Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Kick-Out!! Radio - Episode 33

This week: WrestleMania 26, Shawn Michaels’ retirement, TNA’s ratings troubles, NXT gets good again, can Randy Orton work as a face and can Razor make it on Season 2 of NXT? 

MP3 Version - Right click on the Audio MP3 image and "save link as."

iTunes - clicking this link will open your iTunes.

Theme song: "Believe" by Grasp Infinity

Monday, March 29, 2010

Raw Thoughts - March 29, 2010

It's the first Raw after WrestleMania 26, the first post-Shawn Michaels review, and I'm live blogging! Refresh your page for ongoing thoughts of tonight's show!

Starting things off tonight with the former WWE Champion, DAVETISTA!  For those of you keeping score on Batista's fashion decisions, this week it's the unbuttoned button-up and jeans.  At least it's not a pink polo, but the only thing consistent about this guy's wardrobe is wearing sunglasses indoors... at night.  Corey Hart would be proud.  Crowd's chanting "YOU TAPPED OUT!", and correct me if I'm wrong, but was last night the first time Batista has ever been forced to submit?  Batista has his rematch clause and says he doesn't care that Cena beat him, but Cena can't beat him.  Yes, you're reading that right.  

Speaking of John Cena, the champ is indeed here!  Cena's looking to make history tonight, along with HBK's farewell, he wants to give us the Batista/Cena rematch right here on Raw!  Cena begs Dave to "do something different" and not to be the guy that says "not tonight," but of course, Batista says "not tonight."  Batista walks out but Jack Swagger attacks!  He's cashing in Money in the Bank!  

Apparently Swagger's beat down wasn't enough though, Cena goes for the STF, but Swagger slithers away and waves off the match before a ref can call for the bell.  Nice tease.  I do like this for Swagger though, constantly threatening, but never going through with it.  He did say on Raw last week that if he won at WrestleMania, he'd cash it in that night, but didn't, and here we are again tonight.  Run with it!

The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase's music hits, but he's not alone, he's got Nick Bockwinkel, IRS, Arn Anderson, Pat Patterson and then Roddy Piper's music hits and he's here with Sgt. Slaughter, Tony Garea, Ricky Steamboat, and Jerry Lawler!  Our guest hosts from Hot Tub Time Machine announce a Legends Lumberjack Match with Christian vs. Ted DiBiase and that match is next!

Ted DiBiase vs. Christian in the Legends Lumberjack Match is our opening contest, and while I'm excited that Christian actually gets to wrestle on Raw, I'm not so excited that his opponent is Ted DiBiase.  Steamboat's right there at ringside, why not just give us Christian vs. Ricky Steamboat?  I can't come up with any reason for it, but I can't come up with any reason for Christian vs. DiBiase either!  But hey, I can't complain too much, because Christian wins with the Killswitch!  Surprisingly fun match.  Ted Sr. tries to comfort Junior after the match, but pops gets shoved for his troubles.  Wow, pushing your dad is NOT cool, even if when you were a baby, he stuffed a $100 bill in your mouth to get you to stop crying.

Classic HBK moments being shown all night, and of course you can't highlight HBK's career without showing him throwing Marty Jannetty through the Barber Shop window.  The coolest thing Brutus Beefcake has ever been involved in.

Rob Corddry and the dude from Hot Tub Time Machine that's not John Cusack or Craig Robinson are in a Hot Tub with the Divas.  Okay then, moving along.

Triple H is out next, sharing his thoughts on Shawn Michaels retiring, and I think the saddest part about HBK leaving right now is that we'll never get to see these two wrestle one last match.  I dunno if they'd ever top their Hell in a Cell match, but I would've loved to see them try, especially at WrestleMania.  Triple H is getting choked up and wants to tell Shawn something he's never told him before, and that's *THUD!*  Sheamus blindsides Triple H with a lead pipe!  Oh, someone might be challenging CM Punk for a-hole of the year!

Up next, a WrestleMania rematch!  Oh what could it be!?  Rey Mysterio vs. CM Punk?!  Nope, it's the 10-Diva Tag Match.  Great.  Bell rings, Maryse does her hair flip, Eve rolls her up for the 1-2-3.  Well, that was pointless.  Seriously, that's all the Divas are here for at this point, just being on screen for a couple seconds. I don't understand why WWE has no interest in presenting an even somewhat legitimate women's division, but I guess they figure this is all they have to do.

Bret Hart is here!  First words from The Hitman are a tribute of sorts to Shawn Michaels, congratulating him on his storybook career.  If I would've told you after WrestleMania 25, that the next year, Shawn Michaels career would be over and Bret Hart would be congratulating him the next night in a WWE ring, just 24 hours removed from beating up Vince McMahon, you would've checked me into Shady Acres Mental Institution.  Bret thanks the WWE Universe for the last few months and it looks like he's saying his goodbyes (again), but ShowMiz cut him off!?  Oh please tell me this is going where I think this is going.  Miz is still rocking that leather trenchcoat from last night, looking like Mad Miz: Beyond AwesomeDome, and claims he's only 17 wins away from tying The Undertaker's WrestleMania Streak!  The Miz wants Bret out of "his" ring, but THE MOTHER F'N HART DYNASTY has something to say about that!  Yes, yes, a bazillionjillion times YES to this.  Can we FINALLY give these guys a serious run at the belts?!  ShowMiz leave the ring, but Miz convinces Big Show to go back!

We're back from commercial and the match is on, ShowMiz vs. The Hart Dynasty!  I am so beyond stoked for this, and I hope that what JeriShow did for the Tag Team Titles, The Hart Dynasty can do that for tag team wrestling.  It's a dying art form in this country, especially in WWE, but Kidd and Smith work so damn well together, I think they could be the ones to revive it.  Harts are in control at this point and Tyson Kidd locks in the Sharpshooter!  Miz is about to tap, but Big Show saves him and they run off for the count-out loss.  Show tried to warn Miz before the match, but it looks like these two are going to owe the Harts a title match in the near future.  I love this already.

The Hot Tub Time Machine shenanigans get slightly entertaining when The Office's Craig Robinson shows up via satellite and dismisses the Divas.  Craig gives Corddry & other guy a new opponent (please don't let it be Big Dick Johnson)... MARK HENRY!  That Hot Tub just became Sexual Chocolate Fondue!  Oh and Hornswoggle's in there too... okay, that was pretty funny.  And wow, Hornswoggle's beard is out of control, it's almost at Mike Knox proportions.  But hey, I thought leprechauns couldn't get in hot tubs, don't they multiply if you get them wet?  Just don't feed him after midnight.

Jack Swagger is out for what I assume will be our in-ring main event, I love his new boxing robe, makes him look like an All-American American Bad Ass.  Swagger claims he was just playing mind games with Cena earlier and that one day he'll catch Tweety Bird.

Jack Swagger & Batista vs. John Cena & a partner of his choosing is our wrestling main event of the evening (obviously HBK's farewell will go on last), but who's Cena's partner?  Unfortunately, it's the logic-defying Randy Orton, but the crowd loves it.  Yeah, Orton kicked Cena's dad in the skull, he's kicked Cena in the skull, hell, he handcuffed John Cena to the turnbuckle and literally tortured him with a Singapore Cane, but it's wrestling, everyone buries the hatchet at some point!  Alright, I talk a lot (and I mean a lot) of shit about Randy Orton, it's almost self-parody at this point, but I cannot deny the insane crowd reactions this guy is getting.  I dunno if it'll last, the last time they tried to make him a face, the crowd grew bored very quickly, but Orton's much different now than he was then, and who knows, this may just work.  Orton picks up the victory for his team by throwing out RKOs all over the place and the crowd just keeps getting louder.  No idea where they go with him at this point, but why not move him to Smackdown and let him and Jericho feud for the World Championship?  Hey, if I gotta endure Orton as the most over face in the company, he may as well work with the best.

