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This blog predates Jack Swagger's gimmick shift by a year. I named it after Hulk Hogan's entrance theme.

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2013 – The Best and Worst of the First Half

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So, I know we’re actually a couple of weeks over the first half of the year, but last night we wrapped up the WWE’s 6th Pay Per View of the year out of 12, so this seems a more fitting place to give out awards for the Best of the First Half of 2013.

Best Pay Per View Match – Undertaker vs. CM Punk @ Wrestlemania 29.  When this match was first announced, I thought there was a decent chance that Punk could be the one hand-picked to end the Streak, but as the program advanced week to week with Punk getting the better of Undertaker at each and every turn and seeing none of Undertaker’s legendary mind games, it became painfully obvious that Punk was going to be just another victim because there was no chance that Undertaker would get punked week in and week out and then have the streak end all at once.  I think it’s pretty clear that if the Streak ends, it’ll be the last match that Undertaker ever wrestles.  It’s poetic and would follow the trend set by Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels of glorious Wrestlemania exits.  That being the case, with the program set up as it was, there was no way that was the last run we’d see from Undertaker and thus he pretty much was guaranteed the win in my mind.  However, that didn’t take away from the quality of their match at Wrestlemania one bit.  Punk was at his best psychologically, flashing humorous expressions and hitting the high spots at just the right time to make up for Undertaker’s declining mobility.  The image of Undertaker sitting up while locked in the Anaconda Vice and turning the Big Evil glare onto Punk and Punk’s reaction is one of my favorite takeaways from this year’s Wrestlemania.  That and Zeb Coulter’s hilarious reaction when Swagger tapped out to Del Rio in the World Heavyweight Championship match.

Best Free-TV Match – John Cena vs. CM Punk – Raw (February 25) – Just an all around great performance, right up there with their match at Money in the Bank two years ago.  It’s probably one of the top five matches of Cena’s career.  It’s the only time I can remember Cena ever attempting a Frankensteiner and sure, he didn’t do it very well, but the guy went for it.  That’s one of the most exciting attempts at a move done by a big guy since Big Show, as The Giant in WCW, last attempted a Moonsault or Brock Lesnar going for the Shooting Star Press at Wrestlemania 19.  I used to think Edge was the only one who could bring out the very best in Cena, but Punk does it even better.  The two of them have had at least two and perhaps three of the top 10 matches of the last two years (at Money in the Bank in 2011 and this match for sure, plus maybe Night of Champions last year despite the non-finish).

Best Rivalry – Daniel Bryan vs. The Shield (and anything else in his way) –  Daniel Bryan has kicked things up to another notch this year during his “weakest link” storyline, putting on the most entertaining matches and some of the most entertaining segments night in and night out over the past 2 months since Team Hell No lost the WWE Tag Team Titles to The Shield at Extreme Rules.  And if the rumors are true, he’s managed to parlay the great showing he’s had this year into a SummerSlam WWE Championship Main Event match against John Cena.  Goat mode has been activated and there is no stopping it.

Best Performer – Daniel Bryan – (See Best Rivalry)  Honorable Mention to CM Punk for easily the 3 best matches of the year so far (vs. Cena on Raw, vs. Undertaker @ Wrestlemania and vs. Jericho @ Payback)

Most Underrated – Antonio Cesaro – In a very short time he went from a dominant United States Champion to a yodeling afterthought.  He was consistently posting great matches against The Miz, which I’ve come to expect as a very hard thing to do over the course of Miz’s career, so Cesaro deserves all the respect in the world for that.  I don’t know why they decided to stick him with Zeb Coulter now because Cessaro is also pretty darn good on the mic and doesn’t really need a mouthpiece and for that storyline they should have used another actual American to team with Swagger, even though Cesaro does have the Very European, Uber-American thing going for him.  Damien Sandow was easily my favorite to win the Money in the Bank Ladder Match last night and I’m very glad he did.  His mic skills over the past year or so have surpassed even those of the CM Punk and his overhyped “pipe bombs”, of which there have been few and far between since his infamous Vegas promo.  However, if Sandow wasn’t going to be the one to win, Cesaro was easily my second choice of who I would have liked to have seen win the briefcase and become a guaranteed future World Champion.

