I saw the damnedest thing Wednesday.
I was at George M. Steinbrenner Field, the stuffy Tampa spring home of the New York Yankees; where thick Long Island accents sling tickets to an exhibition game for $75 and bitch at their customers about what a great deal it is. Robinson Cano and Derek Jeter were playing long toss. Curtis Granderson was stretching. Somewhere, Alex Rodriguez was yelling at a team massage therapist for not properly concluding his rubdown. First pitch was minutes away.
Yet with a PA announcer blabbering about 20-something titles and prestige and other precocious New York kinds of bullshit, attention was not on the men in pinstripes (or navy batting practice jerseys, in this case). All eyes were pointed right outside of the visitors dugout, where Tampa Bay Rays pitcher David Price stood towards the bottom of a steep aisle of stairs. What looked like it had begun as a quick autograph request had turned into a massive line of people wanting ink scribbles from the 6-foot-6, 220-pound left-hander in what had become a makeshift meet-and-greet.
He didn’t flinch or walk away or ask a security guard to ask them to clear out. Instead, with a sly grin on his face, Price saw an opportunity.
For upwards of 30 minutes Price shook every hand, knelt down to speak to every child, took every picture, signed every piece of whatever was handed to him. There were good-looking girls and families and college-age dudes; elderly Rays fans and sweaty, fat, tattooed Yankees fanatics who have more than likely hurled profanities at Price during the past two years; post-2008 Tampa Bay shirts and over-sized Mariano Rivera jerseys. He stood a few steps into the stands, difficult to make out at first if for no other reason than that section 114 is not generally where you look for a staff ace.
As fans looked over and saw what was going on, they followed. Price welcomed the newcomers. He had nothing better to do. James Shields was on the mound. It was a lazy day trip to a city in which the Rays are desperate to even compete for supporters.
Maybe the kid whose parents are Yankees fans would meet Price, see a nice guy and flip to his hometown team. Maybe the blond who has probably never been across the Howard Frankland for anything other than binge drinking at the Sirata pool would stop by to see what that Tropicana Field place is all about one day. Hell, maybe the overweight guy in the Yankees tank top would buy a regular season ticket out of boredom.
Price and the Rays have nothing to lose, so they attack everything with personality and try to keep their distance from the uber professionalism of the American League East.
When the Rays scored three runs in the second inning, the stadium erupted as much as a spring training park possibly can. Outnumbered Yankees fans joked the penny pinchers get more fans at Steinbrenner Field than they do at The Trop.
That could be true, but hey, four times in five years. Not bad for the Tampa Bay Triple As.
Exit positivity. Enter your first Rays bitch fest of the new season.
Don’t pay attention to the above picture or the Manny overtone that I’m sure will run through your head every time you come across a Rays post for the next few days.
This post isn’t about Manny. He’s only a small part in what looks like it could be the most embarrassing season for a franchise that spent ten years giving people plenty of laughable moments to choose from. The Rays are seven games in, and it already feels like nothing matters.
That guy that they spent the entire spring drooling over? He’s gone. The most anemic bats in baseball at the end of last season? They’re still here. Those pitchers coming off breakout seasons? It’s time to underachieve, baby!
Bathroom stalls at college bars don’t have as many bad writings on the wall as the Rays have right now. It isn’t the fact that Manny went away this afternoon that Rays fans (er, bad term) should be afraid of. It’s the responses from players when they were asked about his departure that should have people cringing at the site of $9 party deck seats.
There wasn’t any “We’re going to push forward” or “We’ll be alright.” It was words like “disappointed” and “heartbreaking.” Not exactly words to live by with 155 games left on the slate. People might have expected a sub-par season in which Ramirez eventually flipped out and went AWOL. Remember when he said Johnny Damon could play 100 games, and he’d play 62? What are your thoughts on 157, Johnny?
But like I said, it’s certainly not just Manny. The Rays are without their best player for a couple weeks. They’re starting a man at first base who is not a major league player in any extended stretch of the term. Frustration dominates the faces of their starting pitchers. I’d like to say something about the bullpen, but that might require to name names, and quite honestly, I can’t do that.
What if this is the year that B.J. Upton properly explodes? It certainly wouldn’t surprise anyone. Last season proved that regular season attendance at Tropicana Field will never be good. That was true with a first-place team, and it will be even more true now. The attendance is going to dive low, real low. And don’t expect typical targets like Upton to be very cheerful when the 8,000 that do show up start expressing their frustrations.
There will be outbursts and fights within and lots and lots of ugly baseball. If you enjoy batters sleeping to 0-2 counts, nameless bullpens or lineups that are so unconventional that they become conventional, this is your team.
If you like opposing team home runs, James Shields is your pitcher. Lackluster right-side defense? Dan Johnson is your first baseman. A quirky manager that casts empty promises? Joe Maddon is your manager.
Oh yeah, and don’t forget your new left fielder, Sam Fuld.
Usually, I’d take this space of the post to counter with a “Well, actually they might be alright” stance. Not this time. Let me assure you of one thing: I’m not overreacting this time.
I love the Rays, but they’re not good. Evan Longoria can’t carry eight other batters when he comes back.
Look on the bright side. It’s more exciting than going .500.
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To read an opinion of the show from someone who could actually see the fine points of each match and who wasn’t tainted by $7 beers, check out Kyle Rancourt’s notes on WrestleMania 27.
And so it has come and gone.
The greatest spectacle in sports entertainment, the Super Bowl of fake sports, the mania of wrestle. As an on-and-off, life-long fan of scripted fighing, attending my first WrestleMania was one hell of an experience.
Before I go into breaking down the actual event, here are a few bullet-point notes that stood out from the weekend as a whole:
- Sunny getting inducted into the Hall of Fame had to be a nerve-racking experience for any 90s-era wrestler who is currently married. Seriously, it’s almost cruel that they put her in the same class as Shawn Michaels. For those of you who don’t know, Sunny is well-known for being a prostitute in the 90s. And by prostitute, I mean she had sex with pretty much everyone on the WWF roster for free. HBK was one of her more notorious
patronsrelationships. That was of course before he became a born-again Christian and she became a cocky, over-the-hill, white trash queen of bloviation.
- Road Dogg’s induction of his father, Bullet Bob Armstrong, into the WWE Hall of Fame was awesome. It was certainly nostalgic, and made me wonder how this guy’s verbal skills don’t have him employed right now. Seriously, a “ladies and gentlemen” promo is enough to make me push for the return of managers.
- I could listen to Dusty Rhodes talk for days. The accent, the rambling stories and the curious explanations. Seriously, the upcoming WrestleMania DVD will be worth the cost simply because of The American Dream’s attempt at explaining the Iditarod.
- Stop what you’re doing and go to the Georgia Aquarium right now. Whale sharks are totally boss.
- Apparently the WWE Hall of Fame induction ceremony is a formal occasion for all. Little did I know that cheap suits and cheesy evening gowns were par for the course at pro wrestling’s red carpet occasion. I’ll be ready next time. Don’t you worry.
- Don’t ever drink Beverly soda. It’s from Italy, and it tastes like a combination of flat soda water and cheap vodka. Thanks a lot, World of Coca-Cola.
- The Double Coronary Bypass Burger is a half-pound patty topped with six slices of American cheese, eight pieces of bacon, two fried eggs and it’s all between two grilled cheese sandwiches that serve as the bun. The eggs get you.
Now onto the event.
Just walking into the Georgia Dome was an experience in itself. The build-up of the event is unreal, and you don’t really realize what you’re getting into until you arrive inside. The visual of the stage and ramp in the vast space of a 70,000-seat football stadium is incredible. It really is tough to imagine the work that goes into these four hours. Bonus perk: club seats.
Daniel Bryan vs. Sheamus
Ah, the part where I get to make fun of you, the lazy, stay-at-home PPV orderer, because you didn’t get to see this match, and I did. Except you didn’t miss anything. Really, you missed nothing. The US title match now infamously became the show’s dark match which infamously became a throwaway, get everybody on the show battle royal. Say it with me: Kick, kick, punch, punch, somebody falls over the top rope. Kick, kick, punch, punch, somebody falls over the top rope. Rinse and repeat and repeat and repeat.
The move is getting bashed and will surely be compared to the tag team title unification match that took place as the dark match for WrestleMania XXV. However, there are two key differences here:
- The tag match (between Miz/Morrison and the Colons) had a major build and was appealing to the casual WWE fan. This year’s US title match was barely a discussion point outside of Internet fans.
- The tag match didn’t turn into a giant, cluster battle royal between every tag team in WWE. OK, that’s probably because it already featured the only two tag teams in WWE at the time.
Don’t worry, folks. Sheamus will be fine.
