Tuesday, March 29, 2011

WWE: The RPG

I'm currently playing Dragon Age 2 on Xbox 360, the highly anticipated sequel to Dragon Age: Origins, which might be one of my top 10 favorite games of all-time. The sequel isn't as good, but that's neither here nor there because another video game came out today that I think wrestling fans are more interested in, WWE All Stars.

Honestly, I'm not sold on the game, I'm hearing a lot of mixed reviews and despite the best efforts of the good folks over at THQ, I just haven't had a wrestling game hold my interest in years. Again, those guys bust their asses over there to churn out two WWE games a year, but I'm pretty picky about what I spend my $60 on these days. It does look like a fun way to kill some time with friends, but between my job, my upcoming wedding, real life and Kick-Out!!, I don't really have time to play games on someone else's schedule. And I'm certainly not going to take any chances with complete strangers on Xbox Live, if I wanted people to hurl hateful language at me, I'd just follow Michael Cole on Twitter.

But wait, what if the guys at THQ combined my love of wrestling with my love of an epic single-player experience like Dragon Age? Hey, they've shown they're already willing to go over the top with All Stars, let's just take it to the next level and take the WWE Superstars into a completely different genre! Here's how I would do the BioWare-inspired WWE RPG:

The Premise
You are The Rookie, it might not sound as cool as "Hawke" or "The Warden," but if it's good enough for a Beastie Boys video, it's good enough for me. Plus, it's gender neutral, so you could be either a new Superstar or Diva. On your first night in WWE, you draw the ire of the psychotic Kane, who just lost his World Championship to his brother, The Undertaker. Kane now has his own championship, forged within the very depths of The Darkside, appropriately named the Darkside Championship, and blasts you in the skull with it. The sheer force shatters the title belt and sends shockwaves throughout the arena, rips a hole in the space/time continuum and sends everyone into a literal WWE Universe.

The WWE Universe would consist of numerous WWE-themed cities and landmarks, like The 619, The Palace of Wisdom and the mysterious Parts Unknown. As The Rookie, it will be your task to journey throughout these locations, recruit your party, recover the remnants of the broken championship and travel to the depths of the Darkside to save the world as we once knew it from chaos.

Your Party
Like any good RPG, you can't go it alone, you'll need a party to help in your journey. Sticking with the Dragon Age theme, they may not all be your friends, but sometimes personal issues have to be set aside for the greater good. How you interact with each party member will affect the story in some shape or form. Party members (and The Rookie) will be divided into three groups:

Champions (Warriors)
The heavy-hitters, these are the guys (and gals), you want on the front lines doing damage and protecting the party. Champions can use heavy weapons like sledgehammers and steel chairs.

High-Flyers (Rogues)
In your typical RPG, High-Flyers would be classed as rogues or thieves, they move quickly and strike before the even knows they're there. High-Flyers rely on their gauntlets and boots for weapons.

Phenoms (Mages)
Your Phenoms are the magic users who usually hang back and cast spells, but in our game, one Phenom in particular can become your most powerful ally (one guess who that is). Phenoms use magic as a weapon.

Heroes
Along with The Rookie, who can be whatever you make him or her out to be, you will recruit several friends (and rivals) along the way who will aid you in your journey:

Triple H
Class: Champion
Armed with his trusty Giant Sledgehammer, The Game will be recruited early on in the game (that's confusing) and will always have his sights set on the ultimate goal, even if that means questionable moral choices have to be made along the way.

John Cena
Class: Champion
Cena will act as the counter-balance to Triple H's moral ambiguity. While Triple H will take a shortcut to the goal, Cena will always choose the honorable path, even if it's more difficult.

Beth Phoenix
Class: Champion

The first of our Diva characters, The Glamazon can be just as tough as her male counterparts and isn't afraid to fight anyone, male, female or leprechaun. (Did I mention the Hornswoggle level yet?)

CM Punk
Class: High-Flyer
His lightning-quick offense matched only by his lightning-quick wit, CM Punk isn't looking to make friends, just a way out of this ridiculous world he's stuck in.

Rey Mysterio
Class: High-Flyer
The ultimate good guy and the fastest character in your party, Rey Rey would have the unique ability to strike almost any enemy on screen, no matter how far away.

Natalya
Class: High-flyer
Weaker enemies will be instantly decapitated by Natalya's out-of-nowhere spinning clothesline.

John Morrison
Class: Phenom
He's the Shaman of Sexy, of course he'd be a mage!

The Bella Twins
Class: Phenom
Twin magic, obviously.

The Undertaker
Class: Phenom
The most powerful ally you can get in the game. When fully leveled up, Taker is near unstoppable and will not quit until Kane rests in peace.

Obviously all characters will level up with their unique abilities, including Triple H's Pedigree, Rey Mysterio's 619 and The Undertaker's Lightning... those Star Wars games won't have shit on Taker's Force Lightning!

Villains
And of course, every RPG has to have great boss battles:

Kane
The big bad. For once, Kane's confusing backstory won't matter because the game is already over-the-top ridiculous! Kane is trying to recover the pieces of the Darkside Championship for himself so he can make the WWE Universe permanent and rule over it. It'll make sense when we flesh out the story... maybe.

Sheamus
While Hornswoggle is trying to make the Leprechaun Town a fun and happy place, Sheamus is trying to destroy it for pushing bad Irish stereotypes. Due to the warped world that is the WWE Universe, his skin will glow and his hair will be on fire ala Sweet Tooth in Twisted Metal.

The Miz
The proverbial thorn in your side throughout the entire game. You'll be begging for the eventual showdown, which won't happen until the final hours of the game... and even then he'll still escape, we gotta set up the sequel!

Dolph Ziggler & Vickie Guerrero
The evil power couple, they've been given their own corner of the WWE Universe by Kane so they'd leave him alone. Vickie has the power to literally turn into a Cougar that will claw your face off.

Randy Orton
Due to the power of the WWE Universe exaggerating everyone's characters, Randy Orton literally has voices in his head and he can longer control them. With any semblance of humanity left behind in the real world, Orton is one of the most sadistic and dangerous villains you'll encounter.

