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CALDWELL'S TAKE

CALDWELL's PWG WEEKEND ROAD REPORT: Battle of Los Angeles Coverage and Results

Sep 3, 2007 - 1:00:00 AM


By James Caldwell, PWTorch columnist

Torch columnist James Caldwell is traveling to Los Angeles this weekend for PWG's third-annual Battle of Los Angeles tournament taking place Friday - Sunday in Burbank, Calif. He will be reporting on the sights, sounds, and results from PWG's gathering of the top independent wrestlers in the world - from the U.S., Europe, and Japan.

Updated Monday, September 3 - 1:00 a.m.

BOLA Night Three results

- PWG will be opening an auction on eBay at 9:00 p.m. EST tonight with an 8' x 8' BOLA banner signed by the wrestlers. Complete with authentic sweat from wrestlers signing the banner while working out their matches prior to tonight's show.

(1) Joey Ryan (w/Jade Chung) vs. Roderick Strong -- BOLA 2nd round match. The match started right off with Joey on the offensive, setting up a series of nice comebacks by Strong. They went full speed without letting up or taking any rest breaks before Strong dropped Joey with a powerbomb into a Boston Crab for the submission victory. Fine, fine professional wrestling action to get the crowd going for the night. WINNER: Strong in 8:00 to advance. (**1/4)

(2) Matt Sydal vs. Alex Shelley -- BOLA 2nd round match. The battle of black trunks started with a feeling out process to build anticipation. Shelley stretched Sydal with a series of submission holds while random audience members tried to get a slow clap started to make noise. After the opening series of submission exchanges, this turned into a fantastic piece of professional wrestling action. Amazing counters and very believable nearfalls. A pro wrestling clinic with Shelley showing ring leadership that we don't get to see on national television. Finish was Shelley blocking a moonsault into a chinbreaker before hitting an inverted facebuster for the win. Well-deserved standing ovation for both men after this one. This is a good example of what I wrote about earlier this weekend about two artists being able to put on a believable performance that even the most jaded wrestling fan can buy into. WINNER: Shelley in 14:00 to advance. (***3/4)

(3) Claudio Castagnoli vs. PAC -- BOLA 2nd round match. The match pitting a rather tall Claudio vs. a shorter, yet unbelievably athletic Pac opened with Claudio tossing PAC around the ring like a personal rag doll. He then executed 24 1/2 revolutions on an airplane spin that left both men quite dizzy. PAC made a comeback when Claudio tried to spin him in the air like a pizza pie, but PAC countered into a head scissors. PAC then flew over the top rope with a somersault dive into a huracanrana on the floor for the first big high-flying spot of the night. Back in the ring, Claudio came back with a giant boot to the face and a sick right-arm clothesline for a nearfall. PAC came back with a sunset flip powerbomb before heading up top for a corkscrew splash for the pin and the win. Another solid match tonight with the match-up of big man vs. small man working quite well to pull off some innovative exchanges. WINNER: PAC in 12:00 to advance. (***)

(4) Shingo vs. CIMA -- BOLA 2nd round match. CIMA continues to display great human quality, such as stealing a chair from Torch VIP member Brandon to smash Shingo in the arm, only to return the chair to its rightful owner after using it. A lesser man would have simply cast the chair away and continued with his business. Shingo took offense to CIMA's kind gesture and went on the offensive with some hard-hitting offense. CIMA then hit his Schwein neck crunch finisher, but Shingo kicked out for a nearfall. They went into a series of pin exchanges with CIMA finally picking up the win with a cradle roll up. Nice, fluid match. Good tempo and energy. WINNER: CIMA in 12:00 to advance. (***1/4)

(5) Nigel McGuinness vs. Necro Butcher -- BOLA 2nd round match. Before Nigel could even finish his entrance, Necro jumped him from behind and took the fight over the guardrail to the floor. This is what most people expect from a Necro match. Fans scattered as Nigel came back by smashing Necro's messed up right knee with a chair. In the ring, Nigel continued Kevin Steen's work from last night by working over the injured right knee. Nigel put Necro in a submission hold and Nigel walked the fine line between tapping out and trying to start a slow clap to build up his comeback. And suddenly, they generated the most heat of the night when Necro hulked up after taking an absolute blast of a lariat. Nigel then no-sold a clothesline and the crowd ate it up as they repeated the exchange. The fans were clearly behind the lovable crazy man, Necro, and booed when Nigel took the advantage with a suplex onto two chairs in center ring. Nigel then nailed another KO rebound lariat for the pin and the win. The fans booed Nigel for taking out the lovable crazy man. WINNER: Nigel in 8:00 to advance. Crazy heat for the final two minutes. Nice story to the match. (**3/4)

(6) Dragon Kid vs. El Generico -- BOLA 2nd round match. This was a crazy stunt match more suitable for a Hollywood set. They tried all sorts of dangerous moves and we'll give them an A for effort on trying to execute these moves without someone being killed. For the spot of the night, Generico surprised Dragon Kid with an Ole kick straight out of nowhere with Kid perched up top. That popped the crowd, then Generico hit a brainbuster on the top turnbuckle for the pin and the win. WINNER: Generico in 9:00 to advance. (**)

[Intermission]

(7) Roderick Strong vs. Alex Shelley -- BOLA Semi-final round match. Shelley continued to show leadership skills in the ring - something that TNA hasn't taken advantage of yet. A very physical, hard-hitting match with each man using the other man's patented submission holds for near tap outs. For the finish, Strong kicked out of an atomic drop into Sliced Bread #2 before hitting two double underhook powerbombs for the pin. They presented a very stiff match that had the crowd guessing as they exchanged control. Shelley wrestled three outstanding matches in this tournament. WINNER: Strong in 16:00 to advance to the finals. (***1/4)