Our true main event of the evening, Shawn Michaels' farewell.  Before Shawn got started, The Undertaker came out on stage and tipped his hat to HBK in what might be the ultimate show of class.  Now I could sit here and type out a long recap of what Shawn Michaels said tonight, but really that would just do a disservice to the emotional, heartfelt speech from the Heartbreak Kid.  If you saw it, you experienced it and don't need me to tell you the story, and if you missed it, you owe it to Shawn Michaels to catch a replay, watch on or Hulu, somehow, some way, you need to see this farewell.  This is wrestling my friends, stuff like this is why we watch and moments like this are the things that will always stick with the fans.

As I mentioned in my WrestleMania review, I'll have more to say about HBK later in the week, but for now, I'm just going to end this review with three simple words:  

Thank You Shawn.

WrestleMania 26 Review

It's the granddaddy of 'em all, the Super Bowl of wrestling, and a show that I said could have been the greatest WWE event of all time.  Did WrestleMania 26 live up to the hype? 

ShowMiz vs. Truth & Wisdom was a solid opener that got the crowd on their feet, but it was way too short.  Just as I was getting into it, John Morrison bounces right into Big Show's carcinogenic fist and it was over!  This match could've been done on Smackdown and I'm not sure if anyone would tell the difference.  But like I said on Kick-Out!! Radio, no disrespect to the participants, but this was probably the least important match on the card.
Predictions: 1 for 1

Before I discuss Randy Orton vs. Ted DiBiase vs. Cody Rhodes, could someone tell me what in the blue hell Cody Rhodes was wearing?  Tan trunks and white go-go boots?  Seriously?  Alright, I have to admit that with my lowered expectations, I actually enjoyed this match.  It wasn't fantastic or anything, but it was certainly better than I thought it would be.  As expected, Orton got the win, which isn't surprising since Rhodes and DiBiase had absolutely nothing to gain from winning this match.  They've been presented as nothing more than a tag team throughout this entire storyline, so what would either one of them get out of a singles win?  This match did what it needed to do, it solidified Orton's face turn.
Predictions: 2 for 2

Money in the Bank... wow.  All I can say is that I did not see that coming.  Jack Swagger?  The same Jack Swagger that was getting humiliated by Santino Marella just two months ago?  Don't get me wrong, I'm fine with Swagger winning and I'm glad to see WWE's renewed their interest in him, but I figured if he was going to get MITB, it wouldn't be until the new PPV in July.  But good for Swagger, the guy probably could've been ready for the main event scene after that tremendous match he had with Cena on the Draft show last year, so after a bit of delay, it looks like he's back on track.  The ten man aspect didn't hurt or help the match, it just felt like your standard Money in the Bank, if there is such a thing.  I think this year's match favored innovation over insane spots; Kofi's stilts, Evan Bourne's bridge, and the Jack Swagger trash compactor were the moments that stuck with me this year, rather than the "how high of a ladder can Shelton Benjamin dive off of this time?"  So with unique ideas and a surprise winner, I'll give what could be the final WrestleMania MITB ladder match a solid thumbs up.  Kofi Kingston's tribute to Busta Rhymes with his hair gets two thumbs up.
Predictions: 2 for 3

Triple H vs. Sheamus was a rock solid match where everything worked, both men's styles meshed well, the crowd was way into it, I was way into it, it had all the makings of a great match, but the wrong man won.  This isn't some anti-Triple H rant or anything, but this should've been Sheamus' defining moment as a top Superstar in WWE.  It certainly doesn't close the book on Sheamus, but it does strike me as another missed opportunity with the Celtic Warrior, and I don't want to see those pile up.  It works in the context of the story, especially since Triple H referenced his own WrestleMania debut when he got destroyed by The Ultimate Warrior, and at least Sheamus looked really strong against The Game, but still a missed opportunity.
Predictions: 2 for 4

Rey Mysterio vs. CM Punk was criminally short, and there's absolutely no excuse for it.  It was a great match for what it was, they did a lot of cool stuff, I liked the usage of Serena & Luke Gallows, and Rey's Avatar-inspired outfit was slick, but none of that changes the fact that the match was six minutes long.  These two better get a proper rematch at Extreme Rules, but even that won't change the fact that they didn't get enough time to rock the house on the grand stage of WrestleMania.  Definitely the WTF?! moment of the night.
Predictions: 3 for 5

Bret Hart vs. Vince McMahon... let's just all be honest and admit that this match sucked.  A lot.  Obviously Bret was limited to what he could do in the ring, so it became Vince McMahon vs. the entire Hart Family, but there was no reason for this match to get more than ten minutes when CM Punk and Mysterio barely got half that.  The Hart Dynasty could've hit Vince with the Hart Attack, Bret could've went nuts with the steel chair and locked in the Sharpshooter and we could've been done with this in three minutes, and it would've been way better.  Don't get me wrong, it was cathartic to see Vince McMahon locked in The Hitman's Sharpshooter, that was a WrestleMania moment, but that was all I needed to see!  The other ten minutes were just painfully awkward, and that's a damn shame considering how great the hype was for this match.
Predictions: 4 for 6

Chris Jericho vs. Edge for the World Heavyweight Championship was flat-out awesome.  I'm really glad I picked Jericho to win, it just seemed way too obvious considering how hard they were pushing Edge after the Royal Rumble.  Also, as I mentioned in my WrestleMania preview, this is now the third year in a row that the Royal Rumble winner has not won the title at WrestleMania, which has never happened since they introduced the #1 contender stipulation back in 1993.  As for the match, I loved everything here, and it's a perfect example of why Jericho is the best in the world right now.  The Codebreaker to block the Spear, the Walls of Jericho turned into a Canadian Maple Leaf on Edge's injured ankle, the crazy close near-falls, taking that Spear off the announce table through the barricade after the match, Jericho just knows how to make everything look good.  Obviously the feud's not over yet - I'm hoping for Falls Count Anywhere at Extreme Rules - but for now, the headline is Jericho reigning supreme at WrestleMania!
Predictions: 5 for 7

The 10-Diva Tag Match - I went to my fridge to grab a beer, grabbed a couple slices of pizza, and by the time I came back,  Vickie Guerrero was repeatedly falling on Kelly Kelly.  Okay then.  Complete waste of time that could've been better used on any other match (except Bret vs. Vince), but I get it, they had to get the Divas on the show.  Obviously the cool-down match of the night, and it certainly accomplished that goal.
Predictions: n/a

Aside from the main event, John Cena vs. Batista was the best match of the night.  Cena proved once again that when you put him in a big match situation, he always delivers and thanks to his chemistry with Batista, he delivered huge.  It was nice to see Cena in a singles match at WrestleMania, he's spent the last two years in triple threats, and I don't think that plays up to his strengths particularly well.  Cena is a singles wrestler, that's where he can create those memorable moments and that's why no one can outperform him in the aforementioned big match situations.  Batista was no slouch here either, perhaps putting on his greatest match since his encounters with The Undertaker in 2007 and proved once and for all that a simple heel turn can go a long way.  Cena came out victorious, which may disappoint some since Batista has been so good lately, but I think John is the rare case of a face who is better when he has the belt, rather than when he's chasing it.  Big thumbs up to this match, and a big thumbs up to Cena's awesome entrance as well.  Great stuff.
Predictions: 6 for 8

The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels.  Need I say more?  Probably not, but I will anyway!  WWE made the right call by having this match headline because obviously nothing else on the card could follow this.  The match was a bit shorter than their encounter last year, but that definitely didn't make it worse.  I'm not sure if I can say which match was better, because they were actually very different contests with different stories being told.  I think this may be one of the only times in wrestling where two matches that happened a year apart actually complement each other.  This wasn't just a rematch, this was the final act of a play that began when Undertaker told HBK "sometimes it's hell trying to get to Heaven."

