Wednesday, August 10, 2016

About That Awkward Ambrose/Austin Interview....

So this past Monday Dean Ambrose appeared on the Stone Cold Podcast in what was anticipated (by me anyway) by many people.  How does Dean Ambrose, the apparent red headed stepchild of the Shield, feel about being WWE Champion and actually winning the first (and thus far only) match between all three Shield members?  Did he resent the initial pushes his former stablemates got?  Does he think his current push is the result of Reigns' suspension?

Unfortunately, we didn't really get any of that.  And while I didn't think it was an overall bad interview, it certainly didn't live up to expectations.  At the very least, it can be described as awkward or uncomfortable.

I searched the #StoneColdPodcast on Twitter to see what the fans thought.  The responses were about 50/50, with half saying "if you liked Ambrose before, you'll love him now!" and the other half saying "was Ambrose high?" or "that was terrible."  Likewise, those that didn't like the interview were split with half blaming Ambrose for his poor interactive skills, and the other half wondering why Austin kept pushing certain questions and issues that didn't really relate to wrestling or Ambrose's career.

So, who is to blame?

I'm sure Ambrose will get a lot of heat for it (the poor performance PLUS insulting the scripted promos PLUS making fun of a producer PLUS badmouthing, pretty harshly, Brock Lesnar) but I after thinking about it for a couple of days, I think most of the blame should fall on Austin who simply didn't do a very good idea interviewing an atypical personality.  Admittedly, I am a big Ambrose fan, but I also appreciate Austin and have enjoyed pretty much every single one of his podcasts.  But honestly, I think if Jericho or Foley had hosted this interview, the result would have been like night and day.

First and foremost, Austin devoted far too much time to Ambrose's childhood and teen years.  And while those topics are the norm and they are important (to an extent), he didn't let Ambrose run with the topic.  If the topic didn't go in the direction that Austin had wished, Austin would cut him off and ask him (almost badger him) about what Austin wanted to hear.  For example, Ambrose didn't seem to want to talk about his father, yet on two separate occasions Austin brought the conversation to Ambrose's relationship with his father.  Ambrose didn't bite either time, but Austin still forced the topic.  I don't know if there's a story there, but nonetheless Ambrose wasn't making it an interesting discussion.  And again, when Ambrose mentioned dropping out of school, Austin cut him off -- twice -- to see how his parents reacted.  Again, Ambrose brushed off the topic.  Austin again cut him off to say that his parents would have kicked his ass.  Ambrose didn't bite, so why force it?  What impact does it have on anything fans would actually care about?

The real eye opener to me, though, was when Ambrose told the story about receiving the call about being hired by WWE, and Austin literally cut him off to say that he didn't like the way Ambrose told the story.  And Ambrose answered that he's a mellow guy so despite being excited at the time, he's not that expressive in retelling it because of his natural calm demeanor.  That showed me that Austin cares more about responses than what his subject is saying.

And finally, for all the pushing and prodding that Austin did during Ambrose's formidable years, he really didn't ask any of the interesting, hard hitting questions that people actually would have cared about.  He ever so briefly asked about his feelings about the path each member of the Shield took, he didn't really push it as far as he could have.  And that's the sort of thing I think even casual fans would care about.  Not to mention that the censorship made entire portions of the interview unintelligible.

And then at the end, Austin begins to criticize Ambrose.  Again, this isn't unusual, he tends to have constructive criticisms for all of his guests (recently telling AJ Styles that he needs to make his offense seem more aggressive).  Except Austin's criticism of Ambrose was either vague or something he has little control over (Ambrose can only push the envelope so far under strict rating limitations).  Ambrose is far from perfect, why couldn't Austin be more specific with the areas where he can improve?  Why couldn't he say that his offense looks weak and that he needs to fight like he's the best wrestling in the company?  That would have been fair and I would have been interested in hearing his response.

Honestly, Ambrose was not the best subject (which is unfortunate), but it ultimately came down to two very differing personalities that weren't working together.  And as the interviewer, I think that responsibility falls on Austin.  Jericho and possibly Foley would have gotten a much better interview out of Ambrose.

What do you think?  How did you see it?

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

LIVE thoughts - July 19, 2016

9:57 - Pretty cool that they gave Ambrose the clean and decisive win going into the title match at Battleground.  At the very least, this adds some legitimacy to Ambrose's reign and he won't look like a lame duck should he lose at Battleground.  Interested in seeing what happens.

Alright, I'll watch the rest of the Draft on WWE Network but won't be doing a play by play.  Enjoy!!

9:43 - Still hoping for the "clear the locker room" ending.  No interest in seeing Ambrose lose tonight.  Or moving the title to Raw for the rest of the week.

9:36 - Who thought it was a good idea to end the draft with Alberto Del Rio and Sheamus????

9:32 - Have six NXT guys even been picked so far?  It's going to be a bit anti-climatic to end it with an NXT pick, unless it's Bayley or Joe, I would think.

9:26 - A bit surprised to see Big Show drafted at all, to be honest.  Nice to see Dolph Ziggler get a little attention.  Surprised to see the Club broken up, but perhaps they'll reunite with Finn Balor?  The crowd completely deflated when they realized Steph wasn't getting Bayley.

I wonder if we'll see any surprise entrants, though.

9:18 - Nobody exceedingly obvious missing right now.  I'm guessing Smackdown selects the Club next (makes sense for the AJ connection, plus they need a "name" pick and numbers).  Obvious wildcards:  Alberto Del Rio, Sheamus, Dolph Ziggler, Zack Ryder, Cesaro, the Dudley Boyz, Apollo Crews, Natalya.

9:16 - Really cool ending and it's good to see Jericho get a win....but they've clearly given up on Cesaro's latest push.  He's not being buried or anything, but he's just exchanging wins and losses with people.

9:11 - The overwhelming feeling seems to be that Raw is "winning" the draft.  I don't think it's as much of a blowaway as everybody else does.  Smackdown has Cena, Ambrose, AJ, and guys who elicit a reaction like Wyatt and Miz.  Not terrible.

9:05 - Is there anything more annoying than that inflection Stephanie does with her voice?

9:04 - I'm guessing Smackdown picks Miz now.

8:57 - I am enjoying these Network interviews because the Superstars are clearly just being themselves and having fun.  This is the most entertaining I've seen Chris Jericho in years.

8:50 - Surprised to see Owens picked after Zayn and Jericho.  Pretty cool to see Sasha and Becky picked so early.

8:38 - I'm guessing Bray Wyatt gets drafted next round.  Also, potentially, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn (to separate shows).  And at least one more NXT Superstar.

8:32 - Again, great interview with Cena on the WWE Network about him being drafted to Smackdown.  Cena back on Smackdown for the first time in something like 10 years is a great thing for both the show and the Superstar.  I can see his stock with the fans improving significantly.

8:23 - Some obvious big-name picks here that made sense.  As predicted, Reigns to Raw and Cena to Smackdown.  Lesnar and Orton to Raw and Smackdown makes sense too.  New Day to Raw was interesting as well.  Does this mean that Raw gets the Cruiserweight Championship, Women's Championship AND Tag Team Championship?  Women's and Tag Titles aren't being defended at Battleground.

