Friday, December 19, 2014

Dispatches from the Lake: Superstars for the Sake of Superstars

Hey, this match looks like happened a few times in NXT before...
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Question, isn’t Superstars a show that is exclusively wrestling for wrestling’s sake? Second question, how sick are you of people referencing the Vince McMahon Podcast? I’m just joking, but I had that thought as I watched last night. Sure, these are the dark matches for RAW, so there really isn’t any reason for these people to be sports entertaining other than to warm up the crowd. Hey, there IS a reason. Hurray! That said, I do miss the little back stage segments WWE was adding to the show that added a little flavor to the proceedings. It felt like they cared.

One thing that they were adding was a TON of crowd noise. Either Detroit was SUPER EXCITED for the dark matches, or WWE added ALL OF THE CROWD NOISE in post. It was so loud that it was actively distracting when the wrestlers made their entrances. While the other two people whom watch this show and I appreciate the effort, WWE, we know what we’re watching. There is no illusion of relevance to maintain here.

Year-End Sorting Bins: The Top Two

Missed u, Jakob
Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein
Alright, let's finish up this year's Sorting Bins with the top two categories. This bin is called "General Affinity." These are the folks that I enjoyed and continue to enjoy to the point where I like their presence on camera and want to see them generally do well. This is the biggest category because I'm generally an easy-going dude who wants to like this thing everyone calls professional wrestling.

Jakob Hammermeier - I'll admit that I wondered aloud on Twitter a few times during the pre-King of Trios year where, oh where Herr Hammermeier went. Who knew he was hiding under a cubic mask the whole time. In kayfabe, I am staunchly anti-Flood and will always cheer for Chikara over the invading group, but if I was there on night one to see Hammermeier unmask, I might have lost my mind like it was Eddie Kingston rejecting the group and saving Chikara once again on night three.

I Listen So You Don't Have To: The Ross Report Ep. 44

Jarrett discusses NXT and New Japan on his Ross Report appearance
Photo Credit: ImpactWrestling.com
If you're new, here's the rundown: I listen to a handful of wrestling podcasts each week. Too many, probably, though certainly not all of them. In the interest of saving you time — in case you have the restraint to skip certain episodes — the plan is to give the bare bones of a given show and let you decide if it’s worth investing the time to hear the whole thing. There are better wrestling podcasts out there, of course, but these are the ones in my regular rotation that I feel best fit the category of hit or miss. If I can save other folks some time, I'm happy to do so.

Show: The Ross Report
Episode: 44
Run Time: 1:50:58
Guest: Jeff Jarrett (10:50)

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Best Coast Bias: We've Got A Pulse

Reunited and it feels so painful (well, for Emma, anyways)
Photo Credit: WWE.com
When last we left our intrepid heroes on Main Event...well, actually, we didn't. They left us.

Last week astute addicts of the BCB on TWB noted there was no report, and that's because there wasn't a show with fresh material. Instead the sublime (Tom Phillips and Renee Young) hosted the ridiculous (an hour-long TLC preview).

But being live from Grand Rapids as a modified pregame for the SuperSmackdown 800th episode on USA seemed to inject the hour's proceedings with a vitality and spark that's often lacking from taped Tuesdays, and provided some fun on its own while still feeding its brother shows.

I Listen So You Don't Have To: International Object Ep. 112

Punk and McMahon are big subjects on the return episode of International Object
Photo Credit: WWE.com
If you're new, here's the rundown: I listen to a handful of wrestling podcasts each week. Too many, probably, though certainly not all of them. In the interest of saving you time — in case you have the restraint to skip certain episodes — the plan is to give the bare bones of a given show and let you decide if it’s worth investing the time to hear the whole thing. There are better wrestling podcasts out there, of course, but these are the ones in my regular rotation that I feel best fit the category of hit or miss. If I can save other folks some time, I'm happy to do so.

