Oblivion Feedback - A Tag Team Halloween Special
Buzzing for this.
Okay, kicking off with one of your most heated tag team rivalries (and two very talented sets of wrestlers) is a more than sensible decision, and you had the Hooliganz not only sell their injuries, but use it as motivation for a more serious outlook, which seems like a sensible one-week character progression. You also showed how desperate they are to pay back the Mercenaries from the get-go by having the early-doors Suicide Dives, so again, good characterisation. I might suggest Kendrick recovered a little quickly from being whipped into the steps, which is usually sold as a big hit, but that was the only issue I had with the first fall, which had to go to the Hooliganz really seeing as you were kicking off the show with the concept of how fired up they were to win this bout. Tower of London is also a fitting exclamation mark with which to get
that fall, too, and it doesn't hurt Albright to be pinned after it, either. I'd question whether the second fall really took four minutes, because it didn't feel like four minutes of action, but maybe you work on a different words-to-time ratio than me, which is entirely possible. My other concern was Burchill's distracting of the referee was more accidental than anything, and thus it becomes difficult to believe Albright could see the distraction, get the ring bell, make the interference and get rid of the evidence all within the time frame that Burchill had made this brief stumble into the referee's path, or at least that's how I read it. You sold the ring bell shot well, by showing how it had disorientated London to the max, and again you kept him looking strong by giving in to the Fujiwara considering Kendrick had been stopped from helping out, and thus the submission was perfectly believable. Oh, earlier you had "looking very intense and very angry", which perhaps wasn't your most lyrical use of prose I've ever seen from you, but that's a small issue which doesn't deserve such a long sentence from me about it. Going to the break after the equalising fall is logical. Is a 'Backflip Kick' not a Pele Kick? That's always what I thought it was. Regardless, the paragraph where you had said kick, was a nice exchange especially; the Sliced Bread into Regalplex counter was completely conceivable in my imagination, and it was also a smart knowledge of the moveset of the Mercenaries, who are known for being great technical wrestlers. You had some really nice exchanges during this third fall - the exchange of covers, with London's School Boys/Victory Rolls was a highlight, as was the entire sequence leading up to the (as you bolded it) Tornado Reverse DDT. I've racked my brains hard and still don't understand how Albright could Super Back Drop London into the ring if he was climbing up from the outside, I'm afraid; the spot itself was fine, it's the workings of it, like how they both got in the right positions, that I can't understand. Would Albright not have had to have his back to the ring to pull that off? I'd also point out the minor issue that neither of the Hooliganz hit a single move after the Super Back Drop. Apart from that, the finish was terrific; very fitting with what we've come to expect from the Mercenaries, and you really presented them as being vicious here, with the KO victory really making them come off well. Terrific opening bout.
Commentators were dead on, good stuff; I also like that you're sticking with the 'RVD is AOW' thing, you should sell that whenever you talk about him, really.
At first, I was debating who should win the Christian/Lashley match, but if it's Loser Leaves AOW, it needs to be Christian going over, seeing as Lashley doesn't make a strong face in an environment where the majority of the fans boo him (Cena doesn't count
). Plus, Christian is the most well-developed character you have, so he can't really leave, tbh. I think you needed to settle on one or other here; either Lashley needed to have an attitude and be the anti-authority face, or he needed to appreciate Mick's gesture - obviously he wouldn't do the second one, so I felt the last line was too... well, to use him as an adjective, Evan Bourne. Unless Lashley's being sarcastic or something with his closing line, it just felt like it didn't fit. I'm liking the premise though, the clear foreshadowing to some kind of confrontation later; hell, if we don't
see a confrontation later, it wouldn't make much sense, so there you go.
You navigated pretty well through Torrie's return to interviews, which could have been awful if you'd lingered too long on her own storyline rather than getting on to her interviewee, so I'm glad you addressing it and got on to business - "but those are my personal issues" maybe sounded a little formal for her, though. I find it a little odd that HBK would have all the initial stuff with Torrie if his eventual interview barely gives anything away; plus, you had him build a report with her only to basically not say anything to her questions, and it made it feel like two segments put together. Not to say it was a bad segment at all, because your HBK characterisation was perfect and it builds intrigue for later on, should we hear from him again, and that's fair enough.
I'd expect nothing less than a Samoan Fight Club squash here, and that's what you provided; finishing with a tag team finisher is a small touch but one that makes them seem on the same page, and thus increases how deadly they look. Definitely an image you should be getting across on a show related to tag team wrestling, so big thumbs up there, and the "WE DESTROY" bit continuing is good, because it's such a basic but powerful catchphrase for a team based on... well, fighting. The post-match assault completed exactly what one would hope for in the debut of these guys; I look forward to what you do with them from here on out.
