Week in Wrestling: Cryme Tyme takes on the WWE; Matt Taven’s recovery

The Weekin Wrestling covers the WWE stumbling into Wrestlemania, Matt Taven’s recovery from a grueling knee injury and Cryme Tyme opening up about their time with the WWE.[image:12646786]
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SI.com’s Wrestling Week in Review is published every Wednesday and provides beneath the surface coverage of the business of pro wrestling.

News of the Week

The opening match on Raw was everything that is right in wrestling. Kevin Owens and AJ Styles wrestled for twenty minutes. The two built an incredible match that was both logical and compelling. There were multiple highlights, including an outrageous frog splash from Owens. A distraction from Chris Jericho cost Styles the match, but the battle won over a hostile Philly crowd. All seemed right in the world when it appeared, post-match, that there was going to be a triple threat match to determine the number one contender for Owens’ Intercontinental title at WrestleMania.

Then the bottom fell out.

Instead of Owens competing against Sami Zayn, which is a match with built-in history and emotion–and also gives WWE a chance to highlight the first great feud from NXT–we will instead be treated to a spotfest ladder match between Owens, Sami Zayn, DolphZiggler the Miz, Sin Cara, Stardust, and Zack Ryder. We watched the same ladder match at last year’s WrestleMania, except with a far stronger cast. Why are half the wrestlers–specifically Sin Cara, Stardust, and Zack Ryder even included? The buildup to WrestleMania has been one long headache.

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Kurt Angle and Rey Mysterio put together a match on Sunday’s iPPV that was worthy of WrestleMania. Unfortunately, it was instead on a UR Fight iPPV, whose camera angles and overall production value is not anywhere close to the gold standard set by the WWE. The finish was weak, culminating in outside interference from musical act Riff Raff, but there was no way Mysterio was going over cleanly. Jim Ross was phenomenal and carried the broadcast, but Quinton “Rampage” Jackson–who mentioned multiple times that Mysterio was “little,” repeated Ross’ observations and continued his commentary during pinfalls–was not the right fit next to JR (though he created a legitimate laugh out loud moment when he called Angle a “motherf-----” after hitting Mysterio with a chair). Ultimately, the match served as a reminder of how mind-boggling it is that Angle, Mysterio and Ross all won’t be at WrestleMania.

In other news…

• Just so we’re all on the same page, wrestling fans will be forced to watch Roman Reigns win the championship for a third time at WrestleManiaand see a singles match between Ryback and Kalisto. Kevin Owens, however, will be thrown into a multi-man cluster for the Intercontinental title. How does that make the slightest amount of sense?

• Solid promo from Vince on Monday, but calling Shane McMahon the most formidable opponent that the Undertaker has ever faced at a WrestleMania is ludicrous. At least the ‘Taker now has incentive to defeat Shane, considering a loss means this is his final WrestleMania.

• The Big Show and Kane do not make me want to watch the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. The crowd in Philadelphia was so bored by that segment on Raw that it did not have the energy to even boo.

• Do people invest more emotion into a character when it is apparent that the wrestler is constantly working to improve? I had a discussion last night about how certain wrestlers–Kevin Owens, Seth Rollins, Cesaro, Jay Lethal and Dean Ambrose, for example–continually add new wrinkles into their skillset, while some–like Roman Reigns, Sheamus and it pains me to include him, but also Bray Wyatt–have, move for move, not changed their matches for nearly two consecutive years.

• How did Triple H and Stephanie McMahon not see Reigns walking toward their limousine? And why wouldn’t they lock the doors or have the driver speed away? Are details like this discussed in creative meetings, or are viewers supposed to accept every scene and never question the logic?

• Dean Ambrose delivered some exceptional vignettes back home in Cincinnati on last week’s Smackdown, and Terry Funk was terrific in his brief cameo on Raw. “And if I had a daughter…”

• The WWE Divas continually take one step forward and two steps back. The back-and-forth from Smackdown’s encounter between Charlotte, Sasha Banks, and Becky Lynch was realistic and passionate, while the bickering on Raw felt more like a scene out of Total Divas.

