Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Opening Bell Extra - When Randy Met Kelly

Podcast Week continues with Randy Orton: the gift that keeps on giving. Randall recently made some comments on a Phoenix radio show, slut-shaming Kelly Kelly for what supposedly goes on in her bedroom. The internet is outraged, but this type of behavior is nothing new for the World Heavyweight Champion.

Listen to Opening Bell Extra, now exclusively at FairToFlair.com

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Kick-Out!! Radio - Best of Fake Commercials

Podcast Week continues with the Best of Commercials... please enjoy these words from our fake sponsors.

                   
   



MP3 Version - Right click and "save link as."

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

Theme song: "Believe" by Grasp Infinity

Lie to Me

Wrestling is fake. I'll give you a minute to process that shocking piece of information that surely shook the very foundation of your reality. Breathe into a paper bag if necessary.

Ya good? Okay.

Wrestling is in a tough spot in terms of storytelling. A person goes into a scripted television show or movie with the ability to shut their brain off and allow themselves to be sucked in by the story. Somehow, this thing that we know is a work of fiction can make us laugh, cry, or even play with our sense of safety. I don't believe in ghosts or the supernatural, but I was unable to sleep after I watched Paranormal Activity, disturbed by the thought that I could wake up at any moment and my fiancé would be standing over me in a possessed daze.

Wrestling doesn't have that luxury, at least not after age 10 or so. For many of us in the age of the internet, it became more about appreciating the athleticism or the art. Instead of getting sucked in by the fictional world of WWE, we become engaged by the performance. Which would be like watching Captain America just to see how well Chris Evans performs as Steve Rogers, rather than getting swept up and hoping he kicks Red Skull's bony ass.

Granted, a lot of this stems from the fact that wrestling doesn't tell complete stories, it's all about advancing to the next thing, but it's not impossible and it's why I'm really intrigued by Wrestling Revolution. Even if wrestling did tell proper three-act tales though, it still has the big hurdle: it's fake.

Sure, all scripted entertainment is, but there's something about wrestling that sets it apart. We still go in with this notion that we're being "tricked" due to it constantly blurring the lines between reality and fiction. It's why an outdated and irrelevant term like "work" still exists. Wrestling fans have this strange refusal to let themselves get sucked in, if they did, they might become a "mark" and that would just be horrible! For whatever reason, we allow ourselves to be marks for Hollywood, but to even allow ourselves to have fun with wrestling, we have to qualify it with "marking out."

Think about how silly that term is, "marking out." It's essentially saying, "I know all this is bullshit, but for a moment I allowed myself a moment of pure joy while watching, but don't judge me because I know it's not real, alright?" No one would seriously say, "I totally marked out when Luke blew up the Death Star," you just cheer along, because it's awesome and it's okay to get swept up in a movie, TV show or book.

But I suspect that deep down, even the most jaded wrestling viewer wants that experience. I know I do, it's why I've been trying to deprogram myself and have returned to phrases like "good guys and bad guys" instead of "faces and heels." It's why I say matches I like are "fun" instead of droning on about "workrate." I want wrestling to be engaging like a movie rather than worry about the things I didn't even know about when I was a kid.

And the reaction to tonight's Raw shows I'm not alone. The rules have changed, but the game hasn't, and CM Punk proved that you can still get people to believe, even if they don't really believe. Just like worrying about ghosts after watching a horror movie, Punk made us believe, even if the premise is unbelievable.

Whether or not Punk is actually going to leave WWE is irrelevant, what's important now is he managed to make people think that he really did just run down WWE, call Stephanie McMahon and Triple H "idiots," say "Hi" to Colt Cabana and threaten to take the WWE Championship to Ring of Honor.

Again, the rules have changed, but the game is still the same.

Casual fans can sit back and watch the show like I wish I could, but it takes a different approach to get those jaded fans to feel something when watching wrestling. Am I suggesting that "worked shoots" should become the new norm? No, but it is an effective storytelling device in the right situation in the hands of the right actors.



It's no coincidence that CM Punk name-dropped Paul Heyman tonight and the fact that the best instances of this strategy have been used by people closely associated with Heyman, or even Heyman himself as seen in the above video.

Remember Joey Styles "shooting" on WWE and "quitting," only to continue working for the company for the next five years?

Wrestling fans want to be lied to, we want to be tricked, but there's some odd stigma attached to allowing yourself to get swept up in a wrestling story. CM Punk threw out the reddest of meat to internet fans tonight and the reaction was, naturally, "is it real?!"

No, but it's cute that you think it might be. It's wrestling, of course it's not real, it's okay to pretend though. Would we ask if the ending to the season premiere of True Blood was real? No, that would kill the fun. Wrestling fans need to have more fun.

Monday, June 27, 2011

WWE Raw thoughts - June 27, 2011

This week, it's all about wrasslin! I just announced Podcast Week, a brand new podcast will be posted everyday this week, and tonight, it's Raw Roulette! Sure, they may be going over the top with all these gimmick shows lately, but Raw Roulette is usually pretty fun. I was at the last one back in September of last year, which was one of the best Raws I've ever attended, plus we got that awesome John Morrison vs. Sheamus Falls Count Anywhere match.

Plus, the beauty of Raw Roulette is, it usually means the night will rely heavily on actual wrestling, which I'm never going to complain about. So maybe tonight will be the refreshing show that I've needed since WrestleMania, but even if it's not, I'm sure the night will be fun. Refresh your page for ongoing coverage of the show and follow me on Twitter for the absurdity.

Oh yeah, I totally forgot, Shawn Michaels is on tonight!

And we're kicking things off with Mr. WrestleMania himself! The Heartbreak Kid! The Icon! The Headliner! The Showstopper! The Main Event! Mr. Hall of Fame! The Greatest of All-Time! Mr. Bass Pro Shop Wardrobe! Shawn Michaels! I don't know what it is, but every time I hear Shawn Michaels' theme music, I get the urge to dance, maybe even dry hump the couch a little...

I sense I've gone too far.

The music is catchy, leave me alone. HBK tells us he tried really hard to stay away, but he just couldn't quit cold turkey. Well, and he has a show on the Outdoor Network to plug. Oh WWE, you thought you caught heat from GLAAD a few months ago? Just wait till PETA hears about this!

CM Punk interrupts and shoots HBK with an imaginary bow and arrow, which may even be better than making snow angels in the ring last week. Punk taunts HBK for losing his last match, which he won't do at Money in the Bank, when he leaves with John Cena's WWE Championship. Punk blames the fans in part for his departure since they would rather cheer Shawn Michaels, who's gone, than beg CM Punk to stay. Shawn says he's better than Punk, which sparks a "ONE MORE MATCH!" chant and the #1 contender takes that as a challenge.

Okay, I know we've all been talking about Punk vs. Stone Cold, but how about Punk vs. HBK too?

HBK: "We both don't smoke, we don't drink, we don't do drugs..."
Punk: "...Anymore!"

Brilliant.

HBK responds with Sweet Chin Music to David Otunga (who is still out cold as I'm typing this), and The G?M chimes in to put CM Punk in the first Raw Roulette match of the evening. It's a "? Match!" Yeah, I love a good ? Match.

Actually, it's a mystery opponent match, who isn't that much of a mystery, because Booker T tell us right away that it's Kane. Great. Oh well, at least Mr. Imperfect got Sweet Chin Music too.

CM Punk vs. Kane is our opening contest and I guess I shouldn't have spoken highly of Punk's ability to have a good match with anyone on this week's Fair to Flair Show. Punk, you're leaving in three weeks, you don't have anything to prove against the Big Red Snooze Button. Luckily, Punk agrees and simply walks away, taking a count-out loss. Hey, he's got a title match coming up, why should he risk it?

And if you bought Capitol Punishment eight days ago, WWE is giving away the main event for free tonight with John Cena vs. R-Truth. Oh and a rematch between Big Show and Del Rio. These will be the latest in WWE's "NEENER NEENER NEENER!" series.

Sin Cara vs. Evan Bourne in a match we were supposed to get last week, but due to WWE's screw-up on the fan voting, it didn't happen. Luckily, we're getting it this week and it's a "No Count-out" match. I've been waiting all week to see this one and it looks like these guys are going to have themselves a good ol' fashioned wrestling match. Well, not too ol' fashioned, considering Cara's springboard corkscrew arm drag off the top rope... Lou Thesz didn't do that a whole lot.

