Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Five Count - May 31, 2009

You know how this works by now, the five coolest, funniest, craziest or most interesting wrestling tidbits of the week... I think we're covering all those today.

5. Vladimir Kozlov vs. C. Thomas Howell
I don't know why I found this so funny, but when Matt Striker said that one of Kozlov's opponents on Tuesday looked like C. Thomas Howell from Soul Man, I lost it. Look at picture 13 here and tell me he's wrong. Maybe next week we can get a Rae Dawn Chong reference.

4. Evan Bourne returns to ECW
After being MIA for a few weeks, Evan "Air" Bourne finally made his return to ECW and did not fail to impress. That's a bit of an understatement though -- he put on a good match with Mark Henry! The diving knee press to the outside put my jaw on the floor and by the time I picked it up, he won the match too! Sure, it was only by countout, but a win's a win and they could've easily had Henry squash him.

3. Primo & Carlito vs. Benjamin & Haas
As I look back on this week, all three brands had plenty of decent matches, but the standout was an inter-brand match from Superstars. This is definitely my pick for Match of the Week, and I'll go one step further and say it held a commanding lead. Primo is starting to look comfortable in the ring, Haas is working with an intensity I've never seen from him, and Carlito and Shelton Benjamin - who have been notoriously inconsistent throughout their careers - look more motivated than ever. Don't have a bad thing to say about this one and I'd love to see it evolve into a more serious feud over the Unified Tag Team Titles.

2. Chris Jericho, evil genius.
I've had a day to think about it and I think Jericho posing as a fan and ambushing Rey Mysterio may be one of the top ten ten greatest heel moves I've ever seen. We've all seen Rey do his entrance where he goes mask to mask with kids along the aisle, so you're not expecting to see anything new, then BAM! Chris Jericho strikes. Beautifully executed and whoever came up with the angle (my money is on Jericho himself), deserves a raise.

1. Mr. Kennedy Released... Released.
While usually the #1 spot on The Five Count is reserved for my favorite story of the week, this is probably the biggest downer I've ever put on the list. But how could I possibly ignore it? It's one of the biggest WWE releases in the last decade and unquestionably the biggest news story of the year so far. Mr. Kennedy went from future WWE Champion to unemployed in a matter of days; they bring him back to set up a feud with Randy Orton on Monday and he's released on Friday, that simply doesn't happen.

Initial rumors suggested that the release was due to a wrist "injury" suffered on Raw, but Kennedy put a video up on his Facebook page earlier today showing that both wrists are just fine. Internet rumors were apparently wrong... I bet you're as shocked as I am. Now the rumor is the release came over a "botched" back suplex delivered to Randy Orton, who was noticeably angry after taking the bump. I'm not going to comment on it because once again, I simply do not know if that's the reason.

Whatever the reason behind this shocking release, I'm still a big Mr. Kennedy (or I suppose Anderson?) fan and I hope to see him in 88 days. He's sure as hell the one of the few people that would make me actually want to watch TNA, but I'll also hold out hope for an eventual WWE return.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Kick-Out's Smackdown Thoughts - May 29, 2009

What a week it's been for WWE. All this business with the Denver Nuggets, having to fill the Staples Center for two shows in less than a week, supposedly bringing Ric Flair back full-time, bringing back Mr. Kennedy to presumably start a feud with Randy Orton only to fire him four days later -- it's exhausting just thinking about it. Smackdown had the tall task of closing out this hectic week.

Rey Mysterio kicks things off (always a good way to get a crowd on their feet) and mentions all the moves he's going to use in the No Holds Barred match at Extreme Rules. These moves are apparently all the area codes in southern California... trust me, you don't want to get hit with the 818, I hope Jericho has caller-ID block. Speaking of the good and honest man, Chris Jericho interrupts and vows to unmask Mysterio. Now I know my predictions haven't been the most consistently accurate part of Kick-Out!! Wrestling, but I can almost guarantee that you will never see Rey Mysterio unmask in WWE. I've seen a couple people on Twitter who are convinced it's going to happen, but there's no way WWE is going to give up the obscene amount of money they make off Mysterio merchandise. You think they're going to sell this shirt without the mask? Do a Google image search of "Rey Mysterio unmasked" and think again.

Also, it was a nice little treat for them to work Mickey Rourke into their promo, very cool that he was there for the show.

Great Khali & R-Truth vs. Mike Knox & Dolph Ziggler was enjoyable. Obviously not a mat classic by any definition, but it was fun. Surprisingly, this Khali/Ziggler feud isn't bad and it's doing what it needs to be doing. R-Truth has been criminally underused as of late, so it's nice to see him finally getting some wins here and there. Mike Knox was there too, and yeah... that's all I can really say about him, oh and I'm surprised Khali could hit him with the double-handed chokeslam.

Melina vs. Alicia Fox (w/ Michelle McCool & a lot of hair) was a lot like the Divas match we saw on Monday. It's nice to see more of a focus on the abilities of the Divas rather than T&A, but Melina isn't quite at the level of Beth Phoenix or Mickie James where she can carry any Diva to a decent match. Nothing against Alicia Fox either, but I think she needs to work more multi-Diva tag matches before they throw her out there in one on one matches.

Jeff Hardy's promo was short and pretty much to the point. Not sure why they didn't just do it backstage, but whatever floats WWE's boat.

John Morrison vs. Umaga would be my pick for Match of the Night, even if there were way too many restholds from the Samoan Bulldozer. I get it, the nerve pinch is a signature Umaga move and it weakens the area for the Samoan Spike, but do we need to keep it locked in for five minutes at a time? Thankfully DVR lets me fast-forward through the lulls and the match was very enjoyable aside from that; Morrison's crazy around-the-world DDT counter was awesome. Umaga getting DQed for using the strap and CM Punk making the save made perfect sense. Loved the promo after the match from Punk as well, give that man more mic time!

Shelton Benjamin & Charlie Haas vs. Cryme Tyme was very enjoyable, almost as good as the match with The Colóns on Superstars. Haas has really upped his game since moving to Smackdown and I usually find him about as exciting as watching grass grow, so that's saying a lot. Good win for Haas & Benjamin, I'm curious if they're going to keep teaming up and gun for the Tag Titles, or if Shelton's going to go back out on his own. And as a sidenote, maybe I'm alone in this, but I really see major star potential in JTG; his style is unique, he's very animated in the ring and has a solid connection with the crowd. If they ever split Cryme Tyme (not saying they should), I could see him making some waves in singles competition.

I fast-forwarded through Eve vs. Layla, but I'm worried that I may have missed the match to dehtrone HBK/Taker as frontrunner for Match of the Year.

Edge's promo about how Jeff Hardy may be the star of their ladder matches, but Edge always winds up winning was exactly how I hoped he would respond to the stipulation. As JR said, it's a completely valid point because aside from the show-stealing match at No Mercy '99, I'm pretty sure Edge & Christian won all the rest. It's not just Jeff Hardy's match, it's Edge's match too, which makes Extreme Rules all the more exciting.

Okay, so Chris Jericho posing as a Rey Mysterio fan and assaulting him during his entrance was one of the most brilliant evil schemes I've ever seen in wrestling. Not even Wile E. Coyote (super genius) could've come up with a dastardly plot like that one. Unfortunately, the plan was beyond just evil, it was heinous. Why? Because it resulted in another freaking handicap match!

Chris Jericho & Edge vs. Jeff Hardy was what it was. You're not going to put Hardy over both of the top two heels on Smackdown in a throwaway match, so the ending was predictable the minute they announced it. Isn't the whole point of having a good guy like Teddy Long as GM to avoid situations like this? I know it makes Jeff Hardy look fearless and all, but again... handicap matches suck and I feel like we've seen one every week since the Draft Special! Punk didn't wrestle, why not send him out there? C'mon WWE, I've been a loyal fan since the 1980s, why do you insist on punishing me with handicap matches?!

Overall, a good show, but way below par when you consider how great Smackdown has been since the Draft went into effect. Better than Raw, but that's not saying much; I actually think Smackdown was eclipsed by both ECW and Superstars, which both had stellar outings this week. I'm confident it was just a one week thing and the go-home show before Extreme Rules will get the brand right back in the saddle.

Smackdown concludes one of the most insane weeks in recent WWE history, make sure to come back to Kick-Out!! Wrestling tomorrow for The Five Count, which is sure to feature some of this week's unbelievable moments.

Kick-Out!! Video - May 30, 2009

In honor of Mr. Kennedy:



I miss that version of his theme and now I'm going to miss seeing him perform. Good luck, Ken!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Mr. Kennedy Released

Well, I certainly wasn't expecting to read this tonight:

"World Wrestling Entertainment has come to terms on the release of Raw Superstar Mr. Kennedy (Ken Kennedy) as of today, May 29, 2009. WWE wishes Ken the best in all future endeavors."
-WWE.com

Shocking turn of events for Mr. Kennedy, who had major star potential from day one all the way to his last appearance where he claimed he was gunning for the WWE Title. He always seemed one moment away from being the next major superstar, but suspensions and injuries plagued him throughout his entire WWE career. Who knows where he would be right now if he could've stayed healthy following WrestleMania 23 when he won the Money in the Bank contract or if he hadn't been suspended before the illegitimate son of Vince McMahon angle was resolved. Never pleasant to see anyone lose their job, especially someone who had all the tools, but just couldn't find his footing.

