Tuesday, October 23, 2012

WWE Raw - October 22, 2012

*clears cobwebs, blows off layer of dust*

Hi there. It's been awhile. I haven't really watched much of Raw in a few months, but got the urge to check out this week due to Chris Jericho hyping up Ryback on Busted Open Radio (I don't know what that is, by the way).

Why the long absence? Many reasons, mainly real life being super busy. But also because Raw is three fucking hours every week now and it's so overwhelming that I just kinda shut down. My general lack of interest in wrestling lately hasn't helped much either. No real reason, the product has been perfectly fine, far superior than many years I blogged about it, but I got burnt out. Is this a permanent return? I dunno, but I felt like doing a review this week.

But a disclaimer: I'm watching on DVR now, so I'm fast-forwarding through the stuff that bores me.

Let's see if I remember how to do this.

Team Rhodes Scholars vs. Rey Mysterio & Sin Cara kicked off the show and can I make a new rule? No more "Team" in front of team names. "Team Hell No," "Team Rhodes Scholars," stop that. Just be "Hell No" and "Rhodes Scholars," we know they're a team, they're in a tag team match in a tag team tournament to determine #1 contenders for the tag team titles... I think we've figured out the "team" part.

If WWE is serious about rebuilding the tag division again, they'd be wise to build it around Rey Mysterio & Sin Cara. WWE came close to saving tag wrestling in 2009 thanks to JeriShow, but ultimately let it fall by the wayside. This is an opportunity for them because Mysterio & Cara are absurdly marketable as a team, but apparently it's going to have to wait since Rhodes and Sandow won the tournament.

Makes sense, I suppose, the crowd has made Bryan and Kane the good guys, so maybe they should ride that wave and let Rey & Cara chase. Rushing teams to the tag titles is what killed the division in the first place, so go for the slow burn.

Great match too, Sandow is gonna be something special. And Sin Cara's double springboard moonsault was amazing.

Razor's been out of the loop moment #1: I had no idea Kofi Kingston was the Intercontinental Champion or that Michael McGuillicutty was back. Didn't care for the match though.

John Cena was out next to explain why he gave a potential WWE Title shot to Ryback. Cena promises "change" with Ryback and honestly, I hope he's right. Here's what Jericho had to say on the radio show I mentioned earlier:

The number one thing people bitch about is that there is nothing new and it’s the same old same old with John Cena. This is the chance to create a new guy. This is the chance to make a new star instantly, and I know tradition says you must build a star. There is no tradition in a case like this. The comparisons are to Goldberg. Most of the fans in this day and age have no idea who Goldberg is and don’t care. We do, but in the year 2012 Goldberg was over ten years ago. How did Goldberg get over? By beating everybody. There was no loss for Goldberg. As soon as he did lose, that’s when things started going downhill for him. Ryback is not a normal guy. This is not a guy that we see that builds his way to the top and fans get behind him slowly but surely.

You want to pick a new guy? Have him beat CM Punk this week. Who gives a shit about Punk’s title reign? It means nothing. Here is a chance to take a guy who people are getting behind. If he beats Punk at Hell in A Cell and after three hundred and thirty seven days or whatever and Punk is finally beaten, people are going to start to take notice of this guy. Those who don’t watch Raw are going to tune in to see what’s going on. Ryback beats everybody. Ryback faces Rock at Royal Rumble. What happens if a couple of weeks before that something goes on with Ryback and Undertaker got involved in the Rock match? What if Rock wins the title and goes on to face Cena we expected and what if its Ryback vs Undertaker at Wrestlemania? What if Ryback beats Undertaker at Wrestlemania? You have a new star for the next ten years to headline pay-per views and main events."

Couldn't have said it better myself. Don't get me wrong, I love Punk, I love that his title reign is one of the #9 on the all-time list, but honestly, it means nothing. No one is sitting at home saying, "oh man, CM Punk has held the title for 337 day, I better turn on Raw." But they will tune in to see what this Ryback guy is all about. They will tune in to see WWE pushing a major new face that's not named John Cena. The crowd is begging for it... pull the trigger!

Antonio Cesaro vs. Justin Gabriel was a decent TV match with Gabriel scoring an upset win. I like the idea of two non-Americans feuding over the US Title.

Vince McMahon and AJ Lee in the ring next to discuss her tenure as Raw GM and she is resigning amid allegations of fraternizing with a Superstar. Hey, that never stopped Vickie Guerrero! This segment would probably make more sense if I had been watching regularly over the last six months, but it seems pretty dumb.

Paul Heyman interrupting helped because he's such a scumbag that he can make me feel bad for any character, no matter how silly their story. Heyman trying to weasel his way into the GM role is brilliant too because that's what Heyman does, but I'm so confused by the power structure of WWE now, I have no idea why Vince is out here or why Raw now needs a "managing supervisor" or why it's Vickie Guerrero, who is actually fraternizing with a Superstar, but whatever, at least Vickie is awesome.

But as awesome as Vickie is, the wrestling authority figure, evil bosses and corporate politicking stories need to go away. Let the commentators explain the rulings from the board of directors and just let the show run itself. This stuff is boring.

Ryback vs. Miz - I don't even mind that he's killing Miz... FEED HIM MORE.

Daniel Bryan vs. Dolph Ziggler? Uhh.. OKAY! I guess one good thing about Raw going three hours is these guys get a lot of time to play with. Awesome match. If you didn't see it, go see it.

Then they to go ruin it with Matt Striker coming to make an announcement about a "therapeutic game show" between Kane and Daniel Bryan. Fast-forward.

Then Kane vs. Big Show out of this? I get trying for an organic flow, but if you're not a Kane or Daniel Bryan fan, WWE lost that portion of their audience for damn near an hour. Crowd was clearly beat by the end of all this too.

Fast-forwarded through Alberto Del Rio vs. Zack Ryder because, come on, we all knew how that one was going to end.

And in the main event, CM Punk vs. Sheamus in a massive lumberjack match. Good hype for the PPV, champion vs. champion is always fun and these two are rarely opponents, so it made for a good set-up. Crowd was still worn out, but the match was fun, even with the clusterfuck finish. Punk got the win thanks to the Big Show assist, but Ryback absolutely murdered him after the match and that powerbomb was NASTY!

C'mon, Ryback has to win, right?

A good Raw with the benefit of fast-forward, but three hours just leaves room for so much filler, and there was plenty of it. But it is what it is now, but I can't imagine sitting through it all every single week. But that's why we have DVRs.


Saturday, August 11, 2012

AW Fired

Earlier this week, WWE fired Abraham Washington for making a rape joke on Raw, saying one of the Prime Time Players was "like Kobe Bryant in a Colorado hotel room... unstoppable."

Is this the gravest offense in the history of WWE's long line of offense? No. But this is a Superstar-driven industry. It's why Hurricane got fired and Jericho didn't. Or why HHH got punished for the Curtain Call and HBK didn't (not that the Curtain Call was anything like making rape jokes or drunk & disorderly, but you get the point).

I've seen a lot of talk that AW was encouraged to be "edgy," and WWE has clearly lifted the shackles in the last year. They let a lot of the top guys run free a lot more than they did in 2009 and 2010, but sorry, you can't make a rape joke and expect to keep your job. AW may have tried something edgy and failed, but all it proved is that he lacks the common sense that guys like Cena, Rock, Triple H and Lesnar have. They all might say some stupid shit now and then, but they're not making rape jokes about a five-year-old case that was dropped regarding the most well-known basketball player in the country, who just so happens to play in the venue where they hold SummerSlam every year.

AW's behavior in light of the controversy strikes me as someone who's buying into their own hype a little too much. He had a couple weeks as a mildly entertaining manager of a mildly entertaining tag team during a mildly entertaining period of WWE where no one gives a shit about tag wrestling. They could've went somewhere with him, but his absence will be noticed this time next year as much as Armando Alejandro Estrada's.

Just cut out the middleman for the Prime Time Players and give them Jimmy Hart.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Bank Error

I haven't watched a PPV since Extreme Rules and I had every intention of watching Money in the Bank, but I totally forgot last night was the season premiere of Breaking Bad. Sorry, WWE, you just can't compete with Walter White's final season.

It doesn't sound like I missed much though, everything sounds perfectly acceptable, but there's absolutely nothing here that sounds must-see like last year's MITB. Last year we had Punk's glorious character shift and the future of WWE hanging in the balance, Daniel Bryan's shocking win in the Smackdown MITB and Del Rio fulfilling his destiny (again) on Raw.

While all of those things wound up being disappointing - I suppose you could make the case for Bryan, although I'd say he became way more interesting when he lost the title - it made for a fantastic PPV. Here we get Ziggler fulfilling his destiny (again, again, again, again, again), Punk staying on top and Cena winning the briefcase. There's nothing wrong with Ziggler winning MITB, he's certainly earned it and should make a great foil for Sheamus and there's nothing wrong with Punk staying on top, just 41 more days and he'll have the longest non-Cena reign since Diesel, but there's no buzz like there was last year. Can't buzz all the time, I suppose.