LayCool
LayCool will be an early boss fight, but don't count them out, their shrieks will shatter glass and perhaps your TV speakers.

Cody Rhodes
You'll have to make it through the DASHING Hall of Mirrors maze if you want to defeat this villain.

Other Characters

Edge & Christian
You'll encounter these two throughout the game, but are they friend or foe?

The Corre
A pack of mercenaries for sale to the highest bidder, regardless of motive.

Vince McMahon
Throughout the entire story, characters from both sides of the Universe will be searching for Vince McMahon. What happened to him after the rift? Whose side is he on? Is he still in that coma? Consider him like Mickey Mouse in Kingdom Hearts, even if you don't see him until the end of the game, he may not be far behind.

There you have it, WWE Universe (working title), the first ever WWE role-playing game. I started tweeting about this yesterday as a joke, but as I was typing it up, I realized I would totally play this game. So THQ, if you want to continue embracing the ridiculous, just give me a call!

Dragon Age Origins: Ultimate EditionWWE All StarsDragon Age 2

Poll: Mania Main Events

What a Raw last night! If you're not sufficiently hyped for at least one of the big matches this year, check your pulse. But here's what I want to know, which WrestleMania main event match are you most excited for? Vote now and tell us why that's your pick in the comments section.

Here are the results from our previous poll:

WHICH NON-MAIN EVENT WRESTLEMANIA MATCH ARE YOU MOST EXCITED FOR?
Jerry Lawler vs. Michael Cole - 40% (!!)
Rey Mysterio vs. Cody Rhodes - 36%
Randy Orton vs. CM Punk - 20%
John Morrison, Trish Stratus & Snooki vs. Dolph Ziggler & LayCool - 4%
The Corre vs. Big Show & Friends - 0%

While I'm not surprised that Lawler and Cole got a lot of support, it's one of WWE's best told stories in years, I was pretty surprised to see it get a whopping 40% of the vote. I was torn on this one because I really love the Lawler vs. Cole story, but had to give my vote to Mysterio vs. Rhodes because of just how awesome it is that WWE's paid this much attention to a midcard feud. When's the last time two active wrestlers, outside the main event scene (granted, Rey can always be a main eventer when they want him to be), got a four month feud without any titles involved?

WWE Wrestlemania - The Complete Anthology, Vol. 1 - 1985-1989 (I-V)WWE: Top 50 Superstars of All TimeWWE WrestleMania - The Complete Anthology, Vol. 2 - 1990-1994 (WrestleMania VI-X)

Monday, March 28, 2011

WWE Raw thoughts - March 28, 2011

For all intents and purposes, this is the final show before WrestleMania. Smackdown will feature clips from Axxess and maybe a match or two, but tonight's Raw is their last chance to heat up all the stories to their WrestleMania boiling point. I'm pretty confident about this show and I think it's why WWE just did a placeholder last week because they're bringing the goods tonight. The Rock is going to be on, that alone is going to grab the attention of those who aren't 100% sold on WrestleMania, and I wouldn't be shocked if they have a surprise or two up their sleeve. Refresh your page for ongoing coverage of the show and as always, you can follow my thoughts that are too ridiculous for the blog on Twitter.

Cold open for Monday Night Raw with CM Punk sitting in the ring while the Chicago crowd cheers on their hometown hero. There are probably better ways to start off Monday Night Raw, but honestly, nothing else is coming to mind right now. CM Punk reminds us what he did to Randy Orton last week and claims he will finally close this "sick and twisted chapter" this Sunday. Serves Orton right for costing Punk his World Heavyweight Championship over two years ago!

Randy Orton limps his way to ringside and manages to hit Punk with his second rope DDT (he probably did something illegal that I just didn't see to gain the upper hand). Orton tries to commit felonious assault once again, but instead of punting CM Punk, he fell flat on his face! How's that leg, Randall?! Oh man, that was absolutely glorious. It was magnificent. It was MAGNIFLORIOUS! A GTS for good measure too? That might be the Raw moment of the decade. Have a nice trip, Randall! See ya next fall!

It looks like Edge can attack Alberto Del Rio on Raw, but not on Smackdown. He teams with Christian (!!!) next!

Edge & Christian finally reunite after that bait & switch from two weeks ago to take on Alberto Del Rio & Brodus Clay in our opening contest. Fun match with a hot crowd so far and holy crap, that Tornado DDT from Christian onto Del Rio was NASTY! Edge hits the Spear on Brodus while Christian and Del Rio brawl outside to pick up the win! Reeking of awesomeness! Del Rio manages to get both Edge and Christian in the Cross Armbreaker outside the ring (separately, though a duel Armbreaker would be interesting) to a chorus of boos. Seriously, I have no idea why they're not adding Christian to this match, based on the way this story has played out, Christian shouldn't just be in the match, he should win it!

Sin Cara looks like he's wrestling inside Windows 95.

The G?M announces that Jerry Lawler will be in action tonight, taking on Jack Swagger. Makes sense, but expect shenanigans!

Another bad ass hype video for The Undertaker vs. Triple H.

Justin Gabriel vs. Santino Marella up next and it's official, it will be The Corre vs. Big Show, Kane, Santino & Kozlov at WrestleMania. Well, that's underwhelming. No Diesel? Even worse, Kofi Kingston has NOTHING to do at WrestleMania? Come on! Not much of a match here, good guys fend off The Corre, the Cobra strikes and Santino picks up the win. Big Show doing the Santino trombone celebration is pretty funny though. Kane, not so much... wasn't this guy pure evil two months ago?

GONG!

The Undertaker is here and you may not have heard yet, but there ain't no grave that can hold his body down. Taker's entrance never gets old, but apparently Triple H disagrees, giving interrupting The Phenom for the second time in this feud. What a dick! Oh but hey, Undertaker interrupted Triple H's entrance with the gong, so it's all fair and no one gets "buried." I kid, I kid.