As for reasons why he was released, let the speculation begin... which I'm sure is going to be even more amusing than what we saw Tuesday morning. Is this release injury related? I'm going to take the stance I always take on stories like this - I don't know. I stand by my statement from Tuesday that if it is injury related, WWE has every right to cut bait and invest in more "reliable" talent. I put reliable in quotes so as not to demean Kennedy's abilities or dedication, just to highlight the fact that he has been put on the shelf at inopportune moments on multiple occasions. I don't think it's a good decision to let him go, because he's a goldmine of untapped potential, but WWE is well within their right to do so.

Barring any major incident that would result in him being blackballed from WWE,
I don't think this is the last we've seen of Mr. Kennedy. WWE has always welcomed back released talent - Matt Hardy, Jeff Hardy, Cryme Tyme, Charlie Haas, Goldust, Jamie Noble, The Brian Kendrick, William Regal, Gail Kim, R-Truth, and Umaga - so I wouldn't be surprised if Kennedy makes his return in the future. A lot of those guys wound up achieving most of their success in WWE after their release, so not all hope is lost for fans of Mr. Kennedy. It's a shame to see him go, but maybe it'll be a blessing in disguise for all parties involved; it's the least you can hope for in an unfortunate situation.

Kick-Out's Superstars Thoughts - May 28, 2009

Every week, Superstars has featured at least one good match, but this may be the first week where all three matches are required viewing. Top to bottom, this was a great show.

Carlito & Primo vs. Haas & Benjamin
showed us that tag team wrestling may hibernate for a few years, but it's certainly not dead. Even though they're the "lesser" members of their respective teams, I have to give credit to Haas and Primo because I think they did most of the legwork in this one and they really impressed. I also enjoyed Cryme Tyme giving Shelton a taste of his own medicine for costing John Morrison that match against Chris Jericho. Cryme Tyme vs. Haas & Benjamin should be an enjoyable feud if WWE moves forward with it and I'd like to see more of the Super Colón Bros. on other brands defending the Tag Titles.

Jack Swagger vs. Finlay was good, much better than their match at No Way Out a few months back. Swagger was working particularly aggressive and Finlay made him look like a legit bad ass. I do feel bad for Finlay though, he's been getting manhandled left and right the last few weeks, but there's potential for that to lead somewhere. I'd love to see him drop the fun loving attitude he's had lately and channel the "loves to fight" Finlay to take out the young punks stirring up trouble on ECW.

John Cena vs. Ted DiBiase was a great TV main event, nothing bad to say about it at all. Cena had his working shoes on for this one, making Ted DiBiase look like a credible threat even though we all knew how that one was ending (Spoiler: Ted loses). Crowd was a bit more anti-Cena than in recent months, but the haters can hate, the man is still the best in the business today. Can't take anything away from DiBiase either, this was probably his most impressive outing to date and it's nice to see him get to do something besides be Randy Orton's lackey.

Okay, now it's just getting absurd... even Superstars is consistently better than Raw! Perhaps it's my love of old school-style shows where it's just straight up wrestling every week, but for a show that everyone thought was going to just be something like Heat or Velocity, Superstars is actually really fun.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

New Poll - Extreme Rules Matches

A big congratulations to William Regal for winning Kick-Out!! Wrestling's "Worst... Theme Music... EVER!" poll, his "Real Man's Man" theme took the dubious honor. He truly is such a maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan.

Anyway, gaze over to the right and you'll see a new poll asking what match are you most excited about at Extreme Rules. Voting will end before the PPV next Sunday, so get your votes in soon! I personally picked Edge/Jeff Hardy, but Jericho/Mysterio, Christian/Dreamer/Swagger and Punk/Umaga all have loads of potential, but I'll have more on that when I give my predictions for the PPV next week. Cast your votes, leave your comments and thanks again for supporting Kick-Out!! Wrestling.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Kick-Out's ECW Thoughts - May 26, 2009

I hope those fans in LA took my advice from Monday and went to check out ECW & Smackdown last night. I haven't read the Smackdown spoilers, so I don't know how that show turned out, but I just finished watching last night's ECW and it was another home run from the best little wrestling show on television.

Opening promo with Christian was what we've come to expect from Captain Charisma, some of the best mic work in the business today. Jack Swagger came out and did his shtick, but the segment just got plain weird once Tommy Dreamer made his way into the ring... what the hell was he doing? He's dancing, swiveling his hips and then doing bodybuilder poses? The Innovator of Violence just became the Innovator of Making Me Feel Uncomfortable.

Oh here we go, it's not Vladimir Kozlov vs. Local Athlete this week, it's Vladimir Kozlov vs. TWO Local Athletes! Totally different. Actually, I have to give some love to this match because those two guys bounced around great for Kozlov and let him hit some pretty sick moves like that kick off the ropes to the outside and that headbutt out of the crossbody. Also have to give Matt Striker the award for commentary line of the night for saying one of the guys looked like C. Thomas Howell from Soul Man. That might actually be the best line from a commentator that I've heard since JR called Big Show's punch "malignant."

Evan Bourne vs. Mark Henry was surprisingly enjoyable and mismatches like this usually have lots of potential to suck. The ending was particularly good, with Bourne showcasing his ability to defy the laws of physics; that diving double knee to the outside was just plain awesome. It's about damn time they put Bourne back on ECW, he's been gone far too long, but can we give him something to do? Why not a one-off match with Christian once the champ finishes up with Swagger and Dreamer?

The Hart Dynasty is the official name for Kidd/Smith/Natalya group, I wonder if they moved away from "Trilogy" because they may add another member somewhere down the road? Just a thought. Glad to see the crowd reacting so strongly to them, this is one of the coolest teams in a long time and I'm really excited to see what's in store for them.

Despite being a handicap match, the main event was good. I don't know why they felt the need to take Finlay out of the match, but at least there was an explanation for making it 2-on-3. Christian and Dreamer were a good team, which was odd considering they were just beating each other backstage before the match started, but I liked it. The whole "tense partnership between rivals" thing is overdone, here we saw two veterans putting aside their issues and actually working together. Of course, it was all for naught since Swagger and The Hart Dynasty came out on top after The All-American American hit Christian with the Gutwrench Powerbomb. I'm not the biggest Jack Swagger fan in the world and I hate seeing Christian lose, but I'm not going to complain when they manage to throw together a decent handicap match and the show ends with Tyson Kidd, David Hart Smith and Natalya standing tall.

New stars, fresh feuds, exciting matches and Christian as champ, I don't think I can say a bad thing about this show;
even Kozlov's weekly squash was better than usual! In one hour, ECW managed to create a more exciting show than Monday's Raw did in two, and both shows featured most of the top stars in their respective main events. But I'm tired of ragging on Raw all the time, so I'll simply congratulate WWE on making ECW an incredibly exciting brand. If ECW can still be called the "C-brand" after the last few weeks of shows, I don't know what constitutes an "A-brand."

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Mr. Kennedy Injured?

So if you've been around the dirtsheets this morning, you'll see that everyone is saying Mr. Kennedy got hurt on Raw last night in his first match back, some sites even calling him the "fragile superstar." Now I'm not saying he's not hurt, but what is the evidence these sites are providing? He was holding his wrist after the match... oh well in that case clearly his wrist is broken and he'll be out for another year. Or, you know, it could be that it just hurt for a moment? Maybe he landed weird or jammed it?

Sensationalism from wrestling "journalists" is no surprise, but it's almost like they want the guy to get hurt or something so they can have a good story. It's not just the dirtsheet writers either, I'm seeing a lot people on Twitter and message boards laughing at the idea that Kennedy could be hurt again. This is another example why internet fans will never be taken seriously by WWE or any other wrestling promotion, because we act like assholes.

If the reports are true and Kennedy's going to miss an extended period of time, then I'll be the first to say the guy is injury prone, gets hurt at the worst possible times and maybe it's time to cut bait on him as a wrestler and put him on commentary or something. But I'm not going to sit here and stir up rumors just because a guy was holding his wrist and act as if I want him to be injured just so I can have a good laugh. I don't care if it's Mr. Kennedy or a guy that I can't stand, an injury is never funny... we're talking about a person's livelihood here.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Kick-Out's Raw Thoughts - May 25, 2009

Well, that was... something.

