Better Late Than Never: Wrestlemania Recap.

It has been just over a week since the Showcase of the Immortals and I have a lot to say. I even watched it twice, just to relive my favorite moments and remember what I didn’t like. Let’s break it down…

Pre-Show Match: Wade Barrett (IC Champ) versus The Miz for the Intercontinental Championship
I still can’t believe that this was relegated to the pre-show.

I also can’t believe that Miz had a victory, however fleeting the moment was. However, I did think that it was a match worthy of being on the main card, with terrific athleticism and showmanship. The fans in attendance were very lucky to see it. I enjoyed watching it on WWE.com, even if Wade lost.

The Miz has no business holding the title, he couldn’t hold a candle to Wade Barrett. I don’t find him entertaining and his constant imitation of Ric Flair is just annoying. He doesn’t have anything really going on and he’s bordering on Zack Ryder territory (Sorry Zack!).

Six-man Tag Team Match: Sheamus/Randy Orton/Big Show versus The Shield
There is a distinct difference between the two teams that competed in this match. The Shield is a cohesive group and Randy Orton, Sheamus, and the Big Show are not.

You can really tell that Ambrose, Rollins, and Reigns are meant to be in a faction together. Each one of those men comprise unique element of one of the most engaging teams since the Freebirds and the Horsemen (That’s right, I went there.). Dean Ambrose is the voice. Seth Rollins is the aerial artist. Roman Reigns is the powerhouse. The other three were good, they were entertaining, but it didn’t seem like it was meant to be.

There was obvious dissention between Sheamus, Orton, and Show at various points throughout the match, especially when it came to who was tagging who. You could see it all over their faces and it affected their performance. There were little rivalries brewing between the three of them throughout the match and it opened up the possibility of feuds involving any combination of Sheamus, Orton, and Show.

The teamwork of The Shield prevailed as Dean Ambrose picked up the win, keeping The Shield’s undefeated streak intact.

Mark Henry versus Ryback
This match was pure power against power, two huge men facing off in the ring. It definitely wasn’t a classic by any means, but it was entertaining and showcased just what the bigger wrestlers are capable of in the ring. Mark Henry and Ryback tussled back and forth, Henry hit the Sammartino bear hug and Ryback took out Henry with his deadly meat hook clothesline. It was a beauty of a move and I felt Henry’s pain. It was awesome.

The Wrestlemania moment, and my personal favorite, of this match was when Ryback had Mark Henry positioned for shellshock. What sold it for me was the look on Henry`s face as he was hoisted on the shoulders of his competitor. The fear sold it and the finish made the match much more than two big guys ambling around. Henry captured the win when he collapsed on top of Ryback, but he got his revenge by delivering a spine buster and a perfectly executed shellshock on Henry.

Tag Team Match: Dolph Ziggler/Big E. Langston versus Team Hell No (Tag Team Champions)
I had a feeling that Team Hell No would retain their titles and I was right.

This match was good but I saw it as just a showcase for both Ziggler and Langston. It was the in-ring debut of Big E and I thought it went over rather well. As I have said in a previous post, he needs to make sure that he is seen as more than just a pile of muscles in a singlet that is too small. The two shining moments were when Langston caught Kane like a baby and when Daniel Bryan got the win with the flying head butt. Aj and Dolph’s kiss before the match, taunting Bryan’s 18 second loss to Sheamus last year, was also a nice touch.

Tag team wrestling is one of the cornerstones of the business and I feel that this match would have been slightly better had it been against an already established team. Rhodes Scholars anyone?

Fandango versus Chris Jericho
Out of the entire card, this is the one that I was most on the fence about. It was one of the greatest superstars of all time facing a man who waltzed in off the ballroom floor. I was not disappointed.

For his first official match in the WWE, Fandango was fabulous. When he caught Jericho in the head with a mid-air dropkick, I lost it. If anyone can get someone like Fandango over with the (sometimes brutal) WWE Universe, it is the Ayatollah of Rock & Rolla. The match was fast paced and flawless, with Fandango gaining the win over the seasoned veteran. My only critique is that he uses an leg drop off the top rope as his finisher.