So we've got ourselves a stare down, much like the one on 2.21.11, but now with added SHAWN MICHAELS! Business, as someone might say, is about to pick up. HBK does what he does best, make something feel like a big deal. Interesting twist when he asks Triple H "what makes you think you can do what I couldn't?" Ooooh! Triple H tells Shawn he got soft and didn't need to win, he just needed to have the best performance of the night. Triple H isn't that guy though and the only reason he came back is to put an end to The Undertaker, because much like Shawn last year, it's The Phenom's "time." Oh Triple H, I don't think you get to be the one to decide when The Undertaker has to go to the vet for the last time.

The Undertaker's response is a little more harsh than I expected it to be though. These guys are laying it all out and the Dead Man tells Triple H that he's going to end up like his buddy, broken, humbled and full of regret. Ouch. HBK goes for the Superkick, but it's blocked and Triple H stops Taker before he can nail a chokeslam. Shawn walks off, almost like he's having flashbacks of the horror that was WrestleMania 26 and Taker gives Triple H a tip of the hat for his troubles. Brilliant, brilliant segment. I still wasn't sure what the story was in this feud, other than "here's Triple H, here's The Undertaker, enjoy," but this really drove it home. I am now sufficiently stoked.

Jack Swagger vs. Jerry "The King" Lawler next and... they changed Jerry Lawler's music?! What?! WHY? He's had the same music since his WWE debut, he might be the only guy in WWE history that's been in the company for more than five years and never changed his music. Especially when it's as generic as this new theme was. Okay, I'm getting a bit sidetracked, Lawler gets DQ'd for using a chair, then goes to town on the Cole Mine (that sounds dirty) and gets a cup of soda to the face from Cole. Man, I cannot wait for Cole to get a WWE All Stars-esque Piledriver through the ring at WrestleMania.

Vickie Guerrero just stole John Morrison's slow-mo entrance. Sorry Taker and Triple H, I think The Cougar just stole the show. Dolph Ziggler & Sheamus are in tag action here against Daniel Bryan & John Morrison; I dig these teams, I wouldn't be opposed to either or both of them becoming permanent, especially Bryan & Morrison. Hell of a match to boot with the bad guys picking up the win, maybe these guys should just wrestle in a rematch at Mania? Nah, Bryan and Sheamus could put on a clinic if given enough time and the Morrison/Ziggler match has The Snook, who may very well surprise you.

The Road Warriors are rounding out the 2011 Hall of Fame class, finally taking their well deserved place... even though Demolition was better. Yeah I said it!

And we go from the Legion of Doom to the Legion of Douche, Trish Stratus & Snooki are hanging out in New Jersey. And of course, we can't have a WWE segment in a bar without the place getting destroyed. LayCool should've hired APA to help them out.

IF YA SMEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEELL... Here we go folks, it's time for The Rock, live on Raw! No bringing it via satellite this week. I had to step away from my computer while this segment was going on to give it my full attention and I'm damn sure glad I did. Hopefully you can forgive the sudden shift to past tense, but I do it all the time anyway, so why worry now?!

The Rock did his Rocky thing when he was in the ring by himself, he had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand. I know it's often joked that The Rock could keep the crowd interested if he just went out there and read the phone book, but I don't think it's too far from reality. Here we are, 13 years later, and all the Rock has to do is give us a list of objects, talk about turning them sideways and sticking it all straight up someone's candy ass and the crowd reacts louder than anything you've heard on WWE television in five years, it's insane. So The Rock had the crowd good and riled up and when he turned his attention to John Cena, the "CENA SUCKS!" chants were deafening, although that was probably because I had my volume up to 75 at this point. Hey, I'm an old man, leave me alone.

Didn't take long for John Cena to get his cue, he strolled down the aisle and for the first time ever - EVER - John Cena and The Rock were in the ring together. It's not often you get to say "first time ever" in wrestling and certainly not with something of this magnitude. John Cena wasn't rapping, insinuating someone was gay or making poop jokes (though he did come close to playing the race card, which was a bit weird for a white dude from Massachusetts), he was speaking from the heart and you could feel it. Cena told The Rock that he belonged in WWE and that's why he ran his mouth years ago, the fans want him in WWE and John Cena wants him in WWE. It came across incredibly well because it felt very real and I'm sure a lot of it was.

The Rock, who you could tell sensed the moment they were creating, threw the gauntlet down and told Cena he was going to lay the smackdown, and that brought out the true hero of this story, The Miz! With a "Really? Really?" Miz put himself on equal footing with Past and Present and did a hell of a job selling the idea that he's the future of the industry. As a huge fan of The Miz, I was just stoked to see the guy who used to practice The Rock's mannerisms in front of a mirror get to stand toe-to-toe with the Great One... with the WWE draped over his shoulder. A WWE Title that he's held longer than any of The Rock's individual reigns, by the way!

Alex Riley got a little big for his britches and sucker-punched The Rock. Miz & Riley tried their damnedest to keep him down, but Rock tossed Riley, nailed Miz with a DDT and sure enough, The People's Elbow! First People's Elbow in seven years, if I'm not mistaken. Miz got chucked out of the ring, but then John Cena hit The Rock with the Attitude Adjustment! Oh yeah, The Rock vs. John Cena is happening. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but it is going to happen and it will be WWE's biggest match since Rock vs. Hogan. And you know what else? I'm calling it now: The Miz is winning at WrestleMania!

Absolutely, without question, a fan-friggin-tastic episode of Monday Night Raw. We all know WWE brings the goods at WrestleMania time and while the build has been shakier this year than usual, they hit a walk-off grand slam tonight... sorry for the baseball reference, I'm excited for Opening Day. Anyhoo, there was nothing on this show that failed to deliver, every single Mania match got the hype it needed and I really can't think of anything to complain about. I'm sure someone will gripe about The Miz getting the People's Elbow (he's BURIEDzOMG!), but it won't matter when he totally wins at WrestleMania! Awesome show. Awesome, awesome, awesome show. Bring on Mania!

