Sunday, March 1, 2015

LIVE Once Upon A Time thoughts - March 1, 2015

8:57 - Ohhhhh, I like that little twist that revealed that Rumple was the one behind the release of the monster and was actually behind the e-mail exchanges (and a nice throwback to Rumple getting an e-mail at the beginning of the episode.  Well done.

8:49 - Intriguing development -- given somewhat away by recent commercials -- that Emma is the one with the potential with the darkest heart.

8:41 - That was an awfully convenient bargaining chip.  What would the plan have been if that monster wasn't there?  And Rumple and crew would have no way of knowing that the monster was there.

8:20 - I always find the selective use of magic on the show interesting, too.  Like, Regina will need to get someplace right away and you'll see her running off.  Other times, she has no issue whatsoever just teleporting.  So right now, seeing Regina and Emma searching the office for a bottle opener had me shaking my head a bit.  We just saw Regina shooting fire from her hands 10 minutes ago!

8:10 - I am interested in seeing how they incorporate Cruella, who was an ordinary (but evil) person in the Disney Universe, in the Enchanted Forest.  We see that she had some sort of control over animals (or possibly just dogs), but I'm interested in seeing how other elements of her character fit into the world Once Upon A Time has created.  Her 1920's attire does seem somewhat out of place in the Enchanted Forest, but let's see.

8:05 - I don't know, I find it a bit of a stretch that Hook cares THAT much about the fairies being trapped in that hat.  Showing a soft side because he loves Emma is one thing....being that selfless seems slightly out of character.

7:43 - It's been a while since I've written anything about Once Upon A Time, so I thought I would provide my LIVE thoughts on it's mid-season premiere.  Before the show begins, I thought I'd talk a bit about my thoughts on the status of the show as a whole.

As you may remember, this was one of my favorite new shows of the season when it first premiered.  I found it incredibly clever and I truly enjoyed their unique spin on various famous fairy tales.  And I loved the way they tied in different stories.  I thought they broke the curse way too early, but I do think that they recovered with a strong second season.  Since then, the series has relied on half season story arcs, which I think have -- for the most part -- worked nicely.  I thought Peter Pan was interesting (although it had its share of flaws, such as not properly explaining why Rumple and the Evil Queen were limited in their powers in Neverland.  And focusing exclusively on the main characters, without much development or movement, resulted in some dragging) and the Wicked Witch was fun as well.  I thought they did a fantastic job with the Frozen characters, which is good because it came across as very commercial.

Really, my one criticism of the series is my favorite character:  I'm REALLY disappointed with what they've done with Rumple's character.  He's fallen into HRG (from Heroes) territory, where the character became so popular because he danced between hero and villain.  However, the writers relied too much on that complexity that they didn't allow the character to properly develop.  On Heroes, HRG would ultimately do the right thing (after doing many, many wrong things) and would seemingly see the light.  Then come the next season, he'd be back to his wicked ways because that's what the writers thought made the character fun.  But ultimately, the character became difficult to rally behind.  The same thing is happening with Rumple.  They did an awesome job with his redemption story at the conclusion of the Peter Pan arc.  His role as the reluctant pet who was forced to do bad things even though he didn't want to during the Wicked Witch story worked as well.  I could even forgive his revenge killing of the Wicked Witch, because he did it for his son.  But within the very same episode of promising his dead son that he would be good, he was back to lying and scheming.  Every other villain is seemingly allowed to develop into a more complex, happy character (Regina and Hook immediately come to mind) but they seemingly refuse to give that honor to the best character of them all.  And it's very frustrating.

Not to mention that I read in various interviews and saw in several specials how Rumple did all the bad things during the Frozen arc because he didn't want to be taken advantage of again, like he was with the Wicked Witch.  They tried to portray him as somewhat sympathetic.  But throughout the half season, the show itself did nothing to explain that (they SORTA did at the end, in his discussion with Regina and later Belle).  Instead, he just came across as somebody who chose power over love, again.

I'm hoping they will give Rumple redemption the remainder of this season.  And I hope it lasts.  I recognize the difficulty in making Rumple a good guy -- he's so powerful, no villain could measure up to him and be a legitimate threat.  But that should be no excuse for holding a character back.

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

So, uh, this is kinda awesome....

So I had read about this Power/Rangers fan video but hadn't had a chance to watch it yet.  Well, I watched it today....and it was kinda awesome.

First and foremost, there's the quality.  I mean, it looks like more money went into this 15 minute video than the entire Power Rangers series.  The costumes were pretty cool too, with some technology built into the helmets and some armor built into the tights.  And then on top of that, they actually got name actors and actresses, and the story was pretty damn intriguing too.

Basically, they make you think of the consequences of things that were dealt with in a rather lighthearted way on the series.  What are the consequences of being social outcasts?  What do bullies grow up to be after high school?  And what are the psychological and physical repercussions of giving teenagers the responsibility of protecting the world in an interstellar war?  Some people become "ghosts."  Others become thrill seekers.  Others do whatever they can to survive, even if that means turning against the people they fought alongside.

But above all else, you just had to enjoy the overarching commentary about how we feel the need to make stories grittier and darker each time we reboot them.  I mean, sure, it makes sense for Batman....but we've gotten to the point that even Superman -- the beacon of hope and the greater good -- is a mopey brooder who has to allow his father to die so that he could hide his powers and was forced to kill a man with his bare hands in the climax.  Even something as colorful and playful as the Power Rangers could be reimagined as something deeply disturbing.

