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 WWE.com 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, please....call 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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Monday, December 14, 2015

When WWE Forgets To Tell Their Story

At TLC last night, Roman Reigns failed to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship due to interference from the League of Nations and, apparently having snapped, proceeded to beat upon Sheamus and then Triple H.  It was a neat enough visual and the fans reacted positively to it.  It gives Roman Reigns a much needed edge and it takes him out of the title picture, which is a positive considering that they don't appear to be willing to give him the title at this time.

But unfortunately, it really didn't make any sense.  And in the end, their story will suffer and Reigns won't get the reaction they want him to.

Hopefully tonight will shed light on whether this was the beginning of a heel turn or not (I'm thinking it wasn't), but based on last night's commentary it didn't appear to be a heel turn.  It appeared to be the heroic face Roman Reigns beating on the crooked heel Triple H (despite the fact that that character is inconsistent at best).  But, again, that story hasn't been properly told.

Why exactly did Reigns beat on Triple H?  Triple H had nothing to do with anything that has plagued Roman Reigns.  At the very worst, he made him defend his WrestleMania title shot against Daniel Bryan.  But beyond that?  Nothing, really.  Rollins cashing in his title shot at WrestleMania was perfectly legal and didn't appear to be set in motion by Triple H.  Upon Rollins' injury, Triple H put Reigns in the title tournament (he didn't have to) and even offered him a direct route to the finals.  When Reigns refused, Triple H didn't really do anything to make his progress in the tournament any more difficult.  And when Reigns won, Triple H came down to congratulate him.  And what did Reigns do?  He attacked him, without any provocation whatsoever.  And, again, Sheamus cashing in was perfectly legal and didn't appear to have anything to do with Triple H.

Nonetheless, what does Triple H do?  He gives Reigns TWO title shots -- one on Raw, and one at TLC.  And even when Triple H came down to the ring at Triple H, did he threaten Reigns physically?  Does he threaten to fire him?  No.  He says "what's wrong with you?"  Not exactly worthy of a vicious attack.

If this is the first step in a Reigns heel turn, then cool.  But if we're supposed to consider Reigns the hero here, then they forgot to tell the story.

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Sunday, December 13, 2015

LIVE TLC thoughts - December 13, 2015

9:54 - Paige vs. Charlotte will be interesting since Charlotte appears to be going through a heel turn, whereas Paige recently turned heel and is really only a heel through her actions and relationship with Charlotte as a face.

9:50 - Again, a World title reign would've been preferable.....but this is better than nothing.  Then again, this IS typically the championship that seems the champion become a jobber.

9:48 - I still love how Owens randomly yells at Cole during his matches.

9:37 - In a perfect world, Ambrose would be competing for the World title (or the champion) and Owens would have a lengthy reign with the Intercontinental Championship.  But that's not the hand we were dealt.  As such, I hope we see an Ambrose win here because this guy desperately needs a big victory.

9:33 - Sorry, but the Royal Rumble hasn't ended with fans cheering in years.

9:18 - Rhyno has the strangest body ever.

9:10 - I'm still sad that we never got to see an AJ Lee/JoJo backstage segment.  The adorableness would've been off the chart.

9:00 - With great brutality, ADR is fiercely throwing all of those chairs around Jack Swagger.

8:52 - Wait, is ADR wearing completely different gear than what he was wearing during the social media lounge segment?  I would've sworn he was wearing black kneepads and trunks during that segment?

8:28 - I appreciate and respect what these guys are willing to put themselves through....but some of these spots annoy me.  Like, from a kayfabe perspective....if Big E is on the ground outside, presumably out of commission....and an Uso is in the ring, with a ladder set up, why would he decide to risk his body and his advantageous position by diving to the outside on top of a ladder?

8:10 - On the other hand, it looks like both the Lucha Dragons and the Usos have new gear.  Side note -- I like how the Usos wear the same shorts but different colored arm sleeves and tights.  I'm predicting that the New Day win here, but if they don't I'd like to go with the dark horse and see the Lucha Dragons win.

8:06 - Sadly, no new gear for the New Day.

8:00 - Are they really banking on the League of Nations bringing in those last minute buyers?  I guess I refer a new faction with some relative main event fresh faces than the Authority again.

7:41 - A kind word about WWE:  I like the new Royal Rumble logo.

7:33 - I honestly cannot remember the last time I was less enthusiastic about a WWE program.  The only reason I'm watching is because The Walking Dead, The Leftovers, and Once Upon A Time have all had their midseason finales and won't be on tonight.  There is really nothing else to watch.  But very little about the booking tonight will make me happy, and a lot of things could potentially make me annoyed.  I don't anticipate lasting the entire night with these LIVE thoughts.

