Thursday, April 30, 2009

Get the title situation under control!

I've been reading a lot of rumors that WWE is going to become a lot more strict about the roster split and rein in all the inter-brand activity that's been going on the last few months. If that's true, it's great news because it'll give more guys a chance to shine, but I hope along with it, they do something about the constant title changes. I'm not the kind of guy to harp on things like "title prestige," but since late 2008, it's gotten a bit ridiculous.

First, let's take a look at the WWE Championship. Let's think back to September of 2006, when John Cena beat Edge in a TLC match at Unforgiven, Cena held that title until October of 2007 when he went down with his pectoral injury. Orton got the belt at No Mercy 07 and held it for six months until dropping it to Triple H at Backlash 08; HHH held it for seven months. So ignoring the goofy trade-offs at No Mercy 07, there were really only three major WWE Title reigns between September of 2006 and November of 2008. Once Edge returned at Survivor Series, the WWE changed hands at that event, then in December at Armageddon, then in January at the Royal Rumble, then in February at No Way Out, then last Sunday at Backlash. That's five reigns in five months compared to three reigns in over two years... that's absurd.

The World Heavyweight Championship is not immune to this either. Since Chris Jericho won the title in September, the title has gone to Batista at Cyber Sunday, back to Jericho a week later, to Cena at Survivor Series, to Edge at No Way Out, to John Cena at WrestleMania to Edge at Backlash. Seven reigns in seven months.

It seems the one major title that's handled well is the ECW Championship. I look at the ECW brand in two stages, the original revival of the brand where WWE didn't exactly know what to do with it and when they seemed to find their footing with it in the Summer of 2007. Since John Morrison won the ECW Title, the shortest reign has been 68 days; CM Punk, Matt Hardy and Jack Swagger all had reigns over 100 days.

When you bounce titles around like WWE's been doing the last few months, it makes the switches lack impact. Jeff Hardy's first title reign is going to be a footnote in history because it was sandwiched between two other hotshotted reigns that people aren't going to remember in five years. I'm not saying we need to go back to the days of Bruno Sammartino holding the belt for eight years, but just keep title changes infrequent enough to make them actually mean something.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Kick-Out's ECW Thoughts - April 28, 2009

I'm going to keep this review short and sweet since I have another column I'm working on and there wasn't really a whole lot to talk about from last night's show anyway.

Christian's opening promo was rock solid and then Tommy Dreamer coming out to interrupt and set up the night's main event only made it better. The red-hot NYC crowd chanting "E-C-DUB" made me long for the days of the original ECW, glad to see Tommy getting the respect he deserves.

Finlay vs. Tyson Kidd was exactly the kind of action I like to see on ECW, perfectly acceptable TV wrestling. Kidd looked great out there and Finlay continues to shine in his role of mentor to ECW's new talent. Tyson's doing well in his heel role, but I think 99% of his heat comes from that ridiculous hair, I see that and I just want to hate the guy.

Vladimir Kozlov looked AWESOME. People will probably rag on it for being too gimmicky, but seriously... awesome. Over the top? Absolutely. Badass? Without a doubt. Hopefully they'll change his actual ring attire though because the white trunks have to go. How about Nikolai Volkoff's old trunks with the hammer and sickle? What I'm really hoping for is Ivan Drago's shorts from Rocky IV. Kozlov must break you.

Then WWE has to go and break my heart by putting Gregory Helms in a backstage interviewer role. What's up with that?! ***UPDATE*** According to JR's Blog, Helms is "not 100% physically," so doing this to keep him on TV makes sense. Hope to see Hurricane back in the ring sooner than later, but him getting healthy is obviously priority #1.

Main event was good from what I saw, I was having some DVR issues that required me to fast forward through some of it. Jack Swagger's tackle of Dreamer was absolutely brutal and completely out of nowhere, great timing and camera work on that one. I know Swagger is slated for a rematch at Judgment Day, but I think a triple threat match between these guys could be a lot of fun. Christian vs. Swagger vs. Dreamer, let's make it happen.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Of course WWE needs John Cena

I was reading a column yesterday, written by a guy named James Wright, at Wrestling Truth (they apparently reveal the truth behind the headlines) that asked if WWE needs John Cena. My immediate reaction was "what kind of stupid question is that?" but after seeing people re-tweet the story on Twitter dozens of times, I felt the need to make a proper response. The article itself lacks any sort of coherent point, jumping around from clichéd Cena hating to whether or not WWE should abandon "kayfabe" (that's old carny language for keeping up the illusion that wrestling is real), and the effects of WWE's shift to PG programming, so I'll just tackle those three points separately.

-"John Cena [is] a waste of space as a wrestler and a negative force in the WWE, stealing the spotlight for other, more deserving, superstars."

This is just wrong on so many levels. If you're going to use the tired argument of John Cena being a bad wrestler, I suggest you hop in your DeLorean and head back to 2005 when you may have had some inkling a point. He had some good matches before (like the I Quit Match with JBL), but after WrestleMania 22, you don't really have a leg to stand on when bashing Cena's in-ring performance. He's put on incredible matches with guys like Triple H, Edge, Umaga, Shawn Michaels (including their hour-long battle on Raw), Randy Orton, Rob Van Dam, Batista, Chris Jericho, and he was also the first (and possibly only) person to ever get a watchable match out of The Great Khali. Aside from The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels, there is no one in the wrestling business today who can out-perform John Cena in a big match situation.

As for the ridiculous claim that he "steals the spotlight" from more "deserving superstars," I simply ask, who? John Cena is the biggest star the industry has seen since Steve Austin, who is possibly more deserving a top spot in WWE than him? It's funny, a lot of these things people say about Cena, they said about Austin back in 1998: "he's not good in the ring," "he steals the spotlight from better wrestlers," "he does the same thing over and over," etc. Cena may not go down in history as the best pure wrestler, but he will likely be remembered as the most passionate and dedicated. He eats, sleeps and breathes the wrestling business, that's the kind of guy I want at the top of the card, not some guy who is athletically gifted, but could walk-out to pursue MMA at any given moment.

-"Maybe the whole idea of kayfabe should just be scrapped all together."

It has been scrapped, it was scrapped a long time ago. As you suggest in your article, Vince McMahon already revealed the man behind the curtain, so I don't understand what exactly it is that you're proposing. Aside from a ticker to go along the bottom of the screen that says, "ATTENTION WWE UNIVERSE: THIS ISN'T REAL!" I don't know what else they can do to clarify that it's sports entertainment. Vince presents his product like every other scripted show on television, we know it's fake, but it's still fun to watch. I know Matthew Fox isn't really Lost on an island, but I don't want them reminding me of that mid-show, the fun comes from getting immersed in the story, the same concept applies to wrestling.

-"I personally hate the kids initiative, it does nothing for me as a wrestling fan"

Well, it's not 1999 anymore, the Jerry Springer days of "Crash TV" are over and that's not what wrestling fans want. In 2002 and 2003, WWE struggled to find an identity because they were hung up on the Attitude Era, but fans were over it. Since 2004, WWE's shifted their focus away from edgy storylines and back to the in-ring product and in my opinion, they've become increasingly better in the following years.

I got into wrestling when I was really young and the big deal back then was Hulk Hogan, along with other larger than life characters like Jake "The Snake" Roberts, "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase, "Macho Man" Randy Savage and The Ultimate Warrior. When fans like me began to grow up, the product matured with us and we got characters like Steve Austin, The Rock, Mick Foley, and DX, and it gave WWE another huge boom period, but that was over ten years ago. Think of it like this, someone who was just entering college in 1998 is almost 30 now, they could have kids of their own and if they do, that's where most of their disposable income will be spent. So the kids who grew up watching Hulk Hogan are now the people taking their kids to see John Cena, it makes perfect sense for WWE to be appealing to that youth demographic. I'll have a full rant on this PG uproar in the near future, but it's really just another example of the smark community making a mountain out of a mole hill.

So according to this Wrestling Truth column, Cena sucks but the kids like him, but appealing to kids sucks, so WWE should break kayfabe (which they already have), but have storylines to set them apart from MMA. I don't know what it is exactly that Mr. Wright is looking for, but I'm pretty sure what he described is exactly what WWE has been doing - presenting a product that's a little something for everyone. Bottom line, John Cena is the most valuable commodity in wrestling today, regardless of "kayfabe" or who little kids like, WWE needs him just like they needed Austin in the 90s and Hogan in the 80s.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Kick-Out's Raw Thoughts - April 27, 2009

For a post-PPV edition of Raw, tonight's show was rather underwhelming. Let's take a look at what worked and what didn't:

Randy Orton, I know you're basking in the glory of winning the WWE Title, but it's only a two hour show, we don't need to spend half of it on your entrance. I haven't talked much about this since I started Kick-Out!! Wrestling, but I always go back and forth on how I feel about Randy Orton. Sometimes, he's just so good at what he does and makes me absolutely loathe him, other times, he bores me to tears... tonight was the latter. Boring, monotone promo, a video montage of stuff we've seen a million times (that they just had to show again later), and then a couple more monotone lines. Surprisingly, MVP saved this entire segment by coming out and displaying some actual energy. Great stuff from MVP, even if it is still really weird to see him as a face.