But Cena winning the briefcase is massively stupid. I like Cena, I've never seriously used the phrase "Super Cena" in my life, and I'm more than okay with him reentering the title picture after almost a year out of it. But the MITB briefcase? Dumb. And pointless. And dumb.

The only cool thing that will come out of Cena's time as Mr. Money in the Bank is that we'll most likely see it cashed in for a proper match. Cena's not going to cash-in when someone's at their most vulnerable, so we'll probably see him pull an RVD at SummerSlam and give us a rematch of last year's main event. But even that's pointless, Cena doesn't need a briefcase to make that happen, he could walk up to Punk tonight and say "hey man, let's fight," the match would be set and it would be totally acceptable.

The WWE Title MITB would've been better off with any other guy in that match... okay, except Kane, no one wants to see that. But Big Show's doing some of the best work of his career, Jericho invented the concept and could have so much fun with it and The Miz could've got a MUCH needed boost after a year of decline.

My only thought on how this works is if The Rock does in fact win the WWE Championship. That would be interesting and The Rock would be the only person Cena would screw over if he was in a vulnerable position since they have this whole Borden vs. Angier rivalry going on anyway.

Still, all this would mean CM Punk has to lose the WWE Title, and I'm not ready for that to happen yet.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

WWE's All-Star Game

I'm just sitting down to watch the MLB All-Star Game and when I watch anything sports related, my mind tends to drift toward wrestling.

Survivor Series should be WWE's All-Star Game, right? It certainly used to be, it was the only time you could see Hulk Hogan, Jake Roberts and Demolition team up. And while Bobby Heenan managed a ton of guys, you rarely would see Andre the Giant, Mr. Perfect and Rick Rude all together, but you would at Survivor Series.

That's kinda fallen by the wayside as the industry has changed since the Monday Night War. You didn't see Hogan and Jake Roberts team up in 89 because Hogan wasn't on TV every week and Jake Roberts was probably squashing a jobber or maybe wrestling The Genius on Superstars.

Today, their equivalents are wrestling on Raw every Monday and to avoid giving away every potential big match they have, guys like Cena and Punk are teaming up. It's certainly not uncommon to see a six or even ten-man tag in the Raw main event, especially if any basketball team owners have recently pissed off Vince McMahon. And that business model isn't going to change, the audience has become too conditioned and shareholders won't go for it if it means stocks drop, so how do you make Survivor Series special again?

Do what the MLB did with the All-Star Game - make it mean something. Now, I know the home-field advantage addition to the All-Star Game is controversial, but the beauty of wrestling is it's fake, so who cares?

Give it consequences - wrestling's always about the next show, so maybe something like the survivors from each team get to pick their entry # in the Royal Rumble? That might not exactly be dramatic and it would kill the possibility for a surprise #30 entrant, but something along those lines.

Maybe bring back the Ultimate Survival Match that they only did in 1990? Granted, it was only an excuse to get Hogan and The Warrior on a team together and they probably never did it again for a reason, but give it some drama. The survivor(s) of that match get a title shot at the Rumble? Even if it winds up being a triple-threat, fatal four-way or six-pack challenge, have some fun with it.

That's why the only Survivor Series match that anyone's cared about since 1996 was the 2004 main event where Randy Orton, Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit and freakin' Maven got to be in charge of Raw when Eric Bischoff went on vacation. And yes, I am counting "Winner Takes All" in 2001... that match was a "let's get the hell out of this mess we made" if there ever was one.

Survivor Series is a WWE tradition and it's clear they're hanging onto it for that reason alone, but when every week is an "All-Star Game" for WWE, they gotta do something to make it matter.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

WWE Raw - July 2, 2012

I'm trying to get back into wrasslin' as we approach the 1000th episode of Raw and get into SummerSlam buildup. I've caught the cool stuff on YouTube, like Vader and Sid, but for the most part, I'm out of the loop on what WWE's been up to. Luckily, it's always easy to just dive right back in.

This week's review will be in the Fair to Flair WOO!/BOO! format.

WOO!


Alberto Del Rio vs. Sin Cara was a great hat tip to the Laredo, TX crowd and it should set up a future rivalry nicely once Del Rio moves on from Sheamus. I would wager WWE could do BIG business with Del Rio defending the World Title against Sin Cara during their next Latin American tour.

Paul Heyman, as usual, was marvelous. Few people can play the lovable rebel so well, then turn around and play the most disgusting, unlikable scumbag you've ever seen. Heyman turning the Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar narrative into HHH's secret way to be forced into retirement was a nice touch as well. I didn't really like the "Brock will give his answer in three weeks" stuff, it's good heat, but they just dragged out the "will he accept!?" stuff with HHH and The Undertaker at WrestleMania.

Heath Slater finally getting a win in the Raw 1000 buildup, defeating Doink, was a nice redirection for a DDP cameo! Even if DDP did have to return with his terrible WWE theme and without his rib tape, it was great to see him. Although it is weird that most of these returns center around guys who might be considered more WCW guys than WWE guys.

CM Punk & John Cena vs. Daniel Bryan & Chris Jericho was a fun main event, but the match itself was largely irrelevant. While it was refreshing to see Cena in a main event tag match where someone else got the hot tag, the big story was AJ snapping and shoving CM Punk off the top rope, onto Daniel Bryan and through a table outside. It was an odd ending, how often does Raw end with a female wrestler standing tall over two top male competitors? But it was cool, as silly as this AJ stuff has been, I like the idea that a woman - even if she's basically playing Overly Attached Girlfriend - can get one over on the boys. And not just like Beth Phoenix occasionally eliminating a guy from the Royal Rumble or Chyna beating up midcarders, AJ outsmarted - and frankly, dominated - two of the top guys in WWE.

BOO!


I didn't really dig the opening segment. Jericho whipping out the old catchphrases was a nice touch, but for the most part, it was the worst of what we come to expect in the opening "Hey I don't like you"/"Well I don't like you either!" promo.

Santino Marella, Christian, R-Truth & Kofi Kingston vs. David Otunga, Cody Rhodes, Titus O'Neil & Darren Young started off fine, and I didn't even mind Abraham Washington's guys hightailing it (they have a guaranteed title match, after all), but once it devolved to "All the good guys (and the addition of Brodus Clay) gang up on the most unlikable bad guy" bit, which is so stale, I soured on it. It also showed the very wide gap between WWE's main event scene and everyone else. All these guys are or could be strong utility players, but they just feel "lesser," which is unfortunate.

Dolph Ziggler & Vickie Guerrero vs. Sheamus & AJ didn't seem to serve any purpose other than to get AJ mad at CM Punk for not watching her match. Although that did lead to the cool finish of the main event.

I fast-forwarded through Kane vs. Big Show, don't judge me. Big Show's been great lately, but no one wants to see that match.

Tyson Kidd vs. Tensai... WTF?

OVERALL

I enjoyed this show. Nothing must-see (except DDP), but it was refreshing to see Raw end with something other than a ho-hum promo with Johnny Ace and John Cena trading insults. Even though the match didn't get a proper ending, the story tied into the PPV and provided a unique finish, so I'm gonna give it the thumbs up.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

WWE Raw - June 11, 2012

Let's see if I still remember how to do this.

So Vince McMahon is in charge again? I know he wasn't fired when Triple H took over (remember that?), only no longer in charge of "day-to-day operations," but how does he have the authority to fire the guy that is now in charge of those day-to-day operations? That strikes me as a conflict of interest and I think Big Johnny would have a hell of a wrongful termination lawsuit on his hands if he were let go. Vince did his usual pre-firing ritual and continued to act like my dad after he's had a couple Keystone Lights, but they were interrupted by World Heavyweight Champion, Sheamus, who took the role usually reserved by John Cena to beg Vince to fire the villain of the month.

Vince told Laurinaitis that he had one night to impress, otherwise he'd be FAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHRRRRRRRRRRREEEED! Vince stole Johnny's HoveRound too and threw it off the stage. Good thing Laurinaitis works for the front office, so his insurance will pay for a new one.

Hardee's/Carl's Jr. got the fast food tie-in for The Amazing Spider-Man? Hardee's is either doing really well or Spider-Man is doing really bad, I'm not sure which.

Sheamus vs. Tensai was our opening contest and the announcers confirmed that Alberto Del Rio suffered a massive concussion and would not be able to compete at No Way Out this Sunday. A new #1 contender would be determined later in the evening, but first Sheamus had to survive the former A-Train. I was really looking forward to seeing these two lock-up and they really didn't disappoint. For a match that probably won't even be remembered this time next week, these two beat the hell out of each other. It shouldn't come as a surprise, these guys are two tough bastards, but you don't usually see guys get this rough in a glorified throwaway match. Maybe I'm just being cynical though, because if they want to, this match should easily set Tensai up as a major threat to Sheamus's title reign. Sheamus got the win, putting Tensai, on a two-week losing, but it was not an easy victory.