By the way, does the whole Team BAD "Unity!" thing scream typically WWE mentality of meddling?  The fans have already taken to Sasha.  They already like her.  She's already over.  There's already a connection there.  Yet WWE feels like every person must have this over-the-top personality and catch phrase.  So instead, they have her acting in a way that seems totally counter to what got her over in the first place.

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Sunday, November 22, 2015

LIVE Survivor Series thoughts - November 22, 2015

10:47 - After a night of pretty smart booking that ending was a little.....curious.  They seemed to give us everything we didn't want.  Ambrose loses clean.  Reigns wins the title as the triumphant babyface.  And Sheamus ultimately walks away as champion.  I don't think too many people were asking for any of those things.

10:27 - Living room TV is starting to sputter out so I'm heading to the bedroom to watch on my Roku.  Commentary during the match may be taken to Twitter.

10:22 - Obvious winners here with no real surprises.  No harm, no foul.

10:03 - Really cool entrance and I loved how Kane set the pyro off....but I do wish Undertaker ALSO did something a little more special, appearance wise.  I understand that part of the evolution is for them to show us "this is what he was.  This is what he is now," but even up until recently he would whip out some crazy cape or jacket.  Even his WrestleMania 30 attire stuck to the "Old Western Undertaker" motif but gave us some flair.

10:00 - Nice to see Kane celebrating this big moment by wearing the same gear he's worn for the past four years or so.  Sigh.

9:57 - I may be optimistic here, but the fact that they're not closing the show with the Undertaker (who you have to assume will win tonight) leads me to think they may do something big in the main event.  If they were merely doing a straight up Reigns victory, I have to imagine they'd be aware enough that they'd get a bigger reaction out of an Undertaker win.  Yet if they do a big turn (either Reigns or Ambrose) or an unexpected win (Ambrose winning), it would HAVE to end the show.

9:45 - Dolph yelling at the ref "COUNT!" and then quickly saying "or don't" when he couldn't get in position quick enough was a legit laugh out loud moment.

9:44 - Dolph Ziggler's transformation over the past year has been more than a little curious.  What's with the eyeblack?

9:37 - Fine enough Divas match that seemed to keep the audience engaged.  I hope it's not the last we see of these two against each other.  Fun enough feud and Paige is definitely a better fit as a heel.

9:15 - Really though....can WWE learn the definition of the words "sole" and "anniversary."

9:11 - In fairness, Sheamus should have at least 20 seconds before getting into the ring (10 seconds to count out Kofi, and 10 seconds to count out Xavier).  I do like the idea of Sheamus getting so beaten up that he's "written off," giving them a logical explanation as to why he can't cash in later.

9:07 - Is it me or are there a lot of people right now that have a finishing move where they simply jump on somebody from a high location?

8:53 - I like how all the faces are in black/red/blue.

And yeah, spot on with the heel team, too.  None of them in new gear though.  Disappointing.

8:52 - So my prediction for the face team was spot on (with Ryback stepping in for Cesaro).  Let's see if I'm right about the heel side (my guess was the New Day, Sheamus, and Barrett).

8:45 - Okay, so far they're being pretty smart with their booking, thankfully.

8:39 - I do love when Kevin Owens randomly starts yelling at Michael Cole.

8:30 - That awkwardly long pause and that terrible promo delivery is the biggest reason why they shouldn't trust Roman Reigns as their WWE Champion.  At least if they turn him heel, they have a group that they can speak for him.

8:26 - Again, the obvious guy won but it was a fun match and they kept us guessing with some false finishes.  I do hope they go the route of him questioning himself because of an injured arm, though, leading to a heel turn.

8:16 - Roman Reigns winning but injuring himself is a great motivator for him turning heel and joining the Authority.  His concern over winning in the finals could be too much for him to resist temptation.

8:10 - Smart starting off the show with this match -- the one with the most "obvious" ending.  Plus, fans will get behind Reigns' victory....as long as they also think Ambrose is advancing.  If Ambrose doesn't advance, I could see the fans rejecting a Reigns victory out of protest.  Thus...smart going with this one first.

8:07 - Fun opening segment.  The question is -- do they end the show on Undertaker's match or with the championship finals?  If the championship finals doesn't close the show, I would say there's an extremely small chance of anything unexpected happening.

8:00 - I actually like the lightened down version of Undertaker's theme for the "We Rise For Him" ad.

7:55 - I'm guessing that the Ziggler/Breeze match got upgraded to the main show?

7:49 - So we're going to talk about how four people were just announced as "sole survivors," right?

