Sunday, July 31, 2011

Tomato, Tomato


Growing up, the Frost family called the television remote the ‘changer.’ Why? Who knows, but people, IT TOTALLY MAKES SENSE. Doe is not CHANGE the channel? CHANGE the volume? CHANGE from television to dvd/alternate video? Yes, it does. It changes ALL OF THOSE THINGS, and more.

I was judged by my friends, as I referred to it as a changer, and they didn’t know what that meant. I explained what it was, and they would mock me. Hello! What does it remote?

As I have moved out of my parentals, gone to school, lived with others, and purchased my own home, I have evolved. I recognize the universal term of ‘remote’ with more acceptance now. I will still occasionally call it a changer though,--force of habit (and the fact that I believe IT IS a changer of things). I still actually call a scale a weigher-to which my best friend still scoffs at. Part of me believes that a weigher seems lighter than a scale. I suppose I am more of an adverb kinda girl, than a noun person. I call objects by their job. I make the world more obvious—so you’re welcome world.

The point of this post—the changer, a truly wonderful invention. I am grateful I don’t have to get off my duff and adjust the TV during an intense part of the show or if the show is boring me, I don’t have to manually do it. You have made my life a smidge more lazy.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

This Week in DVR: I'm a Good Guy Now, Fella

It's a fellabration!
Photo Credit:
I watched what I couldn't watch live on my DVR and the Internet this week. Here's what stood out:


Colt Cabana vs. Joey Ryan on NWA Hollywood - Solid main event with a lot of good storytelling vis a vis Adam Pearce as the guest ref. I thought some of the TV editing cut off a good bit of this, going to commercial when Cabana was shoving Pearce. There was one flubbed spot on Cabana doing the Asai moonsault (which I can't criticize too badly because it was COLT CABANA DOING AN ASAI MOONSAULT), but the action was really good throughout. Some great brawling, and nice showboating tactics from Ryan. The DQ finish left me a little flat, but it was still a decent match.

Heath Slater vs. Trent Baretta on Superstars - Wow, who knew Heath Slater could work? Maybe he didn't get as much of a stage to shine as well as he did in this match, or maybe he did some overtime in FCW, learning from guys like William Regal and Big Dust. Either way, wow, what a match. Slater brought it on offense, which is good, because it's the first time I've been impressed with him when he was bringing the heat, and the first time I've been impressed with him overall since WrestleMania:

That will never get old. Ever. I think where I started to feel this match most was when Baretta ran to the corner and anticipated Slater coming in behind him. He did a leapfrog, but Slater just sidestepped him and kicked him in the gut. Really clever spot. I like his spinebuster too. Baretta was a great opponent for him too, because the former Dudebuster bumps well and has such reckless abandon. He's a great nouveau-style jobber. Solid finish with a good sequence in the corner going to Baretta whiffing on a corkscrew and Slater dropping him with an inverted DDT. Really good stuff.

Chris Masters and Santino Marella vs. Michael McGillicutty and David Otunga, non-title, on Superstars - No, it's not a typo. Otunga has made the honor roll. I think that's a credit to WWE that they've found a role where they can hide his deficiencies well and put him with a guy who can carry the load, even if McGillicutty is a little green himself. Of course, playing off two of the best workers in the company will do a lot to help that along as well. Masters didn't spend a lot of time in the match, but that's okay, because how about Santino? The more I see him, the more impressed I get with him as a total package guy in the ring. He just plays the crowd so well, and his expressions and bantering in the ring is second to none. He even has some cool moves, like that spinning fireman's carry takeover he did earlier in the match. I thought it was good tag fare.


NWA Hollywood - Okay show this week. The undercard stuff was underwhelming but alright, excepting the blindfold match. I really don't think it's possible to do a good blindfold match, to be honest. The main event stuff was well done, and this Erik Watts guy has a real good look. Very imposing. The injury angle with Cabana getting spike piledriven was okay, and I'm guessing they'll push him and Pearce as two guys with neck injuries going forward.

Superstars - Another really good show this week... baaaaaht, chu already knew that. It looked like they went with all extended length matches, which is good, because it lends itself to some good action. I thought that the first two matches were really good, and the main event between Jack Swagger and Alex Riley was just okay though. Riley is still really green, although he has some promise. When he learns how to work some basic psych into his matches, he'll be a lot better, but I pray to God that he ditches that awful "grenade" spot. Let's just forget for a second that Chuck Taylor's introduction of imaginary grenades into wrestling matches is so sublime that it renders anything else, imitation or not, just the very definition of moot. The gesticulations involved with Riley's grenade are just too drawn out and bad. And this is coming from someone who grins and bears it every time Cena goes into a Five Knuckle Shuffle. That grenade makes the FKS look like the People's Elbow and the People's Elbow look like a tombstone piledriver.

Impact - The show was mostly based on "Joker" Sting, Immortal and Kurt Angle as characters, centered around obtaining "stroke" and using the Network to engage in a power struggle. So therefore, I didn't much care for this week's Impact. About the only thing that was really enjoyable to me was the promo segment with Alex Shelley, Brian Kendrick and Austin Aries, but you probably already knew that.

Smackdown - Decent show with underwhelming wrestling. Triple H's segment to start was okay, not as good as Monday's. I liked seeing more Zack Ryder, but I hope this doesn't mean he's not wrestling anymore. The out-of-ring segments were stronger than the matches on the whole, especially the ones involving Daniel Bryan and Wade Barrett and the confrontation between Mark Henry and Sheamus. I like that Sheamus is going face too. People have been sporadically cheering him for a year or so, and I really look forward to a series of slugfests between those two big hosses.

Future Endeavors 7/30 Power Poll: We Rushed Punk... Back to the Top of the Power Poll

Photo Credit:; manipulation: unknown
Welcome to yet another edition of the Future Endeavors Power Poll, a poll ranking wrestlers on a weekly basis based on how awesomely they performed or were portrayed on a Tuesday-to-Monday cycle. It is voted by a who's-who of wrestling bloggers, including my blogging Daniel Bro-yan, PizzaBodySlam. I will list the top ten, and then post and comment on my ballot. Here goes:

1. CM Punk (1)
2. John Cena (6)
3. Rey Mysterio (7)
4. Alberto Del Rio (3)
5. Christian (4)
6. Daniel Bryan (2)
7. Dolph Ziggler (NR)
8. The Miz (8)
9. Mark Henry (5)
10. Zack Ryder (NR)

And now, my ballot:


2. Kevin Steen - Three matches at PWG EIGHT, three wins, including taking home the World Championship. If it weren't for CM Punk, Steen would be the hottest property in wrestling right now, I think.

3. Gregory Iron - Yeah, he lost his match at AAW, but he got a rub from Punk that every other wrestler in the world would kill for.

4. Rey Mysterio - He may have been Champion for only 90 minutes, but what a 90 minutes it was!

5. John Cena - Yeah, he got shown up by Punk, but hey, that match with Mysterio was awesome.

6. Daniel Bryan - He's cashing in at WrestleMania! It's a long way off, and a lot could happen, but, *sniff*, our boy is growing up.

7. Dolph Ziggler - Hey guys? Dolph Ziggler's pretty good.

8. Christian - He's a sneaky fella, fella. Wait, that was supposed to be Sheamus related. This is Christian. Oh well, be that as it may, Christian is still tearing it up on Fridays.

9. The Miz - The match between him and Mysterio was a seriously good tilt. His ring work is catching up with his character.

10. Jim Ross - BAH GAWD. BAH GAWD. BAH GAWD. Yeah he's not a wrestler. No, I don't give a shit. It was good hearing JR again.

Finlay's In Battle of Los Angeles This Year, Guys

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The man
Via PWG's site

PWG has announced the eight names to compete in this year's Battle of Los Angeles tournament, held in Reseda August 20th (is it just me, or are they having BOLA earlier and earlier in the year every year now?) The competitors are Willie Mack, World Champion Kevin Steen, former Champ Claudio Castagnoli, Roderick Strong, Eddie Edwards, Chris Hero, El Generico and... wait for it...


They fucking got Finlay for BOLA this year, and they've paired him off with Steen in the first round. It's at this point that I submit to PWG to stop being so awesome because they're all the way on the West Coast and I got a kid coming and I can't in good conscience plan a West Coast road trip to Reseda when I gotta feed a baby GAWD. I'll say it before and I'll say it again; I expect no one to feel sorry for my jealousy because I live in Philly, the mecca of indie wrestling in America. However, that'll never stop me from being out and out jealous that SoCal has one of the two best indies in America and that I can't go to experience it live without great personal cost.