Hell of a match between these two, it'll be a YouTube highlight of the week for sure and I'm particularly impressed that WWE let them go out there and just do their thing. Sin Cara picked up the win and keeps his undefeated streak going. SIIIIIIIINBERG!

Raw Money in the Bank participants have been announced and the match is pretty stacked: Rey Mysterio vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Evan Bourne vs. R-Truth vs. Jack Swagger vs. Alex Riley vs. Alberto Del Rio vs. The Miz. Spoiler: Miz wins!!!

Kofi Kingston vs. Dolph Ziggler with Vickie banned from ringside is up next, just in case you've missed the last month of WWE programming. Yikes, things have taken an ugly turn though as Kofi crashes hard into the turnbuckle and WWE quickly goes to commercial. That looked rough, hope Kofi's okay.

Looks like everything's okay as we return from commercial and Kofi and Dolph have a very Kofi and Dolph match, which isn't an insult, but I'm getting flashbacks of Booker T vs. Christian in 2003. Two guys who should really be doing something bigger and better, but just can't escape each other. Kofi picks up the win, which means this is going to keep going (sigh), but again, the match was enjoyable.

Backstage, Alberto Del Rio asks Maryse to spin the wheel for him and she lands on Cage Match... with the Big Show. Looks like Maryse will only be allowed to take a ride in Del Rio's Ford Focus.

Alberto Del Rio vs. Big Show: RAGE IN THE CAGE is our 10pm main event. I wasn't a fan of Show getting run over by a car and all that silliness, but their match at Capitol Punishment was one of the highlights of that show, so hopefully they can repeat tonight. Del Rio continues to focus on the injured knee and wisely shies away from trying to use the cage, but it looks like he'll have another weapon in his arsenal tonight, Mark Henry. The World's Strongest Man has made his way to ringside and I doubt he's here to inspect the structural integrity of the steel cage.

Mark RIPS THE DAMN DOOR OFF its hinges, allowing Del Rio to escape, then he slams the door into Big Shows face, who goes falling THROUGH the cage wall. Yes, WWE has done stuff like this before, Mark Henry has ripped the door off the cage before, but who cares?! It looks awesome! Henry continuing to argue with the crowd is hilarious as well. "YOU THINK I'M PLAYIN?! YOU OVER THERE, I'M OVER HERE!" Yeah, I'm coming around on bad guy Mark Henry.

Kelly Kelly vs. Nikki Bella (the one that wasn't champion) in a non-title match and Michael Cole announces that Brie will get her rematch at the Money in the Bank PPV. Booker T spins the Raw Roulette wheel and it's a submissions-only. Damn, I was hoping for the return of the Inferno Match! Brie locks in an armbar, Kelly escapes and locks in the DIVATAMER and Brie taps out. Yep, that's about it. The Bellas try to double-team after the match but Eve makes the save. I miss Kharma.

Booker T is backstage with... DIAMOND DALLAS PAGE! DDP shows off the Best of Nitro DVD, Drew McIntyre make some cliché remark about the old-timers and gets Sweet Chin Music from Shawn Michaels. C'mon, that was begging for a Diamond Cutter! Man, I really miss DDP and would love to see him come back to WWE as an announcer. Could you imagine Booker on Smackdown and DDP on Raw?

AAAAAAAAAWWWWWWWWWWWWWWEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Miz & Jack Swagger vs. Alex Riley & Rey Mysterio is our next Raw Roulette match and it's a Tornado Match, which is something you don't see in WWE too often. I like it though, all four guys in the ring at once, it's fun. It's especially fun when the match starts with a series of huge clotheslines from various guys.

Exciting match thus far and I'm oddly intrigued by the possibility of Alex Riley and Jack Swagger. I think they'd make good opponents, but at the same time, I kinda want to see Swagger become a good guy and form a tag team with A-Ri. Although I dunno, watching him with Miz, I think they're onto something here as well.

Holy crap, Miz & Swagger are going for the Doomsday Device! Boo, Mysterio escapes though. First making me think we'll see a Diamond Cutter, now taking away the Doomsday Device? You're killing me, WWE.

Okay, I zoned out there for a minute because this match was way too fun and distracting. Crowd is going absolutely batshit, high drama, and the good guys pick up the win (it's a tag match, of course they do) when Rey hits Swagger with the 619, Riley hits Edgecution, then Rey hits the big splash. Can't go wrong with matches like this, even if the good guys always win, the crowd eats it up.

Backstage, R-Truth spins the wheel for his match against Cena and gets a Tables Match. That's John Cena Kryptonite.

Main Event time! R-Truth vs. John Cena in a Tables Match. Match is starting at 10:58, so shenanigans are sure to follow. Naturally, CM Punk makes his way to the ring and flips a table over as Cena is about to AA Truth through it. Was CM Punk trying to get John Cena to impale R-Truth?! While Cena tries to deal with Punk, Truth hits the POOOOOOOOOOOOOOOUNCE and Cena's bad luck in tables matches continues!

CM Punk takes a seat at the top of the stage and starts SHOOTING~! as the cool kids would call it.

And HOLY SHIT is Punk selling this thing. As we talked about on this week's Fair to Flair Show, this story works on every level, because casual fans are of course going to go along with it, the hardcores are eating it up because they're 100% convinced Punk just went off the grid and those of us in the middle have no idea if Punk will actually leave WWE or if this is one of the most brilliant stories WWE has told in recent memory.

"Maybe I'll defend the WWE Title in New Japan Pro Wrestling, maybe I'll go back to Ring of Honor! Hi Colt Cabana!" Yeah, this doesn't happen on WWE TV.

"I'm a Paul Heyman guy. You know who else was a Paul Heyman guy? Brock Lesnar."

"I'd like to say this company will be better when Vince McMahon dies, but it'll just get taken over by his idiot daughter and his idiot son-in-law..." *mic cuts off, show immediately cuts away.*

Brilliant. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. A few weeks ago, I hoped that WWE would at least take a chance on a big summer storyline like they did last year with the arrival of Nexus. Well, here it is folks. Regardless of what CM Punk's future is, I'm not even going to try to guess if Punk is actually leaving, taking time off, or sticking around, this is WWE's big summer story. And unlike last year, where they rolled the dice on seven completely untested talents, they're letting the guy who very well could be the best in the business run with the ball. They're breaking the "fourth wall" Punk referred to and they're giving him a live microphone. Ladies and gentleman, this isn't just CM Punk at his finest, this might be the best "WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?!" story since Brian Pillman became the Loose Cannon.

This was the Raw I've been waiting since WrestleMania for.

WWE: The Greatest Cage Matches of All TimeThe Very Best of WCW Monday NitroBrian Pillman: Loose Cannon

Podcast Week: Fair to Flair Show - Episode 6

I know I've been slacking on the site a bit lately. Part of it is the fact that wrestling just isn't grabbing my attention right now, part of it is my busy schedule, but I want to fix that. This week, I'm introducing Podcast Week, which will hopefully become a feature I do a couple times a year, where I post a new podcast everyday for an entire week. Here's what's on tap for our first Podcast Week:

Monday: Fair to Flair Show - Episode 6
Tuesday: Kick-Out!! Radio - Best of Fake Commercials, Volume 2
Wednesday: Opening Bell Extra (mini-cast, exclusively at FairToFlair.com)
Thursday: The Wrestling Podcast w/ Tom Holzerman
Friday: Kick-Out!! Radio - Episode 61

The week begins with the latest episode of the Fair to Flair Show, which I recorded yesterday with Jason Mann of Wrestlespective and KSP of Aggressive Art.

On Episode 6, Razor, K Sawyer Paul and Jason Mann talk about Kevin Kelly’s xenophobic rant, Chavo Guerrero leaving WWE, the potential of Wrestling Revolution, CM Punk’s reprisal of the Summer of Punk, Randy Orton and Christian again, the second Fair to Flair Quarterly, being a decent human being about wrestlers who lose their jobs, and much more.