Kofi Kingston vs. The Brian Kendrick was criminally short, but I guess time needed to be made for Orton's ten minute entrance. I hate to pass judgment after only one match, but I worry my fears about Kendrick moving to Raw may be true. Hopefully he can bounce back from the loss and go onto bigger things, but at least he lost to someone on a roll like Kofi Kingston, who was looking impressive as always.

8-Diva Tag (well, 7-Diva Tag + Santina) wasn't anything special, but the comedy bits with the Bella Twins and Hornswoggle was pretty funny. Considering they set the bar so low with that dreadful segment last night, it didn't take much to deliver on the laughs here. Hornswoggle and Santino being on screen together at any time has potential to be comedy gold.

Tough break for Matt Hardy, they finally end the uncomfortable feud with his brother and breaks his hand in the process. But as I said today on Twitter, every cloud has a silver lining and Matt can use the Cowboy Bob Orton cast gimmick. Crowds love to boo a guy that they think might be faking an injury and the cast is always an easy way to score a cheap victory, so maybe Matt can use it to his advantage? That said, why did Goldust have to be the first victim? You want some good comedy, let Goldust get on the microphone!

Randy Orton vs. MVP was one of the shining moments of the evening. MVP continued to flourish in his new role, Orton looked strong and both men were protected with the DQ finish. I have to admit, I could watch various people beat on Randy Orton with a Singapore cane every week.

I don't know if this is a testament to the man's talent or a sign of just how dull Raw was tonight, but The Miz's promo was the best moment of the show. I'm going to say that again, because even I don't believe it - The Miz was the highlight of the entire Monday Night Raw broadcast. He showed more emotion and more passion on the mic than the WWE Champion did and while he was talking, I was wondering why this guy wasn't headlining PPVs. Everyone expects John Morrison to be the breakout star of the team, but I'd be willing to be money that The Miz earns a World Championship first. The self-professed "Chick Magnet" won me over tonight.

The
Colóns vs. Chavo Guerrero & Jamie Noble was just strange. Noble and Guerrero teaming up doesn't make any sense, I think ol' Chavito was better off pushing Vickie around in her wheelchair. Carlito looked impressive though, the double springboard twisting senton was beautifully executed, he just needs some actual opponents in the tag division. With him slated to face Ted DiBiase on Superstars this week, I think Carlito & Primo, are just keeping the titles warm for Orton's teammates and it won't be long before all members of Legacy have gold.

Main event just didn't do it for me at all. Batista and Big Show are good with the right opponent, but those two have never clicked against each other. Remember when they got booed out of The Hammerstein Ballroom shortly after ECW's revival? Well, tonight was like that, but with a crowd that didn't even care enough to boo. The highlight of the match was a broken John Cena making an unexpected appearance to distract Big Show; yes, John Cena standing at the top of the ramp was more fun to watch than this match. Batista is the number one contender though, and he tore the house down with Orton at Armageddon, so I hope they'll give an even more memorable performance with the WWE Title being on the line.

Not the show I was hoping for considering the Draft went into effect tonight and we just had a PPV yesterday. Lots of filler (Hardy/Goldust, Kofi/Kendrick, tag match) and not a whole lot of story progression besides a continuation of the McMahon/Orton saga. The only parts of the show I really enjoyed were MVP and The Miz, who were really on their game tonight. I don't get it, Raw cleaned up in the Draft, getting stacked main event scene and a solid midcard, but we didn't really see any of that on display here. I don't know how long they plan on keeping Triple H, Shawn Michaels and Cena will be out of the ring, but Orton and Batista can't carry this show on their own.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Kick-Out's Backlash 2009 Review

Wow, I'm still reeling a bit from that ending, but Backlash is officially over and I'm not exactly sure what to think of it. There was some stuff I liked and there was some stuff I really didn't like:

Christian vs. Jack Swagger may be my personal highlight of the night because Christian's return has been solidified with an ECW Championship reign! These two exceeded my expectations for this match and didn't just put on a good match, they put on a hell of a match. The clever ending reminded me of vintage Eddie Guerrero, which was a nice touch. A great match, a fun ending and Christian is now a top champion in WWE, nothing to complain about here. And how awesome was the backstage segment between Christian and Edge? I have a feeling it won't be the last time we see them trade words.

Chris Jericho vs. Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat wasn't quite the sleeper hit I was hoping for, but both men put on a good performance and deserve to be commended. Steamboat was on fire once again and if this is his last time lacing up the boots, he couldn't have had a better opponent. I should've went with my gut in my predictions and picked Jericho, it was the most logical way to end the feud. Jericho can close the book on his battle with the legends and move onto Smackdown and Steamboat still got his standing ovation after the match.

Kane vs. CM Punk was one of the things I didn't like about tonight. To be perfectly clear, I REALLY didn't like it. The match itself was good, better than I thought it would be considering Kane was in it, but the finish was completely stupid. I'm not the kind of guy to be an armchair booker, but I see absolutely no logic in putting Kane over CM Punk. Seriously, when was the last time Kane was relevant? 2005? I honestly cannot think of a guy that is more stale than Kane right now and him beating the Money in the Bank winner just seems counter-productive. Lame.

Jeff Hardy vs. Matt Hardy brought the goods in terms of match quality, but once again continued to be just uncomfortable. When Jeff started tying his brother up and looking for stuff under the ring, I saw that big container of water bottles and was seriously horrified at what Jeff was going to do. You know how sometimes WWE likes to make a situation really uncomfortable like when Muhammed Hassan attacked The Undertaker or JBL beat up Hornswoggle? Well, for a minute there, I thought Jeff was going to waterboard Matt... I need to stop watching the news. Thankfully that did not happen and Jeff got the win, hopefully this will be the end of the feud.

Khali's Kiss Cam with Santina was just embarrassing. The less said, the better.

Triple H, Batista & Shane McMahon vs. Legacy wasn't a bad match, but I knew shenanigans were going to happen when Orton spent the first ten minutes of the match backstage. Sometimes when WWE tries to be confusing, they just make the situation all the more predictable, when Orton went missing, I knew he was going to wind up champ. I was hoping for the Davetista! heel turn, but I suppose the ending they went with worked. At least Orton got the pin on Triple H, because if he would've beat Shane McMahon to win the WWE Title, it would've really cast a black cloud over his reign. With Triple H taking the Punt, can that please put an end to the Orton/McMahon saga for awhile? Orton vs. Batista is fine and I know we'll eventually get the Triple H quest for vengeance, but I need a HHH vs. Orton break.

Edge vs. John Cena was unsurprisingly match of the night as I suspected, but it feels a little bittersweet. What was the point of Cena winning the belt at Mania only to drop it right back? When it comes to Edge, they are bouncing these titles around way too much, this is his fourth reign since November! That's pretty ridiculous. That gripe out of the way, the match itself was awesome and the finish was brutally cool. I'm sure the smarks will whine that it was prop glass or the explosion was over the top, but that was a sick bump no matter how you slice it. I would not want to be thrown into that awkward position and then have things explode right behind me. Oh, and how crazy was Cena Attitude Adjusting Edge into the crowd?! There's something you don't see everyday in WWE. I suspect Cena will be out for a bit to sell the injuries and then a feud with Big Show is on tap for when he's healed, but how badass does Show look right now? Monday he crushes Rey Mysterio, Friday he obliterates The Undertaker and Sunday he throws John Cena into a spotlight. That's how you make a monster.

Also, did you notice CM Punk out there to check on John Cena? Judgment Day is in Chicago, he has MITB, and Edge has the World Title, the same guy he beat for it last year... pieces of the puzzle falling into place, perhaps?

The Bad: Kane winning made zero sense, I'm not a fan of Randy Orton, so him as WWE Champ does nothing for me, and I hate the titles being hot potatoed all over the place. I'm not usually one to harp on things like title prestige, but they need to get the situation under control with both the World Title and the WWE Title, because they've been bounced around like pinballs since the end of 2008.

The Good: Christian winning was awesome, I Quit hopefully ended the Hardy feud, Ricky Steamboat's return to the ring is such a feel-good story, and Edge vs. Cena was arguably the best Last Man Standing match in WWE history. Also
I went 3 for 6 in my predictions, which is definitely better than my abysmal 2 for 9 at WrestleMania, so that's a personal plus.

It had its ups and downs, so I'll have to say the final verdict on Backlash 2009 is thumbs in the middle. Probably better than the disappointing Royal Rumble and No Way Out PPVs, but nowhere near as good as WrestleMania 25. Hopefully with the Draft going into effect tomorrow, WWE will get back on track after a cluttered last few weeks.

