Night of Champions 2015

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Night of Champions was an overall solid show, but could have been a lot more eventful if not for some peculiar booking.

Below are my feelings on each match and always remember, there are spoilers:

The Cosmic Wasteland vs. Neville/The Lucha Dragons – A solid pre-show match with a lot of high spots from the team of Neville and The Lucha Dragons that got the crowd excited. I am really enjoying the combo of Stardust and The Ascension. The Ascension were a great team during their NXT days and have been wasted on the main roster. Forming The Cosmic Wasteland with Stardust has been just the push they need and is a ridiculous gimmick that simply works and is a ton of fun. The Cosmic Wasteland won which was a smart move to keep this rivalry going which should be nothing but fun to watch develop.

Kevin Owens vs. Ryback for the Intercontinental Championship – The good thing about this match is Kevin Owens won the IC Title from Ryback. I loved Ryback as champion, but Owens has been in the middle of a big push and is extremely talented and will do a lot to elevate the importance of the belt as a great heel champ. What I did not like about this match was the basic nature of it. We did not see many of Owens amazing in-ring moves and the ending almost seemed to come of nowhere. The matched seemed oddly paced. I am hoping they have at least 1 re-match and the chance to put on a much better contest since I feel both men are solid performers.

Dolph Ziggler vs. Rusev – First things first. I love Ziggler. He is one of my favorites and his entrance is my ringtone. He always puts on a great show and this match was no different. My issue is this rivalry has gone nowhere. They are both talented performers, but the booking team seems to have no clue what to do to really make this an interesting rivalry. Lana was a major part of it and I am sure her injury threw things off a bit, but the writers should be better skilled at working around obstacles since injuries are a typical part of professional wrestling. Ziggler won and I look forward to both men being put into different angles.

The Dudley Boyz vs. The New Day for the Tag Team Championship – The Dudley Boyz returning to the WWE after several years has been great for the WWE and the tag team division. They can still get a crowd going and put on terrific matches. The New Day are the hottest thing is wrestling right now. Big E, Kofi Kingston, and Xavier Woods are great wrestlers and amazing on the mic. They are talented athletically and funny as hell. This match should have been one of the top matches of the night. It was not. It seemed too short and oddly paced. The New Day held on to their titles which will lead to a re-match or two and hopefully, both teams will be given more time and the chance to put on more memorable contests which we know they are capable of.

Charlotte vs. Nikki Bella for the Divas Championship – In a future post I will discuss the Diva’s Revolution and the problems with it and why it may be turning around. In regards to this match, Charlotte winning the title was the smart move. Nikki put on a very traditional mat wrestling type of match which was interesting to see and came off well. My major issue is the WWE’s desire to make Charlotte look weak compared to the other women. She is very athletically gifted and an imposing person and has been involved in some of the best matches in the WWE (men included) while on the NXT roster this year. The booking team has her spend the majority of matches on the main roster selling everyone else. She should not steam roll everyone, but she should be made to look better and more imposing. She spent this match getting in way too little offense until the very end. Better booking and she could become one of the most popular wrestlers on the main roster.

The Wyatt Family vs. Roman Reigns/Dean Ambrose/Chris Jericho – Terrific match and great story telling. Jericho was a huge surprise teammate of Reigns and Ambrose and got a huge pop from the crowd (and my household) when he came out. The match was solid with the Wyatt Family getting the big win. The big moment was at the end since Jericho’s surprise tag of Roman cost them the match. Reigns and Ambrose confronted Jericho in the ring after the match and he just gave them a nasty look and did the old ‘shoulder bump’ to Dean when he left the ring. The potential for an Ambrose/Jericho rivalry is very exciting and I hope it happens sooner rather than later.

John Cena vs. Seth Rollins for the United States Championship – Very good match. These two are at the top of their game and they always have a great match. Rollins and Cena are having amazing years and have both become so innovative with their in-ring performances that you never know what they are going to do next. Cena won the US Title and I cannot wait until the Cena Open Challenge starts back up.

Sting vs. Seth Rollins for the World Heavyweight Championship – With Sting having only his second match in the WWE I did not know what to expect in terms of the outcome. The majority of the match was solid until Sting got injured towards the end of the match. You could tell something was legitimately wrong with him and it was not part of the storyline when the medical team rushed in. After they cleared him to finish the match it came to a very quick and abrupt end with Rollins getting the pin. Hopefully, this will not be his last match in the WWE and he sounded in good spirits during interviews the past couple of days.