If you weren't expecting Vince McMahon to completely bury Stan Kroenke, you might be new to this whole WWE thing. Yes, if history has taught us anything, never get on Vince McMahon's bad side, because you will be humiliated and the WWE audience will have to watch. It actually wasn't that bad of a segment when you consider that if Raw was still TV-14, you know "Kroenke's" lips would be on Vince's ass... literally. Told ya TV-PG was good. So it was utterly ridiculous, but how many Chairmans of publicly-traded companies will go out on national television and do that? The WWE Universe does indeed push back, but couldn't they have found someone creepier looking to play Kroenke?

Kelly Kelly vs. Maryse featured beautiful women, but the match was not pretty. Kelly has improved leaps and bounds in the ring and Maryse is one of the quickest learners I've ever seen, but they were not meshing in this one. I also have to laugh at JR saying "I think the blonde will win," when I'm pretty sure neither of them are actually blonde.

You're in Hollywood and you can't find a better Jack Nicholson impersonator than that guy? Yikes. And by the way, I know I've been talking up Hornswoggle & Goldust for a month, but please don't hold that "A Few Good Men" promo against me. Oh and the Bella Twins are once again with a different guy backstage, these girls are starting to put up Missy Hyatt numbers.

Kofi Kingston vs. William Regal vs. Matt Hardy was a solid Triple Threat match and it furthered the notion that there's an actual US Title division on Raw. For too long, the secondary belts have always been about the champ and the guy he's feuding with at the time, but right now there are multiple guys all with one goal, the US Championship, I like it. MVP vs. Kofi should be great next week, but no idea why they're not doing it at Extreme Rules.

Fired up Ric Flair was great and Randy Orton actually managed to convey some emotion while talking, so I have to give him credit for that. I'm not sure where they're going with this Flair angle but... KENNEDY! FINALLY! Okay, so it's good enough that Mr. Kennedy is back, but he's coming right out and saying he's going to take the WWE Title from Randy Orton?! Yes please... can we make that happen tonight by chance? Or as soon as possible? The greatest source of untapped potential in WWE has returned, now as long as he can put the past behind him, there's nothing stopping him from fulfilling that prophecy. Oh and I totally called Kennedy as the fifth man on Twitter... not that I'm bragging or anything.

Really, WWE? Kofi and MVP have to wrestle on Raw next week, but there's room on the Extreme Rules card for Santina Marella and Vickie Guerrero in a Hog Pen Match? Really?! REALLY?! Hasn't New Orleans suffered enough? Do we need to subject them to this?

Okay, Goldust & Hornswoggle vs. The Brian Kendrick & Festus (in a Clippers jersey!) was pretty funny. Again, it's not my ideal situation for TBK, but at least he's still on television and he's involved in an angle. I know Ezekiel Jackson was drafted to ECW, but they were such an interesting duo, can we just pair them back up and give them the tag belts? Please?

I think the entrances took longer than the match, but the Main Event was actually pretty good. Not the best 10-man tag ever, and some of those guys looked utterly ridiculous in those jerseys - Big Show hulking out of the thing, Legacy looking like they were wearing pajamas and Batista's interesting outfit - but the crowd was into it and it tied together the whole controversy. I'm sure it'll get some mainstream press tomorrow and after WWE emerged from the Denver Debacle smelling like roses, this was really the perfect way to headline the show.

Good match or not, the rest of the show did suffer because of this main event. As I mentioned last week in my column about improving Raw, stacking the show with A-List stars is overkill, and look what happened when they put them all in one match tonight, we got a good Triple Threat match and a whole lot of stuff that could've headlined an episode of Sunday Night Heat. It wasn't a good Raw at all, but I'll give it a pass since it will only be remembered for the main event and the controversy that surrounded the show.

From what I understand, ticket sales are sluggish for Smackdown/ECW tomorrow at the Staples Center; if you or anyone you know is able to go to that show - GO! Smackdown is awesome right now and I guarantee it will be better than tonight's Raw... support the good aspects of WWE before they panic and start screwing with it. That's right LA fans, if Smackdown starts to suck, it's all your fault for not supporting the brand!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Five Count - May 24, 2009

Pretty hard to have an unbiased opinion on this one since the wrestling week was heavily dominated by stuff I saw live at the Smackdown tapings. Fortunately (well, unfortunately) Raw was once again nothing special this week so all the best stuff came from ECW, Superstars and Smackdown anyway. Well, with one exception...

5. Goldswoggle!
Okay, I'm sure I lose all my remaining smark credibility by putting this on the list instead of Christian vs. Paul Burchill or Christian vs. Tommy Dreamer, but I don't think I have any left anyway. I was hoping for Goldust and Hornswoggle to team up once the lovable leprechaun was drafted to Raw, but I can't believe WWE actually did it. Makes sense with Hornswoggle wanting to be around gold (subtly has never been a WWE strongsuit), but I'm honestly surprised they're doing something with Goldust. If his 2002 run with Booker T showed us anything, it's that Goldust can be absolutely hilarious if they just let him be "The Bizarre One."

4. Jeff Hardy's insane crowd reaction
I've been talking about it since I got back from the show Tuesday night, but it deserves one more mention. I don't know if it was just Cincinnati or if television isn't doing it justice, but I cannot believe how crazy the WWE Universe is for Jeff Hardy. I knew the guy was over, but he was nearing 2005 John Cena levels at this show. Who knows if it'll last (again, look at John Cena in 2005 when the crowd started turning on him), but with Jeff Hardy being so consistently good as of late, I can't help but hope they'll put the belt on him by SummerSlam.

3. The Denver Debacle
Couldn't leave this one off here, it's the most mainstream attention WWE's received in years, and for once it's actually positive! Thank you Stan Kroenke, for being such a colossal nimrod that you actually forced the legitimate sports media to present professional wrestling in a positive light for the first time in... forever? Of course we'll have to sit through WWE beating it into the ground tomorrow, but any time Vince gets to slap around the legitimate sports world (oh yeah? Well I'll put Pete Rose in MY Hall of Fame), I can't help but smile.

2. Chris Jericho vs. CM Punk
Which match? Both matches! Superstars was obviously better since it had a clean ending, but both matches saw Jericho making Punk look like a million bucks in there. Yeah, so the guy is supposedly getting buried because he lost to Kane and Umaga, but as far as I can remember, those are his only losses since the Draft. The reaction from the smark community to Punk's loss at Judgment Day shows that they're bigger marks than the fans they constantly look down upon. How can you possibly say with a straight face that Punk isn't being treated well when he now holds four combined wins over the World Heavyweight Champion and the 2008 Superstar of the Year? And that's all since the end of April.

1. Jeff Hardy vs. Edge
Here's why these two are the top stars on Smackdown: they just had a killer match at Judgment Day, they're going to have a Ladder Match at Extreme Rules, but they still went out there and put on an awesome match for Smackdown, even though they could've easily held back and not given 100%. By all accounts, it was a throwaway match, a means to get to the ladder stipulation, yet they put on a performance that was arguably better than what they did at the PPV. And you know what the best part is? You know they're going to top all of it at Extreme Rules.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Kick-Out's Smackdown Thoughts - May 22, 2009

I realize it's pretty ridiculous for me to be late on a Smackdown review considering I was actually at the show on Tuesday, but hey, it's a one man show around here. I try to have a life now and again. Speaking of which, this isn't really related to wrestling, but go see Terminator Salvation, it's awesome. I heard a lot of negative feedback on the movie and I think it's way off base, totally worth $10... and the video game sponsored Judgment Day, so I've officially tied it into WWE programming!

First up, I'll give my quick thoughts on Superstars:

Tommy Dreamer vs. Christian was a lot of fun and felt way longer watching it on TV than it did sitting in the audience. I didn't like the screwjob ending, but I'll echo the predictions from most of the internet and say they're building up for a Triple Threat at Extreme Rules. Christian's springboard faceplant to the outside was one sick bump too.

Kofi Kingston vs. William Regal wasn't anything special, but served its purpose and the crowd was behind it, so no complaints here. I'd like to see Regal doing more, but I say that every time I write a new blog entry, so I'll give you a break from going into detail about it.

Chris Jericho vs. CM Punk was flat-out awesome and is definitely going to be somewhere on this week's Five Count. I thought their match on Smackdown was good, but this blew it out of the water and is probably their best encounter to date. If you missed Superstars this week, you have to catch a replay or something because not seeing this match would be a great disservice to any wrestling fan. Oh and all those people still complaining about CM Punk losing to Umaga at Judgment Day, he now has two wins over the World Heavyweight Champion and a clean win over the 2008 Superstar of the Year... yeah, they're really burying the guy.

Onto Smackdown!

Edge got massive heat in Cincinnati, definitely the most over heel of the entire evening, but I couldn't help laugh at his opening promo because it was just so awesome. T-Lo comes out and attempts to right the wrong from Judgment Day and then Jeff Hardy makes an appearance and gets one of the most insane crowd reactions I've ever heard; not quite Hulk Hogan or Steve Austin, but definitely up there. I've heard a few people ragging on Hardy's mic skills, but I thought this promo was one of his best and the bit with polling the audience worked really well. No, he's not The Rock when it comes to promos, but he has his own style and it works for him... he's certainly a lot better than Jeff Hardy circa 2002.

