This week, we lost an Icon in the industry, William Moody. I had the pleasure of meeting him at a young age in Memphis, after the merger of CWA and WCCW. Even before he would become Paul Bearer, he had an incredible presence about him, one that brought not only attention to him but to whomever he was managing. I cannot for the life of me remember who he was managing at the time, but I do remember him being more than willing to sign autographs for everyone that approached him. I would then see him next, like most people, as Paul Bearer. While Undertaker already was making waves, Paul Bearer brought a whole new dimension to the character. Bearer made it to where the Undertaker had a true cohesion between manager and wrestler. He also would be responsible for molding Taker’s early career, as well as eventually the career of Kane. And we all saw where that molding would help take them. After he left WWE, I would see him one last time in person. He was attending a Convention in Dallas, TX, and I honestly had a blubbering idiot moment. I mean, here is the man that had become synonymous with a wrestling Icon himself, and he was just as down to earth and humble for the love that he received from the fans. He was a truly great man, and will be dearly missed by the entire wrestling community.
RIP William Moody
Break it down!
Opening graphic – 10
It was a nice way to be able to pay tribute to Paul Bearer even though the show had already been taped when we learned of his death. I know that we will get a much better tribute on Monday.
Opening Video – 3
The video did well to recap last week, as it should. But we really didn’t need to see Swagger’s beatdown on the Legends. All it did was serve to further humiliate them.
In Ring Segment – 8.25
First of all, the crowd was obviously piped in during the early parts of this segment. There was no way they were getting that loud of a reaction with the entire side opposite of the camera being dead. Other than that glaring error, this was a good overall segment. Zeb mixed it up to where it felt like we were getting something new. And Swagger has drastically improved on the mike. Keeping him in short bursts is a great idea, and he has a fire in him we haven’t seen since WWECW. I am hoping that he is taking everything that Zeb is teaching him to heart, as we all know he can’t be Swagger’s mouthpiece forever. Del Rio and Ricardo parodying Swagger and Zeb’s videos was priceless! This proved one thing beyond a shadow of a doubt, though. Ricardo is being held back by being Del Rio’s ring announcer. He has shown he can work in NXT, and very obviously has the mike skills. He needs to be allowed to branch out on his own. Also, I have to say it is nice that we have had two weeks in a row without Booker T coming out to set up a match for the show!
World Tag Team Champions Team Hell No (Kane and Daniel Bryan) vs. 3MB (Heath Slater and Drew McIntyre with Jinder Mahal) – 6 Michael Cole – 0
Drew, oh how you have fallen. You were a great talent on the path of success; now you are part of the jobber to the stars team. I was surprised that we got a different match. I was half expecting another match against the Primetime players! One little mess up I noticed was Drew protected his head way too early on the Back Bodydrop during the momentum shift. Otherwise, this really wasn’t anything to write home about. Cole did provide his second error in as many weeks, with calling the No Lock the Yes Lock.
Winners: Team Hell No (Sub)
Announce Segment – 9
Charity work is always a nice thing to see, and it warms my heart to see WWE working with so many different charities. WWE should be using their position to help further some of these lesser known organizations and get them more donations.
Backstage Segment – 7.75
Dolph was on, as is usual. The man has improved so much since the Mr. Ziggles days. The Zeb quip worked great, and helped further the Swagger agenda subtly.
Backstage Segment – 8
Call me crazy, but I think a Ryback vs. Mark Henry feud might be very interesting. They both have a very rough and powerful style, and are both very dangerous in ring. This might be the best way to keep them from hurting anyone, and we don’t have to hear either of them cut promos, as they can keep letting each other’s train wreck matches talk for them!
Announce Segment – 6
Maddox on announce? This might be interesting!
Video – 8
This was a nice recap for HHH on Raw. Short, sweet, and kept to the high points.
Damien Sandow vs Ryback – 6.75
Boy, Sandow sure hit it on the head when he said that Ryback is the man Darwin forgot! It is a shame that Sandow has been on such a losing streak here lately. This is a man that could easily be in the main event, especially with the reaction he gets. Every time I see him, it makes me think back to “The Genius” Lanny Poffo. Ryback has just been getting sloppy in the ring lately, and I don’t understand why. Tonight we had him very obviously call a spot, and then he didn’t hit the Meathook Clothesline properly. Ryback is starting to get lazy, and that’s not good. Sadly, though, we couldn’t get through this match without Maddox and Cole’s banter becoming horrendously annoying.
Winner: Ryback (pin)
App video – 8
This was an honest surprise, as in the 17+ years that I have been watching the Big Show, I never would have expected him to take a Powerbomb from anyone, especially three new people on the scene.