Haven't seen it yet?  Check it out:

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Sunday, February 22, 2015

LIVE Fast Lane thoughts - February 22, 2015

10:54 - Well, most of me is happy that they went with a single decisive winner.  I was honestly a bit surprised they went with Reigns -- based on all of the booking leading up to this match, and even the match itself, it seemed like Bryan was the one being poised to a title match.  And the general booking of Reigns has been curious (struggling to beat guys like Big Show and Kane, or even straight up losing to them).  So.....what happens to Bryan now?

10:32 - Daniel Bryan is wearing some new gear but for some reason has chosen to continue with those furry boots.  Sadly.

10:31 - The order of entry is always significant.  Reigns is coming out first.  Typically the more popular/bigger star comes out second.  He's also wearing the Shield version of this gear.

10:23 - The right winner but as others have noted, we will now (in all likelihood) have at least four matches at WrestleMania that will be a rematch from tonight (Rusev/Cena, Ambrose/Barrett, Stardust/Goldust, and Usos/Cesaro and Kidd).  That's a little lame.

10:18 - Just had a brief brown out but I'm back in action.

10:04 - I like the in-ring introductions for the United States title.  Did they do that for the Intercontinental Title match too?  It adds a lot of prestige.

10:01 - Back!  The Walking Dead was great, of course.  Did the Undertaker return?

9:38 - I'd really like to see Dean Ambrose win the title here.  I know logic dictates that Ambrose gets screwed out of the title for him to get the big win at WrestleMania, but the guy desperately needs a big PPV win.

9:29 - At what point did the Paige face turn become an actual real thing?  I would've sworn it was set up to be a feud with Nattie.

9:16 - As many others have already noted, Sting's hairstyle is doing him no favors.  There's a lot he could do to disguise his hairline.  He seems to accentuate it.

9:07 - Will the entire hour away be spent with a Triple H promo???

8:52 - My warning -- about to go into the other room to watch The Walking Dead.  I'll be back in an hour or so, but may slip in during commercials.

8:44 - Obviously, a weak ending there.  That just shows you how important the role of the referee is.

As I said, when, like, three of your matches are just stepping stones to WrestleMania, it just comes across as a bit lackluster.

8:32 - Interesting new take on the Stardust attire.

8:29 - In some form or fashion. we've been waiting for the Goldust/Cody Rhodes one-on-one match for, like, four years.  It seems awfully anticlimactic for it to happen 35 days before WrestleMania.

8:25 - So Orton vs. Rollins is an obvious pick for WrestleMania.  I'm feeling like they should do Ziggler/Ryback vs. Big Show/Kane as well, to give Ziggler and Ryback's story against the Authority a climax at WrestleMania.

8:23 - I'm guessing an Orton return?

8:22 - So this match that was supposed to make a star out of Seth Rollins see Kane get the pin off of a Big Show move?

8:17 - While not the most technically proficient performer, Rowan's matches are far more bearable now that they've given up on making "Big Red" a thing.

8:08 - Some new gear for the babyfaces.  We had Ziggler with a sleeveless hoodie, Ryback in this green little number, and Rowan with an "R" on his jumpsuit.  I'm still shocked we haven't seen a gray version of Rollins' gear, though.

8:02 - Just as a forewarning, there will be an hour break at 9:00 as I go to watch The Walking Dead.  But other than that, sit back, relax, and enjoy my LIVE thoughts of Fast Lane.

In and of itself, this is a fine show with a lot of interesting matches that could deliver.  But overall, it's just unnecessary.  Matches either feel rushed when they would make far more impact happening at WrestleMania (like Rusev/Cena, Stardust/Goldust, and to a lesser extent Ambrose/Barrett, Usos/Kidd and Cesaro, and even the Ziggler/Ryback vs. Big Show/Kane confrontation).  Other matches are seemingly out of no where because the Superstars have other plans for WrestleMania.  The only two things that really NEED to happen to set the seeds for WrestleMania are Bryan/Reigns and Sting/Triple H.  Not a whole lot of reason to have a show, though.

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Monday, February 9, 2015

LIVE Raw thoughts - February 9, 2015

9:53 - I'm pretty exhausted so I think I'm going to watch this final hour from bed.  Follow me on Twitter for more thoughts on the show!

9:48 - I like it better when Stardust alternates his attire.  He's got so many alternatives (unlike Goldust), yet he's been wearing the purple pair non-stop since Royal Rumble.  Mix it up!

9:26 - It's frustrating that they've stalled the momentum of guys like Ziggler and Ambrose (and almost Bryan) for the sake of building up Wyatt, if the plan is only to feed Wyatt to the Undertaker.

9:16 - Something I appreciate about Ziggler -- the fact that he's constantly playing to the ground.  It's something a lot of performers forget to do.  They're rarely if ever silent during Ziggler's matches, because he's constantly forcing them to respond to him.

9:13 - They were making such awesome progress with Dolph, why put him in ANOTHER no-win situation here?

9:04 - Every time I see Rusev holding the United States Championship it disappoints me.  This guy is so anti-American and full of Russian pride, yet he carries around the United States title with no real sense of irony.  Why not change it to the more appropriate Russian Championship?  It would at least bring a little attention to the title.  Hell, maybe even sell a few replicas!  Or, at the very least, make an actual story about the fact that this giant American hater has the U.S. title.  Instead, it's just sort of a thing he carries around and defends, no different than if it was the Intercontinental Championship.