8:17 - I'm kinda hoping the championship match ends in a no contest when the drafted Raw and Smackdown Superstars come in to interfere on behalf of Rollins and Ambrose, respectively.  It's in the best personal interest of the Superstars of each brand to make sure that their show has the WWE Championship.  AJ Styles should want Dean Ambrose to win so that he has an opportunity to challenge for the title.  Maybe each side interferes too often to cause a DQ finish.

8:15 - Really fun and in-depth interview with Charlotte on the WWE Network.  I'm enjoying the Draft Center stuff.

Next round, I'm thinking Reigns to Raw and Cena to Smackdown.

8:10 - Whoa, pretty cool to have the side-by-side screens during the commercials.  Nicely done, USA and WWE.

8:04 - Pretty cool that Charlotte was the third overall pick.  Does this mean that Raw gets the Women's Division AND the Cruiserweight Division?

8:02 - Not surprising and a really cool honor for Seth Rollins.  Guy had an awesome couple years and deserves this.  I'm guessing Smackdown picks Dean Ambrose.

8:00 - Cool seeing everyone (but Bryan) sporting their show's colors and logos.  I'm guessing pick #1 is Seth Rollins.

7:46 - The Top 10 draft shockers brought back some nice memories of when the brand split was taken pretty seriously.  For a LONG time I was a huge proponent of the brand split.  I didn't think guys like Edge, CM Punk, or Daniel Bryan would have gotten a shot at the World Championship.  Arguably, neither would John Cena or even Batista.  Certainly, guys like Christian and probably somebody like the Miz wouldn't have either.  And at those moments, they likely deserved the opportunity as champion.  But once they stopped taking it seriously, anybody associated with the Smackdown brand kinda became tarnished goods and it was doing more harm than good.  I don't think this is the right time to do a brand split, but if they take it seriously and make some smart moves, it could be a good thing after a few months.  Let's see.

7:32 - Lita repeatedly mentioning the Wyatts being drafted together, when they're not, is uncomfortable.

7:04 - So I think this is an absolute first.....I don't think I've ever done a LIVE posting of Smackdown before.  Well, in typical WWE fashion, we're getting an overabundance of something.  We saw Ambrose vs. Rollins last night.  We're seeing Ambrose vs. Rollins (and Reigns) on Sunday.  Well, now we're seeing Ambrose vs. Rollins AGAIN tonight.  Why?  To create further controversy so that they can split the titles?  Can't they just do that Sunday?  And since a triple threat doesn't benefit the champion -- and both of these guys are in the triple threat match -- why even bother resolving the issue?  It literally won't make a difference as both would have to defend Sunday and neither would have a championship advantage.  Seems unnecessary to me.

I've got the Pre-Show playing in the background so I'll comment if anything interesting happens. If not, I'll see you guys in a little less than an hour.

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Monday, July 18, 2016

LIVE Raw thoughts - July 18, 2016

11:14 - According to online reports, Dean Ambrose is OFFICIALLY still the WWE champion.  I can buy that Steph has so much faith in Rollins that she'd pick him as her #1 draft pick, with the assumption that he'll win the title on Sunday, but Ambrose just HAS to be pick #2 (and #1 for Smackdown), doesn't he?  Otherwise he and the GM's look like a fool.

11:07 - That was a great match -- definitely the best of Dean's title run -- and pretty much the ending we expected (and the one we needed to remove the WWE Championship from the Draft storyline).  I was fine with it as both guys looked good and worthy of being champion.  I do think they could have done a better job of getting across that Rollins didn't legitimately win the championship and that Steph was acting in her heelish ways.

And man, it's so strange that Shane gets completely emasculated by his little sister in pretty much every segment.

10:51 - I liked the analysis of Steph's relationship with Seth and Foley's relationship with Ambrose and how that might impact their working relationship right now.  Well done, Cole.

10:40 - Oh yeah and he beat him to win the damn title.

10:38 - That's blatantly not true.  Dean Ambrose beat Seth Rollins one-on-one to get into the four way title match last year and beat him by DQ at Money in the Bank.

10:32 - Fun and effective segment with Bryan and Foley (which did a better job of effectively building the tension between the brands than Shane or Steph ever did).  I don't love that Ambrose came out first for his match, though, and was quickly rushed to commercial.  The Champion (particularly a popular face one) deserves better than that.

10:27 - Sorry, WWE, but John Cena hosting the ESPYs is not the thing the sports and entertainment world are talking about.

10:14 - I'm a sucker for when Superstars wear other Superstars' t-shirts.  And then there's the #ZRvsDZ sticker, which I once placed on a Rutgers grease truck.

10:06 - The Ambrose promo was good but not great.  I liked the allusion to the early Shield promos (they typically did the hand held cam stuff back in the day) but it felt too rushed.  He didn't get the time Rollins did, and he didn't get to speak as confidently either.  He kinda gave an "eh" response to whether he would even retain the title.  Ambrose clearly has the ability to deliver a strong promo -- last week was evidence of that -- I wish he was given the material to put himself (and the title matches) over strong here.

9:59 - This company has slowly become terrible at filming entrances.  For ALL of AJ's face run, they'd focus on the Titan Tron during "I Am...." and then cut away so you barely see "Phenomenal."  And now during Sasha's fun entrance, they focus on friggin Lillian Garcia?

9:54 - Now THAT'S how you get people excited about that Cruiserweight division!

9:45 - Fun Seth Rollins promo with the allusions to the Shield entrance.  Again, though:  Hoping they don't have Ambrose outright lose the title.

9:35 - Really great and fun match that showed that their individual Battleground tag matches have the potential to deliver.  I do have to wonder, though.....why was John Cena even in the ring?

9:10 - I actually really liked that segment as it diverted from the traditional format of having one team come out, and then another.  Cena had his moment, interrupted by his partners Enzo and Cass.  They had their moment, interrupted by their opponents the Club.  They had their moment.  Enzo, Cass, and Cena chimed in.  Then the New Day came out, and they had their moment.  Then the Wyatts came out to get the match moving.  It was good stuff, and I think each person/team got their moment in the sun.

Also, a rare time that Big E wasn't one of the New Day to wear the championship belt.

9:03 - Enzo is a lot more fun when they let him riff and go beyond the typical punchlines.  I thought this was good.

8:58 - It's funny how, after a couple of years out of the spotlight and some badddddddd attempted replacements (Reigns), there's a new level of appreciation for Cena.....even from those who traditionally boo him.  The place exploded last week when he shockingly appeared after the ESPY rehearsals.  And I don't think it was necessarily because they loved seeing him.....I think part of it was genuine respect for the fact that the guy was willing to fly to Raw just to make a quick run in.

8:41 - Wait, is that what Stephanie McMahon thinks Child's Play is about?

8:31 - It would be cool if they actually did something with the Cruiserweight division storyline.  Have guys like Sin Cara, Kalisto, Neville, and so on try to negotiate with Stephanie to get her to draft them to Raw.  Have somebody create some dissension between Cass and Enzo -- what if they get drafted to Smackdown as a team, yet Enzo would qualify for some personal glory on Raw as a Cruiserweight.  Or have Shane leverage for Stephanie to give up the 3:2 pick ratio one or two rounds or else he'll nab some Cruiserweights, ruining her division.

