Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Headhunters

This Norwegian thriller follows a 5'6" corporate headhunter and art thief as he tries to make a multi-million dollar heist. Suspension of disbelief and the ability to tolerate subtitles are needed to enjoy this high stakes chase movie. If you like action flicks this is worth a watch on steaming. C+



The Trip to Italy

Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon take a trip to the scenic country of Italy. Dining at 6 different locales the 2 comedic actors take turns doing impressions of famous actors while seeing the sites and sampling the local cuisine. This is a fun distraction suggested for fans of the stars but may be too slow paced for folks not used to their pace.  B+




Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Enough Said

Enough is a charming rom-com about 2 divorced soon to be empty nesters dealing with life. Starring James Gandolfini and Julia LouiseDreyfuss this movie has plenty of chuckles and laugh loud moments that make this a treat to watch. Worth  a Netflix slot. A-

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy- mix some charming characters with a ton of CGI slap Marvel on it and watch the money come rolling in. This movie had some funny moments and a good retro soundtrack, but overall it was something I won't revisit and I fail to understand the widespread appeal of the movie. I thought Dave Bautista was good in his role and Chris Pratt managed to be a good quirky leading man. I felt that the battles bogged down the movie and that overall it felt like a re-hash of other action films.  B-  Below trailer contains spoilers

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Wrestling and Pop Culture in December 2011


Thursday December 1, 2011

The TNA cycle of mixed results continue with some solid work building Bobby Roode as a heel champion mixing a video package of his family discussing the changes in Roode since he became champion to him winning a good 2 way match in the main event against former champions AJ Styles and Jeff Hardy. Also X-Division champion Austin Aires and Kid Kash cut another superb promo leading up to their confrontation. On the downside the Knockouts washed cars in their bikinis during several segments. I don’t mind scantily clad females who are in shape, but it is a shame to see the knockouts devolve from the best female division in wrestling to a diva-lite sham.

 

Jumping Jim Hussey father of UK grappler Mark “Rollerball” Rocco passed away.

 

Saturday December 3, 2011


 

Tonight I got to be a fan again, I am very happy. My favorite wrestler of all time is Rowdy Roddy Piper and the reason I got back into watching wrestling in 1996. Tonight I got to shake his hand and see him in a Piper’s Pit, he was able to entertain just by being himself, he was funny charming and witty. Piper was the featured attraction for the 2011 Lutz Memorial Cup in Hampton, Virginia put on VCW. It was a good night of indie wrestling featuring regional grapplers like Damien Wayne and Phil Brown and guys who have been to the dance like Paul London and CW Anderson. Jay Steel won the tournament to capture the 2011 Lutz Memorial Cup, John Kermon won the VCW strap and the pairing of Chatch and Krotch beat the Hall Stars to win the VCW tag straps. But the reason I went to the show was to see and meet Rowdy Roddy Piper. Although Piper was not physically in the main event he facilitated the change in the main event to allow for a fun and engaging tag title switch that the crowd enjoyed.

 


Piper is one of the few wrestlers who managed to actually be in some quality movies, but not every movie on his resume is something to write home about. The man who headlined the first Wrestlemania and was an essential part of the first Starrcade is featured in several DVDs.

 

They Live (1988 Universal)


 Excellent John Carpenter film about paranoia and the subliminal sludge our brains are subjected to. Mixing science fiction and suspense –we follow Nada (Roddy Piper) as he slowly discovers the reality of his surroundings utilizing X-raybans. This movie features one of the best fight scenes in cinema history and is well worth checking out for fans of the genre or Roddy Piper.     B+


 

Rowdy Roddy Piper Shoot Interview (RF Video)

In this 2 disc set the Hall of Famer discusses his career from his humble beginnings through his return to the WWE at Wrestlemania 19. Piper tends to ramble a little bit to get to the point – but this is 5 hours with one of the biggest names in the industry. When he discusses the infamous coconut incident with Jimmy Snuka it is almost heartbreaking hearing his side of the story. Like most shoot interview if you like the person you will like the disc. Piper is my alltime favorite and the impetus for watching wrestling since the 70s.- so it is hard to give an unbiased rating. He discusses everything from the dog-collar match to his thoughts on promoters and travel and more. If you are a fan of Piper like I am this is well worth purchasing.  B+

 

 

WWE Legends of Wrestling : Roddy Piper and Terry Funk

(2008 WWE)

Jim Ross, Dusty Rhodes, Pat Patterson, Michael P.S. Hayes and Mike Graham have a panel discussion about two legendary competitors. This panel has great chemistry and tell great stories about the hot rod and the funker from the ring to the restroom. The DVD has 7 matches  from Piper , 4 from Funk and a Piper’s Pit. This is another great episode of the best show that WWE produces.  A+

 

Body Slam! (1986 Hemdale Films)

  Hal Needham the director of  Smokey and the Bandit and Cannonball Run set his sights on wrestling after the mega-turkey Mega Force(you have to see that turkey to believe it-Barry Bostwick in spandex!) In this megabomb Dirk Benedict plays a scammer manager (M. Harry Smilac) who falls into the wrestling business in LA after a chance meeting with Quick Rick Roberts (played by Roddy Piper). Dirk’s main foil is manager Lou Murano (portrayed by Lou Albano). Harry decides to set up a road show with his rock band Kicks(not to be confused with Kix) and wrestling. After a tour thru the heartland they come back to LA and Rick and his partner take on the Cannibals (played by the Barbarian and TiJoe Khan) in a title versus career match. Filling out the cast is John Astin , Tanya Roberts , Billy Barty, Charles Nelson Reilly , Chick Hearn and a young Kellie Martin(who later became a semi-regular on ER and was in the excellent movie Matinee with John Goodman). In the final scene we see the front row filled with wrestling legends Ric Flair, Bruno Sammartino , Sheik Adnan and Freddie Blassie. Before the match starts Kick(they dropped the S-don’t ask me why) plays  a song- this leads to both Bruno and Flair briefly shaking their groove thing. Featuring abysmal comedy, miserable music and cheesy in-ring action this is something to avoid- but if you like so bad it’s good mixed with 80s fashions this is currently available on Netflix Streaming.    D-

 

 

Roddy Piper Born Into Controversy  (reviewed in 2006)