A LEG DOP OFF THE TOP ROPE! WHAT THE HELL IS THAT? I sincerely hope that he is holding out on us…

World Heavyweight Championship match: Alberto Del Rio (WHC) versus Jack Swagger
I was over this angle a while ago. I find Swagger boring and his gimmick very stale. The only point of interest is that Zeb Colter is garnering all the heat for him. Think about it, what has he really done to contribute to the furthering of his storyline? That’s right, nothing.

Del Rio retained via submission. Moving on…

CM Punk versus Undertaker
Epic. How else can this be described? This is probably the most anticipated match of the last few years, one I was so excited about that I could have peed myself. The work put into this match was some of the finest work I have ever seen in my 24 years of watching wrestling. It was so magical, I clung to every word and action of both men for weeks. As bad as this sounds, Paul Bearer’s death added a sense of reality and realness to this match. The Undertaker was hurting and the wrestling world was reeling from the unfortunate news of Bill Moody’s passing. Cue Punk now…

Even the entrances were perfect. Punk had Living Color play him to the ring, surrounded by a mixture of cheers and booing. The Undertaker walked through a sea of the living dead to exact his revenge on Punk for what he did to completely disrespect the memory of Taker’s long-time friend and manager. CM Punk’s black, grey, and purple trunks were also a nice nod to Taker. This match wasn’t about what one did to another or who hated who, it was about the highest level of respect between two men who love this business. Punk was able to win this match via count out or disqualification so Taker had to be extremely careful. It was everything that a good wrestling match should be, the two battled for control constantly and there wasn’t one moment that could be predicted by the fans watching. Taker went for Old School, Punk pulled him off the ropes. Punk went for the GTS and Taker countered with a choke slam. The Undertaker got into the ring at the nine and a half count! I was so into the match I was sweating while I watched it.

My two favorite moments were when the Undertaker gave Punk the ‘stare of death’ when he broke out of the anaconda vise and when Punk gave Taker the flying elbow off the ring and onto the announce table. As everyone saw, the table didn’t break and it added to the long list of injuries that Punk has been working with for the last little while. Things like this just make me appreciate these guys so much more than I already do.

The Undertaker continued his streak to 21-0 when he countered the GTS with a very strategic tombstone pile driver. Taker and his urn were finally reunited.

No Holds Barred: Triple H versus Brock Lesnar
The best part of this match is Triple H beating Lesnar. I didn’t really see a need to have them fight again, although the build up was pretty decent.

Lesnar can’t wrestle. The only way he can compete is if it’s a stipulation that gives him an edge. UFC isn’t WWE, in WWE you have to actually do things. Not knocking UFC fans but I don’t think half of the guys in the octagon could cut it in the squared circle.

HHH won and Lesnar lost. Can’t wait for Extreme Rules so I can watch the same match again!

WWE Championship: The Rock (WWE Champion) versus John Cena
Boring and predictable. The only thing that makes me happy is that the champion will actually be on the flagship program every week. What makes me sad is that we’ll probably be treated to another round of Rock/Cena at Wrestlemania XXX.

Final Thought
I found that the last few Wrestlemania’s that involved Rocky have been somewhat mediocre but this one was the worst. The only thing that truly made it great was Undertaker versus Punk. It had to be tough to book a major event around a champion who was too busy promoting movies to promote the business he supposedly missed so much. The other superstars were left to pick up the load, as well as the staff in the offices. Next year is the 30th anniversary of the grandest event in all of sports entertainment, I hope they step up their game for New Orleans.

Shake It Up.

I was on vacation for the last week and didn’t get to watch Monday Night Raw until this past Friday, but I did keep up with what was going on via Twitter and Facebook. I thought Raw was decent but there was no build for matches other than the last segment. Sure, there was a little work done here and there for the other feuds but it just wasn’t enough. I don’t think the matches will be bad, I just wish there was more meat to them.

I felt that the highlight of the show was the continuation of the incredible build between Punk and the Undertaker. I took particular note of how offended everyone was and I honestly do not get it.

