Posts Tagged: wwe

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 ”Bizarre” doesn’t even begin to describe this. From WWE.com:

WWE is shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the passing of one of the most iconic WWE Superstars ever, The Ultimate Warrior.

We are grateful that just days ago, Warrior had the opportunity to take his rightful place in the WWE Hall of Fame and was also able to appear at WrestleMania 30 and Monday Night Raw to address his legions of fans.

WWE sends its sincere condolences to Warrior’s family, friends and fans.

Warrior was 54 and is survived by his wife Dana and his two daughters.

There’s bizarre… then there’s dying the day after you finish making peace with the people and industry that you’ve had a grudge against for 15+ years. Closing the biggest chapter of your life before preparing to embark on a new journey, then dying a day after you cut a promo about how legends live on after their death?

Truly unbelievable.

To me, The Ultimate Warrior will always take me back to the days when WWE was a real life comic book and Superstars were superheroes. Warrior in particular will always embody that because he looked the part with the huge muscles, the crazy hair, the face paint, the tassels and boot fringe and watching him practically “fly” down the aisle. He talked about it in his Hall of Fame speech on Saturday, he got to use his creativity and build this totally over-the-top character unlike anything that had ever been seen before or since. That’s the kind of thing that forever captures the imagination of a four-year-old glued to the television.

My personal favorite moment came when Warrior was feuding with The Undertaker, I was at a house show and after their match, Taker sealed him inside a body bag. Should’ve been pretty traumatizing stuff for a kid, but Warrior sat up (while still inside the bag), tore through it and gave Taker a big shoulder block to send him out of the ring. That kind of stuff is why I’ve never grown out of this ridiculous cartoon show that is pro wrestling and what makes it the most unique form of entertainment out there. Harkening back to another point Warrior made in his speech, wrestlers don’t dress up like football players, but football players dress up like The Ultimate Warrior. John Cena doesn’t wear replica NBA Championship rings, but LeBron James buys replica WWE Titles for his teammates, that’s the power of pro wrestling.

A lot has been said since Warrior was announced for the Hall of Fame about his bizarre worldview, which certainly seemed pretty out there. I honestly don’t know anything about it other than the infamous one line, and I don’t know if there’s much else out there about it, but he’s obviously said some pretty harsh and hurtful things over the years. Hell, he pretty much insulted those who were “throwing life away” right after Jake the Snake talked about throwing his life away.

And while you can’t really talk about Warrior’s life without talking about the controversial nature of his personality, I’m a firm believer in redemption and giving folks the benefit of the doubt when it looks like they’re ready to turn over a new leaf. A few people who follow him more closely told me he’s walked back a lot of his more hateful rants, not that it excuses saying cruel things, but it’s something. Perhaps that’s naive of me, but judging from his Hall of Fame speech, it strikes me that a lot of Warrior’s feelings were coming from a place of bitterness.

The Self-Destruction DVD clearly affected him, whether he was excusing his hardheadedness or was oblivious that’s how people felt about him, it was just really sad it got to that point. And it was sad WWE felt he was the only guy they had to do a hit-piece on, it never should’ve got to that point between someone who played such a pivotal role in wrestling and the company that put him there and I sincerely hope it never happens between WWE and any other wrestler again. If there’s one good thing that comes out of this, it’s that it further proves no bridge is forever burned. And it makes me think about my own life, if Bret Hart, Bruno Sammartino and The Ultimate Warrior can give Vince McMahon a hug, who am I to hold a grudge against anyone?

And when someone’s life ends right when they appear to be making the effort to mend fences, that’s the biggest tragedy of all.

Here’s to Warrior and what could’ve been.

No WWE talent becomes a legend on their own. Every man’s heart one day beats its final beat. His lungs breathe their final breath. And if what that man did in his life makes the blood pulse through the body of others and makes them believe deeper in something larger than life then his essence, his spirit, will be immortalized. By the story tellers, by the loyalty, by the memory of those who honor him and make the running the man did live forever. You, you, you, you, you, you are the legend makers of Ultimate Warrior. In the back I see many potential legends. Some of them with warrior spirits. And you will do the same for them. You will decide if they lived with the passion and intensity. So much so that you will tell your stories and you will make them legends, as well. I am Ultimate Warrior. You are the Ultimate Warrior fans. And the spirit of the Ultimate Warrior will run forever!
-Warrior, April 7, 2014 
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WrestleMania XXX review

So. That happened.

Before the show, I complained on Twitter that WWE had kinda dropped the ball on making WrestleMania feel like a milestone. I know WWE’s primary canon exists very much in “the now,” but Mania 30 is huge. THIRTY! When I got into broadcasting shortly after WrestleMania 19, WrestleMania 30 was my goal, I wanted to announce that show (no, I was not the short French guy), and while my life took a much different direction, I’ve always felt like WrestleMania 30 should be “the big one” and I didn’t really feel like that was coming through in the buildup.

Be careful what you wish for.

Click to read more.

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I’ve spent the last 12 hours trying to wrap my head around this one, but I just can’t. I’ve seen a lot of people coming around on it and actually kinda digging it, but I just can’t. I’m still gutted, shocked, and just plain sad. The magic is over.

The Streak is over.

No one saw it coming, the life was sucked out of a room of 75,000 people who just sat there in stunned silence and I died a little inside.

