My Fame Five from a Surprisingly Solid Smackdown

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In-keeping with my theme of not really having recurring themes or structured, ongoing features of any kind, I have decided to do a Booker T ‘Fame Five’ of sorts. I was surprisingly pleased with this weeks episode of Smackdown. So much so that I was inspired to write a rare Smackdown related post. My five choices aren’t individual people. They are matches, segments or highlights. The five things I most enjoyed about this week’s Smackdown:

  • Story Time with The Rock
  • Ryback and Mark Henry – Weight lifting contest
  • Dolph Ziggler & AJ v Daniel Bryan & Kaitlin
  • Chris Jericho’s back-to-back wins
  • Team Rhodes Scholars and Antonio Cesaro

As much as I bashed The Rock in my last post (https://therealmidcard.wordpress.com/2013/03/30/the-crazy-irony-of-the-rock-and-john-cena/) I have to give credit where it’s due. I couldn’t have been less enthused by his scheduled appearance on Smackdown going into the show. By the end of the segment, I did have a smile on my face. I found his promo to be really quite funny, and a lot more tolerable than some of his most recent. His comedic timing was genius at times, and showed the difference between him and the many who have tried but never actually managed to hang with the big boys in Hollywood.

The Rock’s story time was also interrupted by the a blockbuster return. The King of People Power and former Executive Vice President of Talent Relations and General Manager of Raw and Smackdown Mr. John Laurinitis is back! It didn’t take long for him to outstay his welcome and take a mean spine-buster and people’s elbow, but I have to say it was a pretty awesome surprise. Just goes to show how fickle we wrestling fans are. I’d almost forgotten his existence. It seems like forever since he was around. I’m really intrigued to see if he is genuinely going to play some kind of role in The Rock and John Cena’s match at Wrestlemania. All in all, this segment was a great way to open the show.

Another highlight of the show was the weightlifting contest between Mark Henry and Ryback, in which Henry apparently broke a record. I’m not sure how real that is, but the contest itself was pretty cool. The World’s Strongest Man did his set, and then Ryback stepped up and took his turn. Before he had a chance to break the record, Henry stopped him at the final rep and held the bar down over him, which choked him out. He left Ryback on the floor to get attention from referees and the medical team. This could be completely ridiculous, but I have an inkling that Teddy Long may be about to turn heel and return to managing Mark Henry. I can’t really explain why, but it’s just a feeling I have. I guess we will see.

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The best match of the show by far was unsurprisingly Dolph Ziggler & AJ v Daniel Bryan & Kaitlin. You know when you have those two males in the bring you are guaranteed some polished and exciting technical wrestling. However, it was the female element that made this match even more interesting. AJ and Kaitlin actually got in some pretty impressive offence on each other, and it was the spear by the latter which brought a good match to it’s conclusion. The logical step now seems to be to put the two of them in a Divas Championship match at Wrestlemania.

I’ll be honest. I never catch the show Main Event, so what I’m about to say may not be accurate. Nonetheless, as far as I’m concerned it’s safe to announce that Y2J Chris Jericho has done the unthinkable and won back to back matches. He got the rare win over Wade Barrett with the codebreaker off the distraction from The Miz. This comes after making Dolph Ziggler tap out to the Walls of Jericho on this weeks RAW. Will this momentum continue into the biggest show of the year or will the jobbing continue on Monday?

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My number five pick is the appearance of Team Rhodes Scholars and Antonio Cesaro as a tag team. I’m not going to lie, I didn’t pay too much attention to the match and it didn’t really blow my mind. The whole spot with Team Babyface and The Shield fighting it out in the crowd to end the show was cool, but besides that I wasn’t too bothered. I was more entertained in the moments before the match. Sandow and Rhodes continue to get more hilarious on the mic every week. I really hope they get the tag titles soon! And if you want to see a real Swiss man yodelling, check out this match!

Only two more shows until Wrestlemania!

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The Crazy Irony of The Rock and John Cena

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As we draw ever closer to the biggest night of the wrestling calendar, I become ever more disenfranchised with the current state of the WWE title picture. The current champion The Rock scarcely appears on Monday Night RAW, and almost never shows his face on “his show” Smackdown. This clearly devalues the brand new shiny belt. I”ve even found myself occassionally forgetting about the title completely. That’s how little it graces us with an appearance. Kinda strange.

