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2014 WWE Royal Rumble Preview: Whose time is it?

Rumble poster

The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.
 
I won’t bore you with the details, but I’m back and just in time for the best part of the year…the Road to Wrestlemania. It’s the time of year when the creative team finally gets their ass in gear and we start seeing some long(ish) term planning.  The quality of television the past few weeks has been noticeably better. The Old School episode of RAW was amazing as was the reaction to Daniel Bryan turning on the Wyatt’s in the steel cage two weeks ago (while we’ll choose to ignore John Cena running into the arena and Randy Orton stealing a car this past week). In happier times, the Shield continues to be the best part of the show every Monday and all indications point towards us getting the true CM Punk/HHH feud we were robbed of during the Summer of Punk. The wheels are in motion with one destination in sight, New Orleans, April 6th 2014. But let’s cover my 2nd favorite PPV of the year first.
 

 
Randy Orton vs John Cena in a WWE World Heavyweight Championship match
 
Yawn. Next. What’s that? I should probably dedicate at least a paragraph to the World Heavyweight Championship match? Fine.  Let me start off by saying something good. I’ll admit their TLC match wasn’t the worst main event I’ve ever seen. However, this time around, they won’t have tables, ladders, chairs and handcuffs to help make the match more watchable. I am praying that Randy Orton wins this match in a somewhat clean fashion so that John Cena no longer has any claims in the title hunt. Keep these two separated. I could watch Daniel Bryan wrestle CM Punk a thousand times and never get bored. I feel like I HAVE watched Cena/Orton a thousand times. Give me something fresh.… Read more...

WWE Night of Champions Preview: Can Triple H keep on doing the right thing?

 

After an elongated absence that was noticed by literally no one, I’m back baby! And it feels fantastic. Little update regarding the life of your friendly neighborhood librarian. I actually have a real job now, in a library. Not just blowing smoke up your ass with that “RAW Librarian” business. Good news for me, bad news for the 3 people that actually read the column. I’m not able to write at work like I used to (translation: my few and far between columns are about to get even fewer and farther). I’ll still try to get monthly PPV previews in. Reviews’ll cost ya.
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WWE Payback Review: Optimism-Mania Runnin’ Wild!

(photo credit: WWE.com)


 
Two columns in two days? You know I spoil you guys. Last night was WWE Payback and all in all, it was a pretty good show. Chicago’s crowd needs to be credited for elevating the overall atmosphere and being involved in every match. Just about every match delivered and some surpassed expectations. At the end of last night I felt something I hadn’t experienced in a while after a WWE show; optimism.
 
I did not watch the Youtube pre-show. I tuned in at 7:40 and heard Sheamus’ music playing and heard the announcers saying Brogue kick. I then turned off Youtube. On to the PPV!… Read more...

WWE Payback PPV Preview

I’m going to honor Vince McMahon’s half-assed booking of this Sunday’s PPV Payback with a half-assed Payback preview. Full disclosure, I haven’t really been watching RAW with my full attention lately. The recent addition of a Mr. McMahon vs HHH feud over perceived power in the WWE has had me ready to change the channel to the NHL playoffs at a moments notice. Couple this with a boring John Cena program and the absence of Dolph Ziggler and CM Punk on my television and I’m ready to just skip ahead to next month’s Money in the Bank PPV (which I have already purchased tickets for). This column is going to be a very brief overview of the matches with some half-hearted predictions thrown in as well. That’s all this PPV deserves.… Read more...

Growing the WWE product through Wrestlemania: Do “special attraction” matches work?

Brock Lesnar is done as a MMA fighter. His UFC career was limited to a handful of matches (8 official bouts to be exact), in which his meteoric rise was strangely counterbalanced with an almost anonymous fall from grace. In a strange brew of bizarre injuries and generally being a supreme asshole, Lesnar retired from his third sport, four if you count the wonderful world of sports entertainment. Brock Lesnar is 35 years old.
 
His Wrestlemania and now Extreme Rules opponent Triple H has seen a similar fade into off-screen anonymity, though for the real-life Paul Levesque, he’s never been more invested in the professional wrestling business. Married to the daughter of the WWE Alpha and Omega Vincent K. McMahon, Triple H now represents one part of the Holy Trinity behind the world’s leader in sports entertainment. He has a legitimate role running the everyday operations of the company, even going so far as to cut his legendary locks that made him look like a cross between Clay Matthews and Saul Goodman. Hunter is semi-retired from the in-ring competition, only participating in four matches over the past 12 months. Paul Levesque is 43 years old.
 
The match proceeding Hunter and Brock’s featured the legendary Undertaker. Mark Calloway, as he’s known to his friends and anyone that wants to get their ass kicked, just embarked on his 24th year cashing in a check penned by Vince McMahon. He’s played the part of a cartoonish “Dead Man” for a significant portion of his adult life, tweaking his character by adding nuances as small as MMA-style fighting gloves and as substantial as riding a motorcycle to the ring while shaming the WWE audience into cheering during Kid Rock and Limp Bizkit theme music. Taker has been a consistent main event player since his inception during the November 1990 Survivor Series, staying relevant long after all his contemporaries charge $10 for a picture at a Philadelphia Comic Con. As he’s aged well into his 40s, Calloway has become more and more the Dead Man than ever before, now needing no makeup to accentuate his naturally sunken eyes and sharply gaunt cheekbones. The Undertaker is 48 years old.
 
