Monday, January 31, 2011

Royal Rumble Recap

Courtesy: Erik Stensland 
Lots of partnerships in this posting.  Chad offers up his analysis here.  Kevin's thoughts can be found on My 1-2-3 Cents on YouTube.  And a new friend Erik provides these photos.  He was in Boston for the Rumble.  Enjoy!

by Chad Smart:

Saturday night I watched an 18-man Legends Royal Rumble match with all but 2 or 3 of the guys a good 20 years past the prime of their careers. Sunday night I watched WWE’s annual Royal Rumble match.  If I had to recommend one of the matches to anyone, without a moment of hesitation I would recommend the Legends match.  While WWE’s match featured more talent and younger guys who could put on a more athletic match, the Legends put on a more emotionally investing match. But before I get into the rumble match, let’s review the rest of the Pay Per View.

Edge defending his World Title against Dolph Ziggler opened the show. Before the match could start, Smackdown acting General Manager Vickie Guerrero informed Edge his finishing move, the spear, was too dangerous and if he used it he would be disqualified and lose the title.  After the stipulation was laid out, I texted Kevin and told him the ref would be knocked out and Edge would hit the spear for the victory. The match itself was really good. I think Dolph has a bright future in the company, but I don’t think he was ready for a title run at this time. For some reason, Kelly Kelly came down to ringside and attacked Vickie Guerrero. I don’t know why Kelly did this other it was a way to get Vickie knocked out preventing her from seeing Edge use the spear. After Vickie is out, the referee gets knocked down and Edge hits the spear for the victory.  Predictable finish, but it didn’t tarnish the match.

Randy Orton attempted to capture the WWE title from the Miz in the second match. To be honest, I didn’t really pay attention to this match because I felt for sure Orton would win the match. Orton didn’t win the match, but really neither did The Miz. Miz’s protégé Alex Riley interfered numerous times throughout the match before the New Nexus came to ringside. The referee went to remove Nexus from ringside while Alex Riley tried to attack Orton. Orton tossed A-Ri over the top rope onto Nexus.  When Orton turned his attention back to The Miz, The Miz tried to hit the Skull Crushing Finale but Orton reversed it into an RKO. Before pinning The Miz,  CM Punk snuck into the ring and hit Orton with his finishing move, Go To Sleep. Then Punk pulled The Miz onto a knocked out Orton.  The ref returned to the ring and counted the pin fall and The Miz retained his title. As I wrote about in the Not Championship Material posting, this match did nothing to make The Miz look worthy of being champion.  I still don’t see The Miz getting past the next Pay Per View and going on to Wrestlemania as champion.

For some unknown reason, the Diva’s Handicap title match was turned into a 4-way match.  Even more head scratching was the addition to the match and eventual victory of Eve. While Eve is a former Diva champion, she hasn’t done a lot since loosing the title. And speculation was a Wrestlemania match between Natalya and either Beth Phoenix or Awesome Kong.

Now it was time for the Royal Rumble. The biggest Royal Rumble ever with 40 guys instead of the normal 30.  I’m not going to go into full detail about the match. I’ll let Kevin do that on the YouTube video. I’m going to focus on the different story lines and major events that transpired during the match.
Having CM Punk start at number 1 leading to the Corre and Nexus coming out and having a pull a part brawl was a good beginning. Especially since there was very little interaction between the two groups during the rest of the rumble. Bryan Danielson drawing number 2 gave a good few minutes of solid wrestling before the ring started filling up with wrestlers.

I liked the luck of the draw giving CM Punk the rest of Nexus within the first 15 participants. Don’t understand why Corre member Justin Gabriel was put in early and taken out quickly instead of playing up the Nexus/Corre feud. Nexus dominating the under card guys gave them momentum and had the fans thinking CM Punk had a shot of winning the Rumble. Well, anyone who hasn’t watched WWE programming in the past year anyway. As soon as John Cena’s music hit, it was clear Nexus’ run was over. And Cena wasted little time in disposing of every member of Nexus. I think this was when my interest in the match died.

Actually I think that’s the only major story to come out of the match. The Corre didn’t get to work together as a group. I don’t remember anyone getting the Diesel/Kane treatment of being the dominating force eliminating guys left and right. By the end of the match I was thinking, this is it? For being the biggest Royal Rumble, there wasn’t a lot of drama in the match. Guess that’s’ partly due to do events during the match.

Cena, Kingston, & Hornswaggle (Courtesy: Erik Stensland)

After John Cena had eliminated Nexus, at some point Hornswaggle entered the match. If you’re not familiar with Hornswaggle, all you need to know is he’s a midget. So a guy who isn’t even as tall as the top rope was in a match where the objective is to throw people over the top rope. During his run in the match he was basically the Mini Me to John Cena’s Dr. Evil. I decided whoever took out Hornswaggle was going to get my vote for Wrestler of the Year. Therefore 2011 is the year of Sheamus. Just wish he would have entered the ring sooner.

Several times during the last half of the match, there were several moments where John Cena and Randy Orton had a face off and each time the crowd would go silent. Fans online commented WWE was trying to have a Rock/Steve Austin scenario.  If that’s the case there’s one thing WWE needs to realize, we’ve seen Randy Orton vs. John Cena so many times already that few people want to see it again.  All the face offs did was stall a match that wasn’t running that fast to begin with.

In my Rumble prediction post, I wondered how many mystery entrants we’d see. Other than Hornswaggle, the only surprises were a returning Booker T. and Kevin “Diesel” Nash. The cynic in me says Booker and Diesel were only brought back because TNA is supposed to reveal a group this Thursday on Impact and that group is rumored to be the returning Main Event Mafia of which Booker and Nash were members. By bringing them in for the Rumble, I wouldn’t be surprised if some deal were in place to keep them out of TNA for the foreseeable future. I don’t know why Vince McMahon would care. It’s not like the MEM is going to get people to watch TNA. Think it was done simply because he could.

Del Rio wins. (Courtesy: Erik Stensland)
Oh yeah, there was a winner to the Royal Rumble wasn’t there. This year’s winner was the man most predicted would win, Alberto Del Rio.  Del Rio has been in WWE for about six months.  I don’t see the appeal in him and will often change the channel when he comes out to wrestle. Judging from fan reaction, few people in the arena were excited to see him win.  If I didn’t already have my plane ticket to Atlanta, I would probably consider selling my Wrestlemania ticket. There’s going to have to be an exceptional card surrounding Del Rio’s title match to get me excited for the show. I can always hope something happens and Del Rio loses his title match option at the next Pay Per View. I mean, anything can happen in the WWE, right?