The Rock’s introductory promo
Nothing revolutionary here, so I know plenty of people at home complained that Rock did nothing new and seemed to be going through his traditional routine. Well, consider this Exhibit A of how much better EVERYTHING is in person. A live Rock promo is, as The Great One would say, electrifying. It jumped the crowd right into the show, and it’s always fun to sing-a-long with Rocky.
Alberto Del Rio vs. Edge
This match going on first shows the unconventional method that wrestling PPVs now operate under. I say this because it’s a theory that I feel most people didn’t understand when they wrote their respective reviews of Mania. There is no longer a traditional definition of the term “main event.” Matches are positioned to balance out the emotion of the crowd, and that’s exactly what was done in Atlanta to some extent. Sure, you could argue that this match didn’t need to go first because of Rock’s promo, but this was still an excellent start. A lot of fun and creative reversals by both guys, and a surprising result with Edge going over.
Del Rio’s arm bar finisher leaves plenty of sick possibilities for surprising twists, and we saw that for the first time on Sunday. It was shocking to see this come on first, but it sure set one hell of a precedent.
Cody Rhodes vs. Rey Mysterio
A match that is getting heavily underrated right now. I really thought this was a solid match, but the fact that the crowd was kinda mum to it did not do it any favors. It simply didn’t feel like a big deal because this is the only feud on the card that wasn’t featured prominently on Raw, which will always be the flagship show of WWE. It really came off as a comic book showdown between Mysterio’s Captain America gear and Rhodes’ over-the-top, self-disgusted villain. The victory was great for Rhodes, and both men got to show off some excellent maneuvers.
It’s too bad most of the crowd was like me and had little exposure to the feud as a whole.
Big Show, Kane, Kofi Kingston and Santino Marella vs. The Corre
This match was so bad and irrelevant that it was even more useless than I originally thought it would be. Proof? It didn’t even last long enough to serve as a proper bathroom/beer/merchandise stand break. It was all over before I even made it into the concourse. Dumb.
Randy Orton vs. CM Punk
I had previously said that I hoped this match would get somewhere between 15 and 20 minutes. According to ProWrestling.net, it got 14:45, but it deserved more. Not complaining, the two did an excellent, old school job with what they were given. Later, two veterans would prove that it was probably impossible to steal the show, but Orton/Punk was still very well done. Word is that Orton was particularly not happy backstage with where this match was placed on the card and how much time it was given. While part of me can’t blame him, the other part thinks the time for these two to absolutely star will soon come, and the placement of this match had a lot to do with the aforementioned unconventional card.
The RKO is an excellent move because it makes it feel like a match can end at any time. That was certainly the vibe in the arena when he caught CM Punk’s flying clothesline attempt. The crowd was a bit heel-heavy all night as WrestleMania tends to draw the intense wrestling fans who are older and bitter and blah, blah, blah. This was the first real evidence of this as Punk received heavy cheers from the crowd.
2011 Hall of Fame class introduced
HBK gets his moment and then has to pose for a picture next to, you guessed it, Sunny. Go away, devil woman.
Michael Cole (w/ Jack Swagger) vs. Jerry Lawler with Stone Cold Steve Austin as the special guest referee
You knew this match wasn’t going to be good. Hell, you knew it wasn’t even really going to be a wrestling match. But still, people find ways to complain that Cole didn’t come off like a descendant of Ricky Steamboat (or even Alicia Fox) on Sunday. My major complaint is that A – it went on about nine minutes too long and B – it solved nothing. All we needed was a four-minute blow-off where Lawler beat the hell out of Cole and chased him away forever, but that didn’t happen.
I differ from the crowd a little bit in that I supported Cole’s original heel run because as long as the crowd is being vocal, there’s no reason to ignore it. But what happened on Sunday both turned Cole’s heat from hatred to apathy, and then somehow kept this whole disaster going. Cole’s antics saturated the match to a point where Lawler’s offense wasn’t fully embraced. The crowd was the most enthusiastic in serenading Cole with “You can’t wrestle” chants and embracing Austin’s assorted Stunners.
It ended up being fun live, but I can only imagine how bad it dragged on television. Stone Cold’s antics in dealing with Cole’s tap-out was hilarious . But then the reversal left everything open. I thought it may lead to the final reveal of the Raw GM, but I’m now sure more than ever that that person doesn’t really exist.
Undertaker vs. Triple H
Equal parts brutal, believable and epic. The Undertaker continues to set an insane bar for WrestleMania performances in defending the latter years of his streak that now stands at 19-0. Where the matches with HBK were technical and flashy masterpieces, this was a grueling and destructive match that lived up to every bit of its hype and stipulation. As one little kid said walking out of the Georgia Dome: “When they said no holds barred, they really meant no holds barred.”
I’m now completely convinced that Undertaker will wrestle until he can’t walk anymore, which I predict will be WrestleMania XXVIII. I’ve seen devastating hardcore matches, and I’ve seen mind-boggling psychological matches that suspend disbelief. However, I have never seen a match mix the two qualities in such a perfect manner.
This was a spot fest that told a story. A story that made fans cringe and gasp in amazement. It took every young wrestler in the back that might be bitching about veterans owning the card and said, “Well, go do that, and we’ll talk.”
There was a bit of role reversal from the Taker/HBK matches in that it was Triple H frustrated by Taker’s ability to keep getting up. It drove him several Pedigrees, repeated chair shots (including one to the head which we haven’t seen in a very long time) and arguably the most dramatic Tombstone of all time. We’re all supposed to know better, but admit it, you thought the streak was over for a moment when The Game went for the coffin cover. It was the biggest pop of the night in the Georgia Dome.
Being the idiot that I am, I do have a minor tweak for one of the best executed matches of all time. I really would have liked to see Triple H pass out a la Stone Cold at WrestleMania 13. It just seems more in line with the whole “win or die trying” theme that Triple H was trying to get across. The reality now is that he quit. Still a crazy and awesome ending.
I feel like it wasn’t too far from reality to have Taker stretchered out of the arena. The man should probably not be wrestling or doing anything physical at this stage, but he continues to destroy his body for the streak. His squirming and general discomfort left an eerie but appreciative feeling in the dome and encouraged a great, polite standing ovation. Taker may never truly break character, but he became a little bit human Sunday night. Don’t expect to see The Last Outlaw for several months as he really sold the idea that he’ll be feeling like hell for a while because of this one night.
Trish Stratus, John Morrison and Snooki vs. Dolph Ziggler and LayCool
Attention, douchers. This is what is called a buffer match. It is the match that serves as your letdown from a great match so that another big match isn’t expected to top something that it probably can’t. The placement of this match does not somehow mean that Vince McMahon views Snooki as a main-event attraction.
This was simply a gimmick that served as a transition. Calm down, losers.
Attention, douchers No. 2. Booing Snooki doesn’t make you cool or a better wrestling fan or anything more than, well, a doucher. I admitted this last night, and I’ll admit it again. I was kinda proud of Snooki last night. She ran out in front of 71,000 people who all wish they could get paid to party on television, and got her spray-tanned ass completely booed off. She received the second most heel heat on the show, and we’ll get to No. 1 in a moment.
But then she did something crazy. She showed a little bit of athleticism, and everybody either shut up or (gasp) cheered. It was a legitimately cool moment, and you could tell it meant a lot to her.
Ziggler and Morrison will one day get better draws for Mania. But first they both have to prove they have more charisma than they’ve show in their careers. Pushing either one right now would be a rush. They’re simply not polished enough as complete characters.
The Miz vs. John Cena
Let’s talk for a second about the biggest mistake made at WrestleMania 27.
The cool entrances are over and it’s time for the WWE Champion to face a man who is supposed to be the company’s biggest babyface. It should be electric and deafening inside the arena. Except no one cared.
No one cared because they knew not to take the match seriously until they saw The Rock. They knew not to cheer for Miz because he’s an overly pompous heel, but they also knew not to cheer for Cena because Rock has informed the world that it’s not cool to cheer for WWE’s biggest merchandise man.
What we got was an overshadowed heel champion working against a face challenger who received more heel heat than anyone else on the card (even Vickie Guerrero) on Sunday night. It was awkward and went against the grain of pro wrestling 101 in a bad way. I don’t think I’m alone in admitting that I paid little attention to the match until Rock came out and restarted it.
UPDATE: Since I began writing this, it was announced on Raw that Rock will face Cena in a match … In 361 days at WrestleMania 28 in Miami.
So if Rock continues to destroy Cena, what choice does WWE have? Eventually the kids will stop cheering for him because it’s not cool to cheer for Cena at live events. But then again, Cena could gain his face status back by going through some other feuds with intense heels in the mean time.