• The Young Bucks’ Nick Jackson discussed whether he and his brother, Matt, would ever return to TNA: “They called about a year ago, and the conversation lasted one minute. They made us an offer, and we explained that we already had higher offers on the table. They said, ‘Let us sharpen our pencils and we’ll call you back.’ They never called back, but if they offered us huge money, we’d consider it. AJ, Gallows, [Anderson]–now they had a huge offer, so maybe TNA has a little more money now.” Keep your eyes peeled for a new feature on the Bucks that is soon to hit SI.com.

• Speaking of TNA, Eric Young and Bobby Roode both received their release and finished up with the company this past Saturday. Both were champions, which necessitated title changes at the tapings in Orlando. Unless NXT is interested, which is unlikely, these two are destined to reunite with Jeff Jarrett. When I spoke with Jarrett this past September about adding talent to Global Force Wrestling, he specifically mentioned the pair as two wrestlers he greatly admired: “I consider Bobby Roode one of the greatest wrestlers on the planet,” Jarrett told me, “and Eric Young is very, very talented.”

• Looking forward to watching Drew Galloway vs. Jeff Hardy, and overall excited for the Galloway title reign in TNA. Galloway and Roman Reigns share some similarities, as both are 30 years old and roughly the same size, though Galloway is three inches taller at 6’6”. There will also be a feature story on the new TNA champ next week on SI.com.

• AXS TV’s New Japan show with Jim Ross caught viewers up through May 22, 2015, but this upcoming Friday – highlighted by a match between KUSHIDA and Kyle O’Reilly – is must-see viewing for wrestling fans.

• Paul Heyman knows how to sell a match and extol the virtues of Brock Lesnar’s challengers, but couldn’t Dean Ambose have at least defeated Braun Strowman on Monday? If he is supposed to out-last Lesnar at WrestleMania, then a victory over Strowman was necessary.

• For those looking forward to tomorrow’s Smackdown, curb your enthusiasm. I attended last night’s taping at the TD Garden in Boston, and the entire card felt rushed and, outside of Lesnar’s appearance, forgettable. Surprisingly, there was no dark match for the crowd after the filming ended.

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Weekly Top 10

1.) Kevin Owens, WWE

KO-Mania was running wild with a hot open to Raw, right up until his 7-man match for WrestleMania was announced. I’ll be devastated if Owens doesn’t walk away from ‘Mania with the IC title.

2.) Dean Ambrose, WWE

The “Lunatic Fringe” is supposedly a threat to defeat Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania, yet cannot beat Braun Strowman on the main event of Raw.

3.) AJ Styles, WWE

Part of me wishes that Styles-Owens was saved for a major pay per view, but they delivered two outstanding matches this past week. I like how Jericho continues to outsmart Styles, but the “Phenomenal One” will get his retribution at WrestleMania.

4.) Brock Lesnar, WWE

Lesnar returns tomorrow on Smackdown.

5.) Kenny Omega, New Japan Pro Wrestling

Omega will reveal his thoughts on the WWE, WrestleMania, and more next week on SI.com.

6.) Jay Lethal, Ring of Honor

The Ring of Honor world champion is preparing to defend his title against Top Prospect Tournament’s Lio Rush on the April 1 Supercard of Honor in Dallas.

7.) Roman Reigns, WWE

Michael Cole introduced Reigns on Monday by noting that he could never be bought out by The Authority… which is hopefully a foreshadow to Reigns turning heel at WrestleMania. Also, why hasn’t the announce team–or Reigns–commented on his new entrance down the ramp instead of entering through the crowd?

8.) Kazuchika Okada, New Japan Pro Wrestling

We are in the midst of a busy stretch for the “Rainmaker,” as he is involved in six-man tag action tonight, tomorrow, Friday, Saturday and Sunday–all of his matches include Tatsuya Naito as one of his opponents.

9.) The Young Bucks, Ring of Honor

The Bucks and the Motor City Machine Guns continue their rivalry on April 1 at Supercard of Honor, and both teams will compete the following afternoon in a 4-way tag team match to determine the number one contenders for War Machine’s tag team titles.