(8) PAC vs. CIMA (w/Dragon Kid) -- BOLA Semi-final round match. The two high-flyers started the match with a standard technical exchange highlighted by CIMA straight kicking PAC in the rear end with a dropkick. PAC then took CIMA to the outside and got a piece of CIMA on the floor with a corkscrew dive. Back in the ring, CIMA went coast-to-coast on a top rope dropkick with PAC hung out to dry across the middle rope. CIMA then hit consecutive cradle drivers for close nearfalls. PAC came back with offense targeting the head including a spike DDT and head scissors that CIMA sold like a pro. They went up top and PAC appeared to be setting up for something potentially insane, but he slipped and CIMA hit his Schwein finisher from the top for the pin. WINNER: CIMA in 14:00 to advance to the finals. An exceptional piece of pro wrestling, although it won't be remembered by the end of the night. (**3/4)

(9) Nigel McGuinness vs. El Generico -- BOLA Semi-final round match. Nigel, who started the tournament as a face, worked heel as the big fish in a small pond superstar. He also had the audacity to take out the lovable crazy man earlier, so he has that working against him. Nigel began toying with Generico by playfully slapping him across the mask, which Generico responded to with a series of hard slaps to the chest. Generico then went for a top rope dropkick, but Nigel side-stepped him and landed a stiff lariat. He then hit the Tower of London in the corner for a close nearfall. Nigel did a handstand in the corner to show his balance, and Generico answered with a quick-strike Ole kick for a nearfall. Nigel, who had targeted the left shoulder throughout the match, went for a cross arm breaker in center ring and Generico feigned tapping out before finally reaching the bottom rope with his foot to get a break. Excellent piece of theater with Generico asking the crowd for help to escape the hold. Nigel went for a lariat to follow up, but Generico ducked and hit a brainbuster for a nearfall. He went for a second brainbuster, but Nigel countered with a small package for a close count. He then tried to hit a rebound lariat, but Generico ducked and rolled up Nigel for a three count just before he kicked out. Great match-up that played to Generico's strength of making the dramatic babyface comeback against a larger opponent. WINNER: Generico in 13:00 to advance to the finals. (***1/2)

- Finals is Generico vs. CIMA vs. Roderick Strong. But, before that, a giant PWG-style super-cluster multiple-person match of awesomeness. They did 12 full ring entrances with Hero and Tornado nearly coming to blows before the match even started and streamers filling the ring following Susumu's introduction.

(10) Chris Hero (w/Candace LaRae) & Tyler Black & Doug Williams & Jack Evans & Kevin Steen & Susumu Yokosuka vs. Austin Aries & Jimmy Rave & Human Tornado & Scott Lost (w/Jade Chung) & Davey Richards & Karl Anderson. The bell sounded and Jimmy Rave proceeded to stall for two minutes before locking up with Doug Williams. Eventually, the match boiled down to the heel team working over Jack Evans for some time and taking liberties with his small, flexible frame. Jack finally made a hot tag and all eleven men immediately spilled into the ring for the match-breaks-down portion of the contest. Eventually, the action spilled to the outside and Jack recovered to hit a handspring flip over the top rope onto the mosh pit below. Tornado then set up for dive, but he stopped and washed his hands of any flying tonight. Suddenly, he grabbed Candace to possibly throw her into the crowd, but Hero stormed the ring and pinned him from behind with a backslide. After all that, they finish with a backslide. Afterward, Hero told Tornado he was just that close. The babyface team then struggled to stay on their feet during the post-match celebration. An entertaining compilation bout prior to the tournament finals. WINNERS: Team Hero in 23:00. (**3/4)

(11) Roderick Strong vs. CIMA (w/Dragon Kid) vs. El Generico -- BOLA Tournament Finals -- Elimination style. CIMA and Generico were initially on the same page, but CIMA ended that alliance and it became a free-for-all battle. Strong was KO'ed from the match for a while when Generico gave him a sick brainbuster on the apron. CIMA then dropped Generico with his Schwein finisher on the apron and back in the ring. CIMA then covered Generico for a pin to eliminate him in 9:00. With it down to CIMA and Strong, CIMA hit a top rope DDT before nailing his finisher for a close nearfall. Strong had enough time to recover and hit a big boot into a double underhook powerbomb for a nearfall. CIMA then blocked a second powerbomb and nailed a double foot stomp to the chest. He then hit a crossfire powerbomb for the three count to win the match and the tournament, with the fans jumping to their feet at once to chant for CIMA. WINNER: CIMA in 14:00 to capture the BOLA title. A very nice match from all three in their third match of the night. (***1/4)

After the match, PWG champion Bryan Danielson entered the ring and handed the BOLA trophy to CIMA. Danielson then pointed to the title around his waist and told CIMA he wanted him one time with the belt on the line. They did a little business about having the match right now, but they shook hands and Danielson left. CIMA, Dragon Kid, and Susumu then posed with the trophy in center ring. CIMA capped off the night by cutting a promo putting over PWG.

DVD Recommendation: Night 3 is a must-buy for fans of independent wrestling. Some of the best wrestling of the year under one roof. Nights 1 and 2 are recommended for seeing how the final night was set up, but there's nothing must-see. Night 3 simply clicked from start to finish as one of the best independent shows you'll see all year.

Updated Sunday, September 2 - 7:30 p.m.