 3 Disc retrospective of the wrestling rowdy Scotsman Roderick Tombs.I have been a Piper mark since I was in middle school when he was wrestling in Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling and I lived in a trailer. Piper is not your prototypical mat technician- his thing is his mic skills- Piper could have audiences eating out of his hand or throwing their chairs. Piper was such a charismatic heel that he eventually became a face without changing his in-ring work or demeanor. Piper was @ the epicenter of the wrestling boom of the 80s- first he was part of the first Starrcade(wrestling Greg "the Hammer" Valentine in the notorious dog collar match) and in the main event of the Wrestlemania fighting Hulk Hogan and Mr T. The DVD set has over 9 hours of footage- vintage matches from the NWA,WWF and WCW and 3 hours of his infamous interview show Piper's Pit from the archives and even scenes from his breakout flick They Live. A must have for any fan of old school rasslin'.    A+

 

“They’ve done a horrific job telling the Roddy Piper story, the closet thing to true Roddy Piper is the coliseum home video Rowdy Roddy Piper’s greatest hits- which I still have on VHS.” – Jonny Fairplay

 

The Crusader – Walker Texas Ranger (1998)

Roddy Piper is a guest star on the Chuck Norris television show as an aging grappler. His ex-wife witnesses a mob hit and deposits his son at his door as she goes into hiding. Piper does a good job playing Cody “The Crusader” Conway in this made for TV action drama.

Is this something worth paying full cost for a whole season of Walker on DVD- probably not- but the series is usually strip run in syndication and I caught it on WGN America. The best fight scene is not a wrestling ring(although he does take on the Worlock twice in the show) but on a rooftop when Piper airplane spins the gangster and deposits him thru the glass of an SUV. Walker had another wrestling episode called the Avenging Angel- it was ok- but sans Piper it did not catch my attention.    C-

 

 

“Back in the day when Piper was wrestling – Piper always brought that fire to a match, that really made it somehow believable and credible while you were there. And it wasn’t that Piper did a million fancy moves or anything. You know now wrestling is really spotty and they trying a pop from the moves rather than the story of the match.”- Michael Modest

 

Legends Never Die - I have picked up this DVD several times- finally purchased it today. Basically we share a limo with Bruno Sammartino & Roddy Piper as they discuss unions,pre-mature wrestling deaths, kay-fabe and more-in between we see indie clips mixed with video game recreations of WWF matches and interviews with Dominic Denucci, Mick Foley, Mikey Whipwreck and more. The deleted scenes are worth checking out- the Bruno and Roddy stories are classic. There are frustrating things on this DVD- like a clip of Vinnny Mac and Bruno and Larry King- wish I could have seen more of that .The match highlights with deceased wrestlers is a lame small-print trick- since we only get a snippet of the match - not the whole thing. This is totally worth a Netflix slot or if you can find this on the cheap.       B-

 

 

 

Highspots presents The Ric & Roddy Roundtable

This features a charming conversation between old friends and 2 of the biggest names in professional wrestling Ric Flair and Roddy Piper. Piper and Flair discuss the WWE Hall of Fame, working Wrestlemania, the internet and many more topics. Worth owning if you are a fan of either legendary wrestler. The DVD also includes some recent Piper Pits and Flair talking about working in Puerto Rico from one of his other shoot interviews.

 

 

“Piper got Hogan over as far as I’m concerned.” – Bobby Riedel

 

 

 

In The Pit With Piper

By Rowdy Roddy Piper with Robert Picarello

Forward by Bret “The Hitman” Hart

(2002 Flying Noodles Inc.)

 

A well written and quick paced autobiography mixing anecdotes about the bagpipe playing skinny wrestler that went on to headline the first Wrestlemania. Piper does a good job describing working in several territories from LA to Charlotte and more- from the hilarious Mexican National Anthem on bagpipes story to the riots in San Juan this story has more than enough to keep the reader entertained. He discusses his friendship with the Nature Boy Ric Flair and his contentious relationship with Vince McMahon and more. This is worth investing the time and money if you can find this book. B+

 

 

 

 

  Sometimes it is good to just enjoy your hobbies, over-analyzing anything can simply kill the fun. Being “professionally” involved in anything can also lead to being disillusioned or disinterested. I found it fun to just listen to music after leaving the music business, I no longer listened for good beats that others could dance to or thought man that band is tight I wanted to invest money in them performing, it reverted to – I love this song – I will put it on my iPod. Wrestling is imperfect by nature, in these complicated times I think it is almost impossible to book a card that will entertain the entire audience, I think the days of the Hogan pops are over for now, sure CM Punk is over now- but will this translate to a long run with the title or is he a transitional person keeping the WWE title warm for Cena or Orton, who knows. Professional wrestling is going through a rough patch right now, it is not selling the amount of tickets to live events or getting the same ratings it did during the Monday Night Wars. Wrestling is competing with other forms of entertainment and it’s own convoluted past. Don’t judge pro wrestling just on your infatuation or frustration with the WWE, there are many organizations around the country and globe filled with passionate performers looking to compete or entertain a new audience. If you are tired of the WWE and TNA, try out ROH or Evolve/DgUSA or PWG on DVD or the local promotion in your town. Not all indie shows are filled with bumbling buffoons, hell 3 of the best shows I saw this year were indie shows put on by Va based promotions, yes Raw in Hampton during the summer was  a PPV quality show, but I had just as much fun at the VCW show at Scope in May of this year and the NWA Fusion show in September and the superb GXW show on July 3rd. I do think WWE has oversaturated the combined airwaves, factor in 2 hours of TNA, an hour of ROH (if you lucky enough to have them on  local TV show, but also the avalanche of shoot interviews, indie and retro DVDs and books there is plenty of grappling to ingest- imagine the overload when the WWE network launches.  2011 saw several title changes, the beginning of a couple of new promotions, the cancellation of another federation, some deaths and a “shoot” style interview with CM Punk that seemed to signal a new direction, now the paint by numbers creative team seem to be making Punk just another babyface, hopefully he maintains his edge, but this is not the same man that sat Indian-style on the Raw set and got cut off for his shoot statements on Raw in June, fast forward a few months and he is tagging with HHH and Cena , WWE are the caretakers of the hopes of the fans, the problem is the fans all like different things, sure

  I understand only going to the big shows –WWE, maybe TNA and eschewing the rest, times are tough and budgets are being stretched thin on essentials, but if you want a more personalized experience and a chance to see wrestling up close and personal an indie show is the way to go. If the show is not to your liking, make a mental note of the name of the promotion and don’t hold that against another promotion in your area. I think the erosion of local wrestling can be traced to several factors, one a lack of respect for folks that aren’t on television by the spectators, two – no shows (card subject to change may be on every card- but if I leave my house expecting to see certain performers- well damn it I want to see those performers) and three folks that simply wait for the WWE to come around. The erosion of the indies and the death of the territorial wrestling scene has had a cumulative negative effect on the sport, the talent pool of guys with international and nightly experience is shrinking and may be extinct sooner rather than later.

