Monday, March 28, 2011

WrestleMania 27 Preview & Predictions

Forget March Madness, Lent, and the Philadelphia Flower Show. It's WRESTLEMANIA Week baby! RAW will feature The Rock, John Cena, and The Miz in the ring for the first time ever. Smackdown will be the traditional go-home show with footage of the Fan Axxess. Wednesday night will be the WrestleMania Art showcase featuring superstar and diva appearances that benefit Children's Healthcare of Atlanta and the Atlanta Sports Council. Fan Axxess lasts from Thursday night until Saturday evening with Superstar Snapshots, Superstar Entrance, WWE Memorabilia, live matches and Q&As at the Main Ring, Kid Zone, Undertaker's Graveyard, and WWE Shop. In addition to the festivities, fans will line up for autograph signings featuring Randy Orton, Shawn Michaels, Ricky Steamboat, the USOS, and even CHIEF JAY STRONGBOW. Non-WWE sanctioned events during the weekend include Ring of Honor shows, Dragon Gate USA, WrestleReunion, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper Standup, and a party hosted by Kevin Nash. Saturday night is the 3rd most anticipated night of the year with the annual Hall of Fame ceremony featuring the inductions of such luminaries as Abdullah the Butcher, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, and "The Heartbreak Kid" Shawn Michaels. (Fuck Drew Carey. Losing weight doesn't qualify HOF entry.)

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday! WrestleMania hits Hotlanta! My biased, provacative analysis...

United States Champion Sheamus defends against Daniel Bryan
The U.S. Title hasn't been defended at Mania since 2007 when Chris Benoit defeated MVP at unfortunately Benoit's final Mania. Perhaps Vince thought the U.S., Championship was cursed, similar to the apparent King of the Ring curse that debuted on last week's RAW. Dave Meltzer suggested that a case could be made for any KOTR winner being cursed at some point in his career; however, the WWE had no intention of promoting Sheamus' losing streak as a curse. The Celtic Warrior was dropped quicker than Gilbert Gottfried from the Aflac commercials once his match with Triple H was scrapped. Luckily, the aggressive Irishman rebounded with a hard fought victory over Daniel Bryan to win the U.S. Championship. This will be Bryan Danielson's first WrestleMania appearance so I expect a promising performance from the former American Dragon. Witnessing Danielson's final ROH match at the Arena in Philly to paying $50 in order to watch him get slaughtered by Sheamus proves that you don't know what you've got til it's gone.

Winner: Sheamus

John Morrison, Trish Stratus, & Snooki vs. Dolph Ziggler & Lay-Cool
That's right, wrestling fans are paying $50 or more to watch SNOOKI pull Layla's hair! I'm more upset that Trish Stratus' return is being overshadowed by the third cast member of the Jersey Show to enter the squared circle. After years of snooze fests and bathroom breaks from Alicia Fox, Kelly Kelly, and Candice Michelle, we are getting some much needed Stratusfaction. Despite winning the World Heavyweight Championship for a cup of Yokozuna, Ziggler has been relegated to this 6 person mixed bag of TMZ clips. If anyone had any doubts that Morrison, not Miz was the Marty Jannetty of their team, look no further than the WrestleMania lineup. Miz = Main Event. Morrison = Holding up hands of Stratus and Snooki in celebration.

Winners: John Morrison, Trish Stratus, & Snooki

Rey Mysterio vs. Cody Rhodes
Speaking of underestimated former partners, Cody Rhodes has surprised the wrestling community by outshining Ted DiBiase and scoring a high profile match at Mania. I've been a fan of Rhodes' "Dashing" persona because he exhibits such realism and cowardice for his gimmick. The storyline behind this grudge match is old school, which at Vintage Blogs!, is preferred. Extracting revenge for his inadvertent broken nose from the 619, Rhodes recruited his papa Dust to distract Mysterio and allow Cody the chance to attack the luchador. Vowing to tear off the prestigeous mask of Mysterio, Cody Rhodes is hell-bent on breaking through the proverbial main event glass ceiling during 2011. As for Rey-Rey, what superhero costume will Mysterio don this year? My pick is the Green Hornet. That movie needs all the publicity it can get.