Kick-Out's Top 5 of the Week - April 26, 2009

Backlash is just a few hours away and hopefully I'll get my money's worth and the PPV will land all five places on next week's Top 5. Still looking for a cooler name for the list as well, so far my only suggestion is "Michael Cole's Swasbuckling Top 5 of the Week: OH MY!" and yes, that is awesome... but a little long. Make sure to check back later tonight for my thoughts on the PPV, but for right now, here's the five greatest things in wrestling this week:

5. Mick Foley - TNA Champion
I know a lot of people are down on the idea of Mick Foley winning TNA's top title and TNA has a long list of really stupid decisions, but I honestly don't have a problem with it. Foley is the only legitimate main eventer from the Attitude Era on TNA's roster (Kurt Angle made his name in a big slump period) and the Hardcore Legend is arguably the biggest name in the company as well. Even though he hasn't been an active wrestler in almost a decade, Foley never gives less than 100% and I think a lot of good can come from him being champ. If it plays out right, Mick Foley can be to TNA what Terry Funk was to ECW.

4. Edge and Cena's dueling promos
Cena's impassioned promo on Superstars set them up and Edge knocked them down the following night. Two great promos from the top two performers in the business today, Edge and Cena took an under-hyped match and made it seem more important than the entire four-month long storyline between Orton and the McMahon family with just two promos. Cena didn't need to break into Edge's house, Edge didn't need to assault Cena's dad (although he has in the past), they just needed two microphones.

3. Kofi Kingston shines bright
After being left out of the No Way Out main event, I was a little worried about Kofi Kingston's future, he lost his big break! Thankfully he put on a stellar performance at WrestleMania and then on Thursday's edition of Smackdown, he tore the house down with Edge. He may have took a clean loss in the center of the ring, but he still came out looking like a million bucks. Remember smarks, a wrestler can be "put over" even if they lose.

2. Triple H vs. Randy Orton
It's a damn shame this wasn't the match we got at WrestleMania. Overbooked, yes, but it's still a far superior match since it wasn't hindered by the pointless "lose the title if DQ'ed" stipulation. I would also say this is the best match these two have ever had against each other, they've had a lot of matches and never really gelled together in the ring, but I think they found the formula Monday night.

1. John Cena vs. Chris Jericho
Sure the ending sucked, but I'm not going to let that ruin one of the greatest matches on free TV that I've ever seen. The near falls, the finisher reversals, the back and forth, the hot crowd, Cena and Jericho's built-in history, it all just came together and made for a great match. Lightning struck twice on Monday because much like Orton and Triple H, this was definitely the best match Cena and Jericho have ever had against each other and it's a damn shame they're going to be on separate shows now. Match of the week for sure.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Kick-Out's Smackdown Thoughts - April 24, 2009

Edge's opening promo was the highlight of the night, without question. After a great promo from Cena on Superstars, Edge responded and got across the severity of their feud. Although if this is supposedly the end of their epic battle, I have to wonder how long that will last. Edge and Cena is this generation's Rock vs. Austin, you can try keeping them apart for awhile but it will always be a go-to match.

Matt Hardy & Kane vs. CM Punk & Jeff Hardy was good, but it's also the third time Punk and Kane have been in the ring together this week when they have a PPV match tomorrow. I know Matt and Jeff have been at it a few times this month, but they have the luxury of a gimmick match to keep it feeling fresh and original, I hope CM Punk and Kane have something up their sleeves to make their match interesting at Backlash.

Maryse and Gail Kim had another good outing with each other, a bit of a shame they'll be on separate shows, they have great ring chemistry. Maryse continued her hard-hitting style and won the match with a cringe worthy kick-start DDT.

Big Show vs. Undertaker wasn't as fun as their encounters last fall, but it served its purpose. Surprised they had Big Show win so decisively, I have to wonder if that means really big things for him on Raw. I've been waiting for a Big Show/Triple H feud since Triple H went to Smackdown last year, I think there's a lot of potential there considering how good Show's been since his return. Also, isn't it pretty weird that a guy who dominated both Rey Mysterio and The Undertaker in one week doesn't have a match on the PPV.

MVP vs. Chavo was a decent match, but I don't get the stuff with Dolph Ziggler. So the Draft goes into effect on Monday, but MVP is going to be on Smackdown anyway? I know the roster split is always more of a guideline than a rule, but do we really need MVP to show up on Smackdown to fight freaking Dolph Ziggler? His name is Dolph Ziggler! Yes, I am saying that the guy named Montel Vontavius Porter shouldn't waste his time with the guy who has a funny name.

I have to admit, I fast-forwarded through most of Batista/Shane vs. Priceless, I figure I'm going to see most of this match on Sunday, so why spoil it? That said, the flying Spinebuster at the end of the match was awesome. Cody looked like he flew right into a brick wall... a brick wall that then slammed him onto the mat.

Well... that was not the kind of show I expect going into a PPV. Nothing particularly bad, but not really anything extremely good, and they ruined their chances of a perfect week with having a great match on every show. Hopefully Backlash will make up for it and deliver on all six matches, which all have the potential to be good (even the one with Kane).

Friday, April 24, 2009

WWE Superstars thoughts - April 23, 2009

Just finished watching last night's edition of Superstars and I'd say it was better than last week's thanks to the awesome main event. On Twitter, Joey Styles recently called Superstars a "one hour weekly PPV," which makes me wonder if they're going to keep up this trend of the big names appearing on the show every week. I'm not complaining if true, but I'd like to see maybe one big match per week and then round out the card with backstage promos, vignettes and lower card workers.

CM Punk/Mysterio vs. Big Show/Kane just didn't do it for me. I love Rey Mysterio, Big Show's been great since his return last year, and CM Punk is possibly my favorite wrestler in WWE right now, but the match just didn't click. It seemed to follow the formula of: put Rey Mysterio in a bearhug, Rey fights out, knock Rey down, big guy tags out, put Rey in bearhug, repeat. Kane pinning CM Punk makes me feel pretty good about my prediction that Punk will come out on top at Backlash though.

Finlay/Hornswoggle vs. Tyson Kidd/Natalya was silly fun. Obviously not going to be a match of the year candidate (oops, I said it), but it was a nice way to wrap up the Finlay and Hornswoggle saga since they'll be on different shows. Still no idea what they're going to do with Hornswoggle on Raw, but I'll accept any of the following:

A. Hornswoggle & Festus win the Unified Tag Team Championship
B. Hornswoggle becomes Vickie Guerrero's co-GM
C. Hornswoggle & Goldust movie reviews
D. Hornswoggle & Santino... need I say more?

John Cena's backstage promo was nothing short of brilliant and just another reason why the guy is the best in the business today. I thought the hype for Last Man Standing had been a little weak, but Cena's tremendous verbal abilities really set the stage for what this match is all about. Couple this with their war of words on Smackdown two weeks ago, and I'm officially stoked for this match.

Edge vs. Kofi Kingston was another great match in a week littered with them. Raw had two, ECW had one, Superstars had one, here's hoping Smackdown tonight and Backlash can complete the perfect week of a great match on every show. Edge made Kingston look like a million bucks and a legitimate threat the entire match, which is something he really needed after losing his big spot in the No Way Out main event. Between tonight and his performance at Money in the Bank, I'd say Kofi is right back in the saddle and ready to be the next breakout star in WWE.

And yes, I'm still sad something like this isn't the theme song for the show:



Match of the Ye -- *CENSORED*

Apparently on the re-broadcast of ECW, which airs Saturday nights on Universal HD, two lines of commentary were edited out, and of course people with too much time on their hands noticed and had to alert the media! On the original broadcast, at the end of the Evan Bourne/John Morrison match, Matt Striker called it a "match of the year candidate" and Josh Matthews claimed it was a "five-star match," these were not heard on the re-airing, so according to the dirtsheets, these phrases are now on the WWE's mysterious list of "banned words."

In case you're not familiar with this list, it's the same one that last year the dirtsheets claimed that announcers were no longer allowed to call the talent "Superstars," but rather "entertainers." Of course, that was flat-out wrong and WWE now has a show called Superstars, which makes it even more hilarious. Also from last year, WWE had supposedly banned the use of the word "fans," and people who liked WWE had to be referred to as the "WWE Universe." Guess what the website address is for WWE Universe... yep, fans.wwe.com and I count at least three usages of the word "fan" right on the front page.

Obviously the phrase "match of the year" isn't banned by WWE, since they just gave Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels the award a few months ago when they brought back the Slammys. WWE probably just didn't want Matt Striker to be throwing around a term so loosely, especially just nine days after Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels, which was a match of the decade candidate. That's a total assumption on my part, all I can say for certain is that the phrase itself is not "banned." As for the other quote, I honestly wouldn't be surprised if announcers are told not to use phrases like "five star match" because the star rating system, especially used in a wrestling context, is incredibly stupid (more on that in the future).

