Sunday, July 31, 2011

WWE Smackdown thoughts - July 29, 2011

Doing something different for this week's Smackdown review, it might become permanent, might not, that's all up to you. This week's review is brought to you in Fair to Flair's patent-pending WOO!/BOO! format. Everything WOO! was enjoyable, everything BOO! was not... I'm sure you needed me to spell that out for you.

WOO!

I'm never going to complain when Christian vs. John Morrison is the opening match of any show. I don't recall these guys interacting much in the past, Christian returned to ECW just as Morrison was moving onto Smackdown, then they've been on separate shows since. Thanks to Triple H conveniently bringing Morrison to Smackdown just in case R-Truth decided to follow them in his Kia Sorrento, this match came to be. Morrison's not quite back to his 2009 levels of awesomeness, but Christian brings out the best in everybody and the two had a fun match. I'd be willing to bet some people are complaining that Morrison lost his return match (to the World Champion), but they played up his neck injury well and it made sense. I wouldn't be opposed to moving Morrison back to Smackdown permanently and see him enter a title feud with Captain Charisma.

Zack Ryder is Teddy Long's assistant. Just wait, Ryder will bide his time until Teddy Long has another heart attack, then he'll swoop in, marry Christian and the two will rule Friday nights!

Daniel Bryan humiliating Wade Barrett was a fun segment and I hope it leads to a match at SummerSlam. I think these two would mesh very well and their interaction here was great. I love what they're doing with Bryan right now and as long as they keep it up, the crowd will be salivating to see him cash-in by the time WrestleMania rolls around.

Mark Henry breakin' necks might be my favorite thing on Smackdown right now. Well, that and GOOD GUY SHEAMUS! Sheamus has desperately needed a shake-up after getting too much too soon and the change of scenery to the heel-heavy Smackdown didn't help matters. Luckily, WWE saw the writing on the wall and that's the simple fact that the crowd loves the guy and wants to cheer for him. And why wouldn't they? He's awesome, fella. Sheamus vs. Henry should make for a great SummerSlam match but I don't know if the World's Strongest Man can split that beautiful red wig.

Cool little video package for another newly-turned Superstar, Justin Gabreil, playing up on his Capetown roots. I wonder if they'll do one for Heath Slater, playing up on his childhood in that meth lab across the street from Andy Leavine?

BOO!

Triple H being Triple H. Don't get me wrong, I love The Game, but his shtick is exhausting at this point. I get it, you're the world's biggest smartass, no need to lay it on this thick in every. single. interview. With the new gig, maybe it's time for the character to evolve a little bit? No one wants to see the return of the evil boss gimmick, but Triple H and his wacky COO shenanigans just seems illegitimate. Like Stone Cold as WWE CEO for a month, I just sit here wondering "what are they going to do to get out this one?"

Hey guys! Randy Orton is like totally crazy and stuff! The match with R-Truth was fine, good even, but speaking of tired and exhausting gimmicks, Randy Orton, ladies and gentlemen! Yes, we get it, you have more voices in your head than Michele Bachmann, but crazy people shouldn't be encouraged, they should be institutionalized. Again, this guy is supposed to be the hero and he continues to RKO people on tables repeatedly to thunderous applause. I just don't get it; he has not motive, no conflicts, never looks vulnerable and just looks ridiculous every single time the "voices" speak up. This character is not a hero and hopefully Sheamus will quickly eclipse him.

Newer Nexus vs. The Usos. While I genuinely enjoy the Nusos (hey, they CAN be interesting!), putting them in the ring with the worst performers on the active roster won't do them any favors. I hate trashing a wrestler's ability, but McGillicutty & Otunga are absolutely terrible and I have no idea how they haven't found themselves back in FCW. I get it, the tag division is worthless at this point, but even it deserves better champions than these two bozos. Hell, bring back The Heart Throbs or The Highlanders, I'd take them over Mr. Imperfect's backwards hat.

Jinder Mahal. Why is this guy here?

Alicia Fox should never win a match. Even if it's a six-Diva tag and even if Natalya wasn't involved, that's just wrong. I never thought I'd miss Michelle McCool, but Smackdown's Divas division is somehow even worse than Raw's. And where the hell is Layla?

Ted DiBiase is really dragging Cody Rhodes down. It's a damn shame, Cody could be lingering around the World Title at this point, but now he's got the Million Dollar Anchor hanging on his back. Let's just hope DiBiase and McGillicutty are never in the ring together, it might suck so bad that it goes through time and keep the Million Dollar Man and Mr. Perfect from ever existing.

Overall, the good outweighed the bad and there's a lot of interesting stuff to look forward to on Friday nights. The rise of Daniel Bryan and Sheamus defending the forces of good should highlight the remainder of 2011, but the sooner Orton vs. Christian is over, the better. Both guys could be doing something more interesting and no feud should go for five straight matches, that's just overkill.

The 50 Most Shocking, Surprising, Amazing Moments in WWE History [Blu-ray]WWE: Greatest Stars of the New MilleniumMoney in the Bank 2011

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What a Rush!

"Rush" is a word I keep hearing today, at first I thought we were going to listen to Moving Pictures, but it turns out, it's just wrestling fans finding something to complain about mere hours after it happened. Shocking, I know.

Today's gripe is that CM Punk was brought back too quickly and his huge storyline, arguably the biggest thing WWE's done in years, is being rushed. Admittedly, things seem to be moving quickly and WWE certainly took a roundabout way to get to a CM Punk/John Cena rematch, but I think there's more than meets the eye here and I have no doubt Punk will make it work the next time he has a microphone in his hands.

John Cena vs. CM Punk is obviously the plan and that's clearly a SummerSlam main event. I wouldn't have minded Rey vs. Cena, but if the Punk story is WWE's current centerpiece, you don't do that on a B-show, it has SummerSlam written all over it.

But is the SummerSlam main event the endpoint? I have my doubts and I have two theories about what's really going on here:

1. CM Punk is about to become the elusive "next big thing."

I hesitate to compare him to anyone because he's better than that, but CM Punk is in a very similar position as Steve Austin was in 1997. Now, Austin was kept off a few shows because of his injury at SummerSlam, but WWE realized they had something huge on their hands and kept him on TV as much as they could. Sound familiar?

There are a lot of eerie similarities between the summer of 97 and today: there was a shake-up in the presented authority figures, commissioners and presidents were getting phased out in favor of Vince McMahon, now Vince and the Raw G?M are being phased out in favor of Triple H. A rebellious antihero managed to tap into the zeitgeist and connect with the mood of the audience, despite doing things that should've been taboo for a good guy; Stone Cold acted like a bad guy, CM Punk threatened to leave with the WWE Title, yet both men were cheered for these moves. And perhaps most importantly of all, something just felt different. In 1997, Steve Austin was very real in an environment of unbelievable, cartoonish heroes and villains. In 2011, CM Punk stands out among a cast of vanilla "that guys."

So has WWE found the guy they've been looking for since running with John Cena? You always should prepare for the future and could Punk be the guy that may not get a torch passed to him, but demands his chance to hold it? It's certainly possible, unless...

2. CM Punk is leaving WWE.

Wait, what? Didn't we just get over this?

The whole story seems to at least be an homage to the "Summer of Punk" in Ring of Honor, right? Punk signed with WWE, won the ROH Title, threatened to take it with him, but wound up staying for two more months? Didn't he also start using Living Colour's "Cult of Personality" then too? Well, who says that part of the story is over? What if Punk winning the title and leaving for eight days was just a red herring? What if Punk's real last match as WWE Champion is in August, just like his final match as ROH Champion? Perhaps then CM Punk takes that vacation and builds interest for a big return... or simply rides off into the sunset?

That's the beauty of this story, it can go in any direction because Punk will keep you guessing and we'll keep falling for it, because we want to be lied to. So while people are complaining that WWE is rushing this storyline, they may not realize that we're already in Act 3.

Monday, July 25, 2011

WWE Raw thoughts - July 25, 2011

I know you guys are all debating whether to watch the first night of the Triple H era or a presidential speech on the exciting subject of the debt ceiling, but I'll be live blogging Raw. Please refresh your tab for ongoing coverage and follow me on Twitter to get straight to the silly.

Tonight's main event: Triple H vs. President Obama! The Nose vs. The Ears! The power-hungry, job-killing dictator loathed by millions of people vs. Barack Obama!

Oh yeah, we're crowning a new WWE Champion* tonight too! And we're kicking things off with The Miz vs. Rey Mysterio for the "vacant" championship! These two have had a few encounters in the past, have been kept apart rather well, but I've always enjoyed their work together, so I'm stoked for this match.

And yeah, it's awesome. Rey Rey brought his working boots tonight and is making The Miz look like a million, nay, a billion bucks. A slingshot powerbomb?! SRSLY?! Miz goes for the Skullcrushing Finale, but NO! 619! Big Splash! NO NO NO! Mysterio wins! New WWE Champion and I have my sad face on.

Well, since The Miz didn't win, Rey's just a paper champion. >_>

Nice blindside from The Miz too! Yeah, get 'em champ! And here comes Alberto Del Rio! He's cashing in!

