Thursday 11 November 2021

WWE Live: Manchester AO Arena, November 10th 2021

Well it's been a good long while since I touched this thing, but on a whim I decided to take my wife to see WWE's latest UK tour. Like many people, I have found myself to be pretty unenthused with many aspects of WWE's current show. I typically only watch the monthly PPV/Network special (unless it's in Saudi Arabia) & that gives me my fill. WWE returning to the UK less than 2 months after their last tour kind of reeked of desperation, but when they announced the card on Halloween weekend and I saw how reasonable the cheapest seats were (about £44 a head seemed fair value when prices for arena entertainment have sky-rocketed - heck, we've just spent £30 a ticket to see Warpaint at the Albert Hall) I thought it was worth a shot. Being dressed in my Orange Cassidy Halloween costume when the news broke probably boosted my enthusiasm for wrestling too. That costume was Orange Cassidy approved to boot:

This was my first mainline WWE Live show since my first ever wrestling show in 2013 an my first WWE show of any kind since the UK Championship Tournament in 2017. That feels like a lifetime ago. My wife hadn't been to a show since she was a child! We were both pretty excited, so let's run through what they had to offer.

Match 1: Finn Balor & Cesaro beat Sheamus & Walter

Finn vs Sheamus & Cesaro vs Walter were originally advertised. Finn got injured late in the tour so merging the 2 into a tag match was to help him work less. I was talking ahead of the show about how I had hopes Walter & Cesaro were going to properly unload since it was the last night of the tour. Obviously that couldn't be the case but at least we still got to see Finn & his entrance.
Earlier that day, Sheamus cut a promo in the Man City changing room singing Liverpool’s praises & kept doing so on the mic in the arena.  Man City & England defender Kyle Walker has a video message that challenged him to wear a City shirt if he lost the match. Naturally, Sheamus lost the fall when Finn rolled him up. He still refused to wear the shirt so Cesaro had to come back out, give him the swing & force the shirt over his head.
VerdictPretty good opener that spread the workload relatively lightly for all, though Finn still got some trademarks in. Sheamus & Cesaro did most of the work, including a good hot tag by Cesaro. Walter mostly just brawled, crowd hung on the teases of his chops. Good mix of shenanigans & workrate.

Match 2: Natalya beat Shayna Baszler

Shayna jumped Nattie during her entrance but it still settled into a good technical match, sweet escapes from both wrestlers. Nattie got a German suplex into the match, which I don’t associate her with. Nattie rolled through the Kirafuda Clutch to pin Shayna’s shoulders ala Bret at Survivor Series 96 to get the win. 
VerdictNice match for the time given.

Match 3: Jeff Hardy beat Madcap Moss via DQ

Happy Corbin
accompanied Moss & bemoaned Manchester for being miserable. Moss had a terrible joke about golfers having two pairs of socks in case they got a hole in one.
Jeff was super over. He played the hits & practically dominated the match. Corbin got thrown out at one point so the ref got to do a colossal "Yoooooouuuuu'rrrreeee OUTTA HERE!" spot. He came back though and  hung Jeff up on the top buckle before the Swanton could connect to cause the DQ. Drew McIntyre came out to even the odds & made a Spice Girls reference in his challenge for a tag match (playa) because Mel B was in the front row. He had to get the crowd to call Corbin a chicken to convince the heels to wrestle the match.

Match 4: Drew McIntyre & Jeff Hardy beat Happy Corbin & Madcap Moss

Drew was spritely, then Jeff wound up playing face in peril. Out of nowhere Moss - who did nothing more complicated than tease a neckbreaker in his match with Jeff earlier - busts out the sweetest move in the match with a good Gory Bomb. Drew got the hot tag & pinned Moss after a Claymore. 
VerdictSimple enough match that meant Drew could work a lighter match while still giving the crowd enough to make them happy, and the Teddy Long impromptu tag booking saved Jeff from having to do a Swanton when no cameras were on. The faces probably glad handed with the crowd post match for longer than they wrestled. The heels offered little really.

Match 5: Tommaso Ciampa beat Sami Zayn & Bron Breakker to retain the NXT Championship

Sami cut a promo where he was actually very respectful about his opponents’ credentials but pointed out NXT would be nothing without him. Ciampa was pretty over. Lots of 2 men in/1 man out, Bron & Ciampa being the initial workhorses, then it switched to Bron/Sami. Bron ruled in this match - suplexes galore & a Frankensteiner. He’s got a bright future. Not much wrestling from Sami, who mostly played spoiler. He tried to pick up the scraps when Bron hit his Gorilla Front Power Slam & kept Bron out of the ring, but Ciampa recovered with a knee lift/ripcord DDT combo to win. 
VerdictVery good match, the wrestling was the most authentic out of everything so far tonight in terms of matching what you’d expect of a televised match.

Match 6: Shinsuke Nakamura beat Jinder Mahal to retain the Intercontinental Championship

Rick Boogs
played Shinsuke to the ring and was really over. This was the first time I’d properly seen his manage Shinsuke & I liked his quirks, like doing a biddley-diddley riff while Shinsuke did the Good Vibrations in the corner, then playing Shinsuke’s theme to help him rally out of a chinlock. I guess he is to Nakamura what the Urn is to The Undertaker. Boogs also broke up Jinder putting his feet on the ropes on a cover, so Jinder tried to convince the ref to tell Boogs "Youuuu'rrreee outta here" but the ref instead told him "Heeeee's STAYING" in a fun call back to earlier. Shinsuke basically played the hits. They teased lots of his kicks into the match rather well with Jinder having an initial block at several points. Shinsuke escaped the Khallas & hit the Kinshasa to win. 
VerdictAn alright match, nothing special. Could have done without the idiots in our section chanting irrelevant stuff that didn’t match the flow of the match at all. More on that later.

