Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Wrestling Podcast, Episode 9: Razor of Kick-Out!! Wrestling

Logo credit: Razor
Episode 9: Wrestle-phenia

Razor of Kick-Out!! Wrestling and Fair to Flair appears on this week’s massive edition of The Wrestling Podcast. Obviously, CM Punk is the hot topic, but there are other conversations explored here. We talk about Razor’s deep-seated yet totally understandable hatred for Randy Orton, why the WWE Divas have a tough lot in professional life, why we love the idea of Wrestling Revolution and how wrestling journalism can be improved. Plus, my dog makes a few appearances.

Remember you can contact TH and ask him questions about wrestling, life or anything else. Please refer to this post for contact information. He always takes questions!

Randy Savage's Cause of Death: Heart Attack

Photo Credit:
Via Cageside Seats

Randy Savage died of heart disease according to his autopsy and toxicology report. There were trace levels of different chemicals in his body, including alcohol below the legal limit, but they were all in non-lethal levels. Now, whether years of substance abuse contributed to said heart failure is another question, one that we can only really speculate over since there's no real record that he abused steroids or drugs. It's all circumstantial, but it's still not hard to imagine.

That being said, no matter what the cause of his heart attack was, even a month later, it still sucks that he's gone.

Remember you can contact TH and ask him questions about wrestling, life or anything else. Please refer to this post for contact information. He always takes questions!

Wade Keller Misses the Point of Twitter

Oh teh noes, Rock wuz insensitive!
Photo Credit:
Via the Torch

Wade Keller posted this news item on The Rock tweeting to CM Punk in response to his rant at the end of RAW. I think it's worth a FJM, hopefully, you will too.

"The Rock" Dwayne Johnson fired back at C.M. Punk's digs at him during Raw on Monday:

That would make sense, since Punk mentioned Rock in his promo and WWE wrestlers have used Twitter as a way of furthering angles.

"C.M. Punk: It's simple business - The Rock is in the main event at WrestleMania cause it draws more money in one night (than) you will in (a) lifetime."

It was a great tweet, although Rocky left himself wide open. At least that's what I thought when I read it. But not Wade...

Keller's Analysis: Whether Rock's ego was ruffled by Punk's harmless in-character heel comments or not, this doesn't make Rock look good.

Wait, what?

Why does a star of his level in movies and wrestling feel the need to fire back in a way that makes him seem thin-skinned?

Apparently, Keller missed the entire part of the Rock/Cena feud where they were sniping back and forth between accounts, and still are.

If he's just playing into a potential future storyline, it does make him sound a little petty to be saying he'll draw more in one night than Punk will in his entire lifetime.

Or he's just playing into a potential future storyline.

That's pretty harsh. If he's truly upset, get over it. Punk was a heel.

And Rock is a face replying to a heel.

Even though a certain portion of the fan base loved what Punk had to say, Rock shouldn't be cementing that he's one of the "ass-kissers."

Yeah, how dare he play into Punk's content!

A better Tweet from Rock, a more dignified response, would have been: "Punk showed me something Monday. He talks a big game. The Rock likes that. Maybe some day he'll be a big enough star to main event WrestleMania against The Great One. I think fans might like to see that. It's not about kissing ass backstage, it's about kicking ass inside the ring. The Rock is sure he can kick Punk's from one end of that ring to the other."

Did Wade Keller just fantasy book a Tweet? Yeah, he just fantasy booked Twitter.1

Seriously, this if this is what passes for news reporting nowadays, I quit. Seriously, Twitter has been used to build angles, especially between Rocky and Cena. Keller doesn't get the point. Then again, I'm not all that surprised.

1 - Props to my blogging Brohei Baba, PizzaBodySlam, for that line from his Tumblr

Remember you can contact TH and ask him questions about wrestling, life or anything else. Please refer to this post for contact information. He always takes questions!

TWIOT: Gratuitous Beer Post

"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." - Benjamin Franklin

I knew there was a reason why Ol' Ben is my favorite amongst the Founding Fathers. Even if beer is wholly an invention of man, it really is something that, if consumed in responsible quantities, enhances life and good times. The key word there is responsible, as really, getting piss drunk or developing a dependency on alcohol are both not cool at all. But this isn't about lecturing, it's about enjoying the greatness that is beer.

Now, for those who do know me, I'm not really into the garden variety light beers from the major breweries that are usually associated with sudsy consumption. That isn't to say that I'm a beer snob. No, you're a snob when you look down on people for drinking what they drink. If you want to chug Coors Light or Miller Lite, hey, be my guest. Don't expect me to partake though, because I don't like it. That isn't really a slight against the mainstream brewers either. I have hipster tendencies when it comes to beer, but I used to house the shit out of Budweiser before I realized that even drinking one or two of them would give me a hangover the next day. I also enjoy Corona, Guinness, Yuengling and all the different offerings from Sam Adams, and really, if you see advertisements for a beer on TV, they're mainstream.

But then again, since they're all over the place, you know about them. Again, I'm about to get somewhat beer hipster on your asses, but at the same time, I AIN'T CARE if I set the path for these beers to go mainstream. Why? Because they're that good and they need to be shared by people. I'm a firm believer that if something is good, it deserves to be lauded and sampled by everyone. So I'm gonna give some of my favorite off-the-radar beers and hope that you can at least find them.

Awww yeah
Photo Credit: Me

That right there is 3 Philosophers Belgian-style Quadrupel produced by Brewery Ommegang based in Cooperstown, NY. Ommegang is an abbey-style brewery in America, proving that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and that no, the monks over in Belgium aren't the only ones who know how to make top-notch beer. I was turned onto this by a buddy of mine who works for Origlio Beverage Distributors, and it has literally changed my life, at least in terms of what kinds of beers I look for. It has a strong, ale flavor, typical of most Belgians, but it has the hint of cherry. The reason is that 2 percent of it by volume is a kriek, or a cherry lambic.

Now, there are some terms you might need to know going forward that I probably should have introduced. The Belgians have a sort of nomenclature system when it comes to their beers. You have dubbel, tripel and quadrupel. Those names imply a hierarchy, which is there, both in flavor and in potency. Dubbels are traditionally the weakest in terms of alcohol by volume (ABV), while Quadrupels are strongest. That isn't to say dubbels are weak at all. The least potent abbey-style ale will be inordinately stronger than your typical macrobrew here in the States. Also, dubbels are usually brown ales, tripels blond and quadrupels having more of a deep, golden color reminiscent of traditional Pilsner-style lagers you find in America (Bud, Miller etc.). The color is really the only thing that a quadrupel has in common with a traditional American lager, because the flavor, alcohol content and overall quality blows most mainstream beer here out of the water.

Furthermore, lambic-style beers are brews made with fruit. The most common one that I've seen is framboise, which literally translates from the French to raspberry. It's the tastiest of the ones I've tried and it also mixes well with other beers, specifically a chocolate stout. Kriek, pomme (apple) and even cranberry (Sam Adams makes a good one in that style) are also popular lambics. The ABV is traditionally lower than what you'd find in abbey/Trappist style beers, but then again, lambics are generally brewed with lighter flavors in mind, rather than the strong, distinctive ale-flavors in other Belgians.

Back to 3 Philosophers, I'm not really a big fan of cherry flavoring most of the time. I tried Sam Adams' Cherry Wheat and almost threw up. However, the slight hint of cherry flavoring in this beer works on such a great level. It plays with the stronger beer flavor in a way that makes it smoother and deceptively less "alcohol" tasting than you'd think for a beer with 9.8% ABV.

Photo Credit: Me

This is another Belgian-style beer from an American company, this time based out of Fort Bragg, CA. North Coast Brewing Co. is responsible for Brother Thelonious, and while I might be speaking out of turn, this might just be my favorite dubbel-style ale right now. Don't get me wrong, Chimay makes a fine one as well, and other companies shine. Abbey-style dubbel, along with stout, porter, traditional Czech Pilsner and Indian pale ale, is in my top five of styles of beer. There are a lot of great breweries, here and in the abbeys across the Atlantic, making quality dark strong ales.