Shawn Michaels was absolutely fantastic here, he played a role similar to his WM24 opponent, Ric Flair.  There was no "I'm sorry, I love you," but HBK mocking The Undertaker and slapping him in the face at the end, forcing the Phenom to hit him with a JUMPING TOMBSTONE, was one of those moments that will live on in WrestleMania video packages until the end of time.  Shawn Michaels' career is over, and I honestly doubt there would've been a better way to end it.  Loved Taker's handshake at the end and stepping out of the ring to hand it over to HBK for his farewell walk.  The perfect ending to a perfect match and a perfect career.  I'll have more thoughts on the Showstopper's retirement later in the week, but on this night, his last night, Shawn Michaels proved once again that he is Mr. WrestleMania.

So, was it the best WrestleMania ever?  Simple answer: no.  Sadly, my prediction did not come to fruition here, but that's okay because we still got a really good WrestleMania.  The three main events were absolutely tremendous, the wrestling was solid in all of the standard matches, and my only real gripe is I think some of the matches could've been longer.  That complaint out of the way, I think the stage has been set for a really fun 2010, I just hope WWE runs with that Mania momentum.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

WrestleMania 26 Preview

It's almost here, the 26th annual WrestleMania!  Earlier this week, I asked you what match you were most excited to see, so let's take a look at the results of the latest Kick-Out!! poll:

The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels - 48%
John Cena vs. Batista -5%
Chris Jericho vs. Edge - 10%
Bret Hart vs. Vince McMahon - 9%
CM Punk vs. Rey Mysterio - 5%
Triple H vs. Sheamus - 1%
Randy Orton vs. Cody Rhodes vs. Ted Dibiase - 8%
ShowMiz vs. Truth & Wisdom - 2%
Money in the Bank - 9%

No surprise there, Streak vs. Career took almost half of the votes, with nothing else even coming close.  The World Heavyweight Title match came in at #2 and MITB and Bret Hart vs. Vince McMahon tied for 3rd place.  

And in case you haven't listened to this week's Kick-Out!! Radio (that makes me sad), here are my predictions for tonight's show:

Streak vs. Career
The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels
I don't think this one is as predictable as people are making it out to be.  I honestly believe that if The Undertaker was going to let The Streak come to an end, he'd want it to be in a believable match against an established name.  Most people say it should be a rub for an upcoming Superstar, but I think that's a dangerous gamble to take.  You let an upcoming star get that big that quick, you could have a Brock Lesnar or Bobby Lashley situation on your hands.  But with that said, I don't think Shawn Michaels is the established name to end The Undertaker's undefeated streak.  Shawn Michaels is ready to hang them up (for now), The Undertaker will prevail, and The Streak goes to 18-0.

WWE Championship
Batista © vs. John Cena
Both of these men won their first World Championship five years ago at WrestleMania 21, and while John Cena went on to become the top name in the industry, Batista's always been in the backseat... until this feud.  Batista finally found his niche as a top name and has been kicking ass as a heel.  I really think this one could go either way, but I'll stick with my gut instinct and say good triumphs over evil here and John Cena recaptures the WWE Championship.

World Championship
Chris Jericho © vs. Edge
Regardless of what happens tonight, I think at least one of the major titles will be successfully defended and if John Cena wins the WWE Title, then Chris Jericho will retain the World Championship.  Edge has gotten the upper hand way too much in this feud, I think it's almost too obvious for him to win.  Although if Edge doesn't win, it will mark the third year in a row that the Royal Rumble winner doesn't walk out with a title, and that's just a bizarre thought.

No Holds Barred
Bret Hart vs. Vince McMahon
C'mon, Bret Hart has to win this, right?  Vince taps out to the Sharpshooter, there's no other way to end this!

If Rey loses, he must join the Straight Edge Society
Rey Mysterio vs. CM Punk
I don't think this feud will end at WrestleMania, so I could see Punk winning and making Rey's life hell for a month or two, but my money's on Rey Mysterio winning.  Rey wins, CM Punk becomes obsessed with beating him, we get some kind of gimmick match at Extreme Rules, maybe the feud ends with Punk getting his head shaved.  Also, this is my pick for the show-stealer; HBK/Undertaker may put on the Match of the Year, Match of the Decade, Match of the Century, but Rey/Punk will be the sleeper hit.

Grudge Match
Triple H vs. Sheamus
Another tough one to call, especially considering the rumored friendship between these guys.  I say Sheamus wins here and this will be the match that will solidify the Celtic Warrior as the real deal.  The crowd's still not 100% sold on him yet, even after a WWE Championship reign, but a win over Triple H at WrestleMania?  That's how you become a Superstar.

Legacy Implodes
Randy Orton vs. Cody Rhodes vs. Ted DiBiase
Much like Alien vs. Predator, whoever wins, we lose!  I'll say Orton wins here, just because neither Rhodes or DiBiase are in any position to get any sort of singles momentum right now.  

Unified Tag Team Championship
ShowMiz vs. Truth & Wisdom
Sorry Truth & Morrison, this match was just to give you something to do at WrestleMania, and while WWE's done a damn fine job of establishing you as a tag team in a very short period of time, your job tonight is to lose.  ShowMiz win here, but I think Miz will be dropping one of his titles sooner than later.

Money in the Bank
Christian vs. Drew McIntyre vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Evan Bourne vs. Jack Swagger vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. MVP vs. Shelton Benjamin vs. Matt Hardy vs. Kane
My fingers hurt just from typing all that.  This is undoubtedly the hardest match on the show to predict, but I think Christian, McIntyre and Kingston are the most likely candidates.  McIntyre got the win in the 10-man tag match on Smackdown, which I think makes him a bit too obvious of a choice, so I think it's a coin toss between Christian and Kofi.  I'm picking Christian here solely because he's the guy I want to win, hopefully WWE's looking out for me here.

So there we go, my predictions for WrestleMania 26, make sure to come back to after the show for my full review of the biggest PPV of the year!

Why I love professional wrestling

Tonight is WrestleMania, the biggest night of the year for professional wrestling and its fans.  It's our Super Bowl, our World Series, our whatever the hell NASCAR has; WrestleMania fever... CATCH IT!  With WrestleMania on my mind this week, I've been reflecting on the last year; I started Kick-Out!! Wrestling last year during WrestleMania weekend.  I've been floored by the response to the site and how successful it's been in such a short period of time and I look forward to another year of growth and showing wrestling fans that wrestling websites can be better.  

But in my efforts over the last year, I think I lost sight of one of my early goals for the site, explaining to non-fans why wrestling is so enjoyable.  If you're a fan, I'm sure you've experienced at least a raised eyebrow from someone when you say you like wrestling.  You may have heard, "Why do you watch that fake crap?" from someone that watches movies, TV shows, and various other forms of scripted entertainment.  That's the difference between fans and non-fans, we're in on the secret, we don't watch it because we think it's real, we watch it because it's incredibly entertaining.

