Assorted mailbag: Weekend fighting, UFC in UK; Road to Power Struggle, EC3 in TNA,
One revelation on this recap show explains Ronda's reaction when Miesha showed up and announced she was 'here to coach' and refused to explain until Dana did, and Ronda thought it was in her place---Ronda had just finished acrimonious contract negotiations in which Dana had repeatedly threatened to replace her on the show. Ronda still feels manipulated for that bit, and can't say I blame her.
Thumbs slightly up. Top card > prelims tonight. Lot of out of shape guys on the undercard. Frank Shamrock completely unannounced working as backstage interviewer. Big news of course is Tito getting hurt and pulling out of the PPV. In other big news, dog bites man. In fights worth mentioning, against all expectations Mighty Mo reverses an immediate TD attempt from fellow huge slugger and former sparring partner Ron Sparks and submits him with an Americana for his first sub win ever, and in the LW tourney Tiger Sarnavskiy drops BJJ blackbelt Ricardo Tirloni with a SBF and finishes him in seconds with a triangle and Will Brooks avenges a quick KO loss in the last tourney to Saad Awad with a three round wrestlefucking to set up this season's final.
Thumbs way up. Another very consistent card.
Best fight: Musoke-Sakara
Worst fight: Nothing was bad. Guillard-Pearson for the quick and IMO unfair NC.
KO: Machida, duh
Prelims: Mike Kuiper and Brad Scott both look a little fleshy but put on a terrific fight until Kuiper slips and Scott pounces and snatches a front choke and finishes it standing late in the 1st. Looked like he switched to a Guillotine although Rogan says it wasn't. Jimy Hettis back from a long layoff puts the stronger late sub and fellow Judoka Rob Whiteford to sleep with a tri in the 2nd. Amazing he's only a purple belt. Cole Miller, looking more like 5' than 5" taller, conducts a JJ clinic for 2 rounds then holds off a surging Andy Ogle in the 3rd to take the absolutely inarguable 29-28 UD. Ogle did well to avoid being subbed in the first two. Miller cuts the American Heel promo and gets some major heat. Another WMMA pioneer falls as much younger Jessica Andrade, showing an unsuspected standup game, batters veteran Dr. Rosi Sexton for three rounds for a UD with two 26s. Could have been even wider. Rosi too tough for her own good, should have been stopped. Both far too small for 135, but at least they're the about same size as each other. Like I said last time they need to stop fucking around and open up the other weights for women, there's MORE than enough talent. Luke Barnatt almost blows it twice celebrating KDs but comes from behind to finally RNC Andrew Craig in the 2nd. Al Iaqunita outworks Pyotr Hallman for the UD in a competitive 3.
On the top card, John Lineker misses weight again but blows away Phil Harris finishing with a body shot after several KDs. Looks too small to go up in weight though.
In a fight that squeezes about everything into 3 minutes, second sub Nico Musoke and Alessio Sakara take turns rocking, throwing, reversing and trying to sub each other until Musoke snatches the Russian Arm bar for the verbal tap. Shows some charisma and promo ability as well.
Norman Parke outgasses Jon Tuck for a UD. Can't break an egg though.
Jimi Manuwa saves the fight and KOs Ryan Jimmo with a delayed reaction knee strike in the 2nd. Hit him in the head and his leg gave out. Boring fight up till the finish.
Melvin Guillard busts up Ross Pearson with a couple of knees a minute or two in, causing a doctor stoppage and it's ruled that the second knee was illegal and the fight is a NC. I think it's bullshit. Pearson's hand wasn't down when Guillard threw the knee. Should have been a TKO. Any case rematch already set.
Enter The Dragon, MW Division. Lyoto Machida sets up Mark Munoz with body kicks and then crosses him up with a HK and knocks him cold. MW has suddenly become the most interesting division in UFC, maybe ever, Weidman, a humanized Anderson, Machida, Jacare, and Vitor. Reminds me of when Leonard, Hearns, Benitez, Duran and Cuevas were all boxing welterweight. And Anderson. Machida and Jacare being essentially out of the same camp.