Main Event: Charlotte Flair beat Sasha Banks to retain the Smackdown Women’s Championship

Both wrestlers were really over, Charlotte was the heel but was still well supported. These two could wrestle each other in their sleep. Great counters & call backs. Similar in vein to the NXT match - it seemed like both women took great pride in the standard of the match & their responsibility as headliners to make a memorable match. Great energy with Sasha having lots of success with meteora variants, Charlotte doing well with counters to counters like her tilt-a-whirl backbreaker & moonsault into a standing moonsault. Charlotte won with the Natural Selection. She shook hands with Sasha post match but it was a ploy to attack her with the belt. Sasha countered & sent her packing with a backstabber. 
VerdictA terrific match, filled with top class exchanges. Match of the night easily. 

  • Merch stand was dominated by people not even on the show including The Bloodline/Roman Reigns, Becky Lynch, New Day and Kevin Owens. There was also a “Manchester 3:16” shirt, dunno what Stone Cold has to do with anything. But the top seller was probably John Cena’s latest green shirt. Crowd was full of kids wearing that.
  • Arena was probably 2/3s full in terms of seats available. The floor was pretty full and the cheap seats relatively popular but the side of the arena where the “hard camera” traditionally goes was much more empty. The top deck wasn’t rented out at all & curtained off.
  • Trent Seven was front row ringside for Shayna’s match & Hardy’s match. He left when the latter morphed into the tag match with Drew & greeted a bunch of people as he did so. He hot-dogged and grand-standed for all he was worth while he was out there, even Ric Flair at Halloween Havoc 95 would be jealous. “STAND TALL!” That was basically the only NXT UK involvement on the show, besides the BT Sports advert being played before the show.

  • Jesus wept these guys were the most obnoxious fans I think I’ve ever had to be around. I don’t know where they came from but they just magically appeared in time for the first match to put a downer on everyone’s night.
  • At least two of them were United fans & did not like Sheamus’ footy gimmick at all. They chanted “You Scouse bastard” at him until their vaguely sensible friend pointed out how many kids were around. Then they chanted a bunch of United stuff when Walker laid out his challenge, as if they didn’t lose at home to City at the weekend.
  • They spent most of Nattie’s match trying to start chants for other wrestlers, apart from one point where one guy started talking about her possibly having a boob job? A couple sat next to us checked out & switched sections before that match even began, a few people with kids appeared to do the same.
  • They were really aggressively into Sami Zayn during the NXT Title match. There were long spells of them chanting “Let’s Go Sami” when he wasn’t even in the ring or doing anything. If you want to show your support lads, cheering for him when he’s actually doing stuff in the match would be a great start. They were also perfectly okay with having a loud conversation to themselves while he cut his promo, which is not exactly a good way of showing your support for someone either.
  • They totally ruined the Shinsuke/Jinder match. This was the point in the night where they really just disappeared up their own arses and into a world of their own. Just incessant chanting & yelling that did not match the flow of the match & when the rest of the audience were getting into things. Two of them did a duelling “Nakamura/Jinder sucks” chant by themselves for TWO STRAIGHT MINUTES. They were also obsessed with Jinder being Canadian & chanted about that & how he can stick his maple syrup up his arse. I was in my Shinsuke shirt & very excited to see him but this actively took away from my engagement in the match. I was planning to show my support more actively, but I’d heard enough Nakamura chants for a lifetime before the match even really took off.
  • The flashes of misogyny in their treatment of Nattie’s match sadly reached another level during the main event. Pretty sure I overheard them debate which of the wrestlers they’d rather have sex with & one of them tried to do a “Charlotte, show us your WOO” chant going before he was shut down by the least obnoxious one in the group. They also chanted “If Sasha wins, we’re on the piss” but it sounded like they were on the piss already.
  • When the show was over it was really funny looking at them all. Everyone else was leaving the arena & were pretty chatty, but those lads just stayed sat in their chairs, totally silent & looking off to the middle distance like someone took their batteries out. Oh, so now they're quiet!
Final Verdict

This was a fun show overall. There were 3 matches where a sentimental favourite of mine (Jeff, Drew, Shinsuke) was lumbered with someone I did not care for at all (Moss, Corbin & Jinder). Two of those got merged together & while it took a bunch of time, it was good to see Drew have fun with it, while the Intercontinental Title match had some entertaining quirks that would have been more enjoyable without the dicks in the crowd. I was pleased with all the other matches on the show, with Charlotte vs Sasha being a class above everything else & the NXT Title match also proving really good - Bron's got a lot of star potential and didn't look out of place in there with the two veterans. I was happy we went.

I hope you've enjoyed this post. If you did, be sure to check out my podcast Then, Now, Whatever. We're currently in the middle of our Tape Trader Diaries series looking at the wrestling shows we shared with each other growing up. You'll find the latest episode embedded below.

Monday 24 July 2017

Then, Now Whatever Episode 6: 'Member WCW Mayhem 1999?