Show: International Object
Episode: 112
Run Time: 75ish minutes
Guest: None

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Pro Wrestling SKOOPZ Stories of the Year

Daniel Bryan was at the center of the news this year. WHO ELSE JOINED HIM?
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Well, well, well, if it isn't HORB FLERBMINBER, back again this week not to dish out the scoops, but to give you a recap of ALL THE BIGGEST, JUICIEST, HORNIEST wrestling stories of the year. This year was one of the MOST EVENTFUL YEARS on record. The moves were HOT and the takes were HOTTER. In fact, maybe all the WRESTLING SCOOPS have contributed to GLOBAL WARMING instead of carbon emissions and whatnot. MAYBE CONGRESS SHOULD REGULATE WRESTLING? Wait, what am I saying? KEEP YOUR FILTHY MITTS OUTTA MY PRO WRESTLING, CONGRESS. Buncha clowns, AM I RIGHT?

Your Midweek Links: Zayn and Owens Forever

Destined to do this forever
Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein
It's hump day, so here are some links to get you through the rest of the week:

Wrestling Links:

- Blood Feud: The History of Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens [TJR Wrestling]

- The Best and Worst of NXT Takeover: (R)Evolution [With Spandex]

- What Did We Learn from NXT Takeover: (R)Evolution? [SB Nation]

- In Search of Heel Heat [The Classical]

- I Was Chris Benoit: Playing a Video Game as a Real Life Murderer [Kotaku]

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Steve Austin Show Ep. 177

Da Meltz is Austin's guest this week
Photo via @ObserverQuotes
If you're new, here's the rundown: I listen to a handful of wrestling podcasts each week. Too many, probably, though certainly not all of them. In the interest of saving you time — in case you have the restraint to skip certain episodes — the plan is to give the bare bones of a given show and let you decide if it’s worth investing the time to hear the whole thing. There are better wrestling podcasts out there, of course, but these are the ones in my regular rotation that I feel best fit the category of hit or miss. If I can save other folks some time, I'm happy to do so.

Show: Steve Austin Show
Episode: 177
Run Time: 1:37:51
Guest: Dave Meltzer (13:54)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Issues of the Year: The Advancement of Women in Professional Wrestling

She's not a freakshow, she's a wrestler. When will people see that?
Photo via @JoeyRyanOnline
Candice LeRae is undoubtedly one of the biggest deals on the independent scene right now and has been for over a year. She's revitalized the post-Impact career of Joey Ryan and she's done what no one thought she could do, become a main event attraction in Pro Wrestling Guerrilla and be given the treatment and attention due a superstar of that gets to fill that mantel. In addition, she and Ryan have been barnstorming the United States, winning tag titles, working as special attractions, and living the lives of touring carny wrestlers.

Veda Scott and Kimber Lee have both been the subjects of short YouTube documentaries and have worked in several promotions across America and even the world. They're entrenched in the boutique women's promotions that dot the landscape, but because those companies don't run yearly schedules for the most part, and because the rosters they collect tend to be scattered around the country on the reg, they enter the ring with men to keep their fledgling wrestling careers active on a regular basis.

The Past Is Prologue: On "Divas Gone Wild"

Lita is only one part of WWE's problematic history with women.
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Professional wrestling as a whole tends to have massive problems telling the stories (in and out of kayfabe) of female performers. That much is known about the pro wrestling archetypes we've grown to live with in mainstream wrestling, and certainly in the world's featured company known for its male performers that the casual fan could list offhand before even mentioning one memorable figure who identifies as female. Naturally, this is a greater problem than just professional wrestling. Most sports, real or fake, have had trouble embracing female performers as genuine athletes on the same level (or even the same respect) as women.

So it doesn't come as much of a surprise that WWE's episode of its Network documentary series The Monday Night War called "Divas Gone Wild" has a tough time reconciling how to view women through its already myopic lens. Part of this is based on the real whims of Vince McMahon.

Dispatches from the Lake: Strength and Weakness

Representative of why NXT is outshining the main show
Photo Credit: WWE.com
It’s been about a couple of days since NXT Takeover: R-Evolution first aired, and I still can’t keep the stupid smile off my face. Soon as the show ended, I wanted to show it to every single person I know that I’ve wanted to get into wrestling. Of course, me being me, I have to get pessimistic about something. There is one problem with NXT. Before you storm my castle with torches and pitchforks, please let me explain. The only problem with NXT is that it is miles, fathoms, and light years better than the main roster shows. How excited were you for NXT? When it hit three o’clock at work Thursday, all I wanted was to get home so I could settle in to what I knew would be a rad as hell night of wrestling.