Backstage Segment – 8.5
Are we seeing the start of a subtle face turn? Show has worked well as a heel this time, but the fans are obviously starting to tire of him. Maybe it is time for him to go back to being a face.
Fahn-Dahn-Goh Vi-De-Oh – 0
So we are just going to keep on airing these awful videos every single show until he finally decides to have a match? Shoot me, please.
Del Rio vs Ziggler – 8.75
First, why is the World Heavyweight Champion being used in the middle of the card? It show no respect for the Title, or for the man holding it. And while I enjoyed the bit of comedy between AJ and Ricardo, as it showed us more from AJ than we have seen a while, it also opened up a big continuity flaw in the match. Why would the ref only send back Big E and AJ, but not Ricardo, the one who started the ruckus? But I loved the little angel face he made as they were getting sent back! Zeb talking strategy to Swagger backstage was brilliant, and eluded to them going after Ricardo. I always love it when Ziggler is in a match, as he brings up whomever he works with. And with Del Rio already working much better than he has been, this match was a win-win! That was an incredible Superplex by Del Rio and Ziggler! I swear that Ziggler reminds me of a young HBK with his selling. It also was nice to see Del Rio finally connect with all of the Tilt-a-Whirl Backbreaker. Ziggler has the single best Dropkick in the WWE. Now, last week I mentioned how we hadn’t seen a Suplex pin in awhile, and this week we saw Del Rio pull out a German Suplex Pin! Oh, the irony! The ending was a great change of pace, as the counter string helped set up the Cross Armbreaker very well. I still feel he need a different finisher, but this week I am a bit more appeased with the set up for it.
Winner: Alberto Del Rio (Sub)
Backstage Segment – 8
I wish AJ and Bryan would get back together! They work so well off one another, and honestly AJ has been regulated to the background since she started working with Ziggler. It’s time for her to shine again!
Yoshi Tatsu vs Mark Henry – 4
Anyone else remember when Yoshi Tatsu was being called the Japanese Rey Mysterio? It’s sad to see that he has been regulated to being squashed by Mark Henry. At least it was quick and mostly painless.
Winner: Mark Henry (pin)
Trump Induction Video – 7
While I don’t agree with celebrities being inducted to the Hall of Fame, Trump has done plenty with and for WWE to deserve induction, unlike some others.
Backstage Segment – 6
Sheamus fell flat for me yet again. He can be a great talker when he wants, but his promos here lately feel too forced. Maybe he needs to step away from the script and just talk.
Video – 6
They cut a lot of the intensity out of Cena’s and Rock’s promo. While I don’t like long videos on Smackdown, if they were going to recap this, they needed to show more than just the ending
WWE Diva’s Champion Kaitlyn vs Tamina – 3.5
That was a nasty rope hit by Kaitlyn! It’s not often I cringe in a Diva’s match, but that was just sick! Other than that one spot, this match was a giant waste of time. If this is the amount of time and the quality of the matches that we are going to get from the Diva’s, then I honestly see no reason to keep the Diva’s Division or the Title around.
Winner: Tamina (pin)
Backstage Segment – 7.5
Cody is doing very well as the awkward creeper. Granted, Cody has always done well with the slightly “off” characters he’s had over the years. I just hope that this isn’t going to stagnate him yet again. Sandow, though, was very on and well in character. Post-haste!
Fahn-Dahn-Goh Vi-De-Oh – 0
Now, not only are they wasting time on yet another video for him, but they had to have a zoomed in shot of his gross chest? Blech!
Fandango Stage Segment – -5
So, Lillian gets it right, and it still wasn’t good enough for him? Please WWE, send him back to NXT until you are ready to actually use him. I am beyond sick of these wastes of time. And then he called her Jillian! She has been with WWE for 13 years. You can’t tell me that he had that big of a flub.
Backstage Segment – 5
Why, oh, why is the only reason we see Booker for Fandango? Booker has a great personality, and it shows in any segment he is in. But considering the fact that he is the GM, he should be on the show more than in one minor backstage segment.
Raw Rebound – 9.75
Perfectly set up video and it was beautifully done. I was already hyped up for their match at Wrestlemania, but this just reinforced it!
Video – 7
Zeb was spot on here. I swear, after going through the years of promos that he has done in Memphis, Dutch cannot cut a bad promo. Swagger looked like an idiot here; at the very least he could stand there with a scowl or something instead of looking like a dying fish!
Sheamus vs Big Show – 7
This match didn’t show us anything that we haven’t seen before between the two of them, other than that Bear Hug into the DDT. It was still a decent match, much better than some of the matches and segments on this Smackdown.
