Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Dispatches from the Lake: This One Goes out to All the Ladies

Along with JBL, these two twits are a disservice to women in WWE
Photo Credit: WWE.com
I get mad at the commentators on RAW quite a bit. When JBL came on a while back to replace Jerry Lawler after his heart attack, I had some high hopes. Michael Cole pumped the brake on his horrific heel character (though I still miss the Cole Mine with all my heart), and things were looking up. Once Lawler came back, we had a three man booth who weren’t allowed to think their own thoughts screaming over each other about twerking - not the improvement I was looking for. I look back at that past version of me and shake my head at her foolish hopes, especially after the commentary during the women’s Survivor Series match on Sunday.

I don’t understand a lot of how the WWE does business, but it seems to me that if they are giving a match a sizable chunk of their show, they are going to do their best putting it over and trying to keep those watching at home engaged. The last time I can remember the commentators doing this was that NXT tag team match on Raw about a month or two ago. I’m sure Triple H was on the other end of the earpieces promising death most painful if they did their usual dump on everything routine.

Tomorrow Never Dies Card Taking Shape

Can the Big Blue Ant lead his team to Cibernetico victory?
Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein
Under two weeks remain before December 6 arrives and Chikara ends its 14th season with a return to the 2300 Arena (formerly ECW Arena). The show, which will be available on Internet pay-per-view, looks to be an epic clash between the forces of Chikara and the raging waters of The Flood, as displayed by the first matches announced. Heidi Lovelace vs. Missile Assault Ant in the Young Lions Cup final, the Cibernetico Royale with Jakob Hammermeier captaining the rudo squad, and the mammoth clash between Icarus and Deucalion have already been announced. Since then, Chikara's captain for Cibernetico has been named, two more Chikara vs. Flood bouts have been inked, and a third match outside of the main theater of battle with a funky stipulation was announced.

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Cheap Heat with Mike Tyson

Tyson was the guest this week
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: Cheap Heat
Episode: Nov. 20, 2014
Run Time: 1:02:47
Guest: Mike Tyson (17:09)

Instant Feedback: You Proved Triple H Right

Out with the old, in with the old in different makeup
Photo Credit: WWE.com
WWE's desired narrative and "headcanon" oftentimes are in direct opposition to each other. Headcanon, a Tumblr-coined word that describes taking a deeply personal interpretation of events in popular culture as gospel truth, can make a lot more sense than the written, literal story in times of subpar output, and in times of quality, it can be an enriching appendix to what's going on. WWE is known for having stretches with great wrestling, and the character design and execution might be on point, but trusting narrative is a dicey proposition. Relying on headcanon to get through rough episodes of RAW is necessary in some cases.

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Wrestling Blog's OFFICIAL Best in the World Rankings, November 24

Sasha Banks, hype as a wrestler AND a manager
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Welcome to a feature I like to call "Best in the World" rankings. They're not traditional power rankings per se, but they're rankings to see who is really the best in the world, a term bandied about like it's bottled water or something else really common. They're rankings decided by me, and don't you dare call them arbitrary lest I smack the taste out of your mouth. Without further ado, here's this week's list:

1. Sasha Banks (Last Week: 2) - She returned the favor for Becky Lynch as her hype-man this week, and she compelled her to win WITH THE POWER OF SATAN. ONE OF US! ONE OF US!

2. Odell Beckham, Jr. (Last Week: Not Ranked) - He's not human. He's not human. He's from Asgard. He's gotta be.

3. Bayley (Last Week: Not Ranked) - Certain things are inalienable. You are born. You die. You pay taxes. And Bayley's gonna hug you. Charlotte found out. You will too.

Smackdown: Friendship is Magic

Pictured: Four men who shouldn't trust John Cena
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Disclaimer that I wrote this before Survivor Series.