8:21 - That Shield triple threat video was pretty awesome (made cooler with the battle flags) but it echoes my earlier feeling about how they "wasted" a big time match by not doing it right, with Roman's suspension.  It's a really great story and culminated in the perfect way (the WWE Championship).  I wish they just waited -- even if it was years -- so that they could do it right.

8:13 - Daniel Bryan is a nice addition but didn't feel like a huge surprise (WWE's own fault).  I hope he does a better job of Shane at selling the Smackdown brand.  Stephanie made Raw seem like a million bucks with them getting the first overall pick, getting more picks AND getting the Cruiserweight division.  Shane got no response whatsoever.

8:10 - Is Stephanie blatantly feeding Mick lines during this segment?

8:07 - I'm a tad disappointed in the Foley reveal, only because we've seen him in that role before.  Also, this segment is weird.  Every time Shane begins to speak, he loses focus and Steph takes over.  But not in a positive way.

8:02 - Odd that Shane and Steph are announced as Commissioners of Smackdown and Raw, yet during the teaser they were announced as COO's.

I do hope they make some logical sense out of Shane or Steph only picking one part of a tag team.  Logistically, why wouldn't you take the "free" pick?

7:50 - Some quick pre-Raw thoughts before the start of the show.  What I'm hoping for:  Some unexpected GM's that can actually contribute to something to the show.  What I'd prefer not to see:  Kane filling the role.  I'm also hoping we see Ambrose retain the title (at Battleground, too) although I would be okay with some sort of angle that vacated the title altogether in order to do some course correction for the brand split.  But I don't want Ambrose to lose it outright.  Also, I'm basically hoping the show doesn't drag on endlessly.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Roman's Suspension and the Shield Triple Threat

The big news today was that Roman Reigns -- the WWE's golden child/pet project/face of the company -- was suspended for his first wellness violation.  While this makes SOME sense out of his clean loss at Money in the Bank and the switcheroo to the pepetually overlooked Dean Ambrose, it did seem at odds with the fact that they booked a three way match at Battleground (just three or so days after Reigns' suspension ends) knowing full well that he had failed a wellness test.

Personally, I thought the booking at Money in the Bank was perfect.  I thought the clean win helped Rollins far more than it hurt Reigns (and it added a new dimension to both of their characters, which is desperately needed in Reigns' case), and putting the title on Ambrose was (a) something the fans wanted, (b) something Ambrose needed, and (c) a great comeuppance to Rollins' role in the Shield breakup.  I was on Cloud Nine after Money in the Bank.

I was overall disappointed with the booking of Raw, though.  Rollins and Reigns seemed poised for a double turn based on their in-ring behavior at Money in the Bank.  In the opening promo of Raw, Reigns was back to his pseudo tough good guy, and Rollins was back to his conniving, complaining heel ways.  And then the pathway to get to the triple threat -- opening promo with both guys complaining about being #1 contender, authority figure coming out and making a match between the two, match ending in no contest leading to a triple threat -- was about as lazy and by the books as it gets.  We've ALL been waiting for the Shield triple threat....and they're doing it at a good time (with all three being a World Champion).  But it all felt very rushed and unnecessary.  Do a month of Rollins vs. Dean (if Rollins is staying heel) or Dean vs. Reigns (if Reigns is going heel) before inevitably going to the Shield triple threat (at a perceived bigger event, like SummerSlam).

With what we know now, I REALLY wish they didn't go the triple threat route.  Why?  You can only do a big match for the first time once, and that moment really shouldn't be wasted.  As we've seen countless times, it is incredibly difficult to effectively build up a match with one of the competitors not appearing on TV.  Remember how big of a match Brock vs. Goldberg was supposed to be?  And that basically ended up being Brock vs. Austin because they needed to save Goldberg's appearances?  Or how Brock vs. Undertaker was basically single handedly built by Paul Heyman, a non-wrestler?  If Reigns' suspension ends July 21, it means he won't appear on a single Raw or Smackdown before Battleground.  That means he won't play ANY physical or verbal role in the build of the Shield three way.  This huge match that we've been waiting to see for years -- FOR THE WWE CHAMPIONSHIP -- will not even have a full, proper story behind it.  How sad is that?

Knowing then what we know now, wouldn't this have been a better route?  Ambrose comes out to open the show and after some celebrating, says he needs to talk to Reigns to make sure there are no hard feelings.  He calls out Reigns and waits, but Reigns doesn't come out.  This gets the announcers talking -- is Reigns happy for Ambrose or not?  They can even mention the fact that Ambrose congratulated Reigns after defeating him for the title at Survivor Series and continued to support him after the three way at Fastlane.  Considering Reigns' general heelish behavior during the match with Rollins, this will get the fans wondering if Reigns is going to turn on Ambrose.  While the announcers are discussing all of this and Ambrose waits, Rollins' music plays and he comes out.  He can complain about how Ambrose stole the title from him and blindsided him, and Ambrose will bring up the obvious hypocrisy (Rollins won his title by cashing in as well, and he blinded the Shield when he turned on them).  To build Ambrose as a fighting champion, Ambrose offers him a rematch at Battleground.  Throughout the month, Ambrose and Rollins (who have always had great chemistry) can build a fun story that doesn't involve green slime (and they can decide what route they want to go with Rollins, as far as face/heel alliance goes), all the meanwhile the commentators, other wrestlers, and fans can have a conspiracy theory over where Reigns stands.  Why hasn't he appeared?  Does he support Ambrose?  Is he bitter?  And then the Raw before Battleground, have the announcers tell the audience that Reigns just tweeted that he's going to be at Battleground and he'll show where he stands.  Then at the event, have Reigns appear at the end and either turn on Ambrose or support him, depending on what they want to do with his character.  But I do actually believe that this will create more interest in his character, it will give the audience the space they need from him, and he'll actually get a mostly positive reaction upon his return because people will actually be interested in where he stands.

That's what I would have done, anyway.  The Shield match can wait until it can be done right as HOPEFULLY all of their equity is only going up, so it will always be a big deal.  if they're not all going on the same brand, wait a year until they are (or until you have an excuse to do an interpromotional match).

What do you think?

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Monday, June 20, 2016

LIVE Raw thoughts - June 20, 2016

10:26 - I think i'm going to watch the rest of this episode from my (much cooler and more comfortable) bedroom.  For additional thoughts, check out my Twitter feed.

One more observation, though:  They keep promoting Rollins vs. Reigns as a WrestleMania caliber main event.  They did this last night as well.  Don't get me wrong, it IS.  But I don't understand how they can promote this as more prestigious -- or even just as prestigious -- as last night's match.  How could a match to determine who gets to face the champion be just as big and important as a match for the title?

Anyway, interested if we see any signals for a double turn or if last night was just a random thing.

10:23 - Did this feud really need to continue?  Rusev won decisively.  If Titus isn't winning the title, why not just move on to a new feud?

