Wednesday, August 22, 2012

SummerSlam 2012 REACT!

Well, SummerSlam is in the books, and each of us went 5-3, keeping Jim’s lead at one match over Tom, 30-16 to 29-17! That Bears t-shirt is getting ever closer to Tom’s wardrobe, but we still have four more PPV’s this year, so anything is possible! Let’s take a look at each of our reactions to Summerslam! (Note: Jim had his thoughts typed before RAW on Monday night)

Jim’s React

SummerSlam seemed to be an up and down show for me as far as things making sense. Some things made great sense, and others left me shaking my head.

Let’s start with the pre-show. I’m shocked they did a title change on the pre-show, but it’s a great way to make those seem important and not like they just have throw away matches on them, so kudos on that! I also love Cesaro as the US Champion, and I expect him to try to either rename the title, or at least keep reminding us that he is “our” champion of all the United States! Hopefully the title can start meaning a little something now that it’s off the comedy character. And seriously, if I told you 5 years ago that CM Punk would be the WWE Champion, Claudio Castagnoli would be the US Champion, and Bryan Danielson would be former World Heavyweight Champion who is one of the top heels in the company, you may have had me committed, so, I love it!

I’m glad they let Ziggler look good, but when you seem to be grooming him to be the next World Heavyweight Champion since he’s holding onto that Money in the Bank briefcase, I kind of hate having him lose to Jericho especially when he’s not going to be able to get the revenge on him, assuming Jericho doesn’t work Raw. The only thing it COULD do is set up a continuation of Ziggler/Jericho for the World Heavyweight Title down the road when Jericho returns (assuming it isn’t a year or two from now). But, in the end, the result just left me wondering what the hell…

The Bryan/Kane match is clearly setting up a feud with them for now, which is ok, and I love that Bryan found a way to counter the power of Kane and get a surprise victory, that works perfectly for his character, and I love what they have going with him, he can easily move back into the World Title picture at any point from the position he is currently in. It will be interesting to see how AJ deals with Kane on Raw for beating up an announcer.

The Miz gets the win and looks good doing it…let’s hope they keep re-building him, he should be a top level heel for many years to come, or hell, he could be a hell of a babyface as well, Miz/Punk down the road would be a lot of fun to watch!

I really am enjoying Del Rio’s new vicious side, and love when a heel is booked as a vicious guy rather than the normal WWE crutch of a cowardly heel that sneaks through. That works sometimes, but not every heel needs to be that, so I like this a lot, especially when it’s all about the World Title, makes that title seem important that Del Rio will do damn near anything he has to to win it again. The foot on the rope bit is interesting, since they had the ref admit to making a bad call in a video afterwards. So, now the vicious Del Rio has a legit gripe, and I assume a rematch will be coming next month.

So, not that WWE cares, but you’ve jobbed out the Prime Time Playas twice now to the champs, so you’ve shown us they can’t “win the big one” as you like to say. Who’s next now for the tag team division? And why should I care? Ugh. Could have given the division a shot in the arm with O’Neil and Young winning the belts, but instead…nope, still two guys who have no reason to team are the champs. Blah.

WWE Title Match should have closed the show (Titles should be most important, I completely agree with Punk!), and I LOVE how they had Punk win. They keep him from being a heel that had to cheat, but rather he just took advantage of the situation in front of him. He’s still not doing anything “wrong” really…just doing what he need to to keep the title around his waist, and wanting to be on top because of it, I love it. Punk/Cena seems like the Survivor Series main event to me (unless Triple H comes back again for a 2nd run at Lesnar).

Lesnar got the win the way he should have, making Triple H tap, and he looks like the monster that can’t be beat again, and I love it. It also appears Heyman is going to be sticking around at least a little while longer, which adds a great deal to Lesnar, so I hope Heyman stays at least as long as Lesnar is around. I’m a fan of Heyman though, so I’m happy if he stays forever!

All in all it seems like Summerslam was a thumbs in the middle to slightly up, the two biggest “what the hell” moments for me were the tag title match and Ziggler’s loss.

Tom’s React

Unfortunately, I have not yet been able to watch SummerSlam in full so much of my opinion here is based on what I have read, not seen. I am glad I am still in close chase of Jim in our competition, as I do not plan to wear a Bears shirt anytime soon!