 

 I do think that the WWE has lost fans over the years due to the deaths of certain wrestlers, I often thought of finding another way to spend my free time after the death of Chris Benoit and finding out he murdered his wife and child. If you read Scott Keith’s books you can tell he went from hardcore and snarky funny fan to more and more jaded former fan, he wrote 4 superb books on pro wrestling, but the Canadian writer seemed almost defeated by the end of his last book detailing the death of Benoit and several other workers. I also think that the death of WCW and the end of the athletic competition vibe in the major leagues of wrestling along with the rise of the UFC have shaved away many viewers that may never come back.

 

There is plenty of great professional wrestling available on DVD and in person, so even if you are irritated at the recent developments on Raw , try out ROH if you are lucky enough to be one of their televised markets, or scout around on YouTube or check out compilations from PWG or support your local indie fed. Wrestling is the theater of the absurd where good battles evil while both are clad in spandex. A comic book come to life, wrestling is a form of escape from the work-a-day realities of utility bills and mortgage payments, while others want to mock watching wrestling, is it any less ridiculous cheering for multi-millionaires playing competitive sports, I mean the Washington Redskins- my team( I was born in the nation’s capital) have won 3 Super Bowls in my lifetime- I have yet to receive a check for those victories- just inane bragging rights and some awkward taunts of Cowboy fans.

 

WWE needs to realize less is more, I think they are headed into dangerous territory with the new Network, 24 hours a day of WWE programming sounds like exhaustive nightmare, even if I loved every moment and it was Mid-Atlantic and Nitro and Legends of Wrestling Roundtables I would simply lose interest over time because of the over saturation.

 

Sometimes rarity makes an experience more valuable or desired. In the late 80s I was really getting into P-Funk , but it was at the time when most of their catalog was out of print. So when I lucked into finding their vinyl or cassettes I was thrilled. Now their entire library of P-Funk is available for download or order, do I treasure their music less, no- but it is not the thrill of discovery that was happening when it took work to find the funk. The same thing happened with wrestling, in the late 90s I could not imagine having a bookshelf full of wrestling books and DVDs- now I have 2 stacks of DVDs that almost 4 foot tall, do I watch those the same way I used to watch and re-watch my tapes of the Monday Night Wars, no- part of it is the desire for diversity, sure wrestling is my main hobby, but I also love film noir, videogames , sports and music and part of it is that I have seen so much wrestling now that it is not as anticipated as it was waiting for the head to head battles on Monday Nights or waiting to see Sting finally beat the tar out of Hulk Hogan and capture the WCW strap- instead WWE gives us so much too soon that we never get to really savor the good moments, because there is another show to push, to hype up- an ongoing cycle. This is all a cycle- It is fun to watch how the backstage politics spill out on screen and it is also fun to watch a well performed match or turd of a skit, but with so many hours of middling wrestling with bad commentary it can be a drag sometimes getting thru the shows- even with the all powerful DVr or TiVo functionality.

 

 I am a critic by nature, I have been submitting reviews of music, movies and games since High School, some have been published and yes sometimes I get paid for those reviews. Do I want to hate, loathe or dislike what I have experienced –NO- nyet, nein, negatory – but I feel like I honestly want to warn others what is ahead for them and to steer clear. The problem with anything is perspective, the old cliché about walking a mile in someone’s else’s moccasins or whatnot and it is true. So while the cleancut jock marine character may be someone’s ideal role model, to me not only is the character boring but also reminds me of the type of guy in school that although boring seemed to get more passes than the rest of us and that is irritating. I usually tend to cheer or root for the bad guys or heels, I also like a good worker- I want to see non-stop action- but only if it is rooted in reality- wrestlers that are spot monkeys impress me less and less as I continue to watch the sport and learn more and more. I have no aspirations of getting in the ring- I really never did, I don’t know why- maybe it is size or co-ordination or having been a DJ for so long or being creeped out by having my belly not covered by a shirt but it is not for me. I respect those that do make the choice to follow their dreams, I resent when people call wrestling fake- as one of wrestling biggest detractors put it “Yeah it’s fake, but those are real deaths to real people. It’s just pro wrestling, how can you take it seriously, because these people are seriously dead that’s why. I think McMahon(more than most) and even Ted Turner(to a large extent) benefitted from the fact that nobody really wanted to look into this garbage.”- Phil Mushnick

 I don’t think the sport is garbage- but I think it is a real shame that so many have died at such a young age that were involved with the sport,  I want to believe in the wellness program and I want to think that every body earned their physique’s naturally- but it is hard to fathom anybody staying in shape when they have to travel so much and get so little rest naturally- but I don’t know for certain, I am not a doctor. “The WWF and its fans treats these people like cartoon characters and they’re real people who are dying real deaths and very young and there job related deaths and there drug related deaths. It is very unsettling, as a parent it is unsettling, as a human being it is unsettling and it remains unsettling.”- Phil Mushnick

 

December 7, 2011

Actor Harry Morgan best known as Colonel Potter on M*A*S*H and for his role on Dragnet the television show and his part in the 80s movie about Dragnet passed away.

 

December 8, 2011

Boxer Roman Simakov died 3 days after being knocked out in a boxing match at the age of 27.



December 10, 2011

 

By Tom Hankins

 

PWG put on another great pro wrestling card Saturday night in Reseda, CA, with a touch of weirdness thrown in. Thanks to an early Christmas gift of a ticket to the show  from my daughter Christine, I was lucky enough to be there.

 

The place was packed to the rafters and all aisles disappeared as they kept bringing in more and more chairs and finally had to turn away at least 100 fans. PWG definitely needs a bigger venue. The National Guard Armory in Van Nuys is twice as big and they have used it in the past and should consider using it again. However, the American Legion Hall where PWG now runs is only 3 miles from my house, so the proximity couldn’t be better.