10:15 - Well, I guess that answers the question of whether or not the Wyatts would remain face.  I don't have much of an interest in a New Day/Wyatts feud but I will admit that the difference in their presentation may be fun to watch.  I'm really hoping the Woods/Wyatt/trance thing was just going to be revealed as the New Day making fun of them.  I'm severely hoping they're not silly enough to go the mind control route, especially with their most popular act.

10:03 - This is now the second time they've had Sasha make a "surprise" face appearance to challenge Charlotte (the first being Royal Rumble).  While it was probably the right decision to forge ahead with Charlotte to allow her to establish her heel character and the WWE Women's Championship.  But now they need to crap or get off the pot and put the title on Sasha.  She still gets a great reaction and they need to strike while the iron is hot.

Did Bray Wyatt just blow out an unlit lantern?

9:43 - I do hope that the Wyatts return as faces.  I thought they were gaining some renewed energy and interest as babyfaces against the League of Nations.  They seemed to be going in circles as heels, doing the same old routine over and over again.

9:37 - Can we now finally move past this Ziggler/Corbin feud?  Please?

9:21 - And now JBL is defending AJ Styles about the very thing that he was screaming about last night?  This is ridiculous.

The post match beat down was good but I'm surprised they had Cena so clearly dominating Anderson.  Cena is typically pretty generous in the ring, I'm surprised he so blatantly squashed somebody who has so much potential.

9:14 - I have thus far enjoyed AJ Styles throughout his entire WWE run, but he's really been fantastic (phenomenal?) since turning heel.  Just so much more natural on the mic.

9:06 - This is why I can't stand JBL as an announcer.  Last night, he goes on an angry and loud rant about how AJ Styles cheated to win (which makes no sense considering his career and the fact that he's the lead heel announcer) and then he calls AJ an upstanding man when AJ is clearly being insincere during this apology.  He is the least consistent announcer there is.  He drives me crazy.

8:43 - "We can't have a corporate yes-man running Smackdown."  "I completely agree!!!"  Great line and I'm glad they didn't hit us over the hammer with it.  But didn't Shane just announce last week that he's running Smackdown?  Why is it "news" this week?

8:17 - So based on everybody's behavior in that opening segment, I'm guessing we're going the "forget what happened last night" route.  Reigns was back to the tough guy face and Rollins was back to the complaining heel.  Also, I really do hate the cliche of two guys arguing over who's the #1 contender only to get interrupted by the authority figure, who says "you'll fight to figure it out."  Just seems like a long way to go for such an obvious conclusion.

8:06 - I have to wonder why WWE is so resistant to somebody like Dean Ambrose (or before that, Daniel Bryan) when the vast majority of fans so clearly want to see him win the title, but will go so out of their way (at the expense of others) for somebody like Roman Reigns, who fans don't seem to enjoy.

7:56 - I only caught the last two or so hours of Money in the Bank last night, but I really liked what I saw.  I especially loved the Rollins/Reigns match (and the Ambrose follow up) not only because of their obvious chemistry, but also because of the intriguing booking.  Were they actively trying to turn Rollins face and Reigns heel?  Or is it something that will be forgotten about by tonight?  Because the nuances of the match were pretty damn telling.  And of course, I LOVED the Ambrose cash in and win.  This guy has been sacrificed and overlooked since the Shield breakup, but they've actually done a great job with him (for the most part) in 2016.  I hope Ambrose ends up being an Edge/CM Punk/Rollins winner here, where the win truly puts him in the main event or at least opens up everybody's eyes as to what he has to offer (more similar to Bryan) and not just a Ziggler/Miz/Swagger "here, have fun with the title for a couple weeks/months" before dropping down the card.

Anyway, I'm excited to see what the shows has to offer.  Let's find out.

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Sunday, May 1, 2016

LIVE Payback thoughts - May 1, 2016

10:56 - Really great match and, I have to admit, Reigns really brought it and carried his end of the match.  Good for him.  Booking remained odd, however, with Reigns looking "bad" in both match restarts.  But really great action, some great false finishes, and some run ins that made sense within the context of the story.

The cut to the McMahons was really bad, though.  It killed the momentum and heat that was built from the great match and it got across an unnecessary message.  Why not make the announcement on or on Raw?  And all three seemed to stumble over their words.  Just awkward.

And now, I will admit, I'm going to go watch Camp WWE.

10:24 - I hate the way they film AJ's entrance.  They always cut away from his entrance video right before "Phenomenal" appears and you barely see the full "I Am Phenomenal" on screen before it cuts to the action shots.  They do this every single time.

10:13 - I have to admit that this was probably the most frustrating decision they could have made.  I DON'T think a brand extension is the way to go, so this is probably better than that.  But do we really need to see squabbling co-owners?  From an entertainment standpoint, didn't we see that the show can "work" with a mostly off-screen benevolent owner?  With the focus being on the wrestlers?

9:59 - When did the Authority officially kick off?  Because a lot of these ideas and debuts seem to pre-date them.  Like, Kofi and Big E have been with WWE forever.

9:55 - Network issues continue.  So I may be running back and forth between my living room and bedroom to see which TV works.

9:51 - Network feed went out for a few minutes so I didn't see the end of the Nattie/Charlotte match.  Assume Charlotte won and Bret ended up hitting Ric.  Anybody else having issues?

9:42 - Oh yeah, I'm guessing Charlotte wins this one.

9:32 - Happy to see Ambrose get a nice PPV victory.  Ended up missing a lot of the match, though.

I wonder if Jim Neidhart is sad that all of his daughter's "family pride" storylines go to Bret Hart, who always looks like this is the last place he wants to be.

And I say this all the time and it still runs true:  I'm sad that JoJo wasn't really around when AJ Lee was.  These two would have been adorable together.

9:09 - I really wish Jericho would go back to his long tights.  The trunks make him look so stumpy.  I'm guessing (and very so hoping) that Ambrose wins here.  Also hoping for a really great match, as Ambrose as  singles competitor really needs a really strong, no gimmick singles match.  He's had a few, but he really needs a standout one.

8:59 - I know Cesaro had the visual victory but I would've gone with the DQ victory instead of the roll up loss.  For one, you already had a roll up finish tonight.  Secondly, no need to have Cesaro getting pinned this early in his push.

8:55 - A desperate sounding Kevin Owens telling Byron Saxton:  "Byron, your mom or something.  Nobody wants to hear what you have to say" is quite possibly the best thing we'll see on this strong PPV.

8:43 - I love the little things Owens does as a heel, like forcing Byron to sit on the steel chair as he took the more comfortable one.  I'm guessing Cesaro (rightfully) wins the title here.

8:38 - We see people dive through two ropes all the time, but there's something so visually amazing about seeing Zayn leap through the first and second turnbuckles from the arena floor and hitting a spinning DDT.  Great match, although saying they stole the show when the first match ended in injury is a bit curious.

8:25 - I'm also going with Owens winning here, perhaps through chicanery.

8:24 - I like when guys look like they got a fresh haircut for a PPV.  Sorta like a job interview or wedding or something.  Treat it like a big occasion.