10.) Chris Jericho, WWE

Y2J continues to flourish as a heel. Loved the wrinkle that he cost Styles his match against Owens on Monday, yet Jericho was sage enough to overcome the distraction in his match from Styles.

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Cryme Tyme, Part I

JTG and Shad Gaspard met with Sports Illustrated this past Saturday, and the former WWE superstars came out swinging.

“I love the WWE,” said the 35-year-old Gaspard. “It’s my family, but the goal isn’t to have a great product. The goal is to have a controlled product.

“What’s going on right now isn’t what made us successful. We were willing to step out of the boundaries and be different. Edge, Christian, Rock, Stone Cold, and Triple H himself–everything those guys did stepped out of bounds. Now, guys are so scared of the heat that they’re not willing to step out of bounds, and we were.”

CrymeTyme would add color to a tag team division in need of a talent boost, especially in feuds with the Dudley’s, Uso’s, and the New Day.

“CrymeTyme vs. the New Day makes sense,” explained Gaspard. “But that’s the problem–it makes sense.

“I love NXT. I see the enthusiasm put into NXT not put into Raw and Smackdown because they assume people will just watch. But fans are starting to leave. As much as I love kid fans, they’re not the ones who push the product. Fans between ten and twenty-seven push the product, and those are the guys who say, ‘Hell yeah!’ They are the ones who push the product more than anyone, and they are the ones who need their intelligence challenged.”

The 31-year-old JTG, who has already wrote one book with a second–“Damn, Why Did I Write This Book Too? How To Play The Game”–on the way, explained that there is the right way, the wrong way, and the WWE way.

“We challenged the system,” said JTG. “One of the biggest rules in WWE is not to look into the camera. But hip hop artists want to show off their grill and look into the camera all the time, so I explained that to Vince. Everyone was saying I couldn’t do it, but Vince said, ‘Go ahead.’”

The book also touches on the importance of politics in pro wrestling.

“Backstage politics are a big part of your career,” said JTG. “A lot of talent think it’s all about wrestling and mic skills. Sixty percent of wrestling is how you play the game backstage.”

Gaspard then took the hot tag into the discussion.

“Sometimes it’s even more than sixty percent if your skills suck,” said Gaspard.  “I love John [Cena], I think John’s a really good A-B-C wrestler, but he doesn’t do anything amazing. But John does really good is John has confidence in John Cena, and he plays the game perfectly. He knows when to say things, when not to, and he’s played the game perfectly. I can’t hate him for that–he is a master at this game.

“We got fined a bunch of times, even $6,000 each one time, but we were willing to take the fine. People asked us, ‘Why be some a--hole and get fined instead of playing by the rules?’ No one wins playing by the rules. They’re put there to see who’ll break them. Cena breaks the rules all the time. They said, ‘Cena, you can’t swear.’ So he says, ‘Suck these’ and holds up a bag of peanuts. The crowd can say what it wants.”

Gaspard and JTG first met in Ohio Valley Wrestling. Once Gaspard learned that JTG, who was only 20 years old at the time, was riding a bus from New York to Ohio every weekend, he immediately gave him a room in his apartment.

“Elijah Burke introduced us,” said JTG. “I give Shad his props. He was the first person to get me tipsy, he gave me his ID when I wasn’t 21 to get in the club.”

Ever the big brother, Gaspard immediately interrupted.

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​“Hold up,” said Gaspard. “I gave him my ID to go to the club, and he had it taken away from him. Then the club closed, I punched the f------ bouncer, knocked him out, and asked, ‘Who the f--- touched my little brother?’ Everyone said, ‘I’m so sorry Shad, we didn’t know he was with you.’ And he went back to the club the next night.”

“It’s been nice,” added JTG, “to have a big brother to look out for me.”

The duo remains in pristine condition, and their skills in the ring are even better than when they last teamed together for the WWE in 2010. Under the right circumstances, they would be willing to return.

“It has to be an amicable agreement between two parties, the WWE and us,” said Gaspard. “Me and Jay are willing. I’ve reached out to certain people, and me and Jay reached out respectfully, because we respect the company and we love the company.