I’ve often asked myself if I can get emotionally invested in wrestling anymore. I get pissed off about decisions, sure, the “oh why did they do that?” stuff when they don’t put Bryan in the Royal Rumble, but rarely do I feel anything for the result like when I was a kid and cried my eyes out when The Undertaker beat Hulk Hogan for the WWE Title in 1991 or when I leaped from my couch screaming when Shawn Michaels beat Bret Hart at WrestleMania 12.

But last night, I damn sure felt it, and I didn’t like it. And I know that was the point and I know this was likely 100% Undertaker’s call; Taker is “old school” and that isn’t just a name for a move, so I had a feeling he would also end his career with a loss, but I didn’t think it would be at WrestleMania and I never thought it would be Brock Lesnar.

And I don’t like that it’s Lesnar, I don’t think they can get much mileage out of this, Heyman’s promos will be the stuff of legend, but what’s Lesnar going to do, beat Bryan for the WWE Title and disappear for six months?

But it’s not even about the business aspect of it, I just didn’t want The Streak to end. I used to be of the mindset that it should, but then it became too big to end, probably around WrestleMania 24. Some things just need a happy ending and Taker’s Streak was one of those things. Sure, no one would get the infamous “rub,” but no one got it anyway. And giving it to some young up and comer is far too risky, what happens if they quit at the height of their popularity, like, ya know, BROCK LESNAR DID?!

It was just something that should’ve stayed magical, a bridge to a time when we thought it was real and the stuff people talk about in video packages for years to come. Now it’s gone and I don’t think it was worth it.

I know that’s the reaction WWE, and probably Taker himself, wanted. You’re supposed to be shocked, you’re supposed to be appalled, you’re supposed to be mad, sad, frustrated, and confused, that’s drama and it’s good drama… but I don’t like it. I don’t like that Joffrey had Ned Stark beheaded, I don’t like it when we find out this isn’t really a story about How He Met Your Mother… and I don’t like to see my all-time favorite wrestler lose the one thing that made him the most unique Superstar of all-time.

Think about your all-time favorite television show, think about it’s most heartbreaking, gut-wrenching moment, then multiply it by 24 years… that’s how I feel about The Undertaker’s loss. I watched his debut live when I was seven-years-old, I know it’s cliche to say “oh a piece of my childhood just died,” but I’ve invested 24 years into this character and the mystique of The Streak, to see it end, especially in this fashion is the most shocking thing I’ve ever seen on television.

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Denis Leary is very excited to see Emma at WrestleMania.

(via fallontonight)

Source: nbc.com
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Monday Night Raw - 3/24/14

We’re coming up on five years of doing this blog thing. My interest in wrestling goes through peaks and valleys, let alone my interest in writing about wrestling, but the staple of this blog has always been the Raw reviews… and I hate them. I’ve always hated the format I use, I don’t think they ever amount to much more “that was a good match, this wasn’t a good match.” But Raw is the centerpiece of wrestling, so if you’re going to write about wrestling, you kinda have to write about Raw, but I want to break up the monotony a bit.

I’m toying with some new format ideas, including bringing back the Fair to Flair Woo/Boo format, DVRaw, where I tell you what to watch or what to fast-forward through, or one really crazy idea where I review Raw as if it were any other television show - where I would review it like it were real. Well, not real, but when we talk about Breaking Bad, we don’t talk about the behind-the-scenes activity, we just discuss what’s put in front of us. Performances can be appreciated, but you’re really there for the characters and the story, but I feel like that’s going to be tough to detach myself enough to pull it off.

But this week, we’re going to go in list format, because you’re on the internet and you love a good list, right?! We’ll do the Top 5 moments from Raw because 5 is an emotionally satisfying number. What should we call it? The Five Count? I Got 5 On It? Raw ain’t enough man, I need 5? We’ll figure that out later.

5. Funny, she doesn’t look Druish.
Brock Lesnar is one of my favorite things going in wrestling right now, because he makes me think everything he does is real. Not because he’s particularly great on the microphone or even that spectacular in the ring anymore, but I’m convinced he thinks it’s real. I feel like Lesnar is this big dumb oaf they found dragging an old Buick in a cornfield in the middle of Smallville to win a bet with a steer and told him “go fight this zombie” and his response was “RAWWAERRRWRG!”

I mean, how many times has Taker done this whole Druids wheel the casket down and Taker’s not in it, but then he’s in it and kicks your ass? But Brock Lesnar fell for it, because he’s fucking dumb. Although Heyman shitting his pants and screaming “OH MY GOD!” when Taker popped out of the casket was pure gold and reason #297284289485958 why Paul Heyman is the best talker in professional wrestling today, if not ever.

This segment was fun, but it would’ve been a lot more fun if it were 5 minutes shorter. There was a lot of time dicking around with Lesnar tapping on the casket and the Druids backing away like he was asking them to make a payment on their fog machine. On a Raw that had two matches under a minute long, then padded out with Brock Lesnar nudging a casket like my dog trying to get a treat out of her Kong toy, we might need to have a talk with whoever’s plotting out these shows.

4. The Shield vs. The Real Americans
Huh. The Shield work as good guys, who knew? They’re clearly shifting the dynamic a bit with Ambrose and Rollins teaming up while Reigns continues to slowly boil as the big breakout star, but for a group they’ve been teasing splitting up for months, I have to give kudos to WWE for backpedaling and adjusting. Usually when WWE has their mind set on a split, it’s time for a split, but they seem sold on The Shield as a unit, which they should. These guys don’t always have to wrestle six-man tags or even regular tag matches, let them do their own thing, but keep them always within arms reach of each other, like The Avengers.

