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.

King of Trios to Be Devastating, Canadian

Graphics via @CHIKARAPro
Both announcements via @CHIKARAPro

So, Chikara has upped the pace on announcing teams for King of Trios this year, going seemingly every day with a new team. Neither of the latest two teams are all too surprising, but they are essential to the current main narrative. Yesterday's announced trio is also the first troika from The Flood to make entry into the tournament. Max Smashmaster, Blaster McMassive, and Flex Rumblecrunch, known collectively as Sidney Bakabella's Devastation Corporation, will HOSS their way into the tournament. The massive mountains of man have to be considered one of the favorites to win the whole thing. In fact, their fate in the tournament may be foreshadowing as to how long the current fight between Chikara and The Flood will last. If the Corp (or some other Flood-affiliated team) happens to win, the Chikaraverse could reasonably expect at least another year of all-out war. If a Flood team gets to the finals and loses to, say...

Your Midweek Links: Clickhole Does Rasslin'

Vader made Clickhole!
Photo Credit: WWE.com
It's hump day, so here are some links to get you through the rest of the week:

Wrestling Links:

- These wrestlers look flawless with or without their masks [Clickhole]

- The man without a mask [The New Yorker]

- The Best and Worst of RAW: A Womb of One's Own [With Spandex]

- Thank you, Lesnar. Thank you, Lesnar? Thank you, Lesnar! [Grantland]

- WWE's actual Plan B is John Cena [TJR Wrestling]

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Steve Austin Show Ep. 145

Ross is the guest on this show rather than the host
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: 145
Run Time: 1:29:56
Guest: Jim Ross

Summary: Austin opens up with brief thoughts about the opening of Raw Monday (he hasn’t watched the rest of the show), then brings back his old fan JR to shoot the breeze a bit before taking questions for both of them from Steve’s Twitter followers. They touch on many familiar topics — Bray Wyatt, Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns, Sting and the Survivor Series 1997.

The Best Moves Ever: BRAAAAAINBUSTAAAAAHHHHH!!!

This week's TBME will be the last one in the series. I have enjoyed posting YouTube clips of my favorite moves, but the motions are just getting too repetitive. Besides, y'all got YouTube and search functions. Anyway, the last one in the series will also be the first one I ever posted, one of my favorite moves, if not my most beloved move of all-time, El Generico's corner BRAINBUSTAAAAHHHHHHH. If he ever does this move again, he'll either have persuaded his opponent and WWE to let him do such a risque maneuver, or his WWE career as Sami Zayn will have gone terribly wrong. Either way, at least footage is available of it.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Kill Commentary on RAW

JBL's barely good for getting his hat taken from him, let alone adding to the show
Photo Credit: WWE.com
WWE's announce table, at least its main announce team on RAW, has taken a lot of lumps over the last couple of years for good reason. If one were to listen to the old guard, the fact that Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler, and JBL do not call the action in the ring is anathema. While I can empathize with that point of view, I don't necessarily agree with it. Wrestling is a visual art, and outside of letting people know what the moves are called from time to time (especially signature spots), I don't need to have the Vin Scully play-by-play breakdown on what's going on in the ring. However, I do need to have constructive commentary that helps inform and move stories along. I need to know why things are happening from the unbiased/good guy perspective. I would love to have some kind of rebuttal from the black hats too. Over and above everything else, I need my announcers to help fill in the blanks on what has happened before, and what might be happening in the ring at the moment. The worst thing in the world for any wrestling show is a commentary track that adds not information or emotional gravity, but cacophony.

The current three-man team has had several examples pointed out over the last couple of years where it has failed and failed miserably at getting stories over in the ring. Whether it be cracking jokes, making obscure references that don't fit in the moment, or perpetuating ugly racist, sexist, or otherwise bigoted points of view from an unchallenged heel or even worse, one of the babyfaces in the group, the group has been an unmitigated failure. While my breaking point at the ugly sexist language has been breached a long time ago, the last straw in terms of the group's ability to inform the audience of happenings on the show was shattered.

Break Out the Sugar and Hide Your Magnifying Glasses, the Colony's In

Ants! In my pants! Err, I mean my tourney!
Graphics via @CHIKARAPro
Via @CHIKARAPro

The rightful 2011 Chikara King of Trios Champions are in the tournament. Actually, this Colony is slightly different from the one that bested Team FIST to cap off perhaps the best weekend of wrestling that I have ever experienced. Worker Ant 2.0 replaces Soldier Ant, and Green Ant has evolved into Silver Ant. Still, what's a Chikara tournament without ants crawling around? While I doubt the Colony: Original Recipe will be the only set of formidicae in the proceedings, these three mighty mat mites will be the best. Sorry Missile! Assault! Ant!

The Power Cosmic Has Corrupted the Dust Bros.

