Foley & Trish: Over a decade after Invasion!

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I’ve been watching a lot of Attitude Era Pay-Per-Views recently, reliving my youth. I would definitely recommend this little gem. Check out the highlight video and pay particular attention to the first ever bra & panties tag-team match between Trish Stratus & Lita and Stacy Keibler & Torrie Wilson. You definitely won’t be disappointed. And do you know why? Because of the blockbuster Special Guest Referee Mick Foley, occupying the officiator role for the second time that night, after watching over the spectacular all referees match between the legendary Earl Hebner and WCW loudmouth Nick Patrick. Remember when filler/comedy matches were actually awesome?

Nights like this aren’t particularly memorable, but when you see them back and see some of the crazy, random shit these guys were doing, it’s pretty amazing. Foley and Stratus were both icons of the Attitude Era, in totally different ways. Both deserve huge credit. Both are going to be right where they belong in the 2013 Hall Of Fame. Give this highlight video a watch, and maybe even check out the full PPV if you get the chance. What is your favourite PPV? Or favourite wrestling moment?

Please leave a comment or a question. I would appreciate your views!

Loathing

This week on RAW!

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This weeks episode of RAW absolutely flew by. I know a lot of people are getting sick of the three hour shows, and pleading for them to be downsized back to the original two hour slot. When watching the show most weeks since the switch, I have felt the same. Not last night. Last night was one of the few episodes these days that had me wanting more! Three hours just wasn’t enough. It’s been getting more and more like that since the turn of the year, and that’s obviously because we are heading down the Road to Wrestlemania. But this show reached a new level. I thought it was jam packed with good matches, amazing segments, stunning returns and one of the best TV main events I’ve seen in a long, long time. There is pretty much only one thing I would have changed about the show, but I’ll get to that in a little while.

Because so much took place on RAW, I’m just gonna focus on some of the major points that I think hold most importance or interest. The opening segment of the show can usually go one or two ways. It can either light a fire under the card and start off a great show, or provide a very dull, unmemorable beginning to an often likewise night. This week was definitely a case of the first choice. Vince McMahon and Paul Heyman came together for their “fight” and the latter seemed to be getting into it. He was relishing the chance to take out the already injured and extremely senior Chairman of the Board. Vince managed to turn this around and had Paul on the ground with crutch in hand.

Then it hit, the moment we were all waiting for deep down, Brock Lesnar’s music hit. He swaggered to the ring and proceeded to stalk Vince. Just as you thought he was going to add insult to injury, the infamous opening seconds of that classic Motorhead theme dropped. Everyone in the arena, and everyone at the show knew what was about to happen. Out comes Vince’s son-in-law and Chief Operating Officer Triple H, but he’s not in a suit and he’s not here for business. He is sporting his new short hair, and looks ready to fight.

The two of them meet half way between the ring and the tron and begin brawling uncontrollably. At one point Hunter smashes Brock’s head against the ring post causing a huge cut to open up on his head. Brock bled profusely as the two of them continued to fight it out. Triple H then smashed him out of the ring with the chair. As Lesnar walked back up the ramp, he was smiling in that classic heel way. It’s pretty obvious that this means the two of them will be coming together on the grandest stage, so that the McMahon family name can be defended and honoured. It’s a great story and the two of them told it to perfection. I love accidental blood in WWE, but it’s ironic that Lesnar is always involved in it. I really can’t wait to see what’s in store for this one.

Aside from the no longer rumoured Undertaker return, the biggest hot topic in wrestling right now is probably Jack Swagger and his new persona. Moronic bigot Glen Beck took his despicable image to new lows in my eyes this week when he basically called everyone involved in and every supporter of wrestling an idiot. In his view, the guys in the ring, and us in the crowd have something in common. We are all “stupid wrestling people” – Now he has said some despicable things in his time, and I pretty much wish death upon him at the best of times. But this is a step too far. I really would pay someone to slit his fat throat if I could.

The hilarious irony of this is the fact that he is complaining about the offensive nature of Swagger and his legendary new manager Zeb Colter. He cries that their characters show conservatives and particularly Vietnam veterans in a dim light. They are characters you complete fool! They are aligned and played out as heels (bad guys) – This itself shows that the company is not endorsing their attitudes. It is not saying they represent everyone of a certain belief or political stance. They are just bad guys, and the crowd should boo them. It’s that simple. The real truth that Beck knows to be a fact, is that he sees himself and his own ideologies in those characters, and he can’t handle that. He is a racist, pathetic idiot and it kills him to see himself and everything he stands for parodied and hated.

