Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Smackdown: Friendship is Magic

BO-lieve it or not, not even Dallas could save Smackdown
Photo Credit: WWE.com
This show is trying to kill me, with its two weeks in a row of unrelenting repetitive tedium. My notes contain the phrase “Why is this my life?” several times. When even I can't get anything out of Smackdown, you know things are bad. Are we in a fight, Smackdown? You'd tell me if we were, right? Oh god, just tell me what I did so I can fix it! * sobs forever * Until Smackdown and I work out our issues, I should probably just re-title this as Smackdown: Friendship is For Suckers. There were SOME silver linings, but for the most part...yeesh.

Trios! Trios As Far As the Eye Can See!

Lee and Steel will comprise a trio with Jolly Roger
Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein
All trios announced via @CHIKARAPro

When last I left you guys with the King of Trios updates, the very Canadian trio of 3Peck0 and Sidney Bakabella's cantankerous flagship trio the Devastation Corporation had just been announced. Since then, the field has doubled in size. The Flood washed ashore with some new entrants into the field, the titleholders within the company banded together, and not one, but two women have made their entry into the fray as part of respective trios. The overall roster of trios is starting to come together, and from where I sit, that roster looks pretty good.

Best Coast Bias: Subtitles And Main Characters

Portent or aberration?
Photo Credit: WWE.com
When it was announced that NXT would be following up the critically acclaimed and wildly popular NXT Takeover with another Network Special come September known as NXT Takeover, the smell of repetition birthed a vacuum.  Sequel subtitles flew across the Internet in mock, jest, and slight allusion to the gap created.

The former two specials had sent out clear messages by their titles: ArRIVAL had done just that to a large segment of the audience previously clueless of the greatness that came out of Full Sail, delivered a MOTY candidate, and birthed the title reign of everyone's favorite high-flying Brit. Takeover, in addition to highlighting the NXT alumnae that were slowly creeping up towards the main event strata, put on a concluding trifecta of matches that could hold their own against any triumvirate that any big-time WWE PPV had put on in the preceding year or two.

But if Takeover II needs a theme heading in, no matter how unofficial?   This episode may've provided it in spades: Adrian Neville v. the World.

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Steve Austin Show EP. 146

Steve Austin, one of the original Paul Heyman Guys, had the man on his 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: 146
Run Time: 1:43:18
Guest: Paul Heyman

Monday, September 1, 2014

Instant Feedback: Code(d Language) Breaker

Chris Jericho's scarf doesn't make him more or less manly or "straight"
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Triple H mocked Chris Jericho for his scarf in the opening segment of RAW. Jericho fired back by remarking on the color of his tie being pink. The cognitive dissonance of this exchange existing on a show where Michael Sam was given an open invitation to come onto RAW and address his lack of employment opportunities is as wide as the Pacific Ocean and twice as deep. Sure, that exchange was a throwaway in the middle of a build towards something bigger that was meant to pop the crowd, but the implications, the coded language used by both performers, speaks to an insidious undercurrent that exists in "bro" culture even today.

The Wrestling Blog's OFFICIAL Best in the World Rankings, September 1

Hail to the workers!
Photo via Mark's Dispoal
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. The American Workforce (Last Week: Not Ranked) - Today is Labor Day, which means a celebration of the working men and women in the United States of America, the people who have made this country great. People have bled, sweat, and cried for the greater good of this country, and only relatively recently have advances been made to protect the working man. Mass unionization and the formation of OSHA only happened within the last 150 years, which might seem like a long time especially in the history of the US, but the fact that job "creators" had to be told that budgeting human lives into a job as recently as any point in the last century is appalling. Do your part by voting for pro-labor candidates, supporting a $15-at-least minimum wage, and by voting for more regulation that keeps a leash on super rich corporations that would rather ship jobs to the fucking Third World instead of paying a fair wage.

Oh, and whatever anyone tells you, today is not another holiday to propagate the fetishization of the military. Honor the troops on Memorial Day.