I have to admit, I liked the Ricky Ortiz, Shelton Benjamin & Charlie Haas trio. I doubt they'll use it again, but the three of them worked well together and I think there's a lot of potential in an Ortiz/Haas tag team, occasionally helping out Shelton. Ricky O cut a promo on Cincinnati before the match, and I have to say that the guy has a lot of potential as a midcard heel. Think Santino before he became completely ridiculous, I think Ortiz could pull it off. As for the match against John Morrison & Cryme Tyme, it was an enjoyable six-man tag, even if it dragged a bit when JTG was being used as the guy who takes the beating and eventually makes the hot tag.

Have to laugh at all the anti-Denver Nuggets promos they're running, brace yourself for Vince to ego trip all over the place on Monday Night Raw. I assume a Stan Kroenke lookalike will get beat up or "fired," but let's all be thankful that TV-PG should save us from the Vince McMahon Kiss My Ass club. Of course, there's one big problem with a lookalike coming in, how do you find someone who looks nearly as creepy as Stan Kroenke? He looks like the kind of guy that can't come within 50 yards of a school.

I have to say it again, poor Gail Kim. Even the ultra-hot Cincinnati crowd didn't care about her and they went nuts later in the night for The Great Khali of all people! Divas match was what it was, and definitely no surprise that Michelle McCool went over, she's pretty much the only heel Diva on Smackdown that wrestles on a regular basis. I wouldn't be surprised if she takes the Women's Title off Melina.

Rey Mysterio interview was a little odd, I don't get the whole bit with him saying he was done with Chris Jericho, but then later on in the night, Teddy Long says that they're going to have a match at Extreme Rules? Confusing. That aside, the interview itself was good and Mysterio did a nice job of putting over the importance of the Intercontinental Championship.

Chris Jericho vs. CM Punk was another great match from these two, obviously not as good as Superstars thanks to Umaga's interference, but still very impressive. It's a testament to the skill of Punk and Jericho that they can go out there and have two completely different and completely awesome matches in a 48 hour period, kudos to both those guys. Punk hitting the running knee to the back of Jericho's head and busting out a La Majistral cradle were my personal highlights of this one.

A lot of people buzzing about Umaga talking, which was a bit surprising, but it needed to be done at this point. He doesn't have Armando Estrada anymore and there's only so much you can do with a character who only says "OOOHWAAAAAAAH!" Strap match at Extreme Rules should be interesting, if it's the kind of match where you have to touch all four corners, I'd say it favors CM Punk and he'll probably get his win back.

Dolph Ziggler vs. R-Truth was surprisingly fun, the Cincinnati crowd loved R-Truth, but that's the beauty of an easy catchphrase. Decent match and I really can't believe how loud the pop was for Great Khali as he sent Ziggy running off towards the Reds game.

Jeff Hardy vs. Edge was seven flavors of awesome sauce... it may have actually been better than their match at Judgment Day, but perhaps I'm biased since I was there, let me know what you think. I thought the crowd was hot for Hardy at the beginning of the night, that was nothing compared to the sustained reaction he got through the entire match, all you could hear was "HARDY! HARDY! HARDY!" or "LET'S GO HARDY *clap, clap, clap-clap-clap!" I've been to at least 25 WWE events in my life and the crowd reaction for Jeff Hardy during this match is undoubtedly top ten.

Loved the match, loved that Hardy won, even if it was no surprise that he picked a Ladder Match. Of course, there's the whole thing with Edge also being a master of the TLC match (which I'm sure the Extreme Rules match will devolve into), so I'm not sure why he was looking so scared. But Edge hasn't been in a ladder match with Jeff Hardy in a long time, so I'll just chalk that one up to "it's wrestling, don't think so hard." The two tore the house down at Smackdown, I have no doubt they'll do the same (and a lot more) at Extreme Rules. JR did a really good job of puting over the historical significance of these two competing in a ladder match as well, he's been doing a great job since he transitioned into color commentary.

Great show, loads of fun, Smackdown continues to dominate the world of professional wrestling and I wish you could've been there as well. I know a lot of people are complaining that Extreme Rules is rematch heavy and I'll tackle that here in the next couple days. Make sure you swing by tomorrow for this week's Five Count, which will definitely feature some of the highlights from this unforgettable episode of Friday Night Smackdown.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Where is the Chris Jericho DVD?

So I'm reading JR's Blog today and he mentioned doing a lengthy interview for an upcoming DVD detailing the career of Batista. Honestly, a Batista DVD makes sense, he's been a big part of the company for about five years now, he's had some great matches and his personal story is pretty interesting. Also, John Cena's already got two DVDs and they came in at the same time, so why not?

My issue is the fact that here we are, almost ten years since he debuted in WWE and there's still no Chris Jericho DVD. I know they put out a VHS tape back in 2000, but that hardly counts, where is the definitive Chris Jericho collection? They own the rights to pretty much every match he's ever had since 1996 and there's probably enough material in that vault to justify two DVDs by now!

Edge has a DVD, The Hardys have two (thanks for the correction, Srar), Rey Mysterio has two, Ric Flair has two (three if you count the Horsemen DVD), Eddie Guerrero has two, Hulk Hogan has two, Shawn Michaels has two... Kane of all people has a freaking DVD! Chris Jericho can't get one?! C'mon! Now that Randy Savage's DVD is finally coming out, I can't think of anyone in the industry that deserves a proper collection more than Jericho. Maybe Sting, but obvious reasons are keeping that from happening right now.

The Jerichoholics of the world have waited long enough,
make it happen WWE!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

What does Raw need?

I've been racking my brain for days trying to write this blog and I'm having a hard time figuring out what to write without sounding like an armchair booker. Of course, that's the beauty of the internet, especially when it comes to wrestling fans, everyone thinks they're an expert. Go around to any website with editorials or any wrestling message board, all the smarks think they know better than the people actually in the business; they're even more annoying than Monday morning quarterbacks. I'm not going to pretend to have the answers, this is simply a collection of ideas that I would personally enjoy seeing on Monday nights. Whether you agree or disagree (especially disagree), I'd love to hear from you, but do not take this as an authoritative cure-all for Monday Night Raw.

In the lead up to the Draft, the general assumption was that Smackdown was going to be gutted in favor of stacking Raw with top talent, and while Raw definitely has the bigger names - John Cena, Triple H, Randy Orton, Batista and Shawn Michaels - it's just not translating to interesting television. The problem with flooding Raw with all the A-listers is that these guys are all established and we've seen them all in the main event scene for years. Shawn Michaels has been headlining shows since 1995, Triple H has been a top guy since 1999, Randy Orton since 2004, Cena & Batista since 2005... it's hard to come up with fresh matches with these guys when we've just been shuffling them around against each other for the last five years. The whole purpose of the roster split was to be able to keep guys apart and keep things feeling fresh while creating new stars, but when all the biggest names are on one show, it's overkill.

By contrast, Smackdown only has one certifiable wrestling icon, The Undertaker, and he's been off TV since before the Draft even went into effect, yet the show is infinitely more entertaining. While guys like Chris Jericho and Edge are big, they're not Triple H and John Cena big, yet the show feels way more fresh and exciting, why? Look at the feuds: Jericho and Mysterio, as far as I can remember, have never feuded in WWE; CM Punk and Umaga have never feuded; and while Jeff Hardy and Edge have had numerous encounters over the years, they've never been allowed to carry a major top-level feud between just the two of them over the World Championship. While all this is going on, a guy like John Morrison is taking his spot as a future main eventer while the aforementioned CM Punk is only one memorable moment away from becoming the next big thing.

That excitement and anticipation is missing from Raw, MVP burst onto the scene on the red brand, but instead of getting a major feud with a guy like Randy Orton, he's just... there. When you look at Smackdown, there's no mystery why The Miz is the most entertaining part of Raw every week, because he's the only guy doing something new and never seen before - a former midcard talent immediately making a splash by calling out the biggest name in the company. It's like what the Jericho/Goldberg feud could've been had WCW not unceremoniously scrapped it before even giving it a chance.

But outside of The Miz, what else on Raw is really something we've never seen before? And this is nothing against the guys involved, Cena, Big Show, Orton and Batista all definitely deserve their spots, but their feuds feel stale. I feel like I've been watching Orton vs. Evolution for six months now - he feuded with Batista in December, Batista got hurt, Triple H stepped in, Triple H goes down, then Batista's back again. And of course there's the whole issue that this entire battle stems from a storyline that took place five years ago. As for the Cena/Big Show feud, the match didn't exactly set the world on fire and I'm one of the biggest Cena marks alive and there's only so many times I can see him "overcome the odds." He's the strongest, most resilient and greatest performer in WWE today, so him playing any kind of underdog role is pretty ridiculous.

