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RECAP AND REVIEW: The Jim Ross Report – the life and legacy of Vader, plus Filthy Tom Lawlor talking MLW Battle Riot, UFC 225, TakeOver, and Money in the Bank reactions

The Jim Ross Report

Release Date: June 20, 2018

Recap by: Joe Aguinaldo

DIRECT LINK TO LISTEN/DOWNLOAD

0:00 – Intro

Welcome back to another week of Slobberknocker audio with Good Ole J.R. Today’s show is jam packed with a lot of news…some good and some not so good. ‘Filthy’ Tom Lawlor will also be on the show for the interview portion of the podcast.

Before getting into the program, J.R wants to recognize the recent passing of Leon White, aka Big Van Vader who was arguably the most athletic super-heavyweight of all time (along with Bam Bam Bigelow). At 400lbs, he was able to do drop kicks and moonsaults.

J.R became aware of Vader when he was a football player at the University of Colorado playing centre. He had a great reputation in the conference and was an All-American. He played briefly with the Los Angeles Rams then went to work for Verne Gagne in the AWA as ‘Baby Bull’ Leon White. It was easy to see he had potential and once he could learned the nuances of wrestling such as psychology and facial expressions to go along with his aggressive style, he would have a chance to get over and did.

Leon had a great run in Japan which is where J.R reconnected with Leon (and Stan Hansen). J.R brings up a famous match between Leon and Stan where Leon’s eye popped out of its socket. At the time, J.R was on the WCW booking committee and they wanted to have the physicality of Hansen and Vader on their shows.

J.R brought Leon in for a run in the WWE however by that time, his weight was out of control. J.R sent Vader (and Yokozuna) to the Duke medical center to get them on a weight loss program because they were on the verge of not being licensed by the athletic commissions. Unfortunately, at the end of the week, they both gained weight because they were sneaking out of the dorm to grab some late night chicken.

J.R has always had great respect for Leon and hosted Vader’s son’s (Jesse) football visit to OU. Jesse was already committed to UCLA but ended up signing with Oklahoma. He was the number one center coming out of high school.

J.R brings up a story from a RAW show where Vader got confused coming back from the ring and ending up under the stage where all the pyro was. During the next match, the pyro went off and Vader grabbed his chest, staggered out from under the stage and said the noise was so loud, it stopped his heart and he had to pound himself in the chest to start his heart.

Vader had a lot of great matches with a lot of good guys such as Shawn Michaels, Mick Foley and Sting.

J.R sends his condolences to Vader’s family and says pneumonia snuck in and got to him. J.R reiterates there will there are not many, if any, super-heavyweights like Leon other than maybe Bam Bam Bigelow. Rest in Peace Vader (and as Stone Cold would say…we’ll see you down the road).

9:12 – What’s On J.R’s Mind

There was a lot of wrestling over the weekend starting and J.R give his thoughts on all the shows.

NXT Takeover: Chicago

  • J.R thought the NXT show was excellent and doesn’t know if there was a better televised program last week than that show. He liked that there were only 5 matches on the show and it was only 2 hours. While some matches were better than others, all the matches were good.
  • J.R likes Roderick Strong and Kyle O’Reilly a lot but thought Oney Locran and Danny Burch may have done a little too much on the outside which should have been saved for the main event.
  • J.R loved the Ricochet and Velveteen Dream match and thinks both will be big time players. There is no limit to the charisma and character development for Dream.
  • J.R is a huge fan of Shayna Baszler but hadn’t seen much of Nikki Cross’ work. He thinks Shayna is going to be a big time star. Also, J.R is not a fan of people who bring beach balls to events.
  • Aleister Black and Lars Sullivan had a good match. Sullivan is green and is about a year from coming to the next level which is not a knock, he just needs more ring time. Black has that experience already and is a good worker. J.R sees black as a big time player as well.
  • Gargano and Ciampa was amazing although J.R was terrified when Gargano put Ciampa through the table. He says personal issues can sometimes be bigger than title matches.
  • Some quick general notes about the card:
    • J.R missed Mauro Ranallo but Vic Joseph did a great job stepping in.
    • There were too many outside the ring bumps which waters that down
    • You could make the argument there were too many near falls (I agree with this one)
    • The roster top to bottom appreciated the art of selling.
  • J.R congratulates Triple H and the NXT team for a great card.