Click here to listen to the latest episode (right click and save link as)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Chavo Guerrero released

Big news today:

World Wrestling Entertainment has come to terms on the release of WWE SmackDown Superstar Chavo Guerrero as of today, June 25, 2011. We wish Guerrero the best in all future endeavors.


To be clear, Chavo requested his release and went into detail about it on his Twitter account, which got him trending worldwide today. There are some rumors swirling as to why and why now, but what's important is Chavo was less than pleased about his current WWE role and decided to leave. He's made plenty of money and says he's going to spend some time being a dad; we call that a happy ending where I'm from.

People get way too invested in stories like these, it's what Chavo wanted, so if you're a fan, be happy for the guy. There's no need to over-analyze it, no reason to complain, everything seems to have worked out in his favor. People quit their jobs everyday to spend more time with their families or pursue other opportunities and it's seen as something to celebrate. Why does it become such an issue in wrestling? If the guy got fired, that's one thing, otherwise, it strikes me as selfishness; people who don't want to see this particular character leave their TV screen because it will affect their entertainment.

Chavo made some comments about being tired of making supposedly less talented people look good, which struck me as a little bitter, but I'm sure many of us know that feeling to a degree, so I can certainly sympathize. The fact of the matter is, at age 40, Chavo was never going to climb the WWE mountain, his position was to get guys acclimated to the WWE style and I wouldn't be surprised if he had a guaranteed job for life to be that guy. Apparently he didn't and that's totally cool, that's 100% his right. I'm sure he can be a bigger fish in a smaller pond if he's so inclined somewhere down the road, there's no law that says if you're a wrestler, you have to make your living in WWE.

I do have to take issue with people saying WWE never did anything with him though, that's simply not true. Was he John Cena? Obviously not. But Chavo had a really fun stint with Los Guerreros, a solid feud with Rey Mysterio after Eddie's death, got a nice run with the ECW Title and was a part of one of the biggest stories in the history of the Smackdown brand with La Familia. I'm sure there are worse ways to spend a WWE career, at least in terms of how your character is presented on TV.

In the grand scheme of what you see on WWE, Chavo's absence won't change much but he was the final active wrestler on the roster from the "WCW 24" when WWE purchased the company in 2001 and I feel like that's a pretty significant statistic. In the end though, all that matters is if this is what Chavo Guerrero wants and it sounds like the guy has a huge weight off his shoulders. Congrats to Chavo, and I wish him good luck on the next chapter of his life.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Kick-Out!! Radio - Episode 60

A first for Kick-Out!! Radio, an interview! Razor sits down with Jeff Katz to discuss Wrestling Revolution, what wrestling needs to be cool again, horror movies and a whole lot more in a near 90-minute discussion. In the Opening Bell, we examine Paul Heyman's comments on how he almost joined Impact Wrestling and why it ultimately fell through.





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

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Fair to Flair Quarterly: On Sale Now


Reposting this from my buddy KSP at FairToFlair.com - The Fair to Flair Quarterly is now available and we would really appreciate your support. That better wrestling media I've been talking about for two and a half years? It's here:
For those who pre-ordered, we can’t thank you enough. You proved that there is a demand for intellectual writing on the art of professional wrestling. You’re pretty awesome. But as of today, the pre-order link won’t work anymore. If you would like to purchase a physical copy of the Quarterly, it’ll be $25CDN. Even at that price, we feel it’s a great deal: 84 pages of essays and insight by the smartest people in wrestling journalism. 
For those who didn’t pre-order, we’re offering two new products today. You can now purchase the Quarterly in digital format for $9.99. It’s our cheapest option, as well as the friendliest to the environment. Instead of waiting for a bookmaker to print and glue a book then ship it to you, you can have Fair to Flair Quarterly as soon as we receive your order. 
The digital bundle contains several files. You will receive the PDF that came with the pre-order, which looks great on regular computer screens. The Epub file looks great on iBooks, Kobos, Nooks, and Sony Readers. The Mobi file looks great on Kindle. These aren’t thrown together files, either. If your screen is in colour, you’ll get colour photos and cover. Black and white? Nothing but the colour is missing. The table of contents is embedded in the file, so you can zip around using the menu on your device. Best of all, there is no digital rights management on any of these files. You bought them? You own them.
Finally, for the digital enthusiast, we’re adding a second subscription option. You can now order a digital subscription, which will net you four digital bundles for $35. That’s less than half the price of the physical subscription, and a savings of $5 from buying each digital issue individually. 
So, to summarize:
Once again, Fair to Flair Quarterly is an absolute labour of love. The contributors are all fabulous, and we really do believe that you’ll love the issue. 

Monday, June 20, 2011

WWE Raw thoughts - June 20, 2011

It's "Power to the People" tonight on Raw, or "#WWEP2P" as they're calling it on Twitter. That oughta show people who torrent your shows, WWE! Follow me on Twitter for the ongoing silliness of the evening and of course, refresh your page for the live blog. Let's have fun!

And we start things off with CM Punk! He promised a major announcement after defeating Rey Mysterio last night, but first he has to tell the audience that he does not trust them with the content of the program tonight. After all, they chose to live in Baltimore, "you could move!" After defeating John Cena last week and Rey Mysterio last night, he wants to be declared the #1 contender for the WWE Title and he wants his shot in his hometown of Chicago at the Money in the Bank PPV. By the way, he won MITB two years in a row, in case you forgot. The G?M will take it under advisement, but wants Punk to leave the ring, so Punk responds by making snow angels in the middle of the ring. The G?M takes this as an insult and makes Punk earn his title shot, he has to beat Alberto Del Rio and Rey Mysterio in a triple threat match later tonight. Okay, flagrant abuse of power and all, but that match will be awesome.

Brie Bella vs. Kelly Kelly is our first Power to the People match, Kelly was picked over Eve Torres and Beth Phoenix, and the Diva's Championship is on the line. And hey, what do you know, the match isn't bad and KELLY WINS! Kelly probably should've picked up the title when she was doing the "fired" storyline with Edge and Vickie a few months back, but she's worked really hard to improve and oddly has never held it before, so I support this. Although surely the Bellas will get it back soon enough, they're the best thing going in the Divas division now that Kharma is on the shelf.

Evan Bourne is in action next against:
A. Jack Swagger
B. Mason Ryan
C. Sin Cara

This is why WWE "Power to the People," "Viewer's Choice" or "Cyber Sunday" shows bug me. They're so nervous about actually opening the show up a bit, that they give us "Guy who has fought Evan 1000 times in the last two days," "guy no one has heard of" and "Fan favorite."

So of course, it's Evan Bourne vs. Sin--Wait, what? Mason Ryan won the vote?! Well, I've always suspected wrestling fans were masochists. Evan Bourne tries to make lemonade, but the match is bowling shoe ugly and Mason Ryan picks up the win, for some odd reason.

And just to continue the Punishment of the People, Mark Henry vs. Kane in a Body Slam Match, Arm Wrestling Match, or Over the Top Rope Match is next.

Mark Henry cuts a promo before his match and then we go to another commercial. Because that's what Kane vs. Mark Henry needed, to be stretched out over multiple segments. We're back and these two are going to have an ARM WRESTLING MATCH! YEAH! The fact that Kane is wrestling for custody of his kid makes it much more interesting! Mark Henry pulls a Roddy Piper and just decides to kick Kane's ass instead. One World's Strongest Slam through the announce table and I'm suddenly a Mark Henry fan again!

The crowd chanted "THIS IS STUPID!" during that segment. Hey, you voted for it.

Okay guys, that first hour was just practice. Raw is for realzies now with the arrival of R-Truth, who should've won by disqualification last night after interference from Lil Jimmy. Truth is talking conspiracies and the ultimate conspiracy victim, Christian has arrived. "Power to the People?" The same people that made Christian wrestle Randy Orton when he wasn't 100%! R-Truth claims he has it worse though, he's only received one title shot and he got got by Lil Jimmy! They don't have Lil Jimmies in Canada, they have Lil Jimmehs.

