Thursday, September 19, 2013

Favorite ladies in wrestling

So I've been super interested in everything that's going on right now in WWE surrounding the women. And I"m not alone. Everyone is talking about the women again in a meaningful way, which makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. It's no secret that I'm a fan of women in wrestling and I thought that since they seem to be on the rise again, now would be a perfect time to compile a list of my favorite ladies in wrestling. Bear in mind as you read this article, that I didn't start watching wrestling until 1998, just after WrestleMania XIV, and while I have seen quite a bit of footage older than that, my own experience is going to heavily influence how I rank the women in this list.

#5: Sable
I've got to start out this list with what I consider to be a bang. I mentioned that I began watching wrestling after WrestleMania XIV, and Sable's feud with Luna was the reason I began tuning in on a weekly basis. The Mixed Tag match they had with their male counterparts (Marc Mero & Goldust, respectively) told a fantastic story, and it single-handedly revived the women's division in the company. The Women's title had been having a spotty history. It was deemed inactive in 1990, and then revived in 1993, only to be vacated again in 1995. Sable & Luna proved that women's wrestling could be important again, and mere months after Sable delivered her first TKO to Luna, the company had taken notice, picked up a few more talents, and revived the title once and for all. Although she lost her initial bout with Jaqueline, Sable did go on to win the championship the next month, and in my mind, she remains one of the most important women ever to wrestle in WWE.

#4: Miss Elizabeth
Often credited as being "The Original Diva", Miss Elizabeth was the picture of how young women wanted to be seen when they grew up. She may have had her share of ups and downs with "Macho Man" Randy Savage, but through everything, Elizabeth always seemed to exude a level of class that elevated her near-royalty levels of admiration. In fact, she was wrestling royalty. She was always gracious, always smiling, and on the occasion that she did get into trouble (because, let's face it, that's the nature of the business), fans would genuinely be concerned for her, regardless of anything else that was going on at the time. She was the uncrowned queen of the WWF, and she will always be seen as a beacon of compassion & tenderness in an otherwise troubled universe.

#3: A.J. Lee
I remember vividly the night that A.J. became a star in the WWE. It wasn't when she won the Diva's championship. It wasn't when she was having a love triangle with Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, and Kane. It was before that. It was the night she first became associated with the American Dragon. She expressed she loved Daniel Bryan, and later on that night, we heard Daniel ask her, "How much do you love me?" Sensing that she would do anything for love, he brought her out ringside, and sure enough he was right. As the match unfolded, Big Show gave chase to Daniel Bryan outside the ring, and ran over this poor little girl that the world did not yet know would become the most important Diva of this era. That night, I turned to my friends and said, "That girl is the future of the Divas division." She has happily proved me right. She is the current Divas champion, having successfully defended that title on several occasions, and she has proved time and time again that she can dish it out just as well as much of the roster. She can trade verbal blows with the commentators, and she is legitimately The Girl To Beat. And she has a submission finisher, which is a rare thing to see amongst the ladies.

#2 Mae Young & The Fabulous Moolah
Alright, I admit, even I feel like I'm cheating on this one, but to be fair, I did come into my own during the Attitude Era, when you were hard pressed to find one of these ladies without the other. They were the women who paved the way for future generations of female wrestlers to follow their dreams and become the Divas and Knockouts that we know today. And they were tough old broads, too. They weren't just talking the talk, they could put their money where their mouths were any day of the week. Combined they have earned 11 singles championships, and 3 women's tag team championships. And that's not to mention their various other awards and accomplishments, including being hall-of-famers.

#1: Vickie Guererro
What??? I can hear you all clicking over now, but hear me out here. There is a reason that I love seeing Vickie Guerrero on my TV so much that I would dare to put her as my favorite woman in wrestling ever. I'll admit, when Vickie first began to work on WWE television on a regular basis following the death of her husband Eddie, I hated her. I wanted her to go away. She was SUCH a bad actor, and I didn't feel she added anything that someone else couldn't do better. Over the years, however, I've turned my opinion on her completely around. She's great at what she does. Although she might not be a wrestler, Vickie Guererro has possibly the biggest influence on the product than any woman I've ever seen. And it's not just her voice. It's how she uses her voice to elicit the appropriate response. And what a response! Even in the deadest of crowds, you can expect a deafening reaction when Vickie appears. And at this point, she has such a grip on that reaction, that on the off chance it isn't strong enough, all she has to do is throw a couple more "Excuse Me!!"s in to reach the proper decibel level. I was sad to see her fired from her Raw position, ecstatic that she was immediately appointed GM of SmackDown, and I hope she stays on my TV for a very, very long time.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Week in Wrestling: 1/7 - 1/11