8:53 - Is this confirmation that the Fast Lane match IS for the Intercontinental Championship?  It's been insinuated but, as best as I can tell, not outright stated.

8:51 - Standard headscissors, described as a figure four around somebody's head.  Nope.  Not at all.

8:46 - Didn't some local DJ go on a Twitter rant about Big Show being a jerk, specifically saying that this was against their anti-bullying campaign?  And who appeared in a commercial for Be A Star today?  Big Show.

8:42 - Two matches, two almost identical DQ finishes.

8:33 - I guess Bryan/Kane/Reigns/Show each week wasn't quite enough.  Now they have to fight multiple times each show.

8:31 - Haha, gotta love your audience cheering Bryan hitting Reigns.

8:29 - And so Big Show and Kane lay out your top two babyfaces.

8:17 - I think we all agreed that we needed MORE Bryan/Kane/Reigns/Big Show combinations.

8:11 - Nothing like having your top heels essentially film a commercial for the WWE Network in the middle of their promo.  And did Triple H just confront Sting about whether they can confront each other at Fast Lane?

8:09 - So latest thoughts on whether or not Daniel Bryan is included in the WrestleMania main event?

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Monday, February 2, 2015

LIVE Raw thoughts - February 2, 2015

11:08 - I'll admit it, Reigns got some pretty good distance on that Big Show spear.

10:45 - I'm confused.  How would that have been a threat against Reigns?  Wouldn't it have been a threat against Rollins?

10:41 - WWE's treatment of Erick Rowan is so odd.  They keep him at the top of the card, right in the mix of things, yet he never really wins.  And a lot of the times he loses clean.

10:25 - I like that Sin Cara has gone the Rey Mysterio route of constantly changing his color scheme.  I'm surprised they haven't successfully marketed him in Mysterio's absence.  This is more WWE's fault than Sin Cara's -- they haven't really given the fans a reason to rally behind him.

10:06 - Well that was telegraphed.  I'm guessing Orton returns tonight.

10:02 - I certainly can't criticize WWE for strongly pushing Bray Wyatt (and they have been going to great lengths, sacrificing the momentum of Dean Ambrose, Daniel Bryan, and Dolph Ziggler to name a few), but I REALLY REALLY hope this is not just to feed him to the Undertaker.

9:40 - I like how Rowan uses the same mask every week.  It's a nice little touch.  He's the type of personality that wouldn't just grab a fresh one from Shopzone.

9:30 - Glad to see Cesaro win but, again, it's discouraging that Cesaro is basically in the same spot he was this time last year (except with a less bright future) after the momentum he had coming out of WrestleMania last year.

9:19 - It feels like so many guys have these overruling storylines going on, but they're not necessarily going anywhere and they're not resulting in anybody feuding.  Dolph Ziggler, Erick Rowan, and Ryback are great examples.  They're in this feud with the Authority, but none of them are going to be involved in the climax of the Authority storyline.  They're just, like, peripherally there.  And as a result, they're in these meaningless matches that they either win (by "overcoming a challenge") or they lose (by "being in unfair circumstances").  But win or lose, the story is essentially the same.  And they'll often have these same matches with the same guys, but they're not actually actively feuding with them.  A win or a loss does not really advance the story in any particular situation.  You know all three of these guys are "against" the Authority, but will any of them be in an Authority-related match at WrestleMania?  No, probably not.  And there are loads of other guys in similar situations.

9:07 - Wait, didn't she just say that Wyatt/Ziggler was next?

9:05 - Kinda surprising that they're coming out to Ryback's music, huh?  This isn't a fanboy moment, but Ziggler has consistently been pushed as the "top" star of this trio.

8:58 - THAT'S how they need to play the Stardust character -- that everybody BUT him knows that he and Cody are the same person.  They did it this way for a long while (JBL would regularly say "what happened in that household?" and stuff like that), but then at the Royal Rumble Cole noted that this was his first Royal Rumble appearance (the person, not the character) and they seemed to be doing an about-face.

8:54 - Do all of these "Welcome Back" celebrations for Ziggler, Ryback, and Rowan seem odd?  Like, are they leading to anything?  They're kinda treated like homecoming kings or something.

8:42 - While I am happy that Dean Ambrose at least has some direction, it's still sad seeing him aiming for the Intercontinental Championship while his two comrades are getting for the World title.

8:36 - Okay, I am a LITTLE more forgiving of the opening promo for at least explaining that it was a giant manipulation and that they never had a legitimate announcement in the first place.  Yet it was still overly long and there were a huge amount of unintentional holes.

8:33 - Wait, really?  That's how you book your (arguably) struggling babyface?  This is not the show you book before an Austin podcast.

8:27 - So, um, what was supposed to be the announcement?  You know, that one that was supposed to rock the foundation of the company?

And holy crap....Reigns vs. Big Show is like Daniel Bryan vs. Kane as this feud that just will not end.

8:25 - This segment makes me a little sad for Dean Ambrose.  He's the only former Shield member not even in contention for the main event slot at WrestleMania.

8:17 - I am just BEGGING Daniel Bryan to mention that Brock Lesnar hadn't defended his title in the amount of days it took the Authority to strip him of his title.

Also, perhaps if they didn't waste time talking about Sting, the Super Bowl, and the WWE Network, they wouldn't have to go to a commercial break in the middle of their big announcement.

8:05 - Gotta love WWE totally dismissing their unsatisfied customers.