Antonio Cesaro’s title win on the pre-show is WWE’s attempt to make those events “must see.” As I have written here in months before, specifically with the use of Brodus Clay, WWE wants people to see that match as a showcase to get fans to tune in and very likely as well earn a few extra PPV buys as a hard final sell. I am happy for Cesaro because he’s a guy I’ve watched since 2005 and it is the culmination of hard work and effort. I think his character is great and I hope he gets a long title run.

Jericho-Ziggler was good, but not great and I was hoping for great. Jericho getting the win was a stand alone in the storyline to show that he can win the big one and did so by overcoming the rib injury. Unfortunately, the win was moot as the re-match occurred the next night on RAW and Ziggler got the win back with stipulations out there that really didn’t have time to be built up or established, they were just thrown out there. That is a little too much of the WWE mentality in the sense that long term angles or story telling is the rare opportunity. I am sure Jericho is not done yet with WWE, but this will allow him to come back and really be fresh once again.

Bryan-Kane was fun. I have to be honest that I find myself awestruck when I see Bryan on WWE TV still and a regularly featured talent. I like that he got the win and is still being given opportunities to be featured.

I was not surprised that Miz retained his title. It is what is best and I really hope it is continued upswing for him as he kind of sunk quite a ways after his World Title run. Rey Mysterio will continue to sell merchandise and be over no matter what happens and I think WWE is wise to utilize him in building younger wrestlers.

Sheamus-Del Rio as I stated last week seems like the feud that just won’t end. Not that it is a bad thing because the storyline has been easy to follow, but it just seems weird at times that Sheamus as the babyface has been the one to get “one-up” on his heel opponent. Shouldn’t it be the other way around? I do think the end of the match is smart and gives Del Rio another legit reason to demand a re-match. As much as I see Sheamus as a significant part of the WWE’s future, at some point Del Rio will trump him to win the title.

The Tag Title Match sums up the way WWE views tag team wrestling. Kofi & Truth are good “servicemen” and hold those titles and their rolls well. Do some minor building up of teams around them and have them challenge, but ultimately they won’t succeed in the end. You have to wonder if Abraham Washington’s firing from WWE impacted Young & O’Neil? I hope not.

Punk retaining is exactly the way it should have been. I really feel like the road map from now to Royal Rumble and an inevitable Punk-Rock match for the title is destined to go down. Punk continuing to win by any means, be it his skills and talents, taking advantage of presented opportunities and more is just the way to go. Allow for some ambiguity around how he comes across and let fans decide for themselves to cheer or boo. It is novel that they allow for that because so often the “WWE Machine” sets the tone for who or what they want fans to get behind – and it is refreshing that it is not happening here.

The one match I am really, really itching to see is Lesnar-Triple H. I just think the battle that these two had is worth seeing and from what I read, really helped Lesnar be re-established as a dominant force. For all of the things that have been written and stated about Triple H, he ultimately knows what is best for business and did that here. Now, my opinion might change if we get a re-match here by Survivor Series but I have hope that Lesnar continues to be built strong with his limited appearances and we get big, impactful matches from him at Royal Rumble and of course, WrestleMania. Paul Heyman will be a HUGE component of Lesnar’s remaining strong and over outside of the ring and I am thankful he is back on WWE TV.

We will be back soon with more opinions and new interviews – Thanks for reading!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Head 2 Head: SummerSlam 2012

So this year is supposedly the 25th anniversary of Summerslam. Much like the 25th Anniversary of Wrestlemania, they are wrong. It’s the 25th edition of Summerslam, but the “1st Anniversary of Summerslam” wouldn’t have been Summerslam 1988, but rather the 2nd installment in ’89. Oh well, semantics out of the way, let’s take a look at the card WWE is presenting us this year! (FAIR WARNING: Smackdown Spoilers included below!)

Pre-Show Match: US Title Match
Santino Marella (C) vs. Antonio Cesaro

It’s time for the Marella US Title reign to end, and maybe get that title some prestige back. Cesaro has pinned Marella twice, which makes me fear that they are going to have Marella get his revenge here and pin Cesaro. I hate saying it, but I think Marella wins here (and maybe Cesaro gets the belt on Monday…but not here).