Or not, Rey saves his hide with a slingshot plancha and Del Rio runs off before the match officially begins. Oh they love that old tease, don't they?

Backstage, the Sunday Night Heat Crew congratulates Rey Mysterio on his big win. Okay... that was mean. John Cena stops by to shake his hand as well and it just makes me really want to see these two lock up at SummerSlam. Rey Mysterio vs. John Cena in the main event of the second biggest show of the year? Even the most anti-Rey, anti-Cena nerds will get on their feet for that one. I guarantee houses will be torn down!

Dolph Ziggler vs. Evan Bourne up next and Captain Ziggies has a sweet new Cock Rock version of his theme song. "I AM PERFECTION-AAAAAAAAAH! YEAH!" Anyhoo. These two should feud. Why not? What else is Ziggler gonna do, wrestle Kofi Kingston for the next twenty years? Ziggler makes quick work of Bourne, but as always, Bourne at least gets to do some cool stuff. Bourne misses with the Shooting Star, Zig-Zag, Sleeper, this one's over. I'm digging Ziggler's hollering after the match though, looks like the new theme music lit a fire under ol' Dolphy Z's ass.

Greatest Superstars of the 21st Century DVD? Already? It's all downhill for the next 89 years, folks!

WWE, just stop with beer mascots. Keith Stone is almost as bad as that time you let the Miller Lite Catfight Girls have a match at WrestleMania.

Eve & Kelly Kelly vs. Melina & Maryse is our Divas portion of the evening, but the bigger battle is between Maryse and her shorts. She'll be fishing those out until NXT starts! Good gals win, because the good gals always win, and that's all there is to say about that.

Triple H is announcing a "Blockbuster return" next. Well, Blockbuster closes in about an hour, he's going to have to use the overnight drop-box!

TIME TO PLAY THE GAME! MUHUHAUHA! Triple H is here! Thank you Vince, blah blah blah, time to get down to brass tax. Rey Mysterio is the new WWE Champion, but he has to defend it tonight against the man that didn't get his rematch, John Cena! Well, that hardly seems fair to Rey Rey, Miz just whooped his ass. John Cena shouldn't want the WWE Title like that. I smell shenanigans.

The next item on the agenda is a man that has been gone from WWE and the people keeping begging for him to be brought back. That man, of course, is...

JIM ROSS!!!

Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! It's been FAR too long since JR's been behind the desk and this move better be permanent. As always, WWE learns (eventually) to quit screwing with the JR/King dynamic. Michael Cole predictably throws a fit, a pretty awesome one at that, but Triple H tells him he won't fire him - he's got a bitchin' severance package - so he's giving him the night off from commentary. If he shows up on Smackdown, he's good to go, but he can't do commentary the rest of the night, because he has a match. Oh dear. Maybe we should have a talk with this mysterious Board of Directors and see who else is up for the job?

R-Truth saves me from thinking about Michael Cole wrestling for a few minutes and okay, these two are pretty funny together. Triple H talks to Truth's imaginary friends and tells him (and them?) that there was one other re-signing, John Morrison! Morrison gives Truth a hearty ass-kicking and a big Starship Pain... in Wranglers, no less!

Michael Cole comes to ringside for his match dressed as Triple H. Okay "The Home Game" would be a hilarious shtick, he should totally be Triple H's stooge. Oh, and Cole's opponent? Zack Ryder! Don't mind me, I'll be in my fallout shelter for the inevitable smarksplosion. Although I'm sure now that he made it on TV, people will bitch that he wasn't on long enough.

Kofi Kingston vs. Alberto Del Rio in a rematch from last week up next. I enjoyed their match last week, but I could quickly see this becoming WWE's next "hey, you guys just wait here while we figure out what to do with you" series. Another great match though highlighted by both guys looking like total equals. Del Rio strategically dissected the arm though and gets Kofi to tap to the Cross Armbreaker, tying them up at one apiece.

Josh Mathews is backstage with The Miz, who's rightfully grumpy about John Cena getting a title shot tonight. John Cena blew it at Money in the Bank and it's mighty cowardly of Cena to take a title match tonight when Rey Mysterio already had to wrestle a god amongst mere mortals earlier tonight! And Triple H's WWE Champion? The face of the company? A guy that has no face! I'm with ya, champ! You're the real conspiracy victim!

Main Event time! Rey Mysterio vs. John Cena with the WWE Title on the line and my shenanigans sense is tingling.

These guys are giving way too much away for what is sure to be a shenanigans-fueled main event though. I was really up for seeing what they could do at SummerSlam on the big stage, especially since they've been kept apart for so many years.

But holy hell, Cena lifting Rey on his back on ONE LEG?! Are you friggin' kidding me?!

And then the whole fun night gets deflated with one Attitude Adjustment and John Cena re-winning the WWE Title. Well, that was stupid.

Until... Living Colour's "Cult of Personality" starts playing, that is. CM PUNK IS HERE! The REAL WWE Champion holds up the REAL WWE Championship and that's gonna do it for Raw.

Well, Raw was fun, but Cena getting the "belt" back is silly and it seems a bit rushed to bring back Punk, but if the point is Punk vs. Cena: the definitive battle, it's gotta happen at SummerSlam, right? You don't save that shit for Bragging Rights (yes nitpickers, I'm aware Bragging Rights isn't a PPV anymore). I'm torn on the quickness of it all, but it's Punk and you know he'll make it work.

Cult Of PersonalityWWE The Music - A New Day, Volume 10 (Amazon MP3 Exclusive)The Time Is Now

Sunday, July 24, 2011

WWE Smackdown thoughts - July 22, 2011

Thanks to our Christian savior defeating evil last Sunday and restoring balance to The Force, the Smackdown Blackout is over! Welcome to my first Smackdown review in over two months!

And the show began with Randy Orton in the center of the ring. Never mind!

I kid, I kid. Randy Orton blah blahed about something that only he cares about. Thankfully, Christian came out to tell Orton he has no one to blame but himself, those "voices" cost Randy Orton the World Heavyweight Championship. Orton called Christian a "coward" for hiding behind a team of lawyers... the same Randy Orton who threatened to file an injunction against WWE and shut down WrestleMania to avoid punishment for punting Vince McMahon in the skull.

Orton wanted his rematch, but he was already scheduled to take on Kane in the most boring idea for a match ever a street fight. And of course, since Orton's the real coward, he tried attacking Christian, but the scuffle was broken up quickly. Then that corrupt GM, Teddy Long, forced Christian to compete as well, against Ezekiel Jackson?!

Christian vs. Big Zeke was our opening contest and these two had great chemistry in the dying days of ECW, and I was glad to see they didn't lose it here. It certainly wasn't anywhere near as good as their match at the 2010 Royal Rumble, but a really fun TV match. Oddly, Christian pretty much dominated the latter half of the match and took advantage of Zeke going shoulder first into the turnbuckle to hit the Killswitch and pick up a decisive victory over the Intercontinental Champion. The Champ is back!

Michael Cole was in the ring next for an interview with the 2011 Money in the Bank winner, Daniel Bryan! I love a good in-ring interview, they don't do those nearly enough anymore. Bryan told Cole that he's buried him from day one and doesn't care one bit about his opinion, but that certainly doesn't stop Cole from giving it anyway. Cole accused Bryan of being two-faced, and his Mr. Nice Guy act will disappear when opportunity strikes and he can steal the World Championship, just like everyone else that has cashed in Money in the Bank. Bryan gave us a brief history lesson, then told Cole he doesn't operate like that. Bryan's going achieve his dream and cash in MITB in the main event of WrestleMania 28! Love it and I'm so glad they're going this route with Bryan, it should make for an interesting build as well. They've got eight months to really sell Bryan as a legit top guy and it should be a fun ride on Friday nights. I think I picked just the right time to jump back into Smackdown.

Unfortunately, Heath Slater decided to crash the party. And I'm still recovering from the fact that he had a microphone. Slater delivered an abysmal promo, courtesy of the "WUH MAH RAWK BAHN!" Ugh.

Daniel Bryan vs. Heath Slater was a good match though. For all the shit Slater deserves (and believe me, it's plenty), he is capable of entertaining matches with the right opponent. Luckily for Slater, Bryan's the right opponent for just about everybody. He's just so crisp in the ring, it's why I've taken to calling him the modern day Excellence of Execution. That flying knee off the apron? Beautiful. Bryan forced Slater to tap out to a guillotine choke and sent him packing to Sweet Home Alabama.

Wade Barrett vs. Sheamus was next in a battle of who has the most awesome theme music in WWE today. Interesting match-up, even though it was two bad guys, it was fun to watch to European badasses just kick the shit out of each other. That's exactly what they did, an even back and forth match with these guys both getting counted out. Sheamus stood tall at the end with a Brogue Kick, but I doubt it ends here. Looks like these two have some deeper issues, but this particular blogger hopes it ends with them realizing they could do more damage together than against each other. Sheamus & Barrett could be the most fun tag team since JeriShow.