*Awaits backlash from people who note I'll be going to both shows this weekend for the other best indie fed in America*

But yeah, Finlay vs. Steen is obviously Match of the Year candidate bait, but some of those other first round matchups are good looking too. Chris Hero vs. Willie Mack is something that a lot of people have been looking forward to. Eddie Edwards vs. Roderick Strong is a match we've seen in ROH, but that doesn't mean it won't be really good in PWG too. Claudio and Generico is tried-and-true proven goodness. So yeah, it's no stretch to say that if you live in SoCal, like wrestling and don't go to this, you're a terrible person and deserve to be dragged around East Los Angeles by your pinkie toes.

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

Friday, July 29, 2011

Follow Friday: The Masked Man

Photo Credit: Deadspin
One of the best writers about wrestling on the Internet isn't even in our circle. His name is David Shoemaker, but you may know him better as The Masked Man, or @AKATheMaskedMan on Twitter. While you'd expect the best writing on wrestling to be done at, say, Fair to Flair (CHEAP PLUG) or what not, there's a strong case that it's being done by Shoemaker at Deadspin and Grantland, two sites that you don't normally associate with pro wrestling all the time. He just gets it.

He started out at Deadspin doing the "Dead Wrestler of the Week" in which he'd write really verbose but really beautifully constructed career retrospectives of, you guessed it, dead wrestlers. I guess you could say he's an OG when it comes to writing about wrestling in a constructive, critical way that looks at what happened on the screen rather than how much money it's making. From there, he landed a gig doing the wrestling columns at Grantland. Bill Simmons is a noted wrestling fan, so of course he was going to have someone covering it on the site. I'm glad he got Shoemaker to do it, because hey, if you're going to have someone write about wrestling on a sports journalism and opinion site that set out to raise the bar, you might as well get the best around.

Follow him on Twitter. He's not around 24/7 like some folks, i.e. me, but he when he's there, he brings insight. Great member of the Better Wrestling Journalism Group.

"A Nice Chianti." CHEERS!

I work with a total kindred spirit. In fact, we share the same birthday. Yes, perhaps she is maybe 25 years older, but we have so much to share with one another. And by share, I mean our love of movies. She and I swap shows on a weekly basis, probably. She introduces me to many a wonderful older movie/made for TV movies, and I throw in some more current ones (with the occasional underground older one she hasn’t seen). It has worked out well for us. Then, once we watch it we have a bit of a movie sharing-time (like a book club, but WAY better).

She loaned me Hannibal Rising. It was totally random, but we were talking about violent movies, and she asked if I’d seen Silence of the Lambs. Yes, I had, and she suggested I find out why ol’ Hannibal Lecter was all cray cray and eating people.

I watched it last week, late Saturday night. Did it disappoint? It most certainly didn’t. It starts off by showing where he grew up, and all the jacked up stuff he witnessed—parents getting blown to pieces, little sister getting eaten by evil/starving Nazis, grows up mute in his family’s castle (which has been turned into a boy’s orphanage) Way sad stuff.

He runs away, and locates a long lost aunt in France (his mom’s sissy-in-law). She is a super young HAWT Asian chick, who just so happened to have lost her hubby a year or so back—very convenient stuff. They both share a love of the mystical history of her Asian heritage, both of them witnessed their families getting murdered in front of them, and they are both super attractive people. She trains him to be a b.a.m.f. and he gets early acceptance into medical school. All the while in school, he’s trying to locate the a-holes that ate his little sister all those years ago.

Oh, he finds them. And one by one, kills them off in dramatic and clever ways, all the while he nibbles at his prey. Gruesome stuff, I tell ya. But, it made for a very entertaining show. And yes, young Hannibal is super delectable (pun intended) Gaspard Ulliel needs to be in more mainstream stuff. What a hot French guy. He has this creepy dimple that is super high up on his cheek bone, which makes him look even more sinister in the part, when he smiles. Me likey.

My Favorite Wrestlers Ever: #1

Photo Credit:

What, you were expecting Jey Uso?

Chris Jericho
Five Favorite Matches: with He Who Shall Not Be Named vs. Triple H and Steve Austin on RAW in June May 2001, vs. The Rock at Vengeance 2001, vs. Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania XIX, vs. John Cena on RAW from England in 2009, vs. Edge at WrestleMania XXVI
Five Favorite Moments: Naming all 1004 of his holds on Nitro, verbally sparring with The Rock upon his debut, Unifying the WWF and WCW Championships at Armageddon 2001, that video he did with Delirious at the West Virginia indie show, punching Shawn Michaels' wife in the face

My fandom of Chris Jericho started innocently enough during an episode of Hardcore TV. He was defending his ECW Television Championship against Pitbull #2. It wasn't exactly the best match, mainly because #2 wrestled like he was a #2, but there was something about the guy with the long blond mane and the rockstar charisma that made me curious, and curiously enough, made me a fan of ECW from that day forward. I kept tuning back into ECW hoping to find Jericho, but he was gone to WCW by that time. Being a WWF fan, I only really nominally watched WCW back in those days, which sucked for me because I did miss out on a lot of good first-run Jericho. But I still got enough of a whiff of him there that when he debuted in the WWF in mid-1999, I was excited.

It didn't take very long for that excitement to turn into a full-blown mancrush, one that lasts until this day. Every time he held a microphone in his hand, he made sparks fly. That was a maxim from day one, when he came out, confronted The Rock and held his own with the WWF's most established mic worker, maybe the best in history. From there, he kept going and made himself must-see, even when he was saddled with shit to work with (see, co-Intercontinental Champions with Chyna). He got the crowds riled up on the stick, and then in the ring, he'd deliver with exciting fare that gave the WWF a taste of what he, along with his cruiserweight colleagues, did largely to no due from his bosses in WCW.

While screaming hordes of fans will tell you otherwise, Jericho was way more appreciated by his bosses in WWF/E than he was in WCW. Yes, everyone will tell you that he was buried, or that he was misused. Looking back at it, he was the guy who unified the titles. He had blazing hot feuds with The Rock and John Cena. When he came back after his three year hiatus, he won six more titles, was in showcase feuds with Shawn Michaels, Cena, Batista and Edge. He was given incredible free reign on the microphone, and he'll probably end up in the WWE Hall of Fame unless he murders someone or shits on Vince's shoes or something. I think that's a pretty good career, even if he had a couple of feuds where they totally did him ZERO favors (the one with Triple H going into WrestleMania X-8 being the biggest example).

To harp on him always being "buried" is to denigrate his career contributions, especially in some of those cases (his first WWE exit at the hands of John Cena being the most famous example), it was HIS idea to be "humiliated". You want to remember him for being treated badly? Go ahead, but that's not how I choose to remember him. He's my favorite of all time, not because he was a trendy cause celebre, but because the man was, and when he comes back, still is, one of the most entertaining personalities and gifted ring generals of all-time.

He shoots holes in the theory that wins and losses and Championships define a wrestler. Yeah, that may be moot now with his six World Championships, nine (NINE!) Intercontinental Championships, several tag titles and other accolades, but do you think people will define him by the titles he won? I mean, when Triple H comes before the carpet for his all-time judgment, you know one of the first things that'll be put in his plus column will be the 14 World Titles. For Jericho, I bet a thousand bucks it'll be the ARMBAR promo. Or going back and forth with The Rock. Or to use a later example, giving Shawn Michaels' wife a severe case of accidental (?) sockjaw at SummerSlam in 2008. He's the guy who will be remembered as the performer, not necessarily for his dick length in titles and achievements.

That's why Jericho is my favorite ever. That's why, until King of Trios this year, Jericho's t-shirt was the only one that I'd ever owned. It's because he got what pro wrestling should be about, and he embodied it (and will continue to embody it eventually, once he's done being a rock star for the time being). For that, I thank Y2J for being awesome, for being the Ayatollah of Rock 'n Rollah and for deciding that hey, being a wrestler was the career choice for him.