Winner: Cody Rhodes

Randy Orton vs. CM Punk
Brewing for months, the hostility between Orton and Punk will peak this Sunday. Unbelievably building since the fall of 2008 when Legacy bamboozled Punk out of the World Heavyweight Championship, this feud between two vicious rulebreakers has been captivating to follow. Similar to Randy Savage screwing the Ultimate Warrior out of the WWE Championship at the 1991 Royal Rumble, Punk costed Orton his shot at The Miz during this year's Royal Rumble. Preventing New Nexus from interfering during the long-awaited matchup, the Viper has punted each member into oblivion week after week leaving the "Straight Edge Superstar" defenseless heading into Mania. Although tradition tends to lean in the favor of the heel finally receiving his comeuppance by the rebellious face, CM Punk always has a trick up his sleeve. NXT won't be on, but Orton will still be "going to sleep."

Winner: CM Punk

Michael Cole w/Jack Swagger vs. Jerry "The King" Lawler...Special Referee: Austin
The match that I'm salivating for. The match that I would pay $50 for without any other matches. Cole that lying, pestering, cowardly, belligerent prick finally getting his scrawny ass whooped by the King. Lawler's first WrestleMania match ever. The possible return of J.R. to the commentary booth. Swagger getting Stunnered. The Attitude Era is bleeding all over WrestleMania...and I LOVE IT. This match has the most predictable outcome; yet, everyone is dieing to see it. Russo and all his swerves can go draw in Libya. Fans will pay to see a predictable outcome as long as the buildup is boiling and the result is positive. There better be a piledriver to break Cole's neck and crush his voicebox.

Winner: All Hail The King!

World Heavyweight Champion Edge defends against Royal Rumble Winner Alberto Del Rio
Once upon a time, the Royal Rumble meant that the winner would headline against the WWE Champion in the biggest match of WrestleMania. Those days are long gone, which is a shame because Edge and Del Rio have been tearing up Friday nights for months now. When Undertaker and Kane were stinking up the joint, fans were clamouring for fresh blood in the main event scene. Del Rio has answered our prayers by emerging as the new top star of the WWE. By simply announcing that he would win the Rumble and then going on to do just that, Del Rio exhibited that cocky, successful heel aura that has been lacking in the past few years. As for Edge, his days are numbered. I'm as much of a fan as the Rated-R Superstar as Zazzy, but this will be his fourth consecutive WrestleMania loss in a World Heavyweight Championship match. And it won't be Rodriguez' fault, or Brodus Clay's fault, or even Del Rio's fault. No no no...I predict that Christian screws Edge out of the championship. Maybe he'll pose for 5 seconds of flash photography.

Winner and NEW Champion: Alberto Del Rio

The Undertaker vs. Triple H
I don't care what the WWE promotes; this is not the main event of WrestleMania 27. If Triple H's career was on the line, then sure. But straight up Streak vs. Nothing but Roster Burying Promos doesn't warrant the coveted main event slot. For some assinine reason, the WWE isn't mentioning the fact that it is the 10th anniversary of their first classic Mania match. In 2001, this was an awesome brawl. In 2011, this will need two broken announce tables, chairs, a sledgehammer, blood, and even Stephanie McMahon. Shawn Michaels video packages are tremendous buildup, but I want HBK involved to spice up this bone dry slugfest. As Allah as my witness, Triple H has no chance in hell of ending the 18-0 streak. When Michaels was attempting to dethrone the Deadman, I had faith in the Showstopper twice. This year I can't fathom The Game pedigreeing The Last Outlaw and scoring the pinfall. It's like the Dark Knight Rises being better than the Dark Knight or the Situation believing his roast jokes are funny. Just doesn't make sense. The Undertaker needs a huge rebound in next year's Mania for his 20-0 win. Zazzy predicts Cena. I hold out hope for Sting. Could it be Jericho?

Winner Or I'll write TNA reviews EVERY WEEK FOREVER: The Undertaker

WWE Champion The Miz defends against John Cena...Hosted by The Rock
Although The Rock is listed as the host of WrestleMania, he has only been involved in the feud between Cena and Miz. This should be the main event because it has all of the essential WrestleMania elements: unstoppable, cheating heel champion finally facing the superhero. Five months of the Miz on top has been exciting, refreshing, and entertaining; however, all good things must come to an end. That end is the STFU of John Cena. While I crave an ambush on The Rock and subsequent Cena heel turn, Vince is set in his ways of the good guy sending the crowd home happy at the end of Mania.

Winner and Once Again WWE Champion: John Cena

Keri Hudson and Justin Bieber are scheduled to perform patriotic themes and Bob Barker has confirmed his appearance. The Rock will certainly keep the excitement at a fever pitch by interacting with Hornswoggle, Mae Young, and hopefully Stone Cold.