“We were born and raised to be WWE superstars. We were told, when we were training, you hit your prime at 32. We understand it all now, but the fact is they’d rather scout out ten football players, ten soccer players, ten hockey players, torture them, break them, and then try to teach them what they can’t learn.”

Gaspard noted that there, just like he and JTG, there are plenty of other superstars who belong in the WWE if the goal is to have the most entertaining product possible.

“Carlos Colon–still in his prime,” noted Gaspard. “Chris Masters–still in his prime. Shelton Benjamin–still in his prime. All of us are still in our prime, but the reason we can’t be on the road right now is because a lot of people wouldn’t be on TV. They wouldn’t be able to hang withus on TV or in the ring.”

Part II of the interview with CrymeTyme will run in next Wednesday’s Week in Wrestling, and discusses certain WWE superstars–like Shawn Michaels–in detail. Both JTG and Gaspard reiterated how much they enjoyed the opportunity to wrestle in the WWE, and the lessons–and even the fines–have contributed to their confidence and current success.

“We’ve had so much fun playing the characters, and it’s just our personalities turned up,” said Gaspard. “We got fined because we were willing to take a risk, but we paid the fine and got the reward of gaining Vince’s respect. After a while, we only had one writer to talk to, which was Ed Koskey, and then we did whatever we wanted to do. We got so much heat for the dress code, too. Our characters wore jeans and a shirt, so that’s what we wore. The agents were all over us backstage because Vince had a meeting and said, ‘Everybody does the dress code.’ Then he said we were cool.”

Gaspard explained that he and JTG miss the fans so much, that money would not be an obstacle if they were to return.

“Hold on…,” joked JTG.

“The WWE is where we belong,” said Gaspard. “We’re nothing without our fans, and Jay is my brother for life. If we can come back to entertain wrestling fans, we’d do it in a minute.”

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Hulkamania in the Court Room

Hulk Hogan and his legal team scored a major upset in the court room this past Friday.

Sports Illustrated legal expert Michael McCann, who covered the case for SI.com, took careful note of the way this trial turned into the perfect storm for Hogan over Gawker.

“I would imagine Gawker felt pretty good going into this case,” explained McCann. “Hogan is such a public figure who has discussed his personal indiscretions, but it looks like Gawker misjudged the role of the video. Seeing a video of Hulk Hogan having sex is very different than Hulk Hogan talking about being unfaithful–so there is something materially different about the video itself.”

McCann also detailed the reasons why this was not a good group of jurors for Gawker, as well as whether Gawker underestimated the strength of Hogan’s legal argument.

“Hogan’s lawyers made a really good argument that this was an invasion of privacy,” said McCann. “Because it’s a sexual encounter in a bedroom, there is an expectation of privacy, so a broadcast of an intimate activity in a bedroom goes beyond the scope of newsworthy. Hogan’s lawyers did a good job distinguishing that from the various ways celebrities’ lives are fair game for the media.

“Also, [former Gawker editor-in-chief] AJDaulerio’s comment, even in jest, was a critical misjudgment. Daulerio talked about how he wouldn’t videotape a celebrity if the celebrity was under four–by implication meaning he would be OK with someone four or above, and that inflamed the jury.”

McCann understands how Hogan won this case, but remains uncertain whether the decision will hold up on appeal. The damages–which include $60 million for emotional damages, $55 million for economic damages to his career and $25 million in punitive damages, rounding up the total to $140 million–are harder to grasp.

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​“Juries in a lot of states have very wide latitude in terms of calculating numbers, and they don’t have to defend them,” said McCann. “Their math is their own. Hogan was very persuasive as a witness talking about the emotional harm this affair has had on him, that he’s been humiliated, that he’s become associated with this video, and he’s able to show that his career has in some way suffered. It’s just not entirely clear how getting to $115 million is hard to grasp, especially that Hogan has been so public about his life. It’s hard to see how the jury decided that, in spite of his truly public life, he has suffered truly massive damages that far exceed what is normally found in the case. The worst case scenario is wrongful death, and that is when someone dies from another person’s negligence, award damages normally between three and three and a half million, so the jury was obviously outraged.”