The two in question were on this weeks show again, which I was delighted about, After the news of Swagger’s unfortunate incident with the good old Mary Jane, I thought it was inevitable before he was dropped from Wrestlemania and they went in another direction. That apparently isn’t going to happen and the two are getting more heat and causing more controversy than ever. I’m a big fan of what they are doing. Swagger has all the physical attributes to be at the very top. All he needs is some help with the mic. Colter is doing a spectacular job in getting heat heaped onto the two of them, It’s a superb partnership, and this feud with Alberto Del Rio has the potential to become extremely emotional and personal by the time they get it on, if booked well. I’m glad to see that they are not dropping this one.

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And then there was Cena and Punk. A great promo in the ring by the best in the world. A great backstage interview by the hero. A chance to face The Rock at Wrestlemania for the brand new shiny WWE Championship. The stage was set for what Cole described as the ‘one of the most important matches of both of their careers’ – We’ve seen it before many times, but it never disappoints and it’s never predictable. This was no different.

After all had been said, and entrances had been made, the two got it on, and let me tell you, it has to be one of the best television main event’s I’ve seen in recent memory. This was no throw away tag team match involving Kofi Kingston. This was a highly anticipated, thoroughly executed and perfectly performed match by two of the best in the business. The first ten minutes was the kind of impressive chain wrestling I never thought I’d see from Cena. From the start it was clear that John was in one of those ‘One Night Stand’ moods when he just wanted to prove the world wrong and rebuttal the infamous “You can’t wrestle” chants. There were no such chants last night. The crowd were firmly behind him. He must have just felt the need to earn his spot by putting on a brilliant wrestling match. If so, he succeeded.

The match went on from there to include countless reversals, some amazing storytelling, ring psychology, multiple finishing manoeuvres and even a John Cena hurricanrana, and an explosive CM Punk piledriver. Both men were pulling unbelievable moves and tricks out of their respective hats. Both men gave everything they had mentally and physically. At the end of the match, John Cena won the match clean and had his hand raised. He is going to Wrestlemania. I’m sure there are a lot of Punk fans, or more accurately Cena haters, who will now label the match as terrible. The predetermined winner of the match is not important. Two guys put their bodies on the line and gave every single drop of enthusiasm they had to put on a show. It was a great one.

Now to my only real issue with this weeks RAW. Where the HELL was The Undertaker? Last night, just before the show I made a post all about how excited I was to see The Deadman. I guess I’ll still have to wait. I don’t know if it’s because he carried the Smackdown brand for so long, and they intend to bring him back there and have him be a central part of that show in the run up to Mania. I personally think that would be great for Smackdown and the business in general. Somehow I don’t see that being the case. I suspect he will be on RAW at some point to make it clear who he intends to face for the streak.

All logic now points to CM Punk. The two had tremendous battles for the World Heavyweight Championship on Smackdown a few years back. They would have plenty of video to use for the build. The two of them could breathe new life into the mostly cadaverous second string show. The Undertaker admitted that during those past battles CM Punk earned his respect. I’m sure Punk would admit that duelling with the phenom also helped him to raise his game and reach a new level. With four of the biggest stars in history already tied up, I don’t see many other options.

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Raw or Smackdown based, I fully expect it to be Taker and Punk fighting it out for respect and for the title of ‘icon’ – This is why I was so surprised not to see them kickstart the build up last night. They basically waited until seconds before the main event, then made their first mention of Taker by showing a Tout clip filmed on a mobile phone of his return at the Texas house show. I thought this was SO lame. Granted I already knew about his comeback and so do most ‘internet fans’ so I get that they don’t want to insult anyone’s intelligence. Nonetheless, you want a return (whether you expect it or not) to be dramatic, and especially when it’s the legend of Wrestlemania. But no, the first glimpse was on Tout – ridiculous!

After Cena got the pin on Punk, it seemed to me that the logical step was to have him leave Punk lifeless on the mat and walk back up the ramp after his celebrations. Punk could then either slowly crawl to his feet and begin to leave the ring, or he could grab the microphone and complain about being screwed. Either way, with him alone in the ring, it would be the perfect moment for the lights to go out, the gong to hit and the Deadman to appear behind Punk, ready to question his accusations earlier in the night that he is “the icon”, “immortal”, “the greatest of all time”, “greatness on two feet” and my personal favourite “GOD!”. The fact that this didn’t happen may mean they have a different opponent in mind, or they may just want to wait, or they may have screwed up big time. Who knows? The good thing from a WWE perspective is that I will be watching next week to find out, and I can’t wait.

