Friday, February 28, 2014

Thoughts on NXT Arrival Edition

Welcome back to another edition of Inside the Wrestling Ring. Before we get started I do want to thank my partners at ClubKayfabe, a great wrestling podcast. After you read here, definitely go check out what Chris, Dan and Pat have to say about the world of professional wrestling.

It was announced that the first live event on the new WWE Network would be the Pay Per View Quality NXT Arrival. It makes perfect sense to me. The Network is the future of how we will watch the WWE. And NXT is the future of the WWE. What better way to showcase the next generation of superstars then with a live event. Usually NXT was taped weeks in advance when it was on Hulu or Hulu plus. They taped four shows in one taping. But this gives the future a chance to shine in ways that they couldn't before.

And what better way to start off then with Cesaro vs Sami Zayn. If you saw the 2 out of 3 falls match these two put on several months ago, you know what the two of them are capable of. If you haven't, do yourself a favor and check out the highlights. That match was named as the NXT Match of the year. Obviously, Cesaro has the advantage. He is on the main roster. Just this past weekend, he competed for the WWE World Title in the Elimination Chamber against the best WWE has to offer. This match on Arrival, (which I thought was also supposed to be a 2 out of 3 falls but it wasn't) lived up to the last match as well. Both wrestlers hit some serious power moves on each other. To me the highlight was the upper cut Cesaro delivered to Zayn as he flew through the ropes. In the end, Cesaro once again defeated Sami Zayn. However, this was about Zayn getting respect from his opponent. Could it be the first signs of a face turn? Because the audience got what it was chanting for. The two superstars hugged it out in the ring. I expect Zayn to be on the main roster by the end of the year. I have been a big fan of his since I started watching NXT months ago.

There was only 3 match announced prior to the event going live, so it makes sense that there was more matches added the night of Arrival. Zayn vs Cesaro was one of the announced match. But next up was CJ Parker vs Mojo Rawley. Parker is the moon child. Mojo's catchphrase is "I don't get hyped, I stay hyped." Before the match we got a look of Rawley in a highlight package to show those that haven't seen Rawley before what he is capable of. In the end, Mojo defeated CJ Parker.

After that match, we got a look at Emma getting ready for her match versus Paige. It was followed by another hype video, this time showing us Emma. She is definitely a unique individual. After the Emma video, we got another video. This time featuring the NXT tag team champions, the Ascension.

Connor and Viktor are up next to defend their tag titles against a mystery opponent. Again, this is another match that was not announced. And their opponents were Scotty 2 Hottie and Grand Master Sexay, better known as Too Cool. It doesn't get any different then these two teams. It was a much more competitive match then I expected, but in the end the Ascension retained their titles after Scotty 2 Hottie was unable to hit the Worm.

Our next match is Emma vs Paige for the NXT Women's Title. First though we get a video about Paige. Before the match though, Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley came to the ring. For some strange reason the audience chanted "You still got it". All Stephanie did was walk through the ropes. She took the microphone and said "I never lost it". She was there to be Special Guest Ring announcer. This is the second match that was pre-announced for the card. This match has been much better then 99.9% of all Diva's matches that you see on Raw, Smackdown or any of the Pay Per Views. Paige got Emma to tap out and retain her title.

Yet another hype video, this time for Adrian Neville showing his finisher move the Red Arrow.

It looked like we were going to get another filler match, this time with Xavier Woods versus Tyler "The Prince of Pretty" Breeze. Only the match didn't happen because Alexander Rusev decided to attack both men in the ring.

The last promo video was for the NXT champion, Bo Dallas. Because it's time for the first ladder match in NXT Title. This was the third and final announced match for the card. And who better to hang the title over the ring then Hall of Famer, Shawn Michaels. Because why not. Or as we like to call him H B Shizzle. It was a much better match then I expected, since I am not a Bo-liever by any stretch of the imagination. Plenty of back and forth action. Both men used the ladder as weapons and both had a chance to climb to the top. In the end, Adrian Neville climbed to the top and became the new NXT Champion!

Throughout the night we saw WWE legends sitting ringside, everyone from Dusty Rhodes to Pat Patterson to Larry Zybsko. John Cena was also ringside as well. It was a nice touch to show the past and present seeing the future as well.

