Wednesday, December 28, 2011

You Wanted the Best in the World, You Got the Best in the World

I love the band KISS. Sure, they're pretty terrible musicians, Gene Simmons is an unlikable douchebag and they're the biggest product whores in the history of entertainment, but they're also one of the best live bands I've ever seen. Despite line-up changes, endless gimmicks, and again, the fact that they're not very good, they've managed to remain a major act for nearly 40 years and are scheduled to put out their 20th album in early 2012.

But the band was not an overnight success. Three albums into their career, they were on the verge of losing their record deal, but at the same time, they were selling lots of tickets. Why were people paying money to see them perform live if they weren't throwing down a couple bucks for a record, even the record with the iconic "Rock and Roll All Nite" on it? Simple, their albums were a bit lifeless but their concerts were (and continue to be) amazing.

So the band released Alive, a double live album and the general public finally got a taste of what they were missing when they didn't go to the KISS show. Here we are now, 35 year, millions of records, movies, and condoms later and there's not a man, woman or child in the civilized world that hasn't seen that makeup.

It makes me think about all this uproar over CM Punk's ratings (or lack thereof) on last week's Raw. Ignoring the fact that it was a holiday week when most networks don't even bother running new programming, let's just accept for the sake of argument that Punk isn't getting the numbers on TV. Well, you wouldn't know it if you were just paying attention to live crowds, who have been going batshit insane for Punk since July.

So why isn't it reflected in the ratings? Because overnight successes are rare and when WWE tries to force it, it usually backfires. Steve Austin was no overnight success, he didn't even wrestle at the SummerSlam following his King of the Ring victory (unless you count a Free For All match against Yokozuna) and his first WWE Title reign didn't happen until almost two years later. Obviously wrestling moves much faster now than it did then, but CM Punk isn't going to turn ratings around all by himself in a month, especially with WWE's chaotic booking.

But he is resonating with the audience, judging from reaction alone, he's probably the #1 active wrestler in the company and his performances are consistently stellar. As long as WWE continues to let him do his thing and starts plastering his face on every piece of merchandise they sell, it should translate to ratings success. Just please, no CM Punk coffins.

Thanks to Andrew Southern for the graphic and Boss Lady Rae for letting me borrow him. Now, in the spirit of KISS, let's sell some shit!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Poll: Old School?

This week's poll comes from my good buddy, Jason Mann - what constitutes "old school" wrestling? How recent can you get and still remain "old school," and if you think it's after 2000, you're a jerkface. Vote in the poll to your right and feel free to discuss it in the comments section. Also, we're currently discussing it on Twitter.

Have a suggestion for a future poll? Tell me on Twitter.

WWE Raw - December 26, 2011

The last Raw of the year is usually uneventful. But who can forget last year's final Raw, featuring CM Punk responding to John Cena spilling his diet soda by taking over as the leader of Nexus? Everyone. Everyone can forget that. I think it all worked out for the better, but CM Punk's 2011 did start off a bit slow thanks to that. Yeah, he got some good matches out of Randy Orton (miracle worker), but was it worth it just to sell a couple Nexus shirts?

And of course, the final Raw of 2009 featured Timbaland! YEAH! And The Jericho Embargo, with Jericho being forced out of Raw after JeriShow lost the tag titles to DX. I honestly don't remember what that bit led to.

Anyway, my point is, I didn't go into last night's Raw with many expectations. With the early promise of a WWE Title match next week and the confirmation that "It Begins" will in fact, begin next week, that was pretty much confirmed. But that doesn't mean there wasn't fun to be had. Let's take a look at the show through the lens of the patented WOO/BOO! format.


Someone's been watching All Japan tapes!
Okay, I have to admit it, Executive Vice President of Talent Relations, Interim Raw General Manager and Catering Coordinator John Laurinaitis is really starting to grow on me as a character. I don't see much of a point in rehashing Austin vs. McMahon (or Cena vs. Bischoff or Sgt. Slaugter vs. DX or everyone employed by TNA vs. everyone else employed by TNA), but Punk and Laurinaitis are having fun out there, which I enjoy. Johnny Ace wearing a CM Punk t-shirt over a full suit and doing Punk's whole entrance bit was absolutely hysterical. I groaned a little when Mr. Excitement set up the Gauntlet match (it's a poor man's handicap match), but it was a good way to showcase Punk for his hometown crowd. Too bad the ratings tanked last week for Punk, causing WWE to lose faith in him, otherwise, he probably would've had six matches.

It's The goddamn Undertaker, people
Regardless of who it's for, those videos seriously creep me out. I don't care what you do, putting someone in a corner with fast, constant cuts is terrifying. Let's say you have a grown man in a kangaroo suit with a small dog in his pouch, it would be funny if he were facing you, but turn him around and stick him in a corner? BLAIR WITCH! RUN!

Booker T & Cody Rhodes had a hell of a match. I'm sure a lot of folks are mad that Booker picked up a clean, definitive win, but I don't see the harm. Booker looked fantastic, the guy seriously hasn't aged a day and he deserved a win after the hell Cody has given him. I thought this feud didn't have the legs to keep going, but if Booker keeps up with these kind of performances (and he doesn't keep getting jumped before every match they have), I think they could keep this fun after all. It should at least keep us entertained until Goldust swoops in to save his friend and set up a WrestleMania match with his brother. Right?

Through Hellfire and Brimstone, it's LIL JIMMY!
Honestly, this segment was in BOO! territory until R-Truth returned. John Cena's Chicago history lesson was awkward and Miz's interruption was a rare miss for the Most Must-See WWE Champion in History. Obviously they were trying to tease Kane throughout the night, but shoehorning John Cena into The Miz and R-Truth's issues just didn't work. But Truth's beatdown was glorious and him singing (screaming) "Auld Lang Syne" was absolutely marvelous. "Auld acquaintance gon' get got," thankfully, Truth isn't dropping the crazy shtick.

The reaction to Truth vs. Miz is why WWE doesn't do nuance though. "Who's the heel?!" was the question all throughout the Twitterverse, but does it matter? They're two big time Superstars who always get a big reaction, they'll be fine. Plus, it doesn't hurt that their match will probably happen at the Royal Rumble, when it's totally cool to do "experimental" stuff anyway.

CM Punk Needs Food Badly
The Gauntlet match turned out to be a lot of fun! Punk vs. Jack Swagger was solid (I still have no idea why they don't do more with Swaggie) and the attempted Vader Bomb-to-GTS was awesome, wish it would've connected, but a swift kick to the skull works too.

