunity.

This Sunday at Royal Rumble, the Hollywood duo will get another chance to reclaim tag team gold from the Usos.  Later in the evening, the pair will enter the Royal Rumble as well to try and get a shot at heading to the main event of Wrestlemania.  While I don’t believe the duo will achieve success in either venture, I do think something else should happen for this pairing.

It’s time for the curtain to fall on this act.  Mizdow needs to become Damien Sandow again.
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WWE Monday Night Raw Live Coverage for 1/12/2015 – Aftermath of Dolph Ziggler, Ryback, and Erick Rowan Being Fired, John Cena and Seth Rollins Prepare to Meet Brock Lesnar at Royal Rumble, More Entrants to the Rumble Set, and More

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The Royal Rumble is two weeks away.  Last week, The Authority returned, setting everyone on notice quickly that they are in “revenge mode” for what happened at Survivor Series.  Dolph Ziggler, Erick Rowan, and Ryback were sent packing while John Cena stood by and did nothing.  Who else is on the “punishment” list for The Authority?  Will it be Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose, who defied them on Smackdown this past week?  Who else will get their shot at being in the 30-man Royal Rumble match?  And will  Brock Lesnar grace us with his presence in advance of the big triple-threat title match to happen at that event?

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alex_koslov

Ring of Honor Talent and One Half of “Forever Hooligans” Announces “Indefinite Sabbatical” from Pro Wrestling

Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling talent Alex Koslov took to Twitter to state that he is stepping away from the squared circle.  On Twitter he wrote that “I am hesitant to say I’m retiring from pro wrestling, but I am taking a much needed indefinite sabbatical to focus on my life.”  He went on to say that thanks to social media he will “continue to entertain you in different ways.”

The 31-year old is known for teaming with Rocky Romero in the “Forever Hooligans” tag team, and the pair recently worked the Wrestle Kingdom 9 event at the Tokyo Dome.  He stated that he had given New Japan three months’ notice that he was going to be stepping away.  Also, he thanked the fans, his tag partner Romero, and New Japan for their support.

You can see the tweets, and follow Alex, on Twitter at this link.

Ring Rap Audio: 12/17/14 – Too much WWE, NXT Takeover, TLC, Raw, Smackdown, and other random thoughts!

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Talk about having no script.  We called this one in the ring (so to speak).

Bill and Drew are back again with another episode of Ring Rap Audio – #141 in fact!  And there’s loads to discuss, but it’s mainly all WWE stuff. As in, way too much of it.

WWE NXT Takeover R-Evolution, WWE TLC, WWE Raw, WWE Smackdown, WWE WWE WWE WWE WWE.  Enough is enough!

We talk about Alberto Del Rio a little bit too.  He’s going to Ring of Honor as “Alberto El Patron.”  Who is he facing off against first?

All of this plus lots more!

Follow all of us on Twitter as well: @RingRapAudio and @RingRap.  Bill is on Twitter @Bill_SoonerFan.  Matt is on Twitter @bigmat75.  Drew is on Twitter too @PsionStorm.

Be sure to tune in to our shorter, more frequent solo audio show, Around the Ring with Ring Rap! (iTunes | Stitcher | TuneIn | RSS)

You can also follow us on Facebook and Google+!

*****

Music Credits

“Summon the Rawk” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

*****

“Pulse” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

WWE Smackdown Live Special 12/16/2014 – Live Coverage Featuring Roman Reigns First In-Ring Match Since Injury, Dean Ambrose and Bray Wyatt Follow-Up, and More

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It’s WWE Week on the USA Network, which means we’re going to get a rare live edition of Smackdown tonight.  Live from Grand Rapids, MI, we’ll see Roman Reigns have a match for the first time since his hernia surgery.  Dean Ambrose and Bray Wyatt were hyped to be “under the same roof” last night on Raw – what will the fallout be from their TLC match at the pay per view this past Sunday.

Join me for live Smackdown coverage starting at 8PM EST, right here on Ring-Rap.com.