 

They started at their usual ½ hour late time of 8:30 and fans were still trying to squeeze in. The opening match was set to be T.J. Perkins returning after an absence from PWG vs Kenny King. Both men entered the ring, shook hands and tied up. Just as they tied up The Fighting Taylor Boys (Ryan Taylor & Brian Cage-Taylor) came out of the dressing room and grabbed the announcer’s mic. Ryan said that since Los Luchas were a no-show because they stopped them at the border, that they still came to fight and jumped in the ring attacking both Perkins & King. It immediately turned into a tag team match with the Taylors vs King & Perkins. All 4 are excellent workers and Perkins was very good when he left PWG and headed east and even ROH, but now he’s great. He’s got a ton of talent to unleash yet. The Fighting Taylor Boys won the match and the fans were really into it.

 

Then came the comedy match, an 8 man tag. “Pretty” Peter “Skinner than George Gulas” Avalon, Joey “I finally learned how to work after 10 years” Ryan, Ray Rosas and Scorpio Sky beat Famous B, Chris Kadillak, Candice LeRae & B Boy (subbing for Willie Mack). It was strictly a clusterfuck of high spots and comedy and was really good for what it was and it really picked up half-way through and the fans really got into this one too. LeRae faces male competition and does a very good job. I used to cringe at the thought of watching her work with the guys, but she’s really come along and developed into a fine worker and can hang in there with them. I enjoy watching her drag the men around by their balls, a favorite of all the fans. Ryan gave her a back slam for the pin.

 

Willie Mack came out and then we got a big, and strange, surprise, as Chris Hero came out looking really pissed off and didn’t do his usual pre-match rituals, nor did he have his usual outfit on. Just plain trunks and boots. He was brutally stiff with his moves on Willie and mauled him at will. Hero & Claudio Castagnoli had supposedly signed with wwe and were out of the pro wrestling scene. Willie finally made a few short comebacks, but Hero continued to take complete control until Willie shocked everyone by rolling up Hero for the clean pin. I knew that Willie had to go over after the beating he took. When Willie left the ring after his win, Hero got real weird. He sat in a corner on the mat and got the mic. He looked really miserable. The fans started to chant “Hero” at him and he told them to shut up. He started to talk and someone shouted “Willie” at him. Hero said “You think he’s good? He ain’t fuckin’ shit. I come from Dayton, Ohio and my mother still lives there and I want to be around my family. I don’t know, but maybe you’ll see me again and maybe not”, threw down the mic and walked back to the dressing room looking like he was ready to cry. He either did one hell of a job selling, or something had happened. It was very eerie.

 

Future Shock (Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly) made their PWG debut and looked very impressive and the fans accepted them right away once they started to work, losing to Johnny Goodtime and Johnny Yuma AKA The RockNESS Monsters in another good match. The fans were actually disappointed for real when Future Shock lost. I must say they impressed me with their moves, some of which I’ve never seen before. Yuma looked better than I’ve ever seen him, but I guess he had to look that good working with Cole and O’Reilly as they appear to be able to carry anyone. Yuma is steadily improving on his own as well.

 

Roderick Strong beat Amazing Red in a great match. I’ve never seen either ever have a bad match, and this was no exception. Lots of great wrestling and flying in this one.

 

The American Wolves (Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards) beat the Super Smash Brothers (more newcomers to PWG) in another exciting match. The action was hard-hitting, as Davey’s mouthpiece got kicked out of his mouth and flew out of the ring into the fourth row. I’d never even heard of the Super Smash Brothers (one with a mask and one without), but figured they must be good for PWG to put them in the ring with two of the best workers around today anywhere. They were very good. Richards got the mic after the match and all 4 wrestlers shook hands with their opponents. Davey declared that SSB would be around for a long time, but added that they owed him a new mouthpiece. Richards then went to shake hands with his partner, but Edwards refused and left the ring by himself.

 

Next came PWG World Heavyweight Champion El Generico vs Dick Togo in a non-title match. This was strictly old school wrestling at its finest and to my surprise the fans loved it and there were no “boring” chants from any idiots. Togo lived up to his reputation that I’ve been hearing about for years and I knew that Generico was one of the best flyers in the business, but I didn’t know he was such a great mat wrestler as well. They traded holds like crazy and never seemed to use any rest holds. They went all out and put on a real display of 1970’s style pro wrestling done perfectly. The PWG fans, who are harsh critics if the action gets slow or sloppy, absolutely loved every second of the match.

 

There was one match left and not a single fan had left, so of course, I got up and left, as my back was killing me after sitting there for more than four hours. These cards have too many matches, even if they are all good. So, I missed The Young Bucks (another outstanding team who have matured into a great team since their 1st PWG appearance a few years ago) vs Kevin “Mr Wrestling” Steen (another of my favorites-he reminds me of the great Bill Miller) and Super Dragon, back after a long absence of a few years. In all honesty, I didn’t care for his work the last few times I saw him. When I first saw him about 8 years ago he was good, but he got fat (and even his costume can’t hide it) and slow the last time I’d seen him, so I never missed him. I’m sure it was a stellar match if Dragon is back in shape, as The Young Bucks and Steen are phenomenal workers.

 

As I was leaving I decided to go into the dressing room from the outside door since it was partially open, even though some of the boys don’t know me. I walked right in and told them I was Dr Jerry Graham’s son. Some of them had never heard of him, but many had. I told them who I was from Facebook and then some of the guys recognized my name and we talked about my photo collection and how the business has changed since I retired in 1986. They asked me if I watched wrestling on TV and I said “No” since we don’t get ROH in L.A. “There is no decent pro wrestling on TV here. The NWA Hollywood show is terrible most of the time” I opined and they agreed with me. Hero was gone unfortunately, as I would have liked to see what was up with him. I gave them all huge props and thanked them for keeping real pro wrestling alive.

A great night for everyone there (except maybe Hero, and he may have just worked the audience so well that I fell for it). BIGGER VENUE PWG…BIGGER. Their next show is Wrestlefest in January. Last year they drew over 1,200 fans for their show and ROH drew less than 800 on their night at Wrestlefest. They hold that at LAX airport’s Hilton hotel, which is about 40 miles from here. Man, I know I’m getting old when I think that’s too far to go for anything anymore.

