Shahid’s Blog: A Ride Down Memory Lane – WWE Network and An Appreciation of WCW

Robocop off duty Cage Destroyer with Sting

When WWE announced its plans for its own network, I was extremely skeptical.  With the current cable climate, a dedicated paid channel seemed outdated. The idea of watching old Raw and Nitros with bargain basement reality shows and the occasional documentary didn’t strike me as a scintillating product; using dubstep in its promo videos didn’t help either.  So of course Vince McMahon presents a revolutionary product – an internet only streaming service, combining its massive library with new material that may actually be worth a damn, plus every future PPV….for 9.99 a month.

I’ve been a wrestling fan for close to 30 years, and I can honestly say this is the most groundbreaking event in my fandom.  Being able to watch a 1992 WCW PPV in HD on my iPad?  Watching World Class on my big screen TV?  Getting WrestleMania and Summerslam for free? Not only would I save money on my cable bill, I could kiss the days of 12 part YouTube videos with crappy resolution good bye.  I won’t discuss the initial hiccups or improvements which could be made.  Right now, I’ll dive into a few things I’ve experienced so far.

One thing I’ve realized during my initial weeks of watching was the in ring quality of WCW.  Say what you want about their goofy and often idiotic booking – popping in a random PPV will usually be an enjoyable experience.  It’s not hard to see why, considering their talent base during the late 80’s to mid 90s – Sting, Flair, The Steiners, Ricky Steamboat, Rick Rude, Gordy/Williams, Steve Austin, Barry Windham, Pillman, Vader……it’s a murderer’s row of talented in ring workers and/or compelling characters.

What also helped was the excellent announcing of Jim Ross, Tony Schiavone and Jesse Ventura, which gave it a sports feel and made every match seemed relevant.  Plus there is an added bonus of red hot crowds, which makes a huge difference to the enjoyment level – listening to Sting/Koloff vs Anderson/Blanchard would make you think it was WrestleMania. Although I could do without the inane stipulations from Bill Watts – how you can bring in someone like Jushin Liger while outlawing top rope maneuvers is mind boggling.

Even without the context of WCW Saturday Night, Clash of the Champions or other weekly shows, WCW PPV’s tend to hold up very well during that time frame…..at least until Hogan came and brought in the era of the Three Amigos (Hogan, Sting and Savage) running roughshod until the formation of the NWO.  But thats a story for another week.  And by the way, to hell with the Shockmaster, Robocop, Johnny Gunn and Paul Roma, Horseman. -Shahid

Booker T Tells the Kettle Its’ Black And Calls Out Ronda Rousey

Pot_calling_the_kettle_black_by_CoelasquidSo when I went to Prowrestling.net, I found a link to this story on Yahoo! Sports that interviewed Booker T about his jail time, helping kids learn English in Singapore and MMA. I found the last topic the most interesting. The delicious irony of Booker T saying

I don’t think the lifespan (of MMA fighters) is very long, and you could get hurt really, really bad doing it…Plus, when it’s over with, where do you go from there?

The day after Adam “Edge” Copeland got the opening segment on WWE’s flagship show Raw, Booker tells us MMA fighters don’t have long careers. Why did Triple H make half a dozen “Stack of dimes neck” references then Book? Because Edge had a long career? Oh no, because he had a short career. I’m sure Steve Austin decided to move along during the height of his popularity because of the huge movie roles that he is landing. That’s right, Austin had to move on because of injuries too. He isn’t landing huge roles either. Austin isn’t doing bad for himself but you don’t hear Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson doing a podcast because he needs some extra change in his couch cushions. I’m also going to guess that Booker thinks that Chris Benoit had a nice long, healthy career.

The second part of the statement shouldn’t go unnoticed either. Booker T, again just last night, was telling Big Show to be professional and not do anything stupid because he needed to support his young daughter and family. If WWE wrestlers are more diversified than your average MMA fighter, shouldn’t you advise Big Show to do what is right because he has a back up career? How about you Booker, what’s your back up career to wrestling? That’s right, it’s being a wrestling personality. And running a wrestling school. It certainly seems like you moved on from wrestling Book. Then he moved on to ripping on Ronda Rousey who

…couldn’t find her way in life and found it through going out and beating other girls up.

