Eric’s Blog: Which @WWE released wrestlers would you hire?

Peace out, Cub Scout. -or- Yes, I will pay you 2 grand a week to be my TV Champion.

Let’s say I won the lottery, or a Nigerian prince wanted to deposit $44.3 million into my bank account if I would just give him my routing number. I would totally go behind Carly’s back and finally start the professional wrestling company I’ve always dreamed of.

Or would I? Has the free agent talent pool dried up in the past few years? Until today, WWE hadn’t executed a mass release of superstars for ages. TNA still hoards wrestlers like TV Guides. Anyone who Ring of Honor releases isn’t worth their weight in, well, anything, since they all weigh 148 pounds soaking wet. And most other notable names are old, getting old, hurt, or just sick of pro wrestling and are now working for big-time medical device companies.

A few wrestlers stand out as must-haves. I would throw my mom down the stairs to acquire Colt Cabana. It’s been a few years since I’ve seen him, but I was wowed by Go Shiozaki and would want that international element in my league. And then most of the other guys are dudes I know.

With WWE’s flush of talent today, though, a few more names rise to the top of the draft board…and a few don’t even qualify as the tail on the donkey. Let’s find out who’s who.

Evan Bourne: Any wrestling company who can’t find something for Evan Bourne/Matt Sydal to do doesn’t know their ass from a hole in the ground. That said, if this cut had happened five years ago when the talent roster wasn’t as deep, we’d all be screaming “the end is nigh” for WWE. Today, there’s enough talent to feed an army and choke a horse, so Bourne’s departure doesn’t harm WWE one bit. It does, though, give another company a chance to score a real blue-chipper, a young, athletic man with an incredible look for mass appeal. He’s also a 14-year veteran who’s seen it all, knows almost everyone, and could be an asset to a locker room. Easy thumbs up.

Curt Hawkins: Here’s a quality guy with a nondescript look and a personality that just never quite shone through on television. But there’s something there, and whatever it is, it makes him worth drafting. Plus, he seems to be friends with all of those other popular indy dudes like Colt, Cliff Compton, Trent? and others. Networking is a good thing.

Brodus Clay: I’m on the fence with this guy. Every league needs a monster, and Clay could fit that role. With a mouthpiece, there’s almost no question about it. But he’s no Big Van Vader. And that’s what pro wrestling needs right now, is Vader, not Vader Lite. As soon as he figures out a few intangibles, I’ll say yes. But if I’m spending that Nigerian prince’s money, I have to table this discussion for now.

Aksana: I don’t mean any disrespect to the female gender, but I can’t see one reason why a woman would step foot in, on or near my pro wrestling ring. I’m in the business of drawing money, not spending it. She never amounted to anything anyway, and there’s no upside here.

Camacho: Ca-who-cho?

Teddy Long: Teddy is my playa, playa, but I’m not sure what role I would cast him in. No more heel GMs, no more ambiguous GMs, no more assistant GMs. Wrestling needs to be done with this now. Long is too old to referee. He’s not too old to manage, but he would need to manage the right person. (Brodus Clay? As long as he’s angrier than Rodney Mack.) Color commentator? (Too easy, pipe down, Maes.) I could see that, too. Teddy has value to a young locker room…I just don’t know what the ROI is on him. Pass for now.

Yoshi Tatsu: This guy got the second- or third-best reaction of the night on Raw… in 2009. I don’t know what he brings to the table today, except an embarrassingly unaware Twitter account. Honestly, this is an easy pass. I don’t care if he beat up Sheamus and stir-fried his dog for dinner; thanks but no thanks.

Jinder Mahal: Good riddance.

Drew McIntyre: If you can’t get over in WWE as “Vince McMahon’s chosen one,” you don’t deserve to be a pro wrestler.

Marc Harris: I don’t trust people who spell “Marc” with a “c,” and I don’t trust referees who aren’t named Mike Chioda or Jack Doan (“What’s up, hoes?!”)

JTG: I was always a JTG fan, when/and no one else was. I don’t think I was seeing things: During his time with Cryme Tyme, he was charismatic, athletic and funny. He could chain wrestle, he could execute a string of cool maneuvers… I’m really not sure how he got relegated to enhancement status, followed by complete obsolescence. I’ll take him, and Shad Gaspard, too, wherever the hell he is.