Overall, in my opinion this was a lackluster Royal Rumble and the supersizing to 40 guys seemed unnecessary. Next year they should go back to 30 guys and build up more story lines throughout the match to set up potential matches down the road.  But now we’re on the Road to Wrestlemania. Let’s hope it’s a smooth ride and there are no breakdowns or unnecessary rest stops until we get to Atlanta. 

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Pro Wrestling Guerrilla

Jake "the Snake" Roberts' last entrance
by Chad Smart

At the end of my previous posting about Wrestle Reunion, I mentioned I needed to rest up in preparation of the Pro Wrestling Guerrilla show. I never would have imagined how accurate the statement would turn out to be in hindsight. I’ve been debating how to do this write up. Was going to do a straight forward recap of the show, but if you’re reading this you can go on any wrestling news site or PWG’s own website and find results.  Instead I’m going to give general observations.

The tickets said show time was 8pm.  I read during the afternoon the show was starting at 8:15. My friends and I arrived at 7:45 to find a line stretched from the entrance to the ballroom where the show was being held out to the front of the hotel wrapped around the lobby and halfway back to the ballroom.  Thankfully for us we had reserved seats in the third row and they were letting all non-general admission tickets holders inside.  After a quick scan of the merchandise table revealed El Generico didn’t have any more of his orphanage t-shirts, we found our seats and got settled in for a night of wrestling.

As 8:15 drew closer and closer, we noticed fans were still filing into the ballroom. At 8:30 with music still playing and the light still up, fans continued to enter the ballroom looking for a place to sit or stand. I think it was around 8:55 when PWG’s General Manager (not sure exactly what his title is) Excalibur came to the ring to give his welcoming speech.

Last year’s show was entitled PWG: Kurt Russell-mania. This year’s was PWG: Kurt RussellReunion 2: The Reunioning. I had wondered why the name change for the show. Excalibur said they were going to call it PWG: The Cease and Desist Order. Guess someone at WWE isn’t a fan of spoofs.   At a little after nine o’clock we were getting the first match.

The ManScout
Kicking off the show was an 8-person tag match. One of the wrestlers, Christina Von Eerie couldn’t make the show so she was replaced with the surprise addition of former TNA Knockout, ODB.  One of the other wrestlers was “The Manscout” Jake Manning. This was my friend Adam’s first live wrestling experience. As soon as he saw the Manscout, he knew he was in for something unique. This was a good opening match that the crowd was completely into. Unfortunately, it would be at least an hour until I would be invested in another match.

The second match saw Rey Bucanero against Mr. Agulla. I don’t know if these guys wrestle for AAA or CMLL in Mexico and after watching the match, I’m not interested in finding out. The only things I remember about his match were lots of dives over the ropes and the crowd chanting “lucha libre” the whole time.

Shane Helms
Following the match was a match I thought looked good on paper, Joey Ryan vs. Shane Helms.  I haven’t been to a PWG since Kurt Russell-mania, so I’ve missed the reasoning for the crowd turning on Joey Ryan. Shane Helms has angered the Internet wrestling community with recent twitter comments regarding Shawn Michaels. The fans gave this match no chance. From the moment Helms entered the ring he was greeted with various four-letter epithets.  While Joey and Shane tried to put on a technical wrestling match, the crowd didn’t want to see it and started chanting “Boring.”  Joey Ryan got on the microphone and ripped the crowd apart saying he was putting on a technical clinic and if the crowd didn’t have ADD they would appreciate it. Needless to say, the fans just wanted the match to end. After the match the fans showed their displeasure with Helms by chanting, “don’t come back.” Helms said he respects their right to say what they want, and at the end of the day he’s made millions and the fans haven’t made &%##.

Davey Richards vs. Lo-Ki
After that match almost anything would be a welcomed sight I say almost because the next match was Davey Richards vs. Lo-Ki who was making his return to PWG after competing in WWE as Kaval. I’m in the minority, but Davey Richards is one of a handful of wrestler who if I never saw him wrestle another match I wouldn’t be disappointed. I used this match as a chance to hit the bathroom before intermission. What I saw of the last 10 minutes or so was standard Davey Richards match formula of kicking out of finishing move after finishing move.  Next.

Sinn vs. Snake
The last match before intermission was the retirement match of Jake “the Snake” Roberts. First out was his opponent Sinn “Kizarny” Bohdi. For some reason Kizarny thought it would be a good idea to strap fireworks to a board on his chest and shoot them off on his way to the ring. Since we were sitting in the third row along the entranceway, we were fortunate enough to be hit with a couple of the fireworks. Before the match got started, the fans greeted Jake with a, “Thank you Jake” chant that made Jake get a little teary eyed. Not to speak negatively, but this was a Jake Roberts match in 2011, there wasn’t a lot to it. Thankfully it was kept short with Jake picking up a victory after a short arm clothesline and DDT.  The crowd got what they wanted to see. What more could you ask for.

After intermission was the Legends Royal Rumble. This could have been the only match on the show and the fans would have gotten their money worth. The wrestling wasn’t exactly five stars, but the atmosphere was off the charts.  Before the match, “Mean” Gene Okerlund introduced Paul Orndorff, Harley Race, Mr. Saito (who ran the ropes and got a “you still got it” chant), and Iron Sheik to the crowd. They stayed around ringside during the match.  The match was contested under Royal Rumble rules with a new man entering the match every 30 seconds. The list of participants were “Dangerous” Danny Davis, Mike Graham, Jimmy “Mouth of the South” Hart, Tito Santana, Barry O, Barbarian, Rock Riddle, Shane Douglas, Warlord, Chavo Guerrero Sr., Shane Helms, “Cowboy” Bob Orton, Cruel Connection, Mando Guerrero, Terry Funk, Savio Vega, Vampiro and “Rowdy” Roddy Piper.