7:42 - All connection issues are forgiven now that WWE Network is giving us an Edge and Christian series.

7:36 - My guess for the event elimination match is the New Day, Sheamus, and Wade Barrett vs. Cesaro (if healthy), Lucha Dragons, and the Usos.  If Cesaro is out, swap him with Ryback.

7:32 - That powerslam pin combo is what people hated about the Survivor Series formula.  THAT had to come back too?

7:30 - Stardust lying in the ring smiling was a fun visual.  Loved the Goldust reveal and Stardust's reaction.  Glad to see Goldust back.

7:27 - Not one person in new gear on the heel side.  Let's see if the face side fairs better.

7:25 - I've said this before but it's worth stating again:  It strikes me as extremely odd in this era of "themed PPV's" that WWE has made every effort to take the actual theme away from this -- the original themed PPV!

7:07 - Not off to the best start.  Kickoff stream won't work on my Smart TV or Roku.

6:49 - No promises that I'll last or night or that I won't take an hour break for The Walking Dead.  More than most, I think this show really could be the make or break point for a lot of fans.  This show is potentially the "reset" button for this company, and what they decide to do with that opportunity will be the deciding factor in whether not some of these fans on the fence stick around for the time being.

If this were my show, I would have Ambrose win the title and then have Reigns turn on him afterwards.  Yes, I'm biased and favor Ambrose significantly more than Reigns, but the purpose for this would be that they have the chance to make two stars instead of just one.  I would assume Reigns takes the title next month, so at least Ambrose would have "WWE Champion" on his resume.  One of the worst things they could do (short of Del Rio winning) would be for Reigns to win in a straight up tournament as the heroic hero.  Not only do a lot of people not want to see that, but it's also not interesting television.

Sidenote:  I do hope we see Undertaker go a little throwback (or at least different) with his look tonight.  How about the black button up with the sleeves torn off and the gray gloves and boot covers?  Kane in some new gear would be a nice change of pace, too.

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Monday, October 26, 2015

LIVE Raw thoughts - October 26, 2015

11:06 - That ending was such typical WWE.  Instead of ending the show with the crowd cheering loudly and Reigns celebrating with his music playing and Rollins ranting, they have the two of them stand there, awkwardly staring at each other with no music playing.  Way to take the the wind out of the sails.

11:02 - I obviously wish this Reigns push was going to Ambrose, but I did like that closing sequence with Reigns turning the Pop Up Powerbomb into the Superman Punch.  Well done.

11:01 - Seth Rollins right now is showing us how wildly entertaining a legitimate heel commentator can be.

10:56 - Loved Kevin Owens telling Alberto Del Rio to "breathe."

10:39 - Having said that, it does make me sad seeing Dean Ambrose out there with the rest of the midcarders who have no direction.

10:36 - Pretty cool that Titus O'Neil gets this moment.  Nice to give him a little exposure -- something that's usually saved for the heavy hitters.

10:24 - I want more than anything for Ziggler to succeed, but he's one guy who's in desperate need of a good story and some character development.  He's currently pulling a Zack Ryder right now, where a change is needed to get his career back on track.  And instead of tweaking the character or his style, he just sorta starts dressing differently.  Sometimes a more significant, Chris Jericho-esque character shift is what's really needed.

10:17 - Kofi's exaggerated and high pitched "Whoa, Dolph!" when he was clearly about to do something devious was pure comedy.  Loved it.

10:05 - I can't believe I'm going to say this, but I found that entire segment dull until Kane arrived.

9:48 - I think Ryback is ARGUABLY the only person in this match that I'm even moderately entertained by.

9:25 - I can't imagine Del Rio not winning here.  I'm guessing Ziggler tops Big E to keep the two heels/two faces dynamic, which is curious booking.  Ziggler is probably the most over of the three babyfaces, and that's the one who's going to compete against obvious chosen one Roman Reigns.

9:18 - Only in WWE is becoming tolerant considered a heel turn.

9:07 - Again, I don't get it.  Haven't we seen Paige turn on these two, like, three times already?

9:04 - Isn't it odd how Sasha seems to be seen the least in this Divas Revolution, and is one of the few Divas not currently involved in any segments with Charlotte, the champion?

8:55 - I don't get it.  Are we supposed to, like, get MORE upset each time Paige turns on Charlotte and Becky?  Why not have them just, ya' know, feud?

8:53 - Why does the Divas dressing room have an antique lamp in it?

8:50 - It's almost frustrating watching Cesaro.  Seeing all of the amazing things he can do and seeing the fans legitimately react to it.....and then them just not doing more with him.