Aside from the generally negative impact of The Rock’s current run on programming and the product in general, it has a much more direct effect on the Rock v Cena storyline in particular. When the number one contender and top guy in your company is involved in horrific segments and matches with Derren Young, you are NOT booking your Wrestlemania main event correctly. There isn’t room to move on that issue. Take a look at the past: Stone Cold v The Rock and Hulk Hogan v The Rock are two examples of how to book the build for a super-match.

Everything about this build has screamed anti-climax, and I can’t help but think that the only positive coming out of the whole thing is that the match can’t possiblty fail to live up to expectations, because they are already so low. It’s impossible to get heat on your storyline without actually putting together some logical segments. Throwing Cena in to throwaway, bullshit non-angles is just a waste of time which should be spent putting focus on the biggest match of the year.

The Rock isn’t on WWE programming a whole lot and when he is it tends to be nothing but disappointing. His promos and his routine are getting stale. I find it hard to root for him given his real life attitude, but we’ll get to that. Let’s just say the angle is dead, it’s being overshadowed by at least two of the other matches on the card, and frankly it’s a disservice to a historic championship and the most historic of wrestling companies.

Another crazy thing about this whole deal is the fact that The Rock hasn’t even been promoting the company, the belt or Wrestlemania on his many media appearances, which take priority over showing up for TV, let alone live events. It’s easy to forget that WWE are actually paying this guy a lot of money. I know he garners mainstream publicity and boosts ratings, but is he really making a substantial long-term contribution to proceedings? No.

He regularly misses RAW to spend time on red carpets across the world in support of his Hollywood movie career. As of late, it’s his new movie GI Joe: Retaliation which is tying up his schedule so bad. The Great One also utilizes the media through various formats. One of which is chat shows. He was recently on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, without the belt around his waist, and without even a mention of Wrestlemania or wrestling in general. It’s traditional for the WWE Champion to appear on late night talk shows with the belt. It’s almost like being the champion of an entire global industry can’t make the cut on his pre-show notes. He couldn’t even spare ten seconds to plug the Pay-Per-View. Is he embarrassed or something?

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Clearly you can see how The People’s Champion isn’t quite what he is on the screen in real life. John Cena, on the other hand works more dates than anyone else in the business, doesn’t miss RAW non-chalantly every other week, and has the record for granting wishes with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. This may not mean anything to the smart marks out there, but in reality John Cena is a good guy who actually has the interests of the business at heart. People envy his success, and hate his character. I can understand why. I do too. Nonetheless, I have nothing but respect for Cena the man, and I really hope he wins the title at ‘Mania for  the sake of the whole product. It isn’t very often that I root for Cena, but anything beats this absentee non-reign on the part of The Rock.

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John Cena is hated by internet fans and adults in general. His character is a never say die, modern day Hulk Hogan/Superman hybrid, he seems to never lose, and he has been known to have some infuriatingly long title reigns. People say he is boring, he can’t move in the ring and he is an overrated performer who has only reached the heights that he has through ass-kissing and politicking. I don’t know how true all of that is. I do know that he gets far too much stick for someone who works extremely hard, and travels the year round on the road proudly representing the country and the industry on an almost constant basis.

On the other hand, The Rock is still adored by the majority of fans regardless of generation. For the older people, he represents everything that they miss so much about the Attitude Era. He represents the antidote to John Cena’s squeaky clean face image. The reality is that Dwayne Johnson clearly doesn’t care about “the millions” or the friends, colleagues, family members and champions who have come before him in the business. He does not do the Championship justice. It’s so ironic that in this scenario he is the man getting all of the cheers, while the actual workhorse and real life nice guy is chastised and hated.

One thing is for sure, the storyline and the show overall have been woefully under-promoted. Rock v Cena (Twice in a Lifetime) is already being completely overshadowed by at least two matches on the card. The simple reason for that is a huge difference in booking quality, and dedication to the product on the part of the other occassional stars Triple H, Brock Lesnar and The Undertaker. There is only one week left to drum up demand for this match. I think it’s lost on the hardcore fanbase at this point (many of whom will be in New Jersey on April 7th) so I would expect some intense pandering to take place next week in order to secure a large mainstream audience for the show.

To sum up. The People’s Champion = Bad. The Doctor Of Thuganomics = Good.

Your thoughts? Like you’re really gonna post a comment…

Brains For Breakfast is the future!