But if you want to talk about people getting screwed over by corrupt officials, biased GMs and those damn people, you have to be talking about The Miz. Yeah, that's right, The Miz, R-Truth, and Christian are in the ring at the same time, hey look, it's the three guys carrying the entire company. The Triumvirate of Awesome argues over whose back hurts the worst until Teddy Long announces a six-man tag main event for tonight: Truth, Miz & Christian vs. Alex Riley, John Cena & Randy Orton! I do love me a good six-man tag, but the good guys better get got!

Kofi Kingston vs. Dolph Ziggler in a rematch for the United States Championship is next and the fans have voted for a 2 out of 3 falls match, which is their first good pick all night. Granted, it's Raw, so I'm sure things will be a bit rushed, but I love 2 out of 3 falls even more than a good six-man tag.

Of course, the first fall happens during commercial. C'mon WWE! Ziggler hit the Zig-Zag outside the ring during the break and rolled Kofi back in for the pin, and at least we got to see it on replay. Zig-Zag outside was pretty nasty too. Kofi's getting his ass kicked, but an SOS out of nowhere ties things up!

Fun back and forth action between these two, just like their match last night, Kofi hits Trouble in Paradise outside the ring, but Ziggler just barely gets his fingers on the bottom rope to break up the pin. If that were Mike Chioda officiating, Kofi would be champion. Ziggler tries to run and blasts Kofi with a microphone on the outside, causing a disqualification, but allowing himself to keep the title. I don't think I've ever seen a 2 out of 3 falls match end like that and it's really kinda dumb. What if Ziggler would've got disqualified for the first fall, would that have ended the match entirely?

Hey, Shawn Michaels is going to be on Raw next week! They're trying their damnedest with this summer Raws, aren't they?

Alberto Del Rio is here, sadly without "I BROKE BIG SHOW'S LEG" stitched on his scarf. "You already knew that," "DESTINY!" yadda, yadda, let's get on with the Triple Threat match!

Alberto Del Rio vs. Rey Mysterio vs. CM Punk to determine a new #1 contender is next and it is a Falls Count Anywhere match! I want to know who the idiots were that voted for "No Disqualification," all Triple Threat matches are No DQ!

And CM Punk proves that in spades with a SUNSET FLIP POWERBOMB TO THE OUTSIDE OF THE RING! Good God, almighty! Maybe they were just getting all the garbage out of the way in the first hour to get us REALLY excited for awesomeness like this match? We already had three of the best guys in WWE in the ring at once earlier with Miz, Christian and Truth and now we have the other three kicking seven shades of ass. Beautiful Suplex/Powerbomb combo with Punk Superplexing Mysterio off the top rope while Del Rio powerbombs Punk, and now Del Rio hits a NASTY German Suplex on Rey Rey. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow.

As exciting as Cena vs. Rey Rey would be, Punk breaks up Rey's pin attempt on Del Rio after the big splash and steals the win! We've got a new #1 contender and he can do all the snow angels he wants! Punk has the mic and lays down some of that honesty he was talking about, July 17th, the day of the MITB PPV is the last day of his contract and he promises to leave the WWE with the WWE Championship! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Okay, I know Punk leaving has been rumored for awhile now and as sad as it is, I totally support the guy taking some time off. And someone running off with the WWE Championship could be a brilliant story; I'm sure they won't go through with it, but if done right, it could be awesome.

Daniel Bryan vs. Cody Rhodes in a no-count out match, because... I have no idea why. Bryan wins and Ted DiBiase runs in after, oh man I can't even bring myself to care. Good for Bryan, but the crowd is in a coma and Ted DiBiase is a walking warm glass of milk. There's no excuse for WWE making Bryan or Rhodes boring though, that's a real shame.

Vickie Guerrero vs. Michael Cole next in a dance-off. And Matt Striker is here just to complete this little circle of wrestling hell. I like silly distraction segments occasionally, especially when they involve the Boogeyman, but was anyone actually entertained by this? Aside from people who stop to look at car wrecks?

Main Event time! R-Truth, Christian & The Miz vs. John Cena, Randy Orton & Alex Riley! When everything got started for this at 10:30, I thought it was way too early for the main event, but with 11 minutes of entrances and the fans voting for an Elimination Match, this one should make it to 11:05 just fine.

Like I said earlier, I love six-man tag matches and I love anything that's elimination style, so this might wind up being my favorite Raw main event of the year. Alex Riley gets a taste of his own medicine when the ref gets distracted, allowing Miz to give the assist to Christian, Riley's out!

After a loooooooooooooon in-between period, Cena eliminates Miz with the AA and we're tied at two a piece. Sorry for the lack of detail about the match, I'm just sitting back and enjoying and it's hard to write about these matches without falling into play-by-play territory.

Random question though, is this Christian's first time in the ring with John Cena since his return?

And now it's time for the rapid-fire game!

RKO to Truth, Truth is out.

Christian SPEARS Orton! Orton is out! WOOHOO!

Oh, but even though he's eliminated, Orton blatantly interferes in the match and RKOs Christian.

STF locked in, Christian taps, Cena and Orton pose, I yawn.

Well, the first hour sucked, but things picked up considerably, we got some good wrestling and despite the stupid dance competition and the pointless Daniel Bryan/Cody Rhodes stuff, the show became quite enjoyable. Unfortunately, the show ended with John Cena and Randy Orton celebrating with their titles. I hate to keep beating this dead horse, but during a three-hour Viewer's Choice Raw last year, we got Nexus. And while CM Punk's threat to leave WWE with the WWE Title could become a big storyline, this show ended with the same old song and dance.

I'm not saying they had to come up with some earth-shattering summer storyline tonight and I totally understand why the good guys win these big multi-man matches, but I just feel like nothing is happening. We've had two three hour shows in a row, a PPV last night and a lot of good wrestling going on, but I feel like the only thing I'm going to remember this time next week is CM Punk's announcement. Why? Because it's something new, something is happening, I'm genuinely intrigued. Can we get something like that throughout the entire show? Please?

CM PUNK - MATTEL ELITE 6 WWE TOY WRESTLING ACTION FIGURETHE MIZ - ELITE 9 WWE TOY WRESTLING ACTION FIGUREWWE R-TRUTH OVER THE LIMIT WRESTLING FIGURE

WWE Capitol Punishment 2011 review

Just because a card looks good on a paper, it doesn't mean it'll translate well in reality. Capitol Punishment started off well enough, but fell completely flat near the end. Let's take a more detailed look.

The Capitol Punishment set was one of the coolest WWE has had for a PPV in quite awhile. I wept for humanity a little bit when people on Twitter thought it was the White House instead of the Capitol Building, but it at least looked awesome. Very slick and coupled with the red, white and blue ropes, it set the stage for the night quite well.

Dolph Ziggler vs. Kofi Kingston for the United States Championship kicked things off. Makes sense, US Title on the line, continuing to set the tone very well, and rightfully, the AMERICAN won! [/extreme patriotism] These guys had a great opening contest though, Ziggler always turns the volume way up on PPV, he owns that opening match slot. Kofi's no stranger to that role either, and when he's given enough time to work with, he's a master at letting a match heat up to its boiling point. Dolphy Z and Kofi are obviously no strangers to each other, but something about putting them together on PPV just makes them up their games considerably. Dolph picked up the US Title after calling an audible when Kofi's legs buckled during the Zig-Zag, but it allowed Ziggler to lock in the sleeper anyway and win the title more definitively. Great way to start the show.
Predictions: 1 for 1

The Miz vs. Alex Riley going on second confused me and the dead crowd didn't help things either. This had to have been one of the worst crowds for any WWE PPV and what should've been a big night for Alex Riley, the hometown hero, the crowd just wasn't biting. Lame. The match was enjoyable though, definitely a star-making performance for Riley and I was really impressed that WWE pulled the trigger and let him beat The Miz 1-2-3 with his new finisher, the move formerly known as The Edgecution. Don't worry Mizfits, he'll be just fine and he did the right thing tonight by making Riley look so good... after kicking his ass for eight minutes.
Predictions: 1 for 2

Alberto Del Rio vs. Big Show was next and this one wasn't so much a match, but I enjoyed the story that was told. An enraged Big Show attacked Del Rio during his entrance, but an enraged Mark Henry attacked Big Show before the match began and hit him with the World's Strongest Slam through the announce table. Makes sense, Show murderlized Henry on Smackdown, so somebody had to get their wig split. After Henry beat him up, beat him up and broke his leg, broke his leg, the ref was going to rule the match a count-out via forfeit, but Show insisted on starting. The World's Largest Athlete got a bit of offense in, but once Del Rio locked in the Cross Legbreaker, it was all over. Big Show couldn't walk, the referee called the match off and Del Rio picked up one of the most smug wins in WWE history. Fantastic storytelling and Del Rio should get "I BROKE BIG SHOW'S LEG" stitched into his scarf.
Predictions: 2 for 3

Wade Barrett came to the ring without music and ran down Washington DC and America in general because of Anthony Weiner and our national debt. Oh yeah, Wade? Well... England is... uh... you guys just had that stupid Royal Wedding... that we were obsessed over too. Goddammit. Someone come out here and shut him up.