Why does every group have to have a violent split? We don’t always have to explode, collide, or put our partner through a window, let’s just let The Shield be The Shield. Sometimes they’re together, sometimes they’re not, but when they are, they’ll fuck you up, like they did to Cesaro and Swagger here.

Nice touch on the New Age Outlaws coming out in suits with Kane too. I didn’t have to see Billy Gunn without a shirt on and he got that Crypt Keeper hair under control. It’s also a sad commentary on the reality of Gen-X, oh sure, you could be edgy in the 90s, but you have to put on suit and go to work in the 2010s.

3. The Reulity Urruh!
Triple H continued his trolling of the internet by formally acknowledging “The Reality Era,” a phrase that’s been making the rounds on social media, and now taken by Triple H faster than Daryl Dixon could say “claimed” for half a rabbit.

The idea of the Reality Era is that we’re now in a period of professional wrestling where the lines between the fiction of wrestling, or ugh, “kayfabe,” and the reality of what happens behind the scenes are blurring together. Never mind WWE’s pretty much been playing this game for the last 25 years, they just up the ante a bit each time technology improves, but what we’ve been seeing since at least SummerSlam, if not going back to the Summer of Punk in 2011, has been pretty unprecedented.

I was a fan in the dark days of the internet, back when you’d go to AOL Keyword: WWF and sit in WWF Chat Room 18 (because 1-17 were full with maybe 20 users in each) and watch as neon green comic sans flew at you in rapid fire. Here’s an example:

DXFaN696969: SUX ITTT!!!!!!!1111!!
HBK4ever34: When is Shawn Michaels coming back? Did he find his smile?
XdXxxnWoXX: 4-lyfe
IHaveCandy96: a/s/l?
SCSAASCA: SOMEBODIES GONNA GET THERE ASS WHOOP
WannaLick1978: Press 9 for Sunny nudez!
IWanna1989: 999999999999999999999999999999999999999
Joe77Schmo: {S dgenerationx.wav
RATM1998: BREAK IT DOWN!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now imagine that every second. And I sense I’ve gone off on a tangent. My point being that we’ve come a long way in how we discuss wrestling on the internet. While that was the height of wrestling discussion in 1998, you’d have to go to message boards with 12 members to find people who could speak in complete sentences, Twitter has made us all “internet fans.” The demographic that was derided by JBL in 2004 as virgins in mom’s basement is exactly who WWE panders to now and not because everyone is a “smark,” we’re just all participating in one giant discussion.

You don’t have to go to ewrestlingewz.angelfire.net to read about why Cesaro is WWE’s hidden gem or why Daniel Bryan is the best wrestler in the world, we’re all talking about it using hashtag #Raw. So there is no more “IWC,” every fan with a smartphone is a “smart” fan and WWE is adapting to cater to that. Fine, cool, it has worked well these last few months even if they’re using it to cover their tracks on how badly they fucked up at the Royal Rumble, but can we just not call it “The Reality Era?” Please. I know, I know, it’s already been used on TV so it’s as unchanging as scripture, but just once, can we not use the stupid phrase?

But I guess if it gets people to stop saying “Pee-Gee Urruh,” I’ll allow it.

2. The Fatal Four Way
Hey, give four floundering guys something to do with a clear goal and actual stakesand watch as people magically start to care about them. It’s just for an IC Title match, but people were genuinely interested and it’s the most exciting thing Christian has had happen to him since those five seconds he got to be World Champion.

And while I really want them to have Big E defend the title at WrestleMania, I do enjoy the attention given to Main Event since it has become a live show on the Network. Very rare for WWE to take a throwaway show and turn it into something after it’s already been written off, but I appreciate it and hope they keep it going. Since going live, Main Event is now the #2 show on the company’s schedule and hell, Smackdown might actually be #4 behind NXT.

1. John Cena vs. Luke Harper
While all the attention has been given to Bryan’s rise in the lead-up to Mania, I think Bray Wyatt vs. John Cena is quietly casting the biggest shadow over WWE. It might actually be the most important WrestleMania match since Shawn Michaels vs. Ric Flair, but we also might not know the severity of it until a few years down the road. It could wind up being one of those moments that didn’t seem like a huge deal at the time, but is something they point to years down the line and say that’s when everything changed.

Or John Cena could hit him with the Attitude Adjustment and wipe his feet as he leaves the ring.

Either way, the build-up has been fantastic and this match last night gave me a little tingle. Harper might be the most underrated wrestler in WWE today and Cena was working his ass off like WrestleMania came early. The visual at the end with them putting Rowan’s sheep mask on Cena and tying him up in the ropes made me wonder if WWE had bought the rights to make The Devil’s Rejects 2.

And now, one sentence thoughts on the rest of Raw!

  • Razor Ramon is the inspiration for my name and it’s about damn time he got his Hall of Fame ring.
  • The Vickie Guerrero Divas Invitational can’t be worse than that WM25 battle royal, right?
  • Titus O’Neil ain’t half bad, but picked the worst time to go solo. 
  • Joe Maglioli is great on OHB’s Tur Blurd.
  • It’s bullshit how badly WWE’s dropped the ball on the Rhodes Bros.
  • Ryback… buddy… what happened?
  • Damien Sandow… buddy… what happened?
  • For a guy who makes fun of nerds, Batista’s had more flubs and bloopers in one segment than I did in my entire high school career.

Only one more Raw until WrestleMania… what does WWE have left to do? Leave a comment or find me @kickoutblog.

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tmlfblog:

Weirdest Family Portrait Ever.