Piper wins the Legends Battle Royal
As I said, some of the wrestling wasn’t the greatest. But for anyone who grew up watching the majority of the wrestlers, the quality of the wrestling didn’t matter. Just seeing Bob Orton still sporting the arm cast made me a kid again.  The final two were Terry Funk and Roddy Piper. Funk asked for the microphone and told Piper he wanted to say a prayer. A prayer for all the wrestlers in heaven. A prayer for the fans to have a safe ride home. He asked Piper to bow his head. When Piper bowed his head, Funk started praying and finished with, “and God, please, please, … let me WIN” and hit Piper with the microphone. They brawled out of the ring and into the crowd before getting back into the ring where Piper eventually threw Funk over the top rope to win the match.  Piper looked to be in the best shape he’s been in in the last five years. It was now around 11:30 and we still had three matches left.
How do you follow up the previous match? Chris Hero and Kevin Steen had the taunting task of trying to get a spent crowd invested into their match.  While it took awhile, by the end the crowd was solidly into the match.  Near the end, Steen kicked Hero in the face and I’m pretty sure a tooth went flying into the crowd.

Chris Hero vs. Kevin Steen
The second to last match was a 4-way tag team match to name the first team entered into PWG’s annual tag team tournament. The Cutler Brothers vs. RockNES Monsters vs. Fighting Taylor Boys vs. Young Bucks. The match started off like a house of fire with nonstop action. The match was standard highflying tag team action with the RockNES Monsters picking up the victory. After the match Kevin Steen ran in and killed the Monsters. He gave Johnny Goodtime a package piledriver and then gave Johnny Yuma a vicious stuffed suplex through the ropes. I can’t even explain how sick it was. Steen then announced himself as the second entrant into the tag tournament.

El Generico vs. Claudio Castagnoli
Finally at probably a little after 12:30 it was time for the main event title match, Claudio Castagnoli defending against El Generico. While this was a decent main event, I was tired and was getting annoyed by the fans. I’ll get to that in a minute.  Claudio retained the title by making Generico tap to a leg lock. After the match Joey Ryan ran in and attacked Claudio before Chris Hero made the save. Joey and Claudio went back and forth verbally before a few minutes before Joey finally left. Claudio thanked everyone for coming out and that was it.

Overall, even though the first half of the show wasn’t the greatest, the second half more than made up for it. This show reminded me why I enjoy wrestling. There was no overanalyzing why certain guys won and other lost. I simply sat back and enjoyed the action in the ring. If only I could do that with WWE and TNA shows.

Now, with the recap of the show out of the way, let me get on my soapbox and express one of my biggest complaints. There’s a reason I haven’t been to a PWG in a year. PWG normally runs the Legion Hall in Reseda. It’s a small venue and the last time I was there I had to sit on the pool table because there were no seats available. I’ve read they’ve had to turn away fans at some shows. This is good for PWG. But for me personally, I don’t like to be that cramped at a show.

The other reason I haven’t attended a show is because of the fans. During the show last night, the guys sitting at the end of our row constantly got up and left our area about every 10 minutes.  This wouldn’t have been too bad if they didn’t have to walk in front of me each time.  At the start of the main event,
after they returned from another trip out of the ballroom, I heard one of them remark he was on his 12th beer.  Don’t want to be judgmental or prudish, but if you need 12 beers in a 4-hour span to enjoy a show, maybe you should find something else that entertains you easier. If you read the PWG message board, fans are constantly posting about how much they’re going to drink and other ways to alter their mind during the show. I don’t understand the reasoning.

In addition to the needless drinking, during the main event, I got tired of the fans yelling.  Now, I’m all for yelling, or chanting or whatever you want to do during the show. I know I’ve probably annoyed several fans with my random cheers during shows. What I don’t condone or really appreciate is the constant use of profanity. During the main event there was one guy sitting behind me and one of the mega-drinkers to my right who constantly yelled, “Eff you Claudio” and “Claudio you Effing suck.”  Once or twice, I wouldn’t have had a major issue with. Consistently for 20 minutes and it gets old. Plus, sitting in the row in front of me were four kids all under the age of 10.  When did constant profanity become acceptable in public?  Again, I’m support the fans right to yell whatever they want, but it would be nice if there was some common decency.

Okay, PWG reignited my passion for wrestling. Now, will WWE keep it burning with the Royal Rumble?  

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Wrestle Reunion

Jake "the Snake" Roberts prior to his retirement match
By Chad Smart

This weekend marked the return of Wrestle Reunion to the Los Angeles area.  Wrestle Reunion is a convention where wrestling fans can meet and get photos with some of their favorite wrestlers. In addition to the meet and greets, Ring of Honor held a show on Friday night and Pro Wrestling Guerrilla is holding a show on Saturday night.

After last year’s excellent PWG show, I bought tickets to this year’s show as soon as they went on sale. I hadn’t planned on going to the convention itself. Fans that went to the convention had the option of buying VIP tickets for either $99 or $129, depending on when they were purchased.  VIP tickets got you a picture and autograph with all the non-vendor guests. If you didn’t have a VIP ticket, you could purchase individual autographs or pictures usually for $20 an autograph and $10 per picture.  Since I didn’t have a VIP ticket, I didn’t feel like paying extra to simply get into the convention and walk around. When my PWG tickets arrived in the mail, there was a note included informing the tickets could be used to get into the convention. I figured if I can get in for free, might as well go check it out.

Dos Caras
Saturday morning I headed to the LAX Hilton eager to see what type of crowd would be in attendance.  I spent about 90 minutes walking around the room looking at various vendor offerings and watching fans interact with the wrestlers.  Guess I should mention that while I’m a wrestling fan and have a lot of respect for what wrestlers put their bodies through for my entertainment, I don’t really have an interest in talking to wrestlers.  I have met several wrestlers over the past 5 years since I started going to indy shows and autograph signings during Wrestlemania weekend, but I’ve never really felt the need to carry on extended conversations with any of them. Most of my interactions have simply been complimenting them on a match while purchasing a t-shirt or saying thank you while they signed a photo or DVD.  So while there were several wrestlers in attendance at Wrestle Reunion I am a fan of, there wasn’t anyone I had anything to say to.  If I was more informed on the local baseball deals and knew anything about the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, I would have talked spring training with Joey Ryan, but what would I try to discuss with Torrie Wilson or Shelton Benjamin? 

There were several vendors selling various DVDs. Some were legit releases of various WWE, TNA, ROH and PWG shows. Others were burned DVD compilation of certain wrestlers or events. I broke down and bought a Best of Georgia Championship Wrestling and Best of the 4 Horsemen Vol 1. DVD.  There were also action figures, autographed photos and various other merchandise for sale.

