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Captain Jack’s Armbar Emporium Ep. 23: “My Favorite Feud” w/ Lynx Kinetic!

It’s back to the wrestling this week, as Captain Jack (@jackheartless) welcomes producer & co-host of The Strap podcast, Lynx Kinetic (@kinetic1977) to the show!  They talk about his Mat Mania series with Mega Ran, which just dropped Volume 2 last month, as well as Lynx’s favorite feud: Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Bret The Hitman Hart!  If you like a little music talk with your wrestling, as well as theories into why Vince McMahon’s a loose cannon, this is the episode for you!

Mat Mania: The Revenge available on Bandcamp.

Opening music by Lemi & The Captain. Closing music by Ayumi Nakamura (@ayumi_nakamura).

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So… That Happened: The Undertaker, First and Final

This April, one of the WWE’s most integral players and longest stalwarts seemed to finally step away from the Squared Circle. Perhaps it was a certain degree of inevitability, or the years of opinions that centred around “maybe it’s for the best” or simply that I watched it with a group of friends running on candy but all still burnt out by the end of the seven hour event, but the Undertaker’s swan-song didn’t quite have the impact it should’ve. That being said, now two weeks removed from it the feelings have begun to set in. He was easily one of my favourite superstars so in this instalment of “So… That Happened” I’ll be doing something a little different and celebrating his career by looking at both ends of it; the first and final appearances of the Deadman at each of WWE’s four marquee events.

And hey, can I suggest a little background music?

The First

The Undertaker famously debuted at Survivor Series ’90 [WATCH: Survivor Series 1990, on the WWE Network] as a surprise entrant to a traditional team-based match by aligning himself with Ted Dibiase. Skulking slowly to the ring, accompanied by the-manager Brother Love, the commentary put him over as a huge specimen and potentially not even human. Undertaker followed this by making very quick work of Koko B. Ware via Tombstone and the American Dream Dusty Rhodes himself (after a double axe handle from the top rope, of all things). After the latter left the ring, Brother Love began to kick him whilst he was down and Dream defended himself; causing the Undertaker to give chase down the aisle ending in a count-out elimination to keep the newcomer strong. He came, he saw, he kicked ass but he wasn’t given the keys to the kingdom immediately.

Still, reaction to the character was strong and thus in the WWF’s next pay-per-view Taker was given near fifteen minutes to strut his stuff at Royal Rumble ’91 [WATCH: Royal Rumble 1991, on the WWE Network]. Entering at #12, the Deadman staked his claim and showed the company’s belief in him by almost immediately eliminating crowd favourite Bret Hart before digging his heels in for the long haul. After two more eliminations (Texas Tornado and Bushwacker Bruce), Undertaker was finally tossed over the top-rope by both the Road Warriors, proving that it took two men to take on the Demon of Death Valley.

Continuing to WrestleMania VII [WATCH: WrestleMania VII, on the WWE Network], Undertaker was given another face like Bret to destroy at the Showcase of the Immortals in “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka. There are complaints these days about the number of matches on a WrestleMania card but WM7 had 14 matches on the main show compared to WM33’s 12 and two less hours to work with. Thus, to mark what would eventually become known as The Streak, Undertaker steamrolled his way through Snuka. Finally paired with iconic advocate Paul Bearer; not only is this Undertaker’s debut WrestleMania match but it’s also his first singles PPV match and the growth in his confidence was very visible. In the five minutes given, Taker pulled out his signature moves and walked away a decisive winner with the crowd steadily getting behind him.

Strangely, Undertaker was not booked for the main show of SummerSlam that year and so his first appearance on the final of the Big 4 shows was at SummerSlam 1992 [WATCH: SummerSlam 1992, on the WWE Network] where he was lined up to face the first and definitely not the last appearance of terrible racial profiling on “So… That Happened” in Kamala. The best thing about this match was Undertaker’s entrance where he walks out to a huge pop, after having officially turned babyface February that year. Sadly, we have to end this section of the article on a downer since this bout was a total cold fish. The two had very little chemistry and Kamala’s size made it difficult for Undertaker to get any of his traditional move-set in, limiting him even further (let’s face it, early ’90’s Undertaker was hardly his prime in terms of ring prowess). The scuffle ends in a flat 3:27 due to disqualification and Kamala continues a beat-down before Undertaker does his signature sit-up to scare him off. On the bright side, this feud would lead onto the first televised Coffin Match but it would also introduce the WWF to Giant Gonzalez and his matches with Calaway make this turd look gold-plated in comparison.

