Friday, April 17, 2015

Smackdown: Friendship is Magic

This week's headlining friendship
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Most Valiant Friends – Cesaro and Tyson Kidd (and Natalya)
Cesaro and Kidd had a match against John Cena and Daniel Bryan. It was billed throughout the show as some sort of epic clash – the Tag champs against the United States and Intercontinental champions – but was there ever any doubt as to how the match was going to turn out? We all knew Cena and Bryan were going to win and so they did. However, Cesaro and Kidd still persevered through the match, which was a good one. I mean, of course it was, given who was in it, and the foregone conclusion didn't detract from it too much. It was irritating that the show ended with Cena and Bryan both being declared “ready” for their respective opponents at Extreme Rules, while the Tag champs were...just there, I guess. There was really nothing at stake for Cesaro and Kidd, other than cementing the idea that no one in charge actually cares about the Tag division. If you're going to spend the whole show acting like all members of a match are equal champions, you'd better treat them like that during and after the match as well. And then there were poor Natalya's continued valiant efforts to be a part of her team: being just a little too late joining in on the “fact”s, not having a microphone with which to inform Cena and Bryan that the match was on, distracting Bryan and accidentally getting hit by Kidd, caught by Cesaro (I cheered at that part. No shame.),and promptly dumped on the ground when her saviour tried to get back into the match.

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Cheap Heat April 14

Reigns is a topic on Cheap Heat this week
Photo Credit: WWE.com
If you're new, here's the rundown: I listen to a handful of wrestling podcasts each week. Too many, probably, though certainly not all of them. In the interest of saving you time — in case you have the restraint to skip certain episodes — the plan is to give the bare bones of a given show and let you decide if it’s worth investing the time to hear the whole thing. There are better wrestling podcasts out there, of course, but these are the ones in my regular rotation that I feel best fit the category of hit or miss. If I can save other folks some time, I'm happy to do so.

Show: Cheap Heat
Episode: April 14, 2015
Run Time: 57:00
Guest: None

The Counterweight to the NJPW Crew Has Been Announced, Hail Hydra

War of the Worlds to be Too Sweet
Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein
Well, in what was only a formality, the final overall "guest" competitors for War of the Worlds have been announced, even though three of them are pretty much Ring of Honor regulars anyway. The Bullet Club has been announced for the show, just as it was last year. The envoy will contain current IWGP World Heavyweight Champion AJ Styles, the Young Bucks, and the current IWGP World Tag Team Champions Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson. Styles and the Bucks have competed extensively for ROH over the years, while Anderson and Gallows are more the guest stars. Either way, they will figure heavily in the four-show tour's narrative as the native Japanese wrestlers coming over.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Twitter Request Line, Vol. 116

Imagine these two in a NXT ring inside a steel cage. IMAGINE IT.
Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein
It's Twitter Request Line time, everyone! I take to Twitter to get questions about issues in wrestling, past and present, and answer them on here because 140 characters can't restrain me, fool! If you don't know already, follow me @tholzerman, and wait for the call on Wednesday to ask your questions. Hash-tag your questions #TweetBag, and look for the bag to drop Thursday afternoon (most of the time). Without further ado, here are your questions and my answers!

NXT did run a ladder match as the main event of ArRIVAL, but other than that and the best two-out-of-three falls match (which isn't so much a gimmick as it is a stipulation that allows for more regular wrestling), the developmental territory hasn't explored the studio space so to speak. Hell in a Cell and the Elimination Chamber are out since they're big arena gimmicks. However, along those lines, I would love to see NXT have an honest-to-God cage match. The old school booking tends to tell me that it would be violent and brutal, and the brand already has a feud that is tailor-made for the steel. Tell me that Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn wouldn't rock the goddamn house main eventing a Takeover special inside four fences. TELL ME.

JT Lightning Invitational Tournament to Get... EXTREME

Guido will be back in action for AIW, albeit without Big Sal to cart him around
Photo Credit: George Tahinos via WWE.com
Absolute Intense Wrestling's JT Lightning Invitational Tournament has become a staple in indie wrestling. It's among the largest tournaments by entrant number (along with last year's Battle of Los Angeles, and if Pro Wrestling Guerrilla's unveiling of three dates this year are an indication, this year's as well), and it always provides a solid slate of competitors. Last year, the Cleveland indie unveiled Buff Bagwell as a competitor, dragging his ass from gigolodom back into the squared circle, and he famously pulled off a goddamn Canadian Destroyer. As it turns out, his announcement last year was a precedent for bringing back blasts from the past.

Best Coast Bias: Monsters, Inc.

WHEE!
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Even when it comes to comedy, NXT has it all over their bigger brothers toiling on Smackdown, RAW, and the pay-per-views Network Specials whatever they're called; what else to explain delusional idiot and noted fuckboy Alex Riley in the back full of RAGE~! at the camera challenging Kevin Owens to a rematch last week? Pretty sure Quint didn't ask Jaws for a rematch and Drago/Creed II has yet to transpire but next week the French Canadian Murder Bear will be on the prowl knashing teeth and hopefully powerbombing walking ads for abortion into the apron at least once.

Taz Out at TNA

Taz done at TNA
Photo Credit: Lee South/ImpactWrestling.com
Taz revealed on Twitter yesterday that he was leaving TNA. While his farewells publicly were gracious, he was miffed over late or missing paychecks, according to F4WOnline. He refused to hitch a ride to Nashville to do voiceover announcing over tapings, leaving Josh Mathews to do this week's show all by his lonesome. Taz had been with TNA since 2009, first as Samoa Joe's manager and then as the color commentator for Impact, where he had remained until his departure from the company.