8:18 - Fun stuff with the New Day but unusual ending.  Not sure if Enzo legitimately injured himself but if he did, hopefully it wasn't anything too bad.  If it was booked that way to avoid having either team lose, the timing was a bit off.  The fans really didn't have a chance to get into the match or either guy.  Hope Enzo is okay if this is real, but if not an odd way to kick off the show.

8:09 - Another confession - I kinda really love Vaudevillains too.  They're fun and different and as long as people react to them and THEY aren't treated as jokes, they're fine.  But I do fear that the second one of their opponents start poking fun at them, they're done.  Don't Ascension these guys.

I'm guessing Vaudevillains win so that two face teams are not put against each other (unless they plan on turning New Day again).  However, I haven't been doing too great with my predictions so far.

8:02 - It bothers me that LayCool was allowed to have two Divas Championships and a split-in-half Women's Championship, but the far more over New Day still has to share two Tag Team titles.

7:58 - Fun ending sequence and nice to see Kalisto get a clean win.....but can he actually successfully win matches throughout the month?  He desperately needs a big money feud right now.

7:56 - I'll say it:  I kinda like Ryback.  He comes across as a funny guy with an actual personality.  And his "Pre-Show Stealer" weight belt makes me laugh.

7:49 - Is the Ryback hate from this crowd residual from the backstage Punk feud?

7:46 - It's sad that the United States title reign was supposed to be a singles push for Kalisto, and what has it done?  He was on the kickoff show at WrestleMania (and his title-less partner was on the actual show) and he's on the kickoff show again tonight.  I'm guessing Ryback wins the title tonight.  Sad that the great work Cena's done with the U.S. title over the past year was pretty much undone once he lost the title to Del Rio.

7:36 - Pretty surprised by that victory, not that I'm one to argue with a Ziggler victory.  However, Dolph did do that thing that I detest:  When a babyface gets a "fluke" victory and immediately rolls out of the ring.  Is there anything less babyface than getting a cheap win and then running away?  At least own it and stand in the damn ring.

7:28 - New gear for both guys here.  I'm guessing Corbin wins here.  Is Ziggler the only two time World Champion who has never successfully defended the championship?

7:26 - Believe it or not, I'm actually looking more forward to Payback than I was WrestleMania.  Looks like Corbin vs. Ziggler was moved to the kickoff show, which I'm not too surprised about.

I rarely watch Smackdown so I don't really get a chance to hear Mauro Ranallo as the play-by-play guy.  His voice has a certain level of legitimacy to it.  I like him.

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Monday, April 4, 2016

LIVE Raw thoughts - April 4, 2016

11:08 - Wow, what a really, really, really fun and great match.  Intensity all around as any one of these guys could have won the match.  Great stuff, and I'm intrigued to see where they go with this (answer:  Just stop resisting what makes sense and turn Reigns heel).

10:51 - Love Cesaro getting a high profile entrance in this match.  Love the foreign assassin look.  Slightly nervous this slowly transforms into a male stripper gimmick when they inevitably lose interest in him.

10:45 - So according to reports, Undertaker may have actually wrestled his last match at Mania.  And based on tonight -- where Vince quietly mentioned having a soft spot for Shane when his grandkids came out to dance during Shane's entrance and then giving him control of Raw for the night -- we may see Shane actually get control of Raw.  So, basically, the stipulation that was promised last night but went unfulfilled due to the result, could be fulfilled?

And really?  Dr. Phil?

10:40 - That Enzo and Cass segment was so extremely fun.  Conversely, it was MADE by the crowd.  I can't really explain what was so different between the Charlotte segment and this segment (as both had the audience talking while the talent was talking as well), but it just worked.  I actually loved the fact that the crowd recited, in unison, everything that Enzo was saying at the beginning of his promo.  It just made them seem like a much bigger deal.  This is why it's a great idea to debut NXT guys with this crowd -- they react as if these guys are already stars, which you won't necessarily get with other crowds.  This was funny good, and the Dudleys (particularly Bubba) did a great job with their facial expressions.

10:18 - The Dudleys desperately need to change their look, especially when you consider that their current schtick is "we're not a nostalgia act."

10:09 - That segment had the potential to be something good and special, but the crowd absolutely destroyed it.  Rebelling against a Superstar that is pushed regardless of the way the audience feels is fine.  It's telling the company "LISTEN TO US!  THIS IS HOW WE FEEL!"  Going crazy over somebody you love is the same thing.  But that's not what this was.  This was an audience not allowing somebody to perform.  Not because they hated the person or the story being told -- it was because they wanted to take the fun out of the segment.  And it made for some difficult television.  That was disappointing.

10:01 - I love the fact that they're trying to make the Women's division more prestigious but I kinda don't love that the new title is pretty much an exact replica of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, just with a different color scheme.  It takes away from the unique appearance of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship (straight down to the specialized sideplates).  A change was necessary, but I wish they went their own route instead of just copying the male counterpart.

10:00 - I love the idea of the VaudeVillains but am wondering if they'll work on the main roster.  Remains to be seen, but fingers crossed.

9:52 - I guess Mr. Scott Keith was correct -- Ryder's title reign did end after just one night.  But interesting booking that incorporates Mr. Ryder (a regular from Zack's videos and WWE programming) and Miz's wife, former WWE Diva Maryse.  If this turns into a sustained storyline that keeps both Miz and Ryder on WWE programming, I'm okay with the quick title change.

9:42 - It's easy to blame it all on "he got over when he wasn't supposed to," but I do have to wonder why the company is so "down" on Zack Ryder.  He's not short, he's got a fairly good body, his mic skills are fine, and his ring work is passable.  There's nothing spectacular about him, but he's certainly just as good or better than many others that seem to get a shot.

9:35 - Shocked by the lack of reaction for Zack Ryder.  Plus the announcers aren't doing him much favors right now.  They're not telling the story of an inspiring underdog....they're making it sound like he's a loser that doesn't belong.

9:28 - I'm fine with this double count out ending.  I much prefer this over what they did with AJ and Jericho, where they trade victories (you know, 50/50 booking) until finally they end on an odd number and decide that THAT person "won" the feud.  A double count out leading to some beat downs before ultimately ending at a PPV with a decisive winner is a much better route.

9:07 - I don't know whether or not it was deliberate, but Reigns was definitely acting heelish there.  The way he brushed off Zayn when he was about to enter the ring, and the way he rolled his eyes at Styles when he turned his attention towards the title....he certainly wasn't acting like a traditional babyface.  Unfortunately, that doesn't necessarily mean anything.  He often does this and suddenly reverts back to smiling babyface.

9:06 - In these scenarios, I always have to wonder.....why would anybody NOT come down?  Clearly you can just show up and get put in for a chance to win the title....why wouldn't you at least try?

9:03 - Wondering if they sent Jericho down because he's somebody who can manipulate and handle the audience accordingly.  I'm guessing this isn't a long-term feud.

8:59 - This should be interesting.  Let's see if they do anything with this reaction.  Something big, I hope.

8:53 - Another reason why this storyline is weak.  WWE hasn't hidden the fact that Triple H is the mastermind behind NXT.  Yet we're going to credit Shane as introducing a "new star" from NXT?  And he's trying to remove the Authority -- the very people who spearhead NXT?