The Final

Appropriately, the first of the four pay-per-views we have to look at for the last run of Mean Mark Callous is the final one he tackled in his formative years. SummerSlam 2015 [WATCH: SummerSlam 2015, on the WWE Network] was essentially billed as Undertaker’s attempt at vengeance against Brock Lesnar who broke his undefeated WrestleMania streak 16 months or so earlier. The match itself was definitely stronger than their original (due to far fewer in-ring concussions) but closed with a total clusterfuck of a finish where the timekeeper believed he saw Undertaker tap, erroneously called the match as over and caused Lesnar to be distracted long enough for the Phenom to lock in Hell’s Gate and cause Brock to pass out rather than submit. Ironic that Undertaker’s first and last SummerSlam bouts both have questionable ends. The match sits in the middle of the feud in terms of chronology and quality; not quite the awkward mouse-fart that was the streak-ending Wrestlemania XXX bout but outdone by the successive and excellently brutal Hell in a Cell fight next month.

Summerslam 2015 was the Undertaker’s first PPV match outside of WrestleMania for five years but he soon followed it up with appearances at both Hell in a Cell and that November’s Survivor Series, which was marketed with the line “25 Years of The Undertaker” [WATCH: Survivor Series 2015, on the WWE Network]. Things were off to a shaky start to begin with as the Deadman was placed into a feud with the man he had overcome six months earlier with The Eater of Worlds. The upside was the idea that Wyatt and his spooky cronies had overcome ‘Taker and his brother Kane, somehow stealing their supernatural gifts and finally offered the possibility of a reign of terror. Until the Brothers of Destruction hobbled out on Raw a mere two weeks later. The two faced Bray and Luke Harper in a ten minute tag match that was fairly average despite the entertainment value of seeing Undertaker at what could be described as home turf taking out every member of The Wyatt Family alongside Kane for what would clearly be the last time. The real issue back then was the sloppy booking before and after the event and the WWE’s intent to incorrectly book Bray Wyatt well, but at least it stands up as a nice salute to ‘Taker in retrospect.

Fast forward over a year to early 2017, where Undertaker would make clear his intent to enter the Royal Rumble where he had “dug 29 holes for 29 souls” despite appearing in the match for a little over five minutes and making four eliminations [WATCH: Royal Rumble 2017, on the WWE Network]. Even with declining performance quality over the last half a decade or so, it was clear that Calaway was at the end of his rope; struggling, and obviously in pain, performing even the most basic manoeuvres. Despite the streak being over, a match with Undertaker itself would be an in-built feud for any superstar and it was really not the work of a brain surgeon to put Roman Reigns in that position by having him eliminate the Deadman and yelling something along the lines of “YARD WARS” as he did so.

With the Phenom on his way out, it made sense to put a newer star over as big as possible. With it being the incredibly protected Roman Reigns however, despite your opinion on the character, it was fairly evident that the Undertaker would be taking his second and in all likelihood final loss at WrestleMania [WATCH: WrestleMania 33, on the WWE Network]. The bout itself was arduous at the best of times and painful at others with Roman Reigns failing to reverse ‘Taker into a tombstone of his own and the final move being a Superman Punch powered by an extra rope-bounce. With the stench of inevitability all over it and the Undertaker’s decreased in-ring ability, the match was fairly disappointing. However, it was the generic story that really dampened Undertaker’s final showdown. The feud could’ve and should’ve had a little more added to it beyond  “I’m going to piss on your petunias, and that makes them mine”. Instead, the entire thing felt hot-shotted, rushed and, for a larger than life superstar like Mark Calaway, far too run of the mill like a lot of his formative feuds had been.

So despite having its moments, the overall last handful of years of Undertaker lead up to something rather sour that provided very little beyond a “well, that’s that” when he finally took off the hat and cloak. Which is a shame because the man has offered his life and body to the company for more than quarter of a century. For a good number of us, there has not been a time in wrestling when the Undertaker wasn’t there (at least every April) so it’s sad to see him start to fade in his final years. For everything he had done, for every great moment; he deserved better. Here’s to you, ‘Taker. Rest in peace.

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The Steel Cage Down Under – IPW Australia’s Live and Let Die

On April 1st, IPW Australia presented Live and Let Die from William Duncan State School in Nerang, Queensland. The event was taken to the extreme with two hardcore matches book ending the show.

IPW Tag Team Champions, the UnAustralians (Sweet Ass and Kiwi Thriller) took on their bitter rivals, Savage Society (Josh Bruise and Wolfman) in a “Fans Bring the Weapons match”. As expected, this match started out hardcore with Savage Society sneaking up on The UnAustralians and hitting them with low blows with foreign objects. The match then broke out into mayhem with numerous weapons from guitars, to crutches, to bowling balls, hockey sticks and even a baby gate being handed to the wrestlers to use.

Savage Society got the upper hand and stacked all the weapons in the middle of the ring and laid the UnAustralians on the pile. Josh Bruise went to the top rope and hit a big splash pinning Sweet Ass and Kiwi Thriller. Your winners and new IPW Tag Team Champions: Savage Society.

Next up, we had the IPW Woman’s Champ and crowd favourite, Willow, take on Benny Lava in an inter-gender match up.

Willow got in a lot of offence to start the match. It went back and forth until Benny Lava pinned Willow for the win. This enraged Willow who attacked the referee and beat him down. Willow then exited the ring and snatched a couple of signs from the fans in the crowd ripping them up in front of them, turning on the fans in the process.

