Monday, February 28, 2011

WWE Raw thoughts - February 28, 2011

WWE has confirmed The Rock will be "on" this show, however, whether that means in the arena or via satellite has yet to be determined. Regardless (or irregardless, if Taz is reading), I'm excited to see the next chapter in the Rock vs. Cena saga. And surely we'll get more out of Triple H and The Undertaker, unless they're going to go this entire feud without speaking a word to each other. Refresh your page for ongoing coverage of tonight's show and please follow me on Twitter for ongoing absurdity.

Cold open for Raw and it's TIME TO PLAY THE GAAAAAAAAAAAAME! MUHUHUHAH! The match is confirmed, Triple H will challenge The Undertaker's Streak at WrestleMania, and The Game has a mic, sadly putting an end to my hopes for a silent feud. Triple H is reminding us that he's done it all in WWE, won every title (not the US Title!), every accolade, and in his 16 years with WWE, he's outlasted everyone... except The Undertaker. He claims Taker's only challenge left is holding onto the streak and Triple H's only challenge left is ending it (and winning the US Title), and something's gonna give at WrestleMania 27. These guys are the only two left from a bygone era and Triple H is looking to narrow that list down to one, simple and effective story. Surprised no mention of Shawn Michaels though, perhaps they're waiting on that.

Hey, Sheamus is here! Everyone's been wondering if he was going to come out and remind us that he was the one that took out The Game and he's here! Yay, logical storytelling! Oh... Triple H didn't forget either, so Sheamus gets a kick in the nards and a Pedigree through the announce table. Ya know, sometimes logical storytelling should wait until after WrestleMania.

And it looks like they're not waiting long for involvement from HBK, he'll weigh in on The Undertaker vs. Triple H later tonight.

And The Rock is via satellite. Boo.

After commercial, things go from bad to worse for ol' Sheamus because he was scheduled for a match tonight, against EVAN BOURNE! Bourne makes quick work of Sheamus and finishes him off with the Shooting Star Press, I think WWE just ended two potential feuds in one fell swoop there.

Michael Cole is out next to respond to Jerry Lawler's WrestleMania challenge and declines... unless Lawler agrees to two stipulations: Cole gets his trainer in his corner and gets to pick the special guest referee. Lawler agrees, even if Cole has Saba Simba in his corner. Ah, good ol' nostalgic WWE racism. Cole introduces his trainer, "The All American-American" Jack Swagger! Hey, it's not like he had anything else to do. Swagger gets Lawler in the ankle lock and it looks like it's Michael Cole: 1, Jerry Lawler: 0.

Stone Cold on Raw next week! STONE COLD! STONE COLD! STONE COLD!

Michael Cole is back in the announce booth though now that Lawler's been taken out, that's unfortunate. Cole's way better on a mic than a headset.

Oh and things just go from bad to worse, Randy Orton is here to talk. Blah, blah, blah, gonna put CM Punk in a hospital, I'm so evil and like to hurt people, yadda, yadda, yadda. Thankfully Orton's cut off by CM Punk and some guys that hang out with CM Punk, but our savior isn't going to put Orton in a hospital, he's going to put him "in the ground." Okay, that's a little dark, Punk.

The G?M chimes in and signs CM Punk vs. Randy Orton at WrestleMania. Not really a surprise, but in an odd twist, Orton has to face the members of the New Nexus over the next three weeks and if any of them win, they get to be in Punk's corner at WrestleMania. Spoiler: none of them will be in Punk's corner at WrestleMania. Randy Orton vs. Mike McGillicutty is the first of these matches and amazingly lasts long enough to go to a commercial break. Mr. Imperfect actually put up a fight here, but you know he doesn't have a chance of winning and there's the RKO to prove it. Oh and after the match, the big brave Randy Orton kicks a helpless man in the head and runs away at the first sign of a legitimate challenge. What a pansy.

Finally things are looking up with the arrival of the Most Must-See WWE Champion in History, The Miz, but unfortunately they made me relive that incredibly stupid main event from last week's show. Save this show, Miz! The WWE Champion is bringing the goods as usual, talking about how he's getting overlooked during John Cena vs. The Rock, but it doesn't matter because they can trash talk each other all day then he'll beat them BOTH at WrestleMania. Damn right you will, Champ!

John Cena rudely interrupts, and it's not serious business John Cena or even rapping John Cena, it's open mic night John Cena, the worst of the Three Faces of Cena. Terrible, terrible exchange with Cena and Alex Riley, culminating with Cena's never-ending barrage of gay jokes. Yawn. Cena wants A-Ri out of the picture at WrestleMania and challenges him to a match tonight with his internship on the line. The G?M wants to make sure The Miz stays out of this match tonight though and puts it inside a steel cage! Well at least something interesting came out of this.

Diva Battle Royal to determine Eve's opponent at WrestleMania (I assume?), and we're down to the final three before I can even type this sentence. Brie Bella wins after Nicki was eliminated, but Brie was already eliminated? Oh who cares? No one in the audience did, because WWE doesn't care either.

FINALLY... and I'm not just saying that because it's The Rock, it's because FINALLY this show might not suck. Of course, The Rock isn't here tonight, which kinda takes away from the punch of his response, and it's a bit absurd for him to say "FINALLY, The Rock has come back to Buffalo."

The Rock gives us another fiery speech, talking about how John Cena insulted him and his family when he questioned Rock's passion for WWE in public. I could go into detail about Rock calling him a "Yabba Dabba Bitch" or how he promised to address Cena "sooner than you think," but you either saw this live or will watch it on YouTube and anything I say won't do it justice. It's The Rock being The Rock and it's got me very excited for his match with John Cena... that isn't happening.

And now we're going to talk to Shawn Michaels... via satellite. I bet Buffalo fans are happy they paid $50 to watch a show on the TitanTron in a really uncomfortable chair.

Finally some wrestling, Daniel Bryan is out to compete and is ambushed by The Miz for some reason. Yeah, who needed wrestling?

Main Event time, Alex Riley vs. John Cena inside a steel cage. Finally, a little bit of enjoyment out of this show with The Miz at ringside, live-tweeting John Cena's agony, even taking a picture of his face being rubbed in the steel mesh.

So Cena wins, eats a Skullcrushing Finale as soon as he escapes the cage, and Alex Riley is no longer under Miz's employ, I assume freeing him up to be Michael Cole's special guest referee? No big deal, Miz doesn't need an apprentice and A-Ri isn't going anywhere as the guy who takes losses for the WWE Champ. Put him and Swagger together as a legit tag team after Mania and let them do their own thing, they'd be great together.

That's the last time I'll use the word "great" in this review. Tonight's Raw was abysmal, if I was a fan who paid to get into this sold out show, I wouldn't be going to the next one just on general principle. Was it the worst Raw ever? Probably not, but it's definitely the worst I've seen in sometime, probably since the Dennis Miller Slammys. And the fact that there are only four Raws left until WrestleMania makes this horrendous show even more offensive.

I thought the ending to last week's show was bad, well WWE sure showed me tonight! Virtually no wrestling, the stuff with Sheamus, that awful Cena/Riley bit at the top of the 10pm hour, Randy Orton being Randy Orton, a Diva Battle Royal that no one cared about, just a terrible show. The Rock's pre-tape was great (okay, I lied about not saying "great" anymore), Miz was awesome and Cole/Lawler was a lot of fun, but that's it. C'mon, it's the Road to WrestleMania!

WWE: The True Story of WrestleManiaWWE: DX: One Last StandWWE: Royal Rumble 2011 [Blu-ray/ DVD combo]

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Fair to Flair Show - Episode 1

To cap off Fair to Flair's first week, Jason Mann, K Sawyer Paul, Mitch and myself team up for the first ever Fair to Flair Show! In our first round table podcast, we discuss the goals of the site, our excitement level for WrestleMania 27, wrestling fans getting "offended," what wrestling does better now than ever before, and much more. Please give it a listen!

Click here to listen to the Fair to Flair Show.
Click here to subscribe to the show via Feedburner RSS. (We’ll be up on iTunes soon).

WWE Smackdown Thoughts - February 25, 2011

Now that FORMER World Heavyweight Champion, Dolph Ziggler, has been fired, what's next in the fire-happy world of Friday Night Smackdown? T-Lo opened the show backstage and told us that Vickie Guerrero & Drew McIntyre would team up against Edge & Kelly Kelly and if Vickie's team lost, she'd be fired.