"Entertainment" is the word that gets thrown around a lot, especially by WWE, but that's what it is.  Well, perhaps it's a bit more complicated than that, I often like to call it the most unique form of entertainment on the planet.  There's nothing else out there like professional wrestling.  Unlike standard scripted TV shows, it blurs the line between fiction and reality; the winners are pre-determined for the purposes of the story, unlike in sports where the winners determine the story.  Wrestling is part variety show, part athletic exhibition, part traveling circus and part soap opera, there's something there for everyone.  Nowhere else in sport or entertainment will you find a group of guys, traveling from city to city (with no off-season), to put on an athletic showcase where they pretend to fight in order to advance the narrative.  

Anti-fans often simplify it with insulting language like "sweaty men in tights rolling around," non-fans think it's all dudes in masks and capes talking about steel cage matches, but fans know it's so much more than that.  Let's look at one of the main event of this year's WrestleMania, Bret "Hitman" Hart vs. the chairman of World Wrestling Entertainment, Vince McMahon.  In November of 1997, WWE (then WWF), was in some serious financial troubles and Vince needed to cut costs.  He had just re-signed Bret Hart to a massive contract (I believe it was $20 million), and offered to let Bret go to WWE's biggest competitor, WCW, who were trouncing them at the time.  Bret had been with WWE since the 80s and didn't want to leave, but Vince couldn't afford to pay him, so Bret made the deal with WCW, but there was just one problem, he was the reigning WWE Champion.  Bret was scheduled to defend the title against Shawn Michaels, but refused lose to Michaels due to a real-life hatred between both men.  So instead of Bret losing the belt, he agreed to vacate it after the match, but Vince, worried that Bret would take the title to WCW and tarnish WWE's image, had other plans.

Instead of the planned finish of a double-disqualification, Shawn Michaels locked Bret Hart in a submission move and the referee immediately called for the bell.  Vince McMahon changed the finish without Bret Hart's knowledge in what would become known as the "Montreal Screwjob."  Bret left WWE, trashed them in the press and swore he'd never return to the company.  After years of tragedy, including the horrific in-ring death of his brother Owen, it seemed that things between Bret and WWE were starting to cool off.  In 2005, Bret agreed to do a DVD centered around his career and in 2006, he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.  He didn't show up to WrestleMania the next night (as is usually tradition), and that seemed to close the book on Bret Hart and WWE... that was until 2010.

On January 4th, Bret Hart shocked the world by stepping foot in a WWE ring for the first time since 1997 as Monday Night Raw's "guest host."  After over a decade of bad blood, Vince McMahon and Bret Hart stood in the ring together and shook hands... until Vince kicked Bret in the groin.  Bret wasn't just there to get his proper send-off, he was there to work a storyline! So after months of build-up, here we are, tonight, Bret Hart will wrestle his first match in ten years, against the man he once said he'd never do business with ever again.  Like I said earlier, blurring the lines of fiction and reality.

Not all matches tonight have storylines with that many twist and turns, but they've all been built up on "The Road to WrestleMania" in a superb fashion through matches, interviews, and WWE's tremendous advertising.  You can't find anything like this anywhere else: Peyton Manning doesn't threaten to retire if he can't beat Brett Favre at the Super Bowl, Jack Shepard and John Locke from TV's Lost don't settle their differences in a 20-minute athletic showcase, and the ballet doesn't have characters like The Undertaker!  WWE will give us all of these things tonight in front of a crowd of 70,000 screaming fans who come from all walks of life.  We're all watching for different reasons, some of us like the story, some of us like the athleticism, some of us like the spectacle, but we're all there for the most important part of wrestling, it's fun.

NXT, Superstars & Smackdown - WrestleMania Week

So just a quick heads up, with WrestleMania being later this evening, I wanted to write an in-depth editorial about why I love wrestling and why tonight is so special.  I realize I haven't reviewed NXT, Superstars or Smackdown, but WWE treated them as WrestleMania hype shows and I'm going to do the same.  I don't think you're dying to hear my thoughts on NXT this week, and since watching/reviewing all those shows is so time consuming, I'll just save my time so I can bring you more WrestleMania coverage.

But there are a couple notes from this week that I wanted to touch on, most of all, the absolutely fantastic match between Rey Mysterio & Tyson Kidd on Superstars.  If you missed the match, make sure you watch it on Hulu or, their work deserves to be admired.  For them to go out on the "lesser" show and put on this kind of match, we owe it to them as fans to make sure it is seen.  It also annoys me that after work this good, Tyson Kidd (and the rest of the Hart Dynasty) aren't on the WrestleMania card.  I hope they at least make an appearance during Bret vs. Vince, they deserve the WrestleMania exposure.

Also, I really liked the Raw vs. Smackdown 10-man tag featuring the Money in the Bank participants.  A great way to hype a big multi-man match like MITB, everyone got to do something, and it was just fun to watch.  Drew McIntyre got the win for the Smackdown team, which leads me to hope that he won't be victorious tonight.  It's the "Kane win;" every year before MITB or the Royal Rumble, Kane gets to look like a bad ass to make up for the fact that he won't actually win, hopefully that's the case for McIntyre this year.  Go Christian! (Or Kofi).

The hype videos that have been played throughout the week, though I'm sure we'll see them a dozen more times tonight, have been absolutely amazing.  Whoever's in charge of WWE's hype videos just gets better every year, I hope they get an annual raise.

As I type this, we're less than seven hours away from WrestleMania 26, and I went on record on this week's Kick-Out!! Radio, saying it could be the greatest WrestleMania in history.  Only time will tell, but the potential and my level of excitement are certainly there.  So take a listen to this week's podcast, check out the Top 26 Matches in WrestleMania History - Part 1 and Part 2 - and visit Kick-Out!! throughout the day for continuing WrestleMania coverage! 

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Kick-Out's Top 26 Matches in WrestleMania History (Part 2)

In case you missed Part 1, here ya go!

10. Chris Benoit vs. Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels - WrestleMania XX
I hesitated even putting this match on the list due to the horrific events surrounding Chris Benoit's final days, but it is certainly one of the most memorable moments in WrestleMania history. I'm not one of those people who get all whiny about Chris Benoit being "erased" from WWE history, why would they ever want to associate themselves with that incident? But I'm also not going to go on some long rant about how a man I did not know was evil. All I can say is, the whole situation surrounding the man just makes me extremely sad; I haven't watched a Benoit match since June 2007 and I don't know if I ever will again, but this match is undoubtedly one of the best in the history of wrestling, let alone just WrestleMania.

9. Bret "Hitman" Hart vs. "Rowdy" Roddy Piper - WrestleMania VIII
After winning his first and only major singles title in WWE, Roddy Piper put the Intercontinental Championship on the line against the former champion, Bret Hart. Piper had been wrestling for almost 25 years at that point, but he put on arguably the greatest match of his career at this event. Bret Hart recaptured the IC Title and went onto become WWE Champion less than a year later, ascending to the upper echelon of professional wrestling, I like to think this match had a lot to do with that.