The only thing I took issue with was that Paul Heyman was dressed like Paul Bearer. Not because I thought it was wrong, I just thought it was incredibly creepy. With the poor quality of the build for the other matches this year, we should feel like Wayne and Garth bowing in front of Aerosmith saying “We’re not worthy”. The work that Undertaker and CM Punk have put into their program is absolutely incredible, mind-blowingly incredible. (Is mind-blowingly a word?)

Everyone just needs to relax and get over themselves. This obviously never would have gone forward had any of the participants said no.

And can we PLEASE discuss Shawn Michaels appearing to tell Triple H that he will stand in his corner this Sunday? I thought it all sounded phony and I wasn’t buying it.We get it, you guys are best friends and want to be there for each other. In my personal opinion, it should just be Hunter and Lesnar out there. That will never happen because Lesnar couldn’t wrestle his way out of a wet paper bag. He may be good at dominating people but when it comes to a fight, he can’t hang with the big boys. All he has is his size, UFC isn’t WWE and it takes actual ability to get somewhere. He couldn’t cut it if he wasn’t being pandered to by management. The only person who makes me angrier is the Rock and I’m pretty sure everyone knows by now how I feel about him.

The other shining moment, albeit miniscule compared to Taker/Punk, was when Daniel Bryan did a flying headbutt from the top rope. I always take that as a nod to Chris Benoit and smile a little bit. It still makes me so sad that Benoit is forever erased from wrestling history because of what happened.

My feelings towards the build for this Wrestlemania may seem mixed but I still expect big things from the grandest event in sports entertainment. I fully intend to be screaming my face off from my couch and I know it will be a hell of a ride!

Give Your Head A Shake.

You’d swear that it wasn’t Wrestlemania season based on the latest episode of Raw…

Cena opened the show with a speech about his match at Wrestlemania with the Rock and it’s just getting harder and harder to buy into it. John Cena is there selling his side of the match and what is Dwayne doing? Promoting a movie. I’m not a huge fan of this match at all but it’s kind of hard to build something when half of it is missing. The only glimpse we saw of the Rock was the preview video for his match with Cena. He always says how important wrestling and the fans are to him but he can’t even show up to promote the biggest event of the year. To me if you are champion, you are there every single show giving it your all. Sound familiar? That’s because Punk did it.

It’s less than three weeks until the biggest sports entertainment event of the year and the man who holds the most prestigious prize in wrestling isn’t even there. This is one of the problems with the build for Wrestlemania XXIX, and a problem with the latest episode of Monday Night Raw.

There were so many matches on the show and none of them really seemed to make sense with such a big show coming up. They were very good in terms of entertainment but they should have been building programs and working to make sure that the crowd was engaged in what was going on. With changes in management and problems within creative itself, it is fully understandable why things may seem rapid and not as fluid as usual. I think those superstars who are competing at Wrestlemania should have been facing their opponents instead of other people on Raw.

Ryback faced David Otunga, that match set up his Wrestlemania match with Mark Henry. To me, that should have been set up almost immediately before or after the Elimination Chamber. I think that they will put on a hell of a match but I don’t want it to be just a strongman competition for fifteen minutes. Henry is incredibly athletic and deserves his time to shine on the grandest stage in wrestling. They did this a second time when they had Alberto Del Rio face Cody Rhodes, it’s not that it wasn’t a good match but they should have worked the story with Swagger and Colter more instead of just having them appear at the end and attack Ricardo. With the recent legal troubles that Swagger has had, he will probably be wished well on his future endeavors. In saying that, Cody Rhodes would be a good choice to go against Del Rio in the future. Both were very entertaining on Raw and I truly enjoyed their match.

Fandango also almost had a wrestling match this week. ALMOST. I don’t get what the point of his character is, so I won’t waste any more space in this post on him.

The Triple H and Brock Lesnar story also continued on Monday with a contract signing. Contract signings, like weddings, never go well in th world of wrestling. Heyman did most of the talking for Lesnar, who only made an appearance at the end when his manager got the holy hell beat out of him by Hunter. I think the match will be okay but it will be nothing compared to his Hell in a Cell battle with the Undertaker. If I had to pick a match for him to retire on, it would have been that one. That match was a symphony in the ring. I like the no holds barred stipulation but Lesnar shouldn’t be able to treat it like it is a UFC fight. It is a wrestling match, nevermind the stipulation. Lesnar can`t wrestle, he can roll around with people in an octagon but he can’t actually wrestle. Logically speaking, this is the only stipulation that could work even remotely in his favor.