I thought the three matches that were announced were by far the three best matches of the night. Any one of them could have main evented a card, really. I enjoyed the videos showing off some of the superstars of NXT for those that had never seen an episode of NXT before. I thought that with the exception of the Ascension versus Too Cool, the filler matches were not that good. I would have liked to have seen a triple threat match or a chance to see some of the other faces of NXT showcased as well. But overall I thought it was an excellent outing and a great way to start off the future!


Saturday, February 22, 2014

The WWE Network Edition

Welcome back to Inside The Wrestling Ring and once again I would like to thank my partners at Club Kayfabe Podcast

We are now just days away from the launch of the WWE Network. It will launch as soon as Monday Night Raw goes off the air this coming Monday. I read there are plans to have a cliff hanger moment so that those who have the Network will be able to see what happens. I don't know how I feel about it, but I guess it is extra incentive to get in on the Network early.

To me the biggest selling point of the Network is the fact that every live PPV will be available as it airs. Talk about a huge savings. Instead of paying for six PPV's (more on the number six later) you pay basically for one. For any serious fan of the WWE, it really doesn't get any better then that. You will get WrestleMania, Extreme Rules, Payback, Money In The Bank, Summerslam and Night Of Champions. All for the cost of WrestleMania.

Not only do you get every live PPV, you will also get every single PPV on demand for free as well. Not just WWF/E pay per views, but every WCW and ECW PPV.

But that is not without controversy. A lot of people think that Over The Edge 1999 should not be available to watch. Obviously they will not mention the tragedy that happened that night. I believe that including the PPV is the right thing. I don't care about continuity. Going into the event, Stone Cold Steve Austin was champion. At the end of the night, The Undertaker was champion. And I don't think it should not be shown just out of respect for Owen. To me, if you have every PPV you can't skip one. As long as it is edited properly, it should be fine. Don't mention Blue Blazer vs Godfather in any way shape or form. Edit out any picture or any audio. WWE seems to be fine with editing history. So this is the one and ONLY time I agree with editing history (also more on this later as well).

In addition to every PPV, there are going to be original series such as a reality show starring greats of the past all living under one roof called "Legends House". There is an interactive show where superstars talk about their favorites in a Countdown show. It will feature top 10 lists such as top 10 catchphrase or top 10 superstars. There will also be a Best of Raw and a Best Of Smakckdown. Considering those are my favorite WWE DVDs I think it has a chance to be very interesting indeed. There will be more original content announced after the launch date.

I talked earlier about editing history. There is no greater example than Chris Benoit. I can understand why WWE doesn't mention him, but mentioning and acknowledging him are two entirely different things. For example, on the new Shawn Michaels DVD they include all of his WrestleMania matches with the exception of one. WrestleMania XX vs. Triple H vs. Chris Benoit. Well, I am proud to say that Benoit will be included on the network. But there will be a disclaimer before he appears. I am not sure what the disclaimer could possibly say. It might say something like this...

I have two minor issues with the WWE Network in its current form. My biggest issue is calling it a Network when it's only on the computer. I think it would have been so incredible if it were available as an On Demand channel on your television. It takes a little bit away for me. The argument will be that you can watch it literally anywhere. Except for those of us that don't have devices that offer free Wi-Fi. So that limits where one can actually watch it. My other minor issue is that it takes a six month commitment. Right now $9.99 isn't a lot, but $59.94 can be if, say, one doesn't have a job at the moment. For the WWE, financially it makes a lot of sense to charge that way. But from a fan's point of view, I have a bit of problem with it. Not that I speak from personal experience or anything. Nope. Not at all.

So there you have it. My thoughts on the WWE Network.

In other sad news, Nelson Frazier, better known as Mabel, Viscera or Big Daddy V, died Wednesday Morning after suffering a heart attack on Valentine's Day. He was never going to be the most graceful wrestler. It happens when you are 6'9" 487 pounds. But when you talk intimidating, you don't have to look any further. Even when he was a comedy gimmick wrestler known as The World's Largest Love Machine, as a wrestler you didn't want to look across the ring and see that man watching you and waiting for the bell to ring. Rest In Peace, big man.

Special thanks as always to my editor who makes my blog readable for you!