Typical wrestling "journalism" for you, a couple phrases get edited out of a broadcast and suddenly they're on the mythical list of words you can never say on WWE television. I have no doubt WWE tries to shy away from certain jargon, Vince McMahon has made it perfectly clear over the years that he doesn't want his product to be associated with anything that might harken back to the days of "wrasslin," but maybe we can try to be a little less sensationalist about it? Instead of the slanted headline* "WWE's latest banned words," maybe try some legitimate journalism like "WWE edits ECW commentary." I know it's a lot to ask from people who couldn't cut it on a junior high school newspaper, but it's just another example of why people within the business will never take internet fans seriously. Do your part for a better internet wrestling community, demand better reporting.

*Notice the same headline and copy & pasted story on at least four different websites. Read more about this phenomenon here: Plagiarism could be a bad move in the long run.

Bobby Dempsey and the hypocrisy of ROH uber-smarks

In January of 2008, I went to a Ring of Honor show for the first time. I wasn't sure what to expect, I had heard stories about the crowds, but I lived through the glory days of ECW, my buddy almost broke a guy's hand over a chain New Jack threw into the audience, so I was prepared.

...I was not prepared. I was expecting a hardcore crowd of old school ECW fans who wanted their money's worth and would let you know if they weren't getting it, instead I got a room full of nerds who just wanted to sound cool. Keep in mind, when I say nerds, I mean people who are nerdier than me, the guy who has a blog about pro wrestling. I really enjoyed the show in spite of the crowd, Ring of Honor is a fantastic organization, it's just a damn shame they can't get a higher class of fan. It's not even all the fans, just the ones that never shut the hell up during a match.

This show was during Joey Matthews (aka Joey Mercury of MNM) run in ROH, aligning himself with Age of the Fall, that night he was in a tag match with Jimmy Jacobs and a guy next to me would not stop heckling him. I distinctly remember the guy going nuts when Matthews did his "snapshot" taunt before hitting a move and the guy screamed something to the effect of "That WWE bullshit doesn't work here!" The anti-WWE sentiment continued through the night, during intermission, a Q&A session with Austin Aries was held where some doofus asked him what could possibly be the dumbest question ever, "Has Connecticut (WWE) ever tried to hire you and if so, how did you tell them to stick it?" If you need this anti-WWE point to be more illustrated, check out the forums on Ring of Honor's website sometime, you'll see what kind of fan I'm talking about.

Okay, so we hate WWE, I get that, I've been reading wrestling websites for almost 15 years now, that's nothing new. But today, I turned on Ring of Honor on HDNet from Saturday night and I see the crowd going nuts for... Bobby Dempsey? Not only that, going nuts over him in a match that lasted all of maybe fifteen seconds. I've got nothing against Bobby Dempsey or Ring of Honor doing something a bit more comical, but let's be honest here, this is a WWE-esque gimmick through and through. You can't be the type of fan that hates WWE for not being "real wrestling" (there's an oxymoron), then goes nuts for the funny-looking fat guy. It's like Eugene meets Rikishi, he's the kid no one believes in and we sympathize with him, but it's funny because he's fat and does funny poses.

Again, I'm not taking issue with all ROH fans, just the more obnoxiously vocal ones who are on the internet within minutes of coming home from a show to talk about "workrate," how do they reconcile something like this, which is the very definition of the smark kryptonite known as sports entertainment? Maybe Ring of Honor needs more Bobby Dempsey, he gets the crowd to lighten up. It's a wrestling event, not a real life version of a message board, it's okay to have fun.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Shawn Michaels out for a few months?

So I was reading JR's Blog (which is easily the best website out there for insight into the business), and he mentioned something that I thought was definitely worth noting:

Speaking of younger stars becoming main eventers, we have been receiving a great deal of mail that John Morrison reminds many fans of a young HBK. Interesting comparison and I hope that these fans are on the money with their observation. HBK, who will be back in action in a few months, is one of the most extraordinary performers in the history of the business and for Morrison to reach that level it will take tremendous effort, focus, and a fair amount of luck.

I was wondering where the future Hall-of-Famer had been since WrestleMania, but I didn't know he was going to be out for "a few months." Quite an unfortunate turn of events, HBK's been absolutely stellar since his latest return from time off, which was way back in October 2007. Whether he was in the ring with budding stars like Mr. Kennedy, legends of the past like Ric Flair, or current Superstars like Randy Orton and Chris Jericho, HBK always brings something to the ring that no one else in the business has. Shawn has definitely earned the time off, but it's news like this that makes you wonder just how much more he has left in the tank.

Shawn Michaels was my favorite wrestler from the minute he turned heel in late 1991 all the way until his retirement in 1998. WWE had its biggest years ever once Shawn was gone, so it made his absence less noticeable, but since his return in 2002, it's like he never left in the first place. I know there's a lot of speculation going around about Shawn's future and he's not exactly tight-lipped about wanting to step away to spend more time with his family, but whether it's next year or ten years from now, the wrestling world will not be the same without The Heartbreak Kid.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Kick-Out's Backlash Predictions

Backlash is just four days away and it looks like the final card is going to have just six matches. WWE PPVs have been somewhat unpredictable as of late, so I wouldn't be surprised if something else gets added last minute or a match gets changed, but I'm operating under the assumption that things will happen as scheduled. Hopefully I can redeem myself after my abysmal WrestleMania predictions.

CM Punk vs. Kane
WWE.com is hyping this one by playing up the finish of the Money in the Bank match at WrestleMania where CM Punk won after repeatedly kicking Kane in the face. I hope this match continues the tradition of kicking Kane in the face, and CM Punk comes out on top. There's no reason for Punk to lose this match, so the only hard part about predicting this match should be whether or not I think Punk can actually hit Kane with the Go To Sleep.

Jeff Hardy vs. Matt Hardy - I Quit Match
With both brothers on separate shows, this match should be the end to a feud that I personally wish never happened. I Quit matches usually favor the face, unless the heel uses some dastardly tactic like threatening the good guy's friend, so I'm going with Jeff Hardy to finally get a win over Matt. I wouldn't be surprised if Matt gets in a cheap shot after the match though.

Chris Jericho vs. Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat
I really can't thank WWE enough for giving us this match. Give these two enough time and there's potential for this to be the sleeper hit of the show. Match could go either way, Steamboat is an old school veteran and would obviously put Jericho over, but this could also be The Dragon's proper final match and a win would be one of those classic wrestling moments. I'll go with Ricky Steamboat simply for that reason.

Jack Swagger © vs. Christian - ECW Championship
Swagger got a monster push out of the gate, but was it a case of too much too soon? I think Swagger's momentum slows down here and Christian gets his first top singles title in WWE. There's a strong possibility this match will be a defining moment in where the careers of both of these men go, so I expect them to pull out all the stops as well.

Triple H ©, Batista & Shane McMahon vs. Legacy - WWE Championship
As I said a few weeks back, I hate top titles being defended in multi-man matches, but at least this one makes sense considering everyone's history with Orton. This is probably the hardest match of the night to predict, but I'll go out on a limb and say Randy Orton leaves Backlash as WWE Champion. My guess (my hope) is that with Judgment Day being in Chicago next month, CM Punk will cash in the Money in the Bank in his hometown against Randy Orton to get revenge for what happened at last year's Unforgiven and take the WWE Title to Smackdown.
Bonus prediction: Batista turns heel.

John Cena © vs. Edge - World Heavyweight Championship
Last Man Standing Match
If Orton's team doesn't win, then Edge is walking out World Champion to take a title to Smackdown. That said, I don't see them putting the belt right back on Edge after he just dropped it to Cena and I don't think Punk would cash in MITB against Cena or Triple H, so I'll stay consistent and predict John Cena retains the title. This is also my prediction for match of the night.

Please feel free to leave your predictions in the comments section below and don't forget to vote in the Backlash poll to the right of your screen. Given the last few PPVs, Edge could very well find a way to walk out of the PPV with the World Heavyweight Title and the WWE Title!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Kick-Out's ECW Thoughts - April 21, 2009

I gotta give it up to the London crowd, despite getting just one real match, they were red hot for tonight's ECW. With the Draft not in full effect and a PPV on Sunday, WWE put this edition of ECW on cruise control, but we did get one really good match, so I'm not complaining.

Finlay & Hornswoggle start things off for the lovable leprechaun's farewell address, but it's cut short by Tyson Kidd & Natalya. After some trash talk and a commercial break, Natalya vs. Hornswoggle is officially underway... seriously. Hornswoggle shows us that there are Irish pirates too when he plunders a piece of Natalya's booty (that's my classy way of saying he bit her on the ass) and gets a roll up victory after some shenanigans between Kidd and Finlay. Normally I'd be rolling my eyes at something so silly, but the London crowd was going absolutely nuts for Hornswoggle, so the segment did its job. One thing though, I'm pretty sure at the end of the match, Matt Striker referred to ECW as "The Dub"... Matt, please don't ever do that again.