WWE Films has acquired the rights to The Devil’s Rejects 2.

Source: prowrestlingnow
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Top 30 WrestleMania Matches - Part 2

Counting down matches 20-11

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Top 30 WrestleMania Matches - Part 1

our yearly countdown begins with 30-21.

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WWE Raw - 3/10/14

Ever since the Attitude Era, I’ve really hated the constantly negative gripes about WWE that come from what was once known as the IWC (Twitter rendered this concept useless). Whether you want to call them smarks, basement dwellers, or titty babies, we all know there’s a pocket of the fanbase that’s never happy… but there was this really bizarre trend after the Rumble to lump everyone in with that crowd when WWE basically told their customers to fuck off. When people are begging for Bryan and they give us a match nobody asked for instead, how could you not be annoyed? It has nothing to do with hijacking, occupying or revolting, it was just unsatisfied customers expressing their displeasure. This was unprecedented for WWE, there’d never been this kind of backlash over dropping the ball on something so obvious.
So I’m not buying that this was the “slow burn.” Please, if Batista would’ve come back to thunderous applause, Daniel Bryan would be in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal and he’d be the one wrestling Christian twice a week for a month on Raw and Smackdown. This isn’t vindication for the “wait and see” crowd, this is vindication for “just fucking do it already.”
Click the link for my full Raw thoughts. 
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There is no #2

Last night, TNA hosted their first proper pay-per-view event since October, the annual Lockdown event, which has traditionally been their strongest-selling PPV thanks to the “every match is a cage match” gimmick. I actually attended Lockdown in 2011, it was the first and only TNA event I’ve ever been to, I didn’t love it, but it was interesting to see non-WWE wrestling in a big arena, hadn’t experienced that since the WCW days. 4,000 people were at that show three years ago, last night, by many accounts, less than 1,000 people were in attendance in Miami.

What does this mean for TNA? People have been claiming the promotion is dead for 12 years now, so I’m not going to make that bold of a prediction, but I think we can say for sure that there’s never going to be a proper #2 promotion in the United States. I don’t think anyone has even considered TNA could be legitimate competition to WWE since their ill-fated move to Monday nights in 2010, but this should end any and all discussion of them ever even “growing.” The company is probably safe as long as they have Spike TV, but this things aren’t going to get better for them.

This has led to a lot of talk on social media today about what companies “need” to do to step up and perhaps someday become competition. I’ve seen lots of talk about how a company just needs to become the anti-WWE to succeed, present a true alternative product, and that’s where the remaining hope for TNA comes from, a desire for an alternative to WWE.

But what is the alternative to WWE? A pure wrestling product without outrageous storylines? Isn’t that kind of what WWE is now? They’re putting on multiple 15-30 minute matches a week between Raw, Smackdown and Main Event. Their PPVs are almost wall-to-wall wrestling. What else are people looking for? New stars in the main event scene? Isn’t that what TNA is now? Their roster is loaded with guys who haven’t been hanging around like the Cenas, Ortons and Batistas of the world, and the veterans they do have are guys who never really got a fair shake in WWE. So I’m not exactly sure what people are expecting.

No, a true alternative to WWE, the anti-WWE isn’t a new WCW, it’s the guys up the street performing at the VFW hall or high school gym. What is WWE? Big. Spectacle. Presentation. So what’s the opposite of that? Small, local, and unrestricted. That doesn’t necessarily mean cheap and sleazy though, and that’s the problem a lot of indies have today, they’re still in the 80s/90s “weekend warrior” mentality.

Look around your city, do you have any minor league sports teams? I live a bit outside Cincinnati, Ohio, where they have a pretty successful ECHL hockey team, the Cincinnati Cyclones. Cincinnati is not a hockey team by any stretch of the means, but they do love their Cyclones. Just for reference, their game on Saturday, just an ordinary Saturday night hockey game (no playoffs or anything like that), drew almost 5,000 people. I bet you have a team like that in your city, whether it’s baseball, hockey, roller derby, soccer, arena football, whatever, many cities have these small teams that do big business.

But before this recent run of success, the Cyclones suspended operations for a year due to lack of revenue. When they came back, attendance was about 800 people a game, but then it kept increasing every season, to the point where now they’re drawing 5,000. Why? They made the games about more than just hockey, you went for the fun, the atmosphere, between-period entertainment, $1 beer night, you weren’t going just see a hockey game, you were going for a night out.

So what does this have to do with wrestling? No one’s really doing this with wrestling on this kind of scale, at least not to my knowledge. You go to an indie wrestling show, you sit in the dank room with a bunch of wrestling geeks and yell “YOU FUCKED UP!” when some barely-trained wrestler slips on the top rope. Smaller companies need to do with wrestling what so many minor league sports have figured out in pockets of America, make it fun, sell the shit out of it to advertisers to hang their banners and make it about more than just the wrestling.

That’s the opposite of WWE. It’s never going to be on TV (although maybe you can stream it online), the guys doing it aren’t going to make a ton of money, but that’s the most likely future for the wrestling industry outside of WWE. Because the sad reality is, the Monday Night Wars are never coming back. The TV landscape is so fractured and so niche, there just isn’t any interest in two major wrestling promotions. I know we keep hoping TNA will find their magic bullet, or that TNA will fail and someone else will get a chance, but it’s not going to happen. TNA hit their ceiling in 2006 when Angle came in, this Jeff Jarrett promotion isn’t going to do a damn thing no matter how many times he posts #ItsComing on Twitter, those days are gone. Hell, even WWE knows traditional TV is dying and that’s where they make the vast majority of their money now. Any other promotion is insane for even trying to secure a major TV slot in hopes of competing with WWE, they’re going to have as much luck as Vince did competing against the NFL.