CM Punk vs. Dolph Ziggler was good and I thought they were holding back for Punk vs. Henry, but no, they were holding back for Punk vs. Ziggler next week with the WWE Title on the line! These two had an awesome match a few weeks ago, now add in the first WWE Title match of 2012 and I think we're in store for something special. Remember how Morrison and Miz tore the house down for the first match of 2011? I suspect we'll see something even better next week.

Ziggler is really turning into something special, even if his celebration was bordering on Santino levels of ridiculousness, but I'll forgive him as long as he keeps getting Mr. Perfect hair.

Come to the Dark Side, Skywalker Cena
Kane's promo last night was perhaps a bit (a lot) over the top, but I kinda loved it. Kane being the Emperor Palpatine to John Cena's Skywalker is a great idea and it all ties many threads together. It works for Cena's "Rise Above Hate" gimmick, the "will he or won't he?" heel turn, and it's a great direction for Kane. Kane's "tormented past" is often referenced, but it never really means anything in his stories other than "I'M MEAN! RAWR!!!" Here, he becomes the embodiment of hate in WWE, don't rise above it... embrace it! It's a bit simplistic, but perhaps a character like Kane should be simple. When WWE tries to add layers to Kane, we get things like Katie Vick and Edge throwing BW3's at Paul Bearer. "THE SPICY GARLIC BURNS MY EYES!"

Oh and Kane throwing up a literal firewall to stop Cena? Badass! Sorcery will always get a WOO! from me.


You Know It... for about 25 seconds
You could argue that Zack Ryder is the most popular Superstar with WWE crowds right now, his reactions are second only to Punk's, so why did they stick him in a throwaway match with Eve against Tyson Kidd & Natalya? Don't get me wrong, I liked mixed tag matches and we haven't seen one in awhile, but this was a waste for all talents involved. A little build up (even just an argument backstage) would've gone a long way here, certainly more than John Cena's pep talk. And Tyson Kidd looks weird with hair!

David Cowabunga doesn't get to sue the Big Show
Big Show's assault on David Otunga was completely uncalled for. It was vicious, brutal and unfair, David Otunga isn't a wrestler! Have you seen him wrestle? Clearly he doesn't deserve this kind of attack! To avoid an expensive lawsuit, Johnny Ace instead set up a match where Big Show had one hand tied behind his back, which I don't think makes him less dangerous. There wasn't much of a match since Mark Henry interfered early and Daniel Bryan made the save, but there wasn't much to this. I appreciate Henry still being presented as dangerous, despite his injury though and I assume we'll get some sort of tag match on Smackdown... HOLLA!

Alberto Del Rio robs a disabled pimp
What the hell was Del Rio rolling around in, Huggy Bear's wheelchair? Obviously I don't want to see someone get injured, but I think some time off is the best thing that could've happened to Del Rio right now. In the span of a year, he's gone from the hottest new property in WWE to someone I'm totally bored with. He's fallen into that limbo that Sheamus did last year and needs a recharge, so hopefully the time off will help.


Yeah, there wasn't anything particularly memorable and it was a placeholder show for what is sure to be a big one next week, but it was harmless and enjoyable. It flew by and we got a couple great matches thanks to Booker vs. Cody and the Gauntlet. I don't think ending a show on a downer note like "CENA SUCKS!" was such a great idea, but I guess CM Punk should just be a better draw and he'll get to close shows more often. I kid, I kid!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas Eve-Eve!

"He's not even from the North Pole!"

And just think, thanks to DiBiase's promo, this match basically served as hype for the arrival of Steve Austin.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

CM Punk is your Superstar of the Year

Well, that was easy:

CM Punk - 65%
Mark Henry - 10%
The Rock - 8%
John Cena - 6%
The Miz - 5%
Other - 4%
Alberto Del Rio - 2%
R-Truth - 0%

Hardly surprising, but I'm a bit bummed out Mark Henry didn't at least put up a fight. Punk is probably my personal pick and he was WWE's as well, but c'mon, Mark Henry was awesome! But Punk has the internet firmly on his side, so that obviously helped... and yeah, he kicked serious ass and had some incredible moments this year.

Way Too Early - Ho Ho Horrible edition

Santa With Muscles trailer - Merry Happy!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Way Too Early

"When the WWE Universe is ashes, you have my permission to die."

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Pin-Up Strong

Seen this?

That would be The Glamazon's face after getting in the ring with Alicia Fox. Apparently, Alicia's leg drop ended up being more of a boot drop, right on Beth's entire cheekbone.

I generally avoid saying things like "fire him" or "this person is a bad wrestler," because I find it disrespectful. I might say something like "Mason Ryan bores me," but I wouldn't say he's terrible in the ring. I don't know the nuances that went into the plotting of the match, how WWE wants him to perform, etc.

But seriously, Alicia Fox has no business being in a wrestling ring. I'm not saying they should fire her, she's got a great look and I loved her as DJ Gabriel's perky dance partner, but a wrestler, she is not. On numerous occasions, she's almost severely injured herself or someone else and last night shows there hasn't been any sort of improvement. It's not entirely her fault either, WWE can't decide if they want her to wrestle or not and the Divas are lucky to get two minutes of ring time a week anyway, so it's not like there's a lot of chance to improve. Still, she's going to seriously hurt someone and she needs to be removed from in-ring action before that happens.

Monday, December 19, 2011

WWE Raw - December 19, 2011

Coming off a rock solid TLC PPV, it's the final Raw before Christmas. Dear Santa, please give me a show worth live blogging, I have to get up early tomorrow. Twitter, refresh, etc.

We kick things off with CM Punk announcing the winner of last night's main event, which coincidentally was CM Punk! Punk takes a few jabs at Johnny Ace and now introduces us to the winner of the United States Championship match, the new champion, Zack Ryder! Wow, Punk and Ryder being all buddy buddy? Someone's been reading my WWE '12 story!

But just to make this even more smarktastic, let's bring out the NEW World Heavyweight Champion, Daniel Bryan! I smell a six-man tag match brewing. Also, if you're having trouble walking around right now, it's because all the smarks just made the floor really sticky. Yes, that's an ejaculation joke, leave me alone, it's almost Christmas break, I'm not above working blue when I'm feeling a little lazy.

Punk hands the mic over to Zack Ryder, who does his thing (WWWYKI) really quick, then a hand off to MY BOI D-BRY! Bryan talks about how CM Punk was never supposed to be WWE Champion, but that he was never even supposed to be in WWE. Hey, five years ago I would've said the same thing. No offense to MY BOI D-BRY!

The Miz, Dolph Ziggler & Alberto Del Rio make their way onto the stage and it looks like we're going to see absolute bedlam! Or, if Taz is doing commentary, "pander-monium." Zack Ryder does his somersault plancha right on Ziggler's head and holy shit, it's NASTY~!!!! Remember Edge's debut in 1998 when he almost killed that one guy in Los Boriquas? Yeah, it was just like that... gross.