TOM: Marella seems to be WWE’s “Mr. Reliable” because they call on him to deliver in a number of roles time and time again. They are doing it here, hoping he draws the audience to the YouTube pre-show. As Jim mentions, the build points to Antonio Cesaro getting the win, but WWE doesn’t make booking decisions on logic, do they? Santino retains here.

Daniel Bryan vs. Kane

Two guys who have worked hard lately (as much as I hated most of what they did with Kane for the last few months, I don’t question his effort in it all). This will likely be a pretty good match. Kane winning only makes sense if Charlie Sheen does show up and interfere, but they haven’t breathed a word of his name lately, so I kind of doubt anything is going down with that. So, I think Bryan gets the “No Lock” locked on, and gets the win.

TOM: I gotta say, I am still unsure how Kane turned babyface. Perhaps I missed it, but I’ve watched more WWE TV since the last PPV than I have all year long and the switch just didn’t seem fluid. Regardless of this, the booking of the match by RAW General Manager AJ is clearly an extension of her issue with Daniel Bryan. How much more mileage does that storyline have after AJ walked away from her marriage to become GM and thus spurn Bryan? I am not sure, but it carries on here. With that said, I don’t think it ends the run here as well and Kane will get the win.

Intercontinental Title Match
The Miz (C) vs. Rey Mysterio

This has the potential to be very good. The Miz just won the title a few weeks back, and Mysterio has 2 strikes on the Wellness Policy. Mysterio will put up a good fight, but no chance in hell he wins here. The Miz gets the win, and hopefully looks strong in doing so, he deserves so much better than the way he’s been treated over the last year.

TOM: Unless WWE wanted to use Miz as a transitory champion from Christian to Mysterio, then I cannot see a title change here. Nothing at all against Rey, but Miz has more upside and probably does more as champion at this point than Rey does. Would I be surprised with a title switch – not really, but for this purpose I lean stronger to Miz.

WWE Tag Team Title Match
R-Truth & Kofi Kingston (C) vs. Darren Young & Titus O’Neil

Well, Young & O’Neil are out on their own now that AW went and got himself fired from WWE. In the end, I think that’s going to work out just fine for them, and I fully expect that this is the point where they win the Tag Team Titles from Truth and Kingston. Truth and Kingston should both be in singles action, and I’d love to see Kingston go after either the IC or US Title again, and maybe have a shot down the line at going for one of the big belts. So, the Prime Time Playas start making “millions of dollars” as the tag champs on Sunday night!

TOM: Despite the “Playas” losing their manager, they’ve been really booked rather poorly leading to this match. I feel like Primo & Epico are more deserving of this show based on W/L records on TV alone. While it is had to not agree to an extent with Jim’s point on Kofi & Truth in singles roles (Kofi more than truth, IMO)…I don’t think that they lose the belts here. Kofi & Truth retain.

Chris Jericho vs. Dolph Ziggler

Lots of talk that Jericho is headed out of WWE after this match this weekend, so knowing Jericho there is only one way he’s going to go out, and that’s looking at the lights, and hopefully elevating Ziggler along the way. I have a bit of a feeling that Ziggler may get involved in the World Title Match, maybe even walking out as champ on Sunday night…but in this match here, Ziggler gets the win, and will look great in the process! Should be the match of the night!

TOM: When the seeds for this match were planted over the last month, I was as giddy as a school girl in a pretty dress on the first day of school! Uh oh…bad analogy, but you get the idea. This is the bout I am most looking towards in terms of total in-ring presentation. Dolph has been rising and I have been enjoying it greatly. I wasn’t aware on the info on Jericho being out of WWE post-match here (possibly), but it would not have swayed my choice. Ziggler is my STONE COLD lock!

WWE Title – Triple Threat Match
CM Punk (C) vs. The Big Show vs. John Cena

The only thing that makes sense in this story right now is Punk retaining the title. If he loses, it just looks like he isn’t what he says he is. I have some slight fears of a Cena title win, because it’s been so long, but I really hope they realize the money is in Punk staying as champion and “fighting for respect” all along. Punk goes over, probably by some shenanigans that he pulls to save his title!