However, what makes Brother Thelonious stand out most? I think it has the cleanest, smoothest taste, not sacrificing flavor or ABV but having the least hint of acridity that sometimes comes with brewing in this style. It's so drinkable that you can take out a four pack before you know it, which is good or bad depending on how inebriated you wanted to get.

The boar approves!
Photo Credit: Me

This might be a little harder to find for you if you're not in Philly, eastern PA or somewhere near there. If you can find it though, Lancaster Brewing Co. Hop Hog IPA is well worth the purchase. Most IPAs (India pale ale) are acquired tastes, as they're very bitter on account of the massive amounts of hops used for brewing. That being said, if you do have the palette for it, then you probably love drinking them. It truly is a love/hate beer.

I like Hop Hog best because it does the best job of balancing out the bitterness with the citrus notes underneath. Plus, as most IPAs do, it pairs well with spicy foods, and I'm a huge fan of the foods that set your mouth on fire.

Photo Credit: Me

Ah yes, Germany's submission to the list is Schneider Aventinus, a Weizenbock-style beer from Private Weissbierbrauerei G. Schneider und Sohn. Weizenbocks are cousins to the Hefeweizen-style German brews, which means it's a wheat beer with an unfiltered appearance and texture. It might look murky, but it's supposed to be that way, and actually they can be quite delicious with fruity undertones. Aventinus is a beer that I usually have when I go to my local "beer snob" bar, because it's a safe pick. I know it's going to be there and I know I'll enjoy the hell out of it. Then again, a "safe pick" for me is very adventurous for someone whose idea of a fancy beer is Guinness. Again, nothing wrong with that, I'm just saying. The first time I had it, I was absolutely shocked at how it tasted, actually. You look at a darker beer and think you'll get coffee, chocolate, honey and other heavier, more wintry flavors associated with brews of those color. Not with Aventinus, which boasts banana, apple and even floral undertones.

The OG of Pilsners
Photo Credit: Me

You know the Czechs have been brewing beer longer than there's been a country associated with their nationality? Then again, that goes for the Belgians too, but a lot of what is drunk here in America is a direct descendant of what brewers in the Czech Republic have been doing for about a millennium now. Budweiser even took its name from a Czech brewer and called its product a Pilsner. I'm not sure there are many beer afficianados who'd be okay with either one of those things, but it is what it is.

That being said, Pilsner Urquell, from the brewery of the same name, is one of the original brewers in this style. This is the idealized version of the mainstream American lager. It's clean, crisp, refreshing and has an unmistakable beer flavor that isn't bogged down by a stale or skunky taste that at least I find in most "light" beers (especially Miller Lite... I fuckin' hate that shit, but hey, if you like it, you like it. I can't stress that enough). I don't know, I think if you want to drink an "exotic" beer and you're used to drinking the same ol', this might be the best entree into the world of craft and import beers. It's the best of what's around, I think.

But hey, if you want to be adventurous, be adventurous. Try new things, different things, things that you might not otherwise drink unless someone offered it to you to try. Life is based on new experiences to add to the familiar ones that you already have. I'm not saying that you'll stop drinking Miller Lite or whatever after trying new beers, and I honestly don't want to promise that. There's a place for everything in this world. For as much shit as some people give me for being a "beer snob", I refuse to give it back for people drinking the "same shit". At the same time, I still think people should try everything they can, everything that looks remotely appealing to them.

That means trying a craft brew or an import or a special edition or even a homebrew. There are people out there making fantastic beers who are completely amateurs to the process. Great beer is found everywhere, and again, if you enjoy it responsibly, you'll find a good time wherever there's good beer.

Remember you can contact TH and ask him questions about wrestling, life or anything else. Please refer to this post for contact information. He always takes questions!

Follow-up: Orton Takes to Twitter with His Apology to K2

Photo Credit:
Randy Orton, feeling the fire from his asshole comments regarding Kelly Kelly's sex life, took to Twitter to apologize in a series of five Tweets:
Yesterday I put my foot in my mouth and I need to try my best to make it right. I owe Kelly K an apology. The fact that she has dated a few guys I work with doesn't make her a bad person, and is also none of my or anyone elses buisness [sic]. Yesterday I got caught up in a live radio interview and brought Kelly's personal life into it. It was completely uncalled for. Kelly I hope one day you can forgive me. I do however understand if that doesn't happen. Please everyone trash me all you want, but please drop this topic out of respect for Barb.
While the message from yesterday's post about the double standard needing to be dropped still stands, I commend Orton for apologizing in a quick manner. He knew he fucked up, didn't try to backtrack and manned up for what he said. I can dig that a lot, especially in this day and age of backtracking, denials and my personal favorite, apologizing to the audience that they got offended. Orton's good with me now, but then again, I'm not the guy he needs to worry about.

Remember you can contact TH and ask him questions about wrestling, life or anything else. Please refer to this post for contact information. He always takes questions!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

I'm on the Dyno with the Black Mags.

Science Rules! nerdy endeavors.

What you know about Z-MAG'S?

Randy Orton Puts Foot in Mouth

Criticizing her in-ring? Cool. Insinuating she's a slut? Totally not cool.
Photo Credit:
Via Cageside Seats

Randy Orton recently did an interview with a local rock station in Arizona where he made some hair-raising remarks. The one he's catching the most flak for is his insinuation that Kelly Kelly may be a bit on the promiscuous side:
Egged on by the two hosts, he makes some very unflattering remarks towards current divas champion Kelly Kelly after noting he worked a short romance angle with her in early 2009. ("I would be a method actor, and actually sleep with her," jokes host John Holmberg. "I could name a few method actors in WWE," Orton says. "Like, ten guys.") The disparaging remarks about who Kelly has or hasn't slept with continue throughout the show. Kelly has yet to directly respond to the remarks, sans a cryptic remark on Twitter which could be interpreted as a response to Orton: "The best way to fight stupidity, is by ignoring it."
On the surface, those some pretty heavy implications. These comments have caused a furor on the Internet, both by people outraged by the continual double standard about the number of sexual partners you can acceptably have based on gender and by people who think those complainers are taking things way out of proportion. I feel like I sympathize more with the former, but there's a lot of context here that we need to wade through before we start carrying effigies of Orton through the street with our local chapter of NOW. That isn't to say that what Orton said wasn't heinous, because it was. However, I'm not so sure he's the only one upon whom we should be heaping scorn.

First thing's first, there is an overt double standard in society about the acceptable number of sexual partners that each gender can have. That number for men seems to be infinite, while the number for women approaches zero. It's awful, heinous and it supports the culture of victim blaming in sexual assault cases where "she was asking for it" is an acceptable defense of a predator. This double standard seems to be more prevalent in the sports community, even moreso in the combat sports/sports entertainment community. I mean, look at how poorly women seem to be treated in WWE. That treatment has gotten better over the years, but in a promotion where babyface Jerry Lawler fat-shames heel Vickie Guerrero when Vickie Guerrero is not fat, there's still a lot of work to be done. And of course, who could forget the whole Joe Rogan/Maggie Hendricks hullabaloo where people were falling all over themselves to make excuses or defend Rogan's use of the word "cunt" as a modifier for Hendricks' justified calling out of a borderline sociopath who just happened to work for the same company as Rogan.

That being said, there is some merit to the argument that Orton may have been goaded, or that he realized his mistake and backtracked or that maybe he was just joking. For one, the actual wording reads like a joke. If you listen to the actual audio, the host, John Holmberg, keeps hounding and hounding Orton for salacious answers. This is his MO according to Arizonan and TWB superfan Joe O'Toole. Orton also tries to backtrack, and his tone is never really all that sure. There's an argument for mitigation here.

That being said, any mitigating factor, to me, is trivial at best and irrelevant at worst. It certainly does not absolve Orton of criticism. Whether he was sorry or not or whether he was goaded or whatever is irrelevant to me. It still speaks to a much larger problem in this double standard, or slut-shaming as I'll be calling it from here on out. It wouldn't be as big of a problem if it didn't affect people professionally, which I really feel it does. A woman has to feel shame for whom she chooses to share a bed, regardless of whether it's for a sinister motive or not. Regardless of any ulterior intentions, whom people fuck is their own damn business, and if they choose to share that business with you, you're a piece of shit if you share it against their will to an audience of strangers. So, for that to affect a woman professionally, especially if those relationships were non-career advancing, is beyond reprehensible. No one has the right to know these things, and now they're making an impact on the work environment?

