July 27 Figure Four Weekly: Hulk Hogan fired by WWE after racist tirade surfaces

Everything we know so far, including how the Gawker lawsuits and FBI investigation factor in, plus all of the usual reviews and international news.

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WWE Releases Hulk Hogan After Racist Rant is Leaked

by David Bixenspan (@davidbix)

“There will be a third act which we believe will center on the real story: the additional recordings held by the FBI, the information in them that is Hulk Hogan’s real secret, and irregularities in the recordings which indicate some sort of cover-up. In the way of so many news stories, the deeper you go, the more interesting it gets.”

—Gawker founder Nick Denton in a blog post on July 10, 2015

At about midnight eastern time on Thursday, July 23, WWE scrubbed just about every trace of Hulk Hogan from their website. It was strange, and an hour or so later, Hogan tweeted this:

In the storm I release control,God and his Universe will sail me where he wants me to be,one love. HH

Well, that was strange. Fans who went to WWE.com noticed that literally everything about Hogan had been removed, from his entries on the Tough Enough and Hall of Fame pages to even Curtis Axel getting his pre-Axelmania photo back. WWE had ordered for Hogan to be scrubbed at about midnight and the web staff got it done as soon as possible.

Nobody was really sure what was going on except that it seemed like WWE had cut all ties with him because some sort of damaging story was about to break. My gut instinct was that it had to do with the story, reported back in 2012, that he went on a racist tirade during one of the videos that included footage of him having sex with Heather Cole in the home she shared at the time with her husband, Bubba the Love Sponge Clem.

“Walt,” a staff member at TheColi.com, a sports and hip hop message board, posted this with the subject line “Tomorrow, The Scandal Breaks: WWE Will Sever All Ties with Hulk Hogan”:

When the National Enquirer releases audio of the Hulkster dropping the N-word so liberally that insiders are saying “there’s no coming back from this.”

There’s no link, there are about 100 people who know about this right now. But before you delete this thread.

trust me. My rep on these boards is not for posting bullshyt.

Oh, and of course: fukk Hulk Hogan. You slimy, trashy, racist fukk.

Early Friday morning, most likely due to much of the media’s lack of familiarity with the details of the sex tape leak and related lawsuits, a number of sites (including mainstream ones like The Daily Beast) started to focus on an interview Hogan did in 2012 on Whoolywood Shuffle, a show on Shade 45, which is Eminem’s hip-hop channel on Sirius XM. Hogan used the N-word, but only in the context of quoting others using it. Maybe not the best idea on his part, but it didn’t fit as something that would cause WWE to cut ties years later, much less be the focus of a major tabloid article.

WWE added fuel to the fire by issuing a statement before anyone actually reported on what the issue was:

WWE terminated its contract with Terry Bollea (aka Hulk Hogan). WWE is committed to embracing and celebrating individuals from all backgrounds as demonstrated by the diversity of our employees, performers and fans worldwide.

Literally a few minutes later at most, The National Enquirer and Radar Online, working together in a joint investigation, cleared up the confusion when both posted articles about a racist rant Hogan went on during one of the sex tapes with Heather Cole that was recorded by the Clem family security system. Claiming that “an extensive news probe uncovered five independent sources who provided the dramatic contents of the tape” and that it was a developing story with “more from the vile tapes to come,” this is what they reported Hogan as saying:

* “I guess we’re all a little racist.”

* “She is making some real bad decisions now. My daughter Brooke jumped sides on me. I spent $2-3 million on her music career, I’ve done everything like a jackass for her.”

* “The one option Brooke had, Brooke’s career besides me, is [to] sell beach records.” Hogan then said a “black billionaire guy” had offered to fund her career. “I don’t know if Brooke was f*cking the black guy’s son.”

* “I mean, I don’t have double standards. I mean, I am a racist, to a point, fucking n***ers. But then when it comes to nice people and shit, and whatever.”

* “I mean, I’d rather if she was going to f*ck some n***er, I’d rather have her marry an 8-foot-tall n***er worth a hundred million dollars! Like a basketball player!”

* “I guess we’re all a little racist. Fucking n***er.”

Later, when picking up the story, TMZ confirmed the authenticity of the report, saying that “TMZ has seen the tape…and on it, Hogan is discussing his daughter Brooke’s music career. He repeatedly used the N-word while talking about an African-American guy she was dating.” Hogan’s attorney told TMZ and People that Hogan voluntarily resigned from WWE, but WWE’s statement and TMZ’s sources said otherwise.

Hogan issued an apology to both People and Us:

Eight years ago I used offensive language during a conversation. It was unacceptable for me to have used that offensive language; there is no excuse for it; and I apologize for having done it. I believe very strongly that every person in the world is important and should not be treated differently based on race, gender, orientation, religious beliefs or otherwise. I am disappointed with myself that I used language that is offensive and inconsistent with my own beliefs. It is not who I am. I continue to work every day to improve as a person, and this matter is an important learning experience for me in that regard. As a result I am resigning from my contractual relationship with the WWE.

As this type of apology goes, it feels flawed, not really befitting the type of aggressive, personal racism expressed on the tape. The apology seems more befitting to the incident that got Michael Richards in trouble several years ago, a weird outburst where nobody, including Richards himself, had any clue what he was even trying to do.

Radar and The Enquirer noted in their articles that they had learned that “transcripts of the loathsome conversation have been filed in a Florida court, under seal, in a bid to prevent them from being publicly released.” This is no surprise in light of what’s been going on in the related lawsuits (Hogan’s against Gawker and Gawker’s against the FBI), but it goes back further than that. Around April of 2012, gossip website TheDirty.com was the first to confirm the existence of the tape and Heather Cole’s participation by publishing stills of it, but they also claimed Hogan went on a “racist rant” full of “N-bombs.” In October, days after Gawker posted an article accompanied by their edit of one of the Hogan/Cole videos, Philadelphia Daily News gossip columnist Dan Gross wrote that “Our source, who heard the video with racist language, believes Hogan is not involved in any way as he wouldn’t want that material getting out there.”

The matter of the racist comments and the multiple videos stayed out of the public eye until recently, when Gawker sued the FBI to obtain records of their investigation into an attempt to extort $150,000 from Hogan to prevent the release of the videos. The FBI had stonewalled them on a Freedom of Information Act request even after Gawker compelled a privacy waiver from Hogan, which is why they had to sue. A judge ruled in their favor within a month, but the FBI, either expecting to win or planning on dragging their feet anyway, had not worked on getting documents ready, and took much longer than the judge’s timetable really allowed for. When they finally produced everything, not only were there sealed filings, but the information could only be viewed and discussed by Gawker’s lawyers, meaning that nobody else from the company could be looped in.