Money In The Bank

  • General Notes about the card:
    • There were three announcers trying to get their stuff in which made the broadcast sound busy. Luckily Michael Cole was there directing traffic.
    • J.R felt the event was well booked with some strong matches.
    • The women’s MITB match might have been stronger than the mens.
    • J.R brings up the thigh slap and says it needs to be done more strategically and discreetly (I ABSOLUTELY AGREE WITH THIS).
    • The ladies had a great night. Alexa Bliss was one of the stars on the show and is special
  • Nia and Ronda had an outstanding presentation especially considering their skill level and experience, not to mention the pressure both were under. The cash in by Alexa was booking genius.
  • The A.J/Nakamura match was more of what fans were expecting between the two. J.R thinks Shinsuke may have a run against Jeff Hardy for the U.S title and expects Nakaura will win that title.
  • J.R wondered how Elias would hold up against Seth Rollins and was pleasantly surprised by this match. He thinks Elias could be a big time player.

Monday Night RAW

  • Ronda stole the show during her segment with Kurt Angle and Alexa Bliss. She is a big time star and J.R says she was a key component to the Fox deal.
  • Congratulations to Dolph Ziggler for winning the IC title. He feels Ziggler never has a bad match and loves the chemistry between Ziggler and McIntyre.
  • J.R liked the Corbin/Owens win over Strowman/Balor
  • No Way Jose has to become known for more than the conga line. He’s entertaining but over the long haul, it’s hard to keep up the comedy. He needs more development.
  • There were a number of reasons ratings were good for RAW including the Ronda Rousey fallout from MITB and the 6 week build to MITB.

Smackdown Live

  • Carmella’s strength is her promo, however, J.R felt her promo on Tuesday was heavily memorized or over produced and didn’t sound as organic as he would have liked it to be. That said, she is a good talker and has a great look but needs to keep working on her game.
  • J.R says Becky Lynch reminds him of actress Maureen O’Hara who he’s had a crush on since he was a teen.
  • J.R likes the fact that we saw a little bit of the dark side from Nakamura. Being evil and sinister fits his character and being the ‘Asian villain’ is not a bad thing.
  • The Gauntlet match was well booked. J.R anticipates something special when Samoa Joe and Daniel Bryan get after it. They are classy professional guys who can wrestler, fight and do promos.

Additional talking points:

  • J.R saw that Big Cass got released. He doesn’t know the story and it’s none of his business but he likes Big Cass who has qualities you can’t coach. Cass has a chance to get back in the game but needs to figure out how to get better and cure the perceived ills he may or may not have. We should keep an eye on how Cass progresses and says the world isn’t over for him as he has too much upside. He does warn though that Cass needs to not say or do anything stupid.
  • J.R congratulates Charlotte Flair for being in the ESPN body issue.
  • Ring Of Honor’s ‘Best In The World’ PPV is coming up on Friday June 29th and he wishes them luck. It’s a good looking card.
  • ROH’s attempt to get a date in MSG has fallen by the wayside. J.R says it looks like the Gardens decided to team back up with the WWE. Stay tuned as there could be more to this story.
  • J.R and Josh Barnett called the Okada/Omega IWGP title match for AXS TV. It was extraordinary. Omega will be on the podcast next week (YES!!). The match will air on Friday July 6yth, the day before the July 7th NJPW show.
  • Jericho and Naito beat the sh*t out of each other.
  • J.R congratulates Rey Mysterio for having Rey Mysterio day in San Diego on June 19th (6/19). Rey is going to be at All-In in September and the hot rumor is that he may be signing a 3 year deal with the WWE.
  • J.R pushes his UK show starting in Scotland this week. He’ll also be going to England in July to do a comic-con and his live show with Jerry Lawler starts in August. For more info on the UK tour and the ‘J.R and the King’ shows, check out www.insidetheropes.co.uk and www.zanies.com respectively.