Rey Mysterio vs. Kane kicked off the in-ring action and I'm pretty sure you could watch this match with your eyes closed and figure out what happened. How many times have these two been in the ring together over the last three years? Match wasn't bad or anything, Mysterio often brings out the best in Kane, but it was still a Kane/Mysterio match. Mysterio picked up the surprise win, but the real surprise came when we heard "AMER-EEEEE-CAAAAAAAAAN DREEEEEAM" followed by some sweet cowbell, Dusty Rhodes on Smackdown, mangled forehead and all!

Big Dust was out to apologize to Rey Mysterio for Cody's actions as of late. Wait, what? What has Cody Rhodes done? Rey Mysterio should be the one apologizing for crushing poor Cody's face with an exposed knee brace! Dusty called out his son, and Cody Rhodes made his way to ringside, without his awesome theme music, but he did have an awesomely ridiculous face mask. Dusty lectured his son on focus and how his obsession with being DASHING led him to this "fathial" injury.

Cody apologizes to his father and to Rey Mysterio and everyone shakes hands, but IT'S A TRAP! Dusty held Rey's hand during the handshake and allowed Cody to ambush him and demolish him at ringside. Cody threw Rey into his digital mirror on the mini-tron, then capped it off by ripping his mask off! Mitch over at PizzaBodySlam told me that something cool happened on Smackdown with Dusty Rhodes, but that might be the understatement of the week. This was just an extremely well-told, simple story that put Mysterio vs. Rhodes near the top of my WrestleMania interests. Can't wait to see where this goes.

Rosa Mendes vs. Layla was next and Michelle McCool caused a disqualification within the first minute of the match. Layla was not happy and they continued teasing a LayCool breakup, but seriously, if they split these two up, it will be one of WWE's dumbest decisions in awhile. I'm no LayCool fan, but the thought of these two on their own? Yawn.

Jack Swagger vs. Kofi Kingston had a non-title match and much like Kane vs. Mysterio, these guys are no strangers to each other. The story here was Kofi's arm being injured after multiple Cross Armbreakers from Alberto Del Rio. Swagger picked up a much needed, and rather easy, win in a very short match, forcing Kofi to tap to the ankle lock. I liked the bit where Kofi couldn't roll through the ankle lock because of the pressure on his injured arm, little things like that really add to the story. Just watching this match bugged me though because here are two guys that the crowd are always into and you can always count on for a good match, but are completely lacking direction.

Wade Barrett vs. Big Show with The Corrrrrrrre banned from ringside was up next and despite being a pretty competitive match, Big Show won by count-out. The Corre stormed the ring and Big Show scared them off with a steel chair, what a dangerous group! Again, I like Wade Barrett and Big Zeke just strikes me as a major star in the making, but this group is drowning them, they're not threatening, they rarely get the job done and they have little purpose. Hopefully we'll get something like Big Show & Diesel vs. Wade Barrett & Big Zeke at WrestleMania, that would at least be fun, but at the same time, if Big Show can fend off all four of them, why does he need a partner to take on two of them?

Main Event time! Edge & Kelly Kelly vs. Drew McIntyre & Vickie Guerrero with Vickie's job on the line. I was really surprised how hot the crowd was for Kelly, it's amazing how much you can get the crowd to respond to female athletes when you give them even the slightest reason to care. If WWE gave Beth Phoenix or Natalya an actual storyline instead of just saying "hey, go out there and wrestle," I guarantee interest in the Divas would increase tenfold.

That's another discussion for another day though, match was short, but managed to stay fun and exciting the whole way through. That's the power of Vickie though, the possibility of her getting fired gets the crowd on their feet and screaming. T-Lo came to ringside after the match and could've just left it at that, Vickie was weeping, she was apologizing, he made his point, but no, he had to go and fire her anyway. A 42-year-old widowed mother of two, and Teddy just callously tosses her out on the street, what a heartless bastard.

Vickie begged and pleaded to anyone who would listen, including Booker T, a cameraman and Michael Cole, who was hilarious with his "I don't know what to do!" response. She finally tried to apologize to her ex-husband, but he just taunts her with that damn Steam song and she walks away defeated. Luckily, a man of honor, Alberto Del Rio, came to defend Vickie Guerrero's honor and attacked Edge, throwing him shoulder first into the ring post and locking in the Cross Armbreaker. What a gentleman!

I liked tonight's episode, the wrestling was all pretty solid, but outside of Kane/Mysterio, everything was a little too short for my liking. Understandable, the Rey Mysterio/Cody Rhodes stuff took up a sizable portion of the show but was pure brilliance, can't wait to see the next turn in that saga. I still have gripes with the good guys being too mean-spirited, not everyone needs to be Captain America, but that doesn't mean they should all be The Punisher instead. Yes, Vickie's mean and cheats and all that, but constantly humiliating her just makes me sympathetic, so when someone like Del Rio attacks Edge, I find myself cheering him on. That gripe and my ongoing issues with The Corre aside, this week's Smackdown still gets a thumbs up.

Undisputed: How to Become the World Champion in 1,372 Easy StepsThe Road Warriors: Danger, Death, and the Rush of WrestlingDusty: Reflections of an American DreamCross Rhodes: Goldust, Out of the Darkness (WWE)

Friday, February 25, 2011

This is why wrestlers hate us

I actually watched the last twenty minutes of TNA tonight. I heard they were doing something "shocking" and wanted to see how TNA was going to be changed forever this time. In the final moments of the show, Tazz tossed to some footage that they just received:



That's right, they ripped off the 2.21.11 video. I heard they were going to do something like it, but I was hoping for a clever, sarcastic little jab at all the rumors about Sting, not a blatant rip off. How funny would it have been if they did a video with Sting coming out of a cabin and when they focus in on him, he says, "sorry I'm late"? That would've been fun and amusing, but what we got was downright terrible, extremely embarrassing, and I should've known better than to ever expect something clever from TNA. So yeah, "lol, TNA" they did it again, ripped off WWE and completely whiffed at a chance to take an opportunity and run with it. The "3.3.11" reveal is actually pretty cool and surprisingly relevant, but the backlash from this stunt will likely cause it to blow up in their face. But whatever, it's TNA, I rarely watch, I'm used to them blowing it, so I'll just go back to not watching.

But for some reason, that's not enough for some wrestling fans. I'm on Twitter tonight, and I'm seeing the expected outrage, the "TNA sux" tweets, people mocking them, that's cool, nothing wrong with that, they certainly earned it. But then things took a turn for the dark when I saw someone say they're going to "strangle" Dixie Carter. Wow, that's pretty pathetic, but hey, one loser being an idiot on the internet, that's nothing new. Then I saw another threat of violence, then another, then more people wishing death upon a 46-year-old mother of two. Over something on a wrestling show. Take a look at this small sample I found just by searching for "@TNADixie":

@bellajessica89 - @TNADixie you're a dumb bitch.

@xTHEVICx - @TNADixie bitch u fucking suck. Who da fuck said dat u can run a wrestling company. U dumbass whore.

@5CornersxSmootx - #TNA @TNADixie I hope you die penny-less in a gutter somewhere you stupid ditzy moronic twatwaffle, sorry excuse of a wrestling promoter.

@ValerieM00RE - I hope @TNADixie suffers from a heart attack... You don't even deserve to be alive, you desperate bitch.

@DaMgAr_96 - @TNADixie U DUM CUNT I HOPE U DIE AND YOUR GAY FAMILY BURNS IN HELL

Classy. This is why wrestlers hate wrestling fans, especially wrestling fans who talk about it on the internet. We're supposed to be the "smart" fans, yet people behave like this and make us all look bad. This is why wrestling promotions think we're all a bunch of fat losers who live in mom's basement and will never know the touch of a woman.

Guess what? It's just wrestling, no reason to act like you've never interacted with another human being. You managed to access the internet, surely you've acquired the social skills at some point in your life to know that it's not cool to wish death upon anyone. Especially over something on TNA Impact.

It's clear we've still got a long way to go to improve the perception of wrestling fans, stuff like this just makes it way more difficult. To anyone making these kind of comments, grow the hell up and stop ruining it for the rest of us.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

New background

Obviously there have been a lot of changes to the site over the last week. After taking feedback into consideration, and getting a very generous donation from our friend Tommy at Horrorfixxx (the best Tumblr blog in existence, period), I've changed the background. Thoughts?