Even after the FBI turned over documents, three DVDs, and two audio CDs, some documents were redacted even though the FBI had filed them uncensored publicly. One of those documents included an email from the FBI to Hogan’s attorney listing various evidence, including three different DVDs of Hogan and Cole having sexual relations of some kind. When Gawker attorneys viewed the videos, one was fine, one was just a minute or so of an empty bed, and one had the wrong audio in the second half. In the meantime, the audio CDs included Hogan, his lawyer, and Keith Davidson (the man alleged to have been shopping around the sex tape/attempting to extort Hogan) watching the DVDs as part of a FBI sting operation. One of the audio CDs thus contained the missing audio from the messed up DVD.

Gawker’s lawyers didn’t want to necessarily go so far as to accuse the FBI of messing with the videos to protect Hogan, though they still kind of implied it in court and the judge called them on it. They also made sure to note that the audio was wrong “at a key moment,” and obviously you have to wonder if that was it. The FBI did concede that at least one of the DVDs was improperly redacted, though. This all led to the Nick Denton quote that opens this article about “Hulk Hogan’s real secret” and the FBI potentially trying to help cover it up. Hogan’s lawyers were not happy, arguing that Gawker’s lawyers had improperly shared the FBI material with Denton, but if this was the “real secret,” they really didn’t need to for him to say what he said.

Keith Davidson had put together a detailed summary transcript, that went over the content of each DVD, which the Hogan side provided to Gawker in the discovery process. Another witness (not named in the court transcript where this information comes from) provided Gawker with a different summary transcript that, while different, matched Davidson’s in substance. It seems likely, if not probable, that Davidson provided this to parties that he was shopping the tape to. While TMZ said they saw the video in question, The National Enquirer and Radar Online prefaced every single quote with some form of “sources say” or “sources tell us.” If I had to guess, they sourced the story from people who had possession of or had seen at least one of the transcripts.

We’ll surely learn more soon, but let’s close with what Gawker attorney Seth Berlin said on July 2 in court: “We looked at the transcript and said geez, we’d really like to be able to authenticate this because it has some very interesting things that are useful to our case.””

Mexico Notes

by Dr. Lucha Steve Sims (@DrLuchaJr)

And so to the surprise of no one, Ultimo Guerrero won the hair of his current arch-rival, Rey Escorpion, this past Friday night at CMLL’s Sin Salida in Mexico City. This continued a pattern since early 2014 of Ultimo Guerrero’s winning virtually everything in sight, other than losing his mask in Atlantis. He has been kept as the top star in the promotion in a relatively down period, and the attendance and enthusiasm at this most recent hair match was evidence of this.

In a building that seats a in the range of 16,000 fans, the promotion has been drawing roughly 3,000-4,000 most every Friday night since the anniversary show last September, the one exception being a big crowd for Dos Leyendas in March. For the show last Friday, the attendance was about 10,000 fans, almost all of whom were heartily and energetically behind Guerrero in this match (both Guerrero and Escorpion are nominal heels, but in the feud, Guerrero is the face of the two). Is the 10,000 number a good turnout, cheering on the man who’s the face of CMLL these days and has been a major draw for CMLL for many years? They tripled their normal attendance. However, in a metropolitan area of twenty million people or more, could they not find more than 7,000 people to join the hard-core 3,000?

In the 1970s and 1980s, Canek earned the sobriquet as “the wrestler who built ‘El Toreo'” (the famous suburban bull ring outside Mexico City that could seat upwards of 20,000 fans). In the 1990’s, people inside the business started calling him “the man who destroyed ‘El Toreo'” as he kept himself over and the focus and spotlight of the promotion, its main title, and some of its main feuds. Even though there are many other reasons shy the UWA, the promotion for which Canek worked, went under, it seems to me that that Canek, a legend, stayed on too long, worked simple repetitive feuds and matches until fans had seen enough, then kept himself on top even further, to the point of no return.

CMLL is stronger now that UWA was in 1992, with much more and much better young talent ready to be the next generation’s leaders. It take quite a lot more time of Ultimo Guerrero’s being relentlessly on top before the world’s oldest wrestling promotion started losing money. But I look at the promotion the last 18 months and I get the nagging sense that he’s keeping more fans away than he is drawing.

For the CMLL bus, the next stop is the 82nd Anniversary show in 7 weeks at Arena Mexico. Just a hunch, but I bet the promotion wants to have Ultimo Guerrero take the mask of Thunder this year or next – and since that’s a match that would not sell many tickets for any Friday night, much less an Anniversary show Friday night, I can see them dressing that feud up in a multi-man cage match that just happens to come down to those two at the end. Oh, also, did I mention that Mr. Niebla is back, at least as of this writing?

Also, on Wednesday the 22nd, CMLL announced that Boby Zavala, Guerrero Maya Jr., Esfinge, and Disturbio had advanced to the semifinals of the En Busca de un Idolo star search tournament – they will have a multi-man match this Friday night 7/24, then a round-robin tournament on 7/31, 8/17, and 8/14, with the top two points-getters (huge favorites will be Zavala and Maya) having the grand final on August 21 – just before the Universal Champion Tournament takes over 8/28, 9/4, and 9/11, then the anniversary show 9/18. There’s the next two months of CMLL.

AAA has even fewer days until TripleMania XXII – August 9 is the date, just a couple of weeks away. They are on a mission to increase their English –language presence and have made a concerted effort to get this show cleared on regular PPV as well as iPPV. Alberto el Patron will wrestle Brian Cage with the hairs on the line. Rey Misterio Jr will wrestle Myzteziz with their dreams on the line. And the Psycho Circus (one of whom is a member of the Brazos family tree) will wrestler Villanos III, IV, and V, in a version of the family feud that dates back nearly forty years. It will be a great show and likely be a very full house if the arena’s ticket site Super Boletos is correct in how many tickets (i.e., a lot) they are not selling due to their being behind what would be for AAA a very large stage. As Bryan would say, and he would say it, this will be a fun show and you should check it out.

Japan Notes

by Alan Counihan (@Alan4L)

What we talked up last week as the most loaded day of the Japanese wrestling calendar unsurprisingly delivered in spades! Between Dragon Gate at Kobe World, the opening night of the G1 and Big Japan’s efforts at Sumo Hall, fans were treated to a multitude of great matches topped by the three main events. Particularly in the case of Kobe World, this was a commendable achievement as that was quite the undercard to top. Akira Tozawa kicked it into high gear early with his phenomenal Open The Brave Gate title match against Eita. The pair worked so well together and produced a wonderful 15 minutes of wrestling centred around Eita targeting Tozawa’s arm and the charismatic champion trying to land the killer German Suplex which would get him out of the situation, belt intact. That’s exactly what happened as he revsersed Eita’s El Numero Uno end game submission by taking his back and crushing him with a deadlift German before setting up for the big Package German finale. The Twin Gate clash pitting YAMATO and a silver-haired Naruki Doi against Ricochet & Matt Sydal delivered big also. It was more of a slow burner than you might expect, but they had Kobe rocking towards the end particularly in the final stretch which saw Ricochet survive several huge moves before finally succumbing to a fierce looking Galleria by YAMATO.