Main Event time! Randy Orton vs. Kane in a street fight and my heart fell into my feet when I saw on my DVR that it was starting at 90 minutes in. Surely Kane and Randy Orton weren't going to have a 30 minute match were they? WWE's been so awesome lately, they wouldn't be this cruel, would they?! Eh, cruel enough to go 22 minutes! Honestly, the match wasn't bad, it fit their respective styles well. Orton bores me to tears in standard matches, but I always feel like when you give him props to work with, he can make something happen. And even though I'm totally over the character, Kane is a true veteran and anytime you put him in a situation where a good match is possible, he more than delivers. Good match, and Randy Orton slipping on the announce table and falling flat on his face is almost as good as Christian spitting in his mouth. I need a .gif of that!

Supposedly Kane's hurt as well and is going to be out for a few months? I suppose that's why Mark Henry came to the ring after the match and destroyed the Big Red Machine? Obviously a tough break for Kane and maybe the time off could freshen up the character... but I feel like I say that every time Kane disappears for a little while. Hope he recovers quick though, you never want to see anyone go down with injury.

Good show. Nothing game-changing, but a rock solid wrestling show that was a good way to ease back into Smackdown. Christian's the World Champion, Daniel Bryan is Mr. Money in the Bank, Mark Henry's being awesome, and Randy Orton fell on his face, I'd call that a winning show.

Randy Orton: The Evolution of a PredatorWWE: Edge - A Decade of DecadenceRing of Honor: Best in the World

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Business of Storytelling

Full disclosure: I know next to nothing about the stock market. I've never invested money in it, I probably never will invest money in it and the little I do know is the bad stuff. I'm aware there are plenty of people who responsibly invest their money and make a significant sum of money on the market. If you're one of those people, this is not directed at you.

However, if your name is Darren Rovell and you work for CNBC, I might be talking to you.

Rovell is on a roll on Twitter today, outright insisting that WWE has violated SEC regulations with their storyline of Vince McMahon being relieved of his duties and Triple H being placed in charge. He's banged this drum before when they did the whole limo explosion thing back in 2007 (days before a real problem rocked WWE stock prices), but since that ended quickly, it never really became a big deal.

Then there was Donald Trump "buying" Raw. Never mind the fact that Raw is just a TV show and not an actual division of WWE that would be "sold," shareholders flipped out and the company was accused of violating SEC regulations once again.

Okay shareholders, here's a stock tip for you: if it happens on WWE TV, it's fake. Hopefully I don't get busted for insider trading after letting that cat out of the bag.

I really can't believe that even needs to be said.

I know, I know, wrestling often blurs the line between fiction and reality, but you gotta be kidding me here. It's one thing when some 15-year-old kid thinks CM Punk is really "shooting" on John Cena, it's one thing when a 35-year-old casual viewer thinks Donald Trump really bought that Raw wrasslin' show that they watch sometimes. But shareholders? Aren't these supposed to be the adults in the room?

Aren't these the "wealth creators" in America? The people who tell all us poor people that if we just pulled ourselves up by our bootstraps, we could be rich too? The "personal responsibility" crowd? Speaking of bozos on CNBC, do you remember when CNBC's Rick Santelli went on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange and complained about business folks getting stuck "paying for your neighbor's mortgage"?



So while we're talking about "personal responsibility," if you invest in a product and you don't educate yourself on what you're buying into, you deserve to lose your money, simple as that. WWE produces fictional television, always has, always will, and if you believe that Triple H is really replacing Vince McMahon as Chairman of the Board, and this news would be first announced on live television in a room of 14,000 people shortly after an R-Truth match, I have a bridge to sell you.

And shame on Darren Rovell and CNBC for even stoking these flames. If you want see an industry that's really harming America by blurring the lines between entertainment and reality, watch a 24-hour news network. Remember when Jon Stewart exposed CNBC's Jim Kramer as a complete fraud a few years ago? What Kramer did and what all these infotainment people do is dangerous because they're presented as "experts." WWE is professional wrestling, something an 8-year-old knows is fake. Who should the SEC really be looking into?

The fact that the economy hinges on people who think WWE storylines could be real should explain the majority of this country's financial problems.

Monday, July 18, 2011

WWE Raw thoughts - July 18, 2011

Seen any good PPVs lately? WWE knocked one out of the park last night, perhaps even set the wheels in motion for that big change we've all been waiting for, so where do they go from here? John Cena is fired, CM Punk is watching the Chicago Cubs (I hear he even bought an extra ticket so the WWE Title would have its own seat) and Vince McMahon is going to kick things off tonight on Raw. I got a feeling tonight's going to be a big one so refresh your tab for ongoing coverage of the show and follow me on Twitter... if it ever decides to work.

Vince McMahon kicks things off with Johnny Ace at his side. Did you see the news earlier where a WWE.com writer publicly apologized for calling Ace a "stooge"? The best part was all the people who thought it was real... like I said a few weeks ago, the internet crowd is always the easiest to trick.

The crowd is already chanting "CM PUNK!" and Vince says that you will never hear that name again, because it is the name of the biggest ingrate in WWE history. But it doesn't matter because here tonight, live on Raw, they will crown a new WWE Champion in an eight-man tournament. Yeah right, a paper champion! It's pretty much everyone in last night's MITB ladder match, minus Evan Bourne, plus Dolph Ziggler.

Oh and John Cena's been fired, at least according to John Cena, Vince wouldn't go far enough to use those words.

Our opening contest in the WWE Championship tournament is The Miz vs. Alex Riley and hot damn, people really love Alex Riley. Don't get wrong, I like the guy too and I hope WWE runs with him, but when's the last time the crowd got behind a young good guy this quickly and this enthusiastically?

Miz is still reeling from his nasty fall from the briefcase last night and Riley is taking advantage of the injured leg, but sorry kid, you can't just leave yourself open for the Skullcrushing Finale like that. Miz advances to Round 2 - barely - and I don't know if that bodes well for his quest to recapture the "WWE Title." C'mon Miz, you can do it buddy!

Cool little hype video for the return of John Morrison, now if WWE would just shit or get off the pot with him. I really hate that phrase, by the way, I have no idea why I typed it.

Jack Swagger vs. R-Truth is our second match in the Paper Champion Tournament and this is a bit of an odd combination. Fun little match though and the crowd got behind R-Truth, since, ya know, he's awesome. Truth steals the win with a quick roll-up and Lil Jackie is eliminated from the tournament!

Alberto Del Rio is in the ring for his tournament match, but first has a few things to say. Seeing a lot of folks throw around the brilliant idea of Del Rio being the first guy to hold both the MITB briefcase and the WWE Championship. I would not argue this, not at all... even if he would just be a paper champion.

Alberto Del Rio vs. Kofi Kingston is our third match in the first round of the Championship Tournament and I have high hopes for this one. These guys had a fun feud earlier in the year, I'm not opposed to seeing them go at it again. And yep, this match is a blast so far, Kofi's going bananas and I'm not just talking about his sweet B. Brian Blair trunks. Beautiful suicide dive from Kofi, Del Rio responds with an enzuigiri on the apron and quickly regains control.

Fun back and forth action and it looks like holding both the MITB briefcase and the WWE Championship was not Del Rio's destiny, Kofi pulled an upset win out of nowhere and advances to the semifinals! I like it, Kofi could use a strong showing tonight.

I love that WWE got Cee-Lo's "Bright Lights, Bigger City" as the theme for SummerSlam. It's a great summer song and really gives the show that WrestleMania Pt. 2 vibe they've been trying to capture. Doing SummerSlam Recalls, this week highlighting Wembley Stadium in 1992, is a nice touch too.

Rey Mysterio vs. Dolph Ziggler is our final quarterfinal match in the Championship Tournament and Captain Z is the only guy in the tournament who didn't have to wrestle in the Money in the Bank last night, so that's a great story to work with.

Ziggler and Rey Rey are no strangers, had a series of some of the best opening matches in recent WWE history back in 2009 and they're picking up right where they left off. We're only a couple minutes in and it's already the most exciting match so far and we've had quite the night of wrasslin' so far.

Of course, I had to go and open my mouth. 619 and big splash later, Rey picks up the victory. Nothing against that, but I liked the dynamic Ziggler could've added to the tournament and I really just wanted to see these guys wrestle for another 15 minutes. Ah well, it's only a two hour show and we haven't even got to the semifinals yet.

7-on-7 Divas Tag next with the good gals taking on the bad gals... at least the gals who are bad this week but will probably be good again next. Beth Phoenix wins by hitting Rosa Mendes with the Glam Slam and... yeah. Not much to see here.

Kofi Kingston vs. The Miz is our first semifinal match... sorry Kofi, I was rooting for you there for a minute, but I can't turn against my hero. The Miz is incredibly brave for toughing it out here and even on one leg, he continues to show why he is the Most Must-See WWE Superstar in history. He has the heart of a champion and a lion! The heart of a champion lion! The Heart. Of. AWWWWWWWWWWWWEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSOOOOMEEE! Skullcrushing Finale takes The Miz to the finals, one step away from the WWE Championship*.

*Also, The Miz is the only guy who could win this tournament and not be a paper champion.