The Full List
1. Chris Jericho
2. Steve Austin
3. The Rock
4. Austin Aries
5. Hulk Hogan
6. Bret Hart
7. Bryan Danielson
8. Eddie Guerrero
9. Randy Savage
10. Dusty Rhodes
11. Tommy Dreamer
12. Claudio Castagnoli
13. Davey Boy Smith
14. Christian
15. Roddy Piper
16. The Road Warriors
17. Stevie Richards
18. Jim Duggan
19. Ted DiBiase
20. The Miz
21. CM Punk
22. Yokozuna
23. Booker T
24. UltraMantis Black
25. Kurt Angle

The Very European Beginning of the End?: Chikarasaurus Rex Preview

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Quack. Claudio. One Last Time.

Chikarasaurus Rex: King of Sequel, is a two day event which will cap off what has been an excellent month in professional wrestling. Saturday's card takes place in Reading, PA at the Goodwill Fire Hall on 100 Madison Avenue (doors open at 6:30 PM) . Sunday's event will be in Philadelphia, at the former ECW Arena at Swanson and Ritner (doors open at 3:30 PM). Both cards will be known for their guest stars, and have gained a sort of accord because of them. Granted, Mima Shimoda, Johnny Kidd, Portia Perez, two imports from the Ice Ribbon promotion in Japan, Adam Cole, El Generico, Colt Cabana and of course, Johnny freaking Saint, would be enough to sell anyone on going to one or both of the shows.

Hell, I was already going to the Philly show, and thanks to a series of fortunate turns in events, I'm more than likely heading to Reading as well, mainly because I'm a Chikara fanatic and go to every Philly show possible. But even so, the two English legends of Saint and Kidd were huge selling points for me. Not only am I huge into English chain wrestling, but they're both William Regal approved. Who better to give his stamp to guys you may never have seen before than the surly English legend?

However, there is another reason, one that has nothing to do with Chikara storylines or happenings (but at the same time, everything), why people need to go to these shows. Night one has a match between Claudio Castagnoli and Mike Quackenbush. Yeah, that may not sound all that special right now, because they've had several matches against each other over the last decade. They're inexorably linked, especially given the events of 2010, with Quack leading the Chikara faithful against Claudio's charging Germanic invaders, the BDK. Tomorrow night's match takes on a more wistful tinge given that Claudio, along with his tag team partner Chris Hero, are reputed to be on their way to WWE.

That makes this match between the two titans of the indie world perhaps their final encounter ever. That puts a much different spin on things than when this match was originally charted out as part of the 12 Large Summit. Nominally, Claudio would come into this match as the mega bad guy, and Quack as the protector of all that was good. He'd stand as a barrier between the evil Swiss evildoer and the honor of being called the first ever Chikara Campeon del Mundo. With the specter of Claudio leaving, this match might become the first of a prolonged farewell tour from the indies for the King of Wrestling. What better opponent to kick that tour off with than his longtime rival and colleague in Quack?

Of course, there are any number of things that could demean everything I'm writing here. Quackenbush could always join Claudio in WWE (highly unlikely). Claudio may end up back in the indies after a year for whatever reason (more likely). I mean, remember the last time he was signed by Stamford? He didn't even make it to developmental before he got his future endeavor well-wish. Of course though, I have more of an optimistic view on this, and I seriously want Claudio and Hero to succeed at the next level. They more than deserve it.

So, it's with that in mind that I write this match off as a very special occasion. Hell, the match the next night in Philly, Claudio taking on his BDK partner and stablemate everywhere else in the indies Sara del Rey in another 12 Large Summit match. Honestly, I'm not sure why WWE didn't take del Rey as part of a package deal with the Kings, since with the signing of Kharma and the extension of Divas matches beyond the normal 20 seconds, they seem to be serious about pushing women's wrestling as more than time filler. Still, that's the card she's been dealt. This match to me was a big deal before Claudio's rumored leaving was even an option. Now? Well, there may just be an electric atmosphere in The Arena, way more electric than any match between two BDK members ever would have been before now.

That isn't to say the weekend is all about Claudio. Again, the lineup is stacked. Saint and Kidd will go 30 minutes in six separate five-minute rounds on Saturday; Sunday, Saint will team up with Quack and Kidd with Cabana to provide obvious Match of the Year candidate bait. The fact that Shimoda will follow in the footsteps of Manami Toyota is a huge deal in and of itself. Quack is serious about giving the fans of America a proper Joshi education, and for that, he deserves some major props. Team 3.Ole reforming for two matches over the weekend is music to my ears.

And hell, maybe the most entertaining part of the weekend could very well be the culmination of the Flex Express. Green Ant has been on a mission, and although it wasn't a mission from God like it was for Jake and Elwood, it was handed down from Lady Liberty and from the person whose original run in 1993 inspired this whole story:

(Go to 2:50 on the video to start)

Yep, that's right, Lex Freaking Luger is on board with the Flex Express. That. Is. Awesome. If you don't know, well, Greenie has been out to take down Tursas. He body slammed the Finnish Warlord at King of Trios en route to the Colony defeating the BDK in the second round of the tournament. He's been on a tour of America (and oddly enough, Canada too), and now he's ready to be the first man to levy a pinfall loss on Tursas in a singles match… ever?

The fact that the culmination of the Flex Express may only be the third or fourth biggest thing going down this weekend shows you that Chikara doesn't screw around when it comes to building up its events. Believe you me, this is an event. IF you're anywhere in the greater Philadelphia area this weekend, come on down to Reading or Swanson and Ritner (or both) and partake. You seriously won't be disappointed with the English legends, the Joshi standouts or the patriotic young ant looking to slay a monster.

But most of all, you'll get the chance to be there for the start of something special, the beginning of a farewell tour for one of the cornerstones of Chikara. I'd say that's worth the trip.

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

Friday Five: Dusty Rhodes

All about De Amewican Dweem today!

1. What was your favorite Dusty Rhodes match?

2. Did the WWF ruin Dusty by putting him in polka dots?

3. Buy or sell: Cody Rhodes has a chance to surpass his father's legacy.

4. What was your opinion of Big Dust on commentary in WCW?

5. Favorite Dusty Rhodes promo?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

X-Men: First Class...months later.

Can we talk about how rad X-men First Class was? Yes, I am talking about this like 2 months later. Don’t hate! I was super pumped to see this movie when it came out…and shame on me-I didn’t see it until week 2 of its release.

The HOTTIES: James McAvoy (Professor Xavier) and Michael Fassbender (aka, way mega sezzy Magneto) join forces to save the world from destruction from Magneto’s life-long enemy, and his boo-blonde hottie, Emma Frost (what a killer name for her).

Favorite parts: I am a big fan of the developing installment in a big movie franchise-LOTR , the Fellowship, X-men 1, Batman Begins, original Tim Burton Batman, Ironman, Spiderman... I like to know the origins of all the characters and what not. How did they get to where they are now? The writing for this show was great. Sure, they took some liberties from the original comics-but what are you gonna do? Nothing. It was still so dang awesome the way the pulled everything together…especially Mystique’s relationship with both the lead hotties. But who can blame a blue girl? Not I. Professor X is the darling blue-eyed J McAvoy who is a totally cutie pie and a half, and THEN you got hottie-mac-hotpants Magneto (who would never turn into Sir Ian McKellen, people. But let’s all pretend shall we?!) Also, I really adored the back story to Beast’s evolution-very unique, and unlike the actual comics.

There was also a classic cameo from a certain love of my junior high school-life…But I won’t name names, as to not give too much away. 

The Wrestling Podcast, Episode 13: flubby of KSK

Jar of Superflies

The immortal Flubby of Kissing Suzy Kolber is my guest this week. We talk NFL football, fantasy football, bourbon, Randy Savage, old school Memphis wrestling and I insult his profession. Thankfully, he didn't hang up on me right there. Some good fantasy football advice and we talk some trash about Tennessee and their inferior whiskey. Give it a listen.

Note, the end got cut off, and before I could add it back in in post, my mic died. So just imagine me saying "Thank you for listening, and tune in next week when I'll have... another guest!" DO IT FOR YOUR OWN SANITY!

Direct link for download

Crying Wolf: The WWE and Cynicism Among Fans

Photo Credit:
I will reiterate that I thought that it wasn't a bad call to have CM Punk come back a week after he left. Pending the storyline reason he came back, it could be really good storytelling, especially looking at this in the lens of it being an extended story that began June 27th, not as a story that just ended with the end of Money in the Bank. I honestly don't see how having Punk back could be a bad thing.