After returning from commercial, Tensai obliterated his man servant, Sakamoto. My guess would be this will write the character out, which I'm perfectly fine with. The "worshiper" thing was way too gimmicky and limited the character, let Tensai tear through people on his own.

A 1000th episode of Raw promo featuring Seth Green aired next. Green was one of the best guest hosts they had and oddly enough, I've been re-watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer from the beginning, so he's been on my TV a lot lately.

Backstage, Big Show punched R-Truth in the face.

Santino & Layla vs. Beth Phoenix & ...Ricardo Rodriguez was next and I have no idea why this match happened, but Ricardo wrestling in his tuxedo was priceless. Of course, tuxedos in wrestling work like trophies and cakes: if they're introduced, they're going to be destroyed. Ricardo's tux was ripped off to reveal... a Justin Bieber t-shirt. The joke oddly fell flat with the audience, but it got a smirk out of me.

Backstage, David Otunga lobbied Vince McMahon for the GM job, but due to Vince's feelings on lawyers not named McDevitt, I don't like his chances. Kofi Kingston barged in and demanded a match against the Big Show, which he received, but Laurinaitis made it a cage match.

Daniel Bryan joined us next and admittedly, I have no idea what the hell is going on in this story with AJ and the triple threat at No Way Out. I haven't watched a full episode of Raw since the night after Extreme Rules, so I'm definitely jumping in the middle of the soap opera here, but Bryan was magnificent as always. I'm pretty sure he just got himself a huge royalty check by coining the phrase "once you go Bryan, there's no point in tryin," which is certainly going to end up on a t-shirt.

CM Punk interrupted to thunderous applause and it's really cool to see how Punk has climbed up into that special territory reserved for only the cream of the crop. I'm honestly not sure if anyone has done it since Rey Mysterio and even he's debatable. Anyhoo, Punk did his thing, guaranteeing victory on Sunday, but the fact of the matter is, he couldn't hang with Bryan on the mic here, who totally had his number, despite Punk throwing out "goat face" which is going on a t-shirt too. I gotta admit, I'm still not used to the fact that these two are having weekly battles on the mic and in the ring while also feuding for the WWE Title, it's still pretty surreal.

Kane naturally interrupted, but no one cares about that. As long as this doesn't end with Kane winning the WWE Title, I'll be fine.

Christian vs. Great Khali vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Jack Swagger to determine a new #1 contender for the World Championship was next and there was only one right move here, Ziggler winning. Will this be his chance to finally break out or is it another case of Ziggler being the utility player they need at the time?

As for the match, it was elimination style, which is always preferred, but as always, it's just a Fatal 4-Way... I still couldn't tell you a truly amazing F4W match, especially one on Raw. It was fine, don't get me wrong, but it was only there to serve the purpose of making Ziggler the #1 contender. They could've just started it at Christian vs. Ziggler and had a truly memorable TV match, but there's plenty of time to let these guys hook up in the future. I wouldn't argue with them feuding over the WHT, would you?

Ryback vs. The Presidents of the United States of America was next and Platinumberg added some new ways to kill guys this week. Ryback is awesome and his finisher is great when he's carrying two dudes, but he's going to need something new when he starts fighting real guys.

Big Show vs. Kofi Kingston in a steel cage was pretty much a massacre. Nothing fancy about it, but Show won easily.

Sin Cara vs. Curt Hawkins was next and Cara looked fantastic. I've seen a couple of his matches since his return and he's looked better in each one than he did during his entire first run. Spoiler: Hawkins didn't win.

To hype the 1000th episode of Raw, Heath Slater was put in a match with a former main eventer. Before we got this special treat though, we had to sit through Heath Slater talking, which is like being fisted by Edward Scissorhands, he can't even get his own nickname right!

But his opponent? BIG... VAN... VADER!!!!!! Tell me this, Vader is pushing 60, how does he look EXACTLY the same? He hasn't lost a step either, and watching him murder Slater in true Vader fashion was magniflorious. Kudos to Slater for taking that NASTY Vader Bomb like a champ though.

Our main event match of the evening was Daniel Bryan & Kane vs. CM Punk & AJ and while I haven't seen much of AJ's crazy shtick, she's playing her role extremely well and I don't think it's going unnoticed by WWE. I know this is a point I've hammered since the birth of the blog, but it's tough to be a woman in WWE. AJ is doing great work, taking something pretty silly, but making it work and is succeeding with it. Unfortunately, there's not much she can do because there's not much for women to do other than be window dressing or wrestle in 2-minute matches. But she did a great job here distracting Kane with the most disturbing kiss since Al and Tipper Gore and allowing Punk to win with the Macho Elbow on Bryan. And goddamn, she looked adorable doing the CM Punk Indian style pose.

Our finale for the evening was Vince McMahon making his decision on the fate of John Laurinaitis. Vinny Mac had an entourage of security guards to "walk someone out of my business," but that seemed strange considering how good the show had been up to this point. Vince demanded a good show and got it, if he fired Big Johnny, wouldn't he be saying he thought the show all these people showed up for kinda sucked?

But before the hammer could come down, Big Show interrupted. Oh yeah, it's mid-June and Vince McMahon is on TV, you know what that means... CARCINOGENIC FIST! Honestly, is it really necessary to kill off Vince every year? Especially when he hasn't even been on TV in the last year?

Now, to be fair, Big Show was fucking phenomenal here. The promo preceding the WMD may have been the best moment in Big Show's 14-year history with the company, assailing Vince for the decade-plus of stupid costumes, WrestleMania humiliations, Floyd Mayweathers, Shaqs, Ben Roethlisbergers and coffin-surfing. John Cena made an appearance too, but therein lies my problem with this whole thing: Big Show is doing the best mic work of his career, but it's being wasted in this jumbled mess of a story. John Laurinaitis has become a great villain, but no one cares about the power struggle here. John Cena vs. the evil authority figure? We've seen this on-and-off for seven years. Vince McMahon threatening to fire the authority figure? This springs up every time Vince isn't in charge. John Cena vs. Big Show? That was Cena's first WrestleMania match and it's happened many, many times since.

This is the biggest story in WWE, but in 2012, it's second tier at best. Summer is typically when WWE gets a little ballsy: last year we got Punk's shift in character, in 2010 we got Nexus, in 2009, WWE let Punk and Jeff Hardy run with the ball, 2008 was Edge solidifying himself as a true main eventer, etc. But Cena vs. Big Show in an evil authority figure storyline? Can you get more bland than that?

Otherwise, this was a rock solid Raw and a fun show to jump back in. I also just found out that Raw is moving to three hours permanently, which I don't think is a great idea, but I guess USA finally got their wish. I really don't think it's necessary, but with the roster split completely dead on Raw, perhaps it'll work.


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Randy Orton suspended for 60 days

Yes, I am alive.

Source

STAMFORD, Conn. – In accordance with its Talent Wellness Program, WWE has suspended Randy Orton for 60 days effective today for his second violation of the company's policy.

Always unfortunate to see news like this, regardless of who it is. Orton's been suspension-free for years, so I doubt there's any sort of serious issue, but it should quiet any doubters that say the Wellness Policy isn't legitimate.

Monday, April 30, 2012

WWE Raw - April 30, 2012

After an amazing show like last night? I gotta live blog Raw. Refresh, check the Twitter feed, etc.

Wow, they showed the blood in the video package... in color!

Monday Night Raw starring Tracy Jordan Brock Lesnar is live from Dayton, Ohio and I think if you're going to get your name in the title card, you should at least have won a match in the last eight years. Just sayin. John Laurinaitis introduces Brock Lesnar, who is showing off his new threads from the Tommy Dreamer collection. Lesnar says he brought the pain last night and before Johnny can join in on the verbal fellatio, IT'S TIME TO PLAY THE GAAAAAAAAAAAME!

MUAHUHAUHAUHA!

Triple H is on WWE TV for the first time since WrestleMania and I'm genuinely intrigued here. If you'll recall, Lesnar and Triple H have never faced each other before. Just when it looked like they were going to feud, Lesnar took the Undisputed Title to Smackdown and Triple H got a belt from a briefcase. They were certainly setting something up there, but it was never to be due to Brock's hasty departure.

Triple H puts the kibosh on Lesnar's ludicrous demands and slaps Laurinaitis down, but assures Lesnar there's a place for him in WWE. "The WWE Universe wants to see you in a rematch with John Cena. They want to see you in the ring with CM Punk... Randy Orton... Sheamus." Well, two out of three ain't bad. Triple H says Lesnar will accept the contract he originally signed, but if Brock wants to take his ball and go home (again), he's free to do that as well. Laurinaitis tries to talk to HHH, giving Lesnar the opportunity to strike, attacking Triple H from behind and then ramming him with those patented shoulder strikes in the corner. VINTAGE LESNAR! Lesnar wraps Triple H's arm in the kimura lock and Cole speculates that the arm is broken. R-Truth, Sheamus, Kofi Kingston and Big Show rush to make the save, but the damage has been done. Excellent opening and the perfect direction to take the dangerous and out of control Lesnar.