To sum up, we now have Rock v Cena, Triple H v Lesnar and Swagger v Del Rio booked for Wrestlemania. Providing the world doesn’t end, or something equally problematic, these should all be taking place. I expect to also see Punk v Undertaker. The three hour RAW’s can sometimes be a chore, but this week’s certainly wasn’t like that. I’d advise you all to check it out, and be sure to tune in next week for more! The card and build for Wrestlemania is heating up, and the anticipation is reaching fever pitch. I realised the other day that the event clashes with the UK tour I’m going on with my housemate Andy (www.facebook.com/brainsforbreakfastmusic) – I’ll be in Liverpool on the night of the show and need to find somewhere to watch it. There is no way I can miss it! I can’t wait!

Are you excited for Wrestlemania? What did you think of RAW? Please let me know. Go ahead and post a comment, and also post any questions or queries you may have about wrestling for the upcoming video Q&A series!

Thank you very much for reading!

Loathing

Anticipating The Deadman

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So, you may have heard the news. If you haven’t and you’re reading these words, I’ve just spoiled it for you. It was reported online a couple of days ago that the one and only phenom The Undertaker appeared at a WWE house show, and is therefore certain to be at Monday Night Raw tonight (in about 25 minutes to be precise) – I haven’t been this excited for a show in a long time. I better make this quick, but when am I ever quick? When it comes to talking about wrestling… ladies, I can go all night.

This news has me both excited and curious. It throws up a lot of questions. Will he be returning with his usual gimmick or will he revert to the old American Bad-ass character? I hope he doesn’t, but you never know. Is this going to be his last match? The most pressing question is of course, who will The Deadman be facing this year? Well I’m pretty sure we will find that out tonight. There are so many different matches they could do with Taker, all of which I would love.

One candidate that comes to mind is CM Punk. They had some great battles for the title on Smackdown a few years back, and I think they could replicate that and more on the grandest stage, especially given Punks ascension to global fame and recognition. Then again, it seems that WWE is building towards a potential triple threat match between Punk, Rock and Cena, which would be great in my opinion. Either way, it seems that Punk isn’t going to be slipping out of the title picture just yet. Nonetheless, we all know how quickly plans can change in wrestling so you can never be sure.

Another potential opponent is Brock Lesnar. The feud these two had in 2002 was phenomonal. I actually rate that as being the best period for Taker during the whole motorcycle experiment. The hell in a cell match was a particular highlight. They told a very biting and personal story of a great rivalry. With Lesnar’s newly enhanced arrogance, and readily emphasized lack of respect for the business, Undertaker could be presented with the perfect opposite. This could be a match built on the newly ignited ashes of one of the most bitter rivarlies of Taker’s illustrious past. It could also tell a story which is very much about the present., given Lesnar’s vicious attack on Vince McMahon on RAW.

Last but not least on my wishlist is another past demon of Taker’s and that is The Rock. Obviously I know this is the one of them which is absolutely impossible, but I thought it was worth including anyway. It could be possible for next year’s Mania perhaps? I think again reigniting a feud which in this case dates back to the late 90s would make the perfect platform for something more. Perhaps in a years time, a Rock heel turn could provide the perfect fire for the perfect send-off for The Deadman. The two of them have history together, they are two pillars of the wrestling business, two legends, two icons. It could be a battle for ultimate supremacy, unlike almost any other. But it certainly won’t be this year.

Besides the two realistic possibilities I mentioned, I don’t see a lot of other options. Orton, Henry and Kane have all been done at Wrestlemania. I don’t see many others on the roster who I think could step up at this point to a match like this. If Chris Jericho were to turn heel, they could maybe strike up something good, but besides that I don’t know what else they should do. For me, The Undertaker should come back to defend the honour of Vince, the company and the whole business against the brash, but unstoppable upstart Brock Lesnar. That would just set the card for Wrestlemania on fire.

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So maybe my wish will come true. Maybe I know absolutely nothing and he is about to begin the road to Undertaker v Kane. It’s almost time to find out. Five minutes until show time. Anticipation is in the air. After last year’s End of an Era match with Triple H and the emotional embrace which concluded it, his arrival tonight is sure to send shivers down my spine, just as it did when I was eight years old watching Taker battle Stone Cold Steve Austin. The entrance, the streak, the legend. It’s all coming back again for one night, and the build for that night starts here. Who will be next up to challenge the streak?

Leave a comment and let me know what you think of the whole thing!