Big thanks again to Tommy, tell him how awesome he is on his site or the next time he comments on Kick-Out!! And thanks to you for being patient throughout the redesign process.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

New Fair to Flair podcast

Opening Bell Extra is now exclusively at FairToFlair.com! In this week’s “audio-torial,” though I'm a fan of WWE’s TV-PG direction, I explain why I enjoy The Rock and John Cena breaking the rules.

Listen to the new podcast here.

Poll: Face Paint

With all the talk about Sting lately, it got me thinking about how face paint has become a lost art in professional wrestling. Who was the last new wrestler to come in with face paint, The Boogeyman? I counted my favorite face painted wrestlers in the Halloween episode of Kick-Out!! Radio last year, but now I want to know who YOUR favorite is.

Now, the results from our previous poll:

WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE ROCK MATCH?

vs. Steve Austin - WM17: 40%
vs. Hulk Hogan - WM18: 22%
vs. The Undertaker vs. Kurt Angle - Vengeance 02: 6%
vs. Steve Austin - WM19: 6%
vs. Kurt Angle - No Way Out 01: 6%
vs. Eddie Guerrero: Raw 02: 5%
vs. Steve Austin - WM15: 3%
vs. Chris Jericho - No Mercy 01: 3%
vs. Triple H - Judgment Day 01: 1%
Other - 3%

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Kick-Out!! is Fair to Flair

If you follow me on Twitter, you probably saw a bunch of cryptic tweets over the last few days with the hashtag #FairToFlair. Today, I'm happy to announce the launch of Fair to Flair, a joint venture between myself, Jason Mann of Wrestlespective, Mitch of PizzaBodySlam and K Sawyer Paul of Footnotes of Wrestling.

For almost two years, I've been talking about a better wrestling media and I believe the four of us will create it. I want to especially thank Jason for offering me a spot in this project and make it clear that this was not a decision I made lightly. I've been offered numerous spots with other wrestling websites, whether it was to write or podcast, but ultimately turned them all down. Some were really close, they would've been great opportunities to increase exposure for Kick-Out!!, but none of them felt right until now. This isn't just an opportunity for me, this is an opportunity to create something really special and unique, and I think the four of us will change the dialogue within the Internet Wrestling Community.

What does this mean for Kick-Out? Don't worry, it's not going anywhere, it just means I have to do more work. Raw live blogs, Smackdown and PPV reviews, Five Count lists, Kick-Out!! Radio, they'll all be right here at kickoutwrestling.com as they have been since the site started in March of 2009. Some content will be cross-posted, I'll write some columns exclusively for Fair to Flair, we'll be doing a roundtable podcast featuring all four contributors, and a really cool series of shows that I'm super excited for you to hear, but you'll have to wait just a couple weeks for more details!

Essentially, this is the culmination of what I wanted out of this site when I started it. I was just one guy, how much difference can one guy make? As fun as it was exposing 20 sites "reporting" the same story verbatim, it was much more exciting to find other, like-minded wrestling fans with their own blogs. We certainly don't or won't agree on everything, but we agree that wrestling websites can be much better. And by no means are we the only good wrestling bloggers out there, but hopefully the four of us can be loud enough to encourage those other voices to get louder and more sites with original content to pop up and eventually we'll be able to drag wrestling websites out of the internet's dark ages.

So please, follow , tell us your thoughts on the venture, tell us what you want to see in your wrestling websites, and please debate with us about what's happening on TV on any particular week. After all, while I'm making this sound like SERIOUS BUSINESS, at the end of the day, it's all about wrestling, which is fun, and that my friend, is Fair to Flair.

Monday, February 21, 2011

WWE Raw thoughts - 2.21.11

2.21.11 is upon us, we're fresh off a rock solid Elimination Chamber PPV and there are no more detours on the Road to WrestleMania. Oh and hey, The Rock came back last week and badmouthed John Cena, I bet he'll have something to say about that tonight. Refresh your page for ongoing coverage of tonight's show and if you'd like, you can follow me on Twitter for ongoing ridiculousness.

Raw is live and it's counting down one hour until the mystery behind 2.21.11 is revealed. The 5 in 59 looks like an "S" though, and you know whose name starts with the letter "S?" That's right... Santino.

Looks like we're gonna start things off with Mr. Fruity Pebbles himself, John Cena! Looks like Cena's feeling a little bittersweet about his Elimination Chamber win last night, probably has something to do with a few thousand people screaming "ROCKY! ROCKY! ROCKY!" Cena claims he doesn't know what to say, was even going to let it slide because "it's The Rock" - which was counterargument to anything negative said about The Rock's return last week - but instead he's going to give The Rock a lesson in Thuganomics!

Cena just delivered his best freestyle since the time he accused Eddie Guerrero of serving him mild sauce. For all those people talking about "burials" last week, I think Cena just bought Rocky's plot. If you missed this segment tonight, you'll be watching it on YouTube a couple dozen times this week. Classic Cena, responded exactly how he should have, he wasn't cutesy "aw shucks" Cena, he was an a-hole, and pulled it off brilliantly.

CM Punk vs. John Morrison is our opening contest of this evening and these guys are moving gingerly after both suffered leg injuries in the Elimination Chamber last night. Pretty short match with Punk picking up a clean win after basically destroying Morrison's knee, opening the door wide open for the Go To Sleep. Punk grabs the mic after the match and calls out "Randall Keith Orton," and that coward tries to sneak attack our Straight Edge Savior, but Punk wisely manages to avoid the RKO. Punk did Orton a favor because if he would've stayed in the ring, Orton would've never made it to WrestleMania!

Alberto Del Rio makes his way to the ring in a freakin' Lamborghini, but is attacked during his entrance by Kofi Kingston, who proceeds to get his ass kicked. Dear WWE, Kofi is the GOOD GUY, he's not supposed to attack people from behind, especially people like Alberto Del Rio, whose only crime is beating Kofi fair and square, twice. This is why WWE is having such terrible luck with building faces, they make them do stupid stuff like this so they can be "edgy" like Stone Cold. Kofi can do cool stuff like destroying someone's car or putting them through a table when he's been wronged, but with Del Rio, he just looks like a sore loser who's not in his league.

AWWWEEESSSOOOMMMEEE! The Most Must-See WWE Champion in history, The Miz is here, fresh off his awesome match with Jerry Lawler at Elimination Chamber last night. Now it's his turn to respond to The Rock, and he bashes the Great One for his weak insult last week, simply saying "Miz sucks?" Kindergartners come up with better one-liners than that! Miz is so hurt by that, he has to check his tears in his WWE Championship! Miz is, well, awesome as usual, but for some reason The G?M chimes in to make a match tonight - The Miz & John Cena vs. The Corre for the WWE Tag Team Titles. To quote the champ, REALLY?! REALLY?! WrestleMania opponents being forced to team up and challenge for the Tag Titles? They do this every... freaking... year.

The Bellas vs. Gail Kim & Eve next, and at least now that the Bellas are heels, it makes sense that they cheat. Hey, bad guys acting like bad guys, that makes sense!

3 minutes until 2.21.11!

And OMG! IT'S STING! STING IS IN WWE! He's just wearing a very clever Undertaker costume! It's totally a work!

Seriously though, The Undertaker has returned to WWE!

AND SO HAS TRIPLE H!

When's the last time WWE had two major returns like this happen at the same time? Ever? I'm sure some folks are going to whine about this, but I don't see any reason to not run this match at WrestleMania. It's been ten years since their last Mania match and the story tells itself, watch this segment, they didn't even have to say one word to each other and the crowd knew exactly what was up. Undertaker vs. Triple H, WrestleMania, The Game is trying where HBK failed. Simple, effective, and a true Mania main event.

Sheamus vs. Mark Henry next and I do feel bad for Sheamus, who had a ready made feud with Triple H waiting for him, that is now seemingly on the back burner. Tough break, but it could be worse, his WrestleMania opponent could be the Ultimate Warrior. Or he could lose to Mark Henry, like he did here. Pointless loss for Sheamus, unless they're serious about pushing Henry, which they're not.

Confrontation backstage between Sheamus & Daniel Bryan. There ya go, Sheamus vs. Bryan at Mania for the US Title, that's a match and feud I can get behind and it's exactly what both guys need.

And our next 2011 Hall of Fame inductee has been announced, it's "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan. Random fact: I hated Hacksaw when I was a kid, I found him to be annoying, but I've really come around on him since his mini-return to WWE. Good for Hacksaw, still wrestling after all these years too, he's earned it.