From Bustedcoverage.com

From Bustedcoverage.com

So the guy that needed jail time to get straightened out is telling a woman who got into the Olympics at the age of 17 that she couldn’t find her way in life? Who is this guy kidding? Has he even taken as much time as yours truly to read Ronda’s Wikipedia page? Maybe Booker did but I doubt it or else I wouldn’t be able to rip on him. If you get into the Olympics before you can drink alcohol legally, you have found something in life to do. I could care less if it’s beating up people of the same gender. You made a living wearing tights and well, I’ll let him hoist his own petard

Wrestling is Shakespeare. Phantom of the Opera. Romeo and Juliet. That’s what it is – men in tights

At least he laughed after that comment. Hopefully he’ll find a lot of public shaming for some really stupid comments funny too. – Kevin

56 Days of WrestleMania – WrestleMania XIX’s Best Matches: Results

Hard to believe it’s been 10 years since Steve Austin’s last match against the Rock and since this epic Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho match (especially since they brilliantly revisited that feud five years later, which was five freaking years ago). Bask!

56 Days of WrestleMania – WrestleMania XV’s Best Matches: Results

I had to vote for Butterbean vs. Bart Gunn just so we’d have a second match with votes. And rightfully so: This was a pretty lackluster WrestleMania, all things considered. The Steve Austin vs. Rock match wasn’t even the best of their matches that year. Oh well.

56 Days of WrestleMania – WrestleMania XIV’s Best Matches: Results

I’m sticking you guys with only the last part of the Shawn Michaels vs. Steve Austin match, because the match had been broken up into three pieces on YouTube, with the third piece removed due to copyright infringement and then re-posted on DailyMotion. But you all remember it, so whatever, no big loss. The other best match on the card per your votes was Undertaker vs. Kane, a solid choice of a match between two characters that, in the earliest stages of their careers, you simply would not have guessed would have lasted as long as they did.

56 Days of WrestleMania – WrestleMania XIV’s Best Matches

Get it? dX raided? Because it’s like the show is X-Rated, but it’s been raided by DX? They’re lucky this isn’t 1999 – the worst year in WWF/E history – so they get a pass on this one. A few good matches here to choose from; I’m interested to see what comes in second behind Austin-Michaels.

56 Days of WrestleMania – WrestleMania XIII’s Best Matches

Here’s a tale of two WWFs: One great match, a handful of good matches, a little identity crisis here and there, and some relative stinkers, all while the newly-attitudinal WWF navigates the deep, dark waters of second place. Which match will, alongside Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin, reign supreme?

Guest Blog: Dan reminisces about ECW in light of recent Extreme Reunion fiasco

"I'm gonna hang a flyer right here and FRANCHISE this light pole's ASS HA HA HAAA!"

Well, the ECW reunion show took place over the weekend and the reports I have read have not been very complementary of the show.  I read the fairly detailed report over at prowrestling.net (http://www.prowrestling.net/artman/publish/miscliveevents/article10024865.shtml) and one or two other reports and it sounds like the fans who made up an impressive crowd for an indy show turned on this show in a big way.  I do think it sounds like the crowd did not have very realistic expectations for the show.  The things I would have hoped that this show would have tried to accomplish they at least attempted.  I feel like for this show to have any chance of repeat success they would have to use some of the established names to get the fans interested in new talent.  With the interference in the Gangstas match and the use of new Raven’s followers it sounds like they tried to set up some things for the next show.

The obvious problem with this show is that the ECW style takes a serious physical toll on the wrestlers and to expect most of these guys to be able to work the types of matches they did well over eleven years ago just isn’t very realistic.  When one starts thinking about the alleged health problems or scares that Sabu and Justin Credible had that prevented them from performing at the show it makes the event a bit more depressing.  Many will write about and talk about how the extreme style has possibly ruined people’s lives and certainly contributed to many premature deaths.  As a fan who discovered ECW on a grainy UHF TV station (yes I had to disconnect my cable to watch ECW, this station was so small it wasn’t on any cable systems but was part of the “America One Network”) and loved watching ECW programming it’s not pleasant to think about the price many of these wrestlers I enjoyed watching so much have paid.

I went to several later day ECW shows in St. Louis but I only made it to the ECW Arena once for “Cyberslam ’98”.  When I first started taking the Torch I was rather frustrated to read about Cyberslam ’96 and ’97 AFTER it had occurred or I might have made one of those shows as well.  I had a great time at this event and met some very interesting folks (maybe that goes without saying).  I was then in grad school so while I did not have a tremendous amount in common with many of these performers I certainly appreciated what they did and enjoyed the question and answer sessions and thought seeing a card at the ECW Arena was one of those things I was able to take off my bucket list.

Because I have great memories about those experiences watching and enjoying ECW I wanted to reflect on those people who were most benefited from working in ECW.  I’m sure it’s not a complete list and this is not to say that these performers would not have done well if ECW did not exist but since many have been focusing on the cost ECW incurred on many of its workers I thought I would reflect on who benefited the most from their ECW experience.  Please feel free to add suggestions to this list.

