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Big Van Vader (1955-2018)

Wrestling is full of the big and the bad, but few were as big and as bad as Big Van Vader.

Born Leon Allen White, Vader was one of the most fearsome and dominating forces in the history of professional wrestling. Billed at 6'4" and 450-plus pounds, "The Mastodon" was a powerhouse: a behemoth of a competitor who dealt vicious blows to his opponents from and on every corner of the wrestling ring. With his signature red mask, Vader was a formidable force on his own; but what made him even more terrifying was his agility. Vader dealt not only dropkicks and off-the-top-rope moves, but finished off many of his opponents with the Vadersault: a man weighing nearly a quarter of a ton, executing a top-rope moonsault with the grace of a cruiserweight.

White debuted in 1985, after a stint in American football. He proved to be such a skilled and fast learner that it took him but two years to be in the main event of the American Wrestling Association. He feuded against the man w…
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The Smark Henry RAW Review (6/18/18): When You Call Me, You Call Me The Champ

Dolph Ziggler is now the top dog on RAW. And I love it.

Okay, let's qualify the above statement first. Yes, Brock Lesnar is still the Universal Champion, but we don't know when his next title defense is, let alone when he even plans to come back to TV. Absentee top champion, get outta here. That makes room for the Intercontinental Champion to be The Man.

But what about Roman Reigns? He may still be on this slow burn road to redemption story, as he's still shoved down our throats as RAW's top babyface. But Braun Strowman is arguably in that role right now. Plus, Roman ain't no champion right now, so he basic.

When Dolph's music hit as he revealed himself to be Seth Rollins' challenger for the Intercontinental Championship, I expected both guys to steal the show and put on a memorable TV match. We didn't exactly get that, and I don't really blame either guy for it. Rollins just came off one hell of a match against Elias the previous night, so I'm…

The Smark Henry Pay-Per-Review: NXT TakeOver: Chicago II

"T@^&*%A NITONG FEUD NA 'TO," were the exact words on my notes as I watched Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa II on a lazy Monday afternoon. I mean, can we sue Triple H, his off-screen daughters, Ciampa, and Gargano for the emotional distress that this feud has caused a lot of us?

All the exaggeration aside, Gargano vs. Ciampa II was somehow much more brutal and emotional than the first one (and that already made me ugly-cry in a wrestling match for the first time!). Sure, some things did not make sense mid-match—like when authorities were keeping Gargano from finishing a match that should end in a pinfall or submission, but then a referee suddenly appeared when Tommaso was pinning Johnny—but do we really need to have logic in a brawl like theirs?

That minor detail didn't matter. Everyone was so drawn to the brutality and drama that this fight brought to the table. Everyone was so drawn to the descent into madness by our beloved underdog in Johnny Gargano, and i…

The Smark Henry Pay-Per-Review: Money in the Bank 2018

When somebody asks you what big thing happened in pro wrestling in the year 2018, all you should tell them are three things: Daniel Bryan came back, Kenny Omega finally won the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, and all big events are now more than three hours. WrestleMania who? SummerSlam what?

The monster NJPW created has now made its way to the WWE. Someone must have figured out that with a roster as deep as this, and the willingness of fans to watch around four hours of wrestling action, there's no excuse for the company not to do the same.

It began with Backlash last month, but really got going with this year's Money in the Bank. So, the million-dollar question now: is it all worth it?

If you've been reading or following along to WWE programming and how people have reacted to it, or if you've tried to follow all seven hours of weekly WWE content on TV, you already know the answer to this. No, it's not worth it. Money in the Bank was objectively a solid show, but …

#ThemeSongTuesday: An Ode to The Boss

We don't cover a lot of folk music in this space. After all, we don't hear a lot folk music in wrestling to begin with.

But in case you missed it, indie folk group the Mountain Goats released a song yesterday dedicated to four-time RAW Women's Champion Sasha Banks. Actually, it wasn't even just a song dedicated to her. It was for her and about her. Before we break this down, why don't you listen to the song in its entirety first? You're welcome.

Song for Sasha Banks by The Mountain Goats
Now, some context on the song.

In 2015, the Mountain Goats released a pro wrestling-themed concept album called Beat The Champ. And not long before its release, their frontman, John Darnielle went to an independent wrestling show, after having fallen out of the fandom for quite a while. Around this time, Sasha Banks was still on NXT and tweeted Darnielle, asking him to write a song about her.