Furthermore, those mitigating factors? They're out the window when looking at Orton's history. He has a history of anger issues and disrespecting other co-workers, ESPECIALLY women. I mean, do we remember his alleged bag-defecation? Yeah. When you're a repeat offender, you're looked upon with much more scrutiny than if you're a first-timer with a clean track record.

Then again, the truth is Orton is a product of his environment to some degree. This doesn't excuse him, but it means he isn't the only one whom we should be blasting. Again, going back to the fat- and slut-shaming in angles (hell, Impact's entire Knockouts division is built upon accusations of sleeping to the top) in both major companies and the general "boys club" atmosphere of wrestling, it can be hard to make changes. That doesn't mean the business is long overdue for a women's equality movement. Change has to start with the workers, especially as women wrestlers are starting to become more than just tits, asses, pretty faces and personality-devoid automatons built for nothing but boner fuel for the target audience.

And again, if Orton realized he said a dumb-shit thing and started backtracking, that's a start. However, he needs to train himself to not make those kinds of comments in the future. I don't know if you've noticed, but with the Vickie fat-shaming, John Cena making homophobic statements IN CHARACTER and then backtracking by saying the problem was us, not him, Michael Cole calling Josh Mathews a "faggot" on Twitter and a couple of questionable segments involving R-Truth, the WWE isn't exactly setting an example for being the friendliest or most accepting company for which to work. The WWE shouldn't be so accepting of these kinds of incidents, and they need to start cracking down. Whether you agree with it or not, sponsors don't generally like associating with companies that are seen as controversial in a bad way, or harboring unsavory characters.

However, I'd rather see change be made by the wrestlers themselves. I know that's a tall order, but instead of having to backtrack on the air or make excuses, maybe in the future, Randy Orton should not make those kinds of comments towards fellow co-workers, and most importantly, maybe he ought not to think those things either. Then again, I can't police a guy's thoughts.

Therefore, I'll just take him shutting his mouth and not insinuating that a female co-worker of his sleeps with everyone she can spread her legs for, okay?

Remember you can contact TH and ask him questions about wrestling, life or anything else. Please refer to this post for contact information. He always takes questions!

Wrestling Oddsmakers: RAW's Money in the Bank Match

Will del Rio accessorize his cars with a briefcase?
Photo Credit:
It's that time of the year again, wrestling fans! Money in the Bank is a scant two-and-a-half weeks away, and the lineup for the RAW match was announced this past Monday. Here it is, as follows:
  • Alberto del Rio
  • Alex Riley
  • Evan Bourne
  • Jack SWAGGAH~!
  • Kofi Kingston
  • The Miz
  • R-Truth
  • Rey Mysterio
That's a very interesting lineup, one that will provide some MitB experience, some fresh faces, a gallery of guys who, with the exception of Miz and maybe Mysterio, would feel fresh in the title scene and with Bourne, Kingston and Rey, guys who know how to bring fireworks to a match like this. While I have little doubt this match will deliver, I'm not sure who's going to win. There are a few good choices, but rather than just singling those guys out, why not give odds for everyone, starting with the longest shot and going down to the favorite? Here goes:

Alex Riley
Odds: 500-1

I think WWE likes A-Ry. I really do. He wouldn't be getting this full-faith push if they didn't. I like him too. I think he's got great character chops and if he gets a polish on his ring work, he'll be a good fit for the main event. However, I'll be utterly shocked if he walks away with the briefcase here. It's too soon, and I think they realize it too. Yeah, they're giving him a lot of heat in his feud with Miz, but at the same time, that kind of thing can be a red herring. I mean, look at Kofi after his feud where we all thought he was "made" against Randy Orton. Again, Riley's awesome right now, and he'll get his time in the sun. That time just isn't now.

Evan Bourne
Odds: 250-1

This match is why Bourne is on the roster and probably will remain on the roster. He'll always get prominently featured in it, thanks mostly to the urging of his friends in WWE like John Cena and Randy Orton, but once it's over, management goes back to having him bump for big guys and do his Air Bourne on Superstars. It's a shame, because much like Mysterio, Bourne is fucking exciting to watch, man. While I'll be rooting my hardest for him to win this match, I think those cries will end up being in vain.

Kofi Kingston
Odds: 75-1

If this Money in the Bank were held in December of 2009, then I'd be all-in on Kofi winning. But much like I mentioned before, he's lost his mojo and hasn't really gotten it back, unless being in a perpetual feud with Dolph Ziggler that seems to be personal hell of one Brandon Stroud counts as mojo (hint: it doesn't). Then again, what other face on the RAW side than Cena and Mysterio get the kind of pops that Kofi even still gets? Not John Morrison, he's hurt anyway. I mean, I don't see him winning, but at the same time, I thought that Swagger didn't have a chance in hell in the last WM MitB match, did I?

Jack Swagger
Odds: 40-1

Speaking of SWAGGAH BOMBU~!, this is his first MitB match since that aforementioned briefcase snagging at WrestleMania XXVI. That led to him not being in Smackdown's match last year because he was trying to regain the World Championship from Rey Mysterio. I'm hesitant to say he has a great shot because he's been jobbing to Bourne a lot lately, but then again, they seem to like to break guys down before giving them the briefcase, don't they? Plus, he still has that broken association with Michael Cole going for him, which would segue nice into an angle. He's middling at best, but I give him a better than 50-1 chance because hey, I've been burned once before.

Odds: 25-1

You would think that Truth would be a favorite for this match, given that he's fresh off a WWE Championship opportunity, right? Well no, I'm not sure if that's the case, given that WWE and I seem to be on a similar wavelength as to how to keep Truf fresh and interesting. Sure, Money in the Bank would be a great way to circumvent a conspiracy theory against him, but at the same time, why not have circumstance "screw" Truth here like it did at Capitol Punishment, when he done got got by Little Jimmy? At the same time though, he is a prior contender with a beef with Cena, so he's still more viable than the bottom half of the odds sheet.

Rey Mysterio
Odds: 10-1

Mysterio is always hurt, begging for vacation or if you believe the nebulous sources within WWE, is ready to either retire or take a break. So why give him these kinds of odds? Well, he's probably the most over guy in the match, face or heel, for one. Two, him winning gives them the option of realistically having a cash-in be predetermined because hey, he's an honorable face... stop snickering! Faces still act honor... okay, you win. Still, any match where he's in, he's gotta be a favorite to win.

The Miz
Odds: 5-1

It would be old hat, but in a way, it's a propos, right? Miz has the preeminent experience given his big win last year with a better field (or at least one that had Orton in it), plus WWE is known to do a repeat result. They did it with CM Punk directly, and with Edge, I'm sure they were wishing they'd have had him win two briefcases in a row in the MitB match rather than having to beat Mr. Glass Kennedy for his second one. Also, it sets up an intriguing story where Miz is the first to fail at cashing in, be it clean or through A-Ry-generated shenanigans.

Alberto del Rio
Odds: Even Money

It's his DESTINY. Well, we all thought it was his destiny after winning the Royal Rumble, but he was struck by a Smooth Criminal Rated R Superstar in what turned out to be his last match ever. Such is life. However, you don't get to win the Royal Rumble and not be high on their list, so an ADR title reign is inevitable, right? Plus, he's got Cena at SummerSlam, or at least that's the plan according to an interview he did. There are many different ways this could be set up, but I'm thinking a rematch clause after del Rio takes out Cena, who would have just taken out CM Punk, at that very show, would be the most logical one...

...baaaaht... chu already knew that. *wink*

Remember you can contact TH and ask him questions about wrestling, life or anything else. Please refer to this post for contact information. He always takes questions!