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ziggler

Wentz’s Blog – Why We Still Remember and are Entertained by “Austin 3:16″, but Will Forget Dolph Ziggler’s Slammy Promo by Next Monday

On the heels of Drew’s epic Twitter meltdown last night over Dolph Ziggler’s “entertain you, the fans” promo at the Slammy Awards, I got to thinking about the art of a promo moment.  We’ve all seen the classic cuts of guys delivering memorable lines.  But the one that sticks out in my head, and most other fans’ heads, is the one that ushered in an era.

“Austin 3:16 says I just whipped your ass.”

The beauty of the best promos in professional wrestling is that they aren’t scripted moments.  Listen to Austin’s famous “Austin 3:16” promo after King of the Ring and you can tell that he’s talking off the cuff.  That promo was not a prepared statement.  It wasn’t memorized lines.

Think about the key points of that classic Austin moment.  He addressed Jake Roberts, who he had just defeated.  Austin called him a piece of trash, telling him to “go buy a bottle of cheap Thunderbird and get back some of the courage he had in his prime.”  He addressed the roster at that time, saying that he was “fixing to run through all of them” and “they’re all on the list.”  He also addressed his future title shot that he earned by winning King of the Ring, saying that he didn’t care who the champion was, he would beat them and become the next champion.

So when I go back and look at Drew’s tweets in the light of that promo by Austin, they are completely worthwhile statements.  At first, my reaction was kind of “meh” but after a good night’s sleep I get why he was pissed, and quite frankly I am too.

If you’ve listened to Ring Rap Audio regularly, you know one of our chief complaints about the mid-card and WWE storytelling in general is that the most guys don’t get the promo time to make us care about their character.  Add in that when they do get time, it generally feels heavily scripted and forced.  This has become a recurring problem that needs to be fixed.

Perhaps this is the difference between eras of the product.  Maybe this is the difference between what was still professional wrestling in those days and today’s “sports entertainment” that WWE has so cleverly marketed.  Call it what you want, but it still boils down to Dude A having an issue with Dude B and needing to settle it with a fight inside a 20’ x 20’ ring.  And THAT is what wrestling fans care most about.

The best promos, and ultimately the best characters, in professional wrestling are guys with their natural personality turned up past 11.  They have a natural charisma that draws you in to either hate them as heels or love them as babyfaces.  The promos they cut should have clear goals toward a match payoff or a championship.  They don’t weave in and out of character and pander to the fans by saying “we do this to entertain you.”

Don’t misunderstand me, as there are appropriate times and places to make those kinds of statements.  Outside of the ring in a radio interview or on a podcast, that statement is fine.  Once the lights come on that kind of talk should be kept backstage.  Even the most casual of fan should be insulted by that kind of talk in a live show setting, regardless of how the product is marketed.

What made “Austin 3:16” so memorable was that he spoke off the cuff out of his natural charisma and in character.  It wasn’t something someone wrote for him.  He didn’t talk about entertaining the fans.  He talked about his victory, he talked about who he was targeting next, and he talked about a future title shot that he would win.  You cared about what he said and it got a reaction.

Ziggler’s promo last night had zero tangible direction for his character and got nothing but apathy in response.  He was the sole survivor in the Team Cena/Team Authority match at Survivor Series and we all hoped this was a springboard point for him.  His booking, coupled with last night’s lame promo, point to that not being the case.

Vince McMahon said last week in his podcast with Steve Austin that he’s looking for someone who will grab that brass ring (imaginary or otherwise).  The key is that he has guys on his roster who are more than capable of doing so with their charisma and in-ring talent – Dolph being one of them.  Rather than turn them loose, WWE chooses to have them play by a much tighter script, in part because they embrace “sports entertainment” these days more so than their professional wrestling roots.

It’s time that WWE rips up that script.  Don’t insult my intelligence by pandering to me and telling me that you’re there to entertain me.  Allow me to suspend my disbelief for a couple hours during the show.  Allow me to care about the characters and go on a storyline ride with them as they pursue a title shot or seek revenge on an opponent.

