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Friday, April 11, 2014

Chatting with CZW's Reigning Queen, Chrissy Rivera


From Botchamania, to message board sparring sessions, Combat Zone Wrestling takes its critical lumps, both good-natured and condemning alike. Although nothing could break the skin quite like the unconventional weaponry wielded by the saucer-eyed crazies on CZW's battlefield, the Combat Zone's warriors sometimes come forth to fiercely defend their turf.

One of its most outspoken lieutenants stands notches below five feet tall, and has taken enough horrific pratfalls to give Bam Margera the spinal shudders. Going through tables, falling off scaffolding, and being sandwiched by diving wrestlers into steel railings are intolerable for a good-sized wrestling specimen, let alone a much smaller one. Despite being the smallest loyalist in the horde, and despite the unfathomable pain she puts herself through....

Yep, I said *she*.

Chrissy Rivera's long run with Combat Zone Wrestling has provided one constant: the snarling bitch eventually gets hers. Among her most gruesome injuries, Rivera badly punctured her calf, losing a chunk of flesh when then-CZW Wired TV Champion AR Fox landed a flipping plancha onto interfering, conniving Chrissy, crunching her against the guardrail. Her leg was bludgeoned into some sharpened part of the steel, which ate away flesh like acid.

To ask Chrissy herself, she doesn't regret any bold risk, let alone that one, taken before the demanding crowds.

"I've had my fair share of injuries, and I have never reconsidered," proudly claims Chrissy. "Everything has been worth it."

Easy to see why Chrissy defends CZW, her home base, with snap reaction. She loves what she does, and what she does is perfectly in line with the Combat Zone culture.

"Everyone is entitled to their own opinion," says Rivera, of CZW's detractors. "I don't try to sway anyone in what they think; I know many have an opinion based on the CZW of, say, ten years ago. If that is your only viewing as of late, then give the new CZW a chance. If you still don't like it, then don't watch it. There are many other companies to choose from."

It was in CZW's confines that Rivera had perhaps her most infamous match, the "Ultraviolent Food Fight" with hefty crowd favorite, Greg Excellent. The two are a natural comedy duo: Rivera, the ice queen with sensual eyes that contradict a gangster's scowl, and Excellent, the lovable glutton whose shameless antics could make a park statue crack a smile.

Excellent was orally assaulted by soiled zucchini (I'm just reporting what I see), and had a Tombstone pizza charge-kicked against his face. Excellent's only recourse was to powerbomb Rivera, ragdoll-style, onto a mini-me watermelon that refused to break.

"(That match) will always be a favorite, not because it was an amazing match, but that I was given the chance to show some things I can do in ring. I wasn't booed out of the building; I was given a standing ovation for my efforts. People know getting that from a CZW crowd is very difficult. I will be forever grateful for that entertaining, silly, inappropriate match."

CZW, if nothing else, has been a proving ground for today's breed of WWE featured player: strongman Cesaro was once arrogant Claudio Castagnoli. Twisted yokel Luke Harper fine-tuned the act via "Big Rig" Brodie Lee. Most will point to the animated Dean Ambrose making waves as the unduplicable Jon Moxley. It's Ambrose, or "Mox" to his friends, that Rivera still gets questions about, particularly from adoring female fans.

"He is a normal, every day guy. Don't stalk him," chuckles Rivera.

While Rivera's experiences have led to her crossing paths with hand-picked infantrymen of today's WWE brigade, she's also shared the spotlight with a number of time-tested stars passing through the regions. Most notable to Rivera has been Tommy Dreamer, whose ECW was a spiritual godparent to her CZW.

"Working with Tommy was great. Just hearing his advice, his stories and his opinions was a good experience. Watching him on TV many, many years ago, to sharing a locker room with him, was really cool."

Between deadly risks, food fights, meeting good people, and living the dream of any fan, Rivera owns a full till of memories, ones she'll cherish forever, without asking for a thing more.