The main event was the stage for T-Hawk to show that he was a true main event in the promotion and he certainly stepped up to the plate. However it was the Dream Gate champion, Masato Yoshino, who proved that he is without question one of the best wrestlers in the world – a point he has proven time and time again and it’s very much a point that deserves more recognition now. Yoshino was utterly incredible here, with his defiant facial expressions and body language taking the match to crazy heights. Taking all the athletic aspects which DG is known for out of the equation, this was a true epic based on those extra elements of the performance that Yoshino brought to the table. Simple things like the way he kicked out of the pin attempts and the look he gave the camera were just so great and added so much. The fans were going completely crazy, and when Yoshino’s technique eventually conquered T-Hawk’s power, the place exploded.

The G1 was all about the top two bouts. A one armed Katsuyori Shibata proved that even with a limb taped up beyond use, he’s still better than most. He put in a fantastic performance against AJ Style who looked in peak form himself. The worked Shibata’s injury into the match in all kinds of unique ways, the best of which being when he bit onto his own hand so that he could apply a one armed choke. Styles eventually won out with the Styles Clash – a move that is becoming more over by the match. The main event between Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kota Ibushi served as a stark reminder than Tanahashi is still very much Hiroshi Tanahashi – just in case anyone thought his quiet few months was indicative of the years and injuries catching up with him. He put in a performance that was up there with his best. Clearly working with Ibushi for the first time was something that inspired him, and he really stepped it up for the occasion. If this is the Tanahashi we’re going to get with regularity throughout the G1 then watch out! His selling was on another level – making every Ibushi kick look like it came from the depths of hell. The did some brilliant stuff towards the end before Tana won with the High Fly Flow, getting his G1 off to as perfect a start in storyline as it did in reality.

As great as the scenes were in Kobe and Sapporo, it was the scene in Tokyo that may have been the happiest. It was smiles all around as the Big Japan roster and fans stood and celebrated the achievement of the indy group in running what was for them, a very successful Sumo Hall show. In their first attempt at running the legendary building, they drew a little shy of 4,000 fans. Not close to a sell-out but for them an incredible achievement particularly with the reliance on their own stars and not big name outsiders that cost a pretty penny. They have to be commended on how they did up the arena as it looked awesome, and whatever way they mic’d the crowd it added a ton to the event. The undercard was a fun mixed bag of styles but this one was all about the main event and it delivered big. Yuji Okabayashi knocked off his mentor Daisuke Sekimoto in a 21 minute war to take his spot as the new face of the promotion. It was as stiff a match as you’ll ever see, with the two behemoths pummeling each other from start to finish. Okabayashi had a busted nose within ten seconds from a lock-up!!! That certainly set the tone for what was to come, and the finishing move – one of the sickest powerbombs you’ll ever ever see- was the perfect capper of it all. Both men got huge standing ovations from the crowd afterwards.

TV Reviews

by Bryan’s Friend Vince (@FO_VVerhei)

WCW Monday Nitro (7/22/96)

Still coming to you from Disney MGM Studios. They talked about Muhammad Ali lighting the Olympic torch, then showed a clip of Ali appearing at Halloween Havoc in 1994. Then they showed Shaquille O’Neal doing a thing with Hulk Hogan years ago and asked what Shaq would think about Hogan these days. These were both so random.

Scott Norton vs. Dave Taylor. They talked about Norton and Ice Train breaking up on Saturday Night and being booked in a singles match at Hog Wild. Gee, I wonder which man the bikers will cheer? Did Vince McMahon ever pursue Scott Norton? He seems like the kind of guy Vince would love, in that he is enormous. Just a minute or two in, Norton got DQ’d for throwing Taylor over the top rope, and they kept brawling on the floor. I don’t think that was the idea, like they didn’t know that would be a DQ. Either way, this was lame.

VK Wallstreet cut a quick promo on Konnan. This was well into “so bad it’s good” territory.

Gene Okerlund interviewed the Horsemen, but Flair wasn’t there. They promised he would make his entrance later. Mongo cut a great promo about what he was going to do to pretty boys like Luger and Savage and Sting tonight. Benoit talked about how vicious and merciless he could be as Woman stood behind him with her hands on his shoulder. OK, I don’t know how much longer I’m going to last going down this rabbithole.

VK Wallstreet vs. Konnan. They weren’t always on the same page, but Wallstreet was good enough to cover pretty much everything that went wrong. He was being a total 1980s heel, which I guess he was, with lots of submission holds and grabbing the rope for illegal leverage. At one point he keylocked Konnan’s arm and, I can’t even say he bent the arm the way it’s supposed to go. He didn’t bend the arm at all, he just grabbed it. Konnan made his comeback. Wallstreet cut him off and hit a Samoan drop, but Konnan crucifixed him for the win. I miss the days when you had contrasting styles up and down a show. Even when it wasn’t a perfect mix, like here, it was at least different than every other match on the show.

Okerlund interviewed Randy Savage, Sting, and Lex Luger. They all ran down the nWo and questioned where Ric Flair was.

Glacier hype video. They actually showed him in his ice palace and Mortal Kombat Halloween costume, doing katas in the night.

Jim Powers, Joe Gomez, Alex Wright, Renegade hype video. They wore sunglasses. They looked mean at the camera. They walked in slow motion. They took their shirts off. They walked in their sunglasses and shirtless together on the beach. This was supposed to make them look cool. It failed, for many reasons, but one of them is that Joe Gomez was flabby and completely unbelievable as a sex object.

Jim Powers & Joe Gomez & Alex Wright & Renegade vs. Kevin Sullivan & Hugh Morrus & Barbarian & the Leprechaun. Yes. The Leprechaun was a redhead dude in a green coat running around and, well, being a leprechaun. Just as the match started, a cameraman, the cameraman whose image was being used, turned away and ran to the back. This was a poor endorsement for the match in the ring. So the Outsiders were taking over the TV truck. Nash threw out a line about GTV. Occasionally they would show what was going on in the ring, and believe me, Hall and Nash playing with echo sound effects in a dark trailer was much better than the wrestling. This is not to say this was in any way good. I mean, this was all brutally bad TV. They ordered a crowd shot. Hall posed for the camera in the truck and threw up a shout-out to the Young Bucks. Security, three geeks in yellow shirts, arrived to escort Hall and Nash out of the building. Tony Schiavonie apologized for what we were seeing, and believe me, an apology was necessary, the only redeeming quality of this was Nash inviting everyone to his trailer for “pot pies and Mountain Dew.” This was all so freaking terrible. And then it was worse as we still had to watch the match! Oh, god, now TEDDY LONG has arrived to save the show. He gave Powers a pep talk, and Powers suddenly ran wild and a four-way broke out. Then the Giant showed up to chokeslam the world. We never actually saw the Leprechaun in the ring. Gene then interviewed Giant, who said that while Hogan had been in Hollywood trying to win an Oscar, Giant had been wreaking havoc in WCW, defending the championship all over the world. Now WCW had come running to him asking him to take out Hogan, so he was going to oblige and chokeslam Hogan at Sturgis. I love the Giant. So awesome.