The Rock: The Most Electrifying Man in Sports EntertainmentWWE All StarsWWE: The True Story of WrestleMania

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Spoiled Merch

Inspired by our discussion on the latest episode of the Fair to Flair Show, I'm introducing a new segment here at Kick-Out!!, Spoiled Merch, the very worst in wrestling merchandise.

We're starting off with a "classic" from The Rock, who had a knack for getting anything he said (no matter how terrible) on a t-shirt:


Suddenly John Cena's Fruity Pebbles shirts don't look so bad, do they?

WWE Smackdown Thoughts - March 25, 2011

Smackdown opened backstage with Edge and Teddy Long yelling at each other. Edge wasn't happy about T-Lo's ruling that barred him and Del Rio from touching each other before WrestleMania, which is kinda crap since Edge has been getting jumped on a weekly basis and now he can't get retribution!

After Green Day and pyro, Rey Mysterio came to the ring for our opening contest in another WrestleMania Rewind match, this time against CM Punk, his opponent from last year. I guess it was Rey-stleMania Rewind Week? Hell of a way to start off a show though, these two have such tremendous chemistry, we've seen it enough so it didn't feel like they were giving something away, but they've been kept apart long enough for it to feel fresh for TV. You really couldn't ask for a better start to Friday Night Smackdown; even with the DQ finish thanks to interference from "DASHING" Cody Rhodes, it was a great match.

Cody was on fire here, decimating Rey Mysterio and hitting him with a metal knee brace he had on under his dress pants. This is why this is my favorite feud heading into WrestleMania, it's been simple, but at the same time, has been given a great amount of detail. Cody Rhodes is crazy and far too vain, but everything he's said has had some level of truth to it and even this attack was somewhat justified.

Edge vs. Drew McIntyre was next and the big story here was Edge's injured arm, but he was determined to show the world (and Alberto Del Rio) that he was 100%. Well, I think the message was received in this definitive win over McIntyre, forcing him to tap out rather quickly to the Edgecator, which I am so stoked that he brought back. Tough break for McIntyre, but my guess would be they want to make the guys on the WrestleMania card look good and they'll start worrying about Drew in eight days.

The more I watch that video of all the Legends and Superstars talking about Undertaker vs. Triple H, the more I appreciate the fairly hands-off approach they've taken to this storyline.

Rosa & Kelly Kelly vs. LayCool was our Diva portion of the evening, and LayCool came out dressed as Snooki, which was pretty funny. I have to admit though, I didn't get the Smurf slippers, I assume that's a Jersey Shore thing, but yeah, didn't get it. Easy win for LayCool and after the match, it was the best I've ever seen them on the mic. "Trash" Stratus and John "Snore-isson" made me laugh, hey I love bad puns!

Intercontinental Title on the line with Kofi Kingston defending against Wade Barrett and of course, The CoRrRrRrRrRrRe was at ringside. Great match, easily Wade's best match since moving to Smackdown and possibly Kofi's best match since winning the Intercontinental Championship. Excellent match with a hot crowd and a brilliant finish: Corre provided the distraction and when Kofi went for Trouble in Paradise, Barrett reversed it right into Wasteland to capture his first championship. Awesome, awesome visual, one of the best reversals I've seen in a long time. I'm a little bummed to see Kofi drop the title, but let's be honest, they've got nothing for him right now and The Corre is back on the upswing and now 75% of the group has championship gold (or bronze). Next stop? Ezekiel Jackson: World Heavyweight Champion.

GONG!

The Undertaker came onto the stage to address Triple H before their EPIC STARE DOWN on Monday Night Raw. Taker started things with my favorite Snake Plissken lines, "the more things change, the more they stay the same." Taker doesn't talk a lot these days and he's never been the guy you point to for the memorable promo of the night like The Rock or Austin, but he always delivers the goods and he's been particularly awesome throughout this feud. On 2.21.11, Triple H chose his number, and it is "19." Love it.

Jack Swagger vs. R-Truth was next and was a bit more competitive than Swagger's match against Masters last week, but it was really just more hype for Cole vs. Lawler at WrestleMania. That's not a complaint though, aside from maybe Cody vs. Rey, it's the best story WWE has told heading into WreslteMania. "I GOT A RAP FOR YOU, TRUTH! I GOT A RAP FOR YOU!"

Main Event time! Alberto Del Rio (w/ Brodus Clay) vs. Christian (w/ Edge) in a rematch from last week's Smackdown. These two work well together, though I think Edge and Del Rio will put on a hell of a match, these last two weeks have made me wish Christian vs. Del Rio was the main event at WrestleMania. Maybe I'll get some of my wish if they decide to make it a triple threat, but if they're going to do that, they're going to have to make the announcement on Raw, which seems pretty late to change a WrestleMania main event. But Christian won again this week, beating the #1 contender, clean in the center of the ring, 1-2-3! Christian HAS to be added to the match, right? It would be a "tragesty" as Edge & Christian used to say if he's not.

Best Smackdown of 2011 so far. Yeah, we're only four months in, but an excellent show from top to bottom with in-ring action from almost start to finish. Raw has been hit or miss, but they've done the big stuff really well, whereas Smackdown has been consistently great these last few weeks, but mostly flying under the radar. Lots of great wrestling, simple story building and perhaps Christian getting added to a main event match at WrestleMania? Please? Pretty please?!

WWE All StarsWWE Tombstone - History of the UndertakerWWE - Rey Mysterio: The Biggest Little Man

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Guest Post - WCW: 10 years later

This is a Guest Post, courtesy of Chris Wilson of thewilsoning.com, who wanted to look back at WCW on the tenth anniversary of WWE's purchase.

It happened ten years ago today. March 23rd 2001: the death of World Championship Wrestling. The landscape of sports entertainment changed forever.

It was difficult to digest at the time, particularly as Tony Schiavone billed the last broadcast from Panama City as a ‘season finale’. Like most fans I expected WCW back on air within weeks, finally under the control of someone competent in Vince McMahon. But it was never meant to be. One could speculate the many reasons why – I just choose to blame Buff Bagwell and leave it at that.