"Superstar" Billy Graham & the Iron Sheik

Since I was there for short amount of time, I didn’t get to see all the scheduled wrestlers.  I did get to see “Superstar” Billy Graham and the Iron Sheik talking to each other when Sheik entered the room. Jake “the Snake” Roberts, who is having his retirement match during the PWG show was hanging out with his opponent, Sinn “Kizarny” Bohdi and Stacy “the Kat” Carter. Raven was hanging out at the Insane Clown Posse’s JCW booth.  The World’s Greatest Tag Team: Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Hass, along with Charlie’s wife Jackie Gayda seemed very approachable.  Torrie Wilson and Tammy “Sunny” Sytch (I think it was her) were at tables that weren’t very busy.  PWG’s Joey Ryan, Candice LaRae, Colt Cabana and El Generico were together at one table. It seemed like Colt was the busiest of the four in dealing with fans. Across from the PWG table were Mondo and Chavo Guerrero Sr.. As I was getting ready to leave, Mil Mascaras and Dos Caras (father of WWE superstar Alberto Del Rio) showed up to a very receptive crowd.  

Mil Mascaras
Overall it was an interesting experience and had I not been there alone, I probably would have stayed a little longer. Since Wrestle Reunion has already announced they’re coming back to LA next year, hopefully Kevin will be able to make the trip out here and we can shoot some video reports.  That’s only going to happen if we can get more fans to check out this blog and the My123Cents YouTube channel.  So tell your friends to check us out. Now I have to rest up for what should be a spectacular PWG show in a few hours. 

Chad's Rumble Picks

I'm going to do a YouTube video on my thoughts for the 2011 Royal Rumble, hopefully Saturday night.  Chad has written up his thoughts.  What are your's?

In preparation of Sunday’s 40 man Royal Rumble Pay Per View, I checked out to see exactly how many guys are on the roster.  Not counting guys that are injured, there are currently 44 guys listed on the roster pages.  If there are no surprise returns or surprise entrants, if you’re one of the 4 guys that aren’t in the rumble, you might want to start reaching out to other promotions about possible interest in your services because your name is probably going to come up on the next rounds of cuts.

As of Friday afternoon there were 28 announced guys for the Rumble. They are, Alberto Del Rio, CM Punk, Cody Rhodes, Daniel Bryan, Darren Young, DH Smith, David Otunga, Drew McIntyre, Ezekiel Jackson, Heath Slater, Husky Harris, Jack Swagger, John Cena, John Morrison, Justin Gabriel, Mark Henry, Mason Ryan, Michael McGillicutty, Primo, R-Truth, Rey Mysterio, Sheamus, Ted DiBiase, Tyason Kidd, Wade Barrett, William Regal, Yoshi Tatsu and Zack Ryder.

The remaining 16 roster members are: Big Show, Chavo Guerrero, Chris Masters, Curt Hawkins, Finlay, Joey Mercury, JTG, Kane, Kofi Kingston, Trent Barreta, Tyler Reks, Jay Uso, Jimmy Uso, Michael Tarver, Santino Marella, and Vladimir Kozlov.

Of those guys, I believe Big Show, Kofi Kingston, Kane and Chris Masters have either been mentioned as being in the Rumble or have competed in the mini-rumbles on Raw and Smackdown which should mean they’re in the match.  That brings the total to 32 entrants. 

JTG, The Usos, Michael Tarver and the Tag Champions Santino/Kozlov will probably be in the match as well. That’s 38 guys. I’d wager a bet that Joey Mercury, Trent Barreta, Curt Hawkins and Finlay are the four most likely to not be included in the match. Tyler Reks, and Chavo Guerrero are the wild cards as far as getting a PPV pay day.

Then you have the guys who are on the injured list. That list is comprised of Christian, Triple H, Great Khali, Skip Sheffield, Goldust, Evan Bourne and Undertaker.  I read Goldust isn’t expected to be ready for a return until June. Not sure what Skip Sheffield’s status is at this time.  I can’t see WWE having too many people return in the Rumble match. I’d say there probably won’t be, or shouldn’t be, more than two guys returning.  I’d say the most likely returns are Triple H and Evan Bourne or Christian.  I don’t see Evan Bourne being a big enough star to warrant being a surprise entrant.  And if there are any other surprises, they will probably be used to excite the crowd instead of being someone who’ll be a serious contender to win the Rumble.

Now with all that out of the way, who do I see as winning this year’s Royal Rumble?  I have to give WWE credit.  This is probably the most unpredictable Royal Rumble since the winner started getting a title shot at Wrestlemania.  There are no clear cut Mania title matches on the horizon.  Unless they have a surprise winner who then gets cheated out of or loses his Wrestlemania match,  it’s probably safe to eliminate at least 30 of the participants. I’m going to give pros and cons of the top 10 contenders.

Alberto Del Rio: PRO: Has been positioned as the future of Smackdown ever since he first showed up and appeared to be on the path to championship gold.  Con: Has been in a pointless feud with R-Truth for the past month. His push has seemed to stall.

CM: Punk: Pro: Leader of the New Nexus, may have other guys watching his back.  Con: A Mania match of Nexus vs Corre or Punk vs Wade Barrett would make more sense.

John Cena: Pro: He’s John Cena.  Con: Doesn’t need to win to position himself into a title match.

Sheamus: Pro: Former WWE Champion. Current King of the Ring. Winning would move him back up into the main event. Con: Anticipation of Triple H’s return seems to point to another round of Sheamus/Triple H matches.

Wade Barett: Pro: Way to re-establish him as a major star after the Nexus angle fizzled due to constantly ending up on the losing end with John Cena.  Con: See CM Punk.

Triple H: Pro: WWE loves to have a returning superstar win the Royal Rumble. Con: Doesn’t need the win to reclaim his spot at the top of the card.

Christian: Pro: Same as Triple H. Plus a Christian vs Edge title match would make for a good Wrestlemania match. Con: Hasn’t been presented as a main event caliber wrestler since his return to WWE.

Drew McIntyre: Pro: The Chosen One. Would help give him some credibility. Con: In the middle of a relationship angle with Kelly Kelly. Not really ready for a Main Event match.

