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Has Vinny Mac lost his touch? Royal Rumble 2015 Preview

It’s been a long journey filled with Fandango reboots and Nursery Time with Roman Reigns, but we’re finally here. The Road to WrestleMania begins this Sunday. There should be a noticeable difference in the quality of WWE programing in the next few weeks. After all, this is the time of year when writers will employ slightly more long term booking, as WrestleMania is only two months away.
 
You’ll have to excuse me if I’ve been a little down on the product lately, as CM Punk’s podcast with Colt Cabana was disheartening. Vince McMahon’s surprise appearance on the Network with Stone Cold was even more worrisome. We’ve been saying it for years, but I think it’s finally true; the 69 year old Vincent K. McMahon is out of touch. He no longer knows what the audience wants. I’ve had to get my wrestling fix outside the confines of Monday nights. Not like that’s been a bad thing.… Read more...

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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The subtle brilliance of “COO Triple H” and the WWE’s inadvertent long-term planning

About 10 years ago, Triple H was in the midst of one of the longest reigns in modern WWE/F history. After beating Shawn Michaels in December 2002, Hunter would hold the World Heavyweight Championship for the next 280 days. It’s still tied for the fifth longest reign of the past twenty years, only surpassed by CM Punk, John Cena (twice) and Batista (by two days).
 
What makes this reign even more remarkable is that before Michaels’s short 28 day reign at the top, Triple H had another 76 day stop as the champion. Thus, with only a four week break, Hunter Hearst Helmsley had been champion for 356 days. Meaning of course, the same hulking ex-member of D-Generation X was soaking up nearly a quarter of a two hour television show each and every week for almost a year. It was impressive. It was unstoppable.
 
It was absolutely interminable.
 
Though he had been back in action for almost a year and a half following a completely torn quadriceps muscle, it seemed obvious to everyone that was watching that Triple H wasn’t the same wrestler he was before the injury. His mobility, athleticism and quickness were noticeably affected, which was only compounded by an even more noticeable 20 to 30 pounds of muscle Hunter had put on while rehabbing his injury. Looking like the Ultimate Warrior but moving like Paul Heyman wasn’t helping his ring work, as his matches had fallen far from his 2000-2001 peak when it seemed like there wasn’t a wrestler out there that Triple H couldn’t drag to a five star opus. They were slow, plodding affairs that were nearly as excruciating and formulaic as the last slow-motion feud he was in. The equation seemed the same every month: big, strong wrestler X would challenge Hunter, verbally spar for weeks and ultimately get crushed in a match akin to two monster trucks running into one another for 25 minutes. It’s perversely entertaining at first, but after five minutes, you’ll need a cotton candy. Or a valium. Or both. … 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...

WWE Summerslam Recap



Location: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
Announcers: Jerry “The King” Lawler, Michael Cole

United States championship
Santino Marella (C) vs Antonio Cesaro w/Aksana 

This match took place on the Youtube pre-show. Odd to see two wrestlers of foreign descent battling over the United States championship, but it’s not like it means anything anyway. We finally saw the Cobra effectively countered as Cesaro knocked it away and then proceeded to rip it up. His valet Aksana provided the distraction on Santino after he pulled out a back up cobra. Front piledriver from Cesaro and we have a new United States champion. I don’t know much about him other than the fact that he can speak five different languages and he doesn’t use a sock puppet as a finisher. Consider me a fan. 


Chris Jericho vs Dolph Ziggler

Great choice for an opening contest. Jericho had his ribs taped up selling his injuries from Smackdown, but he didn’t really sell the injuries too much in the match. I enjoy matches that employ “ring psychology” such as wrestlers targeting the arms or legs to wear down their opponents, but I really just wanted to see these two guys go all out in the ring. For the most part, this is what happened. Great looking Walls of Jericho applied for the victory. It wasn’t quite the Liontamer because Jericho never put his knee in the small of Ziggler’s back, but Y2J really arched it and Zigs sold it well (obviously).

 It was a very good match between the two, but far too short in my opinion. Both wrestlers looked crisp in the ring and the two had great chemistry together. The match reminded me somewhat of the Jericho/Shawn Michaels Wrestlemania match a few years back. However, this time Jericho was the face and Ziggler wasn’t exactly looking for respect from his idol growing up. Both wrestlers had their share of fans in the crowd and at one point there were dueling “Let’s go Ziggler/Y2J” chants. Because this match went first, there was much speculation that Ziggler would cash in his Money in the Bank contract later on. (Spoiler Alert) That never happened. Besides the main event (which we’ll get to later) this was the only disappointing part about the night. 