They plugged everyone appearing on Saturday Night, including the Booty Man. Good lord, that guy’s still around?.

Diamond Dallas Page vs. Prince Iaukea. Page won in two minutes with an RKO out of nowhere. I got nothing else to add.

A prepubescent Chavo Guerrero Jr. cut an inset promo on Dean Malenko. His moustache had to be penciled in here.

Benoit-Sullivan highlight reel. This included clips of Nancy begging Benoit to go easy on Sullivan.

Chavo Guerrero Jr. vs. Dean Malenko. Chavo was allegedly 26 here. I call bullshit. No way he was buying his own beer here. He was clearly skinnier than the ref. The second hour started and Bobby Heenan’s mic wasn’t working. There were all sorts of technical difficulties throughout this show. Malenko worked Chavo over for a while to polite applause and one guy chanting “BORING!” OK, I won’t lie, this wasn’t very exciting. It was like a “How To Do Moves” instructional video. Everything they did looked good, but there was no reason to care about anything. Some kids in the front row started mssing around and might have had a better match. Jimmy Hart distracted Malenko for some reason and Chavo nearly won with a schoolboy and some other rollups. Chavo made a comeback, but Dean caught him coming off the top with a spinebuster and hooked the cloverleaf for the win.

Jimmy Hart and Meng inset promos are some of the best stuff on the show.

Ice Train vs. Meng. These two were HOSSES, and they went right after each other. For about one minute it was great. Then it was nothing but chinlocks and Mongolian chops. There was a spot where Train chopped him so hard sweat hit the camera. Eventually Norton appeared and laid out Meng for the DQ. He explained he wanted Train fresh and healthy for Hog Wild, so Train would have no excuses when Norton beat him.

Hogan turning at Bash at the Beach video package. Nothing new here, but useful in case any viewers missed a week or two. It did make you appreciate how good WWE’s video packages are and have always been though.

Eddy Guerrero cut an inset promo on Psicosis.

Eddy Guerrero vs. Psicosis. They plugged the Hog Wild card, including Madusa versus “the big lady wrestler from Japan.” This was much better than the other cruiserweight match, mainly because both guys here were way more charismatic than Chavo or Dean, but also because they mixed things up with mat wrestling, lengthy lucha spots, and brawling on the floor. After ten minutes of furious action, Eddy won with a top rope rana and the frog splash.

Chris Benoit and Mongo McMichael came out for their match, but there was no Arn or Flair. After the break, a limo had arrived, and Arn was trying to peek in the windows. Bischoff suggested the man inside the limo might be “someone from New York.” Arn went to the ring for a huddle with his crew, and apparently the match was on, with Arn taking Flair’s place.

Arn Anderson & Mongo McMichael & Chris Benoit vs. Lex Luger & Sting & Randy Savage. Sting ran wild against all three Horsemen until Mongo cut him off with a middle rope shoulderblock. Mongo was green as hell here, but totally competent, especially given his experience level. Well, there was a point where Sting was in the heel corner, and Mongo tried a back suplex, and Sting wasn’t letting go of the top rope, so Mongo just dropped him and Sting’s head hit the bottom rope. Lex got a hot tag and ran wild with forearms, and it broke into a six-way. The Horsewomen tried to get the briefcase into the ring, but Savage grabbed it and lait out Benoit, and Lex fell on top for the win. Well that was a clusterfuck.

Okerlund interviewed the babyfaces after the break. He scolded a woman for throwing her underwear into the ring, but Savage let him know that was OK. Sting and Lex hyped up their match against the Outsiders at Hog Wild. Savage vowed to jump Hogan in the aisle at Hog Wild before Hogan had a chance to face the Giant. And Gene wrapped up the show and that was that.

WWE Battleground (7/19/15)

Sheamus vs. Randy Orton. They had more time than they would have on Raw, but they didn’t do a lot with it. In other words, it was a Smackdown match. They were in St. Louis, which did a little to add to the heat, but just a little. There were a few rough patches where they were on different pages and hesitated, but I don’t think anyone noticed. Biggest reaction for the whole match was literally Randy just standing there after hitting a superplex and the draping DDT. He was just basking in the ring soaking in the cheers and the place was pissing themselves. Orton kicked out of a schoolboy (!), but Sheamus hit the brogue kick for a nearfall and then put him in the cloverleaf. And then Orton won with the RKO outta nowhere. Bell rang 25 minutes into the show, but longer isn’t always better. Just an opener. (**3/4).

They recapped the Divas thing on Raw on Monday, then Jojo interviewed Stephanie backstage. Steph was sure to bury Jojo for being short. Well, at least she’s just an interviewer. Steph talked about St. Louis wrestling, including “Sam Muchnick’s Wrestling at the Chase.” She said there would be a three-way later with one woman from each team, and they would tear the house down.

New Day vs. Prime Time Players. New Day cut a very whacky promo about reaping what you sow. Big E made a reaping motion and explained “THIS IS ME REAPING!” They added that they deserved to win, and I can’t argue. Prime Time Players appeared and were roundly booed. As usual, the early highlight was Xavier cheerleading. To wit: “PUNCH HIM IN THE ABDOMEN!” Well, that actually is a sound strategy. They cut off Darren and E hit a splash on the apron. Xavier also referenced Big E’s “tricep meat.” Titus made a comeback that was much less sloppy and out-of-control than usual. Darren made his own comeback, including slamming Xavier on the apron. OW. He hit Kofi with the gutbuster, then Titus pinned Big E with the spinebuster. No, the New Day did not win. Fun little tag match. (**1/2).

Paige did a promo with Charlotte and Becky backstage. Becky said they were putting the Divas on notice, and even the Superstars on notice. They promised to tear the house down, with Flair, and then they did a triple pinkie swear. Seriously.