David Otunga: Pro: His marriage to Jennifer Hudson could produce lots of publicity for WWE.  Con: He’s David Otunga. Even though he’s presented as the number 2 guy in Nexus, fan reaction places him at #4.

John Morrison: Pro: Has been rising through the ranks over the past few months.  A victory could put him over the top in the fan’s eyes.  Con: His title match with The Miz  Is that a sign WWE management doesn’t see Morrison as main event material at this time? 

Out of those 10 guys, I would like to see Christian win the rumble and go on to main event at Wrestlemania.  But I really can’t call a winner this year.  I do know I’ll be watching with anticipation to see who is the last man standing in the shadow of the Wrestlemania sign. 

Friday, January 28, 2011

What I DON'T Want

by Chad Smart

When I logged into Twitter last night, the topic IWantWrestling was all over my timeline. It was mostly due to TNA Impact airing at that time. Most of the tweets were about how TNA wasn’t giving the fans what they wanted to see. Reading the comments got me thinking not about what I wanted from a wrestling promotion, but rather what I don’t want in a wrestling promotion. These are gimmicks, matches, storylines, etc. that I feel need to be changed, put into hibernation or simply done away with for the year 2011.

Jack Tunney.  Remember him?

General Managers:  I touched on this in a previous post, but I am sick and tired of the general managers. In my first twelve years of being a wrestling fan (1984-1996) there were no general managers.  Sure you had WWF President Jack Tunney, and WCW had a board of directors, but they only showed up when needed.  Their lack of appearances made their appearance mean something.  And they were usually non-biased in their laying down the law. Ever since Eric Bischoff was revealed as the key player behind the scenes for the NWO and Vince McMahon was formally recognized as the owner of WWF/WWE, you can’t escape the general manager. Seriously, how many GM’s have Raw and Smackdown had since the brand extension took effect?  Why do WWE and TNA feel the need to have an onscreen presence controlling the events?  It leads to too much talking during the shows and pointless backstage segments.

Wrestlers Showing Up During the Show: Maybe I’ve worked on the wrong shows, but when I was working on a live weekly show, if I showed up halfway through the show I probably wouldn’t be working on the next episode.  Why are the top tier wrestlers allowed to show up well after the show has begun?  When Hulk Hogan first showed up on Impact, I had mentioned to my friends one of the worst things TNA could do was wait until the start of the second hour of the show to have Hogan make his first appearance. Not only did they wait until the second hour for his debut, but also they had him on the way to the show during the first hour.  If the new “boss” doesn’t care to show up at the start of the show why should fans care about anything or anyone outside the main event?  

Courtesy: TNA
Ref Bumps and Run-Ins: This mainly applies for TNA title matches, but it should apply to all matches.  Nothing is more aggravating then having a good match ruined by unnecessary shenanigans. I don’t understand why, but TNA seems to think the only way for an important match to end is with as much confusion and nonsense possible. What is wrong with one guy simply pinning his opponent? As I talked about in my post about Champions, when a wrestler can’t win a match on his own, fans won’t view him as a star.

Tag Team Ref Clichés: Anyone who’s seen more than five tag team matches knows what I’m talking about. If the good guys make a tag the referee doesn’t see he’ll not acknowledge it and make the fresh guy get back out of the ring. Five seconds later the bad guys will switch without tagging behind the ref’s back and the ref will allow it.  That’s just one example.  The bad officiating clichés are beyond played out.

Pay Per View Opponents Wrestling Each Other on Free TV: If you want me to pay to see two guys fight, why are you having them wrestle before the pay per view? Or if I just paid to see guys fight and on the next show there’s a rematch, why would I pay for the next pay per view? I’ll wait and see the match for free.

Storylines Based on Real Life: Contrary to what Vince Russo thinks, storylines based on wrestler’s real life issues aren’t interesting. Take the current TNA angle of Kurt Angle/Jeff Jarrett/Karen (Angle) Jarrett.  Who cares about their love triangle? How many fans knew about it to begin with? When writers start booking based on real life usually it’s more depressing than exciting and it shows you a side of the wrestler that as a fan you probably don’t want to see. How many times as a real life storyline been based around something positive? How many have been based around addictions or behavior that shouldn’t be glorified?

Face/Heel Turns With No Reason: Going back to my Open Letter to TNA, there was a time when a turn meant something. Now days a turn just means it’s another week and another show. 

From WWE
Bad Commentary: Watching Raw or Impact can be made better by hitting the Mute button. 

Storylines that have No Planned Ending:  I feel TNA had no idea who “THEY” actually were until 10-10-10. (And if they were THEY all along, that’s even worse) And I doubt WWE knows who the Raw GM will turn out to be once the computer is gone. How many authors, screenwriters, newspaper writers, etc. start writing a story without knowing what is going to happen in the end?  Why does it seem so difficult for wrestling writers to come up with a compelling story that makes sense?

The Same Guys on Pay Per View Month After Month: Both WWE and TNA have huge rosters. So why is it the same 10 guys are involved in every storyline?    Just because there’s a pay per view in three weeks doesn’t mean two guys who suddenly have a problem with each other need to fight at that show. Wait until the next show so there’s time for the hatred to bloom.

The original "screw job"
Any NWO or Montreal Screw Job Type Angles:  Can we agree there needs to be a moratorium put on these two ideas?  Yes Nexus started off strong but quickly ran out of steam due to Nexus being constantly punked out by John Cena. The Montreal Screw Job happened over 13 years ago. Most of today’s WWE audience probably wasn’t alive when it happened. It’s time to move on and come up with something new. Stop trying to recapture the Monday Night Wars/Attitude era by rehashing everything from that time. Create something new to capture the audience’s attention. And if you can’t think of something new, step aside and let someone else take over.

Those are just a few of things I don’t want to see in wrestling this year. What do you not want to see? Send me an email, I’m curious to hear your thoughts. 

Flashback Friday: Let's Get Ready to Rumble!

Courtesy:  WWE
January 24, 1988:  The Royal Rumble celebrated it's 23 birthday this week.  The original match was broadcast on the USA Network and not on pay per view.  This event featured just 20 guys.  No big superstars in that first year.

A relatively new comer, the Ultimate Warrior was in the match.  He wasn't yet the Intercontinental champion and was a midcard player at best.  But he was probably the odds on favorite to win.  At least I thought he was going to win.  He was only in the match less than 4 minutes.