8:02 - Man, does that new entrance video make the roster seem depleted or what?  It's just basically a rotation of Cena, Reigns, Ambrose, Rollins, Wyatt, Bryan, and the Bellas.

7:39 - So tonight's Raw is set to kick off with Triple H's earth shattering announcement.  What will the announcement be?  The strong belief will be Triple H somehow contesting Roman Reigns' Royal Rumble win in a ploy that will ultimately further establish him, to fans, as the new face of the company.  That's all fine and good, but what's the motivation?  From a booking standpoint, what's to contest?  Roman Reigns won fair and square.  Sure, the Rock came in and helped, but it was to beat up two guys who were cleanly eliminated.  Rock never once laid his hands on an active competitor (even though that wouldn't have been illegal either).  And the individuals that the fans are rallying behind -- Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, Dean Ambrose, and arguably Bray Wyatt -- were all cleanly eliminated as well.  There's no basis for them deserving to be in the WrestleMania title match.  And from a character standpoint, what's Triple H's motivation.  Why would he want to give people who have challenged his authority (Bryan, Ambrose, and Ziggler) a shot at the WrestleMania title match?  If the actual announcement is to have Reigns put his title shot on the line against himself or Rollins -- which would make sense for Triple H's character -- that would be entirely underwhelming.  And if Triple H puts the title shot on the line just for fun, doesn't that hurt the credibility -- even if just a little -- of the Royal Rumble stipulation?  One of the few stipulations that has gone undamaged, for the most part?

I'm curious....but I'm not sure I'm optimistic.

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Thursday, January 29, 2015

LIVE Smackdown thoughts - January 30, 2015

9:58 - Fun enough match but the casket aspect really limited them.  I do sincerely hope that this is the absolute last of Kane/Bryan though.  And again....when the powers that be sees the audience reaction to Bryan vs. virtually everybody else, you have to wonder why on earth they're so stubborn about just making him the focal point of the company.

I will admit to being intrigued by Triple H's announcement, though.  I suspect it might be a match between Reigns and Bryan at Fast Lane, with the winner getting the title shot (which Reigns will win).  I think this would be a mistake, if they go that route.  No need to give the audience even MORE reason to resent the guy.

9:36 - Bryan wearing the Bruiser Brody fur boots tonight.

9:35 - Bryan really needs to bring back those awesome ring jackets he used to wear.

9:19 - I love the variations of the "drop down and hit" move that Gold and Stardust do.  Goldust punches, whereas Stardust kicks.

9:14 - Goldust's new entrance jacket is a little fancier than usual.

I also love that Stardust changes up his color scheme.  I kinda wish that Goldust would do the same.  Keep gold as the constant, but maybe mix up the secondary color.  Or add a new color to the trim.

And if these two get fed to Ascension, something's seriously wrong.

9:05 - Really fun, passionate promo from Cena (which contained some really great lines, actually).  I just don't know if the anger justifies the situation.  What exactly is Cena so angry about?  For a guy who lets everything slide, it seems odd that he's so pissed about somebody saying he's not a challenge.

Also, what's the status of the United States Championship?  Cena's last line seemed to imply the title was on the line, but has that been officially clear?

8:59 - Wouldn't it have made more sense to show a clip of the, ya' know, confrontation.  Instead of the clip we've already seen earlier tonight.

8:43 - Ryback coming out wasn't the least bit surprising because WWE's Instagram account already posted a photo of him.  They have a nasty habit of doing that and it's quite annoying.

8:32 - Am I mistaken or did Vince McMahon just give essentially the same exact promo that Triple H did about a half hour ago, which was just repeated from a story reported earlier today on WWE.com?

8:26 - King....a shark is a far better and more intimidating nickname than a "killer whale."

8:22 - All of these promos from different Superstars, all of these things the announcers need to say, all of the dominance Reigns gets to show....it's a lot of work.  Wouldn't it just have been easier to let one of those guys that you openly acknowledge the fans wanted to win, win?

8:17 - Surely they'll be smart enough to give Reigns the dominant victory in this match.  Now is not the time to make him look weak or physically incapable.

By the way, I feel like I'm still getting my value for the WWE Network so I'm not all bothered by it, but I do understand why people are annoyed by the fact that WWE repeatedly gives a free month to new subscribers.  They do VERY little, if anything, to reward their long-time subscribers.  When you teach people that you're better off not subscribing than subscribing, you're doing something wrong.

8:11 - I must say, it's kinda cool that Dolph Ziggler, Daniel Bryan, and Dean Ambrose are explicitly mentioned as people the fans are upset were eliminated.  It at least shows that the WWE is aware that these three guys have a connection with the audience.  Let's hope that all three do something special at WrestleMania.

8:06 - You can tell they're using the script from Raw.  Deflated ball jokes on a Thursday?

8:05 - This is an extremely odd heel promo by Triple H.

8:02 - Sure, why not?

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Monday, January 26, 2015

LIVE Raw thoughts - January 26, 2015

11:12 - An admittedly effective sit down interview and something a lesson to be learned for the next contract showing:  Not everything has to descend into a brawl in order to be memorable or intense.  "I don't respect you," "You will" was an awesome way to end things.  Far better than somebody going through a table.

10:57 - Nobody in WWE ever seems to get upset about anything, particularly babyfaces.  They're all so congenial.  Cena never seems to be heartbroken when he loses the title.  Reigns doesn't seem to mind that fans boo him.  And right now, Bryan is being nothing but gracious about not winning the Rumble.  He's borderline endorsing Reigns.