Is Evan Bourne the most exciting superstar in WWE right now? I'm hard-pressed to think of anyone else. For the second week in a row, Bourne tore the house down, this time against Paul Burchill, who was wrestling like his job depended on it (maybe it did). Probably not a match of the week contender due to the stiff competition from Cena vs. Jericho and Triple H vs. Orton last night, but another stellar performance from Bourne.

After crushing Local Athlete last week, Vladimir Kozlov travels to the UK to squash... Local Competitor! Again, I'm not making that up. Okay, I understand we're rebuilding Kozlov after he fizzled out on Smackdown, but didn't we just get six months of him plowing through nobodies in late 2008? We get it, he kicks, he headbutts, he hits his modified spinebuster (as JR would call it) and demands better competition. Someone get this guy some better competition already!

Jack Swagger and Christian close the show with their contract signing and it is your typical WWE contract signing. Sylvester J. Cat runs his mouth, Christian plays it cool and says it's all about Sunday, Swagger gets in a cheap shot, then powerbombs Christian through the table. The crowd was alive during it, so much like the opening of the show, we close with something that accomplished exactly what it needed to do.

None of the talent acquired in the Supplemental Draft appeared tonight, so again, more of a placeholder show than anything else. ECW keeps up its tradition of at least one great match and they set up the tag match for Superstars between Finlay/Hornswoggle and Kidd/Natalya, so that has potential to be a lot of fun. Hopefully Christian gets the win at Backlash and next Tuesday, it'll be like a whole new show with a new champion and a new roster.

The Wrestler Review

The Wrestler arrives on DVD today and even though I've yet to pick it up (feel free to buy it for me), I did catch it a few months back in the theater and figured now would be as good a time as any to review it. I'll keep it mostly spoiler free in case you haven't seen it yet.

From the minute the movie begins until the credits roll, you are not watching Mickey Rourke, you are watching Randy "The Ram" Robinson. No one else could've possibly pulled off this role and I think the greatest thing that ever happened to this movie is the fact that Nicolas Cage left the project after being originally cast as The Ram. Not to take anything away from Marisa Tomei or Evan Rachel Wood, who are both terrific, but this is Mickey Rourke's movie. I'm not sure why it took three more years for him to get back in the spotlight after stealing the show in 2005's Sin City, but thankfully people took notice after this amazing performance, the Oscar nomination was definitely well-earned.

The coolest aspect of the movie is that wrestling fans and non-wrestling fans will watch the movie in entirely different ways. For fans, you'll finally get to see a major Hollywood movie that portrays wrestling seriously and accurately. Non-fans will view this movie as the engaging drama that it is, but hopefully they'll also come away with newfound knowledge of professional wrestling and perhaps no longer just look at it as "fake."

While it's important to note that not all professional wrestlers take the dark journey of Randy "The Ram" Robinson, the movie shines on a light on the hardships many of them go through, which hasn't really been done since the brilliant documentary Beyond the Mat, which came out a decade ago. One thing I hopes this movie accomplishes is to show mainstream audiences what exactly many of these guys go through so we can prevent more wrestling tragedies. Any time something bad happens with pro wrestlers, the media just writes it off as "steroids" and moves on. It's an easy scapegoat, but rarely ever the case, but the talking heads don't care about the facts, it's just some "fake wrestler" to them. While there is certainly a seedy underbelly to the business, hopefully The Wrestler can be one of the first things to put a face to it
, making it not quite as easy to dismiss.

While the movie would not have packed the same punch for me personally if it were The Boxer or The Fighter, it's obviously not just a movie about wrestling. Rourke's interactions with his daughter are touching one minute and heart-wrenching the next and Marisa Tomei as the aging stripper is a perfect parallel to The Ram's quest to remain relevant. Make no mistake, it's not just a good movie about wrestling, it's a fantastic move, period.

Anything that gets wrestling more mainstream attention is good news to me and hopefully we can someday see major motion pictures about the other sides of the business. Darren Aronofsky gave us a glimpse of aging wrestlers still trying to make it on the indy scene, now we need a movie about the drama within a major sports entertainment entity. Imagine Any Given Sunday, but instead of football, it's about the drama within a company similar to WWE. So long as no one tries to reboot Ready To Rumble, I hope The Wrestler makes it cool to produce more wrestling films.

I don't like to attach number ratings to any form of entertainment, so I'll just say my final verdict on The Wrestler is that it's definitely worthy purchasing. A phenomenal movie with an instantly classic performance from Mickey Rourke makes it a must-have for any collection.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Kick-Out's Raw Thoughts - April 20, 2009

Wow, that was a pretty big Raw, which shouldn't be too surprising since they always put on a big show for the London crowds. I'm sure the internet will explode with complaints about how the Draft wasn't in effect tonight and thus WWE has "devalued" the brand split (whatever that means), but I do have to question the timing of doing the Draft last week. Coming off WrestleMania and going into the European tour, it's given WWE this frenetic pace that's allowed for little time to promote Backlash, which is less than six days away. We're now up to five matches scheduled for the PPV, but I suppose with ECW, Superstars and Smackdown still to air, they've got time. All that in mind, let's take a look at tonight's Raw!

Chris Jericho's farewell address was your standard anti-fan rant, but out of nowhere, Ricky Steamboat interrupts to set up a match between the two at Backlash! Chris Jericho vs. Ricky Steamboat one-on-one? I've been asking for it since I started Kick-Out!! Wrestling, maybe WWE stumbled upon the site? John Cena makes an appearance and is welcomed by a chorus of boos from the London crowd. He tells Jericho that they're going at it tonight.

Poor Chavo Guerrero. Chavo gets destroyed by Batista, crowd goes wild. You know, I'm not the world's biggest Davetista! fan, so can someone explain to me why John Cena gets booed for being "stale," while Batista still gets enormous reactions despite doing the exact same shtick since 2005? Cena puts on way more memorable matches and is the biggest star in the company's history besides Hogan and Austin, yet he gets booed and Batista gets cheered. I don't get it.

Two of Smackdown's newest stars, CM Punk and Kane, put on a forgettable and quick match, but Punk comes out on top after a surprise roll-up. Another Raw farewell match and probably just a reason to get them both on TV this week. Served its purpose.

Santino Marella's poorly timed "interview" with his sister was amusing, but far from his greatest comedic moments. I'm sure all kinds of hijinks will ensue on Friday when SantinA is forced to kiss The Great Khali.

The Glamazon and Melina had a decent match, but they had a hard match to follow up after Gail Kim and Maryse put on a fantastic match on Smackdown last Friday. Obviously, Melina successfully defends the Women's Championship since the Diva's Title is now on Raw, I'm wondering where this will leave Beth Phoenix. Obviously Maryse is the top heel Diva, could we be seeing a Glamazon face turn once she disposes of Santino?

John Cena vs. Chris Jericho was definitely match of the night, only marred by the DQ ending, but the two still tore the house down. Wish they would've had Edge interfere while the ref was distracted so Jericho could steal the win, but I understand why they went with the ending they did considering how the main event played out. Much like last week's awesome match between Evan Bourne and John Morrison, you need to see this one. I'd say it's Cena and Jericho's best match against each other, tons of near falls, big moves, high drama... watch this match!

Big Show vs. Rey Mysterio was just uncomfortable. It's bad enough that Big Show outweighs Mysterio by two Rey Mysterios, but whenever I see these two in the ring, I always think back to that time Big Show had Mysterio on that backboard and swung him like a baseball bat. Luckily, nothing that disgusting tonight, but Big Show did hold Rey like a small animal and then punched him in the face. Not pretty.

Randy Orton vs. Triple H was the match we should've got at WrestleMania. The No DQ stip let them go at it and not be held back, and unsurprisingly, they delivered a damn good match. Orton's win keeps the heat on the six-man tag at Backlash and the continued issues between Shane-O-Mac and Batista could boil over at the PPV. I can really see the match going either way at this point, but more on that when I do my Backlash predictions later in the week.

Very good Raw, especially with Cena/Jericho and Orton/HHH being given ample time to put on stellar matches. Good advancement for the big feuds, but the lower guys obviously aren't going to get much attention until after Backlash. It understandable, they did what they needed to do to put on a huge show for our friends across the pond.