I hope Ziggler's okay, especially since he's going to be in that six-man tag match I mentioned earlier. Should be an awesome match, as long as Ryder doesn't do that move again, someone get the heating pad!

And just when things were starting off so well, our opening contest is a Randy Orton match. Blurg. To make matters worse, it's a match you may have just paid $50 for, a rematch against Wade Barrett. Just so we're clear, I did not pay $50 for that match, I deliberately subtract $5 from my cable bill every month I order a PPV with an Orton match on it. I'm building up quite a negative balance at this point, but when I meet Orton, I'll make him float me the money. It's only right if he pays me back for the hours of my life I've lost to Zee Vipah.

The fact that I'm talking about my cable bill should probably say something about this match. No offense to Wade or anything, but plenty of offense to Randall. Luckily, just as Randy is going to "that place" (seriously, where the hell is this place?), Barrett jams a thumb in his eye and takes a DQ loss. Wade will shrug it off, stabbing Orton in the eye is totally worth the L. After the match, Barrett Wastelands Orton through a table. I approve! Do it again!

Beth Phoenix vs. Alicia Fox... and wow, what a trainwreck. Fox beats Beth in seconds and this is how desperate WWE is for female competitors. Alicia Fox wishes everyone a "FOOOOOOOOOOOOOOXAY HOLIDAY" and I have no idea why they thought Philly would be a good place to do this as she gets booed out of the building. Awful, awful, awful.

Sheamus vs. Jinder Mahal up next and in two segments, WWE is highlighting the two least interesting people on the roster, Fox and Mahal. I rarely like to outright badmouth performers, but Fox is dangerous and Mahal is the traditional "guy on Smackdown who will never go anywhere" (ala Sylvan Grenier, Mordecai and Kizarny) and has overstayed his welcome. Another glorified squash for Sheamus that does nothing for anyone involved.

WOW WOWB WIK WIK WIK WIK WIK WOWRB WOB WOK WOK WOK! Okay, Jesus Christ, I'll order the WWE Network, just stop yelling at me in binary.

Hey guys, it's John Cena, I almost didn't recognize him after he's been gone for so long, considering he missed the first PPV he was eligible first in over eight years. Cena's willing to let bygones be bygones with Kane if he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. There's something you don't see in wrestling very often, "Hey, you wanted to make a statement? That's kewl, just don't do it again."

Ah, but John Cena's got a much bigger problem right now, MARK HENRY! Philly welcomes him with a "SEXUAL CHOCOLATE!" chant, must be some commuters from Hersey, and Henry tells Cena he would've murderlized him last week if Kane hadn't got to him first.

Oh no, they said his name three times, through hellfire and brimstone, it's KANE! Cena hits a big clothesline, sending Kane over the top rope, but he lands on his feet old school style. Kane hits a couple of those awesome throat thrust chops and then holds Cena down on the announce table with his hand over his mouth. You know that scene in I Am Legend when Will Smith has to kill the dog? (spoiler alert), it was kinda like that. Awesome visual with Cena bleeding from the mouth, looking like his lips were ripped off, but why did Kane stop there? He should've put him through the damn table!

What happens when you put six of the hottest stars in the company in one match? An Usos match on Raw. Jimmy & Jey up against Primo & Epico and kudos once again to WWE at least trying to do something with the tag division. Primo & Epico pick up the win in a short, but decent match, and as long as they keep it up, things could get interesting. I'm not gonna hold my breath just yet though.

Backstage, we're starting Royal Rumble hype with Cody Rhodes. Loving it, I'm always all for random interviews with various guys who want to win the Rumble. Santino makes an appearance with his Cobra in a box... and he calls Cody "Coby," which is hilarious.

Santino Marella vs. Coby Rhodes is conveniently our next match too, and seriously, Cody's new theme music is so awesome. Sure, it's a total Gravity Kills ripoff, but it's totally badass. Cody picks up an easy win, but sadly he doesn't use that NASTY knee to the face that he busted out last night.

Alrighty kids, I'm tapping out on the live blog tonight. I'll finish up tomorrow morning, but I'm going to quit while I'm ahead. I'm going to go ahead an make an easy prediction for the main event though: fun.

Oh and look, it's starting now. Like I said, it's gonna be fun... I don't know if anything else will even be necessary to say. Good Raw showcasing a lot of new faces too, I'm pleased with tonight's show. Til tomorrow, my friends


***UPDATE - December 20***

And we're back. I told you that match was gonna be fun. Do I even need to write anything up? It was a standard WWE "here's a six-man tag match, enjoy" that they do so well. These matches are rarely something you'll look back on in a year and say "remember that awesome six-man tag?" but thanks to the participants, you just might with this one.

I LOVED the entrance through the crowd stuff, Zack Ryder should keep doing that since he uses the Flip camera when he comes to the ring anyway. Seems like an easy way to get him to interact with the crowd and I think that's his big selling point, the audience feels more responsible for his push than most guys on the roster, so it would give off a great "people's champ" vibe... even if no one can ever use that nickname ever again, thanks Rock!

Also love that is was Daniel Bryan who picked up the win by making Alberto Del Rio tap out. Del Rio's been a thorn in D-Bry's side for awhile and the champ needed to make a big statement that he's legit after the MITB cash-in. I can't think of anything more definitive than that and if they keep it up, my worries about Bryan's reign should subside.

The whole post-match celebration was fun too, it really got you thinking that Punk's whole "change" thing might be true and WWE could be moving in a different direction. When's the last time every champion in WWE was an internet favorite? Punk and Bryan holding the big belts at the same time is something I never thought I'd see and I'm just going to sit back and enjoy this as long as I can.

Unfortunately, Michael Cole made that difficult by going completely over the top with his absurdity, which is a shame because he was fairly tolerable throughout the previous parts of the show... I guess he was resting up. My buddy Scotty Avylla made a great point that if Lawler wasn't in autopilot half the time, he could balance Cole out, but I thought Lawler did a fairly decent job during the main event. Perhaps I just have a soft spot for the King though.

Overall, an incredibly refreshing Raw. Lots of new(er) names were featured all over the place, the champs looked awesome and this Kane stuff is the most intriguing thing they've done with John Cena in awhile. Really fun show and worth checking out if it's sitting on your DVR.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

WWE TLC 2011

Ah what the hell, let's live blog a PPV. Refresh your page for ongoing coverage and follow me on Twitter for my stream of consciousness.

And we're kicking things off with Dolph Ziggler vs. Zack Ryder with the United States Championship on the line! I'm sure many folks want to see Ryder pick up the win tonight, but I really think he has the momentum to keep this going to WrestleMania. I could use the extra three months to promote the #3 most downloaded story on WWE '12, Zack Ryder vs. The USA!