Everyone else in the match was also somewhere along that mid card status.  Harley Race, One Man Gang, Jake 'the Snake' Roberts, Junkyard Dog.  You get the picture.  There was no Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, Randy Savage, Ted DiBiase, Honky Tonk Man (he was the reigning IC champ), Brutus Beefcake (who was getting the IC title push at the time) involved in this match.  We did have former tag team champions the Hart Foundation in there, as well as co title holder Tito Santana.  I don't know why Rick Martel wasn't.

Other top guys like Ricky Steamboat and Rick Rude battled each other on the undercard.  That match I believe went to a double disqualification, even though Wikipedia says Steamboat won by DQ.  Dino Bravo "broke" the world benchpress record that day too.  The Islanders beat the Young Stallions.  And the women's tag team titles were defended.  Hogan and Andre signed the contract for their now infamous "Main Event" match on NBC.  "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan won the Rumble, which was somewhat surprising, but he was really over in his early days in the WWF.

I remember the month leading up to the Royal Rumble on TV, there was a mini rumble match at the Kiel Auditorium in St. Louis.  It was December 1987 and the One Man Gang won the affair.  I believe he tossed out the Junkyard Dog last to win the match.  I wonder if they were testing the waters for the RR on the house show circuit before going primetime with it.  Anyone else out there know?  I've seen some online reports that contradict my memory, but I'm positive it was December.  The main event of that show was Hulk Hogan and Paul Orndorff vs. Andre the Giant and Rick Rude.

Without a doubt the Rumble is my favorite pay per view right behind Wrestlemania.  I've enjoyed it through the years, even when it's been predictable.  Later this week, I'll make a prediction on who I think will win the 2011 Royal Rumble.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Not Championship Material

Guest post from Chad

The 2011 Royal Rumble is a mere 4 days away. On that night, WWE Champion The Miz will defend his title against Randy Orton.  Speculation amongst my friends and other fans online is Randy will walk out of Boston as a 7 time WWE champion.  Why is that? Why is no one (except Miz’s personal propaganda machine Michael Cole) giving the Miz a chance of retaining the title?

Kevin and I discussed it on one of our YouTube conversations but the simplistic breakdown is titles are being put on wrestlers who either aren’t ready for the title or aren’t given the chance to succeed once they have the gold around their waist.

Currently I’d say WWE has five top tier main eventers. John Cena. Randy Orton. Edge (debatable). Triple H (on injured reserve) and The Undertaker (also on the IR). When these five guys are in a match with anyone else the general consensus is they will win the match.  Edge is the most likely guy of the five to end the match with his shoulders on the mat.  John Cena gets attacked by seven guys at once and still ends up standing tall when the bell has rung and the theme music starts playing.  Why should fans care about the opponent when match after match they see the same guys walking out victorious?
On the flip side of the above-mentioned talent there are guys who could be future main event talents but have been hindered by constant bad booking. Here are a few examples.

The Miz at a house show in Cape Girardeau
The Miz: We’ll start with Miz since he was mentioned at the beginning of this piece. The Miz is a multiple time Tag Team Champion, former United States Champion and as stated, current WWE Champion. Even with all those accolades, I’d wager most fans see his current championship reign as temporary, having already exceeded their expectations. A year before winning the WWE Champ, The Miz entered into somewhat of a feud with John Cena. I say somewhat because if memory serves me right the feud was mostly Miz calling Cena out and Cena never bothering to respond. Then when they did finally have a match Cena won in short dominating fashion.

Miz won the WWE title by cashing in his Money In the Bank briefcase and attacking Orton after Orton had just beaten Sheamus in a hard fought match.  Even though all but one MITB winner has won the match in similar fashion, it’s not exactly the best way to establish yourself as a serious contender. Since winning the title, Miz needed help from announcer Michael Cole to beat Cole’s broadcasting partner Jerry “the King” Lawler in a ladder match.  Miz was pinned by “The King” in a tag team match a week later. In a tables match, Miz, with help of Alex Riley, pushed Randy Orton through a table to retain the title. The only match Miz has had where he looked formidable was against former tag team partner John Morrison, who isn’t exactly viewed as a threat to any title.  Looking at how Miz has escaped with the title more times than successfully defended it and it’s easy to see why few people give him a chance at still being champion when Raw goes on the air Monday night.

Swagger wins MITB
Jack Swagger: Swagger won the Money in the Bank match at Wrestlemania 26.  Wasting little time, Swagger cashed in the briefcase beating Chris Jericho for the World Title a few days later.  Swagger had a previous run as ECW champion but that belt was often treated as a lesser title than the US or Intercontinental titles with Pay Per View matches being over in less than a minute. I honestly couldn’t remember any matches during Swagger’s title reign.  Looking at Wikipedia it appears he held the title for two months, losing it in a Fatal 4-Way match.  Since dropping the title, he hasn’t really had a real meaningful storyline.  He’s just kind of floundered around the I-C title picture.

The Legacy implosion at Wrestlemania
Ted Dibiase and Cody Rhodes:  Ted is a third generation superstar while Cody is a second-generation star. These two appeared destined for greatness as soon as they arrived on the scene. They were paired up with Randy Orton, himself a third generation wrestler, and dubbed Legacy.  Legacy imploded at Wrestlemania 26 with a three-way match that Randy easily won to prove his superiority over the other two.  Since that match, Ted reintroduced his father’s Million Dollar Title for a brief run before having it stolen by Goldust, and has been on a losing streak for the past few months.  Cody became “Dashing” Cody Rhodes and gets more airtime giving grooming tips than wrestling.  Even though Ted and Cody were Tag Team Champions, I can’t recall a single big match they won. They faced D-Generation X at SummerSlam 2009. That would have been the opportune time to have them beat an established team and move up the ladder of success. Instead DX won showing the fans Ted and Cody weren’t good enough to hang with the big boys.

Sheamus bullies Triple H
Sheamus: Within his first two months of being part of the Raw roster, Sheamus was presented as a dominating force. He would attack ring announcers and delivered such a lethal beat down to Jamie Noble, Noble ended up retiring.

