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!


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:

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

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Poll: Dream Match

First, the results of our previous poll:

Team Rock: 42%
Team Cena: 58%

Now, onto our new poll. With Brock Lesnar's return last night and The Rock setting his sights on the WWE Championship, it looks like a lot of doors have opened for some potential dream matches. Given the current landscape of WWE, what potential dream match do you want to see the most? Vote for one of the matches listed to the right of your screen and feel free to explain your reasoning in the comments section.

Monday, April 2, 2012

WWE Raw - April 2, 2012

WrestleMania hangover Raw, you know that usually means big things on the horizon, so I figure I'll live blog the show tonight! Refresh your page for ongoing coverage and follow on Twitter!

And we begin with a locker room filled with the entire WWE roster listening to their new leader, Executive Vice President of Talent Relations and Acting General Manager of both Raw and Smackdown, John Laurinaitis! Ace announces a triple threat match for the US Title tonight with Santino Marella defending against Jack Swagger and Dolph Ziggler, which should be fun. CM Punk interrupts to call Laurinaitis a toolbox, and for his insolence, he has to defend the WWE Title against Mark Henry. People Power!

Cold open down, Nickelback out of the way and we officially start in the arena with THE ROCK! Alright, if you're gonna just start a show like that, I guess I'll allow it. Crowd is ELECTRIC to start things off, but it's Miami so they're probably still coked up from last night. Rock gives his hometown a "FINALLY" and wants to thank John Cena for bringing it like it's never been brought before.

Rock turns his attention to thanking the fans for bringing him back to WWE and at this point, he's leading this crowd like those terrifying faith rallies where the people speak in tongues and make the crippled walk. Don't drink the Kool-Aid in Miami.

The Rock goes on to say last night was only a beginning and it sounds like ol' Dwayne will be gracing the ring with his presence at least one more time. In fact, he has a vision, and that vision is to be... WWE CHAMPION?! Interesting Rock, you got me hooked, now reel me in.

Triple Threat Match for the United States Championship is our opening contest with Santino Marella defending against Dolph Ziggler & Jack Swagger. The red hot Miami crowd is heavily in Ziggler's corner, which I find a little surprising since Santino is usually universally loved. Oh yeah, this crowd is going to make for an interesting night.

Match is rather exciting too with Swagger & Ziggler teaming up - what a slick little wheelbarrow/Rocker Dropper combo - but the alliance is short-lived with a communication breakdown. Fun little ending sequence with Santino hitting Ziggler with a slingshot, then nailing Swagger with the COBRAAAAAAAAAAAAAA for the win!

Cougar's Cubs try to get revenge, but Santino runs up the ramp and gets some backup from Brodus Clay, who's finally doing something. Ziggler dives Clay and drops like a ton of bricks from a big Brodus headbutt... he flattened his mohawk!!! Okay, that's awesome and Santino's dance literally has me crying from laughter.

Lord Tensai vs. Alex Riley is up next and WWE is not hiding the fact that it's A-Train, but also not outright saying it, simply calling him a "former WWE star" who honed his craft in Japan. Tensai is just killing Riley here, hitting a nasty butterfly suplex, a huge senton and then the Baldo Bomb (is it still called the Baldo Bomb?) and the ref doesn't even let him go for the pin, just calls for stoppage. Tensai then applies the IRON CLAW after the match and slams Riley's skull into the mat, because why not? Very cool debut, I'm all for dudes coming in and being badasses.

And we're just going to keep the wrestling going with a WWE Championship match, CM Punk vs. Mark Henry! Crowd is still red hot too and if Mark Henry is back to near 100%, this should be awesome.

Yeah, this crowd rules, still doing the Daniel Bryan "YES! YES! YES! YES!" chant and adding an "OOHHHHHHHHH" when Punk winds up for a big move. Even if Henry's at half wig splitting capacity, the crowd is making this wonderful. "YES!" is the new "WHAT?!"