Overall, a solid show with some bizarre booking decisions and an unfortunate injury.

Looking forward to Hell in a Cell in October and what is being hyped as the final match between Brock Lesnar and The Undertaker! Should be mind blowing!

Wrestlemania 29

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The 29th installment of Wrestlemania was a solid show with many highlights and was one of the very few I had not seen. It was held at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ and was billed as a co-location event between New York and New Jersey. It was the fifth Wrestlemania held outdoors which added a Super Bowl-type atmosphere to the proceedings. WWE has held to this new tradition of holding the biggest wrestling event of the year in big stadiums and it really adds to the atmosphere.

The highlights of the night are as follows:

Randy Orton/Big Show/Sheamus vs. The Shield – This was the first Wrestlemania for all three members of The Shield (Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, and Roman Reigns) and was a solid start to the show. The highlight of the match was when Rollins attempted a top rope maneuver and Randy Orton caught him with an RKO. The match ended with a spear from Reigns to Orton and the pinfall was secured by Ambrose. Great match and The Shield were very over with the crowd.

Mark Henry vs. Ryback – A little underwhelming since the match featured two big, slower guys and the crowd was not very interested in this match. It was not horrible, just kind of a throw away match. Henry secured the win after a failed Shell Shock attempt from Ryback.

Team Hell No vs. Dolph Ziggler/Big E – A solid match that featured a very fun team in Daniel Bryan and Kane that I miss since they not only had solid matches, but their vignettes were hysterical with the two of them always being at odds. Ziggler and Big E (with AJ Lee in tow) were a very solid team as well. The match was fairly quick, but exciting with Team Hell No retaining their Tag Team Titles.

Fandango vs. Chris Jericho – This was Fandango’s debut match and the fact that it was against Jericho made it appear that Fandango was set for a big push. It was a fairly good match with Jericho having to carry the night since Fandango was more than a bit green. I could not help but feel that a debut match should not be held at the biggest event of the year. Not fair for a talent to have that kind of pressure put on them. Amazingly enough Fandango got the win, but surprisingly he was not really pushed that much after Wrestlemania. Seems a waste of such a notable victory.

Alberto Del Rio vs. Jack Swagger – This was was kind of an ironic match since both men are known to be very reckless in the ring and have both caused multiple real life injuries to their opponents. The match itself was fine with Alberto retaining his World Title, but I had one HUGE issue with the entire storyline, the racist aspect of it. During this time Swagger came out with Zeb Colter (formerly known as Dirty Dutch Mantel) with Zeb constantly attacking immigrants and mentioning how ‘those people’ should not be in our country. I have loved wrestling since I was a kid and even though I have seen my fair share of embarrassing moments on the screen most of it was fairly benign. This particular angle went too far in my opinion and with racism being a big issue in our country this was one area the WWE should have stayed out of. It got uncomfortable hearing the things that were spewing from Colter’s mouth and made the match less enjoyable.

The Undertaker vs. CM Punk -Once again, another great match from The Undertaker with CM Punk being that year’s victim of the streak. They both worked a solid, hard fought match with plenty of moments that made you think Punk could have been the one to end the streak. After a lot of back and forth The Undertaker hit Punk with a Tombstone Piledriver for the win.

Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar – This match was brutal with both men beating the hell out of each other. Triple H has always been and always will be a solid in-ring performer and he and Lesnar really worked well together with H Securing the victory via his patented Pedigree.

John Cena vs. The Rock – The big rematch from the previous year’s Wrestlemania. Both men had legitimate animosity towards each other and were able to channel that heat into an excellent match with plenty of action and false finishes. John Cena won the WWE Title with the AA and both men embraced after the end of the match showing true respect for each other.

Overall, a good show that was fun to watch for the first time even though I already knew the outcomes of some of the matches.

Next week I will be watching Wrestlemania 30 again and even though I already reviewed it last year, I am looking forward to a second viewing and seeing if my opinion has changed on any of the matches knowing some of the real life stories behind them, especially The Undertaker/Brock Lesnar match which I was not thrilled with a year ago.

Remember, you can watch all of these shows yourself and so much more by subscribing to the WWE Network for only $9.99 a month!

Wrestlemania 28

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The 28th edition of Wrestlemania was a major step up from the previous year’s installment and is a must watch event.