(Razor's note: in Chris Jericho's new book, he confirms that it was indeed Buff Bagwell that killed any chance of WCW becoming its own entity under the WWE umbrella)

In hindsight, the company died at the right time. Its legacy had already crystallized.

Although WCW as a name began in 1988, history tends to concentrate on 1995 to 2001. The Monday Nitro days. Nitro did more to the wrestling industry in five years – both positively and negatively – than Monday Night Raw has in eighteen. It transformed wrestling from a dry infomercial for the next pay-per-view into a live episodic spectacle with fast paced action and twists so shocking, you’d be a fool to miss it. Nitro dragged sports entertainment kicking and screaming into relevance, away from the cartoony villains and goody two-shoes morals into an edgy, realistic product.

I salivate thinking about the great moments from the early years. From Lex Luger’s arrival on the first episode of Nitro, to the New World Order takeover (Kevin Nash throwing Rey Mysterio like a lawn dart and all), to Sting lurking mysteriously in the rafters for sixteen months before his ultimately controversial-for-the-wrong-reasons match with Hulk Hogan at Starrcade 1997.

At its peak, Nitro was a force to be reckoned with that benefited everyone involved. Can you imagine a crowd these days so into a show that they go nuts for Yoshi Tatsu’s finisher? Back then, they’d react to Dean Malenko’s Texas Cloverleaf like the second coming of Christ.

What’s amazing from a personal point of view is how those experiences were retrospective. I first got the TNT channel in June 1998, several months into the company’s spectacular nosedive. With the exception of Goldberg’s famous title win against Hogan in the Georgia Dome, and Ric Flair’s emotional return as the Four Horsemen reformed – the show had become stagnant and, more importantly, uncool.

The problem was WCW Nitro only existed to counter-program the WWF. It had worked, once for 84 weeks in a row, but there was no contingency in place for a reverse in fortunes.

They panicked. They brought in The Ultimate Warrior, had more versions of the nWo than there are possible combinations on the lottery, and put Ric Flair in a mental hospital. They emulated the WWF to a cringe-worthy degree. Compare Steve Austin with Kevin Nash in 1999. Austin sprayed Vince McMahon with beer. Everyone loves beer. It’s a great moment as the audience wished they were Austin and McMahon at the same time. Months later, Kevin Nash sprayed Randy Savage with sewage. Nobody likes sewage. Well, apart from the characters in Ready to Rumble. Why watch an imitation when you can see the real thing on the other channel? When Vince Russo turned up to do what he does best, the viewers had switched to the WWF for good.

The crucial aspect in WCW’s downfall was how the WWF had become a pop culture juggernaut. Absolutely nothing could have been done to prevent or end their rise. The tired smark argument that perhaps if WCW had pushed their younger talent over Hogan, Savage, and Nash? Time has proven that while the likes of Chris Jericho, Eddie Guerrero, and Booker T were deserving of a main event spot, in terms of popularity they were no Steve Austin or The Rock.

People are quick to dismiss WCW’s contribution to the wrestling world even though its effect is still felt today as the WWE and TNA misinterpret the WCW model to an increasingly negative effect. PPV buyrates are down the toilet as too many big matches are given away on Raw and Smackdown. Why pay $60 when you can see great, heated matches like The Miz versus John Morrison and CM Punk versus John Cena for free? Why else did most main event matches on WCW TV end in a no-contest or DQ? So you were forced to spend money to see a better outcome.

Meanwhile, TNA’s problem is they want to be WCW so badly; I’m surprised they haven’t brought back Disco Inferno yet. Oh... wait.

There are so many people associated with WCW’s downfall in TNA now; it’s impossible for them to do anything different. To quote Albert Einstein: "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results." Nostalgia is very powerful. It skews perception. I watched WCW as a child when Nitro and Thunder were desperately poor, yet I love those shows now because it reminds me of happier times. TNA only seems to exist as a place where those in charge relive happier times. It’s quite sad really.

But while they mourn by blowing millions of dollars on a miserable, extremely unlikeable vanity project, I’ll just say this – I miss you WCW, but you’re definitely better off dead.


If you would like to write a Guest Post, contact razor@kickoutwrestling.com

Kick-Back: "Not a wrestling company"

There's been a lot of talk over the last week about a WWE publicist telling some blogger that WWE is "not a wrestling company." Of course, wrestling fans took to the internet to voice their rage, "how dare WWE turn their back on what made them famous!?" but I got a strange sense of déjà vu, I could swear I've talked about this before. Sure enough, I addressed very similar statements made by another WWE executive way back in June of 2009 on Episode 5 of Kick-Out!! Radio. Here's the transcript:

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There's a story making the rounds this week, perhaps you've seen it, about a WWE "executive" discussing the differences between TNA and WWE. Before we get into that, I have to ask, what exactly is a WWE executive? What does this guy do? Don't hold your breath on any of the sites reporting this story to actually look into that or anything, he's an "executive" isn't that enough for you? Journalism is hard!

Basically, the guy was asked about WWE's competition, specifically TNA and he replied that all entertainment is their competition and that "whether you are Manchester United, U2 or WWE, the biggest concern is the enormous proliferation of content in the market." Which is a totally fair point, as the sheer amount of stuff to do grows, everyone's piece of the pie shrinks. It's not just wrestling, it's all of television; there was a point – not that long ago – that your television experience was limited to a couple channels (maybe more if you had a good antenna) and perhaps you could watch a movie at home if you could afford one of those newfangled VCR contraptions.

Now, we have hundreds upon hundreds of channels, massive DVD libraries, programming on demand, and that's just what we can do with our TVs. There are millions, perhaps billions, of hours of video content available at the click of a mouse: Netflix, downloadable movies and shows on our Xboxes and Playstations, and now we can even watch an entire series on our cell phones. There are many avenues to get your "entertainments," whether it's television, music, movies, books, news, or just videos of guys mixing Mentos and Diet Coke, there are a lot more option available than there were thirty years ago, even ten years ago!