"I don't have a "to do" list. Only to enjoy my love of the business, and everything that comes with it. If it all ends tomorrow, I would be content with the things I have accomplished. Until then, I will continue to kick in faces and have a good time doing so!"

To check out Chrissy's latest shoot interview, via Double Stomp Video with Dean Dixon, click to see a preview. Also, give Chrissy a follow on Twitter.

For comments and interview suggestions/requests, contact Justin Henry.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

All 100 WrestleMania Matches Ranked, One WrestleMania at a Time


Every day, I will add the appropriate matches from each WrestleMania to this list. Some shows have only one match, others have more than a handful. Debate me (or curse the slowness in which I post this list) in the comments below.

Also, feel free to tell me I'm wrong on Twitter

1. Bret Hart vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin (WrestleMania XIII)
The greatest match ever? Featured a masterstroke of a double-turn to pay off intense brutality in what qualifies as the Attitude Era's true birth.

2. Razor Ramon vs. Shawn Michaels (WrestleMania X)
The genesis of the weapons-laden spotfest began spinning its wheel in front of a bewildered Garden, with Shawn, as usual in defeat, stealing the show.

3. Macho Man Randy Savage vs. Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat (WrestleMania III)
Ushered in the modern main event pacing standard with quickening pinfall attempts, even if the match was heavily choreographed by a finicky Savage.

4. Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Benoit (WrestleMania XX)
Black cloud aside, dramatic 'will they or won't they?' drama with the title switch, culminated with Benoit's now heartbreaking celebration with Eddie.

5. The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels (WrestleMania XXV)
Thirty minutes of physical drama, the likes of which Michaels can conduct blindfolded, but it also gave The Streak's possessor a true frame-worthy epic.

6. Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart (WrestleMania X)
No one better to make "The Rocket" than big brother; Owen went from midcard afterthought four months earlier to major player with one clinic.

7. The Rock vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin (WrestleMania X7)
Ending killed the Attitude Era deader than parachute pants, but what an epic conclusion to a three or four year journey of boundless insanity it was.

8. Shawn Michaels vs. Kurt Angle (WrestleMania XXI)
Showstealers crossing two generations came together with the expected result; little did anyone realize that Angle's WWE run sadly peaked here.

9. The Dudley Boyz vs. The Hardy Boyz vs. Edge/Christian (WrestleMania X7)
Notch below their cautionless SummerSlam fracas, but still absolute perfection from a car wreck standpoint, namely the crazy four-table crush.

10. The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels (WrestleMania XXVI)
More-than-worthy sequel to the 2009 opus ended the career of a man synonymous with raising the bar at wrestling's alpha-stage without any fail.

11. Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant (WrestleMania III)
Save your scientific showcases; the match is absolute money, and remains a watchable epic over a quarter-century later, in spite of its lumbering body.

12. Ultimate Warrior vs. Macho King Randy Savage (WrestleMania VII)
An opus where the aftermath affirms its legendary status, paying off wrongs of the past by letting Savage go out as a chivalrous do-gooder in defeat.

13. Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels (WrestleMania XII)
Rewatchability is limited, unless you have an armbar fetish, but worth a look at least once to see two marvels go sixty-plus minutes with the chips down.

14. John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels (WrestleMania XXIII)
A half hour with the pushed recipient of many chants decrying a lack of wrestling acumen was barely a challenge for Mr. WrestleMania, was it?

15. Hulk Hogan vs. The Ultimate Warrior (WrestleMania VI)
Should be noted that John Cena's done more clean jobs in a hero's role than Hulk. However, Hulk made his most mortal turn count in grand propriety.

16. Eddie Guerrero vs. Kurt Angle (WrestleMania XX)
You'd expect nothing less than nifty counters and resourceful cleverness from the two, appropriately concluded with Guerrero's loosened boot trick.

17. Macho Man Randy Savage vs. Hulk Hogan (WrestleMania V)
The first WrestleMania encounter to corner the market on paranoid jealous rage, getting as close to Shakespearean tragedy as 1980s WWE could.