Best fight: Fitch(!)-Alfaya
Worst fight: nothing was bad at all
Justin Gaethe continuing to impress blows away Dan Lauzon, breaking him down with LKs and finishing with punches in the 2nd. This guy is UFC bound, sooner rather than later.
Jon Fitch has to overcome unexpected wrestling chops from the unheralded but extremely strong journeyman Mauricio Alfaya to come from behind and take a 29-28 SD in a very active scrap. As I've said before I don't buy Fitch as 'boring', he just can't punch and it's not something you can learn if the inherent ability isn't there.
Also IMO UFC bound BW stone killer Marlon Moraes dispatches Carson Beebe with a left hook in 30 seconds.
In the main, Steve Carl fighting through injuries outlasts and upsets Josh Burkman, putting him to sleep (because the moron local yokel Florida ref who does that spastic finger-kissing-to-the-sky gesture ignores the tap) in the 4th with a triangle to take the vacant WW title. Injured or no, Carl seems to be the better conditioned guy. Would have been a better fight if both had not been as gassed. Burkman coming off impressive quick wins over Fitch and Aaron Simpson but maybe exposed as a frontrunner. For all the MMA that's based here our officiating remains among the worst in the country.
Thumbs mostly up, one bad fight, two good fights, more Golden Boy Bullshit.
They feed Deontay Wilder another opponent to KO. Wilder looks great. I'd cast him as heavyweight champion in a movie, if he can act. I'm not buying him as a potential one in real life. He just does not have boxing instincts.
Peter Quillin retains whatever MW title with an 11thR TKO over Gabriel Rosado off an eye cut. Can't argue the stop as it came from a legal punch and the cut was bad in right in the eyelid, but the judges had Quillin winning almost every round while the fact is the fight was about even and Rosado was coming on. Did I mention Quillin is the Golden Boy fighter? Did I even have to?
Fuckin B-Hop. At age 48 he has decided to retire the Executioner gimmick and now bills himself as The Alien. He may be. He decides to have an entertaining brawl this time and while mixing in the usual slick boxing and subtle inside heeling just mostly outconditions and outpunches 30 year old mandatory challenger German-based Armenian Karo Murat to take a UD that maybe wasn't quite as wide as the judges had it. Hoppy just seems to get stronger and faster the later the fight goes. And he claims to be doing this drug free and in truth shows none of the physical signs of steroid or HGH use. No sudden muscles, no zits, no anthropoid bone masses. Amazing. He teases 'going down in weight for a superfight', and we know what that implies...
BT Sport have had a special free access weekend this weekend and so I watched their coverage of the UFC event in Manchester last night. BT's coverage was awful and rather than encourage me to subscribe, it's actually had the opposite effect!
They had a female host and a geeky looking 'expert' in a tuxedo in their studio and they also had another expert, who looked like he'd put his Halloween mask on early at cageside a la Rogan & Goldberg, and he was joined by Michael Bisping. After every fight, they went back to the studio, before going back to the arena to catch the result announcements, so it came across as totally disjointed. They went to Bisping and the creepy looking guy once in a while but there appeared to be no real structure. They also had a British voiceover for the bit that Mike Goldberg usually voices over, where they give the pre-fight profile piece on each fighter. The only good addition that BT Sport's coverage had was a list of the fights in the correct running order, but even then, they called it "Order of Play". Play?? This isn't golf, this is fighting!
When they had one of their many cut-backs to the studio, their tuxedo clad expert was talking about Norman Parke while a compilation of clips of his opponent, Jon Tuck, was playing. All of the UK based stuff came across as totally unnecessary and actually detracted from my enjoyment of the event. I realise that there are probably more commercial breaks for the US market than we have in the UK, but Setanta and ESPN never had this problem in airing live events from the UK. I'd rather hear what Joe Rogan and Ariel Helwani have to say rather than a UK based guy and a female host who clearly knows little about the sport. If they'd cut out all the studio stuff and the UK voiceovers, they would save money and could perhaps lower their high subscription price. Anyway, based on my experience of BT Sport last night, I definitely won't be subscribing to them.