What about you? Who are your top 5 draft picks right now? Leave a comment below, or hit us up on Facebook.

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Eric’s Blog: @WWE must change the stipulation of WrestleMania 30’s Triple H vs. Daniel Bryan match

“Nice amateur booking, ya piece of crrrrrap!”

WWE has stumbled all over itself since August 2013, trying to book Daniel Bryan as a main-eventer to capitalize on his huge popularity while keeping the attention on pretty much anybody else around him. From playing second banana to Randy Orton and Triple H to being leapfrogged by Batista, WWE is only now “getting it right” in the eyes of the fans, who have latched onto the concept of “the face of WWE” in a way decision-makers never intended.

It seems to me that Daniel Bryan was not originally slotted to be a part of this chapter of the “face of WWE” angle. The likely plan was for Bryan to be pissed enough at CEO and part-timer Triple H to wrestle and beat him at WrestleMania 30 in a really good match…and that’s about it. At the other end of the card, Randy Orton would have heelishly attempted to “save face,” if you will, against the returning hero, Batista (although who in the hell would have believed in either of them as the face of the company?). When WWE fans shit all over Batista’s return and jeopardized plans for the main event of the biggest show of the year, WWE had to call an audible and add the popular Bryan back into the angle.

Elements of what I assume were the original plans are still there; Triple H screws Bryan time and time again until the Goat Face challenged the King of Kings to a match. Triple H finally said yes. (“YES!”) But now, with Batista going over like a fart in church and Bryan’s popularity at a fever pitch (WWE Extreme Rules: The Fever vs. the Fart!), they had to add the obvious stipulation: If Daniel Bryan beats Triple H at WrestleMania 30, Bryan will be added to the show’s headline match versus Orton and Batista for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.

That’s very white of them, except that there’s no drama whatsoever. If Triple H wins the match, absolutely nothing happens. Worse, nothing changes – Hunter is still the big mean CEO, Bryan is still the underdog with the beard, and we still get the Orton-Batista match we don’t want.

WWE needs to change the stipulation of the Hunter-Bryan match so that if Hunter wins, he’s added to the title match. And there are a million ways to get there:

  • “Orton, you’re a whiner! Batista, no one likes you! I’ve universally beloved! I would make a better champ!”
  • “If this company is going to have a face, it oughta be the COO and the 1,800-time champion!”
  • “I gotta regain control of this circus, and the best way to have control is to have the title!”
  • “Bryan, you are so undeserving of a title shot, that I’m making myself eligible to motivate me to kick your ass even worse.”

And 9,999,996 more.

What this does is literally scare fans into thinking Triple H is so egotistical that he would really add himself to the title match at the expense of not just Daniel Bryan but the entire (ahem) WWE Universe. Hunter has a history of doing such things. It shouldn’t be enough for someone with Hunter’s background to simply keep Bryan out of the match. He should crave his own chance at the title, an outcome that would smash Bryan’s spirits like a hairy bug.

WWE needs to create the threat of this big, bad bully pulling the rug out from under the underdog. So again, keep things the same so it’s as plain as the noses on our faces that Bryan will win, or change the stipulation so that, nearfall after nearfall after nearfall, we’re on the edges of our seats.

#SippyTimeBeer Review – A Round Table of Drunks Part 2

Everyone loves a good year end list. Here at Stunt Granny, we’re no different. It’s fun to yell at paper or a computer screen and tell the person who can’t hear you that they’re an idiot. I’ve rounded up quite a few of those idiots to give their opinion on beer. Since I have a tendency to be a beer omnivore, it’ll be good to have opinions from people who tend to stick to families of beers. The other upside to this list is that these people are from all over this fine country of ours so you don’t have to listen to me yammer about beers from Ohio or more specifically Columbus. Keep in mind that I asked these drunks to list their five favorite beers from this year, not their five favorite beers of all time. Could I put Eliot Ness on my list? Sure but that seems silly since most people that read this site know it’s an easy top five beer for me. Since part 1 was friends of the site, part 2 is the staff:

Jeremy – Greenville, SC & Charlotte, NC

ufopumpkinale

 Beer: UFO Pumpkin
Brewery: Harpoon
Location: Boston, MA
Style: Unfiltered Pumpkin Ale
ABV: 5.9%
Harpoon made a clear winner in the Fall/Oktoberfest seasonal market this year UFO was downright delicious. It was  smooth, sweet and not the least bit filling. It has just the right amount of spice and brown sugar hints to compliment the pumpkin.