Also, I love, love, LOVE what this is all doing for the United States Title. Ziggler's the longest-reigning champion in WWE, Ryder is a red hot challenger and he doesn't just want to beat up Dolph Ziggler, he wants to win the US Title. When's the last time they really pushed a secondary title as a prize that someone really, really wanted?

Crowd is electric for this one too, the perfect choice for the opener. Ryder's no slouch in the ring either, I think people forgot how good he was in ECW, but Dolph Ziggler is killing it right now. The guy is an artist and the ring canvas is his... well, canvas. Showing shades of Scott Steiner now, he's putting his toes under Ryder's back and is doing sit-ups! Ultra Dick Move!

Ziggler's showboating didn't save him from the Broski Boot though! Vickie saved the US Title by putting Ziggler's foot on the ropes, but there's the ref with THE EJECTION! I love me a manager ejection.

Fantastic back and forth action now, BEAUTIFUL dropkick from Ziggler, a true HOLY SHIT! moment with Ryder hitting a Super Hurricanrana - RYDERCANRANA! - ROUGH RYDER NOW! ONE... TWO... THREE! NEW CHAMPION! I was still hoping for a WrestleMania win, but a HELL of a match and if anyone in WWE deserves this moment right now, it's Zack Ryder. He earned it. His dad going nuts at ringside was really sweet.

Impromptu Tag Team Title match now with Air Boom defending against Primo & Epico. Man, I really haven't been watching Smackdown... I honestly didn't know Primo still worked for WWE, nor did I know Epico existed.

And even though I have no idea what the background is to this match, it's going rather well. Team-O is pretty good and WWE needs more "real" teams anyway, so I'm cool with it. And as of 8:29 pm, Primo has a PPV payday and John Cena doesn't. Let that sink in for a minute.

Fun back and forth action all over the place, Bourne hits a dive to the outside, Kofi connects with Trouble in Paradise and Air Boom successfully defends. A rock solid match and hopefully it's leading to more good news for the tag division.

Backstage, casual racism with Teddy Long & Hornswoggle. You know that part in Cee-Lo Green's "Fuck You" when he cries "WHYYYYYYYY?!" over and over again? This segment was like that. Also, it was like the part where he says "fuck you."

Randy Orton vs. Wade Barrett up next in a Tables Match, but on this PPV, you can just call it a T-Match. Let's go Barrett!!!

Sorry, stepped away for a minute to make horrible jokes on Twitter. Returning to the live blog now to Barrett beating the hell out of Orton. Sadly, Wasteland off the apron through a table outside did not connect, but maybe he can try it again off the top of the TitanTron. Instead, Barrett's going for a move off the top, but Orton hits the RKO through the table for the win. Son of a bitch! C'mon Wade, you don't tug on Superman's cape, you don't kick to Hester and you certainly don't dive off the top rope at Randy stupid Orton. As always, Orton gets lucky and no one cares... the Barrett Barrage will recover!

Backstage, a five minute segment with Teddy Long (cleaning up tables takes awhile) just to set up Sheamus vs. Jack Swagger. Sigh, it's like asking Santa for an iPad and getting an eyeTAB.

Speaking of things that weren't on my Christmas list, Kelly Kelly vs. Beth Phoenix for the Divas Championship now. Surely there are other women for title matches, right? If not, HIRE SOME.

Nice little exchange with Beth missing a leg drop off the top, Kelly almost landing on her head when Beth blocks the Rocker Dropper (I'm old school), and Kelly reversing the Glam Slam into the victory roll. That ain't stopping the Glamazon this time though, Beth kicks out and reverses a hurricanrana into the Alley-Oop (old school x2!) for the win. Blah match, but a good ending. Get Beth some real competition now.

It's on, it's off, it's on, it's off, it's on! Booker T vs. Cody Rhodes is happening... just kidding, it's off. Cody attacks Booker before the match and Booker is so hurt, he walks to the back on his own. LAME!

Just shit or get off the pot with this feud already. Better yet, bring Goldust back to save Booker and let the Rhodes Bros. go at it at WrestleMania.

And it's time for what is bound to be a match so ugly, you're going to need to ice your knees when it's over, Triple H vs. Kevin Nash in a "Sledgehammer Ladder Match." I prefer "Sledgeladder Match," but if we want to be precise, it's a Stairway to Hell match. Speaking of Stairway to Hell, Justin Credible was kind of a Kliq member too, right? Maybe he'll do a run-in here? Would it be anymore out of place than this match even happening in the year 2011?

So far, the match is exactly what you'd expect: an ad for Nuprin (little, yellow, different) with the most melodramatic commentary in WWE history. "THEY WERE BEST FRIENDS, KING! IT'S SO SAD!" But, Triple H busting out a figure four ladder lock and the old HHH Irish-whip-into-the-corner-flippity-doo were both really cool.

JR coined the phrase "bowling shoe ugly" for this one and what makes it even worse is the fact that it's just not that exciting. I expected these guys to at least punch the shit out of each other since they're best buddies and all, but so far, it's all been very delicate.

Of course, I say that and Kevin Nash then falls off the top of a ladder through a table. There's something you haven't seen in an ever. Triple H gets the sledge and goes mildly ballistic. Kevin Nash falls out of the Pedigree (literally), Triple H hits it successfully the second time, then tells Nash to suck it and hits him in the face with the sledge for the win. Five bucks says Triple H thinks the "4-Life?/SUCK IT!" moment was the "I'm sorry, I love you" of 2011. Oh, I kid The Game... but seriously, that match was the wrestling equivalent of standing in the shower and waiting for hot water to come on.

Sheamus vs. Jack Swagger is the "cool down" match for Kevin Nash vs. Triple H... unfortunately, the entire PPV has been a cool down match after the opener. For the life of me, I can't figure out why this match is on the show. Don't get me wrong, I love Sheamus and Swagger, and I know Sheamus is hot right now, but who wants to see this on PPV? This could be a really fun Smackdown match, even Hour 1 main event worthy, but on PPV? People are paying $50 to watch this. People in the crowd paid hundreds of bucks for a couple decent seats to watch a glorified squash. Why bother?

Finally, something good, Big Show vs. Mark Henry in a chairs match, where chairs aren't just legal, they're ALLOWED! Big Show throws dozens of chairs into the ring, ECW style, Mark Henry walks out of this chairs match because he's getting too old for this sit, but instead he gets some NASTY! shots across the back. But hey Big Show, if you're going to dish it out, you better be ready to take it because somebody's gonna git it. Mark Henry is DESTROYING Big Show's back with steel chairs, but Big Show punches him right through the chair, NEW CHAMPION?!