Triple H is being tended to backstage, the only way his left arm could be in worse shape would be if it feuded with him in 2003.

Eve on stage now, talking like a weirdo and announces a Beat the Clock challenge to determine a new #1 contender for the WWE Title. Ugh, I hate Beat the Clock, get ready for several really short matches.

The Miz vs. Santino Marella is our first Beat the Clock match and Miz wins in 4:18. That's really all I got to say about this one. Like I said, Beat the Clock does not excite me at all, it drags the matches down, especially the pace-setter.

Layla vs. Nikki Bella vs. Brie Bella in a Triple Threat match for the Divas Championship is our Diva portion of the evening. And the match is over before I could even finish typing the participants in the match. Layla wins with a roll-up after the Bellas bonk heads. I think she just won Beat the Clock.

Chris Jericho vs. Big Show is our next Beat the Clock match, but I don't know how either of these guys are going to beat Layla's time of 0:00.00000000000001 seconds. JeriShow explodes in this match and it's actually kinda fun for Beat the Clock bullshit. Jericho gets a countout victory at 4:117, but the ref was counting too slow, so it actually was around 4:19, WWE goes to break to fix the mess.

Coming back from commercial, Miz does not get screwed out of his proper place as current #1 contender and WWE does the right thing by reversing the referee's decision. Justice prevails!

Brodus Clay vs. JTG up next and really, we're back to this pointless shit? Brodus wins another squash and has added bringing kids to the ring to do the pterodactyl. Okay, at least that's cute.

Lots of filler with stuff we've already seen. Hurry up, guys... we have several two minute matches to run!

Speaking of filler, Randy Orton, everybody! He's up against Jack Swagger in the next Beat the Clock match and this one could be great... if it weren't guaranteed to be 4 minutes or less. Crowd is red hot for Orton here, Dayton is a great wrestling town but almost always two years behind the trend. Decent back and forth action with Swagger slapping on the Ankle Lock, yeah! TAP ORTON! Sadly, Orton reverses and hits the RKO, picking up the win with 2 seconds to spare. Blurg.

Primo & Epico defend the tag titles against R-Truth & Kofi Kingston next! Epico and Primo have quietly had numerous great matches throughout the year and haven't quite got the respect they deserve for it... and they probably won't since they just lost the Tag Titles. Good match though and Dayton gets a title change. Hopefully this isn't the end of Rosa Mendes on my TV though.

Kane vs. Khali next? Really? As the Pet Shop Boys once said, "what have I, what have I, what have I done to deserve this?" YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWNNNNNNNNNNN and mercifully this one is over with neither man beating the clock.

Our final Beat the Clock Challenge match is Daniel Bryan vs. Jerry Lawler?! Honestly, Punk vs. Lawler and Punk vs. Bryan are more appealing than any of the other potential matches we've seen tonight, but I was personally hoping for Tensai. Laweler gets to hit all the patented Lawler spots (sans Piledriver), but Bryan clocks (pun intended) with a NASTY kick and applies the YESLOCK for an easy win and an obliterated clock. Looks like it'll be Best in the World vs. the other other Best in the World at Over the Limit. Well, that just made the PPV a must-buy.

Like I said in my Extreme Rules review, Bryan was solidified in that match last night and WWE is rewarding him for making the audience care about him. And we, the viewing audience, get to reap the benefits by getting CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan for the WWE Title on PPV. If you would've said that five years ago, you would've been laughed off the internet.

John Cena is here to a thunderous ovation, and all it took to get the crowd to like him again was almost get beaten to death! Cena's banged up, but unlike Triple H, his arm is not broken. Cena says he's "hurt," not "injured," so he will be competing at Over the Limit... so much for that vacation.

Little back and forth between Cena and Laurinaitis and we finally find out Cena's opponent for Over the Limit, Lord Tensai. Well, hardly shocking after he was left off the Beat the Clock challenge, but it's kinda anticlimactic after Lesnar. But wait! Ace attacks Cena from behind and announces that his opponent for OTL is... JOHNNY ACE! YOU GOT THE TOUCH!

Ace, Tensai and... the other guy with Tensai obliterate Cena and that actually turned out to be a fun little swerve. Cena probably should've taken that vacation, but this could be a lot of fun. It's certainly a retread of every evil authority figure bit ever, but Punk vs. Bryan and Triple H vs. Lesnar are both bigger matches, so I'll give it the old wait and see.

Not a great Raw after an amazing PPV though. Beat the Clock, while achieving an awesome result, is rarely enjoyable and there was a lot of filler in between. Don't lose your momentum now, WWE!

WWE Extreme Rules 2012

I came *this* close to not watching Extreme Rules. After last Monday's debacle of a show, my interest in Brock Lesnar had dropped significantly. All weekend, my wife and I were watching movies and every time she mentioned "wrestling tomorrow" or "wrestling tonight," I thought "oh yeah, there is a PPV on." The only reason I bought the show was because it was Lesnar's first match in eight years and I didn't want to miss it - for better or worse - from a historical standpoint; for some reason, shit like that is important to me.

Had I not watched Extreme Rules, I'd be kicking myself in the ass this morning.

Randy Orton vs. Kane was the right pick for an opener. Being a Falls Count Anywhere match, it guaranteed some action outside the ring, which always gets people on their feet and even if the crowd wasn't that into it, the people they'd brawl near would be. Fortunately, the crowd was pretty into it regardless and both guys put on a solid match.

It was totally "I punch you/you punch me" stuff, but they brawled all over the place and even threw in a little continuity with a Zack Ryder cameo attack on Kane. Granted, Kane treated it like a mosquito was buzzing around, but kudos for even doing it. Orton got the win, as expected, with an RKO on a steel chair and I assume this is the end of the feud. Either way it goes, I was impressed with this match and their Mania bout. The feud in general got a little silly at times, but considering it was a rivalry between the two guys that bore me the most, it far exceeded any expectations I had for it.

Brodus Clay vs. Dolph Ziggler was an impromptu addition to the card, giving us our longest glimpse of the Funkasaurus yet. I know people are upset that Ziggler continues to lose to Brodus, but that's what you get when you make someone's offense look that good. Ziggler single-handedly saved Clay's entire gimmick the night after WrestleMania when he dove at him and sold that headbutt on the ramp like he just got shot with a cannonball. I'm not entirely sure why people have taken to Brodus so much, it's not like dancing fat guy is anything new and adding Hornswoggle into the mix is usually the kiss of death, but people dig it and that's why he's winning matches. I definitely think it's one of those things saved by the live crowd (although Chicago was definitely leaning Ziggler last night), but as long as people react to it, he's going to keep winning.

But spare me the "the window of opportunity on Ziggler is closing" bullshit. Ziggler's been in this position for the last three years and never has a problem getting himself back in the hunt. The guy is too good and can be used in any spot on the card. WWE knows this, which is why he's been tasked with making Brodus look good. Don't like it? Stop tweeting "SOMEBODY CALL MY MAMA!" every time he comes to the ring.

Cody Rhodes vs. Big Show in a tables match for the Intercontinental Championship was fun, albeit brief and very silly. After getting his ass handed to him - despite a sweet table-assisted Beautiful Disaster Kick - Cody knocked Show off the apron, causing the defending champion's foot to go through a table and giving us a new IC Champ. Laugh if you want, but a foot through a table did almost kill Fit Finlay. Show got his revenge after the match by press slamming Cody from the ring to a table outside (ow), but apparently his title reign was just to give him that WrestleMania moment he deserved.

People seemed somewhat divided on the outcome of the match, but I think it worked. No, it wasn't very X-TREME!!!, but it played in well with Cody constantly humiliating the Big Show and Show's lovable goofiness. I don't know where either guy goes from here though as I thought taking the IC Title off Cody was to prep him for Sheamus, but apparently other things are planned. Big Show can fit in anywhere though, so I'm not too worried.

Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan in a 2 out of 3 falls match for the World Championship was absolutely phenomenal. After robbing us of a proper match between these guys at not one, but two, WrestleManias, WWE more than made up for it here and gave us what is probably both men's best match inside a WWE ring. The match was just about 23 minutes long and the first fall didn't happen until pretty late, but it also avoided the pitfall of feeling rushed at the end, which WWE is often guilty of in multi-fall contests.