One last thing with Cena/message to fans: If you boo Cena and tear into him because you truly hate his character, go ahead. But if you’re at an event and doing so simply because he appeals to kids, grow the hell up. Guess who wrestling is made for? Kids, not 45-year-old socially awkward Game Stop managers, you creepy bastard. It only makes you more pathetic and closer to “It’s still real to me, dammit” status to pick on kids at a pro wrestling match. Heels aren’t impressed by the fact that you waited in line for two hours to see them because you read dirt sheets and consider yourself whatever the hell a “smark” is. Cena works his ass off and keeps your favorite company afloat. Tyson Kidd doesn’t.
Do I care for Cena? Not really, but I understand his place in WWE as the company’s most marketable star. However, it is getting very difficult to see the future of that status if Rock continues to blur lines.
For the record, it was very strange hearing Miz get a giant pop for his pinfall.
As I’ve repeatedly said, I loved everything about attending Mania. It was truly a blast and an experience that I’ll remember forever.
If there’s one thing that really stood out Sunday, it was that WrestleMania 27 defined the idea of sports entertainment over wrestling. It might not be for everyone, but to me the spectacle element beats the hell out of watching two computer geeks go crazy for 45 minutes in a high school gym. If you don’t like it, don’t watch it. WWE won’t miss you.
WrestleMania 27 was far from technical, but it was certainly a spectacle. The countdown to Miami begins now.
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It’s almost here.
I never book anything in advance, so you can imagine my attempt at acclimating to the idea of Wrestlemania 27 only being a handful of days away. I’ve had this ticket for son long, I’ve almost forgotten that I had it at times. But now is not one of those times.
On Friday, I will be leaving for Atlanta. I’ll be there until Monday. In between, I will eat at some locales made famous by one Adam Richman, attend the WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony where I will see my favorite wrestler of all time, Shawn Michaels, cry a lot and most importantly, I will be sitting in section 251 for the Super Bowl of fake sports.
But my personal experiences are another post for a later time. I’m here today to preview the entirety of the card that will fill the four-hour show on Sunday night live in front of 75,000 fans at the Georgia Dome. Plenty to write. Let’s do this.
Rey Mysterios vs. “Dashing” Cody Rhodes
Setting: This is one feud that I wish I had paid more attention to as I rarely get to watch Smackdown. Basically, Rhodes has gone from Randy Orton lackey to this “Dashing” character, an overly self-obsessed and metrosexual gimmick. Except Rey Mysterio broke Rhodes’ nose, sending him into this strange dark whirlwind that’s got hints of Mankind and old school Kane to it.
What I want to happen: This could be a huge chance for Rhodes to get a win and establish himself as a star. I’d like to see WWE let it happen.
What will happen: Rhodes has gotten the best of Mysterio throughout this conflict, so I’m assuming they’re setting up a redeeming Mysterio win at Mania.
The Corre vs. Big Show, Kane, Vladimir Kozlov and Santino Marella
Setting: Uh, The Corre needed an opponent, so the WWE gave them this. Poor Wade Barrett. Oh yeah, and you know that Kane guy that was the most evil dude in WWE a few months ago and buried The Undertaker alive? Well, he’s a happy-go-lucky dancing babyface now. Ugh. This is by far my least favorite match on the card. And Snooki is coming up later in the show.
What I want to happen: Wade Barrett turns on everyone and wins a seven-on-one match.
What will happen: They seem to be moving away from the whole gang thing with the second demise of the Nexus, so I expect the same thing to happen here. Babyfaces win, The Corre starts to hint at a quick breakup.
United States Champion Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan for the United States Championship
Setting: Not a huge amount of build up for this one. After winning the King of the Ring tournament late last year, Sheamus went on an embarrassing streak where he was literally losing to everyone. So finally, he got mad, dropped the King gimmick and challenged Daniel Bryan to a U.S. title match with the stipulation being that he would quit WWE if he did not win the belt. Sheamus won, Daniel Bryan challenged him to a rematch and boom, Mania.
What I want to happen: It’s a shame that this title doesn’t feel as important as it should be right now, but this could still be an excellent match. These two can both put on excellent matches, but it’s hard to believe they’ll get too much time to do so here. I’d like to see Sheamus win here and further push the desperate chase of Bryan, who would play best when he’s not at the top.
What will happen: Sheamus’ title run is just now getting life, and there’s no way that will change here. Sheamus wins a match that probably isn’t given more than 10 minutes.
John Morrison, Trish Stratus and Snooki vs. Dolph Ziggler and LayCool
Setting: Yes, Snooki. Wrestlemania almost always has the random celebrity match to garner a little extra mainstream attention, and this match is this year’s version of it. Are all the Internet wrestling people bashing it? Absolutely. Do those people matter? Absolutely not. People that take wrestling too seriously drive me nuts. It’s supposed to be fun entertainment, stop crying because your favorite midcarder didn’t make the show. Booing Snooki because Kofi Kingston didn’t make the show doesn’t make you cool. It makes you a tool. This will not be the worst thing you see on Sunday night.
What I want to happen: Morrison and Ziggler have some good exchanges, Trish Stratus gets everybody all 90s nostalgic and Snooki somehow gets the pin.
What will happen: Morrison and Ziggler have some good exchanges, Trish Stratus gets everybody all 90s nostalgic and Snooki somehow gets the pin.
CM Punk vs. Randy Orton
Setting: This really might be my favorite feud coming into Wrestlemania. Punk and Orton are probably my two favorite current performers in WWE, so I was sucked into this automatically. However, what they have done since has taken my interest ridiculously far. They have both played their roles to perfection. Punk is the verbal agitator who carries the crowd like a lunch box, and Orton is the quiet but fierce monster who prefers a punt to the skull over a promo. Their characters complement each other perfectly and this certainly isn’t the last time we’ll see this feud during their careers. The transformation from Punk whining and watching all of his Nexus members get taken out to his current vicious streak has been done well, too.
What I want to happen: All I ask for in this one is that these two get a decent amount of time to work their match. I could care less who wins either way as it won’t hurt the feud either way. I’ll gladly take two of the smaller matches getting squash treatment if it means these guys can go for 15 to 20 minutes.
What will happen: Orton wins, but Punk attacks him afterward to keep the feud going.
Michael Cole (w/ Jack Swagger) vs. Jerry Lawler with Stone Cold Steve Austin as the special guest referee
Setting: This match is all about setting because really this is just a quick and easy way to get Lawler his long-overdue Wrestlemania moment and Stone Cold to pass out some Stunners and drink some damn beer. It has been a little less than a year since Cole started to become a heel announcer and a few months since he and Lawler began trading verbal jabs. Cole is a giant douche. It is the basis of his character and the reason why people have booed him for years. Pro wrestling is built off crowd reactions, so the louder the boos got, the more Cole got pushed. We all know generally what will happen. Lawler deserves his first-ever Mania match and Cole has been built up so much that the crowd is going to freak when he finally takes him out.
What I want to happen: Lawler gets his feel-good moment, and Stone Cold finishes everybody off. The two go through more cold Coors Lights than Miguel Cabrera before they depart together.
What will happen: See above.
World Heavyweight Champion Edge (w/ Christian) vs. Alberto Del Rio (w/ Brodus Clay) for the World Heavyweight Championship
Setting: This match has had one of the more classic Wrestlemania main event set-ups. In this case, the blue collar babyface champion is Edge, who is on what is almost certainly his hottest run as a face in a career that’s largely been carried out as a heel. The challenger is Del Rio, a white collar heel who was four months away from even debuting in WWE at this time last year. Del Rio has hit the scene and gotten way over in a ridiculously short amount of time. The feud has stretched over two months without a single match between the two, and each has picked up a corner man along the way. For Edge, it is longtime tag team partner and best friedn Christian. For Del Rio, it is former NXT cast member and former Snoop Dogg bodyguard Brodus Clay.
What I want to happen: Edge is one of my favorite wrestlers of all time, and I have never seen him work in person before. So I am very biased when I say that I would absolutely love to see Edge retain in front of a hugely pro-Edge crowd on the biggest stage of them all. However, I’m a realist, so …
What will happen: Del Rio’s huge push will come to a climax on Sunday night. It really feels like he’s being built for a huge moment, and I expect everything about it to be grand. His entrances are grand on a weekly basis, so one can only imagine what the Mexican aristocrat will have in store for Wrestlemania. I expect him to win a long match, and Edge to continue working against younger heels as he has said that he may be very close to retirement.