8. The Ladder Match: Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon - WrestleMania X
Not the first ladder match in history, but definitely the one everyone remembers. Michaels and Ramon laid the groundwork for what would become one of the more popular gimmick matches in wrestling today. One could argue that without this definitive ladder match, the careers of Jeff Hardy, Matt Hardy, Edge, Christian, would have never taken off like they did. I don't know what else to say about this match that hasn't already been said except that every ladder match you see today, uses this battle as the blueprint.

7. The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan - WrestleMania XVIII
"Icon vs. Icon" is all you really need to say to describe this unforgettable encounter. After a nine year absence from WWE, Hulk Hogan returned to battle the man who some would say replaced him as the most recognizable wrestler in the world. For years in WCW, Hogan was accused of being washed up and no longer capable of putting on a good match (depending on who you ask, some will tell you he was never capable), but those critics were silenced with this match. 70,000 screaming fans in the Toronto SkyDome welcomed Hogan back to WWE with a thunderous ovation that never seemed to quiet down during the actual match. Hogan and The Rock went out and not only exceeded expectations, they made history.

6. Shawn Michaels vs. Ric Flair - WrestleMania XXIV
Shawn Michaels eighth appearance on this list (there's a reason they call him Mr. WrestleMania), but this match isn't his story, it's the story of the greatest of all-time, "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair. Flair ended his 36-year career at last year's WrestleMania in one of those moments that when you watched it, you knew you were witnessing history.

5. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin vs. The Rock - WrestleMania XVII
I'll let you in on a little secret, WrestleMania 17 (or WrestleMania X-Seven as WWE dubbed it) is the best WrestleMania, ever. The card is absolutely stacked, it featured this tremendous main event, wrestling's popularity was at its all-time high and WWE was sitting alone at the top of the mountain, having just bought their biggest competitor - Ted Turner's WCW. This match is fantastic to watch simply to see the two biggest stars of the 90s beat the holy hell out of each other, but there's a lot more to it than that. Stone Cold vs. The Rock is symbolic to the end of the famous Attitude Era with Stone Cold's shocking heel turn at the conclusion of the match. Austin aligning himself with his longtime rival Vince McMahon, closed the book on the 90s pro wrestling craze and began a major shift in the WWE landscape.

4. Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker - WrestleMania XXV
HBK's ninth and final appearance on this list is the most recent for Mr. WrestleMania.  Some might scoff at the idea of this match being so high, especially pushing out other classics on this list, but the bottom line is, the minute the three count was made in this match, it was a classic.  This match is the reason the term "instant classic" was coined, and I can't wait to see what they do this year in Phoenix... there's a good possibility the rematch could be sitting three places higher than this match.

3. "Macho Man" Randy Savage vs. Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat - WrestleMania III
Many call this the greatest WrestleMania match of all-time, and if you're looking at it from a strictly wrestling perspective, they're absolutely right. In terms of pure wrestling, there hasn't been a single WrestleMania match to eclipse this classic from 1987. The story was simple, Randy Savage was the dastardly heel that crushed Ricky Steamboat's larynx months prior by dropping him throat first on a metal guardrail and Steamboat got his revenge, and the WWE Intercontinental Title, at WrestleMania 3. If you or someone you know doesn't understand the athleticism involved in professional wrestling, watch this match.

2. Bret "Hitman" Hart vs. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin - WrestleMania XIII
If WrestleMania 14 was the birth of the Attitude Era, this match at WrestleMania 13 was the conception. The beauty of this match is that it's one of the few times that two wrestlers successfully turned within a match - Bret Hart walked in the good guy, Stone Cold walked in the bad guy, but when it was all said and done, Hart was the most hated heel in the industry and the fans fell in love with Steve Austin. This match is what it means to "tell a story" in the wrestling ring, it's not just two guys fake fighting, they're acting out things that would normally be told through scripted dialogue in a movie. The finale of this match, with Steve Austin's face covered in blood as he passes out from the pain of Bret Hart's sharpshooter, could be the most iconic image in the history of professional wrestling, with the exception of...

1. Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant - WrestleMania III
Without this match, I probably wouldn't be writing this list. Say what you will about Hulk Hogan or the quality of this match, but at the end of the day, this match isn't just the most important in WrestleMania history, this is the most important match in the history of professional wrestling. Hulk Hogan bodyslamming the 500 pound Andre the Giant is the imaged etched in the memory of millions of wrestling fans around the globe.

Kick-Out's Top 26 Matches in WrestleMania History (Part 1)

As you may know, WrestleMania weekend marks the one-year anniversary of Kick-Out!! and in case you're new to the site, you may have missed last year's Top 25 Matches in WrestleMania history.  Well, in honor of WM26, I'm reposting the list and adding one more match to give you the Top 26 Matches in WrestleMania History!  Enjoy!

26. "Macho Man" Randy Savage vs. The Ultimate Warrior - WrestleMania VII
The then-World Wrestling Federation was just too big for both of them after the Macho Man cost the Warrior the WWE Championship at the Royal Rumble months before. Their feud had to come to an end and it would do so at WrestleMania VII in a retirement match. Despite hitting The Warrior with five of his signature flying elbow drops, Savage could not keep him down and wound up succumbing to the overwhelming power of the man from "Parts Unknown."

The real story came after the match when Randy Savage reunited with his long-time manager Miss Elizabeth. The two would go onto get married five months later at SummerSlam 1991, only to have their reception ruined when a cobra was discovered in a gift box courtesy of The Undertaker and Jake "The Snake" Roberts; Savage was reinstated soon after to get revenge... God I love pro wrestling.

25. The Iron Man Match: Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels - WrestleMania XII
A lot of people have soured on this match over the years, probably due to the overwhelming amounts of praise that was heaped onto it soon after it happened, but it's still a damn good match. I wouldn't put it in either man's top 25 matches of all-time, but that's just how good they both were; a decent Shawn Michaels/Bret Hart match is still one of the best WrestleMania matches in history. Love it or hate it, they wrestled for 62 minutes... I'm exhausted after typing for 62 minutes.

24. The Big Show vs. Floyd "Money" Mayweather - WrestleMania XXIV
Is it a "good" match, in what your typical, overly-analytical wrestling fan would describe? No, you probably won't be seeing anything like this on any Ring of Honor highlight reels in the future, but if you ever want to watch something that exemplifies what American pro wrestling is, watch this match.

Wrestling has an iffy history with celebrity involvement - sometimes it works, and sometimes you have a disaster like Jay Leno beating up Hulk Hogan. WWE executed this crossover with perfection and the match did what it was supposed to do: it received loads of mainstream attention, entertained those watching and kept The Big Show looking strong even though he lost to a guy that's more than a foot shorter and 300 lbs. lighter. All for the low cost of $20 million to "Pretty Boy" Floyd.

23. "The Heartbreak Kid" Shawn Michaels vs. John Cena - WrestleMania XXIII
Maybe I'm biased because I was one of the 80,103 setting a new attendance record for Detroit's Ford Field, but I absolutely love this match. I know a lot of people rag on John Cena for not being the best wrestler, but let me just say that those people are wrong. Easily Cena's best match to date and definitely on HBK's long list, this match shut up a lot of haters that deny the fact that John Cena is the most valuable commodity in wrestling today.

22. Kurt Angle vs. Eddie Guerrero - WrestleMania XX
I often find it difficult to write about Eddie Guerrero due to his untimely death in 2005, but this match always makes me smile. After years of being a perennial midcard talent, Guerrero finally got his shot at the big time and won the WWE Championship. Eddie was always one of my favorite wrestlers, but I never expected to see the day where he'd be the top champion in the biggest wrestling promotion in the world and then go on to headline WrestleMania. The match itself is absolutely phenomenal and essentially the epitome of Guerrero's "lying, cheating and stealing" character.