WWE is the wrestling industry in America, they know that, and it’s why they just attempted to future-proof themselves with the WWE Network, your one-stop shop for all of America’s wrestling content, past, present and future. To become an alternative to that, you have to give people (not just wrestling fans) a completely different kind of experience. Small, fun, family-friendly and hyper-local is the future of non-WWE wrestling in the US, not hiring guys who were kinda popular 10 years ago and hoping you can get a timeslot on CMT.  

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Raw wasn't hijacked, but it was pretty good.

It was the most hyped Raw of 2014 so far, will probably be the most talked about Raw aside from the night after WrestleMania all year, but did the crowd “hijack” it? No. Did CM Punk come back? No. Were my concerns about WrestleMania stifled? No. Was the show any good? Absolutely.

CM Punk was the elephant in the room and when Josh Mathews acknowledged the chants during the Pre-Show on the WWE Network, I was 99.9999999% convinced he was coming back. They’ve been so hush-hush about Punk since his departure, completely scrubbing him from the show, that I took any sort of acknowledgement of his existence as confirmation. I was wrong. Wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong. WWE had to talk about it though, so they gave us the next best thing, Paul Heyman.

Heyman entered to Punk’s music, encouraged the crowd to chant for Punk and then took a seat in the center of the ring and proceeded to drop his own “pipe bomb.” I do find it suspect that WWE would allow Heyman to go out there, talk about how great Punk is and mention the size of his balls in the 8 o’clock hour. Contrast this to Austin’s walkout, who was verbally annihilated by The Rock after he “took his ball [singular] and went home,” they even put his domestic violence arrest on WWE Confidential. Meanwhile, Punk “has the balls” to tell WWE adios and sit on his couch when they roll into town. I don’t take it as any sort of confirmation that Punk is coming back, but it is definitely confirmation that WWE still wants him back.

The brilliance of Heyman’s promo is that he managed to turn Punk’s walkout around on the fans, blaming them for the rift between the two of them and the loss to The Undertaker for Punk’s disillusionment. The crowd was nuclear by the time Brock Lesnar came out and WWE managed to once again use real life events to hype the Taker match for Mania, and this was a lot classier than the Paul Bearer stuff last year. Lesnar and Mark Henry got into it a little bit as well, with Henry getting F5’d through the announce table. Ultra hot start to the show and set a pretty great tone for the night. They had to address the situation and they handled it masterfully.

The Usos vs. The New Age Outlaws was a great moment too. Before the match, I thought The Usos quest for the Tag Team Titles should’ve culminated at WrestleMania, but there it would’ve been what, the fifth or sixth biggest match on the card? If it didn’t get bumped to the pre-show, that is. Here, it was a huge moment in front of an electric crowd who weren’t hijacking anything, they were just cheering for the good guys. The Usos finally get their Tag Title reign, almost five years after debuting (that has to be some kind of a record in the modern era), and I love that suicide dive/tag thing they do. Yays! all around.

Big E vs. Cesaro (and later, Swagger) was all about the tension between The Real Americans, with both guys interfering in the other’s matches. I know Cesaro is on the verge of breaking out as a major singles competitor, but there’s too much splitting up going on. I’m not saying you can’t split TRA, but don’t do it at the exact same time we’re splitting up The Shield and probably Cody Rhodes and Goldust sooner than later.

The Shield vs. The Wyatt Family was so hot, all it needed for hype was “#Rematch.” This one was a lot heavier on drama than the action we got at Elimination Chamber, but that’s okay because they told a hell of a story. I still think I’d rather see these teams go at it inside Hell in a Cell before it’s all said and done for The Shield, but after Seth Rollins walked out on Mom & Dad for fighting all the time, I don’t think that’s going to happen. But if it means triple threat between Rollins, Ambrose and Reigns at WrestleMania, I’m cool with it.

Santino Marella & Emma vs. Fandango & Summer Rae brought the show to a screeching halt though and it never fully recovered back to its hour 1 levels of awesome. I love Emma, her character is awesome and she can clearly wrestle as we saw during Arrival, but the crowd needs to know more about her and she needs real matches. Two things that the Divas don’t typically get on the main roster. Sigh.

Sheamus vs. Christian is where the crowd really started to get on my nerves. It’s not cool to shit on two guys who have a perfectly good match just because it’s not living up to four super-hot segments. There are a lot of complaints to level against WWE these days, but the in-ring product is arguably the best it’s ever been, and to start chanting “END THIS MATCH!” during something as solid as this is incredibly disrespectful. This crowd was getting a ton of shit before the show even began and I was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, even with “CM Punk” chants going on all night, but they lost all their goodwill here. In any other era, this match could’ve headlined Raw or Smackdown and it would’ve been a really good main event. I know they’re falling into the WWE trap of “let’s just have these guys wrestle a lot,” but there was nothing wrong with the match.

The Bella Twins vs. Aksana & Alicia Fox was a match, I honestly don’t even remember who won.

Daniel Bryan calling out Triple H and Stephanie McMahon was one of the craziest damn segments I’ve ever seen. I lived the Attitude Era, I remember the crowd wanting Vince McMahon’s head on a pike, but I’m not sure I’ve ever heard boos so persistent that they nearly drowned out the PA for an entire promo.