There are those who'd argue tooth and nail with that, saying that regardless of execution, Punk's return should have been delayed. I disagree with that, but I see where they come from. I actually see exactly where they come from. It's been a similar story with Christian losing the World Heavyweight Championship, with John Cena being fired and not missing any time at work and with several other plot points that have been wrapped up too neatly or not given any time to marinate. Even though I couldn't disagree with the other side of this issue any more than I do now, I still can see where they come from because WWE hasn't given them a track record of being able to let things develop naturally. So in the one time when having a payoff happen shortly after the cliffhanger makes sense, they feel jilted.

I don't blame them, actually.

Storytelling is storytelling, and if it's good, it's good. I myself was proven wrong in the aftermath to Christian's title win in how much I enjoyed his feud with Randy Orton (cue the commenters chirping about how insane I am for liking the feud and what not). However, there's something to be said for letting a plot point marinate for a little bit and letting them sink in without another shock. It's a reason why the Vince Russo style of booking has grown so damn ineffective. Plot point after plot point after plot point burns an audience out. Christian as a conquering hero would have been a nice thing to let sit for a week. John Cena being off TV, or being on TV as Juan Cena (the biggest missed opportunity ever as it could have gotten a month or so out of Darren Young before they tossed him back into the NXT: Redemption pile), might have freshened him up a little bit before he got his revenge on Wade Barrett.

So now, there's a situation where Punk coming back was a valid decision. Because fans have been conditioned to think that everything the WWE does is always rushed, there's a rush to cynicism on this point. The WWE cried wolf on those other stories, letting the fans know that something was really important when it happened layered so quickly on top of the last thing that was important. Rather than having this quick return acting as a contrast to their MO, it's just another strike against them in their MO, even though, to keep with baseball terms, it's a strike that's being called on the outside corner off the strike zone.

The context surrounding the prior two situations noted here called for time to marinate. Christian's situation was addressed. With Cena being fired, his act was growing a bit tired with some fans, and time off might have refreshed him with those fans and even made him more palatable to the people who already liked him. With Punk? He'd just uncorked his batshit-awesome potential. He just got hot. You don't shelve someone who is hot, you feature them. You cultivate the fan reactions and you keep producing their merchandise and have them wear said merchandise so it continues to sell. It's simple.

But again, this is WWE. They don't let anything marinate, and thus they've conditioned their fanbase to cynicism. While I think those fans are wrong in this case, I can only blame WWE for their reactions. You breed a reaction, then you don't act surprised when people reject it based off a potential future action.

My Favorite Wrestlers Ever: #2

Photo Credit:

"Stone Cold" Steve Austin
Three Favorite Matches: vs. Bret Hart at WrestleMania 13, vs. The Rock at WrestleMania X-7, with Triple H vs. Chris Jericho and He Who Shall Not Be Named on RAW in June 2001
Three Favorite Moments: "Austin 3:16 says I just whupped your ass!", defeating Shawn Michaels for the WWF Championship at WrestleMania XIV, supermarket brawl with Booker T

Brandon Stroud is going to mock me for this, but I was barely aware of Steve Austin before he came to the WWF. When I was younger, all I knew about WCW was that Ric Flair wrestled there regularly and that Hulk Hogan took the money and ran there when the steroid shit hit the fan, but apparently, Austin was doing some really killer stuff with Brian Pillman and Ricky Steamboat and even Flair himself. So, it stands to reason that maybe I'd have enjoyed that run and appreciated him more if I was a viewer of WCW in those days.

That being said, the guy is #2 on my list of favorite wrestlers ever with me only having seen his run in the WWF, so you know he meant something to me. He was the guy who singlehandedly kept my interest in wrestling until Rocky came into his own, making the WWF must-watch at the main event level while Vince Russo did his best to shit up the undercard with bullshit weaksauce worked shoots that tried to capitalize on the worked shoot stuff that Austin was using to make himself THE MOTHERFUCKING MAN. He had an attitude, hell, he embodied Attitude, and for that, he helped make the WWF a boatload of money, but more importantly, he helped entertain me. That's far more important in my book.

You gotta understand something about me back in the late '90s. I was a bookish nerd, a devout Catholic who listened to everything his high school theology teachers told him, and always wondered about why people broke rules and why people just couldn't live under the letter of the law. I dare say that when Austin broke out, he started to change my world view, because what he was doing was so fucking cool. I wanted to be cool. I wanted to latch onto the cool guy, so in a way, Austin made me the person I am today, a guy who isn't really afraid to question authority or wonder if the world might be a better off place with a little bit of chaos here and there. It may sound pretentious, but I don't give a shit. It's all true.

And on top of that, it's hard not to admire a guy who could back it up in the ring. I mean, Hogan was all well and good and all, but his matches were very limited at times. Yeah, it was the role he was asked to play, but there comes a time when it gets old seeing Hogan go up against giant, immobile guys who can't move, especially when the Intercontinental and Tag Title scenes were so fresh, athletic and vibrant. With Austin, he was following in the footsteps of maybe the most athletic top guys in WWF history to that point, Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels. He didn't come along and replace them as much as he shattered their auras as "the guy", but he also didn't do it by doddering around like Hogan either. Even after he had gotten hurt at the hands of an accidental botched piledriver by Owen Hart, Austin still was able to work some really good, really fun brawls against guys like Triple H, Mick Foley and The Rock.

So there it stands, my fandom for Steve Austin still remains at a fever pitch, especially to the point where if he came back for one more match, I may just lose my shit, especially if that match is against CM Punk, which is something that everyone is hoping happens. I'm never going to forget Austin's impact on my life or on my viewing habits as a wrestling fan. And who knows, one of these days, maybe I'll seek out his WCW and ECW runs and grow to appreciate him even more. Maybe that'll get B-Stroud off my back.

John Cena, Imaginary Luchador: Why Bryan Alvarez Needs a Reality Check

Cena doing badly in CMLL wouldn't mean he's a bad worker
Photo Credit:
As pointed out by my blogging peer Trey Irby on his Wrestling Theory blog, Bryan Alvarez has some pretty weird opinions about wrestling and what constitutes good wrestling. Here's the quote from Observer Radio, where he takes John Cena to task for being a bad worker, despite the fact that his colleague Dave Meltzer gave a match he was in five stars recently, an honor so rare that it's the first time it was given to a WWF/E match in almost 15 years:
Glad he did one thing well! It’s funny, because last night on this very show, we were talking about the idea of taking WWE main eventers and sending them to do a lucha style in CMLL and find out if they could ‘work.’ John Cena would be literally the worst luchadore of all time. And all those capos and whoever else who’s just horrendous workers down there, good god almighty, they’d work rings around Cena.
So, John Cena's not a good worker because if you put him in a lucha libre fed, he'd suck. There are so many fucking things wrong with that statement that it's not even funny. For one, of course Cena would falter if he went to CMLL or AAA, at least at first. It's a totally different style, based on things that are counter to what he is used to working for WWE. In case Alvarez didn't notice, the converse of that statement is being displayed right before his eyes, or at least it WAS until Sin Cara got suspended for a flunked drug test. The former Mistico was a standout down South of the Border until he came up here. His reckless style, a hit in a lucha libre promotion, made him stick out like a sore thumb in the highly American WWE, and not in a good way. The numerous botches and the sloppy execution of moves he did hit not only put him under a microscope from some of the more discerning wrestling fans, but from his bosses too. If Mistico can't get a handle on how to wrestle WWE style, which according to Alvarez is like totally not on the same level of sophistication as lucha libre, then why use Cena's theoretical lack of handling lucha libre against him, ESPECIALLY since it'd be hypothetical at best given that Cena ISN'T GOING ANYWHERE?

That would beg the issue of Alvarez's opinions that lucha libre is the superior style to the amalgam of styles that come together and meld to form the almost-as-nebulous-as-the-term-"The Internet" WWE style. I wouldn't begrudge him the opinion that lucha libre is the better style to watch. I mean, Chikara is my favorite fed of all-time, and they wrestle a hybrid puroresu-lucha libre style. I can attest to how fun lucha can be. That being said, if I were going to list my ten best matches from 2011 so far, it'd be a total mix of Chikara and WWE right about now, and not to be boastful or anything, but there would be a ton of people who would take that list and agree with it. Why? Because in my opinion, there's no real "style" that's better than another one. The only thing that is better is execution either way. There's bad lucha out there, and if you're going to tell me that the worst lucha is even better than the best John Cena has had to offer in his WWE career (a career that again, has garnered a five star match from Alvarez's colleague for Christ's sake), then I'm going to tell you that you're full of shit.

