Author Archives: Neil Rogers

How do you make championships matter in 2019?

R Truth – Photo courtesy of WWE

Written by: Luke Waskowski

In response to the introduction of the 24/7 Championship, WWE Hall of Famer and now AEW commentator Jim Ross said it best when he tweeted, “Titles have never meant less in pro wrestling at least in my career than they do now.”

When a championship match takes place, there needs to be the excitement of it, the build and anticipation of it and the question of the unknown heading into it. Championship matches haven’t felt like that in WWE for a long time. 

With 11 championships now currently active on the WWE main roster, and the wild card rule in effect essentially making the brand split null and void. Now is the perfect chance for WWE to merge some titles and help gain back prestige to championships.

Bruno Sammartino
Photo: Mike Lano

From inaugural champion Buddy Rogers to Bruno Sammartino, who held the title for seven years (2,369 days) before losing it to Ivan Koloff on January 18, 1971. The long and illustrious list of names to have held the WWE Championship feature greats such as, Hulk Hogan, ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage, The Undertaker, ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin, The Rock and John Cena.

Since its inception in 1963, the WWE Championship has been the centerpiece in all of WWE for 56 years and has made the careers of many of superstars.

Nowadays, due to a number factors the general concious amongst fans is that the WWE Champions just that doesn’t have the prestige it once had. 

Having long and meaningful reigns of championships again would be a huge step in not just building a superstar but the prestige of championships as well. Just as how Randy Savage worked his way up through the ranks and earned his opportunity to be WWE Champion. 

Randy “Macho Man” Savage
Photo courtesy of WWE

After being a fighting champion, and consistently defending his Intercontinental championship. Savage would become the WWE Champion at WrestleMania 4 after winning a WWE Championship tournament. He would go on to hold the championship for a year, before losing it to Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania 5.

Another example is CM Punk. Who went from working his way through the ranks of WWE and becoming one of the biggest names in the company as WWE Champion. 

After becoming WWE Champion for the second time at Survivor Series 2011, CM Punk would go on to have a record reign as Champion for 434 days. He would have memorable feuds and matches with the likes of John Cena, Chris Jericho and Daniel Bryan. Before eventually losing the title to The Rock at the Royal Rumble 2013. 

Over 434 days reign as champion, Punk took his career to the next level. With consistently great matches and fantastic promos, he was able to be a fighting champion and make people take him as a true and serious champion. 

CM Punk – Photo: Ed Webster

A modern day example of what a long, meaningful reign can do for someone and their career is AJ Styles. His 371 day reign as WWE Champion, not only cilitified him as a top tier superstar in WWE. But, it gave the championship some legitimacy again.

A step to rebuilding prestige for championships could be to from a ranking system. Which creates multiple challengers and quality competition for every championship. Brings back the value in earning a title shot. Plus, organically makes rivals amongst the challengers, adding intrigue and interest back into the matches happening on Raw and Smackdown. 

When a champion appears on TV, whether it’s in a tag team match featuring their rivals or in a sneak attack or match interference. There are many ways to have a champion play an important role on the show without losing a match. Especially when the loss doesn’t lead to anything going forward. Which only diminishes the champion and the championship. 

By saving title defenses for PPVs and an occasional special episode of a Raw or SmackDown. It adds more importance to championship matches and makes them a glowing feature on the WWE calendar.

Names such as, ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper and Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts, both who went on to have Hall of Fame careers and go down as two of the greatest professional wrestlers, never got to hold a world title in the WWE.

On today’s roster, there really isn’t anyone you could say that they would have a hall of fame career without winning the WWE Championship. However, in the past, many of the talent weren’t able to be capture the world title in the WWE. They were still able to make an everlasting impact on the business and leave their mark forever. 

Piper and Roberts being iconic without ever holding the world championship, shows how brilliant they really were. Both perfected their respective roles and were two of the best talkers we have ever seen. While both deserving of becoming the champion, they were able to get themselves to a rare level where the title wasn’t necessary for their success. A level that no one today has been able to reach since. 