TOM: After RAW 1000 and the interaction and angle between CM Punk and The Rock, I do not know how WWE doesn’t build and end up with that match at Royal Rumble 2013. With that said, he’s obviously got to retain here to make it to January and I would love to see Punk go to any lengths necessary to keep his title and continue to turn the fans against him (whether they love or hate him now). Punk over Show here, keeping the door open for a Punk-Cena singles title bout on a future PPV.

World Heavyweight Title Match
Sheamus (C) vs. Alberto Del Rio

As soon as they announced that this match was off last week, I knew we’d have the “Sheamus demands revenge, and Del Rio gets his match back” bit that will air on Smackdown this week, so no shock here. They’ve done a great job of making Del Rio into a vicious heel lately, and one who is obsessed with the World Heavyweight Title. I think Sheamus retains here, but could see Del Rio attacking viciously after the bell, leading to Ziggler cashing in here and winning the title. But, for the match at hand, I expect Sheamus to keep the World Title, at least for a short while!

TOM: I think I am jaded slightly by old WWE booking habits of old because I am really surprised that Del Rio has not won the title yet and isn’t assured to win on Sunday. Perhaps this feud has not been going on as long in reality as it has in my mind, but boy it doesn’t feel that way. I have no qualms with Sheamus as champion and with the recent return of Wade Barrett, I could see a future program between those two over the title if WWE chooses to go that way. I want to pick Del Rio here because I think he deserves the title and a nice, solid run…but I’ve gone in a different direction than Jim on a couple of picks before this and really don’t want to lose ground in our competition! Sheamus retains.

Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar

This should be 3rd from the top, but it’s going to main event, no question about it. They brought Lesnar in, and he did the job to Cena. I can’t see you having him lose twice in a row, and especially to a very part time worker in Triple H. I’m sure this will be a battle much like the Cena/Lesnar match where Lesnar beats the hell out of Triple H, only to have Triple H fight back valiantly. I’m going with Lesnar to win, and I think it will take him 3 F-5’s to get the job done!

TOM: This match is a “dream match” that has yet to occur in all of wrestling. That is a rare thing to say in this day and age. For some reason, Lesnar seems uncomfortable in his role in WWE to a greater extent since his return. Not sure if that is true or if I can put my finger on the pulse of it exactly, but that is a feeling I have. Paul Heyman has been tremendous in “promoting” Brock and assisting with the build for this match. If fans don’t have attention spans conditioned to be short, they’d likely watch this match and correlate it to the battle from WrestleMania between Undertaker and Triple H, where it is a battle of survival to an extent. I think both men will be incredibly motivated and Triple H (for his faults) will take pride in this match closing the show (right or wrong) and ensure he does all he can with Brock to ensure it is memorable. Lesnar wins and puts Triple H out with an extended injury.

There it is - the competition roles on with Head 2 Head. Can Jim extend his league, will Tom pull closer or can he even take the lead? Check back next week for our REACT article on the show as well as a live review from CHIKARA in Milwaukee, where Jim and Tom will both attend live on Friday night!

Enjoy the shows this weekend!