21. Money in the Bank - WrestleMania XXI
Featuring the birth of Edge's ascension into main event status and eventually becoming the best villain in the business today, the first Money in the Bank Ladder Match is absolutely jaw-dropping. I'll just let this random YouTube video say it all:

20. Shawn Michaels vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin - WrestleMania XIV
Much like the Iron Man Match, I would not consider this match to be one of the best for either man involved, but you can't deny its historical significance. This match marked the beginning of the Attitude Era, where WWE became the edgy, intense, hypersexual, pop culture icon of the late 90s. It also featured another successful celebrity crossover with Mike Tyson counting the pinfall to give Steve Austin his first World Championship.

19. Tables, Ladders & Chairs 2 - WrestleMania XVII
Following the first TLC match at SummerSlam the previous year, three of the greatest tag teams in history - The Hardy Boyz, Edge & Christian and The Dudley Boyz (this was back in the day when the letter 'z' was considered edgy) - battled it out in an epic brawl featuring items that would generally belong at a Home Depot instead of a wrestling ring. Technically, they had a similar match at WrestleMania the year before, but it was only a ladder match that featured tables and chairs and not the cute TLC name. Of all the insane ladder/TLC matches these guys have had, I would say this one is the best.

18. Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho - WrestleMania XIX
A match between two of my favorite wrestlers of all-time? Sign me up. This match is special in three ways: one, Chris Jericho lists it as his favorite match he's ever had; two, it was Shawn Michaels' first WrestleMania appearance in five years; and three, it marks when Shawn Michaels made a full-time return to wrestling. Shawn had been working sporadically for seven months prior to WM19, but after this match, he fell right back into a normal routine and has not missed a beat since.

17. Triple H vs. The Undertaker - WrestleMania XVII
Depending on who you ask, they'll either tell you this match is overrated or underrated. Personally, I love this match and am surprised at myself for having it this low on the list. Despite being with the company since 1990 and 1995 respectively, The Undertaker and Triple H never really had their first feud until 2001 and it was somewhat hastily thrown together in time for WrestleMania. Despite that, the two unsurprisingly put on one hell of a brawl and you can add me to the "underrated" column.

16. Hulk Hogan vs. The Ultimate Warrior - WrestleMania VI
I'm sure any old school wrestling fans reading this will cry blasphemy for this not cracking the top ten, as it is such an integral part of any wrestling fan who grew up in the 90s, but don't get too upset. I love this match as much as the next guy, but it's just not as historically significant today as it was in 1990 since Hulk Hogan didn't retire soon after (as was expected) and The Warrior obviously wasn't the guy to "pass the torch" to (as was expected). Unquestionably the pinnacle of The Ultimate Warrior's career and his best match, but the same cannot be said for the Hulkster.

15. Shawn Michaels vs. Kurt Angle - WrestleMania XXI
Shawn Michaels fifth (and far from final) appearance on this list is a dream match of sorts. What would happen if the greatest wrestler from the 90s took on arguably the greatest wrestler of the 00s? What we got was the 2005 Match of the Year. I really hope to see Kurt Angle back in a WWE ring someday soon so we can watch these two go at it one last time.

14. Hulk Hogan vs. "Macho Man" Randy Savage - WrestleMania V
In my opinion, the two greatest wrestlers of the 1980s and what I would say is Hulk Hogan's best match ever... maybe (more on that later). Randy Savage is often the forgotten man when it comes to the legends of the industry, but if it weren't for the giant shadow cast by Hogan, I think he had all the tools to fill the role occupied by Hulkamania. A tremendous match with one of the best build-ups in WrestleMania history, this was the biggest match possible for a certain five year old that never grew out of watching these larger than life characters.

13. Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart - WrestleMania X
Much like the childhoods I ruined by having Hogan/Warrior at 15, I'm going to lose my wrestling nerd cred by keeping this match out of the top ten. Make no mistake about it, this is a tremendous match, but it was really just a building block in the bigger feud that was to come. It was the first time two real-life brothers did battle in a WWE ring and they put on a wrestling clinic with Owen Hart sneaking out a surprise victory. The reason I don't have this match in the top ten is it's overshadowed by Bret Hart going onto win the WWE Title later that same night and the far superior match they had several months later at SummerSlam 1994, which I would call the greatest Steel Cage match of all-time.

12. The Undertaker vs. "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair - WrestleMania XVIII
Ric Flair is the greatest professional wrestler to ever lace-up a pair of boots, want to know one of the dozen reasons why? Because at the age of 53, after years of being told it was time to hang it up, he made his return to WrestleMania and put on an absolutely astounding match with The Undertaker and restarted his illustrious career. And Arn Anderson's Spinebuster cameo is one of the coolest moments in WrestleMania history.

11. Edge vs. Mick Foley - WrestleMania XXII
A few months after this match, Edge and Mick Foley ran an angle saying hardcore wrestling could no longer continue because they already put on the greatest Hardcore Match in history... they were right. This match takes the best elements from garbage wrestling without becoming a toned-down slasher movie, it tells a brilliant story, and it solidified Edge's status as a top player in WWE. It's also only one of a handful of times WWE has ever used fire in the confines of a match.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Kick-Out!! Radio - Episode 32

This week, it’s our special WrestleMania edition of Kick-Out!! Radio! Razor runs down the card and wonders if WrestleMania 26 could be the greatest WrestleMania ever.

MP3 Version - Right click on the Audio MP3 image and "save link as."

iTunes - clicking this link will open your iTunes.

Theme song: "Believe" by Grasp Infinity

Chris Jericho vs. David Arquette

If you haven't seen this clip from Lopez Tonight, you need to watch it right now.  Chris Jericho has wanted to erase Arquette's name from the record books for years now, and last night, they finally settled the score... with karaoke... to "Total Eclipse of the Heart."  Yes, it's as awesome as it sounds.

Best in the world at what he does!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Raw Thoughts - March 22, 2010

On behalf of Cincinnati Reds fans around the globe, let me begin this live blog by saying: PETE ROSE!  Excuse me, HALL OF FAMER PETE ROSE!  Remember to refresh your page throughout the evening for ongoing thoughts of the final Monday Night Raw before WrestleMania 26! Just six days away!

Starting things off with The Heartbreak Kid, Shawn Michaels!  When we last saw HBK, he took out The Undertaker at the end of of Smackdown, very similar to what he did last year, but if their WrestleMania match turns out like last year's did, this could be the last time we see Shawn Michaels on Monday Night Raw.  I know we went four years without seeing him on a regular (or semi-regular) basis, but the thought of a WWE without Shawn Michaels isn't a happy one.  Shawn's on fire here tonight though, saying the release of his new DVD might make people think things are coming to an end, but that we better clear some space on our shelf for Volume 2!  Awesome line.  Shawn's interrupted by a slick video package that ends with "Shawn Michaels' Career: 1985-2010," which leads Mr. WrestleMania to call out The Undertaker, but instead we get Pete Rose!  Oh God, Pete, you're a little too close to something involving The Undertaker, which means you're too close to Kane!  But Pete's out here to get revenge, he wants HBK to take out Kane in tonight's main event!  I can dig it.