Amasis Update and Tribute

Via their Facebook page

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug
The Funky Pharaoh in one of his final appearances
A week or so after Sugar Dunkerton's Tweets intimating that Amasis had to retire, the official Osirian Portal Facebook page confirmed that Amasis has to retire due to severe injuries suffered in a car accident in early May. The accident did considerable damage to his neck and spine, which are definite trouble areas when it comes to being a pro wrestler, especially in the indies.

While this is terrible and sad news, there is a glimmer of hope here. Amasis' injuries weren't severe enough to impact his quality of life. He'll be able to live like a normal human being, and that is great news to me. He can do other things than wrestle. We still have an entire roster of Chikara faithful who can perform for us. Considering the circumstances, Amasis being able to live without being confined to a wheelchair or the like is the best thing you could possibly hear out of this.

That isn't to say that I won't miss the guy. Portal matches won't be the same without him dancing in the ring, goading opponents into dance-offs or his unique Egyptian time-traveler style melded with lucha libre and puroresu. He's also one of the dudes I always bump into during intermission at Chikara shows, and on every occasion, he couldn't have been a nicer guy. Very fan-friendly, very talkative too. It sucks that the business is losing a guy like him, even if I do think that the industry is filled with affable, fan-friendly wrestlers for the most part.

Good luck and godspeed, Amasis. Get well, and thanks for an awesome career, as truncated as it was.

Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein - Please visit his site to view the plentiful amounts of pictures he's taken for DGUSA, ROH and other indie feds: Get Lost Photography

Remember you can contact TH and ask him questions about wrestling, life or anything else. Please refer to this post for contact information. He always takes questions!


Sexiest mask ever... well after Mankind, of course
Photo Credit: Padje Mescall
It's hump day, so here are some links to get you through the rest of the week.


- The Wrestling Podcast! Last week's show featured Josh "PUNTE" Zerkle, who was an awesome guest and has a podcast of his own (which I pimp in the non-wrestling links). Check this one out though, because there's some great talk about Bret Hart, the "good ol' days" and of course, his work on blogs like With Leather and Kissing Suzy Kolber. [Episode 8: Yankem Hotel Foxtrot]

- My Fair to Flair piece on botching and why it ain't that bad. [Why Botching Isn't the End of the World]

- In case you were wondering, yes, that was a donkey punch by Alberto del Rio on Rey Mysterio last week. [Your Match of the Week, 6/19-6/25, Fair to Flair]

- A piece that I could have run on Fair to Flair but chose to submit to the Camel Clutch Blog for my own reasons. It's about whether to call pro wrestling a sport or theater. [The Case for the Classification of Pro Wrestling]

Wrestling Links

- Kick-Out!! Radio with Jeff Katz. I'm pimping this for three days straight because, despite what some commenters are saying, I really feel like this is an awesome idea. [Kick-Out!! Wrestling]

- A1-Wrestling poster "Handsome" Padje Mescall went to a lucha show in England featuring Skayde and Cassandro and posted tons of pics. [A1-Wrestling]

- A comprehensive look at ROH's Best in the World [The Harrison Analysis]

- Good ol' JR is prescient about CM Punk's comments and talks about filming the sitdown interview between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels for their upcoming DVD. [JR's BBQ Sauce Blog]

- Another take on Queen of Queens from friend of TWB John Hyperion. [Dirty Dirty Sheets]

- The Wheelhouse looks at Kevin Steen. [Camel Clutch Blog]

- Looking at the worked shoot via the CM Punk promo at the end of RAW [Grapple Kingdom]

- A look at Stan Hansen, aka THE MAN [South Atlanta Wrestling]

- I'm not the only one who refuses to pay tribute to Chris Benoit. [Wrestling Theory]

- The best satire is the kind that you have to do a spit take after reading because you think it's real. This is the best satire, Fake Vince going off on Punk for his promo on RAW. [Fair to Flair]

- Speaking of Fair to Flair, the podcast's sixth episode discusses more about why Kevin Kelly sucks. [Fair to Flair]

- Of course Jay Briscoe makes homophobic comments on Twitter AFTER I tell you to follow him. WAY TO MAKE ME LOOK LIKE AN ASS, REDNECK WRESTLER GAWD. [Cageside Seats]

- The Masked Man on Punk. [Grantland]

- More Punk, as he's straight up trollin' on Twitter. [PizzaBodySlam Tumblr]

- Nicole Matthews to do the reverse-SHIMMER migration. [Diva Dirt]

- KSP FJMs MM... err, I mean Mark Madden [Aggressive Art]

- And if that wasn't enough calling out bad journalism, Jason Mann gets in on the action too, only on a much bigger fish. [Wrestlespective]

- Obligatory Best and Worst of RAW column, because seriously, you need to read this every week. [With Leather]

Jamie Dobson Interviews

- Tim Arson

Non-Wrestling Links

- Lindy West fills in for Drew Magary on the Funbag this week. Holy shit, it's awesome. [Deadspin]

- Episode 80 of the House of PUNTE podcast, where I'm more than likely going to hell for losing my shit at Brian Stow jokes. Also, more talk about feces than you might be able to handle. And Brad Jackson talks Longhorn football. [Kissing Suzy Kolber]

- I'm pretty sure that there's no jury in the entire province of Quebec (or is it Ontario?) that would convict Muscles Glasses for snapping haters' necks after they stole burgers from fine-ass ladies. [Epic Meal Time]

- This year's Hockey Hall of Fame class has a distinct Maple flavor. [Puck Daddy]

- Warning: BEAR [Cracked]

- Quentin Tarantino is a foot fetishist? Color me not surprised. [Uproxx]

- Why the Royals may be the next AL team to make the leap from laughingstock to contender. [Grantland]

- How Ian Lapierre won the Masterson Trophy. [Flyers Goal Scored By]

- Mission: Impossible 4 - The Ghost Protocol teaser trailer... featuring Sawyer from LOST. [Buzz Feed]

- Commissioner of the Bush League gets called to Congress [Sports Pickle]

- Captain Kirk vs. Captain Kirk... although I thought they were in Star Trek, not Over the Top... [Unreality Mag]

- Review of Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Marty Day is a brave soul. [Blast-o-Rama]

- Yes, this is for a series that's been over since Sunday. No, I don't particularly care. [The Fightins]

- Self diagnosis becomes self-aware [Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal]

- The summer doldrums are here for sports. Unless you're B-Stroud and are a huge baseball nerd. Then this is the point where you tell Shanoff to shove it. [Dan Shanoff]

- Adam Savage of Mythbusters sings "I Will Survive" as Gollum. Your argument is invalid. [Topless Robot]

- Commentary on the state of the Wisconsin Badgers by a real live badger. [Every Day Should Be Saturday]

- Danger Guerrero FJMs the shit out of someone who got butthurt over Go the Fuck to Sleep. [Danger Guerrero Tumblr]

- Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay are good pitchers. Baaaaht... chu already knew that. [Crashburn Alley]

- Poor Eeyore. [Skull Swap]

- John Ratzenberger is the best actor in America, and other fun uses of the Rotten Tomatoes graph feature. [Film Drunk]

- Maybe the greatest ceremonial first pitch ever? [Bro Bible]

- T-Mobile girl to play Retro Girl in the Powers series. Spoiler alert: she's dead before the series even starts. [Gamma Squad]

- Funniest epic headline ever. [With Leather]

- Sports hipster clothing alert! 1990-91 Golden State Warriors tee available. Given that I was always a huge Tim Hardaway fan, I am intrigued by this. [The Smoking Section]

- The Tasmanian devil's genome has been mapped. What about Taz the Tazmanian Devil? Or Taz, the shitty Impact announcer? Not sure about those yet. [Wired UK]

- RIP Lorenzo Charles. [Hugging Harold Reynolds]

- No more "interim" tag for Luke Fickell at Ohio State. Does that put those Urban Meyer rumors to rest? Fuck no! [Dr. Saturday]

- Tennessee's legislature debates serious business [The Onion]

- How's this for funny? Michael Jackson voiced the crazy white guy claiming to be him on The Simpsons, but he didn't sing the "Happy Birthday Lisa" song. [Warming Glow]

- Rant about that awful-looking new Terra Nova show. [Comic Books and Whatever]

- Some hockey nuggets from TWB superfan Dave Cunning [The SDC Blogs]

Remember you can contact TH and ask him questions about wrestling, life or anything else. Please refer to this post for contact information. He always takes questions!