YEAH! America saved by... the guy from South America! Oh well, at least "America" is in there somewhere. Wade Barrett vs. Ezekiel Jackson wasn't the most exciting match ever, but there's just something about the old school styles from these guys that I just really enjoy. It was like watching Dino Bravo vs. Don Muraco at SummerSlam in 1988, nothing particularly memorable, but a fun throwback. Big Zeke picked up the win and the Intercontinental Title after several bodyslams and the Torture Rack (again, deliciously old school), and solidified his spot as Smackdown's next big thing.

I know everyone is calling him the new Ahmed Johnson (because according to wrestling fans, all muscular black guys are the same), but I'm seeing 2005-era Batista mixed with just a smidge of Sid Justice. He's got that quiet intensity, which they were trying to break him of tonight (don't like), but I hope they just let him do the scary quiet guy instead of forcing him to scream. Zeke is the thinking man's monster, he doesn't need to be the Ultimate Warrior.
Predictions: 2 for 4

Backstage, CM Punk cut one of the most believable, dastardly and awesome promos I've seen on WWE TV in years. I'm talking Foley in his prime awesome. It was all about Washington DC politics and how he's a politician too, but the only difference is, he's the only honest one that's swimming with the sharks. He also promised to do the most honest thing the WWE Universe has ever seen if he won his match, which continues the trend of cryptic endings to CM Punk's promos.

CM Punk vs. Rey Mysterio was definitely the Match of the Night. As I said on Twitter, if you ever want to claim that wrestling isn't an art, watch CM Punk perform, the guy is unquestionably an artist. Rey's no slouch either and when he's in there with Punk, they just bring out the best in each other. High drama, near falls, reversals, it's all you can ask for in an exciting wrestling match. Was it their definitive match? Maybe not, but it was still fantastic and Punk reversing the 619 into the GTS was beautiful. Now... what's the honest thing he's going to do?! Oh and Punk screaming "I PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE!" before the bow and arrow submission was hysterical.
Predictions: 3 for 5

Randy Orton vs. Christian was when the show really started to go downhill. Don't get me wrong, this match was good, not anywhere close to their instant classic last month, but good. Unfortunately, it had big shoes to fill. First, the good stuff: I know Orton's been battling a concussion, but he was great tonight, even introduced some new moves to his arsenal, including a real cool move in the corner where he slithered between the ropes and rolled Christian up for a schoolboy. See WWE, if you insist on calling the guy "The Viper," have him do cool stuff like this instead of flailing around like an idiot in between moves. Incorporating the nickname into his moveset gives it a much more natural feel. Christian was terrific as always, but was once again screwed out of his World Heavyweight Championship. And surprise, surprise, that bastard, Mike Chioda, was responsible.

Christian's foot was clearly under the bottom rope when Orton hit the RKO and despite it being clear as day, Lawler and Booker T, who are supposed to be the good guys, just brushed off the claims, despite the mountain of evidence. I understand keeping the story going, Orton has no other viable contenders to work with right now, but the ending just fell flat for me. And to make matters worse, Orton nailed Christian with the World Title while Captain Charisma was rightfully arguing his case. Your hero, ladies and gentlemen. If this story doesn't end with Christian getting the belt back, I have no idea what the hell they're doing.
Predictions: 4 for 6

Then we got a "bonus attraction" with Evan Bourne vs. Jack Swagger. Crowd was dead. D-E-A-D. DEAD. They were dead the entire night to begin with, so add filler into that mix? Wow. Bourne continues to have Swagger's number and picked up another win, but this story needs to go somewhere if they want people to care. But perhaps they don't?
Predictions: n/a

Oh, and the Bella Twins were at ringside with Keith Stone, the worst pitchman for beer since the last misogynistic character that was used to sell beer. It was the most awkward product placement on WWE TV since Kentucky Grilled Chicken on the commercial-free episode of Raw.

Then the Fake Barack Obama came to the ring... and WWE showed real United States soldiers saluting the fake Commander-in-Chief. That was incredibly insulting. Then they had the fake black president break dance with Booker T. Oh, WWE.

Now that Washington DC was obliterated like a Roland Emmerich movie, it was time for the Main Event!

John Cena vs. R-Truth for the WWE Championship. Here's the danger of the "cool down" segment, while WWE traditionally throws a Divas match in between the two main events, when you kill 20+ minutes with what WWE did tonight, you run the risk of never getting the crowd back. On top of that, the crowd already sucked tonight and they basically gave them a dose of Ambien right before the most important match on the card.

And to make matters worse, Truth and Cena didn't really click either. Truth's new persona is a breath of fresh air, it's engaging, unique and unlike anything else in wrestling right now, but he's still wrestling like "Mr. WUSSUP?!" instead of "Mr. LIL JIMMY GOT GOT!" Imagine if John Cena turned heel and was still doing the big shoulder block/hip toss/Five Knuckle Shuffle comeback combo, it wouldn't go over well. Truth is still doing the Lie Detector, Scissor Kick, and Shut Up, those are flashy, pretty moves for good guys. Truth did start to get into his groove when he stole a fan's water, who then threw it in his face, allowing Cena to throw Truth back in the ring and hit the Attitude Adjustment for an incredibly anticlimactic finish to an anticlimactic show.
Predictions: 4 for 7

Too many wonky finishes and really bad third act killed this show. Ziggler/Kofi through Punk/Mysterio wasn't worth $55 alone, but it was a great start to the show. Orton/Christian, while solid, left me confused and annoyed and then everything after that ranged from boring to embarrassing and infuriating. There was definitely fun to be had on this show, but not worth the money to watch the replay or even buy the DVD. First thumbs down for a WWE PPV in 2011 and unless they're really looking to ride the momentum of next year's presidential election, I don't see a Capitol Punishment 2012 happening.

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Sunday, June 19, 2011

WWE Capitol Punishment Predictions

Capitol Punishment is tonight and I'm definitely going to have to utilize some DVR wizardry to get around the premiere of Falling Skies and the season finale of Game of Thrones, but I'm actually pretty excited for this show. Even though I'm sure no one will actually watch it, the card is rock solid, features several new faces in major matches and I expect most of the matches to actually be pretty good. Let's take a look:

CM Punk vs. Rey Mysterio
You know your card is in good shape when even the one poorly built match is guaranteed to at least be good. Punk vs. Rey Rey is nothing new, we've even seen it twice this month on Raw, but with these guys in the ring together, with at least ten minutes to work with, I'm sure we're in store for something special. The match definitely seems like "we're not sure what to do with these guys right now," but it's going to be awesome regardless. I'll go with CM Punk since he's fresh off a win over John Cena and seems to be back on the upswing.

Big Show vs. Alberto Del Rio
This is the only match on the card that isn't really sticking out to me. I like both guys, but their feud has fallen flat; car wrecks and fat impersonators? C'mon. I doubt their styles will gel either, but there could be fun to be had. I'll guess Del Rio wins to set up his all-but-confirmed SummerSlam feud with John Cena, but a DQ loss wouldn't surprise me either.

Intercontinental Championship
Wade Barrett © vs. Ezekiel Jackson

The Corre has collapsed, Big Zeke has been on a roll, so naturally, Wade Barrett will win. To be fair, Barrett vs. Sin Cara or Daniel Bryan for the IC Title is much more interesting than Zeke vs. Mark Henry or Cody Rhodes, but I can't help but think Barrett's ship has sailed for the moment and Zeke has the potential to be the next big singles star.