Hello everyone,

Again, I realise I'm incredibly behind with these, but hopefully you've had chance to check out my last post looking at the bat shit crazy WCW World Championship Tournament leading up to this Pay Per View. As I've mentioned previously, and in the podcast itself, WCW Mayhem 1999 was the first Pay Per View to take place after I discovered wrestling, after having examined the first Pay Per View after Kyle was introduced to wrestling in our previous episode. This was an extremely difficult episode to edit and the recording session was at least one hour longer than the run time, so lots of stuff got cut. So as promised, you can listen to the episode below, as well as check out some additional notes & references for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy.


That audio came from a TV commercial for the WCW Mayhem video game.

The bed for our introductions was the live version of Metallica's "Seek And Destroy" which Sting used as his entrance theme when I started watching WCW.
Of course, we went on to discuss our experiences watching World of Sport in Episode 7.

Naturally, given how long it's been since the episode was recorded, the music video Kyle's students were featured in has now been released. Check it out below.

"An obsession with KISS" - Bischoff paid KISS millions to perform live on WCW Monday Nitro & also use their likeness for a KISS branded wrestler, The KISS Demon. This was a flop, naturally, and the wrestler would should up on occasion as simply The Demon, as KISS didn't want to be associated with this train wreck any more.

"Rey without a mask" - definitely check out the New Generation Project Podcast's Halloween Havoc 1997 episode for more on that.

"Bryan Alvarez & ... some other guy" - the name I was searching for was, of course, R.D. Reynolds.

Jarrett vs Benoit

I of course had to splice in Jarrett's rip off Kid Rock theme so you could all hear how great it is.

"The GLAGEH sleeper hold" - a mainstay of the AE Podcast. I encourage you to check out their "Grunt of the Night" compilation here.

"Never drawing a dime" - any excuse to play this

Cruiserweight Championship/$25000 Match

I will never be ashamed of marking out for rubbish WCW midcarders! "Sing along with 3 Count..." 3 Count were various combinations of Shane (Hurricane/Gregory) Helms, Shannon Moore and Evan Keragias who were one of my most fondly remembered naff gimmicks from my early days as a fan. I still love the logic of having a heelish fake boyband playing off the popularity of Backstreet Boys, N*Sync etc and how the wrestling fans at the time were unlikely to hold those kind of groups in high regard.

Hardcore Championship Match

DDT Pro's Ironman Heavymetalweight championship has an absolutely bat shit crazy lineage that I encourage you to explore here. My favourite champions were the table and Bunny the cat

"Brian Knobbs remembered HIS weapons trolley" - see our Wrestlemania 32 episode for our frustrations at Dean for forgetting his weapons.

Here's The Big Wiggle for your enjoyment

Intergender Tag

The lead in to this match was yet another fashion parade. Here's the fetching head gear of Konnan's that tickled me...

...and here's Perry Saturn's get up.

I think the boring chant I thought I heard early on in this match might have actually been a chant for Torie, but hey ho.
"You just have to remember not to work yourself into a shoot" - *inserts that Hulk Hogan Tweet*.

First Trimester Question Time

Taker's reaction to that first Draft really was immense

What are your wrestling cravings? What are your go to shows when you want something to watch?

Buff vs Hennig

That moustache on Nick Patrick though...

Bret vs Sting

"This one is for Owen" - Bret's brother, who passed away in a horrible accident where he fell from the rafters of the Kemper Arena in Kansas City whilst playing his Blue Blazer superhero character. A month or so prior to this Pay Per View, Nitro had a show in the Kemper Arena and Bret wrestled Benoit in tribute to Owen, I'd definitely recommend tracking that one down.

Dog Shit Collar Match

Dear God that Oklahoma gimmick...

Meng vs Lex

Mace spots in wrestling are always super dodgy. Those of you who are listening to my guest spots on the Raw Is Nitro podcast should keep your ears open in the future for one instance of this happening during our TNA Impact vs WWE Raw head to head story arc in the near future...

Sign Watch

For our non-British listeners, the music used in the intro to this segment is the theme tune to the TV show Crimewatch (hence the segment name). Here's the "This is still crap" sign that got this show spot on.

Oh, and any Canadian listeners/readers - do you use shagging as a euphemism for sex?

Hall vs Booker

The WWE Network has an abridged version of the documentary from Scott Hall's Home Video release Living On A Razor's Edge that I really recommend you check out if you want a deeper understanding of Scott's personal problems.
The default thing was (naturally) a Simpsons reference.

"that choke sidewalk slam thing that he does" - affectionately referred to as the "chokebottom" by the New Generation Project Podcast.
"Old Booker T is definitely good Booker T" - for sure, we didn't have to put up with him teeling us he thinks all women secretly hate each other back then!

David vs Kimberley

This episode was full of disingenuous WCW commentary, but Tony calling this match "one of the marquee match ups here tonight" made me lose my shit the most!
What was awkward about Kyle identifying Shawn Stasiak as a bad second generation wrestler was he actually follows us!
Crowbar, who might be better known as Devon Storm, actually wound up in an alliance with David Flair later on in WCW.

I Quit Match

Back in January of that year Mankind and The Rock had an I Quit Match at the Royal Rumble revolving around doctored audio of one of the participants, so the build  to this match shared some real similarities.
Here's the famous angle Bret and Goldberg had together that made all of Canada hate Goldberg.