8:51 - Odd decision having Crews face Breeze since the latter is so closely associated with NXT.  It's as if saying "Yeah, he's making a big debut....but this could happen to him."

8:44 - It's always odd to me when WWE outwardly talks about somebody having charisma.  Isn't that pulling back the curtain a bit too much?

8:34 - Wouldn't the booking of the New Day/League of Nations/Wyatts segment have been preferable over what happened to each last night?  We saw the ultra over New Day lose for no reason, only for BOTH teams to get beat up by retired legends.  And then we saw the Wyatts get destroyed by the Rock and Cena.  Why not have done we they did here, instead?  New Day wins....Barrett gets booted from the group....Wyatts make the surprise attack and presumably become babyfaces.  Then why not incorporate Austin, Foley, and Michaels into the Rock/Cena segment, similar to what they did at WrestleMania 30?

8:31 - I'm guessing Barrett gets the boot from the group tonight.

8:22 - I still find it odd that, despite basically being faces, the New Day still fights in the heel corner of the ring.

8:21 - This match is what I hate about the day after WrestleMania rematches:  If New Day wins here, it negates what happened last night.  If they lose, then you pose the question: Why didn't they just do this last night?

8:04 - I hate how they try to have their cake and eat it too with the "impassioned, unique audience" line.

7:50 - So I thought I'd bring back my LIVE thoughts for the first Raw after WrestleMania.  This is typically the best Raw of the year, but I'm curious if they'll actually follow through this year.  Over the past couple of years fans have been weary of WrestleMania's booking but the company ultimately delivered with great matches and sensible booking.  This year, it feels like they've failed all around.  They gave Reigns the clean win with no shocks or surprises.  They had the opportunity to turn Ambrose into a legit main event Superstars, even through loss, and instead they had him get tossed around like a ragdoll.  They had their consistently most entertaining characters -- the New Day -- lose and then get beat up by some legends.  And while I'm happy Ryder got a nice moment, he was basically thrown into the match because another guy who had no chance of winning got injured.  And then you had Rock and Cena just humiliate the Wyatts and AJ Styles basically lose clean to Chris Jericho.  And while the Undertaker/Shane storyline made no sense, the end result made it even more useless and frustrating.  Not to mention that this huge story -- Shane potentially winning control of the company from Vince and eliminating the Authority -- went completely unmentioned by Vince and the Authority.  Just a strange, strange night and I don't regret missing 90% of it because I was watching The Walking Dead.  Let's see if tonight delivers.

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Sunday, January 24, 2016

LIVE Royal Rumble thoughts - January 24, 2016

11:01 - Definitely one of the better Rumbles we've seen, compared to the last few years.  There were some nice surprises, a few different people looked good, and some of the actions and eliminations gave us an indication of what might happen at WrestleMania.  I don't even mind Triple H winning -- it was a better option than Roman Reigns.  And I was thrilled they went with Dean Ambrose as the runner up instead of Reigns (although his elimination was a bit weak).  Overall, a pretty good show.

10:54 - Exciting few sequences there.

10:52 - Oh yeah, new gear for Triple H.  By the way, there are like six guys still in there and we only have 7 minuets left.

10:49 - I think the fans will only resent the fact that Reigns spent 20 minutes or whatever outside the ring.  They'll already resent the "All vs. One" storyline...this doesn't help.

10:47 - New gear for Ziggler as well.

10:44 - The Wyatt Family immediately showing that they're smarter than the League of Nations...

10:42 - Del Rio is 26.  We have Wyatt, Sheamus, presumably Triple H.....and who else?

10:35 - Big points to Mark Henry for rocking two different attires for his two matches.  Okay, he's number 22, right?  That leaves 8 more -- of which we know Bray Wyatt, Brock Lesnar, Jack Swagger, and presumably Triple H.  Am I missing any other confirmed names?  Are Xavier and Big E confirmed or just assumed?

10:32 - Kinda funny how, since Owens entered, it's pretty much all been about him.

10:28 - Here's hoping that leads to Owens vs. Styles at WrestleMania?  More likely -- we'll see them wrestle at Fast Lane and then they'll be in some mutli person schmoz at Mania.

10:25 - And after all that, they missed Kofi's elimination?!?!

10:24 - Some new red gear for Neville.  And I can already feel the annoyance of Reigns disappearing for the remainder of the match and returning at the end to win.

10:21 - What good is all of this if you let him just sleep outside?  You're just giving him time to relax.  Slide him in the ring and let somebody throw him out.

10:20 - Stardust debuting some new purple gear.

10:18 - I also like the heelish spin on Kofi's near elimination.  Instead of some amazing athletic prowess, he's just sitting on Big E's shoulders and chilling on the outside.

And is this their way of taking Roman out of the match and allowing him to sneak back in at the end?

10:16 - Alright, I'll admit it....I got a kick out of that.

10:14 - Okay, Titus, Ryback, Kane, or Goldust need to go.

10:09 - Considering that he didn't even bother zipping his jacket or wearing his hood, why did he even bother putting the jacket on?

10:05 - I wish Jericho would go back to the long tights.  The trunks at this juncture of his career make him look short and fat.

10:00 - Very poor camera work there.  The fans reacted but Roman hadn't yet, and the camera still hadn't shown who had entered.  It really took away from the moment.  Lackluster entrance as a result.

Plus that theme song wasn't my cup of tea.

9:59 - Or not.

9:57 - Not the perfect choice, but I do enjoy Rumbles where the final two people the prior year are the first two people the current year.  I expect both of these guys will last a while.

9:55 - New gear for Reigns as he now has a gold logo on his chest.

9:54 - Okay, we know Reigns is #1......who's #2?  I would think it needs to either be a big star, a big surprise, or somebody close to Reigns.

9:44 - Pretty awesome that the Divas match actually got a pretty big post-match angle build.  And it was handled pretty great, too, allowing Sasha to have a bit of an edge (by beating on Becky) instead of a lovable and plucky babyface.  And they didn't prolong Sasha's attack on Charlotte too long, either.  They didn't have them pretend to be friends for weeks and then turn on her.  It happened pretty much immediately, as it should have.  My only complaint is that Sasha's music didn't seem to play loud enough when she initially came out, which may have diluted the impact a bit.  Although the fans certainly reacted.  Good stuff.

So far, solid show with pretty much all the right winners.  Now, the toughest part....a smartly booked Rumble.

9:26 - I really feel like Charlotte SHOULD win this, since she's beginning to find herself as a heel champion, but part of me wonders if they might have Becky win so that there's at least one new champion tonight.  The question is, if Charlotte wins, who challenges her at WrestleMania?  Sasha Banks?  Is she healthy?

9:20 - Now officially anxiously awaiting February 21st.  And not for Fast Lane.

9:12 - So far this was my least favorite match of the night.  I'm happy that Kalisto got a big win here, but I have to wonder why they bothered giving him the title in the first place just to immediately take it away (and then give it back to him).  Why not just hold off the title shot until the Royal Rumble, where he could get his win and keep the title?

9:11 - A lot of these moves don't seem to be hitting correctly.