The announced main event for London hardly fills me with enthusiasm either. I mean, Gustaffsen is great but Noguera is pretty ancient by now, plus, given current trends, how do I know that Gustaffsen will actually be fighting when the event date rolls around? I'll see what the ticket prices are, but if they're ridiculously expensive, then I won't be bothering. My interest is dwindling and that's down to UFC's own handling of the UK market.
First off - belated happy birthday! Shame it couldn't have fallen on a quiet weekend, but those are few and far between these days.
BT Sports (home of UFC in the UK these days) is having a "free weekend", so anyone with Sky or cable TV can see BT Sports for free this weekend, which means that the UFC show tonight had a lot more potential viewers than it normally would.
I'm not a regular subscriber to BT Sports, so I don't know if this is a normal thing, but BT had a "home studio" that they kept cutting to (away from Manchester), with a female host and a guy playing the role of an expert providing analysis between fights. In addition, BT also revoiced over the pre-fight video packages for some reason; with the time taken by airing these new video packages and cutting back to the studio, the live arena action was clipped somewhat (similar to what we had when Channel 4 tried to do the WWF Royal Rumble live whilst inserting adverts into the feed as the show progressed).
I understand the reason why they did this - UK broadcast regulations limit the number of adverts that channels can show to 12 minutes per hour, and rather than risk going over this limit by taking ad breaks when Fox Sports do, BT are adding in their own studio coverage. However, the backlash to this so far has been enormous.
To regular fans of UFC, the BT coverage is somewhat patronising, with the repeated cut backs to the studio (often losing replays and other stuff that is being broadcast before Fox cuts to adverts. I understand that it's also trying to educate new viewers, but it just doesn't work.
The previous homes of UFC in the UK (ESPN and Setanta) did not have any similar issues when broadcasting live UFCs, especially TV specials, which raises questions as to why BT are going to the extra expense of having a "home studio team" as opposed to having the US team continually talking during the US commercial breaks.
So, how many months ago did I predict Ortiz pulling out at the last minute? My main question is how much exactly he is benefitting. I’m sure the Punishment ads were part of it.
Mytheory that this match was a scam by Bellator seems to be disproven by them cancelling the PPV part and going for TV. Especially since they had Veigh as a replacement, a fight I would have rather seen (winner of the two in a LHW title match). Makes me think they figured out that the PPV was a loss. I’d love to audit those books.
Does the wording of Alvarez contract stipulate a PPV? Could they escape saying they planned it but due to unforeseen circumstances? Or is it even an issue?
My next prediction: If Bellator has to provide “make goods” for advertisers or otherwise suffers, I think this is the death of the promotion. Maybe not tomorrow, but this will be the fingerpoke of doom.
DM: The implications aren't disastrous for the company. It's an embarrassment in a sense, but part of doing business in MMA. it would be more of a disaster if it was a smaller company that owned it as if this was going to be a huge buy show that they lost out on.
ROAD TO POWER STRUGGLE
NJPW Road to Power Struggle
Best match: Kazuchika Okada, Shinsuke Nakamura & YOSHI-HASHI vs. Karl Anderson, Prince Devitt & Bad Luck Fale
Worst match: Tiger Mask & Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Jado & Gedo
With three iPPVs in November and considering previous price points, this should have been ten dollars. Definitely a strange mix up of a card that provided new directions, some old ones and a lot of comedy. Generally though, this was a low “B” show with an air of a Smackdown. Albeit, a good one.
Yohei Komatsu & KUSHIDA vs. BUSHI & Valiente: A pretty decent opener with some cool spots. Like Valiente arm dragging KUSHIDA off the apron, Komatsu’s counter to Bushi’s hurricanrana and Valiente‘s tope. Other than that, I thought Komatsu looked pretty green.