John Morrison vs. The Miz is our opening contest, and I'm really excited for this one, so long as they're given enough time, which you never know with Monday Night Raw.  I really enjoyed their match at Bragging Rights and they've always had good chemistry in the ring, whether they're a tag team or rivals.  Big Show and R-Truth are on commentary for this one, getting in more last-minute hype for the WrestleMania match, and they're definitely amusing.  Gorilla and Heenan they are not, but I'd love for these two to announce a whole show just for the WTF factor.  During commercial, Miz hit a certified NASTY! move, standing on the apron and using it to hit Morrison with a sickening neckbreaker.  One "nasty" doesn't do it justice, that move was NASTY~!  That's right, I used a tilde, that's serious business.  Miz controls most of the match, but Morrison hits a sunset flip powerbomb off the top rope and follows up with Starship Pain for the victory!  Nothing too complicated here, but it did exactly what it needed to do and it was longer than your average Raw match.  Good match, good length, good build for the PPV, what more do you need?

Triple H & Randy Orton have some words backstage, there could be some tension in the main event tonight.  Hey, it wouldn't be WrestleMania hype without bitter rivals having trouble coexisting before the big show, I'm surprised they didn't give them the tag belts.

So it turns out there WILL be ten guys in Money in the Bank this year and our final qualifying match is Kofi Kingston vs. Vladimir Kozlov... seriously, Kofi better win this.  Thankfully, after taking a brutal beating, and showcasing the coolest way to exit the ring ever, Kofi wins and is going to WrestleMania! I was getting worried there.  WWE's done a good job hyping the other MITB participants this year, what was originally a surefire win for Christian, could be a win for him, Kofi Kingston, Drew McIntyre, maybe even Jack Swagger or Dolph Ziggler; I don't even think Christian is the favorite anymore.  Who do you think will win the briefcase this year?

Warning: Legacy talking, better brew a pot of coffee.  Yeah yeah, they're awesome, born into a life of luxury, they're better than everyone and don't need anyone to help them... which is why they're teaming with Sheamus in a handicap match tonight.  These three are teaming up in said handicap match (argh) against Triple H & Randy Orton.  It makes sense, it's two Mania matches combined, but still, handicap match, the bane of my existence... at least it's not 2-on-1.  Honestly, not a bad little match and the bad guys came out on top thanks to Sheamus booting Randy Orton in the head.  Hey, if only that outcome could've happened two months ago, Sheamus wouldn't have been an afterthought as WWE Champion.

Bret Hart!  I know I say this every week, but I still can't believe I'm watching Bret Hart on WWE TV in 2010.  It's so funny though, he really hasn't changed a bit, still works the mic like he did 15 years ago, still has the Bret Hart charm, I can't wait to see what this match with Vince will be like this Sunday.  Speaking of the chairman, Vince McMhaon lets Bret know that this Sunday, he's going to get screwed.  Oh dear, anyone else getting memories of WrestleMania 19 with Hogan vs. McMahon?  If Jim Neidhart hits Bret with a lead pipe, I'm going to be pissed!

Shawn Michaels vs. Kane up next, no count-out, no-DQ, same stipulation as this Sunday in what could be Shawn Michaels final match on Raw.  Now normally I wouldn't be that interested considering it's a Kane match, but it's also a Shawn Michaels match, so automatically it's going to be good.  Kane's looking good here, you can even see some abs, which you usually don't see on Kane unless you're playing Smackdown vs. Raw.  Perhaps he's in a competition with Scott Hall to determine who's more surprisingly in-shape?  The Undertaker interferes, in pure Undertaker fashion, but it's still not enough for Kane to get the win.  One Sweet Chin Music later, HBK comes out victorious, which could be the last time I type that sentence.  If HBK does lose at WrestleMania, here's hoping he gets a proper Ric Flair style send-off the next night on Raw.

Bob Uecker is the final inductee in the WWE Hall of Fame, joining Pete Rose and William "The Refrigerator" Perry in the Celebrity Wing.  If you don't know who Bob Uecker is, one: stop making me feel old, and two: go rent Major League.  And I just realized telling someone to go rent a movie makes me sound old.  Put Major League in your Netflix queue... and get off my lawn.

After Kane's loss, Pete Rose's luck is about to change... don't "bet" on it.  Get it?  The Big Red Machine continues to be the Roadrunner to Pete's Wile E. Coyote.

Six Diva tag team action with Gail Kim, Eve & Beth Phoenix vs. Michelle McCool, Layla and Maryse, and by the time I typed the competitors names, the match was over.  Although I do have to admit, the exchange at the end with McCool and Gail was the coolest thing I've seen from the Divas in months.  Mickie James, Kelly Kelly, Alicia Fox and Vickie Guerrero were at ringside as well, which makes me wonder if they're setting something up for WrestleMania.  Really odd that there's nothing scheduled for the Divas yet, they always find something for them to do at Mania, but maybe after last year's horrible battle royal, they're reconsidering that?

The cast of Hot Tub Time Machine will host Raw next week.  Hey, I'm not going to complain about Rob Cordry hosting Raw.

Our Main Event this evening is the Final Face Off between Batista & John Cena.  Personally, I'd be a lot more excited if this were the Final Face/Off and Batista & Cena did their best Nicholas Cage and John Travolta impressions.  Batista's out first and I don't think this guy has gotten the credit he deserves in recent weeks for becoming so good at being a giant d-bag.  He's not at Vince levels of evil, he's not at CM Punk levels of psychotic, he's just an asshole, and no one plays that role better than him right now.  With the mocking of Cena, talking about fat people paying for two seats, why the hell didn't they turn this guy sooner?

Speaking of fat people in two seats, they start up a "YOU CAN'T WRESTLE" chant at John Cena when he makes his way to the ring.  Cute.  Hey, with the cast of Hot Tub Time Machine coming in next week, perhaps these smarks can hop in and get out of 2005!  Anyway, standard hype here, Cena gets a couple shots in, but Batista storms off, like he said, you gotta spend money if you want to see him work.  I really dug their match at SummerSlam 08 and that didn't even really get a proper build, but with good hype and putting them on the grandest stage of them all, I expect big things out of Cena and Batista this Sunday.

The go-home episode of Raw before WrestleMania was easily the best the show has been since WrestleMania hype began.  Things have been getting better and better every week, the hype for Mania has been insanely good, and everything here was perfectly executed.  Aside from the Divas hiccup, I couldn't ask for much more in the final Raw before WrestleMania 26.  I'm probably going to say this everyday until Sunday, but seriously, Sunday can't get here soon enough.

Poll - WrestleMania Matches

WrestleMania is this Sunday, and I want your opinion on the card.  Which of the announced matches are you most excited about?  Let me know by voting in the poll to the right of the page, and feel free to leave a comment explaining why you picked that match.

Poll is open until WrestleMania Sunday, so get your votes in quickly!

Kick-Out!! Radio is back on iTunes!

After a long, drawn out process, Kick-Out!! Radio is officially back on iTunes!  You can find it by searching for "KO!! Radio," or by clicking on this link:

Subscribe to Kick-Out!! Radio (link will open your iTunes)

Thanks again for your patience, make sure to update your subscriptions!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Smackdown Thoughts - March 19, 2010

Before I start with my thoughts on this week's Smackdown, I wanted to give a very quick review of WWE Superstars:

Kane vs. Shelton Benjamin - thumbs up.  Seriously, if WWE wants to get a crowd pumped up before Raw or Smackdown, use Kane on Superstars, because they go freaking nuts for him.  Decent match too, which is always a pleasant surprise when the Big Red Machine is involved. 

Diva Tag Match - Yawn.