Loathing

Grapple Fanatics TV – Ep.1

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Grapple Fanatics TV - Ep.1

As the page above will illustrate further, me and my colleague Fear are looking to start a video series on YouTube about professional wrestling called Grapple Fanatics. Taking inspiration from Aaron Rift’s NODQ&A series (check that out if you haven’t already!), but we are hoping to do some review stuff, some open discussion and a good segment for mailbag questions on each episode. We will be needing some interesting questions to attempt to answer. I love watching Aaron’s series. It’s great submitting questions and getting a response from someone with a totally different perspective. I learn a lot with each episode of Aaron’s show I watch. I’d like to try and replicate that, only from the perspective of two British guys who have loved wrestling for a decade and a half.

Please go ahead and submit some questions. If you are curious about anything to do with wrestling, go ahead and email slam.dunked@live.com, or post a comment on this blog! Whether you just want to hear someone else’s opinion, put yours forward or there is something you don’t know and want to find out, please give us a shout and we will try to answer all of your queries on Episode One of Grapple Fanatics TV. I will be posting the videos on here, as well as YouTube, so you will get to see your questions answered directly.

I’m looking forward to hearing all of your questions!

Loathing

Memories of wrestling live events

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Memories of wrestling live events

I was reminiscing the other day with my friend Fear (doctorstrangesf.wordpress.com) about the live events we have been to in the past. The first time I ever went to see wrestling live was when I was sixteen, with my then girlfriend at the time. It was a Smackdown house show, and I had a blast. I saw Undertaker, Kane, Rob Van Dam, William Regal and loads of other legends! I look back on that night with really fond memories. It’s pretty crazy that it took me about eight years of watching wrestling to actually pull my finger out and go, but I guess that’s how it goes sometimes.

I also went to one independent show run by K-Star at a social club about ten minutes from my parents house. That was actually really cool! Granted the guys weren’t all chiselled, tanned ‘supermen’ but it was sweet seeing all the little kids getting into it, and the whole pantomime aspect that is so evident at that level. The work was basic, but effective. The mic work was great, especially the heels. Watching them threaten to slap the kids in the front row was awesome. Good thing all the parents weren’t dicks and revelled in playing along. Seeing wrestling that up close and personal was certainly an experience I won’t forget.

Since my initial encounter with live arena wrestling, I’ve been to two more WWE shows. They were both live TV, which was awesome. One was at the MEN Arena in Manchester, and the other in Birmingham at the NEC. They were both RAW, which is clearly the better show, and has been for some time. I’ve seen almost all of the stars of the last five or so years, and I have a lot of great memories. I’d recommend going to a live event the next time the company comes to your area!

Anyway, the main reason I wrote this post is because I want to hear some stories and memories from you guys. Does anyone have any live event memories, or any questions about the live shows? Maybe you’re thinking of going and want to know more? Or you’re a veteran who’s been to countless live events. Either way, leave a comment and hit me up with some of your memories and stories from live events!

Thanks!

Loathing

This is a review which I sub-edited for Chameleon Recordings. It looks at the Chameleon artist and UK hip hop sensation Big Dog Yogo‘s mixtape Pain Release. It was originally written by my colleague and friend Fear (AKA Doctor Strange) – Be sure to check it out, and download the music for FREE with this link: http://grimeblog.com/mixtapes/big-dog-yogo-pain-release

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Pain Release

“I ain’t trying to buy shit, all I do is stack”

Big Dog Yogo is a UK hip hop artist from Birmingham and Pain Release is possibly the best introduction to what he is all about. It also features a cadre of the best young talent from across the second city. Not saddled with any of the pretence that plagues the music industry, Big Dog isn’t afraid to say it as he see’s it. Featuring dark yet slick production, all 18 tracks have a beat most rappers would die for.

A glamourized look at the life of a young inner city man, Big Dog revels in the gangster lifestyle, yet makes no attempt to hide the harsh and brutal realities that most rappers would simply ignore or gloss over. The best example of this would be track four, Pickin’ Up Weight, which showcases Big Dog’s gruff and abrupt…

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The Road to Wrestlemania is officially heating up!

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I want to talk about wrestling, for once. I was going to write two separate pieces on the Chamber and on Raw, but I’ve decided to just start typing until I’ve covered everything, and then stop typing. I hope you enjoy reading.

After what I thought was an amazing Elimination Chamber, we were last night treated to another great edition of Monday Night Raw. The build for ‘Mania is falling into place nicely, on all fronts. Both titles are relevant, the mid card is stronger than ever, and it’s only a matter of time before a couple of returns surely set up some huge matches for the grandest stage of all. Frankly, I say it every year, but I don’t think I’ve been more excited for a Wrestlemania yet!