Winner: Sheamus (DQ)
In Ring Segment – 7
And we end yet another Smackdown with an attack by the Shield! Honestly, I felt like I had stepped back in time and was watching the ending of last week’s Smackdown, as it was almost the same ending. The only major difference was that Orton was left standing instead of Sheamus. If Show is going to be in this fight, he has to get on the same page as Sheamus and Orton. I don’t care if it is a full face turn or if he is a tweener until Wrestlemania, but they need to decide on a direction for him soon.
Overall Wrestling Grade: 6.0
Overall Segments Grade: 7.5 (I refuse to add Fandango here)
Overall Show Grade: 5.5
This week was just rough to watch. I don’t know whose bright idea it was to have Maddox on announce, but they ought to be fired. That detracted more from this show than anything else. The wrestling this week was lackluster at best, other than Del Rio vs. Ziggler. The promos were better, but there were WAY too many of them. We had 21 different promos or videos, which is ridiculous for a two hour show. And while we had 6 matches, only one of them lasted more than 4 minutes! Creative is obviously struggling to find a proper direction for the shows, and we are the ones suffering. Let’s just hope that next week’s Smackdown finds a better balance.
Before I leave you this week, here is Part 2 of my look back on the career of “Dirty” Dutch Mantell.
As the wrestling landscape was changing before him, Dutch Mantell’s career lay at a crossroads. Would he wrestle in Jarrett’s CWA or continue with the success he had garnered over in Puerto Rico? Well, why not have both? Dutch would make his long awaited return to Memphis in July and would immediately be thrust into the title picture. It would start with Dutch teaming up with Austin Idol to take part in CWA’s tournament to crown the promotion’s first ever Tag Team Champions. Mantell and Idol would make it all the way to the finals, where they would encounter the team of Jerry Jarrett and Tojo Yamamoto. Mantell and Idol would fight hard, but come up just a bit short. However, Jarrett and Yamamoto’s reign would be very short lived, as they would lose the titles to Mantell and Idol the next week in a No Disqualification match. During this reign, Dutch would return to WWC and capture the NWA North American Tag Team Championship yet again, this time with Danny Condrey as his partner, beating the team of Carlos Colon and Jose Rivera on October 11, 1980. It was during this time that Dutch would adopt the “Dirty” moniker and start carrying around his signature bullwhip. They would hold on to the titles until January 19, 1981, where they would fall to Carlos Colon and Invader #1. This would be Dutch’s last Title reign in WWC for 13 long years. After this, Dutch would briefly appear in Georgia Championship Wrestling, winning the NWA Georgia Junior Heavyweight Title from a young Kevin Sullivan, before losing it to Steve Olsonoski.
Upon coming back to CWA, Dutch would be brought into Jimmy Hart’s First Family stable and feud with Jerry Lawler and Bill Dundee. It would not be long until Bill Dundee and Tommy Rich would capture the CWA World Tag Team Titles from Dutch Mantell and Austin Idol, prompting Jimmy Hart to kick them out of the First Family. Dutch would then wrestle around the midcard for a few weeks until he found his next big feud against Tojo Yamamoto and his partners Mr. Onita and Maseo Fuchi. While he was feuding with Yamamoto, Dutch finally got the chance to get his revenge on the First Family, as he would team with Lawler, Dundee, and the Dream Machine in a number of contests. Come July of 1981, his attention would solely be back on Yamamoto, as they would have a series of brutal Bullwhip matches. Their feud would finally come to a head on August 17, 1981, in a Barbwire, Stretcher Texas Death Match. The rules were that the ring was enclosed in barbwire and that pins were counted by the ref; however, they did not end the match. The match could only end after someone could not answer a standing 10 count after being pinned. They then had to be stretchered out of the building. Dutch would win after 20 minutes and 6 falls. The Dirty Dutchman would then set his sights firmly on the NWA Mid America Heavyweight Championship. He would go on to beat Steve Keirn on September 26th, 1981, to capture it for a record setting sixth time.
The joy of winning was short lived, as the AWA Southern Heavyweight Champion, Dream Machine, called Mantell’s title worthless, and that his title was the only thing that mattered. This would ignite an epic feud that would result in Dutch Mantell winning the AWA Southern Heavyweight Championship on October 26th, 1981, causing him to vacate the NWA Mid America Heavyweight Championship. By winning, Dutch also became the only man to hold both an NWA and AWA Heavyweight title simultaneously, from as far as I could find in the records. Dream Machine would demand a rematch, but Mantell would deny him, stating that he needed to start at the back of the line, like everyone else. This would result in Dream Machine running down Dutch every week, calling him a coward. Eventually, the AWA stepped in and forced the rematch, which Mantell would win. He would finish out the year facing Stan Lane and Sweet Brown Sugar, both of whom were First Family members. But it wouldn’t be long before The King would come to try to claim what he thought was rightfully his!