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Check out this AMAZING video filmed for my boy Brains For Breakfast in full HD at our flat last week by Vivid Culture! Amazing job! Check out more with the link below, including music, tour dates and photos!

http://www.facebook.com/brainsforbreakfastmusic

My first day wearing glasses

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It’s time for another non-wrestling related post. Sorry everyone! Well, on we go… Today was my first day wearing my new prescription glasses. I was very nervous to break those bad boys out, because people notoriously hate those who wear glasses to look cool. I did get a couple of comments, but I was expecting to have to carry my doctors note with me as proof. The criticism and accusations weren’t anywhere near as fierce as I though they would bet. So that was a pleasant surprise. Then again, there is a long way to go, so I expect some more abuse before too long.

Aside from the opinions of others, the effect on myself has been a positive one. From the first second I put them on, I immediately felt that everything was clearer, so much clearer. I have been experiencing some mild headaches, but that’s perfectly natural according to what I’ve read. It just takes a few days to get used to. One person described it as your eyes “getting used to seeing properly” – It’s definitely something. They should help me get by looking at screens the entire day with much less pain and discomfort.

I haven’t experienced any of the dizziness or anything, but I did have something pretty interesting. I kind of felt like I was walking on stumps, or sinking into quicksand or something. I don’t know if it’s my senses being affected by the change in perspective or what, but I haven’t felt that weird since I was high as shit at Download Festival about six years ago. Another thing I wasn’t expecting was just how hard I would find it to keep them clean. I’m not really a mucky person but keeping these things from getting smeared and clouding my vision is providing difficult.

On the whole, I’m just getting used to this new experience, but I’m very happy to know that I can stare at my laptop, my phone and Call of Duty all day and night without getting huge headaches. Well, at least I will be able to soon.

And that’s the end to surely the most boring post I’ve ever wrote. This is why I should stick to wrestling.

A cry for help

undertaker-vs-cm-punk-wrestlemania-29As you should know, I love wrestling. You also may have heard about the full UK tour I’ll be going on with my close friend Brains for Breakfast in support of his upcoming EP over April 3-17. This means that for Sunday 7th April (For those of you who don’t know, this is the night of Wrestlemania 29) – I will be in Liverpool. Gutting, right? I’ve been scouring the internet for weeks now trying to secure somewhere to watch the show. Since I got into wrestling in 1998, there haven’t been too many years that I’ve missed watching the Showcase of the Immortals live. I really don’t want to do so this year.

Obviously, I have some options. We will be staying with the very generous and talented Emilio Pinchi after the show that night. He has broadband, so illegal streams may be my best shot. But I don’t want to leave my favourite night of the year to a stream. They are renowned for being slow, stop and starty, and are usually taken down after a while. I don’t want to be trying to find a new stream after mine fails midway through Undertaker v CM Punk. I know this because I used them a lot when I was at university. They are majorly hit or miss. For RAW or Over The Limit yes, Wrestlemania not so much.

Sky have very kindly informed me that I can’t order the show on Sky Box Office like I normally do, and watch it on my iPhone or laptop using Sky Go. Surely it’s only a matter of time before they add this feature, and I can’t wait for that day. In the meantime, I’m very sad to hear this news. I would happily pay even double the price of the PPV just to get to see it on my laptop, but no. So legal streams aren’t an option.

My best choice would be to find a venue that’s ordering it and showing it themselves, and party all night watching Wrestlemania. Ironically, Walkabout in Birmingham (the city I work in and live just outside of) is having a huge party showing the event, and expecting over 800 people, just like they did last year. They are charging £4 for the privilege, which is great business. People save £11 and they get to have a great time drinking and partying with friends, and making new ones. The bar makes an absolute killing on tickets, food and drinks. This must be happening everywhere!

I looked, it isn’t. How ironic. Walkabout bars in Carlisle, Cardiff and Glasgow are doing the same thing, but that appears to be the lot. Some independent pubs and bars across the country are showing it, but I can’t find squat in Liverpool. Very frustrating. I’ve been making calls, sending emails and googlin’ my fingers off. This is testament to just how much of a wrestling nerd I truly am. But it seems it may be tragically all in vain.

This post is a plea. If you’re reading this, and you live in or around the Liverpool area, please respond to this with a comment, or send me an email at slam.dunked@live.com

I would really appreciate the help. Whether it’s a house party that welcomes a random, travelling wrestling fan passing through town, or if you know of a small pub that shows the event, please do get back to me. I really appreciate any help or advice I can get!

