Category Archives: United States

(06/29) Dolph Ziggler vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins vs. Rob Van Dam vs. Jack Swagger

TD Garden (Boston, MA)
Money in the Bank Ladder Match 

The Money in the Bank ladder match has garnered the reputation as a foolproof gimmick match.  The gimmick – six or more guys in a ladder match – lends itself to at least a solid match.  The traditional NWA/WCW War Games concept was often viewed in a similar fashion.  In both cases, the theory is that the gimmicks themselves make it easier to have great matches regardless of who is actually in the match (within reason, of course).  With Money in the Bank matches, it is a pretty solid bet that the match will at least be entertaining.

This was the first of two MITB-style ladder matches on the 2014 Money in the Bank PPV and was probably the better of the two.  That is despite the fact that 4/6th’s of the participants served very little importance beyond being warm bodies.  The only issue in the match was between ex-Shield members Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose.

Ambrose – who, true to form, has gone off the deep end following Rollins’ betrayal – attacks Rollins immediately upon entering the match.   Rollins and Ambrose are not always in the ring (together or separately) but they are always the focus of the match.  Swagger, Kofi, Dolph, and RVD all get their moments, but the issue between the former Shield teammates is presented as the centerpiece.

There were many ladder bumps and neat spots in this one, but two stand out above the rest.

The first came when Kofi was perched on a ladder with a few of the other wrestlers in the match standing around outside the ring.  Ambrose tipped the ladder to keep Kofi from grabbing the belt.  As the ladder fell, Kofi jumped off and landed a plancha on the guys on the outside.  It was perfectly executed and not telegraphed at all.

The second great – or insane, if you prefer – spot saw Kofi backdrop Rollins off of a vertical ladder onto a horizontal ladder that had been propped up by the 1st ladder and the ring ropes.  Rollins’ back hit HARD off of the ladder causing him to bounce up in the air before landing on the mat – just an insane move.

Ambrose was taken out mid-match with an arm injury.  Heroically, he returns near the end of the match to keep Rollins from winning (temporarily).  The match ended – as it should – with Ambrose and Rollins as the only two wrestlers left standing.  That is until Kane came out to put away Ambrose and hand the briefcase to Rollins.

This was a fun ladder match with a few insane spots.  The focus on Ambrose and Rollins gave the match an additional focus beyond “six guys fighting for a title”.  The angle of Rollins holding the briefcase while Ambrose does everything in his power to prevent his former teammate from cashing in could be a lot of fun.  Both guys have been excellent in their post-Shield roles thus far.

Ladder Match | Watch It | Quality & Bumps

(06/29) Jimmy & Jey Uso © vs. The Wyatt Family (Eric Rowan & Luke Harper)

TD Garden (Boston, MA)
WWE Tag Team Championship 

It has been a relatively quiet year on the tag team front on a worldwide basis.

Historically, WWE is not the promotion one would look to when searching for quality tag team wrestling.  In 2014 with a weak tag team landscape, however, they have arguably offered the best tag wrestling of any promotion in the world.  That is due – in large part at least – to the work of these two teams.

The Usos and Wyatt Family kicked off the Money in the Bank event with a high-energy championship bout.  The teams are a nice compliment for one another both from a stylistic standpoint and a visual one.   The quick, high-flying baby face team versus the big, powerful heels is a time tested match up.  It works even better when the big heels are also athletic enough to eat their opponent’s offense, which is the case here with Harper.

The spot where Rowan caught and held one of the Usos on an attempted plancha only for his brother to follow up with the same to finally knock the big man down was cool.  Harper hit a pair of topes – one on each of the champs – which got a big reaction.  Harper has taken nicely to the maniac big man role in terms of the moves he utilizes, his facial expressions, and the ability to bump for smaller guys without losing any of his mystique.