United States Championship
Kofi Kingston © vs. Dolph Ziggler

Kofi won the US Title for no other reason than to get the belt back on Raw after the Draft, Dolph Ziggler wins this one.

The Miz vs. Alex Riley
Does A-Ri win and become solidified as a top-tier star? Does Miz win and regain some of his lost momentum? Will wrestling fans ever stop thinking in terms of heads or tails? It's the best told story on the card and either guy could win and it would work in the context of the story. I'm going to go with The Miz after some dastardly tactics and a star-making performance from Riley, but with WWE's track record of cold feet lately, I'm guessing they'll go with the safe bet. Either way, I have a feeling this match will be reminiscent of Chris Jericho vs. John Cena in 2002, it won't be Riley's ticket to the WWE Title, but it'll be a big first step.

World Heavyweight Championship
Randy Orton © vs. Christian

Randy Orton's concussion has cast a cloud of doubt over this match, but after their Match of the Year candidate at Over the Limit, I hope Orton is fully recovered. Don't get me wrong, if they just want Christian to sneak up behind him, hit the Killswitch and win the title, you won't see me shed any tears, but I'd really like to see these two tear the house down again. Soak it in, Kick-Outers, I am eagerly anticipating a match where Randy Orton is going in as World Champion, that may never happen again. Still predicting Randy Orton to win though since, ya know, he never loses.

WWE Championship
John Cena © vs. R-Truth

R-Truth is the best thing in WWE right now, hands down. Admittedly, Truth getting the belt right now might hamper his whole conspiracy victim shtick, but screw it, R-Truth for the win! I expect some shenanigans in this match, maybe even Truth winning by count-out or disqualification, but just the thought of what kind of craziness Truth could do with the WWE Title around his waist is very appealing. C'mon Truth, prove all the Lil Jimmies wrong!

Feel free to leave your predictions in the comments section and make sure to check back later tonight for my full thoughts on WWE Capitol Punishment. Here's hoping for a Robocop cameo!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Poll: Capitol Punishment

Hey, it's been awhile since we've had a new poll. Pretty simple one to ease back in too. The Capitol Punishment card is shaping up quite nicely, what match are you most excited to see?

Voting will be open till the PPV starts and feel free to explain your choice in the comments section.

Monday, June 13, 2011

WWE Raw thoughts - June 13, 2011

It's WWE's "All-Star Night," I'm not exactly sure what that means, but my guess is it's an excuse to get both rosters on the show. Maybe they'll give us the equivalent of the All-Star game and put on a main event featuring all the main eventers... like they do on every three hour Raw. Oh no, I'm sounding way too cynical and the show hasn't even started yet. Let's have some fun tonight so I don't whine about my wrestling blahs like I have been for the last two months. Follow me on Twitter for the absurdity and refresh your page for ongoing blog coverage!

And we're kicking off All-Star Night with the biggest star in sports, entertainment, infotainment, and anything other form of media you can name... THE MIZ! The Miz, whose leg is looking fine, calls Alex Riley a fraud, but is quickly cut off by the goddamn "WHURT?!" chants. "Yeah, that was cool in 2001," you know wrestling fans, Miz, they're all 10 years behind anyway. But speaking of the man behind the dreaded "WHAT?!" chant, The Miz calls out Stone Cold Steve Austin! That's right, Miz ain't afraid of no Stone Cold.

The crowd has literally figuratively EXPLODED for The Rattlesnake. Stone Cold is in vintage form here, this ain't the goofy "WHAT?!" Stone Cold, looking at his watch and polishing his comedy bit, this is classic Rattlesnake. He's giving Miz the business, lecturing him, but also giving him credit as the silver-tongued devil. Not so much a back and forth, but it is Austin in rare form. But if Miz wants to be the big bad talker, he'll give him and Alex Riley to discuss some things tonight... in Piper's Pit!

Austin warns Miz to leave the ring, and since he has a big debate to prepare for, the fearless captain of Team Awesome obliges. In all seriousness though, I love the chemistry these two have and would love to see Austin lace up the boots one last time for a match with The Miz at WrestleMania. Austin attempts to play hype man, but is cut off by the arrival of some guy whose name is Alberto Del Rio... but you already knew that. Del Rio says he heard Austin wanted to see him, which is true, because our guest GM tonight has put him in the first match of the night, against Kane. That last sentence should have an exclamation point after it, but c'mon, it's just Kane.

Alberto Del Rio vs. Kane is our opening contest and despite my apathy toward Kane, at least this match makes sense. Well, as much sense of Kane caring about Big Show out of nowhere, not long after trying to murder The Undertaker, can make. Decent little match with Del Rio outsmarting Kane at almost every turn. Del Rio gets the Cross Armbreaker locked in and refuses to let go when Kane gets to the ropes, giving the seven-footer a DQ win. As Del Rio tries to break Kane's arm Big Show literally runs to the ring make the save. Long Island just shifted about four feet after experiencing Big Show running. Ricardo Rodriguez distracts Show (and gets his ass kicked), allowing Del Rio to run away. Stone Cold says he may as well run to Washington DC, because he has a one-on-one match with Big Show this Sunday at Capitol Punishment. Man, the crowd was really excited to see Big Show.

Six-man tag action now with Cody Rhodes, Wade Barrett & Ted DiBiase vs. Sin Cara, Ezekiel Jackson & Daniel Bryan. This match could be awesome... plus Ted DiBiase. Sin Cara's special lighting is still a thing, which is distracting enough, but even more so when he's not even the one in the ring. Good guys in control throughout the majority of this match and when Big Zeke gets in the ring, it's game over man, game over! The triple bodyslams, tossing the former Legacy (ugh) over the top rope at the same time, using Bryan as a human lawn dart, you may have heard, this is what one might call "domination." Sin Cara gets a big cross body on Barrett and picks up the win, but this match was all about Zeke.

Back from commercial, Hornswoggle has the t-shirt gun, but the TRUTH shall set him free! It looks like fun, Truth likes having FUNNNN, just like all the Lil Jimmies and little Jennies! Truth vows to win the WWE Championship this Sunday, and for whatever reason, Hornswoggle thinks it's appropriate to shoot him with the t-shirt gun. I've always thought getting shot by one of those things at point blank range would leave a cartoonish hole in the middle of your stomach. Truth gives Hornswoggle a hug, but then realizes he looks like a Lil Horny and decides to kick him in the face. John Cena doesn't make the valiant save, but Stone Cold does give Truth an opponent for later tonight... John Morrison!

Sheamus vs. Santino Marella is our next match, for some reason. They love pairing these two up, which I don't get because their styles are drastically different and they couldn't be more dissimilar in terms of character or card position. I guess because of that tea party bit from last year? Anyhoo, Sheamus brushes off the COBRA and beats Santino with the CLOVERLEAF! Yes, I love the Cloverleaf and it has been criminally underused since Dean Malenko retired. Everyone should have a regular finisher and a submission finisher, so I'm all in favor of this.

And it's the Raw return of BEARDY McGEE! The World Title is extra shiny, but it still pales in comparison to the Orange Viper. Luckily, his microphone isn't working! Okay, full disclosure, I may have hired the PSN hackers to sabotage it. Unfortunately, they didn't hack the other mics and he still gets a chance to talk, but at least his "live TV is awesome" line is laughably bad. And... are those boos I'm hearing for the paper World Champion? Long Island, I love you.

Orton calls out Christian, who is too good to deal with this petty nonsense and will only address Zee Vipah via TitanTron. Christian makes the excellent point that he doesn't get why Orton's so bitter all the time, he's had everything handed to him on a silver platter his entire life. Christian has to insult the fans in the middle of this though since the crowd realizes he's right and they're already not buying him as legit. Orton takes a cheap shot and says Edge should carry Christian to the ring since he carried him for 17 years.

Christian heads to the ring, but changes his mind midway down the ramp. Orton tries to strike, but The G?M drops the bombshell that Orton is concussed after the belt shot from Smackdown and if he risks his health tonight, he'll be stripped of the World Title! Yeah, c'mon Randy, disobey the order!

Sadly, cooler heads prevail and Orton heads to the back, but Stone Cold gives Christian a match anyway... against Rey Mysterio! Uh, yes please!