Monday, August 13, 2012

13 Questions with ACH!

When you talk about the hottest up and coming wrestlers on the independent scene that aren't currently under contract to ROH or DGUSA/Evolve, indy star ACH is one of the first names that come to mind!  ACH was kind enough to join us here at Two Spot Monkeys to talk about his career, his upcoming match in the Young Lions Cup Tournament for Chikara this Friday night against Jakob Hammermeier, and why you should be referring to him as #YoungSimba for now!  Check it out!
1. Can you tell us a bit about how you became interested in becoming a professional wrestler, and who trained you?
ACH:  I played numerous sports throughout my life.  I’ve also been called a class clown, center of attention, and most likely to turn super saiyan.  Growing up I always wanted to be in the NFL, MLB, and NBA like most kids.  Unfortunately, I was over looked as an athlete growing up cause of my size and my lack of focus.  I was first introduced to wrestling at a young age like most fans, but I never dreamed or thought of being a professional wrestler.  When I was sophomore in high school I was thinking about my future after school.  I didn’t know what I wanted to do, I thought long and hard about a career I wanted to pursue.  I loved being an entertainer, but also wanted to show people that I could be athlete as well.  So, I came to a decision that I would become a professional wrestler!  A couple of weeks after high school I signed up with QFC (Quest for Champions) in South Austin, TX.  I attended the school for two months and left due to a lifestyle change that required me to relocate to San Antonio, TX.  While in San Antonio, my trainer from Austin helped me seek training with Jerry Reyes who retrained me.
2. Who are some of the wrestlers that you’ve looked up to in your young career? Do you think you pattern your career or style after anyone in particular?
ACH:  Shelton Benjamin is my favorite wrestler/hero overall. AJ Styles, Austin Aries, Ricky Steamboat, and a whole list of guys!!! Too many to name, I try not to pattern myself after anyone. We are at a time in wrestling where EVERYTHING has been seen and done. So, I try to carry myself like no one else. It keeps me working harder, and also keeps my mind focused on my task at hand.
3. Your style seems to be a mix of the incredible high flying, and also some good kicks, and a few video game inspired moves thrown in, how would you describe your style?
ACH:  “Final Fantasy Strong Style”.  Most people only dream of what I do in the ring!!! Get it? Lol.  
4. You are known as “The Last Dragon” and also lately have been referring to yourself as #YoungSimba, care to explain those names for our readers?
ACH:  “The Last Dragon” came about for my love of Berry Gordy’s “The Last Dragon” film. Also I was going through a really tough time in my life, had a falling out with wrestling, and then came back with a new focus and mind set.  So I started using the name because I felt reborn and felt like I was the last of a dying breed of my style of people. After I picked myself up after my hardships, it was time to show “Sho’nuff” (Who which I refer to as the politics in wrestling) that I had the “Glow”.  Cheesy? I know!  The #YoungSimba name is all about me winning this year Young Lions Cup. My mind set this year overall is: I can’t wait to be the king! #YoungSimba
5. You have had a number of matches with AR Fox across many different promotions. Is there one that sticks out in your mind? And why do you think you have had such good chemistry with Fox?
ACH:  Our 30 minute ironman match from AIW (Absolute Intense Wrestling) sticks out the most.  Honestly, couldn’t tell you. Some things in life you just can’t put your finger on. The unknown factor! Lol.
6. You've had a chance to work with some of the top names out there on the Indy scene over the last year or two, Davey Richards, Chris Hero, Akira Tozawa and others.  Do any of those matches stick out to you as a favorite, or one you were most nervous before?
ACH:  Nervous! I was sweating like a fat man in a phone booth before all these matches! Ha-ha. Nah, seriously my match with Chris Hero sticks out the most. After that match I pretty much told myself in order to take my career to the next level, I needed to leave Texas. So, after that match I left TX and moved to St Louis.   
7. What is the "dream match" you hope you get to be a part of some day?
ACH:  I feel like every match I have is a “dream match” for me. I’m living my dream every day I wake up and I’m so blessed to be able to shake the hands of fans, wrestlers, and anyone that loves what I do inside the ring. But if I must pick a dream match, I’ll have to say me vs. Shelton Benjamin.
8. You worked a Fray Match on the pre-show for Dragon Gate USA last year in Chicago. It would seem that your style would be a good fit for DGUSA and Evolve. Has there been any movement towards you appearing again for those companies?
ACH:  I get asked that a lot. At this moment I can’t tell you anything due to me not knowing anything. Hopefully I will get the opportunity to work with them again.
9. You debuted for Chikara last month and won a Four Way Eliminator to advance to the semi-finals in the Young Lions Cup. You’ll compete Friday, August 17th in Milwaukee against Jakob Hammermeier in those semi-finals, and then could move on to the finals the next night in Indiana if you are successful. What would it mean to you to win the Young Lions Cup?
ACH:  It would mean the world to me! A good friend of mine by the name of Davey Vega told me it means a lot to him to see me in the YLC because he always wanted to be a part of it but is too old to be considered for the tournament now. That’s one of my main motivations to push me to the finals. I also feel like I’ve been put in a leadership role for the young guys in my state. Texas gets overlooked a lot in the professional world of wrestling. Yup! I have full list of reasons to win, but I’ll just sum it up simple by saying it means the world!
10. What stands out to you most about Jakob Hammermeier?  Is there anything in particular you think you need to be cautious with him about? 
ACH:  He has a lot of momentum after beating Jigsaw.  I just need to stay on top of game and stay focus.
11. Win, lose, or draw, will we be seeing more of you in Chikara in the months to come?
ACH:  I can’t say. Hopefully my performances will warrant a comeback!
12. What are your goals over the next year? How about the next three years? Next five years?
ACH:  Wrestle in Japan, keep entertaining the good fans of professional wrestling and stay humble!
13. How can fans connect with you, and get merchandise if they’d like?
ACH:  Twitter: @AcLeroy
Facebook: Albert Hardie
Facebook Fan page:
We here at Two Spot Monkeys would like to thank ACH for taking the time to talk with us about his career!  If you are anywhere near Milwaukee this Friday night, come join Tom and I as we cheer on ACH in his quest to become Chikara Young Lions Cup Champion, as he faces Jakob Hammermeier in the semi-finals of the tournament!  
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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

