Andre The Giant Documentary
Both literally and figuratively, Andre the Giant was larger than life. At 7’4 and weighing anywhere between 460 and 530 pounds, Andre is one of the most popular figures in pro wrestling history. He dominated the sport in the 70s and 80s, wrestling all over the world to the delight of every fan. While many people remember Andre for his heel turn against Hulk Hogan during the build to WrestleMania III, he was so much more than that. In a world of bright stars and flashy gimmicks, Andre stood above them all.
HBO Sports, Bill Simmons and WWE are co producing the documentary on Andre the Giant, and HBO just released the first look. It’s just a teaser, but after the work ESPN did on the Ric Flair 30 for 30, I cant’ wait to see what HBO does with Andre’s incredible story. While 30 for 30s are great, HBO Sports is the premier sports documentary production. Broad Street Bullies. Magic & Bird: A Courtship of Rivals. Nine Innings From Ground Zero. No matter the sport, HBO always delivers. They’ve never entered the world of pro wrestling before, but with Bill Simmons and WWE involved, I have faith they’ll put something incredible together. The doc is slated for release sometime in Spring 2018, so be on the lookout for an official trailer sometime soon.
WWE RAW 11/27/17
WWE Raw was live from Knoxville, Tennessee last night in the same arena where John Cena beat Bray Wyatt in 2014. Some things don’t change. In lieu of a full review of a 3 hour pro wrestling show, I’m going to spotlight the five best moments/matches/wrestlers from last night’s show.
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And now, the five stars from the November 27th, 2017 edition of WWE Raw.
5. The IC Title Open Challenge & Reigns vs. Elias
The one thing I wanted from a Roman Reigns IC title run was for him to go full Cena and issue open challenges. When Cena was US champ he did more for that title than anyone else before or after him. It was a great use of a main event guy who didn’t need the title making the title prestigious. Reigns open Raw with a promo where he challenged anyone in the locker room to a title match. The first man up was Elias, and I loved it for a few reasons.
First – Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel still have a TV role while Miz films Marine 26: Lost in Space. If you aren’t’ sure why that’s a good thing, watch the second video above. Second – Elias has been one of the best surprises of 2017, but he hasn’t had much direction lately. By pairing him up with Dallas & Axel & giving him a shot at the IC title, it gives him a story and a possible feud with Miz when he returns.
While it’s great to give Elias a shot like this, it would all be for naught if he didn’t deliver. Luckily for Elias and the fans, he looked outstanding in his match against Reigns. Roman has the WWE formula of a ‘big time’ match down to a science, and I loved that Elias delivered most of the offense. Even though everyone in the building knew Roman was winning, they still put together a great match with some solid near falls. Elias looked great, the IC title looked like a title people should want and the fans got a competitive, clean match.
As long as Reigns’ reign doesn’t end with Alberto Del Rio returning and taking the strap, his IC title run should be a huge success.
4. Cesaro vs. Seth Rollins
My only issue with The Bar/Ambrose & Rollins feud is that they’re using singles matches to build to a tag title match. It would make more sense to have both teams looks good in tag team matches versus other teams, but ‘making sense’ & ‘WWE’ don’t always coexist. The match itself was great though, and it was refreshing to see these two fight with no one at ringside. I know Ambrose was on his honeymoon and Sheamus was in Dublin, but WWE has programmed me to pay more attention to people outside the ring than in it.
Cesaro and Rollins could have a good match blindfolded, but this match had a good pace to it, and I enjoyed Cesaro working Rollins’ back and almost winning with the sharpshooter. It was the second best on the show behind Reigns/Elias and I’m looking forward to the tag title match next week.
3. Samoa Joe Forever
I’ve written this before, but I adore Samoa Joe competitive squash matches. He did it in NXT and has continued the trend on the main roster. When you look at Samoa Joe vs. Titus O’Neil on paper, it looks like a giant mismatch. Instead of Joe just walking over Titus, he lets Titus get in a good amount of hard hitting offense. That makes Titus look good, especially after Joe has choked him out multiple times. It also makes Joe look good because it shows he can take offense from a 6’6 270 pounder and still recover for a decisive win.
While the win over Titus was nice, the best Samoa Joe moment happened after Reigns defeated Elias:
Hello, Joe! pic.twitter.com/C6ZAkXcVS9
— TDE Wrestling (@totaldivaseps) November 28, 2017
Reigns issuing the open challenge at the beginning of Raw gave us a great match and direction for someone who needed it (Elias) and a new, worthy challenger (Joe). I’m all in for a Reigns/Joe IC title blood feud, especially if Roman is eventually going to move onto Lesnar during WrestleMania season.
2. Absolutely Asuka
My favorite part of Absolution (the official name of Paige, Mandy & Daria’s death squad) is how it gave each woman in the division much needed character alignment. Absolution is supposed to take on Sasha, Bayley & Mickie James, but they take out Bayley & Mickie pre match. Alexa Bliss is on commentary but she wants no part of Absolution, so when they stalk Sasha, she bails. Bliss is the anti Reigns in the sense that she’d be happy being the champion forever and never having to defend it, so she’s all for Absolution destroying people. While I like Sasha better as a cocky heel, the crowd loves her, so making her the ‘against all odds’ baby face makes sense.