8:46 - I'm hoping for Cesaro here, mostly because I'd love for him to get a high profile singles win.

8:36 - That WWE 2K16 commercial was pretty damn awesome.

8:32 - Are they even going to explain Lesnar's absence tonight?  Who else is there?  I assume Big E gets a shot too.  Then there's Kevin Owens and Alberto Del Rio.  I guess Cesaro, Ziggler, and Neville do, too?  I assume Rollins doesn't fight.

8:28 - I don't know why, but it's a pet peeve of mine when the announcers refer to the Superstars by their first name.

8:18 - Now I definitely want to see Reigns lose.

8:11 - Roman Reigns sounding as natural as ever.

8:03 - Not off to a great start.  I detest when WWE has their characters come out and narrate what's happening or what's happened.

7:57 - Okay, I'm going to give Raw another chance tonight.  Basically, the show has been ATROCIOUS for months now.  To the point that I not only don't make sure I'm home to see the show, but that I might actually watch something else instead.  I've been watching Raw each and every week (mostly out of habit) for as long as I can remember.  That's a big deal.  However, I figured that WWE had painted themselves in a corner with their Hell in a Cell booking, so no matter how much panicking we saw, nothing significant would happen.  Well, with Hell in a Cell behind them now, they can hit "reset" and start putting together a, ya' know, good show.

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Saturday, October 3, 2015

LIVE WWE in MSG thoughts - October 3, 2015

10:24 - Overall a fine enough show but, again, they made it seem too much like an every day episode of Raw.  It's been years since I've gone to a house show, but they seem to have stripped the show of all of the charm that typically goes with these untelevised shows.  And when people haven't really been too enamored with the current product, being like "every other show" is most certainly not a good thing.

10:21 - Definitely the match of the night but I have grown to detest the logic of cage matches.  Like, when your opponent is climbing up the cage, wouldn't it make more sense to run to the easily escapable door instead of leaping up the cage to stop them?  And why should your babyface EVER try to escape the cage when an "honorable" and "manly" pinfall is an option?

I didn't really mind Rollins losing since he had an implied victory and was screwed out of it.  Having said that, having your champion pinned so often is never a good idea.

9:57 - Wondering if we'll see more Stewart hijinx -- this time in favor of Cena -- to turn him face again.

9:50 - Did I just see Dave Lagana quoted on a WWE Network promo?

9:41 - I do like how, in Lesnar's matches, he doesn't outright no-sell people's finishers.  Instead, he just groggily gets up, as if to say, "you didn't put me out" but it still did damage.

9:31 - Thank God they didn't do a title change there.  And aren't Edge and Christian, like, 15 time champions or something?  Would the Dudleys winning it 10 times even be a record?

9:16 - Are they really going to do two matches in a row where the story is "will these legends become a 10-time champion"?

9:03 - The announcer's unprompted and completely random reference to how titles can only change hands on pinfall and submission makes me think we're looking at a count out loss for Owens.

8:59 - Pretty cool that this is Jericho's anniversary and that Lance Storm is in attendance.  It would be great to see if Storm got involved in the match somehow (I could see him hitting Owens after Owens gets in his face).

8:58 - I always preferred Jericho with a beard.  Glad he's growing it back (for this show, anyway).

8:51 - Oye, Nikki playing to the hard camera for that pin REALLY took away the credibility of this live event.

8:41 - It doesn't help that the recap showed that these two teams JUST fought on Monday.  I know that house shows typically ARE the same matches over and over again, but we seem to be getting the worst of both worlds right now:  The same matches we always see, but without the unique aspects of untelevised events.  Matches don't seem any longer and the increased crowd interactions don't seem apparent.  Plus, we're seeing those damn backstage segments and recap videos.

8:35 - Again, too many backstage segments.

8:25 - I literally cannot recall the last WWE show I've watched where Neville and Stardust haven't wrestled.

8:22 - The frequency of these recaps and backstage interviews has made this feel like your typical Raw, which is NOT a good thing.  Having said that, Kane continues to nail his character.

8:18 - God, I hope that wasn't a face turn.

8:11 - Not sure how I feel about the fact that they picked likely their three weakest announcers for this special.

8:03 - I'm glad Sheamus went shirtless for his entrance (there's an odd comment!).  The way the line shines on him, the guy literally GLOWS due to his pale skin.  It's a really cool visual that loses its impact when he wears a black t-shirt.  Drives me crazy when he does that.

I'm also not stating anything new here, but the understated entrance set up immediately makes this show seem fresh and different.

8:01 - Hey, it's been a while since I've done one of these, so why not a LIVE thoughts post?  Besides which, these Network specials tend to be better than Raw anyway.

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