Michael Cole, who's covered wars, ya know, will interview Jerry "The King" Lawler next! At this point, Lawler can do no wrong, he has the crowd in the palm of his hand and is somehow has the crowd going absolutely bonkers for a potential WrestleMania match with Michael freaking Cole. Cole bringing Lawler's dead mom into it, saying Lawler let her down, got MEGA heat (probably Lawler's idea too), and it's going to be a thing of beauty when Cole takes a Piledriver at WrestleMania. Great segment, and sets up the annual "sideshow" Mania match well.

Main Event time! The Corre vs. The Miz & John Cena with the Tag Team Titles on the line, but I still have no idea why this match is happening. And hey, The Miz just beat the WWE Tag Team Champions all by himself and just won the belts. Every. Friggin. Year.

Oh let's just make it more confusing, The Corre is invoking their rematch clause right now, because apparently rematch clauses work like Money in the Bank now. This makes my brain hurt. Miz costs Cena the "rematch" and the belts go back to The Corre... couldn't we have done that without the stupid title change? Why would Miz want to win the belts then turn on his partner and lose them ten minutes later? Stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, STUPID ending that did nothing for anyone involved and did nothing for WrestleMania. I'm prone to hyperbole now and again, so maybe I'm wrong, but I honestly think that might be the dumbest finish to Monday Night Raw that I've ever seen.

Okay, so if someone was talking, or even just using body language, Raw was awesome tonight. Cena's response to The Rock was epic, and I never use the word "epic," The Miz's promo was golden, Undertaker and Triple H selling a PPV without words was a testament to their legacies, Sheamus and Daniel Bryan teasing a feud was cool and Cole vs. Lawler was intense. Huge thumbs up there.

But typical Diva garbage, Kofi Kingston getting punked, Sheamus getting demolished by Mark Henry for no reason whatsoever, and that awful, embarrassing and intelligence-insulting main event were infuriatingly bad. The only exception for the in-ring action was Punk and Morrison, who had a decent little TV match, selling the devastating effects of the Chamber, but everything else in the ring was terrible.

So how do I grade this Raw? There was some really strong Mania hype and we got the return of The Undertaker and Triple H, but the ending of this show was so bad, I have to give the show a reluctant thumbs down. This is the Road to WrestleMania, WWE, you can do better.

WWE: The Undertaker's Deadliest MatchesTriple H: King of Kings - There is Only OneThe John Cena Experience

WWE Elimination Chamber 2011 Review

WWE has left me scratching my head the last year or so, they've been puttting on terrific PPVs, but for the most part, they've been slacking on the build to the PPV. Buyrates have been down, so you'd think they'd work harder to hype them up, but the product continues to deliver, so is it worth it if the end result is still excellent? Elimination Chamber wasn't hyped particularly well, but did the show deliver? Let's take a look.

Alberto Del Rio vs. Kofi Kingston in a non-title match was our opening contest and admittedly, I wasn't all that excited for it. I was excited when the mini feud started after the Royal Rumble, but quickly lost interest when Del Rio made Kofi tap out so easily last week on Smackdown. Well, never underestimate the power of a hot crowd and two excellent performers, because these guys put on a hell of an opening bout. Kofi had some incredible offense like his diving Superman punch and his sky high missile dropkick, but it just wasn't enough to stop the #1 contender for the World Heavyweight Championship. Alberto Del Rio continued his roll, making Kofi tap out once again to the Aristocratic Cross Armbreaker. Hopefully if Del Rio walks out of WrestleMania with the World Championship, Kofi will be in line for a shot, I think these two could have a great feud through the summer.
Predictions: 1 for 1

Smackdown Elimination Chamber was up next, which I thought was surprising since it was for the World Heavyweight Championship, with Edge vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Drew McIntyre vs. Kane vs. Wade Barrett vs. Big Show, who filled in for the fired Dolph Ziggler. I love Big Show, but was a little disappointed to see him filling in the mystery spot, especially since he didn't get to do much. When Big Show is used right, he's one of the most entertaining characters in the industry, but he was just there tonight.

And after that reveal, I got really concerned for this match, because at first, it d-r-a-g-g-e-d. I was extremely concerned since it looked like a one-on-one match between two guys who just wrestled 10 days ago was going to be more exciting than an Elimination Chamber match for the World Heavyweight Championship.

But then, Drew McIntyre entered the match.

I never thought I'd type this sentence but, the match really picked up once Drew McIntyre got involved. McIntyre came in a proverbial house of fire, showing a level of intensity I've never seen from him before, it was like they told him to go out there and wrestle like his job depended on it. It was also around this time that Rey Mysterio became everyone's personal pinball, bouncing around between every pod, getting thrown into the plexiglass... sorry, THE MOST POWERFUL GLASS ON PLANET EARTH, and he's lucky if he escaped from this match without a concussion. And how about Edge throwing a Flying Elbow Drop? He earned the rights to it after doing that Slim Jim commercial.

It came down to Edge, Mysterio and ugh, Kane, who went on a rampage after getting eliminated. Really? Do we need to see Kane snap and chokeslam everyone yet again? He got pinned, get him the hell out of the ring. Anyway, minor gripe, because once it came down to Edge and Mysterio, things got really special. These two had an awesome finale to the Raw Elimination Chamber in 2009 and at that point, I thought it was the best ending in the history of the match... until tonight. I've seen Rey and Edge have some good matches in the past, but something about putting these guys together in a giant birdcage just brings out the absolute best in them.

I do not get why people hate on Rey Mysterio, how anyone could watch the final moments of this match and not be on the edge of their seat, I do not know. Absolutely fantastic stuff and made this easily the Match of the Night. Incredible build throughout the match that culminated with a fantastic performance and Edge retaining the World Championship. Huge thumbs up.

Alberto Del Rio attacked Edge after the match, setting up WrestleMania nicely, but then CAPTAIN CHARISMA, CHRISTIAN made his return and saved his best friend from the man that put him on the shelf. WWE, I don't ask for much, I buy every PPV (no streaming here!), I go to your shows at least twice a year, but can I please get a Triple Threat match at WrestleMania? Christian vs. Edge vs. Del Rio would be a blast.
Predictions: 2 for 2

Jerry Lawler's promo backstage was so good. Genuine emotion, genuinely moving.

Little bit of a cool down period with Booker T announcing the newest trainer for the return of Tough Enough... Trish Stratus! Trish cut the dorkiest promo ever, but we love her anyway, even if she's not The Rock or Booker T. Excited to see Trish back for Tough Enough, she'll be a great mentor for the female competitors.

Heath Slater & Justin Gabriel defeated Santino Marella & Vladimir Kozlov for the Tag Team Titles. I figure I wrote enough for the Smackdown Chamber, I can get away with leaving it pretty much at that. WWE needs more tag teams, that's not news, maybe they'll get back to something as half as good as 2009 with this transition. And say what you will about Kozlov, but his offense looked particularly rough tonight. Still, I'd buy Big Zeke & Tamina as tag champs before these other two teams, just saying.
Predictions: n/a

Vickie Guerrero was out next, with the saddest "excuse me" ever. I felt bad for Vickie, just trying to get her boyfriend Dolph Ziggler rehired, but instead, Teddy Long rehired Kelly Kelly to come beat up a 42-year-old mother of two. What a hero. LayCool tried to make the save, but was stopped by Trish Stratus, who did her best to kick ass in six-inch heels. Trish & Natalya vs. LayCool at WrestleMania, perhaps?

The Miz vs. Jerry "The King" Lawler was the match I was most excited for this evening, the most exciting story WWE's told in years, the kind of match that makes you raise an eyebrow when you see it on paper, but its execution is perfect. You can't manufacture the kind of emotion going into this match and Lawler showed why he's still one of the greatest storytellers in WWE today. I know a lot of people moaned about Miz being "saddled" with Lawler instead of working with active performers, but Lawler did more for Miz in this feud than any top star in WWE could have. WWE lucked into it, but they told a hell of a story here, and The Miz shattering Lawler's dreams of being WWE Champion and going to WrestleMania was an absolutely heatbreaking ending. Would've loved to see Lawler get a brief 24-hour reign, but that's emotion like only pro wrestling can provide.
Predictions: 3 for 3

Main Event time! Raw Elimination Chamber - John Cena vs. R-Truth vs. CM Punk vs. Randy Orton vs. Sheamus vs. John Morrison wasn't as good as the Smackdown Elimination Chamber, but it also didn't drag in the beginning. Stayed fun the entire way through thanks to the red hot Oakland crowd.

