2020 hasn’t been kind to us. Some are returning to a version of normal, while others are still struggling. I’m in the middle of a 14-day quarantine after recently returning to my office for the first time since March.
I was nervous about the test results since I had some symptoms a few days after exposure. Knock on wood; my COVID test came back negative.
Like most people, my wife and I have spent a lot of time with various streaming services. My ever-growing list contains many movies and television shows that I wouldn’t have watched otherwise.
I wondered, what if I wrote a blog that might get people into professional wrestling?
There are many great matches and moments from a multitude of wrestling promotions all around the world. I stuck to WWE since it is the brand most people associate with wrestling.
While many hoped the second half of the New Japan Cup could be salvaged, the remainder of the tournament has been canceled due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in Japan. The first half of the tournament was canceled last month, with the second half scheduled to occur between 3/16 and conclude on 3/21. Continue reading “Coronavirus Slams Pro Wrestling”→
We’re on the road to WrestleMania 36 as the “granddaddy of them all” goes down on Sunday, April 5, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL. Several matches are confirmed, while others are all but official due to budding feuds on television.
The world according to Becky Lynch is a beautiful place right now. She won the Royal Rumble on a Sunday and challenged Ronda Rousey the next day to set up their highly anticipated clash at WrestleMania 35.
It is undeniable Rousey vs. Lynch should be the main event of WrestleMania. However, The Wrestling Observer reported as of Monday evening; the plan is for Charlotte Flair to be included into the match, making it a triple threat. Sports Illustrated, however, is reporting the opposite.
Fan reaction to this news has been damned with faint praise. Wrestling aficionados, at their core, are traditionalists. The idea of a WrestleMania main event being anything other than a singles encounter doesn’t feel right. It dilutes the story, and three’s a crowd.
While a one on one match is the preferred choice, would Charlotte’s inclusion really be a bad thing?
Charlotte is one of the best wrestlers in the women’s division. She always has good matches, was initially groomed to be Rousey’s WrestleMania dance partner and many feel she stole at last year’s Mania when she ended Asuka’s undefeated streak.
Adding Charlotte to the Lynch/Rousey equation would make the match better than it’s already going to be. Her inclusion will only draw more heat by having two people to boo instead of one. Also, it gives Lynch a more daunting journey, making her assumed victory even sweeter.
From a business perspective, the first female WrestleMania main event featuring Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair helps WWE in the long run. Rousey is reportedly leaving the company at the end of April. It’s better to have two history-making characters to market instead of one.
In the storyline, Charlotte brutalized Rousey at Survivor Series. Rousey returned the favor at TLC by costing both Charlotte and Lynch the SmackDown Women’s Title. There are unresolved issues between Charlotte and Rousey, and WrestleMania is the perfect place for a resolution.
Another thing to take into account is the injury Becky Lynch suffered at the hands of Nia Jax, removing her from the match at Survivor Series against Rousey. Charlotte was her replacement.
The addition of Charlotte Flair improves upon the finished product. However, despite all the positives, there is still a loud voice in the wrestling consciousness that says Charlotte doesn’t belong.
After four years of Roman Reigns featured main events that never got over, WrestleMania finally has a top match everyone is excited to see. Some view Charlotte as the Roman Reigns of the women’s division because, underneath Rousey, she is the performer WWE wants to push.
The biggest problem with Charlotte’s inclusion is how do you get her into the match? WWE needs to develop a logical storyline reason on why Charlotte receives an invite to the party.
She could beat Asuka for the SmackDown Women’s Title at one of the two pay per view events before Mania. Still, how would that qualify Charlotte to enter a WrestleMania main event that has already been announced?
A winner takes all match with both titles on the line is intriguing. Still, it just can’t be a title change that gets Charlotte the golden ticket. Many championships have changed hands over the years so close to WrestleMania.
Perhaps, WWE will take a roundabout route of Charlotte somehow convincing Becky Lynch into putting her title shot on the line in a match, winning that match, and Lynch somehow gets back in later on. Unfortunately, not only is that just too easy but from a character perspective, Lynch is too smart to be duped into such a match with an injured knee.
In all likelihood, there is probably a way to get Charlotte into the match that doesn’t feel like she is shoehorned in. However, WWE doesn’t evoke much confidence when it comes to creating that story. There has been a severe lack of quality control with their writing that’s led to their record low television ratings.