18. Edge wins Money in the Bank (WrestleMania XXI)
TLC with less interior-decorating pauses, and a radical new concept, Edge rode a wave of real-life heat to great success, beginning right here.

19. Ric Flair vs. Macho Man Randy Savage (WrestleMania VIII)
The best Savage is unbridled, murder-eyed Savage, and the best Flair is arrogant, head-game playing Flair. Talk about the best of both worlds here.

20. Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho (WrestleMania XIX)
Michaels' first non-gimmicked epic since the 2002 return doubled as a dream come true for fanciful Jericho, wrestling his rockin' doppelganger.

21. Kurt Angle vs. Brock Lesnar (WrestleMania XIX)
That a withered Angle gave the performance he gave is beyond incredible; that Lesnar survived the shooting star press is even more astounding.

22. Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H (WrestleMania XXX)
Hunter held his end of a technical clinic laden with enough drama and hope spots to make Bryan's no-doubt ascension even sweeter in victory.

23. The Rock vs. Hollywood Hogan (WrestleMania X8)
Toronto defibrillated the heart of Hulkamania back to life in an unforgettable scene. Even Rocky and Ata Johnson were booing Rock out of Skydome.

24. Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit (WrestleMania X7)
Only added to the show six days prior, but gave the greatest WrestleMania ever a reversal-laden technical clinic that needed no gimmicks to thrive.

25. The Undertaker vs. CM Punk (WrestleMania XXIX)
Overcame the ridiculous insistence on using a dead Paul Bearer to be the lone epic at last year's event, and the only one that felt truly organic.

26. Rowdy Roddy Piper vs. Bret "The Hitman" Hart (WrestleMania VIII)
How deep does Piper's animosity toward Hulk run that he never lay down cleanly for "The Immortal", but let a bloody Bret epically go over?

27. The Undertaker vs. Triple H (WrestleMania XXVII)
Although "The Game" was something like second or third choice for an opponent, it was a dramatic beating that saw the Streak nearly obliterated.

28. CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho (WrestleMania XXVIII)
The title-changes-on-a-DQ modifier was a good red herring, and the hate-filled finish with Punk refusing to break the Vise seals the goodness.

29. Rock n Sock Connection vs. Evolution (WrestleMania XX)
Three generations of icons in one fun match, notable for both Rock and Flair's slapstick bits, and Orton's first meaningful win, over Mick Foley.

30. Edge vs. The Undertaker (WrestleMania XXIV)
Suitable main event with two pros, tempered by a faint crowd and Jonathan Coachman on headset, but still the best of a somewhat forgettable event.

31. The Dudley Boyz vs. The Hardy Boyz vs. Edge/Christian (WrestleMania 2000)
Imperfect due to overexpansive body, but a harbinger of stunt-shows to come as WWE perfected the formula behind six go-getters in their Mania debuts.

32. Edge vs. Mick Foley (WrestleMania XXII)
Out-Hardcore'ing Cactus Jack worked for Randy Orton, so why not Edge? The flaming table stunt assured this match's place in WrestleMania lore.

33. Shawn Michaels vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin (WrestleMania IV)
Thrust Austin into lead dog spot, proved Michaels was gutsy after back deserted him, and Tyson's mainstream touch cast spotlight upon "Attitude".

34. Randy Orton vs. Batista vs. Daniel Bryan (WrestleMania XXX)
Many callbacks to main events' past, with Attitude-similar interference, and Bryan co-opting Cena's underdog spirit for the big submission win.

35. Mr. Kennedy wins Money in the Bank (WrestleMania XXIII)
Edge had his perfect 5-0 WrestleMania record quietly shattered, but revenge was his when he took out fellow oft-injured Kennedy for the briefcase.

36. The Rock vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin (WrestleMania XIX)
Somewhat unexpected swan song, 'one more round', for Austin culminated with Rock's rare clean win, and a heartfelt character-breaking goodbye.

37. Batista vs. The Undertaker (WrestleMania XXIII)
Thus began an eight-month run of improbably awesome bouts between the two, and the default feud of the year in a tumultuous 2007 for WWE.