10:53 - I genuinely hope they do something special with Ambrose at WrestleMania.  The guy deserves SOMETHING significant.  It's unfortunate that he's been the afterthought in the Shield split.  None of them really deserve it, but I'm particularly sad to see it happen to him.  He's the one guy in the group who seemed to have the TOTAL package (could wrestle and had natural charisma) so he was the one who they didn't bother to protect.  And, as a result, he's the obvious third in line.  Which is unfair.

10:14 - There really does seem to be something.....malicious about the people Big Show and Kane collectively and literally dumped out of the ring.  Dolph Ziggler, Bray Wyatt, and Dean Ambrose.  Three sentimental favorites for the audience (with Wyatt being a bit of a stretch).  These eliminations happened in a nonchalant, anticlimactic manner.  Only to be overcome by Roman Reigns.  It was a message of SOME sort.  Likely not a positive one.

10:01 - I missed this last night but did JBL say that Lex Luger is the only Royal Rumble winner to never win a WWE Championship?  How about Jim Duggan?  Or Big John Studd?

9:25 - I think I'll watch some Arrested Development.

9:14 - Is it me, or did Bubba find all that weight that Bully lost in TNA?

8:58 - I commend WWE for trying to do something to get people to watch tonight, but I have to wonder if this was the best use of Brock's limited dates.  A studio show that's airing on a night when a portion of your night potentially doesn't have power?  I'm wondering if they already committed to this date (that is to say, this counts as a Brock appearance whether he appears or not).

Would they possibly have the guts to pull a Money in the Bank cash in stunt tonight?

8:49 - Moments after showing the match in its entirety, what's the purpose of showing these highlights?  And for using still photos, for that matter?

8:47 - WWE really pushing this Daniel Bryan/Kane thing on us, huh?  And what's somewhat ironic is that their feud doesn't even focus on the emotional impact of them once being tag team partners.

8:06 - Interesting decision to reshow the triple threat and Royal Rumble match in their entirety.

8:01 - So, like, are all of the Superstars and crew sleeping in WWE Headquarters (you'll always be Titan Tower to me) tonight?

7:52 - Not even sure what to expect for tonight, so this may die out really quickly.

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Sunday, January 25, 2015

LIVE Royal Rumble thoughts - January 25, 2015

10:58 - The Rock telling unseen people to stop laughing, when we can't hear or see them, came across as kinda sad and self-congratulatory.  Also, nothing says "I'm ready for Brock Lesnar" like "I'm bleeding and need to see the trainer."

10:57 - "He won the Rumble, let him speak." - The Rock....before interrupting Reigns every second.

10:50 - And there you go, the beginning of your build for Cena/Rusev.

10:45 - The blatant attempt to use the Rock's popularity to get Reigns' on the fans good side is both obvious and desperate.  And, when you KNOW you have to go to that level, why not just do the things that you know your fans want.

10:43 - Well, I guess technically Ambrose wasn't in the Final 4.

10:41 - I'm confused....why are the announcers surprised that the Rock is in Philly, or even here at the Rumble?  It was blatantly announced earlier.

10:38 - "And now it's down, to Roman Reigns..."  This company....

10:36 - I was right though.  Ambrose in the final 4.

10:36 - That Ziggler thing....the worse....

10:32 - So I guess that means Ziggler at #30?  Which means we won't see some sort of Bunny appearance that turns out to be Daniel Bryan.

10:30 - Cesaro gets some extra points from me for wearing different trunks for his two matches tonight.

10:23 - Got a kick out of the fact that Ryback clotheslining Reigns got an inordinately loud pop.

10:20 - I tell ya....they better have something up their sleeve better than Reigns winning, because otherwise we're in for a Batista Year 2.

10:16 - Yep.  Eating him alive.

10:14 - Liked the use of the rosebuds....particularly that they DIDN'T save Rose seconds later.  But it bothers me that Kofi's appearance is now ONLY to do a stunt.  Then he gets promptly eliminated.

10:12 - Roman Reigns is dead in the water.  This crowd is going to tear him apart.

10:09 - I think that's the first time in Rumble history that the crowd was so deflated they didn't even countdown.

10:05 - Number 14 is my pick in a Rumble pool I'm in.  I suspect I won't be winning that.

10:04 - I think we're all kinda wondering why Fandango is still in there.

9:58 - This confrontation would be soooooooo much more fulfilling and meaningful if these two didn't face off in a needless match on Raw a week or two ago.

9:55 - Bray Wyatt getting the CM Punk Straight Edge Society treatment right now.

9:52 - The Wyatt reunion was fun and a satisfying enough resolution to their storyline.  I also loved Bray's sadistic reaction to both of them setting their sights on him.

9:47 - Again....shocked they turned down the obvious comedic spot of the Mizdow self elimination.

9:45 - Has it really been 10 years since the Dudleys have been in WWE?  That's incredible.  I feel old.

9:43 - Ugh, WWE's Instagram just spoiled the surprise #3 entrant.  :(

9:42 - Surprised they turned down the chance of doing Mizdow as #2.  Miz would try to convince him to eliminate himself, but the only way he would is if Miz does it first (since he mimics him).  Mizdow would just continue aping Miz.

9:41 - Mizdow as #2?

9:31 - What an awesome match. Truly thrilling.  And all three men did an awesome job.  Rollins ate the pin -- which made sense from a storyline perspective (they had to create a reason why he didn't cash in post-match) -- but I think this was his coming out party as a singles competitor.  Bravo to all three.  And they really did build Lesnar up so that whoever does defeat him becomes a huge star.