Backstage, R-Truth promises the title is "gonna get got." Don't make me question my devotion to The Miz, Truth!

R-Truth vs. Rey Mysterio is our second semifinal match and it's starting to suffer from King of the Ring fatigue. No matter how fun tournaments are in theory, crowds just don't get as excited for someone when they see them wrestle multiple times in one night.

They're cutting this show mighty close, it's 10:43 as I type this and we're in the middle of a semifinal match. Still gotta do the finale, the fallout and perhaps even find out what John Cena's "severe consequences" are. That's a lot to squeeze-in in under a half hour.

These guys are having a good match, but I feel like we're just delaying the inevitable here. Truth vs. Miz doesn't seem likely, but they sure are taking their sweet time here and again, we're really getting short on time.

There we go, Rey hits the 619 at 10:48 and the big splash is all but academic and Mysterio moves onto the finals... where he will lose!

Main Event time! Rey Mysterio vs. The... McMahon? Vince McMahon is making his way to the ring and I have a feeling the proverbial shit is about to go down. Vince announces since they are running short on time, he has to postpone the tournament finals to next week because he has an important announcement to make. Oh this won't go over well, I knew they were running short on time.

Vince says he can make a new John Cena and he does what's best for the fans, but it's hard to hear the rest over the deafening "CM PUNK!" chants. Vince says "let's get this over with" and here comes John Cena, who wasn't even supposed to be here today! [/Clerks reference]

Cena grabs the mic and tells Vince there's no reason to waste time and he doesn't want to be like Shawn Michaels, with the shadow of "YOU SCREWED PUNK!" lingering over him. He's not going to be Vince McMahon's patsy and we're seeing shades of the "RUCK FULES!" John Cena here and I'm digging it. Cena says it's fine and Vince has eight months to make another big time Superstar to face The Rock at WrestleMania 28, but before he gets the ax, he just wants to let Vince know that he loves wrestling. And if he doesn't get to wrestle in WWE, he'll walk onto another television show... "BROTHER!" WWE just referenced TNA for the first time ever and believe me, TNA will never let you forget about it. Vince doesn't respond well to threats, so he's going through with it. Until...

TIME TO PLAY THE GAME!!!

Triple H has arrived and he's in a bitchin' suit. There was a board of directors meeting today and the WWE brass is concerned about Vince McMahon. An injunction has been filed with a vote of no confidence and the family agrees. Is it time for the yearly "remove Vince from the equation" story already? Yep, they've appointed someone to handle day-to-day operations of WWE, Triple H! Damn, I was hoping for Steve Austin in jorts and a tie again.

Vince McMahon... YOU'RE RELIEVED OF YOUR DUUUUUUUUTIES!

Triple H says "I love you, pop" and leaves, with Vince in tears. The crowd chants "THANK YOU VINCE!" and that's gonna do it for Raw.

Well, that was unexpected. It was going to be tough to follow up with no CM Punk, but the WWE Title is still out there, locked in a fridge and being forced to watch the Chicago Cubs try to play baseball. Someone's gotta rescue it, right?! Regardless, it definitely seems like WWE is still trying to drastically change things and keep it unpredictable. Considering the roll they've been on with this CM Punk story, I'm still excited.

Oh and I don't trust Triple H for a second.

Triple H: King of Kings - There is Only OneWWE: Rey Mysterio - The Life of a Masked ManThe 50 Most Shocking, Surprising, Amazing Moments in WWE History [Blu-ray]

Money in the Bank 2011

Wow. The response to Money in the Bank so far has been overwhelmingly positive, when's the last time that happened for a WWE PPV? I'm not even seeing much of the usual nitpicking from the most jaded of fans. What is happening?! Surely no show could be THAT good, right? Let's take a look.

Not surprisingly the Smackdown Money in the Bank kicked things off, these matches are always a great way to get the crowd on their feet and the raucous Chicago crowd was definitely ready to make some noise. Considering the level of talent in the ring (and Heath Slater), it's no surprise they delivered big for a fantastic opening contest. Ah I kid Pippy, you gotta give him credit for that nasty spill to the outside when Sheamus and Barrett tried to use a ladder like a pike and it didn't work out so well. Speaking of nasty spills, thanks for playing, Sin Cara, even dressing like the white Power Ranger couldn't stop the dreaded Sheamuszord... fella.

If I had to complain about anything, I'd say the match had a few lull periods, but the guys were getting thrown around like rag dolls, so I think we should cut them some slack there. Surprisingly long for a Money in the Bank match, they usually don't go longer than 15 minutes, but I think this one went almost 25? I suppose that was all to build up the anticipation for Daniel freakin' Bryan shocking the world and grabbing the briefcase! WHAT?! In my preview, I said the match was pretty much wide open (except Slater, naturally), but I did not expect this. Not at all. My personal pick was Sheamus winning and getting rebuilt as a major threat on Smackdown. Sure, he didn't really need it, he can be rebuilt without it, but it's not like WWE's opposed to playing things safe. I also saw Wade Barrett winning and finally establishing himself as a dangerous lone wolf, but he was almost completely ineffectual in this one. Cody Rhodes could've won and immediately hopped into a main event feud with Randy Orton, Sin Cara could've been established as Smackdown's next big good guy (since there's what, one?) but nope.

Daniel Bryan. The same Daniel Bryan who was unemployed this time last year, by the way. Daniel Bryan is guaranteed a World Title shot sometime within the next year and considering its success rate, he's almost guaranteed a title reign. Now I'm not saying this to be cynical, but I could see Bryan being the first guy to cash-in and lose. Not because WWE's going to "bury" him the internet would cry, but just because it has to happen sooner or later, right? And I think Bryan's integrity will be his downfall with the briefcase and that'll make for a great story; more on that later though. Regardless of the future, this is HUGE for Bryan and the red-hot Chicago crowd went absolutely ballistic when he grabbed that briefcase. It was an awesome moment and definitely set the tone for the night. Unbelievable.
Predictions: 0 for 1

Brie Bella vs. Kelly Kelly was what it was. I'm not sure why Eve was out there with Kelly when she wound up being a complete non-factor, but whatever. No, you weren't getting Flair/Steamboat here, but you gotta grade on a curve with the current crop of WWE Divas. WWE gives them no time to work on TV and then throws them out there for five minute matches on PPV... that's four minutes and thirty seconds longer than what they're used to! I like Kelly though and I think the Bellas have really stepped it up since LayCool split, so the match was inoffensive to me. Kelly retained, which makes sense, and even though the match didn't bug me, let's not act like the Divas division isn't just treading water until Kharma returns.
Predictions: 1 for 2

Mark Henry vs. The Big Show was a bit of a shocker. I figured Mark Henry would win, he had to win, but I didn't expect him to completely demolish the World's Largest Athlete. Mark Henry has had his ups and downs throughout his 15-year WWE career, but I'm confident the guy has finally found his niche. It's strange, he's not doing anything too different than any of the other times he's been a bad guy, but there's just something different about the way he's doing it. His moves look more painful, his mannerisms are more intimidating, it definitely seems like a fire has been lit. (Somebody's gonna get they fire lit!)

The post-match attack with Henry "Pillmanizing" Big Show's leg with a Vader Splash on a steel chair was even better than the match itself. (Somebody's gonna get a shin splint!) Give credit to the Big Show on that one, the look on his face when Henry dropped down on him, a mix of horror and surprise, was priceless. Big Show's wails, along with his "WHY WOULD YOU DO SOMETHING LIKE THAT?!" look in his eyes was exactly what Mark Henry needed to be firmly established as someone who is remorseless and very, very dangerous.
Predictions: 2 for 3

It seems like everyone I talked to preferred Smackdown's offering, but I thought Raw's Money in the Bank was the best in the match's six-year history. Loved Smackdown's match, even preferred its ending, but Raw's match was just awesome. It's really tough to keep these matches unique after so many years of TLC and the like, but I thought these eight guys came up with something really fresh, fun and brutally beautiful. Everyone starting off with ladders? Sweet. Everyone going flying outside? Evan Bourne's Shooting Star Press off the ladder in the aisle? Gorgeous! The Miz looking like he broke his leg? Terrifying.

Everything flowed so well and most importantly, I feel like they really told a story in this one, which is so difficult in these matches. Perhaps more accurately, they told several little stories: The Miz had an arc, Del Rio and Mysterio rekindled their rivalry, and the crowd was white hot for the blossoming Alex Riley. It all came together really well and the finale was absolutely perfect. I know some people are going to whine about "botching," but those people are silly and I thought the whole crazy set-up crashing down after Mysterio's mask was ripped off was a great visual. Nasty cut for Del Rio though, but he sold it like a pro and throwing Mysterio's mask into the crowd while looking so pissed off, capped it all off perfectly. You could see the frustration in his face and even if the collapse wasn't intentional, it tied into his story so well because he wasn't even supposed to be in this match, but goddammit, he'll win it anyway and prove to all of you that the WWE Championship really is his destiny. When I can feel that kind of emotion while sitting on my couch, you know you're doing something right. Again, both MITB matches were great, but something about this one really grabbed me.
Predictions: 3 for 4

Christian vs. Randy Orton for the World Championship was everything an Orton hater like myself needed. After years of watching this guy get presented as the golden boy, all the Legacy bullshit, never losing a match, always acting like an asshole and certainly never looking vulnerable, Captain Charisma showed that turnabout is fair play. For the life of me, I couldn't figure out how Christian was the bad guy in this situation, he got forced into the situation by that gaggle of inexplicable Orton fans, caught a bad break in the rematch, got screwed by bad officiating in the next match, yet he wasn't entitled to one more shot? Please. And due to bad officiating all over the place lately, he had a little clause put in his contract that said if he got screwed or if Orton tried to weasel out of the match with a DQ, Christian would win the title. Seems fair to me and oh how glorious it was when Christian spit in Orton's face, like Orton has spit in our collective face for nine years, and caused the champ to kick him in the crotch. Way to be a man there, Randy!