 

-by Tom Hankins

 

 

 

Monday December 12, 2011

 

CM Punk won the Superstar of the year Slammy on Monday Night Raw. He also debuted a hilarious video tribute to Johnny Ace mixing Dynamic Dudes footage with “You’ve Got the Touch” by Stan Bush while accepting another The Pipe Bomb of the Year Slammy earlier in the night. Several old school legends presented Slammy awards including The Road Dogg and Ted DiBiase. Lita also presented an award mere days after being nabbed for a driving offense and getting mug-shotted.

 

The main event match between the World’s Strongest Man Mark Henry and John Cena was interrupted by the return of Kane this time wearing a new mask. Kane chokeslammed Cena and then revealed a second mask while his flames bathed the arena in red.

 

WWE has sent a letter to subscribers of WWE 24/7 or Classics on Demand that they are discontinuing the service as of January 1, 2012. While this is not unexpected with the upcoming launch of the WWE network, I hope that they get the needed market penetration to cover as many homes as the prior service. The downside of this change is going from commercial free classic wrestling to commercials in wrestling and an insane over-saturation of wrestling product. I wonder when the WWE will start producing bow-flex informercials with their own talent to fill the wee hours of the morning.

 

Publisher Hugh Hefner is upset that the nude pictorial of Lyndsay Lohan has leaked over the internet. Pandora’s Box has been open for years- a generation feels entitled to their entertainment – for free and will gather that entertainment however than can. The digital five-finger discount is a way of life for many who want to be entertained. The downside is simple. If content providers cannot afford to pay performers and rent arenas they will no longer promote shows or make movies. Professional wrestlers literally risk life and limb anytime they step into the ring, they often do this physically demanding task without the benefit of health insurance. There is no union for the performers.

 

Tuesday December 13, 2011

 

The Best of King of the Ring

 

This 3 disc collection of matches is hosted by King Booker. An excellent look at the tournament that helped establish stars on their way up. From superb tourney match-ups to other matches featured on the PPV this collection features some of the biggest stars in the history of the company(ironically not a single John Cena match is included) along with some of the biggest moments in sports entertainment from Austin’s 3:16 promo to the epic Hell in a Cell match between Mankind and Undertaker. It is not a perfect set, I mean they have one match with guest commentary by Art Donovan, but the inclusion of a couple of matches with excellent commentary by Owen Hart more than makes up for the inclusion of the clueless Colt. This set does a good job of showing the difference of old school in ring wrestling psychology on disc one to the stunts gone awry of Mankind being tossed thru the top of Hell of  A Cell and Kurt Angle’s brutal street fight with Shane McMahon. Sadly WWE has discontinued the yearly PPV of this event and seem to only utilize the format when they feel it works well with storylines. Gone is the grandeur of the PPVs with their massive sets and now we get a rental throne with some costume jewelry every other year(well that is the pattern so far, Booker in 2006, William Regal in 2008 and King Sheamus in 2010). Even with the demise of the annual PPV this DVD is well worth owning.   A

 

 

 

WWE Tribute to the Troops 2011 features the most wrestling that I can recall for any of their events, although the event itself is held indoors for the first time. Last year’s tribute was the first one held stateside and previously the events were held overseas. The military audience seems to be the one crowd that still loves John Cena giving him a rousing ovation at the end of the modern USO event that also featured stand-up comedy by George Wallace and songs performed by Mary J. Blige and Nickelback.

 

Thursday December 15, 2011

 

Impact wrestling kicked off the show with the culmination of the main event from Sunday’s Final Resolution PPV, an event I skipped. The main event for that PPV was an iron man match for the TNA strap between Bobby Roode and AJ Styles that ended in a 3-3 tie after 30 minutes. After another 5 minute tie, Sting proclaimed that the match must continue, shortly after that Roode got AJ Styles to submit. Ok so reportedly only 7000 people order a TNA PPV on average, but don’t those folks deserve a finish to their main event. I mean yes they got it 4 days later, but so do I and I did not have to fork over any extra money. In storyline Karen and Jeff Jarrett were fired by Sting ( although the reality is Jeff Jarrett will be focusing on the product behind the scenes including their new venture in India). In other shocking news Jeff Hardy is now firmly established as the number one contender for Roode’s title. I hope everything works out for Hardy and TNA- but it does feel risky. However the fans are embracing Hardy.

 

Lady Gaga topped the list of top earning female music performers by making 90 million, she was followed by country cutie Taylor Swift and clever chameleon Katie Perry according to Forbes magazine. Mickie James did not make the list, nor did Lillian Garcia.

 

The Rock was named the #7 sexiest man of the year by Essence magazine.

 

WWE hall of famer Jimmy Snuka needs $24,000 for an ankle replacement, former WWE and ECW diva Dawn Marie is attempting to do fundraisers to help the legend defray the medical costs of the surgery.

 

A ceremony in Iraq marked the end of the US participation in the war it started when George Bush was president. The destabilizing effects of this occupation will be felt for years to come. Yes Saddam Hussein was an evil bad man who should not be in charge of the local Radio Shack no less a nation , but there many other heinous criminals running countries that the United States have not invaded, of course most of them don’t have the oil reserves that Iraq has. This quagmire will be looked at as another black eye in the history of the United States of America just like Vietnam.

 

Weapons of Vast Distraction…..

 

On the other hand I am glad that our troops are getting out of dodge , sure some serve because they love our country, but others put their bodies in harm’s way because it is the best and most viable economic escape available to them. Over 4,500 Americans lost their life during this conflict, while some lost their lives during the Shock and Awe portion of the war, many others dealt with daily horrors like hidden bombs and suicide bombers and ambushes.

 

I am a contradiction- I know this- I follow an activity that glorifies violence but I am a pacifist at heart. Although I know it is simply naïve to think we will achieve world peace anytime soon or in my life-time. I would love to believe such a beauty pageant answer was a reality- but as long as folks use different philosophies to justify violence we will always find conflict at our doorstep.

 

by Brentan A Houserman Dec15, 2011

 

Ok, let me put something out here.