No William Regal though? C'mon, you're in England! Maybe with the Draft not in full effect, he'll show up on one of the other three shows this week. I just feel bad for the guys who have to be in Ireland on Friday then in Rhode Island on Sunday for Backlash. It'll be a busy next few days for sure. And don't forget to check back at Kick-Out!! Wrestling throughout the remainder of this busy week for my thoughts on the remaining shows as well as my complete predictions for Backlash!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Kick-Out's Top 5 of the Week - April 19, 2009

So it's Sunday and after a pretty busy week in the world of wrestling, I don't feel like there's a whole lot to write about, I covered it all as it happened. I know there's a TNA PPV tonight and surprisingly, it looks really good, I just don't have the funds to throw down another $40 for a PPV and I'm not going to write about something I'm not going to watch. So I figure I'll introduce a new idea to Kick-Out!!, the Top 5 of the Week (I need a much cooler name for it, feel free to offer suggestions), celebrating the five coolest moments of the week. They can be anything, a match, a move, a promo, even a funny line on commentary, these are just my five favorite things of the last week:

5. Big Show's fist causes cancer
Oh JR, while I will always consider you the greatest announcer to ever put on a headset, sometimes you say something so ridiculous that I wonder if you're channeling your inner John Madden. On Friday's edition of Smackdown, Big Show defeated Jeff Hardy with his right hand knockout punch, which JR described as "malignant." Does that mean Adam Bomb can shrink Big Show's fist?

4. Hurricane Helms gets extreme
Helms was getting great reactions when he came back and his Hurri-Pop shtick was amusing, but he came back, jobbed to Shelton Benjamin and pretty much disappeared. Helms is an underrated talent who probably won't ever be WWE Champion, but he deserves a place to shine, ECW will (hopefully) be that place.

3. WWE Superstars returns
While the show didn't exactly set the world on fire and we don't know what the show will be once the initial debut hype wears off, it's still pretty cool that Superstars is back. When I was growing up, before the days of the Monday Night War, Superstars was the show to watch after Saturday morning cartoons. I'd love for this show to get an old school vibe to it, complete with backstage promos in front of the green screen, jobber squashes and a main event featuring two guys who don't get enough time on Raw or Smackdown. Time will tell.

2. Smackdown = future of WWE?
From the glory days of the Smackdown Six to the dark days of Great Khali - World Champion, Smackdown has had its ups and downs since WWE split the roster between Raw and Smackdown, but I don't think Smackdown's ever had a roster this good. After the Draft, we're looking at a brand whose top stars are The Undertaker, Edge, Jeff Hardy, Chris Jericho, CM Punk, and Rey Mysterio, that's a hell of a roster. Raw definitely has the A-listers, but Smackdown has the potential to steal the show on every PPV.

1. Evan Bourne vs. John Morrison
These two tore the house down in Morrison's farewell match on ECW. Easily the best match on TV this week, the greatest match on free TV so far in 2009 and if it weren't for Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels at Mania, you'd have a leading candidate for Match of the Year. Definitely the highlight of the week for me.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Kick-Out's Smackdown Thoughts - April 17, 2009

The Draft always makes the shows following Raw a little weird and this year was no exception. A mixture of new drafted talent and departing Smackdown talent combined to make for a decent show, but one that will be completely forgotten once the results of the Draft are in full effect.

Big Show and Jeff Hardy started the night off with exactly the kind of match you would expect out of the two. JR's commentary brought it up a notch, and him calling Show's knockout punch "malignant" may be one of the funniest lines ever. To return the favor from Superstars, Matt Hardy interferes and beats Jeff up after the match. Later in the show, Teddy Long announces it'll be an I Quit Match at Backlash between the two brothers. Please let this be the end of the feud!

Gail Kim vs. Maryse was a hell of a match, even if the crowd was seemingly dead for it. These two continued the recent trend of more hard-hitting Diva matches and Kim's big bump outside the ring was brutal.

I liked Morrison vs. R-Truth, maybe a little short, but a good way to bring Morrison over to Smackdown. R-Truth landed right on his head when Morrison threw him out of the corner, continuing the night's trend of rough landings, hopefully he's alright. I'm definitely ready for a Morrison/Mysterio feud.

I hope Triple H means it when he says he's "ending it" in his match against Randy Orton this Monday, because I am indeed over this rivalry. With Raw's influx of top talent after the Draft, there's so much more for these guys to do and the sooner they get to it, the better. One thing I really hated about this segment was how over-produced it was, did it really need background music? That's a major gripe I have with Smackdown, way too much post-production.

Undertaker and Shelton Benjamin had what was easily the match of the night. I know there are a lot of rumors swirling around about The Undertaker possibly retiring next year, but damn if the guy isn't having the best matches of his career right now. I don't know if he's going into the reserve tanks or what, but he's in peak physical shape, easily the best in years and he's going out and tearing the house down every time he steps into the ring. I've always loved Taker, and I'd be lying if I said there weren't times when he wasn't putting on the most entertaining matches on the card, but in the last three years or so, he's been absolutely amazing in the ring. Shelton looked great in this one too, JR and Grisham did a fantastic job really hyping him up on commentary and making it sound like the only reason he lost is because he got cocky. Big thumbs up here.

Really, Dolph Ziggler beats MVP? Really?! Sure, it was a cheap win, but it's freaking Dolph Ziggler! The guy's name is Dolph Ziggler! C'mon now!

Batista and Ted DiBiase main event the show and I'm surprised it wasn't a complete squash. DiBiase got a lot of offense in, worked over Dave's busted leg with some sick flying stomps off the top rope, but unsurprisingly, Batista gets the win. Shane destroyed Cody on Thursday, Batista beats Ted on Friday, that just leaves Triple H and Orton this Monday. If Triple H beats Orton, why would I care about Backlash? I just watched all three members of Legacy lose the week leading up to it. Orton has to win Monday to keep any heat on this feud going into the PPV.

Overall, weird Smackdown. No hype for Cena vs. Edge, no Punk, no Mysterio, no Jericho, and only one new match added to Backlash, giving us a total of 4, with only nine days until the PPV. WWE's got a lot of work to do to get this PPV together, but there's still Raw, ECW, Superstars and Smackdown to go, so a lot can change in the next eight days.

Friday, April 17, 2009

WWE Superstars Debuts

So I haven't quite figured out the point behind bringing back Superstars. I know there are rumors swirling about MyNetworkTV and what that means for the future of Smackdown, but it seems like an odd time to add a sixth hour of programming per week, that is if there ever is a right time to have six hours of programming every week.

For what it was, I enjoyed the show, even if there wasn't much to it. Undertaker and Matt Hardy were having a good match until the cop-out ending, but obviously they weren't going to just feed Hardy to The Undertaker after he just got two decisive wins over his brother. I don't get where they're going with these constant Jeff Hardy run-ins though, I thought drafting Matt to Raw would put an end to the feud. Maybe one more match at Backlash?

Finlay vs. Christian was a perfectly acceptable TV match and I'm glad Christian is going onto Backlash to take on Swagger for the ECW Title. Please put the belt on Captain Charisma and make him the new face of the brand, after the Supplemental Draft, there are plenty of guys for him to lock up with. Christian against Helms, Bourne, Kidd, Dreamer, and even Kozlov all have potential.

Main event did what it needed to do, keep heat on the McMahon Family/Legacy feud, but not a whole lot going on between Shane-O-Mac and Cody Rhodes. We did get the Shane-Terminator, which was a nice way to close out the debut show.

I highly doubt the show will look like this in the next few weeks, my assumption has always been that it will eventually become a showcase for the lowercard guys who can't be squeezed in on Raw, Smackdown and ECW every week. Not that there's anything wrong with that, I'd love to see guys like William Regal, Jimmy Wang Yang, Jamie Noble and Goldust in the ring every week. All that considered, it's hard to judge the show when I'm not exactly sure what its purpose is or what kind of format it will have in the coming weeks. Whatever the show becomes, I'm personally never going to argue with more wrestling... I'm just upset they didn't use this for the show opener:





Thursday, April 16, 2009

Media Scapegoat Jackpot

As often as I criticize the wrestling "media," sometimes I forget just how much the legitimate media can suck too. Did you catch this article from the New York Daily News today about a 9-year-old boy who made a parachute out of a plastic bag and string and jumped off the roof of his 10-story apartment building? Sadly, the kid died, and like when any child dies, there has to be a scapegoat, and it's one of the usual suspects, a video game. But wait, not just any video game, a WWE video game! Wrestling and video games? That's winning the scapegoat lottery for a media that understands neither.

According to the report, the boy's 11-year-old friend claimed he was imitating "Jeff Harding" and trying to do a "swan dive," like in his favorite video game Smackdown vs. Raw 2009, or as The Daily News calls it, "Smackdown Raw." When reached for comment, WWE spokesman Robert Zimmerman offered the company's condolences, but made it perfectly clear that WWE video games involve no one putting on a parachute or jumping off any rooftops, but that doesn't stop the media from reporting on the assumptions of an 11-year-old child.

This isn't the first time WWE or video games have been blamed in a child's death. In 2007, a Pittsburgh teenager beat a 5-year-old boy to death, claiming he was practicing wrestling moves. According to police, his original statement said the boy had fallen down a set of stairs. And I don't think I even need to offer up any examples of video games being blamed in violent crimes, every school shooting from Columbine to Virginia Tech has had at least one person try to lay the blame on games, even when there's little to no evidence to support such a link.