I did not feel that way about TLC... s. Ugh.

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Steve Austin Show Ep. 176

If you want meaningful opinions on Vince McMahon's comments, don't listen to this Austin show
Photo Credit: WWE.com
If you're new, here's the rundown: I listen to a handful of wrestling podcasts each week. Too many, probably, though certainly not all of them. In the interest of saving you time — in case you have the restraint to skip certain episodes — the plan is to give the bare bones of a given show and let you decide if it’s worth investing the time to hear the whole thing. There are better wrestling podcasts out there, of course, but these are the ones in my regular rotation that I feel best fit the category of hit or miss. If I can save other folks some time, I'm happy to do so.

Show: Steve Austin Show Unleashed!
Episode: 176
Run Time: 1:42:21
Guest: Ted Fowler

Monday, December 15, 2014

TV Kills: WWE TLC '14 Review

Jesus, really?
Photo Credit: WWE.com
In TH style. If you want to watch the replay, check The Network, but I wouldn't recommend it outside of the first couple of matches.

Highlights:
  • Dolph Ziggler reclaimed the Intercontinental Championship after superkicking Luke Harper on top of a dueling-ladder set up.
  • The Usos defeated Damien Sandow and The Miz via disqualification when Miz hit Jimmy Uso with a Slammy Award.
  • Big Show defeated Erick Rowan in the infamous Stairs match with a chokeslam on the stairs, a donkey punch, and by pinning him with the 275 lbs. *snicker* steps.
  • In a match that featured a finish not seen by the ref, a draw finish where the match was restarted, and the return of Jim Brown Roman Reigns, John Cena defeated Seth Rollins in a Tables match with an Attitude Adjustment.
  • Nikki Bella blinded AJ Lee with some kind of atomized liquid and finished her off with the Rack Attack to retain the Divas Championship.
  • Ryback bested Kane in a Chairs match with the Shellshocked.
  • Rusev retained the United States Championship over Jack Swagger with the Accolade.
  • Thanks to a television that somehow sparked and blinded Dean Ambrose when he yanked it from its wiring, Bray Wyatt was able to get the pin with Sister Abigail's Kiss in their TLC match.

Smackdown:Friendship is Magic

Jimmy Uso may be chummy with his brother, but he still doesn't deserve friendship
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Still Doesn't Deserve a Friend – Jimmy Uso
…but I have to admit that this week's Uso/Naomi/Miz drama was miles ahead of last week's. Miz and Mizdow were on guest commentary while the Usos had a match against Tyson Kidd and Cesaro (once again proving to be an enjoyable team) and, as could have been predicted, Cole spent the vast majority of the time badgering Miz endlessly about Naomi, and we could hardly see the match at all. I was about ready to throw in the towel. Imagine my delight when Miz ended up going backstage to speak with Naomi, not only leaving us actually able to watch the rest of the match (wrestling on a wrestling show, what will they think of next?) but also delivering a pretty good backstage segment as well. Miz was equal parts manipulative and sincere, telling Naomi how truly talented she is, but warning her about how a jealous husband just screams “too much drama” to a studio. Better yet, Naomi actually got to speak!

Best Coast Bias: THAT OWENS WENT OWENS

The violent defibrillator to a formerly dead feud
Photo Credit: WWE.com
"It's just the beginning." - Kevin Owens about 90 seconds into his WWE tenure

Say what you will about him, but the man ain't lie.

You might as well cue up the opening 45 seconds of River Blood right now and set it to repeat, since it's going to be the soundtrack for NXT's 2015.

There's a reason - a harmonic convergence - that said song is by a band called Nature of the Beast. At base, the Dennis Green Principle applies. People are who you thought they were. And they fight two distinct types of battles: one is against the self; the other against outside forces.

Sami Zayn won the former however narrowly, and got the NXT championship with it. Finally. His failure to anticipate the latter got him stretchered out of Full Sail before being hauled off in an ambulance, and William Regal by turns seething and speechless after the show--looking in consecutive seconds as if he was ready to drone strike his newest signee's entire bloodline or fall into the center of the Earth.