Christian vs. Rey Mysterio is a dream match for this particular blogger and I can't recall them ever wrestling before. Maybe they locked up on Smackdown many moons ago and I missed it? They announce Rey Mysterio vs. CM Punk for Capitol Punishment, so you can pay $60 to see a match you watched for free on Raw the last two weeks!

Unfortunately, this dream match of mine isn't panning out as planned. Immediately after commercial, Christian gets disqualified for refusing to break a choke in the corner. Really? We kinda just did this earlier tonight with Del Rio and Kane. Seriously, I watched it, it was like an hour ago! Christian at least continues the assault after the match, Rey tries to get the upper hand, but CM Punk & some other guys keep that from happening. Rey gets a Killswitch and Randy Orton gets a message.

Backstage, a stunning Vickie Guerrero asks Stone Cold to give Dolph Ziggler a United States Championship match this Sunday against Kofi Kingston. Stone Cold agrees as long as Dolph drops Vickie as his manager, just like he did with Ted DiBiase when he was The Ringmaster. Ziggler agrees (NOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!), but Stone Cold was only teasing. Awkward.

R-Truth vs. John Morrison, who is fresh off of neck surgery, is up next. These two are no strangers to each other, but with Truth's new found insanity, this should be fun. Should be, but it looks like we're the victims of the old bait & switch, Morrison's music is playing, but no JoMo. Truth goes looking for Morrison backstage and "SHAZAM! LIL JIMMY GOT JOHNNY!" Morrison is out cold backstage, he got got! Looks like Morrison isn't ready to come back yet after all.

Dolph Ziggler & Jack Swagger vs. Evan Bourne & Kofi Kingston in tag team action and while we've seen plenty combinations of Kofi, Swagger and Ziggler, the addition of Evan Bourne could bring something new to the table. Love the idea of Kofi and Bourne teaming up, love the idea of both these teams becoming permanent. C'mon WWE, you could easily rebuild the tag division with guys who are otherwise floundering. Fun little TV match with Bourne continuing to have Swagger's number, Shooting Star Press and the good guys win. That in mind, I'm confident this means Ziggler is winning the US Title on Sunday. Seriously, when that happens, send Bourne and Kofi after the Tag Belts.

The Rock won a Spike TV Guy's Choice Award. Instead of a statue, they give you a gold-plated douchebag.

Piper's Pit is our 10pm main event for the evening and I have no issues with that whatsoever. Piper mentions 25 years ago, he dropped Mr. T in this very building at WrestleMania 2. The Miz cuts off the nostalgia trip and mentions his favorite Nassau Coliseum moment: when they tear it down and replace it with nothing. Hahaha, oh man, that literally made me LOL.

The Miz tells Piper he's tired of being called a "modern day Roddy Piper," and that his episodes of The Real World were way better than They Live. Okay Miz, we're BFFs and all, but that's just ridiculous, why would you even say that? Fun little back and forth with Piper and Miz though, which leads to Alex Riley making his way to the ring to an INSANE reaction. More great verbal sparring, if you're not watching live, make sure you track it down and it leads to Riley saying Piper could beat The Miz right now. The main event of WrestleMania 1 vs. the main event of WrestleMania 27 is on! And both men are putting up $5000 of their own money... I love fake fight purses! Stone Cold sweetens the pot with a special guest referee: Alex Riley! Well that doesn't seem fair.

Roddy Piper vs. The Miz is next and that corrupt official Alex Riley totally screws The Miz and gives the win to Piper with a fast count! We'll see who has the last laugh on Sunday, cheaters!

Seven-on-Seven Diva Match up next and for some reason, Rosa Mendes is a bad guy now? Yes, I expect continuity in the Divas division. Kelly pins Rosa, then the Divas do the Rockettes bit in honor of the Tony Awards. Yeah, you know that huge crossover audience between Broadway and WWE.

I hate using the word "epic," but the backstage confrontation with CM Punk & Stone Cold is pretty close. The story writes itself here, but both men promise big surprises tonight and Stone Cold's announcement is next. What? Next. What? Next.

"I can whoop your ass backwards!"

Stone Cold comes to the ring on his ATV, The G?M chimes in to remind him that he's only in charge this week. Stone Cold says that's fine, but while he's only in charge for the remainder of this show, he decides to make next week's show a three hour Raw as well and it will be a Viewer's Choice Raw. That's how Nexus debuted last year...

Stone Cold gets annoyed by the iTunes "ding" and runs Cole off, pours beer on the laptop and runs it over with his ATV. I don't think Stone Cold is in any condition to be driving that thing.

Main Event time! John Cena vs. CM Punk, the last time these two squared off in the final match of a three-hour Raw was June 7, 2011... when Nexus debuted. That thought, combined with this ELECTRIC Long Island crowd is making for an intriguing main event and it has barely even begun.

Things have settled a little bit after commercial, but Punk won't have any of that: slingshot crossbody to the outside, diving axe handle off the top rope to the outside (OOOH YEAH!), and the dueling "LET'S GO CENA/CM PUNK!" chant is back! Great action here, very exciting Raw main event, and then things only get better when we hear "LOOK AT ALL THE LITTLE JIMMIES!" R-Truth is taunting a Little Jimmy in the crowd, this obviously doesn't sit well with Cena, who walks right into a GO TO SLEEP! PUNK WINS! PUNK WINS! PUNK WINS! For those keeping score, CM Punk has been John Cena's Kryptonite in 2011.

Very good Raw tonight. Nothing earth-shattering like last year's three-hour Raw, but maybe they're saving it for next week's Viewer's Choice show? Or perhaps there is no big earth-shattering summer storyline this year? Regardless, it was just a flat-out good show filled with solid wrestling. A few stupid decisions, but overall, nothing really to complain about. Well worth my three hours and I'm actually pretty stoked for Capitol Punishment. If they can keep it up with shows like this, they might not need to turn the Universe on its head.

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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Kick-Back: Nexus Debuts

It was a year ago on June 7th, but tomorrow's Raw will be the true one-year anniversary of the Nexus debut. It was a three-hour "Viewer's Choice" Raw, tomorrow is a three-hour "All-Stars" Raw and the first three-hour Raw of June is usually where WWE tries shaking things up. It's when we got the first commercial-free Raw, Vince's limo explosion, the guest host concept, etc. Those things didn't always work out in the end, in fact none of them did, but it's at least when WWE tries something different. With the way things have been post-WrestleMania, I think we're all pretty desperate for something different.

One year ago, we saw the arrival of Nexus, and even though it failed miserably in the end, it was the most talked about moment on WWE television in years. Here's how I reacted to their shocking arrival in my Raw review:

Cena and Punk are having a fun match, but what is Wade Barrett doing on the ramp? And hey, is that Michael Tarver? Wait... all of the Season 1 NXT Rookies are here and they're kicking EVERYONE'S ass. John Cena, CM Punk, Justin Roberts, Mike Chioda, the timekeeper, Jerry Lawler, Matt Striker, random dudes, EVERYONE. The NXT Rookies destroy the Raw set, tear up the ring and destroy John Cena.

Hoooooooooooooly shit, did that just happen? Aside from Jericho's return and ECW joining WCW, I can't think of a more memorable ending to Raw. The ECW bit aside, in just 90 seconds, the NXT Invasion was better than almost everything else in the six months of the WCW Invasion. If they run with this, WWE could've just stumbled on the next big thing in professional wrestling. The first 2 hours and 45 minutes of this show were absolutely unbearable, but no one cares now because this ending was flat-out frigging awesome. Not only that, they managed to make the NXT Rookies more interesting in ten minutes than they did in the entire first season of the show. Well played, WWE... well played.

"YOU ARE NOT BETTER THAN ME!"

WWE, get me to react like that tomorrow night. Please.

Monday, June 6, 2011

WWE Raw thoughts - June 6, 2011

I believe the Tough Enough finale will spill over into the opening minutes of Raw, so we'll definitely be talking about that at the top of the hour. I'm pulling for Andy, mainly because Luke might be the worst person ever. And regardless of whose name is announced tonight, the real winners of Tough Enough are Bill DeMott and Stone Cold Steve Austin. Refresh your page for ongoing coverage of tonight's Raw and of course, check out Twitter for the ridiculousness. Let's have fun tonight!