Main Event

You can hear me at times audibly stutter trying not to resort to swearing to describe the goings on of such a crazy show. I don't think this was as good as their Owen Hart tribute match but this is the most complete feeling match on this show for a very long time.

Next Time: Our next episode looked at the World of Sport Wrestling pilot episode Kyle & I attended. You can give it a listen here & keep your eyes peeled for the blog edition still to come.

Remember, the easiest place to keep track of the podcast is by following us on Twitter @tnwpodcast, and give us a like on Facebook. Subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts/iTunes, Stitcher Radio and Soundcloud, and be sure to leave us a rating or a review if you like what you hear.

Until next time...

Wednesday 2 November 2016

Then, Now, Whatever Episode 5: 'Member WWF Unforgiven 1998?

Hello again everyone. It's been a while but we're back! Episode 5 of Then, Now Whatever is in the books. As usual, we've put together this lovely blog edition with additional production notes & visual references to compliment what we discussed on the show.

After spending all of our previous episodes (barring the pilot I made) discussing current wrestling as a way of getting ourselves into a groove, so to speak, we were very keen to take a look at some older stuff. So we thought, as a little "getting to know you" exercise, we'd go back to when we both started watching wrestling. and look at the first Pay Per Views to happen after we became fans. Kyle has been watching for longer than me - he's been watching since April 98 - so it made sense to start with that and look at the WWF's PPV from around that time, Unforgiven: In Your House.
We'll get to the PPV relevant to when I first got into wrestling in the next episode - more on that later (although if you were paying attention to my first guest appearance on the Raw Is Nitro Podcast, you may have an idea of what that might be), but first, let's delve into Unforgiven!

Seeing as this was our first opportunity to look back at some older wrestling, and with this current season of South Park having such a focus on nostalgia, I had to use the 'Member Berries in our intro (and if you look at our episode artwork, Undertaker is actually holding one). Luckily the wonderful Mike Hansen had made a wrestling themed version of their schtick for a recent edition of Botchamania, so I used that.

Since we'd been away a fair while Kyle suggested we use "The Boys Are Back In Town" by Thin Lizzy as the bed for our introductions. I found an instrumental version and it sounds really great.

You can find Triple H recruiting X Pac into DX below, which was the promo Kyle was referring to in his discussion on his early memories of wrestling.

"You sounded like Captain Black then" - Captain Black was the Spectrum agent the Mysterons took under their control in Captain Scarlet And The Mysterons. If you have no idea what that show is then you've had a very deprived childhood. On the other hand, I'll forgive you for not knowing what Masked Rider was - a failed attempt by Saban to bring Kamen Rider to the West Power Rangers style.

6 Man Tag

I'm sure you'll have noticed I referred to every match on the card as a Main Event. This is in reference to WWE having the "Main Event" of No Mercy as the opening match and also their epic butchering of announcing then backtracking on Sasha vs Charlotte being the headline match for Hell in a Cell. Mick Foley stated the WWE Universe themselves could decide what the main event of a show is, so I decided every match should be a main event. :)

Poor old Steve Blackman got it in the neck for just being "meat in the room" at this point in his career...

Oh, and just to reiterate, Ken Shamrock's theme music is awesome.

European Title Match

The circumstances of Owen's passing are truly tragic. His accident occurred before I got into the WWF, so I never got to experience any of his work "first hand"/during the time and it is only through watching his work on DVDs/watching old matches on the Network etc that I grew to love him. I seriously encourage anyone looking to learn more about Owen's story to check out How2Wrestling's episode on his career.

"If only they knew" - a butchered attempt to reference Chyna's book, actually called If They Only Knew.

Here's that infamous call by Joey Styles that was the only thing I could think of that was more awkward in retrospect that JR's "Chyna ascending to the heavens" call.

"Aloha Triple H can't block the sunset flip" - of course reference to one of OSW's greatest running gags, "Aloha Arn", based on Arn Anderson's strategy of waving your hands to block a sunset flip.

Owen's enzughiri was in storyline what caused Shawn Michaels a concussion in late 1995, playing off a real life incident in Syracuse where he was beaten up by some marines. "Poop mouth" is of course an Anchorman reference.

NWA Tag Title Match

There was a fair bit of "Howard Finkel introduces someone only for them to introduce someone else" on this show...

Evening Gown Match

Seriously, Luna's cadence sounds a spot on match for lots of monsters from Power Rangers, especially those voiced by the person voicing the villain in this clip here.

Half Time Question Time

As Kyle mentioned, if you have any ideas for questions we could use in this segment, feel free to tweet them to us (@tnwpodcast). Kyle's comic book themed answers gave me a perfect excuse to use 90s Marvel cartoons themes as the bed for the segment this time out. Also if anyone from the UK ever called the WWF Superstar hotline, please do get in touch.

WWF Tag Title Match

In our previous episode we were debating why the ref wouldn't let The Revival tag in via hand/foot contact, which is why we were a bit bemused that tagging in via groin/face contact is grand.

I think the references to how ridiculous Sunny's outfit was got cut, by it WAS ridiculous.

"Her breasts are HUGE" - seriously, how could you miss them?

Double J's Concert

"The country band of the 90s" - incidentally, Sawyer Brown actually formed in 1981! Although they did actually win a couple of awards around the time period of this show, so fair dues. This is once again another appearance for Random Steve, just filling out the card.
Changing Rooms was a decorating/home improvement show that used to air here in Britain on BBC One. A few of the designers on that show, like Laurence Llewelyn Bowen were quite famous for their fancy shirts. Jarrett wouldn't have looked out of place on that show too come to think of it.