WWE needs to take the gamble on Raw that they did with Smackdown - new stars, fresh feuds, and interwoven storylines. Orton vs. MVP, Cena vs. Miz, Batista vs. Matt Hardy, are a few ideas that I think would make for interesting television. Then a fresh upper midcard featuring guys like Kofi Kingston, William Regal, The Brian Kendrick, and maybe even a guy like Santino, who could all be inserted into a big feud at any time. And of course, Raw still has the biggest source of untapped potential in the business today - Mr. Kennedy. The guy is a walking goldmine and the only thing that's kept him from achieving superstardom is a series of unfortunate events.
If Kennedy can stay healthy and perform at his early 2007 level, there's nothing stopping him from becoming a huge star within the industry.

The absence of Triple H and Shawn Michaels hasn't helped matters on Raw, whether you love them or hate them, there's no one on the brand that can outperform them in a big match situation. It's been an interesting experiment to see how Raw does without the two of them, but WWE is simply a better place with one or both of them around. The sooner they're back, the sooner Raw will improve and I'm hopeful these rumors about HBK being out until 2010 are untrue. That said, his health and happiness are priority number one, but a WWE ring isn't the same without The Heartbreak Kid.

Raw has all the tools to be the premiere brand in sports entertainment, but I get the impression that WWE is afraid of taking a risk on the flagship show. Obviously business is shaky and this economy is terrifying, but you're not going to get out of the ditch if you keep the car in neutral. To continue the metaphor, the wheels are spinning just fine, but Raw's just not moving forward while Smackdown cruises right on by. This isn't a George Clooney Ocean's movie, you can't just throw out a bunch of big names and expect people to watch.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Kick-Out's ECW Thoughts - May 19, 2009

I apologize for not getting this review up last night as soon as I got back from the show, but I was just so exhausted from a long night that I came home and crashed. Excuses out of the way, I have to say that last night's show was one of the best WWE events that I've been to in years. I've gone pretty much every time WWE comes through the area and I honestly can't remember a time off the top of my head where I had more fun, with the exception of being front row (behind JR and King) at Cyber Sunday 2006.

I'll have more on Smackdown once the show airs, but I was reading a spoiler report and there was one thing that really stuck out that I have to correct. If you see a set of spoilers that say Jeff Hardy's cheers were coming "primarily from children," that guy who wrote them is either partially deaf or just plain dumb. I've been to literally dozens of WWE live events in my day and the reaction for Jeff Hardy was one of the loudest and most sustained that I've ever heard. Cincinnati's always a hot crowd and they stayed into the show the entire night (there was even a huge pop for Khali!), but the reaction for Hardy was nothing short of insane. I'd definitely put it in the top ten biggest crowd reactions I've ever been a part of, and I've been in the audience when guys like Hogan, Warrior, Austin and Rock have been there.

Anyway, onto E-C-Dub!

Jack Swagger got tons of heat by hijacking the show, hey... he robbed us of ECW pyro, that's evil! I have to say, I was pretty impressed that Tiffany showed some acting range in this segment. Usually she just sounds like a cheerleader talking to a four year old, but here she sounded like a cheerleader scolding a four year old. Hey, any improvement is improvement. I feel bad for Tiff, she gets a lot of heat from internet fans, but she was thrown into this position as ECW GM, she's obviously trying hard and looks like she genuinely wants to be there. I think there's a role for her in WWE, maybe not this one, but I think hard work and dedication goes a long way.

When he made his return to WWE after dropping the pirate gimmick (which I still think was awesome), I was not impressed with Paul Burchill. I thought he was boring in the ring and the gimmick with Katie Lea was nothing short of creepy; but ever since going to ECW, I've really enjoyed the guy's work. Much like John Morrison, The Miz, Shelton Benjamin, Mark Henry and so many others, I think ECW revitalized Burchill and has made him a solid hand to have around. The match with Christian was very enjoyable, Captain Charisma made Burchill look like a legitimate threat, but still came out on top despite the injury earlier in the night from Swagger. It did everything it needed to do, so I'd say it was a perfectly executed TV match.

Another Kozlov promo with that awesome military uniform. Crowd was giving major heat to this one and since he was speaking in Russian for half of it, it's one of the few times I will ever excuse a crowd for using the "What?!" chant.

Okay, let's talk about Zach Ryder... what the hell was he wearing? I believe the best response to that would be to lift a line from good ol' JR, "GOOD GOD ALMIGHTY!" No wait, actually I think the best response is "MY EYES! OH THE BURNING HORROR!" Okay, with that out of the way, I have to say that while the gimmick is ridiculous, the ring attire is terrifying and the music may actually be worse than X-Factor's, this whole shtick might just work. It's so absurd and over the top that Ryder could actually become a major player because of it... only in the world of wrestling. Oh and that finisher, something like The Playmaker mixed with The Codebreaker, was one of the coolest new finishers I've seen in awhile.

I tried to find any excuse I could to not say this, but I was not impressed with Finlay vs. David Hart Smith. Maybe it's because I was there and I know they slowed the match down during the commercial break, but even watching it on TV there were way too many restholds. I can enjoy a good mat-based wrestling match as much as the next guy, but give me something besides a hammerlock for fifteen minutes. Luckily, the crowd was red-hot for Finlay the entire night, so the match didn't suffer from a silent arena, but I just couldn't get into this one. I'm sure Hart Smith is going to have a lot of great matches in his career and I love The Hart Trilogy, but this was not the match I had high hopes for.

I won't spoil the Dreamer/Christian match set for Superstars tomorrow, but it's enjoyable. Also, I'm hearing a lot of great things about the Punk/Jericho match that was taped Monday night for Superstars, so make sure you catch the show.

Overall, great ECW that got a lot of storylines moving. Also, after watching the broadcast, I have to give credit to Striker and Matthews, who are doing a great job as the ECW commentators. I can't stand it when Striker gets his political jabs in, but that aside, these two are doing a really good job of calling the matches and getting the talent over. Just one more reason ECW is the best little wrestling show on television right now, if you're not watching it or just reading reports, you're missing out on a lot of great action. That said, make sure you're still reading reports... or at least just mine!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Cincinnati Smackdown

Tonight's Smackdown/ECW taping will be held at the US Bank Arena in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio and Kick-Out!! Wrestling will be on hand at the event! I'll save my full report on the show for Friday to avoid spoilers and so I can properly review the broadcast as it was meant to be seen on television. But I will have news and notes from the taping and if you don't want to wait to find out what happens, I'll be live-Tweeting (there's no way to say that without sounding like a giant dork) from the event. You can follow me on Twitter right here. Don't do Twitter? You should... I know, I was opposed to it at first too, but it's pretty fun and a good way to keep up with Kick-Out!! Wrestling and I live and die by your support!

I'll be hitting the road soon, so probably no more blog updates before the show, but keep an eye out on ECW, Superstars and Smackdown for a CM Punk sign that looks like the 1970s/80s Pepsi logo. I'm way up in the nosebleeds (yeah, even wrestling websites get hit by the recession), but I'm hoping it'll get on TV since it's pretty huge. Hopefully I'll have time to make a "KICK-OUT!!" sign, so look for that one as well.

It's going to be a blast tonight, with the Smackdown brand being the best its ever been, I couldn't possibly be more excited about tonight's show... hope you'll join me here at Kick-Out!! later when I'm nerding out over it.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Kick-Out's Raw Thoughts - May 18, 2009

Last week's Raw was a little bit of an improvement over the previous weeks, but still wasn't coming anywhere close to matching Smackdown in terms of overall quality. I would say that this week had some bright spots, but the show is still really struggling to find a direction.

Here's how long Randy Orton's entrance takes, they were able to describe his entire match last night with Batista and have a slideshow along with it. Two hour show! Pick up the pace, Randy... vipers can be fast! Randy delivers a Randy Orton promo - lots of big talking in a monotone voice - and thankfully he's interrupted by "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair! Woo! Ric lets Orton know that he's got Batista next month in a Steel Cage Match and that one might actually be interesting. Orton punches Ric in the head, Batista and Cena make the save... as this was happening, all I could say to myself was "please don't make it a handicap match tonight, please for the love of God and everything holy, no handicap match!"

Unsurprisingly, God hates me and Vickie set up the handicap match soon after.

Diva Battle Royal is up next. It always makes me laugh when I see people on various message boards forget the fact that Diva Battle Royals don't have an over the top rope rule, they just have to be thrown out of the ring. It never fails though, I always see at least one guy go "WTF?!" even though this has been standard for several years now. Anyway, I was shocked that Mickie James didn't win and WWE swerved us with a Kelly Kelly victory. Good for Kelly, she's been improving leaps and bounds these last few months, she deserves recognition. Loved the bit with Maryse costing Mickie the win by spraying her in the face with some kind of perfume or hairspray. A French Canadian blinding someone with a toxic spray... Rick Martel would be so proud.

Santino Marella vs. Chavo Guerrero made sense considering last night's shenanigans, but did we really need to drag this out over two segments tonight? More on that later. Santino was great out there, acting surprised that he knew how to wrestle was pretty hilarious, but the match itself was obviously nothing to write home about.