38. Batista vs. John Cena (WrestleMania XXVI)
Held the framework of an epic for its decidedly abbreviated 14-minute allotment, put over the top by Batista's expression, post powerbomb kickout.

39. Shawn Michaels vs. Ric Flair (WrestleMania XXIV)
Gets acclamation only as Flair's sendoff (not counting his TNA legacy gutter), but showed in parts why Flair should have retired many moons ago.

40. CM Punk wins Money in the Bank (WrestleMania XXIV)
Downright surprising that Punk received the big win, but less so when you recall this was a suspended Jeff Hardy's briefcase to take home.

41. The Undertaker vs. Triple H (WrestleMania X7)
Once you shake off the ten-minute ref bump off of a kick and an elbow drop, it's the ideal hate-filled brawl that paid off weeks of pure acrimony.

42. The Rock vs. John Cena (WrestleMania XXVIII)
Suitably epic for the calendar-length of hype, with the parade of finishers, trademarks, and kickouts before a no-bones-about-it Cena clean job.

43. Diesel vs. Shawn Michaels (WrestleMania XI)
Bret Hart accused Michaels in his book of upstaging Diesel on purpose. Pretty sure the Heartbreak Kid outshines all of his opponents without trying.

44. The Undertaker vs. Triple H (WrestleMania XXVIII)
Match ends up looking too much like a feature-length circle jerk to deserve it's accolades of the time, but still a really good display of violent tension.

45. The Rock vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin (WrestleMania XV)
Fun payoff to Austin's beltless six months, complete with referee-takeout chaos that wasn't yet watered down by over-Russofying in coming years.

46. John Cena vs. Triple H (WrestleMania XXII)
Cena's first wave of "YOU CAN'T WRESTLE" critique came from an arrogant Game, who would summarily tap to his nemeses' STFU.

47. John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt (WrestleMania XXX)
Psychological warfare of a different sort that feels more like an early chapter, but it was great seeing Cena reduced to a conscience struggle.

48. Shawn Michaels vs. Vince McMahon (WrestleMania XXII)
Oh, it was a one-sided farce to the nth degree, but as far as one-sided farces to the nth degree go, there's no better exhibit on display in the Louvre.

49. Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit vs. Chris Jericho (WrestleMania 2000)
Oddball two-fall rules allowed Angle to keep his cool without truly losing, even though both singles belts went to the Canadian Violence Authority.

50. Shane McMahon vs. Vince McMahon (WrestleMania X7)
A primer on how to overbook a match with two non-wrestlers. 6000 things went on at once in this match, and pretty much all of it ruled.

51. Randy Orton vs. CM Punk (WrestleMania XXVII)
Turnaround summer ahead for Punk, but his just desserts were served from an Orton slaying, a road in which a less-feral Bray Wyatt was skinned.

52. Jack Swagger wins Money in the Bank (WrestleMania XXVI)
Final money-match at the money-event was won by an odd choice, one who rode the push escalator with endless aggression and a shoving hand.

53. The Undertaker vs. Ric Flair (WrestleMania X8)
Good: The Nature Boy mixing emotional intensity with his trademark vulnerability. Better: Arn Anderson giving the world one last spinebuster.

54. Chris Jericho vs. Edge (WrestleMania XXVI)
Shame the story was tepid and ham-handed (SPEEEEEEEARRRR), with Edge and unlikable hero, since the match body carried itself well enough.

55. Eddie Guerrero vs. Rey Mysterio (WrestleMania XXI)
Battle between Smackdown's Tag Team Champions was destined for a top thirty spot if Mysterio's mask hadn't been designed for a prize pumpkin.

56. Chris Jericho vs. Christian (WrestleMania XX)
Weird seeing two men in their 30s fight like teens over treatment of Trish, but a good match, and Trish's villainous turn, catapulted its status.