A story from independent wrestling at its finest. Several of the wrestlers who worked PWG's Night One show on Friday drove up to Fresno, Calif. for a show run by a new promoter. Only, when they got there, they were told there was no money to pay them to wrestle, so they could either work for free and do a charity match or sell some merchandise to make some money. Many of the wrestlers didn't have merchandise to sell and they weren't about to work for free, so some wrestlers laid out in the sun all day or just hung out with other wrestlers until the show was cancelled half-way into the matches.

The promoter booked several of the wrestlers working the PWG show since they were already in the area and he wouldn't have to pay for many big-name wrestlers to fly in. So, after the show was cancelled, the wrestlers working for PWG on Night 3 made the four-hour drive back to Los Angeles without a payday and only a nice trip through the grapevine on the way to central California.

Updated Sunday, September 2 - 1:00 a.m.

BOLA Night Two results

- Closer to 325 tonight with many people not returning because the arena is a sauna. And the loaded card is on Sunday.

(1) Bino Gambino & Karl Anderson vs. Ronin & T.J. Perkins. I have no idea who was working heel or face here, but Karl played face while Bino was booed routinely throughout the opener despite being on the same team. Karl stands out because he works such an intense style that separates himself from the touch-and-go indy style. Ronin with a Death Valley Driver on Gino for the win with Karl and TJ out of the ring. Basic, but not memorable opening tag match. WINNERS: Ronin & Perkins in 12:00. (*1/2)

(2) Human Tornado (w/Candace) vs. CIMA -- BOLA 1st round match. CIMA, the MVP of last year's BOLA tournament, refused Tornado's pimping of Candace before the match. The gimmick being that Tornado is Candace's pimp. Tornado then kicked Candace away when she was holding out on her earnings, so CIMA jumped Tornado from behind to start the match. Tornado quickly made his comeback and dominating before taking CIMA to the outside. He then nailed a flying somersault dive complete over the guardrail for the first big spot of the night. Back in the ring, Candace got involved, this time on a triple superplex spot where Tornado suplexed Candace and CIMA. Suddenly, CIMA regained control and Candace came off the top rope with a missile dropkick on Tornado. CIMA then finished off Tornado with the Schwein finisher to win. CIMA continues to be a great man in the ring. WINNER: CIMA in 12:00 to advance. (**3/4)

- Afterward, Tornado was certainly upset with Candace. But, he extended his hand and gave Candace a hug. Ah, how nice. Tornado then threw the kind sentiment away with a sudden right hand palm strike before kicking and stomping her. He then dropped Candace on her face twice with an overhead slam. Tornado then went for really cheap heat with the Benoit throat-slash gesture and an attempted Crossface to a chorus of boos. Really distasteful in any context. Chris Hero then stormed the ring from the merchandise table and jumped Tornado. An intense brawl then broke out ringside between Tornado and Hero after Hero cut a promo on him. This will certainly set up a program between Tornado and Hero over Candace's honor.

(3) Scott Lost (w/Jade Chung) vs. Shingo. -- BOLA 1st round match. Shingo straight dominated the action for the majority of the match, countering each comeback from the heel, Lost. They went up top for a superplex spot at 11:00, but they maintained the hold and they suplexed each other out of the ring, over the top rope, and to the floor. Back in the ring, Shingo got 65 percent of a Michinoku Driver on Lost for the pin and the win. Solid, well-executed, great effort, but not a memorable match. WINNER: Shingo in 13:00 to advance. (**3/4)

(4) Kevin Steen vs. Necro Butcher -- BOLA 1st round match. Necro, who's working with a knee injury, might be the most unathletic wrestler in history, but he's the master of body language to tell a story in the ring. Steen did his homework and worked over Necro's knee for all it was worth during the match. Necro made a brief comeback before Steen went back on the attack. Out of nowhere, Necro ended the match with a quick roll up on one good knee. WINNER: Necro Butcher in 8:00 to advance. Methodical work on the knee was the story of the match. Not the type of match expected for a Necro bout. (*1/2)

[Intermission]

(5) Davey Richards vs. Nigel McGuinness -- BOLA 1st round match. Terrific early on, then things suddenly broke down into comedy genius. Richards stepped on Nigel's hand, so Nigel took a kiss from his girlfriend to heal the injury. Nigel then crotched Richards on the middle rope and Richards pulled his trunks down to ask Nigel's girlfriend to kiss his sore spot. She refused, then Nigel pansted Richards. And Richards proceeded to wrestle the next minute of the match with a fully exposed rear end. He then pulled his pants up to a pop, then pulled his own pants back down to a round of boos. After the brief only-in-PWG exchange, they went back to a hard-hitting wrestling match. Nigel landed a series of clotheslines for a nearfall before landing an absolute fastball of a left-arm lariat that put Richards neck-first on mat. Nigel with the cover for the win. WINNER: Nigel in 15:00 to advance. Excellent technical display with some comedy mixed in to bridge the two parts of the match. Best match so far tonight. Nigel exuded more personality than in previous live matches I've seen. (***1/4)

(6) Tony Kozina vs. El Generico -- BOLA 1st round match. After hearing some cool entrance music, but prior to seeing who was emerging through the curtain, Bryan's friend Vince made a bold prediction that the man with the cool entrance music would win. Tony Kozina then came out and Vince immediately retracted the statement. El Generico came out next and Vince doubly retracted the statement. Generico had some new entrance gear - a mixture of sea green trunks and royal blue mask. As interesting a collection as my vertical-striped shorts and horizontal-striped polo shirt. The wrestlers had a standard exchange of holds before going up top at 12:00 where Generico was going for a brainbuster, but Kozina fought him off. And then, I thought both men were going to die when Kozina went for a huracanrana off the top rope to the floor while changing positions in mid-air. Both men's lives flashed before my eyes. Back in the ring, they had a nice finish with Kozina avoiding the Ole kick in the corner, but Generico came back with a brainbuster for the win. WINNER: Generico in 13:00 to advance. Flashes of brilliance at times, but sloppy otherwise. (**)