Roman Reigns vs. Bray Wyatt. Cole was sure to let us know that Roman had not pinned or submitted anyone since Bray had screwed him in the ladder match. So he’s a loser then. Good to know. Crowd liked him and chanted his name, but there were boos for him too. Roman made a comeback and you could hear one guy behind the announcers booing. This was all very strange. Weird spot where Bray was doing the mounted punches in the corner and Roman carried him out for a powerbomb, then just put him down. Bray hit a DDT on the apron. The apron bumps are getting totally overdone. It’s now to the point that nobody cares about them, even though they do actually hurt more. Then they went to a chinlock. Yeah, I’m totally going to get into this after the powerbombs and DDTs and stuff. Crowd cheered for Wyatt as he squeezed Roman’s head. Roman finally made his comeback to a lot of boos. He was using this big crotch-lift suplexes that nobody else does. He went for the dropkick to the apron, but Bray caught him with a clothesline. That was great. More apron bumps. Roman made his 53rd comeback and the crowd inexplicably began to chant that this was awesome. No, it’s really not. Bray did the crabwalk and everyone cheered, then Roman hit headbutts and everyone booed. They brawled on the floor as this match showed absolutely no sign of building to a conclusion. Roman started throwing chairs in the ring. Oh God, please don’t do a rematch. As the ref was throwing those out of the ring, Roman was attacked by “some guy in a hoodie,” according to Michael Cole. Then the hoodie was pulled back, revealing Luke Harper. “The family is back together,” JBL said, barely awake. “Watch this,” he added. Seriously, he was drowsy. So awful. So let’s review: Bray was a courageous fighter throughout and won 80 percent of the match. Roman was getting his ass kicked and tried to cheat to win, when a third party appeared and ensured that justice was served. And then Bray won with Sister Abigail. So of course everyone cheered him. This match was very, very long but not very, very good. (*1/2).

Jojo interviewed Team BAD, which she explained stood for Beautiful and Dangerous. Naomi did all the talking, saying Tamina was the muscle, she was the razzle-dazzle, and Sasha was the champ. Sasha then explained that she was the boss. Shouldn’t she be talking then?.

Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte vs. Brie Bella. Because the best way to ruin Charlotte and Sasha, which we know would be a good match, is to throw a random Bella in there. The very first spot they did was mistimed and sloppy. I was getting irrationally angry watching Brie do thiese horrible go-behinds, but thankfully she got thrown out of the ring. Oh, dammit, she’s back. Everything Brie did was met with lukewarm boos. Somebody kicked out of a schoolboy (well, schoolgirl) for the second time in the show. To be fair, most of the match was Sasha and Charlotte one-on-one as Brie sold in the corner. Crowd was chanting for NXT and Sasha, but also said they wanted Becky. Brie grabbed Sasha in a headlock, then Charlotte in a headlock, then bulldogged them both. This looked so ridiculous. She went back and forth with round kicks and the crowd chanted “YES!” for her husband. She started doing the running knees in the ropes, but Sasha dodged one and Brie fell outside. They did a spot where Brie got knocked off the apron onto her team, and they barely caught her and she basically landed upside down on her head. Bad times. Sasha and Charlotte hit dives. They showed a replay, and yeah, Brie was doomed, but thankfully they were able to catch her and at least slow her down. Crowd chanted that this was awesome. Naw, it was OK. Sasha hooked Charlotte in the Banks statement, but Brie broke it up. Charlotte finally caught Brie in the figure-eight for the submission win. Oh, thank God. I was CERTAIN Brie was going to win there. Charlotte and her pals had a tremendous celebration afterwards. (**1/2).

Kevin Owens vs. John Cena. Owens used a torture rack neckbreaker as a random non-finish like two minutes in. They kept going with big moves, like Cena’s legdrop and spinning facebuster and Owens doing a DDT and trying the senton. Did I blink and miss the first ten minutes? Owens hit Cena with his own comeback. Cena escaped the AA, hit an electric chair facebuster, and hooked the STF. Cena tried the sprinbgboard stunner, but Owens caught him and hit a belly-to-back suplex, then the cannonball for a nearfall. Cena hit the code red for a nearfall, then jumped off the top rope and Cena caught him with a powerbomb for a nearfall. Cena hit the AA for a nearfall. Owens hit the super fisherman buster for a nearfall. Cena hit [INSERT MOVE HERE] for a nearfall. Owens hit [INSERT MOVE HERE] for a nearfall. Over and over. Owens started screaming at the announcers for no apparent reason. They countered each other’s big moves, then Owens hit a superkick, AA, and STF. Cena hit the springboard stunner, but Owens dropped him with a lariat before collapsing for a double-down. Owens hit a convoluted backbreaker thing for a nearfall. Cena avoided the pop-up powerbomb and hit an AA for a nearfall. Owens hasn’t hit the pop-up powerbomb yet, but Owens has kicked out of the AA twice. Well, there’s the pop-up powerbomb, but Cena kicked out for a nearfall. Cena hit a super AA for a nearfall. I found this all terribly boring and repetitive, but I don’t live in St. Louis, and these people were going out of their golldurn minds. Owens hit a small package for a nearfall. Cena hooked the AA, and Owens tapped out. Yup. He’s a quitter and Cena is still US champ. I used the words “for a nearfall” 12 times in recapping this match. That’s all it was. Big move, nearfall, big move, nearfall, for 20 minutes. Well, whatever, so much of what this company does has passed me by. For sure the best thing on the show so far. (***).

By the way, what did Owens do there to make him a heel, either? Why are the heels in this company such shitty heels?.

Miz came out and cut a promo on Ryback getting staph infection and backing out of their match. He called Ryback a big pansy. He claimed Ryback got hurt all the time, and said Big Show had been missing since the Attitude Era and should retire. He said he would take the title like Los Angeles was going to take the Rams. Big Show came out to interrupt. Does this count as a turn? Miz was surprised to see Show and sucked up and said they should be ShowMiz again. Show punched him out and left. Yeah, that was the whole segment.