Kane vs Daniel Bryan

Daniel Bryan is without a doubt the most over person on the entire roster. The announcers’ attempts to try and convince us that the crowd is against Daniel Bryan is laughable.


Michael Cole: Listen to these fans mock Daniel Bryan by chanting “Yes!” at him.

Thirty seconds later there was a very loud “Daniel Bryan” chant which must have had Cole very flummoxed and confused since the audience was just “mocking” him a moment ago. 

Pretty solid match between the two. Daniel Bryan has shown that he can work with any wrestler, heavyweight to cruiserweight. Kane also has similar adaptability. For a “big man” he is very agile and moves around quite well, even at his age. These guys also worked well together in their feud over AJ, so I was not surprised that this match was good. On a side note, I really like when wrestlers actually wrestle Kane and aren’t scared that mid match he’s going to open up a portal to hell or something. 

Daniel Bryan beat Kane with the roll up Kelly Kelly uses to pin Beth Phoenix. It was a quick ending to a match that never really got any build up. Hopefully DB can use this PPV victory as momentum and get back into the World title picture. He’s earned it.

Backstage Josh Mathews tried to get a word Read more...

Monday Night RAW review: One week til Summerslam


Location: Dallas, Texas
Preface: Last RAW before Summerslam

RAW kicked off with a match for a change.

CM Punk vs The Big Show

I guess I need to get over the disrespect the WWE shows their champions not named John Cena. The champion needs to be introduced LAST. We saw this again in the tag team match later on with Punk coming out before John Cena. They are too set in their ways at this point, their ideology isn’t likely to change. 

As for the match, it was good while it lasted. Well, good for Big Show standards. For some reason Daniel Bryan inserted himself into this match, attacking CM Punk with no provocation. I love Daniel Bryan and want him to be on television at all times, but doesn’t he have a match with Kane at Summerslam? Kane wasn’t even on RAW last night. 

After the match Daniel Bryan attacked CM Punk and put him in the “No lock.” Then our all American boy scout John Cena came down the ring to make the save. AJ Lee gave us her best Teddy Long impression and told us that later on we would be getting a tag team match playa.

Big Show is only one of 3 men to hold all active WWE Titles. He is also the only man to have personally closed 3 Waffle Houses#RAWTonight


JTG vs Ryback


For those of you that do not know, last week JTG took to Twitter to announce his displeasure with the WWE. He talked about talent not getting paid properly amongst other things. I’m not saying he didn’t have a point or he wasn’t right in what he said, but as an employee of a publicly traded company, you simply have to know better than to air your grievances on Twitter. Some of you may mention CM Punk’s “shoot”. Completely different situation. They gave him a microphone, let him air it all out, and as he will tell you, he didn’t say anything he hadn’t already said to Vince McMahon’s face. The JTG situation is different. I’m honestly surprised he wasn’t fired. He’s not really used on television and lets be honest, he’s not that great of an in ring talent anyway. Expect JTG to continue to receive “Miz” treatment…that is if he’s even on tv and not given his walking papers. If I was Vince McMahon, I would have JTG work every house show in a 2 on 1 handicap match against Hardcore Holly and Bradshaw. Dude should be grateful he even has a job. 

As for Ryback, his “Feed me more” catch phrase is pretty over with the crowd. Still some Goldberg chants, but not as loud as they’ve been. Total squash match.
Heath Slater vs R-Truth w/Lil Jimmy

Looks like they ran out of legends to beat up on Heath Slater pretty quickly. R-Truth won a very quick match. I guess Heath Slater will forever be known as “enhancement talent.” 

After the match, Darren Young and Titus O’Neil beat up on R-Truth. I’m pretty sure they said Kofi Kingston was on tour overseas. I really do not know if this is true or not, but I don’t care enough to look it up. Well at least the tag team championship match at Summerslam is receiving a modicum of build up. I’m looking at you: Kane/Bryan, Intercontinental and US title matches. 

Sin Cara vs Tensai

I’m done with Tensai. I gave him a fair chance, I really did. I wanted to like him. He’s clearly a much better wrestler now then when he was known as the guy with the piercings and hairy back….but he’s not over… in any capacity.

I think it’s fair to say that I have some dislike for the Prototype, John Cena. But even his staunchest detractors

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Monday Night RAW recap: HBK appreciation night



Location: San Antonio, Texas
Announcers: Jerry “The King” Lawler, Michael Cole

Preface:
These three hour RAWs are killing me. I had my television on for the entire 3 hours, but I can’t say I really watched with intensity. Good for the Neilson ratings, bad for writing RAW reviews. You’re slowly going to see these reviews morph more into my RAW thoughts and much less on what actually happened in the ring.