Punk is playing wonderfully off this crowd too, they're his kind of people. Punk lighting Henry up with the chops ("YESYESYESYESYESYESYESYESYESYESYESYESYESYESYES") and nailing the Elbow Smash is awesome and then two running knees in the corner, but he gets dropped outside on the bulldog attempt and we have ourselves a count-out. Lame! But hey, a NASTY World's Strongest Slam on the outside of the ring made for a nice visual.

Johnny Ace comes to ringside to warn Punk of the "dark clouds" and "natural disasters" in his future, then Chris Jericho emerges from the crowd to pour Jack Daniels on him. Jericho assures us he never drinks in excess (now that Hurricane Helms doesn't work there), but smashes another bottle over Punk's head to let him know what it feels like. Yay, the feud continues!

Sheamus arrives to MASSIVE heat for beating Miami's hero, Daniel Bryan. But before the new World Champ can even soak it in, he's interrupted by ALBERTO DEL RIO! I'm all for Del Rio vs. Sheamus, but I almost feel like this is something they could slowly build to. Wait on it! It's hard to hear what Del Rio has to say though since the crowd is going bonkers for Daniel Bryan and chanting "SI! SI! SI! SI! SI! SI!"

Looks like we're getting Del Rio vs. Sheamus this Friday with Del Rio's future shot on the line, but I don't think it'll go that smoothly for ol' ADR. Like I said, let this one burn slow, there's plenty of Bryan, Kane and Rhodes on Smackdown to let this simmer till SummerSlam.

Cody Rhodes vs. Kofi Kingston up next and hey, more fun wrestling. Off to a nice start, but Big Show interrupts with an Embarrassing Cody Rhodes WrestleMania Moment, which allows Kofi to hit Trouble in Paradise and end this one quickly. Okay, not a technical masterpiece, but a nice punchline to the Big Show/Cody feud.

If I have to hear that goddamn Angels & Airwaves song for a year, I might wrestle Vader in hopes that he will rip my ears off.

Backstage, Abraham Washington (!!!) offers his managerial services to Mark Henry. Surely no return tonight will possibly top that!

Eve comes out and babbles on about something that pretty much makes no sense. Okay then. The first miss of the night.

The Miz vs. Zack Ryder up next and I feel like that Eve bit from before could've been done during commercials to get the crowd behind Ryder. Fun little back and forth match, but the crowd has definitely worn themselves out a bit and this doesn't exactly scream "10:50 match." Miz wins clean and the road to redemption continues! And he's 17 wins from tying The Undertaker at WrestleMania!

And here comes John Cena to call out The Rock and he looks so sad. "I never thought of losing, but the only way to do it is to do it right." Cena's taking the high road, quoting Muhammed Ali and refusing to make excuses for his shocking loss last night. Cena calls it his most disappointing loss and takes it in stride when this red hot Miami crowd starts chanting "YOU'RE A LOSER!", refusing to lash out at them even though they're begging for it. Geez, they're like The Emperor in Return of the Jedi, begging for young Skywalker to strike them down.

Cena is not here to call out The Rock though, he says to call someone out would imply a fight, but they settled their issue and he simply wants to have a friendly chat about respect. But John, you're not going to get a friendly chat from...


We had all heard the rumors (which started on April Fool's Day, so I was skeptical), but it's real... BROCK LESNAR IS BACK!

After a few minutes of that awesome music, Lesnar extends a hand to Cena, and gives him an F5 instead!

Wow. Good luck topping this Raw and this crowd, ever. But with The Rock setting his sights on the WWE Championship and Brock Lesnar returning, I think they're going to do their damnedest to try.

I got nothing else right now, my friend. Just soak this night in.