Video games and wrestling are such easy things to blame whenever a child gets hurt or killed because they're frequently misunderstood by mainstream media. As evidenced by calling it "Smackdown Raw," and the circumstances surrounding the death being nothing you would see in a WWE video game or on WWE television, the writers of the article, Matthew Lysiak and Alison Gendar, clearly had no idea what it is they were writing about. But as we've seen over the years, when it comes to video games and pro wrestling, journalists don't need to know what they're talking about because there are very few legitimate media outlets for either form of entertainment to call out shoddy reporting. If someone said he was imitating something he saw while watching Olympic diving, that tidbit would be brushed off because the Olympic Games don't have the negative stigma attached to them that video games, pro wrestling, comic books or heavy metal music do. Plenty of people watch the Olympics and don't go jumping off their roof, but the media continuously ignores the fact that millions of people play video games and watch wrestling, yet still report on these isolated incidents.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Kick-Out's Thoughts on the WWE Supplemental Draft

So if you were following coverage of this live, here's how it went:

"OMG, THEY SPLIT THEM UP?!"
"oh... they put them back together."

The Supplemental Draft was little more than a carrot on a string to keep people on WWE.com as long as possible, and despite giving off the appearance that they were killing tag team wrestling about midway through, not much has really changed. Here's the list:

Mr. Kennedy to Raw
Don't like it. Kennedy was on Raw, then moved to Smackdown last year, got hurt and now moved back to Raw? The guy didn't get any time back on Smackdown and now he has to contend with a very crowded Raw roster when he eventually returns from injury.

Cryme Tyme to Smackdown
This is when the craziness with the tag teams started, Shad was the #2 pick and JTG was #19. Thankfully WWE did not do something incredibly stupid and split these two up. They'll be a great fit on Smackdown.

Alicia Fox to Smackdown
Good news for Alicia, bad news for DJ Gabriel. Fox is capable in the ring, so she can go for the Women's Championship, but no one's going to buy DJ as a solo act.

Primo & Carlito to Raw
Again, more teasing with Primo being the #4 pick and Carlito being #16. No problem with this move, I assume it won't mean much since they'll be all over WWE defending the Unified Tag Titles.

Mike Knox to Smackdown
Nothing for him to do on Raw, but is there anything for him to do on Smackdown?

Ezekiel Jackson to ECW
Well, I got my hopes up after Cryme Tyme and the Colóns were reunited that The Brian Kendrick would be joining him as I wished in my predictions, but it was not to be. Big Zeke is on his own now and I expect he'll become a pretty big deal in ECW.

The Bella Twins to Raw
Another teased split, but they were reunited when Brie Bella was the anticlimatic final pick in the Supplemental Draft.

Candice Michelle to Smackdown
I think it's a good move for Candice, hopefully without the pressures of live TV, she'll get back into her groove. Candice was quickly becoming the best female wrestler in the company before her shoulder injury and hasn't quite been the same since.

Zack Ryder to ECW
No reunion for them, Hawkins & Ryder get split up by the Draft and I wonder if they'll even get back on TV. It happens every year, someone gets drafted and is never seen again, could it be one of these guys? Or both?

Chavo Guerrero to Raw
Hardly surprising considering Vickie is the new Raw GM. Was it even necessary to draft Chavo? I'm not even sure what show he's officially on, WWE.com has him listed as Smackdown, but he's still on the ECW intro video.

Ricky Ortiz to Smackdown
Ricky's been struggling to get on ECW every week, I don't like his chances on Smackdown.

Layla to Smackdown
It splits up her and William Regal, but Layla's capable in the ring and Regal will be just fine by himself.

Hornswoggle to Raw
One of the most bizarre moves in the Supplemental Draft, I don't know what the plan is here. I can imagine Finlay without Hornswoggle, but I have a hard time figuring out what Hornswoggle will do without Finlay. Also wouldn't be too shocked if a Finlay heel turn is around the corner now that he doesn't have the loveable leprechaun with him.

DH Smith to ECW
Like Chavo, did you really need to officially draft DH Smith? Smith was moved to Smackdown in last year's Supplemental Draft and never appeared on television, I'm pretty sure he could've just shown up on ECW and no one would've said a thing. Still, it's a good move because it looks like we might get that rumored new age Hart Foundation.

John Morrison to Smackdown
Aside from Kennedy, this was definitely the biggest move of the day. Morrison got pretty much everything he needed out of his stint in ECW and is ready to step back up to the bigger shows.

Natalya to ECW
Again, another Chavo situation, I thought she was already on ECW? Oh well, with her, Tyson Kidd and DH Smith all on the same show, Hart Foundation 2.0 is pretty much all but confirmed at this point.

Festus to Raw
Seems like a very odd move and it's especially worrying for Jesse who I fear will be left out in the cold by himself. I just don't see where Festus fits in on Raw, there's definitely potential hilarity with him and Santino or maybe we'll get a Festus & Hornswoggle duo!

Dolph Ziggler to Smackdown
I personally can't wait for "Hi, I'm Dolph Ziggler," followed by a Tombstone.

The Brian Kendrick to Raw
Not sure how I feel about this one. I was excited about the possibility of Kendrick reestablishing himself on ECW, but now he's on the A-show? The problem with Kendrick on Raw is it's just so crowded and I fear he'll got lost in the shuffle... I have a feeling he'll continue to be the most under-utilized talent in all of WWE.

Charlie Haas to Smackdown
Possible reunion with Shelton Benjamin? If they're rebuilding the tag division, I'm all for that, but I'm also in favor of Haas keeping up his impersonator gimmick. Hey, maybe him and Jesse can team up on the Island of Misfit Tag Teams?

Hurricane Helms to ECW
Oh hell yeah. While Kennedy and Morrison were the biggest names moved in the Supplemental Draft, I think Hurricane Helms to ECW has potential to be the best move of the entire day. ECW is exactly the place where Hurricane needs to be to revitalize his career and I can't wait to see him lock up with guys like Evan Bourne and Tyson Kidd.

Overall, a pretty underwhelming draft that started out horrifying and ended up not really changing much. ECW definitely got what it needed after only receiving one pick on Monday, but Raw and Smackdown just seemed to shuffle around guys that are rarely on TV in the first place. We'll see how it all turns out when it goes into effect this Monday on Raw.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Kick-Out's ECW Thoughts - April 14, 2009

Another week and another show that proves ECW is the best little wrestling show on television. Much like last week, not a whole lot going on, but we did get two rock solid matches and a reintroduction to the Moscow Mauler.

Returning to singles action, John Morrison opens the show to take on his opponent Evan Bourne, I had high hopes for this one as soon as Bourne's music and I'm happy to say I was not disappointed. Lots of hard-hitting moves from both guys in this one, which is an odd contrast to their usual flashy styles, but it works out in the end and we get one of the best matches on free TV in 2009. Matt Striker calls it a match of the year candidate, which may be a bit silly considering Undertaker and Shawn Michaels was just nine days ago, but it's definitely a match you need to check out if you missed it.

Vladimir Kozlov makes his ECW debut next by taking on a man dubbed "Local Athlete" by WWE.com, and no, I'm not making that up. Kozlov does nothing we haven't seen before, hitting all his major moves in quick succession, and effortlessly puts down Local Athlete for the three.

Paul & Katie Lea Burchill are backstage with interim GM Tiffany worrying about being split up in tomorrow's Supplemental Draft. I'm sure somewhere a smark is complaining that the two were just one day moved to ECW without being explanation and that Rorschach doesn't wear jeans. ECW Champion Jack Swagger comes in and does his best Sylvester J. Cat, requesting time on the premiere of WWE Superstars this Thursday. Tiffany declines the offer, telling him that the finals of the Championship Chase will take place on Superstars instead.

Speaking of the Championship Chase, Finlay vs. Tommy Dreamer vs. Christian is our main event and it's much better than last week's Fatal Fourway. Some innovative spots from the Innovator of Violence, Tommy Dreamer make this one a fun main event, but sadly he takes the fall and is out of the Chase to Backlash... there goes my awesome idea of Swagger getting drafted and Tommy being ECW's last hope to get its belt back. Christian vs. Finlay should be a good match for the premier episode of Superstars though and I think it's pretty much a foregone conclusion that it will be Christian vs. Swagger at Backlash. Christian with the ECW Championship? Make that happen!