The Rock continued his sporadic two year return to the company jettisoned him into mainstream superstardom with a WWE Championship matchup with John Cena. Is it counter-intuitive to think that as Dwayne Johnson moves further away from the daily grind of the highly physical life of a professional wrestler that he’d actually get into better shape? Now equipped with more money than any of his sports entertainment brethren, Rocky is has been blessed with the best trainers, personal chefs and fitness consultants he can buy. For a man of his age, Johnson is in tremendous physical shape, so much so that he was emboldened to come back to the WWE after not wrestling a match for six years. The Rock is 41 years old.
 
Throughout all their journeys out of and back into the WWE ring, these four legendary wrestlers—some moreso than others—have one way or another managed to stay within the fan base’s consciousness long enough to take four of the six spots in the three most bankable matches at the biggest pay-per-view of the  year. The Wrestlemania main event picture is a complicated formula, with the Holy Trinity deciding on matches based on criteria varying from how it could elevate an unknown wrestler, to how much mainstream attention the match will create to how badly the weekly watching WWE Zombieverse wants that particular bout. Seeing as the McMahons put over 80,000 fans in stadium seats on … Read more...

Fifteen Random 2013 WWE Predictions

Wrestlemania 29 is in our rear view mirror. That can only mean one thing…the Road to Wrestlemania 30 has begun! I haven’t written anything in a while and RAW has been uninspiring as of late, so we’ll change gears. I am going to provide you guys with fifteen Bleacher Report MAMBINO-style predictions for the upcoming year. Some will be obvious, others ridiculous. Let’s get weird.
 
1. We have not seen the last of Stan Stansky and Arthur Rosenberg.

 
I haven’t seen a heel tag team work a crowd into that much of a frenzy since the Dudley Boyz at Heatwave ’98. The WWE always has a need for “enhancement talent” and these two jobbers should provide fodder for superstars for years to come. Just remember that “two is better than one.” Even Dolph Ziggler would be allowed to get a clean victory over this rhyming tandem.
 
2. Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose will win the tag straps.

 
This is one of the more obvious predictions. To be fair, I started writing this column last week before they held up the tag straps on Smackdown. I’m just really busy….or lazy (it’s definitely one of the two), so I was unable to get this piece up in time.  Having wrestled the main event two weeks ago against the Undertaker, this past week’s main event against Kane, and this week’s match up with Daniel Bryan, it appears as though the WWE has chosen Dean Ambrose as their favorite Shield member. Back to back matches against the Brothers of Destruction is a big show of faith in Ambrose by the creative team.… Read more...

Wrestlemania 29: Review and Live Thoughts

credit: WWE.com

Wrestlemania 29 is officially in the record books. It’s time to sit back, ignore your office work and reflect back on last night’s event. Yours truly went 7 for 8 on his Wrestlemania predictions…and the one outcome I got incorrect saw Ryback standing tall with his music playing after the match was over. Even though the PPV as a whole was predictable, did the Granddaddy of them all deliver? Depends on who you ask. Despite taking zero chances and booking in the laziest, safest way possible, Wrestlemania 29 was still a pretty good show. Not great, but it definitely had it’s moments. Below are my comments on the event, and some live commentary from KOBEsh, who was in attendance last night.

(note: I arrived at my Wrestlemania watching destination just as the Miz/Barrett match was ending so I will not be reviewing that match. The Miz won. Joy.)… Read more...

MAMBINO’s Wrestlemania 29 Preview, Part 2

credit: whatculture.com


 
Welcome to part 2 of this year’s Wrestlemania preview. In yesterday’s column KOBEsh and I broke down the undercard. Today, we tackle the main events. Some complaints have been made that the outcomes seem far too determined. We’ll continue to address the predicted outcomes as well as what might be a better direction to take. Without further adieu, let’s get at this thing.

 

 
Alberto Del Rio vs. Swagger (World Heavyweight Championship)
 
Why does Del Rio retain?
 
The Raw Librarian: Finally, what we’ve all been waiting to see. A millionaire Mexican aristocrat cheerleading for America against a Kurt Angle rip-off and his Uncle who holds Tea Party meetings in his basement. In all honesty I am the more excited about this match than any of the others if only for the fact that there is some unpredictability in the outcome.
 
Depending on where this match gets placed on the card will determine the finish as well. Another factor in this match is Jack Swagger’s real life DUI and possession of marijuana arrest that has seemingly gone unpunished. That’s a slightly different reaction than when the SAME EXACT thing happened to Rob Van Dam in 2007 and he was forced to abandon two titles and was suspended for 30 days. If it wasn’t for Swagger’s DUI, I’d say there was a pretty decent chance he would have won the title. But I think that would send the wrong message to the locker room, therefore I don’t see it happening.
 