The Lashley segment was absolutely fantastic, and I'll tell you why in a moment, but here's my problem again; I feel like the entire thing should have been heel-face reversed. Lashley leaving the Hammerstein with fans shouting abuse at him was eerily reminiscent of heel 2010 Batista, not giving a damn what the people think, walking round like a badass... but Lashley's a face, and the abuse he gets means it's hard to get behind him. Contrastingly, you then have a guy like Christian, who's been basically iced out of the company by an authority figure - and that's the kind of thing that happens to help us build sympathy for a face. As a result, I find myself wanting Christian to win, not Lashley, and that's an issue which I think you need to resolve next week somehow; whether you have Lashley stop some maniac in the ring trying to set kittens on fire, or you have Christian do something absolutely despicable to a face we already love (or... set some kittens on fire), you need to do something to get the basic roles between these two sorted. The feud is delightfully complex, especially with Christian being such a deep character already, but I feel there's a basic face/heel law you've got to abide by so I can want
to see Lashley beat that dastardly Christian at World Ablaze, because right now I want to see Cage beat the shit out of Lashley, and that's not the right way round. The one way you saved this was with the ending to the promo, with the demented-chair-bashing-tease and all, though being led away in handcuffs could be evil-heel or anti-authority-Austin-esque-face. My only other concern would be why a fan, plant or otherwise, would attack Lashley with a golf club, because it all seems rather convenient, but you could always say Christian would have just attacked him even if security was there. The segment itself is a work of art
, and Torrie's inclusion at the end really solidifies this feud as the Best in Show, but honestly? Christian walking out of the Hammerstein with the fans abusing him leading to an exiled Lashley return but having to stop because he didn't want to hurt his good friend Torrie Wilson/hitting women is wrong, makes more sense. I eagerly await your next move.
CM Punk's reasoning was good, and his calling out of Hassan's hypocrisy, 'he's become the exact thing he hates', was also well done, because it gives us further reason to support him over Hassan. Calling him "Mr. Hassan" seems like something he'd do sarcastically or as a mocking gesture, so I felt you should emphasise that, possibly. You have his character, half-joking half-serious, just about dead on, with a few words here and there where I think it doesn't fit. Storm's inclusion was solid (playing him up as Punk's 'mentor' in a way was a nice touch, especially as you mentioned it last week), though I'd question how you can really take someone 'to their limit' in four and a half minutes. Storm vs Hassan with a stronger Punk influence was actually what I wanted to see last week, in a way, so I'm glad to hear we'll be getting that next week. Again, with Punk's retort to Hassan's first line, I felt we needed a tad more description, just so I know how he's reacting to Hassan, because in a feud where the two of them basically despise the way the other lives, I think you need to get that across in their body language to the other a little more. I genuinely don't know Hassan very well, so I can't really comment decisively, but would he say "shut your big mouth"? Seems a little juvenile. Punk vs Wright is a very intriguing match-up, and something to look forward to, because there's plenty of possibilites. It occurs to me there's a fair bit of criticism in what I've just said, so I should clear the air; again, this was a very good promo, and booking-wise, I'd say it was perfect. You needed a Punk-Hassan confrontation, and the Storm inclusion adds a third dimension, especially with the potential to avert the obvious 'Punk wins the 50 grand' bit by having a Punk distraction give the money to Storm instead. There were a few 'iffy' bits in the promo, if you'll forgive the term, but otherwise, you've got me hyped for next week's show, and that's what you needed to do, so good stuff. Oh, and Hassan's bit about 'change' at the end was sensible to keep that train of thought in the viewer's mind. Bon.
Just a sidenote: having JBL so heavily disapprove of Punk is definitely an interesting touch. You can have him come back out of retirement at a later date for an assault if needs be, or you can have him stay in the booth and just be disparaging, and I think that's really clever on your part. Very intriguing and subtle booking there, even if it is just a small touch.
Definitely find it interesting that Swagger is the 'restrained' one of the two in American Made (I know you like your plentiful tag team names, but this is one of my personal favourites), considering he plays the extrovert so well, too - thinking push-ups in the middle of the ring, etc. Still, it's actually a good thing you're not just making Swagger and Ziggler - sorry, Hagar and Nameth - clones of each other, and instead giving them each their own identity. Again, a small touch that gives the show some real depth. You got the Hagar/Nameth heel characteristics in nicely, between the gloating, attacks behind the referee's back, Nameth's counter of Smith's early Powerslam, etc. I'd also say it's impressive to see Smith with the Plancha; while not completely impossible, it's certainly not expected, and it shows how the Sons are willing to go to crazy lengths to get a win, which links right into their characters sweetly. Always love a bit of the Hagar Bomb, and from then on, you saw some really nice pieces of wrestling that solidify American Made, like the Mercs earlier, as being incredibly proficient between the ropes. Smith's hot tag was to be expected, and I thought the description of Sons as "cogs working as one" was genius, because you did something that often gets left behind in BTB, myself included, and that's not forgetting the message, the story, of the match you're describing. I totally understand that American Made are the arrogant but technically proficient pairing, while the Sons are so proud of their heritage that they don't want to hurt their chances by wasting time on trash talk or gloating, not to mention their undeniable teamwork. The Sons getting the win to even things up is sensible, plus you sold Wilson's injuries from the match during the post-match celebrations, so I have little else to say; you got this dead on in my eyes.