WWE Champion The Miz vs. John Cena for the WWE Championship
Setting: Wait, have I really gone this entire time without mentioning THE GREAT ONE? Yes, for some terrible reason, I have. WWE has yet to give us any clue of exactly how The Rock will be involved in this match, but one has to assume that he will play a major role. All signs seem to lead to him going after Cena, but if there’s one thing we know about pro wrestling, the obvious rarely happens. The Miz/Cena feud is rare in today’s age in that it has found a way to go on for well over a year even though teh two have both gone through various feuds in the meantime. It’s a credit to The Miz that it has lasted this long. Just go back to a couple years ago when Miz was wearing glittery shorts, an Anti-Cena shirt, Mizuno gloves and a purple faux-hawk, and imagine that guy headlining Wrestlemania with Cena. It’s truly incredible.
What I want to happen: I’m at a point where I no longer believe that Cena can operate as a face, especially as long as guys like Rock and Austin are anywhere near. You just can’t be promoting a guy as your company’s top babyface when he’s getting the ass of the crowd in his biggest feuds. Yes, I understand the whole kids and merchandise thing, but at a certain point it becomes unrealistic for everyone. My theory is this: Cena wins the WWE title and Rock comes out and attempts to make nice and raise his hand and congratulate him. That’s when Cena flips and beats the living hell out of The Rock. I’m talking a 15-minute beating that puts so much sympathy on Rock that the Georgia Dome is hurling $9 beers at Cena. The seed for the turn in is simple. cena has done everything for the fans and worked harder than anyone, and the second Rock comes back, they turn on him. Hell, he can even keep up his pandering to the kids deal as long as he rips everyone else in the audience. There WWE, it’s the hottest summer storyline you’ve ever had.
What will happen: I hate to gay out here, but I really can’t predict this one. I have no idea what’s going to happen, and that’s a very good thing.
Triple H vs. The Undertaker in a No Holds Barred Match
Setting: Has a single promo ever done more for a match than the one that aired on Raw Monday between Triple H, Undertaker and Shawn Michaels? The 22-minute segment completely sold not only this match but the PPV as a whole. The three veterans put on an absolute microphone clinic, and it took this match to a level that it had been struggling to get to without the two participants coming face to face. I’m still surprised that they did not go personal over the previous weeks with Take digging into Shawn’s retirement more, but what they did definitely worked. It’s unrealistic to think that Taker will ever lose at Mania, and to an extent, it seems even less in question this year than usual. But they have taken the story from Triple H beating Taker to Triple H crumbling in emotions a bit. Maybe the best quiet line in wrestling in 10 years: “You can’t win. I’m sorry.” – HBK
What I want to happen: It’d be selfish to say that I want Triple H to win just so I can say I’m there when the streak ends, but I might not mind it. I’m really happy either way here. Just seeing this match live will be great.
What will happen: 19-0. It’s that simple. Taker wins a drawn-out brawl after a few upset teases.
I’m like a kid at Christmas, except more excited.
bars bikes fat people firls Florida Gators Gainesville jogging mark sanchez midtown NFL philadelphia eagles riley cooper salty dog saloon University of Florida
Because I can’t just play sports reporter all the time.
It’s 11 p.m. on a Saturday night, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not going out. Playing phone tag with 17-year-old kids has sucked the life out of me. I mean that in the most non-creepy, non-Mark Sanchez way possible.
Let’s take some time to pass out notes to the people of the lovely center of education and $2 wells that we call Gainesville.
Dear competing runner girls: You know who I’m talking to. I’m talking to you, the two girls on opposite sides of Union Road who are fueling each other’s half-ass attempts to train for what I can only assume would be the sexiest Boston Marathon of all time. You both stop running, but immediately begin scrolling through your respective iPods because you of course slowed down to flip to the new Roscoe Dash song, not because you’re tired.
But then one of you starts again and the other briefly looks away and misses the challenge, so you can imagine the hectic sprint that follows you turning your head to the right. My message to you is simple: stop it.
No, don’t stop running. That would be a tragedy. There are approximately two things I look forward to when I head to class these days. One of them is you running, and I can’t think of the other. And you know this about the general male populous of the campus. It’s why you run through the chaos of Turlington in a sports bra, and shorts that I can only describe as … gulp.
So stop acting like you really care about competing with the girl across the street. You’re running is for show, not vital cardio. It doesn’t take three miles of jogging to burn off the Waldorf salad from Designer Greens and the granola bar that you are going to stretch out over three meals today. You’re both succeeding by showing up.
Dear Salty Dog Saloon: One of my favorite guilty pleasures in the world is reading the various profanity-laden entries that have been drunkenly scribbled on your walls by generations of college kids who, for some reason, decided to bring a pen/permanent marker to midtown.
“I wish this urinal was Dan Werner’s face.”
“When Phil pees, it burns.”
“Brian Rush pre-ordered ‘Failure to Launch’ on Blu-ray.”
These are obviously the clean ones, but it never get’s old. Except when I walked into your watering hole’s watering hole on Friday night, I noticed something terrible: white paint. Sure, some proud souls bound to restart tradition have scribbled, but too much of my precious obnoxiousness is gone. It’s like somebody painted a Hitler on the Mona Lisa. It’s like someone dumped white paint over Starry Night. It’s like someone photoshopped Brett Favre’s dong pic.
Stop it, Salty. Know your role. You’re the place where people go when they want to dress slightly nicer and black out slightly less than if they go to Balls. But that doesn’t make you the damn Copacabana, either. Embrace your raunchy walls. They build culture.
Dear Riley Cooper: I’ve noticed a strange amount of animosity toward you from bargoers this semester. They call you a tool, they complain about you cutting in line or never waiting for drinks, they try to fight you.
Let me just say that I couldn’t disagree more. You’re a genius, Riley Cooper.
Are you a good NFL player? Absolutely not, but that doesn’t stop you from reaping every possible benefit that an NFL contract can bring. People dream of the things that come along with a college education: the parties, the girls, the status. But you have remained a college student while also garnering the tag of pro football player. You’re taking a four-year NFL contract to bars where other people are blowing their life savings. You’re walking around a campus where practice squad walk-ons are worshiped in a Philadelphia Eagles shirt. You’re walking up to girls whose boyfriends work part-time at Zaxby’s and saying “really?”
So live it up, Riley. SC salutes you.
Dear girls that complain about Riley Cooper at bars: Stop it. You don’t mean it. And even if you do, nobody cares. No matter what level, pro athletes get a different pass for approaching girls. Blame it on society, blame it on reality, blame it on whatever. It’s not their fault that you refer to their aim as “creeping.” It’s also not their fault that it usually works. The same girls that complain about athletes when they go out are the same girls that end up going home with them. It’s like elementary school when you talked shit about whatever girl you liked.
Just give it up. You’re probably going to be a miserable trophy wife for some baseball player who has mistresses in every major league city one day. Karma’s a bitch.
Dear incredibly large girl on bike: I’m sorry that God and KFC have apparently held a grudge against you throughout your entire life, but the bike lane is not made for people of your stature. The narrow passages that are Gainesville back roads do not allow me to properly pass you without scaring you more than that time you walked into a health food store.
You are already breaking one law of nature by simply fitting on your bike. I should not be forced to run over the median and risk killing a perfectly good homeless person to avoid giving you death-by-side-mirror. As you know if you’ve read my previous rants, I’m not a fan of bike riders of any size. However, you are an entirely new issue.
I’m sorry. I don’t want to be mean, but I don’t want to commit vehicular manslaughter, either.
baseball ben joseph buchholz bobcats buchholz high school high school baseball jack charleston joe adel pitchers
I know what you’re all thinking.
Bryan, you’re a no good, lazy loser, and you have abandoned us.
Well, technically you are at least partially correct. Me apologizing for long periods of absence has become so cliche on this site that I won’t even go there anymore. I’ve come to the easy conclusion that Hilson fuels this site, and I just get tossed in for the occasional change of pace. That will probably be the case as long as he’s taking one blogging class, and I’m swimming through the heavily contaminated water that is senior year.
Seriously, why is college senior year so awful and tedious? My high school senior year consisted of joke-worthy computer courses and “war history” classes that really just consisted of us watching “Platoon” and “Full Metal Jacket” over and over again. Did it cause me to majorly suck at my first semester of college? Sure, but I’d gladly take sucking at my first semester of post-post-secondary life if it meant Ethics and Editing could cease to exist.
Anyways, the fact that Hilson outnumbers my posts roughly 4-1 these days isn’t the point. If you check SC regularly, you already know that. The point is to show you all, my beloved Casualtists, just exactly why I have bastardized you.
When I’m not doing this or this or this, I have picked up the part-hobby/part-class assignment of covering high school baseball here in sunny Gainesville. As a sports reporting student, I am required to cover a beat for the entirety of the spring semester.
Since starting at Gator Country, I am now a beat writer for three UF teams (softball, men’s golf and women’s golf) on top of doing some football recruiting work and an upcoming Internet TV show. A sane person would make one of these sports double as his beat for class, except you know that sane person is not me.