Inferno Match

The Kane vs Vader "Mask vs Mask" match Kyle alluded to also happens to be the match where Vader referred to himself as "nuthin' but a big fat piece of shit" after losing.
Taker's posing in the flames looked so cool.

"It looked very fake towards the end" - see for yourself here.

Kane and Undertaker did indeed wrestle in Smokey Mountain Wrestling when Kane was Unabomb, as well as in the WWF when Kane was Isaac Yankem AND when he was Fake Diesel too!

WWF Title Match

I swear somewhere back home I have a picture I drew of myself as the Hardcore Hotshot! I will have to try and find it the next time I'm over there.

Seeing as Kane was the person that most pleasantly surprised Kyle watching this show back, I figured his music was a good choice for the outro.

That'll just about wrap things up then. Remember, you can follow us on Twitter @tnwpodcast, like our Facebook page and come follow us on Soundcloud. There you'll find a handy playlist of all our episodes so far, as well as Duncan's guest appearances on the Raw Is Nitro Podcast, who you should also check out on Twitter and Soundcloud.
We are also on Stitcher Radio and iTunes, so you can subscribe to us through there if that's the way you get your podcasts.

We will return next time out, looking at the first Pay Per View to happen after Duncan became a fan...

WCW MAYHEM 1999!!!

Oh yes, get's who's got two thumbs and was unfortunate enough to get into wrestling via late 1999 WCW? *Points to self with thumbs* This moi!

This show saw WCW about two months into Vince Russo and Ed Ferrara's run as showrunners for the company, so this show is Russo-rriffic as fuck! To take advantage of this, we have a fun way you can get involved with the show. I've made a little tally sheet of the line up for Mayhem 1999. If you dare endure want to watch the Pay Per View before we review it, you can print this out or screenshot it and scribble over it to keep a track of three key tropes of Russo's WCW tenure and one trope Russo's tenure was sadly lacking in. The four things you should look out for whilst watching the show are:
  • Instances of outside interference - here I'm counting the appearance of one person not legally in a match as one instance of outside interference, so for example if a stable of four wrestlers all run in to interfere, that counts as four instances of outside interference.
  • Guest commentators - anybody who grabs a microphone and joins the announce team especially for a certain match.
  • Attempts to repeat past successes in the WWF - Russo seemed to take the attitude of "whatever worked in the WWF would work in WCW", often to his detriment. If there's anything in this show that SCREAMS 1998/99 WWF, note it down. For example, to give you a hint, Russo seemed very keen to find a WCW equivalent to Chyna - a female wrestler who was treated as equal to the men.
  • Clean finishes - these are instances where matches end without any cheating or interference. So for example, a wrestler pinning their opponent after using their finishing move is a clean finish. However, if a wrestler is only able to pin their opponent because someone outside of the match is distracting them, that is NOT a clean finish. Be warned: do not expect many of these.
So, if you watch the PPV and keep a tally of those tropes using the Google Doc below, Tweet us your totals or put them in the comments of the Doc. The person who gets the totals closest to my own will get a mention in the next episode!

So get the Google Doc below downloaded and keep an eye on our Twitter account for when we're due to record. We'll see you next time!

Saturday 20 August 2016

Then Now Whatever Episode 4: WWE NXT Takeover - The End

Hello everyone. I appreciate how late this is, but I figures since (as of writing) we're mere hours away from the next NXT Takeover, this would be a very timely moment to get this blog edition all sorted. So here we have our most recent episode covering NXT Takeover - The End (...Of The Beginning) along with all kinds of visual treats and extra notes to compliment it.  Click on the links to the match names to skip to the audio for that match.

  • This episode is basically one big Shinsuke Nakamura love in, so I thought it was appropriate to open up with his entrance music from New Japan (which I absolutely adore) and close things off with his NXT theme (which I think I'm starting to adore even more than his NJ theme, which I didn't think possible). 
  • We were back in the studio for this one, and owe a great deal of gratitude to our producer Edd who helped us out of several problems with overheating and the CPU of the equipment overloading.
  • Kyle was being pretty modest about his operation. Hearing about about it actually made me wince.
  • Seeing as we had some more guys from New Japan being brought up for discussion for the first time on the show I couldn't resist bringing out my New Japan Ring Announcer impression. For anyone wondering what was going on with Anderson's I've found this video to help you out - since his moniker was "The Machine Gun", they'd actually play the sound effects of a machine gun over the PA & he'd mime shooting one. 

  • Since we've recorded, Cody Rhodes has actually made his Evolve debut against Zack Sabre Jr. And of course, Lesnar won his fight against Mark Hunt, although the latter's claims about the 'roids appears to actually have some merit.
  • As we mentioned, Kyle had a great time watching NXT at Liverpool. Here are some of the great shots he got.

  • Once more, be sure to check out our friends at the WEnxt Podacts here.
  • Manchester United's ground, Old Trafford, is often referred to as "The Theatre of Dreams".
  • "It'd be nice to see if NXT commentators get the push up as well" - and funnily enough Kyle's thinking aloud actually came to pass, as Phillips & Graves both have very prominent roles on Monday Night Raw post draft.
Perfect 10 vs Almas

Back to the fashion parade here. Here we have Tye's ridiculous collar deal.