Yeah, it's a BS way to win a title and I'm sure the purists are upset about it, but who cares? Christian is now a two-time World Champion and Randy Orton looks like a petulant child, not unlike his recent radio escapades. I'd call that a win-win and as a result, the Smackdown Blackout is OVER! Kick-Out!! will resume the weekly Smackdown review beginning this Friday with the coronation of our conquering hero, Captain Charisma! Hopefully he'll spit in Randal's face again... someone get me a gif of that!

In all seriousness, the match was another rock solid outing from these two but I kinda groan at the idea of these two fighting again, but after Orton's hissy fit, it looks like we'll be going for fifth straight match. After those actions though, Christian should file a restraining order and keep Orton away from the belt and give a much more deserving contender a shot. Notice how Daniel Bryan didn't run down to the ring and cash-in his MITB contract even though Christian had received two RKOs on the announce table? That's because he's a man of honor and integrity, not an unhinged lunatic lacking a moral compass, like ol' Randal. Christian vs. Daniel Bryan, SummerSlam... you know you want it, let's make it happen!
Predictions: 4 for 5

Main Event time! CM Punk vs. John Cena, WWE Title on the line and the match we all paid to see. If you ever doubted that the audience is the "third man" in a wrestling match, watch this match and see why you're wrong. From a technical, move-by-move analysis, this was neither John Cena or CM Punk's best match, but with the story, the hype, the importance, and most of all, the audience, this match became the best thing in a WWE ring since Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker.

This is why wrestling should not be considered a "sport," because it's so much more than that. These guys put on a great athletic contest, I'm not going to deny that, but the electricity surrounding the match is what put it into the upper echelon of what WWE can do. It's why Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant is still my pick for the greatest WrestleMania main event of all-time, energy like that can't be forced. Punk and Cena are masters of this and while they may go about it differently in the ring and on the mic, they both get explosive results. And it's the kind of thing you can only get in wrestling, you wouldn't see Kevin Spacey and Arnold Schwarzenegger in a mega blockbuster movie that satisfies both action fans and purist film fans, but WWE pulled it off here.

WWE gave us just about everything we expected in this match and turned it on its head. Many people expected a rehash of the Montreal Screwjob, which is beyond cliché at this point, but they teased it, only for Cena to clobber Johnny Ace (much to the delight of some folks in the unemployment line, I'm sure). They teased Del Rio cashing in MITB, as many people expected, but Punk kicked his head into the fourth row and ran off with the WWE Title. I was even starting to think we'd just see a clean Cena win after 47 Attitude Adjustments and half a dozen STFs, but Punk managed to escape them all and defeat Cena, fair and square, with one - ONE - Go To Sleep. Okay, one and a half, whatever.

This match ended exactly how I wanted it to end, but I never thought WWE would go with it. Punk continues to have John Cena's number, he managed to outsmart the attempted Money in the Bank cash-in and he left Chicago with the WWE Championship. Which he's keeping in his fridge, BTW. Did you know the WWE Title stays fresher 40% longer in CM Punk's fridge as opposed to around John Cena's waist?

The match itself, while great and I'm honestly not trying to sell it short, is almost (almost) irrelevant, because WWE has a big story on their hands now. A big story that has been perfectly executed from the start and that's not something we see very often. WWE's really good at starting something, but usually people have something to complain about on the next show. Not with this, Punk, Cena and Vince have kept this story unique and interesting with each passing week, in fact, it keeps getting better. This isn't something we're watching with cautious optimism of "ah... well, let's see where it goes," this is something genuinely engaging and I don't need to think about "where it goes," I can just sit back and enjoy it. That is a game-changer from the last few years, that is the direction I want WWE to go.
Predictions: 5 for 6

Unless you're the type that worries about the Divas matches, this card was perfect from top to bottom. Every match had a purpose, every result was satisfying and the main event more than delivered on the ridiculous amount of hype it had received. I'm really glad I voted with my wallet on this one because it was easily the best PPV of 2011 and it might wind up being one of the most talked about for years to come. I'm quite hopeful this is the PPV we'll look back on in a few years and say "that... that was the PPV that made wrestling fun again."

CM PUNK - WWE PPV 5 OVER THE LIMIT WWE TOY WRESTLING ACTION FIGUREWWE Collector Elite John Cena Figure Series #7DANIEL BRYAN - WWE SERIES 11 WWE TOY WRESTLING ACTION FIGURE

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Money in the Bank 2011 preview

Today's the day. Outside of maybe Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker, I can't think of a main event in recent years that was more anticipated than CM Punk vs. John Cena. Whether this will be the game-changing moment for WWE we've all been begging for or if they'll once again play it safe and kill all the momentum they've built, remains to be seen. Let's take a look at the card:

WWE Championship
John Cena © vs. CM Punk

This is it, my friend. This match is going to be a defining moment for WWE, good or bad. Either WWE runs with this CM Punk storyline and creates a cutting-edge product, or they take the hottest story they've had in years and just add it to the long list of false starts alongside Nexus. I really want to see WWE do something new and different here and I'm in love with the idea of CM Punk holding the WWE Title hostage. With that in mind, I'm picking CM Punk to win and while I could see the Raw MITB winner cashing in immediately after, I'm still hoping my idea of Del Rio coming to the ring, giving that shit-eating grin, then walking away with the briefcase at his side would be the ultimate dick move. I'm getting a little too fantasy booker here, but the bad guys aligning to destroy what WWE is and oust John Cena once and for all? That's the kind of game-changing story I'm talking about.

World Heavyweight Championship
Randy Orton © vs. Christian

Christian has to win this match. Has to, has to, has to. The story has no other logical conclusion, so therefore, I'm picking Randy Orton. Oh c'mon, you don't think Randy Orton is actually going to lose more than one match in 2011, do you? Expect a great match, just another stupid result.

Raw Money in the Bank
Alberto Del Rio vs. R-Truth vs. Jack Swagger vs. The Miz vs. Evan Bourne vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Alex Riley vs. Kofi Kingston

The MITBs are tough to predict this year. Last year, it was a given that Miz would win and even though Kane's title run wound up being hilariously terrible, it made sense that he'd win the briefcase on the Blue Brand, thanks to The Undertaker story. But who wins this year? On the Raw side, I'm going to play it safe and say Alberto Del Rio, though I do think it's possible Miz could repeat. Del Rio winning sets up the ultimate dick move though, which I really want to see happen.

Smackdown Money in the Bank
Sheamus vs. Cody Rhodes vs. Sin Cara vs. Wade Barrett vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Kane vs. Justin Gabriel vs. Heath Slater

This match is wide open... okay, except for Heath Slater & Justin Gabriel, they're just in there because Smackdown's roster is laughably thin. I could see anyone else winning though, even a shocker like Daniel Bryan. What? They'd have a year to build him up and it's Smackdown, so it's not like WWE actually cares about what happens, he could defend the World Title in the opening match of WrestleMania. My money is on Sheamus though and they'll spend his time with the briefcase to rebuild him as a legitimate top dog.

Grudge Match
Big Show vs. Mark Henry

I'm actually genuinely excited about this match. I don't know if I've been excited for a Big Show match since Floyd Mayweather and I don't know if I've been excited for a Mark Henry match since, well, ever. Mark Henry is the ultimate example of WWE's history of false starts, considering they've teased a main event run with the guy since around 1996. I thought for sure his run as a good guy would be his big break, but it looks like this could be the moment for the guy. Good for him too, he's busted his ass in WWE longer than almost anyone currently on the roster and if he's finally found what works for him, run with it! Mark Henry wins this one and it's going to be a slobberknocker.

Divas Title
Kelly Kelly © vs. Brie Bella

When is Kharma due back? Seriously though, I suspect Kelly retains and The Bellas continue to keep the Divas division afloat for another 10 months.

Full disclosure: I won't have a review posted tonight, just won't have the time, unless you wanted some really rushed thoughts on the show. I'd rather sit down and have enough time to reflect on the show, especially something as big as tonight's. So, review will be up tomorrow and feel free to use the comments section of this post if you'd like to share your immediate thoughts on the PPV.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Polls: Moneys in the Banks

New polls! To the right of your screen, vote for who you think will win each Money in the Bank ladder match!