(7) Susumu Yokosuka vs. Dragon Kid -- BOLA 1st round match. Like a good Jeff Hardy match, the babyface Dragon Kid took control early on before Susumu started working him over to build up the Kid comeback. Susumu then built up a slow clap from the crowd by spanking Kid repeatedly on the left cheek. Kid would have none of that and he sent Susumu to the outside before hitting a springboard huracanrana on the floor. Back in the ring, Susumu regained control with a hard clothesline in the corner before taking him up top for a flying overhead toss all the way to center ring for a nearfall. Then, they pulled out the bag of amazing highspots that wowed the crowd and delivered a series of standing ovations. Kid finally won it with a springboard huracanrana ala Rey Mysterio against Psicosis in the early ECW days. Amazing final five minutes. WINNER: Dragon Kid in 16:00 to advance. Easily best match of the night. And we can all agree that both of these men are better than Bryan's friend Vince. (***3/4)

Updated Saturday, September 1 - 5:45 p.m.

- Looking at the typical independent wrestling show audience make-up, you're looking at a select audience that knows it's a work, unlike the majority of a WWE audience that still believes in the product being not worked. Stand in line prior to a WWE event and listen to the conversations to know what I mean. With an independent show audience, you're looking at fans who are in the building for a performance, but they're willing to be worked because they want to be involved in the performance.

Friday night's opening tag match was more of a dance recital than fight with spot, spot, tag, spot, coordinated reversal, counter, etc. It's obvious to the audience that it's a work because the wrestlers are cooperating with each other to present the best match possible; not have the best wrestling competition. It's one reason - among several others - why independent wrestling struggle to draw a mainstream audience. There simply aren't enough fans who are both in on the work and are willing to be worked. Whereas, the majority of the WWE audience isn't aware, nor do they care if they're being worked.

The mainstream audience has too many other things to worry about other than trying to understand the psychology of a European style wrestling match. Give them a product that presents the illusion of real competition with larger-than-life stars and they'll show up. Only a select group will show up for a small-scale wrestling product that the audience knows is a work. It plays to a different, smaller niche audience.

One thing the Monday Wars Era did was pull back the curtain and eliminate kayfabe with Crash TV exposing the business. Since wrestling has moved far, far away from being a professional version of amateur wrestling, drawing a crowd for an independent show featuring non-TV stars boils down to finding an audience that is on the fix and is willing to be worked because they enjoy the performance art of pro wrestling. In a jaded society where people don't want to be seen as gullible or a mark for anything, that audience is growing slimmer and slimmer.

Each overly-choreographed match on each show cuts a little more into that slim audience. There aren't enough wrestling artists to go around that can awe fans with believable performance ability to make an audience forget they're willingly being worked.

WWE sets the tone for the business in the mainstream, and if a promotion doesn't have the stars, TV, or funding to compete, they can only hope to find a niche audience willing to show up for what is fairly or unfairly perceived as a lesser version of what they see on TV.

Updated Saturday, September 1 - 12:30 a.m.

BOLA tournament Night 1 results

- About 400 fans in the building for one of PWG's best turn-outs. The Pirate, PWG champion Bryan Danielson, came out to open the show. He apologized for not being able to wrestle due to his eye injury and told us to enjoy the show. Indeed.

- PWG commissioner Dino Winwood then came out in a jacket from the Vince McMahon 1980's collection to present the BOLA trophy to be awarded on Sunday. Excalibur then introduced the referees and 32-man field. And the man who stands out from all them is Necro Butcher, complete with sweatpants. It's like the 2007 version of Sandman's red, white, and blue pants from the early ECW days. Only less colorful. They did a photo-op and many men nearly fell off the ropes trying to get in the shot.

(1) Young Bucks vs. Los Luchas. Young Bucks came out to a Hansen song. And bright orange tiger pants. Match started off like a crazy lucha match where nothing made sense, but per the formula, the match became progressively more awesome in the final few minutes. Amazing tag team spot combos before Bucks won with a double 450 splash in under ten minutes. A good template for a fast-paced TNA TV match. WINNERS: Bucks in 9:00. (**3/4)

(2) Joey Ryan (w/Jade Chung) vs. Chris Hero -- BOLA 1st round match. Hero dominated the first half of the match with his athletic superiority. On the outside, Joey took advantage by whipping Hero hard into the guardrail back-of-the-head first. Hero nursed the head injury for some time while Joey went on the attack and the lights went on and off. Hero got the crowd back with a comeback on Joey. Shenanigans ensued when Jade Chung and Scott Lost got involved. Hero ended up with a brass knuck gimmick on his hand, but he didn't use it. Instead, he gave Joey the Hero's Welcome for the win. Of course, the referee spotted the gimmick on Hero's hand and reversed the decision. WINNER: Joey via reverse decision in 17:00 and advances. A sports entertainment finish wandered over to independent wrestling. (*3/4)

(3) Austin Aries vs. Roderick Strong. Physical action, as would be expected, in the opening minutes. Aries then pulled out the Stroke for his comeback and did the Double J two-finger gesture before sending Strong to the outside and hitting a suicide dive. Back in the ring, they traded control before Aries set up the brainbuster, only to have Strong counter it into a small package for the win before Aries could get him in the air. WINNNER: Strong in 14:00 to advance. Solid match between the former partners. (**3/4)