Meanwhile here's Andrade Almas' "European Gigolo" outfit

And that SWEET dropkick he surprised Tye with.

The easiest way to check out the look on Graves' face when Lita was essential unsure about whether 10x10 is 100 is to check out this episode of Botchamania.

Tag Title Match

So this was categorically the spot of the night.

For the benefit of any non-football fans, Robbie Savage is a former Birmingham, Blackburn and Derby County midfielder famous for his long golden locks of hair. Hopefully the resemblance to Blake & Murphy becomes clear seeing him.

"You're just a shit Blake & Murphy"

Half Time Question Time

Here's some pretty cool fan footage of that Undertaker entrance from Wrestlemania 29... well as Kyle's pick of Triple H's Wrestlemania 30 entrance.

I wasn't joking about Yoshi Tatsu's Triple H routine either.

Shinsuke vs A Double

"Stop, my penis can only get so erect" is of course a reference to Archer.

"Brother Nero, it is ovah!" - Broken Matt Hardy has been tremendous really. We recorded a few weeks before the infamous Final Deletion which is just a fascinating bit of work.

You think I'm kidding about generic chopsticks themes? Check out Orient Express' theme tune when they were in the WWF.

So yeah, Shinsuke's package...

Thankfully I'm not alone in noticing that area of his anatomy, as a week or two after recording, How2Wrestling released their one year anniversary episode and came to the same sort of conclusion.

"The blow job clean break" is when Shinsuke breaks a hold with his opponent against the ropes and he rests his head against their naval.

Anyway, this match was just tremendous. Here's Aries' awesome suicide dive.

And the devastating Death Valley Driver to the apron.

On top of that, here's the awesome Shinsuke coplayer in the crowd.

Women's Title Match

Here's Nia's scary looking ragdoll spot.

Although I should apologise, it was training with Asuka where Dana got injured.
Of course since recording, Nia has been called up to Raw and is being presented really well in quick squash matches. I'd be interested in seeing what her and Sasha can do together down the line.

Another thing to happen since recording is BOBBY... ROOOOOO has indeed officially signed on for NXT and his introduction to the promotion has been GLORIOUS!

Main Event

We probably breezed through this a little quickly, but our overheating problems had reoccurred a few times in a row by this point so we wanted to get as much done as possible.

You can actually watch Finn's appearance in his Joker get up for Progress for free here. Of course, Finn is now set to face Seth Rollins for the "Universal Championship" and Shinsuke is challenging Joe for the NXT title as I mentioned.

Friday 27 May 2016

"Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" - Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, Manchester Etihad Stadium, 25/5/16

Well, another year, another opportunity to see Bruce I couldn't pass up. His "quick jaunt" around the US at the start of the year to get the band together before he finishes a solo record turned into a pretty extensive tour that has now reached Europe (and beyond that will hit the US stadium circuit at the end of the Summer).

Originally the tour was to feature The River in full, but by the time the band came to Europe Bruce had had enough of playing the same songs in the same order for so long and dropped that aspect of the show. Which is fair enough, but you have to question why they made the initial US leg of the tour so extensive, even adding extra dates in some cities. While I was a bit sad to miss out on hearing one of Bruce's albums live in full, I knew the show would be great even without this quirk. In fact there were plenty of other quirks to come...

Manchester had been lovely and sunny these for weeks, so of course come the day of the show it just had to be bloody raining! This was my third Springsteen show and I've been rained on at them all - even in Australia (albeit very briefly). "Wouldn't have it any other way" claimed Bruce upon arrival. I dunno mate, if you'd have seen what it was like before...

The show started a bit late due to chaos on the trams, apparently including some idiot driving onto the tracks in Droylsden (more time waiting in the rain, yay!). There was no playing about in the ball pin when the band came out, however. The opening stretch of songs proved a great reminder of how blistering they are in their stride; the first seven songs were literally non-stop, each carrying on into the next. This stamina and fortitude never ceases to amaze me.

After sandwiching a terrific rendition of rarity "Murder Incorporated" between the more familiar "Atlantic City" and "Badlands" (naturally met with rousing "WO-OAH-OAH-OAH"s), the first half of the show saw a strong focus on chronologically showcasing most songs from the first disc of  The River. "The Ties That Bind"/"Sherry Darling" and "Hungry Heart"/"Out In The Street" were both excellent, sprightly one-two punches just like on the record. "Hungry Heart" of course saw the crowd sing the entire first verse solo, but it also saw Bruce walk RIGHT BY ME! Look how close he got!

Look! Bruce!
In fact, a fan request for "Darkness On The Edge Of Town" aside, the songs running from "Hungry Heart" to "Point Blank" were all played in the exact sequence featured on The River. This captured a large portion of the "party" element of the album while also covering the point where things begin to hit a starker note. The pairing of "I Wanna Marry You" with the title track is a particular bit of genius; the former being "a daydream of a love song" in Bruce's words, an attempt to find "a love without consequence... that's why it's a song of youth"; the latter bringing that daydream crashing down with a tale of love purely through consequence (family legacy, pregnancy, redundancy).