So our executive is absolutely right, there are a lot of entertainment options out there and simply asking about TNA is a really narrow view of what defines WWE's competition. But the one statement that really got the internet buzzing was this particular quote "While TNA is pro-wrestling, WWE is entertainment." Of course, the dirtsheets made that their headline of the day, smarks everywhere lost their minds (or what little they had left), "SEE WWE ISN'T WRESTLING, THIS GUY SAID SO!" And all I could do was sit there and think "How is this any different than what Vince McMahon has been saying for the last 25 years?"

Did you see the 1999 documentary about wrestling called Beyond The Mat? Brilliant movie and one of my most memorable quotes from that is when Vince is being interviewed and when asked about his company, he simply answers "We make movies." And what about one of Vince's favorite stories to tell, the story of Ted Turner buying WCW? We all know this one, Turner calls Vince and says "I'm in the wrasslin' business!" and Vince replies "that's great, Ted... I'm in the entertainment business." So why are we suddenly shocked that some "executive" is repeating what has been the company line since the days of Hulk Hogan?

Smarks love to complain about the "Entertainment" aspect of WWE, but they always forget that the second W still stands for "Wrestling." Vince is very image conscious of his brand and rightfully so after decades of "wrasslin" being synonymous with cheap, poorly produced, carny shows in smokey "arenas" filled with a couple hundred fans, but only a couple dozen teeth. We all know the stereotypes, and this is the perception that Vince has been fighting since he bought the company from his father. But at the end of the day, the foundation of WWE is still what goes on between the ropes, the wrestling aspect, and there's been more of an emphasis on that in the last two years than there ever was during the Attitude Era. WWE is still very much a wrestling company, Vince is just trying to control the language associated with it and give it a slicker image. Judging by WWE's massive worldwide success that no other wrestling company has ever been able to duplicate, he just might be onto something.

Monday, March 21, 2011

WWE Raw thoughts - March 21, 2011

WWE's coming off a great week, we're 13 days away from WrestleMania, so let's hope they can continue the momentum heading into this week. As usual, we're live blogging tonight, so please refresh your page for ongoing coverage of tonight's show.

And we start with Michael Cole rehashing the Oklahoma gimmick. Lovely. Although Cole sticking his tongue out at Lawler might be the greatest facial expression on a wrestling show since Miz Girl.

Once Cole is safely within the Cole Mine, Triple H heads to the ring with an entrance so long it would make Randy Orton blush. Obviously he's here to talk about The Undertaker and says that The Streak is bigger than every championship he's ever held. Not that I disagree, but a pretty bold statement to make, even if titles were more "prestigious" today (I kinda hate typing that), no one can lay claim to a feat as cool as Undertaker's WrestleMania Streak. Good stuff from The Game, then the antithesis of good, Ted DiBiase interrupts. DiBiase tries making a name for himself at the expense of Triple H and gets the Sheamus treatment for his efforts. Well, I'm never going to complain about Ted Jr. getting a Pedigree through a table! Nice to see Triple H getting revenge on behalf of charisma after DiBiase killed it.

Evan Bourne vs. Sheamus is our opening contest and is criminally short. Bourne misses the Shooting Star Press and gets a Brogue Kick. So much for capitalizing on Bourne's big return, I suppose. Sheamus gets on the mic and declares himself the United States Champion (pssst, we know); Daniel Bryan interrupts the new champ and wants to invoke his rematch clause at WrestleMania. Sheamus responds by kicking him in the face... I'll take that as a yes?

Randy Orton gives an interview outside his private bus, because he thinks he's too good to travel with the rest of the roster!

Maryse vs. Eve is our Divas contest for the evening and shocker, Michael Cole interrupts them once again, telling them to hurry it up. This would never happen during a men's match. Eve wins, but no one cares, especially WWE themselves.

The Corrrrrrrre vs. Santino Marella & Vladimir Kozlov is next, literally 100% of the WWE Tag Team Division is in the ring right now. Children of the Corre pick up an easy win, go for the post-match beat down, but Big Show & Kane save the day and I think we have our eight-man tag at WrestleMania set. Boo! I wanted Diesel.

The Rock will be live on Raw next Monday night, could we finally get the epic confrontation next week? Of course, I'm talking about The Miz kicking his ass.

John Cena is here... via satellite! Cena is at home due to injuries, but he's still in his ring attire, just in case a match breaks out there. He vows to confront The Rock next week and really puts over The Miz as a guy that's so tough, he sidelined John Cena. Simple, short and effective, this was Cena at his absolute best.

Michael Cole is in the ring to talk about his "main event" match with Jerry Lawler at WrestleMania and he has the "Lawler Family Photo Album." Cole is a complete dick here, calling Lawler's dead dad a "gutless coward" and a "bully," just like Lawler. Cole says the entire Lawler family is a bunch of losers, King tries to get at him, but gets clotheslined by Jack Swagger for his troubles and then receives the dreaded Ankle Lock/An-Cole Lock combo. "Tap out, Lawler! Tap out! Tap Out! Tap out, Lawler!" Ugh, I cannot wait to see Lawler Piledrive this son of a bitch.

Former World Champion, Dolph Ziggler vs. John Morrison is our next match and Vickie Guerrero, LayCool and Trish Stratus are all at ringside. Fun little start to the match, but quickly descends into chaos when all the outside players get involved. The G?M chimes in an makes it a 4-on-2 handicap match with Trish & JoMo taking on Ziggler, LayCool & Vickie Guerrero. Well that seems silly, the good guys being at a disadvantage is a bit random and they're pretty much just giving away the Mania match. I suppose Snooki is the selling point of that though?

I guess I should just be happy a match has lasted long enough to go to commercial break? Fun match, but I have to call shenanigans on the ending. Ziggler hit Morrison with the Zig-Zag and let Vickie get the pin (prepare for a smark explosion in 3... 2...) but it was mixed-tag rules! Vickie was ineligible against Morrison, Scott Armstrong just screwed over the good guys again. Perhaps it was his evil twin, Earl Armstrong?

Love this new hype video for Triple H vs. Undertaker with Superstars of the past and present talking about how big this match is. Okay, NOW I'm excited for the match.