The Five Count: WrestleMania 28

Hey, remember The Five Count? Let's bring that back and talk about my five favorite moments at WrestleMania 28:

5. The Big Show gets vindication
I doubt Big Show being the WrestleMania fall guy is something that most people worry about and I think his chance for a true, stand-tall-at-the-end-of-the-show moment is long gone, but this was just really sweet. After years of being the extra guy in a match, being the guinea pig for whatever special attraction they'd wheel out or just being left off the show entirely, he at least got to punch someone in the face and win the one title that's eluded him throughout his WWE career, the Intercontinental Championship. I like Big Show, he's stuck with WWE through some really rough patches in career and has always struck me as someone who's really humble and really appreciative to do what he does. He deserved this.

4. Dolph Ziggler: silently awesome
For another year, Ziggler gets saddled in a big clusterfuck match, but handled it the way he always does, by working his ass off. Not much caught my eye in that 12-man match, but Ziggler bouncing all over the place and selling a monkey flip so well it had RVD counting his days until his TNA contract expired, stood out. If this guy isn't in a title match at WrestleMania 29, it would be borderline criminal.

3. Poor Randy
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. I know everyone's been all doom and gloom about The Miz lately, but hey, he won his match last night. Hopefully, Miz has passed the Curse of the Falling Star onto ol' Randall and we can get back to Miz being awesome and Orton being a constant disappointment all year. That sounds more harsh than I intended, but after nine years of this guy being shoved down my throat as the closest thing we have to a modern day Stone Cold, it was nice to see him chokeslammed down a peg.

2. Watching CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho for the second time
I re-watched Punk vs. Jericho this morning and it was way better than it was live. During the match, all I could wonder is "why does this crowd suck so bad?" but going into it with that knowledge and watching as they eventually did start to come through at the end, it was a lot easier to enjoy. I'm not a person who religiously re-watches matches, usually once is enough for me for most, but this is one that I think will age well and get even better on more repeated viewings.

1. Triple H vs. The Undertaker
Is it possible to heap too much praise onto this match? Probably, but I'm going to do it anyway. I've seen some talk that it didn't need the Cell, but I disagree. Perhaps it wasn't needed in the way that it was needed for Taker/HBK in 97 when they had to keep the entire locker room out and give Kane a cool way to debut; perhaps it wasn't needed like it was needed for Taker/Edge in 08 when it was the logical conclusion for the feud, but it created an atmosphere.

When they first announced the Taker/HHH rematch, most people weren't that excited because there's no way it would top Taker's rematch with Shawn Michaels, but they gave it that extra splash of flavor. Triple H is not as good as Shawn Michaels, but I'd gladly put last night's match right up there with WM25 and WM26 as an instant classic and I'm not sure that would've been the case without the vibe of the Cell.

That's not to take away from the quality of the match, because it was superb, but this is what separates these guys from most of the locker room and really what separates WWE from many other wrestling companies - atmosphere. If you'd be cool watching two guys chain wrestle in an empty room, I wouldn't take that away from you, but for this particular blogger, wrestling is at least 51% spectacle and 49% everything else. Without atmosphere, drama and story, I'm just not that into it. That's not to say I don't enjoy watching two guys put on a wrestling clinic, but when I do, I prefer it to be in a WWE ring.

Triple H and The Undertaker outperformed two guys who have a legitimate claim to "best in the world" as well as the "biggest match in WWE history." For two guys whose best days are behind them, that speaks volumes about their abilities as storytellers. I'm sure we'll see both Taker and Triple H (and probably HBK, for that matter) lace up the boots again, but there'd be no shame in calling it a day on this match. Perfection.

WWE WrestleMania 28 review

Sometimes, I also get a good feeling.

Lilian Garcia singing "America, the Beautiful" was nice and that flyover was impeccably timed. Doesn't really have anything to do with wrestling, but I thought it was cool.

Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan for the World Heavyweight Championship did not set a good tone for the night. For the second year in a row, the World Title match opened, which I do not appreciate, and I especially don't like it when it's an 18-second match. These two could've had a really, really good match, one we'll probably get at Extreme Rules or as early as Smackdown on Friday, but can these guys catch a break already? But hey, props to Bryan and Sheamus for getting a WrestleMania payday without having to do any actual work, easiest money they'll ever make.