Worst Friends – John Cena and Team Cena
John Cena really is the worst team mate. On this episode Triple H dropped the bomb that if Cena's team loses at Survivor Series, then the team mates will all lose their jobs...except for Cena. Apparently this is supposed to be a stake for Cena because it might make him feel bad or something. Anyway, this resulted in, like, five minutes of soul searching for Big Show, Dolph Ziggler, Ryback, and Erick Rowan, after which they decided to stick together because of “freedom,” whatever that's supposed to mean. And guess who didn't show up at all, either to convince his crew to band together or to help out against the Authority? Captain Cena.

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Steve Austin Show Ep. 169

Austin analyzes this match in great detail
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
Episode: 169
Run Time: 1:15:13
Guest: None

It's SHOWTIME: Survivor Series '14 Review

Never thought I'd see this...
Photo Credit: WWE.com
TH STYLE, Y'ALL. You can still catch this for free if you get The Network before next Monday.

Highlights:
  • To top off the show, Vince McMahon announced that if Team Cena won the main event, the only person who could reinstate Stephanie McMahon and Triple H to their positions within the active company would be John Cena.
  • The Miz and Damien Sandow became WWE Tag Team Champions when Sandow tagged himself into the match and pinned Goldust after he'd been hit with several finishing maneuvers.
  • The team of Natalya, Emma, Alicia Fox, and Naomi won a clean sweep against Paige, Layla, Summer Rae, and Cameron. The final elimination came when Naomi hit Paige with the Rear View and a stiff-looking seated leg-scissor driver into a pinfall.
  • Bray Wyatt successfully led Dean Ambrose into temptation, gaining a disqualification victory when Ambrose hit him with a chair. After the match, Ambrose put Wyatt through a table, and then piled all kinds of detritus on top of him before looking out at the crowd from atop a ladder.
  • The Bunny and Adam Rose defeated Slater Gator when the Bunny hit Heath Slater with a missile dropkick for the pin.
  • Nikki Bella defeated AJ Lee for the Divas Championship in short order. Brie Bella sneaked a kiss on Lee from the apron, causing distraction enough for Nikki to hit the Rack Attack for the win.
  • To the surprise of absolutely no one, Wyatt vs. Ambrose in a TLC match was announced for the titular event.
  • Sting made his first ever appearance in a WWE ring to put an end to Triple H's shenanigans in the main event. He hit the now-former in-character boss with a Scorpion Death Drop, allowing Dolph Ziggler to pin Seth Rollins and get the win for Team Cena in the main event.

Best Coast Bias: Going, Going...

The must-see moment on a surprisingly light show (Photo Credit: WWE.com)
There's a term for those who think that the past can't affect the future: morons.

With the show made up of dueling squashes and sprints, it seemed to be a perfect harmonic convergence that two men whose careers intermingled for the better part of this century both took about three sentences to deliver the real crux of the show. That one of those men would be Sami Zayn after last week's events wasn't a surprise.

Friday, November 21, 2014

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Art Of Wrestling Ep. 225

Davis, the head honcho of OVW, is Cabana's guest this week
Screen Grab via YouTube
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: Art Of Wrestling
Episode: 225
Run Time: 1:13:35
Guest: Danny Davis

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Twitter Request Line, Vol. 101

The above is not needed in hockey anymore
Photo via TopBet.eu
It's Twitter Request Line time, everyone! I take to Twitter to get questions about issues in wrestling, past and present, and answer them on here because 140 characters can't restrain me, fool! If you don't know already, follow me @tholzerman, and wait for the call on Wednesday to ask your questions. Hash-tag your questions #TweetBag, and look for the bag to drop Thursday afternoon (most of the time). Without further ado, here are your questions and my answers!