Seth Rollins vs. Brock Lesnar. We don’t spend nearly enough time talking about how bad Seth’s music is. It’s not the worst music in the company, not as long as Samoa Joe is around. But Lord it’s bad. Cole said Rollins was out here with no friends and no family. No family? Did Brock eat his parents? That’s sad. I just figured out what they need to do here. Sheamus needs to cash in and make it a triple-threat, like Rollins did at Mania. But then Brock will pin Sheamus to win the title. So Rollins and Lesnar would have traded the title without ever beating one another, and you do the big one-on-one match at SummerSlam. Brock tried a suplex, but Rollins elbowed his way free and fled to the floor. The first heel on the show. Brock tried another suplex, but Seth had a death grip on the ropes and kicked his way free. Rollins escaped the big moves for a bit, but soon Brock got hold of him and was suplexing him all over the place and Seth was bumping like a fish. This was so fantastically great. Seth tried to grab his belt and run through the crowd (HEEL! HEEL! HEEL!) but Brock did a running jump over the barricade, ran him down, and threw him back into the ring. Heyman was at ringside with a smarmy smile as Brock suplexed Seth over and over again. Finally Seth flipped over onto his feet on a suplex and dropped Brock with about a dozen kicks. He tried the pedigree, but Brock reversed that to the F5, but Seth escaped and knocked Brock out of the ring, then hit a pair of topes. He tried a third, but Brock zoomed into the ring behind him and hit a belly-to-belly. He hit a bunch more suplexes. JBL suggested Seth would tap out after a suplex. THAT WOULD RULE. Seth hit one slap, then Brock kept suplexing him. And he hit an F5, but then there was the UNDERTAKER’S DONG~! and Taker appeared in the ring. ST. LOUIS LOVED THIS. Brock looked, well, like he’d seen a ghost. Taker and Brock countered each other’s finishers, then Taker dropped him with a low blow and hit a chokeslam, then a tombstone. Crowd had loved Brock all night, but BOY HOWDY were they happy to see Taker here. He started to leave, but Brock began to stir, so Taker returned to tombstone him again. Place was going ballistic, though there were some “SUPLEX CITY!” chants. Then Taker hit his pose and started his light show. So there was no finish to the pay per view main event? That’s a lot of bullshit.

WWE Raw (7/20/15)

They recapped Undertaker ruining Brock Lesnar’s day at Battleground, then Taker came out for a promo. They claimed that JBL had wrestled Undertaker more than anyone else, which can’t possibly be true. Taker said, and I quote, “MMMMMMM.” Taker said that streaks were made to be broken, but then Lesnar had to go rubbing it in his face for week after week and month after month. There was the usual overwritten hokum here about turning smoldering ashes into a blazing inferno and whatever. Unleashed forces. New destinies. Crowd was sitting in solemn, respectful silence. So he promised Brock would rest in peace. So there was like nothing to this, but the crowd loved it.

Hunter and Steph were celebrating backstage because a main event for SummerSlam had dropped in their laps. Steph was off to call marketing. Hunter said he would make sure Lesnar and Paul Heyman didn’t show up tonight.

The announcers pushed Lesnar-Taker II (well, ignoring all their matches a decade ago) like it was the biggest matchup they could even fathom.

Brie Bella vs. Charlotte. Charlotte got to use her own music. They showed her celebrating with her dad after the PPV the night before. Bellas came out dancing to Brie’s music. Well, it is a great song. Naomi and Sasha were on commentary. They got the heat when Charlotte tried a pescado and the Bellas pulled Brie out of the way and Charlotte splatted to the floor. Way to make her look clumsy. Fortunately things settled down after the break, and there was nothing revolutionary about this, they just had a good wrestling match, and the crowd totally accepted it. Charlotte fought off interference and won clean with the figure-eight. Hey, all I’ve ever asked is that if you’re going to do a women’s division, don’t limit them to two-minute wastes of time. So this was a win.

Hunter was on the phone with Heyman saying Lesnar had the match with Taker, but he was insistant that Lesnar not show up to the building. Heyman protested but Hunter shut him up. Miz had been trying to interrupt, protesting that Big Show had punched him. Hunter booked him vs. Show.

Prime Time Players vs. Los Matadores. Matadors took the whole match and looked great. Titus got the hot tag and ran wild, but then the New Day came out to distract them, and a Matador pinned Titus with the backcracker. New Day then did the best Millions of Dollars dance ever, also calling the Players “the worst” and “terrible.”.

Miz vs. Big Show. Show squashed him to death and won with a middle rope elbow. This was a great squash, full of biels and other enormous throws. Show then cut a promo on Miz for saying he’d been missing, then addressed Ryback and the Intercontinental title. He plugged his appearance on Tough Enough tomorrow and dared Ryback to meet him there.

The Helmsleys were looking at some artwork backstage when Hunter spotted Heyman like 50 yards away. Heyman assured them that Lesnar was not there, he was there to accept the match on Lesnar’s behalf, and then he was leaving. They accepted this and Heyman left, but the Helmsleys made it clear they did not trust him.

After the break, Hunter and Steph had gathered all the geeks they could find, including Curtis Axel and his Hulk Hogan moustache. Prime Time Players, Matadors, and New Day were all there, looking none the worse for wear after their segment earlier.

Heyman cut a promo in the ring. Wait, how did he get out there? Who gave him a mic? So Heyman talked Taker screwing Brock the night before. He reminded everyone that Brock had beaten Taker at Mania. Fans booed, and Heyman said it bothered them, but it bothered Taker a hell of a lot more. He said Taker had waited 469 days to respond to that loss. Yes, he said, he bragged about that win every chance he had, and why wouldn’t he try to promote his client’s biggest win? He said Brock and Taker had each taken what the other had held most dear, and now they were going to fight. He then, in his own words, made things personal, saying Brock had conquered YOUR undefeated streak at Mania. He repeated this a few times, then said Taker had sold his soul to the devil, but his ass belonged to Brock. This was a great, firey, bug-eyed Paul Heyman promo. Then the lights went out and Taker appeared in the ring. Heyman begged off, pleading that he was a human being who had children. Then Brock’s music hit and the building went nuts. The announcers pissed themselves and fled. NOW Cole is running away? Brock TORE ASS down to the ring and he and Taker brawled. That big fella can MOVE. Hunter brought out the geekiest geeks you ever saw to separate them. They failed. Brock was throwing these clubbing overhand forearms down on them one by one. Brock is the best. All the geeks on the roster came out to separate them, including Kevin Owens, in case any of you thought he might not be a geek. Every once in a while Brock would break free and do a running dive onto the pile of dudes holding Taker back. I say it again: Brock is the best. They caught Brock screaming “I WILL KILL YOU!” and Taker screaming back “YOU’RE GONNA HAVE TO!” At last they dragged Brock to the back and went to break. Now that’s how you do a pull-apart. That was awesome.

Backstage after the break, Brock spotted Taker and they went at it again. They were on the ground being dragged apart, still reaching out to grab each other. Lesnar finally backed up to a wall and held up his hands to indicate he was done. None of the random security guys believed him. He allowed them to zip-tie his hands, but still insisted they not touch him.

Announcers finally returned to the desk and they recapped everything.

Hunter let Steph know they would not press charges against Brock for trespassing. At this point, 80 minutes into the show, Seth Rollins appeared, disappointed that Taker and Brock were gone, because he had things he wanted to say to them. He asked for a chance to cut a promo, and they said sure, whatever.

Spooky Bray Wyatt promo with Luke Harper over his shoulder. They said they don’t like Roman.