It was back and forth action between two guys who needed to be solidified. Sheamus was getting boos after the 18-second nonsense at WrestleMania, but after a performance like this, you can't help but love the guy. I don't think anyone ever expected Sheamus to be a technical wizard, but it's clear he's more ready to hang with the grown-ups in WWE style main events. Meanwhile, Daniel Bryan has had his fair share of doubters since signing with WWE and after the last month, capped off by this match, I think it's clear that he's solidified as a top guy... okay, top guy on Smackdown, but top guy nonetheless. Bottom line is, this is a guy who was pigeonholed as "vanilla" and "lacking charisma" and while he's consistently eviscerated that argument since embracing the dark side, he buried it once and for all last night.

A surefire Match of the Year candidate that accomplished what all matches should: made both guys come out of it looking better than they did going in. It's tough to execute, but when you have two guys as passionate and talented as Sheamus and Bryan, they make it look easy. I'm going to give this one Match of the Night honors, and if you saw this PPV, you know that's a tough decision, but they proved if you give them the time they deserve, they'll steal the show.

Ryback vs. Local Competitors (haven't seen those guys since ECW!) in a handicap match was definitely time for a cool down, and while it was a bit insulting to have a jobber squash on PPV, the crowd was into it. Oh sure, they were probably just into mockingly chanting "GOLDBERG!", but it's better than a trip to the nacho cart, right? I dig Ryback, his offense is hard-hitting (except for his finisher, just let him have the Jackhammer) and the bit with Superstars crowding around the monitor to watch him kill people is really fun. It's pretty much what I do at home, he decapitates some poor kid with a lariat, I rewind it, call my wife in the room to watch and she yells "eww! Why did you make me watch that?" It's awesome. Call him "Instant Replay" Ryback and you got yourself a Superstar.

You know your PPV is amazing when CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho is the third best match on the show and it was still an amazing match. This is one of those matches where social media and the instant reaction culture really hurts wrestling as a whole. Throughout this match, I'd pop in on Twitter and see people bitching that the crowd "wasn't as loud as I expected" during slower parts of the match (scream for every headlock, goddammit!), it wasn't "as good as last year's MITB" (not even remotely comparable), and worst of all that "neither Jericho or Punk are trending on Twitter" (the horror!), but if you actually watched, it worked just like their Mania match, they paced it perfectly.

Jericho and Punk aren't often dubbed the "best in the world" just because it looks cool on a t-shirt, they know what they're doing in the ring. Like the best jazz musicians, they know it's not enough to just know what notes to play, they know why they need to be played. These two are unmatched storytellers and they took this silly "your family loves drugs!" story and turned it into something that the crowd was emotionally invested in. The whole bit with Punk's sister slapping Jericho, Jericho lunging at her and Punk exploding was spectacular. Sometimes Punk can go a bit over the top with the "raw emotion," but this was perfect and the crowd was begging for him to kick Jericho's ass. Seriously, the crowd wasn't "that into" this match? Are you kidding me? When's the last time Jericho had an entire audience against him? Especially a PPV crowd? He was bathing in their hatred and every move against their hometown hero packed just a little extra punch.

As I said above, while the styles were drastically different, this match will benefit from repeat viewings just like their Mania match did. Very close contender for Match of the Night and I certainly think it's a Match of the Year contender (so far), so put down the smartphone, close the laptop and watch the match again, I promise you'll see what I'm talking about.

And c'mon, Punk did the Savage Elbow through the announce table. Crowd wasn't into it? Please.

Layla returning to defeat Nikki Bella for the Diva's Championship was a nice little swerve for all of us expecting Kharma and Layla looked damn good out there. The match was only two minutes long, but her fast-pace offense had some really cool moves and sequences and Nikki did a great job hanging with her. Not quite as cathartic as Kharma finally getting her revenge and sending the Bellas packing, but hopefully they're just saving that for tonight's Raw. Great to have Layla back though, the division sorely needs more women like her.

Now, on the flipside of what I was talking about with Punk and Jericho, John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar was one of those matches where social media really helps wrestling and makes it more fun. Check your Twitter feed from 10:25 - 10:57 p.m. est. last night, it's probably a seemingly endless string of "HOLY SHIT!" "WHAT THE FUCK!?" and "FH35Y23TYFWEJNFUIAUFBVO!!!11"

And that's fun, because it's those kind of matches that make you feel like you're a part of the show and a part of something historic, which this match was. Going in, you probably wouldn't have found a bigger cynic than me and after Rock vs. Cena, I was worried this was going to be another major disappointment. I was wrong. So magnificently wrong.

When the opening 20 seconds of a match feature John Cena getting his head legitimately busted open from some of the nastiest elbow strikes I've seen in any ring (or octagon, for that matter), you know you're in for something just a little bit different. Referees tried to stop the bleeding, which the Chicago crowd was totally okay with and did not stereotype wrestling fans as bloodthirsty lunatics, and I almost got through that sentence without laughing. You gotta let the blood thing go, it's not a "PG" thing, it's a keeping the wrestlers safe thing, which should not be cause for boos.

That said, John Cena, given the fact that he's John Cena, can get away with telling a referee to piss off and wrestle with a head geyser anyway. While this isn't going to become a regular occurrence, it did add to the match and it proves that WWE toning things down has worked, because it was genuinely shocking. In a match that was surrounded by questions of "legitimacy," it felt real, because it was. My wife looked over at me after those elbows and said "uh... he's really hitting him," and while I'm sure they had an agreement to put on the best show possible, I don't know if that's quite what Cena had in mind.

Here's how bad Brock kicked the shit out of Cena: the Chicago crowd overwhelmingly cheered for Cena. That's right, the crowd that less than a year ago wanted Cena's head on a pike, was seriously concerned for his safety and wanted to see him be Rocky to Lesnar's Drago.

Lesnar didn't walk out of the match unscathed either, after destroying Cena for 15 minutes, he went for what can only be described as a FALCON PUNCH off the steel stairs that he brought into the ring, except instead of hitting Cena, he flew over the top rope and landed directly on his knee. Although from the original angle, it looked like he landed on his head, WrestleMania 19 style. I don't remember what I screamed, but I believe it was something along the lines of "OH FUCK!! FUCK!!!!" But of course, Lesnar sprung back up like a cat that just fell off the bookshelf and he had a smile on his face that said "can you believe I didn't die? That's hilarious!" Oh Brock, you glorious meathead, don't ever change.

And just to prove once and for all that he's not all there... he tried the same move again! This time, Cena was waiting for him with his steel chain wrapped around his fist, clocking Lesnar right in the head and splitting him open too. The refs didn't have time to check on him - they were all dead... except Black Ref, who took one look at the match, said "fuck this" and left - Cena hit the F-U (it's still the F-U when done to Lesnar) on the aforementioned steel stairs and somehow, some way, won and survived this match.

After the match, Cena took the mic and said he'd be going on vacation. I'm not sure if he meant in a storyline since John Laurinaitis will surely be pissed, due to injury, a legitimate suspension due to all the blood, or all three, but I think we can all agree John Cena earned some time off for this one.

Hands down, one of the most brutal, disturbing and morbidly exciting matches I've ever seen. Drama, action, legitimacy and a raucous crowd... what more do you need? I know some people are pissed that Lesnar lost and I'll have more on that this week, but it was absolutely the right call. Darth Vader lost in Star Wars too, but the Empire has to strike back, right? Brock Lesnar the Diva who gets everything he wants is boring and can't vocalize a coherent thought, but Brock Lesnar the pissed off wrecking machine out for blood and vengeance? I guarantee the result of that will be far worse than getting frozen in carbonite.

Extreme Rules 2012 was a terrific PPV, the best of the year so far and blew WrestleMania out of the water. Sure, WrestleMania had the amazing match between Undertaker and Triple H and a really great Punk/Jericho match, but this show had two Match of the Year contenders and one of the most insane WWE main events I've seen in more than a quarter of a century watching this stuff. WrestleMania failed to deliver on lofty expectations and Extreme Rules, a show that could've been a disaster, left my jaw on the floor. If you didn't see this show, you gotta order the replay; WWE earned your $44.95 here.



Tuesday, April 24, 2012

On Sunday, this Sunday at the PPV on Sunday...

I was going to tack this onto last night's live blog, but I suspect it might be a bit lengthy and would interrupt the overall flow of that entry. There wasn't anything else on the show that I didn't write about beside the Doritos Locos Tacos tag match, but the less said about that, the better.

Raw was pretty bad last night. It started off great with the surprise return of Edge and an excellent opening match between Chris Jericho and Kofi Kingston, but turning it off after that would've been wise. When the next closest highlight is Randy Orton and Kane fighting over a frozen Paul Bearer and CM Punk doing his best Mel Gibson impression (minus the antisemitism), you know the show wasn't particularly great.