Barreta & Brian Kendrick vs. Nick Jackson & Matt Jackson: It was great to see these guys in a New Japan ring. The suplex to the outside was nuts. From there the action was scintillating. Fast exchanges, a couple of good near falls and some crazy high spots. Loved it and want to see all four in the junior titles mix.
Tiger Mask & Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Jado & Gedo: Pretty uninspiring. Fortunately, it ended before I could dislike it and the finish was an unexpected surprise. I’m not overly bothered, but I’d of preferred it if Tiger and Liger advanced.
Alex Koslov & Rocky Romero vs. TAKA Michinoku & Taichi: Better than their last meeting, although still nothing to write home about. Taichi looked improved. Odd that they booked the same pinning combination as the previous match. Then again, a certain finish can happen multiple times on an MMA show. So it makes sense in a way.
Sho Tanaka vs. Minoru Suzuki: Human limbs aren’t suppose to bend like Tanaka’s did. In testament to the aura of Minoru, I genuinely feared for Sho. I just wish Suzuki gave him a little credibility before taking his leg home. It would of blown the roof off. All in good time I guess. Let it brew a little longer.
Captain New Japan & Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Tomoaki Honma & Manabu Nakanishi: Basic work from Manabu and Tenzan that was executed excellently. It was like watching a match from yesteryear with the methodical pace. The Captain let this one down for me. I couldn’t take him seriously against the sublime Honma.
Yuji Nagata, Togi Makabe & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Takashi Iizuka, Toru Yano & Tomohiro Ishii: I’m happy Iizuka’s freshened up his act by roughing up the fans. It’s a welcome change. The match was a peculiar combination of performers. A perennial opener, a perpetual closer and everything in between. Tanahashi and Ishii were outstanding and Nagata continues to amaze. Didn’t like the finish, it ruined a match that could have been great. Thankfully Sakuraba saved it with his fists of fury. Can’t say I’m excited about the tag match they set up, unlike the future Ishii and Tanahashi contest. The post-match brawl wasn’t the best, but it did the trick.
Tetsuya Naito & Kota Ibushi vs. Masato Tanaka & Yujiro Takahashi: Not as good as I thought it would be, still sensational, though. Masato and Naito’s post match brawl was a bit unnecessary. It looked awkward at times and given the last match it seemed overbooked.
Kazuchika Okada, Shinsuke Nakamura & YOSHI-HASHI vs. Karl Anderson, Prince Devitt & Bad Luck Fale: This got awesome. Nowhere near the level of this year's best matches, but it did enough for me to neglect the misses on the card and give this show a “thumbs up”. YOSHI challenging Fale to a test of strength was a great moment, it showed real character and I think it helped getting him over. Devitt’s double foot stomps looked especially vicious with the way he left the boots in. Forgetting that, some other notable spots were the beautiful triple team power bomb and the bump Fale took off Okada’s drop kick. After the match, I got a feeling that there’s a serious buzz about the Bullet Club, like this is classic stuff. And if perception is reality, then Anderson is the real deal. The build has me intrigued and even though he hasn’t got a chance of winning, Power Struggle is sold.
Road to Power Struggle
rating--- thumbs in the middle
best match--- Young Bucks vs Trent Baretta & Brian Kendrick
worst match---Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Captain New Japan vs Manabu Nakanishi & Tomoaki Honma
This looked like a skipable show on paper... except for the Super Junior Tag Tournament. I thought that tournament would produce some good matches so I paid $15 for the event.
The Young Bucks debut was excellent. Bullet Club is a great group and they just got stronger. Pre-match, they had the Bullet Club beat down Baretta and Kendrick, so that could have ruined the match. But Kendrick sold the beat down for a long time, getting no offense in, which made it believable. The fans got into the hot tag to Baretta big time and he produced some good offense.