Best Pay Per View – Payback – This event was one I had pretty much written off, but it really had a lot going for it.  The 3 Stages of Hell WWE Championship title match between Cena and Ryback exceeded my expectations and was actually probably the best Pay Per View WWE Championship Match of the year so far, but that’s not saying a whole lot unless you give a lot of credit to the Twice in a Lifetime Cena vs. Rock rematch at Wrestlemania, which just didn’t do a whole lot for me after already seeing it the previous year and knowing that for certain Cena was going to win and get his all important “redemption” when they should have just had him beat Rock last year and ended it there instead of continuing to drag it out for what is probably going to be a Wrestlemania Main Event trilogy.  On top of that, you can debate which of Punk’s matches (vs. Cena, vs. Undertaker or this one) was the best, but undoubtedly Punk vs. Jericho on that night was one of the best 3 matches of the year at the very least.  On top of that, Del Rio shockingly (to me anyway) won the World Heavyweight Championship back from Dolph Ziggler in a match that just like Bret Hart vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin at Wrestlemania 13 flip-flopped the two, simultaneously turning the heel into the face and the face into the heel by showcasing the guts of the injured heel who was already getting huge reactions from the crowd long before that point.  Poor Ziggler now has 2 World Heavyweight Championship reigns, one of which went for 69 days, and he still has never successfully defended the title.  However, he put on a good show despite carrying a title for 10 weeks without defending it or even being on Television for half of his brief title run.  On top of all of that, Daniel Bryan continued to put on a great show in the WWE Tag Team Title match and for the first time in a long time WWE put a watchable women’s match on the Pay Per View, between Kaitlynn and AJ, even though the program leading up to it was like a very watered down version of Trish and Mickie.  There wasn’t really a stinker match on the card, though Dean Ambrose vs. Kane did let me down a little bit, but that’s mostly because I don’t believe disqualifications and non-finishes have any place on a Pay Per View.  If you want to put that kind of finish on Raw, go right ahead because we aren’t shelling out $50-$60 to watch it, but if you are going to charge that much for people to watch a Pay Per View, you have an obligation to deliver better than that cheap ass crap to help you promote the next Pay Per View that you’re also going to charge $50 or more for.  It’s no wonder WWE has such a problem with internet piracy.  I know that they have a lot of deserving workers who need Pay Per View revenue to help cover their salaries, but when you’re ripping off fans at $50 a pop every month, you deserve to be ripped off yourself.  It’s called karma.  Especially when I believe that you could cut Pay Per View prices down to $10-$15 and sell the show to 4-5 times as many people and make the same amount of profit.  Pay Per View buy rates and profits are down purely because, in the words of Jimmy McMillan (the guy from The Rent Is Too Damn High Party), the prices are too damn high.

Worst Match – The Rock vs. CM Punk @ Royal Rumble –  Those two just didn’t feel like they had any chemistry to me at all.  Moves seemed disjointed and poor Bret Hart was in attendance in the back after participating in the Fan Access panels that weekend and giving Del Rio a rub on his way to the ring, and Bret had to watch The Rock absolutely butcher the Sharpshooter.  At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if The Great Khali could apply a better Sharpshooter than The Rock.  He certainly couldn’t do any worse than The Rock.  And to top it all off, they did one of those crappy interference finishes followed by restarting the match only to have the real finish occur less than 15 seconds after restarting the match.  It was a nice moment in the career of The Rock and a niece piece of nostalgia for the fans, but it was a god awful stinker of a match.

Best Fan Reaction – Finally stopping the Goldberg chants – Next on the list of stupid crap to quit chanting is the What chant.

Worst Fan Reaction – Fandangoing – Just stop it.  The dude has a smaller move set than John Cena, of whose “5 moves of doom” you all love to bitch about so much.  Stop it now.  Shame on you New York fans for starting that junk.

Most Overrated – Fandango – (See Worst Fan Reaction) Shame on Chris Jericho for being willing to job to absolutely anybody at any given time and thus giving this bozo credibility (I’ve taken to referring to Fandango as Wiener Breath most of the time due to his level of suckitude).  Have some standards, please, for the love of all that is holy.

Worst Choice – Fandango going over on Jericho @ Wrestlemania – It’s usually a good thing for a veteran to put over the young talent and I applaud Jericho’s selflessness in being so cool about jobbing to anybody and everybody, but I reiterate for the love of all that is holy, please have some standards Chris.

Best Choice – Zack Ryder – For accidentally kicking Fandango in the head wrong and giving him a concussion, thus allowing Curtis Axel to replace him at Payback, thus saving the world from the disaster that is Fandango winning anything of importance, such as the Intercontinental Championship.