Sheamus as World Champ should be fun and he has a nice rogues gallery to Brogue Kick his way through (see what I did there?), but I think it's safe to say the World Championship is fairly unnecessary at this point. Let Sheamus work through Kane, Cody and a returning Wade Barrett, then let's merge the titles by Night of Champions.
Predictions: 1 for 1

Kane vs. Randy Orton was surprisingly decent, but the crowd wasn't having any part of it. "Daniel Bryan" chants dogged the entire match, which was pretty awesome, but hey, at least Orton lost! Admittedly, I would've been happy with an 18-second Kane/Orton match that was an RKO and a pin and then a 10-minute match for Bryan/Sheamus, but I'll take what I can get. Kane's Super Chokeslam was really cool too and I guess he won this match so he could feud with Sheamus?
Predictions: 1 for 2

Cody Rhodes vs. Big Show was not as fun as I was hoping it would be, but Cody bounced around like a pinball, didn't he? Big Show finally got his WrestleMania moment, the Intercontinental Title had an actual storyline at WrestleMania, and a feud had a logical and definitive payoff. Not much to say about it, but I'm not complaining.
Predictions: 2 for 3

Kelly Kelly & Maria Menounos vs. Beth Phoenix & Eve sucked, but kudos to everyone for trying and kudos to The Glamazon for keeping the train from derailing. Menounos learning that a stinkface in white pants + makeup = skidmarks was a hilarious way to pass the time at our WrestleMania party though.
Predictions: 3 for 4

The Undertaker vs. Triple H: Hell in a Cell is where the show really kicked into gear though. I was perplexed by the match going on so early, but it was the right call since the crowd really didn't get their second wind until the main event. Although at this point, I hope WWE has learned that at this point, no one can follow The Undertaker at WrestleMania. The Streak has eclipsed everything else and it is the biggest thing in wrestling, even bigger than The Rock.

And that's why it's easily my pick for Match of the Night and I'd be genuinely shocked if anything else even came close for Match of the Year. Even people that hated last year's match seemed to love this one, probably because it was 30-40 minutes of these two beating the everloving piss out of each other. Did you see Taker's back!? He looked like a well-marbled sirloin! Triple H's head looked like he'd been dragged across the freeway. Brutally beautiful, breautiful, if you will.

Shawn Michaels was a nice addition for the drama, the Sweet Chin Music/Pedigree combo made my pants look like Maria Menounos'. I was glad to see Taker as the aggressor in this one though, like a Nega Samson, cutting off his hair gave him his power back. I've never seen Triple H destroyed like that and I think it's safe to say the days of The Game are pretty much over. I doubt that was his last match ever, he'll always be a special attraction, but I'm sure he's done as a regular in-ring competitor, much like The Undertaker has been in the last couple years.

"End of an Era" was a good tagline for this match because there aren't guys like these two in wrestling anymore. As good as many guys are, Triple H and Undertaker command our interest unlike anyone else. The Undertaker in particular; here's a guy who was always written off as "not a good worker," but his presence is unrivaled. Even if he's only wrestling one match a year at this point, he can't be followed at WrestleMania. You put him in a big match situation like tonight and not even the "biggest match in history" can live up to his performance. Find me anyone else in American wrestling today that can do that.