Despite their run of good work and they continued ability to remain over, the Usos have been treading water lately so this match had the feel of a title chage.  It goes as a marginal surprise then that the Usos retained with a pair of frog splashes on Rowan.  It would not be surprising if they re-match in the near future with a different ending, as the Usos seem to be running out of challengers.

US Tag Team | Worthwhile | Quality

(06/22) Adam Cole (c) vs. Michael Elgin

Ring of Honor
Tennessee State Fairgrounds Arena (Nashville, Tennessee)
ROH World Championship 

According to Dave Meltzer, at one point this match was under consideration to headline ROH’s Final Battle event in December (at least that was the impression he got).  With the PPV debut in June, it was bumped up to this event which created a predicament of sorts.  Elgin needed to win the title in his next shot.  He had failed too many times before and was on the verge of contracting Lex Luger syndrome.  At the same time, the promotion clearly would have liked to keep the title on Cole longer.  They obviously intended to at one point and Cole was just coming into his own as champion.  Something would have to give.

It should be noted that the build for this main event match included a well-executed old school angle at the previous week’s house show.  After a Michael Bennett versus Michael Elin match ended in a no-contest, Cole and Bennett tied up Elgin in the ropes and proceeded to cut off his ridiculous ratty mullet that he had been clinging onto for far too long.  Not satisfied with just that, Cole put a figure four on Elgin’s actual wife – indie wrestler Mischif – when she attempted to intervene.  It was the kind of simple, dastardly action that pro wrestling has long had great success utilizing to build up a match.  It definitely added a needed layer to the match.

Michael Elgin has gotten over with a certain segment of pro wrestling fans on the strength of a being a power wrestler in a promotion with few power wrestlers.  That is one take on Elgin.  Another is that he is not a very good power wrestler or a very good wrestler in general given his spotty selling ability, reliance on big move after big move, and lack of any real personality.  Relatively speaking, Elgin kept his less desirable tendencies under control here but I am not sure it was a great performance from him by any means.

The match was smartly booked with outside interference from Hardy, Bennett, and Maria near the end to add to the drama.  Elgin needed to be booked to overcome the odds and they effectively conveyed that.  War Machine ran those guys off allowing the match to continue.  There was one near fall from Elgin off of a combo turn buckle bomb/power bomb that the fans bought to the point that they threw streamers into the ring in celebration.  When they realized the match wasn’t over, they briefly chanted “We F***ked Up!”.  Chants are the lowest form of communication and generally can be done without, but I thought that was a cute play on a popular wrestling chant.

The actual finish came not long after and Elgin became the 20th champion in Ring of Honor’s 12 year history.  ROH played the title switch up big, dropping a legitimately impressive amount of confetti from the ceiling as Elgin did the emotional “I can’t believe I won!” routine mid ring.  Regardless of personal opinions on Elgin, he is over enough and the story had been built to this point so he sort of needed to win.  It also gave ROH a big moment on their first PPV event which didn’t hurt.

US Indie Singles | Common | Title Change

(06/22) reDragon (Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly) © vs. Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian

Ring of Honor
Tennessee State Fairgrounds Arena (Nashville, Tennessee)
ROH World Tag Team Championship 

The one special attraction that Ring of Honor did use to sell their first PPV event was the ROH returns of Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian after a long stint as a tag team in TNA.  Daniels in particular has a long history with ROH going back to when he was the promotion’s main heel during the promotion’s infancy.  Daniels and Kazarian jumped right into a tag team title bout versus reDragon, given that the latter’s only natural opponents for this show (War Machine of Hanson and Rowe) could easily be bumped without anyone noticing.

This was a strong match that had strange crowd reactions.  ROH shows and indie wrestling shows in general can be draining experiences when they are four hours+ of big move after big move.  This show was only three hours in length and to this point, had been paced decently well.  Still, the crowd appeared totally burnt out for the semi-main event.  Daniels and Kazarian did not get the hero’s welcome one would expect on their returns and the match itself – while technically solid – received little in the way of heat.

