I have sort of a love/hate relationship with Women Superstars Uncensored. On one hand, I love their product. Their shows are often fun, interesting, and exciting, featuring some of the best up-and-coming female stars in the business, as well as more well-known names like Jazz, Serena Deeb, and April Hunter, supporting what may very well be the single most credible champion in the industry today in Mercedes Martinez. On the other hand, the production value of these shows is absolutely horrible. Over time, WSU has made steps to try and improve their production, but, to be perfectly frank with you guys, as much as I honestly love the shows WSU produces, it's almost impossible for me to endorse the DVDs or iPPVs without asking you to lower your expectations something fierce. Whether it's bad direction, incredibly shaky camera work, shoddy editing, variable sound quality, or even the fact that they often use three or four different types of cameras, meaning that from cut to cut, you're seeing an entirely different quality of film, or, in some cases, even an entirely different aspect ratio, WSU's production is, unfortunately, as ghetto as ghetto gets. In fact, the only truly worse production I've seen out of all the Indy Shows I've been able to see would be ArenaChicks, who, despite having some decent, if not bland, graphics, film all of their matches on a single, possibly hand-held camera, held by a guy standing on the apron of the ring as people wrestle. I'm dead serious. ArenaChicks is basically a high-end version of you and your friends grabbing your flip cam and filming your backyard matches, production-wise. But we're not here to talk ArenaChicks (at least, not yet). Today, we're here to talk about
WSU: The Final Chapter.
WSU, as we know it today, was built on the back of the Mercedes Martinze/Angel Orsini feud. Once friends and tag team partners, they two eventually split in 2008 and began feuding over Orsini's WSU Title. In 2009, at the WSU 2nd Anniversary Show, Martinez defeated Orsini to become the WSU Champion. In June of 2009, Mercedes defended her WSU title against Angel in a 60-Minute Iron Woman Match, which ended up going 70 minutes total when the two were forced into Sudden Death after the original time limit expired. Martinez won, and, as a result of the match's stipulation, Orsini would not be able to contend for the WSU Title again as long as Mercedes was champion. Fast Forward to the Summer of 2010, about a year and a half into Mercedes's now record-breaking title reign (as of this writing, about 2 and a half years and 40+ successful defenses). Angel Orsini, frustrated with her situation, feeling disrespected by WSU, creates her own title, the All Guts, No Glory Title, in an attempt to gain the respect she felt she deserved, as well as position herself for yet another title match against Mercedes Martinez. Unfortunately, WSU refused to sanction Orsini's title, or grant her another shot at Martinez, which forced Angel to take matters in her own hands. Eventually, she was able to force WSU's hand not only into sanctioning her title, but granting her another shot at Martinez, but only if she were willing to put up her All Guts, No Glory Title to do so. This brings us to January 22, 2011, at the ACE Arena in Union City, New Jersey, where Angel Orsini would put her All Guts, No Glory Title up against Mercedes Martinez' WSU Championship in a Title Unification Ladder Match for what WSU dubbed
The Final Chapter of the Martinez/Orsini feud.
It should be noted that this was WSU's 2nd-ever iPPV, which, compared to the first, November 2010's
Breaking Barriers, is a far better produced piece of wrestling television. With that said, though, this is still WSU. There isn't much of a budget, and the production leaves a lot to be desired.
The show begins with a video package... and, sadly, our first major production gaffe. The video package is a relatively well put-together piece recapping the Orsini/Martinez feud up to this point. It's unfortunately ruined by the fact that, instead of hearing the sound for the video package, we're actually hearing the sound live inside the ACE arena as it plays. This is corrected about 25 seconds in, fortunately, but still, we're less than a minute in, and already, there's a major production gaffe. There are reasons why I feel like I can't suggest a WSU to people, knowing that they'll see a moment like this less than a minute in and think the show is a joke...