This was hands down my favourite part of the set. Even the lightweight "Crush On You" sounded gritty and great, right at home with many of the headstrong sing alongs also featured. "Point Blank" was augmented with an intro that added a great sense of drama and gave it the feel of something from The Wild, The Innocent... For me, though, the highlight  was definitely "I Wanna Marry You", in large part thanks to the wonderful "Here She Comes Walking" intro that has been reprised for this tour. Roy Bittain's gentle keys are enough to send hearts a-flutter, while the vocal interplay between Bruce and Steven Van Zandt is simply phenomenal, soulful and touching. This is probably my favourite vocal performance from Stevie - it's exactly this kind of material where he is in his element.

It felt kind of odd to cut the overarching feel of The River off at "Point Black" when there were plenty of moments like "Fade Away", "The Price You Pay" or "Wreck On The Highway" that would have brought the poignancy of the tail end of the album to a more natural close. But then again, the weather was miserable, so I think the motivation was to keep the cheerier stuff coming to keep our spirits up. It was definitely "mission accomplished" as far as that was concerned, especially when it came to the whole host of knock about Born In The U.S.A. era anthems littered through the set, such as the crowd pleasing "Working On The Highway" and "Glory Days".

And make no mistake about it, Bruce was in a sure fire crowd pleasing mood here, constantly getting in amongst the audience, making frequent use of the little walkways and platforms they'd set up for him, and seeking out signs in the crowd. He was spoilt for choice too, there were loads. I have to give props to the people with ones for "Tougher Than The Rest" and "Racing In The Street (78)", you guys have taste! Then, when it came to picking a youngster to join in on "Waiting On A Sunny Day", he had to pick the most wonderfully shy little girl with a sign proclaiming it was here "first Brucie concert".

It wasn't as if the set was lacking in poignancy or deftness once the material from The River ran dry either (I know, I'll get my coat...). As a huge Darkness... fan I was delighted that "The Promised Land" made an appearance, as well as a rendition of "Because The Night" where Nils Lofgren played like a man possessed, including undertaking a huge 360 degree spinning solo a man with his hips really shouldn't be able to pull off. Meanwhile, images of dearly missed saxophonist Clarence Clemons and organist Dan Federici during "Tenth Avenue Freeze Out" drew a truly touching groundswell of affection from the audience, and a fan requested performance of "Backstreets" was absolutely spellbinding.

The ultimate piece of fan interaction, however, came much earlier on in the set. In a real Springsteen & I moment, some dude dressed as Santa Claus was spotted in the crowd. I suppose they got the day of the month right at least. "Is it like a perverted attempt at a request of some sort? Damn." quipped Bruce. So, as you do, Bruce invited him on stage ("He can't be shy, he's got the Santa suit on") for the band's version of "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town". Santa himself would hilariously fluff Clarence's "better be good for goodness sake" lines (he got the pitch right, he just couldn't keep time to save his life). This really did happen! I have video evidence and everything.

Anyway, as has become a tradition of sorts at Bruce's shows, after seemingly closing the show with a cracking cover of The Isley Brothers' "Shout" and a joyous performance of "Bobby Jean", Bruce lingered on stage for one last acoustic number to properly wind things down for the night after nearly 3 hours 20 minutes of hard rocking, pants dropping, booty shaking, history making and (allegedly) Viagra taking. With the rueful, reflective "This Hard Land" rounding the show off, it was time to join the near 50 minute queue for the tram home (get this, if you were lucky, they'd even find a DOUBLE CARRIAGE service to cope with the thousands leaving the show, how revolutionary). The long wait for the journey home couldn't dull the feeling I get having spent another truly wonderful night in the company of a once in a lifetime artist.
You might say it was like all my Christmas' came at once...


1. Atlantic City
2. Murder Incorporated
3. Badlands
4. The Ties That Bind
5. Sherry Darling
6. Two Hearts
7. No Surrender
8. Santa Claus Is Coming to Town
9. Hungry Heart
10. Out in the Street
11. Darkness on the Edge of Town
12. Crush on You
13. You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)
14. I Wanna Marry You
15. The River
16. Point Blank
17. Johnny 99
18. Darlington County
19. Working on the Highway
20. The Promised Land
21. Waitin' on a Sunny Day
22. Because the Night
23. The Rising
24. Thunder Road


25. Backstreets
26. Born to Run
27. Glory Days
28. Dancing in the Dark
29. Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
30. Shout
31. Bobby Jean

Encore 2:

32. This Hard Land

Tuesday 19 April 2016

Then, Now, Whatever Episode 3: WWE Wrestlemania 32

We're back again, with the culmination of our coverage of Wrestlemania season 2016: Wrestlemania itself.

General production notes: As I mentioned in my introduction, we had a bit of a technical boo boo and my laptop used its own mic to record the show, not my Blue Yeti. I'm still not quite sure what happened there. So yeah, apologies if the audio goes a bit wishy washy on occasion. I did everything I could in the edit to eliminate any noise between us talking. Thankfully it was still clear enough to make out what we were saying to each other. Even though Mania itself was disappointing, we still had loads of fun with the material it offered us.

Anyway, below are some little footnotes, visual aids and time stamps for coverage of specific matches which I hope you find useful.


With my love of the intro music of Manias VI to VIII and my addiction to my Vince impression, I thought I'd pastiche the old style of Wrestlemania intros. I had to stand away from the mic to record that, I was loud enough to distort the audio on previous attempts!