38:19 – Slobberknocker Of The Week

This week’s candidates are:

  • Alexa Bliss who is showing us charisma, athleticism, facial expressions and the tone of delivery can far exceed the fact she is only 5 feet tall. J.R can only imagine what kind of babyface she will. When J.R met Alexa, her confidence reminded him of Buddy Rogers and he feels she has a lot of potential.
  • Cristiano Ronaldo who scored a hat trick against Spain in the World Cup.
  • Gargano and Ciampa for their match at NXT Takeover. They are getting over organically.

This weeks’ winner is AJ Styles, who J.R says is the very best in-ring talent in the sport today. He had a great match with Nakamura and did things J.R didn’t know existed. He’s also happy that AJ got picked to be on the cover of the WWE 2K19 game.

44:48 – Pet Coon Goofy Award

This week’s candidates are:

  • Barry Trotz who resigned as the head coach for the Stanley Cup winning Washington Capitals because he didn’t like the money  terms of his already agreed upon contract extension for winning the Stanley Cup.
  • Ex-NFL player Kellen Winslow Jr. who was arrested multiple times in a few days for kidnapping and sex crimes.
  • People who pass the buck to protect their political party, which J.R says is BS. The drama and politics of children being separated from their families trying to cross the border is hideous. There is no justification in J.R’s mind that children should be separated from their mothers and fathers. J.R is repulsed this is even a headline.

This week’s award goes to Croatia’s Nikola Colinic refused to enter the game against Nigeria from the bench because he was too upset that he wasn’t starting. The Croatian team expelled him from the team.

51:28 – This Week In Wrestling

6/20/1992 – WCW Beach Blast was in Mobile Alabama. It was a good card but the match that sticks out to J.R was the 30 minute draw with the Steiner Brothers vs. Terry Gordy and Dr. Death Steve Williams. As an aside, J.R accidentally boarded the wrong plane to Pensacola when he actually needed to go to Mobile Alabama. He may have had one too many while waiting for the flight. Aside from doing play by play for that PPV, J.R was supposed to fire Eric Bischoff that day at Bill Watts’ request (which he didn’t).

06/22/1996 – At ECW Hardcore Heaven, Chris Jericho became the ECW TV Champion by defeating Pitbull #2.

06/19/2002 – The first TNA Impact PPV where Ken Shamrock became the first NWA champion recognized by the organization.

06/20/2010 – The Fatal Four Way card where the World Title and WWE title changed hands in two fatal four way matches. Rey Mysterio beat Jack Swagger, Big Show and CM Punk. Sheamus became the WWE champion defeating John Cena, Randy Orton and Edge.  

06/25/1976 – J.R invested in the closed circuit rights with Leroy McGuirk to air the Muhammad Ali vs Antonio Inoki match. The card also included Bruno Sammartino vs Stan Hansen. He was hoping for a good payday as he had a child on the way. J.R was able to pay his loan back but didn’t make any profit.

Birthdays – Mancow Mueller (52), Tetsuya Naito (36), the late John ‘Earthquake’ Tenta would have been 56, King Maxel Hardy (3), Brandi Rhodes (35), Adam Pearce (40), Layla (41), Lucha Underground announcer Matt Stryker (38), J.J Dillon (71), the late Jackie Fargo would have been 88. Happy Birthday everyone.

1:07:31 – Mailbag

Q: Will J.R be selling his book during the Jericho Cruise?

A: Absolutely. He’ll be selling and signing copies of the book.

Q: After the amazing crowd reaction Taz got in his first appearance in MSG, why did he not get over to a bigger degree?

A: Injuries were an issue for Taz as he couldn’t get healthy.

Q: Does J.R think Aleister Black will break Neville’s NXT title reign or will he be called up before that can happen?

A: J.R says Black is ready to go to the main roster now. He’s a player, he’s experienced, seasoned and lays his stuff in. J.R thinks he’ll be on the main roster at the latest by WrestleMania.

Q: Could J.R tell a Steve Blackman story?