8:58 - As noted during the preshow, some new gear for Del Rio.  I'm a bit surprised the didn't put this in the "main event" spot before the Rumble, but I guess it makes sense.  Might as well give the male competitors who are doing double duty some time to rest during the Divas match.

8:51 - Really awesome finishing sequence there with Big E catching Jey Uso in the middle of the Big Splash into the Big Ending.  Great timing and nice looking all around.  As long as the New Day continues being entertaining and featured in a prominent role, why not keep the titles on them?

8:35 - I give Kofi half points here.  The New Day IS wearing new attire, but it's merely the inverse of their prior attire.  I miss the days when Kofi used to whip out some sort of comic-book inspired attire for the Royal Rumble.

8:33 - Why are they playing the Raw music right now?

8:30 - Fun match with the right winner that left both guys looking good.  It was smart to end the match on the high impact move.  WWE sometimes has the tendency to not end the match after something high impact, instead forcing the match to end on a signature move.  This was the smart ending.

8:09 - I know Ambrose isn't the biggest guy, but there's something about a black wifebeater that makes him look especially scrawny.  For whatever reason, even the white wifebeater makes him look more impressive.  I wish he would go back to the Ambrose shirts with the sleeves cut off.  Maybe for the Rumble itself?

8:06 - I've said it before and I'll say it again:  I absolutely love the statue promotional artwork for the Rumble.  Top notch stuff.

8:03 - That was a really odd way to begin the show.  It really didn't add any value to anything at all.  Nor did it give any hints about what's to come.

7:48 - I'm surprised (but happy) that they didn't alter the crowd reactions for the Batista and Reigns wins.

7:45 - 3MB AND Rybaxel references!  This is surprisingly entertaining.

7:42 - Wow, Jack Swagger and Mark Henry was the team I thought was least likely to lose.  They're the least over of the face teams on there and neither of them have a chance of winning, so what was the logic?

7:37 - I would legitimately watch all of those shows.

7:35 - It's a testament to Sandow's overnness that the fans still react this way to him.  It's truly unfortunate that WWE never capitalized on ihs popularity following the whole Mizdow thing.

7:30 - Wow, they're not even attempting to be impartial.  The announcing team is just the Raw announce team.

By the way, I'm guessing the Dudleys win this.  Also, how sad is this turn of events for Damien Sandow.  And why isn't Darren Young teaming with Titus, storyline wise?

7:17 - I find it odd that Alberto Del Rio has consistently worn long tights at live events but continues to wear trunks on television.  What's the motivation there?  But, at the very least, he is sporting some new attire.  Good job, Alberto.

7:16 - Okay, the Network is now working.  Has Jerry Lawler been demoted to the preshow panel now?  Wow.

Anyway, here are some predictions:

I think each champion should retain their championship in the non-Rumble matches.  However, my gut tells me one person will lose their title.  I'm guessing that will either be Ambrose or the New Day, depending on what the WrestleMania plans are for each person involved.  I'll go out on a limb and say New Day loses their tag titles, and the rest retain.

Okay, now the Rumble itself.  We will obviously see a Kofi fake out elimination, but due to his new heel status, I suspect he will get eliminated immediately afterwards.

As noted in my earlier posts, the Royal Rumble gives us the opportunity to "make" several people -- not just the winner.  There SHOULD be somebody who eliminates a bunch of people.  I suspect that could be Braun Strowman, but I also think it could be Brock Lesnar or Bray Wyatt as well.

There should also be somebody who lasts a long time.  By default, that will likely be Roman Reigns.  But I'd love to see somebody like Dean Ambrose get that honor.

How about surprise entrants.  The strong pick is AJ Styles.  If AJ appears, I suspect we will also see Finn Balor (but not the rest of the Bullet Club, who likely won't be as recognized by casual fans).  I think there's a chance we may see Samoa Joe as well.

Unfortunately, I don't think we'll see Cena, Bryan, Cesaro, Orton, or Rollins.  Well, Orton isn't too unfortunate.

Who do I see winning?  The three popular choices are Reigns, Triple H, and Brock Lesnar.  I think WWE will play it safe and will have one of them win (gut tells me Triple H).  If Roman isn't winning, I would do something shocking and have his elimination relatively early -- in the 20's.  Making the fans realize that there will definitely be a new WWE Champion will really ignite interest.  I'd LOVE to see something shocking and new, but I don't think we will.

7:03 - Okay, so the past two PPV events had issues with the WWE Network.  Right now the kickoff show hasn't started on my screen yet (FBI warning played, but now it's just a black screen).  After, what, two years or so, you'd think WWE would have mastered the higher capacity of viewers for their PPV events.

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LIVE Royal Rumble 2010 thoughts

1:02 - And while a long final two sequence has been popular lately (and there's a great place for it), the final three after Michaels' elimination is surprisingly quick.  Batista goes for a clothesline, but Cena ducks and eliminates him.  Edge goes for a spear, but Cena blocks it.  Cena goes for a clothesline, but Edge dodges it and throws him out.  It all happens in about a minute or so.  Yet it worked -- in part because of the great camera work again.  Cena rising to his feet after eliminating Batista, as we see Edge in the background sizing him up for the spear.

Once again, the last great Rumble, in my opinion. But, again, it's somewhat depressing to see how many people are no longer with the company after just 6 years.  Let's look at the entrants:

Dolph Ziggler - Yes
Evan Bourne - No
CM Punk - No
JTG - No
Great Khali - No
Beth Phoenix - No
Zack Ryder - Yes
Triple H - Yes
Drew McIntyre - No
Ted DiBiase - No
John Morrison - No
Kane - Yes
Cody Rhodes - Yes
MVP - No
Carlito - No
Miz - Yes
Matt Hardy - No
Shawn Michaels - No (but still appears on occasion)
John Cena - Yes
Shelton Benjamin - No
Yoshi Tatsu - No
Big Show - Yes
Mark Henry - Yes
Chris Masters - No
R-Truth - Yes
Jack Swagger - Yes
Kofi Kingston - Yes
Chris Jericho -Yes
Edge - No (but still appears on ocassion)
Batista - No

That is 11 Yes's and 19 No's.  And most of those Yes's, sadly enough, were guys who were in the Rumble six years prior to that.  Which means they really didn't retain new talent, they only retained established talent.  A sad realization.

Check the blog later and I'll have my LIVE thoughts for this year's Rumble, as well as my prediction on the winner, who will stand out, and who might be a surprise entrant.

12:59 - One of the greatest eliminations in Rumble history -- Shawn Michaels unceremoniously losing grip of the rope and simply falling to the ground.  It was awesome because it WASN'T this climatic moment that was built up.  It just....happened.  It felt real, almost like it was a mistake (people insisted it was, at one point).  It just added some realism to the whole thing and had people invested.  And, again, Michaels got eliminated (and people were clearly rooting for him) and his story continued.  He beat up refs.  He tried to re-enter.  The fans understood the story wasn't over, so they were able to move on to the eventual winner.

12:57 - Weird thing I had noticed but never quite understood -- Batista has the Smackdown logo on his trunks.

12:56 - It what feels like a rare occurrence, Batista comes in at 30 and is immediately in the final four (with Cena, Edge, and HBK).  A great final four that could have seen any of them win.