However, the show took a serious nosedive in the main event spot when John Cena and Brock Lesnar had their contract signing. To build anticipation and get the crowd to turn on him, Brock was out there alone for a bit, making demands to John Laurinaitis. This would've been fine, it gets the crowd to boo Lesnar and Big Johnny looks weak and impotent after making a deal with the devil. The problem, however, is that Brock hasn't done this regularly in eight years and unlike The Rock, he doesn't have a switch to go into "Superstar" mode. The Rock is a performer first, always has been, so even though he had some hiccups in the last year, he never lost the audience. Lesnar is an athlete first and this performing stuff has never come natural to him. Don't get me wrong, he did some great stuff here and there, especially during his final months, but no one remembers a definitive Lesnar promo, we remember him killing people.

So Lesnar choked on the mic last night. Like, really really bad. Like celebrity guest host bad. I suspect by noon today, there will be several memes on Tumblr, a YouTube remix and as @BooLawler joked, it will be the entire next installment of Botchamania. Here's how bad it was, by the time Cena arrived, the crowd was solidly in his corner. The Detroit crowd. I was in Detroit for WrestleMania 23 and the crowd loathed him then.

So Cena had the crowd behind him, perhaps partially due to Lesnar's heel shenanigans but probably due to Lesnar's meltdown, and how do we capitalize on this? Lesnar flips a table, walks out of the ring and John Cena stares with a chain wrapped around his fist. Yep, that's it, that's how Raw ended. We go from John Cena getting F5'd to a massive brawl where the two have to be pulled apart by the entire locker room, to mean mugging. By plotting this feud in reverse, WWE has figured out how to make me gradually less interested in Brock Lesnar's first wrestling match in eight years.

I dread how the Chicago crowd will greet this match on Sunday. They don't like Cena, even if they like him more by default and Lesnar's impact has dwindled with each appearance, so we could be in store for a WrestleMania 20 situation. I don't think the crowd will be as hostile, but if they try to go with the slow pace of Goldberg/Lesnar or even Cena/Rock, this whole feud is dead. Hell, this whole bringing Brock back thing with one of the biggest contracts in the history of the industry, will be dead.

I understand why WWE wants to use guys like Rock and Lesnar, they have more name value than most of the roster combined, but I don't see the endgame here. Rock just participated in what's being hailed as the most successful WrestleMania in history and it already feels like a distant memory. Lesnar's supposedly going to be around more frequently, but if he can't carry his weight on the mic or in the ring, he's just going to drag the whole show down like he did last night.

So perhaps it's time for WWE to give the Lesnar treatment to someone else on the roster. Since Brock split, WWE has been notorious in pushing, then demoting guys the minute they catch fire. It's a trial period to see if they'll stick it out or if they'll leave and try their hand at MMA or go to TNA for a lighter schedule. Some guys have left - Bobby Lashley and Jeff Hardy spring to mind - but a lot of guys stick around and wait years for their big break, if it ever comes. CM Punk could've been a megastar at this point, but now, even with a long WWE Title reign and a white-hot character reboot last summer, he's still rungs below Cena, Rock and Brock, much like Jericho was rungs below Rock, Austin and Triple H in the early 00s. But imagine where Punk would be if he was on a steady rise since his arrival in 2006?

Lesnar's influence on WWE has been felt since his departure, but now that he's back, perhaps it should reassure WWE that no one's ever really gone. Everyone eventually comes back in some capacity or another and while I understand they don't want to become a farm league for UFC, they can't keep shooting themselves in the foot just so they can play it safe. Start building wrestlers as a brand again and they won't find themselves in a situation where their entire year hinges on matches with guys who haven't wrestled regularly in almost a decade.

Monday, April 23, 2012

WWE Raw - April 23, 2012

Took a week off from live blogging and I come back to a three-hour show? Blurg. Here's to trying to be funny for an extra hour.

And we're starting big with the official contract signing between John Cena and Brock Lesnar, but when Lesnar's music hits, we get John Laurinaitis instead... did Brock quit again? Oh, it's just a bait & switch, no biggie. Lesnar's not here yet, despite the fact they've been advertising the contract signing for the start of the show all day. LAME!

But I suppose the return of EDGE makes up for it! Edge is here to have a discussion with John Cena and we're in some weird world where a month after Cena scolded The Rock for not being The Rock anymore, Edge is scolding John Cena for not being The John Cena anymore. Edge demands that Cena not lose on Sunday because this is all they've ever wanted to do since they were kids, they were the ones making cardboard belts in the backyard, but Lesnar's here to make money. It's a fair point, they were the guys who carried the load and now Lesnar is just waltzing back with a sweet contract, so Edge isn't asking Cena to win, he's telling him to.

A bit random since I'm not sure if Edge has been gone long enough to be a torchbearer, it's odd to see him in the Roddy Piper role, but he did a damn fine job convincing me otherwise. Still not gonna get people to boo Lesnar against Cena though.

Chris Jericho vs. Kofi Kingston is our opening contest. Uhh... okay! Been too long since Jericho's competed on Raw and Kofi needs more matches like this to remind us that he is actually really good. Solid back and forth action going into the first commercial with Kofi hitting a beautiful diving somersault plancha to the outside. What does this guy gotta do to get a fair shake? He's already patiently waited through the mandatory "we're gonna give you a big push then pull the rug out from under you" phase!

Back from break, the back and forth action continues with both guys having an answer for whatever the other throws. These two are certainly no strangers to each other, Kofi beat Jericho for his first taste of gold a few years back and I've always enjoyed their work together.

Jericho blocks Trouble in Paradise and reverses into the Walls, but Kofi reverses and goes for a high crossbody, which is reversed into a Codebreaker. Instead of going for a pin though, Jericho locks in the Walls Liontamer and forces Kofi to tap out. Beautiful finish, extremely fun match

Lots of filler with backstage shenanigans and re-airing the Lesnar "I make John Cena piss himself" vignette. Always happens on these three hour shows, but I suspect it doesn't help with how thin the roster is.

R-Truth has the unfortunate task of going one-on-one with Lord Tensai, who is fresh off a HUGE win over John Cena. Not a lot of guys get definitive(ish) wins over Cena on Raw and I can't even remember the last time it happened. This doesn't bode well for Truth and he'll be lucky if Lil Jimmy doesn't get a Baldo Bomb too. Easy win for Tensai, which feels like a step back after beating Cena last week. I'm sure we're in a holding pattern until Punk is done with Jericho, but this was pure filler, which the show has been since Jericho and Kofi finished.

Fiery splodes can only mean one thing, it's Kane! Kane likes to hurt people and watch them suffer, Randy Orton is a scared little boy crying out for daddy, yadda yadda yadda. C'mon now, Kane doesn't really have any business throwing stones at people with daddy issues.

And sure enough, Randy Orton does something kinda cool, appearing on the TitanTron with a tied up Paul Bearer! He honestly looks like he's been tied up since Edge made Kane throw him off that scaffold, but Orton locks him in a fridge (or a very foggy closet) to keep him fresh. Kane doesn't care though, cuz he's evil y'all! Orton brings the pain to Kane instead and hits him with a lead pipe. Orton's definitely slummin' it here, but this feud is oddly fun in an "at least it's not for the World Title" way.

Backstage, Just Joe 2.0 (aka Alex Riley) has caught CM Punk drinking a red solo cup. That's right, I just made a Toby Keith reference... I wish I could go back in time 30 seconds and punch myself in the face.

Big Show & Great Khali vs. Cody Rhodes & Alberto Del Rio is up next and on a normal night, we'd only be 22 minutes into the show. Despite the best efforts of all involved (and Great Khali), this match just isn't doing it for me, even though Cody's figure-four on Big Show was pretty cool. Big dudes win regardless.

Backstage, Eve, who is now some sort of assistant authority figure (what is this, TNA?) invokes the Wellness Policy to lend credibility to Jericho's demand that Punk be stripped of the WWE Title for drinking. Ugh. So now Punk has to take a field sobriety test in the ring. Double ugh.

Brock Lesnar murdering Josh Mathews was kinda funny though.

Beth Phoenix vs. Nikki Bella with the Divas Title on the line and Eve comes out to make it a Lumberjill Match. Is this really necessary when Beth Phoenix will keep you in the ring and rip you to shreds? Beth takes a nasty spill out of the ring though, twisting her ankle and the ensuing pandemonium allows Nikki (or Brie?) to score a roll-up win and end Beth's lengthy run with the belt. Hopefully this is all to set up Kharma's return since she promised to murderlize the Bellas upon her return.

CM Punk's sobriety test is funny in a juvenile sort of way since Punk plays a hilarious fake drunk, especially for a guy who supposedly has never been drunk. Turns out, Punk was just fuckin' with ya and he does it all (almost) perfect the next time, although he still kinda botched the backwards alphabet... just proving that is a completely unfair sobriety test for anyone drunk or sober. Punk beats up Jericho a bit and that's pretty much it. This feud is so silly.

Mark Henry vs. Sheamus is our next match and we have a special YES referee, Daniel Bryan. Bryan wearing a full ref's uniform and not just a ref shirt with jeans is a marvelous touch. I don't think referees are allowed to have beards though. Sheamus is easily distracted by Bryan, which allows Henry to cover the World Champ and Bryan executes the fastest count in history. Sheamus also gets a YES! Lock for his troubles.