9:24 - Did anybody have a better year than Seth Rollins?  This guy is a blast to watch and I really would be thrilled if he's the first member of the Shield to hold the gold.

9:18 - Brock takes the best looking Curb Stomps.

9:12 - This dominance would still mean a lot more if Lesnar had made more than one title defense (which he had to be saved from) since winning the title in August.

9:03 - I am shocked that we are yet to see a gray variant of Seth Rollins' attire yet.

8:55 - I was wrong about the Dudleys returning during the Ascension match....but I was right about Stardust wearing purple!

8:49 - I really don't like the Bella twins, but I'm happy they're at least heels again.

8:47 - We have some extremely strict referees when it comes to these tags tonight.

8:42 - Fun tag team title match.  Really happy to see the continued success of the Usos.  And Miz and Mizdow remain entertaining as always.

8:26 - Nice looking new gear for the Usos.  Nothing new for Miz & Mizdow.  I kinda miss the days when Miz would wear those flashy outfits.  You could always count on a fresh appearance from him.

8:19 - LOVE LOVE LOVE the fact that they're putting these live Stone Cold podcasts on the Network.  This is EXACTLY what they need to be doing to bring in those subscriber numbers.

8:11 - This certainly doesn't need to be a squash, but anything less than a fairly dominant victory would not be a good thing for the Ascension.

8:06 - Fun opening segment.  I particularly appreciated the appearance of veteran midcard guys who likely have no chance of winning, but were made to look like bigger deals.

7:49 - I'm betting that Kofi Kingston appears in the Rumble tonight (for his stunt false elimination) and I'm hoping he comes out with his annual fun comic book inspired ring gear, instead of the New Day attire he's been wearing.

7:40 - This was a generally fun match but also seemed to look very messy and disjointed.  I'm also happy to see Kidd and Cesaro with a victory, but really, considering where Cesaro was coming out of WrestleMania last year, he should be so far beyond this.

7:34 - Alright, I hit the "reload" button on my Roku and that seems to have done the trick.

7:27 - Starting to have issues with the WWE Network.  Getting a lot of "Loading, Please Wait" interruptions and the quality of the feed has gone down a lot.  I'm HOPING this is just the result of a lot of new people joining at once, hopefully this isn't a whole night thing.

7:24 - WWE 24 looks amazing.  What's the "24" refer to, though?  24 hours?

7:20 - I wonder if they're trying to swerve us by putting SO much attention on the possibility of Reigns winning.  Having said that, I guess the same could be said about Daniel Bryan.

7:04 - Oh, another random prediction:  New purple attire for Stardust.  He posted a pic of all of his wrestling boots on Twitter, and there was a random purple pair that he hasn't worn yet.

6:57 - Did anybody else watch that Santino's Rumble Lottery special?  If so, how was Hulk Hogan not turned heel, like, 40 times during his memorable run?  I was a blind Hulkamaniac as a kid, but that special really highlighted what a dick he could be.  He's getting double teamed during one Rumble and is saved by the Ultimate Warrior.  Those two guys then double team the Warrior and what does Hogan do?  HE ELIMINATES WARRIOR!!!  The guy who just rescued him.  Then a year or two later he comes in and eliminates his best friend Tugboat.  And then a year or two after that, he's eliminated (completely legally) by Sid.....actually, in almost an identical fashion as he eliminated Warrior....and what does he do?  He CHEATS and pulls him out of the ring, giving Flair the victory.  And, evidently, NONE of this was done with the intention of turning Hogan heel.  Which makes me think WWE may be successful despite itself, not because of itself.  They have a history of really questionable decisions.

6:32 - Tonight is quite possibly my favorite event on the wrestling calendar -- the Royal Rumble.  A night where, ideally, there really are so many possibilities.  And a night that can easily set the tone for what is supposed to be the most entertaining two or three months of WWE's year.

There's a lot to wonder about tonight.  Will Brock Lesnar retain?  If not, will they give a huge rub to Seth Rollins or will they go the "easy" route with John Cena?  And, regardless of what result, who wins the Rumble?  Will they "make it up" to the fans last year but giving the win to perennial favorite Daniel Bryan, or will they strap the proverbial rocket to Roman Reigns and give him the nod?  Or, will they completely swerve us with something unexpected?  A surprise Cena appearance or win?  Ditto for Lesnar?  Or Rollins?  Or will they "make it up" to the fans for the past few months and give somebody like Ambrose his due?  Or Ziggler?  Or Wyatt?  Or will it be Rock?

And with that in mind, which Superstars make a surprise appearance?  Rock?  Hogan?  DDP?  Dudleys?  Sting?  Chris Jericho?  Batista?

Well, here are my early predictions:

I want to say Lesnar retains.  But regardless of the result, I don't think Cena leaves the night as champion.  I see Lesnar winning, but if he doesn't, Rollins ultimately leaves as the champion.  Whether that means Cena wins, only for Rollins to cash in and win, or Rollins straight up wins (after, perhaps, a Heyman double cross?) remains to be seen.  I personally hope for the latter, as we've never seen a champion with the Money in the Bank briefcase.

I do think we'll see a Rock appearance.  WWE has already teased it, and it would be foolish of them to drop that hint and not follow through.  You saw what happened last year.