12:55 - And to my earlier point -- Chris Jericho didn't last in the Rumble long but his elimination meant something.  It was about the Edge/Jericho story.

12:52 - Edge enters at 29 and the place explodes.  Chris Jericho's reaction (as well as the reaction of the announcers) is great.  He comes in, hits everybody with a spear, and then eliminates Jericho.  Truly awesome moment.

Also, great camera work there, as Jericho's back was in frame as Edge's music started playing and his entrance video appeared on screen.  Overall great moment.

12:48 - Kofi Kingston enters.  This was before he started doing the comic inspired trunks (which I hope he brings back this year, despite his current New Day branding).  This was also before they started doing his crazy almost eliminations (which typically I love, but have been a bit too contrived lately).

Chris Jericho enters now.  If I recall correctly, he was a favorite to win (other than Michaels).

12:47 - Jack Swagger with his spiked hair and old theme comes in, with the goofiest look on his face as he runs into the ring.

12:45 - R-Truth of all people enter and eliminates both Big Show and Mark Henry.  He then hits signature spots on both Cena and HBK.  I don't recall this turning into any sort of push.

12:42 - Some fun sequences where Big Show and Cena both try to eliminate Shawn Michaels.  The fans are definitely invested.  I don't think Reigns will see the same sympathy.

Mark Henry enters and based on his bright red singlet, I'm guessing he's a face right now.  I think he was teaming with MVP periodically at the time.

12:40 - Yoshi Tatsu had entered and gotten eliminated but it wasn't worth talking about.  Big Show enters and based on his expression, it appears he's a heel at this point in his career.  Although I could be wrong.

12:38 - Triple H saves Shawn Michaels from an elimination, but Shawn turns around and eliminates him.  Again -- a great moment.  Not every major star needs to make it to the final 4.  The big moments need to be spread out.

Shelton Benjamin enters but is eliminated by Cena.  Another young guy who didn't last in the company.

12:37 - John Cena arrives!  A legitimately huge moment that, again, has been lacking in recent years.  They've done a really poor job of making big moments like these.  In a fun sequence, DX attempts to double team Cena but he overcomes them.

12:35 - Shawn Michaels enters and immediately gets rid of Carlito.  Then Cody Rhodes.  Then Ted DiBiase.  Then John Morrison.  Drew McIntyre lasts the long (again, odd), but is ultimately dumped by Triple H and Shawn Michaels.  Who are now alone in the ring.  Until....

12:34 - Matt Hardy enters to a big pop (rocking the Mattitude tights, a look I preferred over the baggy jeans) and hits a couple of signature moves before being shockingly eliminated. Rather odd, actually.  Kane is eliminated shortly after.

12:32 - Carlito hits the backstabber on virtually everybody in the ring.  This is a spot that's fun, but has been overused in recent years.  Now it seems like EVERYBODY enters, regardless of how over or high up on the card they are, and hits their finisher on everybody.  It loses its impact.

Miz also enters and is quickly followed by MVP and they eliminate each other.

12:31 - Carlito enters sporting an arm sleeve before they became a thing.  We haven't seen an elimination for a while, but I suspect I know why (you know who is entering soon....)

12:29 - MVP comes out next, but is promptly attacked by the Miz.  I wouldn't be shocked to see MVP fill the Bubba Ray spot this year as a surprise one-time return entrant.

12:27 - Cody Rhodes now enters (finally a young person who is still with WWE).  I'm kinda eager to see what new attire he has this year as Stardust.

12:25 - Sad realization.  A big deal is being made about the new up-and-comers in DiBiase, Morrison, and McIntyre.  Of all the people in the ring, only Triple H and Kane are still with WWE.  The rest all left, pretty much as jobbers.

12:23 - Ted DiBiase enters with the Legacy theme which, I never realized, has the line "it's a New Day."

John Morrison enters (sans beard).  He's a guy I wish would return.

12:20 - Triple H arrives to "ruin the fun."  This is less frustrating to watch now, because obviously Punk ended up being okay, but I remember being really annoyed by it at the time.  Punk was clearly on fire at this time in his career and for Triple H of all people to come in and eliminate him when fans were so behind him was annoying.

Drew McIntyre enters and they make a big deal about him, which is weird (although from what I understand, he's a big deal again now in TNA).  In an admittedly neat sequence, Triple H blocks the GTS and eliminates Punk.

12:17 - Beth eliminates Khali, roughs up Punk a bit (they were dating at the time, no?), before Punk hits her with the GTS and eliminates her.  This has to be one of the last time we've seen man-on-woman violence on WWE television, right?

Zack Ryder enters during his "half tights/half trunks" attire and is swiftly eliminated.  This was before Ryder took off.

12:16 - Fun interaction between Khali and Punk.  A not-quite-90 minutes later, Beth Phoenix enters.

12:14 - "As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted."  JTG was not long for this world.

12:12 - CM Punk with his original theme and awesome long hair and crazy beard comes in.  Loved this phase of Punk's career (despite being, for all intents and purposes, his least successful from a win/loss standpoint) and the Christ look.

Punk eliminates both guys (even considering Ziggler's current role, it's surprising to see him eliminated so quickly).  Love the Punk promo in between entrants here.  I also love that he gave this religious sermon and closes it with "it's clobbering time."

12:09 - You know what?  Let's do a LIVE thoughts on Rumble 2010.  Dolph Ziggler is #1 with his "I Am Perfection" theme.  Number 2 is Evan Bourne.  Matt Striker brings up a point I've mentioned before -- #1 gets all the accolades, but #2 starts at the same time.  It's weird hearing all of these "from Raw" and "from Smackdown" references.

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Pre-Royal Rumble Thoughts

Tonight is the Royal Rumble, one of my favorite events of the year.  And despite the past few years being disappointing, I'm still eager to see what they have in store.

But beyond having the wrong person win the past couple of years, the Rumble itself just hasn't been very solidly booked.  The greatest Royal Rumbles had numerous stories that led various Superstars into WrestleMania or, at the very least, gave them a great push.  The Royal Rumble typically had a few important roles:  Somebody who lasted a long time and somebody who eliminates a lot of people.  Last year, for all intents and purposes, that hasn't really happened.  Not to any memorable degree, anyway.  And the past few years have also been about one thing -- the winner.  In years' past, various people walked out of the Royal Rumble with a story.  Maybe it was based on a shocking elimination.  Last year, for example, Daniel Bryan (the "favorite" to win) got eliminated and.....nothing happened following that.

In my view, the last truly great Royal Rumble (which I am about to watch right now) was 2010.  You had a great "side story" in Shawn Michaels desperately trying to win due to his obsession with beating the Undertaker at WrestleMania.  You a fun Rumble story with CM Punk clearing the ring and giving promos in between entrants.  You had a heroic moment with Triple H entering and eliminating him.  You had a shocking elimination in Shawn Michaels eliminating Triple H.  You had surprise entrants such as Beth Phoenix and Edge (which also counts as a shocking return).  And you had a new winner that people wanted to root for in Edge.

I hope we see some of the above moments tonight.

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