Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Ring The Bell: NXT Takeover - The End

Hello Dwellers and Welcome To The Basement…

Tonight was of course NXT Takeover: The End  and I’m already wondering how many folks I’m going to tick off with my opinions on this event. The show did get off to a great start… with Renee Young and Lita’s outfits on the pre-show. Hey Renee is always a highlight and Lita is just a bonus.

Okay down to business… the opening package to try and justified the name ‘The End’ for this special was to be the ‘End of the Beginning’ as if they are going to bury the entire first few years of NXT… which I personally thought they did when they switched from actually trying to develop male stars to being a ‘Super Indy’ signing every message board hero possible

The first match of the night was Tye Dillinger facing the debuting Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas, who looked like the illegitimate son of Savio Vega in his entrance gear. The match itself was solid, on a grade scale I’d give it a C, it was to really showcase Almas with Tye showing why he’s a ‘Perfect 10’ in being very crisp with his own moves and feeding into Alams offense. What I didn’t like here was Almas clearly having a lucha based offense, but came across as being very half-speed and I didn’t really buy into him as much, the Full Sail audience seemed to have the same vibe. I’m not too sure about his finish being a pair of running knees to the face, with the opponent sitting in the corner cause it’s just like Zack Ryder’s broski boot, it seems like it would be a good ‘setup up’ move for something else.

Second match of the night was The American Alpha defending the Tag Team titles against The Revival… this match started off a bit… weird for my tastes, and didn’t felt like it got started until a classic do-si-do spot, but even then, it seemed like the AA were a bit too in-control of this match until Gable got hung up with a 3D-type spot over the ring ropes to allow Dash and Dawson to get some heat with Gable playing the role of Ricky Morton and Jordan playing Robert Gibson for the hot tag and then the story progressing towards the finish that saw The Revivial out-thinking Jordan and Gable to hit their double-team finish to become the New Tag Team Champions. Grade wise… I’ll give this a solid B, all the notes were hit perfectly once the match found its grove, but the opening portion just gave this match a rough feeling.

After the match, Jordan and Gable were attack by a couple of swollen jamokes and the return to the WWE of the legendary Paul Ellering, the manager of the Road Warriors. Certainly appears he has found his new Legion of Doom. However the crowd chanting who are you at Ellering means they get a new nick name ‘Full Of It’ Sail. Anyway, the duo is called ‘The Authors of Pain’ and are Sunny Dhinsa and Gzim Selmani

In the match between Austin Aries and Shinsuke Nakamura… eh… I’ll say something nice about this match first: Twitter loved it…  and I’ll give it a B for what it was.

Now here’s where the shoe drops and where I’ll be ticking a lot of you off:  everything about Nakamura’s presentation just bothers me, from his mannerisms to how he wrestles just bothers me, it’s always comes across as a ‘joke’… and it’s quite clear being stoned has to be a requirement to enjoy Nakamura if the Full Sail crowd is anything to go by. On top of that, with Austin Aries having a taped up midsection, the story of the match and lack of control of the audience had everything feeling backward. Logic dictates Nakamura works the midsection of Aries and have him be the one to make the comeback. Then there’s this stupidity, Austin Aries doing a Death Valley Driver styled move onto Nakamura on the hard edge of the ring which should result in a count out, then him doing a dive a missing crashing into ring barrier… which allows Nakamura to do his three move finish sequence. This did not make any sense what so ever.

So… that said, we then got the TRUE Main Event, with Nia Jax facing Asuka for the NXT Women’s Title. This match, unlike the one that preceeded it MADE SENSE, with Nia being bigger and stronger dominating and Asuka having to use her speed and submission experience to work. This was perfection on what a WRESTLING match should be! When Asuka got the tide turned in her favor it felt natural, and everything progress perfectly, with it being clear that Asuka’s Fighting Spirit would not be denied. This match gets a A plus from me!

In a backstage segment, we saw that Bobby Roode arrived and walked into William Regal’s office when he was being interviewed. That was just rude.

The final match of the night night was Samoa Joe defending the NXT Title against Finn Balor in a steel cage… and something about the cage didn’t feel right, I know because Full Sail has a low ceiling they had to fold it down, but the gaps in the four corners between each segment just stuck out like a sore thumb. Someday it will be brought back. Neville was shown in the crowd sporting a the WWE needs another bearded guy.  The story of the match here was clear, this being Finn’s first cage match and in demon mode, Joe being a big slow plodding guy with experience in cage matches… basically cage matches are hard to screw up, if you treated like a ‘fight’ with none of the cute spots seen in normal matches, they are more often than not awesome. What we got here was an okay cage match, with Finn making a mistake going for a pinfall victory instead of escaping the cage, and  the match eventually ending with Joe hitting a muscle buster from the second rope on Finn for a pinfall win. I’ll give this a C, it wasn’t anything special with nothing that really stood out for me.

So overall we got a pair C’s, two B’s and an A and that A is course the Women’s Title Match. It was a good show, but not spectacular in my view.

Brutus Beefcake - Yay Or Nay For The Hall Of Fame

Hello Dwellers and Welcome To The Basement & Yay or Nay  For The Hall Of Fame!

Several years ago I had the pleasure of meeting Brutus Beefcake, and thought he was a cool dude, but he is one of those guys whose name comes up when one asks ‘should he be in the WWE Hall of Fame’ the question is always missed with a mixed response from fans... and I hope to try and come up with an answer this week.