The highlights:

Chris Jericho vs. CM Punk – A very good match between two great performers at the top of their game. The story they told in the ring was powerful and engaging. Jericho had spent the past few weeks attacking Punk’s family’s issues (his Dad was an alcoholic and his sister had drug abuse issues) which really added to the drama of the match. The in ring result was a great match that saw Punk win with the Anaconda Vise.

Randy Orton vs. Kane – A solid match between the two which ended with Kane getting a surprising and much deserved win. Kane is one of the all time best big men in wrestling and he has a great in-ring chemistry with Orton.

A Hell in a Cell match featuring The Undertaker vs. Triple H with Shawn Michaels as the guest referee – Simply wow…their match a year before was a classic and this one somehow out did it. The match was brutal, violent, yet technically proficient and ended with The Streak being extended to 20-0. Michaels was also used very effectively in the match. He interfered on a couple of occasions, but it made sense and did not disrupt the quality of the match. He added a significant amount of drama to the bout that worked very well. The ending with the three men embracing was emotional and heart felt.

John Cena vs. The Rock – Great match that ended with a Rock Bottom out of nowhere that secured the win for The Rock. Even though the previous Wrestlemania was frustrating at times, coming off as just a big lead up for 28, it was worth it and provided a great main event.

The skits – I complained about 27’s excessive skits and the 28th edition corrected it. There were a few skits that were brief and effective, especially a funny one involving Mick Foley and Santino.

Honestly, not too much to complain about. The first match of the night for the World Title saw Sheamus take the belt from Daniel Bryan in 18 seconds and was a bit of a disappoint since these two work well together, but it did advance a storyline so it was tolerable.

Definitely a must watch Wrestlemania that gets me excited to see number 29 and the big rematch between Cena and The Rock.

Wrestlemania 25

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Wrestlemania 25 was one of the better modern Wrestlemania’s. With the exception of a horrid Divas Battle Royal and the overly long Kid Rock mini-concert there were many memorable matches.

The Money in the Bank ladder match kicked off the show in grand style. Featuring CM Punk, Kane, Mark Henry, MVP, Shelton Benjamin, Kofi Kingston, Christian, and Finlay (with Punk winning for the second time) was a blast as always with my personal highlight being when Benjamin performed a senton bomb off the top of a high ladder on to the rest of his opponents. These matches never disappoint.

Chris Jericho pinning Ricky Steamboat, Jimmy Snuka, and Roddy Piper was a very well worked match that came about due to Jericho belittling the legends over the previous couple of months. Ricky Steamboat was simply amazing. For a man well into his 50’s when this match took place to come out and perform repeated top rope maneuvers and never seem out of breath was inspiring.

The match of the night though was The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels. Holy you-know-what that was a great match! Definitely one of the best in pro wrestling history. False finishes galore with not only Michaels high flying, but The Undertaker doing the same was an experience of a lifetime. This is a match that must be watched. It is the perfect example of why so many of us love wrestling.

The next match was Big Show vs. John Cena vs. Edge which was a solid match with Cena winning the World Heavyweight Championship, but was forgettable following Michaels vs. The Undertaker stealing the show.

The last match featured Triple H beating Randy Orton amidst a very dead/silent crowd. Watching it again it was a solid match with a great build up with Orton attacking Triple H’s wife Stephanie McMahon in the weeks leading up to Wrestlemania, but The Undertaker/Michaels match left everyone breathless and really should have ended the show.

Overall, a solid PPV and I am looking forward to 26 which was held in my home state of Arizona!

Wrestlemania’s 19 and 20

I was a little off my schedule the past week so I have just 2 Wrestlemania’s to discuss, 19 and 20. As always, there will be some spoilers.

Rarely is there a ‘bad’ Wrestlemania. There are some that were definitely less memorable than others, but usually the WWE puts everything they have into making it the best show of the year.

Wrestlemania 19 was a solid show, but despite the fact I have watched it more than once I never seem to remember the card much before I start watching the 19th installment of the longest running PPV. Overall, it is a good show, but the only match that really stands out in my memory is Stone Cold vs. The Rock. This was a top notch match where The Rock finally got a Wrestlemania victory after losing to Stone Cold in Wrestlemania main events the past two times they met. This was Stone Cold’s last Wrestlemania main event since his injuries forced him to retire from full time wrestling. It was a great way to go out and if you watch this match you can see that The Rock is truly appreciative of Austin doing the job for him and subtly thanks him after the final pinfall.