WrestleMania is in 6 days. AW HELL YEAH!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

My 1st WrestleMania

I popped my proverbial WrestleMania cherry at the dawn of the millennium for the historic WrestleMania 16 aka WrestleMania 2000. As a young, innocent stark raving Rock 'n Sock fan, I was anticipating the "one night only" return of the retired Mick Foley challenging Triple H for the WWE Championship along with Big Show and The Rock. Since the sinister McMahon-Helmsley regime was abusing their authority against all the fan favorites, my naive fandom (I don't use the term "mark") compelled me to beg the folks to test out this pay-per-view extravaganza. Despite being forced to go to bed at 10pm and watch the remainder of Mania on VHS the next day after school, WrestleMania 16 changed my life and addicted me to the wrestling business.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Dance with Dragons Gets a Release Date

I know, I know, I have been a bit slow in updating Vintage Blogs, but to make up for it, I'm having a flurry (okay 3....tops) of posts in the upcoming days. The first one is relating to a a monumental event that took place last week.: George RR Martin and his publishers (Bantam in the US) announced a publication date for A Dance with Dragons and it is July, 12, 2011.

Friend, family, or a fine reader of an ever finer blog, there is a very good chance that I have raved about A Song of Ice and Fire series to you. Though, I have told the story before, I'm going to go ahead and tell the tale again (My editor, who always accused me of being quite verbose, is shaking his head in dismay right now). When I first began to read the series, I got with a horrid sinus infection, which meant that I was bed ridden for days. It was during that time that voraciously devoured every brilliant page of this excellent series. Two weeks later (you better believe, I milked that sinus infection) I had read over 4,000 pages. That is what you call a personal testament to the greatness of a book series. Unfortunately, there were a few drawbacks to reading a series that fast, and I'm not referring to the feeling (it was like detox for a heroin addict) I had when I was done with the 4 books. No, the major drawback for me was the feeling of helplessness I had when I realized that there was no A Song of Ice and Fire for me to read. It was during that time that I turned to the interwebz in the hopes of finding out when I could consume more ASoIaF goodness. To my surprise, I found out that there thousands of other people who were going through the same thing, and it was even worse for them because they had read the fourth book back in 2005. I had found kindred spirits who anticipated the release of A Dance with Dragons, which is the 5th book in the serious, just as fervently as I did. For me the wait consisted of checking George RR Martin's, Not A Blog, on a consistent basis for the long awaited announcement of the completion of A Dance with Dragons, constantly checking Winter is Coming for any news on the TV show being adapted by HBO. I think in some ways, the show became a substitute for the 5th book since it seemed closer to completion than the actual book. However, when the news broke on Thursday, everything else sort of ceased to matter. This was the announcement I had been waiting for the past few years. As much as I loved getting more from the Kingslayer's perspective in the 4th book, A Dance with Dragon finally unites us with beloved characters such as Jon and Tyrion (for me) and Daenerys (for others). Of course, it also brings us one step closer to revealing that vast labyrinth that is the A Song of Ice and Fire series.

Here are a few points that might interest you in relation to A Dance with Dragons:
  • First thing, you should know is that the book hasn't been completed by Martin as of yet. However, the author has revealed that he currently has somewhere around 1,500 pages in manuscript written. He expects the final number of manuscript pages to be somewhere in the vicinity of 1,550 pages. That means that A Dance with Dragons will be longer than A Storm of Swords, and Martin has 50 pages. Barring some sort of cataclysmic event (Dear Fantasy Gods, No Heart Attacks, PLEASE!!!) Martin should finish the book soon. As for the length, if this book is anywhere near as good as A Storm of Swords, you likely will not see me blogging, or socializing after July 12th since finishing A Dance with Dragons will become priority #1 in life for me.
  • Those of you who have been waiting a long time for this to be released, I can see you shaking your head right now. You are thinking that Martin and his publishers are getting your hopes high for no reason again since he isn't even done with the book yet. Don't worry, he only has a few more pages left to write. Moreover, the editing process on this book has been long ongoing so there shouldn't be any delays on this one. By the way, I frantically knocked on wood as I typed that.
  • Despite the length of the book, we may not see any Sansa chapters until The Winds of Winter, which is the 6th book in the series. Normally, I would be extremely happy with less Sansa in my ASoIaF but this means that we won't get to see what's going in the Vale with Littlefinger (currently jousting with Jaime Lannister for who my favorite series in the character is) which saddens me.
124 Days to Go!!!