Now with the Universal Championship introduced on RAW in 2016, when comparing the current state of the WWE Championship to the World Heavyweight Championship towards the end of its existence. There are some similarities that shouldn’t exist for what is considered by many as the main championship in WWE. 

With the WWE Championship being the main title on SmackDown. For three years, the World Heavyweight Championship would be the main title on Raw since it’s introduction in 2002. 

The titles would eventually switch during the 2005 draft when, then WWE Champion John Cena was drafted to RAW and then World Heaveyweight Champion Batista was drafted over to Smackdown. 

For the years following on co-branded pay-per-views, the World Heavyweight championship would often play second fiddle to the WWE Championship and occasionally even open the show.

In December 2013 we would see the end of two world titles in the WWE. When the World Heavyweight Championship would merge with the WWE Championship to form one sole champion at the TLC PPV. 

Up until then, a World Heavyweight championship match hadn’t main-evented a PPV since the Hell in a Cell PPV in October of 2010.

Currently, with the Universal Championship and wildcard rule in place, we see both the WWE and Universal champions appear on the same show most weeks. 

It leaves the audience to question, as to who is the top guy? What differentiates the two championships other than the colour of the belt? 

With some talent appearing on both shows and a brand split looking to be nearing an. The best thing going forward could be to merge the WWE and Unviersal championships and have one outright champion. 

With the amount of talent currently on the main roster and also coming through on NXT. Having one target for the roster to set their sights on, in effect strengthens and elevates the both the United States and Intercontinental championships, whilst building the prestige back up for main championships.

Honky Tonk Man – Photo courtesy of WWE

Which have been two championships that have been made to feel less important than they once were. Mainly due to the titles changing hands too often and the title holders losing after not long just winning the championships.

When the Intercontinental Championship was once taken as seriously as the WWE Championship. With many legends that has held the title over the years, one man is synominus with the Intercontinental Championship. 2019 WWE Hall of Famer, Honky Tonk Man. 

Holding the title for a record reign of 454 days, he would defend the title against the likes of Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat, ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage and Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts. It still remains a record that may never be broken. 

Honky Tonk Man was able to make the Intercontiental Championship so important during his reign. So much so, that when he would eventually lose it to Ultimate Warrior, it would greatly elevate Warrior to another level in his career to where he could be the WWE Champion in the future.

Just when it was thriving and the strongest that we have seen in a long time, the tag team division on Smackdown took a huge hit due to the superstar shake up. 

With the Uso’s moving to Raw, Cesaro moving to Raw thus he and Sheamus being split up. As well as, the injury to Jeff Hardy putting an end to the Hardy Boyz tag team title run on Smackdown. Which would see Daniel Bryan and Rowan crowned the new tag team champions and the lead tag team of the division on the blue brand. 

Over on Raw, it previously was looked at as the weaker tag team division of the two. Based on most of the top tag teams being on Smackdown. Now with the Uso’s, Revial, AOP and Viking Raiders on the brand, the potential for a strong division is there. 

However, a merge of the Raw and Smackdown tag team championships would put an end to having a weaker division on one show as compared to the other show. It would make for great depth in the division, give fans the chance to see the best teams compete, and allow new tag teams to work their way up and  a chance impress against the best teams. 

On the women’s side of things, with less women on the main roster than men, a merge of Raw and SmackDown women’s championship would be a huge benefit to the entire division.

It instantly creates strong and competetive depth for singles competition. As well as, freeing up some of the talent for the women’s tag team division to help grow and gain legitimacy to the division. 

A women’s tag team division that’s been lacking depth, lacking in big names competing and occasionally have the reigning champions not defending the titles or even competing or featuring on shows and PPVs.

R Truth – Photo: Fox Sports

As referred to earlier, in similar fashion to the scramble at the beginning of an XFL game, WWE Hall of Famer Mick Foley introduced the 24/7 Championship the WWE this past April. 