WWF WRESTLEMANIA 7 by sportsvipwiner

PROGRESS Wrestling are an independent promotion here in Britain. They're London based but have been running shows in Manchester every couple of months as of this year. I've been to two of those shows now and both have been full of great wrestling. If you'd like a sample of what they're capable of, their Chapter 13 show is available for free on Youtube here.

Going back to what Kyle mentioned about the fans turning face on Triple H out of respect for coming back from his first quad tear, just check out his return to Raw in Madison Square Garden. One of the most phenomenal ovations I've ever seen. Jim Cornette can talk all he wants about Hunter being "the guy that was there with the guys that drew the money" but the fans were clearly desperate to see him return at this point.

US Title Match

Just to give you an indication of how empty the stadium was when the match started

And here's the ref for the match

Look at the pythons on that zebra!

10 Diva Tag

Notice Emma's gloves.

For the benefit of anyone who doesn't follow football, John Terry is the captain of Chelsea. When they were last in the Champions League Final, he was suspended. However, he still turned up for the presentation of the trophy, in his kit and everything, to claim it as club captain. This turned into a meme where people would photoshop Tezza into other trophy and awards ceremonies to claim the awards himself.

Usos vs Dudleyz

Kelsey Grammer is of course most famous for playing Dr Frasier Krane in Cheers and Frasier.
"Legends who bankrupted Gawker (brother)" - just in case you've been living under a rock...

IC Title Match

This is going to go a bit "Oscars" looking at the parade of outfits here. So, we have...

Sin Cara in a banana thing
Ryder in a great overcoat

Sami in his "golfer lad" get up

Miz in his solar panel
First Trimester Question Time

Normally I'd have put the promos we talked about here, but I spliced a couple of them (most of Austin's awesome Whataburger promo and the concluding back and forth between Jericho and Rock on Jericho's debut) into the actual episode to give you a break from the "Skype from 2010" quality of our recording. Kyle also alluded to DX invading WCW (but it got edited out for time) and Shawn superkicking everyone. Going back to the Whataburger promo, January 2002 was one of my favourite times for promos. Austin, Rock and Angle were all brilliant in this time period. Rocky especially, taking the piss out of Coach and cameramen.

AJ vs Y2J

I think this is a good shot for illustrating our confusion at Y2J's tights...

"Stick it in Hermie!" - at some point in 2000 Rock thought Kevin Kelly was a hermaphrodite and started calling him Hermie. At one point he made him pick his own nose.

As he promised, Zack found Razor and grabbed a photo.

New Day vs The League

New Day's outfits were incredible (White Ranger and Dragonball Z inspired). I used the "Wild Pokemon Battle" music for the bed as I talked through their entrance.

Also, that sell of the Stunner by Rusev...

Brock vs Dean

I'll just leave this here...

Women's Title Match

Here's Lita, overwhelmed by the weight of her microphone.

Great side by side comparison of Sasha and Eddie's gear here. I'm sure you'll know by now because commentary brought it up, but Eddie was Sasha's favourite wrestler and she was actually in the Cow Palace to see him win the title at No Way Out 2004.

"Would you like a schmoke and a pancake Shasha Banks?" - Austin Powers Goldmember reference, naturally. Harping back to my DVD reviews, I'd use him in the verdict because his I always wind up using his "That's a keeper!" line.

Sign Watch

The opening bed was the theme tune to BBC show Crimewatch. "You can't sit with us!" as I mentioned is a line from Mean Girls (one of my favourite movies). Again, for non-sporting people, Bobby Zamora is a striker who plays football for Brighton & Hove Albion. Owen Coyle is a former manager of Bolton Wanderers. He was in the midst of getting Burnley promoted to the Premier League for the first time at the time of Wrestlemania 25.

Hell in the Cell

Linda at ringside!

"Shaaaane. Jump off the fucking ceeeeellllllll."
Incidentally, the next episode of Raw after recording, Shane was given control AGAIN, so I've really no idea what they're doing.

Andre Memorial

It was August 2009 they had Shaq guest host, it's so strange to think they've been waiting all this time to pay off his interaction with Show.

 I can't be the only one who thinks if you take the rosy cheeks of Bo Dallas...

...and add the saucer eyes of Edge...

...then you get Baron Corbin (or Barry Corbz for short - hi WEnxt Podcast)

"Rock vs Rowan"

Just look at Cena's neck!!

Rock = beast, Cena = old man neck
And yes, The Wyatts genuinely were at the New York Stock Exchange to ring the opening bell.
The fastest match in Mania history before this was actually Chavo Guerrero vs Kane at 24. Bundy's match at Mania 1 had actually been bested several times since it happened (including by Bryan and Sheamus actually).

Main Event

"Unless they were saying boo-urns"

The Simpsons Season 6 "A Star Is Burns"
"He was flanked by loads of Ingobernables types" - the skulls and suits combo reminded me of New Japan's Los Ingobernables de Japon faction, headed up by recently crowned IWGP Champion Tetsuya Naito.

As far as Steph's outfit goes, I'll just leave this here...

Next Time

As we mentioned at the end, our next episode will rewind things to 10 years ago, as we check out Wrestlemania 22. Clearly there are a lot of comparisons to be made with the main event of that show and this one, but maybe we'll find they have even more in common with each other.

So we'll be with you again very soon. But in the mean time you can keep in touch with us on Twitter and Facebook. We are now also on Stitcher, where you can find all our latest episodes as they are released, just as you can by subscribing to us on Soundcloud.

See you soon.