57. Randy Orton vs. John Cena vs. Triple H (WrestleMania XXIV)
Absolute funniest part about the match was that Orton, the heel, received a hero's roar in victory, merely as being the least overexposed of the trio.

58. New Age Outlaws vs. Hardcore Legends (WrestleMania XIV)
Rare is the built-in out ever heard as, "the wrong dumpster was used," but much else was also unique about wrestling's first and only Dumpster Match.

59. Junkyard Dog/Tito Santana vs. The Funk Brothers (WrestleMania II)
Terry Funk bumps for all four men in a match expertly blending science and southern-style brawling. The best match on the show, but only slightly.

60. Rob Van Dam wins Money in the Bank (WrestleMania XXII)
A dropoff from the inception's near flawless-form, the stiff awkwardness of Flair and Lashley was made up for by Van Dam and Benjamin's trapeze.

61. The British Bulldogs vs. The Dream Team (WrestleMania II)
Quite wild for 1986, as Brutus Beefcake, of all people, busts out a throwing hammerlock that I don't believe I've seen since. The British Bulldogs' apex.

62. The Rockers vs. Haku/The Barbarian (WrestleMania VII)
Best WrestleMania opener that didn't involve a ladder or a Hart. Bonus: Hacksaw Jim Duggan provides surprisingly astute commentary.

63. Matt Hardy vs. Jeff Hardy (WrestleMania XXV)
A distant second place for the event, the brothers held up their part of the show with a brutal battle shortly before company hardcore sanitizing.

64. The Undertaker vs. Randy Orton (WrestleMania XXI)
One of the final times that "The Streak" truly felt compromised by a worthy opponent, this time a young upstart in need of another statement win.

65. British Bulldogs/Tito Santana vs. Hart Foundation/Danny Davis (WrestleMania III)
Something smirkingly fun about seeing a corrupt referee become Davey Boy Smith's punching bag. Davis added almost nothing, but he added it well.

66. Cody Rhodes vs. Rey Mysterio (WrestleMania XXVII)
One of the better forgotten WrestleMania matches: it had a feud (Rey broke Cody's face) and sworn revenge with Cody mangling Rey's face back.

67. Ahmed Johnson/Legion of Doom vs. Nation of Domination (WrestleMania XIII)
Mindless violence prior to the saturation of such, a worthy follow to the Hart/Austin match, and good use of hometown Animal and Hawk.

68. The Undertaker vs. Diesel (WrestleMania XII)
Forgotten emerald on the Dead Man's WrestleMania hit list; Diesel was well good and motivated before WCW gave him the power to slog for cash.

69. Ultimate Warrior vs. Ravishing Rick Rude (Wrestlemania V)
Early Warrior near-classic netted Bobby Heenan his first piece of championship gold after five years in New York; though Warrior did kill him after.

70. Kurt Angle vs. Kane (WrestleMania X8)
The finish is about twelve degrees of improbably fouled up, but the match was a nice callback to their underrated classic on Smackdown in late 2001.

71. Trish Stratus vs. Mickie James (WrestleMania XXII)
Not quite the Watergate tapes, but the DVD version omits the best part, aside from a pro-Mickie crowd that inspired a dual glorious performance.

72. Triple H vs. Owen Hart (WrestleMania XIV)
Chyna was the most over person involved in the match, compared to the principals and Sgt. Slaughter. Let this odd fact sink itself in.

73. The Steiner Brothers vs. The Headshrinkers (WrestleMania IX)
The best of the worst; former early Turner-era WCW rivals exchanging unpulled punches and risky spots in a match that is sadly hardly remembered.

74. Macho Man Randy Savage vs. Ted Dibiase (WrestleMania IV)
Abbreviated madness, pun by design, bailed out a show with snail-track dragging. Hogan's interjection would be maligned by the IWC today.

75. The Hart Foundation vs. The Nasty Boys (WrestleMania VII)
Minor upset with the Nastys' tainted title win, but the end of the Harts only meant Bret Hart's dawn as one of the premier singles stars of the 1990s.