I’ll start with the World Heavyweight Championship. Alberto Del Rio is playing this sort of pseudo-face role to perfection. He has a basic innocence to his character now, which is always a good thing. But he also has a slightly different characteristic. The ability to consistently act in the ring (along with Ricardo Rodriguez) as a heel, by using heel tactics. Ricardo regularly (even as often as Sunday at the PPV) climbs onto the apron to either distract his opponent or the referee. His manager/announcer even helped the guy get a win over Big Show in a Last Man Standing match by taping the giants feet to the bottom rope. If Paul Heyman and CM Punk did this, would it be greeted with cheers by the crowd?

Del Rio has morphed into this modern day Eddie Guerrero character. He can cheat to win. He can try to get the upper hand on his opponent at any cost. So long as he is up against a heel, and the more despicable heel the better, he will be cheered and loved by the audience. It’s such an intriguing thing, and I think it does his cheesy new faceness the world of good. Another likeness to Eddie is obvious. His ethnicity. Del Rio is a great and proud Mexican superstar. Like Mysterio and Guerrero before him, he already has the backing of a huge percentage of the shows audience. It’s clear that the company is going to market him as their next big Latin champion.

This paves the way perfectly for a rivalry as old as time, and of the greatest ease to book. Patriotism. There is a brilliant round table discussion of the history of patriotism in wrestling on the WWE’s Legends Of Wrestling broadcast. If you can find a way to check that out, it’s truly fascinating. Since the end of World War Two, pro wrestling has played around with the idea of patriotism and rivalries between nations. Famous Russian, Iranian and German villains of the past have played pivotal roles in big time feuds against American heroes. Art imitates life.

Only this time it’s a minority hero in Alberto Del Rio, and who will be his villain? None other than the “Real American” Jack Swagger. I have to admit, his return has been phenomenal. He couldn’t have looked more buried when he left. Along with his new manager, the propaganda peddling, staunchly conservative Zeb Colter, he is looking aggressive, invigorated and truly a force to be reckoned with. It’s so easy, and I know it’s going to be so, so entertaining. Not to mention the fact that Wrestlemania is sure to see a great match between two brilliant technicians.

As for the WWE Championship, this match needs little promoting. It was announced on RAW last night that on next week’s episode John Cena will put his title shot on the line against CM Punk, in a display of pure moronic egotism that only he could pull off. The winner of that match will meet The Rock – complete with new Brahma Bull championship belt – at Wrestlemania. This new belt change must be secretly devastating to CM Punk to know that he and many other regular, hard working professional wrestlers will spend the next decade holding aloft a belt adorned with the logo of an actor who will be nowhere to be seen for most, if not all of that decade.

Nonetheless, this whole triangle is just enthralling and whatever happens with it, we are in for one hell of a main event. I fully expect it to conclude in a blockbuster triple threat match at Wrestlemania for the championship. Let’s not do ‘Twice in a Lifetime’ or ‘Third Time Lucky’. Adding that dynamic would give this match something different and make this the biggest thing of the year. The Rock has had great feuds with both of these gentleman in the past year or two. It’s time to bring it all together and see who is the best. This would also be the perfect opportunity to let Cena get his win and the title back He even said on Raw “I’ve couldn’t beat you, I couldn’t beat The Rock” – Now is the chance for him to beat both of them. I hope and fully expect that this is how it will turn out. That’s my prediction right there.

The title picture in both respects, is full of star power, intrigue and room to be creative, so let’s just hope they don’t make it all too predictable, and for the sake of good wrestling, keep all five of those guys (including Punk) in the picture. Nobody wants to see Punk drop into the mid card and be involved in a quickly-hashed, nonsensical and irrelevant rivalry. That would be such an anti-climax to what has been an unbelievable couple of years for the guy. If you’ve watched his DVD, you’ll know that the company has a track record of letting him down. Let’s just hope it won’t happen again this time, for the sake of the business.

Away from the situation with major gold, the card is sure to be filled with amazing matches, what with the amount of talent at their disposal. The Shield, Ryback, Sheamus, Chris Jericho, Mark Henry, Big Show, The Miz, Wade Barrett, Antonio Cesaro, the list goes on. There is sure to be a couple of high profile championship matches on the card, aside from the WWE and World titles. Not to mention the tag team division. With the likes of Kane, Daniel Bryan, Cody Rhodes, Damian Sandow, Sin Cara, Rey Mysterio and many more, they could potentially create a huge multiple team match. There are so many superstars to be used and so many different avenues at every level. It is almost impossible to mess this up.