Anyway, we get the recap video, going through the history of the feud between Martinez and Orsini and the events leading into tonight's Ladder Match. We then go to the ring with Destiny, WSU's Ring Announcer, and Rob Sternberg, host of WSU's web series on InasecTV.com,
WSU Uncensored. We have ladders set up in the ring, and Sternberg then asks both Martinez and Orsini to come out to the ring. Rob gives the women each a chance to speak, and Orsini lets us know that being the WSU Champion means everything to her. Martinez responds by saying that tonight's match is about more than titles, its about Pride, but that tonight, she'll be walking out with both her title, and Angel's All Guts, No Glory belt. The women then each climb a ladder to hang their belts off a pole suspended above the ring. Orsini and Martinez then stare off before making their way back to the locker room.
Our opening match between Niya and Athena, and... you've got to be kidding me. Destiny announces Niya first, but we actually get Athena. Fortunately, Rob Sternberg on commentary catches the mistake, tells us that this is actually Athena, then talks her up a bit before the proper name graphic appears. Destiny then announces Niya again, and we actually get her this time. For those who don't know, Athena is one of the more high-profile names to have come out of Booker T's training camp in Houston, even being named one of Diva-Dirt.com's 5 To Watch for 2011. Niya, on the other hand, not nearly as well known, but certainly impressive in her own right. For women relatively early in both of their careers, they have a pretty good opening match, showing some great athleticism and psychology to boot. The crowd here is quiet, but unlike the EVOLVE show I reviewed recently, no one looks particularly bored. They're just focused and concentrating on the match, much the way you'd normally see a Japanese crowd do. It's a much smaller crowd (if WSU drew 200 people to the ACE Arena, here, I'd honestly be surprised), but, at least at the moment, they at least seem engaged in the show, if they don't necessarily know who these two women are. As the match goes on, you definitely start seeing more signs of life, as these two slowly but surely win over the WSU faithful. In something of a shocking upset for anyone who really follows Independent Women's Wrestling, Niya defeats Athena with a TKO after an incredibly impressive showing you certainly would not expect from two women at this stage in their career.
We go to the back, where Sassy Stephie is talking about her match later tonight, teaming with Alicia to take on the Boy Diva, Rick Cataldo and the Spirit Champion, Brittany Savage. As she does, Cataldo and Savage come up from behind her and start talking smack. As they argue, the rest of the Cosmo Club shows up, as "Pryme Time" Amy Lee and Cindy Rodgers come in and starts bullying up on Stephie. Alica then pops in to back up her partner, and tells off the Cosmo Club, letting them know that Cataldo and Savage ought to be worrying about their match tonight against the true WSU Icon.
By the way, as you may have noticed from the term "Boy Diva", yes, Cataldo is a guy. Apparently, when you're gay, you get to wrestle for all-women's promotions, I guess. I know this concept happens a lot with all-women's shows, but it's something that generally doesn't settle well with me. Fortunately, Cataldo is a relatively short, pudgy guy who looks like he'd get his ass handed to him by just about any woman on the planet, and, while he does play the overly-effeminate gay stereotype to near-offensive levels, he's generally a harmless character whose entire purpose in WSU is to be annoying and get beat up by girls.
Our next match sees the Boston Shore (Amber and Lexus) take on the team of Jennifer Cruz and "The Sugar Freak" Monique. I'm thinking Monique is supposed to be one of these rap video girls or something, because she sure does dance like one. Jennifer Cruz just looks angry to be here, not particularly thrilled with her partner. As for the Boston Shore, new fans unfamiliar with this show will be glad to know that Amber has her name on her ass, so you know who she is. The match is okay, but not much to write home about, with the Boston Shore, and Lexus in particular, being the real highlights. Just about anytime Lexus hits the ring, the match improves significantly. The Shore picks up the win after spending most of the match beating on Cruz, dumping her out of the ring, and taking out Monique with an enzuguri from Amber and a senton splash by Lexus for the pin. The Boston Shore then calls out the team of April Hunter and Traci Brooks (who are not here tonight) and challenges them to a match at the 4th Anniversary Show.