Hot topic of the broadcast was the, in my opinion, incredible promo work of Punk. The Undertaker and CM Punk are doing the most brilliant job of building their match, there isn’t enough good things that I can say about it. Allegedly, many saw this as disrespectful but I don’t think it was. I also don’t think that it would have happened if the Undertaker said no. There is no disrespect or animosity between them. Punk and Taker are just two guys dedicated to doing their best for the fans, no matter what the reaction. Everyone just needs to relax.

There is no other match I am looking forward to more than Punk versus Undertaker. That is the main event of Wrestlemania this year, whether anyone wants to admit it or not.

Raw Goes Old School.

I always love when Raw goes old school. It’s a different atmosphere and it is something special for the fans. Such a solid show and it had, for me, the biggest moment of 2013 (yes, I went with biggest moment).

I thought all of the matches were quite good, except for the main event but we can get to that later. Onto some of the matches…

Antonio Cesaro versus Ryback
There is no denying the strength of either of these men but I think that Cesaro has the upper hand. This man is a beast and makes Ryback look like a regular guy, that is no small feat. I get a push for Ryback but it shouldn’t come at the expense of the United States champion (or any champion for that matter). Antonio Cesaro is a champ, not a chump and shouldn’t be used to get Ryback more over. At the end of the match, Mark Henry approached the ring for his obvious squash match with Zack Ryder. Henry versus Ryback? Now THAT is something I would love to see!

Speaking of Ryder, what in the hell happened to him? I used to hold out so much hope for him, now he’s just another jobber. This guy was a champion. He needs to do something to regain control of his career. Maybe a character change, maybe something else involving social media, he just needs to get people talking again.

Miz versus Dolph Ziggler
Nothing that the Miz does will ever make me like him. It doesn’t matter how good his match was or how well he can speak in his promos, I just do not like him. I think that he is becoming a slightly improved version of what Heath Slater was doing with the legends. You can have Ric Flair in your corner all you want, it doesn’t make you Ric Flair.

Like I’ve mentioned a few times, Ziggler seems stuck. He doesn’t seem to be going anywhere or really doing anything. I hope he cashes in that briefcase and wins a title because he is such a fantastic athlete and is one of the most talented guys in that ring today.

Jack Swagger versus Hacksaw Jim Duggan (with Sgt. Slaughter and Dusty Rhodes)
This was just a quickie match that was over before it began. Swagger attacked all three legends and then started screaming his ‘We The People’ garbage. It was just exciting seeing those three guys come down to the ring. I could have done without Swagger.

Primetime Players versus Team Hell No
A pretty solid match. I love the tag team division and I don’t think that it should ever be treated as a joke. This match had a special stipulation, having Ted DiBiase be the manager for PTP if they won. That would be a brilliant idea, they are a team that could really benefit from some strong leadership. Preferably leadership that doesn’t make rape jokes on live television.

For me, Titus was the stand out wrestler in this match. I just love him in the ring. He just needs to find his niche and then he will sail straight to the top. There is nothing but success in his future.

Wade Barrett versus Alberto Del Rio
This is pretty much just going to be me praising Wade Barrett. I like Del Rio but Wade has just come so far and is a superstar that has everything a fan could want. He is athletic, strong, a fantastic talker, and just has a subdued charisma about him that just makes him magnetic. He is such a strong competitor and is very strong with his ring abilities. When he strikes his opponent, you feel it. There isn’t enough good things that I can say about him other than he has such a bright future ahead of him that it is ridiculous.

Now I can talk about what I wasn’t that fond of and that won’t take long!

I hated the Fandango segment. I think the whole idea of his character is stupid and if it is supposed to appeal to women, someone missed the mark. No woman in her right mind would find that poor man’s John Morrison attractive in any way. What a waste of television time but at least they debuted him instead of showing those awful promos. The only thing I enjoyed about that segment is that Kofi didn’t have to job to that loser.