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Saturday, March 5, 2011

Hall of Fame Memories

As the "Road to WrestleMania" continues attracting attention for the 10th Anniversary of the Undertaker vs. Triple H match where Hunter buried the entire roster in one promo, anticipation seeps through fans' veins as the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony is in just four weeks. In addition to the headlining Shawn Michaels, "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan and "Bullet" Bob Armstrong have been announced as 2011 inductees. Since there is no physical shrine devoted to these Hall of Famers, the highlight of the ceremony is to hear the speeches by wrestling's legends. Listening to the old timers share laughs, tears, and precious moments from their career is similar to hearing war stories from grizzled veterans. When the inductee walks on stage and the crowd roars in honor of the famer's contributions to the business, it provides a sentimental moment for the inductee to soak up the glory one last time. Over the years many speeches have transcended time and united fans young and old, from pro wrestling to sports entertainment, from Wrestling at the Chase to Friday Night Smackdown, from Bruno to Cena. While I present the greatest Hall of Fame speeches, lose yourself from the current pessimistic internet generation of overly scripted and produced homogeneous sports (without the) entertainment. Sit back, munch on some Cracker Jacks, and embrace the nostalgia.

8. Terry Funk

Any time The Funker has a chance to speak, EVERYONE should listen. His honesty, creativity, and passion that has been demonstrated throughout his 46 year career was on display during this brief, yet powerful speech.

7. "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase

Perhaps the greatest heel in wrestling history, The Million Dollar Man brought his charisma and more importantly humility to the ceremony. Since fans have always believed that DiBiase was robbed of a WWE World Heavyweight Championship reign, the induction was overdue and satisfying for the wrestling community. Plus, that trademark laugh still shends shivers down my spine.

6. Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat

Although I wouldn't consider Steamboat a good promo, his respectful approach and quiet dignity that attributed to his mass appeal as a perennial fan favorite evoked a passionate response from the HOF crowd. Since his legendary peers speak nothing but highly of "The Dragon," it should come as no surprise that Steamboat's speech was filled with gratitude. The lockup with Flair and the shout out to Mickey Rourke add to the greatness of this speech.

5. "Rowdy" Roddy Piper

"Just when you think you know the answers, I change the questions." "You don't throw rocks at a man holding a machine gun." "I came here to kick ass and chew bubble gum...and I'm all out of bubble gum." Just a few of my favorite quotes by the Hot Rod whose speech stole the show during the 2005 Hall of Fame. Although Hogan headlined as usual, always remember that "they never would have loved Hulk so much, if they didn't hate Piper that much more."

4. Stone Cold Steve Austin

When Vincent Kennedy McMahon appears on stage for to induct, you know that business is about to pick up. And nobody draws more business than the Texas Rattlesnake. The highlight of this speech besides the beer bash is the subtle retire announcement. Although fans will forever be disappointed that he has hung up the black boots, if anyone deserves to ride out in the sunset it's ole' Stone Cold.

3. "Nature Boy" Ric Flair

Despite Naitch's return to the squared circle tainting the ceremony, the emotion was flowing like Niagra Falls during the WrestleMania 24 weekend. I could listen to Flair tell stories all day long and millions of fans would agree. Forget "leaving the memories alone," lets climb Space Mountain one more time. Wooooooooo!

2. Bret "Hitman" Hart

Before his triumphant return in 2010, Hart's 2006 Hall of Fame induction was his first appearance on WWE TV since the Montreal Screwjob of 1997. Clearly, the fans had been salivating for his return and exploded when he appeared. Chants of "OWEN" and "Welcome Back" dissolved any controversey and animosity toward McMahon for at least one night as Bret soaked up the adoration and provided a truly special moment for wrestling fans. P.S. Look out for Austin's amazing one liner to Hogan. AW HELL YEAH!

1. Bobby "The Brain" Heenan

The absolute greatest speech by the absolute greatest manager in the history of professional wrestling. This epitomizes why the Hall of Fame is loved by the wrestling community. As you watch the genuine emotion from the "Weasel," remember that Heenan has suffered from jaw infections in recent years. Despite the adversity that plagues "The Brain," Heenan continues to exhibit the resiliency of fighters that he has managed. As Paul Heyman said, "Here is the Johnny Carson of the wrestling world."