Roman Reigns vs. Luke Harper. Dean Ambrose came out to be in Roman’s corner, with Bray in Luke’s. They were scrolling Tweets in the bottom of the screen of people reacting to Taker-Lesnar. One of them said “OH MY GOOD!” That’s almost as good as the sign a guy had on this show saying that Taker had “destoyed” Suplex City. They gave Harper everything to set up Roman making a one-armed comeback. Bray tried to stop the apron dropkick, so Roman punched him and dropkicked Bray and Luke at the same time. Bray finally dragged Roman out of the ring for the DQ, kicking off the big four-way brawl. Wyatts got the better of things for a while and held Roman down in a submission while Bray threw kicks at him, but Dean returned to even the odds and he and Roman cleaned house.

Seth came out for his promo. So he took a long time to say exactly what you’d expect him to say. Nobody believed in him, but he had survived everything Lesnar had thrown at him, and now he was still the deserving champ. He brought Lillian into the ring to announce him as the champion. She announced Lesnar the winner via DQ, which Seth reluctantly accepted, but then said Seth was champion, and he was happy. Out came John Cena. Seth congratulated Cena on his win over Owens and said he was probably out there to do his US title challenge and started to leave, but Cena called him back, saying the people only knew what a great champion Cena was because Rollins was showing them how poor a champion could be. Rollins said Cena was disrespecting his US title by giving out title shots to guys who hadn’t earned it, and he was only doing it to get fans who hated him to like him. He started to leave and Cena said he was running from another challenge. Rollins teased accepting, but as the last heel in the company, left instead. Cena then declared that the champ was here and his music played. This was a great, great, great old school angle, all built around championships and why they mattered.

They did a video package on the NXT women invading. Kinda funny to do this after their debut, but, you know, things happen.

Paige & Becky Lynch vs. Naomi & Sasha Banks. Well, longer doesn’t always mean better. Your standard-issue boring third-hour Raw tag match. Bellas were on commentary droning on about women’s accomplishments in sports. Charlotte was cheerleading all she could to get people into this, but it was to no avail. Announcers were debating which was the hottest Golden Girl. In 2015, when three of them are dead. Thank god Paige finally tagged in. She was a little bundle of fury, realizing she had to wake up the entire building. She put Naomi in the PTO, but Sasha broke it up. Naomi pulled Paige into the ropes to cut her off, then Sasha put her in the Banks statement for the win. They actually played Sasha’s music, if you can even believe that. Match was not bad, just long and boring.

They plugged Tough Enough and Southpaw by having the coaches discuss Jake Gyllenhall’s training for the movie. Turns out he worked hard.

Renee interviewed Lana. I completely forgot Renee’s name and had to look it up. She said Dolph was talking, and they were waiting for him to get medically cleared. Summer then appeared with her outfit, hair, and makeup done just like Lana. Then Rusev arrived all smiles, saying she looked beautiful, angel-like! Then they passionately kissed and Rusev shot Lana a look. “I must go for my match now,” he said, adding that Lana looked tired and needed rest. Summer slapped Lana and left. What meanies.

Cesaro & Randy Orton & John Cena vs. Sheamus & Kevin Owens & Rusev. See the rule about how every Raw main event should be a six-man because they’re almost always good. Long heat segment on Cesaro. He pushed Owens into Sheamus at one point, and Sheamus got in Owens’ face. They brawled a bit and Sheamus grabbed his briefcase and left. Rusev was down on the floor selling, so Owens was going it alone for a while. Rusev finally recovered, but they brawled and Owens superkicked Rusev and left. JBL noted this was the worst teamwork he’d ever seen, and it’s hard to argue. Rusev was actually holding his own, but then Lana came out to brawl withh Summer. All the dudes stopped fighting to watch. Lana kicked her ass and then left, and finally Rusev ate an AA, a giant swing, and a slingshot into an RKO for the win. Babyfaces threw a giant celebration and the place went nuts. Very good episode of Raw.

WWE NXT (7/22/15)

Finn Balor came out in a nice suit with his championship belt for a promo. Crowd liked him and chanted his name, then chanted that he deserved it. That one anonymous geek show shows up on NXT about as often as a full moon appears in the skies was there to handle the interview. Finn called him “Greg.” I guess that’s his name. He said all the sacrifices he had made for 15 years were worth it to hold the belt up tonight. Greg announced the championship rematch would be in Brooklyn and the fans booed. Oh, these next few weeks are going to be fun. Finn listed all of Owens’ WWE accomplishments, including taking out Hideo Itami, which Owens still denies. So Finn vowed to walk out of Brooklyn with his belt and that was that. This was a good developmental promo.

Devin interviewed Eva Marie backstage. Eva thanked Mr. Regal for the opportunity. She got in her “all red everything” catchphrase and said the NXT Universe would like what they saw. She cut this whole promo staring off to space and speaking in a wooden manner, but Devin was very impressed.

Eva Marie vs. Cassie. Eva has a fancy red sequined robe with black feathers. She was SOUNDLY booed. Eva entered the ring and one of the guys said he was very impressed. Literally all she had done was walk down the ramp and enter the ring. That guy must have had very low expectations. Eva got the John Cena reaction, complete with “LET’S GO EVA!” “EVA SUCKS!” dueling chants. She used something like a sitting abdominal stretch that I have no idea what it was supposed to do. So they sat there for a while, then did some stuff, thenwent right back to it. They mentioned that Cassie was trained by Lance Storm. Her offense consists almost entirely of high kicks. Eva won with a sliced bread. Well, that was a perfectly reasonable developmental match. Eva needs to learn to protect herself. These kicks were hitting her in the face and she appeared to be bleeding afterwards. Now it’s really all red everything.

Regal found Tyler Breeze in his office. Breeze demanded a special match for the Brooklyn show. Regal promised he was working on something. I’ll say.

Baron Corbin vs. an unnamed geek in a purple bodysuit with blue hair. Regal pinned the League of Legends wannabe in literally ten seconds with the end of days.

Samoa Joe vs. Mike Rollis. Joe got new music, THANK GOD. It’s not very good, kind of a funky remix of the Godzilla theme, but it is MUCH better than what he had before. Joe is a man who knows how to squash dudes. He gave Rollis just enough offense to set up that slam out of the corner, then won with the muscle buster. OK, on second hearing, this music is a VAST improvement.

Devin interviewed Emma and Dana, who buried Bayley’s hugging gimmick. I can’t decide if Devin is terrible at her job, or awesome.

Bayley vs. Emma. Bayley had her hand in a cast that apparently Emma broke. There was a weird comedy start where Emma was wacking her with a ruler or something, but then Emma took over and, holy crap, where did she get this aggression? Bayley started no-selling turnbuckle shots by shaking her head like Hacksaw Duggan or something, and I was thinking this wasn’t going to work, then she screamed “NOOOOOO!” like a child throwing a tantrum and attacked, it was great. This match is full of surprises so far. Emma cut her off and started working over the broken hand. Bayley made her comeback. Dana got caught interfering and ejected. The girls wrestled around a bit, then Bayley won with the belly-to-Bayley. Bayley cut a promo saying it was amazing to come back to an ovation like that, then vowed to be the next NXT women’s champion. That meant beating the best, and so she wanted a match with Charlotte. Crowd reacted like that might be a bad idea.