We get a video package of the WSU Tag Team Champions, the Belle Saints (Marti Belle and Tina San Antonio) out at a bar in Jersey, partying it up with their fans.
Our next match is a 3-Way Match featuring "Pryme Time" Amy Lee, Latasha, and Tina San Antonio. This match is supposedly one of two matches tonight that will preview the upcoming Triple Threat Match for the WSU Tag Team Titles at the 4th Anniversary Show, as both halves of the Cosmo Club team, the Soul Sistas and reigning champs, the Belle Saints will face off in triple threat singles matches. Amy Lee, for those unaware, is a big, burly, loud, violent, foul-mouthed biker mama, of sorts, and considered one of the more controversial figures in wrestling. Needless to say, she's the reason this match becomes the brawl it is. She tends to dominate every situation she's put in, for better or worse. Here, she just beats the hell out of her opponents, setting herself and Cindy Rodgers as a serious threat to win the tag titles at the 4th Anniversary Show. Lee takes out San Antonio with a chokeslam and a big splash for the win. The match was, honestly, not great, but the crowd really seems to like Lee, even though I'm pretty sure she's supposed to be heel, here. Oh, well...
Up next, we have Allysin Kay taking on Jamillia Craft, who nowadays works in Japan's Pro Wrestling DIANA promotion as "Jenny Rose". Kay, for those unfamiliar, is becoming something of a midwest independent regular, originally from Detroit. Craft, on the other hand, is a ROH School graduate, trained by Daizee Haze. Kay shows the signs of becoming a great heel, here, while Craft shows off her greatest asset as a babyface, her comeback. After a short, albeit fun match the crowd seemed to be really into, Craft overcomes Kay with a belly to belly suplex for the pin.
We are shown clips of an interview with Jessicka Havok from an episode of
WSU Uncensored. Long story short, Havok wants to be taken seriously and is looking to get the respect and the spot she believes she deserves by taking out whoever she needs to in order to do that. Tonight, she takes on former WSU Champion Nikki Roxx in an Uncensored (read: Hardcore/Extreme) Rules Match.
Our next match is the second of our 3-Way Tag Team Preview Matches, as Cindy Rodgers (of the Cosmo Club) takes on Jana (of the Soul Sistas) and Marti Belle (of the Belle Saints) in a Triple Threat Match. Unlike the other triple threat, which saw Amy Lee dominate her opponents, this one is a little more even forcing the Cosmo Club's Cindy Rodgers to take cheap shots in order to get the advantage. Jana ends up getting the submission win out of virtually nowhere with the Jana-Vice (a guillotine choke) on Marti Belle. After the match, Amy Lee joins her Cosmo Club partner, Cindy Rodgers, and attacks Jana and Belle. Tina San Antonio and Latasha then come out to help their respective partners and chase the Cosmo Club off, but not before Amy Lee grabs a mic and unleashes perhaps the greatest weapon in her arsenal - her mouth. For heels, she sure does make a lot of good points, basically, that she and Cindy are old-school hardcore. Jana then takes a mic and brags about how she made Cindy Rodgers tap out in their submission match last year. We then have two referees just barely manage to hold Amy Lee back from attacking the Soul Sistas as Tina San Antonio takes the mic. She admits the Belle Saints didn't have a great night tonight, but, come the 4th Anniversary Show, they got a trick up their sleeve. Marti Belle then suggests we up the stakes in March, and says, let's make this Uncensored Rules. Amy Lee seems to be happy about this, claiming she and Cindy will skullf*ck them all. No, seriously, she actually says she's going to skullf*ck the Belle Saints. I'm not just saying this to be cute.