Why does Swagger go over?
 
KOBEsh: MAMBINO’s resident librarian and Philadelphia’s own is obviously still seething because ECW alumni Rob Van Dam was thrown deep, deep into the doghouse for a pot bust (and never recovered), while Swagger has gone largely unpunished.
 
That being said, Swagger’s ascent has been so strong and rapid that I find it hard to believe that the WWE would simply Heisman his progress when it feels the natural ending point would be a title win at Wrestlemania. I’ve never been a fan of Jack’s, but he’s always been a decent ring technician (but not necessarily a great pro wrestling storyteller, ya dig?) and that lisp simply kills any momentum his physicality gives him. However, with Zeb Coulter and an extremely controversial anti-immigration gimmick, Swagger’s character has been stronger than I’ve ever thought possible. He’s riding such a hot button issue right now and to the chagrin of the non-believers, has been getting insane heat. The WWE has bet big on Swagger thus far–I don’t see any reason why they don’t just go all-in.
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WWE Royal Rumble 2013 MAMBINO Preview

 

We have officially entered Wrestlemania season, the best time to be a wrestling fan. From late January to early April, Vince McMahon develops a new found sense of urgency. Booking on the fly, feces jokes and blatant misogyny towards woman (otherwise known as a John Cena promo) are thrown out in favor of coherent story lines with a clearly identified goal.

 

This Sunday, the first step to Mania, the Royal Rumble, emanates live from the US Airways Center in Phoenix, Arizona. The Rumble is unique in the sense that it builds in allotted space for nostalgia. You never know who is going to come through the curtain after the clock counts down–think Mr. Perfect and Goldust in 2002. The Rumble has been used as a platform for superstars returning from injury like John Cena in 2008 and Edge in 2010, but more recently has been used as a catapult for new stars to make their mark, as Alberto del Rio and Sheamus won the last two matches. However, I still hold out hope for a Royal Rumble return from the one and only Peter Edward Rose. Without further delay, let’s break this down MAMBINO style.… Read more...

Wrestlemania XXIX Prospective Main Events – Who Will It Be? Part 1

I love the NBA Finals. No matter who’s playing or how lopsided the matchup, I watch with full attention as a new titlist etches their name into an exclusive fraternity. It’s the sport I pay most attention to and the title history most meaningful to me as a lifelong fan of YOUR…16-time champion Los Angeles Lakers. 

I love the Stanley Cup Finals. As a novice to hockey, I’m consistently amazed at how enveloping the NHL playoffs can be for any sports fan, regardless of whether they understand off-sides or that “power play” isn’t just a business term. Arguably, it’s the most exciting postseason in all of the major professional sports.

I love the NFL playoffs. One loss and you’re out? In a professional league? My God. Not growing up with a local football franchise, I’ve come to appreciate the fanaticism tied into these four weeks in January after living in New York for two years. I’ve completely bought in, watching every game, even though I have no rooting interest, except the ever-present burning desire I have for Tom Brady to fatally collide with a well-placed flying cleat to the throat. 

I love the World Series. I grew up playing baseball, understanding the incredible difficulties of the sport even as men who could be my father still dominate the game. I find the unpredictability of the playoffs completely fascinating, with matchups and momentum being more integral to baseball than to any other postseason.

But today….we’re talking about the Road to Wrestlemania. This my friends–not the NFL Playoffs, not the Stanley Cup round, not the Fall Classic–represents the best time of the year. The three month build to professional wrestling’s crown jewel event is some of the best drama anyone could possibly manufacture.

The question, as it is every time in early January, is who will own the right to main event Wrestlemania? Unlike the other sports, the matchups in sports entertainment are predetermined by World Wrestling Entertainment grandmaster Vincent Kennedy McMahon. Simply owning a headlining spot, regardless if the wrestler is slated to win or lose that night, is tantamount to winning the Superbowl or hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy. 

As of today, we’ve got several revolving pieces hurtling towards Wrestlemania 29. The Rock. John Cena. CM Punk. Brock Lesnar. The Undertaker. Triple H. Ryback. Sheamus. Even, perhaps…Stone Cold Steve Austin

With all these names tumbling around in Vince McMahon’s menagerie of gladiators, there’s a million possibilities heading into Metlife Stadium on April 7th. The Raw Librarian and I have been tossing around e-mails for weeks, trying to speculate who will make it through the rocky Road to Wrestlemania and emerge as the top dogs. As MAMBINO often does, we’re going to break down the possibilities piece by piece, one wrestler at a time. Here….we….go!

DANIEL BRYAN

Most Likely Matchup

The RAW Librarian: Team Hell No Friendship vs Rhodes Scholars

You have to give credit where credit is due; HHH has to some extent revitalized the tag team division. However, it’s still no where near the Hardyz/Dudleys/Edge and Christian era of the early 2000’s. After all, that was tag team wrestling at its apex. I also have to give Kane major credit for improving every facet of his game in 2012. He dramatically revamped his character and added a great deal of credibility to tag team wrestling.  His backstage segments with Daniel Bryan (and Read more...