2. Mo'Ne Davis (Last Week: 1) - As Davis leaves the rankings, she'll never really relinquish her claim as "Best in the World." Hopefully, some enterprising Philadelphia high school will be able to find a spot for her on its rotation, and she can continue breaking faces hopefully all the way up to the majors.

3. Ricochet (Last Week: Not Ranked) - Ricochet continued his year of ownage by winning the Battle of Los Angeles tournament this weekend. His biggest feat was overcoming me predicting him to win. It seems my jinxing tendencies are going into remission.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Inspire Pro's Relentless Preview

Graphics via InspirePro.com
Have you made your travel arrangements for Sunday, August 31? You need to because Inspire Pro Wrestling’s RELENTLESS is going to be yet another can’t-miss event. There’s a reason they say “All Killer, No Filler,” because there won’t be a single match on this card that you’ll be able to take a piss break during. Bo-Lieve that! (Man, I’m sad now. WWE could have totally replaced Seth Rollins in The Shield after the backstabbing with Bo Dallas. If anyone needed a pick-me-up after that, it was Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns, but that’s a story for another time.)

Check out what they have in store for us lucky fans:

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Art of Wrestling Ep. 213

Cabana finishes his residency in Edinburgh this week
Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein
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: 213
Run Time: 1:16:05
Guest: Des Clarke (at 8:15), Noam Dar (30:00), Mark Dallas (45:21), Chris Brooker and Billy Kirkwood (1:00:30).

Summary: It’s Cabana’s last show from the 2014 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, following the same template as the previous episodes: standup comedian who’s also a big wrestling fan, slimmed down version of his traditional podcast with someone from the wrestling business, improv comedy bits with the guys from Whose Clothesline Is It Anyway?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Twitter Request Line, Vol. 91

More Roode, less ripping off WWE
Screen Grab from ImpactWrestling.com
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 morning. Without further ado, here are your questions and my answers!

Is "blow my brains out" an acceptable answer?

I keed, I keed. The first thing I would do as the head of TNA would be to clean house in the front office. Everyone who has had a hand in the direction that company has gone would be given the heave-ho, and Vince Russo's contact information would be shredded, fed to dogs, and then by order of a federal judge, the poop would be burnt. I don't know the specifics of whom I'd replace those people with, but I would make sure that the culture would change completely. No more aping WWE, no more sweatshop-like treatment of the wrestlers, no more institutional misogyny.

Second, I would aggressively get involved in trying to keep the Spike TV contract. Hopefully, the house-clean in the front office would be enough of a sign of good faith to start over again. Finally, I would jettison Kurt Angle, Ken Anderson, D-Von Dudley, and anyone who was still playing any modicum of their character from WWE or any other established company. I would build around guys like Robert Roode, James Storm, Eric Young, Austin Aries, the Knockouts roster, and Magnus, among others. If a name comes up in free agency that makes sense to sign, I would bring that wrestler aboard, but I would not make the same mistakes that TNA did in the past, specifically when the ultra-hot Samoa Joe was sacrificed to the altar of Angle.

Would this plan work? I don't know. I wouldn't know until I would have the unrealistic chance of implementing it. But man, doesn't it sound better than what Dixie Carter and her band of happy morons have been doing for the last decade or so?

Best Coast Bias: Land Of Confusion

Stardust doing an impersonation of this week's Main Event viewer
Photo Credit: WWE.com
It's episodes like these that bring back warm fuzzy memories of Nat King Cole. Not because they were smooth, ahead of their time, or cruelly underrated by the masses, but because they seemed to be a good idea in theory but in reality they'd end up becoming a thinly held up shield that could only be the idea of a coked-out daughter.

Also?

Incomprehensible...that's what this was...incomprehensible...seemingly just because...

(Just imagine that was to the tune of "Unprofessional."  If that doesn't ring a bell, curse your youth and use the damn Google.)