Randy Orton vs. Rey Mysterio in a "WrestleMania Rewind" match (minus Kurt Angle) is what I expect to be the final match of the evening. Rey's got his black and yellow on for the Pittsburgh audience and I have no idea why he's trying to get me to root for Randy Orton. Seriously though, if anyone can make Orton exciting, it's Rey Rey.

Unfortunately, the match is cut pretty short, but fortunately, it's by CM Punk, who is outside Randy Orton's tour bus. Punk just wants to introduce himself to Mrs. Orton, but since Randall is devoid of any class or courteousness, he's not aware that this is a polite thing to do and got himself counted out. While Randy was carelessly running to his bus, his leg ran right into CM Punk's wrench, he was just trying to fix the tire! Randy's wife screamed in fear, but surely she knew something like this could happen to her husband after he assaulted Stephanie McMahon two years ago.

Main Event time! And what else could be your main event tonight, other than the Most Must-See Champion in WWE History... THE MIZ?! And hey, A-Ri is back, he's no longer an apprentice, he's the Vice President of Corporate Communications! The Miz is also wearing the most awesome shiny suit ever, it's made out of 100% pure Na'vi hide.

The Miz is the Muhammed Ali and Michael Jordan of 2011, more dominant than Andre the Giant and more charismatic than Shawn Michaels, so tonight, he rewrites Miz-tory by turning the WWE logo upside down. It's now an "M," which stands for "Miz," in case you didn't know. The WWE logo on the WWE Championship has been adjusted accordingly as well!

John Cena appears on the TitanTron and guess what, his "home" is actually a set backstage. That's actually pretty funny, much like Austin's "is it live or is it Memorex" bit from 97. Cena is not via satellite, he's in the arena, but Miz will fend him off with his table shield! Oh come on Miz, don't throw the table shield! Oh well, at least there's your human shield, Alex Riley, who gets an STF for his troubles and Cena stands triumphant to close the show.

Terrible Raw. Definitely a placeholder show for next week, but give me a break, they haven't done enough for the WrestleMania build to just sit back and relax this week. There's ONE show left and while I'm sure they're going to go all out for it, they must really be banking on The Rock's mere presence to sell WrestleMania this year. I still think the show is going to surprise a lot of folks, but shows like tonight's, with 13 days to go, just seems counter-productive. There was some good stuff on this show, most notably Michael Cole's bit and the Taker/Triple H hype video, but there are still so many wrinkles that need to be ironed out. Next week is the go-home show and they really have to go big.

WWE All StarsWWE Smackdown vs Raw 2011Fire Pro Wrestling Returns

Saturday, March 19, 2011

WWE Smackdown Thoughts - March 18, 2011

WWE pulling a bait & switch, advertising Edge & Christian challenging for the Tag Titles on Monday, then turning around and announcing Big Show & Kane going for them instead, is not a good way to get things started. Promising anything, then replacing it with Kane is generally a surefire way to hurt my interest in a show.

Edge vs. Brodus Clay was our opening contest, Alberto Del Rio & Ricardo Rodriguez accompanied the big man to ringside, but the numbers game was evened up when Christian came to ringside and allowed Edge to hit the Spear for the win. I thought they were going to give it to Brodus for a second. Surprisingly good match, I think it's pretty clear the fan voting on NXT is legit since we've been seeing Brodus Clay every week since he lost, but we haven't seen Johnny Curtis (that's who won, right?) one time.

Everybody brawled afterward and T-Lo came out to announce the main event for the evening, Christian vs. Alberto Del Rio... inside a steel cage!

Champion vs. Champion was next with the new United States Champion, Sheamus taking on Intercontinental Champion, Kofi Kingston. Nice to see Kofi get some friggin' TV time after being left off Smackdown for the last few weeks, but his luck isn't quite turning around just yet. After a big mistake on the outside, Sheamus kicked the stairs into Kofi's groin and nailed him with the Brogue Kick to continue his successful week. Hey, it was St. Patrick's Day on Thursday, Sheamus had luck on his side! Fun match, but both guys really needed this win and someone had to lose.

Big Show and Kane choked each other backstage and Kane said "you complete me." Disturbing... but not as disturbing as Kane once again inexplicably becoming a good guy.

Trent Baretta vs. "DASHING" Cody Rhodes was absolutely brilliant. Much like last week, Rhodes wrestled in his street clothes, but this week he had a slowed down, hard rock version of his theme music, wore a towel over his head and snapped at the sound of the bell, making quick work of Baretta. I love Rhodes as the Phantom of the Opera, it obviously has a limited shelf life, but I assume once he beats Mysterio at WrestleMania, he'll find his smile.

Layla vs. Kelly Kelly was next with Michelle McCool on commentary yet again. Kelly was particularly aggressive here, but it wasn't enough to stop Layla, who picked up the win after Kelly took her eye off the match. Another ridiculously short Divas match, but at least they got enough time to do stuff besides a roll-up pin. Progress, right!? Okay, maybe not.

Triple H is Mr. Bradstone... he's The Chaperone!

Still wasn't happy about The Corre vs. Big Show & Kane for the Tag Team Titles, it certainly makes more since than Edge & Christian challenging for them just two weeks before WrestleMania, but seriously, don't tease me with an E&C Tag Title run and give me Kane! Worked out okay in the end since at least we didn't get another Kane title reign. Corre caused the DQ, then - get this - they actually looked like a legitimate threat! After weeks of all four guys getting run off by Big Show, The Corre just annihilated the challengers. Wade Barrett repeatedly throwing the steel stairs onto Kane was particularly impressive, made an awesome sound. The ringside area looked like a car wreck when it was all said and done and I have to admit I was wrong, this was a much better idea, especially for the WrestleMania build.

Jack Swagger took on the most underrated Superstar in WWE today, Chris Masters and I'd like to see these guys lock up more after WrestleMania. Would make a great Intercontinental Title feud and it would at least give Kofi something to do in the transition. Swagger picked up an easy win, forcing Masters to tap to the Ankle Lock, then added insult to injury by holding him down while Michael Cole applied the An-Cole Lock! Yeah, they definitely need to continue this after Mania, I want to see Cole in the Masterlock.