I LOVED the bit with CM Punk's pod malfunctioning, getting RKO'd, eliminated, only to be saved by The G?M because Randy Orton is cowardly cheater who attacks men when they're not ready. Wouldn't be surprised if CM Punk came up with that bit himself just to troll the smarks who were screaming "zOMG PUNK IS BURIED! WWE SUX!" for twenty seconds.

R-Truth wasn't in the match long, but I liked what I saw from him. He showed some aggression I've never seen from him and if he stuck with this style and did less of the goofy, fun-loving, Mr. Smiles stuff, there might be something there.

Randy Orton getting eliminated early was marvelous. Helped the entire pace of the match from being dragged down by Orton's super stompy offense.

John Morrison. Need I say more? Dude was Spider-Man in there, climbing and bouncing off the walls of the Chamber, and then climbing the roof of it, all the way to the middle and falling right on top of Sheamus from way up high. INSANE! Don't want to limit Morrison to just that one big moment though, he was truly the MVP of this match, once again defied logic and showed why he deserves a spot at the top.

CM Punk was pretty close to the MVP of the match though, between his fake elimination, to eliminating Orton with a GTS, and sacrificing his body for our entertainment... did you see his leg at the end of the match? Looked like he was resting it on a grill, my best buddy even referred to it as "Burger King Leg."

Of course, John Cena won the Chamber after hitting Punk with an Attitude Adjustment on the steel, which isn't surprising, but it's the most logical step. It's going to be Cena vs. Miz with involvement from The Rock, Rock pretty much told us that on Monday. I'm all for it, and I think they're going to surprise us with a true big match vibe.
Predictions: 4 for 4 (WOO!)

I loved this PPV. Slowed down a bit after the Smackdown Chamber, but picked right back up with Lawler vs. The Miz and the four advertised matches delivered big time. In fact, all four exceeded expectations and really, my only real gripe on the show is ending with a Cena win was unsurprising and a tad anticlimactic, but that's really a minor complaint. Honestly, there was no other way to end the show, Edge retaining the World Title isn't exactly a shocker, so unless Lawler walked out WWE Champ, ending with Cena was their best option. The landscape of WWE hasn't changed dramatically or anything, but there was great wrestling on this show and the stage is set for WrestleMania 27. Thumbs up!

It's Good to Be the King...SometimesWWE: Satan's Prison - The Anthology of the Elimination ChamberWWE: Top 50 Superstars of All Time

Saturday, February 19, 2011

WWE Smackdown thoughts - February 18, 2011

It was the 600th episode of Smackdown last night, the final show before Elimination Chamber and WWE started off this historic show in a big way, with a massive 12-man tag team match featuring the Elimination Chamber participants from both brands.

Edge, Randy Orton, John Morrison, R-Truth, Rey Mysterio & John Cena vs. CM Punk, King Sheamus, Wade Barrett, Drew McIntyre, Kane & Dolph Ziggler was our opening contest and I'm out of breath just by typing all those names... I need to get in shape. Interesting to note, the only person in this match that's only competed on one WWE brand is Drew McIntyre, who has been exclusive to Smackdown since his 2009 debut.

This match felt big, had loads of back and forth action and the crowd was red hot for it, whether the bad guys were dominating, Edge got a hot tag, or the hometown hero, Rey Mysterio was in there. It's not easy to keep these monstrous matches like this interesting while letting everyone get to do their shtick, but I think they pulled it off quite well here and the crowd gave it a great boost. The finisher fest at the end was a fun way to end things, and the good guys getting the big win just made sense. You don't do matches like this to give the win to the bad guys, they're purely to get the crowd excited.

After Edge won the match for his team by Spearing Dolph Ziggler, Vickie Guerrero cut off his his celebration and ordered him to hand over the World Championship after he illegally used the Spear last week against Dolph Ziggler. Hey, she had a point. Vickie took a step further though and said that since she knew Edge was the one who attacked Teddy Long, she fired him! Interesting twist.

Backstage, "DASHING" Cody Rhodes was wearing a face guard, but kept most of his face shadowed out since he's still recovering from his facial reconstruction surgery. The Dashing One promised he'd be back next week to make an announcement about his future. Hilarious stuff, I still wish he'd rock the Phantom of the Opera mask though.

Eve & Beth Phoenix vs. Layla & Maryse was next with Michelle McCool on commentary, and I kinda like the Laryse team, if they ever make the odd decision to split up LayCool, they should put them together. McCool provided the distraction to give Laryse the win and that's really all that happened in this match. #WeWantKong

They showed a clip of The Rock's return on Monday, but no actual Rock sighting on the 600th episode of Smackdown. He needs to show up on Fridays at least once before WrestleMania, just so I can hear him say, "The Rock's show, SMACKDOWN!" one more time.

And after taking on the United States Champion on Monday, The Miz set his sights on the Intercontinental Champion on Friday, battling Kofi Kingston in one-on-one competition. Kofi obviously doesn't have the chemistry with The Miz that Daniel Bryan does, but I thought these two meshed well. Alberto Del Rio distracting Kofi to give Miz the win adds a little bit of intrigue to their match tomorrow night, though after Del Rio made him tap out fair and square last week, I'm just not as interested in the rematch.

Justin Gabriel & Heath Slater vs. Santino Marella & Vladimir Kozlov was up next with the WWE Tag Team Titles on the line and there wasn't really much to this one until Santino KIPPED UP and nailed Gabriel with the COOOOOOOOBBBBBBBBBBBRRRRRRRRRRRRAAAAAAAAAAAA! Wade Barrett & Ezekiel Jackson interfered to cause the DQ, and somehow this gets Slater & Gabriel another shot at the titles this Sunday? Big Show made the save for the good guys, but honestly, the only thing I care about in this entire situation is Big Show vs. Big Zeke. I'm sorry, but The Corre just isn't working, Barrett's stock keeps dropping and while Slater & Gabriel could be decent tag champs, there just aren't any teams for them to work with.

In what I thought would be the final segment of the evening, Dolph Ziggler was officially named the NEW World Heavyweight Champion! Seriously, check the title history on WWE.com, it's official, Dolph Ziggler is a World Champion.

Well, former World Champion, because Teddy Long made a shocking return here, playa. T-Lo reveals that it wasn't Edge that attacked him, it was Dolph Ziggler, and Vickie quickly throws him under the bus... what a dysfunctional relationship this is. T-Lo is back in charge and his first order of business was to rehired Edge and give him a rematch for the World Championship!

Edge vs. Dolph Ziggler is the main event of the 600th episode of Smackdown, and guess what? Edge is the NEWER World Heavyweight Champion. Edge picked up the win with the decriminalized Spear and is now an 11-time World Champion, putting him just four reigns behind the Nature Boy!

After the match, T-Lo had one more thing to add... Dolph Ziggler is FIRED! Tough break, going from World Champion to unemployed in the span of ten minutes, and to add insult to injury, Edge serenaded him with Steam's "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye," which is used so often whenever someone is kicked out of WWE, I wonder if they own the rights to it.

I've seen a lot of smarks upset about Ziggler's story, which isn't surprising, because anytime something bad happens to someone they like, they've been "buried." Actually, I even saw someone say that Dolph Ziggler was "castrated" on this show, but I'm pretty sure that hasn't happened since Kaientai was around.

Okay, they kinda painted themselves into a corner with Ziggler and they could screw this up pretty bad, but let's not act like fake firings are the death knell for a wrestler's career... John Cena says "hi." Plus, we're about to enter the Elimination Chamber, the screwiest PPV of the year, I wouldn't be surprised to see Ziggler worm his way back into his vacated spot and set up a Triple Threat at WrestleMania. Or maybe he'll go to Raw? Either way, I think WWE has a vested interest in the guy, even if they tried a little too hard to make his transition to the main event unique, though they clearly weren't ready to commit to it.

Rest of the show was fun stuff, much better than the last two weeks, though The Rock recap went way too long and the Divas tag was what I've unfortunately come to expect. Should be interesting to see where they go from here with Edge and Ziggler, I'm confident a good portion of it will play out tomorrow night. But please WWE, don't just throw Big Show in the Smackdown Chamber and call it a day.

WWE: Satan's Prison - The Anthology of the Elimination ChamberSmackdown: The Best of 2009-2010WWE: Elimination Chamber 2010

Friday, February 18, 2011

Kick-Out!! Radio - Episode 54

The Rock is back! Also, The Rock is back! The rest of Raw was pretty great too, Elimination Chamber's build not so much. When was the last time WWE did the Road to WrestleMania the 'right' way? 2.21.11 is fast approaching. Oh and did we mention The Rock is back?!