Our next match pits Cosmo Club leader and WSU Spirit Champion Brittany Savage and her gay friend, Rick Cataldo, against former Spirit Champ Alicia and the top contender for Savage's title, Sassy Stephie. It needs said - I should really hate Rick Cataldo, but I don't. I really can't. He's actually a very fitting heel, here. Usually, the gay character in the all-women's promotion sticks out like a sore thumb, often being the good worker there to bump like crazy for the girls and make them look better. Cataldo isn't. He doesn't overshine the girls, nor does his presence in the ring make everything they do look weak by comparison. You may even find yourself forgetting he's a guy in the ring for a moment. He's also really good at getting heat. You find yourself begging for him to get hit, and going nuts every time he does. You want to see him take the finishes. You want to see him get smacked around. You want to see this guy lose and lose and lose and lose some more. Hell, you'd probably pop if his own partner kicked his ass!
Spoiler Alert - At the 4th Anniversary Show, Savage drops him with her Diamond Cutter after he costs Brit the Spirit Title. And yes, I loved every second of it!
Anyway, as one would likely expect after reading the last paragraph, Sassy Stephie hits Rick with her finish, the Kiss My Sass (Zack Ryder used to do it as a finish and called it the Zack Attack) and gets the pin. After the match, Sassy Stephie tells Brittany Savage that her days as Spirit Champion are over once she beats her for the title at the 4th Anniversary Show. Alicia then takes the mic to talk up her match with Jazz on the 4th Anniversary Show, as well as remind the world that she has a Free Title Shot she can cash in on any champ in WSU at any time, which she won in December by defeating Nikki Roxx.
Speaking of Roxx, she's in our next match, taking on Jessicka Havok in an Uncensored Rules Match. In a pretty intense fight, Havok is able to pull out the win over the former WSU Champ, reversing out of a Barbie Crusher attempt and nailing Roxx with an Air Raid Crash variation for the pin. After the match, Havok demands a mic and warns Rain that come the 4th Anniversary Show, she's next on Havok's hit list. Once she ends Rain, she's going for the WSU Gold, hoping Mercedes Martinez will still be champ so she can end her epic reign herself.
Main Event Time as Angel Orsini and Mercedes Martinez practically kill one another in a Ladder Match to unify the All Guts, No Glory and WSU World Titles. The match builds up pretty well, too. They show a lot of restraint early on, then build up towards more as time goes on. Unlike most ladder matches, which these days tend to be excuses for guys to do a series of highspots off a ladder for 15 minutes, then someone climbs, grabs a prize and wins. This one definitely goes more towards the storytelling end, much like the classics between Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon. In the end, Martinez sets up Orsini for a Fisherman Buster off a ladder, sets the ladder in the middle of the ring, trapping Orsini under the bottom rung, and climbs up to take the championships. Angel wakes up to realize she's trapped, looking up as Mercedes stands victorious on the ladder above.
What really makes this match, though, is what happens next. Orsini is practically in tears as she tries to get up after this brutal war, but despite that, she extends her hand to Martinez, shakes her hand and hugs her. Meanwhile, the look on her face tells the story - she gave it all she had, she moved hell and high water to make this match happen, brought everything she had to this fight, had it nearly won, but in the end, Mercedes simply was the better woman. The look on Angel's face comes off like, in her mind, she's finally realized that, and maybe even has begun to come to terms with the fact that maybe her time has passed, and Mercedes really is the best in the world. It's not an easy thing to deal with, and it all just feels so real, here. Martinez then takes a mic to show her respect to Angel for being the double-tough, bitch-ass wrestler she is. She then says to Angel that if she ever wants another shot at her title, she's got it. Angel then takes the mic and shows her respect for Mercedes, telling her that this feud was never about disrespect, it was about being the best and being champion. Martinez then goes on to, you guessed it, hype her upcoming match at the 4th Anniversary Show against Serena Deeb. Martinez warns Deeb that if she thinks she's going to come in and take the WSU Title, just because she was in WWE once upon when, she's got some violence coming her way.