Santino & Zack Ryder vs. Primo & Epico and the good guys get a fairly easy win over the unluckiest tag champions ever. I'm pretty sure when you lose 47 matches in a row, you should have to defend the titles.

Alright, I'm calling it a night on the live blog. I suspect the Doritos Los Tacos match will be as nauseating as a Doritos Los Taco and Lesnar and Cena will mean mug the shit out of each other. Full review coming tomorrow!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Poll: Live Smackdown

First, the results of our previous poll:

WHAT DREAM MATCH DO YOU WANT TO SEE THE MOST?
Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena - 2%
Brock Lesnar vs. The Rock - 4%
John Cena vs. The Rock II - 1%
Brock Lesnar vs. CM Punk - 17%
The Rock vs. CM Punk - 20%
Brock Lesnar vs. The Undertaker - 19%
John Cena vs. The Undertaker - 22%
John Cena vs. The Rock vs. Brock Lesnar - 11%

Surprised by the timid response to Lesnar vs. Cena, but my guess is people knew it was coming soon and didn't feel the need to vote for it. Cena vs. The Undertaker is clearly the match for WWE, even with the addition of The Rock and Brock Lesnar to the roster, that is the match and I would be genuinely surprised if it didn't happen at WrestleMania 29. They'll have a red hot New York crowd, Taker's closed the book on HBK and HHH and it would make for a good story for Cena: after losing to The Rock and (presumably) Lesnar, can he conquer the ultimate challenge of The Undertaker?

I was also happy to see some excitement for Punk vs. Rock and Punk vs. Lesnar, those are two feuds I'd really love to see... especially if Lesnar could use some pull and bring in Heyman for some extra oomph on the mic.

Alrighty, new poll time! Simple enough, should Smackdown go live or stay on Friday nights? Vote!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

WWE Smackdown - April 10, 2012

Ah, what the hell, last night's show was kind of a drag, so let's make tonight fun with another live blog! Refresh, Twitter, exsetera (that's for you AP!)

The full name for tonight's show is "Super Smackdown Live! Blast from the Past," because Syfy doesn't charge by the letter. They air the Blast from the Past promo, but just use the normal Smackdown intro and theme... lame! Make something special or give us the old school Smackdown theme. You know the one, right? "GRIBBLE WIBBLE GRIFFVLE GRUBBLE GRIBLLE GRIBBLE GRIBBLE!"

Daniel Bryan is in Piper's Pit tonight, that should be rad.

But you know what might be even radder? Sheamus getting interviewed by "Mean" Gene Okerlund! Sadly, Sheamus did not start this interview with "WELL LET ME TELL YOU SOMETHIN, FELLA!" but I'll let it slide if he calls him "Mean, by God, Gene." Sheamus begins by apologizing to referee Chad Patton for kicking him in the face last week, but he should be demanding an apology from his mother for naming him Chad. Sheamus tries to lighten the mood a little bit, but John Laurinaitis and his majestic theme music interrupt. Big Johnny demands that Sheamus apologize, which is what he just did, but Sheamus is a good sport and says he's sorry again. But now Laurinaitis moves the apology goalposts and makes him apologize to all WWE referees, but he doesn't have to mention them by name.

Ace threatens Sheamus with firing and fines him $500,000, which is like Ozzie Guillen territory. He's also forcing him to team up with Mean Gene later tonight to take on Alberto Del Rio and Daniel Bryan. You better watch out, Johnny... Mean Gene was trained by the Hulkster himself!



Randy Orton vs. Mark Henry is our opening contest and I demand Orton's wig get all sorts of split. Oh yeah, big powerslam early with a concerned Bob Orton Jr. looking on? That's the stuff! Keep splittin' that wig, Mizark! Back from commercial, Mark Henry is trying to twist Orton's head off like a really troublesome lid on a jar of mayonnaise.

Henry continues his brutal assault on the Vipah, but just as Orton's trying to turn things around, the ropes go splodies and Kane appears on the TitanTron and delivers a Joker-esque speech about how they're destined to do this... FOREVER! He's having too much fun with Orton, so much fun that he decided to add another Orton to the fun, Cowboy Bob is unconscious. Great, Kane just re-broke his hand. Randall rushes backstage, gets a steel pipe to the gut and I suddenly like Kane again.

Benny Camer is in the ring and if you're curious who Benny Camer is, you care more than anyone in the arena. Benny is the latest victim of Ryback, the former Skip Sheffield. Ryback OBLITERATES this dude with the sickest clothesline I've seen since Bradshaw on a good day. The finisher is academic, that clothesline was N-A-S-T-Y!!!!

And Mick Foley is here to do guest commentary!

Tyson Kidd & Heath Slater are teaming up, but they have Jimmy Hart in their corner, which I actually find kinda cool. Honestly, Heath Slater & Jimmy Hart would make an awesome pairing. Thise new team is taking on The Usos and why do they have Foley on guest commentary when Jimmy Hart is out here doing the megaphone shtick? And why did Jimmy Hart ever stop being a regular manager? The megaphone is instant heat.

Anyhoo, while I'm rambling about Jimmy Hart and Mick Foley, this is actually becoming a really good match with The Usos really showing off why they should be used more. Usos win, Hart gets Mr. Socko for some reason, but whatever, the match was fun.

PIPER'S PIT! The Hot Rod himself, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper is interviewing former World Champ, Daniel Bryan. Bryan looks absolutely diabolical right now, but I'm guessing it's just impossible for him to contain his glee over the fact that he's on Piper's HIt. Bryan claims it's because he's been granted his rematch and it's going to be a 2 out of 3 falls match at Extreme Rules! Uhh, okay!

Piper doesn't really care about that though, he invites AJ down to the ring to say what she really feels about Bryan dumping her last week. Instead, AJ apologizes to Bryan for WrestleMania and just wants to talk so she can make it up to him. Bryan tells her to GTFO though and that really gets Piper fired up because he's apparently AJ's #1 fan. Piper reminds us that he has three daughters and he doesn't appreciate the way Bryan treats his lady. If "8 Simple Rules for Dating Roddy Piper's Daughter" doesn't make it to the WWE Network, I will be sorely disappointed.

After Piper's long lecture, Bryan responds with a slap to the face and a "YES! YES! YES!" up the ramp. Not quite how I expected this whole thing to go, but AJ looks more important than any WWE Diva, ever.

For some reason, The Great Khali, Natalya & Alicia Fox vs. Drew McIntyre & The Bellas is next. McIntyre walks off quickly, screaming "I'M BETTER THAN THIS" (you sure about that?) and Alicia Fox hits a Northern Lights Suplex on a Bella for the win. But it is Blast from the Past, so that's Mae Young's cue to come lick the Great Khali's face. I'm a sucker for ol' Mae, so I'm okay with it.

Damien Sandow has some words for us backstage. Big words. Wrestling fan brain not equipped for this.

Raw recap... live blog intermission!

And we're back with "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan vs. "Holy shit, this is racist" Hunico. The guy who... drives Hunico to the ring on a bike (sigh) tries to get involved, but Sgt. Slaughter saves the day. Sarge tosses the 2x4 to Duggan and he gets disqualified, but at least we get a Cobra Clutch out of the deal. Okie Dokie then.

Cody Rhodes is here to think about the future, a future where he's IC Champion and legends aren't hogging the spotlight and that's the cue for Daddy-O, DUSTY RHODES! Sadly, he does not have Camacho's bicycle. Dusty's got some words for his son, but Cody's not having any of it, "Dad! You're embarrassing me!" I imagine Dream could be an embarrassing dad, especially when you have friends over and he's just running around in the polka dot underwear, but who wasn't been there before? Then Big Show comes out and shows a clip of Cody in his "Dashing" days, which admittedly, is pretty creepy. Dusty adds the punchline of dancing to his awesome cowbell theme music. Works for me!

Main event time! Alberto Del Rio & Daniel Bryan vs. Sheamus and "Mean" Gene Okerlund, yes, "Mean" Gene Okerlund. The bad guys get the advantage, but just when it looks like Ricardo Rodriguez, Daniel Bryan and ADR are going to beat up poor Mean Gene, all the Legends rush the ring, provide the distraction (with some Qwik?) and Bryan eats a Brogue Kick! GOOD GUYS WIN! Rodriguez gets the Legend finisher free-for-all and then Michael Cole gets beat up for some reason too, because why not?

When am I going to learn that these live Smackdowns are always terrible? Piper was great, AJ was spectacular and Hillbilly Jim looks better now than he did in 1986, but other than that, a completely uneventful and at times, really awkward, show. Don't sweat it if you missed this one, just go to YouTube and listen to Dusty Rhodes' theme music on a 90 minute loop.