To be fair to him, he didn't no-sell her and said he'd get to it at the end of…

Yes, That WWE UK Show Is Finally Happening, And It's Called NXT UK

It's been coming for a while now—ever since WWE launched a United Kingdom Championship and a tournament in January last year—but it's finally here: the long-anticipated UK division show is materializing as NXT UK.

Triple H, the man in charge of all these efforts, made the big announcement during the tapings for the next round of this year's United Kingdom Championship tournament at the Royal Albert Hall yesterday. This follows the announcement that British wrestling legend Johnny Saint will be the division's general manager, answering the interesting question of exactly what he'll be general managing.

The news doesn't stop there as well. In addition to the actual show, Triple H announced a UK Tag Team Championship and a UK Women's Championship, to be crowned at the first set of tapings of the show on June 29. The only thing we need to know now is where NXT UK is going to be broadcast, because there isn't any news on whether it'll be on the WWE Netw…

WWE Money in the Bank 2018 Results

Wasn't able to watch WWE Money in the Bank live? We got you covered!

Follow all the action in Smark Henry's live results below.
Quick Results* Kickoff Show - Smackdown Tag Team Championship: The Bludgeon Brothers (Harper and Rowan) def. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson to retain their titles
Another #SDLive tag team has been BLUDGEONED as @LukeHarperWWE & @ERICKROWAN put away @LukeGallowsWWE & @KarlAndersonWWE on #MITB Kickoff! — WWE (@WWE) June 17, 2018
1. Daniel Bryan def. Big Cass via heel hook submission

It's that simple. @WWEDanielBryan is VICTORIOUS at #MITB! — WWE (@WWE) June 17, 2018
* Backstage, Kevin Owens attempted to ally himself with The New Day, who were still mulling over who among them will compete in the Men's Money in the Bank Ladder match later.

2. Bobby Lashley def. Sami Zayn after a delayed vertical suplex
Not 1️⃣
Not 2️⃣
But 3️⃣ VERTICAL SUPLEXES seal th…

Live From the 205 (6/12/18): World War 205

I've often found that some of the best championship stories arise from when more than one person stakes a claim to a shot. I don't know, there's just something about a rogues gallery of challengers coming for a title.

These either happen in the absence of an undeniably strong contender or in the presence of many deserving candidates. In the case of 205 Live, which has been trying to pull off a teetering balancing act every week of building up as many people as it can in an hour, there's a lot to go around. Cedric Alexander's long proved himself worthy of the purple championship around his waist, but so has both Mustafa Ali and Buddy Murphy, and as well as in a roundabout way, Hideo Itami.

Which is why the current storyline between these three guys hovering around Cedric's title gives me more than a bit of joy. Having them orbit the championship scene means that the creative handling 205 Live is definitely paying attention to all of them, and in doing so, maxim…

Word on the Rings: Intertextual Chocolate

Professional wrestling is a part of culture that lends itself well to theorizing: after all, when you put wrestling in the real world, it doesn’t make sense. Why do people with microphones shout at each other, when they’re just at an arm’s length away? Why must fighting involve acrobatics and contortion, when you can beat someone up with a flurry of punches and kicks? Or how Max Landis put it: do we tolerate people beating others up with sledgehammers and baseball bats covered with barbed wire?

The simple answer is that people who watch wrestling get it. In his introduction to "The Squared Circle: Life, Death, and Professional Wrestling," David Shoemaker writes that what makes wrestling "fake" is that it is the mythology that matters the most in wrestling: "We make our own gods for our own purposes. And we love them, and that's the whole point."

And in a little corner of the Filipino wrestling community, why are Filipino wrestlers using other wrestle…

Smark Hen-XT (6/13/18): TakeOver: Chicago II Predictions

TakeOver: Chicago is already this Sunday (Philippine time)! It definitely has big shoes to fill following an (almost-)perfect TakeOver: New Orleans. But if there's something we learned in the past, it's to never doubt NXT and everyone's abilities to take our collective breaths away during TakeOver events.

Now, let's go through the card!

NXT Tag Team Championship: The Undisputed ERA (Kyle O'Reilly and Roderick Strong) (w/ North American Champion Adam Cole) vs. Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch My heart says the BritAm Brawlers will shut the yapping of the Undisputed ERA by taking the gold away from their waists, but my mind says the little shits of the ERA will retain. As much as I love an underdog story, I'm afraid that I'm going to follow my head here and say that the Undisputed ERA are retaining. Lorcan and Burch ARE FREAKING UNDERRATED GUYS, but I'm afraid that they aren't on the championship level yet. They just had too many losses in the past, and wh…