Worst Announcer – Still Michael Cole – Forever and always Michael Cole.  You know why.  Enough said.

Best Announcer – JBL – He might not have actually been a wrestling God, but he is definitely a commentary God.  Bobby Heenan is still my all time favorite commentator, but JBL is easily the runner-up.

 

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Written by I Am a Real American

July 15, 2013 at 7:20 am

Posted in AJ Lee, Antonio Cessaro, Big Show, Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, Bret Hart, Brock Lesnar, Chris Jericho, CM Punk, Curtis Axel, Damien Sandow, Daniel Bryan, Dean Ambrose, Diva's Championship, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Dwayne Johnson, Edge, Extreme Rules, Fandango, Jack Swagger, John Cena, Kaitlynn, Kane, Mickie James, Money in the Bank, Ric Flair, Royal Rumble, Sharpshooter, Shawn Michaels, Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Miz, The Rock, The Shield, Trish Stratus, Undertaker, World Heavyweight Championship, Wrestlemania, Wrestlemania 29, Wrestlemania XIII, Wrestlemania XIX, Wrestlemania XXIX, WWE, WWE Championship, WWE Tag Team Championship, Zack Ryder, Zeb Coulter

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Real American Top Ten: Wrestler Performances in Television and Movies Every Wrestling Fan Should See

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First of all, I’m not recommending any of these TV appearances or Movies because they are cinematic masterpieces.  I am not attempting to say these are award worthy performances.  I’m just saying that as a wrestling fan, I really enjoyed these performances and I think if you’re a wrestling fan, you will as well.  And while it pains me to leave Ready to Rumble off the list, I don’t think any of the WCW guys had all that great of a performance, even though the movie itself is a must own for any fan of professional wrestling.  If Oliver Platt were an actual wrestler, his performance as Jimmy King would certainly be at the top of any list of must see performances for a wrestling fan.

#10 – Family Guy (The Rock) – Just a flat out hilarious bit part in the January 2010 episode “Big Man on Hippocampus.”  In the episode, during a steamy Peter and Lois sex scene, they claim the scene is too steamy for the FCC to allow them to show and instead cut to a simulation of the scene performed by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.  Rock is seen holding a Peter Griffin action figure with a Lois action figure laying on the table and he deadpans perfectly as he slams the Peter doll up and down on top of Lois, looking very much like a little kid playing with his dolls and sliding her very quickly toward the edge of the table and she falls off, leaving Rock holding the Peter figure and looking confused.  Rock then rolls his eyes and looks embarrassed before we cut back to the conclusion of the sex scene.

#9 – Psych (Mickie James) –   From the September 2008 episode “Talk Derby to Me” in which Juliet goes undercover on a women’s roller derby team, of which the captain is Mickie’s character Rita “Lethal Weapon” Westwood.  The police suspect the team of being responsible for a series of burglaries and turns out they are right and when bodies start dropping, things take a turn and put Juliet’s life at risk, but when Shawn comes to the rescue, Juliet ends up saving him with a vicious Clothesline.  It was a very solid episode and it was nice to see Mickie play a bad girl for the first time since her Trish Stratus stalker gimmick.

#8 – It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (Roddy Piper) – Piper plays the Da’ Maniac in the 2009 episode “The Gang Wrestles for the Troops”, in which the guys at the bar recruit Piper to participate in a wrestling match to benefit troops returning home as a response to Dee chatting online with a soldier and then hanging out with him upon his return home.  Unfortunately, Piper’s character turns out to be a bit too crazy for them and gets himself arrested, so he doesn’t make an appearance for the match itself.  Piper is still great as always and the match the guys put on is incredibly stupid, but absolutely hilarious.  Even without Piper’s appearance, it would have been a great episode for wrestling fans and with him, it’s a definite must see.

#7 – Spider-Man (Randy Savage) –  Who can ever forget Bonesaw vs. The Amazing Spider-Man?  I sure can’t as Macho Man chases a freaked out Peter Parker around a steel cage in one of Spider-Man’s first ever fights as he looks to use his newfound powers to win a $3,000 prize for the wrestling match to help pay for a sports car.  The fight and Spider-Man’s victory plays a pivotal role in his origin story for the 2002-2007 Spider-Man film trilogy as Spider-Man is stiffed by the promoter and given only $100 despite defeating Bonesaw, leading Spidey to allow a thief to escape with the promoters money and the thief ends up shooting Peter’s father figure, his uncle Ben, leading Peter to take on a greater responsibility as Spider-Man.