Truth is, I enjoy covering the Buchholz Bobcats baseball team. As deranged as it sounds, it kind of feels like a break after a day of classes and homework.The atmosphere is fun, the parents are ridiculously helpful and the team is sick.
So it wasn’t as horrible as it sounds when I spent the better part of my spring break reporting and writing the 2,000-word feature story on what might be the best starting rotation in Florida high school baseball that you are about to read/skim through/ignore.
Do with it as you will, but I just wanted to prove that I’m doing a little more than sitting on a couch and drinking Busch Light all day.
It’s a Saturday afternoon at Buchholz High School’s baseball field, and Joe Adel is dealing.
The 6-foot-7, 212-pound senior pitcher is using every inch of his overwhelming, intimidating stature to his advantage. He’s utilizing a fastball that would give you an array of speeds in the low 90s if you were carrying a radar gun. The fastball is magnified by his height and release points, often causing the ball to hit junior catcher Kevin Krupp’s glove before the batter is quite sure what happened.
Adel takes a no-hitter into the seventh inning and picks up his second win in as many starts this season. He carries a 1.24 ERA and has registered 21 strikeouts in just over 11 innings of work.
Off the field, Adel is a humble jokester who is more likely to put an arm around you and help you find the players you need to interview in the postgame chaos than he is to brag about the talent that has led him to a college baseball scholarship at the University of South Florida.
When asked what he brings to the starting rotation at Buchholz, Adel quickly smiles and says that he “brings the good looks.”
But on the field, Adel is one of the best pitchers in the area. His aforementioned Saturday performance against Holy Innocents Episcopal, an Atlanta school on a four-game Florida spring break tour, is only different from his first two outings (the first coming in relief) in that he was not given a strict pitch-count limit.
Adel’s first two games were pitch-count limited because he moonlights as an all-county basketball player during the winter and had only recently rejoined the baseball team.
He chose South Florida over schools like West Point, Davidson and Harvard, because of his belief in Chuck Hernandez, the Bulls’ pitching coach and former major league pitching coach who once instructed Cliff Lee, Justin Verlander and Scott Kazmir.
“Chuck is the main reason I’m going there,” Adel said. “Most importantly, he can definitely develop me into a greater pitcher, and he believes that I can do that, too. That was huge for me.”
But just because Adel won’t pitch in the Bobcats’ next game doesn’t mean it will get any easier for their next opponent. That’s because joining Adel in the Buchholz rotation are two other pitchers who will be playing college baseball one year from now.
Their names are Ben Joseph and Jack Charleston, and together this trio might be on pace to win its second state championship. However, you won’t find their first state championship in the FHSAA record books or on the Buchholz trophy shelves.
“We’ve been together since seventh grade, and we won state in seventh grade,” Joseph said.
Their first title came wearing the red and blue of the Santa Fe Sluggers, a local travel-ball team, not the black and gold of Buchholz High School.
The Sluggers were together for about four-and-a-half years and featured some of the best baseball talent in the Gainesville area. All but one of the team’s alumni currently plays high school baseball in the Alachua County. The other Is Garrett Marshall, the Sluggers’ talented center fielder who moved to Georgia.
Five members of the 2011 Buchholz high school roster were on the 12-year-old Sluggers team that won a state title in 2006. Aside from Adel, Charleston and Joseph, current first baseman Graham Cason and current third baseman Austin Stone were also on the team.
Hugh Cain was the head coach of the Sluggers, but the team’s assistant coaches were more directly connected to the current Buchholz rotation. Doug Adel and Greg Charleston, the fathers of Joe and Jack, served as Cain’s assistants.
Adel and Charleston helped coach their sons from the time they were 8 until Jack started at Buchholz and Joe began high school at St. Francis Catholic.
“My dad first taught me how to play baseball and showcase myself and what I can do,” Adel told the Gainesville Sun in November. “He started a travel team and has always been there for me.”
The friendship between their sons went back even further than the 12-year-old Sluggers.
Adel and Charleston have been classmates since their preschool days at St. Patrick’s Interparish School. With birthdays only a couple days apart, Adel and Charleston occasionally had joint birthday parties as young children.
“They go way back,” Adel’s father said.
“Way back” is also when Charleston’s father, a former college baseball player and minor leaguer in the New York Mets’ system, began instilling long-term fundamentals in both young boys. He had Adel and Charleston starting every practice with long toss when they were 8 years old.
He focused heavily on mechanics at an age when most kids want to do nothing but play scrimmage games at practice. First they played catch at 120 feet, then 220 feet, but their mechanics always had to stay the same.
Charleston’s father says that too many pitchers today are being coddled, and that’s the reason for increasing amounts of arm problems at the college and major league levels.
“You can’t take a day off of throwing,” he said. “When [Adel, Charleston and Joseph] come to a game, it’s a piece of cake. They have the stamina and arm strength to succeed.”
Birthday parties weren’t the only things that Adel and Charleston shared as youngsters. As the starting pitcher for the 8-year-old Pirates, Adel was limited by the local league on how many pitches he could throw.
This often meant switching out with Charleston in the middle of games which required the two to meet halfway, swap out gear and trot to their new positions where Adel towered over opposing batters. Adel never played catcher again after his time with the Pirates.
It’s a Friday night at Gainesville High’s baseball field, and Charleston is leaving batters perplexed.
The lanky right-handed senior’s 150 pounds barely fill the 6-foot-5 frame that he has recently sprouted. His thin lower body is deemed irrelevant when spectators see the low 90s velocity of his fastball, and what head coach Ron Brooks calls the best breaking ball on the team.
He wasn’t always a pitcher. In his days on the Sluggers, Charleston played everywhere and rarely pitched. He often played at shortstop or catcher during the 12-year-old state title run.
“Up until this year, I had no idea where Jack would be as a pitcher,” Adel’s father said. “He’s having a great season.”
Charleston works six innings against the Hurricanes, stretching his team-leading total to 14 innings pitched in three games. He strikes out four along the way.
Next season, Charleston will be taking his deceiving frame and three-pitch repertoire to St. Augustine, Fla., on a baseball scholarship at Flagler College, a school that started recruiting him as a junior.
“It’s good to know that I’m going somewhere where I’m wanted and needed,” Charleston said.
Joseph, the son of a rabbi who childhood coaches call Benjy, joined the group later. His family moved to Gainesville from Virginia when he was in the sixth grade. Once in Gainesville, he initially played for the Gainesville Bats, a travel team that Adel’s father called a rival even though he admitted that the Sluggers rarely lost to them.
After playing in a national tournament for the Bats in Cooperstown, N.Y., the same week that the Sluggers were also playing there, Joseph left the Bats and joined the Sluggers. Charleston had left the Gainesville Bandits, an older team that he was playing with, to join the Sluggers right before their trip to Cooperstown.
At Cooperstown, an ongoing summer tournament where 96 teams from all over the world come in and out on a weekly basis, Charleston had five home runs as the Sluggers finished 18th at the tournament. They lost to a team from Ohio that went on to win the entire tournament.
Now with a solid foundation in the future “Big Three” of Buchholz, the Sluggers headed back to Florida for their fall season.
While they didn’t have the best year as a whole, the Sluggers caught on when it mattered most: in a November tournament for the state championship. Charleston’s father described a group of players from various schools and cliques that didn’t always get along but pulled everything together when they needed to.
The Sluggers went 6-0 in a state tournament that began with group play.
Leading the way were Stone, Charleston and Adel, the three players with the highest batting averages in the tournament. Adel also started three of the six tournament games, and closed out the last inning of the Sluggers’ semifinal just before starting their match-up against the Sarasota Stealth for the championship.
After Joseph closed out the 9-5 victory that Adel started, the Sluggers had come a long way from their early days when a parent’s space heater once caught a dugout on fire on a cold night during the early parts of a spring season.
They were state champions.
It’s a Tuesday night at Buchholz, and Joseph is dominant.
At 6-foot and 195 pounds, Joseph doesn’t have the towering stature of the other two pitchers in the Bobcat starting rotation. But Joseph’s size hasn’t changed much since he was an overbearing righty on Cain’s state championship team.
“He had a full-grown body on a 12-year-old,” Adel’s father said.
Joseph brings more variety to the rotation by utilizing a cutter and a slider. He has a knack for throwing harder as the game goes on which fans don’t get to see on this particular Tuesday night as he is pulled from the game in the fourth inning after just 47 pitches.
The reasoning for his early exit is simple. The Bobcats are already ahead by 15 runs in a game where Jacksonville’s White High would only register one hit and have to call it a day after the fifth inning due to high school’s ten-run rule.
Joseph is maybe the most vocal about the Bobcats’ talent level this season.