I honestly think this is one of the most unpredictable PPVs in years and I have no idea who's walking out of either match with the briefcase. I'm favoring Del Rio or Miz on Raw, but Smackdown is wide open.

Monday, July 11, 2011

WWE Raw thoughts - July 11, 2011

I need a beer... which CM Punk will surely frown upon when he starts Raw tonight. It's been an interesting week and an exhausting one, but I'm here for the live blogging! It's CM Punk's final Raw, for now, maybe, so it's hopefully gonna be a big one. Follow me on Twitter for bad jokes and refresh this tab for, well, even more bad jokes.

And here we go, it's time for CM Punk to do what he does best, and he even interrupted the signature at the start of the show, which he's not even in, by the way. CM Punk is recapping his greatest hits from two weeks ago and proudly claims he's the only one with the balls to say what he said. He even brought a megaphone, sadly not painted Jimmy Hart style, in case someone cuts his mic again.

Punk is telling us that Vince McMahon is currently bending over backwards to keep him from leaving, but all he's ever wanted is the microphone and if Vince would've treated him like this five years ago, he wouldn't need to be saying this. But now, Punk has made WWE something worth talking about in the mainstream and no one had to die for it. Ouch. Punk wants Vince in the ring tonight for the first ever live contract negotiation and ponders if he should make the chairman join the "CM Punk Kiss My Ass Club." Brilliant.

And cue John Cena. Really John, Vince joining the Kiss My Ass club, that's your tipping point? I've seen the guys entire head shoved up the Big Show's ass, it really wouldn't be that big of a deal. Punk doesn't stop though, vowing to change the change the look of the WWE Championship and saying if Cena gets fired on Sunday, it'll last for seven days like the last time. Punk pretty much is saying everything you're thinking, but you don't have a live mic. Sorry.

But holy shit, John Cena is so good when he has the right story in front of him. If he has a real opponent, a real challenge, a real direction, something other than an assembly line of title challengers, he is the one of the best performers in the world. Just an awesome comeback to all of Punk's mouthing off and anyone who tells you Punk is carrying this thing all by himself is lying.

The G?M awkwardly chimes in and says since it may be Cena's last night on Raw (lol), he'll be in a special match and it's next.

And that "special match" is a handicap match. Ugh, my Kryptonite. To make matters worse, it's John Cena vs. David Otunga & Michael McGillicutty. Really? If this were 1998, it would be Sting vs. Vincent and The Disciple. Or The Rock vs. Mideon & Viscera. They're at least trying for drama here, Cena hits a huge leg drop from the top, Otunga breaks up the STF, but Cena nails the AA on Mr. Imperfect and picks up the win.

Vickie Guerrero impersonating Vince McMahon backstage will be the highlight of 2011. Period. Vince doesn't take too kindly to Dolph Ziggler & Drew McIntyre joining in on the fun, so he puts them in a handicap match against the Big Show. That's just what I've always wanted, two handicap matches in one night!

Kelly Kelly vs. Catwoman Melina is our Divas portion of the evening and since Melina hasn't been on TV in months, I'm sure you could figure out how this one went down. The Bellas were on commentary and say Kelly Kelly is too skinny (at least WWE's body image issues go both ways) and in need of acne treatments. Kelly tries to fight them both, but gets her ass kicked, and so does Eve when she attempts the save.

#TeamAwesome unite, The Miz is here! The Miz gets to do the obligatory promo from the top of a ladder. $5 says A-Ri knocks the ladder over. Ah dammit, Jack Swagger interrupts instead and Miz climbs down... joke's on you, I don't have $5! My mistake, this isn't the obligatory ladder promo, this is the obligatory give-everyone-a-microphone-and-have-them-interrupt promo! Evan Bourne gets a merciful two lines, Kofi Kingston out next and he's criminally underused on the mic, then there's R-Truth. Hooray for crazy people!

The conspiracy continues against R-Truth, he can't climb a ladder, he's acrophobic! That's right, if there are any spiders on that ladder of the briefcase, he's gonna freak out. Oh Truth, you are the greatest everything ever.

Alex Riley and Alberto Del Rio come out too, but I want to hear R-Truth talk about spiders more. Del Rio isn't happy about having to compete in MITB when he won #1 contendership last week, which was later made pointless when CM Punk was reinstated, so The G?M relents and leaves him out of our next match, a six-man tag featuring Miz, Truth and Swagger against Kofi, Bourne and Riley.

And you guessed it, The Miz, R-Truth & Jack Swagger vs. Kofi Kingston, Evan Bourne & Alex Riley is our next match. WWE knows just how to reel me back in, after pissing me off with two handicap matches, they give me a six-man tag. And a six-man tag with these guys, no less, there's not a single competitor in this match that I don't enjoy. And ya know, one is The Miz, who is better than everything.

Now I'm not one to usually talk about "selling" and "work rate," but I gotta say, few wrestlers sell better than Evan Bourne. The dude makes every move look ten times more impressive and a bajillion times more painful. It's more than just being a small guy that's easy to toss around, his insane agility allows him to sell moves in ways that I've never seen. Remember when RVD would do the ridiculous spring bounce every time he took a piledriver? Bourne has something like that for just about every move.

As I'm sitting here fawning over Evan Bourne, Alex Riley comes in, proverbial house of fire, and just cleans house. Edgecution on Swagger and the good guys pick up the win, as they always do in these kind of matches. Miz returns the favor with a Skullcrushing Finale though and the bad guys look to get some momentum back, but Bourne gets the upper hand to save the day. He almost hits the Shooting Star Press on Truth too, but Del Rio shoves him off the top rope and destroys everyone with the ladder. Rock solid hype for Sunday.

Big Show vs. Dolph Ziggler & Drew McIntyre in yet another handicap match up next, but it looks like it's really just Big Show vs. Drew McIntyre. Hey, Ziggler's the US Champ, he's got more important shit to do. Anyhoo, Show and McIntyre brawl up the ramp, I think there's a double count-out, but does it really matter? Show goes to chokeslam McIntyre off the stage, but Mark Henry barrels across the ramp and all three guys go flying off the stage. Good thing Big Show's World's Largest Tempurpedic Mattress was there!

Main Event time! Vince McMahon vs. CM Punk in a contract negotiation!

Again, do I really need to recap this stuff? This is CM Punk at his absolute best, demanding his face be placed on every piece of merchandise like he was the fifth member of KISS, name dropping Colt Cabana and Luke Gallows, demanding a return of the WWE Ice Cream Bar, the guy is the best in the industry, period. If he really is leaving, no professional wrestler has ever received this kind of send off, ever. This is unprecedented and one of the greatest things I've ever seen. I know I'm prone to hyperbole, but dammit, this is amazing.

There was a lot more to it, John Cena obviously weighed in and Punk let him have it too. Even going so far to compare him to the New York Yankees... in Boston! Blasphemy. Punk vows to leave on Sunday with the WWE Title and send Cena packing as well, but seriously, if you missed this segment, you owe it to yourself to check it out. CM Punk just took wrestling to a whole other dimension, he may very well have changed WWE and the way they tell stories. Only time will tell, but wow. Just wow.

The rest of Raw was solid, the six-man tag was highly enjoyable and I even enjoyed the handicap matches for what they were, but this was CM Punk's show. The intensity in Chicago this Sunday will be off the charts and it's one of those rare moments where wrestling will get affect your nerves. Cannot wait.

WWE: Rey Mysterio - The Life of a Masked ManWWE - McMahonThe Very Best of WCW Monday Nitro

Monday, July 4, 2011

WWE Raw thoughts - July 4, 2011

Happy Birthday, America! So this week's Raw was pre-taped after last week's Raw, which always hurts my enjoyment for a show just a bit. Even though I managed to avoid the spoilers entirely, just something about the knowledge that the show isn't live will bug me. Regardless, the show is the follow-up to last week's bombshell of a finale and I'm live blogging, so let's have some fun! Refresh your page for ongoing coverage of the show and follow me on Twitter for the ongoing absurdity... sorry if you have to see all the tweets about this damn CM Punk drama from the weekend.

And it looks like it will be Rey Mysterio vs. R-Truth vs. Alberto Del Rio to determine a new #1 contender tonight since CM Punk has been suspended indefinitely. In other news, The Miz and Alex Riley will tangle later in the evening, in the latest in WWE's "Oh, you actually BOUGHT the PPV? LOLz!" Series.

John Cena kicks things off and says that CM Punk is supposed to be swept under the rug and we're supposed to forget he ever existed. Cena thinks this is bullshit and while he doesn't agree with CM Punk, he will defend his right to say it. Cena references Daniel Bryan, signs being confiscated and CM Punk's suspension while the crowd chants "FIRST AMENDMENT!" Uh, fellas, I appreciate the sentiment and all, but that's not how the First Amendment works... at least since Linda McMahon lost her bid for Senate.

Cena wants answers and demands them from the top, which is why Vince McMahon is on his way and he will demand to face CM Punk at Money in the Bank. Hell of a start and a brilliant way to make Cena the good guy in this situation.