13 Questions with Roderick Strong

“The Messiah of the Backbreaker” Roderick Strong is one of the longest standing veterans in Ring of Honor. He has been an active roster member for over 8 years and holds the rare distinction alongside Eddie Edwards as being one of  only two men to hold the ROH Triple Crown.  Ahead of Ring of Honor’s return to iPPV this weekend with their Rhode Island debut “Boiling Point 2012,” Strong joined us to discuss his background, ROH career, highlights, recap some of what has been happening in 2012 and his upcoming bout with “No Fear” Mike Mondo!

1. How did you first come to be interested in pro wrestling and what made you decide to give it a shot as a career?

Strong: Like a lot of guys, I was a fan growing up. My Dad had a chance to train and being the only parent around at the time, he took me with him to practice. After sitting around and watching for a while,I had the chance to get in the ring and mess around. From that day forward, I fell in love with it and realized it was a dream I wanted to pursue.

2. What was your athletic background prior to beginning your pro wrestling training? How did that help you?

I played every sport as a kid, but going in to high school I just focused on football. The biggest thing it helped me with was conditioning and being able to push my pace even when I was exhausted. One of the biggest things in pro wrestling is learning how to overcome the mental part of training at first and being in athletics my whole life really helped with that.

3. You were trained under Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart among others. Any memories or stories of those times, and what it was like to train under the former WWE Tag Team Champion as well as being trained and breaking in in Florida, a state with a rich pro wrestling history?

The best memory I have of the training is how intense it was. He (Jim) was having them do a Japanese-style training with the squats, push-ups and sit-ups, so I had a chance to see and experience that first hand when I was really young. With Florida having such a rich history in pro wrestling really pushed me to want to represent the state and everyone that made a name in it before me.

4. Thinking back to 2003 and your ROH debut, that was a time where many guys were coming up and making their name not only in ROH but around the country. Can you share what your thoughts were at that time and now looking back, being one of the longest standing roster members 8+ years later?

My debut was the most nervous I have ever been in my career. Like you said, a lot of guys were making their name in ROH at the time and to have an opportunity to start making my name there had me excited. Wow, sometimes I forget just how long I have been in the company!

5. From Generation Next in 2004, tag team success, getting endorsed by James Gibson, singles success, ROH’s growth and more - What have been the biggest successes and
biggest challenges to you in those last 8 years?

The biggest successes have been becoming the second Triple Crown winner in ROH history and just being able to wrestle the best talent from all over the world, plus I have made some really awesome friendships along the way. Biggest challenge wise, I don't feel any have been any different than what I would've run into or encountered being a part of any company.

6. In December of 2005, you and Austin Aries won the ROH World Tag Team Titles, which you held until September of 2006, a reign that many still today consider the best ROH Tag Team Title reign in the history of the company. What are your memories of that title reign, and what does it mean to you to still hear that praise today?

That title reign really helped take me to the next level. Austin and myself both really love tag team wrestling and realize (that) when done right (it) can main event any night of the week and we wanted to prove that when we were champions. It's great to know we had set out to do something and we got it done. Goes to show you tag team wrestling can be a huge part of wrestling even in these

7. Transitioning from the tag team success with Aries, you had many memorable singles feuds and matches – is there one or two that really are memorable to you and why?