Photo Credit: WWE.com
As fate would let unfurl, time spent by the Dust Brothers (formerly Them Fightin' Rhodes Boys) in that panic room not only made them crazier, but it turned them evil. After one of the Uso Brothers' trick knees gave out and caused a countout, the Dusts showed a devious side that was reminiscent more of fatherly rival Ric Flair than of Dad-Dust himself. I will admit not to seeing their arc take them to the dark side of the cosmos, but villainy could be refreshing for them. However, if they become heralds for Galactus, then I'll take it all back as the cosmic giant consumes planet Earth and all that lives upon it.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Instant Feedback: The Gatekeeper

Was this necessary?
Roderick Strong is not a name that inspires a lot of excitement anymore. Once upon a time, he was fresh, new, part of the new wave of professional wrestling springing up in the smaller buildings, drawing influence directly from the big puroresu companies and from the distillate collected at the ECW Arena for Paul Heyman's seminal indie promotion. However, as his peers were called to bigger stages in either Connecticut or Florida, he stayed behind.

He was eventually rewarded with a token run with the Ring of Honor World Championship, a way to transition the belt from Tyler Black's long overdue run to the next, American Wolf-heavy era, but for the most part, Strong remained as a supporting player. He had a degree of prominence attached to his name, sure. Like Darrell Hammond or Tim Meadows on Saturday Night Live, he has become the stable veteran, who, even though he cannot find that vehicle to get to the more prominent stage, can still step in, perform at a high level, and provide some kind of name recognition when the other castmembers still need some kind of seasoning.

The Wrestling Blog's OFFICIAL Best in the World Rankings, August 25

Sports Illustrated cover-girl for throwing straight fire. Mo'Ne's the best in the world, y'all.
Photo Credit: Sarah Hoye/CNN.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. Mo'Ne Davis (Last Week: 1) - So the Taney Dragons' dream run through the Little League World Series came to an abrupt halt with back-to-back losses to Mountain Ridge and Jackie Robinson West. However, the team has nothing to be ashamed of. Getting that far on the back of staff ace Davis is a great story, regardless of how it ended. And no matter what any salty asshole says, she earned that Sports Illustrated cover.

2. Nicole Matthews (Last Week: Not Ranked) - Matthews claimed another "men's" Championship for women when she won the Elite Canadian Championship Wrestling title this past weekend. While most people like myself are overjoyed at the fact that another wrestler was recognized for her prowess regardless of gender or other demographic concerns, noted DIRT SHEET SCOOPER Horb Flerbminber said of the decision "smdh misandry."

3. Dean Ambrose (Last Week: 4) - Look, if you're going to take an extended break from the ring to go shoot a movie, you could do worse to exit from the company by getting your face smashed into gimmicked cinder blocks. A lot worse.

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Steve Austin Show Ep. 144

This match is discussed 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 Unleashed
Episode: 144
Run Time: 1:48:14
Guest: Mick Foley

Summary: In the second half of a two-part episode, Foley and Austin start by taking a quick look at Daniel Bryan and CM Punk before discussing the pros and cons of Dolph Ziggler. There is an extended discussion of Foley’s promo work, including the genesis of some of his more prominent speeches and how they chanced his approach to his career. There’s also talk about the Hell in a Cell match, an extended laugh riot where they remember humorous times in the ring and some very frank discussion about the physical effects of a career in wrestling.

Smackdown: Friendship is Magic

Orton's call to the announcers was more for show than effect
Photo Credit: WWE.com
This episode was exactly what people think of when they think of Smackdown - utterly predictable and a waste of time. I was bored throughout this entire show, despite the fact that it contained a lot of performers I really like. Smackdown does not have to be like this, and I wish someone would fix it.

Desperate For FriendshipRandy Orton
Randy Orton came out again this week to remind everyone that he is the Viper and he likes to hurt people blahblahblah. Mr. Orton, if you were really fearsome then you wouldn't need to constantly make these little speeches. Last week I suggested that he was really trying to get the attention of Dean Ambrose, but this week he was definitely looking to catch the eye of Roman Reigns. Their feud has clearly been decided - Reigns always comes out on top-and everyone knows it's over except for Orton. He's just desperate to keep this thing with Reigns going and it's kind of sad.

From the Archives: Hulk Hogan vs. Dino Bravo.

I like seeing historical anomalies. Back in the pre-RAW days, seeing the tippy-top star - in this case, Hulk Hogan - wrestle on the regular TV shows like Wrestling Challenge or Superstars felt like a treat. Either you had to shell out money for the pay-per-view, watch a Saturday Night's Main Event, or get your ass down to the local arena for a house show (and only if you were blessed enough to be in the "A" city). However, in the leadup to WrestleMania VI, Hogan, as WWF Champion, was scheduled for a match against Dino Bravo on Wrestling Challenge. The match is short, and it serves mostly to set up some angles. But a couple of things stand out. First, Hogan compressing his match formula down from his typical 8-12 minute pay-per-view match length down to television sprint is a sight to behold, even if said formula works far better in the long form. Second, the wheels are in motion not only to set up for Mania VI's match with Warrior, but for the SummerSlam match against Earthquake.