I love it when WWE’s world tours coincide perfectly with my travel plans. I was planning to go to Europe anyway, so when I found out WWE was going to be in Spain this week, it gave me a wonderful opportunity to mix business with pleasure.
It also gives me an opportunity to write off my Europe trip on my taxes, so I’d like to thank Ron Opher and Eric Fisher for that unanticipated side benefit of writing Heel Turns.
I know. I usually don’t have much positive to say about my editors at PhillyPhanatics.com, but I’m in a magnanimous mood.
Now that I’ve crossed one barrier by thanking Opher and Fisher, I’m going to cross another threshold. I’m going to praise TNA. Praise for TNA isn’t as rare as gratitude toward Opher and Fisher, but it’s something I don’t do very often.
TNA deserves credit for its handling of Bobby Roode. First, there was a long buildup of Roode as a credible challenger for TNA’s version of the world title. Roode was involved in several excellent matches last summer. Once Roode won the title, TNA made a smart move by keeping the belt around his waist.
Championships change hands far too often in the modern era, so it’s been a pleasure to see Roode grow with the belt. He has become a confident and credible champion who represents the world title well.
Roode recently became the longest-reigning world champion in TNA history. I’d like to see TNA keep Roode the champion through the summer, if not longer.
SLAMMIVERSARY: TNA will celebrate its 10th anniversary by holding “Slammiversary” this Sunday in Arlington, Texas. Roode will headline the event by defending the World Heavyweight Championship against Sting.
My comments in the previous item clearly indicate my hopes for the outcome of this match. This duo had a good lumberjack match on Impact Wrestling last week. With the charismatic Sting’s physical limitations in the ring, expect a good championship match, although probably not a great one.
In an interesting match, AJ Styles and Kurt Angle team up to take on Christopher Daniels and Kazarian for the latter duo’s tag team championship. Daniels and Kazarian don’t compare to Angle and Styles in star power, but they are good enough in the ring to make this a technically terrific match. The best chance Daniels and Kazarian have to win is if there’s some tension between Angle and Styles. It doesn’t make much sense to make Angle and Styles the tag team champs, so something strange has to happen. It will be interesting to see if the quality of the angle matches the action.
Bully Ray vs. Joseph Park could be a good brawl. Bully Ray knows how to pull off these matches. I’m not so enthralled about the tag team match between the team of TV champion Devon and Garett Bischoff vs. Robbie E and Robbie T. As I’ve said before, Garett Bischoff is not ready to be in a pay-per-view match.
Gail Kim will defend her Knockouts Championship against an opponent to be determined Thursday night on Impact Wrestling. There is also supposed to be a TNA Hall of Fame announcement at Slammiversary.
I understand the purpose of building suspense, but I think making matches for Jeff Hardy and X Division champion Austin Aries in advance would make more sense.
PUNK’D: Bobby Roode isn’t the only champion in the midst of a long reign. After John Cena, C.M. Punk, Rey Mysterio and Alberto Del Rio played hot potato with the WWE Championship last summer and fall, the belt finally settled on Punk.
Punk has held the WWE Championship since Nov. 20, 2011, when he defeated Del Rio. Punk has proven to be a terrific champion, producing excellent matches and interesting promos. His feud with Daniel Bryan could be the highlight of the year if WWE allows it to continue through the summer.
GOLDEN BUCKS: The Young Bucks, Nick and Matt Jackson, won the Campeonatos de Parejas (as I’ve been told many times this week in Spain, my Spanish is impeccable), CHIKARA’s tag team championship, last Saturday at Chikarasaurus Rex at The Trocadero in Philadelphia. The Young Bucks defeated Chuck Taylor and Johnny Gargano in a best-of-three falls match, with Matt Jackson pinning Taylor in the decisive third fall.
Other highlights of this event included Gran Akuma defeating Icarus in a ladder match, Hallowicked beating Tim Donst in a mask vs. hair match, and the team of Grand Champion Eddie Kingston, Mike Quackenbush, Jigsaw, Green Ant and Soldier Ant prevailing in a 10-man tag team match.
EXTREME NEWS: More big news out of Chikarasaurus Rex. CHIKARA announced the first team for its annual King of Trios competition, which will be held Sept. 14-16 in Easton. The first team announced features former ECW stars Jerry Lynn, Too Cold Scorpio and Tommy Dreamer.
EXTREME RISING: You never get a second chance at a first impression, but Extreme Rising (formerly Extreme Reunion) is going to try anyway. After a disastrous first show that left the sellout crowd at the Pennsylvania National Guard Armory very unhappy, Shane Douglas and Extreme Rising will try again at the Armory on June 30.
There will be a greater focus on younger talent, although, of course, some former ECW wrestlers will be in action. Announced matches are Jerry Lynn vs. Homicide, Steve Richards vs. Luke Hawx, The Gangstas vs. BLK Out, and The FBI vs. The Dramatics. Matt Hardy, Devon Storm and Balls Mahoney are also expected to appear.
EXTREME MAKEOVER: Lord Tensai is reportedly undergoing a makeover after not getting over with the fans the way WWE had hoped. One reason for Big Show turning heel is to have him take the main event spot against John Cena that was supposed to belong to Tensai. Tensai’s crowd reactions don’t warrant a main event slot.
The irony is that I had suggested the former A-Train’s return be centered around a feud with Big Show. In the wake of WrestleMania, I thought A-Train could complain that he would have ended Undertaker’s WrestleMania winning streak long ago (WrestleMania XIX) if Big Show hadn’t ruined that opportunity, when they teamed up to face the Dead Man.
I don’t know what they can do now. They can’t entirely ditch the Japanese gimmick. And, with Big Show a heel, it’s too late to do the Big Show feud. For Albert’s sake, I hope WWE can salvage his return.
OHIO COMBAT: Combat Zone Wrestling teams up with Heartland Wrestling Association for a doubleheader Saturday in Hamilton, Ohio. The CZW evening show (7:30 p.m.) is highlighted by a CZW Junior Heavyweight Championship match, with Drake Younger defending his title against Drew Gulak. There is also a No. 1 contenders match between Sami Callihan and Adam Cole, who spends most of his time these days competing for Ring of Honor.