The Best Moves Ever: Ceiling Rana

I don't need to tell you how awesome Chikara is, or how energetic and fun Frightmare is, or that the following spot is probably one of my favorites from last year. But I'm posting it again. Why? IT'S MY FUCKIN' BLOG, DAMMIT.

Remember you can contact TH and ask him questions about wrestling, life or anything else. Please refer to this post for contact information. He always takes questions!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Wrestling Six Packs: Odd Nostalgia Acts I'd Like to See

Last night, Diamond Dallas Page made a cameo appearance, chewing scenery with Booker T and Shawn Michaels and participating in the figurative disemboweling of Drew McIntyre. WWE has brought back a cavalcade of olden stars in recent times, everyone from George "The Animal" Steele to Lita. But one of the things that nearly every fan loves is seeing people from their past show up. There are still so many guys who'd be awesome in cameo appearances. Here are six I'd love to see.

1. Bob Backlund

In my formative years as a wrestling fan, Bob Backlund was one of the first characters I loved due to what would I'd later term as "the lulz". He was absurd and very easily imitable, but among the field of wrestling trashmen and junk pitchers and dentists, he was a character who was fun. Evil and crazy, but fun. His Presidential campaign was a nice diversion for after he left the main event scene. With that being said, I can't be the only person who'd have thought that seeing him at Capitol Punishment instead of the Obama impersonator would have been a million times better, right?

2. The Bushwhackers

C'mon now, you wouldn't mark for Luke and Butch licking heads and giving noogies on WWE TV? I think they should be in the Royal Rumble every year, getting thrown out within like 3 seconds. It should be tradition, especially now that the Rumble's a straight 40 guys. And don't tell me the kids wouldn't understand them. What's there to grasp about them? They grunt, lick heads and act silly for the kids. Nostalgia for the adults, eccentricity for the kids.

The Genius!
3. The Genius

Yeah, it might be a bit trite in the wake of his brother's death, but really, Lanny Poffo coming back as the bombastically academic Genius would rule all kinds of ass. I think I'd be all about him trading witticisms with Santino. The interplay would be absolutely gut-busting.

4. The Blue World Order

Of course I'm all about getting some old ECW love up in here. The problem with that is that the old guard is either employed by TNA or they're decrepit. I mean have you seen Raven lately? The bWo, in addition to being one of my favorite acts by far of the late '90s, has the luxury of having its members somewhat well put together. Stevie Richards is in amazing shape. Blue Meanie is a pretty decent indie movie star. Nova... well I don't know about Nova. Why would they come back? I don't know, but I'd love to see them take over an episode of RAW to hawk another ECW DVD or something of that ilk.

5. Perry Saturn

He has a crazy face tattoo and spent years in hiding, but isn't that the kind of return that would be the most shocking? I mean, no one knew where Lita was when she came back, so when she showed up next to Pee Wee Herman, well, yeah, it was a poignant moment. Saturn would be the same thing. Plus, MOPPY!

6. Todd Pettengil

Seriously, no one would make me lose my shit if he showed up backstage at RAW more than Pettingil. I don't feel like I need to explain this.

Remember you can contact TH and ask him questions about wrestling, life or anything else. Please refer to this post for contact information. He always takes questions!

The Scoop, The Jazz.

Jazz flute in the band. diversify your bonds.

What They're Saying: CM Punk's Epic Promo

Punk's got people talkin', yo
Photo Credit:
Here you go:

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

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

Casual fans can sit back and watch the show like I wish I could, but it takes a different approach to get those jaded fans to feel something when watching wrestling. Am I suggesting that “worked shoots” should become the new norm? No, but it is an effective storytelling device in the right situation in the hands of the right actors.
I still use those terms, but I can see where Razor's coming from here. For me, I don't think enjoying the product and using those terms and analyzing in that light are mutually exclusive. That being said, I think I envy his outlook a smidge.

My verdict after watching the @CMPunk promo, he just had his Austin 3:16 moment. Don't fuck this one up @wwe .
Only if Punk isn't taking a break. The reason why 3:16 worked so well was because Austin went RIGHT into a feud with Bret Hart. Punk? If he leaves, then some of the impact (not all of it, but some of it) is lost over time.

Mark Madden
But the majority of the audience had little idea what Punk was talking about. Let Impact book for the IWC. WWE has prospered by booking for the casual fan. This was a rare departure from that. Let’s see how effective it is.
I'm all about giving equal time to all POVs, even if it's to a bozo. Anyway, Madden misses the point. Hardcore. But you know who got the point and articulates the shit out of it? The next guy...

David Bixenspan (Cageside Seats)
It was never implied that wrestling is a work, and the references catering to hardcore fans were structured in ways that could plausibly be understood by causal fans:
  • Plenty of fans were watching when Paul Heyman was around and knew he was behind ECW. Everyone knows who Brock Lesnar is and plenty know why he left.
  • Even if you aren't familiar with New Japan Pro Wrestling or Ring of Honor, you're immediately aware that they are other wrestling companies. Colt Cabana was clearly implied to be a wrestler in this strange "Ring of Honor" place.
  • He laid out that John Laurinaitis was one of Vince's "douchebag yes men" before mentioning his name.
  • Stephanie McMahon and Triple H are firmly established on TV as being a married couple.
  • The ending implying that he was going to tell a story about the anti-bullying campaign being hypocritical in light of things Vince McMahon has said to him makes sense both with the hardcore fan interpretation of the real Vince McMahon and the on-screen character he portrays. It also works plausibly as the cut-off point, as sponsors, bad media exposure, etc. are more than just some references to other promotions existing and WWE higher ups being stupid/out of touch.
Take all that and wrap it up into a calmly furious, brilliantly delivered wrestling promo where he still positioned himself firmly as a heel (even using the infamous tales of fans that constantly harrass him and WWE wrestlers at airports in the process), and that's why it worked.
Not only are they awesome at investigative reporting, but they got opinion writing down pat too.

jerseyboy at A1-Wrestling
Oh, it was totally "teh shootz", but it wasn't as offensive here because the WWE doesn't do that all the time. The reason Russo's shoots suck is because TNA does them every fucking week.
Also, with Russo, his shoots are accepted as a part of Impact. WWE? They cut Punk's mic and abruptly ended the show. A promo like Punk's is only effective if people think that management is legitimately pissed at it.

Daniel Bryan
With revolution dripping off his lips with every word, @CMPunk was a god last night.
And you thought ol' AmDrag would be mad by Punk co-opting his "Best in the World" moniker... *emoticon*

Steve Austin
@CMPunk just melted my 52 inch TV with a scorching hot, content, and of the best promos I've ever seen.
That's why a feud between Austin and Punk would rule. There's mutual respect there. You know they'd trust working with each other to make a story between the two be the most epic thing ever.

Justin Henry (Camel Clutch Blog)
Well, the final angle is what made it work, even if it’s as “worked” as anything else. But man, did Punk have that audience listening. Decent matches here and there, but that promo, oh man that promo.

Something else, man.

Kurt Angle
CM Punk had classic promo last night. Good for Him. But if U ever say another word about Me again, Ur toast! If U don't believe Me, try Me!
More than likely referring to when Punk (rightfully) called him a drunk idiot after Angle went after Randy Orton... err, I'm sorry, when the "Twitter hacker" went after Orton. The last time I checked, threatening people for the things they say is generally frowned upon.

Bill Simmons
CM Punk's Monday Night Raw performance tonight was one for the ages.
By now, Simmons can be considered a "casual fan", I'd say. I'm telling you, this is watershed material here.

Brandon Stroud
What Traina isn’t considering is that Punk’s speech WAS real. It comes down to your definition of “real”. WWE is very concerned with making you think what they want you to think. If Kelly Kelly points at you and smiles as she’s trotting down to the ring, they want you to cheer for her. If someone says “each and every one of you” or “you people” into a microphone, you’re supposed to boo. This is supposed to translate into an emotional reaction that is hard to have if you aren’t five. That’s WWE’s reality.