And completely separated from any championship, there are sure to be at least two high profile feud matches involving huge returning superstars. Any day now we should be seeing Brock Lesnar and The Undertaker on our screens again, and whatever they are involved in, it will be great. My dream would be to see the two of them face each other at Wrestlemania, rekindling their superb rivalry from 2002. In any event, someone is going to have to come back and defend the honour of Mr. McMahon. Could be Taker, could be Triple H or any number of people. I’m excited to see where they go with this. If booked right, this could be the main thing separating the show from any other previous event.

So, with a roster overflowing with star power, a countless number of routes to go, and the biggest audience of the year, we are surely set for something special. The anticipation is growing, the excitement is building and the storylines are taking real shape. This is my favourite time of the year, and I can’t believe I’m gonna say this again, but I can’t wait for Smackdown on Friday. Now that has to prove how good the product is these days!

What do you think about what I have to say? I love opinionated wrestling fans. Positive or negative, I’d love to get your feedback. Feel free to leave a comment and spark a debate!

Loathing

Don’t you dare sack Roberto Mancini

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Don't you dare sack Roberto Mancini

All I’m hearing from the lips of every smug football fan I know is the rumour that Roberto Mancini is not long for this world, or at least for Manchester City. I don’t know how much truth there is to this stuff, but I think I can speak on behalf of most level headed blues when I say that this is the last thing we want. In the modern age of English football, I’m wary that nobody is safe. Nonetheless, I do feel an FA Cup and Premier League title is more than enough to keep the fans happy. I get that football is a business, and I understand the demands given the financial expenditure, but I still feel that football needs to get a grip.

I haven’t encountered a City fan who has started baying for blood yet, although I’m sure there are a few of them out there. The problem seems (as always) to be the media. They are the ones who like to strike up a feeding frenzy, create imaginary pressure for managers at all areas of the table and try to convince you that it’s the right thing for your guy to be sacked. The power that the tabloid media has over the clubs owners and chairmen these days shouldn’t be underestimated. You can see it evidently at work here. They try to create false stories and rumours to try and push their own insidious agendas. It’s an ugly side to the beautiful game.

Now for those fans out there that would actually support this move, I’m sorry but you have got to be joking. I’ve never considered City fans to be spoiled, ungrateful glory hunters, and despite some limited success, I still don’t think it would be fair to describe us as such. Roberto Mancini had the luxury of lavish funds, yes. That doesn’t guarantee success (case in point Mark Hughes) The guy has had to man manage some huge egos, and in spite of the struggles, he has managed to secure two pieces of major silverware in recent years. Having grown up to see us win back-to-back promotions from the old Division Two, to then yoyo between the Premier League and Division One, I can safely say I was over the moon to even see my team get to Wembley.

Now we are setting new expectations for new generations of City fans. Kids are going to grow up with this attitude that 2nd in the league and the quarter finals of the FA Cup is a failure. Of course, expectations do rise in line with investment and recent success. I understand that. But there must be some loyalty left in the game. Having overturned United and pulled off arguably the most memorable championship victory in history, I think Robbie (as my mum calls him) deserves a bit more credit and respect than he is getting.

Yes we are twelve points off the pace, and yes we did fall short in Europe again. But the fact is that with Mark Hughes or the like at the helm, we could be where QPR are right now. Hughes (who you might guess, I don’t rate) is a prime example of the fact that you can’t just throw infinite money at a chimp and expect success. Just because Mancini had a kitty doesn’t mean he had the divine right to win the league. He didn’t. He made wise purchases (some flops yes, but may I remind you of Veron?), encouraged great team spirit and built a side based around a determination and strength the likes of which I have never seen in City colours.

All I’m asking of the owners, and indeed the fans (and maybe even pundits) is to just show some loyalty, respect and compassion to the man who has given us everything we ever wanted. For what it’s worth, I do think Mancini has the backing and support he needs, and that he will still be leading us out next year. The fact that Mourinho has hinted again that he will be rejoining our league at some point has added more fuel to the fire, of course. I’m not going to lie. If Robbie has to go, let it be ‘The Special One’ who takes control. But I do hope that isn’t the case. Unlike some, I don’t have such a short memory.

My opinion on this situation isn’t solely a compassionate one. This isn’t all about nostalgia or the past. I genuinely believe that we have one of the best managers in the world at our club, and we would do well to hang on to him. He is young, ambitious and successful. Mourinho aside, I don’t think I’d trade him for anyone on the planet. Maybe it’s bias because I am such a fan of him as a player and a coach, but I think we should concentrate on elevating our initial success and building a legacy in the coming years. The perfect platform for such progression is the steel and flair that typified Mancini’s style in leading us to the Premier League title last season. We just need to recapture that intensity next season and we will surely be contesting for the title more closely.