Another match of note is Hulk Hogan vs. Vince McMahon in a street fight. Way better than it had any right to be and both men busted their asses to put on the best show possible. Several high spots, a lot of blood shed by both men, and classic Hogan moments make this an entertaining match with Hogan winning.

Chris Jericho going against Shawn Michaels was another major highlight. Seeing these two legendary and very athletically gifted performers going head to head was a match made in heaven. They have similar styles yet are very unique in their move sets. Both guys were clearly trying to be the match of the night and they did a great job doing so.

The final match of the night was Kurt Angle vs. Brock Lesner. An incredible match that had a ton of buildup with a nice payoff of Lesnar winning the WWE title. With both men having legendary amateur wrestling careers seeing them go to head to head in the WWE was a dream match and it did not disappoint.

Wrestlemania 20 was an okay show. Not bad, but not great. The low light of the night was Goldberg’s final match in the WWE against Brock Lesnar. The fans in attendance had no interest in the match and both wrestlers did not gel at all. It was awkward and unfortunate for both men.

Highlights were Eddie Guerrero vs. Kurt Angle (both all time great performers), the Cuiserweight Open for the WWE Cruiserweight Title (featuring Rey Misterio, Billy Kidman, Tajiri, and others), and the tag match between The Rock and Mick Foley vs. Ric Flair/Batista/Randy Orton in a 3 on 2 handicapped match.

Overall, a good show, but definitely flawed in the fact that there was just too much going on. At this time the WWE had an over abundance of talent and did not always seem to know what to do with them.

Still, this was a historic Wrestlemania being the 20th installment and still worth a few hours of your time.

10 more to go before this year’s Wrestlemania!

The Best in the World: At What I Have No Idea

I am a big reader and have been consuming novel after novel lately and decided I would start giving my opinions of what I have read from time to time. Just a few paragraphs to give you my opinion of what I have just read and to hopefully convince you to pick up a copy for yourself.

I have been reading about a book a week and mostly biography/autobiographies. Today’s book is wrestling themed so I figured it would be appropriate for Wrestling Wednesdays.

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The Best in the World: At What I Have No Idea by Chris Jericho came out recently and it is his third book about his life, wrestling, and music career. It may seem strange to have written three books about oneself, but Jericho has done so much in the entertainment world that he has endless stories that I am thrilled he is willing to share with all of his fans.

This book covers his recent WWE run (not the one he just completed) and gives insights as to his experiences with the WWE, Vince McMahon, and his fellow wrestlers.

He talks about not only the positive goings on in his life, but the negative ones as well. I appreciated his in depth look into the incident where he supposedly hit a female fan and the Brazilian flag incident which got him nearly arrested. He does not sugar coat things and tells what really happened. He does not act like he has no flaws, but explains what truly happened and what his mindset was during these incidents.

He also talks in depth about his experience competing on Dancing With The Stars which gave a very interesting look as to what it is like to compete on that show and the hard work that goes in to it.

Along with various wrestling stories and Fozzy events there is not one aspect of the past handful of years that he does not cover.

If you are a fan of Jericho’s or are just looking for an interesting read, this is a great way to go.

 

Fozzy

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Last Tuesday the much anticipated new Fozzy release, Do You Wanna Start a War, came out and did not disappoint. This is definitely one of the best metal/rock albums to come out in quite some time. I have been listening to Fozzy since their first release of cover songs and love that they have evolved so masterfully from a gimmick band to a legitimate heavy metal act that you must listen to and see live in concert whenever you have the chance. They are simply one of the best rock bands today, period.

Their previous release, Sin and Bones, received rave reviews and the standard concern is that the next release will not live up to the hype. Do You Wanna Start a War not only lives up to the hype, but surpasses it. This is now a seasoned band who have found their identity and strive to only give their fans the very best possible.

From the first track (where the title comes from) to the final, Witchery, Fozzy never lets up for even a minute. Most albums feature maybe a couple of damn good songs, but this one is chock full of them.

Lights Go Out is one of those songs that has instant hit written all over it and even after listening to the song over and over again I cannot seem to get sick of it.

If you ever have the pleasure of listening to lead singer Chris Jericho’s podcast, Talk is Jericho, you have heard the title song, Lights Go Out, and the hard hitting One Crazed Anarchist regularly for the past few weeks and for any other band those probably would have been the only great tracks, but not in this case.