This post isn’t about wrestling

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I thought I’d do the whole personal blog thing, for the first time in a long while. I don’t usually like doing these things. It does seem awfully self obsessed. I mean people may want to hear your opinions on sport or culture, and that’s very cool in it’s own right. But who really gives a damn about your personal and professional life? Unless it is relevant to them, why should they read it? Boy, I’m not really selling this very well at all am I? I guess it just feels good to get some things off of your chest sometimes, and give yourself some perspective on where going through your writing. I don’t know. I’m just going to do a little recap on the stuff I’ve been up to, and I hope you find it at least slightly interesting. Here goes.

As part of my work for Chameleon Recordings, I have spent the last couple of months writing and producing Artist Portfolios for Brains For Breakfast and MoJoe. You can see reviews I’ve wrote on both of their latest releases in the ‘Chameleon Recordings’ category. Those reviews are a small part of the portfolios. They are thirteen page promotional devices made with the intention of getting more press exposure and publicity for the two artists.

I’ve wrote them page by page, arranging and engineered them into Word and PowerPoint formats, added a promotional pack .zip folder with exclusive audio, video, photographs and tour information, and now I’m ready to start emailing them to magazines, radio stations, online zines, promoters and musicians. I have to admit that it’s a huge relief to have them off my workload. They have probably been my number one priority for quite sometime, and finishing them off should give me a lot more free time to dedicate to other work.

Another responsibility I’ve had as part of the Chameleon Team has been working on Brains For Breakfast’s upcoming UK tour. I will be on the road with him and MoJoe between April 3-17. Check out this link for more info on tour dates, etc: http://www.facebook.com/events/544516652249515/?ref=ts&fref=ts – When I jumped on the tour, it was missing around six dates and needed polishing off. I took over some of the tour booking and secured those shows.

Now thanks to the hard work of all three of us, we have the entire tour fully booked, the tour poster finished and a comprehensive tour schedule containing the location, addresses and contact details of all the venues, promoters and even the people we are staying with. If you know me, you can guess which obsessive, compulsive freak has compiled the tour schedule. We are even in the midst of self promoting one of the shows ourselves in Stoke on April 6. Check it out here: http://www.facebook.com/events/357017921073381/?ref=ts&fref=ts

There are just a few finishing touches that need adding to the tour. We are waiting on t-shirts to come back from the printer, taking hundreds of copies of the EP, leaflets and stickers with us too. We have all the information now. We almost have all the merchandise. We are all armed to the teeth with equipment and media. I honestly can’t wait to just get on the road. It’s been a childhood dream for as long as I can remember. I came very close when I was seventeen and had it snatched away from me the day before tour. Second time lucky. I can’t wait to film everything, and video/print blog my ass off all day and night! My only real concern about the tour is how I’m going to see Wrestlemania. That is all up in the air, and that’s not normal. I know I’ll find a way…

Moving on to Birmingham 2022, which is the exciting magazine project I’ve been working on, as part of the launch for the New Library of Birmingham. Our work will be getting viewed by an estimated 150,000 people which is really cool. It’s in the early stages so far, but I loved the first session and meeting the team. I’m really looking forward to getting more stuck into this after the tour. As part of the Discovery Festival, and in conjunction with Capsule and Fused Magazine, it’s a really great opportunity to learn a lot of new stuff, meet a lot of interesting and influential people and really improve my writing skills.

Speaking of Fused Magazine, I’ve been nagging Kerry the Editor for such a long time about doing some unpaid freelance work for print. Little did I know she was eventually going to be one of the co-ordinators for Birmingham 2022. Now I’m finally working on assignments which will go into one of the coolest youth and culture magazines in the country, with a national distribution and a local, national and international context.

My first task is to preview The Who’s upcoming gig at the LG Arena. I’m looking forward to starting work on this tomorrow night after work. I’ve also been afforded 1,000 words to play with on an idea of my own. I’m going to write a feature on the resurgence of the northern soul scene in the West Midlands. I’ve tried to make a movie and that’s pretty tough. This should be much more my speed at this point in time with my current workload, and now I will actually have the chance to use the contacts I have for interview, and tell a story I’ve wanted to tell for quite some time.