If the Dudleys do appear, I think it'll be as a post-match attack against the Ascension and not as Rumble participants.  Since there are two of them, the impact will be diluted with them coming out separately.

I see Mizdow coming out early and doing the predicted self elimination after Miz gets eliminated.  I see him coming out early and lasting a long time, though, adding a little tragic element to that comedy ("he lasted that long just to eliminate himself!?!?!")

I think either Ziggler or Ambrose will make it to the final four, but will ultimately lose.

In the end, I think Daniel Bryan wins.  Bryan hasn't even been involved in any significant feud, so there really was no need for them to bring him back before the Rumble.  And, really, putting him in the Rumble only for him to lose in favor of their golden boy (Reigns) isn't fair to Reigns.  There simply is no upside to having Bryan make a monumental return and participate in the Rumble if he's not winning.  Surely they have to be smart enough for that.......right?

Anyway, check back around 7 or 7:30 or whenever the pre-show stars for my LIVE thoughts.

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Monday, January 19, 2015

LIVE Raw thoughts - January 19, 2015

10:50 - Okay, I can't imagine they're going to have this handicap match last another 15 minutes.  They can't, right?  Well, nonetheless, I'm pretty exhausted and wish to watch the remainder of this show in the comfort of my bed.  So, follow me on Twitter for the rest of my thoughts!

10:09 - That was a fun segment.  I actually expected Booker to return with Stevie Ray (or maybe even Goldust!)  But I didn't quite expect them to SO dominantly overcome the Ascension.

10:03 - How utterly disrespectful for Ascension to interrupt the group that made itself famous over utilizing gang warfare.

10:03 - Why does X-Pac sound like Ryback?

10:01 - Introducing Sean Waltman under his DX name while portraying his nWo character is just plain confusing.

9:53 - Has WWE decided if it's "A New Day" or "THE New Day" yet?

9:46 - Still a sucker for that Royal Rumble by the numbers video.

9:30 - Regular readers should I know that I detest when they have champions lose clean, but I think it needs to happen here.  Ambrose needs as many high profile wins as possible.  Although I do love that he got the nod as Flair's predicted Rumble winner.

9:18 - I noticed that Roman Reigns has reverted back to the Shield version of his ring gear.  No more colored trim.

9:04 - Wow, Shawn really took that Remington t-shirt criticism to heart.

8:53 - So wait, is Shawn still a heel from the whole Daniel Bryan thing?

8:44 - Really?  I mean, it makes me a LITTLE less angry about all of those Dean Ambrose losses....but surely even they can see the idiotic nature of having Daniel Bryan lose in his, like, third match back.  Ridiculous.

8:28 - I miss Daniel Bryan's awesome entrance jackets.  They wouldn't be so stupid as to have Bryan lose here, right?  Anything less than a cleanish win would be foolish.

8:22 - That opening was needlessly complicated.  Why involve the App?  Why not just make the match?  The one thing I really did like was the fact that Seth Rollins was on the big screen while everybody else was in the ring.  It added a nice element of cowardice to his character.

8:12 - I'm not necessarily wild about Cena's new color scheme (although I don't actively dislike it), but I actually really like the design.  Have you seen it?  It's got drawings of Cena's old looks.  It's actually kinda cool.

8:06 - Who knew?  You give Lesnar the mic and he can't stop saying "Baby."

8:01 - Random observation:  Imagine how much more fun this Raw Reunion would be if Ultimate Warrior hadn't passed away.  Don't get me wrong -- I'm not a huge Warrior fan and I think his act could get pretty tired, but we see pretty much the same Legends each and every time they do a reunion.  He, at the very least, would've been something different and new.

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Monday, December 29, 2014

LIVE Raw thoughts - December 29, 2014

11:14 - I'm kinda surprised by how many people hated that segment (and I'm actually referring to former wrestlers here).  I thought it was really fun and had me watching more intensely than I had all night.  Was it long and drawn out?  Yes, but not necessarily in a bad way.  I kept wondering what would happen next.  Would Cena grab Noble and hold HIM hostage?  Would he try to save Edge?  Would Christian return only to get pummeled?  Would Orton return and save the day?  Would Cena submit to the demands?  Would Cena make a counter offer?  The fact that it was drawn out helped me think of more possibilities.  Yes, I am a bit disappointed that the Survivor Series match -- which was built up as this monumental, company altering thing, didn't even last two months, but that aside I enjoyed what happened.  Overall a stronger show than what we've seen the past few months, but still overall weak.

11:10 - "You gotta know me better than that, I'm going to kill him anyway" is an awesome line.

11:05 - So, uh, nobody else cares about Edge?

10:56 - I have to say, the set is kinda tame.  I thought we'd see a more grandiose amalgamation of the Cutting Edge and the Peep Show.

10:39 - WWE is in a tough boat right now.  After hitting the absolute peak of any career and having it all taken away from him, it's going to be tough to get the fans to root for anybody other than Daniel Bryan.  And he's already mega popular.  I'm not sure people would root for Roman Reigns over him.  We may be in for another Batista situation.

10:26 - It's already 10:30 and we still have the Ascension debut, the Daniel Bryan interview, and the Cutting Edge Peep Show.  Also, curious decision to have Ambrose and Wyatt battle again, ESPECIALLY if it just leads to Ambrose losing again.  And if Ambrose wins, I hope it's the blow off.  Yes, it's 50/50 booking, but that might be the best Ambrose gets in this feud.

10:15 - Really awesome match.  Seth Rollins has easily become one of my new favorite Superstars of 2014.  Always super fun watching him.