I could probably write a novel on this match, but let's just leave it at the fact that it was fucking awesome. Oh and one other thing: SHREDDERTAKER! Okay, one more thing: 20-0.
Predictions: 4 for 5

Team Johnny vs. Team Teddy had the unenviable task of being the cooldown match after Hell in a Cell and cool the crowd down, it did! The three-man somersault plancha was cool and they were definitely digging Ryder, but he was on the wrong team if he wanted to get some momentum. Team Johnny wins, as expected, and T-Lo is hopefully going on the hunt for Doom 2.0.
Predictions: 5 for 6

CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho was a really good match that was severely wounded by a dead crowd. They got really fired up for Triple H/Taker, so I don't think they were quite ready for the slow burn Punk and Jericho were going for, which was a damn shame. The match was quite good, although they've both had better and I suspect the inevitable rematch will be as well, but it took its time. The "if you get DQed, you lose the title" bit was a completely unnecessary addition as well, I would've liked to have seen them brawl a bit, maybe even do something through the announce table. You'd think WWE would've learned their lesson when that stipulation killed their WrestleMania 25 main event.

I'm never going to bitch about Punk and Jericho getting 20 minutes at WrestleMania, but I think the crowd was expecting more sooner. Great ending sequence, pretty much everything after Jericho reverses Punk's super hurricanrana into the Walls was gold, and Punk winning with a hard-fought Anaconda Vice was an excellent touch, especially once he learned to avoid Jericho's knees. Oh and what about that NASTY suplex from the apron early on? We needed JR to stick around there for a "good God, almighty!"

Let's put these two in a ladder match at Extreme Rules and let them go balls to the wall.
Predictions: 6 for 7

That Brodus Clay bit better be the end of that character. That was shockingly racist and woefully unfunny. Every year, I have to look at the non-wrestling fan in the room and say, "I'm sorry, I'm embarrassed you had to see that."

The Rock vs. John Cena was... disappointing. And believe me, it hurts to say that. It legitimately bums me out that I didn't enjoy this match, but it just didn't do it for me. You can say no match could've lived up to that hype, but I don't believe that, I do think Rock and Cena can live up to that hype. You can say I'm just pissed because I'm a Cena fan and don't think The Rock should've won, but I don't have a problem with that either... celebrities always win at WrestleMania.

I don't know what it is, something was just missing here. I think they were onto it at the end, but once the clock was around 10:50, there wasn't much time for them to really get into it and they'd already burned through 25 minutes. I was expecting an Attitude Era-esque brawl, with these two guys flopping around the outside, beating the hell out of each other, Rock Bottoms through announce tables, but instead it was really tame.

And I worry that perhaps they intentionally held back in this one so they could really go all out for ONCE TWICE IN A LIFETIME at WrestleMania 29. And you know that's going to happen, there's no way they just have Cena lose to a guy that he can never get a rematch against and that's why I don't mind that Rock won. Much like Batman and The Joker, Cena and Rock are destined to do this... forever! And it makes sense, if Cena won, that's it and there's literally nothing left for him to do, he's beaten everyone. If Rock loses, okay that's that, his time is finished. But with Rock winning, he's the greatest of all-time, but he has no reason to fight anyone except John Cena... he sure as hell doesn't have anything to prove against Dolph Ziggler.

But that's ultimately the problem with WWE right now, they're in this weird crossroads where there's The Rock up here, John Cena a rung below, Triple H & Undertaker in their own early-90s universe, and then everyone else is waaaaaaaaaay down here. I'm not sure how they fix this, or if they even have interest in doing so, but this has to be the longest transitional period in the company's history.

Ignoring the long term implications for a moment though, the match just wasn't very good. It wasn't bad and the crowd saved it from ever veering near bad, and Cena's cockiness costing him was a really cool finish, but they just wasted too much time and I'm not sure why. Everything felt soft and I don't know if that's because Rock needs to protect the moneymaker or what, but these two can do better.
Predictions: 6 for 8

I liked the show, there was fun to be had, but WrestleMania 28 will go down in history as The Undertaker/Triple H WrestleMania, and that's okay. Far worse WrestleManias have been remembered for just one match and often that match is not nearly as good as Hell in a Cell was this evening. Unfortunately for WWE, Rock vs. Cena should've been the match the show was remembered for and that will not be the case. This show had quite a few fun matches and moments, but the lack of Money in the Bank was another huge downfall and some surefire bets fell short, which is always heartbreaking.