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The CM Punk Edition

That's right. I am back! After a long hiatus, I decided to once again revive my blogs. Once again I want to give a shout out to my business partners at Club Kayfabe Podcast

A lot has happened in the world of professional wrestling. We have seen the Wyatt Family raise up very quickly. We have seen both the longest reigning Diva's Champion and United States Champion. We have seen the founding of the Authority and crowned a unified champion for the first time since 2001. We have seen the rise of the Yes Movement. We saw the return of the Animal, Batista. Oh. Yeah, there is the little thing of the debut of WWE Network as well. But that's a topic for another day. On the other side (TNA) we have seen a new investor and the dismantling of Aces and 8's. But there is only one thing that could bring me back to the world of blogging. You know what it is. I will give you a hint. It's Blogging Time!

The day after the Royal Rumble this year, CM Punk "took his ball and went home". He showed up at Raw like he was supposed to, but then decided that he had enough. He told Vince McMahon that he was going home. We haven't seen him since. It took a week, but they removed him from the "Then, Now, Forever" intro video and from the Raw and Smackdown opening videos as well. He has been removed from any scheduled appearances for house shows or TV tapings as well. But as of right now, he is still listed under the superstars section of the app and also the website. His merch is still at regular price on the website as well. In fact, his name is the second name on the list. I take that as his is the second most popular superstar behind some guy named John Cena

So what are my thoughts on this? People that know me as a wrestling fan know I am a big CM Punk fan. Even when he was a heel, I cheered for him. But I think that what he has done is wrong. I can understand his frustration. Rumor (and of course, that is all it is since he has been silent on Twitter since then) is that he is not happy with his place in the WrestleMania card. Understandable, I guess. Everyone wants the top spot. If you don't want to headline WrestleMania XXX, you are probably in the wrong business. Hell, I want to main event 'Mania and I am not even in the business. His contract is up in June which is why they are holding the 2nd annual Pay Per View Payback in his hometown. He was rumored to be facing Triple H at WrestleMania. Is that a bad match to have? I don't think so. But again, this is coming from a fan's perspective and not that of a performer.

I also heard one of his biggest issues was the fact that Batista won the Royal Rumble and will go on to Main Event WrestleMania this year. And with that, I agree with Punk. This will be the 3rd year in a row a part timer will be in the main event, the last two being the Rock. From his POV, I completely agree with it. WrestleMania is the biggest event of the year. This time the spotlight has been given to a man that has been away from the business for years now. A man that had bashed the business decision to go to a PG rating. Yet, given a huge payday he is okay with it now? Batista just is the wrong choice to have won the Royal Rumble from the fans views. I am not going to say who should be in. That is a matter of everyone's opinion. But I think most people will agree that it should be a full timer. Someone that has busted their butts over the last 365 days to put on the best show that they can for roughly 280-320 days out of the year. I have met Batista. Let's just say I lost a lot of respect for him when I met him days before his WrestleMania XXIV match versus Umaga. Many would say he doesn't respect the business that made him famous. Would he be in movies with Russell Crowe or the new Marvel Guardians Of The Galaxy movie if it wasn't for his time in the WWE? I think it's safe to say that he would not be. The night he won the Royal Rumble, how did he celebrate? By mocking fans and flipping them off. Considering he is supposed to be a face, that doesn't exactly sound like someone I want to give a major push to.

So while I can understand why he did it, I still don't think it was a wise decision. Is this the first time a superstar "took his ball and went home"? No. Just ask Stone Cold Steve Austin. But it still doesn't make it right. He turned his back on his fans. Fans that chant for him on a nightly basis when he is not there. Fans that show up in arenas wearing their CM Punk shirts or holding a CM Punk sign (Or a Phil Brooks sign either). I hope that we see Punk one day and he explains why. His fans at least deserve that.

WWE finally capitalized on the moment. Unfortunately it didn't air on TV, but it did on the APP. In the middle of the Dean Ambrose Versus Mark Henry match, the fans chanted for Punk. Seth Rollins grabbed the microphone and said "CM who? That's Dean Ambrose right there, that's the United States champion! That's the man you all wish you could be, and that's the man all your ladies want to be with tonight!" At one point this video was available on the WWE website, but when I went to post a link to it now it says I don't have access to the video. Take that however way you would like to.

I guess time will tell if this was all staged. I hope that it was, but I have a feeling that this was the actions of a man fed up with the business

Special thanks as always to my wonderful amazing fiancée/Editor for all her work on my blogs