The fuck?! NO! NO! NO! NO! I love ya Big Show, but Mark Henry needed to stay unstoppable through WrestleMania! Oh good, Mark Henry's gonna Hall of Pain his ass! And holy shit, DANIEL BRYAN'S CASHING IN! ONE-TWO-THREE! NEW CHAMPION AGAIN?! But dude... your first defense is gonna be against the Big Show, good luck with that.

I'm kinda split on this. I'm getting a little tired of the MITB cliché cash-in, Daniel Bryan was the perfect guy to hold off until WrestleMania, and now he has to turn, right? Bryan said the only reason he tried to cash-in on Henry was because Henry did him wrong and he wanted revenge, but then he screwed The Big Show instead, that's not cool. On the other hand, DANIEL BRYAN IS WORLD CHAMPION, which makes all other arguments invalid. I'm nervous about it, but c'mon, Bryan's World Champ, I gotta just shut up and smile tonight.

Oh look, Cody Rhodes vs. Booker T is happening in a special "Tables, Ladders and Blue Balls" match. Fun match, probably would've been a lot more fun without all the silly stuff earlier, but I guess they're going to keep it going? Maybe not, after that NASTY!! knee to the face, I don't know if Booker will ever want to get back in the ring. Holy shit, forget Cross Rhodes, Cody, that's your new finisher. Cody vs. Bryan, WrestleMania main event, make that happen.

Main Event time! CM Punk vs. The Miz vs. Alberto Del Rio in a TLC match for the WWE Championship. Thankfully, the title is hanging above the ring, so it is not pinfall/submission like I thought Cole said on Monday.

Del Rio and Miz wisely teaming up, but of course that doesn't last long. NASTY back suplex on an open chair by Miz on Punk. And now we enter the part of the review where these matches become really hard to write about without being a play-by-play guy. Bodies fly everywhere, carnage ensues, guys on the ground for a long time, Punk gets handcuffed to a ladder. Wait, what?

Yep, Ricardo Rodriguez handcuffed CM Punk to a ladder, pretty slick little moment and Punk manages to free himself and save the WWE Title by breaking the ladder with his educated feet. LIKE A BOSS.

Del Rio is on the outside now after his ding-ding got dropped on the top rope, Ricardo Rodriguez trying to get the belt for Del Rio, and then Miz & Punk tip him off the ladder through a table outside the ring. Yeah, a "HOLY SHIT!" chant is permitted after that.

But Miz is a crafty bastard and handcuffs CM Punk to the middle rope! How does Punk respond? HE TAKES THE ROPE OFF! Say it with me now, "LIKE A BOSS!"

Three man scramble up two ladders, Punk almost gets it, Miz pulls him down, GTS for his troubles! PUNK RETAINS with handcuffs still on! What a fun main event.

Well... that was an interesting night. First off, when's the last time John Cena was healthy and didn't make a single appearance on a PPV? 2003? Crazy. Also, I'm a little surprised Kane didn't come out during or after the main event and kill everyone, but I guess he's got his sights specifically on Cena right now. I'm cool with that.

Now, as for the PPV, it was definitely worth watching. Ryder & Ziggler tore the house down in the opener, Daniel Bryan won his first World Title (even if I'm a little iffy on it... poor Mark Henry... poor Big Show), and the main event was a blast.

On the other hand, Triple H vs. Kevin Nash was like season two of Glee: an overhyped vanity project. Randy Orton had no business beating Wade Barrett, there was quite a bit of filler, some terrible backstage segments (even if they were just to clean up the ringside area), and even though Cody Rhodes is a Superstar, the evening-long "will they or won't they" bullshit was worse than nine seasons of wondering if Mulder and Scully were gonna do it.

Final score for TLC 2011: FanMail. A few hits, but it wasn't CrazySexyCool.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Kick-Out!! featured by THQ!

This is huge, huge news. Today, we've been featured on THQ's website for my WWE '12 storyline I created featuring Zack Ryder!

Check out the full article here"
This storyline was created by WWE Games community member, "Razor," who owns and operates the blog "" He's been running the site for years out of his love for sports entertainment, and has created a fantastic storyline for all of you to enjoy. Here's his summary:

"Zack Ryder is awesome. He's a WWE Superstar, hangs out with Snooki and spikes his hair. There's just one thing that continues to elude him: the WWE United States Championship held by the devious Dolph Ziggler. When Ryder finally gets his wish, a shot at the title, he finds out there's just one small catch thanks to Ziggler's evil legal counsel, David Otunga: he has to beat every former United States Champion thrown his way. Join Zack Ryder and his BB4E (Best Broski 4-Ever), Santino Marella, on a quest fit for a true champion. Can Zack topple the evil ex-champions and bring the US Title home to the L-I? Play "Zack Ryder vs. The US" (available now on Xbox Live) to find out!"
A huge thanks to THQ's own Marcus Stephenson for setting it all up. Hell of a guy and a longtime friend of the site... I'm so thankful to all the great guys over there for this. How freaking awesome is this?!

Zack Ryder has to play it now, right? We have the official seal of approval!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Poll: Superstar of the Year

Hey, haven't done one of these in awhile. But since I'm aiming for a 2012 relaunch of Kick-Out!!, I wanted to start slowly reintroducing some of my favorite features that have gone by the wayside.

Today's poll is simple enough, who do you think is Superstar of the Year? Don't see your favorite? Vote "other" and tell us who it is in the comments section. Here are my list of nominees:

CM Punk - Obviously, he was the most talked about Superstar of the year.
Mark Henry - 15 years to get this point and Henry undoubtedly has made the most of it. He's been undeniably awesome.
The Rock - Perhaps a controversial pick, but he almost single-handedly sold WrestleMania without even wrestling. Then he actually wrestled at Survivor Series and tore the house down.
John Cena - Because he's John Cena, he's still the top dog.
Alberto Del Rio - Royal Rumble, a WrestleMania main event, two-time WWE Champion, etc.
The Miz - He beat John Cena at WrestleMania. I don't give a shit how he did it, he did it.
R-Truth - Seriously. Who provided more pure entertainment this year than R-Truth?

Get voting!

Monday, December 12, 2011

WWE Raw - December 12, 2011

Hey, it's a three-hour Slammy Awards edition of Monday Night Raw, I have to live blog, right?! Well... at least for part of the show. Let's have some fun.

Raw kicks off with Booker T & Hornswoggle presenting the "Tell Me I Didn't Just See That" award. Hornswoggle looks like C. Thomas Howell in Soul Man and is somehow even more offensive. Your nominees for this award include: JR's funky dance moves, Santino almost winning the Royal Rumble, The Miz impersonating The Rock and R-Truth just being R-Truth. Your winner?