I know it probably seems like I come up with a lot of excuses around here. I fell out of the blog for a long time for reasons I've already gone over here. One of my new year's resolutions was that I pick back up and get this thing going again, because I really love wrestling and I want to continue to share my excitement and near-undying optimism now that I've re-evaluated the way I interact with the IWC and the way I look at wrestling programming. And then, life turned upside-down and my father very suddenly passed away and I have to do a lot of coping with that. The bright side is, that I have some time off from work to have time to catch up. I just hope everyone bears with me while I try to re-discover my footing in life. But enough with bringing everyone down... here's the first post to get me towards catching up!

Monday Night Raw

1. Hey guys, shut up. Something is about to happen here. I think literally that's what I said at the end of this show when Punk came out to the ring and the first thing he did was take the logo off the microphone and toss it aside. It's a great signal to the audience: "You should listen to what I have to say because I'm not just reciting some lines off a script like everyone else does, and that makes what I say real and important." And that was the essence of the whole promo. That the fans are just sheep that will react however the company wants them to react because they're told this guy is the hero and that guy is the villain. That the talent will jump through hoops to achieve fame rather than greatness. That there are people on top who don't deserve to be there, and there are people who are completely ignored that deserve attention. It's easy to see when he comes out and says these things why he is held in such high esteem in the eyes of the IWC. And Paul Heyman is a great addition to this dynamic. Just his presence at Punk's side, holding the belt high over his head the entire five minutes Punk is speaking and occasionally affirming the testimony of "Best in the World" drills the point home that much more. It makes the crowds hate him more. It makes the smarks love him more. It makes my boyfriend squee like a little school girl, and that is something that is always fun to witness.

2. Honorable Mentions. Something has to be said for Dolph Ziggler's new faction with AJ and Big E Langston as well. I heard for a long time from a lot of people the opinion that he'd outgrown the need for Vickie, and he should just cut loose and be on his own. I agree that he's outgrown Vickie, but I like the fact that he's got some muscle behind him now. I think the muscle, oddly enough, improves Ziggler's performance. It doesn't make him look weak, because the fact is, he doesn't necessarily need Big E to do his dirty work. He's perfectly capable on his own, but the idea that he's got some backup means he can relax a little bit and improve by leaps and bounds, until, one day, he doesn't need them anymore and is perfectly capable of catapulting himself into the title picture without the aid of a Money in the Bank briefcase.

3. One Tough Call. It was hard to choose a Match of the Night from this show, as there were three very good contenders. One was the TLC match between Ryback and CM Punk, which really served the purpose of telling the story of their rivalry, including the ambush from the Shield mid-match. Then again, Hell No and Rhodes Scholars did a fantastic job emphasizing on ring psychology while also having a damn good match. Most of that was, I think, in favor of Rhodes Scholars. They work really well as a team, Cody has a great sense of trash talk, and Sandow is just fabulous when he plants a guy and then yells "YOU'RE WELCOME!" at the audience. However, I think, and maybe this will be unpopular, that the match of the night goes to Dolph Ziggler and John Cena. The match just flowed really well. The lack of commentary for the first half was a bit distracting (because I was busy trying to get a glimpse of the commentary table), but once I could get past that, these guys put on a pay-per-view quality match to kick off the first WWE televised show of 2013, and I found myself still exclaiming at a lot of the bumps and near-falls on second viewing. I knew John Cena was going to win, but the match was good enough that I didn't care, and a part of me even was still rooting for Dolph Ziggler just as much as I did when it first aired. Both guys put on their best performance, and that's what wins it for me.

TNA Impact!