1.  Taz — Make no mistake about it.  The ECW Taz was as bad as they come (in a good way).  At the show I went to he physically manhandled one of many body builders the WWF wanted to get behind in Brakkus and the fans loved every minute of it.  However, he parlayed his ECW success into a frustrating WWE run followed by many years making what I am guessing is pretty good money as a TV announcer.  As great as Taz was when I saw him wrestle….  well let’s say I don’t think he will be entering the real (Observer) hall of fame or even the WWE version anytime soon.  As far as making a great living based off of what he contributed to ECW I’d say Taz is the #1 choice.  God bless him for making money as far as I am concerned also.

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WWE Tough Enough winner Andy Leavine released, “Silent Rage” T-shirt production ceases

Jesus, he can't even do "gay cowboy" well.

According to PWInsider.com by way of Prowrestling.net, WWE has released relaunched “Tough Enough” winner Andy Leavine. Raise your hand if you knew Andy Leavine was still under a WWE contract (or if you have good penmanship). I didn’t think so. Leavine had been working for Florida Championship Wrestling under the name Kevin Hackman, which makes sense given two things: 1) WWE’s disposition for giving people the last names of famous actors or their movie characters (see: Ryback), and 2) because Andy Leavine is a hack, and I dare say Steve Austin & Co. made a horrible error naming this future flop the winner of their highly regarded reality series. Good riddance, “Silent Rage,” you make the Equalizer look like Big Van Vader. -Eric

Kevin’s Blog: Definitely Live & Half Assed Review of @WWE #Raw

This pizza is a real product brought to you by Pizza Hut. Please don't buy from them any more.

I already want to toss my lap top thru the front window because of the Three Stooges hosting Raw tonight. Not a good start to the show. Then we got Johnny Wooden GM introducing a Brock Lesnar video package. I’m mildly amused that Johnny used the “legitimate” athlete line since the WWE is always trying to convince us that their wrestlers are “legitimate” athletes. I agree with the sentiment but shouldn’t you be less offended when people say that when you admit it? I also like that Brock has no catch phrases. Let’s see if they make chicken salad out of chicken shit with his first mic work. John Cena interrupts as Brock starts to talk. Nice, Cena just slaps him. Wow, the locker room empties. It gives it a better feel when it isn’t just refs. The WWE is more guilty of that than TNA. Less than fifteen minutes.

After seeing the replays, it looks like Lesnar popped him good that first shot then remembered he wasn’t in the UFC. We get our first yelling at of Teddy Long by Johnny. I’m so excited about this story line. Eve Torres wants to meet with Johnny. The Funkasaurus is up again. Santino tags along. Vickie introduces her clients Jack Swagger & Dolph Ziggler. Poor Dolph has pink sun glasses. I’m starting to worry about picking my boy Dolph as the Money In The Bank winner. I was hoping to see Brodus sell more but they go to commercial. Those evil dirt sheets said that Vince was worried about his in ring work. Selling is the harder part, to me. Just like playing defense in a “legitimate” sport is harder because it’s always more fun to play offense.

After the break, Santino is selling. Damn it. Mitchell Cool selling Swagger’s new hairdo. Ugh. If his selling point is his hairdo, Swagger has much, much bigger problems. Brodus gets the hot tag and finishes off my boy in no time flat. I’ll be fine when his act gets cut down time wise. Johnny tells the Miz they can talk next week. Johnny yells at Teddy Long. Cena says he likes to hit and be hit. Cena asks to be put in a match. Johnny feeds Otunga to Cena. Santino asks Tyler Reks & Curt Hawkins where the Three Stogges are. Doesn’t any type of air time mean they’ll get ring time soon? Another tag team that’ll challenge for the belts in no time flat.

Santino is still looking for the Stooges when he runs into Kane. People love his prance out. The Stooges are on Raw tonight yet they haven’t been on TV in the first thirty eight minutes of a two hour show. R Truth takes on Cody Rhodes. Oh, Smackdown is live? I got the legend’s part taken care of. We get more repeat angle from Big Show who taunts Rhodes. R Truth wins. Santino apes a line from “A Christmas Story”. The Stooges are in the aped crate. They use all the same tricks that don’t pack half of the humor.

For some reason, Yoshi Tatsu challenged Lord Tensai. He is not getting much of a reaction. A squash, even thru TKO, shouldn’t take as long as it did last week. The crowd chants “Albert”. Just say his name on TV and get it over with. The announcers are doing their job. The match was faster but the crowd is still not caring.

CM Punk comes out to explain himself. Punk is mad because the first thought thru his head was “I smell like my father did.” The crowd chants “CM Punk”. Not exactly the reaction he wanted, I’d guess. Chris Jericho asks if he’s still hung over. He then asks if he’s drunk. I love it. They’ve talked me into this angle. The CM Drunk thing is so hack. Punk is going to take out his frustration on Jericho. Chris looks nonplussed. Mark Henry comes out. We get commercials.

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