Although R-Truth totally deserved it, it's about time JR got something for his troubles this year. And his acceptance speech includes the word "jiggy," so it's totally worth it. Unfortunately, it looks like this is a vehicle to continue his rivalry with Michael Cole. And now Booker T is suggesting a "rap off" between the two. Oh for crissakes. "Rap off?" WWE writers, you're so white.

So yeah, it's as bad as it sounds and possibly worse. Then JR does a Spinaroonie, which I will forever refer to as the Beef Jerkaroonie. Try JR's beef jerky sometime, it's delicious... even if "try JR's beef jerky" sounds slightly suspect. Aaaaaaaanyhoo, JR wins the segment for having a great sense of humor, but we lost 18 minutes of our lives watching that. When you're laying on your deathbed, think of what you could've done with that time. You could've watched a good portion of your favorite sitcom episode. You could've ate a delicious cheese spread. You could've masturbated... twice. Sorry buddy.

Now Mick Foley & Ted DiBiase (the good one), are out to present the Holy $#!@ Moment of the Year. By the way $#!@ stands for shit. C'mon, you got Mick Foley and The Million Dollar Man in the same building and you don't open with them?! Anyway, our nominees include Sheamus murdering Sin Cara, Evan Bourne hitting the SSP off a ladder outside, Mark Henry's ring imploding Superplex and Randy Orton hitting Christian with the RKO on steel stairs. The winner is...

Mark Henry & The Big Show! Obvs.

Big Show accepts the award, even though he was the victim of that move, but hey, The Man™ is always holding Mark down.

Wade Barrett vs. Big Show winds up being our opening contest and... the majority of it takes place during commercial. Bummer, I genuinely wanted to see these guys kick the $#!@ out of each other, I think they'd have a fun brawl. Big Show got to do his famous "I PUNCH CHAIRS! RAWWWWR!" bit, which was pretty cool. He also broke a table with his bare hands and I think between those two spots, he sliced his eyebrow open. Big Show is awesome.

Next up, the "Pipe Bomb of the Year," presented by THE ROAD DOGG?! WHAT THE WHAT?! The Road Dogg?! WTF! Thought he was dead. LoL.

Okay, full disclosure, I forgot about that line until they showed it in the video package, along with all the other funny lines this year. And I totally forgot about Confederate R-Truth, who should win on that alone.

But of course, it goes to CM Punk, who gives us an awesome Johnny Ace video package, complete with Radtacular 1980s Dynamic Dudes footage. Best use of 80s footage at the Slammy Awards since Vince's "STAND BACK!"

And now LITA is here for the "Divalicious Moment of the Year." And in a year with moments like Natalya's double Sharpshooter, Beth Phoenix kicking everyone's ass and Kharma's debut, the award goes to Kelly Kelly's victory roll. Oh please.

Santino and The Bellas are out next to present OMG! Moment of the Year. I'm not sure how that's different from the Holy Poopies Moment of the Year, but apparently it's the more SUPER SERIOUS award. Your nominees are: Triple H Tombstoning The Undertaker, Rock Rock Bottoming John Cena at WrestleMania, the Superstar Walk Out that I never wanted to be reminded of ever again, and CM Punk leaving with the WWE Championship. Your winner?

HHH Tombstoning The Undertaker, because The Rock isn't here, the Walk Out was the worst WWE story in years and CM Punk already won one. Oh and it's time for Triple H to be on the show. Yay? In case you forgot, Triple H is a TOTAL badass, but he's also got a quirky little sense of humor, but he's ANGRY! RAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!!! Hunter, Hearst and Helmsley are each their own distinct personalities. Oh and he has to bully Santino at the top of the stage for funsies. Let the eye rolling commence.

Here to present for "Trending Star of the Year," David Otunga & Tony motherf'n Atlas! But the four nominees will compete in a Fatal Four Way later tonight and whoever... trends the most? Wins? I think? The nominees are Cody Rhodes, Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler and Zack Ryder. At least the match should be awesome.

And that match is on right now, Zack Ryder vs. Cody Rhodes vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Dolph Ziggler! And surprise, surprise, WWE is giving it time and it has been fan-friggin-tastic so far. Shocking what happens when you let four hard working, very talented wrestlers go out there and do their thing. They've gotten two commercial breaks so far and they're totally killing it.

Awesome, awesome match and easily a nominee for one of my personal awards, the TV Match of the Year. Ziggler won the match, but Ryder won the Slammy... and got a Zig Zag for his troubles. Can't wait to see these guys lock up on Sunday, but Ryder deserves to win the US Championship at WrestleMania. C'mon WWE, you can carry this story for another three months, Ryder has plenty of a momentum and charisma to pull it off. Plus, it'll be great advertising for my WWE '12 story! Download it!

Christian returns to present "Game Changer of the Year," and he's out on crutches and in a neckbrace to ask for one more title match. He's like a meth addict looking for a fix. Anyhoo, the nominees are Triple H and Vince McMahon for the three week boss change, Edge for retiring, Kevin Nash for being surprisingly awesome and John Cena & The Rock for planning a WrestleMania match a year out. The winner...

The Rock & John Cena. Another obvious choice and I'm still impressed they've managed to keep this story simmering this whole time. Cena's out to accept the award and calls for The Rock to join him on stage, but of course we all know that's not happening. And LOL to wrestling fans, booing the guy who actually showed up and cheering for the guy who couldn't even send a message via satellite.

Alrighty kids, I'm tapping out on the live portion of this live blog. I'll review the final hour of Raw tomorrow. In the meantime, feel free to comment and leave your thoughts on the show. Thanks for understanding my need for sleep.

*And we're back! Now with added past tense!

CM Punk & Randy Orton vs. The Miz & Alberto Del Rio was our 10pm main event and I'm loving the addition of The Miz to the Punk/Del Rio feud. Miz deserves to be back in the title picture, he can have an excellent war of words with Punk and the two have been kept surprisingly far apart since their brief ECW feud that no one remembers anyway.

Match was pretty typical for the Raw main eventer tag team mishmash, except this time the bad guys actually got to win. Wade Barrett making Orton look like a chump is never going to upset me and the two challengers looked very dangerous at the end of the match. Although did I hear Cole say the TLC match on Sunday will be pinfall and submission? Lame!

Another Kane promo and I'm pretty sure I saw an image of John Cena shatter in the mirror. One, two... Kane is coming for you...

Vickie Guerrero & Goldust were out next for the A-Lister of the Year Award, which went to Snooki. Other nominees included The Muppets, Hugh Jackman and Cee-Lo Green, and while The Muppets totally should've won, I have no issue with Snooki in WWE. Sure, Jersey Shore is terrible and it's a sad commentary on our culture that she's famous, but she did well in WWE. Her match at WrestleMania was harmless fun and did exactly what she needed to do, so kudos to the Snookster.