1. That Escalated Quickly. The biggest development in a story on this episode was definitely the relationship between Brooke Hogan and Bully Ray. Brooke asked her father point-blank if he was going to re-instate her boyfriend. Hulk said no. And then at the end of the show, Bully Ray rescued Brooke from the clutches of Aces & Eights, and while Hulk knew he should be grateful, dammit he doesn't like the guy, so fuck him. So that led to Bully Ray showing Hulk good faith by proposing to Brooke in the middle of the ring. And as per tradition, the date & place is set right then and there. Where? In the Impact ring of course! When? Well, they are in love! They want to be married as soon as possible! Next week! Is that good for everybody? This wedding ought to be pretty amazing.

2. Better Dysfunctional Tag Team. I love Hell No as much as the next girl, but the chemistry between Roode and Aries as bitter rivals brought together through the common interest of getting the TNA Heavyweight Championship off of Jeff Hardy is, to me, even more entertaining. The major difference here, of course, is that Roode and Aries are both very intense intimidating wrestlers. Daniel Bryan is plenty intense, but there's much more of a silly factor in Team Hell No than there is between these two. They're both loud, egotistical, and they will both knock the shit out of you without a second thought or an ounce of remorse. Who needs anger management, when you can use your dislike of your partner to fuel your energy in the ring? Speaking of which:

3. A Tale of Two Heels. This episode's Match of the Night goes to the arrogant and cocky Austin Aries, and the arrogant and self-centered Bobby Roode as they battled against two of the most popular stars in TNA, James Storm and Jeff Hardy. Their match told an entire, beautiful story from each man wanting to monopolize the match, to showing off for each other, to the end where you almost expected the belt to tear in half from them playing tug-of-war with it. They have the same goal, so they hate each other. But at the same time, they enjoy putting on a show for one another that basically says, "Look what I can do. You can't do better than that." And the beauty of it all is that every time one man does something that he thinks will top every other move in the match, the other comes back with something just as awesome, or more so. And in the process, they're keeping themselves fresh without even really meaning to, and isolating Hardy from Storm. The problem came, of course, when they became too focused on showing each other up, and forgot there was actually a match going on, but even then, it didn't stop them from kicking ass. The match ended in DQ when Aries hit Hardy from behind with the championship belt. Because really, this match wasn't about winning or losing. This match was about making a statement for the upcoming pay-per-view match. And both Roode and Aries made one hell of a statement in that regard.

Friday Night Smackdown!

1. Zero progress. Since this was the last televised show before a pay-per-view event, there was literally no movement on any stories this week. This was a promo-heavy and exhibition-heavy show, which is to be expected. Out of five matches, three were squashes involving major characters that really served no purpose.  The only match that really even mattered was the World Heavyweight Championship match, but I'll talk about that in the final paragraph.  Since the show was so filled with promos, let's move on to that now.

2. Let's talk about the People's Dreams. The most major talkers of the night were, of course, your reigning, defending WWE Champion CM Punk, and his challenger at the Royal Rumble, The Rock. Both men put on a really good show to hype this match. As I was watching the first CM Punk promo again, I remembered having watched this episode the first time around.  I remember being very impressed with the Rock. I think CM Punk brought out his A-game. Or maybe the second half of his year-long rivalry with John Cena did that (you know, when Dwayne finally remembered he was supposed to be playing his pro wrestling alter ego). Either way, he was at his Rockiest Best, especially against Damien Sandow. And CM Punk, well, he was just as smarmy a heel as you would expect him to be. But the best promo of the night didn't belong to either of them. It was during Punk's second promo from Sun Life Stadium, when Paul Heyman took over talking, and the two of them walked forward slowly, and CM Punk just stared dead into the camera with that look of cockiness and confidence that just screams that he believes every single word of his own hype. And Paul was, as Paul always is, magnificent as he taunted the Rock and told him things he already knew (such as the fact that Punk is more talented that Rocky)... he tore the People's Champ down one side and back up the other and never stopped to look back. It absolutely took my breath away.

3. Last Man Sanding. Finally, we come to the match of the night. It's somewhat appropriate that this match is also the match of the week, because it's the final match that led us into the Royal Rumble. Booker T came out bragging that in 2013, he wasn't going to take a back seat to Raw, and the Last Man Standing title match he gave us between Big Show and Alberto Del Rio was a good start to that. I've been really tired of having nothing to watch the final week before a pay-per-view, and it's especially bad on Fridays because in many cases Smackdown can turn into "What You Missed On Raw". But THIS... this is the kind of thing I enjoy seeing to send me into a paid event. This is the kind of thing that I think makes people really want to buy the pay-per-view. And I think, Rock notwithstanding, it probably helped the company in that aspect. The match itself was pretty slow-paced, but the competitors made each and every impact count, and they made each one look devastating and painful. And the ingenious way that Del Rio kept Big Show down by pushing the announce table over on top of him was (especially as punctuated by JBL) a thing of pure beauty.