(4) Jimmy Rave vs. Matt Sydal -- BOLA 1st round match. Rave worked heel while Sydal received the OVW catcalls. They weren't on the same page setting up spots near the end of the match, so Sydal ended it with a moonsault. Not one for the best-of-DVD. WINNER: Sydal in 10:00 to advance. (*1/4)

(5) Tyler Black vs. Alex Shelley. -- BOLA 1st round match. Shelley dominated the opening 10 minutes with a methodical pace while the crowd tried to beat the heat in the arena. They flipped a switch at 13:00 and went seven strong minutes to finish with some nice nearfalls after well-executed counters off the ropes and on the mat with submission holds. Shelley finally put Black away after Black kept fighting off the Border City Stretch. WINNER: Shelley in 20:00. Best first round match so far. Nice, believable competition. (***)

After the match, Shelley took the mic and cut a promo putting over PWG. He said he wishes Chris Sabin and himself didn't have to leave the promotion so abruptly. The crowd clapped it up for Shelley.

[Intermission]

(6) Doug Williams vs. Claudio Castagnoli -- BOLA 1st round match. A very sound wrestling match where the Euro was in vogue. After Claudio landed a weak European uppercut, Doug asked him what that was all about. After that, the match broke down into an exchange of European uppercuts in the ring, on the floor, over the guardrail, and back into the ring. Claudio landed a European uppercut, then nailed the Ricola bomb for the win. WINNER: Claudio in 15:00 to advance. Just good, sound wresting from two professionals relying on their mat skills. (***)

(7) PAC vs. Jack Evans. -- BOLA 1st round match. The match with potential to be the best or worst match in history started with Jack requesting water because of how hot it was in the building. Or because he had dry mouth. In any event, his request was denied. They started with some technical wrestling for the heck of it during the first few minutes before putting on a masterpiece on high-flying. Not just a bunch of spots, but spots that made sense, complete with counters and well-paced nearfalls for dramatic effect. PAC nailed a release German suplex that put Jack's neck in a bad way, then he followed it up with a corkscrew splash for the win. WINNER: Pac in 12:00 to advance. An X Division match at its finest with a clinic on the high-flying style. (***1/2)

(8) El Generico & Kevin Steen vs. Dragon Kid & Susumu Yokosuka -- PWG Tag Title match. Take out the first five minutes of slow action to get on the same page, and they put on an amazing tag team display. Great action, nearfalls, and a perfect dynamic between Dragon Kid and a man twice his size in Steen. Finish was Steen with the Package Piledriver into a Brainbuster from Generico on Kid for the win. WINNERS: Steen & Generico in 18:00 to retain tag titles. Very strong conclusion to night one. (***1/2)

- Saturday night is CIMA vs. Human Tornado, Nigel vs. Davey Richards, Necro Butcher vs. Kevin Steen, and Dragon Kid vs. Yokosuka.

Updated Friday, August 31 - 6:00 p.m.

While waiting for the flight to Los Angeles from Houston, I read up on the latest developments in the WWE suspensions. The story was also on CNN at the gate, and literally every head whipped around to check out the CNN report, including a brief snippet of an interview with the former Patriot, Del Wilkes.

He didn't say much of anything in the soundbyte other than you can look at a wrestler and tell if he's on the juice. If it were only that simple, WWE and Aegis Labs would have probable cause to drug test the majority of the roster on the spot at TV.

What most of the mainstream reporting the past two days has turned into has been trying to establish cause and effect with WWE suspending ten wrestlers this week. The assumption is that wrestlers are being suspended as a result of suddenly enforcing the Wellness Policy following the Chris Benoit tragedy. Unfortunately, that's not accurate, as WWE is essentially enforcing their Policy following the Signature pharmacy bust and revelation of big names from the WWE roster. Just look at the timeline on SI.com to see that wrestler shipments suddenly stopped in February - when the bust occurred - not when Benoit and his family died.

This is a matter of WWE being caught in a situation where there was going to be some heavy press against them with wrestler names, dates, and drugs being revealed related to the February bust. WWE's pre-emptive strike was to announce the suspensions and spin the story as if they're suddenly cracking down on wrestlers while trying to "clean up" the company. It's a strong bit of maneuvering from WWE, which mainstream press has been slow to figure out.

It's with that context in place - wrestling under heavy scrutiny and facing Congressional hearings in a month - that PWG runs a three-night tournament in Southern California featuring the top independent wrestlers in the world. Meanwhile, WWE is trying to get its duck in a row for Congress next month and TNA is still trying to find that darn Congressional letter.


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Ziggler vs. Miz
Henry vs. Rusev
Paige vs. A.J. vs. Nikki
Reigns vs. Rollins
Sheamus vs. Cesaro
Usos vs. Goldust & Stardust
Pre-Show Peep Show
Not watching/don't care
  
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RAW POLL: If you feel like Raw has gone off the rails, what is the #1 issue that needs to be addressed of the options below?
Creative Change(s)
Rebuilding mid-card
Cleaning up filler/comedy gunk
Announcing Change(s)
Getting D-Bryan & Ambrose back
Rebuilding babyface roster
Rebuilding heel roster
Improved match quality
Going back to two hours
  
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RAW POLL 9/15: What did you think of Monday's Raw episode?
Good Show
Bad Show
Middle of the Road
  
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RAW POLL 9/15: Are you sold on WWE's Night of Champions PPV?
Sold on Cena vs. Lesnar
Sold on other match
Sold on overall card
Watching only because it's on the Network
Not sold on the PPV, not watching
  