I expect this pedantic attitude from the smart-ass fans in New York or Chicago or even here in Philly who chant "You can't wrestle!" at Cena because he doesn't shove 2932374 moves into a 12 minute match, but I shouldn't expect it from one of the top two journalists reputedly in American wrestling, especially when both of them go off about psychology all the time. I mean, Cena has proven he can work a match where there's psych in play. Money in the Bank wasn't the first time, and I doubt it'll be the last either. Sure, there are times when he goes out, does the faux-Hulk Hogan take-a-beating-and-come-back-like-nothing-was-wrong routine, but how many times is that him making the call and not the agents in the back or the writers? It's how WWE operates at the main event when they've got a guy like Hogan or Cena or Undertaker (another five star match recipient) or Ultimate Warrior or even Shawn Michaels (the best worker ever according to some people) with his no-selling-tinged kip-ups.

The fact is if you take a guy from one environment and drop him in another, he'll do one of two things. He'll either change to adapt, or he'll force everyone to adapt around him. The former takes time in a lot of cases and the latter is fucking ignorant and ends up bringing the product down. Don't believe me? Ask any fan of WCW to compare the promotion before and after Hogan got there. If Cena went to CMLL or AAA and then started having bad matches right away? It doesn't make him a bad worker, it makes him human. It's the same with Sin Cara. The difference between the two is that in this magical fantasy world, where Cena leaves his godfather position in WWE to go to Mexico, where WWE is killing the crap out of traditional lucha feds, by the way, he would more than likely work on getting better, and within a couple of months, would be one of the best rudo bullies down there with maybe a high flying move or two to his repertoire. Sin Cara? Well, if the dirtsheets, like the one written by Meltzer and the other one written by Alvarez, are to be believed, he's on a fast track out of WWE not because of his working ability, but because of his bad attitude.

So in that regard, I think I'd love to see Cena go to Mexico for a year sabbatical or something. I mean, the WWE would be a bit fresher without him, even though I'd miss him in my own perverse way, but I think it'd be fucking hilarious to see him shut Alvarez up and prove to him that maybe, just maybe, he should stop being a pedantic smark and start doing his job, being a good wrestling journalist who sees things for what they are, not for what he wants them to be.

TWIOT: Harry Potter and the Eight Movies of Quality

This picture doesn't really have anything to do with the article. But it's Emma Watson doing the troll face. C'mon, that's awesome
The Harry Potter film franchise is over. After eight films, legions of fans being minted, tantalized and now satisfied and a boatload of money produced, the epic series finally wrapped up when Deathly Hallows: Part 2 was released a couple of weeks ago. I didn't see the landmark movie until a week after it was released, but when I finally saw it with my wife, sister-in-law and her fiancé, it was worth the wait, both from the end of last fall's Deathly Hallows: Part 1 and the week between release and my viewing.

This isn't going to be a review of Part 2, rather than a retrospective on the series. It's very hard to keep a strong narrative going over three films/books, let alone eight films and seven books. The thing is, it could very easily have been 10+ movies, given that they were considering splitting Goblet of Fire in two and, according to my wife who read the books, had enough material in Order of the Phoenix and The Half-Blood Prince to make each serial into two or even three movies apiece. Just ask George Lucas, who succeeded with his first Star Wars trilogy, but by many people's reckoning, absolutely failed with the second one. Or you could ask the Wachowski brothers, who followed up The Matrix with two underwhelming at best sequels. Or Sam Raimi, whose first two Spider-man movies were great, but who ultimately faltered with the third installment. That the Potter team, a collective of several different directors under the unchanging narrative written by JK Rowling, told an absolutely breathtaking story with very few moments of falter deserves praise.

Still, its greatest achievement is probably how it appeals to a broad spectrum of ages. Even the first two movies, which people will say are total kids' fare, have some very dark moments, and after it becomes "dark", it still has an appeal to kids, albeit ones that are older. The themes are more mature than what you'd find in your typical Dreamworks computer animated film. They deal with death, betrayal, orphaning, deception, war, murder, trust, politics, educational reform, and yet each film is cleverly set with wizards, mythical creatures and exaggerated characters who typify good and evil cleanly enough so that they can be digested by kids, who may not be ready for a full palate of grays on the canvas.

But while the characters retain a simple identity for the most part (with some exceptions, like Severus Snape, maybe the best character in the entire series – a good guy whose gruff exterior keeps you asking questions until the final exposition of his intents after he dies in DH Pt. 2), they're still fully developed and wonderfully acted, serving almost as archetypes in some cases. For example, Dolores Umbridge, the hawkish, almost fascist member of the Ministry of Magic, serves as the most evil character in any series. Her prissy, old-fashionedly feminine exterior belies her sinister intentions, toadying for the Minister's ignorance regarding the return of Voldemort and then using Draconian measures of punishment at Hogwarts on students whose only crime is satisfying their child-like curiosity. Her slow transformation of the school into a police state was the absolute best part of Order of the Phoenix, and one of the most effective displays of villainy short of portraying someone like Mobuto Sese Seko or Pol Pot in film.

Then there's Neville Longbottom, who throughout the series, is the prime example of all that is good in the world. From when we first see him in The Sorcerer's Stone until his final triumph in the last film, he is always fighting for what's right, even if he's not very good at executing his intentions at first. However, the way that he is portrayed, you can't help but root for the kid, making his triumph over Voldemort and his aiding of Harry in his final fight almost as satisfying – if not more so – than Harry's resolutions.

That's where Rowling and by proxy the filmmakers who were tasked with animating her fictional characters succeeded. From the ideation of the characters through casting to their final ends, whenever they may have been, each character was real, lifelike, even though they existed entirely in a fantasy world. From the bit players like Prof. Trelawny, through to the supporting characters like Bellatrix LeStrange and Sirius Black all the way to the main core, Harry, Hermione, Ron, Dumbledore, Snape, Voldemort and Hagrid, they all felt so real.

And that's why I can't begrudge the hardcore fans for being so sad that this is over. Having felt the same pangs over the end of LOST last year, I can empathize. Although the Potter series didn't strike the same chord of fanaticism in me that LOST or that pro wrestling still does, that doesn't mean I can't recognize it for how well-done and rewarding the entire series has been. I too feel like there's going to be a void in theaters now that Potter is finished. It's not like it's the only series that has legs, but it's definitely a series that I could wholeheartedly count on to deliver on a great film watching experience.

So with that, I bid a fond adieu to Harry Potter and his friends, enemies and acquaintances. It's been a great ride, and everyone involved should be proud of themselves.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I'm back...and I have seen like a bunch of new movies...

Well….hello, again. I haven’t been around for quite some time, as my last entry was over 2 months ago. School and work have been consuming my time and thoughts. Don’t worry, I have still been making time to go out to see a movie or two. As today is the first day being school-free for a month (Year one MB A over-woo woo!) I have big plans of running, tanning, and blogging on a VERY regular basis.

Yes, I saw this opening weekend for sure! I have had my eye on this little ditty for a while. Let’s talk the facts: 3 BFFs have terrible bosses, 1) ego maniac (Kevin Spacey) who has worked and misled Jason Bateman into the ground, 2) Charlie Day, dental hygienist is constantly being sexually harassed by his sex fiend boss (Jennifer Aniston), 3) Jason Sudeikis’ boss dies , and his douche tool of a son (Colin Farrell) takes over.

They get an idea (similar to that of Strangers on a Train) to kill each other’s bosses, as to not get caught. Silly/dirtiness ensues. Lies are told, nasty jokes are said, and people die.

THE BIG SHOCKER? My LEAST favorite actress (Jennifer Aniston, also known for playing the same role-Rachel from FRIENDS in EVERYTHING, and former spouse of the delish Brad Pitt) really shines in this show. She left her stereotypical Rachel character at the door, and is super naughty in this role. And her lines are RIDICULOUSLY SCANDALOUS. The stuff she says and does to Charlie Day just killed me. She really makes ya feel uncomfortable. She is determined to do it with him before he marries-as to not be a home wrecker.

Basically, I’m saying it is hilarious…it’s no BRIDESMAIDS, but it is freaking hilarious. I totally recommend if you want an easy ab workout.

U Mad, John Cena?

Photo Found Courtesy of Butch Rosser

I love you, Internet. Never change. Never, ever change.