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

iTunes - clicking this link will open your iTunes. Don't worry, it's free!

Theme song: "Believe" by Grasp Infinity

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Under Construction, Tough Guy!

If you see "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan walking around the site with his 2x4 over the next couple days, it's because we're under construction. I'm kinda bored with the current layout and color scheme and our two-year anniversary is just around the corner, so no better time than now to make some changes. Your feedback is always welcome, so if you have any suggestions on how to make the site look better, feel free to leave a comment.

Thank you for your patience through this and thank you for your continued support of Kick-Out!! Wrestling.

*UPDATE*

Things are mostly done, might find a few kinks that need to be worked out over the next few days, but for the most part, this is the new look of the blog.  Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Five Count: The Great One's Greatest

This week's Five Count coincides with our latest poll, we're taking a look at The Rock's best matches. This is kinda tough to narrow down because depending on who you ask, The Rock wasn't necessarily the best pure wrestler, but you can't deny that he's one of the greatest performers to step foot in the ring. But The Rock had some really good wrestling matches as well, so do you pick the technically good matches or the entertaining matches? I've always seen good wrestling as something of a mixture, maybe 60% entertainment, 40% technical wizardry, so this list will reflect that. Here are my picks for The Rock's five greatest matches, vote for your favorite in the poll to the right of your screen:

5. The Rock vs. Chris Jericho - No Mercy 2001
What I liked the most about this match was how much it broke from the mold of what was typical from WWE at the time. Up until the point Jericho gets Rock Bottomed through the Spanish Announce Table, it's almost an Anti-Attitude Era match, they stay in the ring for the most part and just have a wrestling match. I don't want to call it "old school" or make it sound basic, but it's definitely traditional and could fit in just about any era of wrestling.

The final moments of the match fall more into what we were used to seeing at the time, but the crowd exploded the minute Jericho locked in the Walls and didn't quiet down until the bell. I could've done without the shenanigans with Stephanie McMahon, but she played an integral role with both guys at the time and it allowed Jericho to win his first major title in WWE. It's interesting to go back and watch this match now because Jericho's style has changed so drastically since then. Rock's at his best here though (okay, except for that Dragon Screw) and made Jericho look like a legitimate threat, even if WWE was still nervous about getting 100% behind him.

4. The Rock vs. Kurt Angle vs. The Undertaker - Vengeance 2002
The Rock is a rare case where he kept getting better as time went on, and while 2002 was really his last "full" (almost full) year as a wrestler, he did some of his best work then. This match probably shouldn't have been as good as it was, WWE was in the middle of a rough patch - the Invasion bombed, the Brand Extension was going through growing pains, they had to change their name, Steve Austin had walked out, The Undertaker wasn't exactly setting the world on fire as Undisputed Champion, and Vengeance really just seemed like a filler PPV before SummerSlam, but this match is one of my favorite underrated classics.

Sure, a lot of the story is just these guys stealing each other' finishers, but it was so much fun and the crowd ate it up. Pretty brutal too, especially once Angle gets busted open and goes crazy with a steel chair. A great WWE style Triple Threat match that gave The Rock his only run with the Undisputed Championship and final title reign as a professional wrestler.

3. The Rock vs. Eddie Guerrero - Raw: July 22, 2002
How many wrestlers have had one of their greatest matches one night, and then put on another less than 24 hours later? Well The Rock did it in July of 2002, less than one day after the Vengeance Triple Threat with Undertaker and Angle, he puts on an even better match with Eddie Guerrero on Raw. Like I said, 2002 was a great year for the Great One.

Eddie was in a tough spot in the summer of 2002, he was really starting to catch on as a singles performer, which I don't think WWE ever anticipated, and was handpicked by Steve Austin as his next opponent. Unfortunately for Eddie, Austin walked out of the company before their match at King of the Ring and didn't get his shot to prove that he could hang with the big guys. Well, they sent him out there against The Rock the night after Vengeance and not only did they tear it up in the ring, Guerrero gave one of his finest performances on the mic as well. Eddie told a great story about his daughter loving The Rock and he tore her poster off the wall since he should've been her favorite wrestler.

Simple storytelling, excellent wrestling and even though his run at the top wouldn't come for another year and a half, Eddie proved in this match with The Rock that he was ready for the big time in one of my favorite Raw matches in history. He reversed the Rock Bottom into an arm drag!



2. The Rock vs. Steve Austin - WrestleMania 17
Take your pick out of the Austin vs. Rock WrestleMania Trilogy and they could be on this list. Honestly, they could probably fill up 3/5 of this list, but I like to keep things varied up, so which mast best sums up their rivalry? Well, using Star Wars logic, you gotta go with The Empire Strikes Back, and that's why their second WrestleMania encounter gets my vote. Of all their matches, it felt the biggest, the atmosphere was unmatched, the crowd was electrified, and these two threw everything they had at each other and still kept going at it.

This match wasn't just one of the best WrestleMania main events in history, it was the main event to the greatest WrestleMania in history. The only reason it's not #1 on this particular list is that, in retrospect, the ending probably wasn't the best idea and since it's The Rock's list, I can't finish it on a loss for him. It ends on such a down note, and that's what life is, a series of down endings.

1. The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan - WrestleMania 18
What more can be written about this match? Icon vs. Icon, Hulk Hogan's mind-blowing return to WWE after a nine-year absence, and The Rock's finest performance ever. And yes, I'm including Doom in that list of performances. This match wasn't supposed to be good, Hogan's last great match was years behind him and The Rock wasn't a miracle worker, but never underestimate the power of crowd energy and the magic of WrestleMania.

People often describe this match as "good, but..." using the same logic behind the criticisms of Hogan vs. Andre at WrestleMania 3, "good, but..." implying that it wasn't a technical masterpiece, but they still liked it. Well, it's not a math problem, it's wrestling and good is good. No, The Rock didn't throw any devastating strong style suplexes and Hogan didn't hit a corkscrew swan dive 450 splash (he stopped doing that in the 80s), but they epitomized what American professional wrestling is, a spectacle. That's what The Rock did best, he wasn't Ric Flair or Ricky Steamboat in the ring, but he knew how to make every match extravagant, and this match was his finest example of this skill. If you ever want to show your friends that don't watch wrestling what it's all about, show them this match.



FasterThe Rock: The Most Electrifying Man in Sports EntertainmentWWE All Stars

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

I Bring It

Last night's Raw was a game-changer. After a seven year absence, The Rock returned to World Wrestling Entertainment and will be the "host" of WrestleMania 27. The Rock electrified the crowd last night and showed us why he just might be the most charismatic Superstar in the history of the industry. My heart raced for the reveal, I screamed out loud on my couch for the music, my jaw was on the floor for almost 30 minutes, and the hair on the back of my neck still stands when I watch the replay... but let's be clear, this is not the solution to WWE's problems and it is possible that it could cause more.

I keep seeing all these people that haven't watched wrestling in years or "know people" that haven't watched wrestling in years, that tuned in last night and say they're going to order WrestleMania now since The Rock will be there. If that's true, I don't expect them to hang around for Raw the following night, or Extreme Rules the following month, or SummerSlam, or even WrestleMania 28. These are not the people WWE needs to be catering to, they're fair weather fans who aren't going to get hooked when their favorite person around is a non-wrestler who hasn't been seen in seven years, but in their eyes is still better than everyone else.

The Rock hasn't wrestled a match since WrestleMania 20 and his appearances were extremely sporadic at that point. In that time, WWE has put all of their efforts behind John Cena, he's had an uninterrupted run at the top and hasn't had to play second-fiddle to Stone Cold like The Rock did. In the six years Cena's been the guy, he hasn't come close to The Rock's level, just look at the reaction from the fans, "CENA SUX! ROCK RULES!" "YEAH, ROCK REALLY TOOK IT TO CENA! ROCKY! ROCKY! ROCKY!" A guy that's been gone for seven years resonates more with the fans than the #1 guy in the company, again, I don't know if that's an environment WWE wants to encourage.

If the eventual payoff is The Rock giving his "stamp of approval" to John Cena like Mike Tyson did with Stone Cold at WrestleMania 14, or Andre the Giant did with Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania 3, I get that and it'll be a cool moment, but most likely short-lived. Cena haters aren't going to become Cena fans because he got a man hug from The Rock after beating The Miz for his tenth World Title and it still won't make Cena as big and as popular as The Great One.