Honestly I have a laundry list of matches during my time that are really memorable and for many different reasons. During that time was when I really had a chance to grow as a pro wrestler and test myself with the best.

8. You won the ultimate prize in ROH by dethroning Tyler Black to capture the ROH World Title in New York City in September 2010. What was that night like for you, in preparation for the match, during the match and then when the final bell rang to signal your achievement?

Getting ready for that match I knew I had to bring the belt home. I believe at that time I was 0-16 or something around that in title matches and I had to make this one count. So preparation wise, I stepped up my training and dieting like I had never done before. Tyler and I had faced off quite a few times before this match up so I was as ready as ever for him. All I know is when that bell rang and I had that belt, the years of hard work and sacrifice was all worth it. It was my Super Bowl ring!

9. You completed the Ring of Honor Triple Crown earlier this year by winning and having a good, yet brief run with the ROH TV Title. You are only the 2nd wrestler to have that distinction – what does that mean to you and how does it motivate you to get back to being a champion?

I got into wrestling to be the best at it. Championships are only part of what makes up a career, but they also push you to be at the top of your game every single night and I love that challenge!

10. To fans watching ROH weekly on Sinclair Broadcast Group networks around the country or live at shows, there seems to be trouble inside the House of Truth. Michael Elgin seems to be slowly pulling himself away from both you and Truth Martini, and it has almost come to blows numerous times between the two of you. Is there any way to fix the rift that is there, who is to blame for the rift or is Roderick Strong vs. Michael Elgin something we'll be seeing in the not too distant future?

I think Elgin knows who is at blame for this situation being the way it is. I was nice enough to allow him to come into the House of Truth and I feel maybe his ego is getting just a little too big. So if porky decides he wants to make things right he will or if he doesn't you will have to just wait to see what happens.

11. At Boiling Point you take on up and comer, “No Fear” Mike Mondo, who has been impressive lately in his matches with Davey Richards and Kevin Steen among others. What are your thoughts leading into this match?

I think Mondo is a wrestler trying to find himself here in ROH and that makes him dangerous. Do I know what he can do, yes. Does that make me fear him? NO! My thoughts are no matter what Mondo brings to the table, I am a few steps ahead and he isn't going to outwork me, he isn't going to out strike me and he isn't going to beat me!

12. You faced Jushin “Thunder” Liger earlier this year – was that a “dream match” for you and what other “dream matches” are out there that you would relish the opportunity to be a part of. Additionally, what goals does Roderick Strong have in the next year, three years and five years?

Of course that was a dream match for me! I have been watching Liger for many, many years and the fact that I got to wrestle him was amazing! He can still work with the best of them and it was an honor! There are quite a few Japanese legends I would love to work with before it's all said and done. My only goals are really to keep improving in every way possible and let that take me where it will.

13. What are some of your passions or hobbies when you are not on the road or in the ring and how can fans connect with you, keep up with your schedule in Ring of Honor and beyond and buy merchandise, etc.?

I love to workout, go hit fun little dive bars with good music and great beer and go to the beach. Fans can follow me on Twitter @roderickstrong , on Instagram @roderickstrong and like my Facebook fan page.

Thanks to Ring of Honor and Roderick Strong for the opportunity to showcase them in this forum. Don’t forget to check out the iPPV this weekend (can be ordered at and watch ROH on TV near you – check local listings to see when they air in your area!

Friday, August 3, 2012

UFC on FOX 4 - Main Card Preview

Happy Friday everyone! We thought we’d take a quick look at the four main card fights that will air on Fox this weekend as the Ultimate Fighting Championship presents, UFC on Fox 4! Here we go!

Main Event

Light Heavyweight Match

Mauricio “Shogun” Rua vs. Brandon “The Truth” Vera

JIM: The winner of this match could be in line for a title shot, though neither guy really screams “yeah, let’s see him and Jones”, since Jon Jones has already disposed of both of these guys (and yeah, I’m not giving Dan Henderson a chance against Jones next month…he’s a tough dude, and might last longer than anyone has, but I think Jones is the best fighter in the world right now). Vera really doesn’t deserve a title shot, even if he knocks Rua out in 9 seconds or something crazy, as he’s 1-2, and a no contest in his last four fights. I don’t think it will be an issue though, as I expect Rua to thoroughly out class Vera, and likely take him down and submit him for the win.