Shoehorning Charlotte will be akin to the referee missing the pass interference call in the NFC Championship game. Yeah, the Rams won the game, but everyone knew they didn’t belong in the Superbowl.
Does WWE really want to make Charlotte a third wheel? Yeah, probably. Why? Because Vince McMahon would inexplicably rather tell the audience what he thinks they want instead of letting them tell him what they want.
If Charlotte ends up standing across the ring from Ronda Rousey and Becky Lynch on April 7th, please, feel free to boo as loud as you want. Don’t boo Charlotte, however, boo WWE for making a decision that only serves them, regardless of what the audience wants. Charlotte would be merely doing her job.
After all, would anyone turn down the biggest payday and moment of their career despite the creative optics of the situation? No, not at all.
There are more pros than cons to Charlotte’s inclusion in the Rousey/Lynch main event at WrestleMania. However, there is one con that outweighs all the pros. Wedging in an unwanted entity is undeniably what the audience doesn’t want to see.
There is no remainder to this equation. One plus one equals two. Two wrestlers who have produced a tidal wave of enthusiasm for a mano e mano showdown. Charlotte is not the problem, but, WWE’s proclivity to rebuild a perfectly gifted storyline is a big problem.
On the evening of April 5, 2009, Michael Hickenbottom and Mark Calaway didn’t put on just another excellent performance. They produced a classic match that a generation of wrestling enthusiasts look to as the capstone of their fandom. I knew Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 25 was going to be something special considering the landscape of WWE at the time.
Taker and Michaels were already legendary performers who had the backstage clout to do whatever they wanted from a creative perspective. With both men being 44 years old at the time, however, some felt this match could never live up to their classic bouts with each other, twelve years earlier.
Oh, the wonders of ring psychology.
Their feud couldn’t have been simpler. Undertaker’s undefeated streak was the holy grail of accomplishment, and Michaels wanted his name etched in history as its conqueror. Michaels had to qualify for the opportunity by beating Vladimir Kozlov who also yearned for a shot at ending the streak.
Michaels was perturbed someone of his stature had to qualify for anything. He bragged about his own streak of never being pinned by The Deadman. This is true regarding televised bouts, which is all that matters in storytelling. In reality, Taker had pinned Michaels several times at house shows in late 97 through early 98.
Inspired by his religious faith, Michaels called himself the light that would eclipse the darkness embodied by “The Phenom.” To drive the point home, he even wore a white hat and trench coat in contrast to Undertaker’s distinguished black ensemble.
Sixty one thousand people inside Reliant Stadium were on the edge of their seat for the in-ring poetry exhibited by these two titans of the industry. However, that is not how it started. The first eight minutes of the match was slow and garnered next to no reaction from the crowd. A forgotten fact due to the bout’s high esteem.
I was watching WrestleMania at a friend’s house that year. Early on, no one in Brian Applegate’s living room was impressed with the match. My training as a wrestler, however, taught me that the best wrestling matches start slow and then builds to a crescendo followed by an epic climax.
Things began to pick up as both men exchanged a series of big moves followed by a dramatic escape where Michaels survived the Undertaker’s gogoplata submission. Michaels missed a top rope moonsault to the floor, which was shocking enough to witness, nevermind what followed.
Undertaker went for his signature dive over the top rope, but Michaels moved out of the way. Undertaker crashed into the cameraman, who was Sim Snuka (Jimmy Snuka’s son) working as a plant designated to catch him. Snuka missed timed the catch and Undertaker landed straight down on his head. Luckily, Undertaker miraculously avoided injury by tucking his head at the last possible second.
The tempo of the match heated up even more as both men kicked out of each other’s big moves. This type of work was surprising to see in a WWE setting as their timing and execution was on an entirely new level.
The closing moments of the match saw Michaels come off the top room with a moonsault, only for Undertaker to catch him in mid-air and drilled Michaels with a tombstone piledriver for the 1-2-3.
The adulation in Brian’s living room was at a fever pitch. None of us could believe what we had just witnessed. I looked at my phone and saw a Facebook post by WWE superstar Mike Kanellis, who was working for Ring of Honor at the time. He stated, “That match reminded me of why I love professional wrestling.” It’s a sentiment that thousands of wrestlers and fans echoed on social media as we all reveled in a state of grappling euphoria.
A wrestling match is not about doing big flashy moves. It’s about doing the right moves at the right time to tell a story. Shawn Michaels was the biggest threat to the Undertaker’s undefeated streak. The drama of it all was augmented by every well-chosen and well-timed move, sell and facial reaction. Everything they did in the ring meant something. This outing transformed the streak from famous to infamous because we genuinely didn’t know who was going to win.