This was the best mic work of Stephanie McMahon’s career, insisting to Bryan that he shouldn’t even want to be the face of WWE because the crowd will turn on him in an instant (probably true) and insisting that they’ve given him more than he could ever ask for. Like I always say, the best heels tell the truth in the worst way possible and Steph did so here.

And Triple H going full hypocrite, continuing to beat the “B+ player” drum despite the fact that he’s the most successful B+ of all-time is great stuff. And slamming Bryan as “immature” when he suggested that Stephanie put on HHH’s gear and HHH put on her skirt, might be the first piece of genuine character development HHH has had since 1999. He just insulted someone else for being immature when he’s the guy who put his father-in-law’s head up another man’s ass. Let that sink in for a minute.

Bryan attacking Kane and being held back by security also finally gave him a bit of an edge for the first time. Usually this ends with Bryan immediately being put in a match, but here he looked like he was ready to fight any and everybody. This was a genuine Austin vs. McMahon moment when the last 15 years have been loaded with people trying to recapture the magic of Austin vs. McMahon.

Excellent use of Aaron Paul as Dolph Ziggler’s running buddy for his match against Alberto Del Rio. It was definitely the Battle of the C+ All-Stars, but if it’s the first step to getting Ziggler back on track, it was better than the last 15 times they’ve tried to get Ziggler back on track. Poor Del Rio though.

The John Cena/Wyatt Family stuff didn’t work nearly as well as last week’s segment. They both basically said things they’ve already said, with no actual face-to-face confrontation, just a TitanTron staredown. I have no doubt they’ll bring the goods in the four Raws they have left before WrestleMania, but I am a bit concerned about the match itself. Cena has had a really unfortunate WrestleMania track record since 27 and Bray has only had a handful of high-profile singles matches, but we’ll see. I can’t imagine the crowd being anything less than explosive for it, so that calms my nerves significantly.

Daniel Bryan vs. Batista was the main event and clearly a sign that WWE is fucking with us at this point. Ended in a huge clusterfuck with Orton interfering, then Bryan fighting off Orton, Batista, Kane and Triple H before ultimately succumbing to a Batista Bomb and a Pedigree. I saw a lot of folks griping that Bryan looked bad here, but c’mon, he was fighting off Evolution and Kane and holding his own until the numbers game caught up to him. It was a classic “bad guys win” episode, the nWo and Corporation had them all the time. Nothing wrong with how the final segment played out at all.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t really help my worries about WrestleMania. Bryan vs. Triple H is a good, logical feud and if HHH feels like coming to work, I’m sure they’ll have a fine match, but it’s not the WWE Title match, which is where people want to see Bryan. And I have no hope for this leading to a Triple Threat of Bryan pulling double duty, I’ve gotten my hopes up for Bryan’s big moment way too many times since SummerSlam, I’m done even entertaining those idea. Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H is happening, no doubt and apparently, so is Batista vs. Orton, which doesn’t make a goddamn bit of sense, but they’ve already got your six-month commitment for the WWE Network, so they can do whatever the hell they want.

As of now, the only match at Mania I’m 100% stoked about is Lesnar vs. Taker, and that’s not even the match I wanted to see Taker in. I expressed my concerns for Cena vs. Wyatt, Bryan vs. HHH is a consolation prize the crowd will likely be torn on because it’s not the match they want, and Orton vs. Batista is going to make Goldberg/Lesnar look like Rock/Hogan in terms of crowd reaction. Not to mention they have nothing set so far for guys like Ziggler, Cesaro, Swagger, Del Rio, Big E, Mark Henry, Big Show, Cody Rhodes, Goldust, and Mysterio. Rhodes & Goldust were the hottest act in the company just a couple months ago and now they’re teaming with El Torito on Superstars with only four Raws left until WrestleMania. It’s Mania, it’s always about the main events, but I’m just not feeling it yet.

Between the stellar in-ring product lately, NXT Arrival and last night’s awesome handling of the “hijacking” that amounted to WWE getting the crowd to do exactly what they wanted them to do, WWE has earned a ton of goodwill back from me post-Rumble, so I’m still optimistic, but still… only four Raws left. 

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#MakeRawFun

So apparently there’s been this thing brewing around tonight’s Raw in Chicago. We all know a Chicago crowd is going to be raucous no matter what, but adding in the recent friction between WWE and WWE fans, coupled with CM Punk’s departure the night after the Rumble is probably going to result in the boiling point of all this… whatever it is you want to call what’s been happening to WWE lately. My personal word of choice is “frustration.”

So some elements of the internet, I hesitate to say Chicago crowd because I think a lot of folks on the bandwagon don’t even live in Illinois or the surrounding area, have taken it upon themselves to start the #HijackRAW movement. Here is their mission statement of sorts (I hate the phrase ‘mission statement,’ by the way):


Now, I’ve spent the better part of the five years I’ve been writing about wrestling slamming this kind of self-entitled, put-ourselves-over nonsense, but quite frankly, I’m tired. Instead of talking about why this is wrong and stupid, let’s make it better. Let’s #MakeRawFun.

In all honesty, most of this stuff is pretty harmless if done right, so let’s go down the list of Dos and Don’ts:

DO: Turn your back to Batista/Orton/HHH/Stephanie McMahon segments
Definitely do this for Triple H, that would be awesome. If you could get a sizable portion of the TV audience to literally turn around when HHH is on-screen, it would be the greatest crowd reaction since Miz Girl. Hell, they’d put that in his TitanTron.