I thought Triple H did great in his promo but it would have been nice to see Brock there. I think his mic skills could be improved a great deal but if you are building a Wrestlemania program, you damn well better show up each week to work. Speaking of not showing up…

The Rock/Cena segment also made me trail off a bit. It is no secret that I don’t like the Rock so I’m not boring anyone with that. Cena is rubbing my last nerve too. This promo is the same thing that they did last time, the EXACT SAME THING! What really got me was that Cena said that the Rock’s time was up. It’s only up until they do the same main event at Wrestlemania XXX. Nobody is interested,I just want this match to come and go. Besides, everyone knows that the real main event of Wrestlemania is always the Undertaker match.

This brings me to my favorite moment of the show and what, I think, is the biggest moment of 2013.

THE UNDERTAKER IS BACK! WAHOO!

My enthusiasm for this moment was amplified when Punk won his opportunity to face the Phenom at the SHowcase of the Immortals. although it was won in a very convoluted fatal four-way match (his opponents were Sheamus, Randy Orton, and Big Show), he still earned it.

Punk versus Undertaker. That, ladies and gentleman, is main event material. Nothing will top it.

One Last Bump In The Road.

This past Sunday was the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view. Traditionally, the last major stop on the road to Wrestlemania. This is the last chance for many of the superstars on the roster to earn a spot on the card for the biggest event in sports entertainment. Some of those who got a spot may not deserve it, in my opinion, and some who didn’t get one should have.

The chamber match is always my favorite and I always liked when they have two of them but it is tough with the storyline involving the current WWE champion. The participants this year were; Kane, Chris Jericho, Daniel Bryan, Jack Swagger, Mark Henry, and Randy Orton. The winner of the match gets to face Alberto Del Rio for the World Heavyweight Championship. My choices to win were either Kane or Chris Jericho. I just really like the two of them and feel like they would present such a great match. However, Jack Swagger won. I shook my head in disbelief. A guy who wasn’t on television for months, comes in and steals the win. There are obvious reasons why this wasn’t the best choice and his current gimmick is the one that stands out the most to me.

It is just awful, simply awful. That awfulness was exacerbated by that speech and stupid propaganda video that was shown. Oh god, how terrible was that? The whole ‘All-American American’ thing was tolerable but full-blown racism isn’t. I get that it is reminiscent of something that Iron Shiek and Sgt. Slaughter might do but I don’t know if it fits into the WWE today. I’m all for being cutting edge and out of the box but I don’t think this is flying well with people. If you follow Twitter, it is causing a lot of conversation and it offended a lot of people. I don’t like it. If it turns out to be some sort of brainwashing cult storyline then I think that is the only way it could possibly work. There is no way a normal person would agree to say the things they are saying. I’m sure there is a better way they could have gone about it but I couldn’t even begin to tell you what it is because I find this whole gimmick ridiculous.

The match between Del Rio and Big Show was refreshing and exciting, great for a feud that was getting stale. I am loving Alberto Del Rio as a face and Big Show is hilarious, but both need to move on to something new. Antonio Cesaro and Miz was actually kind of boring, more so on the part of the Miz. I think he would have been better served in a feud with Lesnar and Cesaro should have been feuding with Swagger (you know, before he drank the kool-aid). I’d also like to add that no matter how hard he tries, Miz will never be Ric Flair. He’s got enough problems. I even found their rematch on Raw boring.

Another point I would like to make about Raw is that Dolph Ziggler seems like he is stuck in some sort of purgatory that is caused by that briefcase. He delivers fantastic matches and can sell a move like no one else on the roster (except maybe Dean Ambrose). He just needs to do what everyone knows he can do, capture that belt and have one hell of a title run. I know I just have to bide my time and it will happen. In my ideal world, Ziggler will cash in his briefcase at Wrestlemania, steal the title from Del Rio and hold it until Summerslam or Survivor Series.