Jack Swagger, Zack Ryder & William Regal vs. Christian, Yoshi Tatsu & Mark Henry - awesome stuff.  Fun little ECW alumni match that the crowd was insanely hot for. This is what makes Superstars such a good show, because we never get to see stuff like this on Raw anymore.

Okay, Smackdown time!  We started with Matt Striker & Todd Grisham really overselling the CM Punk/Rey Mysterio controversy from last week.  Sure, it was an extremely well-executed segment, probably CM Punk's greatest performance ever, but c'mon guys, don't cheapen it by acting like someone died.  Still, it is a testament to how good CM Punk is, they've turned a simple birthday interruption into this heinous act, and he didn't even physically attack Mysterio in front of his family.  Rey Mysterio made his way to the ring to address the situation and accepted CM Punk's challenge for a match at WrestleMania, but not just any match, he wanted a street fight!  I'm all for that, these two have had a few matches in the past, but putting them in the ring at WrestleMania in a match with no rules?  Awesome.  CM Punk made his way out next to rub some salt into Mysterio's wounds and gave us another stellar performance on the mic.  This guy has surpassed everyone else in the industry to become the top villain in all of professional wrestling, I might be more excited for this match than anything else on the WrestleMania card besides HBK vs. Taker.

Some Money in the Bank hype in our opening contest, former Tag Team Champions Matt Hardy & MVP vs. Jack Swagger & Dolph Ziggler.  Swagger & Ziggler should form a permanent team, they both have amateur backgrounds, their personalities mesh, and they're not really doing anything anyway, so why not?   Decent enough match, Ziggler picks up the win and poses atop a ladder after the match with the MITB briefcase in his hands... enjoy it for now Dolphy Z, because you won't get nearly that close next Sunday.

Tiffany & Beth Phoenix vs. Michelle McCool & Layla up next, and now the Mean Girls have found their new ridiculous insult, calling Beth Phoenix a man.  Sigh.  Good guys win, Vickie Guerrero announces after the match that she will face Beth Phoenix next week, one-on-one... oh yeah, I'm sure there won't be any shenanigans there.

Last week, Edge was the guest in the Highlight Reel, this week Chris Jericho (w/ Wade Barrett) is the guest in the Cutting Edge!  I think these guys realized how the "SPEAR, SPEAR, SPEAR!" thing wasn't really the kind of hype worthy of a WrestleMania main event and have made adjustments in the last week or so to make things better.  Focusing on Edge's injury and how the match will be about more than just one move is the kind of thing Jericho needed to get some of the momentum in his favor.  The crowd is still excited to chant "SPEAR!" which is fine since it's caught on, and they went nuts when Edge hit Barrett with it, but I'm glad they've dialed it down a bit.

R-Truth & John Morrison vs. The Hart Dynasty was criminally short considering the talent in the ring, but it continued to build Truth & Wisdom as Tag Team Title contenders.  Still not happy with how the Harts are being used though.

Rey Mysterio vs. Luke Gallows up next and the stakes were high for this one.  Rey lost in this one, which means if he loses at WrestleMania, he must join the Straight Edge Society!  As hilarious as that is, I would've much rather have seen a street fight between Punk and Rey.  Good match though, Rey and Gallows have good in-ring chemistry, and I'd like to see Gallows get more singles action, he is an underrated talent.  And even without the street fight stipulation, I'm sure Rey and Gallows will tear the house down next Sunday.

Main Event time! The Undertaker vs. Drew McIntyre, excuse me, the undefeated* Drew McIntyre.  It's the battle of guys with really long entrances, add Randy Orton in this match and the entrances would be longer than the actual show.  It's a nice treat to see The Undertaker actually wrestle on Smackdown, I feel like it's been awhile.  Also a nice treat for McIntyre, getting a chance to step in the ring with a living legend, and even though it was a definitive loss, just being in the ring with the Deadman makes you a bigger star than you were before you came in.  Still not sold on McIntyre, but if this loss gets erased from his record, and they keep playing him up as the anti-Goldberg, I may just come around.

Another great episode of Smackdown with phenomenal hype for WrestleMania.  If you're not excited for WrestleMania after this build, then I have to wonder if you're actually a wrestling fan.  Next Sunday cannot get here soon enough.

WWE NXT Thoughts - March 16, 2010

Yeah, I'm a little late here, like I mentioned on this week's Opening Bell Extra, things have been crazy busy for me lately and I haven't been able to keep up with wrestling as much as I'd like.  Going to catch up today though, so be on the lookout for a Smackdown review later on as well.

Starting things off with CM Punk?  That's a fine way to begin any show.  Punk and his rookie Darren Young were in tag action against Matt Hardy & Justin Gabriel.  Before the match began, NXT host, Matt Striker, announced that in two weeks, the NXT Pros will do the first round of voting to see which Rookies will advance.  I suppose this means some Rookies will be booted off the show after all?  Looks like WWE finally settled on a format to the show.  Also, they've added the Rookies' "records" to their entrances, so it looks like wins and losses will be taken into consideration for the "voting."  

Okay, so as for the match, this was a solid, long match that had the LA crowd into it the entire time.  Everyone looked good in here, and I become a bigger fan of Justin Gabriel every time I see him.  I know we're only a few weeks in, but I think Justin Gabriel, Wade Barrett, David Otunga and Daniel Bryan are going to wind up as our final four, if WWE does indeed go with the elimination route.  Punk and Hardy were a lot of fun against each other, I still think WWE missed a huge opportunity to put these two in a feud after Punk sent Jeff Hardy packing.  Punk stole one and the Straight Edge Society mauled Hardy, Gabriel AND Darren Young after the match.  Yeah, Darren Young will have his head shaved by the end of NXT.

Our next match was an eyebrow-raiser, Daniel Bryan vs. The Great Khali?  Okay, I get it, The Miz wants to throw Bryan to the wolves, but what the hell does The Great Khali have to do with NXT?  Bryan looked impressive trying to chop down Khali, but ultimately came up short after a Punjabi Plunge.  And while The Miz wasn't out there for his rookie, his tag team partner, The Big Show, was to finish off Bryan with a chokeslam.  I see what they're doing here, but I hope it goes somewhere soon.

Michael Tarver vs. Heath Slater was up next, and I have no idea how they expect the crowd to react to Tarver when he's coming to the ring to Carlito's painfully stale theme music.  Impressive corkscrew dive to the outside from Heath Slater, but that's about all there was to this match.  Slater picked up the victory, Tarver got revenge with a post-match beatdown, and yeah... that was it.

Main Event time!  Wade Barrett w/Chris Jericho vs. Skip Sheffield w/William Regal.  This one was tough to get into since the crowd had no idea who to cheer for, both guys are heels and their Pros are two of the most hated villains in the company.  Jericho was great at ringside (as always), the match itself was fine, but there really wasn't anything to get excited about. 

The ratings for NXT took another big hit this week, which is a damn shame, but you can't say WWE didn't earn it by putting on a fairly boring show.  The opening tag match was fun, but after that, you could've turned the show off and you wouldn't have missed a thing.  If WWE wants this unique concept to stick around, they've gotta do more than this.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Opening Bell Extra: TNA DOA on Monday?

Opening Bell Extra returns this week with Razor’s thoughts on TNA’s ratings decrease since moving to Monday nights.

MP3 version -  Right click on the Audio MP3 image and "save link as." (link has been fixed)

iTunes - clicking this link will open your iTunes.

Theme song: "Believe" by Grasp Infinity