Tonight is one of those songs that reminds me of 1990’s Kiss (which I love) and you cannot help but smile and find yourself in a good mood after listening to it.

SOS has quickly become one of my favorite songs of all time. It has that 1980’s rock ballad feel, yet still comes off modern, and you immediately find yourself singing to the chorus.

All 12 tracks are top notch songs and you can tell that the whole band busted their asses to put out the best rock album in years.

I remember when Jericho started Fozzy and some people treated them like they were jokes and I would say from the beginning that they were wrong and over time this was going to be one of those bands that everyone would change their minds about and lo and behold I was correct.

If you still have not jumped on the Fozzy bandwagon now is the time to do so before you are left in the dust.

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WWE Battleground 2014

WWE Battleground has come and gone and as usual it is sort of a throwaway PPV. This year the thought was that may change leading in to a big Summerslam show next month, but it was more of the same.

A few matches of note:

Bray Wyatt vs. Chris Jericho – Jericho is simply one of the best wrestlers of all time, but this match just seemed a bit off. I am really feeling that Bray Wyatt is a bit overrated. He has an interesting character that is very over with the crowd, he is not too bad of an in ring performer, but of all of his big PPV matches this year the only one that was truly great was his third and final match against John Cena at Payback in a last man standing match. He has not had enough good matches to be as over as he is right now. Hopefully, the two of them wil have a much better rematch at Summerslam and Jericho can make him look good.

Paige vs. AJ Lee – Eh…this was another match that just seemed off. They need to get someone to really work with their women wrestlers on their in-ring work. They also need to book these matches much better. Both women are good performers, but they really seemed lost in the ring on this night.

Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose – No actual match, but some fun backstage, and in the parking lot, brawling. Hopefully, we will actually get a match next month.

The highlight of the night was the first match pitting The Usos against The Wyatt Family. Hot damn these four have nothing but great matches against each other. 2 out of three falls with The Usos coming out on top was surprising. I am a big fan of them, but thought they would have the Wyatts come out on top. The match was great from start to finish and it will be interesting to see what’s next from both teams.

Overall, the show was okay, but this is not a must watch show. Watch that tag match at the beginning and you will be good to go.

Next month is Summerslam and I have high hopes it will be a great show!

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Talk is Jericho

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When driving or trying getting through a long day at work I enjoy listening to podcasts which are essentially radio shows on demand. I currently listen to 10 regularly and several others on occasion. In my top 3 is Talk is Jericho hosted by wrestler/actor/musician/author and now podcast host Chris Jericho.

Some of the things I look for in a podcast is to be entertained, informed, and made to laugh. Jericho’s podcast does all three things very well. I have been listening to his show since the first episode and have never been disappointed. I enjoy the fact that he has a fairly wide variety of guests. He has had his father Ted Irvine who is a former NHL player, William Shatner, Rob Halford of Judas Priest, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and many others on the show. He seems to enjoy primarily interviewing people who are involved in things he loves himself which works for me since I have the same interests. It also makes his interviews very memorable since he really knows what he is talking about with his guests.

He is naturally a funny, charming, and intelligent person which comes off clearly on his podcast. His show is fairly family friendly so you can listen to it in front of your children or at work and not worry about what might be said.

This is the perfect podcast for wrestling, sports, or music fans and really anyone who just wants to smile while listening to something through their earbuds.

Beyond the Ring

I say this week after week, but the greatest thing to come out for wrestling fans is the WWE Network (I will not stop until everyone subscribes!). I have been going through the WWE’s Beyond the Ring series which is a collection of the documentaries they include on their DVD/Blu ray releases. They feature topics on individual performers like Steve Austin, Edge, and Big Show (to name a few) and also on other topics like rivalries, WCCW, NWA, etc…They are regularly adding shows so it is safe to say we will eventually have access to all of the doc.’s from past home video releases.

I enjoy learning the behind the scenes stories of these performers who I have watched for years and getting an idea of who they really are outside of their wrestling personas.

Last night I watched the WCCW Beyond the Ring and even though I was aware of the Von Erich families’ tragedies there were some details I was not aware of. It was eye opening to learn about what happened during that time from various points of views from people who were actually there.

The Chris Jericho one was another fun watch since they showed footage from when he very first started and it was great seeing his evolution as a performer.

There are only a few of these specials I have not watched yet and so far I have enjoyed them all.

For wrestling fans this series is yet another reason why the WWE Network is a must buy!