76. Shawn Michaels vs. El Matador (WrestleMania VIII)
Tito Santana's tour-of-elevation closed at this WrestleMania, assembling the soapbox of, in Bobby Heenan's words, "the star of the nineties."

77. CM Punk wins Money in the Bank (WrestleMania XXV)
Punk was oddly booed by fans wanting Christian, and there were a number of flubs, but it's still better than 200 other matches in Mania history.

78. William Regal vs. Rob Van Dam (WrestleMania X8)
Regal does opening-match honors two straight years, this time elevating an already-hand-picked fan's choice with a decisive win for Intercontinental gold.

79. Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Savio Vega (WrestleMania XII)
Dead crowd and ridiculous cuts to OJ-Chase stock footage aside, an underrated match with no flaws, and served, unknowingly, to spur Austin's genesis.

80. Shawn Michaels vs. Tatanka (WrestleMania IX)
Pretty much downhill for Tatanka after one of his best outings, as he lost his undefeated streak, became an unlikely sellout, and then faded away.

81. Jeff Jarrett vs. Razor Ramon (WrestleMania XI)
Cruised along fine until the cheap DQ finish. Jerry "The King" Lawler is the only man to be DQed at WrestleMania this millennium for a reason.

82. Chris Jericho vs. Triple H (WrestleMania X8)
Dead in the water after the Hogan/Rock thriller, or was it when Jericho became the third fiddle dog-walker? And you thought Miz had it bad in 2011.

83. Test vs. Eddie Guerrero (WrestleMania X7)
Sadly, both men have since passed, making this likely the most recent WrestleMania match where both participants are gone. Underrated filler.

84. Rey Mysterio vs. CM Punk (WrestleMania XXVI)
Really just the beginning of a several-month feud over hair and substances, but the first chapter made the most of a compressed six minutes.

85. The World's Greatest Tag Team vs. Los Guerreros vs. Chris Benoit/Rhyno (WrestleMania XIX)
'You six, go out there and put on a damn good match in minimal time' was the beckon, and these six proved perpetually reliable under those orders.

86. The Rock vs. John Cena (WrestleMania XXIX)
Not the fecal mound that its detractors will claim it is, but it's robotic and paint-by-numbers as anything. Still, it's a good enough finale for Rock.

87. Edge vs. John Cena vs. Big Show (WrestleMania XXV)
Putrid build involving Cena exposing Vickie as a two-timer, cheating on Edge with Show. To the match's credit, it was a fun, Attitude-lite brawl.

88. Strike Force vs. The Brainbusters (WrestleMania V)
Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard's lone WrestleMania affair was what you'd expect, and kicked off the run of "The Model" that swept the globe.

89. Hulk Hogan/Mr. T vs. Rowdy Roddy Piper/Paul Orndorff (WrestleMania I)
Incarnate main event served to help Vince McMahon and family to do-or-die profit, proving there's money in serial wrestling events broadcast nationwide.

90. Kurt Angle vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Randy Orton (WrestleMania XXII)
Rushed like an emergency vehicle with a death-crutch backstory, the action was good for nine solid minutes, but why did it have to be just nine minutes?

91. Cesaro wins Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal (WrestleMania XXX)
Best battle royal in WrestleMania history, with Cesaro's amazing strong-arming Big Show, and the usual innovation from Kofi, among others.

92. Ted Dibiase vs. Jake "The Snake" Roberts (WrestleMania VI)
Toronto performed the 'wave' during an extended resthold, but to Hell with them; a suitable blowoff to a year-long feud between Mid-South expatriates.

93. Mr. Perfect vs. The Big Bossman (WrestleMania VII)
Rumors of expanding the IC Title for Bossman's rotund waist were proven false. Cheap ending doubles as final WrestleMania appearance for Andre.

94. Chris Jericho vs. William Regal (WrestleMania X7)
Something had to open the greatest WrestleMania ever, so the juvenile feud between two pros did, cutting a good back-and-forth for its seven minutes.