The work focused on Kazarian having his arm attacked.  Kazarian is “just a guy” – a role player – in many respects but wrestling needs those guys too.  He was very good selling the arm throughout the bulk of the match.  You knew what the end game was the entire time, but that’s fine because they told the story clearly and effectively.  The announcers also did a good job.  The announcing on this show was much better the minute Nigel McGuiness joined Steve Corino and Kevin Kelly.  Nigel added to this match by highlighting the fact that Kazarian’s decision to tag back in with an injured arm after just having tagged out could prove to be a foolish one.  It did indeed turn out that way as O’Reilly caught Kazarian in an arm bar moments later, forcing him to tap out.

From a long-term booking standpoint, ROH might have been better served to book Daniels and Kazarian against another team (like Adam Page and Tadarius Thomas) on this show while running reDragon versus War Machine as initially planned.  Daniels and Kazarian’s return to ROH was probably enough of a draw on its own and would have allowed them to build to a future tag title shot.  Instead, losing in their first match in to the tag champions – even though once the match was booked, it had to be done – came off flat.  Daniels promises post-match that this isn’t over which likely means this rivalry will be re-visited somewhere down the line after Daniels and Kazarian have a chance to get themselves reacquainted to ROH.

US Indie Tag Team | Worthwhile | Quality & Promotion Debut

(06/22) Kevin Steen vs. Silas Young

Ring of Honor
Tennessee State Fairgrounds Arena (Nashville, Tennessee) 

Kevin Steen is yet another in a constantly growing list of pro wrestlers that are currently in transition from one place/promotion to the next.  Steen reportedly is in the process of getting a WWE developmental deal.  However, these things are never final until they are final and are especially uncertain these days given WWE’s desire to trim expenses.  Steen has publicly acknowledged that his ROH contract is ending and he is likely to leave, but when and in what fashion is unknown.

This match was setup when Young interrupted what was played up as a goodbye speech from Steen at May’s War of the Worlds event in New York City.  The fans acknowledged the fact that this could be Steen’s last ROH match throughout the bout.  If that were indeed going to be the case, it seemed likely that Steen would put over the relative newcomer Silas Young on his way out.

The match opened with Steen knocking down Young and attempting his running cannonball splash in the corner, but Silas evaded.  I liked the quick start given this was a grudge match – it added a sense of urgency to the proceedings.

The body of the match was fine.  A trimmed down Steen is wrestling with more energy than he has recently and his offense looked crisp.  I think Young is fine – particularly from a personality standpoint – but his offense doesn’t match his personality.  Here is a guy with stringy shoulder length hair and a porn star mustache who calls himself “wrestling’s last real man”.  He also happens to be the legitimate nephew of Stan Hansen.  A guy with those qualities should be a knock ‘em down, drag ‘em out wrestler.  Instead Young’s signature move is a somewhat goofy springboard moonsault.  It just doesn’t fit, just as a lot of his offense doesn’t.  His brawling was a bit better here with a brawler like Steen opposite him but there is definitely a disconnect between Silas’ persona and the style of wrestling.

The match was fine, but really a set up for the post-match angle.

Steen won the match with the package pile driver (a sign he would be around for at least one more show) but then cut another leaving promo in which he put over Young and shook his hand (a sign that the feud was ending and Steen was leaving).  Young accepted the hand shake and left the ring, allowing Steen to continue the supposed farewell speech.  Just as he seemed to be wrapping it up, Young appeared suddenly and attack Steen.  The attack came off great on TV – the camera didn’t catch it until it was happening and nothing else gave it away – and it was an effective angle all around.

Young and Steen appear to have at least one other match in them before Kevin heads to greener pastures.  Young defeated Mark Briscoe in a strap match some months ago and began to proclaim himself as the “King of the Strap Match”.  That has been downplayed recently but it would not be a surprise if these two are heading to a strap match blow off sometime in the upcoming months.

US Indie | Common | Angle & Quality