Let me know what you think about these rumours. Do you believe them? Would they be right to cut Mancini?

Loathing

Dublin 2013: Bars and padlocks

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This year was the first time I’ve ever really cared about Valentine’s Day. The reason for this – spending it in my favourite place in the world Dublin. I visited there once before on a lads weekend away, about three or four years ago. I always knew I wanted to return. I’ve been to a few pretty cool places now (Venice, Budapest, New York, Amsterdam, Barcelona) – which is why people are always shocked to hear that the Irish capital is my true home away from home. It holds a special place in my heart. The first time I ever went on a trip without my family, it was to Dublin. The only interesting thing I know about my family is the Irish blood I’ve inherited from my mother’s side. It may be a couple of generations back, but it still makes me feel a little less boring. While in Dublin, I bought a badge with the crest of my family name: Hanson. I almost felt like I had a little bit of an identity.

Going back to the home of the shamrock was another brilliant experience. This time it wasn’t with the lads, it was with my girl. This was pretty different, but equally amazing. Everything was just as beautiful as I remembered, and it was awesome spending it with someone who was there for the first time. I discovered a lot of new stuff I didn’t encounter last time. We crossed the Ha’penny Bridge. One thing set this apart from every other bridge along the river. We saw that the bridge was covered with padlocks…

On closer inspection, they all had names and dates on them. I kind of figured what the message behind it was, so we went along and got ourselves a padlock, a permanent marker and decided to leave a little piece of ourselves behind in my favourite city. We kept a key each, and unless we or the Dublin City Council go and remove the padlock, the spirit of our trip will always remain there. Having since done some research on my return, I now know that we are fully fledged members of the Love Padlocks community. That’s pretty cool.

We also met some great people. Most notably Nadine and Lara. Having dinner at Nando’s on Valentine’s Day, we made friends with a four year old girl and her friend Piggy. Her mum was kind enough to take a photo for us on my Polaroid camera, which I haven’t used since I was about ten. The little girl had become a part of our trip by now. We let her in one of the shots, and left the picture with them to develop and keep. She crawled under the table and cried when she thought she couldn’t be in the photo, so we gave her one of our precious eight takes, which cost my girlfriend around fifteen pounds. We just couldn’t say no to her after all the fun we’d had for the previous few hours. That was a great memory.

Countless interesting bars, awesome sights and the brightest, most welcoming people I’ve encountered so far in the world. Dublin still is my favourite place, and it’s impression on me has grown even more. My latest trip had everything I could have wanted. We met some cool people, we had a great time and shared some pretty amazing memories which hopefully brought us even closer together. I expected to come home wanting to go back as soon as I had the chance, and that’s exactly what has happened. I’m counting the days to go back, make some more memories and make sure that our padlock is still there.

If you love Dublin as much as I do, give me a shout and leave a comment!

Loathing

A rather underwhelming Monday night

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So, we are staring the Elimination Chamber event in the face. It’s under a week away, and this is the prime time for top quality TV to help draw in maximum interest for the PPV. That’s why I was surprised to see an uncharacteristically average episode of Raw this week. I’m not a hater. I think (as I’ve said many times before) the product is the best it’s been in years, and I’ve been loving most episodes for the last couple of years now. Like most of you, I was sceptical when I heard the show would be switching to three hours. But I have to say, they are pulling it off! More, better and longer speaking segments for people like CM Punk and The Rock. Longer and more entertaining matches. It’s been great. So again, I was surprised at last night’s episode. It wasn’t bad, but it just wasn’t great.

Speaking of entertaining matches, one major highlight of the show was the match between Daniel Bryan and Chris Jericho. If you haven’t seen Raw yet, I still don’t need to describe the match for you. You should know what to expect from those two by now. A truly great wrestling match. The best thing about the match was it’s conclusion, and *spoiler alert* the revelation that Y2J would be in the chamber match to determine the number one contender for the World Heavyweight Championship. However, something tells me he either may not make it to the ring, or will be ambushed at some point by Dolph Ziggler and company, what with Dolph currently not on the card at all. That’s pretty fishy. I hope something less predictable happens, and we get to see him in the match, but I have my suspicions.