To quote myself from last week,
ECW continues to be the place to be for top notch wrestling and this week was an even better show than last. After only getting one draft pick last night, I expect ECW to pick up a few more Superstars in tomorrow's Supplemental Draft beginning at noon est. on WWE.com. Make sure to check out Kick-Out!! tomorrow afternoon for my complete thoughts on the changing of the WWE landscape.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Kick-Out's Thoughts on the WWE Draft

Hey, how about that?! After my embarrassing WrestleMania predictions, I managed to do pretty well in my Draft predictions and there's still Wednesday's Supplemental Draft which could help them out even more, especially in the ECW category. When it's all said it done on Wednesday, the WWE landscape is going to look a lot different, but I think it will be for the better. But first, my thoughts on Raw:

Batista's opening promo did what it needed to do and I really do want to see him and Orton lock horns once again after their great match at Armageddon, but I am over the Orton/McMahon saga. The Triple H and Shane portion of this story isn't doing it for me anymore and I hope Backlash puts it to rest. Triple H and Randy Orton undoubtedly are two of the top stars in WWE today, but they just do not click with me when they wrestle.

Rey Mysterio vs. Evan Bourne was fun, but way too short. Obviously there's a future match down the road between these two, so I can't fault them for not giving too much away in a match that will be overshadowed by the Draft. Rey starts the night off right for Raw and gets the US Champ MVP over to the red brand for the first time ever!
My predictions: 1 for 1

Kane vs. The Brian Kendrick was acceptable, I'm surprised Kane just didn't walk in, chokeslam him and walk out, but Kendrick actually managed to get some offense in! Not too much though, Kane made short work of the most under-utilized talent in professional wrestling today and his win brought The Big Show back to Raw.
My Predictions: 2 for 2

Six-Diva Tag Team action pits Michelle McCool, Maryse and Natalya against Mickie James, Melina and Kelly Kelly, but the match may as well have just been McCool vs. James as they were the only two that really saw any action. Of course, they can't just do a one-on-one Divas match on a show this big, because "less is more" never applies to WWE's attitude on the Divas. McCool wins after a sick boot to Mickie's face and Smackdown picks up Melina in the Draft. My first miss, but to be fair, I didn't predict any Divas.
My predictions: 2 for 3

Champion vs. Champion pitting World Heavyweight Champion John Cena against ECW Champion Jack Swagger, with Cena making Swagger look like a million bucks out there. Easily match of the night and Swagger's most impressive performance to date, I thought he might actually get a shock win out of nowhere in this one, but Cena pulled it out in the end with the Attitude Adjustment/STF combo platter, that's a #1 on the WWE Value Menu. Cena's win in a Champion vs. Champion match gets Raw two picks in the Draft, they are Matt Hardy and WWE Champion Triple H! I was a bit surprised by Hardy coming over, but I think just about everyone saw HHH coming back home.
My preditions: 3 for 5

Santino Marella makes his return to Raw after his sister filled in for him last week, and he's welcomed by The Great Khali, who's looking for love in all the wrong places. Santino loses the match and due to a stipulation announced by The Glamazon, Santina Marella must be the special guest on Khali's Kiss Cam... and you were worried the PG rating was going to change things. In a much bigger story, Khali gets a draft pick for Smackdown and it's Mr. Money In The Bank, CM Punk!
My predictions: 4 for 6

This next match was an odd one, The Miz against Kofi Kingston and these two had a surprisingly long match. Nothing against either guy, in fact I enjoy them both immensely, but there really isn't much to say about this one and a wonky finish with Morrison getting Miz DQed just made it even stranger. Sadly, WWE did the one thing I really hoped wouldn't happen, they split up the greatest tag team in the business today and moved The Miz to Raw.
My predictions: 4 for 7

15-man tri-branded battle royal played out much like last year, except there wasn't a disgusting head-on collision between Edge and Batista. Ugh, the reminder of Batista's head gushing blood is permanently etched in my brain. Not a whole lot to say about this one, bodies were flying everywhere in rapid succession and it came down to Big Show for Raw, Edge for Smackdown and Mark Henry for ECW. Show eliminates Henry, and then he goes barreling towards Edge, only for the Rated-R Superstar to pull down the ropes and send the big man crashing to the mat. Edge wins two years in a row and gets two picks for Smackdown: Kane and Chris Jericho! I mentioned Jericho in the closing of my picks, but didn't put him on a list and Kane was legitimately surprising since he was just on Smackdown not that long ago. Brothers of Destruction reunion, perhaps?
My predictions: 4 for 9

Christian and Shelton Benjamin put on decent little match, Shelton shining especially bright in this match, displaying his athletic gifts, but Christian came out on top and got ECW their first and only draft pick of the night - Vladimir Kozlov! I gotta give Matt Striker credit for line of the night, saying "Kozlov is from a country where their favorite drink is Molotov Cocktails!" Hilarious.
My predictions: 5 for 10

One of Smackdown's newest Superstars, CM Punk does battle with one of Raw's, Matt Hardy in a solid, but fairly quick match. Not much to say here until Jeff Hardy storms the ring and inadvertantly gives Matt a DQ win and Raw's final draft pick of the night - Diva's Champion Maryse! Not very surprising after Melina was moved to Smackdown with the Women's Title, now Maryse fills the void.
My predictions: 5 for 11

The final interbrand match features the newest member of Smackdown, Chris Jericho taking on the heart of ECW, Tommy Dreamer in what Matt Striker claims is their first encounter ever. Anyone want to verify that? It's a damn good match, but Tommy going to the unfamiliar territory of the top rope costs him after Jericho catches him midair with The Codebreaker. Jericho nabs Smackdown their final draft pick and it's no surprise after MVP getting drafted, the Intercontinental Champion, Rey Mysterio!
My predictions: 6 for 12

Main event closes out the show and it just doesn't do it for me at all, because I... hate... handicap matches. Triple H, Shane McMahon and Batista take on Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase; if Priceless wins, all three members of Legacy battle the guy who takes the fall next week 3-on-1, but if HHH's team win, the guy who scores the pin gets Orton 1-on-1. The faces battle over who gets the pin since they all have a bone to pick with Orton, but while Batista and Shane are brawling, HHH nails The Pedigree and picks up the win. I have no issue with the Mania rematch next week, they're in London, it's always a big show and those fans deserve to see a huge main event since they only get WWE once or twice a year.

Great Raw tonight, even if some of the matches were rushed, but like I said about Bourne/Mysterio, any of these matches will be overshadowed by the overall experience of the Draft, so why give away too much? I'm pretty impressed with getting half the predictions right, especially when I fudge the numbers! Two of the draftees were Divas and I didn't predict any Divas to be moved and I should totally get a half point for Chris Jericho, so it's really like I got 6.5 out of 10... right? Right!?

Overall, I'm thrilled with all of these moves except splitting up Miz & Morrison. MVP has never been on Raw, so it's a whole new venue for him; Big Show's been gone for years; Melina and Maryse switching works since Maryse is quickly becoming the best Diva on the roster and should be on the flagship show; Matt Hardy on Raw will hopefully halt the uncomfortable feud with his brother; Triple H is Raw; CM Punk could enter the upper echelon on Smackdown; Kane and The Undertaker are always fun together; Jericho did it all on Raw in 08, maybe he can do it all on Smackdown in 09; Kozlov was lost in the shuffle on SD, but will be the big fish in ECW; and Rey Rey is Smackdown. I really like the landscape right now as it looks like it's confirming my hopes of SD becoming the show for the young main eventers of tomorrow while Raw cements its status as the home for the dominant A-listers.

Hopefully the Supplemental Draft will bring more guys to ECW, it did last year, so I'm banking on that happening for guys like William Regal, Hurricane Helms and The Brian Kendrick, who would all fit in really well on that brand. Don't be too surprised if a couple more Divas move around and who knows, maybe there will be a big shocker to drive up hits on WWE.com, we'll know for sure Wednesday at noon.

WWE:60

So tomorrow (Tuesday) at 7pm est, WWE will be featured on ESPN's E:60 and I highly encourage everyone, especially non-wrestling fans, to check it out. Apparently ESPN was given unprecedented access to WWE, including a candid interview with Vince McMahon where he discusses a wide range of topics, including the taboo Chris Benoit incident, which hasn't been discussed publicly in over a year. Also, ESPN was allowed to film a creative meeting, which may be the first time ever WWE has ever permitted any outside media to look in on the development of storylines.

I'm hyping this up because while I think it will be a cool segment for wrestling fans, I think it will be an educational experience for non-fans who don't quite get what kind of product WWE presents. A lot of the hate that wrestling gets is simple misunderstandings and if I know how Vince McMahon operates, he will use this opportunity with ESPN to dispel many of the myths about his unique brand of entertainment. It's also incredibly rare to see a mainstream sports outlet like ESPN cover the world of professional wrestling, so it should be interesting to see their take on something they don't regularly give airtime to.

In countries such as Japan or Canada, wrestling is just as pre-determined as it is here, but it's usually covered in the sports pages along with all the other "legit" sports, that's part of what inspired me to start Kick-Out!! Wrestling in the first place. This blog was created to give fan and non-fan alike, a fresh perspective on the world of professional wrestling, and I encourage people to tune into ESPN tomorrow at 7pm for the same reason.