RAW opening segment

I know it’s only been two weeks, but I’m out on AJ as the RAW GM. Bring back Laurinaitis, give it to William Regal or let Vince come back and be the owner of both shows. To me AJ has been nothing more than a Stephanie McMahon clone, a petulant child making decisions to please a whimsical audience. The WWE has bastardized her character in an attempt to capitalize on her mounting popularity. I don’t really watch Smackdown so I could care less that Booker T was announced general manager over there. And I suppose I could go the “anybody but Teddy Long, Vicky Guerrero or Stephanie McMahon route” but I’m not satisfied with AJ as the RAW GM. Give me Lord Steven Regal or give me death.


These were the best options?

To recap the segment CM Punk apologizes in the most condescending way possible. Cena comes out and gets creepy with AJ and the Big Show was in Mike Rupp’s words, irrelevant out there. Being the new queen of RAW interactive AJ gave us the choice of #PunkRey, #PunkMiz, or #PunkKane. Wow. What options. Where was #PunkLesnar, #PunkAustin, or #PunkFunaki? The WWE was obviously baiting the audience to choose Punk/Rey Rey. Here I am talking like the votes were actually calculated.

“You smell great.” John Cena, you creeper



CM Punk vs Rey Mysterio 

Solid match while it lasted. Can we stop pretending that Rey Mysterio is a heavyweight wrestler? Actually with all the weight it looks like he gained while he was away, he probably qualifies now. I’m tired of watching bigger wrestlers have to sell his offense. Does anyone remember his matches against Tajiri? All of them were total classics. Why? Because his offense was believable and smaller wrestlers can properly sell what he does in the ring. 

Rey Mysterio wrestles in a shirt the same way a fat kid wears one to go swimming. #RAWTonight



Wade Barrett promo

I’m going to be patient on this one and give Wade Barrett a second chance. Take my eyes (but not my shirt) before making me ever watch Randy Orton vs Wade Barrett in the ring again. 

Christian vs Alberto Del Rio

So after declaring that he would not wrestle again until his championship match, Del Rio immediately had a match on Smackdown and then again tonight on RAW. That’s a shame because everything he said was true last week. What is the point of having him wrestle annihilate Santino Marella on a regular basis, when he has a title match lined up at Summerslam. When you secure the number one or two seed, you rest your players at the end of the season. You don’t go all out against inferior competition. 

On another note, another RAW without a US title defense or any mention of it’s champion really. You would be better off throwing the belt in the trash at this point, it wouldn’t make a lick of difference. 

Christian deserves better than this. I thought I read somewhere that he is close to retirement. Give him one more title run on Smackdown and then let him retire so he can go hiking and kayaking with Edge in Colorado. Del Rio with the victory aRead more...

Monday Night RAW recap: Episode 1001






Location: US Bank Arena, Cincinnati, Ohio
Announcers: Jerry “The King” Lawler, Michael Cole


Preface: Tonight was the start of 3 hour RAWs. Last week we saw CM Punk stand by and allow the Big Show to attack John Cena after their championship match. We also saw CM Punk lay out the Rock with a flying clothesline; disrupting the most electrifying move in sports entertainment. Was it a full heel turn for Punk? Is he now a tweener? Answers to come.


Full Disclosure: I didn’t cover any of the backstage stuff that happened during RAW. I normally don’t cover the minor backstage interactions and with RAW moving to three hours, I really don’t have the time to address everything. Obviously the Daniel Bryan stuff was fantastic.


CM Punk promo


Wow, what a promo. What a way to start off RAW. CM Punk sat indian style Native American style on the announcers table while he confronted Jerry Lawler over what he said last week. Native American style = shit is about to get real. Jerry Lawler closed RAW last week telling the fans that CM Punk had “turned his back on the WWE Universe.”


I always find it interesting when wrestlers use knowledge they gained from actually watching the show. We rarely see this. For example, the CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Kane triple threat match at No Way Out ended with AJ Lee taking a bump off the apron. Kane got distracted and CM Punk capitalized with the GTS for the victory. After the match Kane carried AJ Lee to the back, but we saw her smiling at Punk in the ring, as if the entire situation had been orchestrated. You’re telling me that Kane didn’t go back to his hotel room that night and order the No Way Out replay?


So we learned that CM Punk watches RAW because he wasn’t happy with Lawler’s comments to close the show. Later on we learned that AJ Lee watched last week as well because she saw the men in white coats and called Daniel Bryan out on it. Going forward I want a precedent established. Either every “superstar” watches RAW and studies the tapes or none of them do. I dislike the ambiguous nature that surrounds this.