The Bellas vs. Eve & Kelly Kelly is our opening contest. Eve is in her red Wonder Woman gear, Kelly's wearing blue and white, it's all very patriotic on the good guy side. Unfortunately, Eve had to do some horrible booty shaking dance move before her standing moonsault and now I'm cheering for the Bellas by default. Okay, I would've been cheering for them anyway. Of course, if I'm cheering for you, it usually means you're going to lose, which is exactly what happened here in a simple, but fun Divas match.

Santino & Kozlov vs. McGillicutty & Otunga (who are the Tag Champs, BTW) up next. You know the story here, if the ring blew up right now, two-thirds of WWE's tag division would be gone. Tag Champs successfully defend in a ho-hum match, but the IWC just had a webgasm because Zack Ryder is here! He only says "Woo, woo, woo" etc., but perhaps he's on the hunt for a tag team partner? May I suggest Chris Masters?

Backstage, The Miz is awesome. Also, Evan Bourne & Sgt. Slaughter are hanging out because they have so much in common. One was a GI Joe, the other is about the same height as a GI Joe. OH SICK BURN! Jack Swagger takes issue with Slaughter's Iraqi sympathizer days and challenges Sarge to a match tonight to prove who is more American. Where's Lex Luger when you need him?

Sgt. Slaughter vs. Jack Swagger is our 4th of July match of the evening and the crowd loves them some Sarge... they're still maggots though. Swagger DEMOLISHES Sarge though, escaping the Cobra Clutch and finishing off the former WWE Champ with the Vader Bomb. Ankle Lock after the match, Evan Bourne makes the save and this feud continues for some reason. C'mon Sarge, kick his ass and join forces with Jack Swagger!

Sadly, that's not to be and Sarge just recites the Pledge of Allegiance.

Alberto Del Rio vs. R-Truth vs. Rey Mysterio is our 10pm main event and will determine a new #1 contender now that CM Punk has been suspended. Oh we'll hear something about a conspiracy if Punk gets reinstated. Even though this match is probably just a distraction for that very reason, I still love the idea of John Cena and Rey Mysterio going one-on-one. Has that ever happened? Not quite what I would consider a dream match, but it's one of the few big matches WWE has with their existing roster that we've never seen before.

Anyhoo, the match is a lot of fun, as any match with Del Rio and Rey usually is, and I'm digging the innovative moves they're coming up with here. A Sunset flip/German suplex combo? Awesome. Rey almost has it won, nailing Truth with the big splash, but Del Rio grabs him mid-pin, locks in the Cross Armbreaker and becomes the new #1 contender. Interesting twist, but I think we'll still have a bit of a wait on Del Rio vs. Cena.

Honestly, I just want Del Rio to win MITB so the roster can beg him to save the day when Punk wins the title, then he comes to the ring, teases cashing in, then just smiles and walks away. It would be the greatest dick move in WWE history.

Vickie Guerrero & Sonny Crockett Dolph Ziggler are here to celebrate America's birthday and since he's the US Champion, it's his birthday by default. Vickie sings Happy Birthday better than Marilyn Monroe ever did and Ziggler just kinda stands there like a dork with an untied bow tie around his neck. Just sayin.

Kofi Kingston crashes the party, and I swear, I'm not making this up, Michael Cole just said "What is he doing here on the 4th of July? He was born in Africa!" Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow.

Wow. Anyway, there's a little scuffle and Vickie winds up ass-first in America's birthday cake. This might mark the first time a cake has been used in wrestling and it didn't go in someone's face. I'm more interested in Vickie vs. The Cake though, because at least it's something we haven't seen 700 times, unlike Ziggler vs. Kofi.

The Miz vs. Alex Riley is up next and Riley is the proverbial HOUSE OF FIRE! NASTY~! clothesline sends Miz on his neck and this makes me sad. Kick him in the face, Miz! Fun little back and forth match though and Miz finally gains the upper hand (because ya know, he's awesome) and looks to have things in control, but Riley reverses the reverse DDT/neckbreaker into a backslide and steals a win. NOOOOOO!!!!

Miz brutally assaults Riley after the match. Completely justified considering all those sucker punches from Riley over the last month. There's only so many other cheeks a man can turn! The Miz has tried to be the better man here but we all have our breaking point. It's so sad to see Miz so emotionally unhinged though. Buddy, if you need a new corner man, I would never turn on you like that traitor, Riley!

Vince McMahon gets his swag on for the big finale of tonight's show. Vince says CM Punk wanted private limos, jet rides, and his face on the collector's cups. Basically, he wanted to be Ric Flair, which Vince said he wasn't "worthy" of. Oooh, a Punk vs. Vince war of words would be an oh-so-beautiful thing, we should make that happen soon. Vince calls Punk a punk and tries to leave, but of course, that's John Cena's cue.

Cena wonders if Vince has gone soft, even asks if the grapefruits have become peach pits and if Vince doesn't want to fight anymore, it may be time for the old man to hang it up. Ouch.

But then shit gets real. Vince really suspended CM Punk because he only takes "calculated risks" and he's not going to take a risk on John Cena. Vince doesn't want to be embarrassed if Punk wins and takes the WWE Title to "another wrestling organization." With all due respect Vince, what other wrestling organizations? (sick burn #2) That's a hell of an endorsement for Punk though, Vince McMahon doesn't think John Cena can get the job done? Wow. Cena objects, but Vince goes into full Dad mode and says "don't piss me off!"

Oh, but shit gets realer! This isn't what John Cena signed up for. If he can't face the guy that earned his title shot because he hurt Vince McMahon's feelings, then he's going to walk out on Vince just like Hogan, Shawn Michaels and Steve Austin. Cena hands the belt to McMahon and leaves the ring. Wow, did not see that coming and it's a side of John Cena I'd like to see more of. Still Cena, still principled, but not so much "I AM WWE MAN NO MATTER WHAT!" It's one of those things that makes you wonder if even Superman has his breaking point.

Vince marches up the ramp and gives Cena the WWE Title back and tells him the match with Punk is back on, but if Cena loses, he's FIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRED!

Good Raw, flew by too, but dammit, with that last line, I worry for the story. They're not going to do Cena's Fired Part 2, especially when they couldn't even do Cena's Fired Part 1, but maybe they'll still surprise me with something. The story is just too good, far too intriguing to just end with John Cena overcoming the odds and triumphing over evil once again. You're onto something huge, WWE, don't fail me now!

The John Cena ExperienceBefore They Were Wrestling Stars: CM PunkWWE: Rey Mysterio - The Life of a Masked Man

Happy 4th of July

Wishing America a very happy birthday all the way from WCW Special Forces!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Podcast Week

Somehow, we managed to pull it off, a new podcast everyday this week. Here's an easy navigate collection of all the new shows this week:

Monday: Fair to Flair Show - Episode 6
Tuesday: Kick-Out!! Radio - Best of Fake Commercials 2
Wednesday: Opening Bell Extra - When Randy Met Kelly
Thursday: The Wrestling Podcast w/ TH
Friday: Kick-Out!! Radio - Episode 61

Thanks for listening, commenting, reviewing on iTunes and telling your friends!

WWE: The Greatest Cage Matches of All TimeRandy Orton: The Evolution of a PredatorDeath Clutch: My Story of Determination, Domination, and Survival

Friday, July 1, 2011

Kick-Out!! Radio - Episode 61

It's a Punktastic episode of Kick-Out!! Radio. With CM Punk's "Austin 3:16" moment on Monday night, we wrap up Podcast Week by examining it a little further and commenting on the Paul Heyman/Brock Lesnar rumors it spawned. Also, wouldn't a WWE without the WWE Title storyline be pretty awesome?

                   
   



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

Guest Post: Impact - June 30, 2011

A big thanks to my buddy Louis O'Hara, aka TKz, for providing this week's Impact review. If he's up for it, this will likely become a regular feature here at Kick-Out!! Enjoy... all four Impact fans!

Anyone that knows me or has even seen me post on a forum in a topic related to TNA will know that I’m not exactly a fan of the product. Love most of the wrestlers, but the storylines and the whole Hogan-Bischoff takeover just left me with a bad taste. As such, I’m usually pretty quick to just say ‘LOL TNA’ and move on without really giving it much of a try. And when I do try, I tend to just skip through it and not really pay much attention anyway. But, doing this review for Kickout-Wrestling will hopefully give me a reason to try and sit through each episode and pay more attention. I’ll also try and give it a fair review and go into the show with an open mind. Hopefully TNA will reward me for that with at least some decent wrestling and maybe some interesting storylines. And hopefully not much Abyss.

The show starts with a pretty interesting video highlighting Sting’s latest storyline where he seems to have gone a little bit nuts… working for TNA for long enough will do that to you I guess! (Kidding!) Looks pretty cool though.

The new Impact Wrestling opening video is pretty cool too. Very blue.

Hulk Hogan! Scott Steiner! This is how every wrestling show should start! But Sting is calling Hogan by his real name, Terry! Hogan walks over and sees… Sting on a monitor with his back to us. Until he turns around and it turns out that Sting has become The Joker from The Dark Knight in what is possibly the best evolution of a character ever.