Oh and Goldust totally needs to get involved in this Booker T/Cody Rhodes feud. Goldust retiring at Mania against Cody would be... gold. Sorry.

Sheamus vs. Jinder Mahal almost got me to turn off the TV and just go to bed, but luckily I held on. More on that in a minute.

Rey Mysterio returned to present Superstar of the Year, which rightfully went to CM Punk. Aside from Mark Henry or perhaps even The Rock, no one else should have even been in consideration. 2011 was Punk's year: he did his damnedest to sell Nexus t-shirts through WrestleMania, got watchable matches out of Randy Orton, had more awesome matches with Rey Mysterio, and then everything he did between Money in the Bank and today. It was Punk's year... but a serious argument could be made for Mark Henry, just sayin.

Johnny Ace accepted for Punk, but I'm still not sure where they're going with this. Austin vs. McMahon it's not... it's not even Cena vs. Bischoff. The evil authority figure and his struggles getting the top star to conform to the rules has run its course. Punk's doing his best with it and the Dynamic Dudes video was a fun nod to old school fans, but I'd much rather see him mixing it up with The Miz.

Another cryptic "It begins" video with the creepy little boy saying "she holds the mystery of my arrival, of my rebirth..." and let the theories continue! I've seen some pretty ridiculous ones, none quite up there with "it says "STING" in the smoke of 2.21.11!" but close. Just for an example, I've seen someone suggest it's The Undertaker & Michelle McCool, because WWE would totally ruin Taker's cred by having him hang out with the "FLAWLESS!" chick. Other guesses include Vince & Stephanie McMahon and Brock Lesnar & Sable. Seriously.

My guess? It's a WWE hype video, it only has to make as much sense as they want it to, which could be none at all. It's fun to speculate, but don't get yourself all hyped up when and then get pissy when it turns out to be The Undertaker doing his usual thing. The only reason I'm not 100% convinced it's The Undertaker is that I doubt he has a YouTube account. Hey, maybe Tori is coming back with Kane!

Speaking of which, I did not see the early Kane return coming, nor did I think he'd actually come back with the mask. I've been mocking the idea of the mask making Kane cool again, which has been a universally accepted opinion in the community since he took the thing off, but I was wrong... it was awesome. In my head, it just seemed like it would be a "BUT SHE'S GOT A NEW HAT!" stunt, but if there's one thing WWE can almost always do right, it's make a first impression.

The whole reveal was done perfectly, with WWE basically saying "oh you want a mask? Here's TWO, fuckers!" made Kane look positively badass. The welding mask/Predator combo was creepy looking, then the reveal of the new, Michael Myers-inspired classic Kane mask totally played at my horror fan heartstrings. You clever bastards, you always know exactly how to sucker me in. Sure, it's still Kane and the character has been "just there" for years and I don't know if that will change, but damn, that was cool.

And oh yeah, John Cena vs. Mark Henry was happening along with all this, but it was clearly just a backdrop for Kane's big return. I commented on Twitter last night that it was bizarre for Cena to not have a match or story heading into TLC, but it looks like he'll have his hands full with Kane before we get on the Road to WrestleMania. I can live with that.

This was one of those Raws that wasn't good, but gave you just enough to actually enjoy it. The Fatal Four Way was a phenomenal match, the Slammys were fun (if predictable) and Kane provided one of those moments that was cool enough to get you to ignore the preceding 120 minutes and remember the show for the ending. Nice save, WWE.

Kick-Out!! invades WWE '12!


After weeks of trying, I was finally able to upload my created story onto Community Creations in WWE '12! If you're an Xbox Live user, feel free to download Zack Ryder vs. The USA, my tale of Zack Ryder's quest to get a shot at the United States Championship. I'm really proud of it, as proud as one can be as an almost 30-year-old man writing glorified fan fiction for a video game. But seriously, it's a fun story, I got a kick out of writing it (get it?) and hopefully it'll make you laugh a few times as well.

You can search for it using the following keywords:

Zack Ryder

And, since I think he'd enjoy it, tell Zack Ryder about it. I think he would play it and totally make me Broski of the Week, so help a brother out!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

WWE '12 review

When done right, wrestling games can zap more of my time than just about any other type of video game. And while I managed to sink 100+ hours into epics like Fallout 3 or the Dragon Age series, the time spent with those games pales in comparison to the time spent with classic wrestling games. I kept my Dreamcast hooked up for almost ten years just so I could play Fire Pro D, complete with a boot disc, a super-sized memory card and a 50-page binder of English translations. My PS2 is still hooked up too, partially because it's an awesome system and I still have way too many games to finish, but whenever I turn it on, it's to play Fire Pro Returns.

When I was a teenager, me and a buddy went through renaming and redesigning every wrestler in WCW/nWo Revenge. Why? Mainly because we thought it was funny, but it kept us playing the game for years. I tried to keep No Mercy up to date for several years as well, making new characters and changing outfits for existing Superstars to wrestlers who had a similar fighting style. I still have my Nintendo 64 for this exact reason.

But the Smackdown games have never given me that kind of feeling. I've never rushed to hook up my PS1 (or PSX for you cool 90s kids) so I could play Smackdown 2: Know Your Role. In fact, the only WWE games in my entire collection right now are Raw for the SNES, No Mercy for the N64 and WWE '12 for Xbox 360.

There's never been a Smackdown game that I didn't trade-in within a year. It's not that they're bad games (though some of them are), they're just the video game equivalent of fast food. Sounds great at the time, delicious at the first bite, but when I'm done, I regret doing that to myself. Sometimes I'm downright satisfied (SvR 2006), sometimes it's like getting soggy french fries and a hair in my burger (Just Bring It). For the most part though, the Smackdown series has been comfort food, I get my fix and move on.

But I was very excited when I heard about WWE '12, the name change alone had me excited. I've wanted them to do this for years, mainly because "WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2010: It's Your World Now - Featuring ECW; While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood" was pretty ridiculous. So it's an exciting new direction for the series, right? Well... kinda.

A lot of the little tweaks they've brought to the series over the years are near perfection. The presentation is excellent, it does look like I'm watching WWE TV, at least during regular one-on-one matches. The more bells and whistles you add to a match, the more the presentation suffers. Play a Money in the Bank or Royal Rumble match though? It looks like an old Smackdown game. To be fair, I'm sure that's a design choice to keep things from getting too hectic during these matches, but it does hurt the immersion. Running up a ladder and clotheslining a guy off another just doesn't pack the same punch in WWE '12 as it would watching the Money in the Bank PPV.