Essentially a modern day version of the Hardcore Championship, the 24/7 championship can be won at any time, any place by any superstar across all brands or legends from the past. 

Superstars would rush down the ramp in attempt to be the first to gain possession of the title and become the first 24/7 champion. Titus O’Neal would ultimately be the one that would capture the title and become the inaugural 24/7 champion. Only to lose it in a matter of second to Robert Roode, who would also lose the championship later that same night to R-Truth. 

Mainly due to the design of belt itself, the introduction was met with a very poor reception from the live audience.

During the time of the Hardcore Championship’s existence social media wasn’t a thing. So, in the world we live in today where social media plays a huge part of society. Social Media is the best possible way to utilise the 24/7 championship. 

Pre-recorded segments and matches in various situations and locations can be released on all of WWE’s social media platforms throughout the week. It gives WWE the chance to promote and grow their social media presence. 

Seeing one superstar holding the title on Raw, then another holding the title on SmackDown and promoting on that to see what happened between shows you have to go on to WWE’s Facebook, Twitter or YouTube. It creates more traffic on social media and rewards the fans who do follow and keep up WWE posts on their different platforms on a regular basis. 

It also allows the superstars to have some creative freedom on their social media and do things they aren’t able to do on an episode of Raw or SmackDown.

Now is the perfect opportunity for WWE to cut down the amount of championships on the main roster. Making championship matches feel more important and bring back the prestige, legacy and the importantance of being a champion. 

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Soccer & Spandex

The Late Great Kris Travis a Legend, a Icon, a Superstar these are just a few adjectives for a legacy that can’t ever be matched. In 2019 his memory lives on thanks to Dean Mitchell we have the fourth annual Soccor & Spandex Football event ailing from Hillsborough Arena in Sheffield. But what makes this event so special? To start the teams will contain stars from wrestling including those from NXTUK and WOS. If that weren’t enough the remaining players will be filled by those who they entertain 52 weeks of the year, The Graps Fans. The annual event is organised and ran to raise vital funds for two important charities. First, St Luke’s Hospice, a charity for the area of Sheffield which provides specialist palative care for patients who have progressive illnesses where there are no cures. Second, a charity that Trav was a patron and fundraiser for and who were there for Kris when he was in need, that being Cavendish Cancer care. Cavendish are a charity who are dedicated to improving the lives of those living with Cancer.

Entry to the event is free. For more information please check out Soccer and Spandex’s social media pages

FTW Season 2 Episode 4; The Big Slam Theory

Full Tilt Wrestling emanates from the Universal Martial Arts Centre in Walkergate, Newcastle. With a wide range of combat sports facilitated under its roof, wrestling is no exception, and the FTW academy is a prestigious and highly valued commodity which attracts athletes from across the North East and beyond. Continue reading

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Sugar Dunkerton Interview

Credit to Josh Metcalf for the photograph

At the Feb 10th Tidal show “When The Boot Goes In” I was lucky enough that Sugar Dunkerton was able to find time for a quick chat. Here is what one of the nicest guys in wrestling had to say:
Calling Spots: I’ve seen you working with a few companies in the UK, how many and who are you working for when you are in the UK?
Sugar Dunkerton: As many as I possibly can at the moment, I recently did Futureshock and think that might continue to be a thing, HOPE, Tidal, 3CW, they were the first companies who used me when I came over so I am always going to have loyalty to them. I’ll be making my debut with IPW coming up this month, also there should be things in the works with a few other ones that I can’t necessarily specify but we got a make up date with NCL in May. As far as it goes there will be a few other place’s ill be popping up at, it very much hinges on them being surprises. [since our interview Dunkerton has made his debut for PROGRESS Wrestling (match link here)]