And then, Alicia comes out, waving her contract. Yep, Money in the Bank Syndrome has hit WSU, and it appears Alicia is going to cash in her free title shot, but... she doesn't. She just came out here to let Mercedes know that she could do it any time she wanted to on any champion she wanted to, including Mercedes Martinez. Alicia then compliments Mercedes and Angel on their match before warning Mercedes that at the 4th Anniversary Show, Alicia WILL be cashing in her free title match, and that she, and every other champ in WSU, better be ready.
For a show called
The Final Chapter, they sure do hype the next show a lot. Seriously, everything on this show outside of the Main Event was a setup for the 4th Anniversary Show. You had the 2 Triple Threats featuring the members of the 3 teams that will face off for the Belle Saints' Tag Titles at the 4th Anniversary Show, you set up Havok and Rain for that show, you hype both Alicia's match with Jazz and Sassy Stephie's shot at Brittany Savage's Spirit Title, and, after the Main Event, you hype both the Martinez/Serena Main Event, as well as announce that Alicia is going to cash in her free title shot on the same night. This is not a complaint, but rather an observation. WSU doesn't have a lot of opportunities to sell you its shows, so it needs to use the time they do have your attention to the fullest, which they did here. It's actually one of the things I think WSU does very well, doing everything it can to hook you in and make you want to see the next show. If WWE or TNA booked its TV the way WSU books iPPV, I'd honestly have to imagine their PPV sales would go up, if for no better reason than the fact that every single thing they'd do would be working towards selling that next show.
That's the thing - WSU doesn't assume they have you. They're following a basic principal of "Always Be Closing". They're dead set on selling you the next show. Unfortunately, this approach can come off heavy-handed at points, especially concerning the booking around the Triple Threats, where you may begin to wonder why you paid for this show when all they seem to talk about is the next one.
That is, of course, until you hit the Main Event. The greatest thing about WSU shows is that they always, always, always pay off whatever investment they asked you to make in their Main Event. Even if the rest of the show feels like little more than a commercial for the next one, you know that when you put your money down for a WSU show, that Main Event is going to deliver on the hype. After two years, they were looking to put a definitive stamp on the feud that made this company what it is today, and the match, I feel, delivered on that promise. Angel Orsini is as tough as they come, while Mercedes Martinez continues to prove herself as one of the most versatile performers in wrestling, able to have classic matches with talent of any style at any level. We also had a rarity in ladder matches these days, where the match was more about the story between the wrestlers, and not nearly as much about how many cool spots you can do off ladders. Every time the ladders came into play, they felt like they were a necessary addition, because nothing else they could do to one another was enough to keep the other down long enough to go for the belts. The story played out well, and when it was all over, the look on Angel's face told you the whole story. Her face was literally the "Agony of Defeat" in every possible sense. Honestly, after this fight, I have a newfound respect for Angel Orsini as a wrestler and a performer.
As for whether or not I can actually recommend this DVD to you... that really depends on whether or not production is important to you. If it is, you're probably not going to be able to get past the low-level production long enough to enjoy the matches or the stories involved.
If production isn't as important to you, but you're just not a fan of women's wrestling... yeah, sorry, I can't help you. If you're coming in with an attitude that women "can't wrestle", this show will try and prove you wrong almost immediately, but if you're coming in just not being a fan of the genre for more legitimate reasons, this may not change your mind at all.
Now, if you don't care much about production, nor have a chip on your shoulder when it comes to women's wrestling, you might enjoy the show. If nothing else, the Main Event will be worth your money, although I'll say I was pretty happy with most of the card, especially the opener with Athena and Niya, as well as the Roxx/Havok match and the tag match with Alicia and Sassy Stephie taking on Rick Cataldo and Brittany Savage. The real value of this show, and most WSU shows, is the Main Event. It's certainly worth your time to check out.
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