I haven't forgotten, I just take my time with it. That's my theme for BTB in general, apparently.
619IDH's 'A Very Merry War' Feedback
Anyway, let's get down to business here. Very tongue-in-cheek opening in a way, considering you're matching violence with the Christmas theme, but nevertheless an effective VP to kick us off.
The ladder match is a good match to open with, and the two things that stand out are the storytelling and the use of the gimmick. Small things like every team going after the WGTT at the beginning to show how they feel pissed by the team's actions of late, and again not restricting yourself to the face/heel dynamic, are examples of that storytelling. In that vein, I felt possibly we could have seen more from American Made considering the argument that they're the rightful champions, maybe showing deliberate aggression or targeting towards WGTT at some point. Other than that, each team had its own 'image' if you will, from the Sons' do-or-die attitude to the SFC looking at home in a crazy environment and the WGTT staying away from ridiculous spots as you mentioned in the post-match commentary. On to the action itself, the Manu Splash on to Smith was the best spot for me, though Wilson's Sunset Flip Powerbomb was a close second - the Splash also allowed you to present Wilson as trying to win the titles for his team by himself
, which was a nice touch. My one complaint in that area is the finish - I know you're trying to bring a new edge to the WGTT with the buzzkill-esque Haas chairshot, not to mention the post-match image of Smith lying dead imagining his hands on the title, but I think in a Ladder Match, you have the chance for the spectacular finish, and that's what I was readying myself for. Otherwise, a good opening match that no-one came out of looking bad, and this new air in the WGTT continues with the outcome. Bon start.
This Is Exile ft. Christian? People on PPV posters always mean something, so this means...
You built Lashley/Joe slowly at the beginning but the psychological element of the contest was actually portrayed very well. It wasn't the way I was expecting you to go for an immediate brawling bout, but the pair attempting to surprise and out-wrestle the other in the early going was a breath of fresh air. Again, I was surprised that you mixed the brawling and the wrestling quite as intricately as you did, seeing as you had small stretches of brawling, then small stretches of more technical moves... as I say, not what I was expecting from this match, but make no mistake, I really enjoyed reading the back-and-forth, no matter the theme you applied to it, and needless to say the Elbow Suicida through the barricade was just GODLY, a real treat for the fans and a cute nod to the Spear from weeks before. The nearfalls after that held some good drama but as a reader it was all about the finish, the Spear missing into the steel post, the Island Driver and the immediate Clutch to show Joe's ruthless attitude. Lashley fading out is the ideal middle ground between saving him from a genuine loss ("I wasn't pinned and I didn't submit") while still making Joe look like a badass by claiming such a big scalp in such a fierce way. The post-match 'celebration' makes him look like a don, and undoubtedly he's headed for Jericho now.
Has to be said, I don't understand the point of having Miz and Romero's switching if Punk was never going to say anything to either of them, but nonetheless it sets us up well for Punk's big match - my only thought is if he might have done it to a single interviewer.
"We've already seen un explosive action" Joey Styles? Not sure if that's what you were going for, unless Joey is vastly underselling his own product.
The chemistry between JBL and Styles is, as ever, tremendous, by the way.
Very intelligent use of the VP based on the zodiac here, just beautifully written and thought out. CM Punk has been one of your finest characters, built as the heartfelt underdog, and it has to be said, JBL's consistent arguments against him could set up for a killer feud between them
if you ever wanted it. Regardless, to the feud at hand, with Hassan solidifying himself as a real force in the midcard with his heelish entrance on the throne – very much continuing the supreme arrogance that has taken him through the thread to this point so far. I agree with one of the other reviewers (Mac?) in that Punk's aggressive stance going into the match was the right decision, but you lost some of that with the sarcastic comment from Punk, seeing as we're not looking for 'pipebomb' Punk, we're looking for 'clobberin' Punk. Other than that, you delivered exactly what I was hoping for and more - the underlying theme of Punk getting close, only to have it snatched away every time, worked really well (i.e. the GTS with Hassan to the outside on impact); a theme that worked well in conjunction with the feud in general. Things like the fans stomping their feet to Miseria Cantare was the kind of thing I liked more than the 'get up you bastard' comments. In a way, these small nods to Punk's struggles on the independent circuit personify his AOW character far
more than any words really could in this environment - and I'm someone who lathers everything
in unnecessary dialogue. The moment with the Mercs was perfect story-wise, just to give Hassan his comeuppance and close out the 'money' part of this particular story (at least until the Mercs start using it for something?), but with the crowd going so hot after that, I think a nearfall would have been a better way to shift the focus back to Hassan, possibly after a big kick or something. Punk being immediately reversed felt a little too much like the Mercs angle hadn't affected Hassan at all. The ref, like all wrestling refs, is made of glass, so it's no surprise he stayed down for all of that, and in effect I can't believe I didn't call the blood in this one, seeing as you wanted to go all out for these two to have a big pay-off. The storyline element of this match continued to be executed beautifully with the nods to Storm's own reckoning, including the Superkick in there just for good measure. Of course, you weren't going to ignore the back work and just end it with a 'look how resilient he is' Go To Sleep, so this was the perfect time to bring in the Pepsi Plunge, and a fitting conclusion to a tremendous match, a tremendous story. I've had the odd concern at times in the feud, but in hindsight it's been a cracking storyline at just about every turn and you finished it off brilliantly here. Massive props for proving that there's nothing wrong with Booking 101.