9:58 - Odd that this match is taking place before the Cutting Edge Peep Show segment.

9:52 - Really fun segment (that's what I was talking about!) but how must Christian have felt during the prep for that segment?  "Okay, first Cena and Edge are going to go back and forth about the memorable and monumental moments they took part in.  We're then going to need you to leave the room so that Cena can talk about how the two of them are the best ever."

9:43 - By the way, regarding Daniel Bryan.....I'm guessing he either retires or enters himself in the Royal Rumble.

9:38 - So who gets fed to the Ascension?  The New Day seems too fresh.  So I guess Los Matadores?

Also, I'm surprised by the lack of Edge & Christian tonight.  They've interacted with so many people throughout the years -- where are the fun backstage segments?

9:32 - That guy who doesn't connect with the audience is awfully good at getting people to react to that signature move you had him stop doing.

"Cesaro did a lot of talking tonight but couldn't get the job done."  Yeah, I'm sure it's not lines like THAT that is  holding back Cesaro.

9:27 - Ohhhhh, it was going well enough until he corrected himself with the "four sides" remark.  And yes, indeed, this promo is going to culminate with a clean loss to a returning Bad News Barrett.

9:26 - Now Cesaro gets some promo time?  I love it!  Let's just hope it doesn't end with Jack Swagger coming in and making him tap.

9:20 - Watching this video just makes me sad thinking about how Ambrose has been booked recently.

9:17 - The Usos and Naomi "played" Miz?  Did they forget to pay that off in the actual booking of the match?

9:15 - I'm actually a bit surprised that they ended the Miz/Mizdow reign so quickly.

9:02 - Miz and Mizdow are one of the only heel teams you'll see stand on the upper left corner so that you can see Mizdow's miming.

8:54 - Methinks this is just a ruse and that Naomi will "turn" on Miz and help the Usos win.  Although it'd be a tragedy to end the Miz/Mizdow title reign.

8:50 - By the way, I'm on the Tyson Kidd bandwagon now.  While I'm not personally a cat person, I love the fact that he built the fact that he IS a cat person into his on-screen character.  He's got them air brushed onto his shin guards.

8:45 - That Ryback promo got a bit of flack on Twitter but I honestly enjoyed it.  It allowed Ryback the character to connect with the audience on a human level, while remaining true to the nature of his character.  It actually made him pretty likable.  I'm not a huge fan of Ryback (at least at the main event level), but I personally applaud WWE for putting the spotlight on somebody new.

8:32 - Ugh, didn't love that ending.  Like I said, they've done a fantastic job of rebuilding Ziggler as a guy who overcomes everything and wins.  And how do they end this match?  With Rusev getting DQ'd because he's beating up Ziggler SO BADLY.  Then they have him make Ziggler tap anyway, only to be rescued by the muscley fella.  Who did that benefit?

8:21 - No title introductions, so clearly this is a non-title match.

8:16 - Champion vs. Champion is a confusing way to push the match.  Are you merely saying that both men are champions?  Or are both championships on the line?

For what it's worth, I don't love this.  They've done an awesome job with Dolph since Survivor Series.  It would be too bad if they undid any of that with an unnecessary loss to Rusev.  Culminating the Rusev push with a clean loss to Ziggler would be an awesome way to REALLY strap the rocket to Dolph, but I don't see that happening.  And a screwball finish doesn't really help anybody.

8:09 - Did Jerry Lawler just retire Christian?

8:03 - Man, they're not even coming out to the Edge & Christian version of the theme.  This is pure Edge.

8:02 - You can't help but feel bad for Christian just based on that opening video.

7:28 - This is the first time in nearly a month that I've done a LIVE thoughts post and for good reason:  Raw and even the PPV's have been extremely difficult to get through, and I HATE coming across as ultra negative.  But with Edge & Christian hosting tonight, I'm optimistic for a more enjoyable than usual show.

As a bit of pre-Raw discussion, I thought I'd talk about an idea I have for the post-Authority era.  At the moment, it seems like we're re-entering the guest host era, which -- in my opinion -- is not a good thing.  For every Chris Jericho (and, I assume, Edge & Christian) you have a Grumpy Cat and Larry the Cable Guy.  But that doesn't mean we need the Authority, or even Vince McMahon, to return.  So what should they do?

In my opinion, they should form an unseen (but not unknown) championship committee.  John Cena, who, presumably, has the power to create such things and seems to do things in the interest of fairness even if that means it could conceivably benefit a heel, can even be the one to create it.  Simply say that there's a committee where every living Hall of Famer and former World Champion currently on the roster, in addition to Vince McMahon, has a vote.  They have the power to create every match, regardless of whether it's a title match.  And since it's not a completely blind committee, they have the built in excuse to introduce certain characters (Hogan has a vote because he's a Hall of Famer.  He can immediately take issue with up-and-comer Seth Rollins).  Somebody like Batista could return and immediately make a play for the championship, since he has a vote on the committee.  Triple H, since he's technically on the roster, can make a play to regain power since he'd be on the committee too.  Or, best of all, they can be an unseen force without people asking "Who's making these matches anyway?"  And if they decide to do a power struggle, they have a lot of fun possibilities with various Hall of Famers creating alliances as a certain side attempts to seize power.  You can even have current Superstars attempt to curry favor with the new Hall of Fame class with the hope that they might support their run at the title.

Anyway, it's better than what we've been seeing, I think.

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