Credit to Darius Lockhart for the photograph

CS: Very interesting, how long is it you have been over in the UK?
SD: The funny thing is I think I’ve done more matches over here now than I have done in the states, at least within a calendar period, last year I was here for about 6-7 months and now starting this year, I am here for a six month stretch February to July and then probably be back a little bit later in the year. I really like what I am finding out here, it’s a big sense of discovery so I can’t leave that alone, you’ll see a lot more of me.
CS: I’m very glad to hear that. How does the UK scene compare to the US scene?
SD: As far as America it’s very spread out, there’s a lot going on at any given time and I know it’s one of those places that everyone wants to check out and you absolutely should, there’s just so much going on and it’s so spread out it almost made more sense for me to pop over here and see what awaited me. With the UK a lot of it was taking a risk, there were some people aware of me and there was a lot of people where they had to figure it out so that first trip I took what I could get but as more and more trips started happening it got a bit easier. It’s been a year now since I’ve been over here so this month is my anniversary of being over here so it’s a trip being back here. The biggest thing with the UK scene is there is such a passion, the scene has become so self-aware it’s at a point where they know they can sustain, they know they have something hot, they really don’t have to reach out to the outside world if they don’t have to but they choose to. I also love the fact that it’s very discerning so if they let you in the way they did with me then you have to bring something special to the table because they have so much talent they don’t have to bring in people from the outside.
CS: Do you feel pressure if you don’t perform that you might not get brought back by that company?
SD: ALWAYS but that doesn’t matter if it’s the UK or America or anywhere else, it doesn’t matter I always feel like you are only as good as the last performance you had going on and if you don’t step it up there is always someone hungrier who wants your spot so you constantly must fight to prove to people why you belong, why you paid this ticket to see me always.
CS: You mentioned that you always feel like there is someone there and at the minute there is a lot of conversation going on about the NXT UK contracts impacting what shows people can perform on, do you feel this has opened new opportunities?
SD: Sure, absolutely, as a matter of fact if you look at how America is working MLW is signing more people, ROH are getting exclusive with their contracts, there are more ways than ever to get a contract AEW even are starting to look like they are big competition throwing out good money. The thing to keep in mind is that the UK got to the point where they were sitting on so much talent at any given time, now it’s finally recognised so it leaves a gap and I feel like I came in at a very good time and I am fortunate to be taking advantage of that and it’s good for all parts because there are some guys that shouldn’t just be indie forever. Those guys do deserve a get that big shot and to make some good money and if it doesn’t work out it doesn’t work out but here I am in the meantime.
CS: You have such an awareness and knowledge of the UK scene, what sort of stuff do you check out if you have the time?
SD: I’m a big fan of NOAH’s resurgence right now and I feel they have some of the best wrestling right now that not enough people are talking about, so there is a lot of fun stuff to watch there. I’ve been a World of Sport fan for the longest time, the original Johnny Saint, Jim Breaks so I still watch that over and over. I’m a student of the game at the end of the day, my earliest memory was a VHS tape of Wrestlemania 5.
As far as what entertains me I think Lucha Underground was a brilliant product unfortunately I don’t know if it will be coming back but for the time I got to watch it oh man! NXT UK has been fun to watch anything that stimulates doing anything different even though there is so much wrestling out there then I’m all for it and I absolutely love watching it.
CS: When we have spoken earlier you mentioned 2 Cold Scorpio, is that where you got your start? Does he have a training school?
SD: He’s not how I got my start but he is one of my influences and an idol of mine and I finally got to have that dream match with him in 2017, it went really well. It was around the time I was planning to come to the UK so he talked to a few people and put a word in and it worked out well. It meant a lot to me that we could have that match and he thought highly enough of me that he could say to people hey this kid’s got something, let’s get him out there and let him do something so I respect and appreciate him to no end.
CS: Do you think that was one of your better matches? If you were to recommend to people a couple of matches to watch what would you say?
SD: At the moment there’s an English rules match with Darius Lockhart that I am absolutely in love with, no rounds 2 out of 3 falls (see the link here ) I can’t say enough good things about that then any of the matches that I had with Doug Williams last year. The first one was PCW in Blackpool Tower, the second one was at WAW for the Knights absolutely love both of those and I learned so much out of both of those. A lot of the stuff I have been doing lately I feel like I am always trying to top my last performance and a lot of people who think I am just fun and games gotta pay attention to what I’ve been up to.