Later in the show Asuka beats Dana Brooke in literally three seconds. After the match Absolution comes out for what looks like another 3 on 1 attack, but they decide against it. Could Absolution take out Asuka 3 on 1? Probably. Should they take her out to prove a point and then have an angry killing machine hunting their every move? Probably not. Absolution wanted Asuka to know they’re always lurking, but aren’t ready to start an all out war with the one woman who could take them all out. It’s a smart play for Absolution and it distinguishes Asuka as the only woman on the roster too dangerous to attack 3 on 1.
I’m not sure who finally decided to give the cruiserweights something to do, but bless their heart. Kurt Angle set up a mini tournament to crown the #1 contender for Enzo’s cruiserweight championship, and it’s a perfect multi week story for the division. The four minute 3 on 3 or 4 on 4 matches weren’t helping anybody, so fatal 4 ways are a huge upgrade. The cruiserweight division has so much talent that I’m not sure why they aren’t doing these types of matches every week, but I’ll take this match and the one next week as a start.
Rich Swann was the obvious star out of the four and he was long overdue for a spotlight win. All four guys looked good and more importantly were given enough time, which is all you ask for with the cruiserweights. Next week’s 4 way should be interesting, as I’d think they’d want to have Swann versus a member of the Zo Train to build some type of story for the #1 contender’s match in two weeks.
Supplementary Stars: Bray Wyatt & Matt Hardy
I didn’t want to include Bray Wyatt & Matt Hardy on this list because of how often WWE screws up Wyatt’s character. The post match “breakdown” of Hardy gives me some hope though, as does Matt’s tweet:
— #WOKEN Matt Hardy (@MATTHARDYBRAND) November 28, 2017
Is this Hardy’s and WWE’s way of getting around the Broken lawsuit? If it is and Hardy/Wyatt join forces, I’m all in. If this leads to a one on one feud that Wyatt 1000% loses, I will set my computer on fire.
My generation of wrestling fans usually pick Jerry Lawler and Jim Ross as their favorite broadcast team, but whenever that conversation comes up, I’ll always lean towards Bobby Heenan and Gorilla Monsoon. Heenan, who passed away over the weekend at the age of 73, was a jack of all trades wrestling personality and talent that excelled at everything he did in or around a wrestling ring. His career spanned the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s, starting as an in ring performer, but ‘The Brain’ will always be known as one of the greatest managers and color commentators of all time. Heenan always delivered, and he was one of the most entertaining personality’s in the history of wrestling. Thanks for the memories ‘Brain’, and thanks for entertaining us humanoids for so many years.
With the concerning news about Ric Flair’s health issues, I thought it was appropriate to dedicate todays Music Monday to The Man. Flair is one of the few guys that transcended wrestling thanks to his longevity and overall knack for being able to consistently entertain us. Flair is undoubtedly one of the best pro wrestlers in history, and hopefully he’s able to beat this illness and continue to WOOO his way into our hearts.
Few people in this world have lived a more interesting, fascinating & heartbreaking life than Ric Flair. He’s inarguably one of the greatest pro wrestlers of all time, but when you spend 40+ years in the spotlight, the bad times can start to outweigh the good times. Judging from this trailer, director Rory Karpf (who’s also directed the Tim Richmond & Christian Laettner 30 for 30s) doesn’t shy away from the dark side of Flair’s fame, and I’m glad he didn’t because that darkness has helped shape the Ric Flair you see today. We’ll also Ric Flair is all his glory from the 80s where he was THE MAN in professional wrestling, including comments from his peers Shawn Michaels, HHH & Hulk Hogan. I hope they show his resurrection in mid 2000s WWE as well, because he could still wrestle with the best of them during that era. Diamonds are forever, and so is Ric Flair.
The SmackDown LIVE Women’s division is once again about to prove just how ground-breaking it can be. At WWE Money in the Bank, Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, Natalya, Tamina and Carmella will compete in the first-ever Women’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match. – WWE
The Women’s Revolution has been an uneven ride so far. While there have certainly been highs (WrestleMania 32 triple threat) there have also been lows (Bayley’s ‘This is Your Life’ segment from RAW) and the storytelling has been inconsistent at best. There’s no doubt that these current crop of women are talented, but if the creative direction could catch up with their skill level they’d really have something special. While the Women’s division have main evented a pay per view and fought inside Hell in a Cell over the last year, the next logical step was a MITB ladder match.
I’m not overly excited to watch Tamina Snuka slowly climb a ladder, but there’s a ton of talent in this match that I’m hopeful are given some creative spots to steal the show. While Charlotte and Becky will be the favorites, this could be the best time to give Natalya her long overdue spotlight. She’s far and away the veteran of the Women’s division, and winning the first ever Women’s MITB match would be a great tip of the cap to her.
The coolest part about GLOW, the newest Netflix original series from the minds who gave us Orange is the New Black, is that it’s all based on real life. GLOW was a women’s wrestling organization in the mid to late 80s that was unlike anything that came before it and hasn’t come close to being replicated since. I watched a documentary GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling a few years ago and it opened my eyes to this wonderful universe that I never knew existed, so I’m glad that Alison Brie, Marc Maron and everyone else in the cast will be bringing it back to life. While the original GLOW stars were relatively unknown, some of them went on to mainstream success. Lisa Moretti, known to WWE fans as Ivory, was a staple of the Attitude Era Women’s division in the late 90’s and early 2000s while others like Olympia Hartauer and Trudy Adams wrestled for the AWA and WWF in the 80s and 90s.
GLOW is a fascinating story, and I’m happy to see it being told again. All episodes will be available June 23rd.