#6 – Psych (Stacy Keibler) – From the episode “Thrill Seekers and Hell-Raisers” in February 2010.  Stacy joins Shawn and Gus on a river-rafting trip and it quickly becomes evident that her character is not shy about putting the moves on Shawn and is more than happy to initiate things.  Things quickly become complicated as one of the river-rafting party goes missing an Stacy becomes one of Shawn’s suspects as well as Gus’ new girlfriend Ruby (played by the very attractive Sarah Shahi).  Turns out neither of them is guilty, but here’s to hoping Stacy makes a return to the show at some point.  Also, be sure to check out her appearances on How I Met Your Mother and Chuck.

#5 – The Punisher (Kevin Nash) –  Epic fight scene as Nash shows up dressed in a ridiculous red and white striped t-shirt, looking like an overgrown beach boy with classical music blaring in the background as Nash punches a hole through the door to the Punisher’s apartment and commences delivering punishment of his own.  The Punisher throws everything he can at Nash and Nash classically no-sells pretty much all of it (kind of like in WCW) and levels Punisher with an entire toilet that he uprooted from the floor.  At one point, The Punisher even hurls a grenade at Nash, which Nash nonchalantly bats back at him, forcing Punisher to dive for cover and the explosion puts an end to the classical music, but only temporarily as Nash and Punisher continue to bash each other through walls and with anything they can pick up while the other characters comically fail to notice any of this is going on until Nash and Punisher finally come crashing through their front door.  The fight finally culminates with Nash taking a pot of boiling pasta sauce to the face and being tackled down a flight of stairs to his demise.  Definitely a must see.

#4 – Boy Meets World (Vader) – One of my favorite shows growing up and I still watch the reruns occasionally in the rare instance I can find them on.  Vader appeared in three episodes as pretty much himself as it is revealed Vader is the father of Cory and Shawn’s bully turned friend, Frankie Stechino (played by Ethan Suplee).  In multiple instances, Frankie, Cory and Shawn show up to Vader’s matches to help Vader out and give him advice such as to waste less time before delivering the Vader Bomb.  I don’t recommend this for Vader’s acting chops, but because its a great show with great characters that saw fit to include professional wrestling as a story arc on the show.

#3 – The Longest Yard (Kevin Nash) – Kevin Nash cracks the top five, not once, but twice.  This is an all around good remake of a classic that actually showcases the acting talents of several wrestlers including Stone Cold Steve Austin, Goldberg and The Great Khali, but Nash definitely steals the show with his estrogen-pill popping performance.  He had me damn near rolling in the aisles and busting my gut, I was laughing so hard, especially the scene on the sidelines where Stone Cold tells him to “Stop acting like a damn cheerleader” and Nash responds with “Sportsmanship triumphs” and then makes a sour face at Stone Cold.  He also experiences several other uncharacteristic non-manly moments as a result of the other team replacing his steroids with estrogen, all of which are hilarious.  Nash rarely got a chance to show off his comedic chops and have it be legitimately funny, so enjoy it where you can.

#2 – They Live (Roddy Piper) – One of the all time greatest lines in cinema – “I am here to kick ass and chew bubble gum… And I am all out of bubble gum.” comes from this movie.  Roddy Piper can be seen kicking ass from back in his heyday.  I know Piper hasn’t lost any of his charisma, but he doesn’t really look like much of an ass-kicker these days and watching They Live is a great way to remember him from his prime. For an 80s sci-fi flick starring a wrestler in the lead, you really can’t ask for more than what They Live delivers in my opinion.

#1 – Walking Tall (The Rock) – One of my all-time favorite action flicks and easily my favorite of Rock’s movies.  If you only watch one of Rock’s movies, I highly recommend this one.  For other solid movies before he became way less entertaining in my view, check out The Rundown and The Scorpion King.  Gridiron Gang is a good, touching movie, but it isn’t the type of movie that I think anyone could watch again and again.  Walking Tall, on the other hand, I have seen at least a dozen times and I even coupled it with the work of Marshall McLuhan (a communication theorist) to get an A on a Mass Communication project my freshman year of college.  It’s a great story about taking back a community from corruption and teaching the members of that community to “Walk Tall” once again.  Plus, you have The Rock beating the bejesus out of dozens of bad guys all by himself.  Throw in Johnny Knoxville to add to the comedy and it makes a pretty great flick.  Not the stuff that classics are made of, but it is very entertaining and you can see what The Rock was like before he starting churning out Disney flicks.