Personally, I think the phasing out of enforcers has been a long-time coming in the NHL. Professional athletes like to project an image of toughness, but the way so many professional leagues have rules against taunting, unwritten rules, or in hockey, sanctioned physical retaliation, it seems like so many people who play sports are thin-skinned and whiny when it comes to their feelings, as if someone's pride is more important than the "offender's" physical well-being. Fragile egos are a terrible thing to prop up. Just play the game of hockey and don't get a stick up your ass because someone celebrated over scoring a goal or because you didn't think the penalty given to the other team's goon for roughing up one of your players was stiff enough.

As for wrestling, I'm not sure an analogue exists since it's not a sport but entertainment. I would imagine backstage areas have their share of enforcers, or guys who make sure that things are on the up and up through threats of physical violence. Tony Garea's long-tenured WWE employment had to have been owed to his shoot prowess, and stories are told all the time of tough guys making sure booking decisions go over the way they're supposed to. The most famous story has to be Undertaker making sure Shawn Michaels did business for Steve Austin at WrestleMania XIV. The roles are fundamentally different, in that the hockey enforcer seems to be more of a retaliatory position, while the theoretical wrestling enforcer is more proactive or a deterrent. I also think that the wrestling enforcer might be on its way out too. Money talks louder than physical violence anymore, and as more and more promotions grow more corporate in structure, the currency value of violence declines further and further. Personally, I would rather not hear stories of violence being threatened or perpetrated backstage at a wrestling show, ironic given how combative in nature the art is, but I can understand or condone better why a wrestling locker room would have its own tough guy to enforce the rules rather than on the ice in hockey.

Dispatches from the Lake: No, YOUR Time Is Now

Cena needs to shock the world
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Soon as WWE announced that the Network would be free for November, I had a thought in my head. And that thought wasn’t rage, though I was plenty pissed I wouldn’t be allowed to partake in the free month because I signed up from day one. I have a feeling that many of you had the same thought, and have continued to have for low these many years.

It is time.

IT IS TIME.

John Cena needs to turn heel. I can hear your eyes rolling from here, gentle reader. Please, let me explain.

I Listen So You Don't Have To: The Ross Report Ep. 40

Jim Ross talks to the Hardy Boys this week
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: The Ross Report
Episode: 40
Run Time: 1:51:44
Guest: The Hardy Boyz

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Pro Wrestling SKOOPZ on The Wrestling Blog: Issue 10

Where will Brock Lesnar go in 2015?
Photo Credit: WWE.com
HORB FLERBMINBER here with your weekly jackpot of NEWS, RUMORS, SPECULATION, and PROMOTER HAGIOGRAPHY. It's a jackpot because my reporting and takes are always GOLDEN. In fact, my opinions are so HOT HOT HOT they melt steel, unlike the temperature at which jet fuel burns. At least that's what Jesse "The Body" Ventura told me during our sitdown interview that I will have EXCLUSIVELY for you on February 30 next year. Anyway, I bring you the news that is the most pertinent and IMPORTANT. In fact, I report on the stories that the other DIRT SHEET WRITERS are afraid to tell you about. For example, how many nipples does Vince McMahon REALLY have, and who financed the secret operation to get 50% of them removed. The answer may shock you.

The Hammer Has Dropped: ROH Contracts to Become Exclusive Immediately UPDATE

Elgin will be one of many affected by Sinclair's new policy
Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein
Rumors have been floating around for awhile that executives within Sinclair Broadcasting Group, the corporate entity that owns Ring of Honor, were mulling over not allowing any contracted wrestlers to compete in any other promotion. These rumors have been confirmed by Dreamwave Wrestling promoter Jay Respel, and effective immediately, all ROH wrestlers are to be exclusive with the company, and they will not be allowed to take bookings with any other company. Michael Elgin is the only one that affected Dreamwave's plans. He was booked for the Southern Illinois company's December 6 event. However, ROH wrestlers compete all across the country and even overseas. The company has had a good relationship with New Japan Pro Wrestling in the last few years, but with NJPW joining the Global Force Wrestling network as an affiliate promotion, I doubt that relationship will continue past WrestleKingdom 9 if at all.