Edit: So it turns out that this week was NOT the week before a PPV. The author mistakenly thought that was the case due to the slow nature of Smackdown. I should have realized that it was just Smackdown being Smackdown... What can I say? I guess Booker T's initial campaign of "Anything Raw can do, we can do better!" went straight to the naive mark that still lives innocently inside my heart. 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Week in Wrestling: 12/31 - 1/4

Happy New Year everyone, and welcome back to your regularly scheduled Girls Watch Wrestling report! I've got a couple of new things going on here this year. First of all, I've decided to pick out a match of the night for each show as well as a match of the week for each post. Also, as I mentioned before, I don't like being negative, so I will try to focus on more positive things in the shows, although I'm sure from time to time something will be so awful it can't be ignored. So, with the business out of the way, let's get to the fun!!

Monday Night Raw

1. Match of the Night. Monday night's match of the night was actually pretty tough to call. I have to give honorable mention to Ricardo Rodriguez for his impressive showing against the Big Show, even if his spurt did only last about a minute and a half. It's just good to see Ricardo actually wrestling. The Enzuigiri kick that started his momentum basically came out of nowhere, especially for people who don't realize Ricardo is actually an in-ring performer. So it comes down to two: The opening tag team match between Rhodes Scholars and Cena & Miz is the first contender. It was a surprisingly good way to start the show. If I was still doing my ratings, I probably would have given it a 4. However, the winner burst out from mid-show, and really ended up being the Intercontinental Title match between Wade Barrett and Kofi Kingston. I'm not giving this match of the week just because Wade Barrett won the IC belt, and deservedly so, but the finish to the match doesn't hurt. There was a lot of action here, all over the ring and outside of it. Lots of counters. Lots of pin attempts. Even though we were all spoiled on this one, it still managed to be somewhat suspenseful. Kofi put in a big effort, and Wade made him look good for it.

2. All Championships on the Line. I liked that we were having a special event on Monday when Vickie put all the championships up for grabs (with the obvious exception of the WWE championship because CM Punk is still walking around on crutches). I also liked that it was champion's choice, because that made for some interesting scenarios, and some of them even got tied together. Big Show took the obvious "fuck you I'm a giant" stance when picking Ricardo. Antonio Cesaro took the symbolic approach and beat Sgt. Slaughter. Wade Barrett basically bullied Kofi into choosing him. And Team Hell No had to go with 3MB as Plan B when The Shield was chosen to face Ryback, who would have been CM Punk's choice. The only disappointment of the night was that Eve declared herself winner by forfeit when a doctor declared Mae Young pregnant (no, I'm not going to talk about that, because of that whole being positive thing) and unfit to compete. I would like to have seen Vickie declare that Eve needed to choose another opponent, but with them both being heels, and with Vickie distracted by the whole debacle at the party, that never happened.

3. Talker of the Night. Well, it's no surprise here that I have to talk about Dolph Ziggler and how well he's doing on the mic. AJ still needs a little work, but I think this alliance might actually really work out for everyone involved. Since AJ latched onto him, and brought Big E. Langston with her, Dolph is finally starting to really look like a legitimate threat. So he can really be as condescending as he likes against anyone, especially John Cena. I'm actually pretty excited about this rivalry that's developing. Nothing will put Dolph over more than continually beating up the company's golden boy, and that's an important step towards being a legitimate champion once he finally cashes in his briefcase.

TNA Impact!

1. Match of the Night. Other than Hardy, who let's face it, isn't terrible if you can get past his personal issues, TNA does a pretty good job of putting the main event in the main event. This was good timing for Aces & 8s too, because Bully Ray and Brooke Hogan have been stealing a lot of the spotlight lately, and TNA doesn't want it to look like they've just given up on fighting this invasion. The fact that they were in the main event, and also the fact that there was finally another de-masking (Mike Knox! Haven't seen him since he was throwing a towel over Kelly Kelly...) puts them back on the front burner where they belong. The match was brutal enough, being in a steel cage. Samoa Joe was properly pissed off, which I always love. The only thing that I really take points off of here is Kurt Angle bleeding. I just feel like Kurt is beginning to take the Ric Flair approach to wrestling, and I really hope that it isn't a midlife crisis thing, or a desperate call to stay relevant, because he doesn't really need it. So, yes, good match that.