And that lack of punch is a problem throughout the entire game, there's just no "oomph." I played a Royal Rumble match with Sheamus and was throwing Irish Curse backbreakers all over the place, but there was barely any sound. At the risk of sounding morbid, I want bone-crunching mayhem, I want the satisfaction of hurting somebody. Even with its primitive graphics, there's never been anything more satisfying in wrestling games as seeing "CRITICAL!" pop up in Fire Pro. Top rope moves suffer a lot from this too, they're still really stiff and way too fast, they just don't look right. This might be a little thing to you, and it didn't really bother me in the PS1 or even PS2 days, but it's bordering on inexcusable.

The AI has been improved though, which is impressive because there really hasn't been much of an AI improvement for any games between the PS2/Xbox/GameCube transition to PS3/360/Wii. It's more aggressive, smarter and tougher and that's something this series has desperately needed from day one. It's not perfect, there's still too much reliance on reversals, but I figure someone out there will find some decent slider settings eventually and we'll be able to balance it out ourselves.

Matches are much more fun to play as well, there is a real sense of pacing and blended with the advanced AI, it's a very noticeable improvement for the game. But again, it starts to fall apart in multi-man matches. The new move interruption feature isn't as intrusive as I thought it would be, but it can still be a pain and there have been a lot of instances of just bouncing off a guy. It feels clumsy at points, but not nearly as much as in years past. The new (old) control scheme is nice to have back, I don't really mind one way or the other. I like button grapples, I liked the stick grapples, so it doesn't make a big difference to me, but I wouldn't be opposed to a massive overhaul of this. I think most still prefer No Mercy's control scheme and the game has not aged particularly well.

WWE Universe is a lot of fun this year now that the needless restrictions of last year have been removed. There was no reason to only have title matches on PPV and barring people from changing title and #1 contender matches. There's still a lot of room for new ideas here though, so I hope they keep focusing on it in future years and don't just think "well, we fixed it, we can leave it alone for five years" like they did with the Royal Rumble, Ladder Matches and like I worry they'll do with Story Designer. There are still some odd restrictions and it can be a bit buggy, but for the most part, Universe is a lot of fun and could easily keep this game interesting until WWE '13.

Customization is still king, all the create features are as good as they've always been and the new Create-an-Arena is AWESOME. I haven't played around with it too much yet, but it's pretty jaw-dropping. Sure, they could add more stuff, more outfits for CAWs, etc., but take a trip around Community Creations and you'll see that there's nothing that can't be created. Of course, as usual, there's no option to fully edit matches. I can't have a 30-Man Royal Rumble with over-the-top rope eliminations turned off, ring-out on and falls count anywhere enabled like I could in No Mercy, WrestleMania 2000 and even WCW/nWo Revenge, but I guess this is never going to happen. It was my most favorite thing: First Blood Royal Rumbles, Royal Rumbles in the backstage area, putting people through tables, it was awesome! I understand keeping it to the standard rules in Road to WrestleMania, or even Universe, but just let me do it in exhibition!

There are a lot of gripes about Community Creations right now since the servers are constantly down and as frustrating as it is - I'm trying (and failing) to upload a story right now - I gotta give THQ a bit of a pass on this one. Yeah, it's 2011, this has been a major part of gaming this generation, but I don't think you'll ever truly know what kind of problems you'll have with online access until the game is released to the public. Perhaps I'm just being naive or technically stupid, but all the testing in the world can't prepare you for millions of people all trying to access your content at once. And I have a PS3, so after their online disaster earlier this year, anything else seems like a minor issue to me. Hopefully it'll get ironed out.

Now with that said, there are still lingering issues in this series that just shouldn't be happening in a game in this generation. For instance, if I beat Triple H in a match, Triple H should not do a run-in after said match. My entire console shouldn't lock up because I try to use an alternate outfit in Story Designer.

Commentary should not continue to be this terrible patchwork of lines. I know wrestlers probably aren't terrific voice actors, but there's no excuse for the horribly dull announcer intros or a "crowd" that sounds like 12 people in a sound booth. For all the work that goes into making it look like WWE TV, there's never been an effort to make it sound like WWE TV. If Call of Duty can make it sound like I'm in a Vietnamese jungle with aircraft flying overhead and napalm melting my face off, surely THQ and co. can figure out a sports arena. Especially for a license that has over 100,000 hours in their video library, study how it sounds! If Ricardo Rodriguez doesn't read his lines properly, make him do it again or record him live on Raw.

And this is probably nitpicking, but it's something that's bugged me about games for years - I'm so tired of having to sit through 47 Publisher/Developer logos, copyright notices, intro videos and load screens before I even get to the main menu. And THQ... it's 2011, it's time to introduce auto-save. "Do you want to save? Yes. Are you sure? Yes. Data will be overwritten? Yes. Are you absolutely, 100% sure you want to do this? Yes. There's really no coming back from this. Yes. You do realize you're making Randy Orton's tights blue? Yes. Once it's saved, it can't be unsaved. Yes. You'll have to re-edit it if you want to re-edit it." And then I throw my Xbox out the window.

I would also say that no game should make it to retail with as many glitches and bugs that have been reported, but as every Bethesda game released this generation has shown, it's okay to release a totally broken game now. WWE '12 isn't that bad and I haven't personally experienced any glitch besides the aforementioned console freeze whenever I try to use Superstar Threads in Story Designer, but the issues are happening enough to be well known within a week of release.

As usual, I have many jumbled thoughts on the Smackdown WWE series that range from minor issues to stuff that should've been sorted out in 2000. The games will probably never be perfect, which is okay, and why I have no problem recommending WWE '12. Its positives outweigh its negatives and while I'm still waiting for the elusive OMG!AMAZING WWE game (THQ, just hire Fire Pro's developer Spike to make something for WWE Xbox Live Arcade/Playstation Network to shut me up.), WWE '12 is fun and that's all I really ask for. I had an awesome Royal Rumble match in WWE Universe last night where The Miz eliminated Sheamus (me) after a grueling back and forth battle. My Story Designer tale starring Zack Ryder is pretty fantastic and I can't wait to upload it (fix those servers!) so you can play it.

The gameplay and AI were things that had to be fixed and they took a huge step in the right direction there, but they're not done and they need to dig deep and work on some of these issues that have plagued the series for over a decade. No other game could get away with problems for this long, but we all want our WWE fix and this is our only option. It also helps that THQ has some great guys on staff that are incredibly friendly, accessible and take constructive criticism well. Stay on them, perhaps we'll find that elusive perfect game sooner than later. Will this game stay on my shelf after the next one comes out? Probably not, but that doesn't mean it isn't worth a purchase. Because though WWE '12 is more evolution than revolution it's one of the better entries in the series - even if it's technically a "new" series - it's perhaps the best yet.