A: Blackman has the driest sense of humor. He’s funny and stone faced. One time, he got a payoff and it wasn’t as much as he wanted and said J.R ‘pencil-sexed him’. J.R got along with him and thought Steve was a good guy.

Q: If J.R were the head of talent relations, who would be his top target from the independent wrestling scene?

A: J.R’s short list would be Cody, Omega, The Young Bucks and Okada.

Send all questions and comments to thejimrossreport@gmail.com.

1:14:35 – Tom Lawlor

J.R welcomes Tom to the podcast. Tom is currently in Rhode Island getting ready for an MMA event which will be on AXS TV. He’ll be in the corner of Adam Aquaviva at the CEF MMA card.

J.R says Tom is on a unique journey and thought he was good at selling himself and creating awareness for his attraction which is a gift. There are a lot of guys in UFC or Bellator that could make more money if they knew how to market themselves.

Tom says MMA is an interesting sport because it’s not just a sport but is based towards entertainment. There are a number of fighters who remain nameless because they are not willing to present a character for themselves or find out who they are and give that to the public.

Lawlor was a fan of Kazushi Sakuraba and Genki Sudo who went above and beyond when it came to entrances and character work. They really resonated with Tom as a fan and he in turn ‘stole’ from them and passed it on.

Q: Is Tom familiar with new concept from Sakuraba which is almost like a Survivor type concept.

A: The promotion is called Quintet which is presented Sakuraba and Josh Barnett. Tom is familiar with it and it is his favorite current combat sport promotion. It’s two teams of 5 and it’s a survival match. One person from each team starts and if they win within a certain time limit, the winner stays in the match to wrestle the next guy on the other team. There have been instances where one guy will go through 3 members of the other team. It presents not only individual match strategy but also team strategy.

J.R brings up Josh Barnett and says he’s a very studious guy. J.R doesn’t take it personally when die hard NJPW fans don’t like him and Josh’s commentating. Josh however, does take it personally because he’s very competitive. Because Tom is an MMA, he enjoys Josh Barnett’s commentary. It’s a little different than what the current NJPW fan base may want but it doesn’t make it any less relevant.

Q: J.R brings up the MLW wrestling show and asks about Team Filthy.

A: Tom is trying to mix some MMA aspects into pro wrestling which can be hard. Some fans are not as familiar with MMA as other fans are. Introducing elements of MMA into pro wrestling such as a cornerman yelling instructions has helped educate some of those fans. Tom brings up their earlier discussion about character work and says it’s about knowing who you are and what you want to be. For Tom personally, he can’t do better flips than ACH or Teddy Hart. He’s not as big as Jake Hager and needs to find his niche which is being an MMA guy.

J.R says a lot of people don’t want to admit who they are based on his experiences with talent and says it takes courage to go with your instinct. There’s nothing better than a wrestling persona that is based on reality. Basically you become an enhanced extension of your personality. J.R says Tom has found his deal and wonders why any booker would want him to be anything but a former, defiant MMA competitor which is what brought him to the dance.

Tom says one of the best compliments he ever got was that he wears his heart on his sleeve which is exactly how he is.

Q: Did Tom grow up as a big wrestling fan?

A: He doesn’t remember the time when he first started watching but remembers racing home every Saturday night to watch wrestling. He’s been watching as long as he can remember and a few years ago, he was in his grandmother’s old house and she had saved a bunch of notebooks that had drawings of wrestlers from ESPN that Tom had drawn even though he doesn’t remember some of the names. He also started watching MMA with UFC 2 and has made wrestling and combat sports his life’s work.

Q: J.R brings up C.M Punk’s recent fight and Brock Lesnar possibly fighting in the UFC. He thinks MMA uses these names to solicit wrestling fans to sell more tickets while MMA fans will want to see the ‘phony’ wrestler get his butt kicked. J.R asks if that philosophy holds any merit.

A: Tom says there is something to that especially when you look at the media leading up to UFC 225. Most of the coverage focused on C.M Punk even though that fight meant nothing as far as the competition goes. If you look at it from a broader perspective, that fight means a lot. The UFC was smart by promoting C.M Punk as a sympathetic figure and an ‘average Joe’ with a dream. But at the same time, MMA purists wanted nothing to do with that and wanted to see him lose.