Dasha interviewed Charlotte about Bayley’s challenge. Charlotte said the girls on NXT were finally getting a chance to show what they could do on Raw. She said Bayley deserved a chance to show what she could do, but then she vowed that she would be the next NXT women’s champ. Dana walked in and said Charlotte had already had enough chances, and challenged her to a match. Charlotte accepted, saying Bayley would have to wait. This was also a developmental promo.

VaudeVillains vs. Sawyer Fulton & Angelo Dawkins. Gotch made a comeback straight out of the 1940s, like grabbing his own foot and using it to hit dudes in the head. English got a hot tag and looked better than last time, then they won with their uppercut/neckbreaker combo. Just a quick win to set the Villains up for their tag title shot next week.

Blake and Murphy were watching backstage. The American dude dyed his hair white. Not blonde. WHITE. They laughed off the challengers, then Alexa vowed that her men would retain the tag titles.

Regal brought Owens and Balor out for a contract signing. Owens asked Balor how it felt to be champ, and how it felt to go into the biggest main event in NXT history, emphasizing that the match would be in Brooklyn. He said Balor was champion, but he would still be the underdog. He listed all the men he had beaten and/or hurt and vowed to be the first two-time NXT champion. Finn was not intimidated and vowed to win the match in Brooklyn. Everyone signed and Regal said the match was official. Owens then jumped Balor and they brawled. Regal tried to break it up, but Owens dropped him with a punch. Balor recovered and sent Owens packing, and the show ended with Balor seething in the ring as Regal collected himself on the floor. A very missable show.

Lucha Underground (7/22/15)

Dario met with Big Ryck in his office. He kept “accidentally” dropping references to Big Ryck’s eye injury. He said he wanted Ryck out of Delevar Daivari’s shadow and back in the spotlight, and offered him a chance to win a medallion. Ryck said he wanted both money and power, so Cueto threw in a fat wad of cash. Ryck was happy they were seeing things eye to eye.

Johnny Mundo vs. Texano. Crowd chanted “Johnny Zero,” which was so hokey I figured it had to be piped in, but no, they actually chanted that. Very much a US-style match in pace and tempo. Mundo broke out the “take a picture” taunt from the MNM days. God I miss that team. Texano made his comeback, then they went back and forth a bit. Texano tried a powerbomb when the Crew arrived and whacked him with a stick. The heels all worked Texano over until Alberto El Patron ran out and chased Johnny away. He took out the Crew, then Texano and Alberto, old rivals since they both appeared here, stared each other down from across the ring before going their separate ways.

Dario Cueto poured himself some liquor while passing Hernandez a Miller Lite. He booked Hernandez vs. Drago for Ultima Lucha, but not in any match. Hernandez suggested a strap match, but Dario shot that down. Instead they were doing a fans as lumberjacks with straps match. Hernandez promised that anyone who tried to hit him was going to bleed. I can only imagine what kind of spectacle these lunatics have planned.

The Mack vs. Cage. Cage beat him up for a minute or two and then Mack pinned him with a sunset flip. WHAT? Did not see that coming. Cage then destroyed Mack all over ringside. Security tried to break them up, but Mack beat them up and he and Cage brawled up the stairs. Cueto came out and promised to surround the ring with weapons so they could kill each other. He said Ultima Lucha was so big it was going to take two weeks, and it would kick off next week with Mack vs. Cage, falls count anywhere.

Dario in the ring unveiled the Gift of the Gods, which had room for all seven medallions to be installed. He said the holder of the belt would get a title shot whenever they wanted, but they needed to give him a week’s notice so he could promote the fight. Dario is not stupid. So anyway, if they waited too long to cash in their title shot, they risked losing the belt. And once they cashed it in, the medallions would be released, and the process would start over. He brought the seven medallion holders down to the ring to put their medallions in the belt. They were magnetic to lock into place, and they edited in metallic clinking sound effects. Cueto dismissed them all, but then realized there was one medallion missing. Cueto said that Fenix had won one medallion, but then Mil Muertes had killed him, so tonight there would be a battle royal for the last medallion. He said once the battle royal was down to two dudes, it would be pinfall or submission rules, which is actually a VERY old school way of doing a battle royal. Fenix then appeared, but Dario only said he could compete in the battle royal.

Battle Royal for the last medallion. This is going to be weird. Mascarita Sagrada was in there. Well hell, his center of gravity is only a foot off the ground, he has an unfair edge. Marty the Moth dragged Sagrada to the cornere and started working him over. Famous B did a crotch chop and a pedigree. Mark. They did a few quick eliminations, then it settled down to a bunch of dudes choking in the corners while one guy ran wild in the middle. Moth ended up down in the corner and Sagrada kicked him RIGHT IN THE FACE with both feet. Sagrada then hit somebody with a monkey flip off the apron, eliminating both men, and he sat up and realized how dumb he had been. It came down to Marty and Daivari double-teaming Fenix. Daivari quickly got dumped, so it was Marty vs. Fenix one-on-one. Striker referred to Marty as “the Beefy Moth.” I’ve been watching Marty for months now, and I still can’t figure him out. He’s actually pretty talented, but he just presents himself as so annoying and geeky. Maybe that’s what a heel is in 2015. Fenix made a comeback and hit a sweet flipping dive. Fenix then won with a cradle that was so sloppy I can’t believe they didn’t reshoot this. They had months to fix it in editing and couldn’t. Fenix took his medallion, stormed up the steps, and placed it in the Gift of the Gods championship belt. Cueto stepped out of his office to watch, very displeased. So it’s Fenix, Jack Evans, Aerostar, Bengala, Sexy Star, King Cuerno, and one other name I can’t remember.

They ran down the Ultima Lucha card. They are so awesome at this. Seriously, after three minutes hype, this felt like a card with seven or eight legit main events.

Prince Puma came out for a promo, the first time he has spoken in the history of this promotion. Before he could speak, Mil Muertes and Katrina made their entrance, then the Disciples of Death attacked Puma. Puma fought all three of them off and dared Muertes to come fight. He didn’t so Puma wiped out the Disciples with a big dive, then climbed the turnbuckle to stare Muertes down. At last Muertes hit the ring and they had a tremendous brawl. Puma got the better of that and hit the 630 senton, then another backflip and posed in the ring. Well that was weird. The build for this all was so great, and now they just lay Muertes out like that in the go-home angle? That was weird. Still, a very good episode.

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