The top rope suplex to the outside from Baretta on Nick Jackson was insane!! huge spot there. Then they had Kendrick kick out of a springboard assisted tombstone which got a huge pop.
Excellent match, and given the pre match beat down, they booked the match as they had to and it worked great. Easily the best thing on the show in my opinion.
The Tenzan match was horrible. Tenzan looked as bad as I've seen him look. He could barely run off the ropes. He's all mongolian chop and that's really it.
Were Gedo/Jado supposed to win? I didn't think Tiger Mask's shoulders were down and all 4 guys looked surprised. I could be wrong though.
The only point of the Hiroshi Tanahashi & Togi Makabe & Yuji Nagata vs. Toru Yano & Takashi Iizuka & Tomohiro Ishii match was to angle towards Tanahashi/Ishii. Their match at G1 Climax 23 - Day 2 was amazing so I'm exciting they're going down that route again. They also looked to set up Sakuraba/Nagata vs Yano/Iizuka as well. I guess so that Sakuraba/Nagata can get a win as a team before Jan 4 vs the Gracies.
The last 2 matches were good and saved the show from being a thumbs down.
Ibushi and Naito were both very popular with the crowd and both guys looked good.
The only match to go out of your way to see was my match of the night.
After a few months of not watching TNA, I decided to tune in to see what TNA has for their post Bound For Glory PPV TV show. Right off the bat I see Dixie Carter the owner of TNA is now the main heel in the company. Desperate times it is in TNA. I quickly hit the fast forward button and came across the television debut of Ethan Carter III aka "EC3", the spoiled nephew of Dixie Carter.
It started great with a major league entrance for EC3. He came off as something special. EC3 had the character down as a arrogant and privileged nephew of the TNA president. Then out came his opponent, Dewey Barnes playing the role of an old TV jobber from 80's. The idea is EC3 is being given easy competition as he starts out in TNA. I get the idea, but it was poorly executed.
You could tell the writers had a funny idea of Dewey Barnes would be this un-athletic and goofy jobber. They also thought it would be funny if this goofy jobber got some offense in on EC3. The crowd did react to when Barnes came off the top rope and delivered a flying dropkick on EC3. The crowd had a laugh at how goofy and un-athletic Dewey Barnes was. In the TNA writers getting a few laughs out of EC3 versus a goofy jobber, they did not realize how much they are hurting the character of EC3.
First off, the "protecting story line" of EC3 is the wrong move. Nothing wrong with him beating jobbers on his way up, but use enhancement talent that look like they can give someone a competitive match. I am all for jobbers returning, but you need to educate your audience on them. Most fans today did not watch the early 80's wrestling and don't understand why a star is beating up a guy who looks like their next door neighbor. Having EC3 beat these goofy jobbers shows your audience that he is nobody to keep an eye on in the future. Now, if EC3 was beating jobbers who actually look like athletes, then EC3 gets over by beating someone that the audience at least believes in.
Second, the writers had fun in seeing Dewey Barnes getting some offense on EC3. That showed their audience that EC3 will not be in the main event picture. If EC3 has trouble beating a goofy jobber like Dewey Barnes, how is he going to beat the top guys like AJ Styles, Kurt Angle, etc? When you introduce a new character, at least put the belief in your audience that this guy could be a major player in the near future.
Here I was watching EC3 bump around for a guy who looked like he should be holding a sign in the front row. Watching this horrible booking, I realized that the writers have no interest in doing much with EC3. From what I saw, he will be around for awhile and then end up another mid-card guy on the roster. Finally, someone fresh comes to a very stale and long in the tooth roster and he is made out to be just another guy on the card.
I know what you are going to say, "Let it play out. It has only been two matches". Come on, stop holding out that the TNA creative team will finally come through with something good. As we have seen just in recent history of the botched Bobby Roode title chase, to the botch James Storm run at top, or how about Austin Aries was going to be the new face of the company, or wait what about Chris Sabin being elevated to a top babyface?
EC3 will just be another example of TNA's creative failure.
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