Questions arose during the trial of whether or not the racial slurs Hogan admittedly used on the sex tape would be admissible as evidence, and McCann explained why the judge did not allow that to happen.

“The normal standard is whether a piece of evidence is more prejudicial than probative,” said McCann. “Hogan’s lawyers contended that a video of him making a racial comment was more prejudicial than it is relevant to whether his privacy was invaded, and the jury would be swayed in a way that is outside the scope of the narrow legal issues in this case.”

Even though Hogan won, a popular question is whether or not he will actually receive the $140 million in damages in a case that is going to be appealed by Gawker.

“If the decision is upheld, and the damages awarded are upheld–and those are two big if’s–we’ll have to look at what Gawker is worth,’ said McCann. “I don’t know if Gawker is worth [$140 million]. If the company is forced to pay, I would imagine they would be forced to declare bankruptcy. In that event, there would be a bankruptcy case that determines which debtors are paid. So Hulk Hogan may not get paid first in the bankruptcy proceedings. It’s hard to speculate, but it’s reasonable to assume that Hogan will get anywhere near [$140] million because of the fact Gawker likely doesn’t have the financial wherewithal to pay a civil judgment on that magnitude, coupled with the fact Gawker may have outstanding obligations to others that could be ordered to be paid first.”

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Five Questions with… Matt Taven

Ring of Honor’s Matt Taven is in the midst of a sea of uncertainty. The former IWGP and Ring of Honor tag team champion is set to become a free agent after his contract with ROH expires in June, but he is still rehabbing after he was diagnosed with a torn ACL, ruptured lateral meniscus, and a torn medial meniscus from The Kingdom’s last match in ROH this past December. On Saturday, Taven announced the opening of his new wrestling school with Mike Bennett, as well as sat down with Sports Illustrated to discuss his injury.

SI.com: What actually happened to you last December at Ring of Honor’s Final Battle?

Matt Taven: Mike Bennett and I, who were the tag team champs in Ring of Honor, had a big tag match with War Machine in Philly at Final Battle. I did a dive to the outside in the first few moments of the match, and I flew over Hanson and hit the ground. You’d have thought I would have got injured there, but I hit the ground and was absolutely fine.

Right after that, we went for a spike pile driver on the floor. Out of all the things I’ve done in the wrestling, this is so much tamer than a lot of my other moves. I don’t know if I caught my heel on the pad or my foot on the concrete floor, but once when my feet hit the ground, I immediately knew something was wrong. I tried to walk it off, and Mike asked if I was all right. A million thoughts were going through my head, but we continued going.

Then there was a part in the match where we did our springboard elbow, where I walked up the ropes. I watched it back with surgeon, and he couldn’t believe it–I literally had no ACL. By that point, it had been blown to bits. Somehow I’m standing on my left leg on the top rope. I thought, ‘If I can do this, I’m fine,’ and that’s when I partially tore one of my meniscus and completely tore the other one. But we continued with the match, and I went for a spin kick. I was standing on the leg with no ACL, and the turning of my leg is what made my meniscus rupture and shoot into the back of my leg. I’ve never seen this part, and I refuse to watch. I remember the way it felt, and it felt like my leg was falling into itself. That’s when I knew it was a lot worse than I originally thought.

SI.com: Was continuing the match a mistake? And is there a worse place to injure yourself than the city of Philadelphia?

Matt Taven: Continuing that match to the point where I ruptured my meniscus is the reason for the second surgery, and it’s going to cost me a couple more months of my career. I couldn’t walk for the first six weeks after the surgery because the meniscus was sutured back together and I needed to give it time to heal. It was pretty brutal, and I’ll never take walking for granted again. I was unbelievably angry and, of course, it happened in Philly. There was this one fan heckling me while I was lying in pain, screaming, “Botchamania! Botchamania!” All I could think of was the pain and if I’d ever wrestle again, but all I could hear was his voice. I wanted nothing more to pop right up and tell this guy to go f--- himself. But once people realized I was seriously hurt, and they had to walk me out, the Philly crowd gave me a standing ovation. I thought, ‘Did I just get accepted? I wish it wasn’t like this.’ But that crowd took me away from my sadness, anger, and fear, and they reminded me why I put my life on the line and do this. My head was just spinning, but it was a very uplifting moment.