You can turn your back for Randy Orton too, but when you turn around, keep walking up the stairs and buy some nachos.

DON’T: Chant “same old shit” if any of those people wrestle.
Unacceptable. Don’t mess with a TV broadcast by chanting stuff that’s going to cause them to pull the audio or mess with the delay. Besides, making noise is all that matters to WWE, if you’re chanting, they’re doing their job. If you genuinely don’t want to see Orton, Batista or HHH wrestle, go to the concession stand. Did you listen to John Cena on Steve Austin’s podcast? They were talking about the Rumble and the crowd revolt against the match, Cena’s reaction? He loved it. Saying the only time a wrestler needs to worry is when the crowd goes to get a t-shirt. Want to send a message? Leave the crowd during Orton’s match and go buy Daniel Bryan’s t-shirt.

DO: Chant “NO NO NO” at HHH/Bryan, chant “YES YES YES” for Bryan
Perfectly acceptable. Have fun, blow the roof off the place for Bryan, cheer whenever the prospect of Bryan as WWE Champion comes up. Nothing wrong with booing when a match with HHH comes up either, just like the crowd let JJ Dillon know that Sting wanted Hogan when he could only communicate via sign, like Wile E. Coyote.

DON’T: Chant “CM Punk” relentlessly
Is Punk coming back tonight? I don’t know. If he’s on-screen, chant “CM Punk!” if he’s not, don’t. If Punk’s coming back tonight, you’ll get to chant your little hearts out. If he’s not, there’s clearly nothing that can be done to bring these two parties back together right now, so just let it go. WWE knows you want to see CM Punk, say what you will about their creative direction of the last year, they want you to see CM Punk too. But maybe Punk doesn’t want to be seen? In that case, respect his decision to walk away and cheer for the people that are there.

DO: Chant “We Want Ziggler.”
But, buyer beware, you also chanted “We Want Ryder” and we know how that turned out. 

DON’T: Cheer “Let’s Go Wyatts”
They’re bad guys. Bad guys with a cool mystique. Respect the mystique and respond to them appropriately, boo them. I know this one’s a bit of a stretch, even WWE encourages you to cheer for who you want, but the Wyatts don’t need a pep squad, they need to be feared. Booing a heel who’s doing their job is the ultimate sign of respect, I loved Edge, but booing him at his peak was some of the most fun I’ve ever had at a wrestling show.


And I’m going to add some that aren’t on the list:

DO: Be a part of the show
A lot of people are bashing this movement as a bunch of delusional nerds, but let’s not automatically dismiss the entire thing. Isn’t it nice that there are people who care enough about wrestling who are willing to make some noise and have fun out there? A hot crowd can make a bad show good and a dead crowd can make a good show bad, so let’s celebrate the fact that we’re almost guaranteed an exciting show. I’d much rather have a loud, if perhaps slightly unruly, crowd than one sitting on their hands.

DON’T: Be the show
But don’t take that as an excuse to be an asshole. “JERRY LAWLER!” “JBL!” “HUSKY HARRIS!” and “YOU FUCKED UP!” chants have got to go. Permanently. Remember, you are the third man in the ring, you are not the man in the ring, a very important distinction that “smart” crowds often don’t get. This is not ECW, ECW’s been gone for a long, long time, this is WWE. It’s not the theater, you don’t have to applaud politely, it’s not stand-up comedy where your job is only to laugh, but there is a line that we as fans often cross. 

At the end of the day, you paid your money, you get to do whatever you want, provided you don’t ruin someone else’s experience or jeopardize the show by getting the audio pulled, throwing something in the ring, or hopping the rail (though I do love when wrestlers beat the shit out of rail hoppers). Basically… have fun. I know it’s been a frustrating time to be a wrestling fan, I’m so annoyed as of late with the mind-boggling storytelling they have going on, but being an asshole isn’t going to do anything except widen the gap between the industry and its fans. 

#MakeRawFun

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My last exposure to NXT was when “Wild & Young” was the theme song, so it’s been awhile since I’ve been familiar with this particular brand of WWE programming. In fact, when WWE dismantled FCW and rebranded it as NXT was probably the point when I was watching the least amount of wrestling, so I was out of the loop on what they were even doing for quite a while. 

"NXT Champions? Tapings separate from Smackdown? It’s actually watchable? Huh?!"

I’ve still never seen a regular weekly show from NXT, but I’ve at least tried to familiarize myself with the brand over the last couple of months. I know Bo Dallas is the long-reigning champion whose character is a classic babyface completely oblivious to the fact that the crowd loathes him, I know the women actually get to wrestle and I know Sami Zayn is awesome. 

I was quite excited to check out NXT ArRival (randOm capitaliZation iS nEat) last night since it would be the first proper live show on the WWE Network and I’d finally see what all the fuss was about.

I was not disappointed, which is not something I’ve been able to say about any WWE show in awhile. It’s novel to watch a wrestling show that doesn’t feel like it’s actively trying to piss you off, it almost made me feel like a kid again. I don’t have a particular investment in these characters one way or another, it’s just the guys (and gals) I like and want to see win.

And I think it’ll be lost in the shuffle for how good the actual event was, but the pre-show with Renee Young, Kevin Nash, Bret Hart, Paul Heyman and numerous video packages introducing the talent was fantastic. If this is a sign of things to come on the WWE Network, it’s going to be well worth the $10 a month.

In the opening contest, Sami Zayn battle Cesaro in the fourth match against each other, with Zayn determined to prove he’s better than the Swiss Superman. I’ve heard Cesaro described as the “final boss” of NXT and if this match is any indication, expect to see Zayn on the main roster very, very soon.