My Favorite Wrestlers Ever: #3

Photo Credit:

The Rock
Three Favorite Matches: vs. Steve Austin at WrestleMania X-7, vs. Chris Jericho at Survivor Series Vengeance 2001, vs. Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania X-8
Three Favorite Moments: Verbally sparring with Chris Jericho upon the latter's debut, This Is Your Life with Mick Foley, The promo post Royal Rumble 2000 where he mocked Big Show for the first time

The Rock spent an entire career proving people wrong. People thought he couldn't succeed after tanking as the "blue chipper". They were wrong. People said he couldn't wrestle. By 2000, he'd improved to the point where he was arguably the best worker in the company. People thought he'd never be a movie star. Well, to our chagrin, he became one. People never thought he'd come back. Well, he did. Sure, his definition of "never leaving" again may be different than some fans', but for me, I don't care if he appears once a year or once a show.

I've always been entranced by Rocky though, so maybe I'm biased. No shit I'm biased, but if being a fan of the most naturally charismatic man ever to step into a wrestling ring is wrong, then I don't ever wanna be right. Seriously, I always wondered back in the day when I'd go into those AOL chat rooms (I was in high school/college, shut up) and people would be bashing Rocky and pumping up guys like, ugh, Triple H. I mean, what, don't you like witty guys who say funny shit? Oh that's right, he couldn't "work" because he only did like three moves. Wrestling hipsterdom, smh. And I bet half of those people who hated on Rock were excited as shit to see him back this year. Maybe more or less, I don't know.

But what I do know is that the guy was seriously, and still is actually, a dynamo with a microphone in his hand. We already knew that though. That's like watching Aaron Rodgers play football and remark that he's really good at throwing the ball. Well no shit. What really sealed the deal for me was his mastery at actually wrestling. There was a time when he was middle of the pack at best, although his "terribleness" at wrestling was vastly overstated by smark-ass teenagers who think that throwing moves is the only way to have a good match. Go back and look at some of his classic matches against Steve Austin or Triple H or Mick Foley or later on, when he really came into his own against guys like Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar. He held his own end of the bargain easily.

I think the fact that he was so easily imitable for me, and yet hard to imitate at the same time, made him one of my favorites. It's paradoxical to say something like that. I guess what I mean to say is that I always liked trying to imitate Rocky, but I could never really get him down right. I guess that's his allure... we all wanted to be like him, but there is only one Great One, only one Rock.

And I for one can't wait to see him back in a WWE ring, April 1, 2012.

Your Midweek Links: Don't Rush Punk, Yo

Photo Credit:
It's hump day, so here are some links to help get you through the rest of the week!


- The Wrestling Podcast with my buddy Tom Kingsmill! If you can get by the audio problems, it's a rollicking good listen. [Episode 12: I Am Not a Fashion Nugget]

- My Camel Clutch Blog piece this week, on why Cena vs. Rock should be sans title [John Cena vs. The Rock, No WWE Championship Required]

- My Fair to Flair piece, or what if we look at Money in the Bank as a resolution? [CM Punk's Happy Ending]

Wrestling Links:

- Everything's amazing and no one's happy... the story of the Internet Wrestling Community [Hitting the Mark]

- More on fans bitching about the angle being "rushed" [Fair to Flair]

- Even more discussion about Punk being "rushed", and in the interest of fairness, the verdict is that maybe it was too soon [South Atlanta Wrestling]

- Razor's RAW live blog [Kick-Out!! Wrestling]

- The Best and Worst of RAW for this week [With Leather]

- CM Punk can thank Shawn Michaels for being in his corner and helping him overcome Vince McMahon's bias against anyone he didn't create [I Want Wrestling]

- CM Punk and Chuck Tayler: Kindred Spirits [PizzaBodySlam]

- Bill Simmons' controversial picks for best theme music ever [Grantland]

- Madison Rayne has thin skin [Camel Clutch Blog]

- Maryse has a stalker. I'd make a joke about it being Brandon Stroud, but this seems pretty serious, in all actuality. [Diva Dirt]

- Trey Irby FJMing Observer Radio. God bless him for this, because transcribing the audio is a lot harder than just bolding stupid printed word. [Wrestling Theory]

- The Young Bucks respond to RVD talking shit about them. In other news, RVD talking shit about any wrestler should be a war crime. Dude sucks. [Cageside Seats]

- 10 questions with SHIMMER head honcho Dave Prazak [Dirty Dirty Sheets]

- The EVOLVE Interview [Wrestlegasm]

- The Best of Tyler Black DVD review [The Harrison Analysis]

- Rocky confirms he'll be at Survivor Series. I don't care what you say, I'm psyched. [Camel Clutch Blog]

- Another Rey Mysterio defender [Grapple Kingdom]

- I just ruined Barry Windham for you forever. [PizzaBodySlam Tumblr]

- Macho Man and ComiCon [Kentucky Fried Rasslin]

- K Sawyer Paul toots his own horn about predictions [Footnotes of Wrestling]

- The Miz is your #1 in the PWI 500 for last year [PWI]

- Things Cameron Riley missed over the weekend [Musings of a Mark]

Jamie Dobson Interviews:

- Overview on QWEST Wrestling

Non-Wrestling Links:

- Best use of the periodic table ever [Buzz Feed]

- Dan Snyder fires official team blogger. Par for the course! [Mr. Irrelevant]

- No more lockout! Drew Magary doles out some FUCK YOUs in honor of said occasion. [Deadspin]

- Best.Facebook.Status.Ever [The Imgur Gallery]


- Precious, based off the Novel Push by JRR Tolkien [Videogum]

- Plugin tracks Facebook time. [Mashable]

- 13 Things You Didn't Know about Saved by the Bell [Unreality Mag]

- In defense of black humor, re: Amy Winehouse's death [Camel Clutch Blog]

- How to get your parents to buy you a video game if you're a girl [Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal]

- House of PUNTE featuring Chris Kluwe of the Vikings. Yes, he's their punter. Yes, he's being interviewed by Monday Morning Punter of KSK. HOW'S THAT FOR META, BITCHES? (It's also really good) [House of PUNTE]

- Vince Mancini of Film Drunk was at ComiCon. Here's day 2 of his photo diary, including more Slave Leia cosplayers than you can shake a stick at [Film Drunk]

- ComiCon toy roundup! [Topless Robot]

- ComiCon Corgi Friday Cosplay! [Warming Glow]

- Zoo with Roy realigns the American League [I Want to Go to the Zoo with Roy Halladay]

- Review of Captain America: The First Avenger [Blast-o-Rama]

- The Summer 2011 State of the Web Address [The Oatmeal]

- 6 diseases that have become trendy, or why anyone who doesn't have celiac disease and demands gluten-free foods should be punched in the face [Cracked]

- Captain Canuck's getting his own film... uh, who? [Gamma Squad]

- Heisman promotional mailers! [Every Day Should Be Saturday]

- Matt Ufford's best mailbag in ages, and those are his words, not mine! [Kissing Suzy Kolber]

- Isaiah Mustafa vs. Fabio... in what, I'm not exactly sure. [Uproxx]

- NFL players thank the fans for enduring the lockout. Imagine how much longer and even more impassioned this video would have been if they had actually missed a game [Hugging Harold Reynolds]

- Even if Terrelle Pryor didn't leave school, he wasn't playing for Ohio State next year, it turns out [Dr. Saturday]

- 5 baseball trades that should happen [The Smoking Section]

- Ranking the best right wingers in the NHL for next season. That's a forward position, not a ranking of the top conservatives on Twitter in hockey. [Puck Daddy]

- Jay Cutler and Kristin Cavallari broke up. *sad* [With Leather]

The Best Moves Ever: Slingshot Sitdown Powerbomb

You ever see something and go "DAMN, that's one of the best things I've ever seen" right away? I had one of those moments Monday night. During the EXCELLENT Miz/Mysterio match, there was one spot that jumped out at me right away as one of the top moves I've ever seen. A slingshot sitdown powerbomb, executed perfectly, bumped perfectly... just AAAAAAWESOME.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

CM Punk Is Zack Ryder's Biggest Fan

Photo Manipulation: 420chan-/woo/ user Jimmy Wang Yang (not the wrestler)

This is how you win at life, people.

Wrestling Six Packs: Best WWE Theme Songs Right Now

Punk just doesn't have bad theme songs
Photo Credit:
So, CM Punk just debuted a new theme song, presumably, that is. I love "Cult of Personality", and I think it fits him as a theme song, although I wouldn't put it in the top 6 of theme songs in WWE right now. Which ones would I? I THOUGHT YOU'D NEVER ASK. NOTE: Of course, number one would have been Edge, but he retired, so he's disqualified.