Stop giving me sterilized, over-scripted, and force-fed sports entertainment.  Embrace and accept the basics of pro wrestling that includes guys cutting more free-formed promos such as “Austin 3:16.”  While they might not all be as memorable, they will at least feel more inspired and meaningful than reciting lines like an actor.  Let that help tell a meaningful story that I can truly invest in.

That will entertain me more than being pandered to at an awards show like I was last night.

punk

Wentz’s Blog – Random Thoughts on CM Punk Signing a Multi-Fight Contract with UFC: The Business Perspective, Ironic Card Juggling, and More

After a long road trip yesterday to be a part of a grand opening ceremony for a friend’s newest gym, I decided to crash early and get some extra sleep.  Needless to say, I woke up to some fight news that shocked me – CM Punk has joined the UFC for a multi-fight contract as announced at last night’s UFC 181 pay per view event.  You can read Drew’s report on the signing at this link, but here are a couple random thoughts regarding the situation.

Seeing Dollar Signs…

First and foremost, Dana White is a business man.  He deserves a ton of credit for making this happen.  When you look at professional wrestling and WWE in particular, they seem to look for reasons that guys can’t draw money.  Rather than accentuate their positives and hide guys’ weak points, they look at a guy’s negative points and simply move them down the card and say that “they can’t draw, we need to stick with this other guy.”  They end up looking for reasons to not move a guy up.  In this case, Dana White ended up jumping at a chance to make money with the name value of CM Punk, even with an unknown background in mixed martial arts.

Think about it – this signing has generated a lot of buzz in the mainstream already.  There will be professional wrestling fans who tuned in to watch Brock Lenar will also watch to see Punk.  CM Punk’s fans from his pro wrestling days will have interest and order the fight to see what he does.  People who want to see Punk win, or get his ass handed to him, will buy the fight.  In other words, despite Punk’s limited experience inside the Octagon, that first fight in 2015 will draw eyes simply because it is CM Punk.

Dana White made a smart money-making decision here, whether or not Punk wins or loses.

Oh, the Irony…

There is a certain sense of irony involved here as well.  Punk has never fought in any form of MMA to my knowledge.  He did acknowledge in the cageside interview with Joe Rogan that he has trained in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and kenpo karate, using the phrase “off and on.”  Surely the aggressive on-the-road lifestyle of professional wrestling has kept him from having consistent training in the arts, something that he now has time for since departing WWE.

Meanwhile, in some dojo in some corner of the US (or the world for that matter) is a guy who has trained his ass off for years hoping for that shot to get to the UFC, and he is again getting passed over, this time for a big celebrity name.  Punk is fighting in the UFC because he is CM Punk.  He wasn’t the champion of another MMA organization, and has few MMA credential.  There is no draw power for him aside from his name value. There will be grumbling from more experienced fighters who would die for the opportunity that Punk is getting.

One can say that CM Punk has had a dream to chase by fighting in UFC, and I give him all the credit in the world for chasing it.  I applaud Punk for getting in the octagon, but he could have just as easily started at the bottom of the ladder in some other organization to hone his skills a bit before asking for the UFC stage.  Former WWE Champion Dave Batista had that same bug as well, and fought on an MMA pay per view card that very few people saw against a second string “tomato can.”  He surely would have jumped at the chance to fight in UFC, but took a shot at his MMA goals anyhow at a lesser event.

Punk is taking the spot of another deserving fighter who has dedicated himself to the sport of MMA all of his life.  I heard his complaints about The Rock returning to steal a Wrestlemania main event from him, but those circumstances were just bad timing.  It’s the freaking Rock – it happens. I still say it’s unfortunate that Punk never headlined Wrestlemania but Cena vs. Rock was going to draw more money for WWE and I would defend that.  I also understand that from a business perspective I can see why CM Punk is getting an opportunity by being placed in a position like this for UFC and defend that as well.