But hot damn, Undertaker vs. Triple H was amazing.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

WrestleMania 28 preview

WrestleMania has been interesting over the last few years. 24 wasn't a spectacular-looking card on paper but every match exceeded expectations and we got some really great moments. 25 had the pressure of being the 25th WrestleMania, which seems silly, but I think it did hurt the show a bit. 26 had the best build of any WrestleMania since 17, but didn't quite deliver on the hype even though it was still a great show. Last year, while there was fun to be had, didn't exactly go down in history as one of the greatest Manias in history.

This year, the hype has been largely unnecessary thanks to a card that looks absolutely stellar on paper. Will that translate to a fantastic show? We still have a few hours before we find that out, but let's take a look at the card and make some predictions.

WWE Tag Team Championship Triple Threat Tag Match
Epico & Primo © vs. The Usos vs. Tyson Kidd & Justin Gabriel

I wasn't aware that Kidd and Gabriel are a team these days, but that's cool. I also think it's pretty cool they're streaming this match live on and YouTube; preview matches used to be standard fare for PPVs and they've gone by the wayside. That's why the pre-show is called the Free For All, because you would always get to see a match that was free, for all. I bet if WWE did this more often, giving away an exciting match 30 minutes before showtime, they might see an uptick in last-minute buys.

Anyhoo, I expect this match will be pretty exciting due to the parties involved. I'm confident Epico & Primo will retain, but I'd like to see Gabriel & Kidd take it, rebuild the tag division around them. Although I feel like "rebuild the division around them" is something I say every time a new team pops up.

Divas Tag Match
Kelly Kelly & Maria Menounos vs. Beth Phoenix & Eve

I doubt WWE's expecting people to buy WrestleMania to see Maria Menounos wrestle, it strikes me as relationship building to get more WWE features on Extra. Nothing wrong with that, and Menounos clearly wants to be a part of WWE, so I don't really see the harm here. The match will probably suck, but not like Miller Lite Catfight suck, so at least it's not the worst thing ever. Kelly & Maria win.

Grudge Match
Randy Orton vs. Kane

It's like my own personal hell! What happens when the most overexposed wrestler of the late 90s/early 00s meets the most overexposed wrestler of the late 00s/early 10s? We'll find out tonight! These guys have long been famous "that guys," they can fit into a main event at any time, the crowd is usually into whatever it is they're doing, but they haven't done anything new or interesting for damn near a decade. They could surprise us, it's WrestleMania after all, but I suspect this will be my match to get more pizza. Orton wins because it's a PPV and he's Randy Orton.

Control of WWE on the line
Team Teddy vs. Team Johnny

The entrances alone will probably keep this match from being much more than a finisher-fest, but I suspect it will be loads of fun and a nice showcase for quite a few guys. The Miz needs to be rebuilt, Dolph Ziggler just needs that one big moment and David Otunga is about to solidify himself as the real deal, so with all that in mind, I'm going with Team Johnny.

Intercontinental Championship
Cody Rhodes © vs. Big Show

I am oddly excited for this match. I'm also a little nervous that it'll end with one punch, but that could be fun too, Big Show finally getting his WrestleMania moment. Big Show is definitely winning here, just so he can lay claim to winning every title in the company, which as far as I know, will make him the first person in WWE history to do it when you include the ECW Championship. That makes up for 13 years of WrestleMania embarrassment, right?

World Heavyweight Championship
Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan ©

I predict a big sleeper hit here. Give these guys 15-20 minutes to work with and I think some serious magic could happen. After getting bumped off the card last year, it's exciting to see these two get a chance to tangle on the big stage with the World Title on the line. Sheamus should win here, but the fact that Daniel Bryan is defending the World Championship at Wrestle freakin' Mania is a victory for him in itself.