“The Greatest” Dalton Briscoe took on BJ Blade in the next match. These two have had an ongoing feud over the last few months and this match didn’t disappoint. A high paced, quality match where unusually, the crowd was cheering for the heel in Briscoe. The match went back and forth until Briscoe got the upper hand and the pin fall victory.

In my opinion, the next match was the highlight of the night. IPW Unified Champion Rob Daniels defending his title against rookie sensation Zeke Cruiser and “Youngblood” Jesse Love, who was accompanied by a battered and bruised Sweet Ass and Kiwi Thriller. Sweet Ass came out on crutches and Kiwi Thriller had bandages all over his body. Jesse cuts a very good (non PG) promo saying it is his time and he will be walking away with the belt.

The match starts with Rob Daniels grabbing the mic claiming the match cannot go ahead due to his head cold, which means everyone may as well just go home. Zeke and Jesse (who have a long history of hatred towards each) other join forces to throw Daniels out of the ring. Zeke and Jesse battle back and forth and every time Daniels tries to get back into the ring he is knocked back down to the ground. Daniels has made a habit of pulling out a victory from nowhere in the past and came very close on a few occasions. But in the end, Zeke was pinning Daniels for the win when Sweet Ass dropped the crutches, revealing that he was okay, dragging Zeke off Daniels to give Jesse Love the win and crown a new IPW Unified Champion.

This year’s Hawk Distinction Trophy winner, SledgeHammer took on fan favourite and high flyer, the masked Bojack. This match was worked very stiff. Both competitors gave everything and Sledgehammer came out on top. Bojack was not happy, cleary angred by the result as he left the ring.

Next up was IPW Heavyweight Champion, Obie Cartel taking on Luxford. Luxford only got this opportunity by putting Obie in a sharpshooter at the end of the previous show, refusing to let go until commissioner Jase the Ace would gave him a title match.

Obie and Luxford are two of the best wrestlers in the company and didn’t disappoint with this match. There was chain wrestling, high spots and false finishes. It came to a conclusion when Luxford reversed an Irish whip and Obie bumped referee Chris, taking him out. Luxford then hit Obie with a Superkick and fell on him for the pin. The whole crowd counted to three, but ref Chris was down for the count and unable to count the pin.

Luxford’s tag team partner Dalton Briscoe then entered the ring with the title belt and handed it to Luxford. Briscoe then picked up Obie telling Luxford to hit him with the belt. Luxford instead dropped the belt on the ground, realising he didn’t want to win it that way. Briscoe then pushed Luxford who then hit him with a superkick, knocking Briscoe out of the ring. Luxford went over to check on Briscoe and Obie rolled up Luxford and ref Chris counted the pin. Your winner and still IPW Heavyweight Champion Obie Cartel.

Obie then grabbed the mic and told Luxford that he liked what he saw tonight, it was the old Luxford and then told him he could have another title shot next month if he wanted it. Both men shook hands and Luxford accepted the title match for next month.

We then had two rookies making their IPW in ring debut. Bodhi Jackson and Ryan Grayson came to the ring, the bell rang and they locked up….. then we heard Skhorn’s music. The Viking Warrior makes his way to the ring and the rookies look panicked standing in the ring. Skhorn beat down the rookies, then cut a promo on CJ Chris Johnson. CJ beat Skhorn in their last meeting and Skhorn wasn’t happy that a 2nd year pro has no respect for a guy who has been around for over a decade.

Skhorn then beat down the rookies some more before exiting the ring. Looks like Skhorn v CJ Chris Johnson could be on the cards again very soon.

Then we came to the main event of the evening, and what a match and swerve we had to finish the show. IPW Hardcore champion the masked Reaper defending his title against the insane RIP in a Hardcore match.

This match was insane and both wrestlers definitely took it to the “extreme”. There were barbed wired tables, street signs and Reaper even jumped off a two and a half metre high storage room roof onto RIP.

RIP then put Reaper through a table on the outside of the ring and Reaper looked like he was done. RIP was telling ref Troy to give him the title as Reaper should be giving it up ’cause he was beat down so bad.

 

RIP had Reaper down in the ring when Reaper’s long time Tag partner Bojack made his way to the ring with a chair. Bojack was holding the chair ready to hit RIP telling him to stay away. Bojack then helped Reaper up and hit him with a blue thunder bomb! Bojack had just turned on his long-time friend and tag partner. RIP pinned Reaper to become the new IPW Hardcore Champion.

Bojack then knelt down over Reaper, grabbed Reaper’s mask to pull it off and reveal his face to the world. Bojack then unmasked himself and posed with RIP yelling “This is our time, now!”

Awesome card from start to finish! Do yourself a favour and get down to William Duncan State School on 6th May for the next Impact Pro Wrestling show. You won’t be disappointed.

For more on IPW:Australia: [Click Here].

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Follow @stinga57 on Twitter for info on future shows and any IPW:Australia news.

Photos by Jason Kryger: [Click Here].

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