This week has been good for that match in general. I’m really happy with the way the card is shaping up. Jack Swagger has been yet another guy to return with a brand new attitude, new intensity and in my opinion real promise. He is looking amazing. A great addition to the match, especially given his new hilariously republican manager (Who the HELL is that guy?! – If you know, please add a comment and tell me!) I’ve already mentioned my joy at Mark Henry’s triumphant return. The rest of the chamber is filled with reliable, former champions in Bryan, Kane and of course Randy Orton. I’m probably more excited about this match than any other. One thing Raw did successfully this week was get me pumped for this chamber match. That I can’t deny.

The other chamber watch is going to be a six man tag affair. I’m not sure if this has been done before, but it sounds awesome. I don’t know if this still means two men start and each participant is released at random every so often. I hope so, because that leaves so many possible dynamics open for the match (handicaps, tag moves, etc) – Either way, I love the sound of these six guys being locked inside that chamber at the same time. Provided it’s booked properly, everyone should come out of it shining. I genuinely don’t know if they are going to put over The Shield or not, but as long as it’s done well, either outcome could be great.

I didn’t like the pointless squash match between the three heroes and 3MB. I don’t see what that did, other than bury those guys even more, if that’s even possible. I’m pretty sure they are so below ground as a faction, that they are basically the earth’s core. I really don’t think it did much for Team Face anyway. It was dumb, and proved nothing. I much preferred the confrontations and vocal promos. They actually had a purpose, of building to something. The bottom line is I’m still looking forward to the match. My only reservation is the fact that I’m only feeling that way because of the building done prior to last night. Raw itself last night did not really add any momentum to the match in my opinion.

Big Show and Del Rio continued to move forward, but at a slow pace. This feud between the two of them has been great. It’s had everything: fighting in random places, car park brawls, and humiliation. I just felt that nothing significant happened with this last night. Big Show did knock out A-Ry, but all that did was show just how irrelevant he and Yoshi Tatsu have become. Show also laid out Matt Striker in the ring after he dared utter the words “Big Show, do you feel?” *punch*

As for Punk Rock Pt. 2, I have to say I’m fairly underwhelmed with this week’s contribution to the feud. The attempted retirement of Paul Heyman and subsequent tender moment involving him and Punk was a high point. We also saw Vince McMahon take Heyman’s advice and add a stipulation to the title match. If The Rock is DQ’d (he’s a face, so what?) or counted out (ohhhh-kaaayyyy) he will lose the title. Vince happily signs off on this request, just days after being f5’d by Heyman’s boy Brock Lesnar in the middle of the ring. Logic is clearly something the writers were never taught, but okay. I like the idea of the addition. It adds a bit of spice to things. It gives Punk a way back to winning the title. But I think we all know he won’t be screwing The Rock, he will eventually be doing the job.

The whole Vince-Heyman phone call debacle aside, not a lot happened. The Rock did cut a hilarious promo to end the show. He told a story about a car he once purchased from a crackhead in a bar, at the age of fifteen. The relevance you ask? The tale took place in Nashville, Tennessee, where he was living at the time, and where Raw was happening last night. The promo was funny, but it didn’t exactly light a fire under the match. Then again, do they really need to do anything to hype this match?

The show ended with Punk coming out to crash The Rock’s promo party. The two exchanged fists in the corner before Rocky hit his signature spine buster, and removed the elbow pad. Before he could hit the most unrealistically electrifying move in all of entertainment, Heyman pulled his leg as he hit the ropes. Punk capitalised and threw him up for the GTS. After delivering the knee, and leaving the champ laid out, Punk grabbed the title belt and left with it. I can’t wait to see if Punk is going to come out with the title, or if it will magically get back to The Rock in the meantime. I suppose that’s a little spice.

Aside from the chamber build up, there were a few things missing from Raw that meant it couldn’t match recent episodes. I was disappointed not to get yet another Hall of Fame inductee announcement, but I guess we have at least another week to wait now. There was no Brock Lesnar on the show. I know he has limited dates, but he is a complete tease. After he destroyed Vince, I expected to see a lot more of him, but sadly he was absent from the show. This, I didn’t love.

Overall, Raw was pretty underwhelming in my opinion. Don’t get me wrong. I can’t wait for the pay-per-view! I just felt that there was quite a bit missing from this show, considering the timing. It was good enough I guess. It got the job done, but it could have been much better. Nonetheless, with a card jam packed with great matches and probably more to be added on Friday Night Smackdown, I am biting my finger nails in anticipation for Sunday!

Let me know what you thought of Raw. Are you looking forward to the Elimination Chamber? Could I borrow a lighter? Do YOU know more about Swaggers new manager? Leave a comment, like the post or follow the blog!

Thanks for reading.

Loathing