Highland_Cold_Mountain

Beer: Cold Mountain
Brewery: Highland
Location: Asheville, NC
Style: Winter Ale
ABV: 5.2%
Cold Mountain isn’t new. In fact I have been drinking it for the last four years but it never gets old. Highland keeps the supply at a minimum which of course drives the demand up and in turn makes this a hard brew to find. It adds to the mystique of it I suppose. Highland Cold Mountain is probably the best beer I have ever had. It is smooth with no tart or bitterness. It has a nice tang of malt with the smoothness of a pilsner. It is just fantastic.

Stone Enjoy By 12-21-12 IPA SBeer: Stone Enjoy By
Brewery: Stone Brewing
Location: Escondido, CA
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 9.4%
I am an IPA person so it may be a small surprise that Double IPA’s are not my taste. Most taste too thick or syrupy. When I first ordered this at VBGB here in Charlotte I was unaware it was a Double IPA. It had everything an IPA has but the bitterness was minimal. It has a strong body that pours with nice head. What makes it different is the fact it is made with fresh hops. The entire beer is designed to expire as if it were milk or cream. After tasting it though there is no chance it could go bad based off its enticing taste.

Beer: OMB Copper
Brewery: Old Mecklenburg Brewery
Location: Charlotte, NC
Style: Amber Ale
ABV: 4.8%
OMB Copper is a nice, easy relaxing time beer. It goes with just about everything. Being a local brew it is easy to find around here so when in Charlotte it is worth tasting.  It is your basic amber ale but this actually has flavor. It is about time I found a nice basic beer that has a rich flavor.

Frog Level Catcher in the rye

Beer: Catcher in The Rye
Brewery: Frog Level Brewery
Location: Waynesville, NC
Style: Rye Ale
ABV: 5.3%

Catcher in The Rye was my choice as the top beer at this tears Charlotte Beerfest. It is a perfect Rye Ale but it has one problem; availability. In a town full of craft breweries and even more bars and restaurants carrying them this has been impossible to find. If you ever have a chance and rye ales are your bag you have to try this.

My Lady M – Columbus, OH (Cider Special)

Angry Orchard Crisp AppleBeer: Orchard Crisp Apple (#5)
Brewery: Angry Orchard Cider Company
Location: Cincinnati, OH
Style: Cider
ABV: 5.0%

Angry Orchard Crisp Apple was my #1 at the beginning of the summer when Kevin asked me to write a cider review. Unfortunately, the crisp, dry and tasty apple flavor didn’t hold the #1 spot as I started trying more and more ciders. If you’re looking for a dry but tasty apple drink I definitely suggest the Crisp Apple over the other Angry Orchards. This one has just enough of a bite that you actually feel like you’re eating a nice crisp apple on a warm summer day.

Origsin ElderberryBeer: Elderberry Cider (#4)
Brewery:  Original Sin
Location: York, NY
Style: Cider
ABV: 5.0%

When I first saw this cider on the beer menu at a restaurant, I thought, what does Elderberry taste like? Well, this beer became my #1 after trying it; beating out the Angry Orchard. As I had never heard of Original Sin before, I found that the orchard is based out of NY. The mixture of apples and elderberries make this a very tart yet refreshing drink which would be good to enjoy all year round and in case you didn’t know, per wikipedia, elderberries have been used medicinally over hundreds of years treating you for the common flu, alleviating allergies and boosting immunity. So, when you’re not feeling very well, grab an Original Sin Elderberry Cider, not only is it tasty, but could help you feel better too.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Beer:  McKenzie’s Black Cherry Hard Cider (#3)
Brewery:  Mayer Brother’s Fine Beverages
Location:  Buffalo, NY
Style:  Cider
ABV: N/A

I stumbled across this spectacular cider while we were out shopping one day. Not knowing what it tasted like, but sounding delicious, I grabbed a 6 pack bottle holder and grabbed a McKenzie’s Black Cherry Hard Cider, the outcome was delicious! You have the dark cider apple taste but infused with a deliciously sweet black cherry finish. It’s only #3 because it was in a tie with my number 2 spot. McKenzie is based out of New York and these New Yorkers know how to make a delicious cider!