“When we throw strikes, we’re not going to be touched,” Joseph said. “We’re going to beat ourselves more than other teams are going to beat us. If we don’t reach state, the senior class will be disappointed.”
That senior class is 13 members-strong and is led heavily by the five former Sluggers.
Joseph is the only man in the rotation who will not be staying in the state of Florida this fall. That’s because you have to go a little further north to find the Ivy League.
Some families’ traditions are high schools or timeshares in the mountains of North Carolina. But for the Josephs, the common bond is Yale University.
“My sister is a junior [at Yale] this year, my dad graduated from there in 1980 and his father graduated from there in 1955,” Joseph said.
Joseph chose pitching at Yale over baseball offers from schools like Duke and Tulane.
Five years after first coming together and winning their first championship as a group, Adel, Charleston and Joseph, seem bound to do something special in 2011.
It’s apparent around the ballpark whenever one of them is on the mound. Dads of freshman and junior varsity players stick around to watch even though their kids are begging them to go home. The same dads nudge you and rattle off each pitcher’s attributes like a scouting report when you mention one of their names.
“I’d put this pitching staff up with anybody in the area,” Brooks said. “I’d put them up with anybody in the state for that matter. The only thing we’re missing is a left-hander.”
Greg Charleston has been around Buchholz baseball for six years. His oldest son, Stuart, played for the Bobcats and is now a pitcher at Florida State College at Jacksonville. He said that he has never seen a high school team with three pitchers that are this good.
“I never doubted that all three of them would have a chance to play after high school,” Charleston said. “It has been fun watching them.”
Atlnta Cena Sucks Georgia Dome Jerry Lawler John Cena Michael Cole Monday Night Raw Stone Cold Steve Austin Sunny Tammy Lynn Sytch The Miz The Rock The Undertaker Triple H Wrestlemania Wrestlemania 27 WWE
You know the drill. Well, at least you should.
In commemoration of ME attending the Super Bowl of fake blood sport on April 3, I will be breaking down the Road to Wrestlemania on a somewhat regular basis. By somewhat regular basis, I mean, uh, whenever I feel like it. Tonight I feel like it which is to say I can’t sleep. So second on our journey is the 3-7-11 (Oh thank Heaven) edition of Raw. The episode was hyped for the return of Stone Cold Steve Austin to WWE television. Let’s do this.
Show opens with The Undertaker’s entrance
First, let me just say that I freaking love the slight tweak that Taker has made to his gimmick since returning. In case you haven’t noticed, he is no longer being dubbed as “The Deadman”. He is now “The Last Outlaw”. He still carries all the trademark appearances of The Deadman, except now he comes out to Johnny Cash and talks and moves like a real person during promos. It’s a combination of Deadman and American Badass, and it’s brilliant.
Anyways, Taker is obviously focusing on Triple H for their match at Mania. Basically, he came out to say that the match will be no holds barred, which is to say that it will be a professional wrestling match. Thanks Taker!
Taker continued to hint that this could be a retirement match by reiterating Triple H’s statement that he “will die” if the streak ends, and that Triple H will “die trying” if Taker wins. If Mania 27 is really Taker or Triple H’s last match, and I get to see it live, I might pee a little.
Randy Orton defeats David Otunga (AKA Mr. Jennifer Hudson)
So three guys (Nexus) beat the hell out of one guy (Randy Orton) for a solid ten minutes. After dragging his lifeless body from backstage to the ring, a member of Nexus (Otunga) manages to lose a match to Orton. IT’S STILL REAL TO ME DAMMIT!
If you haven’t been paying attention, this is all to fuel the best undercard feud going right now. Orton vs. CM Punk is epic and you should almost certainly agree with me. Punk started the feud because Orton punted him in the head (WWE’s version of Orton killing you) two years ago, costing him to forfeit his world title. So Orton has now managed to punt three members of Nexus, leaving Punk with just one comrade with less than a month until Mania.
Christian defeated Brodus Clay
A returning Christian has become something of the odd man out in his love/hate triangle with Edge and Alberto Del Rio. Christian beats the large Brodus Clay fairly easily, but is then taken out by the man who was supposed to be his opponent, Del Rio. The last two times Del Rio has beat up Edge, there’s been a Christian save. But tonight, no Edge. Something tells me we have a post-Mania feud that Edge/Christian fans have wanted for years.
Sunny is being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame
I dedicate this moment to a young girl who once tried to get a 10-year-old Bryan Holt in trouble for bringing a magazine with Sunny bikini pictures in it to elementary school.
Take that, snitch.
Eve defeated one of the Bella Twins to retain the WWE Divas Championship
GIRL FIGHT! Moving on.
Michael Cole promo leads to chaos (Kyle Rancourt’s head explodes)
So Michael Cole is out to announce who the guest referee will be in his match against Jerry Lawler at Wrestlemania. I feel the need to bring Rancourt into this because his opinion on Cole’s current role is true.
As he wrote earlier from his revolutionary Twitter account to my new and revolutionary Twitter account: @BryanHoltGC I’d rather watch a Vickie Guerrero sex tape than watch the WWE push Michael Cole as a major heel. It’s painfully bad.
Rancourt is right. Cole is over the top and cartoonish, even by pro wrestling standards, in his role as a dorky announcer turned dorky bad guy. He’s terribly douchey to the point where if I was a casual viewer flipping through channels, I’d almost certainly never stop at USA Network and watch.
BUT, the golden rule in pro wrestling is simple: Go with the crowd’s reaction. The live crowd’s have hated Cole for years, so WWE made him a heel. Little kids buy John Cena merchandise like Dickey Eklund buys crack, so WWE keeps Cena face despite the protests of everyone over 13.
While it may seem like it, WWE isn’t really trying to make Cole a top heel. They’re just trying to help create this giant jackass that you are interested in seeing Jerry Lawler knock around for eight minutes as a buffer between two real matches at Wrestlemania. And it now involves Stone Cold as the special referee with his never-ending supply of Keystone Light.
I’m pretty sure Stone Cold can make anything good. Maybe even a Vickie Guerrero sex tape.
I love that WWE is making nostalgia such a big part of this Mania. Is it a sign that the current roster can’t carry the biggest pay-per-view of the year? Probably. But it’s going to make me feel like I’m in fourth grade again, so I don’t really care.
Daniel Bryan defeated Sheamus
Poor Bryan and Sheamus. They were forced to be the first men out of the curtain after Stone Cold Steve Austin: A - Returned to Raw for the first time in a year. B – Hit the Stunner on JBL (who was making his first WWE appearance in two years) twice. C – Poured beer all over Michael Cole. D – Drank/spilled enough Keystone Light to drown the Carolina Cup.
On the bright side for Sheamus, he got a chance after losing to talk about his losing streak. He challenged Bryan to a U.S. title match next week, and promised that he will quit if he loses. Strange wrestling fact: losing is kind of good for your character if you’re given a chance to talk about it. Silent losses mean you’re about to get fired.
CM Punk beat R-Truth
Good. Somebody keep that skipping, rapping idiot off of the Wrestlemania card, please.
SNOOKI IS GOING TO BE ON RAW NEXT WEEK!!!
My level of excitement for this is both unhealthy and pathetic.
Dolph Ziggler defeated John Morrison
Vickie Guerrero is now banned from Smackdown and Raw. From the looks of things, an unlikely Money in the Bank ladder match is the only chance that either of these two superstars make a meaningful match on the Mania card. This is a shame.
John Cena’s response
Really, where do I start?
I can usually tolerate Cena because I understand that I’m not who his character is aimed at. But wow, this promo was worse than awful. It was memorably bad. It left me only hoping that whoever wrote the crap wasn’t being serious. It really felt like WWE was trying to make everyone hate Cena for at least one night.
He was almost constantly the only person chuckling at his own jokes. His lines were met with both boos and, even worse, silence. He is supposed to be on stage as part of one of the biggest feuds going in wrestling today, and yet he made the worst promo I’ve ever seen him make.
Everything about it was bad, from the cheerful opening to the almost comical insinuation that he is “2-0″ in verbal jabs at The Rock. Yes, they have yet to go face-to-face on television, but if that is what Cena seriously thinks he can use against the greatest promo of all time, then the eventual face-off will be an absolute embarrassment.
The idea of Cena even trying to go against Rock in a babyface-babyface feud is dangerous for business in the WWE. Unless they’re trying to make Cena a heelish parody of himself, they’re only making matters worse.
The Miz attacks Cena and cuts a promo
This was excellent and would have been more excellent had the crowd actually gone against him. The problem is that they had just heard the worst promo in years and were actually kind of happy to see Miz take out Cena.
But everything was spot-on by Miz. He needs to express the frustration caused by Rock/Cena dominating HIS title match. He needs to insert himself heavily into that feud. He did both seamlessly to close out Raw.