What Punk did was smash a hole in that reality using OUR reality, the reality of the jaded fan on the Internet who wants what you’ve never seen to be the focus of television, and when that happens, wants something else. They didn’t support Scotty Goldman when he was doing picture-in-picture jokes on Smackdown, but they get excited when Colt Cabana is mentioned by name. They get excited when Matt Hardy shows up and blurts out “Ring of Honor”, but give up on him when they realize he’s still just in the WWE, and he’s still just Matt Hardy. That’s how we work, for better or worse. Most of us, anyway.

Punk took what we consider reality — held down wrestlers, pushes for guys who suck, “sports entertainment” replacing “wrestler” on TV, no promotion existing in the eyes of WWE except for WWE, Triple H, Stephanie, backstage WWE and basically everything Chavo Guerrero will be blogging about for the next six months — and used it as a tool to enhance WWE’s interpretation. That’s the genius of last night. Punk took a formula that doesn’t work (“everything else on the show is fake, but this part is real”), paired it with a few other things that don’t work (talking to the Internet on TV, mentioning backstage stuff 90% of your audience has no idea about), and willed them together into something that works by doing something nobody else who has tried has: being great.
Saving maybe the best take for last.

Remember you can contact TH and ask him questions about wrestling, life or anything else. Please refer to this post for contact information. He always takes questions!

Wrestling Revolution Sounds Mighty Interesting to Me

I dig it
I'm going to do something that I did yesterday on here. I'm going to pimp to you the podcast that my Fair to Flair colleague and this week's guest on The Wrestling Podcast, Razor of Kick-Out Blog!! did with Jeff Katz, the Hollywood producer and rabid wrestling fan behind the new concept promotion Wrestling Revolution. It really does give a look inside the mind of a guy who made it in life and now is going to attempt to create something different in the world of pro wrestling.

For those of you who are podcast-a-phobic or who have an axe to grind against Razor and KO or who won't listen for whatever reason, Wrestling Revolution is basically turning wrestling into seasonal format. Before you start cringing at the idea of having a wrestling show working like an icky TV show, realize that Katz isn't here to bastardize the product. At least that's what I got from the podcast. It'll still be wrestling. There'll be matches, promos, everything else that makes wrestling wrestling, but there'll be major differences:
  1. The wrestlers will be playing a character ideated and developed by Katz and his producers, not playing their "regular" characters
  2. In fact, there won't be any "names", just guys being invented or in the case of folks who have WWE/etc. history, reinvented
  3. Like I wrote yesterday, storytelling will reflect scripted drama and the "three act" format
  4. It will be in seasonal format, meaning there'll be an offseason
So right off the bat, this is something that is striving to be what Impact should have been all along - an alternative.

Katz is saying all the right things, and unlike some other people hawking things that he is promising now, I'm inclined to believe him. For one, he's got a lot of friends in the wrestling business. He's also got Hollywood connections, and that's a huge incentive for guys who may not want to kill themselves in the ring for their whole careers.

I think what's most appealing about this project to me is Katz's candor and realism about it. In the podcast, he claims that he's not really getting his hopes up, and if he can do one season of good TV, then he'll be happy with it. The biggest mistake an auteur in any medium can make is to get too greedy and think his or her project is going to own. I think it's that perspective that gives me the most hope. Katz isn't going to try and reinvent the wheel through some grandiose science experiment using the most dangerous form of energy to fuel it; he'll try to start something grassroots but real, and hopefully that will leave an impression on the industry to go along with (and maybe even influence) WWE.

I know that hope always springs eternal in the wrestling industry, and the perception is that it's rarely ever paid off. While I think there has been more than enough in terms of good resolutions, I'm not going to say that a majority of the stuff that has started out good in wrestling has ended well either. That being said, I still think this has a much better than normal chance of providing good content at the very least. I'll be sad if it doesn't succeed, but if Katz gives me one good year with Wrestling Revolution? Then you're damn right I'll be happy about it. That's the thing, finding quality wrestling rather than trying to latch onto something because you think it'll be successful.

So with that in mind, I'm really looking forward to this, and I hope that Katz at least creates a cult classic if anything. Honestly, there needs to be more people with his mindset rather than the one that has poisoned the industry for as long as I've been following it. Trying to recreate the past to a tee doesn't work1. Trying new things doesn't always work either, but that track record has a way, way, WAY better percentage of success than blatant and blow-for-blow rehashing. With all that in mind, I hope you're as jazzed for this as I am.

1 - There's a big difference between trying to catch lightning in a bottle twice and using tried and true tropes that have worked in wrestling for over 100 years to help get new stories and people over. The former sucks. The latter should be a part of any wrestling promotion, whether old or new, traditional or innovative, if that makes any sense to you.

Remember you can contact TH and ask him questions about wrestling, life or anything else. Please refer to this post for contact information. He always takes questions!

CM Punk Singing Sinatra

Your argument... well you know.

Remember you can contact TH and ask him questions about wrestling, life or anything else. Please refer to this post for contact information. He always takes questions!

CM Punk: Making You Wish You Had Never Stopped Watching Wrestling Since 2006

Neener neener
Photo Credit:
Hey, you. Yeah, you, the guy over there complaining that wrestling hasn't been cool since Stone Cold and The Rock and that fat guy with the mask, y'know, Mike Foley or whatever his name was were around, pay attention. You keep saying you want a reason to watch, yet you've had a reason staring you right in the face, well, more than one reason in my estimation, but one really huge one, since at least the summer of 2009, maybe even earlier depending on how early you picked up on a guy with long black hair and a shitload of tattoos would be a major star. Then again, if you think that there hasn't been any good wrestlers since Rocky, then of course you weren't noticing CM Punk.

Well, in case your still-wrestling-fan friends haven't gushed about you about last night's epic promo to close the show, here's the 411. CM Punk has always been that good. He's always been that interesting, always been a great worker and a rousing promo with the rollicking wit and a keen sense of what to say, when to say it, and when to ignore what's been written for him by the failed TV writers.

And there's a decent chance that after July 17th, you'll have totally missed out on him altogether.

Then again, I can't totally blame you people (you people? WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU PEOPLE?) for not picking up on Punk. I mean, one of the reasons why he's rumored to be possibly leaving (that's the beauty of this whole angle... we don't know what the real situation is, and anyone who purports to know is at worst a liar and at best a possessor of a vivid imagination) is that he wasn't happy with the time that he's been featured on the air. So while most WWE programming has featured guys that feed your negative stereotype of what wrestlers are now that the "cool" guys left or are old, maybe you missed out on Punk showing you what he could do. That's a shame. But there's still a chance.

See, from now until about July 17th, even if this is all totally legit and he is leaving for an indefinite amount of time, you still have a little less than a month to bask in the aura of the man who could save professional wrestling from itself if he's given just one chance. Yes, you still have two RAWs, maybe some appearances on three more Smackdowns and the obvious swan song at Money in the Bank. I'd say stick around for all that and see what you've been missing for the last five years on the WWE stage and even the last 10 years if you count his time in the indies. Better late than never, right?

And hell, during that time, pay attention to some of the other guys too. Sure, you may have been put off by Randy Orton, John Cena or whatever, but since you've been gone, there are a whole other cast of characters who might bid you to stay. Evan Bourne, Sheamus, Daniel Bryan, Alberto del Rio, Sin Cara, Cody Rhodes, Wade Barrett, Alex Riley and especially that mouthy kid from the Real World, y'know, the one who wanted to be a wrestler so bad... yeah, The Miz, especially him... they're all worth a fresh look in my estimation. If you like them, then hey, wrestling's fun again. If not? Well, you only have to keep paying attention until Punk presumably leaves.

But then again, he might not leave. He might be yanking all our chains and sticking around, which means you'll luck out. The more morose among us, y'know, the kind of fans who are analogous to the die hard sports fans who get pissed off because their team does well and attracts all these bandwagon phonies aboard, may not think you "deserve" to (as if you need to be deserving to watch grown men pretend fight in their underwear... don't mind them), but hey, I say the more the merrier, especially if you read my blog (CHEAP PLUG). You'll have been witness to a truly historic moment in pro wrestling, one that you can say you were there for.