Griffin Honey Oak CiderBeer:  Honey Oak Cider
Brewery:  Griffin Cider Works
Location:  Westlake, OH
Style:  Cider
ABV: 6.99%

I would have never tried this absolutely divine honey cider, but a trip to Hal & Al’s in Columbus is where the love of this cider came from. This cider is made with 4 local honeys and then oak aged. I drank 4 of these in one night as the taste is so delicious it was almost the #1 spot. If you love honey, you will love this Honey Oak Cider, and the best part is it’s local! Nothing like having a delicious cider and knowing it’s made from all local honey’s.

McKenzies Seasonal ReserveBeer: McKenzie’s Seasonal Reserve
Brewery:  Mayer Brother’s Fine Beverages
Location:  Buffalo, NY
Style: Cider
ABV: N/A

McKenzie’s Seasonal Reserve is my #1 beer for the year. When you pop that top, the sweet aroma of Christmas surrounds you. The warmth of the mulling spices along with the taste of cinnamon and nutmeg, you can just envision sitting by the fire and enjoying a fabulous evening with friends or family. This cider is so deliciously addicting, I probably wouldn’t know if I drank an entire 6 pack by myself in one evening. The taste is so sweet and so developed, there’s a reason it’s a seasonal reserve and only out for a limited time. My advice, run to the store and grab McKenzie’s Seasonal Reserve before the season ends.

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Eric’s Blog: One of my top 5 favorite matches, Ric Flair vs. Vader, 20 years ago today

Once upon a time, World Championship Wrestling, and Jim Crockett Promotions before it, promoted Starrcade as its most prominent and preeminent event of the year. Originally held Thanksgiving night, pressure from the WWF in 1988 forced WCW to move its flagship event to the week of Christmas, which means if the event were being held today, well, it might be held today.

In fact, 20 years ago today, the 11th Starrcade was held in Charlotte, N.C., with the original plans pitting WCW Champion Big Van Vader against Sid Vicious in a bitter battle of former tag team partners who were, well, thrown together about six months earlier, um, because they were both big and, uh, they both used a power bomb as their finisher.

In December 1993, Vader was 18 months into a spectacular run as a monster heel champion, and Sid was, you know, Sid, the underachieving heel whose babyface turn was predicated on a fumbled, accidental double-cross by his comedic manager, Col. Rob Parker, and who could never connect with a crowd at-large beyond the pop he received on his entrance. (Never mind the fact that Dusty and I think he’s, as Sid himself used to say, “the man.”)

And then came the little issue of the night Sid stabbed Arn Anderson with a pair of scissors 20 times in a hotel in England that October, effectively removing himself from the main event of WCW’s biggest show of the year. This put Eric Bischoff’s team of bookers in quite a pinch, and what did WCW pretty much always do when they were in a pinch?

Paging Ric Flair.

Flair was programmed with Vader beginning at Battlebowl, a half-crocked concept launched by Dusty Rhodes at Starrcade 1991 that, somehow, got its own pay-per-view in November 1993. During the ceremonious final battle royal, Vader attacked Flair outside of the ring, eliminating Flair from the match.

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Eric’s Blog: #WWEWorldHeavyweightTitle match did not require 1-on-1 traditional stipulations

Last night’s match at the WWE TLC pay-per-view to unify the WWE Title and the World Heavyweight Title has a number of detractors for a number of reasons:

  • It didn’t have big-match build.
  • It didn’t have a big-match feel.
  • It wasn’t a traditional, one-on-one match.
  • It wasn’t very creative; they even rehashed the handcuff gimmick from a TLC match held only two years ago.
  • The finish was botched, which wouldn’t have been an issue had it been a traditional, one-on-one match, freed of its abstract Tables, Ladders and Chairs stipulations.
  • The match probably didn’t have a big-match feel because it wasn’t a traditional, one-on-one match, grappled in the past by the likes of Jim Londos, George Hackenschmidt and King Mabel.