Then there is my day job at MEL Research. I’ve been back there on a three day a week basis now for a few weeks and it’s absolutely great to be back. My new shift pattern allows me to earn just enough to get by, and affords me a whole four days a week to work on everything else. It’s the perfect situation. I now only catch six buses a week, which cuts down the likelihood of me eventually going on a killing spree. Best of all, I get to see my work mates and my boss again, which is absolutely great. The company on the whole has been so loyal and so supportive to me, and I can’t thank everyone there enough. I think I’ve got the perfect balance now. I can’t survive with no job, but I can’t be happy travelling that distance to one five days a week. I can’t have any complaints at all about that part of my life right now.

I’ve also submitted an application for another IdeasTap project. It’s called Ideas Fund Shorts. It promises eight hand picked applicants a £5,000 grant and expert mentoring to make a 20 minute film in a format and on a topic of their choosing. I submitted an application to work on a  project entitled ‘Users’ – I want to make a documentary film exploring the misunderstood world of drug experimentation among young people in the UK. I want to approach a crucial topic in an unbiased, fresh, unprecedented manner, while putting myself in unique on screen situations alongside hardcore drug users. So far, only 97 people have applied for the grant and there are only four days until the deadline. I like those odds. That’s almost one in eight or something. Not too shabby. Fingers crossed on that one.

I’m probably the happiest I’ve been in a long time creatively. A few months ago I made a conscious decision to try and use my time as effectively as I possibly could. I’d like to think I’ve been doing that. Nonetheless, I do wish I could add another four or five hours onto a day, because there is still so much more I want to do. I know a lot of people have the same problem. There are just never enough hours in the day. I’d like more time to start work on the wrestling discussion YouTube series I want to launch, to actually have a real go at making a documentary film and to be a lot more prolific when it comes to blog posts. Oh well, can’t do everything at once.

In other news, it’s been snowing a hell of a lot around here lately, and that’s… pretty cool.

So that’s the work I’ve been doing. I hope you found it vaguely interesting I guess? I don’t know. What I do know is that I was listening to Immortal Technique when I wrote this, and that’s a fact.

Can you dig it?

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The latest inductee into this years very star studded WWE Hall of Fame is none other than the former 5 Time WCW Champion, Booker T. What is there to say about this man? The guy has been one of the highlights of my experience growing up with wrestling. He was one of the only guys from late 90s WCW that I actually liked. He was a shining light during the Invasion period, which to this day is still one of my favourite storylines in history. Above all else, he conquered many road blocks and hurdles to eventually succeed in the promised land. He can now be remembered as a tremendous athlete, captivating character and one of the most decorated champions in the history of the business. Am I the only one who gets all choked up by a good Hall of Fame promo video?

I can remember so many great moments during my childhood watching Booker T. When he first entered WWE and began feuding with The Rock, I saw the same glow on him that I did on Stone Cold and The Great One. That may not have been the case for everyone, but I was really into him. I loved his mic work, his move set, even his amazing theme music. Put another one of my childhood idols Shane McMahon next to him, and you have a great character.

He wasn’t always in those main event situations and suffered multiple setbacks and frustrations. He was passed over many times, and misused. But he had that star power to keep himself important. When he wasn’t headlining PPVs, he was spicing up the tag-team division, holding the Intercontinental Championship or even winning the prestigious King of the Ring tournament.  He had a couple of stints away here and there, but over the past decade and more since his arrival, you always got the feeling he was going to have a long lasting legacy in the biggest wrestling organisation in the world. Now he will always be remembered.

I love the fact that he is still the current Smackdown General Manager and a regular on screen talent. It’s rare that someone still extremely relevant and prevalent in the product is inducted. Some may not like it, but I think when done occasionally it can make an induction all the more special. For him to be recognized by his peers on the grandest stage of all, while still a working character is something to be really proud of.

I can’t imagine who else they plan to induct this year, but this class has the danger of exploding the universe. The list of names on the sheet is a who’s who of professional wrestling at this point. It has to be the strongest line-up I’ve seen, at least since the Shaun Michaels induction. They may just leave it as it is. I just hope they give everyone TV time this year, or just exclude Trump. If Foley, Booker, Bruno and Backlund aren’t all shown on TV (and eventually viewed on YouTube by me), I will be very disappointed. Not that I don’t love Trish, and she is definitely not the same as Trump. She will get a huge pop and I’d love to see her speech. But for me, it’s about the four former World Champions.

Congratulations to all of those great superstars preparing to be added to the WWE Hall of  Fame this year.

Who would you like to see inducted into the Hall of Fame this year? What is your favourite Booker T moment? Please get in touch and leave a comment!