Yeah, Punk might have made you kick yourself that you weren't watching all this time, and honestly, you should be kicking yourself. You deprived yourself of watching a master at work. Then again, if he leaves, it's not all bad. WWE is slowly but surely getting its DVD library on Netflix, so you'll have ample opportunity to catch up.

Even if that means you only get to watch what we all enjoyed firsthand after the fact.

Remember you can contact TH and ask him questions about wrestling, life or anything else. Please refer to this post for contact information. He always takes questions!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Instant Feedback: No Pillow Fights

I'll give them credit. They could have made the Divas match between Kelly Kelly and Nikki Bella a fluff match, like a pillow fight or a song and dance. They didn't. IT was a submission match. Could it be that maybe they're serious about treating the Divas like women and not silicone and smiles? Well, most of them would have to learn how to work, but it's a start.

That being said, I was rooting so hard for a pillow fight to show up during one of the men's matches. I mean, pro wrestling is a bit homoerotic as it is. It would have been fucking hilarious if Kane and CM Punk hit each other with pillows, although I wouldn't have put it past Punk to load up a pillowcase with doorknobs. IT would have been awesome.

Either way, though, this was a pretty dull show with some good moments. Again, Mark Henry wrecking shit was a big high point in the show. Seriously, give this man a title match and a couple of weeks tossing Randy Orton through tables and into guard rails. I'd buy that PPV in a heartbeat, even if it was one of the lesser PPVs like Bragging Rights, Wrestling Match or Contract Signing. Is it that much to ask? I also marked a bit at WCW-o-Rama going on, with Booker T, Rey Mysterio and DDP all in the same segment, being joined with the only major player not to work for WCW during those days, Shawn Michaels. Speaking of HBK, I thought he and Punk had a GREAT back and forth to start the show.

But it wasn't all good this week. Ziggler and Kofi are running out of story to tell without help from creative. The Sin Cara/Evan Bourne match was okay, but it felt a bit stunted and somewhat sloppy. Again, Jerry Lawler gets to make fat jokes at Vickie Guerrero.

But then again, it all comes back to Punk, doesn't it? It does. The pseudo-shoot promo to end the show was brilliant. Holy fuck, was it brilliant. The only thing that would have made it better is if he had a Troll Face mask on. Brilliant. Youtube this shit if you can. If you missed RAW... holy shit.

This is 2011's Nexus moment.

Remember you can contact TH and ask him questions about wrestling, life or anything else. Please refer to this post for contact information. He always takes questions!

Davey Richards as ROH Champion: An Exercise in Open-Mindedness

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug
Everyone else seems to love Davey... I'll try too.

I have not been enamored with three of the last four wrestlers who have held the ROH World Championship. Not since Austin Aries held the belt has ROH had a Champ that I could really get behind. Of course, @TypicalROHFan will argue that to the death with me; in one of his moments of lucidity, he had tried to tell me Aries' second reign was a dud. Maybe it's just that Aries was Champ when I started following the fed, so maybe it's the same principle by which I'll never fully hate Hulk Hogan, no matter how delusional, or how I can never be fully mad at Lenny Dykstra1 regardless of indiscretion. I don't know, but what I do know is that Tyler Black, Roderick Strong and now Davey Richards really leave me flat.

Black and Strong have track records. You know my disdain for the currently-christened Seth Rollins. I don't have the Brandon Stroud-levels of disdain for Roddy. I like him all fine and good, but as the top guy in ostensibly the number three promotion in America, I'm not sure I buy him. He'd be a good points leader for EVOLVE, but for a ROH World Champion? I don't get it.

So that brings us to Eddie Edwards and Davey Richards. Edwards to me felt fresh at least, and I've seen him in good singles matches. I also think he's got more of a handle on how to be a viable out-of-ring character. Richards, however... well, he's a good tag wrestler. I've seen exactly one singles match featuring him that I really liked, a tilt against Kevin Steen at PWG's first Kurt RussellMania. Out of the ring, he's just so dry. I mean, his Twitter going up to the title match was him training. Not my cup of tea. I know that I'm one person, but this sort of testimony isn't exactly the best for a guy holding the biggest title in the company.

However, I will admit that DR as Champion is something that is a little over 24 hours old. I really can't judge his reign so much as I'm judging the idea of it. It's the kind of thing that people might find to be obnoxiously close-minded. Now, I like to think of myself as open-minded. So I'm going to give DR a chance.

I'll start with the match against Edwards. Maybe that'll surprise me. And maybe as Champion, he'll bring a new dynamic to the main event. The vibe I got from the title-change program was that it wasn't face vs. heel, but more like rival vs. rival, two guys cultivating fan followings. Maybe if we get a fresh vibe out of this, I can forgive the excessive matches if they happen.

But that's the rub, I've gotta give it a shot. I will, and hopefully, I'll be pleasantly surprised. With ROH coming back to television in a few months, I'll get plenty of opportunities.

1 - Dykstra was my favorite player on the team that tipped the scales for me as a sports fan, the 1993 Phillies.

Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein - Please visit his site to view the plentiful amounts of pictures he's taken for DGUSA, ROH and other indie feds: Get Lost Photography

Remember you can contact TH and ask him questions about wrestling, life or anything else. Please refer to this post for contact information. He always takes questions!

Guest Blog: The Best and Worst of ACW Queen of Queens

Portia Perez about to be betrayed...
Photo Credit: Brandon Stroud
Brandon Stroud is the managing editor at With Leather. He's an unabashed fan of everything indie wrestling, especially female indie wrestling. He's also become a good friend of TWB, so of course if I was going to solicit a show review for Anarchy Championship Wrestling, I was going to solicit him. Here's his review of their latest show, the Queen of Queens, in his usual Best and Worst format.

One of the only downsides of my infant editorial power at With Leather is that I don't often get a chance to write about pro wrestling I love. It's hard enough to get over with a mainstream sports audience writing about WWE. If I wrote 10,000 words on Kenta Kobashi they'd call it "fake WWE". So of course I don't get to write about independent wrestling, which is where my bread has been buttered since Chris Benoit killed himself and WOW: Women of Wrestling went off the air.

That was a good show.

But hey, I'm lucky enough to live in one of the five or so cities in the country with a legitimately great independent pro wreslting company, Austin and Anarchy Championship Wrestling respectively. Yesterday they ran their annual "American Joshi Queen of Queens Tournament" in Live Oak, Texas, and because TH has become my straight up Bro Wrestling I'm going to give you an extremely truncated review of the tournament in "Best and Worst" style. If you want actual results, check out his weekend recap. I am not in the business of actually saying what happened on wrestling shows.

Best: Women's Wrestling is Awesome

I don't even really need the qualifier "women's" here, because it's not that women wrestling each other is good, it's that 1) good wrestling is good, and 2) it's nice to see women treated as normal, equal human beings who can do things without any real barriers or restrictions. Sure, ACW gets its share of horny woots and Dawn Marie "whore/crackwhore/herpes" chants, but someone like Rachel Summerlyn gets to be a popular wrestler because she's good in the ring and nice, and not because she's pretty. Although she's extremely pretty.

The tournament featured seven legitimately talented female wrestlers and Angel Blue. And what's great is that it didn't feature the same women you'd see in every other indy wrestling thing. Daizee Haze wasn't there, Cheerleader Melissa wasn't there, Sara del Rey wasn't there. I like those wrestlers a lot, but the Queen of Queens show did it right by throwing in some big names (like Serena Deeb and Daffney), pairing them with fresh, popular faces making a name for themselves (Christina von Eerie, Mia Yim, Rachel) and throwing in some people you'll be seeing everywhere in a few years (Athena, Amanda Fox if she keeps it up). And also Angel Blue.

So we got a cool show that worked as a statement on women's wrestling by being all about women's wrestling, but not really about being women. Does that make sense?