2. Hogan's Taking it Personally. Like I've mentioned, Brooke & Bully Ray's romance is turning into the other big storyline around here. I don't know if this is right, or proper, or popular, but... I'm enjoying it. I'm actually really enjoying it. The Hogans would be the only other family to be able to pull this off other than the McMahons. Yeah, it might be the rehashed "RAWR NO DAUGHTER OF MINE WILL DATE A WRESTER even though I totally brought you into this world and really it's kind of my fault this happened." I think it's working so far. I actually look forward to the next installment every week. Hogan really went of the deep end this week, though, by suspending Bully Ray. I wonder if he can complain to Dixie Carter, the way WWE Superstars can appeal to the Board of Directors? Hmm...

3. Coming soon! Maybe the only other thing to really note from this week is that the Joseph Park vignette was pointedly more positive this week. For several weeks now we've seen shots of Park being generally terrible at wrestling, to the point that he gets injured in the head (bleeding), and then he goes all Abyss suddenly, and the trainer is like, "Woah where the fuck did that come from??" This week, however, we saw a different story. Joseph has apparently applied himself so heavily that he's actually showing actual wrestling skills without having to be injured first. So it looks like he's going to be coming back to the show very soon.

Friday Night Smackdown!

1. Match of the Night.  Not to sound like a broken record, but Wade and Kofi put on another stellar performance on Friday. This time, we had the benefit of not being spoiled by Twitter, the website, etc. So the suspense was all in tact. I actually got really worked up the second half of the match by thinking they might actually throw the belt back onto Kofi for whatever reason. I'm really glad they didn't go that route, but even so, these guys upped the ante from Monday night's match by adding even more counters & near-falls than before. So, not surprisingly, this one is also going to have my pick for Match of the Week.

2. Women in Wrestling. I don't actually have a whole lot to say here, other than these two things: Firstly, does anyone know why Natalya is basically Khali's valet now? I was happy to find that the tag match was a 6-person mixed tag match, so we got to see Nat back in the ring which made me happy. And it also intrigued me to see Rosa allowed to wrestle. I know she used to be on NXT, but I've never watched her stuff so I don't know what kind of potential she possesses.  Second, finally some motherfucking Tamina Snuka. I've been looking forward to her finally getting back in the ring, and Layla isn't a bad start for her obvious push towards the title. Maybe I just wanna see the Divas title legitimized the same way Cesaro is doing for the US title. Tamina could pull that off. "I'm not a Diva, I'm a wrestler. And no fragile little Diva is ever going to take this from me." Oh, God, that could work.

3. Brace Yourselves... The Royal Rumble announcements are coming. I kind of forgot it was so close somehow. And then Randy Orton showed up and stated his intent to enter the Rumble. And then Sheamus interrupted him to do the same. Hold on tight, folks, there's gonna be a lot of those in the coming weeks.  I'm not sure why people have to announce their entry these days. I think the Rumble could probably do with a lot less of that. Talk about the Rumble, sure. Talk about it a lot. Tell your opponent you're looking forward to eliminating him. Spit at your rival that you hope he draws #1. Brag about pulling some strings to get #30. Hell, shamelessly promote yourself in an effort to buy off #27. But I don't need 25 promos that exist only for the guy to say, "I'm going to enter the Royal Rumble this year." Especially when it's guys like Randy Orton and Sheamus. Yeah, you guys are big time. We kind of figured you were going to be in the Royal Rumble. Leave those promos to your Heath Slaters and your Zack Ryders. Guys who clearly don't have a chance, but are nevertheless just as eager for a championship opportunity as anyone else. Let's make these Royal Rumble promos really mean something.

Actually, the thing I'm really looking forward to coming soon? Hall of Fame announcements! I've never been so excited about Hall of Fame announcements in my life. I'm really really hoping that this year will be Cyndi Lauper's year to be inducted, because that woman deserves that credit. But we shall see.