Back to RAW. CM Punk’s promo addressed everything we could have hoped for; Jerry Lawler’s stilted and hackneyed commentary, Dwayne showing up for one week and immediately being granted a title shot, and the focus of the show not being on the WWE champion. I was surprised at how quickly the audience turned on CM Punk. The kindergarten crowd let him hear it. He’s been your champion for the past 8 months, I think he at least deserves the opportunity to explain his actions.



I love how @CMPunk turning #HEEL just means he tells the truth!@WWE #Raw #FireJerryLawler




Moments after saying he hates to be interpreted Big Show came down to the ring. Rabble, rabble, rabble, Show vows to become next WWE champion.


John Cena, not happy that other people are getting attention, runs down and clears Big Show out of the ring while CM Punk calmly watched. The WWE missed an opportunity here for the two of them to have some interesting back and forth on the mic. The segment had already gone about 18 minutes, but it’s a 3 hour show now. I guess they needed to reserve enough time in the show for us to see Stephanie McMahon slapping Paul Heyman 3 times.


AJ Lee’s terrible music hit and she gave us our main event for the night. John Cena vs the Big Show with the winner facing CM Punk for his title at Summerslam. It was at this point that the creative team was faced with two clear choices.


1. Have John Cena become number Read more...

Monday Night RAW Recap: 1000th Episode


Location: St. Louis, Missouri
Announcers: Jerry “The King” Lawler, Michael Cole, Good Ol JR (for one match)

Tonight was the celebration of 1000 episodes of Monday Night RAW but maybe more importantly was also the start of three hour episodes for the foreseeable future. 
Hate to spoil it, but this was a pretty, pretty…pretty good show. Lots of nostalgia tonight and a lot of winks at the ridiculousness of past story lines. Hell, Mae Young showed up with a grown up hand representing her and Mark Henry’s lovechild (seriously). If the Big Bossman were still alive, there’s no doubt in my mind that he would have shown up with a Pepper doggy bag or tried to crash a funeral and drag a casket behind his police car. 

Let’s do this.
Amazing video package put together to start off the show. It encompassed a lot of the great moments in RAW’s history. I’m not ashamed to admit things got a little misty in this librarian’s household, especially at Mr. Yamaguchi telling Val Venis  “I choppy choppy your pee pee.

DX reunion 


We were promised DX would start off RAW so I was surprised when “No Chance” hit. I suppose if I was responsible for 20 years and 1000 episodes of a global entertainment entity, I would want to come out and soak up the “Thank You Vince” chants as well. 

HHH and HBK invited X-Pac, Billy Gunn and Road Dogg to join them in the ring. No love for the 9th Wonder of the World Chyna? Apparently she couldn’t get a night off of her new career as an “adult movie” star. It’s never the divas you hope for, I guess. 

It was really cool for DX come out and do their schtick, especially because you could visibly see that these guys all looked like they were really enjoying themselves and having fun in the ring. I’m glad this was more of an homage and nostalgia rather than HHH and Shawn Michaels trying to convince us they’re still cooler than everyone else on the roster at forty years plus. 


Damien Sandow showed up to interrupt the DX reunion. Really? I can’t totally crap on this because I’m always talking about how they need to push younger talent. It was the right idea to have a young star get a nice rub from being in the same ring as these “legends” but was Sandow the best choice? They couldn’t of had Ziggler come out and show Billy Gunn who is the true Mr. Ass? (Editor’s note: That’s what you wanted to see, dude?). Cody Rhodes wasn’t booked for the show, I feel like he would have been a better option than Sandow.

(Follow my own personal fantasy booking for a moment. You have DX come out. They do their DX thing. The crowd eats everything up. Have X-Pac, Billy Gunn, and Road Dogg leave first up the ramp. Then while HHH and HBK are posing on the top ropes, have Lesnar come in the ring from the crowd. Hit HHH from behind, nail HBK with the F-5, leave.You let DX get their moment in the sun and you immediately transition and greatly up the intensity in the HHH/Lesnar feud. We’ll get to our double dose of HHH later.)


Damien Sandow, following in the illustrious footprints of the Spirit Squad by interrupting DX only to get buried. #RAWTonight

Three on three tag team match featuring JR on commentary
Rey Mysterio Jr, Sin Cara, Sheamus vs Y2J, Ziggler, Alberto Del Rio

I love the WWE’s blatant racist thought process when forming tag teams. We have nothing for Kofi Kingston or R-Truth to do? They’re both dark fellas, lets throw them togeRead more...