The line of the night was Miz telling Rock through the camera that he was going to “take your eyebrow, your 45 catchphrases, your father, your grandfather, roll them up into a little ball and shove them straight up” … Well, you know the rest. The People’s Elbow was sick, too.
Here’s what the tentative card for Wrestlemania XXVII is shaping up to look like after this week’s Raw:
WWE Champion The Miz vs. John Cena for the WWE Title
World Heavyweight Champion Edge vs. Alberto Del Rio for the World Heavyweight Title
The Undertaker vs. Triple H in a no holds barred match (possibly for retirement)
C.M. Punk vs. Randy Orton
Jerry Lawler vs. Michael Cole (with Jack Swagger) with Stone Cold Steve Austin as the guest referee
FIRST OFF, my sincere apologies. My computer has decided to not allow me to post pictures for the moment. I’m not letting that get in the way of me destroying the last bit of culture that this site has while Hilson is away.
So tonight was the somethingth annual Academy Awards live from Hollywwod. As you could guess, I eagerly watched every second of it. Well, except for the end because once you’ve seen one inner-city choir, you’ve seen them all.
Anyways, let’s take a look.
Alright was it just me, or was James Franco higher than Willie Nelson and Wiz Khalifa at a midnight showing of “Pineapple Express”? In all honesty, he was a vastly underused aspect of the show who completely carried his co-host. Yes, yes, yes, I know there are like a gabijillion Hathaway lovers out there who are foaming out of their Gyllenhall-envy mouths right now. But I’m sorry, Anne does nothing for me.
I know most actors were once theater nerds, but Hathaway just sticks to that original formula too much. She’s awkward and pale and not even getting naked over and over again in a movie can seem to make her cool. And the “closet bad girl” approach drives me crazy. Hathaway is a closet bad girl in the same way that the girl who plays third clarinet in the high school band is, and neither gets me too excited.
But Franco is kind of the man. He’s a PhD student at Yale but still finds time to make the occasional epic movie and provide the effortless cool that the 2011 Oscars needed. Did I see “127 Hours”? Absolutely not. A movie about a dude cutting his own arm off isn’t exactly my idea of an enjoyable Friday night. But I’m sure it was a great flick for those who like to make their cinema trips a little more meaningful than I do.
Oscars drinking game
This is what we came up with. Drink every time:
- Someone thanks the Academy
- The hosts appear
- The show goes to commercial break
- Someone makes a political statement
- A movie that you haven’t seen wins an award
- A clip from an old movie is shown
- Someone references Anne Hathaway’s nudity
- A black person is on stage during the performance of a nominated original song
Drink twice if:
- You guess the winner of an award wrong
ZERO black people were nominated for an Academy Award in 2011. Jesse Jackson has to be posted up somewhere ready to bitch about this, right? I mean country music is now a superior equal opportunity awarder in comparison to Hollywood. Liberals gots to be fumin’.
I realize that I am speaking as the bullshit-proof, cultureless redneck who has no appreciation for fine cinema, but no one’s Oscar victory was more deserving on Sunday night than that of Christian Bale. Simply put, Bale made me think of him as a character instead of an actor more than maybe any performance that I have ever seen on the giant ass silver screen.
This is because I didn’t see Bale when I watched “The Fighter”. I literally saw an over-the-hill crackhead clinging to his smallest form of public respect. And that’s what the movie wanted me to see. It was brilliant. Christian Bale is brilliant, except for the whole not knowing his wife’s name thing.
As you can guess about a number of the other nominated movies, I did not see “Winter’s Chub” or whatever that particular movie is called. BUT, holy bloody mouth Batman, I did pick up one thing from the film’s numerous ABC cameos on Sunday night.
Jennifer Lawrence is a year younger than me and stupid hot. A quick Wiki search also tells me that she’s from Kentucky and got her start on the absolutely awful “Bill Engvall Show”. In short, I believe I have fallen in love.
“The King’s Speech”
Okay, obviously I never watched “The King’s Speech,” but that doesn’t stop me from giving it this piece of advice: GO THE HELL AWAY. No one likes you and your fancy British accents. George Washington led troops across the Delaware to kick some ass so that we would never have a movie like this dominate the Oscars ever, or something like that,
I saw three Best Picture nominees this year: “The Social Network”, “The Fighter” and “Inception”. I am in no way credited to make judgments for or against the Academy. But I will say this: movies about limeys with speech impediments are gay and they suck.
I thoroughly respect a lady that can be proper during the day, rowdy during the night and drop a solid F-bomb on live national television. Mrs. Leo, SC salutes you.
A word to Hollywood: No one watches short films. Not ever. Not unless it’s animated and they’re forced to sit through it before a Pixar movie. Stop awarding these people. It’s amateur and lame and makes me take THREE drinks during my aforementioned Oscars drinking game. Seriously, no one but actors who haven’t learned how to act when they’re not acting and that 12-year-old movie critic doucher that I want to ship to North Korea care about any of this garbage.
Major League Baseball doesn’t give out the trophy for Florida State League Single-A Champion when the fireworks clear after Game 7 of the World Series, so cut out the idiots who can only act for 12 minutes.
I’ve spent a large portion of my opinionated life talking about how gay the Oscars are and how I’ll never watch them and blah, blah, blah. But the truth is, I’ve now watched the show in some capacity for a few years in a row. Has it got me fired up from time to time? Hell yes.
I flipped when Mickey Rourke didn’t win best actor for “The Wrestler”, and Sean Penn preaching to me didn’t make the matter any better.
I’m still completely disgusted by the elitist idea so many have that a movie that sparks mass appeal can’t be an “Oscar-worthy” flick. No, not every garbage summer movie that rakes in $100 mill deserves the black tie treatment, but it’d be nice if more movies that people actually watched got attention than low-budget foreign films. There comes a point where it feels like the Academy is just trying to flash its knowledge of obscure subjects in order to impress.
Not all of us go to the movies to see a world-altering show that makes us cringe and cry and think. Most of us got to the theaters after a few drinks at the closest bar on Fridays with the intention of letting stuff go and enjoying something meaningless for the first time all week. But too many people don’t understand that.
The Academy becomes the kid that stops listening to a band when they make money or stops liking a movie when other people have seen it. It’s the epitome of the liberal ideal that success and popularity is irrelevant in comparison to obscure sentiment.
A quick Google search has told me all I need to know about this year’s Oscars. According to Internet bitch-types, the show sucked. I’m not sure if that’s true or false. I do know that I’m in no position at all to judge.
So from the kid whose favorite part of the night was Jimmy Kimmel’s post-show infomerical. Yes, the same kid who is also kind of looking forward to giving “Hall Pass” a shot this week. Another year has passed, and whether you watched them or not, Hollywood has decided which movies should be remembered forever. Or until next year.
2011 NFL season collective bargaining collective bargaining agreement cornerback Derrick Brooks Glazers John Lynch Lee Roy Selmon NFL NFL labor negotiations pro football Ronde Barber Tampa Bay Buccaneers Warren Sapp
Ronde Barber was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the 66th overall pick in the 1997 NFL Draft. Since picking Barber, the Bucs have drafted 80 players who are no longer with the team.
Chris Simms has ruptured his spleen and gone. Dwight Smith has had sex in the stairwell of a two-story McDonald’s and was gone. Al Harris got waived, and he was gone.
Barber’s first season marked the beginning of the Bucs’ late 90s revolution. He started the same year that red and pewter started. He started the same year the Bucs earned their first winning season and playoff appearance since 1982. He wasn’t the star, he was far from it. In fact, he only saw action in one game all season before being named the nickel back for the postseason games against the Lions and the Packers.
Donnie Abraham was the man at corner. He mastered the Tampa 2 style, or so we thought.
In 1998, Barber started nine games. Then he took a prominent role as Abraham’s sidekick during the 1999 NFC Championship Game run, and he never receded. Ever since, he has been a star. He was the first man out of the tunnel every home game when the PA announcer would introduce the starting defensive lineup. He would sprint out as fast as he could before the deep voice even had a chance to overstretch his name and his Virginia origins.
This lasted until the originals began to dissipate, leaving Barber all alone. First it was Lynch, then Sapp and then Brooks. The three-pronged public relations disaster that will have Buc fans shaking their heads for as long as Bucs exist. Ronde had to start coming out last. It was the only thing that made sense.
Dexter Jackson won a Super Bowl MVP and came and went … twice. Kenyatta Walker had three false starts on one down, got booed a lot and was gone. Bruce Gradkowski talked too much and was gone.
Barber had really good years and a really bad year. There were people cursing his name and yelling for retirement in 2009, and people chanting his name and begging him to never leave in 2010.