I am nineteen years old and have not been watching wrestling for as long as some people. In fact, the very first time I ever sat down to watch an episode of wrestling it was the WWE's Monday Night Raw tribute to Eddie Guerrero in late 2005. Since that day, I have not missed an episode of the WWE, and have seen a lot of TNA as well. As for non televised; starting in late 2007, I began going online every day for hours upon hours at a time catching up on wrestling (mainly the WWE) from it's beginning until current day.

I watched full episodes, promos, ppvs, everything I could find from every era of the WWE. I watched ROH, CHIKARA, New Japan, and a lot of other indy companies. I watched TNA, AWA, ECW, WCW, everything I could.

Some say that because I haven't been watching that long (only six years) I don't know as much about pro wrestling or the WWE. However, due to my instant fascination and ability to use the internet to practically watch everything I've missed within a few years, I have become very in tune with pro wrestling and the WWE.

When I give my opinions on here, I don't just say something because it's a stupid little idea from someone who just watches wrestling. No, instead I look at a lot of details before I speak. If I say a wrestler is good, it means I have watched A LOT of their stuff and have formed a basis off of what I've seen. If I say a wrestler is bad, it means I have watched A LOT of their stuff and formed a different basis. 

I am not one of those guys who only like certain wrestlers because of their characters or alignments. I do not like faces more than heels or vice versa. I do not like any wrestler of a particular style over another. All the wrestlers I like are talented in real skills, not what the fake pro companies show them as. Or I like them for their character.

Guys like CM Punk, Zack Ryder, Santino Marella, Curt Hawkins, Scotty Goldman (Colt Cabana), The Miz, John Morrison, and many more have been misused by the WWE. They all have amazing talents that companies like the WWE won't let them showcase. I like them because of their talents. 

Guys like John Cena, Cody Rhodes, Sheamus, Mark Henry, David Otunga, Big Show, Khali, and more are on the opposite end. I may like their characters at points, and find them entertaining, but they have no in-ring skills from what I've seen (and I've seen A LOT)

So if you had it in your head that I am one of those people who don't know what they're talking about, and just posts things to either be a troll or because I'm fooled by the WWE's pathetic "entertainment" wrestling, think again. I'm not saying you have to agree with what I believe. You can form your own opinions, just as I do mine. All I'm asking is that you recognize that when I form my opinions, I'm basing them off of educated research on the subject I am being opinionated on.

 by Brentan A Houserman

Brentan A Houserman

 

Friday, December 16, 2011

 

Christopher Hitchins a contributing editor for Vanity Fair and controversial writer passed away at the age of 62.

 

Kobe Bryant’s wife Vanessa filed for divorce.

 

 

 

Saturday December 17, 2011

I attended SPW’s  Season’s Beating’s  event at the SPW Battlezone in Virginia Beach. Admission was only 5 dollars with the donation of a new unwrapped toy. It was a standing room only show, yes it was a small room, but every seat was taken and the crowd had a good time for the event. The close proximity of crowd and wrestler made for many interactive moments where the wrestler worked the crowd and the verbal crowd got funny reactions from the wrestlers. I even threw a t-shirt back in the ring during the Jay Steel match. Nate Mustang returned and the crowd kept asking for him to use his hammer-finally he admitted in his Russian accent that someone stole his trademark hammer. It is totally different going to an indie show versus a WWE show- night and day, if you pay big money you may get to slap 5 with the current babyface for WWE, but with SPW and other local promotions like VCW you get to interact with the workers. They announced that the Platinum Icon Phil Brown had a tryout matches with WWE at Monday’s TV taping. Although the Fourth Alliance invaded the show from Staunton, Virginia and turned the local heel troop the Veteran’s Administration into faces for the evening, the show was stolen by another excellent outing by Sterling Williams as he defeated his former tag-team partner S-12 in an emotional battle.

 

 

In MMA  Strikeforce Women’s champion Cristiane Santos a/k/a Cyborg knocked out Japanese contender Hiroko Yamanaka in 16 seconds. It was revealed later that she failed a test administered the day for before for anabolic steroids. She was suspended and stripped of her championship.

 

 

Sunday December 18 , 2011

 

Vaclav Havel died- he was the leader of the Velvet Revolution and he went from anti-soviet dissident to the Czechoslovak president.

 

WWE TLC from Baltimore Maryland kicked off with a bang when Zach Ryder beat Dolph Ziggler to win the United States championship. It was a very good opening match and the crowd popped large for the title change , both in the arena and in the Buffalo Wild Wings I watched the event at in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Ryder had hustled the internet with his wacky YouTube show and managed to parlay his internet fame into an actual push on television, not bad for someone that was previously known as an Edgehead.

 

Airboom retained their tag straps in a match against the team of Primo and Epico. It was the first title defense in ages( Evan Bourne- the air part of the team was suspended in November).

 

In the first of many backstage segments Santa Teddy Long gave the Rosetta Stone for Ebonics to Hornswoggle.

 

Up next we get the T for the TLC with a tables match between Randy Orton and Wade Barrett. Barrett starts bleeding during the match, eventually Orton manages to hit Barrett with the RKO thru a table to win the match.

 

Beth Phoenix beat Kelly Kelly to retain the butterfly belt.

 

Booker T was attacked backstage by Cody Rhodes.

 

HHH beat Kevin Nash for the L part of the night as he ascended a ladder to grab his signature sledgehammer, he pummels the fallen Diesel to capture the win and send the former Vinnie Vegas packing on a stretcher.

 

Sheamus beat Jack Swagger in a match that was granted earlier by Santa Long in the back.

 

The World Heavyweight Championship match between Big Show and Mark Henry was a chairs match that culminated in Big Show winning the title with a big punch that knocked Henry out. After the match Henry DDT’ed Big Show into a couple of steel chairs, Daniel Bryan cashes in his money in the bank briefcase and covers the prone giant to win the World title.

 

In his third attempt to compete Booker T finally gets to wrestle Cody Rhodes for the Intercontinental title, he looses the match.

 

The main event of the evening is a 3 way TLC bout for the WWE title between Alberto Del Rio, The Miz and reigning champion CM Punk. CM Punk is very over with the crowd in beautiful Baltimore (ok that is a direct quote from Michael Cole). The 3 way match featured many crazy bumps including Del Rio’s personal announcer Roberto Rodriguez taking a wicked bump from a ladder thru a table. Rodriguez handcuffed CM Punk to a ladder early on in the match , but Punk managed to escape the conundrum by kicking the ladder support away and freeing himself. Later on in the match Punk would be handcuffed to the ropes , once again Punk uses his wiles to escape and win the solid and entertaining contest to retain his title. There was much rejoicing.