Free polls from Pollhost.com

VOTE IN OR SEE RESULTS OF PREVIOUS POLLS

UPCOMING MAJOR EVENTS

SELECT LIST OF ARTICLES BY CATEGORY

ARTICLES GROUPED BY CATEGORY
NEWS REPORTS
TNA NEWS: Impact TV ratings are in - how did the "No Surrender" Impact special fare?
WWE NEWS: Raw TV ratings are in - Raw falls to four-month low
ROH NEWS: Big anniversary show announced for 2015
WWE NEWS: NXT TV tonight - KENTA's in-ring debut, Neville & Zayn main event, Charlotte, more
WEEKEND EVENTS CENTER: WWE house shows pre-PPV, NXT in Florida, Hardys at OMEGA, TNA stars appearing on the East Coast post-TV tapings, NWA Houston, more
WWE NETWORK: Thursday, September 18 Schedule
IMPACT NEWS: TNA Title match result & re-match announced, #1 contender match next week, Tag Title series to conclude on Friday, more results from "No Surrender"
PWG NEWS: PWG announces next show & full line-up
WWE NEWS: WWE signs big int'l TV deal with Fox Sports
ROSS NEWS: Jim Ross talks MMA broadcasting debut, Ross writes about Brock Lesnar's WWE-UFC-WWE journey
WWE NEWS: Movie Posters & Release Dates for upcoming Studios movies, including C.M. Punk cameo
WWE NEWS: How WWE is handling the end of WWE Magazine
PPV REPORTS
RADICAN'S EVOLVE 35 iPPV REPORT: Complete coverage of outstanding Show of the Year candidate
RADICAN'S IPPV REPORT - EVOLVE 34 in New York: Drew Galloway defends Evolve Title, DGUSA Tag Title match, more
KYGHT'S PPV EVALUATION - WWE Summerslam: Best/Worst Match, Direction Since SSlam, Updated 2014 PPV Rankings
METZGER'S ROH IPPV REPORT 9/6: Elgin vs. Briscoe ROH Title match, Tag Title main event, changes, more
PPV RESULTS - 9/5 "Maskedmania" from Philadelphia, Pa.: Sabu, Homicide, Cross, Lucha stars featured
RADICAN'S ROH REVIEW SERIES: "Field of Honor" 8/15 - Lethal-Taven, ReDRagon-Daniels & Kazarian, Elgin defends ROH World Title in Four-Way main event
MCNEILL'S Exclusive PWTorch Deadblog of WWE Summerslam (which you can watch for $9.99)
CALDWELL'S WWE SUMMERSLAM PPV REPORT 8/17: Complete "virtual-time" coverage of Cena vs. Lesnar
CALDWELL'S WWE SUMMERSLAM PPV REPORT 8/17 (Pre-Show): RVD vs. Cesaro, Flair on pre-show panel, more
RADICAN'S G1 CLIMAX: FINALS REPORT 8/10 - ROH stars shine, Jarrett joins Bullet Club, Okada-Nakamura MOTYC G1 Finals
RADICAN'S IPPV REPORT - EVOLVE 33 in Jacksonville, Fla.: Gargano vs. Swann go to war, big-time Ricochet vs. Galloway/McIntyre match, Style Battle Finals, more
CALDWELL'S NEW JAPAN G1 CLIMAX FINALS RESULTS 8/10: Complete "virtual-time" coverage of Okada vs. Nakamura tournament finals, Styles vs. Tanahashi, Jeff Jarrett, ROH tag champs, more
TV REPORTS
CALDWELL'S TNA IMPACT RESULTS 9/17: "No Surrender" special features Lashley vs. Roode TNA Title match, X Title match, continuation of Tag Title series, #1 contender match, more
CALDWELL'S WWE MAIN EVENT RESULTS 9/16: Battle of Iowa in the main event, Ziggler, Brie, final PPV hype
CALDWELL'S WWE RAW RESULTS 9/15: Complete "virtual-time" coverage of Raw vs. NFL Week 2 - Brock Lesnar returns, final Night of Champions PPV hype, more
METZGER'S ROH TV REPORT 9/13: A.J. Styles vs. Kyle O'Reilly stand-out singles match, Briscoes vs. Young Bucks stand-out tag match, first episode post-ROH Title change
PARKS'S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT 9/12: Henry vs. Rusev arm-wrestling contest, Jericho & Reigns vs. Orton & Rollins
JAMES'S WWE NXT "TAKEOVER FATAL4WAY" REPORT 9/11: Neville defends NXT Title in big main event, new NXT Tag Champs, KENTA debuts, Charlotte defends Women's Title, more
CALDWELL'S WWE MAIN EVENT RESULTS 9/9: NXT tag champs in the main event, Seth Rollins promo & match, Cesaro, more
CALDWELL'S WWE RAW RESULTS 9/8: Complete "virtual-time" coverage of Raw vs. NFL Week 1 - steel cage opener, Summerslam re-match, Jerry Springer, Cena-Heyman, more
METZGER'S ROH TV REPORT 9/6: Young Bucks vs. Daniels & Kaz stand-out main event, Brian Kendrick, more
PARKS'S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT 9/5: Ongoing "virtual time" coverage of Friday show, including Paige vs. Brie Bella, big ten-man tag match featuring John Cena
JAMES'S WWE SUPERSTARS REPORT 9/4: Sin Cara vs. Justin Gabriel main event, Emma gets A. Fox
JAMES'S WWE NXT REPORT 9/4 - Week 114: Final hype for "Takeover" special, Tag Tournament ends, Overall Reax
OPINION & ANALYSIS
ASK PWTORCH STAFF for 9/18: Can a wrestler do anything to a fan if they charge into the ring? Did Sherri play the role of Honky Tonk Man’s girlfriend? Could NXT become a competitor to WWE? Am I alone not looking forward to Raw?