An Interview with Inspire Pro's Justin Bissonnette

Biss says that Barbi Hayden's NWA Women's Championship is a big centerpiece for Inspire Pro
Photo Credit: Kelly Kyle/Texas Anarchy
Inspire Pro Wrestling has yet another stacked show planned for Sunday, August 31st, at 6 PM Central Daylight Time inside the Marchesa Hall and Theatre in Austin, Texas. You can get all the relevant information at InspireProWrestling.com or just check out my preview of the show later this week on this very website! *bask in the cheap pop*

So, if this isn’t a preview, what is it? Well, you clearly failed at reading comprehension when you didn’t look at the title of this column when you clicked on it. And if that is the case, I’m not sure anything you read here will matter. In the event that you just go around to random websites and click on links willy-nilly, well, welcome. Happy to have you. What you are about to read is an email interview with one of the men behind Inspire Pro, Justin “Biss” Bissonnette.

I Listen So You Don't Have To: The Ross Report Ep. 28

Tony Schiavone, in the flesh, on the podcast
Screen Grab via the Big Lead
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: 28
Run Time: 1:39:13
Guest: Tony Schiavone

Summary: The interview starts at 30:20 after the usual Ross opinions on the state of WWE and TNA. He and Schiavone talk about Tony’s fandom before becoming a wrestling announcer, their early days with the Crockett family, his year with WWF and the Nitro era.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Wrestling Blog Retro Live Tweet Series, Episode 3: WWF In Your House: Canadian Stampede

Oh yes, it's gonna go down
Photo Credit: WWE.com
A month or so ago, several titanic users of the Twittah Machine ventured forth on an odyssey to watch one of the worst pay-per-views ever produced by a mainstream wrestling company in WCW Sin. Several months before that, several others, some the same, some not, gathered 'round the television to view WrestleMania 2, the forgotten Mania for a reason, to celebrate the launch of the WWE Network. Because both of those shows were so bad, I, the charterer and benefactor of these voyages, ended up feeling super-duper bad about putting people through those shows. So, as a make-good, I am beyond ecstatic to announce that the third installment of The Wrestling Blog Retro Live Tweet Series shall be centered around one of the best, if not THE best pre-2000 World Wrestling Federation pay-per-view events. I am officially setting a coordination time of 8 PM Eastern Daylight on Wednesday, September 3 for this trek into the past of the great Northern neighbor to the United States. Yes, the third episode will deal with...

WWF In Your House: Canadian Stampede

The Impact Report: The Assassination Of Dixie Carter By The Coward Bully Ray

Eric Young the beneficiary of a confusing finish to Hardcore Justice
Photo Credit: ImpactWrestling.com
Hey guys, sorry I’ve been super late with last week's Impact Report. Some personal things came up and more important, Impact has been super depressing lately, and I really just needed to clear my head and get into the right frame of mind to do this justice. Plus I totally forgot about the change to Wednesday night and I usually write these the same day the show airs to get everyone caught up. Honestly this review is going to be really short because not a lot happened on Impact the past two weeks. Spinning wheels has become an unfortunate theme among televised wrestling lately, and with TNA basically on life support at this point I’m just waiting to see what’ll happen when they pull the plug.

Best Coast Bias: Up The Bracket

Definitely not pictured: three generic luchadores
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Sans the NXT Champion or the suddenly-MIA Tag Champions, it was the contendership tournament semifinals that bookended and took center stage on NXT.  And when the dust cleared, it was a case of the sizzle overwhelming the steak involved.

Let's set the stage: with their respective wins the Vaudevillians will be set to face off against Sin Cara and Kalisto.  But while the throwbacks put a surprisingly quick win on the board against the Jersey Boyz more notable for the Legionnaires shaving a husk out of the beard of Enzo Amore after the match (per last week, note they waited for the victory to occur before deciding on revenge on the certified G and bona fide stud), the luchadores had to put in more work to put away the Red Rosebuds in the two-segger that finished off the program.