I assume The Brian Kendrick auditioning tag team partners is going to be an ongoing storyline? I certainly hope so, lots of potential in a storyline like that. Obviously Goldust isn't going to be his partner after they didn't get the job done against Primo & Carlito, but the real story here is the fact that The Bizarre One is teaming up with Hornswoggle! I've been calling for these two to get together since Horny was drafted to Raw and I think Goldswoggle has potential to be comedy gold (pun intended).

The Miz - 5, Cena - 0... no matter what Jerry Lawler says. For the fourth week in a row, Miz is the highlight of Raw, they may as well just rename the show Mizday Night Raw. Big Show crashes the party and announces a submission match with Cena at Extreme Rules. Really? Submission match? Obviously it makes sense with Cena not being able to lock in the STF, but I'd much rather see these two in something like a Stretcher Match or Falls Count Anywhere. Oh well, maybe we can see a repeat of Cena/Umaga where Cena uses the top rope to get Big Show in the STF, that would be pretty cool.

MVP vs. Matt Hardy was Match of the Night, which is no surprise considering their storied history with each other. Earlier in the night, it was pretty much confirmed that this was Hardy's reward for taking out his brother last night at Judgment Day, but what goes around comes around and MVP retained. They really need to strike while the iron is hot with MVP, the crowd is going nuts for him, it's time to give him a big program.

Thankfully, Big Show took out Jerry Lawler earlier in the night, so we had JR out to do commentary for Santina vs. Vickie Guerrero (seriously). JR's commentary was the only thing that made this match tolerable until William Regal interfered and destroyed Santina, allowing Vickie Guerrero to be crowned Miss WrestleMania (seriously x2). Now, I actually found this segment somewhat funny, but did we really need a double dose of the Santino/Chavo/Santina/Vickie saga tonight? Kofi Kingston didn't get a spot on Raw tonight, but we got all this? Couldn't this have all been done in just one segment or spread out over two weeks? Oh well, hopefully it will at least give Regal something to do.

Main Event was what it was, another freaking handicap match. The 37th handicap match featuring Legacy this year was pretty much the same as every other handicap match... boring. What made it even worse was the ending was confusing as hell because we didn't see Big Show trying to interfere, Flair handing off the steel chair to Cena or Flair knocking Cody Rhodes off the top rope to help Batista get the win. WWE's production crew rarely misses stuff like that and it really took away from the match tonight. Cody's moonsault was pretty cool though.

In Raw's defense, I've already seen some people on Twitter
complaining about the two rematches scheduled for Extreme Rules, well what did you expect? If you didn't think Orton and Batista weren't going to have a rematch, you've apparently never watched wrestling. Going with Cena vs. Show again is probably unnecessary, but we'll see. Remember, last year's Extreme Rules had four rematches on it and it was arguably the best PPV of 2008. Last year's Judgment Day wasn't nearly as good as this year's, but don't count out a PPV just because two rematches were scheduled.

I don't know what exactly Raw needs right now to reclaim its place as the flagship show of WWE, but there's definitely something missing right now. I know I sound like a broken record, but Smackdown is surpassing Raw on every level at this point. Hell, I'll even say ECW is better than Raw at this point and they only have an hour to work with every week. Keep an eye out later this week, I'll have an editorial up dissecting what I think Raw needs to get back on the right track.

The Five Count - May 18, 2009

So after weeks of trying to come up with new names for the Top 5 of the Week, I've settled on something simple, The Five Count. Every Sunday (or Monday on weeks with a PPV), I will give you my pick for the five coolest things in wrestling that week. Here we go:

5. William Regal, still awesome
Ever since his return from suspension, the 2008 King of the Ring hasn't been given much to do aside from a solid run with the Intercontinental Championship. I love Regal, I think even at age 41 (happy belated birthday!), he still has all the skills worthy of a main eventer. Regal on the mic, tearing into MVP, was a personal highlight for Raw last week and left me thinking how cool it would be for Regal to get a short feud with Batista. It would freshen up the stale main event scene and make Regal a solid uppercard talent to have around whenever necessary. Raw is starved for top heels, there's Orton, Big Show and uh... The Miz? Why not Regal?

4. Laughing at smarks
Smarks are funny creatures, as I've often said, they'll always find a reason to complain, but the whining about Judgment Day was hilarious. Two major complaints really stuck out to me, and I saw these both on Twitter almost immediately after the show:

"No title changes? WTF WWE?!"
Yeah WWE, wtf?! After having all three titles change hands last month, why didn't you bounce them around some more this month?! Title prestige, FTW!

"Umaga defeats CM Punk ? Two losses in a row for CM after winning MITB? WTF"
Yeah, both complaints had "WTF" in them... seriously. What's especially hilarious is that people are complaining about CM Punk losing to Umaga when just a few weeks ago, he pinned Edge - The World Champion - cleanly, right in the center of the ring, after hitting the Go To Sleep. Now I'll be the first to say Punk losing to Kane at Backlash was stupid, especially since Kane has been virtually absent from WWE television since that match, but Umaga HAD to win last night. I know smarks are always complaining about CM Punk being "buried," despite the fact that he's won the ECW Title, World Title, World Tag Titles, IC Title and the Money in the Bank twice (all in the span of about 18 months), but let it go already you silly fanboys.

3. The Hart Trilogy
Whether we're calling them The Hart Trilogy or Hart Foundation 2.0, I can't begin to explain how awesome it was to see Tyson Kidd, David Hart Smith and Natalya Neidhart standing together in the ring last Tuesday. In one segment, The Hart Trilogy was infinitely cooler than Legacy, they're the true "wrestling royalty" in WWE. And the Kidd/Finlay match that preceded the formation of the group was one of the best matches on TV this week.

2. Morrison & Miz
It doesn't happen often, but sometimes I'm wrong (please ignore my WrestleMania predictions), and when I am wrong, I'll be the first to admit it. I was wrong about WWE splitting up Miz & Morrison, I thought it was going to totally flop, but I was way off on that prediction. John Morrison's performance last night at Judgment Day was just as exciting as it was suicidal and The Miz... well what more do I really need to say about The Miz? Aside from Edge and John Cena, I don't think there's a better mic performer in WWE right now.
I could never get into the duo working singles matches when they were a team, but now that they're apart, I wonder why it took so long to split them up.

1. Rey Mysterio vs. Chris Jericho
Match of the Week, Match of the Night at Judgment Day and I think an instant Match of the Year candidate (but HBK vs. Undertaker is still the frontrunner in that category), these two put on a clinic last night. The crowd was red-hot the whole way through, lots of fun back and forth action and hopefully just a foundation for a larger feud to come. I know some people are souring on Jericho's anti-fan, conspiracy theory gimmick, but I contend that he's still the best in the world right now. And I can't say it enough about Mysterio, it's like he's ten years younger out there, this is undoubtedly the best he's ever been since coming to WWE. Smackdown will always be the better brand when these two are putting on matches like this one.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Kick-Out's Judgment Day 2009 Review

Aside from WrestleMania 25, WWE's been struggling on PPV in 2009. Did they break through tonight with Judgment Day?

CM Punk vs. Umaga was good, but too much stalling with Umaga's nerve hold kept the match from being a fast-paced, crowd-pumping opener. Luckily, with Punk being the hometown hero, the crowd stayed into the match the whole way through, even during the lull periods. I'm sure the smarks are going to whine about Umaga going over - maybe even throw out the laughably clichéd "Punk's in the doghouse" line - but as I said in my predictions, Umaga needed to solidify his return. The Samoan Bulldozer is more than capable of working with top talent and with Smackdown being light on heels, he needed a big win to reestablish himself.
Predictions - 1 for 1

Jack Swagger vs. Christian may have actually been a better choice to open the show, but since they opened last month, I suppose it made sense to have them go on second. These two had a tall order of living up to their great encounter last month without feeling stale and they exceeded my expectations. While Swagger dominated last month, Christian maintained control of most of the night and it kept the match feeling fresh and new even though we've seen them square off numerous times now. I love the bit where Swagger's cheating backfires and Christian gives him a taste of his own medicine, makes the ECW Champ look like the cagey veteran. Maybe I'm alone in this, but whenever these two square off in the ring or on the mic, I'm immediately reminded of Sylvester vs. Tweety from Looney Tunes.
Predictions - 2 for 2

John Morrison vs. Shelton Benjamin was just amazing. Morrison is insane, that's all there is to it... what was that, a springboard 450 Splash to the outside?! Shelton was no slouch here either, both these guys came to work and if there were ever any doubts that they have the tools to be top stars, this match should erase them. There can only be one winner though, and Morrison was definitely the right guy to win in this one. Awesome match.
Predictions - 3 for 3

Miz on Judgment Day! The Miz was on fire here, calling John Morrison "Marty Jannetty," slamming the Chicago Cubs (which is kinda like beating a dead horse, but I digress) and then verbally sparring with Santino? When you're looking for a definitive heel promo, you can't ask for much more than that. Sure it was cheap heat, but it was damn funny. If The Miz isn't in the WWE Title picture by 2010, WWE's doing something wrong.