Tyler Black in a very different role to how I plan to use him - sounds like another challenge
On topic, the VP's eerie, dark feel worked nicely to paint him as a valuable heel (or tweener "nothing is black and white") on the AOW roster.
Bit odd to have RVD labelled as 'RVD' whilst he's saying "I'm not RVD", if that makes sense. The aggression reminds me a little of RVD in cp954's thread at the moment, and I like that neither of you are just keeping happy-go-lucky Rob Van Dam around but looking to give him more depth. Shouting at the crowd was another level to this development.
It was so hard for me to take Finlay seriously when I was imagining him wearing Bane's mask from the new Batman film, especially when he said "I wanted to break you" and then "NO! Rob Van Dam doesn’t die until I say he does!" I nearly died. All it needed, as my prediction said, was "You have my permission to die" and it would have been set. Still, I'm happy we're moving on from the cryptic RVD promos and finally getting to the actual meat of the Finlay/RVD issue, because that match, when it swings around, is going to be great. Promo was surprisingly short but when you have RVD in such a haunted state and the talk-is-cheap Finlay around, I wasn't expecting a marathon. Good stuff.
I was hoping you might bring Kofi in closer to his modern character, rather than his foreign character, but you've sort of gone with a mixture of the two here, gelling his foreign heritage with his desire for wrestling recognition. Frankly, he's such a huge talent in my eyes that I don't mind, as long as he gets plenty of mic time and he doesn't go around smiling at everyone like Evan Bourne. It doesn't need saying but your VPs have been excellent all night.
Again in the main event, the nods to other wrestlers and the story in general stand out. Jericho, unlike Punk earlier, is the kind of man whose character leans more towards the outlandish in-match comments, including the doubting shots whether HBK is 'worthy' enough to stay in this company, so I liked that. Similarly, the chops for Flair and the Sharpshooter for Hart were testament to men who have played their own part in HBK's past (even if HBK wouldn't have made Flair retire by this point in time), my only concern being that both Punk and HBK have done this, drawing from their inspirations and their past in their matches; that's fine, it's just that the matches are right next to each other, meaning it's easy to draw the comparison. Regardless, you played off HBK's furious desire to keep his career alive with the near countouts, near submissions and of course the back-and-forth pinning combinations, all combining to really prove that HBK wants this more than anything. It shows he's not just fighting for a title, but for much more than that. Doane's involvement was a nice touch considering his ambitions to join the Legion, and Danielson's appearance keeps him in the viewer's mind as well as showing that HBK is not truly alone - again, that's a feel-good moment for Michaels there. Super Codebreaker in mid-air was one of your spots of the night based on the back-and-forth nature of the match alone, and the Liontamer making Jericho look like a heartless bastard to boot, but as much as Torrie Wilson's appearance makes me chuffed to bits for a Christian return, I started to raise the dreaded 'overbooking' worry at this point. Heyman's involvement worried me further, but as soon as he didn't count the fall I began to think "Someone has to save this company" and that actually is about as good as it gets in terms of reader reaction. Like TNA with using (and kicking out of) multiple finishers, I wonder if, had AOW been a real company, people would begin to know the company for its main events in this aspect - certainly you hovered by the line of overbooking last time and again you ran the risk here tonight. Definitely think you should try to get a clean match/finish into your next PPV/supershow main event if you can envisage that, but I can't argue with the storyline of the main event booking. I'd point you towards a few of those similarities between HBK/Jericho and Punk/Hassan perhaps, hence why I guessed you might kick the show off with the latter, but these are only minor criticisms and I want to stress as much as I can over an internet forum that I thought you did a great job here.
Okay, so overall: this was a very strong showing. Did I prefer World Ablaze? Yes, but only marginally, the Lashley/Christian double turn sealing the deal for me. Match of the night goes to the glorious pay-off to Punk/Hassan, but take nothing away from your chaotic main event, nor the opening two matches which continued their stories nicely and gave us a good show in both cases. I expected nothing less from RVD and Finlay, and all in all, I got what I came for and MORE, considering the quality of the matches. Your VPs were written in an intelligent manner and the incoming debuts of Black and Kingston will only add to this brilliant cast of characters. As mentioned above (again, probably iMac's keen eye) it's your knowledge of sensible storytelling that really grips me when I'm reading, characterised mostly in your little nods to previous events in the feud to make sure every little action means that much more. It's really a good skill to have. Losing HBK through this screwjob opens up the new challenge from Joe or finally the return of Christian, however you play that out, and with Heyman going full-on heel here tonight, it opens the door for Foley to try to stem the flow of HeymanTerror and join Christian to lead the saving of the company, preferably as I always hoped, in STABLE WAAAAAR fashion, splitting the company into two sides, right down to its announcers. Ah, the possibilities you have in front of you. Surprised to see the possible losses of Lashley/Wright/Hassan, three of your main heels, but we'll see how it plays out. Very good job here my man, it was bon. The King approves.