I’ve long been a fan of Zayn, loved him as El Generico in ROH, but I’m genuinely surprised he wrestled under a mask for so long, the guy has a great, expressive face and is a great talker on top of being a fantastic in-ring performer.

This was the perfect match to open the show too, these guys beat the hell out of each other and did stuff I’ve never seen in wrestling, let alone in the notoriously conservative WWE ring. Cesaro won after a NASTY~! uppercut and a definitive Neutralizer, but there were no losers in a match like this. The two shared a hug afterward and I like to think Cesaro told him “let’s do this again at WrestleMania 31.”

Read the rest of the review here

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We had a good run, but we’re clearly not compatible anymore. We don’t have anything in common, you’re abusive and I feel like you only love me for my money. Thanks for Jake the Snake a few weeks ago though, I’ll choose to remember that moment as the last time we were truly in love.

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I rarely play fantasy booker when discussing wrestling, but given the hugeness of the 30th WrestleMania and the fact that today’s probably the last day to give my way-too-early predictions of the card, here is my ideal card. We’ll see how badly WWE hurts my feelings with the Rumble tonight, but here’s the show I want to see.

WWE World Heavyweight Championship
Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Daniel Bryan
How do we get here? Simple. Daniel Bryan wins the Rumble tonight, Brock Lesnar (the self-proclaimed #1 contender) annihilates five other guys in the Elimination Chamber next month to get the title. Why this match? The only story WWE has told that makes sense for a Mania main event is Daniel Bryan vs. The Authority. Had they kept them separate, Bryan vs. Orton would’ve worked here, but they’ve wrestled three times since SummerSlam and it has a been there, done that feeling. Orton clearly has flopped as champion as well, so they need to get the title off him. Triple H would work, but he’s mostly checked out as a wrestler and putting the title on him at this point seems counter-productive. Enter Lesnar.

Lesnar has been sold as not necessarily unstoppable since his WWE return, but unquestionably the most dangerous. With Triple H rehiring him, what better unstoppable force to put in front of the guy he doesn’t want to become champion? And if little Daniel Bryan made the invincible Brock Lesnar tap out in the center of the ring, it would be a star-making moment WWE has not had since Steve Austin won the WWE Title at WrestleMania 14. Look back over the years, WWE has not had one guy win the Rumble and win the title for the first time* since WrestleMania 14. Sure, they’ve had other guys winone of the titles, but there is only one undisputed championship now and that story hasn’t been told from the Rumble to Mania since Austin.

*And yes, I know it wouldn’t be Bryan’s first reign, but considering the other two WWE Title reigns lasted under 24 hours and the World Title was basically the Intercontinental Title when he held it, this would be his first reign as the guy. Don’t let me down, WWE.

The Match of the Decade
John Cena vs. Randy Orton vs. Batista
Who is the biggest star of the last ten years? Obviously Cena, but with a combined 32WWE/World Heavyweight Championship reigns between them in the last 10 years, there’s a fun story to tell here. Any one-on-one match between these guys has been done to death, but I don’t think they’ve ever been in a triple threat, and it could close the chapter on the last decade once and for all.

Franchise vs. Franchise
The Undertaker vs. Sting
I know, I know, we talk about this one every year and it never happens because Sting re-signs with TNA. I don’t know if this year is any different, but c’mon WWE, sign Sting already. No two men have been as closely associated with their respective organizations than Sting and The Undertaker. Neither ever really got the chance to be the aforementioned the guy, but The Undertaker is the WWE guy and Sting is the anti-WWE guy. Sting coming in and saying he has nothing to prove when it comes to titles, but he wants a shot at The Streak, the one thing no one in wrestling has ever been able to do, is a ready made story. Bring in some vultures, some lightning bolts and general brooding in the rafters and boiler room and you have an epic Mania encounter that needs to happen at #30.

The Authority vs. Counter-culture
Triple H vs. CM Punk
I really don’t want to deal with this story, but WWE has already all but confirmed it, so it’s going to happen. I think my big issue with it is Punk keeps talking about the Authority “silencing” him, despite the fact he hasn’t said anything “pipebomb” worthy in over a year. Punk hasn’t been doing it for me lately, but I would think/hope him and Triple H would both step up their game for a Mania match and hopefully they’ll surprise me.

Unification Match
Big E Langston vs. Dean Ambrose
There’s no reason for the US Title to exist in today’s WWE. I don’t mind having a #3 singles title, but there needs to be some sort of gimmick to it. All for a TV Title that gets defended every TV show in matches with a 10-minute time limit, 15-minutes on PPV. But the US Title? Axe it. I see no reason to take the belts off either guy until Mania though… just set up a feud after having The Shield take out Big E one night.

Tag Team Turmoil
Cody Rhodes & Goldust (c) vs. The Usos vs. The Wyatts vs. The Shield vs. The New Age Outlaws vs. The Real Americans
Go nuts… hell, make it the most clusterfucky ladder match of all-time, there’s fun to be had here.

Now, obviously I’m leaving off major players like Sheamus, Alberto Del Rio, Bray Wyatt, Big Show, and Mark Henry, but these are the BIG matches I want to see. Sheamus vs. Bray could be a fun hoss fight, now that I think about it.

I’ll be shocked if any of these matches happen aside from Punk/HHH and some sort of multi-tag team bonanza, but I personally think it’d be a hell of a WrestleMania 30.