WWE Championship
CM Punk © vs. Chris Jericho

Despite the silly attacks on Punk's family, we all know this match could steal the show. Hell, it could steal the year. These two aren't strangers to each other, they've square off in a WWE ring before, but not since CM Punk climbed to that upper echelon that few Superstars ever make it to. You could argue Jericho himself never made it there until his second run with the company, and that's a far more interesting story to me that Punk's junkie sister. Give these guys enough time and let them do what they do best (in the world) and I think we're in for quite a treat. They've got two other matches casting big shadows tonight, but I do think this one has potential to be the match of the night. I'm going with CM Punk for the win, but I hope we get a rematch next month too.

Hell in a Cell
The Undertaker vs. Triple H

This match scares me. As someone who loved their match last year, I'm scared they have a lot to live up to. As a match that was quite divisive last year, I'm scared they have a lot of people to convince. Considering both guys are down to a handful of matches a year between them, I'm scared for their safety... the addition of Hell in a Cell just makes that fear even worse. But these two aren't strangers to pressure, danger or the massive stage of WrestleMania. This is Taker's 20th appearance at the event, Triple H's 15th and it very well could be the last for one or both of them. With that in mind, I expect these two to leave everything they got in the ring, and that scares me too, but it's also very, very exciting. Undertaker goes 20-0.

The Main Event
John Cena vs. The Rock

More than a year of hype behind it, two eras of wrestling clashing, make no mistake: this is the biggest match WWE has promoted since The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan. And I would argue it's even bigger, because in 2002, Hulk's stock had dropped significantly due to years of coasting along in WCW. That match made Hogan relevant again, but even after eight years away from the ring, The Rock is just as relevant to professional wrestling fans as he was at the height of the Attitude Era. Cena is undoubtedly the guy in wrestling right now, has been for the better part of the last decade and now he's squaring off with the one guy people say he'll never be.

Matches like this make wrestling fun. It's real (as real as wrestling gets, at least), there's drama, excitement and mainstream press behind it, it makes wrestling feel big again. Much like the other big matches tonight, there's a lot of - and I mean a lot - of hype to live up to. Cena and Rock aren't the type to buckle under pressure, but the big question is if these guys still have it in them - if they ever did at all - to execute what is being billed as the biggest match of all-time? There were a lot of doubt about Hogan and Andre in 1987 and they proved the naysayers wrong, I suspect Cena and Rock will do the same tonight. John Cena wins.

Top 28 Matches in WrestleMania History (Part 2)

10. Bret "Hitman" Hart vs. "Rowdy" Roddy Piper - WrestleMania VIII
After winning his first and only major singles title in WWE, Roddy Piper put the Intercontinental Championship on the line against the former champion, Bret Hart. Piper had been wrestling for almost 25 years at that point, but he put on arguably the greatest match of his career at WrestleMania 8. Bret Hart recaptured the IC Title and went onto become WWE Champion less than a year later, ascending to the upper echelon of professional wrestling, I like to think this match had a lot to do with that.

9. The Ladder Match: Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon - WrestleMania X
Not the first ladder match in history, but definitely the one everyone remembers. Michaels and Ramon laid the groundwork for what would become one of the more popular gimmick matches in wrestling today. One could argue that without this definitive ladder match, the careers of Jeff Hardy, Edge, Chris Jericho and many other stars would have never taken off like they did. I don't know what else to say about this match that hasn't already been said except that every ladder match you see today uses this battle as the blueprint.

8. The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan - WrestleMania XVIII
"Icon vs. Icon" is all you really need to say to describe this unforgettable encounter. After a nine year absence from WWE, Hulk Hogan returned to battle the man who some would say replaced him as the most recognizable wrestler in the world. For years in WCW, Hogan was accused of being washed up and no longer capable of putting on a good match (depending on who you ask, some will tell you he was never capable), but those critics were silenced with this match. 70,000 screaming fans in the Toronto SkyDome welcomed Hogan back to WWE with a thunderous ovation that never seemed to quiet down during the actual match. Hogan and The Rock went out and not only exceeded expectations, they made history.