Some of the criticism holds water: If John Cena weren’t expected to crash through a table, there wouldn’t have been a table to miss. Had the catalyst of the match not been the non-wrestling figurehead Triple H, it may have had a stronger build. Hell, had it not been held at a glorified In Your House, maybe the wrestling audience would have cared, period.

But the one argument I refuse to agree with is that, to paraphrase, “a title match of this magnitude should have just been a traditional, one-on-one match.” This sentiment popped up on Twitter a handful of times before, during, and especially after the match. A mouth-breather from Yahoo (and what a perfect last name, Durr) had this to say:

And shame on the WWE for having such an important match contested in a TLC match in the first place. If it wanted to truly build an appreciation for the unification of the two championships, the match should have been contested in a tradition [sic] one-on-one match. The WWE relied heavily on the history of both championships in its buildup of the match but elected to contest the all-important unification in a gimmick match.

Gimmick matches rank among some of the greatest matches of all time, that much we can all agree with. But to poo-poo on adding a gimmick to a title match, a title unification match, or any other one-of-a-kind main-event match is poo-pooing the very wrestling history you’re attempting to salvage. Rose-colored glasses may only allow in epic world title matches like Ric Flair vs. Ricky Steamboat or Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant, but they improperly filter out classics like the Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels ironman match, or Ric Flair vs. Harley Race in a steel cage, or…

If you really want your argument stomped out like Smokey the Bear attacking a cigarette in the woods, look no further than the 1992 Royal Rumble. Regarded as one of the greatest matches in pro wrestling history, the Rumble match crowned Ric Flair as the new WWF Champion after a month of vacancy, in a contest pitting not one, not one-on-one, but 30 wrestlers against each other. And not even all at the same time! Gasp! The horror! Wrestling history iz DEAD!

Granted, the examples I can offer are limited. Have there been fewer gimmick matches than traditional to either decide or unify versions of the World Heavyweight Title? Yes. Does the fact that those few matches were gimmick matches preclude an incredible quality of athleticism or level of excitement? Absolutely not. If you wish to complain, don’t hate the chair, hate the chairman.

Eric’s Blog: Shouldn’t @MikeTheMiz and @TrueKofi Kingston tell us why they hate each other?

“Our feud from last year? You wanna talk about our feud from last year? The WWE Universe wants to know about our feud from last year!” (pause) (snore) (Credit: WWE.com)

Let me admit right off the bat that I don’t watch 100% of WWE Monday Night Raw, and for the past month, I haven’t watched even 1% of Smackdown or Main Event. So I had to check with my compatriot, Kevin Difrango on this one: To the best of his knowledge, I asked, have either the Miz or Kofi Kingston cut any promos explaining why they’re feuding, why they’re hot and their cold, they’re yes and they’re no?

“Not that I recall,” was the response. And this from a guy who watches pretty much every televised moment of pro wrestling, state of mind be damned.

In my sporadic watching, I’ve seen this Miz vs. Kingston feud unfold in the ring – lots of feminine slapping, some mean-mugging, and a bunch of backstabbing and double-crossing.

Now, when Hulk Hogan feuded with Andre the Giant in 1987, I knew why. When Ultimate Warrior feuded with Rick Rude in 1989 and again in 1990, I knew why. When Shawn Michaels feuded with Diesel or when Dusty Rhodes wanted to elbow the taste out of Ric Flair’s mouth, I knew why every time.

How did I know why? Because they told me. They actually stood in front of a microphone and told me. The best – or the most average, or even the most midcard, or even the weirdest – talkers have always been given the chance to speak their minds, 30 seconds to 15 minutes at a time, to get their feud over. After all, if we know why two pro wrestlers want to fight each other, it gives us a reason to care, which in turn gives us an excuse to spend our money, which generates revenue for the professional wrestling business.