SI.com: Do you have an estimate on your return to the ring?

Matt Taven: Realistically, I’m a couple months away from wrestling. I had just got back from the gym when I got my MRI results, and the doctor told me that I should sit down–then proceeded to tell me that I wouldn’t wrestle for another year-and-a-half. I’ve gone to three doctors, and I found the best surgeon in Boston and it looks more like nine months. My injury is a little bit different, but I’m hoping to be back this fall.

SI.com: How have you been keeping busy since the injury? And is it true that you and Bennett are opening a wrestling school called Kingdom Training?

Matt Taven: In the meantime, out of a sheer love for professional wrestling, I’ve been going to all of the Ring of Honor shows and as many independent shows as I can. Mike Bennett and I are also opening a wrestling school, Kingdom Training at the XWA Event Center, in West Warwick, Rhode Island. The address and the open house will be announced within the next couple of weeks, and the facility is going to be fantastic. We’ll have two rings, locker rooms, and a promo area. Mike and I have met so many people along the way through the independents, Ring of Honor, and New Japan, so we’re going to have a lot of seminars, too. We’re going to offer a lot of different voices and kinds of training, so students will receive a variety of different views on their work.

SI.com: What are your thoughts on Bennett’s “Miracle” character in TNA?

Matt Taven: People don’t know this, but when Mike started at 15, his first independent name was the “Miracle” Mike Bennett. The only thing Mike’s ever needed was an opportunity, and he and Maria are making the most of it. I text him all the time when the show airs, and he’s loving it, so I couldn’t be happier for him. We had thought about bringing The Kingdom to TNA, so who knows about the future.

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He’ll Fight For You

Following up from his recent story on SI.com, Rhino sat down with Sports Illustrated this past Saturday in Providence, Rhode Island to discuss his campaign for state representative in Michigan. He also touched on the leadership skills he acquired from Vince McMahon and the creativity of Paul Heyman.

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Monday Night Ran

“Mat Mania” debuts a new track this week featuring WWE Hall of Famer Jake “The Snake” Roberts.

Roberts is known for his work in the World Wrestling Federation as both a babyface–wrestling the likes of Andre the Giant, “Ravishing” Rick Rude, and the “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase–as well as a heel, delivering memorable feuds against “Macho Man” Randy Savage and the Undertaker. Mega Ran researched some of Roberts’ earlier career before he wrote the lyrics.

“I went back and watched some old Mid-South stuff, including a match where he squashed a young Shawn Michaels,” said Mega Ran. “I got so much insight into his character. But the best moments for me are the major feuds–Savage and the snake bite, Steamboat and the DDT outside the ring, and ripping off Rick Rude’s tights.”

Mega Ran’s personal favorites growing up were Savage and Roberts, but he gained an entirely different level of respect for Roberts after digging into his dark past.

“After I watched The Resurrection of Jake the Snake two or three times, then I watched a bunch of his older matches and that’s what got me in the mood to write this song. I have friends and family members who hit rock bottom just like Jake, and when I watched that, I saw them. Unfortunately some of them didn’t get out of the hole they were in, and most don’t, so thank goodness Jake had a strong support system around him.”

Mega Ran was searching for a certain type of emotion throughout the piece, and enlisted Doug Funnie for another perspective on the man from Stone Mountain, Georgia.

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​“We both were huge fans, but instead of us writing two separate verses about how great Jake was, I wanted to be different,” said Mega Ran. “My verse is about the dark side of the business–the side that is shown in the ‘Resurrection’ movie. His verse is about the classic Jake Roberts–his smooth style, deliberate demeanor, and technical skill in the ring.

“As we learn from the movie, as well as our knowledge of wrestling these days, these guys are often two very different people, and it can be hard to differentiate one from the other sometimes. So I wanted to contrast the two sides of a pro wrestler by showing the highest of highs, and lowest of lows. It is probably the deepest track on the ‘Mat Mania’ album for that reason.”