Hogan makes his way down to the ring and calls Sting a coward before calling out Mr. Anderson, who sadly isn’t wearing the Old School Sting attire that I’ve heard of. Also hey, Mr. Anderson is TNA World Champion! I’m not a huge fan of the guy, but it’s always good to see someone that didn’t make it far in the WWE make it to the top somewhere else. Hogan offers Anderson a spot in Immortal and says you’re either with us, or against us.

Anderson says he can do it on his own like he did at Slammiversary (which, I guess he didn’t from the promo) but Hogan disagrees and thinks Anderson owes them one. Sting interupts on screen having beaten up Bully Ray, Scott Steiner and Abyss before appearing in the ring, taking out Hogan and running Anderson off! Sting delivers an epic, Joker styled promo and I can’t get enough of this. Sting is trying to get through to Hogan to bring back the old Hogan, not the Hollywood one. Stinger wants to feed the Hulkster his vitamins and man, Sting’s facial expressions are amazing. Sting puts him in the Scorpion Deathlock but Immortal interupts and saves their leader from a broken back. Bully Ray says their paths have never crossed and says that he can’t stand bullies. So it’s going to be Sting… vs. Scott Steiner.

Apparently there’s some kind of competition to decide who will be in the main event of Bound for Glory, decided on who has the most points that I’ll assume are given for wins and taken for losses. Looks like someone named Crimson is leading the charge and I honestly have no idea who that is. But hey, D-Von Dudley!

D-Von Dudley vs. Samoa Joe is our opening contest and I’ve always been a big fan of Joe, it’s nice to have a reason to watch him again. Fairly standard encounter, D-Von has never been that entertaining in singles matches but Joe makes up for it with some fun offence. D-Von also uses a Spear? Is that like a tribute to Edge or just something he started using? Joe goes for the pinfall... but then stops and goes for a submission? I suppose you get more points for submisions victories. I have to hand it to TNA, this is a pretty good idea and the stipulation of points is adding a lot to the match, with Joe going for submissions rather than the easy pins.

D-Von gets a pretty massive reaction which is kind of surprsing, I never knew he was such a favourite, especially over Samoa Joe. And I guess TNA is aware as D-Von gets the pinfall win after a GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME Spinebuster.

After the match, The Pope is pleased with D-Vons win. Cool, I guess?

Bully Ray hypes up Scott Steiner and I could listen to these two talk all day. "I haven't even got your cell phone number!" And meanwhile Kaz and Samoa Joe spend 3 minutes straight swearing at one another for some reason. Huh.

Seems like they're doing some kind of X-Division thing with past stars and hey it's Kaval! I mean, Low-Ki. Or Senshi. Or whatever. And hey, Jimmy Yang! As a one of the flying Elvises! Amazing. And Matt Bently! I don't know who Matt Bently is.

Matt Bently Vs. Jimmy Yang Vs. Low-Ki is the next match and... wow, Jimmy Yang. Flying Elvis. This guy just seems like he's all about having fun when wrestling. I always like to see the X-Division guys, I've never thought it should be the center of the promotion but it's something different that you won't get anywhere else on US television. And Jimmy Yang gets some insane air in this match, jumping over Bently and hitting Low-Ki on the outside! This guy needs a contract because he's just damn exciting to watch. Bently hits a pretty cool Cutter/DDT combination too, but Yang is easily the most entertaining so far. Low-Ki gets the win with a flying stomp thing, but he's just not as fun without LayCool. #IWantMoreJimmyYang

There's then a highlight package of the X-Division, but I don't really know why, it never explained. I get that Destination X is some kind of X-Division best of but I don't understand what's going on with it. Is there some kind of big match with all the ex-stars?

And something with Angelina Love, Winter and Madison Rayne. They were talking about lipgloss? And something about the Knockouts Championship.

And then we go to a bar where Samoa Joe assualts Kaz with a bottle. Seriously TNA? I get they want to be edgy, but this is just silly.

Miss Tessmacher, Tara and Mickie James Vs. Winter, Angelina Love and Madison Rayne is next and wow, Mickie has a big following. I'm looking forward to seeing the womens wrestling as it used to be a highlight of TNA. But then that was with Kong and The Beautiful People, I don't even know who Tessmacher is.

Never mind though as Tessmacher is eliminated as soon as I type that. Then Tara eliminated... and then her partners turn on Madison Rayne but then attack Mickie James? What? What is happening!? Then Winter and Angelina Love double team James and the referee doesn't seem to care. And now they're arguing about who gets to beat her up? James eliminates Love and we're down to James and Winter... until Mickie James gets the win with a DDT. Good for her.

Well, it's certainly not the Knockout division of old, but at least the Knockouts have characters.

Brian Kendrick! There's a video about Kendrick Vs. Abyss and whilst I don't like Abyss, I do like Kendrick. I've heard about Abyss having the X-Division title and naming it the Xtreme title, which kind of works. Didn't The Dudleys do this ages ago though? Either way, still cool. I'll never have a problem with seeing more Brian Kendrick, even if he does seem a lot more stoned this time around.

And now we have a contract signing for Destination X between AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels. I don't know what the contract is for (is a title on the line? or a shot?) or why they're fighting, but they seem real serious about it. Daniels say it's about the X-Division and taking it to the next level? And wow, I've never realised before quite how much Christopher Daniels looks like Richard Alpert from Lost. Probably the eyeliner. They sign the contract and hug, but then Jerry Lynn turns up!?

Jerry Lynn says the X-Division is about giving the fans something special, but I'm still not sure what this is all about. And then Rob Van Dam turns up! And he's either a bad guy or just kind of a douchey face. RVD says the entire X-Division is all about being Rob Van Dam and that he was X-Division before the X-Division.

Christopher Daniels says maybe none of them started the X-Division movement, but they've all helped perfect it. And since they've got one week left, why not have a Four Corners match? Hey, why not? Rob Van Dam Vs. Jerry Lynn Vs. AJ Styles Vs. Christopher Daniels! But before AJ can leave, he's attacked by... Gunner! Finally I know his name. AJ gets the upper hand and makes the ref ring the bell, I guess we've got a match!

AJ Styles Vs. Gunner in a Bound for Glory series match. Fairly standard match, I'm not overly impressed with this Gunner character through most of the match, but he did do a fairly awesome knee to the face of AJ. Always nice to see an AJ Styles match, even if I've never thought he was as wonderful as some people seem to think. At least he's not doing the Ric Flair 2.0 stuff. Gunner gets the win with a very poor Cyclone/F5. I think if you're going to use a move that Brock Lesnar made look awesome, you should probably make sure it at least looks good when you do it.

A quick video recap of Velvet Sky and ODB's feud also featuring Miss Jackie. And then Velvet Sky cuts a promo saying she's going to beat her up. It's a pretty bad promo, there's a good reason Angelina Love used to cut the promos. But then Velvet Sky Vs. ODB and Miss Jackie is the furthest thing from interesting I could possibly think of.

And hey, it's Hernandez with three other people! Called Mexican America and wow, this is pretty cool. It's not LAX, but I do love me some Super Mex. And the Knockouts Tag Championships are still around? They say they're better than Robert Roode and then The British Invasion turn up! I do like Magnus and Williams, but I miss Desmond Wolfe. The Brits say they've been through every team in Impact Wrestling... but they haven't been through them. I'm not sure if The Brits are the good guys or not, but if not, they should be. Mexican America attack The Brits... but Rob Terry makes the save. And he still scares me.

We then go to Jeff Jarrett and Karen Jarrett in Mexico City. But they don't really explain why they're there or what they're doing. And by the end of the promo, I still don't know.

Bully Ray hypes up Immortal, only for them to discover that Abyss' mask is missing. Didn't he unmask last year anyway? I seem to remember him going by his real name as well.

Sting Vs. Scott Steiner is the main event of the night and I'm loving Crazy Sting. And I love me some of the Big Bad Booty Daddy... that came out wrong. And Steiner can't even wait for JB to finish announcing. Steiner keeps control to start and does Sting always wrestle with a shirt on? I'm not keen on that at all, ruins the mystique a little. Sting gets back into the match but I can't say this is much of a match, both men seem tired already. Sting hits Steiner with the Scorpion Deathdrop for the win to end an okay match.

After the match, Sting is about to pour... something, on to Steiner, but Bully Ray attacks. And then before Sting can pour whatever he was about to pour on Ray, Mr. Anderson attacks and leaves Sting to get beaten up by Immortal. And then Hogan slowly walks down to the ring and smacks Sting around a little before Kurt Angle makes the save! I was wondering where Angle was. I don't really understand why Angle got involved, I suppose he's still feuding with Jarrett and Jarrett is part of Immortal, but that was never really made clear.

Overall, I actually kind of enjoyed this episode of Impact. Sting was on top form, the wrestling was solid and apart from the Knockouts stuff and the Samoa Joe/Kaz crap, it was all pretty decent. Plus, plenty of Scott Steiner. Honestly, with WWE being fairly bland outside of a few storylines and CM Punk in general, it was a refreshing change.