1. Alberto del Rio

I don't know what it is about the mariachi theme, but it's so well done. Maybe it's that I don't expose myself to a lot of mariachi/Mexican brass. Maybe it's because it fits del Rio so much. Maybe I'm just a sucker for a good horn section. I don't know. But this is my favorite theme in WWE right now.

2. CM Punk/Killswitch Engage

Let's get it out of the way right now. "Cult of Personality" is the better song, no matter what my Twitter followers may say. However, I think this song fits Punk better. I don't know, it might be my Pavlovian reflexes kicking in, just hearing that opening riff and thinking, damn, Punk's gonna come out and yell "IT'S CLOBBERIN' TIME", but yeah, "Cult" is going to take a little getting used to after hearing this one a million times and then some.

3. Beth Phoenix

Even if all the other Divas theme songs weren't utter rubbish, making this sound like the song Tenacious D wrote "Tribute" about, I'd still love this song. It has that really cool Mellotron-sounding keyboard intro that gives Phoenix that special aura that she has as the presently undisputed War Queen of the Divas (until Kharma gets back, that is). Then the guitar riff that comes up afterwards is just bad ass.

4. Sheamus

Is this song on here because it's become a meme? (Shameful thing lobster head, too many limes)... maybe. Despite it being a transparent attempt at marrying nü-metal with Irish conceits, I dig it, even if I wasn't shouting TOO MANY LIMES, TOO MANY LIMES at it.

5. Daniel Bryan

You don't mess with the classics. Bryan's theme song makes him the heir to Ric Flair (Also Sprach Zarathrusta) and Randy Savage (Pomp and Circumstance), and yet it gives him a different feeling than both of them. Ride of the Valkyries portends a storm coming, a wild, turbulent ride where you, the opponent, are in for hell. That, in a nutshell, explains the offensive attack of Bryan, whose rough and tumble dive-to-the-outside trappings coming into the pain brought by his submission array. Wow, I just totally got all philosophical about a theme song.

6. Mark Henry

I just love a song that promises the splitting of wigs. I don't feel like I need to defend this choice.

My Favorite Wrestlers Ever: #4

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Austin Aries
Three Favorite Matches: vs. Bryan Danielson on HDNet (10/19/09), vs. Tyler Black at the 8th Anniversary Show (an EPIC carry job), vs. Kid Kash and Jimmy Rave on Impact
Three Favorite Moments: Doing a crazy Indian dance night 1 of King of Trios 2009, cutting a promo on the live crowd during HDNet tapings, snagging his contract at the end of Destination X

A Double is the most recent addition to the top five. I'll fully admit that I didn't catch wind of him until 2009, but he was really the first guy at my first indie show that made an impact on me as a fan. It was the start of a beautiful relationship between wrestler and fan. The next time I saw him, he was ROH Champion, walking out to Ric Flair's theme song, eviscerating the crowd at HDNet tapings. He was laying into me, and I didn't care. I was smitten, in a total fan way of course.

There has never been a time where I've seen Aries, on camera or in person, where I wasn't impressed beyond all impression. Even when he was on his way out of ROH (and he knew it too) and had to put over the newly heeled Roderick Strong even though Aries had been a heel for the last two years himself, he put on an impressive show. The guy just does everything well. He's the most eviscerating promo I've ever heard. Him with a microphone in his hand is rivaled by few. He knows how to chew scenery and to be a background character when need be. His first Impact back with the company this year, he not only wrestled in the match of the night, but he was a big part of one of the funniest segments in the show without really saying a word past the point when Eric Young came into the scene.

But the wrestling... the guy gets it. He knows not only how to employ a large workrate and do FLIPZ, but he knows how to make a match a show. Whenever he was wrestling in ROH, it was like he was auditioning to go to WWE, which made him stand out above nearly every other wrestler there, save a few exceptions.

A colleague of mine once said that it's easy to like Aries because he'll never make it to WWE, and thus can never really be considered a back-stabbing sell out. I'm not really the kind of fan who cares about that thing, so Aries never making it to WWE vexes me. He deserves to be there. He's more talented than half the current roster, especially many of the guys they bring up from FCW with no seasoning.

But hey, I guess there's always the chance that Impact blows up huge while he's there, and he's a reason for it. That way, he can succeed and get his day in the sun. He deserves it, and hey, I want to see him every week.

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

A Tale of Two Jimmies

Photo Credit: The 700 Level

Jimmy Rollins is having a nice bounceback year for the Phils, and to add onto that, he got his picture taken with Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka. Nice! However, given Snuka's history, you might wanna keep him away from the Phillies ball girls...

...low blow? Too soon?

Mark Madden Misses the Point

Photo Credit: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Site
Oooh look, mommy! FJM material! AND IT'S WRESTLING RELATED TOO! Mark Madden comes with the unbridled negativity towards CM Punk's return last night. I shall skewer him here. Why? BECAUSE I CAN BITCHES.

When Brian Pillman did his worked shoot in 1996, it lasted MONTHS. Pillman bounced from WCW to ECW to WWE, legitimately double-crossing WCW. Eric Bischoff had fired Pillman assuming he’d come back. He didn’t.

When Brian Pillman did his worked shoot in 1996, there were two major wrestling companies and a cutting-edge indie that hadn't become a national force by itself yet. It's 2011. WWE is the only game in town. Impact is a wannabe promotion and ROH isn't even close to Impact yet.

But by all means, continue.

C.M. Punk left WWE for two weeks.

So, what was the point?

To get Vince McMahon fired and to get himself more leverage on his contract situation. Oh, and because he can. Try to keep up.

Oh, Punk and Cena had a cute staredown at the end of Raw. But Punk has clearly been reestablished as just another WWE guy.

Because everyone in WWE has their own Spinner Belt that they won because they beat John Cena clean in a PPV main event.

The absence of Punk’s title didn’t make WWE sweat, not even for two weeks. They just crowned another champ, then passed the belt right back to John Cena. Now Punk and Cena have a UFC-style real champ vs. interim champ unification match at SummerSlam. Cena wins, then heads for WrestleMania and The Rock.

Hey guys, who leaked Mark Madden the script?

I'd also say that the fact that VINCE MCMAHON WAS FIRED THE WEEK BEFORE AS A DIRECT RESULT OF CM PUNK WINNING AT MONEY IN THE BANK was WWE sweating. But hey, what do I know, I never worked for a failing wrestling company in the broadcast booth!

Punk? Maybe he turns babyface and becomes the new Steve Austin, the anti-authoritarian.

Because that's such a bad thing.

Or maybe he drops back down to the mid-card.

Yeah, because a guy who gets the WWE this much media attention is going to drop like a stone. At least wait until the MitB buyrates come in before you start peddling such doom 'n gloom.

But how does Punk remain anti-authoritarian? Vince McMahon is gone, and the doofus son-in-law fixed a lot of the crap Punk bitched about.

Uh, there was that whole thing where they both insinuated that they slept with each other's significant others. Oh, and Punk could remain anti-authoritarian by just rejecting what Trips has "fixed". Or you could grow an imagination or wait and see what's next.

I hope Punk came back for the money, because I’m praying he wasn’t stupid enough to fall for the promises.

Q: What will you do if wwe misuses you like they did with guys like shannon moore [sic] and so on?

A: I'll go out and purchase a hummer and buy a nice house, just like he did.

But I have my fears.

OH NOES! CM Punk is going to make gobs of money to not be featured the way I, Mark Madden, Internet slob, want him to be featured! I AM OUTRAGED!!

Smarter people than Punk have been set up, blinded to some degree by their own brilliance (and BS).

This doesn't even fucking make any sense.

If Raw’s rating drops, who gets blamed? Not Triple H. Original plans called for Trips to pedigree Punk. Why? Because Triple H is a REAL star. Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was.

RAW's rating was 2.9 the week before Money in the Bank. It was 3.2 the night after. Sounds like an increase. I'll be shocked if it's not increased or at the same level again at least, despite the fact that Punk wasn't even advertised for the show.

Also, lol @ looking at ratings as a success point in 2011.

Nobody ever wants to let an angle marinate. Just hot-shot for TV. Hot-shot for the pay-per-view.

I'd say that the fact that the angle on the whole has been going on for a month now makes me believe that they've set up for SummerSlam nicely.

Punk should have been gone for MONTHS.