Getting his start in the late 70s, Beefcake basically was attached to the hip of Hulk Hogan from the start, even being billed as his brother early in their respective careers. With names like Eddie Boulder (to match Hulk’s Terry Boulder character) and Dizzy Hogan, Beefcake actually got around quite a bit, working for the Continental Wrestling in Memphis, a cup of coffee with the WWF, some time in the AWA. Pacific Northwest Wrestling, a couple of tours with New Japan, and an extended run with Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling in the Carolinas… so he was very well traveled.

Arriving in the WWF in 1984, he was paired up with Johnny Valiant and got his most famous ring moniker of Brutus Beefcake… and… he basically had the character of a male stripper… but the only thing that really came out of this was the outlandish style of tights he’d wear… Beefcake would appear on the first WrestleMania facing David Sammartino, the son of Bruno Sammatino, and even having a brief feud with Hulk Hogan that  had a series of matches in the spring of 1985 before Beefcake would see himself going into another direction in the Summer, forming a tag team with Greg Valentine and winning the Tag Team titles, which they would hold until WrestleMania 2.

However a number of circumstances saw a big break for Brother Bruti…. Between being Hogan’s buddy, the fading star of The Junkyard Dog and the retirement of Roddy Piper in early 1987, saw Brutus turn into a rather fun babyface… at WrestleMania 3, his tag team with Valentine dissolved and later that night, Beefcake would take part in cutting the hair of Adrian Adonis (who a hair vs hair match against Piper) and earning the nickname ‘The Barber’

With this twist of fate, Beefcake would start having a routine with his matches, defeating a guy with a sleeper and then cutting some of their hair after the match as part of a victory celebration. It got over and helped made him popular enough to challenge for the Intercontinental Championship held by The Honky Tonk Man in 1988, but he would never win the title, as he was transitioned away from the title for a lower feud with Outlaw Ron Bass and then moving back up the card feuding with Randy Savage and by proxy being Hogan’s partner  in a program that also involved Tony Lister Jr playing his character ‘Zeus’ from the movie No Holds Barred through the majority of 1989. Beefcake would hit his peak in 1990 with a win over Mr. Perfect Curt Hennig at WrestleMania 6, being the first man to pin him under that character in the WWF.

This is where another twist of fate happened… in the summer of 1990, Brutus was involved in a para-sailing accident that saw saw his facial skeleton crushed and putting his career on hold for over two years, but he would never really be the same. He would return as a ‘run in character’, a guy with a mask randomly attacking heels which went no-where, then hosting the ‘Barber Shop’ that served as the place sight where The Rockers split up and Marty Jannetty trying to escape through a window to get away from Shawn Michaels and where Sid Justice cemented his pace as a heel by brutally attacking Beefcake.

It wouldn’t be until 1993 where he would return to the ring as a wrestler, with the para-sailing accident serving as the basis for the storyline that was featured in a big way in the early days of Monday Night RAW. He would be placed in a feud with Ted DiBiase and IRS, the WWF Tag Team Champions, a program that would later include Hulk Hogan and serve as a way to keep Hogan’s ‘in ring’ work load light when he became WWF Champion again at WrestleMania 9… so despite having a genuine comeback story that the people would obviously buy, Beefcake would basically be wasted in 1993.

The final phase of Beefcake’s main stream career would see him hitting New Japan and a few independent shows before being brought into WCW by Hogan, where because of trademark issues, had to take the name The Butcher and was Hogan’s first Starrcade opponent in 1994 and being apart of the Faces of Fear. He would tend up in the Dungeon of Doom to continue feuding with Hogan with he would have the name of Zodiac, where all he said was ‘Yes’ and ‘No’, which would inspire Daniel Bryan years later, had a decent run as The Booty Man with decent feud with Diamond Dallas Page … and eventually ended up in the nWo as The Disciple, a role where he was basically Hogan’s lackey (Notice a trend here?) and being a casualty of the ill-advised Hogan vs Warrior II feud of 1998.

In the years since he’s basically made occasional wrestling appearances, with his last high profile matches being apart of the Hulkamania Let The Battle Begin Tour in 2009… let me clarify that as far as I can tell, he has had matches as recently as November of 2015

So with all that said… is it a Yay or a Nay with Brutus? He had a huge break in 1987 with The Barber character, but the para-sailing accident in 1990 basically took away what would’ve been him on top. His comeback in 1993 being wasted and being so closely tied with Hogan (as a tag team partner, opponent and on-screen lackey) for the next several years certainly leaves a less than memorable impression. In fact, I would dare say the case of Brutus Beefcake really is the ‘what if’ factor… what if the para-sailing accident didn’t occur? What if he wasn’t saddled with Hulk Hogan in 1993 and allowed to have a comeback story for the ages… or at least the early 1990s

But we don’t have the answers to that, we got what we got as history laid it out…  and maybe because I’m biased, I’ll say ‘yay’ in Brutus’s case, but it can very easily be a nay’

He was apart of the first 6 WrestleManias, he had a character that was loved by the fans and it’s a character that can be brought out on WWE TV today to be the ‘barber’ for a hair vs hair match and in theory would get a huge pop (the fact this hasn’t happened with any Hair vs Hair matches that took place since 2000 is odd)

So what do you think? Is Brutus Beefcake a worthy candidate for the WWE Hall of Fame? Let me know

With that said, later tonight, I’ll be doing the a post-show and blog in regards to NXT Takeover The End. So till then, have yourselves a great day!.

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