J.R says UFC isn’t unlike any other promotion as it’s all about the attractions. J.R says he paid money to see C.M Punk fight but couldn’t name any other fighter on the card. Both Tom and J.R thinks Punk got paid 7 figures. At first, Tom didn’t like the idea of C.M Punk fighting in the UFC but realized this was on the UFC and the commissions who are supposed to safeguard against these instances. He says more power to C.M Punk and is more a fan of his after this fiasco.  

Q: J.R doesn’t think Punk will go back to wrestling full time and asks what Tom thinks.

A: Tom agrees and thinks the biggest reason why is due to the travel. Once you’ve done an MMA schedule, it’s hard to get back into the mindset of getting back onto the road. You don’t have the crazy travel in MMA. If Tom was C.M Punk, he wouldn’t want to go back and wrestle especially because Punk has made a lot of money.

Q: J.R asks Tom why people should watch MLW

A: It’s what you would expect from a wrestling show but it’s different. They put out a good wrestling product but also develop characters and storylines in an easy to follow manner. There are not just conflicts between heel and face groups but also interplays within those groups. There’s a lot of gray area and MLW plays the gray area game better than anyone else which is their biggest strengths.

Q: Are talents in MLW encouraged to contribute to creative?

A: Yes. Tom will get messages from Court asking him his thoughts on things or providing feedback. Tom has done a good enough job though that he is not overly scripted which benefits him because it allows him to be more natural. J.R says this is good booking on Court’s part. You want to hire people who will bring something unique to the product. Tom has also been fortunate to work with agents such as MVP and Low Ki who have an understanding and affinity for martial arts. They encourage Tom to do more MMA stuff.

Q: Is Tom still under contract to UFC?

A: Tom is still under contracts and hopes to be in the octagon in October or November. He’s waiting to see the schedules so he can start planning his next move.

MLW will be doing an event in the Melrose Ballroom in Queens New York. They will be holding the first ever 40 man Battle Riot which will include wrestlers such as John Morrison, Jake Hager and Kevin Sullivan. Tom is not a big fan of NY (or LA) though.

Q: If Tom fights in October, how much time would it take for him to get ready?

A: Zero. Tom is in the gym everyday and does two a days every chance he gets plus he has a full home gym.

J.R is excited for Tom’s run in MLW and says they have a chance to build something, and if nothing else, they got Tony Schiavone back on commentary. Tom loves seeing Tony because he was a fan as a kid. At the last show, Tom was able to hop on the mic to do commentary with Tony and thinks Tony might be on Team Filthy.

J.R enjoys Tom’s work and wishes him nothing but the very best. They plug Tom’s twitter (@filthytomlawlor). He thanks Tom for being on the show and they sign off.

1:47:54 – Show Wrap

J.R thanks Tom once again for being on the show and if you want to get more info on the MLW show, check out www.MLW.com. J.R goes through some of his 5 star reviews, plugs some of the other wrestling podcasts on Westwood One. He re-iterates that Kenny Omega will be on the show next week and that is a wrap.

Rating – 8/10

A lot of info and opinions on this show. J.R’s homage to Vader was really good and I enjoyed his thoughts on all the wrestling that happened over the weekend. I especially agree with him about the thigh slaps. The Tom Lawlor interview was also really good. I’m not very familiar with him and it was nice introduction to him. He sounds like he has a good head on his shoulders. Overall, another solid podcast from the man in the black hat.

Timestamps

0:00 – Intro
9:12   – What’s On J.R’s Mind
38:19 – Slobberknocker Of The Week
44:48 – Pet Coon Goofy Award
51:28 – This Week In Wrestling
1:07:31 – Mailbag
1:14:35 – Tom Lawlor
1:47:54 – Show Wrap

Writer Bio

Joe lives in Toronto, Canada with his wife and two boys.  He’s been a fan for over 40 years and one of his life goals is to be a guest host on one of Wade Keller’s post show podcasts. He doesn’t consider himself any sort of expert.  He just likes wrestling. Check him out on twitter and instagram @ja113.

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