7. Shawn Michaels vs. Ric Flair - WrestleMania XXIV
Yet another Shawn Michaels appearance on this list, but this match isn't his story, it's the story of the greatest of all-time, "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair. Flair ended* his 36-year career at last year's WrestleMania in one of those moments that when you watched it, you knew you were witnessing history. One could argue that it's been devalued in recent years with Flair returning to the ring in TNA, but c'mon, it's the Naitch, he'll never retire!

6. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin vs. The Rock - WrestleMania XVII
I'll let you in on a little secret, WrestleMania 17 (or WrestleMania X-Seven as WWE dubbed it) is the best WrestleMania, ever. The card is absolutely stacked, it featured this tremendous main event, wrestling's popularity was at its all-time high and WWE was sitting alone at the top of the mountain, having just bought their biggest competitor - Ted Turner's WCW. This match is fantastic to watch simply to see the two biggest stars of the 90s beat the holy hell out of each other, but there's a lot more to it than that. Stone Cold vs. The Rock is symbolic to the end of the famous Attitude Era with Stone Cold's shocking heel turn at the conclusion of the match. Austin aligning himself with his longtime rival Vince McMahon, closed the book on the 90s pro wrestling craze and began a major shift in the WWE landscape.

5. "Macho Man" Randy Savage vs. Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat - WrestleMania III
Many call this the greatest WrestleMania match of all-time, and if you're looking at it from a strictly wrestling perspective, they're absolutely right. In terms of pure wrestling, there hasn't been a single WrestleMania match to eclipse this classic from 1987. The story was simple, Randy Savage was the dastardly heel that crushed Ricky Steamboat's larynx months prior by dropping him throat first on a metal guardrail and Steamboat got his revenge, and the WWE Intercontinental Title, at WrestleMania 3. If you or someone you know doesn't understand the athleticism involved in professional wrestling, watch this match.

4. Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker - WrestleMania XXVI
Which match was better, 25 or 26? Go watch them back-to-back, I don't know if one is "better" than the other it just felt like the final act of a play. Act 1 was their feud in the fall of 1997, Act 2 was WrestleMania 25 and the story came to its conclusion last year at WrestleMania 26. The matches just go together and the only reason I ranked 25 above it is because the ending wasn't quite as obvious since it didn't have the retirement stipulation. Although I considered putting it above 25 just for the jumping Tombstone!

3. Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker - WrestleMania XXV
HBK's tenth and final appearance on this list should show you why he's been dubbed "Mr. WrestleMania." Some might scoff at the idea of this match being so high, especially pushing out other classics on this list, but the bottom line is, the minute the three count was made in this match, it was a classic, it's the reason the term "instant classic" was coined.

2. Bret "Hitman" Hart vs. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin - WrestleMania XIII
If WrestleMania 14 was the birth of the Attitude Era, this match at WrestleMania 13 was the conception. The beauty of this match is that it's one of the few times that two wrestlers successfully turned within a match. Bret Hart walked in the good guy, Stone Cold walked in the bad guy, but when it was all said and done, Hart was the most hated heel in the industry and the fans fell in love with Steve Austin. This match is what it means to "tell a story" in the wrestling ring, it's not just two guys fake fighting, they're acting out things that would normally be told through scripted dialogue in a movie. The finale of this match, with Steve Austin's face covered in blood as he passes out from the pain of Bret Hart's sharpshooter, could be the most iconic image in the history of professional wrestling, with the exception of...

1. Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant - WrestleMania III
Without this match, I probably wouldn't be writing this list. Say what you will about Hulk Hogan or the quality of this match, but at the end of the day, this match isn't just the most important in WrestleMania history, this is the most important match in the history of professional wrestling. When you say "WWE," Hulk Hogan bodyslamming the 500 pound Andre the Giant is the image etched in the memory of millions of wrestling fans around the globe.