And that attitude will trickle down the card as well. The roster is young and has been pushed quickly to fill certain voids left by the likes of Batista, Shawn Michaels, Chris Jericho, The Undertaker, and Triple H. That's not their fault, WWE probably should've been better prepared for something like this, but they've made the most of it in a short timespan. But now The Rock's here, and while The Miz and Alberto Del Rio are tremendous performers, when put next to The Rock, they're pretty much "who in the blue hell are you?" fodder. Rock would wipe the floor with these guys without even going outside his catchphrase Rolodex.

And that's really the crux of the issue. As excited as I am for The Rock to be here, it really shows the gap between wrestling's peak and wrestling today. The Rock is over here, the rest of WWE is way over there and between them is the Grand Canyon. There are a lot of reasons for that, WWE has put more of an emphasis on their own brand than individual stars since The Rock's days, they didn't adequately prepare for the loss of Austin and Rock, and to be blunt, no one's come along that's as good as they were. I like John Cena, I think he's a once in a lifetime performer and the most valuable asset in wrestling today, but he's not The Rock or Steve Austin. That's not a knock on him, that's just the reality of the situation.

But I hope Cena doesn't operate under that reality when he responds to The Rock. I don't want to see "aw, shucks" John Cena who's so super respectful to all those who came before him, I want to see him get in there and trash The Rock right back. Call him out for leaving for seven years, point out the fact that if he said "Barney's anus" in 2011, he'd be booed out the building, yet The Rock somehow gets cheered, this is the one time I want to see Cena get mean. Play up that tension, make it look like these two could go at it, then when we do get the handshake at WrestleMania, it'll at least look like two peers rather than The Rock "passing the torch" to his little buddy.

I don't want to rain on anyone's parade or take away from the euphoria of The Rock's awesome return, because it was awesome, but let's not act like WWE's all better now or that The Rock is the savior of the wrestling industry. This should be a great short term boost, WrestleMania will be tons of fun, even if I have no idea what Rock's role as "host" will be, but the real work begins when The Rock leaves to film Faster Furi6user.

Monday, February 14, 2011

WWE Raw thoughts - February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day, wrestling fans! When I was a kid, I handed out WWF Valentine's Cards to my second grade class. What that has to do with tonight's Raw, I'm not sure, but sometimes I like to talk about myself. Also, The Big Show debuted with WWE 12 years ago tonight on the St. Valentine's Day Massacre PPV; but perhaps more notable than that, I believe it was also the last time WWE used the "barred" cage... unless you count the Kennel From Hell, but why would you?

Anyhoo, we're just a few minutes away from the big reveal of the WrestleMania host (still holding out hope for the Brock Lesnar/Justin Bieber tag team), which people are all excited about, we love to speculate, but what's more important is whether or not it will actually matter. Sure, getting a big name to "host" WrestleMania is nice, but will it make the show any better? I suppose we'll have a better answer for that question when Vince McMahon makes his big announcement, so refresh your page for ongoing coverage of tonight's show. Also, don't forget about Twitter, where my comments that are somehow even too stupid for this blog are posted.

But it looks like we're not quite getting the WrestleMania host just yet, we're starting things off with in-ring action, John Cena vs. CM Punk! Cena's going to talk to us about Valentine's Day first though, saying nothing says I love you like tickets to WWE! I agree, in fact, WWE is better than most Valentine's Day plans. You could stand outside TGI Fridays for two hours, waiting for a table... or you could go to WWE, clearly that's better! TGI Fridays is romantic, right? Open mic night Cena at the moment though, and we all know how iffy that can be, but luckily CM Punk eventually cuts him off before things can get especially silly.

Hey, wrestling within the first 10 minutes of Raw, that is becoming increasingly frequent. Even though I'd like to see these guys in a major PPV-level feud, I'm always excited to see them work together, Punk's clothesline off the apron before the break was a good start too.

Great action after the break as well with Cena showing off his freakish strength and CM Punk being displayed as an evil genius. Punk has an answer to all of Cena's offense, managing to avoid all of his big moves and always has a few tricks up his sleeve. A Nexus member under the ring gave Punk a chair, which allowed him to distract the ref and then nail Cena with a wrench! Punk wins with the Go To Sleep, making him 3-0 against John Cena this year! I love the idea of Punk as Cena's Kryptonite, they should keep that up.

On a more serious note, Michael Cole & Josh Mathews note that Jerry Lawler is not at Raw tonight after the death of his mother. Very sad, and weird how life throws us curveballs like that in the middle of happiness and success. If any good can come out of this sad news, hopefully it'll inspire Lawler to put on an even more special performance this Sunday at Elimination Chamber.

Hey, Alberto Del Rio is here! But you already knew that. ADR is here to tell us about destiny and how it's his destiny to win the World Championship at WrestleMania, but he's rudely interrupted by the World Champion, Edge... well, the "sorta" World Champion, I think someone else has a legitimate claim to that title. Edge sucker punches Del Rio and runs him off, but the lovely and vivacious Vickie Guerrero is here to introduce the NEW World Champion, Dolph Ziggler! Vickie promises a coronation for Ziggler on Friday Night Smackdown and claims Edge will soon be fired when she shows proof that he attacked Teddy Long. Interesting.

New 2.21.11 video, and wow, without his makeup, Sting sure looks a lot like The Undertaker. Seriously though, they just showed The Undertaker, these videos were never meant to be the big "OMG MYSTERY!!!" that everyone turned it into.

Natalya vs. Eve in a Lumberjill Match for the Diva's Championship is up next and Eve's kinda looking like Wonder Woman and Iron Man had a baby. Match was kind of a mess though, Eve dove to the outside and it looked like kinda kicked Maryse in the teeth and then the ending was wonky as well. #WeWantKong

Mark Henry vs. well, no one I guess. King Sheamus attacked Henry during his entrance and got some well deserved vengeance for that stupidity from last week.

The Miz walking backstage and shoving some poor production assistant is hilarious. Oh and another Michael Tarver cameo. Good thing Alex Riley keeps Miz's soul in that briefcase.

AWWWWWWEEEEEEESSSSSSSSOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMEEEEE! The Most Must-See WWE Champion in History, The Miz is here to take on his old protege, Daniel Bryan, in what is sure to be an incredibly fun 10pm main event. These two had an awesome match back at Night of Champions, perhaps Miz's best match ever, and it gave Bryan the United States Championship, and he's now the longest reigning champion in WWE right now. Bryan's showcasing why he's the 21st century Excellence of Execution, taking it to the WWE Champion and even though Cole and A-Ri are annoying the hell out of me on commentary, at least it makes sense when The Miz is against his NXT season 1 rookie.

Miz takes control heading into the break, and he's no slouch either, no matter what the smarks tell you, but the tide quickly turns back when Bryan reverses a superplex into a sunset flip powerbomb off the top rope! This is what's so awesome about Bryan, he may not get the crowd to scream for his theme music, but once things get going, they go nuts for the guy. Miz manages to reverse a victory roll and just pancakes the US Champion onto the apron and follows up with the Skullcrushing Finale to barely scrape out a win. Excellent match, a definite Match of the Month contender.

The Miz grabs a mic after the match and offers his "condolences" to Jerry Lawler, but adds that he doesn't want to hear Lawler making excuses if he loses. That's old school heat right there, but if this were the 1970s, Lawler would've had him go way further than that.

David Otunga & Michael McGillicutty vs. John Morrison & R-Truth up next, and I thought Truth and Morrison were supposed to be wrestling each other tonight? Supposedly The G?M changed it during the commercial, but I would've MUCH rather seen Truth vs. Morrison than any match involving David Otunga and Michael McGillicutty. Easy win for the good guys in a pointless match, Morrison hiptossing R-Truth onto Mason Ryan was cool though. But hey, Nexus is the most dangerous group in WWE history!

Ariel Winter from Modern Family and The Chaperone is here to introduce the Valentine's Day Khali Kiss Cam with The Great Khali. Yay? This is actually pretty funny, especially with William Regal kissing Zack Ryder, but Hornswoggle trying to mack on a 12 year old is gross. He's not a little kid, he has a beard! Be ready when he appears on Dateline this Friday on a special edition of To Catch a Leprechaun.