Rey Mysterio had the unfortunate task of taking on Ted DiBiase, I suppose tying into Cody's Legacy past, but the further they distance Rhodes from Legacy, the better. It's pretty clear Legacy was holding Rhodes back and he was silently carrying DiBiase (and Orton) the entire time! Rey Rey can make anyone look good though and had a pretty enjoyable match here, made even better by the fact that DiBiase lost!

Main Event time! Alberto Del Rio vs. Christian in a steel cage match! Teddy Long had no choice but to make this a cage match with all the interference going on lately, because no one ever interferes in a cage match!

I thought it was a little odd to just give this match away on Smackdown, especially if Christian doesn't get added to the main event at WrestleMania. Christian vs. Del Rio for the World Title would make a great PPV match for Extreme Rules or Over the Limit, but I suspect if Captain Charisma doesn't get added to Mania, we'll get the Triple Threat at one of those two PPVs. I've been saying this about WWE a lot lately, it's just strange that they continue to give away fairly big matches on TV, especially when looking at this year's WrestleMania card, they don't have a lot of "Wow, I've never seen that!" matches left.

Great TV main event though and it's tough to argue against WWE entertaining me too much for free. Christian picked up a HUGE win here, giving Del Rio his first singles loss in quite sometime if I'm not mistaken. Captain Charisma just beat the #1 contender for the World Title match at WrestleMania, surely he should be added to the match, right?! Del Rio threatened to destroy Christian after the match, but Edge provided the distraction and was about to go to town on Del Rio's car with a steel chair, but Brodus Clay attacked the champ from behind, allowing Del Rio to smash Edge's arm with the Con-chair-to. Another big night for Del Rio, but hey, Christian won the match!

Excellent episode of Smackdown. Pretty much non-stop wrestling, not a lot of Raw recapping and Christian beat the #1 contender fair and square! I went into this show pretty bitter about the bait and switch on the Tag Title match, but I think it's safe to say everything worked out better in the end. I'm less than thrilled about WGN canceling Superstars since that was the wrestling show, but if Smackdown is like this most weeks, I think it'll wind up being okay. If you missed this episode, make sure you check it out.

WWE Christian Figure Series #8EDGE - MATTEL WWE SERIES 6 WWE TOY WRESTLING ACTION FIGUREWWE 2010 MATTEL SHEAMUS ROYAL RUMBLE HERITAGE SERIES WRESTLING FIGUREMattel WWE Wrestling Royal Rumble Series 1 Action Figure Cody Rhodes with Commemorative Championship Belt

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Kick-Out!! Radio - Episode 56

For the first time ever, Razor invites a guest onto Kick-Out!! Radio for the Opening Bell! Jason Mann of Wrestlespective and Fair to Flair weighs in on the legitimacy of WWE's Hall of Fame and Razor tackles an excellent episode of Raw, the build to WrestleMania and the TNA/Jeff Hardy debacle from the Victory Road PPV.





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

Chris Jericho vs. The Internet

I just finished reading both of Chris Jericho's books, A Lion's Tale: Around the World in Spandex and Undisputed: How to Become the World Champion in 1,372 Easy Steps, both absolutely fantastic reads. I could not put these books down, I was late to work last week after staying up too late reading them because they were just so damn entertaining.

I'll have more on Jericho's books in the future, but there was one bit in Undisputed that I had to share. As I'm sure you remember, when Jericho left WWE in 2005 after being fired by Eric Bischoff, he was literally dragged out of the arena kicking and screaming by security. I was unaware this was completely improvised by Jericho on the spot and the fallout is absolutely hysterical. I'll let Jericho tell you himself:

I whispered under my breath to the guards, "Pick me up and carry me out of here."

It took them a few seconds to figure out I was serious, as we hadn't discussed it in rehearsal, but they eventually lifted me up and carried me up the ramp like a Mayan sacrifice.

I had no pride and that's the way I wanted it. As a craven heel, there was no way I was going out with my head held high, riding off into the sunset with my loyal fans chanting my name. I wanted to be forcefully removed, kicking, screaming and crying like a coward. That was the last time I was seen in the WWE for more than two years.

Over the next few days, I had a blast reading Internet feedback from fans who were livid that the WWE would treat me so dishonorably and have me exit in such a demeaning manner. Little did they know that pathetic exit was all my idea.

Brilliant. There are a lot of bits from Jericho's autobiographies that really stand out to me, his relationship with Vince McMahon should be a book all on his own, and the chapter on Benoit was perhaps the most heart-wrenching thing I've ever read, but the above quote might be my favorite excerpt from either book. It sums up everything I've thought about the Internet Wrestling Community for several years now and does it more cleverly than I could ever dream. Make sure you pick up the new book and the old one if you missed it the first time around like I did, because "Best in the world at what I do" isn't just a nickname. Jericho is the best storyteller in wrestling, in or out of the ring.

Undisputed: How to Become the World Champion in 1,372 Easy StepsBreaking the Code: Behind the Walls of Chris JerichoA Lion's Tale: Around the World in Spandex

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Poll: WrestleMania undercard

We are less than three weeks away from WrestleMania, so expect the poll to take on a WrestleMania theme. Today's is pretty simple, which non-main event match are you most excited for at WrestleMania 27? Vote now and feel free to tell us why you picked that particular match in the comments section.

Now, the results from our previous poll:

WHICH BREAKOUT STAR COULD HEADLINE WRESTLEMANIA 28?
John Morrison - 21%
Cody Rhodes - 18%
Sin Cara - 17%
Daniel Bryan - 15%
Wade Barrett - 12%
Dolph Ziggler - 11%
Kofi Kingston - 1%
Other - 1%

I think some of that may be wishful thinking. My money's on Dolph Ziggler being the most likely, but it's nice to see people getting this excited for Sin Cara.

WWE WrestleMania 26WWE: Wrestlemania XXV - 25th AnniversaryWWE: Wrestlemania 23 (2007) (2 Discs) DVD