Thanks to Sugar for his time. We can’t wait to see what he has lined up next on his busy schedule and we wish him all the best for whatever it is.

Credit to Robyn Goding of Beyond Gorilla Photography

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WOS WRESTLING UK TOUR STARTS THIS FRIDAY!

The first ever WOS Wrestling UK tour gets under way this Friday and the cards have been released for the first two dates.

The stars of ITV wrestling will be kicking off their six-date nationwide journey this Friday night (January 18) at the O2 Guildhall in Southampton before moving on to the Newport Centre in Newport on Saturday (January 19).

The tour comes just months after the historic WOS Wrestling series of last summer which marked British wrestling’s return to ITV for the first time in 30 years.

The series ended with ‘Superhuman’ Justin Sysum capturing the WOS Championship from Rampage but can Sysum hang onto his belt on the UK tour?

Sysum and Rampage will be kept apart on the first date in Southampton this Friday where the champion will instead team with masked high-flyer Robbie X to take on the former WOS Tag Team Champions Alpha Bad – ‘Alpha Male’ Iestyn Rees and ‘Superbad’ Kip Sabian.

Rampage will also have his hands full as he tackles the talented international sensation ‘The Aerial Assassin’ Will Ospreay in singles action.

Meanwhile the WOS Women’s Champion Kay Lee Ray – who survived the challenges of all-comers on the ITV series – will put her title on the line in a three-way battle against her rivals Viper and Bea Priestley.

And one half of the reigning WOS Tag Team Champions, the immensely popular Grado, will have to cope with the all-round ring skills of the conniving Martin Kirby.

Other matches announced for Southampton are:

‘East End Butcher’ Sha Samuels and CJ Banks vs ‘The Prestigious One’ Joe Hendry and BT Gunn

‘The Monster’ Crater vs Gabriel Kidd

The Newport show on Saturday night will see Justin Sysum and Rampage collide in a huge rematch with the WOS Championship on the line.

Former tag team partners turned bitter enemies ‘The Showstealer’ Nathan Cruz and Adam ‘Flex’ Maxted will also square off.

Other matches announced for the Newport show include:

Alpha Bad vs BT Gunn and Robbie X

CJ Banks vs ‘The Prestigious One’ Joe Hendry

‘The Aerial Assassin’ Will Ospreay vs Martin Kirby

Popular personality SoCal Val will also appear on all dates. The American star was part of the three-person commentary team – alongside WOS Executive Stu Bennett and Alex Shane – for the WOS TV series. But what will Val’s role entail on the WOS Wrestling UK tour?

Top UK sport Master of Ceremonies Phil Seymour will once again be presiding over the action as he did on the ITV series.

The WOS Wrestling UK tour will also visit the Victoria Hall in Stoke (Friday January 25), Blackpool Tower Ballroom (Saturday January 26), the Royal & Derngate Theatre in Northampton (Saturday February 2) and York Hall, Bethnal Green, London (Sunday February 3).

Doors open for WOS Wrestling UK tour events at 6.30pm and the action gets under way at 7.30pm.

Tickets are available for all events from www.gigsandtours.com .

Special Fan Interaction tickets are on sale. Fan Interaction ticket holders are entitled to early access to the venues from 5pm. They will have the chance to meet and take their photo with their favourite WOS Wrestling stars and have first chance to buy from the merchandise stand. Fan Interaction ticket holders must also hold a valid ticket to the show. More information at www.gigsandtours.com

Under 18s must be accompanied by an adult.

Cards are subject to change

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Two International Dream Matches Announced for IMPACT Wrestling Event, 9th September, Manchester MediaCon 2018

Hardcore icons collide as Sami Callihan takes on Britain’s Jimmy Havoc.LAX put Tag Team Titles on the line against Jody Fleisch and Jonny Storm.