Sheamus vs. Randy Orton next, blah. There's actually some level of chemistry between these two, but I don't think they've ever "clicked" in their numerous encounters. Of course, I blame Orton for this, because, ya know, he's the bane of my existence. Yeah yeah, Orton wins, I'm sure you're shocked, but hey CM Punk & Nexus attack him after the match, that's a plus! Agh, but then Truth, Cena & Morrison have to be the do-gooders while Orton hits everyone with an RKO. Most dangerous group ever! Ugh.

High Heels step out of the WrestleMania host's limo. I thought they said it was a dude, OMG RUDY GIULIANI IS HOSTING WRESTLEMANIA?!

Well, the guest host was revealed and I had to step away from my computer because sure enough, it'S THE ROCK!!!

The Rock.

THE Rock.

The ROCK!

THE ROCK!!!

Yes, it needed to be typed that many times. The Rock proceeded to make the Anaheim crowd EXPLODE like I haven't heard a WWE crowd explode in years and then delivered one of the finest promos of his career. And this is The Rock, so you know that means something if someone says it was one of his best mic performances.

I've been a bit of a harsh critic towards The Rock over the years, mainly because I found it curious that he constantly talked about how much he loved WWE, but hasn't been in a WWE arena in over six years. I didn't feel like The Rock owed anything to me, the fans or WWE, he did everything he could, it just kinda bugged me that he always said "oh I miss it so much" or "I'll be back someday," but couldn't even make a single in-ring appearance. Well, after tonight, I know why; when someone like The Rock steps away for a few years, it's gotta be epic when he comes back. If The Rock had just been sandwiched in between Toby Keith and Jewel as a Raw guest host, or came in to make fun of The Miz one day, tonight would not have had the same impact. I was wrong about The Rock, he wasn't avoiding WWE, he was waiting.

In a year where WrestleMania might not have that "blockbuster" card we're used to, The Rock is here to electrify things. My jaw hit the floor when "IF YA SMEEEEEEEELL" hit because I thought this wouldn't be possible, because The Rock took enough time away to make something like this all the more special. Really, all I can say is, "wow."

The Rock did what The Rock does best, and teased us with a potential face off with John Cena at WrestleMania, mocking him for all the trash talk of the last few years. While I don't know what The Rock's role will be as host of WrestleMania, and he recently said he'd never wrestle again, it's impossible to not be excited for whatever The Rock and WWE have in store for us on April 3. The Rock wouldn't come back after all this time to half-ass it, and with him promising to "never go away," I think we're in store for something special.

Tonight's Raw just changed the game. I could sum up my thoughts on the rest of the show, but c'mon, no one's going to be talking about the rest of the show anytime soon, The Rock has come back to WWE!

WWE: Top 50 Superstars of All TimeThe Rock: The Most Electrifying Man in Sports EntertainmentWWE - The Legacy of Stone Cold Steve Austin

Sunday, February 13, 2011

WWE Smackdown Thoughts - February 11, 2011

Last week's show was pretty disappointing, but the fact that they were in Green Bay for this show and the Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers were coming, had me pretty excited for what was sure to be a hot crowd. Let's take a look.

And sure, the Packers are Super Bowl champs and all, but there's only one Royal Rumble winner, Alberto Del Rio... but you already knew that. Del Rio had the ring decked out in red to celebrate Valentine's Day, to tell us about all the things he loves, like his cars and DESTINY! He also took a swipe at Aaron Rodgers, saying he doesn't need to pretend to be a World Champion because he's going to be on at WrestleMania!

Kofi Kingston interrupted, understandably a little unhappy about the events of last week and threatened Del Rio with a Singapore cane of his own. Del Rio begged for mercy and it looked like Kofi was going to back off, but wound up nailing the Rumble winner with a few good shots, then destroyed his Valentine's Day celebration. This is what I'm talking about with good guys acting like bad guys, Del Rio was helpless, pleading with Kofi to show him mercy, but Kofi struck him with a weapon anyway. Del Rio begging was humiliation enough, Kofi could've destroyed the set and scared Del Rio away, but instead he struck a defenseless man. I'm sure many will disagree and say Kofi was merely getting revenge, but good guys shouldn't be out for revenge, especially a fun-loving guy like Kingston. Not everyone needs to be Stone Cold, some guys should do the right thing, even when they're dealing with bad people.

Kofi Kingston vs. Alberto Del Rio was our opening contest and I have no idea why they just gave this away when it would make a perfectly fine match at Elimination Chamber. I was hoping for shenanigans or at least a surprise finish, but Del Rio won definitively, even after getting beat with the Singapore cane, so what's the point of giving Kofi another match? The match itself was fine, a little too short for my taste, but the decision to even do it is just mind-boggling. If I had to give a single answer why PPV buyrates are down, it's because WWE doesn't build cards anymore, they rely too much on branding to sell events, but that doesn't really work when every show has its own "hook" now. As of right now, there are three - THREE - matches announced for a PPV that's one week away. Sure, the big matches are the Chambers, but I don't think those alone sell a $50 show, especially when it's sandwiched between the Royal Rumble and WrestleMania, the only two shows that do sell themselves on brand recognition alone.

Clay Matthews & The Green Bay Packers were on hand and they all had their own World Heavyweight Championship belts. Now see, that's smart marketing.

Vladimir Kozlov vs. Justin Gabriel was next, continuing their Tag Team Title feud, and I was pretty impressed with Kozlov in this one. I can't remember the last time I saw him in a singles match, but he showed off some new stuff and Gabriel was the perfect opponent for him. The Corrrrrrrre, of course, played a role in Gabriel picking up the win, but I'm sorry, I just don't find these guys that intimidating when most of these guys went from destroying John Cena, to beating up Santino & Kozlov.

Chris Masters vs. Drew McIntyre was a match I was excited for, but if there was theme to this show so far, it was WWE pissing me off with stuff I genuinely wanted to see. McIntyre dedicated his match to the fired Kelly Kelly, took some offense from Masters, but gained the upper hand with a nice counter into the Future Shock, match was over. That sentence was longer than this match.

Wade Barrett vs. Rey Mysterio was the top of the hour main event, another match that probably shouldn't just be given away on Smackdown. At least we got some shenanigans with Gabriel providing a distraction, but for the most part, it was another PPV-caliber match given away on free TV. At least we got some cool stuff with Big Show, who tried to save Rey from the 4-on-1 beat down after the match, highlighted by Big Zeke suplexing the World's Largest Athlete. That was much more impressive than taking out Santino.

Kane vs. JTG, really?

Eve vs. Layla was next, and Layla trying to get Michelle McCool's attention during her moves was hilarious. It was like a child at the park, "Mommy, look at me! Mommy! Mommy look! Look what I can do!" Unfortunately, that was pretty much all there was to this match, Eve picked up a bizarre win, though she should've won by disqualification seconds earlier.

They really have to get Michael Cole out of the announce booth, he's nothing but a distraction at this point. I was watching some old DVDs this week and was reminded of how good Heenan, Ventura and Lawler were, and Cole's nowhere near their level. His insufferable Type A-hole personality could be amusing, but not when all he's doing is running down the participants in a match and his fellow commentators. The best heels tell the truth, at least to a degree, but Cole is just delusional and obnoxious and he's dragging every show down.

Main Event time! Edge vs. Dolph Ziggler for the World Heavyweight Championship with Vickie Guerrero as the special guest referee. Vickie reminded us that the Spear was still banned and had the crowd livid before the match even started. I wasn't thrilled about this match happening again since I couldn't see a way for WWE to get out of it without making Ziggler look like a choke artist or without giving him a pointless, short reign. After a night of disappointment, WWE managed to surprise me and pull off what I thought would be impossible and kept the belt on Edge in a brilliant way. Vickie hurt herself trying to spear Edge (seriously), Edge nailed two spears while she was down and Clay Matthews of the Green Bay Packers came to the ring in a referee shirt and counted the win. Dolph Ziggler has a legitimate claim to the World Title, Edge keeps the World Title, no one looks like a buffoon... except Vickie Guerrero, who's supposed to.

Unfortunately, that was pretty much the only good part of Smackdown this week. Giving away PPV-caliber matches for free with no build-up and definitive endings, not hyping a PPV that's just seven days away, and pointless squash matches. Thumbs way down on this week's show, but with next week being Smackdown's 600th episode, hopefully they'll do something big. A 12-man tag match featuring all the participants in both Elimination Chambers is good, it'll hopefully force them to fill the rest of the show with hype for the rest of the PPV.

WWE Smackdown vs Raw 2011Smackdown: The Best of 2010 [Blu-ray]WWE Tombstone - History of the Undertaker