Because that's how you capitalize on a guy being made into a star in a month's time. YOU LEAVE HIM OFF THE SHOW FOR MONTHS AFTERWARDS! Then, when he comes back, he'll certainly get the same pops as the guys who were left to carry on in his place, especially Triple H, a guy he decried as being the egomaniac a paragraph prior.

The title should have been gone for MONTHS. The belt would have gained credibility by its absence. Instead, it’s just another prop.

I'm sorry, but how is not being defended, or worse, being replaced by a paper Championship in the interim, going to give the title credibility? If anything, it would have submarined the guy holding the belt in the interim because he wouldn't have beaten the guy who waltzed out of the company with it.

Memo to bookers: You BUILD ratings. You don't SEIZE ratings.

Memo to Mark Madden: You were never part of any successful wrestling company. People in WWE right now have been.

Fire Vince? The WWE board should have fired EVERYBODY.

I wonder if Mark Madden and Darren Rovell are BFFs.

P.S. – Gee, I really enjoy the new comments section on these columns.

Maybe you shouldn't write utter tripe then.

Good on You, Gregory Iron

A true inspiration
Photo Credit. Lyle C. Williams
I've been aware of Gregory Iron for almost a year now. He made his Chikara debut last year in the Young Lions Cup, and he's made two appearances since, splitting a pair of matches with Icarus. He's also been a standout in several big Midwest indies, including AIW, CLASH, PWO and of course, AAW. In that last fed is where he went from being a rising star on the Midwestern scene to becoming a household name with indie wrestling fans, thanks to one CM Punk.

Of course, the subject of that putting-over was something that was news to me. I should have known about it, since Iron blogged about it for the Chikara Pro site, but I guess I missed that one. Still, regardless of when I heard Iron had been competing in pro wrestling rings around the country despite having cerebral palsy? I was dumbfounded. Then I was inspired.

In a business where sleaze and heartbreak can be the rule of the day, it's very rare to find a true, feelgood story like Iron's. If he can overcome a physical handicap to be a pro wrestler, and from what I've heard a damn good one too, then what the hell is my excuse? I'm only fat, and that was my own doing. Why am I not running marathons or playing rec league sports or climbing mountains? I don't have any real limitations, at least ones that I can't overcome through a little hard work. Yet, Iron was born with a limiting disease, and he's excelling at a medium of entertainment that can be very demanding even for the completely able-bodied.

So yeah, he's inspiring me to do more with my own life. Maybe I won't be a pro wrestler or climb Everest, but maybe each week, I'll get a little more active and a little more active until I'm down to a goal weight and and happy with my body to the point where I'm not wasting what I have. Guys like Iron have less, and are making more with it than I have to this point.

That's why he should be lauded. That's why when Punk came out and put him over in Berwyn, it was something long overdue. Every wrestler who has ever heard of Iron should step forward and praise this guy, because his story is special.

Hopefully, he hits it bigger and comes by the East Coast more often. Until then, all I can do is offer my words and hope it's a good enough tribute to a guy who deserves all the tributes that can be offered.

Strike While the Iron Is Hot, Dammit: Why Punk Coming Back Last Night Was Good

Pictured: The Right Call
Photo Credit:
The end to last night's RAW was pretty epic from where I stood. CM Punk, coming out to ruin John Cena's party after winning the WWE Championship from Rey Mysterio in a hastily-announced match (one that quite frankly Mysterio in character should have bitched about like Christian did, although his circumstance was worse), "Cult of Personality" blaring, fans chanting for him once they knew who it was coming out from the Gorilla position. To me, it signaled that the WWE has a burgeoning megastar on their hands, one who could at the very worst help Cena, Mysterio and Randy Orton populate the top of the card as heroes and at best could be their biggest star since The Rock or Steve Austin. The segment itself took a lot of criticism though, but not for execution.

It seems there are a lot of people out there who didn't like the timing of it, that Punk should have been stowed away from view for much longer than the one week he was away. Some of them no doubt were the ones who said RAW sucked last week because there was no Punk, but I do take comfort in seeing that most people criticizing this were different from that crowd. It gives credence to my view that Internet wrestling fans don't share a hive mind and actually have their own individual thoughts and feelings. Still though, I can't help but disagree with that crowd. Why?

Surely, you all know about Seth Rollins, aka Tyler Black. Before he was scooped up by WWE, he was probably the most popular guy in ROH for three years running. His big moment, winning the ROH World Championship, though felt flat, almost anti-climactic. Why? Because he'd spent three years futilely chasing the title, losing at every turn he could have. The iron was hot for him to win in 2008 and 2009. So why wait to strap him until the 2010 Anniversary Show, after he'd already gone to a crowd-deflating time limit draw with Austin Aries at Final Battle 2009 three months prior?

Conversely, look at Kevin Steen. A little over a month ago, he made giant waves getting himself "kicked out" of a ROH show in New York as part of an ongoing angle. This has made him the hottest property in the indies ongoing, and if it weren't for Punk, he'd be the hottest thing in wrestling I'd imagine, at least in my scope, which admittedly is a bit skewed. Regardless, Steen has worked indie crowds into a fever pitch, becoming one of the most in-demand wrestlers for any fed to bring in. So what does PWG do? They put the World Championship on him. They struck when the iron was hot, and now, people are talking about them. Well, they'd be talking about them even more if Punk hadn't shown up in AAW on the same night.

But that's the thing. Punk gets people talking, like Black did in ROH and like Steen is doing now in every promotion but ROH (although under the guise of a ROH angle, if that makes sense). Why wouldn't you want the spotlight to be on him in front of fans that want to see him and want to cheer for him? You could argue that he "hasn't been away" enough, but I argue that every second between his disastrous feud with the Undertaker in late 2009 and his epic promo on 6/27 this year was him being "away" from the limelight. He's been building up this furor among his most ardent supporters, all while just haphazardly being there for the rest of the fans, being a dickish heel (enhancing guys like Big Show, Mysterio and Orton along the way), but also showing flashes of awesomeness like his role as an announcer or his Slammy acceptance speech. When he "returned" so to speak, that was the first catharsis. The second one was winning the title. The third was his return and his promise to continue being the voice of the voiceless that essentially made him a good guy.

This isn't the case of someone who has been overexposed needing to go away to freshen up like Cena at the end of last year (although before they haphazardly sprinted to the finish between his first night "gone" and TLC, I really didn't have a problem with him not missing any time then either in terms of how the story could have been told). This is a guy who just, as many people are saying now, had his "Austin 3:16" moment. He doesn't need to be kept away to be built up more. He needs to be paying off on that buzz before he gets too cold.

Black is the ultimate cautionary tale here. Hell, ROH itself is the cautionary fed. Everyone seems to love ROH, but there's a reason why they don't have widespread TV or big mainstream appeal, and it's not because of the style of wrestling. I seriously do think that more wrestling can get over if presented right. However, in the last few years, it hasn't been presented right. The only feud that they've really hit on all cylinders for was El Generico vs. Kevin Steen. Why? Because it was tense all the way through, and it ended at the right time with Generico giving Steen his comeuppance. Otherwise, they waited too long to put the title on Black. They waited six months too long to put the title on Davey Richards. The fact that they put the title on Jerry Lynn at all (instead of Black or even Roderick Strong, another guy that could be argued was kept too long from the title depending on how you view their fanbase) should tell you that ROH's booking model isn't exactly the best one to emulate.

And believe me, Punk does not deserve the same fate as Black. He needs to have the crowd feeding off him, wanting him to be there and anticipating his matches at SummerSlam rather than at Hell in a Cell, whatever they're replacing Bragging Rights with or at Wrestling Match: The PPV Event. As it stood last night, a SummerSlam main event of Cena and Alberto del Rio or even Mysterio would have been nice, but not something that would be must-see for a lot of fans out there. Now that Punk's involved to continue the story with Cena he began in the build to Money in the Bank? Yeah, you get a lot more people excited.

That's why Punk is back, and more importantly, why he needs to be back. Then again, maybe I'm not the best example since I wanted him to sign his contract extension on top of the Spinner Belt. And yeah, I loved the viral stuff they were starting to do and may even continue to do. Again, we don't exactly know what the circumstances of Punk being there last night were, and for all we know, he might have been "crashing the party" (that video on where he says "I'm baaaack!" notwithstanding… then again, if it doesn't happen on camera, does it happen?). But yeah, this is certainly the right call. Again, following up on that is key, but I have a strange feeling that everything's gonna be alright.