I just hope that Punk will sit back and realize the similarities of what he is doing to guys on the UFC roster and his own situation in WWE.  I hope he understands why there are fighters who will look down their nose at him, rolling their eyes and saying “who does this guy think he is?”  I hope he will understand why MMA purists will absolutely lose their minds over him getting a chance over someone else.  For the things he complained about on the Art of Wrestling podcast, he has certainly committed some of those same offenses.

Punk’s Inexperience and White’s Comments About It..

In the post-fight presser where Dana White addressed CM Punk coming in, he admitted that he has no idea whether or not Punk can fight.  Purists and critics can point to UFC telling Ben Askren that he needed to gain more fight experience before fighting on the UFC stage and say that Punk shouldn’t be there.  They can call it a contradiction all they want, but these are two different situations completely.  There’s the personal relationship between Punk and White to consider, and the short term business boost I noted initially.

Let’s face it, Bellator has made some changes to their product and they are showing signs of becoming a player in the US MMA scene.  UFC needed to do something in order to drum up fan interest especially in the US – and this is one of those things.

And really, Punk’s lack of fighting experience and newness to the UFC game doesn’t make this signing any sort of an embarrassment to them.  UFC has featured 0-0 fighters in the past.  Punk may come out and wow us.  He might come out and crash and burn right out of the gate.  Punk is gutsy for trying it, and White is making a gutsy call to sign him to some fights and see what happens.  No one is really losing here.

In Closing…

As I pointed out, CM Punk has had a dream of being involved with UFC for some time, and I give him all the credit in the world for chasing that dream.  It will be very interesting to watch over the next few days and months how other fighters and fans react to the news.  This is a business move for UFC, and I believe it will definitely move the needle for them as both wrestling and MMA fans will tune in to see exactly how well Punk performs inside the octagon.

I’m sure that Drew and I will talk about this on RingRap Audio this week as well in more detail.  Be sure to tell us what you think in the reader poll on the site, and feel free to hit me on Twitter (@Bill_SoonerFan) or on Facebook as well.

sting

Wentz’s Blog – At 55, Sting Can Still be Used Effectively by WWE in the Twilight of His Career

Last night’s Survivor Series saw the live introduction of Sting to WWE audiences.  We’ve seen him on the WWE Network but he has now appeared in a WWE ring for the first time.  It was quite the moment.

For those who don’t know, Sting has an extensive history in the wrestling business.  In his day, he was a star in WCW.  He was made by Ric Flair in a Great American Bash match in the 80’s where Sting captured the World Heavyweight Championship, which was then under the NWA.  Through the 90’s he feuded and teamed with the NWO at various times.  When WCW went under in the early 2000’s, to most wrestling fans he faded off the map, not jumping to WWE as others had.  Sting wasn’t done with wrestling though, and spent time in TNA where he held titles and served as an on-air authority figure, but did nothing truly memorable as his age was catching up with him.  Quite honestly, Sting just wasn’t the same guy that as the man I remembered from my youth as a wrestling fan.

There has been a lot of talk in recent years about him coming to WWE for one more run.  Sting had never set foot in a WWE ring until last night, which was in a way a part of his mystique.  Fans hoped to see him come to WWE, work a match at Wrestlemania, receive a Hall of Fame induction, and maybe work a legend’s contract with limited appearances.  Sting stayed loyal to the TNA brand instead through the 2000’s though.  As TNA cut costs, Sting’s contract wasn’t renewed in 2014 and now we’ve seen him make the jump to WWE’s on-screen product.

It begs the question:  Can you utilize a 55-year old Sting that actually would actually mean something to today’s wrestling fan?

There has been a lot of chatter in online circles about having Sting face Undertaker.  The Icon vs. the Phenom has a lot of “on the surface” draw.  The entrances would be amazing.  The promo segments could contain a lot of theatrics to help build a strong story.  But let’s face it – the match would most likely disappoint.