Having said that, why isn’t The Miz – one of the better talkers on the roster – cutting quick promos on a regular basis to stay under Kofi’s skin? Or why isn’t Kofi – whose athleticism has been pushed for half a decade now – been given a chance to hone his interview skills against a very dislikable opponent? I’m guessing, based on body language, that I’m supposed to infer what’s happening here. That’s some next-level shit that doesn’t play in the WWE Universe, where subtlety is a sledgehammer across the back of the skull in canary-yellow tights. Maybe if I knew Miz’s and Kofi’s motivations, I would have been quicker to spend money ordering WWE Survivor Series, or I wouldn’t let my wife choose “The Voice” over “Raw,” or “absolutely nothing” over “Smackdown.”

The Miz is a “proven” main eventer, and Kofi needs character development worse than a hooker needs Carmex. Just let them talk. I mean, what’s the worst they could do? Certainly not worse than bitch-slaps.

(NOTE: I had a scare here a minute ago. In looking for a picture to top this page, I found a shot of Kofi in a suit, chewing out Miz on the mic. I thought, “Crap, I put too much thought into this and missed one key segment that trumps the whole idea.” Well, lucky me (and unlucky, WWE Universe), this picture is from the 10/15/2012 Raw! Mmmmm, reheated midcarders…)

Eric’s Blog: What’s right and what’s wrong with Randy Orton

“I’m gonna sock you in the nose!”

Randy Orton successfully defended his WWE Championship this past Sunday at the 27th Survivor Series, against the much larger Big Show, and after months of cheating, yet defeating, his previous arch-nemesis Daniel Bryan.

And somehow, “the face of WWE” continues to play second fiddle to the usually overbearing, always long-winded, semi-retired sports entertainer and the latest ina revolving door of heel authority figures, Triple H.

WWE has done quite a few things right with Orton’s current championship reign, but the negatives throughout the storyline are tipping the scales out of Orton’s favor. Let’s take a quick look at the good and the bad.

Good: For someone like Orton, dragging the Money in the Bank around seemed like a demotion. However, it was a guaranteed title shot, and he cashed it in at Summerslam, atthe opportune time for an evil heel – when his on-again, off-again bearded buddy and brand new WWE Champ Daniel Bryan least expected it and could least combat it. A couple of swift moves and, boom, new WWE Champion.

Bad: It happened at the whim of Triple H.

Good: Orton loses the WWE Title back to the still red-hot Daniel Bryan at Night of Champions, only to devilishly demand it back the following night on Monday Night Raw, through a web of lies, deceit and nefariousness.

Bad: All of those lies, that deceit and that nefariousness were actually at the hands of Triple H.

Good: Big Show is introduced into the storyline, as Bryan’s bestie but befuddled by bad breaks in finance, bringing him to the beck and call of the bad guy’s side. Orton saves a little face thanks to a no-contest after Big Show’s hesitant interference, injecting an ancillary player into a headlining spot.

Bad: Big Show was actually intimidated into this whole thing by the mean boss who bought his mortgage, Triple H. Hunter then holds the title in “abeyance,” a 10-cent word that should never be uttered in pro wrestling again.

Good: Orton wins the WWE Title in brutal fashion against his summertime nemesis, Bryan, in the demonic Hell in a Cell, becoming once again the face of WWE.

Bad: That only happened because Bryan was superkicked by special referee Shawn Michaels, best friend of Triple H.

Good: Orton gets a win over Big Show at the (former) fourth-biggest pay-per-view on the WWE calendar, Survivor Series, using the punt kick that has shelved numerous opponents in the past.

Bad: Orton had to capitalize on non-physical interference by Triple H.

Yet to be determined: Survivor Series closes with a staring contest between World Heavyweight Champion John Cena and WWE Champion Randy Orton, teasing a future contest between the two.

Bad: John Cena was standing next to Triple H.

Subtract the common thread of You-Know-Who, and WWE has done an excellent job booking a heel champion, and even more important, making lemonade out of lemons. The underachieving Orton has spent 11 years in the WWE, kinda sorta over with the crowd as both a heel and a babyface, but never really carrying the WWE torch.

Now, if he can’t carry it, it’s because he can’t wrestle it out of the grasp of a guy who doesn’t even wrestle anymore.

When it comes time to book the big blow-off match for this months-long storyline, who will you pay to see get beaten up? I’m not sure, either.

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