As a passionate fan of the business, Mega Ran made every effort to embed extra meaning to the DDT in his lyrics.

“So simple, yet so devastating,” said Mega Ran. “I loved how much they sold it, in ring and out, and how much they talked about it as if it were a secret lethal weapon. It could end a match at any time. It still irks me to this day when people kick out of a DDT. When we think Jake, even before Damien, we think about the DDT.”

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Xtreme Wrestling Alliance

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Xtreme Wrestling Alliance is an independent wrestling company based out of Rhode Island, and the promotion is elevating itself to an entirely different level by opening the XWA Event Center in West Warwick.

“I’ve always said that we’re the best thing that nobody has heard about,” said XWA founder Mike Antonucci. “And now people are starting to hear about it.”

The 35-year-old Antonucci created the XWA sixteen years ago, dropping every last measure of devotion into his product.

“The majority of the XWA was built in the last four years, so it took a long time to catch fire,” said Antonucci. “Our turning point was going toward the indie scene. We love bringing in the stars–like Rhino and CrymeTyme–but then it’s our younger guys’ job to go out there and win that crowd over. T.K. O’Ryan was in a prominent spot this [past Saturday] with Rhino, and Travis Gordon is terrific and only been wrestling for a year.

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​The goal of the XWA, which actually started at a Boys & Girls Club, is to help create the future stars of wrestling. “Pro Wrestling’s Savior” JT Dunnwon the 30-man Xtreme Rumble this past Saturday in Providence, which also included War Machine’s Hanson and Rakishi.

“We had Vader as a surprise guest a couple years ago for our Xtreme Rumble, or last year when Carlito and Snitsky came out, and the whole place just went nuts. We bring in the stars to put them with someone we’re trying to help build, and what better way to learn from some of these stars.”

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Woman of Honor

Taeler Hendrix is the first lady of the House of Truth, and the 26-year-old ravishing red head is relishing her role.

“This is my first really huge opportunity and everyone has really taken me into the Ring of Honor family,” said Hendrix. “The House of Truth is literally the place to be, and it’s because Jay Lethal makes it that way. I’m leaning something new from Jay and Truth Martini every day. Watching old matches of his have helped teach me how to evolve as a character, and Jay’s impersonations of Randy Savage and Ric Flair are spot on. He really keeps things fun.”

Hendrix also has a brief run in TNA on her resume, which allowed her to dip her toes into the rough seas of professional wrestling.

“I had just turned 23, and I didn’t know my head from my toes,” admitted Hendrix. “But I’m a completely different character in Ring of Honor, and I’m showing the world how versatile I can be. Ring of Honor has embraced that and allowed me to run with it.”

The late “Sensational” Sherri Martel serves as a major inspiration for Hendrix.

“Sherri Martel is such a huge influence. She was revolutionary, but versatile enough to reinvent herself managing so many different wrestlers like Shawn Michaels, Ted DiBiase and Randy Savage. I want to be as versatile as her to survive and thrive in this business.”

In addition to her work as a valet, Hendrix also wrestles in ROH’s Women of Honor. She has set lofty goals for herself, and promises to keep working until she achieves them.

“I want it all,” said Hendrix. “I don’t just want to be in Women of Honor, I want to be in Ring of Honor. I want to be in the ring, on television, on commentary, I want everything. A lot of people say that they want to be the best, but I’m willing to prove that again and again until I’m where I want to be.”

Hendrix has such a vast appreciation and respect for the past, and she continues to use the legendary Bette Davis as another inspiration for her work in and out of the ring.

“Bette Davis is a huge influence,” said Hendrix. “She always believed that scripts should be larger than life, acting should be larger than life, and life should be larger than. That’s my mentality in pro wrestling. She always said, ‘Attempt the impossible to improve your work,’ and that’s exactly what I’m trying to do.”

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Tweet of the Week

Hogan’s resiliency is just as impressive as his accomplishments in wrestling. Whether or not you admire the Hulkster, the victory over Gawker certainly represents a huge financial swing for Terry Bollea.

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Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.