Chris Jericho vs. Rey Mysterio is my personal pick for Match of the Night. I don't remember these two having many matches against each other in WWE (if ever?) but one took me back to the glory days of WCW. Both guys are more than ten years older since that epic feud, but they didn't miss a beat here tonight. The counters, the fast-pace action, the red-hot crowd going nuts for Jericho, it was exactly what I look for in a wrestling match. Loved it and I hope we haven't seen the end of this rivalry.
Predictions - 4 for 4

Randy Orton vs. Batista going on so early pretty much confirmed a screwy ending. I wasn't all that into this one, definitely didn't live up to their great match at Armageddon last year, but I'm sure there will be a rematch at Extreme Rules (...yay?). What really shocked me in this one was the crowd turning on Batista. I've always wondered why the crowd
relentlessly boos Cena for being "stale," but always gives love to Batista, who's been doing the exact same thing since 2005. Anyway, Orton's attempts to get counted out or DQed just made him look weak and not very "Viper-like," but who cares... NAITCH! Ric Flair out of nowhere was a wonderful surprise and I'm never going to be upset when The Nature Boy shows up. I wonder if WWE caught wind of those rumors of Flair wanting to wrestle again and wanted to make sure that if it's going to happen, it's going to be in their ring? Bad break for Ring of Honor if that's the case.
Predictions - 4 for 5 (but Orton kept the belt, that should at least be half a point!)

John Cena vs. The Big Show was not the brawl I had hoped it would be, instead it was pretty much a glorified squash with the squashee actually winning. It wasn't that this was a bad match, there just wasn't really anything too exciting going on. Still, no matter how many times I see it, it still blows my mind to see Cena lift the Big Show and hit the Attitude Adjustment, which looked particularly brutal tonight.
Predictions - 4 for 6

Edge vs. Jeff Hardy came really close to being Match of the Night, maybe if it was just a little longer with a few more dramatic near-falls. That Spear off the barricade was painful to watch and then Hardy hitting Poetry in Motion into the crowd was just as rough. Still, nothing comes close to that sickening Edgecution off the top rope, I thought Hardy may have broken his neck. Edge defending the belt is good, even if I was personally rooting for Jeff Hardy (or CM Punk!) and I look forward to his next opponent or the inevitable rematch. One big gripe though... why Matt Hardy? Please don't tell me we're continuing this feud, hopefully it was just a one time thing.
Predictions - 5 for 7

Now that was a PPV! Aside from the weak finish in the WWE Title match, I was happy with just about every outcome and almost all of the matches delivered great in-ring action. The card looked good on paper and I think it's safe to say that it exceeded high expectations. I was split on last month's Backlash, but tonight may have been the best Judgment Day in WWE history.

As always, feel free to leave your thoughts on tonight's show in the comments section, especially if you disagree with my assessment of the PPV. Feedback is always welcome here at Kick-Out!! Wrestling, so make your voice heard.
And hopefully you were following me on Twitter during the show, I'll be doing that for all PPVs in the future so you can interact with me there as well.

Five things I want to see at Judgment Day

Usually around this time on Sundays, I'm doing the Top 5 of the Week, but I figure that on weeks where there's a PPV, I will do the Top 5 on Monday afternoons. Today, I'm introducing a new feature here at Kick-Out!! Wrestling, Five Things. Not predictions, not even necessarily things that I actually think WWE would ever do, just five things I want to see happen at tonight's PPV:

5. Edge vs. Jeff Hardy headlining
I highly doubt this will happen since Orton/Batista is considered the money match, but I feel like if you want to end the match on an exciting note, you should have Jeff and Edge close it out. This card is pretty stacked with several matches that have show-stealer potential, I think putting Orton and Batista on last runs the risk of repeating WrestleMania where Orton vs. HHH couldn't live up to Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels.

4. Joey Styles' sanity returned
Do you follow Joey Styles on Twitter? Wow, this guy has either lost his mind today or just never had a platform before to show off his craziness. Hey, you're free to say whatever you want and I'll defend your right to say it, but I don't really need to see your Fox News audition tape in between news about Howard Finkel. Whoever stole Joey Styles' sanity (Cryme Tyme?) please return it tonight before he gets anywhere near Matt Striker.

3. Miz on Judgment Day!
The Miz has been one of Raw's few shining moments since the Draft went into effect, why the hell isn't he on the PPV? Not that Big Show needs any help, but with the mini-feud with Cena going on, Miz should get involved in their match tonight. Miz - 4, Cena - 0.

2. Jeff Hardy wins the World Heavyweight Championship
I know I just ranted about WWE bouncing titles around, especially when it comes to Edge, but as I mentioned in my Smackdown review yesterday, Jeff Hardy is the hottest thing on Smackdown right now. One could even make the argument that aside from John Cena, Jeff Hardy is the most popular wrestler in the entire business right now. I know people raise concerns over his reliability, but it's time to give Jeff Hardy the ball and let him run with it. Let it be his success or failure.

1. KENNEDY!
You want to get people talking about the PPV tomorrow? Bring back Mr. Kennedy and have him cost Batista the World Heavyweight Championship. The two have a bit of history, Kennedy had the best match of his career against Batista at the 2007 Royal Rumble, and it would immediately add some flavor to Raw's bland main event scene. Batista and Kennedy can work together while Orton goes on to face some of Raw's upcoming stars like MVP or Kofi Kingston.

Just a couple thoughts, feel free to share yours and make sure to check back at Kick-Out!! Wrestling shortly after tonight's event for my full review of WWE Judgment Day!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Kick-Out's Smackdown Thoughts - May 15, 2009

At this point, the differences between Raw and Smackdown are night and day. Raw just seems to be running in place with little direction while Smackdown is trailblazing with fresh talent and interwoven storylines. Smackdown isn't just a series of matches and promos, it's a comprehensive show that flows seamlessly from segment to segment.

Smackdown's next big things, John Morrison & CM Punk, kick off the show taking on the apparently reunited World's Greatest Tag Team! WWE, if you're serious about resurrecting tag team wrestling, this match should be the blueprint, it felt like a classic tag match of old. There was a time, not all that long ago, when a tag match could be just as big as any singles match on the card and this match definitely had a big match vibe to it. Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas were working especially aggressive and I think there's money in a potential feud between them and the Colón Bros. Morrison and Punk get the win here after The Guru of Greatness hit his split-legged corkscrew moonsault, which he now calls Starship Pain, which is the greatest name for a finisher ever.

While I'm on the subject of John Morrison, I'm completely sold on the guy's face turn. All it took was a simple show change and a couple matches against some heels, but he's growing into the role quickly and I think it's only a matter of time before this guy is testing main event waters. He's no Miz (but let's be honest, who is?), but Morrison has an incredibly bright future ahead of him.

Chris Jericho's out next, reviving his conspiracy theorist shtick from the glory days of WCW. You know, I think the best part about Jericho's whole anti-everyone gimmick these days is that everything he says is absolutely true, which makes him an even bigger jerk because we don't want to admit it. He was right about Shawn Michaels, who stepped over everyone he could to get to the top of WWE; he was right about John Cena pandering to the fans; with news of Ric Flair possibly coming out of retirement, he was right about the legends who can't step out of the spotlight; and he's absolutely right about being the best in the world right now. Edge interrupts, taking issue with Jericho's claims that Smackdown is his show and tries to take over the segment. Both men call out their Judgment Day opponents, Teddy Long arrives, but instead of going for the predictable tag match route, he sets up Jericho vs. Edge! Whoa!

Jeff Hardy vs. ...Ricky Ortiz!? Well that was unexpected, I don't feel like Ortiz has seen actual ring action (aside from the draft show battle royal) in months. What's even more shocking, he actually wasn't too bad out there and he got a lot of offense in; JR and Grisham did a good job putting him over on commentary as well. There's no shame in losing to Jeff Hardy either, so a good night for Ricky in my estimation.

Jeff follows up with a simple promo, loved that he pointed out the fact that Edge wins a title, loses a title, rinses and repeats. As I said in my Judgment Day predictions, I don't think they're going to have Edge drop the title again, but I honestly hope I'm wrong. With rumors swirling about The Undertaker being out for an extended period of time, that means Jeff Hardy is unquestionably the biggest thing on Smackdown and I'm a firm believer in striking while the iron's hot. Give Jeff the belt, let him get his proper run that he didn't get after winning at Armageddon.

Diva Tag Match was actually really good, I know I've mentioned it numerous times, but the Divas are getting more and more aggressive in the ring and it's really helping match quality. I think teaming with Melina is exactly what Gail Kim needs to get the crowd more on her side, so I'd like to see them together more. I like the McCool/Fox partnership as well, we need more set Diva tag teams, it's something that's never really been done in WWE.