Worst: Angel Blue

I don't like to talk shit about indy wrestlers on the Internet, especially ones that are always hanging around down the street from my house, but Porita Perez hit Lillie Mae in the face with a wrench during the pre-match ceremonies and Angel Blue got subbed in instead. Lillie Mae is cool. She's unique, she's got a lot of personality. Angel Blue looks like that girl you knew in high school who got pregnant (you know the one, the one who wears blue eye shadow and smokes Newports and always looks like she's about to fall asleep) and she has "Angel Blue" written across her butt with a halo over it like she's a walking roll of toilet paper. And I think she called me "faggot" about eight times in one sentence. The conversation went something like this:

Me: "Unsatisfactory substitution."
Angel Blue: "WHAT"
Me: "Unsatisfactory substitution."

...and I was like "ha, okay!" Then she lost about five minutes later. Homophobia is lazy, Texas wrestlers!

But Best: Literally Everything Else

The show was solid, even if ACW shows tend to run into the five and six and seven hour territory. I mentioned it a little on The Wrestling Podcast, but the talent in my local promotion is crazy. I grew up in a place where the biggest local wrestling stars were guys who shaved their heads and pretended to be Koloffs. Here we've got the crew from St. Louis (including ACW Champion Davey Vega, who put on a great match with Darin Childs, who deserves his own "best" for dropping 100 pounds), we've got guys like Masada flying in from Tournaments of Death to be there, we've got future stars like Matt Palmer and ACH (and I don't say that because they're guys I like locally, they are at least as good as anybody on the ROH undercard, and WWE should be driving trucks of money up to ACH's house and putting him on TV before he ages and his body stops working like that), we recently had Robert Evans, who is the talk of the...

Oh, wait, hold on.

WORST: Robert Evans Returns

I love Robert Evans. I went to King of Trios and ran up to Archibald Peck just to get a picture with him. I'm the guy in the crowd at Trios cheering like a mother for Peck. HOWEVER. His glorious return to ACW had to coincide with him turning on Porita Perez and costing her a repeat run as the American Joshi Queen of Queens, and no amount of understanding how wrestling works makes that okay for me. Maybe I'm doing it wrong by being the only person in the crowd cheering for Portia, but if that makes me wrong, I don't want to be right. Evans, you made me a sad sort of guy for the last half of that show.

Best: But Seriously, Rachel Summerlyn

Rachel is the best. She puts so much work into this thing, and she's always out there killing herself for it while it happens. She put on three good matches yesterday to take the trophy, and she delivered the closest thing I've ever heard to a sincere, humble thank you at the end. It wasn't Sean Waltman channeling Randy the Ram. It was somebody goodhearted having something happy happen to them. And that is cool.

Supplementary Best: Jessica James' Ankle Scrunchie

I don't think I have a picture of it anywhere, but Rachel's tag team partner Jessica is commonly barefoot, and she wears her scrunchie around her ankle. I don't know if I need to explain to you why that's great, but if I do, I'm not going to.

Worst: Portia Perez Doesn't Want My Money

It's my fault for deciding a shoot heel is one of my favorite wrestlers in the world. I've been a normal, sexually-nonaggressive fan of her work since Cleveland All Pro Wrestling, and I made sure to hit up an ATM before the show and bring cash for a t-shirt, an 8 x 10, and any number of miscellania she might've carried down from Canada in a gym bag. There was nothing. Athena had a new t-shirt, Christina Von Eerie had a file folder full of photos, Serena Deeb brought SHIMMER stuff. Portia sat upstairs. So I bought a Davey Vega shirt and went out for burritos after the show.

I am right here with my money and I want to give it to you. And you don't even have to be nice to me about it!

Best: Tip the Wrestlers

This is something a lot of wrestlers don't understand, and if you live in that Philly area where you get seven competing wrestling shows within a five mile drive every weekend you probably don't and can't do it, but if you go to an independent wrestling show and can buy something from a wrestler or pay them for a photo, do it. It's like a tip. They're probably getting a little money to be there, but it's not a lot. Think of it like a server's wage. Sure, the server is getting 3 bucks an hour to wait tables, so you don't HAVE to leave them a tip, but if you aren't the hole of a butt you see them working their ass off for you. Drop a couple of bucks every now and then. Skip the nachos or the second beer. Support independent wrestling, and do it for real. Because these are human folk, believe it or not.

Best/Worst?: Chris Hero

Chris Hero is supposed to be in Austin next month to take on ACH, and that is more or less the kind of thing that could make me dance around in happy circles. If WWE buys out the Kings of Wrestling and he doesn't show up, and Angel Blue ends up wrestling ACH, I swear to God...

Remember you can contact TH and ask him questions about wrestling, life or anything else. Please refer to this post for contact information. He always takes questions!

The Lost Art of Telling a Story

Pictured: Katz, a guy who gets it
Photo Credit: Ames247
If you haven't listened to the landmark 60th episode of Kick-Out Radio, what the hell are you waiting for? Seriously, it's one of the best personalities in the wrestling journalism/opinion writing community talking to Jeff Katz about turning the wrestling industry on its ear. If you have listened to it, then you know that Katz spent about an hour detailing his vision for Wrestling Revolution, which is his plan to take wrestling to its next evolution. He laid out a lot of really good ideas, but one thing that he mentioned in the interview was that he hoped to lay out a wrestling promotion that had a three-act storytelling structure.

If this idea in general sounds revolutionary to you, then man, to quote Kurt Cobain, "I wish I were like you, easily amused". In terms of movies, television, scripted stage productions, etc., this format has been around since the dawn of recorded history. So why would he be so adamant about bringing that format back to wrestling? Well, "back" is definitely the key word here. That overarching storytelling trope has been lost in both WWE and Impact Wrestling, either for instant gratification, the swerve-for-the-sake-of-having-a-swerve model or some combination of both, depending on what month it is. If that doesn't make you sad, then hello, Vince Russo! Glad to see you reading my blog. I'm not sorry that I trash you on here, because you deserve it.

For everyone else who likes to have a cogent story attached to their wrestling, this has to sound like a breath of fresh air. I mean, what happened to having acts, having rising action, a climax, falling action and a resolution? WWE gives you 5 PPVs in a row of a babyface beating a heel clean as a whistle and tells you it's supposed to be a story. In what universe? Impact starts stories, muddles them with swerves and gives us no resolution. What sane person would buy a book or watch a movie if they were promised nothing even coming close to an end to the story? Wrestling companies in the mainstream strain to be accepted as part of the established entertainment, so why do they abandon the thing that keeps people coming in and satisfies them with the greatest success?

While wrestling is more than just theater, and while it has way more elements to it than scripted drama has, the fact is that the artform is still very much storyline driven. The matches are only a part of the equation, and even then, those matches probably should have some kind of story contained within to be good, whether it's part of a continuing arc or whether it's self-contained within the match.

Granted, WWE does give you a good story, but by and large, their angles and feuds are muddled messes where babyfaces dominate for the most part. Impact had one story that was put together okay in Jarrett/Angle, but other than that, it's best that we don't talk about them. Consistency, an overall master-plan and having people delegated towards planning the future for the individual stories while keeping the whole vision of the company in mind are all things that are missing in both companies and in some of the indies in America today.

If these problems are fixed, would it lead to another wrestling boom? I don't know, and really, I don't care. Unlike some people, I couldn't give any more of a fuck than what I give now if wrestling returned to 1998 levels of popularity. Let it stay afloat enough so that I have options. I care more that the product I'm consuming is good. That's why I feel like guys like Jeff Katz should be supported. If the only contribution he had in the next five years was that WWE and/or Impact ripped off his ideology, then he'll be rightfully lauded as one of the great people in this business. It shouldn't be up to CM Punk alone to make the show's story feel like something more than a hastily-thrown-together mish-mash of instant gratification.

Until then though, storytelling will remain a lost art in pro wrestling, and as a long-time fan, that makes me sad. I want a lot of things out of my wrestling, and to be completely honest, storytelling is tied for first along with great wrestling action in the ring. I'd dare say that it should be like that for you too. But if I did say that, I'd be projecting.

Remember you can contact TH and ask him questions about wrestling, life or anything else. Please refer to this post for contact information. He always takes questions!