Eli Drake, Moose, Eddie Edwards, Rich Swann and Su Yung will also star
Tickets for the show are on sale NOW from www.ringsideworld.co.uk Continue reading

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Fight Network Launches in the UK on SKY and Freeview

Weekly IMPACT Wrestling show airs on Fridays at 1am and 9pm – as part of a compelling line-up of wrestling, MMA and combat sports from around the world

LONDON | TORONTO – Fight Network, the world’s premier multi-platform channel dedicated to complete coverage of combat sports, today announced it has launched on Channel 192 on SKY and Channel 161 on Freesat across the UK. Continue reading

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An Audience with Eric Bischoff – Byker – 10 October 2018

During the evening with Eric, one of the topics that will be touched on is ’83 Weeks with Eric Bischoff’

Since 1984 every wrestling promoter has tried to best Vince McMahon and the World Wrestling Federation unsuccessfully… except one, Eric Bischoff. Eric got his foot in the door with Ted Turner’s organization as a “C-Team Announcer” and a few short years later, he was President of World Championship Wrestling (WCW). Eric signed Hulk Hogan, turned a profit for the company for the very first time, started Monday Night Nitro, created the nWo, and beat Vince McMahon’s Monday Night RAW head-to-head in Monday Night Wars 83 consecutive times. 83 Weeks will take a deep dive into the highs and lows of Eric Bischoff’s unparalleled successes in the wrestling business.

Hear from the man himself, LIVE & UNCUT!

    Tickets information

NITRO Super Package – £100 –
(Limited to 10 only)

Early entry
Reception with Eric
X5 signatures of any items of your choosing
X1 Photo upgrade frame
X1 Photo with Eric printed and signed on the evening and uploaded to Facebook the next day
Selfies on your phone
Front row seats for the event
Guaranteed question in the Q and A

Standard entry – £15.00

Entry into the event
Opportunity to ask a question in the Q and A
Photo and signature opportunity at additional cost

Additional prices
Signature £15 per item
Photo with Eric £20
Combo – £30

Tickets available here

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Impact Wrestling issues open challenge to any UK promotion

IMPACT Wrestling has issued a blockbuster open challenge to any UK wrestling promotion to face them in an inter-promotional series at Wrestling MediaCon 2018.
Ed Nordholm, the President of IMPACT Wrestling, made the challenge today, just 24 hours before tickets go on sale for IMPACT’s huge return to the UK at the biggest wrestling fan convention ever to hit British shores.

IMPACT will put on a full show on Sunday, September 9 as part of MediaCon in Manchester and its stars want to face the best of British to find out who is the best.

“Since we last came to the UK almost three years ago, we have seen how much the UK wrestling scene has evolved,” said Nordholm.

“We are excited to return to the UK to demonstrate that IMPACT Wrestling has the best talent anywhere in the world, so we’re issuing an open challenge to any UK promotion to bring their best wrestlers to face the very best from IMPACT Wrestling on September 9 in Manchester.”

The organisers of Wrestling MediaCon 2018 said they are excited by the prospect of IMPACT Wrestling taking on a UK promotion.

“There are many fantastic UK promotions out there and we are expecting a lot of interest in this challenge from IMPACT Wrestling,” said a Wrestling MediaCon spokesman.

“We are committed to finding the best possible competition for the stars of IMPACT Wrestling in order to showcase the UK wrestling scene in the best possible light.”

Any UK promotions interested in accepting IMPACT Wrestling’s challenge are invited to contact Wrestling MediaCon at info@wrestlingmediacon.com.

Tickets for IMPACT Wrestling live at Wrestling MediaCon 2018 will go on sale at 10am UK time on Friday, May 25 from Ringside World at www.ringsideworld.co.uk.

For more information, visit www.wrestlingmediacon.com and www.impactwrestling.com

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