Monday, April 9, 2012

WWE Raw - April 9, 2012

Yep, live bloggin. Follow on Twitter, refresh the page and for the love of dog and everything unholy, COMMENT!

Oh shit, I forgot the Three Stooges* were guest stars on tonight's Raw. How the hell did that movie even get made?

John Laurinaitis officially has theme music now and it's pretty glorious. I'm sure it's some stock Killer Tracks that production directors use when producing spots for the Renaissance Fairs, but it's so over the top that it's fitting. Big Johnny (I'm sure creative finds that nickname hilarious, by the way) is talking about the new face of WWE, a dominant athlete not concerned with catchphrases and I was honestly expecting him to be talking about Lord Tensai (seriously), but no, it's Brock Lesnar!

And Brock Lesnar is here and we will wrestle John Cena at Extreme Rules... oh wow, they're not wasting any time are they? Genuinely shocked that they're even referencing Lesnar's time in UFC and the fact that he brings "legitimacy" back to WWE. Kinda like when they announced Kurt Angle as "the only REAL athlete in the WWF."

Lesnar starts talking, but doesn't get much out before John Cena returns the favor with THE SLAP HEARD ROUND THE WORLD! And here we go, PANDEMONIUM! CENA AND LESNAR! CENA AND LESNAR! TYSON AND AUSTIN! I MEAN CENA AND LESNAR! Cena's face is legitimately busted open and he looks like a vampire that just finished feeding. The two keep trying to get at each other, but the entire locker room rushes the ring and tries to keep them separated. Crowd adds the "LET THEM FIGHT" and we've got a magical opening segment, my friend. Marvelous!

Smackdown is LIVE tomorrow night with a "Blast to the Past" episode. Hell yeah.

Santino & Brodus Clay vs. Dolph Ziggler & Jack Swagger is our opening contest and my buddy, Ellis, just came up with the greatest thing ever, "Somebody call my Cobra." Pretty fun, if standard, tag match, but Clay's hot tag is pretty awesome and the crowd's really into it, so maybe this shtick has legs after all. As long as they keep him with Santino and give him real opponents, it should be enjoyable. Clay hits the big splash on Ziggler for the win and the internet begins whining in 3... 2...

John Cena's face is really messed up.

Cody Rhodes vs. R-Truth up next and let's keep the wrasslin' train rollin'! Sadly, it's not to be though, another interruption from Big Show (looking dapper in his new suit) lets R-Truth hit the Lil Jimmy for the win. Wait... his finisher is called the Lil' Jimmy?

Santino & The Three Stooges is something that could be amusing, in theory, but this movie should've never happened and I have no idea how it did.

Lord Tensai vs. Yoshi Tatsu up next. Tatsu issued a challenge to Tensai on Twitter last week saying he's not Japanese and Lawler responds with one of his best calls in years, "he doesn't claim to be Japanese, he DOMINATED the Japanese." Complete and utter destruction here and Tensai continues to look like a badass, winning by knockout. Loving this.

WWE Champion CM Punk is here to defend the title against Mark Henry, but first he's gonna rap with us, after school style. Punk and TitanTron Jericho argue a bit, but really, this whole thing is silly. Like, WCW-era Raven "I don't like chocolate milk!" silly. Thankfully, the World's Strongest Man is here to commence the wig splittin'.

Oh well, silly as it is, we are getting Mark Henry vs. CM Punk with the WWE Title on the line... except not. Action quickly spills to the outside where Punk smashes Henry with a monitor and causes an almost instant disqualification. BOO! At least we get more Jericho awesomeness, with him pouring two twelve packs of beer on Punk's unconscious body, which coincidentally, is the only way canned beer would be anywhere near me.

I really am not feeling this story, but if it were just Jericho pouring various beers and spirits on CM Punk, I'd be all for it. This story is very much a situation where WWE is telling rather than showing and that's unfortunate. We all know Punk is straight edge, Jericho pouring alcohol on him would illicit a massive "OOOOOHHHHHHHHH" from the crowd, but ten minutes of "your dad loves the sauce and many men have enjoyed your mother's vagina!" kinda kills the shock value. Hopefully Jericho busts out the fine wine next week, "how 'bout a nice Pinot Grigio, you stupid idiot?!"

Alberto Del Rio vs. Zack Ryder has potential to be fun, but way too short and Del Rio makes easy work of Ryder. Don't really have much to say about this one, a nice reminder that Del Rio is back and a sad reminder that Ryder is not.

Kane beats up the Three Stooges, including Will Sasso, who's doing a Hulk Hogan impression. Well, at least it wasn't the Bret Hart MadTV "shoot."

Mark Henry vs. CM Punk, no-DQ next week. Yay!

Backstage, Brock Lesnar brags about taking WWE and UFC to new heights... not so much about quitting when those new heights required a bit of extra work! I kid, Brock! I kid!

Cool video package for Triple H vs. The Undertaker at WrestleMania... buy the DVD, kids!

And our main event this evening is John Cena vs. David Otunga? Alright, Otunga has been pretty awesome lately, so I'll allow it, just seems a bit odd after weeks of The Rock and Brock Lesnar closing the show. Decent enough match, not really main event material, but Otunga looked solid, even though this was nothing but an excuse to get Lesnar back out here after Cena's win. Kick to the dick, F5, check the Jimmy John's logo, fade to black.

Well, that was all downhill after the opening segment. They should've opened with Cena vs. Otunga and ended with Cena and Lesnar being pulled apart. Lots of short matches, horrendous Three Stooges bits and my apathy toward Punk vs. Jericho didn't make for a particularly great show tonight. Lesnar vs. Cena is still huge and Punk vs. Henry should be wildly entertaining next week, but this show felt incomplete. Bummer.


The New Wrestling

Saw this comic over at Daily Kos, thought it was worth sharing:


Sunday, April 8, 2012

The WWE Title needs The Rock

Last Monday night, The Rock opened the show to soak in his WrestleMania win a bit and after going through his usual shtick, he made it clear that is next goal is to win the WWE Championship for an eighth time. I was intrigued by this; to me, it indicates that The Rock is at least going to upgrade his status to part-time and might even be wrestling more often than The Undertaker and Triple H.

I've seen more than a few folks on Twitter and other blogs respond to that with "Rock doesn't need it," "plenty of other guys deserve it more" and "it should be used to elevate new talent."

Sorry, but you can't complain about titles being meaningless then turn around and say something like that. No, The Rock doesn't "need" the WWE Title, but the WWE Title might need him. When you use the supposed richest prize in the game as nothing more than a tool to elevate someone to the next level, they might be moving up, but the title is being pulled down to their level and they're meeting in this weakened middle ground. And that's the exact problem with the star power of the WWE roster since guys like The Rock and Brock Lesnar left, they're main eventers, but they're nowhere near the level of the mega stars of the 90s. Cena's big, but his star power is tightly wound into the star power of the WWE brand in general.

This shift was by design, WWE would rather their name carry the brand than a handful of guys who could leave for the greener pastures of MMA or Hollywood, but now that those guys are coming back, now is the best time to elevate new stars since they left. Think about it, what makes Dolph Ziggler look better? Being the guy that wins the WWE Title in the third or fourth most important match at WrestleMania 29 or being the guy that beats The Rock for the WWE Title? If you want Sheamus to be a guy whose name you can put on the marquee, he's going to gain much more by merely working with Brock Lesnar than destroying Daniel Bryan.

I'm not opposed to some matches being above the WWE Title, Rock vs. Cena absolutely should've been the main event of WrestleMania and it didn't need the WWE Title, but let's not act like Punk, Jericho, Bryan and Sheamus were better off for it. Their matches - and the titles that were on the line - were not as important, they weren't even as important as Triple H vs. The Undertaker. So as WWE enters this new phase where they have several huge dream matches they could run, the WWE Title is going to have to enter the equation, or else it will become completely irrelevant.

I'm sure many fans are concerned about a WCW situation where the "old" guys (you know, the 34-year-old Brock Lesnar and 39-year-old Rock... totally ancient) have a stranglehold on the top title, but we're talking entirely different companies in entirely different places. Lesnar and Rock aren't Hogan and Nash, they don't have to protect their spot, because their spots aren't in WWE. They're back to help out and make money, sure, but neither are permanent fixtures who are in a position to need or want to "hold people down."

We can debate whether or not WWE uses them right or if they let the regular member of the rosters fall by the wayside while promoting the part-timers, but if the goal is to make WWE a bigger deal, improve the health of the industry and make the championships worth something again, then yeah, The Rock needs the WWE Title.


Friday, April 6, 2012

Kick-Out!! Radio - Episode 62

WHAT?! Do my eyes deceive me!? Kick-Out!! Radio is BACK! After almost a year hiatus, Razor returns to podcasting to discuss WrestleMania 28, Brock Lesnar's return, YES! YES! YES!, Lord Tensai's debut and Randy Orton's latest movie.




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