TOM: Regardless of the Brandon Vera that shows up in this fight (and it has been much longer since we’ve seen the fighter many thought he would become), I cannot see him standing and hanging toe-to-toe with Shogun. Look at the slate of previous fights for Rua: tough loss to Dan Henderson in possibly the “Fight of the Year” for 2011 and one that could have been his win, dismantling Forrest Griffin, the loss to Jon Jones (I agree with Jim, “Bones” is the best fighter in the world!) and a split series with Lyoto Machida, which he came out on top of. Rua is my pick here too, but I give him the nod to KO Vera no later than Round 2.

Light Heavyweight Match

Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida vs. Ryan “Darth” Bader

JIM: Machida is a former Light Heavyweight Champ who is looking to get back in the title hunt and get another title shot at Jon Jones. The winner of this match may also find themselves in the #1 contender slot depending on how things go on Saturday night, so I expect to see fireworks here. Bader got submitted the one time he fought Jones, and Machida is sneaky good on the ground at times, along with his crazy good karate striking. I’m a big Ryan Bader fan, have been since The Ultimate Fighter, but I just can’t see him getting by Machida here. I think Machida either KO’s him, or gets a decisive decision win over him. I don’t know where that leaves the #1 contender slot at the end of the night, as with these two matches you have four guys that Jones has already beaten soundly!

TOM: I was huge in the Ryan Bader camp and on his bandwagon until he ran into Jones and then the shocker against Tito Ortiz. He’s bounced back with impressive wins since that time, but did we see him hit his ceiling in the losses or can he improve and develop the aspects of the MMA game to compete at another (championship) level? Machida is a guy I have always liked, but his 1-3 record since 2010 has got to be something he is really displeased with. Bader possesses KO-power, but the question comes down to if he is able or not to oppose being stifled by “The Dragon” and able to unleash his strikes. I think Machida plays the strategy to avoid that and will earn a unanimous decision over Bader.

Lightweight Match

Joe “J-Lau” Lauzon vs. Jamie “C-4” Varner

JIM: Lauzon is coming off a quick loss to Anthony Pettis, while Varner came back to the UFC with a stunning KO of a super tough Edson Barboza back at UFC 146. I’m a big Lauzon fan, and have always wished he’d string together some wins, but every time he does, he gets a fight like the Pettis one (after a 2 fight win streak) that ends any momentum he has. Varner was out of the UFC/Zuffa companies for a year and a half before his return in May, and he looked really good. As much as I like Lauzon, I wonder if Varner has it put together now. I am going with Varner by TKO in this one.

TOM: I am a huge fan of redemption stories. Varner fits that mold wonderfully. He earned the right to be in this fight and on this card with FOX exposure. Lauzon has the the submission game to really push Varner here and I hope that we can get some exciting back and forth action with submission attempts and counters. I have to agree with Jim here again and give Varner the nod, in part because of his momentum, to take a decision win.

Welterweight Match

Mike “Quick” Swick vs. DaMarques “The Darkness” Johnson

JIM: Swick has been gone for two years after back to back losses to Dan Hardy and Paulo Thiago. Johnson on the other hand is coming off trading wins and losses over his last six fights. On that pattern he’s due for a win here, but I can’t see it. I think Swick was a fighter who before those two losses was coming into his own. How has the layoff helped or hindered him? We will find out on Saturday night, but for me, this is a “Quick Swick” special, with an early KO of “The Darkness”!

TOM: I think Swick is relishing this opportunity to be back in the UFC. Johnson just really has not shown he is capable to put together a streak of consistency in his fighting to give me reason to think he will be able to bring a battle to “Quick.” Will Swick have the stamina after a long lay-off from The Octagon is a worthy question to ask and maybe the only glimmer of hope for “The Darkness.” My pick is Swick by TKO.

There you have it – Jim and I are unanimous on our picks for winners, but don’t agree 100% in finishes. I am excited to tune in tomorrow night and really interested in the ratings UFC will draw competing with the Olympics. Have a great weekend!