 

The PPV ended up with 182,000 buys down from 195,000 buys in 2010.

 

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il suffered a massive heart attack on a train and passed away at the age of 69.

 

In NFL news miracle QB Tim Tebow met up with the cold hard reality of the New England Patriots and lost their encounter in the mile high city. Also the Packers lost their first game of the season and the Colts won their first game of the season.

 

December 19, 2011

Is it the dawning of a new era or a mirage in the desert? Raw opens up with 2 brand new champions, 2 who worked their way up from the independent scene and don’t have the typical wrestler look- CM Punk and Daniel Bryan and a third fellow who worked the internet with his show Long Island Iced Z and twitter petition to become the US champion Zack Ryder- all 3 are different then the stereotypical WWE champion model and combined with youngsters Kofi Kingston and Evan Bourne holding the WWE tag title with Beth Phoenix carrying the diva’s strap and Cody Rhodes carrying the IC strap- all the top slots are younger performers, most of whom have not been in the main event for long if at all. It feels like the glass ceiling is broken. Youth is served. However the next day the ratings painted a picture of continued decline for WWE- dipping below 3 for the third time in as many weeks, how long will the WWE hierarchy stay the course with this new direction. There are glimpses of hope CM Punk is the top merch seller and Ryder is also shifting units- but the main event featuring Punk, Ryder and Bryan versus Del Rio , Miz and Dolph was the lowest rated Raw main event in months. I prefer workers like Punk and Bryan to Orton and Cena – but until they can deliver numbers like the Rock or Cena they will be on a short leash.

 

The downside of everything – the teal blue taint of Twitter ain’t going away – the company won 6 mashable awards including “Digital Company of the Year.” Either way I understand the need to embrace social media, but that does not lessen my annoyance with the incessant mentions of trending on Raw.

 

December 21, 2011

Sean Whaltman a/k/a X-pac was arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia.

 

December 22, 2011

A third lawsuit by former NFL players is filed suing the league for concealing studies regarding the effects of concussions and blows to the head

 

December 23, 2011

Hulk Hogan’s Main Event game for the X-Box Kinnect was named worst game of the year by the Official X-Box magazine.

 

12-23-11 Ring of Honor "Final Battle iPPV" review by Roy Lucier

1) Michael Elgin beat T.J. Perkins - I'll be honest, I caught this match near the end, which saw Elgin win with a power bomb into the corner, and a spiral powerbomb to finish Perkins. Not bad to start

2) Tommaso Ciampra beat Jimmy Rave - Interesting finisher by Ciampra, he used a powerbomb to the knees that looks impressive. Other than the finisher, there isn't much to Ciampra. Rave had the crowd support the whole match, and was kind of shocked he didn't go over.

3) Jay Lethal won a Three-Way Elimination Match vs Mike Bennett and El Generico. Bennett came to the ring with his girlfriend, ex-Playboy centerfold Maria Kanellis. Funny, the chant bombarded her with "CM Punk" chants before the match started, and also "Sloppy Seconds". That was funny. I seriously loved this match, as Lethal seriously showed a lot of potential, and I would be shocked if WWF doesn't pick him up within the next 2 years. Lots of near falls. Generico did a double rope jump springboard dive with a flip onto Lethal at one point. After that, Generico did a dive from the ropes into the ring and continued through the ring out of the ropes onto Bennett on the other side. Very cool looking. Bennett pinned Generico holding his tights, but then Lethal pinned Bennett with his finisher "The Legal Injection"

 

4) Kevin Steen beat Steve Corino - Great old school style ECW type match (which Corino is famous for). Lots of moves involving chairs on top of tables, or multiple chairs set up, and stuffed piledrivers through them (especially by Steen) As much as I like technical wrestling, this match made the night for me. Steen won with a stuffed piledriver onto a four chair set up (cooler than it sounds). Long post match with Steen going after Jim Cornette, and then El Generico making the save, and Steen stuff piledriving him off the apron through a table

Intermission time - Too long an intermission to be honest. Part of it was El Generico selling the "injury" from the piledriver. Think it went over 15 minutes for the intermission

5) Young Bucks won a gauntlet match beating the All-Night Express in the end. There was a series of tag teams here, but to be honest, the crowd died after the Steen vs Corino match, no matter how hard the tag teams tried, and they did try hard. Started with Cedric Alexander and Caprice Coleman beat The Bravado Brothers to start, then Adam Cole and Kyle O'Reilly beat them next with fireman's carry and superkick combo move. Young Bucks then beat them with their "More Bang for your Buck" move. Then Bucks beat the All-Nighters. Rhett Titus seriously had a problem with his knee, and the Bucks worked on it to "injure" him, so he could have some time off.

6) Roderick Strong beat Chris Hero - Hero was a mystery opponent that had been plugged all week, and he got a great reaction. Still not getting much of a crowd reaction (during the match) because of the Steen vs Corino match. Strong won with the side kick.

 

7) Mark and Jay Briscoe beat Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas - Sorry, but this match sickened me. Way too many chair shots (unprotected) to the head. Even the announcer (Nigel McGuiness) was screaming to the wrestlers to get their hands up while they happened. While the match was something like 20 minutes long, they had a 13 minute match and a 7 minute mauling before the match. Jay bled badly from the chair shots. Benjamin at one point was taken to the back, but made his way back out. Strange booking and crowd reactions, since the Briscoes were the heels, but the crowd was chanting things like "Fuck You Charlie" to Haas. Briscoes won with the Doomsday Device.

 Davey Richards beat Eddie Edwards in 41:00. Great match, but you could tell the crowd was exhausted 4 1/2 hours into the show (as was the crowd at home, I know I was). They did a lot of big moves, that involved no selling, including superplexes, which I don't agree with, but hey, what do I know. Dan Severn was in Edward's corner, and did get involved a couple times. Finish saw Richards give Edwards the Orton punt, but Edwards kicked out of that. Richards then kicked Edwards three more times to score the pin.

 

December 24, 2011

Dutch-born entertainer Johannes Heesters died at the age of 108.