Gotta Keep Roman Strong, Calvin Johnson

Photo Credit: RamblinWreck.com
I was doing a bit of research for this mock draft I'm doing with a bunch of bros, and I came across something that was probably common knowledge to wrestling fans who are really into backgrounds of their favorite wrestlers. Roman Reigns, back when he was just a regular old Joe (Anoa'i), played football for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. I'm pretty sure I read that somewhere else, but it's funny when you get reminded of how far wrestling roots can spread when you're waist-deep in other nerdy endeavors. Side note, nothing, and I mean nothing, is nerdier than doing a seven-round full mock NFL draft except for maybe doing a full 40 round MLB draft. Just because sports aren't considered "nerdy" doesn't mean you can't make a total geek-fest out of it.

I Listen So You Don't Have To: The Ross Report Ep. 61

JR has HBK on the show this week
Photo Credit: WWE.com
If you're new, here's the rundown: I listen to a handful of wrestling podcasts each week. Too many, probably, though certainly not all of them. In the interest of saving you time — in case you have the restraint to skip certain episodes — the plan is to give the bare bones of a given show and let you decide if it’s worth investing the time to hear the whole thing. There are better wrestling podcasts out there, of course, but these are the ones in my regular rotation that I feel best fit the category of hit or miss. If I can save other folks some time, I'm happy to do so.

Show: The Ross Report
Episode: 61 (April 15, 2015)
Run Time: 2:00:14
Guest: Shawn Michaels (40:00)

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

ODDSMAKERS! Against Whom Will Adrian Neville's First Big Win Be?

Neville keeps losing to big stars, but who will be the first wrestler of note to take the Red Arrow?
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Adrian Neville's debut on the main roster has been met with mixed reviews so far, although most of the conflict hasn't been around his actual performances. He's been impressive so far, but his booking has left some people scratching their heads. The pattern has gone something like this: beat Curtis Axel, lose to big name star, beat Curtis Axel, lose to big name star. The good news is that he's beaten Axel, so the announcers won't get the chance to peddle a bullshit "losing streak" narrative, which is a narrative WWE leans on hard and has almost never pulled off well.

Pro Wrestling SKOOPZ on The Wrestling Blog: Issue 25

What did Punk say this time?
Photo Credit: WWE.com
HORB FLERBMINBER is back, baybay. A broken jaw and an arraignment on breaking and entering charges cannot keep me away from dispensing the SCOOPS for two consecutive weeks. I am back with all the best news, nuggets, rumors, and stolen receipts possible. Do you want to know what Daniel Bryan ordered at Panera Bread two weeks ago? I'M YOUR MAN. Do you need to know how many times Alex Riley's request for an in-depth documentary on the WWE Network on his rage? Well, don't look at me, I'm not THAT desperate for scoops. I only bring the BEST AND MOST NEWSWORTHY NEWS.

Richie Steamboat's Career Is Over

Sayonara, Richie
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat held an interview where he was asked about a few topics, one of which being the status of his son, Richie Steamboat. The younger Steamboat had been on the shelf for some back injuries, but rumblings of a comeback were being heard down the line. However, the Daddy Steamboat shot them down. The video can be seen after the jump, and the Richie Steamboat talk starts at around 2:22:

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Steve Austin Show Ep. 211

Austin talked weightlifting, addiction, and diet on this week's first podcast
Photo Credit: WWE.com
If you're new, here's the rundown: I listen to a handful of wrestling podcasts each week. Too many, probably, though certainly not all of them. In the interest of saving you time — in case you have the restraint to skip certain episodes — the plan is to give the bare bones of a given show and let you decide if it’s worth investing the time to hear the whole thing. There are better wrestling podcasts out there, of course, but these are the ones in my regular rotation that I feel best fit the category of hit or miss. If I can save other folks some time, I'm happy to do so.

Show: Steve Austin Show
Episode: 211 (April 14, 2015)
Run Time: 1:33:01
Guest: Mark and Chris Bell (14:35)

Happy Tax Day from The Wrestling Blog

Pictured: Irwin R. Schyster AFTER all the tax returns have been filed and processed
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Today is April 15, or the day when tax returns are due to the government from American citizens. It is said that two things in life are certain, death and taxes, and both are really fucking annoying to say the least. So of course, WWE tried to corner the market on both as big bad characters in the early '90s. The Undertaker had some staying power, because death got really popular for some reason. As for taxes? Well, Mike Rotunda found a somewhat successful niche for a few years between stints in WCW's Varsity Club. Irwin R. Schyster was perhaps a better character in idea than in execution, unless WWE was going to go after its fans for tax cheating or was about to make any number of babyface wrestlers scofflaws to the real IRS. Although I must admit, the idea of Schyster going after Hulk Hogan for back taxes would have been a hilarious angle.

¡Acabar Con Él!

Photo via @brandon120

Mortal Kombat has been a staple in fighting game lore for over 20 years now, and the latest edition hit the stands this week. The series has been known for comically over-the-top gore and a collection of characters who both exemplified a grotesque darkness and yet a belying whimsy. Hm, what wrestling promotion does that sound like... oh yeah, Lucha Underground! I guess that makes Pentagón, Jr. and Drago playing the game entirely appropriate.