Thank you for addressing the Finlay/Joe issue; even if you weren't specific on a return date, it needed to be on the show somewhere so that they hadn't just... you know, vanished from everyone's mind.
Danielson's promo was perfect for turning up the heat in the Cruiserweight feud. Using the Mysterio injury to fuel the fire is excellent, and by the end of the promo, I was left wanting to see their match at World Ablaze so I can see Helms get his ass-kicking (or not, depending on your booking decisions, naturally). Definitely would like to see a Helms response next week of some kind, or Danielson in a match, but I understand that you've only got so many matches to go around on what is still a short show. Anyway, terrific if short promo from Danielson, with a strong finishing line.
Fairly hectic match from Low Jack and Doane/Masters; definitely don't think the action you described equated to three minutes, though. To skip back a little, Low Ki's no-nonsense persona by having him lose the Batman costume was perfect, as was his crazy assault on the opposing team; it's exactly the kind of character I came to enjoy from him in NXT S2. Good to see Doane/Masters get some heat back with the post-match assault, but my problem with them is; well, with so many great tag teams in AOW, I just don't find them interesting. Maybe that's because they're still referred to as their names alone, so they come across
as disjointed, or maybe it's because I don't find them all that exciting as individuals, but I think you need to put a little work, even if it's just a short VP, into hyping up how Doane is the future of AOW, and Masters is a unstoppable train of muscle, then the result when you put them together. Right now, I struggle to care what happens to them, which all things considered, is a compliment to your tag team division, because I care about all the others, which is no easy feat. You've definitely got an interesting set of teams on your hands, because there's only one
tandem I don't find to my taste. The concept of Low Ki's 'warrior code' is also a nice character trait, while I'm here. Anyway, good, if brief, stuff here.
Good run-through of what should be a great World Ablaze pay-per-view, though no Noble-Star hype tonight is a peculiar one seeing as they have a match together at the event. After briefly YouTubing Aero Star a few months back, I'm more than impressed, so they should have a good match, I just don't feel involved in it yet, so that's on you. Otherwise, everything else at the event has been hyped really well, and it should be a good read when it's up. Get on it.
Considering the in-ring talent of Jericho, RVD, Haas and Benjamin, I should have expected no less than a stellar back-and-forth match here, and you delivered. Jericho 'sneezing' was a nice touch, while the match was never going to end clean, and thus the Merc interference was both welcome and well-reasoned. HBK with the chairshot misplacement also provides a very interesting dynamic, and the WGTT win was of course the sensible booking decision. All in all, this was a pretty damn good main event; plenty of good action, plus your description was generally top-notch - it's very easy to feel involved in your matches. Your control of prose is obviously excellent, but you know that already. As for RVD's announcement, props for selling the chairshot while he was talking, that was very necessary; your use of ellipsis to do that was what we needed to see as readers. To a degree, an ECW Rules match somewhat detracts from the HBK Guest Referee thing, seeing as he could have had his say in the match's ending regardless, but hey, maybe I'm breaking kayfabe there somehow. Should be a terrific bout between Jericho and RVD, plus the added influences of Wright and HBK should keep things interesting too. World Ablaze looks even more beefed up now. Oh, and RVD's speech sounded just like him - characterisation was bon.
Overall, this was really good. Do I think it was as good as last week? I feel I had more to (er, constructively) criticise with this show, so I'll say last week's was narrowly superior, but regardless, your writing was excellent, especially match-wise, and your booking was intelligent throughout. My concerns are, by and large, small issues, but I won't go far into them again seeing as I've detailed them above; generally small things in promos, my lack of interest in Doane/Masters or the Christian/Lashley heel/face dynamic. Still, that feud remains the storytelling highlight of the show for me, though your Cruiserweight and World Title feuds remain red-hot. Your tag team division is probably the best in the section that I can recall right now, and frankly, you've done a stellar job building to this first pay-per-view. To mix your catchphrase with Dubya's - Kirby approves, mang.
Oh, and a royal Merry Christmas.