WrestleMania 34 is this Sunday and my old crew got together and put together a podcast where we deliver our preview and predictions for the show. Frank Dee, Adam Kohn and I talk about all the matches, stories and rumors going into the biggest event of the year. Check it out!
While there are still two more pay-per-view events to go, the card for this year’s WrestleMania is starting to take shape. Rumors and storylines on television lend credence to the matches that might transpire on Sunday, April 8 in New Orleans, LA. Let’s look at the scenarios that will officially occur on the grandest stage followed by those that are possible.
When one discovers their passion for a certain genre, they eventually find that one individual or character that they admire and sometimes even live through vicariously. For me, that passion is fake fighting and the character is a dead wizard with supernatural powers.
I’ll never forget the Undertaker’s first appearance, which occurred at the 1990 Survivor Series in Hartford, CT. It would be the final time the event was held on Thanksgiving night as the demise of a tradition brought about the genesis of an indelible legacy.
This imposing figure was the mystery partner of Ted DiBiase’s Million Dollar Team. As a kid who cheered every good guy and booed every bad guy, I was impressed. A year later, Undertaker won his first WWE Title from Hulk Hogan. I didn’t bat an eye when this evildoer who represented death stole the championship from an American hero.
Two months later, Undertaker prevented Jake Roberts from blindsiding Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth with a steel chair. OMG, was the Undertaker now a good guy? No, No, No. It was a simple misunderstanding…right?
When it’s all said and done, the seven-hour spectacular that was WrestleMania 33 will go down as a newsworthy event that was better than it had any business being. Thirteen matches, a restroom break in the form of a Pitbull concert, one marriage proposal, the triumphant return of a popular duo, and the end of a legendary career encapsulates a roller-coaster of emotions for a show aptly named, the ultimate thrill ride.
WWE took over their home away from home this past weekend as Orlando, FL played host to the Hall of Fame ceremony on Friday along with an action packed NXT TakeOver card on Saturday. Then, the show of shows captivated a worldwide audience inside of the Camping World Stadium along with millions watching along on the WWE Network.
Neville pinned Austin Aries to retain the Cruiserweight Championship:
Neville’s defense of the Cruiserweight title against Austin Aries was a well worked matched that was given an ample amount of time. Unfortunately, the crowd was still filing into the building, which made the match come off less than it was. Neville retained with the Red Arrow, which the Brit hasn’t used since turning heel. Fans had pegged Aries to go over, but Neville winning here will give Aries a chance to get over with the audience a little more while chasing the belt.
Mojo Rawley won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal:
New England Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski sitting in the front row was a bright neon spoiler alert. Gronk’s friendship with MoJo Rawley has been mentioned over the past several weeks. Rawley was the first wrestler to declare his entry into the battle royal, so his win was a nice way to tie it all together. Plus, as a Pats fan, seeing Gronk hitting Jinder Mahal with a running tackle was a cool moment.
Surprisingly, Bruan Strowman didn’t do much in this match. Right now, he’s at the point where no one wants to see him lose. He was eliminated around the two-minute mark by ten wrestlers, which protected his character. NXT’s Killian Dain made it to the final three, which means WWE has plans for the big guy.
Dean Ambrose pinned Baron Corbin to retain the Intercontinental Championship:
When a fan-driven social media campaign got the SmackDown Women’s Title match promoted to the main card, no one expected the Intercontinental Championship match to take its place on the kickoff show. Many thought Corbin was going to win the title, but having him win it on the kickoff show won’t have the desired effect of making him stand out as a threat to be taken seriously. Smart money says Corbin wins it down the line. It was a TV match with nothing to complain about.
It’s the biggest day of the year in professional wrestling as WWE unleashes the ultimate thrill ride, WrestleMania 33. The show will emanate from the Camping World Stadium in Orlando, FL.
Atlee Greene and Adam Kohn breakdown all 13 matches on the card including the Universal Championship Match between Goldberg and Brock Lesnar. Also, Randy Orton challenges Bray Wyatt for the WWE Championship.
The rumors are circulating that Undertaker vs. Roman Reigns could mark the last time the Deadman makes that walk down down the asile. If so, will Taker rule the day or fall to the Roman Empire?
Sit back, relax, press that play button and enjoy the show.