 

December 26, 2011

The number one movie during the Christmas weekend is the recent installment of the Sherlock Holmes series featuring Robert Downey, Jr.

 

Sometimes it does not pay to be popular. Fast Five featuring Vin Diesel and part time wrestler Dwayne Johnson was the most pirated movie of 2011, being stolen over 9 million times.

 

WWE Raw is broadcast from a sold out building in Chicago, the crowd is eating out of CM Punk’s hand for the event , even though he eventually looses his second match of the night to former United States champion Dolph Ziggler setting up a title match between Ziggler and Punk for next week’s Raw.

CM Punk is slowly devolving into a babyface without much bite or edge to him, it is frustrating to watch. In June Punk took the wrestling world by storm with his almost 7 minute sit-down promo that felt like a shot at the WWE , he has become too squeaky clean and like other politicians that promise the moon he has yet to deliver ice cream bars or get rid of the spinner belt.

  The show also featured the return of R-Truth who GOT the Miz for his betrayal after Survivor Series and ended with a promo by Kane espousing his love of hate and trying to get John Cena to embrace the hate, not rise above the hate.

 

“Ok, I don't watch RAW or any WWE programming anymore. If something happens that catches my interest, I'll check for it online. That said, Kane delivered one Helluva promo last night. I would love to see & buy a Kane: Embrace The Hate t-shirt.”- Steve Kardolly

 

Meanwhile on Monday Night Football the New Orleans Saints run up the score to help QB Drew Brees set the new single season record for passing yardage in a season -5087. This is the pigskin equivalent of the heel picking up the hapless enhancement talent at the 2 count to pound the cannon fodder into a pulp.

 

 

Jazz musician and composer Sam Rivers passed away at the age of 88.

 

December 27, 2011

The Sears company has announced the closing of 120 stores nationwide after a decline in same store holiday sales. K-Mart has been the national sponsor of WWE house shows for most of the year.

 

Singer Sinead O’Connor announced the end of her marriage after 18 days. Her album The Lion and The Cobra was one of my favorite albums of the late 80s. Her cover of the Prince penned “Nothing Compares 2 U” from her second album propelled her to the top of the pops in the early 90s.

 

Third generation superstar Randy Orton suffers a back injury at a Smackdown taping. This probably throws a monkey wrench into WWE plans since the Royal Rumble is taking place in his hometown of St. Louis, many thought he would win the yearly event and figure into the world title picture heading into this year’s Wrestlemania, now he is just another missing piece of the puzzle.

 

December 30, 2011

The final WWE broadcast of the year Smackdown ends with Randy Orton being tossed(off-camera) down a flight of stairs by Wade Barrett and his anchor butt. Just like Showgirls I guess it pays to simply toss your competition down a flight of stairs. Of course this was sanctioned since they were competing in a falls count anywhere brawl that even had them fighting on a security camera from within an elevator. As WWE heads into the new year, Smackdown has a solid foundation featuring up and coming stars like the returning Drew McIntyre , Sheamus and Intercontinental Champion Cody Rhodes. Undersized World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan is slated to face the Big Show on the first Smackdown of 2012.

 

 

Pop star Katy Perry and British comedian Russell Brand announce they are filing for divorce.

 

Former WWE undisputed champion Brock Lesnar lost his return bout to Alistair Overeem. It was Brock’s first UFC fight in 14 months due to health issues. He announces his retirement after the loss.

 

While I did not see the fight until after it was over, the results and almost a blow by blow description happened during the fight on twitter, what a strange world we live in.

 

December 31, 2011

Dick Clark hosted Dick Clark’s rocking New Year’s Eve on ABC for the 40th time. Lady Gaga decked out in an odd Versace number dropped the ball in Times Square.

 

 

The Ring Rydas beat Sexy Slim Goodie and Raven to win the JCW tag straps at Juggalo Championship Wrestling’s New Year’s Ninja Party.

 

 

WWE seems to love yo-yo booking and I guess it works for them- in the past year CM Punk has gone from wacky commentator to hated boss of the new Nexus complete with frat boy hazing to anti-hero leading the way for worked shoot revolution of 2011 to one of the babyfaces teaming up with the very same guys he feuded with earlier in the year. However since he was popular he suddenly became another face happy to team with folks like HHH and Cena mere weeks after being in feuds with them. But CM Punk is faring way better than other folks like Kofi Kingston – in November 2009 Kofi Kingston was the hottest guy in the WWE. He was feuding with Randy Orton, the crowd went bonkers in MSG when he did a boom drop on Orton in the crowd- it was a moment, one I recall vividly. Sadly Kofi has dropped back down the card- sure he has great spots at the Money in the Bank match and is currently one half of the tag champs, but he feels like a mid-carder. Jack Swagger is another guy who got a mad push to the top but feels like cannon fodder for the main guys. Swagger has all the tools, sure he has a lisp, but I think he does a good job antagonizing the crowd and he also is a solid hand in the ring. Wade Barrett was the leader of Nexus the biggest faction of 2010 and the most effective faction in years, well except for the Glass ceiling –sure they ran roughshod over almost everyone, but in the end Barrett seemed like the guy who could not win the big one. Barrett seemed like just another pretender to John Cena and ended up kicked out of his own faction by the end of 2010. He tried to form another group Corre with original Nexus wrestlers Heath Slater and Justin Gabriel along with the muscular Zeke Jackson. Corre never really caught fire and eventually fizzled out on Smackdown. Currently the Barrett Barrage is on the upswing, but will the momentum carry him to the main event?

 

The Yo-Yo can cripple careers , some manage to eventually break into the top tier, Chris Jericho survived having his title win on Raw being yanked away by HHH and Earl Hebner- but it took years and I don’t think he was helped by winning the Undisputed championship- that win always felt less than. But he was on top at the time, Wrestling is about perspective and perception- it always feels odd when companies don’t put the belt on a hot hand and the hot hand eventually fades away. But I guess the caretakers of our escape know what they are doing when they finally put the belt on DDP and turn him heel- wait – we really wanted DDP to win- ok well I didn’t, but most of the WCW crowd was feeling the bang. Sadly they got swerved when the time came and it ruined yet another chance for a feel good moment for the audience.

 

 

 

Another politician became a punchline because of his penis- well maybe his pizza and his pizza. Herman Cain went from GOP frontrunner to also-ran when several of his affairs and sexual misconduct came to light