Personally, I didn’t understand why I should fear a guy who’s claim to fame was beating up non-wrestlers and forcing a guy who hadn’t been seen as anything more than a whipping boy in over four years.  Nevertheless, Sheamus soon got a title match against John Cena at the Tables, Ladders and Chairs Pay Per View. Sheamus defeated Cena to win the WWE title when while fighting on the turnbuckles both men slipped and fell.  Sheamus fell to the outside of the ring; Cena fell backwards through a table giving Sheamus the victory.  Not exactly a credible way to win or show domination by the challenger. Sheamus would hold the tile for about two months, losing it in an Elimination Chamber match against five other guys.  He would regain the title at the Fatal 4-Way Pay Per View and have a three-month reign as champ. Since losing the title, Sheamus has mostly feuded with John Morrison and not been near the title hunt.

Those are just a few examples of guys who could be, and probably are, the future of WWE. If you look deeper into their times at champion, more often than not they were set up to fail.  No decisive wins. Short reigns on top. And as soon as they lost the title they fell back down the card instead of getting numerous rematches as Randy Orton, John Cena, Edge and Triple H are most likely to do.

Another difference between the top tier and the next levels is everyone on the top tier has reached a point where wins and losses don’t matter in the eyes of fans. John Cena and Triple H could lose every match from now until SummerSlam and the fans will still cheer for them like they do now.  Part of that might be because even in defeat they find a way to get the last shot in and be standing in the ring as the camera fades to black. On the flipside, they guys moving up the ladder are affected by wins and loses. When The Miz has trouble winning every match he has and is made to look like a punk (not the CM variety) by his opponent (namely Cena or Orton) fans see him as a chump. 

Who is at fault here? Is it the wrestlers who can’t convey to the audience an aura of superstardom to justify a lengthy title run? Is it the writers who don’t plan for more than a month at a time? Is it the current wrestling landscape of weekly television and monthly PPVs? Is it fans that have no long-term attention span and want something fresh every month?  Whatever the cause, something needs to be done to make sure the next champions are seen as championship material and not the second coming of David Arquette. 

Remembering Andre

Andre the Giant
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

(Updated from 2011)

It's hard to believe Andre the Giant died 20 years ago today (January 27th).  I often wonder what his role in wrestling would be today had he lived.

  He was only 46 years old when he died, and although his body was broken down even years before his death, I would like to think that Andre could have had some sort of role today.  At least making special appearances like the other Hall of Famers and Legends still do from time to time.

The first memory I have of Andre had to be in 1982 or 83, I wasn't even a wrestling fan at that time.  My dad and brother watched all the time.  I remember seeing Andre beating the hell out of Nikolai Volkoff.  I don't think this was WWF, but I'm not sure.  Andre was even using a chair at one point.  Now remember, I was only 8 or 9 years old when I was seeing this, and remember thinking Andre needed to stop, or this assault would surely lead us to war with the Russians.  (Tensions between the USA and USSR were running rampant)  And this was before John Stossel's expose on wrestling on ABC's 20/20 program.  So I was under the impression that everything I was watching was legit.

Hand check at Wrestlemania 22 Axxess
Photo by My 1-2-3 Cents
I never got a chance to see Andre wrestle in person.  My brother and dad saw a match between the Giant and King Kong Bruiser Brody at the Kiel Auditorium in St. Louis.  This had to be sometime in '83.  My brother tells me it was a wild fight that ended in a double disqualification.  A couple years later when I saw Brody wrestle in person, I understood how things could get out of hand.

Outside of Hulk Hogan, I believe that Andre the Giant was probably the most recognizable wrestler from the 1980's.  I think even nearly two decades after his death, if you showed non wrestling fans a picture of him, they would be able to identify him.  Even my kids who are pretty young know who Andre is.  That's in part due to the fact that I have the Legends action figure of Andre on my desk at work. I've had it since 1997, so it's been around longer than they have.

The cast
Photo by My 1-2-3 Cents
As I mentioned I never got to see the Giant live in person.  Just some of the memorabilia from his career, including the hand prints.  As you can see they were huge.  At Axxess in 2010, we also got to see some more artifacts, although I can't figure out why they saved his leg cast after an in ring accident against Killer Khan in 1981.

For fans who weren't around in the 70's and 80's to see Andre in action, Hulk Hogan isn't the first people to slam the Giant as the WWF wanted us all to believe after Wrestlemania 3.  Although as a kid, seeing that moment I felt like I was a part of history.  It's still in my opinion one of the most defining moments in Wrestlemania history.

But I was able to find a page showing the Giant being slammed through the years.  Some of the guys I knew had done it, but others I wasn't aware of, specifically Butcher Vachon and the star out of Mexico.  Despite the slams though, to the best of my memory Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior are the only two wrestlers to pin the big man.  Someone correct me if I'm wrong.

Even though I didn't become a wrestling fan until the twilight of Andre's career, I still believe he had a huge (no pun intended) impact on the business that is still felt today.  RIP Andre.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Celebs in the Ring

Big Show vs. Floyd "Money" Mayweather
As a general rule I do not like it when celebrities get into a wrestling ring and wrestle.  Or at least try to.  The one exception I can think of is Floyd "Money" Mayweather.  He and the Big Show had a match at Wrestlemania 24.  I witnessed it first hand and I must say it exceeded my expectations.

I wasn't looking forward to it at first, but looking back I left like they had a nice lead up to the event and I loved the way they ended it.  I thought for sure Show would squash Money like a bug, but instead, Mayweather came out on top.  Of course a pair of brass knucks don't hurt.

I bring this topic up because apparently TNA has offered Chad Ochocinco to settle his differences with his coach Marvin Lewis inside a steel cage at their Lockdown pay per view in the spring. That nugget of info comes from 411 Wrestling.  The report goes on to say the company will train each man for the match.

 I groan at the thought of this for several reasons.  The first being as a I mentioned, I don't like celebrities in the ring.  Now if Ochocinco was wrestling a wrestler, I might be more accepting of this.  It seems athletes tend to do better in this environment, (Mayweather and even Lawrence Taylor back at Wrestlemania 11)

Throwing the coach in there too just seems stupid to me.  It's a legitimate grudge between these two and you're going to exploit that with a match in a cage.  Maybe Marvin Lewis a BA too, I don't know as I don't follow football.  Although the Wrestlemania of football is coming up next week, but I digress.

There have been plenty of failed celebrity wrestling matches in the past.  Drew Carey in the Royal Rumble.  Jay Leno and DDP against Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff.  Dennis Rodman & Hogan vs. DDP & Karl Malone.  Jenna Morasca (from Survivor) vs. Sharmell.  WCW World champion David Arquette.  I could go on here, but I think you all get the point.