Jerry Lawler and Dutch Mantell would start their storied rivalry on January 18th, 1982, with Mantell losing the AWA Southern Heavyweight Championship to Lawler. But on February 14th, the Dirty Dutchman would get his revenge and take back the Title, with Lawler losing clean to him. This is a very significant match, as Jerry Lawler never went under clean in Memphis for the Title. Dutch didn’t get very much time to celebrate with the Title, as The King would recapture it on March 1st. He would regain the Title on March 22nd, in a No Disqualification match, but would lose it again in a Barbwire match a week later, in what was billed to be their final encounter. This is considered by many people to be one of the greatest face vs. face feuds in professional wrestling history.
After his loss of the AWA Southern Heavyweight Championship, Dutch would reactivate the NWA Mid American Heavyweight Title, but would then quickly lose it to Dream Machine. This loss would result in Dutch resuming his feud against Jimmy Hart’s First Family. He would beat Dream Machine in their return match on May 17th, but would lose the Title just one week later to “Beautiful” Bobby Eaton. Dutch would win back the Title on July 5th from King Cobra, but would lose it again the next week to Eaton again! I know I commented on the fast title changes last week, but this is crazy! Dutch would once again have to battle his way back to the Title, this time going against “Superstar” Bill Dundee. They would have some heated contests, such as a Bullwhip on a Pole match and a Taped Fist Match. Dutch would finally win back the Title on September 6th, and would hold it until November 15th, where he would lose it to Jesse Barr. Barr would not get a chance to celebrate, as Dutch would win the Title back in their rematch the next week, marking his 10th reign, only to lose it himself to Apocalypse the following week! Dutch would spend the rest of the year and early part of 1983 mostly wrestling in Tag Team matches. Dutch would reignite his feud with Bill Dundee in April of 1983, as they would become involved in more and more dangerous matches, all for Dundee’s AWA Southern Heavyweight Title. Dundee would retain in their first few encounters, including a Falls Count Anywhere match and a Bullwhip match, but the Dirty Dutchman would finally be victorious in a Hair vs. Title match on May 9th, 1983. Dutch would lose the Title back to Dundee in a Scaffold match the next week, but would win it back the following week in a Bullwhip match. The next week would be tough on Dutch, though, as he would lose the Title to Jerry Lawler, who would lose it to Dundee that very same night!
Dutch would then refocus his attention on the NWA Mid America Heavyweight Title, which had been won by his former Los Vaqueros Locos partner “Cowboy” Frankie Lane. He would win the Title on July 18th, 1983, marking his 11th reign with the Title, breaking the tie on the record he held with Bobby Eaton. He would hold the Title until August 15th, where he would drop it to Buddy Landell. He would then turn to what he knew best, tag team wrestling, teaming with Koko B. Ware to capture the AWA Southern Tag Team Titles from The Grapplers on September 19th. They would only hold them for two weeks before Jimmy Hart’s newest team, The Bruise Brothers, would beat them. Dutch would then team up with Austin Idol to capture the CWA World Tag Team Titles on November 21st, but would soon after split up, effectively disbanding the Titles. But Dutch wouldn’t have to wait long for his next opponent, as an old rival would come storming into Memphis!
“Macho Man” Randy Savage came in to Memphis and immediately went after the NWA Mid America Heavyweight Championship. After beating Terry Taylor on December 26th, 1983, Savage would heed the advice of his manager Angelo Poffo and face Dutch Mantell. Savage would beat Dutch on their first two encounters, prompting Dutch to declare if Savage would beat him the next week, he would leave Memphis. After a hard fought battle, Dutch would finally pick up a win. Two weeks later, Dutch would get his last chance at Savage’s Title, falling just a bit short. Dutch would then be locked in a bitter feud with an up-and-coming star in Rick Rude through April and May of 1984. Rude would rely heavily on his valet Angel to help him secure wins over Dutch, until he brought in Evelyn Stevens to even the score. Dutch would then take on various singles opponents and tag partners until September 15th, where he would win the AWA Southern Tag Team Championship with Tommy Rich. He then would win the CWA International Heavyweight Champion just two days later by beating Eddie Gilbert. Gilbert would win the Title back the next week, however, in a Hair vs. Title match. Dutch would then turn his back on Tommy Rich, thereby vacating the Tag Titles on October 1st, 1984.
Dutch would then take a leave from CWA, only appearing sporadically for them in the early part of 1985. He would go back to WWC and wrestle a few shows there, and would also start wrestling for a newer territory, Mid-South Wrestling Association. Dutch would go on to win the Mid-South TV Title from The Snowman on July 10th, 1985, only to lose it twelve days later to Butch Reed. After a short time in MSWA, Dutch would return to CWA and become involved in a storyline that would lead to the best match of his career, but you’ll have to come back for next week’s Breakdown to catch it!