MCNEILL LIVECAST POLL: Which Night of Champions PPV match are you most looking forward to?
VOTE: What is the #1 issue that needs to be addressed with Raw?
RAW POLLS 9/15: Vote on Monday's show & Night of Champions
RADICAN'S EVOLVE 35 iPPV REPORT: Complete coverage of outstanding Show of the Year candidate
ASK THE SPECIALIST ROUNDTABLE: What kind of match would Brock Lesnar & Daniel Bryan have had?
ASK PWTORCH STAFF: Might McMahon ever sell? Why did ECW fans cheer for Sid? Will SD ever go away or become important again? Why isn’t Nikki/Cena relationship acknowledged on Raw?
ASK PWTORCH ALL-STARS: Could there be big Royal Rumble backlash against Reigns? Why did ECW fans cheer Sid? Should Spike favor TNA or GFW? Netflix wrestling?
RADICAN'S IPPV REPORT - EVOLVE 34 in New York: Drew Galloway defends Evolve Title, DGUSA Tag Title match, more
ASK PWTORCH STAFF for 9/8: What would it take to get Divas taken more seriously? Should Spike stick with TNA or gamble on GFW? Did Miz and Cole help Bryan get over? Are there similarities between Ultimate Fighters and Tough Enough?
ASK PWTORCH STAFF for 9/8: Should Spike stick with TNA or gamble on GFW? What would it take to get Divas taken more seriously? Did Miz and Cole help Bryan get over? Are there similarities between Ultimate Fighters and Tough Enough?
ASK PWTORCH ALL-STARS 9/8: Will Bryan be biggest star in WWE once he returns? Why did Cena take such a beating at Summerslam? Will WWE address Brock's infrequent title defenses? Will IC Title move up in prestige with Lesnar not around much?
THE SPECIALISTS
COLLECTIBLES COLUMN: Paul Heyman's Trading Card History - A Review of Heyman's Early WCW & Recent WWE Cards
TUCKER'S RAW INSTANT REACTION: Has WWE's storytelling approach hit rock bottom?
VALENTINO'S MAGIC, MEMORIES & MANIA: Is this The Worst Commentary Team of All-Time?
TUCKER'S INSTANT REACTION - NXT Takeover 9/11: Latest Thursday Night special delivers once again
COLLECTIBLES NEWS REPORT: Fall 2014 Trading Card preview, Wyatt Family, Hogan & Joan Rivers, more
TUCKER ON RAW 9/8: Instant Reaction & DVR Guide to a highly uneven "Season Premiere" of Raw
COLLECTIBLES COLUMN: Signed Cards from WCW Nitro’s Top Cruiserweights Are Some of the Most Valuable Ever
CHIVERTON'S NXT SCOUTING REPORT: Latest Rankings & Evaluation heading into the "Takeover" special
METZGER'S ROH EDITORIAL: The Casual & The Hardcore
COLLECTIBLES COLUMN: Where can you find early Trading Cards of Devitt and KENTA?
HITS & MISSES - 8/25 WWE Raw: Ambrose Eulogy, Hall of Fame Panel, Super Cena, Heyman and Lesnar
CHIVERTON'S NXT SCOUTING REPORT: Latest Network Era Rankings, Evaluation of "Takeover" hype
PWTORCH EXCLUSIVES
RADICAN'S WWE REVIEW SERIES: "Brothers of Destruction: Greatest Matches" (advanced review) - a showcase of Undertaker & Kane running through various tag teams
RADICAN'S ROH REVIEW SERIES: "Field of Honor" 8/15 - Lethal-Taven, ReDRagon-Daniels & Kazarian, Elgin defends ROH World Title in Four-Way main event
PWTORCH EXCLUSIVE: Steve Austin on potential in-ring return, what would it take for Mania return match to happen?
PWTORCH YOUTUBE AUDIO: Steve Austin talks potential in-ring return on the PWTorch Livecast
RADICAN'S AIW REVIEW SERIES: "2014 J.T. Lightning Invitational Tournament: Night 2" 5/24 - Bagwell returns to sing American Males theme, Scott-Iron feud heats up, Justice does Lucha, Elgin defends title throughout tournament
RADICAN'S REVIEW SERIES: RF Video's "Shoot Interview with A.J. Styles 2014" - learning from veterans, stories from inside the ropes, opening a door for others outside TNA
RADICAN'S "ROCK-N-ROLL NEVER DIES: THE STORY OF THE ROCK-N-ROLL EXPRESS" Review - Working the territories, how feuds were built to draw money, Cornette commentary, fantastic behind the scenes stories
RADICAN'S "LADIES AND GENTLEMAN MY NAME IS PAUL HEYMAN" REVIEW: Breaking into wrestling, butting heads in the corporate environment, ECW behind the scenes, clashes with WWE management, fatherhood, more
RADICAN'S G1 CLIMAX: FINALS REPORT 8/10 - ROH stars shine, Jarrett joins Bullet Club, Okada-Nakamura MOTYC G1 Finals
RADICAN'S NJPW "G1 CLIMAX 24: NIGHT 7" REPORT - Styles-Suzuki MOTYC, Shibata-Nagata war in the ring, Nakamura-Ishii main event
RADICAN'S NJPW G1 CLIMAX 24: NIGHT 6 REPORT 7/31 - Shibata-Kojima, Tanahashi-Ishii, Styles-Tenzan
RADICAN'S NJPW "G1 CLIMAX 24: NIGHT 5 REPORT 7/28 - excellent show including Shibata-Benjamin, Nakamura-Honma standout matches, Naito-Okada MOTYC
REFERENCE