It turns out the people screaming in 2010 may be the ones getting what they truly want. That’s because Barber signed a one-year contract to remain in the NFL and remain with the Bucs on Tuesday. The Bucs gave him a contract even though players and owners are currently politely rioting over issues that could keep there from even being football in 2011.
They gave him a contract even though, at 35, he is the oldest Buccaneer cornerback by nine years. Barber is coming back for a 15th season on what was the youngest team in the NFL in 2010.
And it’s about damn time.
Only two players have ever had happy endings to complete careers as a Buccaneer. Lee Roy Selmon is one, and some might still complain that Mike Alstott was given a slight push out the door by Jon Gruden and Bruce Allen. But now it seems all but certain that Barber will be No. 3.
The other Dexter Jackson lasted seven games in the NFL and couldn’t stay on the worst team in the NFL’s practice squad in 2010. All the fun “Mike Jones” Mark Jones comments in the world couldn’t keep the kick returner from Rocky Top around town. Raheem Morris publicly blasted Gaines Adams for being out of shape and lazy at training camp in 2009. Adams died five months later due to an enlarged heart.
I only know about the NFL labor disputes what I’ve learned in my sports reporting class. From what I know, the owners are completely in the wrong in a number of ways. They’re trying to handle players for the long term in a league where the average career lasts about three-and-a-half seasons.
Whenever owners are in the wrong, the Glazers are usually at the head of it all. I have wasted far too much time of my life writing negative things about the family in any place that my keyboard could reach.
But for all the negative, this Barber deal defines the word “positive.”
It’s about being a person instead of a businessman. It’s about learning from the backlashes of the Allen era and letting Mark Dominik do what is right. It’s about remembering that early evening when you could hear Barber’s feet clank across the turf at a silent and stunned Veteran’s Stadium as Tampa broke into tears of joy after 26 long years.
As sure as Barber’s name will one day grace the walls of Raymond James Stadium, he deserves to be a Buc for as long as he cares to be. They’ve messed up too many times to not make this one right.
Alberto Del Rio Atlanta Edge Georgia Dome Jerry Lawler John Cena Michael Cole Monday Night Raw Pro Wrestling The Bella Twins The Miz The Rock The Undertaker Triple H Wrestlemani Wrestlemania WWE
With the conclusion of the Elimination Chamber PPV behind us, pro wrestling fans are officially on the home stretch of the Road to Wrestlemania XXVII, which will take place April 3 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Since my fascination with fake bloodsport is well documented around here, and since I will be attending the aforementioned Wrestlemania, I will be documenting, following and obviously making smart-ass comments about key shows leading up to the Super Bowl of scripted fighting right here on this very site. First up is the 2-21-11 edition of “Monday Night Raw” which has been hyped for weeks as the curious return of The Undertaker. Let’s do this.
Show opens with John Cena promo
… And it’s time to address all the mean things The Rock said about him last week. For those of you who need a refresher, THE ROCK SAID:
- That it’s sad how WWE has gone from the powerful “Austin 3:16″ to the dominant “Do you smell what The Rock is cookin’?” to [cue girl/Bieber voice] “You can’t shee me.”
- That a blindfolded Stevie Wonder sleeping in a basement could see Cena’s “monkey ass.”
- That Cena looks like something that got shot out of Barney the Dinosaur’s anus.
- That Cena looks like “a big fat bowl of fruity pebbles.”
Knowing that trying to talk would only magnify what Rock had said, Cena did what any 33-year-old white man wearing jorts, a purple shirt and matching hat would do, he started freestyling. Over the course of his Slim Shadyesque rage, Cena bashed Rock for leaving the fans to make movies like “The Toothfairy” and “The Game Plan.” He also managed to say that Rock can kiss his candy ass, provide him with a certain Lewinsky-inspired sexual favor and star in the sequel to “Brokeback Mountain” (one can only assume he’d make a fine Heath Ledger fill-in).
Overall, it was probably Cena’s best way to respond, but this remains to be one of the more open-ended angles heading into Wrestlemania. We really don’t know what The Rock’s official role is going to be in the Cena match at Mania. It’s also a little dangerous for WWE to build so heavily around Cena-Rock when the actual match in Atlanta will be Cena-Miz. Regardless, this was a solid opener and it was interesting how Cena was booed and overrun by “Rocky” chants during his introduction but won the crowd back slightly during his freestyle.
Note: through the entire show, a countdown is running for the big 2-21-11 reveal which everyone knows is The Undertaker returning from being buried alive … again.
C.M. Punk defeats John Morrison
Both guys sold the effects of the previous night’s Elimination Chamber match pretty strong, but Morrison especially sold it hard giving him an excuse to lose clean to Punk, as the true point of this match was to escalate the Punk/Randy Orton feud.
After the match, Punk grabbed a mic, which is a very good thing because he’s probably the best promo in WWE today. What followed was the epicness of what most are expecting out of this feud. Punk swears that he is going to hurt Orton badly next week and warns him to “just walk away.” Orton of course responds by pounding fake punches into the back of Punk’s head, Punk retreats and we have the next advance in their march to Mania.
Alberto Del Rio tries to kill Kofi Kingston … But you already know that.
Just filler to keep people hating Del Rio as he prepares for his big title shot against Edge at Mania.
The Miz cuts a promo
Now it’s time for The Miz to respond to the not nice things that Rock said about him. In case you haven’t noticed, The Rock is not in the building tonight, so WWE is just saying his name as much as possible to make it sound like he is. Typical Miz promo reminding everyone that all Rock can do is talk about being at Wrestlemania because unlike Cena and himself, he does not have the privilege of main-eventing the spectacle.
Anonymous GM (Yes, they still don’t know who he is) chimes in and announces that Miz and Cena will be teaming up to face The Corre in tonight’s main event with the WWE Tag Team Championships on the line. Miz promises to win the belts and leaves.
The Bella Twins defeats Gail Kim and Eve
GIRL FIGHT! Moving on…
IT’s TIME! 25 … 24 … 23 … Okay, this is taking way too damn long … 3 … 2 … 1 …
The Johnny Cash song has become something of a secondary song for Taker, and it confirmed that the Dead Man lives. Taker came out of the cabin that had been in the weekly commercials and made his way to the ring. Typical Taker entrance until … He’s interrupted by a returning Triple H who is on our television screens for the first time since April 25.
Not one word is said during the confrontation between the two. Taker offers his trademark throat slash, Hunter his trademark crotch chop. They stare each other down and look up at the Wrestlemania sign to a huge pop from the crowd. While there are no words, the message is clear to anyone who has watched wrestling over the past year. Undertaker retired Shawn Michaels at last year’s Wrestlemania. Triple H and Michaels are both real-life and on-screen besties. Triple H is here for revenge, Taker is looking to extend his Wrestlemania undefeated streak to 19-0.
Some rumors say that HBK might be the guest referee for this match. Others say this will be a retirement match. No matter what, this one is going to be special. It really has to go on last at Mania. Sorry, title matches.
Mark Henry defeats Sheamus
Not much here as the poor guys had to follow an iconic stare-down. The storyline here is that Sheamus is frustrated by a string of recent losses, and after the match, he takes it out on United States Champion Daniel Bryan. Here’s to hoping that’s a Mania feud.
Hacksaw Jim Duggan is getting inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame
Michael Cole interviews Jerry Lawler
Cole is the hardcore heel announcer that rubs everyone wrong. Jerry Lawler lost a WWE title match the night before (yes, you read that correctly). All signs point to them having a match in some capacity at Wrestlemania. This would be a special deal for Lawler as he has been in WWE almost 20 years and never competed at Wrestlemania.
All-in-all, this cold interview-turned-confrontation between the two did an excellent job of making viewers want to see Lawler both get his hands on Cole and finally get his Wrestlemania moment.
However, even though I’m a person who almost never thinks anything is over the top, there was a portion where Cole referred to Lawler’s mother who actually died last week to get some heat from the crowd. Obviously, it’s Lawler’s mother, and I have no right to comment, but it really seemed like a little much even if this is just a show.
John Cena and The Miz defeat The Corre to win the WWE Tag Team Championship, then lose on an immediate rematch clause
Uh, strange end to a very strong show. They teased Cena and Miz being champions together for a moment before a rematch was announced, and Miz caused Cena to lose the belts back over to Corre. The point is meant to be that Miz came through on his promise of winning the titles, but still made a statement against Cena.
Here’s what the tentative card for Wrestlemania XXVII is shaping up to look like after this week’s Raw
WWE Champion The Miz vs. John Cena for the WWE Title
World Heavyweight Champion Edge vs. Alberto Del Rio for the Word Heavyweight Title
The Undertaker vs. Triple H
C.M. Punk vs. Randy Orton
Michael Cole vs. Jerry Lawler (in some capacity)