Sure, if you want some main stream attention, get a celeb involved in your event, but it doesn't have to be in a match.  Look at the press the WWE got when Mike Tyson just refereed the match between Shawn Michaels and Steve Austin.  Donald Trump merely served as a ringside assistant to Bobby Lashley in his battle with Umaga.  Those are acceptable ways to be involved.

Bottom line, the celeb must be an athlete in his or her prime to compete against another wrestler.  Your thoughts?

So TNA is clearly grasping at straws

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Flair Leaves TNA UK Tour, Ventura Sues TSA

Courtesy: TNA Wrestling
A couple of quick news headlines in regards to wrestling legends Ric Flair and Jesse the Body Ventura.

Ric Flair Leaves Tour: 
Several wrestling websites are reporting that Ric Flair has left TNA's overseas tour.  The Pro Wrestling Torch reports that Flair asked for advanced payment from the tour manager.  When the manager refused, Flair reportedly felt disrespected and did not join the others on the bus from Ireland headed to Germany.

The company named this particular tour of Europe "Maximum Wooo!" in honor of the 16 time world champion.  

Again, these are online reports.  Not sure exactly what the situation is.  I haven't seen any official word from TNA via Twitter or their website.  I would assume cooler heads will prevail and we won't see Flair as a surprise entrant in the Royal Rumble Sunday, although I would mark out if it happened.

Jesse Ventura Sues:
This info comes from CNN.  They're reporting that WWE Hall of Famers Jesse "the Body" Ventura has filed suit against the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Safety Administration.  The suit alleges those pat-downs and full body scans going on at airports now violate Ventura's rights under the Fourth Amendment, which protects Americans from unreasonable searches and seizures.

Reportedly, the Body isn't seeking financial gain from the suit.  He just wants an acknowledgement from the court that his rights have been violated and a court order that would stop the government from subjecting him to the screenings.  

Ventura has a titanium hip and flies a couple times a week according to his attorney.

Clash of the Champions

Quick thoughts on Monday's Raw from 1/24/11.  You can also watch a recap on My 1-2-3 Cents on YouTube.

Opening Segment: When Edge came out I really thought we were going to get the Clash of the Champions match at the start of the show.  Those hopes were quickly dashed after the impromptu Royal Rumble challenge and the Corre vs. Nexus confrontation.

Did you notice Edge disappeared after that whole deal between the two groups?  I don't like how that happens.  That seems to be a trend.

Mark Henry & John Morrison vs. Albert Del Rio & King Sheamus:  I'm still not sold on Alberto.  And I find it hard to believe the "World's Strongest Man" taps out almost instantly to the arm bar submission.  You could have him tap, but it was like a second after the hold was applied.  Plus, I don't think there was any work on the arm to even weaken it, was there?

Natalya vs. Melina: That was a kick butt Sharpshooter by Natalya.  Good match between these ladies. LayCool annoys me, but I think that's their role.  I still don't like the comments about Natalya's weight.  And again it's a double standard.  The King insulted Vickie Guerrero again last night and people find it funny.  When LayCool does it, it's criminal.  Twitter was lit up with comments.  Trust me.

The Miz vs. Edge: I felt like this match could have been saved for a Pay Per View.  Why give away a match like that on free TV?  That seems to be the trend though, as they did it last week with CM Punk vs. John Cena.  The match went on pretty long, but I knew (as we all did) that Dolph Ziggler was going to interfere.

Husky Harris & Michael McGillicutty vs. Santino Marella & Vladamir Koslov: Tag team champions made to look weak once again.  I like the duo of HH & MM.  Would like to see them developed as a unit.  They have potential, and let's face it the WWE needs a tag team division.

Mixed Gender Six Person Tag: I think this was just a set up to have Gail Kim and Daniel Bryan get caught by the Bellas.  The match itself was lame.  I like the storyline, especially if it means Kim getting more in ring time.

CM Punk vs. Wade Barrett:  I think this match could have and should have been saved for pay per view.  Not the Royal Rumble.  They could have totally carried this out to Wrestlemania I believe.  And I wonder if we get a Corre vs. Nexus match at Mania.  Many factors as we head to the big event in April. Cena refereeing the match made sense, but again lately Cena has been really annoying.  I'm talking Cena the performer.  The guy outside the ring who does all the philanthropy has all my respect.

It was no surprise the show ended with a locker room clearing brawl in the ring. That's what we have come to expect in the days leading up to the Royal Rumble.  Later this week, I'll post a prediction for the Rumble, probably just on YouTube though, so check it out.


Monday, January 24, 2011

Let's Skip, Sheffield Please!

Courtesy: WWE
Okay, I don't write this to be mean or cruel.  Let's get that out of the way.

I have read several online reports that former WWE creative team member John Piermarini has started a blog.  I tried to get on the site today, but it just has the message: "Be Back Soon" so I can't confirm what I'm reading in these reports with his actual site.

But anyway, the claim is that Vince McMahon at some point saw or sees Skip Sheffield as the number 2 babyface in the company, behind John Cena.  Wow.  Really?  I find this claim hard to believe.  I can't imagine anyone in their right mind thinking Skip Sheffield should be the company's second highest profile figure.

Of course, maybe they're talking down the road, I don't know.  What I do know is what I saw of Skip on the first season of NXT I was not impressed.  To me, he seemed to try to hard to be like Stone Cold Steve Austin.  The look, the talk, even his finisher is similar to the Stone Cold Stunner.  I know they say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but we've been there and done that.  And I do still have the t-shirt.

One reason I believe this online report may be true is due to the fact that Skip was listed pretty high on the list "the Top 11 to Watch in 2011."  In fact, he was fifth, and that's saying a lot because he's been out with an injury since August.  

I think if creative could come up with something for him and repackage him, he'd be a legitimate threat, but right now I just see him as another Stone Cold wannabe.  I'll be curious to see if he ends up in the Corre or with Nexus upon his return.  Or will he end up like Darren Young and Michael Tarver lost in the shuffle?

I'm also curious to know what you think?  Am I too harsh?  Am I missing something here?  I'm sure my thoughts were similar back in 2002 when a fresh faced John Cena was on the scene and look where that took us...