Okay, is it just me or was Jimmy Wang Yang awesome in that match with Dolph Ziggler? Ziggy continues to impress, but Yang was the star of this match
during his brief burst of momentum; he was doing moves I didn't even think were physically possible while wearing a pair of Wranglers... that can't be easy! Ziggler wins with a reverse version of Shelton Benjamin's Paydirt, but please WWE, take note of how good Jimmy Yang can be.

I don't like angry Great Khali, I like fun Great Khali who can't stop laughing through his comedy skits. He's like a 7'4" version of Jimmy Fallon.

Oh my God, R-Truth won a match, at the expense of Mike Knox, no less! Hopefully WWE realizes with Smackdown's flood of tremendous talent, a guy like Mike Knox should be putting over guys like R-Truth, not the other way around. Nothing against Knox, he plays his role well, but they've tried getting the guy over at least four times now and the crowd just isn't all that into him. Meanwhile, a guy like R-Truth has a unique gimmick, a fun catchphrase, gets the crowd fired up and is great in the ring, there's no reason to not push him.

Speaking of guys who should be pushed, why are we wasting Cryme Tyme on this stupid angle with Eve and Layla? Here's an idea, since they all have a hip-hop gimmick of sorts, why not team Cryme Tyme up with R-Truth? Call them R-Tyme or something like that, they'd have the crowd on their feet every week with "What's Up?" and "Money, Money, Yeah, Yeah!" They could even win the Tag Titles and use the Demolition/Spirit Squad rule where any combination of the two can defend the belts. Just a thought.

What the hell was Rey Mysterio looking at during that backstage promo?

Edge vs. Chris Jericho was pretty good, I'd love to see these two get an actual match against each other on PPV sometime, but heel vs. heel on PPV is a huge risk... unless of course you're in Canada. This year's Unforgiven is in Montreal, that would be a perfect place for Edge and Jericho to square off, the crowd would go absolutely nuts for it.

While the match itself was good, the real action came after Jericho got himself disqualified when all hell broke loose. Jeff Hardy, CM Punk teasing MITB again, Umaga, brawling in the crowd, Rey Mysterio attacking Jericho... that's how you end a show before a PPV!

As I said when I started this review, Raw can't even hold a candle to Smackdown at this point. Raw only has two matches scheduled for Judgment Day, and I'd argue that their main event isn't nearly as exciting as Jeff Hardy vs. Edge, Mysterio vs. Jericho or even Punk vs. Umaga. I know I'm starting to sound like a broken record in these reviews, but I really think the Smackdown brand is the best it's ever been. Can't wait for tomorrow night!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Kick-Out's Superstars Thoughts - May 14, 2009

Really? Hornswoggle vs. Big Show? Really WWE? Superstars flew by last night, after fast-forwarding through all the video packages and commercials, I think I watched the entire show in less than a half hour.

Rey Mysterio vs. Shelton Benjamin is the front runner for TV Match of the Week, really good stuff between these two. John Morrison was good on commentary, and I hate to sound like a broken record, but it's still just so strange to listen to him as a good guy. JR mentioned on his blog that Mysterio got banged up in this match, he definitely wasn't moving too gingerly after he won, but you'd never know it when he's actually wrestling. Mysterio has just been absolutely phenomenal these last few months, the guy definitely deserves a run with the World Heavyweight Title somewhere down the line.

Christian vs. Mark Henry was actually way better than I expected it to be. Christian took a nasty bump with that big clothesline towards the end of the match, thankfully he was okay. I liked the ending too, kept Henry looking strong (he is the World's Strongest Man after all), and kept Christian looking like the smart, wily veteran. One gripe, not about this match in particular but all Henry matches, I'd like to see more from Tony Atlas. I'm glad WWE has been utilizing managers more, but whenever Mark Henry wrestles, Atlas is just kinda there. Give him something to do!

Funny thing last night, I had not yet watched Superstars, but I suggested on Twitter that Goldust, Festus and Hornswoggle should form a stable... how crazy that Goldust came to the rescue during the Hornswoggle/Big Show match? I think there's potential for a lot of comedy gold (get it? Because Hornswoggle's a leprechaun?) between these two and I hope this wasn't just a one time thing.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Kick-Out's Judgment Day Predictions

Judgment Day is this Sunday and just like last month, there are only six matches scheduled for the PPV and there's no special skit like Santina/Khali scheduled. The only other match I can see getting added is Maryse vs. Mickie James for the Divas Title, but you'd think they would've announced it by now. Regardless of something getting added last minute, I can only work with the card I'm given. ***UPDATE*** Shelton Benjamin vs. John Morrison has been added to the card.

CM Punk vs. Umaga
At least this match makes more sense than the hastily added Punk/Kane match from Backlash. I was furious that Kane won that match because it didn't make any sense at the time and it makes even less sense now that Kane has pretty much done nothing since moving to Smackdown except be the first guy out in the Fatal Fourway two weeks ago. While Punk has all the momentum right now after two wins over Edge, he really doesn't need to win here, Umaga does.
The guy's been on the shelf for five months, a win over the hometown face will give Umaga loads of heat solidify his return. Umaga wins, but maybe that's not the end of CM Punk's night?

Shelton Benjamin vs. John Morrison
(May 16 update) This match was added sometime Friday night, I haven't got to Smackdown yet, but it's no surprise these two will be going at it on Sunday. Still kinda surprised the Divas Title isn't being defended (I feel like there hasn't been a proper Divas match on PPV in awhile), but I'd much rather have Shelton and Morrison. These guys are
two tremendous athletes who have really come into their own as of late and I think they have just as much potential as any other match on this card to steal the show. Morrison gets the win to continue his big face push.

Christian © vs. Jack Swagger - ECW Championship
Potential show-stealer here. If it weren't for the amazing Last Man Standing match, these two definitely would've had the best match of the night at Backlash. The pressure's on to innovate and not simply put on the same match that they had last month, it's a shame they don't have a gimmick like a cage match to work with here, but I think they'll deliver. I say Christian wins and moves onto a feud with Kozlov.

Rey Mysterio © vs. Chris Jericho - Intercontinental Championship
While Captain Charisma and The All-American American have the potential to steal the show, I'm going to play it safe and predict this will be Match of the Night. Rey Mysterio's been working like he's ten years younger, Chris Jericho is arguably the best in the world right now, so barring an off-night for either guy or some other issue, I can't see any reason why this won't be the best match on the card. Rey Mysterio wins, possibly by disqualification, and this feud continues into the summer.

John Cena vs. The Big Show
This match will either be really good or really bad, depending on the direction they take. If they try to have a wrestling match, I fear it could get ugly, but if they have a fight, we could have a really fun brawl. Show's been absolutely dominant since WrestleMania and if the rumors are true that Cena's taking time off, he's definitely going to win here... but I take wrestling rumors with less than a grain of salt. I'll reluctantly pick Big Show to win here, possibly with The Miz getting involved.

Randy Orton © vs. Batista - WWE Championship
These two put on a great match at Armageddon back in December, I'm sure they can do it again here, but I'm just not that into it. Lots of things can happen in this one, including the return of Triple H, but I think no matter what goes down, Randy Orton is walking out WWE Champion. Funny thing about this match, I believe it is the first time that Batista has ever competed for the WWE Championship, he's always been on the show with the World Heavyweight Title.

Edge © vs. Jeff Hardy - World Heavyweight Championship
Another Match of the Night contender, this one could really go either way. Edge just won the title, but perhaps it was out of necessity to get a top title back on Smackdown? If Jeff Hardy is champion, there's a lot of guys he can take on: a rematch with Edge, a fresh feud with Jericho, and then there could be face vs. face feuds with guys like CM Punk and Rey Mysterio. But that said, Edge is the top dog on Smackdown, he just got the belt back, I'd hate for WWE to switch it again and he could feud with any those guys listed above (except Jericho), or elevate an upcoming talent like John Morrison, plus there's the imminent return of The Undertaker. Hardest match of the night for me to predict, but I'll trust my gut and go with Edge.

But of course, there's that lingering issue of Money in the Bank. It's CM Punk's hometown, he's already got two wins over Edge, could this be the night? Personally, I'd like for Punk to hang onto it for a little while longer and face Edge one on one in a proper match, like RVD did with John Cena back in 2006, but I can't really think of a better place for him to do it than The Windy City. Maybe I should second-guess my Punk/Umaga prediction... it would be a very WWE thing to do for Punk to say early in the night that he's cashing in later, then he beats Umaga, but the Samoan Bulldozer takes him out after the match, ruining his chance to cash in. I'm sure that sounds way more confusing to read that it does for me to say it in my head, but I'm sure you get the gist of it. I'll stick with Edge walking out of Judgment Day as champ and Punk not cashing in.

Don't forget to leave your predictions in the comments below and make sure to check back here at Kick-Out!! Wrestling Sunday night for my full Judgment Day review!