TNA NEWS: Impact TV ratings are in - how did the "No Surrender" Impact special fare?
WWE NEWS: Raw TV ratings are in - Raw falls to four-month low
WWE NEWS: Week 2 of "Total Divas" down 20 percent
WWE NEWS: Smackdown TV ratings are in for Friday's show
TITLES & CHAMPS: Ongoing list of 2014 Titleholders
WWE NEWS: Results for Sunday's Total Divas premiere episode
WWE NEWS: Raw TV ratings are in - how did Raw's "season premiere" fare against NFL Week 1?
WWE NEWS: Smackdown TV ratings are in - Friday's show crosses 2.0 barrier for first time since July
TNA NEWS: Impact TV ratings are in - how did Week 3 on Wednesday nights fare?
WWE NEWS: Smackdown TV ratings are in - last Friday's show jumps to one-month high
WWE NEWS: Raw TV ratings are in - Labor Day Raw falls to three-month low point
TNA NEWS: Impact TV ratings are in - how did Week 2 on Wednesday nights fare?
PWTorch Free Podcast
LIVECAST AUDIO: Thursday PWTorch Livecast (9/18) now available - James Caldwell's Talk Wrestling
LIVECAST AUDIO: Wednesday PWTorch Livecast (9/17) now available - Pat McNeill w/Bryce Remsburg
LIVECAST AUDIO: Tuesday PWTorch Livecast (9/16) now available - Wade Keller & Jason Powell of Prowrestling.net
LIVECAST AUDIO: Monday PWTorch Livecast (9/15) now available - Bruce Mitchell & Travis Bryant
LIVECAST AUDIO: Friday PWTorch Livecast (9/12) now available - James Caldwell & Greg Parks
LIVECAST AUDIO: Evan Bourne Live Interview w/Keller on Thursday's PWTorch Livecast now available
LIVECAST AUDIO: Wednesday PWTorch Livecast (9/10) now available - Steve Corino w/Pat McNeill
LIVECAST AUDIO: Monday PWTorch Livecast (9/8) now available - Bruce Mitchell & Travis Bryant
LIVECAST AUDIO: Friday PWTorch Livecast (9/5) now available - Wade Keller & ex-WWE writer John Piermarini
LIVECAST AUDIO: Monday PWTorch Livecast (9/1) now available - Bruce Mitchell & Travis Bryant
LIVECAST AUDIO: Friday PWTorch Livecast (8/29) now available - James Caldwell & Greg Parks
LIVECAST AUDIO: Thursday PWTorch Livecast (8/28) now available - Wade Keller talks live w/Mick Karch
VIP Exclusive Features
BIG SALE! Heard of $9.99? How about $3.33? PWTorch VIP Membership End of Summer Sale Begins Today!
VIP - PWTorch Newsletter #1372 (PDF & TEXT): Keller's analysis of TNA execs speaking to ESPN website, Mitchell column on McMahon, Parks column on ex-TNA wrestlers, Keller's WWE Raw report, NXT Takeover, Newswire, more
VIP - 09/18 Audio Flashback - 10 Yrs Ago TNA PPV Review (08-18-2004): Powell's rundown and analysis including Dusty Rhodes overexposure, Raven vs. Dutt, Jeff Hardy, Ron Killings, remember Monte Brown and Sonny Siaki?
VIP - 09/18 Vintage 1990s Wrestling Radio - Pro Wrestling Spotlight #106 from April 21, 1991 with Cactus Jack, Sonny Beach, live callers discussing Sid's jump to the WWF, Ultimate Warrior CPR angle, early Undertaker talk (65 min.)
VIP - PWTorch Newsletter Back Issue #299 PDF & TEXT (20 Yrs. Ago): Review of UFC2, Torch Poll says Hogan a key to WCW growth, Letters on Cornette-Gangstas controversy, Torch Talk with Scorpio, Keller on ECW's NWA double-cross (09-17-94)
VIP - 09/18 Wade Keller Hotline - Ask the Editor: Why was Thunder bad for WCW but Smackdown wasn't for the WWF? Did Cena show more ruthless aggression to get to top than Bryan has so far? Does WWE counter program NFL? (18 min.)
VIP - 09/18 PWTorch Livecast: James Caldwell's Talk Wrestling: NOC predictions, Impact ratings, should WWE introduce a Network Title?, Roman Reigns for WM32 over 31?, more! (95 min.)
VIP - 09/17 East Coast Cast (ep. #208): Break Down of the Cena vs. Heyman & Lesnar business on Raw, how would you book Bryan vs. Brock?, plus VIP Chat (150 min.)
VIP - 09/17 Wade Keller Hotline - Ask the Editor: Did Bischoff go too far saying he wanted to put Vince out of business? What was the story of Austin turning down TV job to Lesnar? Why doesn't Cornette like the Torch? (27 min.)
VIP - 09/17 PWTorch Livecast: Pat McNeill hosts w/Chikara ref Bryce Remburg & James Caldwell: Discussion of the day's news, plus big King of Trios tournament, more; VIP Aftershow - News (85 min.)
VIP - 09/16 Wade Keller Hotline - The News: Ratings news on Raw, Smackdown, and Total Divas, surprising names at TNA tapings, extended analysis of Dixie Carter's surprising tone about TNA's future with ESPN website (26 min.)
VIP - 09/16 PWTorch Livecast & VIP Aftershow: Keller & Powell discuss last night's Raw with a focus on concern over whether Roman Reign is getting over like he should, odd show formatting, Heyman-Cena, Dixie Carter's interview, live calls (111 min.)