All the ex-contestants are in the ring, Luke and Andy with their belts on their shoulder. Stone Cold asks for the trainers' opinions and it's a unanimous decision for Andy. Stone Cold gives the final two their opportunity to talk, Luke comes off like an asshole, but honestly, Andy's not much more likable. I'll chalk it up to the fact that Luke is just that horrible, he rubs off on everyone. Looks like Stone Cold's ready to make a decision, but a stretch limo arrives with Vince McMahon! Vince McMahon in that infamous powder blue suit! Was the canary yellow at the cleaners?!

Hey, live job interview with Vince McMahon on national television, no pressure or anything. Never seen water before? Dive into this ocean and make your way back to land. Both Andy and Luke give awkward responses, Andy sounds nervous, Luke sounds like a pre-taped vignette. Regardless, after some banter with Vince, Stone Cold asks for the drum roll and announces the Tough Enough Champion: ANDY!

Andy gets a Stunner for winning and is now "buried," according to the internet. I would rant more about this, but it's utterly predictable and now R-Truth is marching to the ring in a Confederate uniform. Seriously.

Truth is in the Confederate uniform to make fun of the dumb rednecks in Richmond, Virginia. Okay, this went from borderline offensive to absolutely amazing. I've been struggling to find a character that I can get emotionally invested in and I think I've found him. R-Truth is the greatest thing in wrestling today. He's going to secede from the WWE Universe! Hey, what are the Universe's borders?

But speaking of greatness, The Miz is here! While Truth is rambling about conspiracies, Miz deals in reality, where he has a legitimate claim to being screwed out of the WWE Championship by corrupt officials and Alex Riley's ineptitude.

Of course, this cues Alex Riley, and my friends, we've got a good old fashioned Attitude Era clusterfuck! A-Ri doesn't really say much, threatens to attack The Miz again, but that's about it.

And here comes John Cena! Oh sure, why not add one more? Right now, Vince McMahon, Steve Austin, The Miz, Alex Riley and R-Truth in a Confederate uniform are all standing in the ring. John Cena confirms that he'll go one-on-one with R-Truth at Capitol Punishment, then The G?M chimes in. Vince McMahon tells Michael Cole to shut up and handles it LIKE A BOSS: The Miz & R-Truth vs. John Cena & Alex Riley is tonight's main event and the special guest referee? STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN. Spoiler: Stunners will be received.

Santino Marella vs. Michael McGillicutty is our opening contest this evening. Vladimir Kozlov is in Santino's corner, wearing blue, I suppose he's finally renounced Communism. Some guy who I've seen hang out with Jennifer Hudson is in Mr. Imperfect's corner and I just remembered that they're the tag champions. Thanks to Kozlov taking out Other Guy outside the ring, Santino picks up the win in a decent length Raw match. COBRA! I guess this means Santino and Kozlov are going after the Tag Team Titles? Those are still a thing, by the way.

And they're not wasting any time tonight, we're heading right into our next match, Kelly Kelly & Beth Phoenix vs. The Bellas. Diva action with no Kharma makes me sad, but The Glamazon back in action is always a good thing. Decent little match and the Glam Slam gives the good gals the win. Give Beth the Diva of Destruction mantle until Kharma's back!

Backstage, Booker T & Trish Stratus are hanging out and Jack Swagger challenges Booker to a match... tonight. Booker accepts! While I am all for this and quite excited about it, I would actually be willing to spend money to see it on PPV!

CM Punk sits Indian style on the stage, perhaps getting ready for a game of Duck, Duck, Goose? He's in action against Rey Mysterio, next.

CM Punk vs. Rey Mysterio is our 10pm main event, and Punk is going for his 601st win against Rey Rey! I'm getting a serious Jake the Snake vibe from Punk tonight, he's being extra creepy this time, maybe it's the goatee. Everyone knows, goatees = evil.

Not as fun as their match last week, but hey, it's tough to keep it interesting two weeks in a row. Still probably better than anything else we'll see this week. Mason Ryan's interference backfires, Mysterio uses him on the apron to hit Punk with a cool little tornado DDT and finish him off with the big splash. Mysterio wins and we're tied at one a piece in this new series in the rivalry.

New Capitol Punishment promo with R-Truth interviewing President Obama. This is only the third most awkward press conference today.

Three-hour "All-Star" Raw next Monday night. USA wasted no time making sure they had three hours of WWE after Tough Enough.

Alberto Del Rio arrives to speak against the slanderous words spoken against him. People have said he committed a hit and run, but c'mon, he wasn't even driving the car! And no one ran! Del Rio calls out Big Show to smooth things over, but gets Ricardo Rodriguez dressed as Show instead. Because an impersonation bit worked out so well the last time with Del Rio and fake Lita. This is almost as terrible and the crowd is completely silent for it, unfortunately, no one as awesome as Edge is here to save it. And remember, the eventual endgame for this is Del Rio vs. Show, which I'm sure absolutely no one actually wants to see.

Internet sensation, Zack Ryder is in action next against the US Champion, Kofi Kingston. This... this could be a lot of fun. Not quite enough time, but Ziggler's awesome commentary and the novelty of actually seeing Zack Ryder on Raw made it work anyway. Kofi (obviously) picks up the win with Trouble in Paradise, but how about some more Ziggler/Ryder? I think those two would make an awesome tag team and would hopefully jazz up a dead division. Ziggler & Zack, ZZ, for tag champs!

Booker T vs. Jack Swagger is in the dreaded 10:40 slot?! C'mon! Booker hasn't missed a beat and the match is a lot of fun so far, but we've got shenanigans! Jack Swagger gets frustrated and takes an intentional count-out loss, but gets ambushed by Evan Bourne! Jackie Swaggs chases Bourne into the ring, gets a Scissors Kick from Book, then the Shooting Star Press! And a DOUBLE SPIN-A-ROONIE to top things off! It's not the most detailed feud ever, but I'm enjoying this little story between Bourne and Swagger. At least they're doing something with them.

Main Event time! The Miz & R-Truth vs. John Cena & Alex Riley with Stone Cold Steve Austin as the special guest referee! We got ourselves a barn burner right off the bat! A-Ri is desperate to get his hands on The Miz, R-Truth is bonkers and Stone Cold isn't afraid to insert himself into the match.

All hell breaking loose now with Truth bringing in a chair, Alex Riley bringing in a briefcase, hitting Miz right in front of Austin, then Stone Cold Stuns The Miz and Cena hits the Attitude Adjustment for the the win. Hey, let's just re-do the whole bit from two weeks ago with Bret Hart and CM Punk, no one will remember that! Good guys have a beer bash, but thankfully The G?M chimes in and disqualifies Cena and Riley for Austin's interference. When's Stone Cold going to learn, The G?M doesn't like when referees don't play by the rules... except Bret Hart... two weeks ago.

And to further punish Stone Cold, he's been appointed the guest GM for next week's three-hour Raw. Yeah, that'll show him! Austin breaks the laptop (I seriously hope they used one of those dummies on the showroom floor), grabs Cole, pours beer on him, Stunner, Attitude Adjustment, etc. You know how this goes.

Well, I thought Raw was back on the upswing after last week, but that all got shot to hell tonight. It wasn't horrible, but recycling the Bret Hart bit and the referee overturn from WrestleMania just fell flat. There wasn't a lot going on elsewhere either, some decent matches, which is a nice change for Mondays, but still, just feels like WWE spinning their wheels.

This time last year, we had just witnessed the debut of Nexus and while that failed miserably, it at least got people buzzing at first. I don't see anything buzzworthy in WWE right now. They're teasing a longterm Stone Cold vs. Miz feud, but who knows if it's really something they're going forward with or if they're just playing up Austin while they have him? Hopefully next week's three-hour show will get things on track, but we know those can often be a crap shoot in terms of quality. C'mon WWE, I know it's summer time, but that's when you take risks, let's see some!

The Very Best of WCW Monday NitroWWE: The Greatest Cage Matches of All Time Unedited Action from NWA, AWA, WCCW, WCW, and WWEWWE: Macho Madness - The Randy Savage Ultimate Collection