Hardcore fans of today would immediately jump all over this, saying how poor the match was and they’d have just cause.  Sting has a tendency to forget spots.  Undertaker is said to not be at his best, especially after his concussion during the match with Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania 30.  Casual fans may react differently to it because of the two mens’ legendary status, however.  The spectacle might win over the hardcore fans at least on the surface, but it won’t be enough.

I also realize that while “the time is now” in regard to setting this match up, it also feels like it would be rushed and almost like it needs a little more build-up time to really be meaningful.  With Wrestlemania 32 projected to be in Dallas, TX at AT&T Stadium (the Jerry Jones Dome), it sets the stage for a final match for Undertaker in his home state, and perhaps that’s where we get our “Icon vs. Phenom” match.  With very limited dates and exposure for both men, it could work.  Could. No guarantees.

Of course there’s the idea of having Sting work with younger talent to give them rub.  A guy like a Dolph Ziggler could bump around and sell for Sting, which could help sell the match.  Having a Ziggler or other up-and-coming mid-card player go over Sting on the right stage and in the right situation could do a lot for that person’s career.

The major question that runs in my mind for something like that is Sting’s conditioning.  Wrestling is a worked product but let’s face it, it still takes good conditioning no matter how well the match is laid out.  In TNA, Sting often worked wearing a t-shirt, and quite frankly that’s a bit embarrassing to see.  Is he physically up to working a match that would require the quicker pace?  Also, is it really going to be a rub for anyone because casual fans are not really aware of who Sting is, and the history he represents?  Will WWE build up to something the right way so that it does matter?

Then there’s the somewhat obvious angle from last night – Triple H.  Sting has openly said if he couldn’t work Undertaker, he would not mind working Triple H.  From all appearances, it looks like they’re going to go there, possibly for Wrestlemania 31.  Despite his recent losing streak, Triple H still means something when he’s in the ring.  He’s a 13-time World Champion and without question heading to the Hall of Fame himself someday.  He’s also a figurehead of the Attitude Era when Sting and WCW ran neck and neck with WWE.  In terms of the “here and now,” this is a program that makes sense to me.

How do you book this, or any program involving Sting though and have it be effective?

First, I would have Sting appear VERY infrequently until close to the match.  Even then, I’d be hesitant to have him there every week.  You don’t want Sting to feel like just another guy on the roster.  If he’s on the show every week, that is likely to happen.  WWE needs to resist the temptation to trot him out there as a substitute authority figure.  They need to resist the temptation to put him on a lot of different broadcasts.  You want Sting to feel like a big deal when he appears.

Use that production truck.  Roll classic footage, educate the casual fans who might not know who Sting is about his past.  WWE excels at putting together these kinds of vignettes that can make Sting look amazing and like someone who should be respected as a wrestling legend to all their fans.

Secondly, because appearances will be infrequent, book segments and exchanges that pack a punch.  A criticism of Sting in his later years (especially in TNA) has been that he tends to forget spots and forget cues, so set him up with pre-tapes when possible where they can tighten things up in editing.  Also, part of the problem with some segments with Undertaker and Brock last year, and other part-timers in the past has been that it doesn’t feel important.  They need to not waste opportunities and make things matter when Sting appears.

Finally, whoever it is he works with has to be willing to spend the time laying out and rehearsing the match in detail.  Whether it’s Undertaker (who is said to request that to be the case), or Triple H or anyone else, the time has to be spent working out the match ahead of time.  Sting is not likely to work a lot of matches, so this isn’t as big of a hurdle to overcome as it might seem.  This is key both to remembering spots and making sure key moments aren’t botched or missed. It also lays the match out in a way to minimize Sting’s weaknesses in the ring at his current age.

Yes, Sting is 55 years old.  Yes, he is unfamiliar to some casual fans of today’s WWE.  But if WWE handles this the right way,  they can utilize Sting effectively to make his one and only run in WWE a memorable sendoff to his stellar career.

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