Speaking of Dean Ambrose, The Shield was so impressive in their match against Ryback, Sheamus, and John Cena. Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, and Dean Ambrose are a bright spot on the roster and I am thoroughly enjoying their in-ring abilities. It isn’t just the wrestling or the mic work, they are dynamic and exciting. I didn’t like them at first because I didn’t know what to think of them. I like that they are an independent unit and aren’t tied to an already established superstar, it makes their impact that much bigger.

Now onto the meat of the sandwich, CM Punk versus The Rock. The match went exactly the way that I thought it would go and I am not the least bit surprised. Rocky wins, Punk gets screwed. Yaaaaaay!

And we all know that Cena isn`t going to lose his spot at Wrestlemania. Anyone who thinks that is a dum dum. If Undertaker doesn`t come back, we will see a triple threat match with Cena winning and doing his celebratory hoisting of the belt. What I do not like is that they have to cover for the absence of The Rock. A champ should be there each and every week with that belt, not work part-time because his movie schedule interferes. Fans deserve more than that…and they deserve more than a belt that ugly. The spinner belt wasn`t perfect but it was a lot better than what they showed on Raw. Ugh.

Pipebomb.

Can I just say I am absolutely SHOCKED that Rocky managed to find time in his busy schedule to actually show up? It was so great that he could grace us with his presence and take fifteen minutes to tell a story that made no sense whatsoever.

I am pretty pleased at the stipulation that was placed on the match though. If The Rock is counted out or disqualified, the title goes back to CM Punk. Obviously I am staying optimistic that Punk will decimate him but the practical side to me knows that the powers to be won’t let that happen. The Rock will carry that belt (part-time) to Wrestlemania where we will be forced to see John Cena win yet another belt. I am one hundred percent behind the point that The Shield was making.

Punk also made a fantastic point when he said something to the effect that Rock stole the title from him. He didn’t just steal it from Punk but he took it from all wrestling fans who give a damn who their champ is. I don’t want a guy who only shows up part-time, whenever his movie schedule will allow. I want a guy who is going to go out there every time and deliver a performance that leaves me speechless. Rocky can’t do that when he shows up in the last five to fifteen minutes of a show. You can’t put in such a miniscule amount of work when there are guys who work themselves to the bone, no matter if they are a jobber or a top guy.

I rant about The Rock all the time but I REALLY don’t like him. He truly is a one trick pony and putting the belt on a part-time champ was a terrible idea. If I ran the WWE, I would have fired whoever came up with that idea for spitting in the face of wrestling fans everywhere. Fuck you Rock, fuck you.

End rant.

The Great One Deflates.

This week’s edition of Monday Night Raw saw the return of the Great One, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.

After being so hyped and promoted, I thought that he would be a bigger part of the show, not just come out during the last five minutes. What bothered me the most was that he wasn’t even that entertaining. Cookie Puss? Really? It just seemed like the same schtick that he did with John Cena, he’s just repeating it with CM Punk. As far as I’m concerned, CM Punk dominated that exchange. Every time he drops a pipe bomb, it is pure brilliance. When he speaks, you can feel how honest and real he is being. When Rocky speaks, he just seems to throw out some funny phrases and make people laugh. I want to hear something substantial when someone is talking, not a guy calling another guy ‘Cookie Puss’.

I sincerely hope that they can come up with something better for him, especially if he is in for a lengthy run with the company.

Overall, I thought it was a pretty solid show. That first Raw of January always has a special feel. It is the first Raw of the new year and the very first step on the Road to Wrestlemania. A new year equals a new start.

The only other things I took issue with on the broadcast was the Divas match and Dolph Ziggler, and all for reasons I have spit out before. The women’s division needs so much work it is mind-boggling. There is no competition and the women who can actually compete in the ring are being held back. Female wrestlers should not be glorified models. They should be able to hold their own with their male counterparts. That doesn’t mean that they have to step in the ring with them, but their division should be held in the same esteem. It is saddening to think that stars like the Fabulous Moolah are grouped in the same category as Eve and Kaitlyn. I’m shaking my head at the thought…

Concerning Ziggler, he needs to cash in that damn briefcase. He is such a fantastic athlete and performer, that briefcase is the only thing that really bugs me about him.

Hey Dolph, there’s a new Heavyweight Champion if you’re interested…