95. Owen Hart/British Bulldog vs. Vader/Mankind (WrestleMania XIII)
Oddly booked heel vs. heel match (though Bulldog and Foley had traces of sympathy) was wholly watchable by the work of four amiable pros.

96. Chris Benoit vs. MVP (WrestleMania XXIII)
Little did anyone know this was Benoit's finale at WrestleMania, with MVP his final project, and no one guessed how the story would sadly unfold.

97. Mr. Perfect vs. The Blue Blazer (WrestleMania V)
Absurd doses of nifty wrestling crammed into a truncated time frame. Hey, it's Hennig vs. a Hart before injuries shelled anyone; therefore it wins.

98. Jake "The Snake" Roberts vs. The Honky Tonk Man (WrestleMania III)
No fun following that Intercontinental epic, but Roberts and Honky told their story, beginning with an El Kabong gone awry, with veterans' aplomb. 

99. The Shield vs. Big Show/Sheamus/Randy Orton (WrestleMania XXIX)
The trio in black could do no wrong, and their tour of immortality continued with another win over three lifers, and Ambrose's antics shone bright.

100. Shane McMahon vs. X-Pac (WrestleMania XV)
Defaulted as the second-best match of a WrestleMania waterlogged by Russo's greatest hits (a letter missing from hits), but Shane surprised all.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Bryan/Sheamus explanation

A few sets of forums have posted my WrestleMania 50 crappiest moments piece, and a number of readers took issue with my placement of Sheamus/Bryan at #2. Some even said it wasn't a bad moment at all.

My gripe with the match wasn't that Bryan lost. I expected him to lose, and was just happy that he'd even gotten a reign as champion. But as a Bryan fan, I was particularly looking forward to his first Mania match, and they made it a farce. Now, I feel Bryan recovered well from said farce, thanks to the outrage from the fans (particularly the next night on Raw), but Sheamus kinda hasn't.

The reason I ranked it so high was the short-sighted planning in regards to Sheamus, whom the company had the faith in to win the Rumble, and become the first Rumble winner to go on and become champion at Mania since Taker in 2007. This is a guy whom the company (HHH especially) champions as a chosen one, which is understandable given his unique look and underrated abilities in the ring. But the way they've gone about booking him this past year and a half has been astounding. There seems to be a rule that all babyfaces have to be unlikable, impervious to logic, and obnoxious, and that's where they went with a man who they were banking on being the company's #2 or 3 babyface going forward.

In that moment, Sheamus reminded me of Hogan at WM9, where he took advantage of the heel (even if Bryan was caught up in a moment of arrogance), and he celebrates the victory that way. I don't blame him, it's just the way he's been booked. The only really likable babyfaces WWE creates, at least to me, have been heels who were turned face because of their entertainment value (Punk, Bryan) as opposed to wrestlers they equip with babyface cliches (lame insults, smiling more, ignoring the logical points of the heels, being 'wacky').

Much like the Austin heel turn entry from X7, there is a little bit of "hindsight" driving this, as Sheamus never recovered as a character from this moment. But at the time, I remember my friends and I at our annual WM party just looking at each other incredulous, most of us, laughing and rolling our eyes, and one of them, a Sheamus fan, was pissed off at the brevity of the match. He's not even a smark; he just wanted to watch his favorite wrestler do a little more to "earn" the title. So it's not even just hindsight; there WERE fans who thought it was bullshit the moment it happened (hence the continued chants of Bryan's name into the next couple of matches).

So in short, the reason I have that moment #2 is because it did no favors to Sheamus, who they wanted to get over as a hero. Bryan could lose a 6 minute match, a 16 minute match, etc, and I would've been, "At least he had his run." Hope you understand my point a little better, even if you don't agree.

I chalk it up to a colossal miscalculation on the company's part. It's an increasing trend where they stubbornly see the character landscape one way, and a good number of fans see it another way.

Monday, January 7, 2013

The WrestleCrap Mystery Man.....REVEALED

And so it comes to this.

When the decision was made late in the summer to overhaul, RD and I decided we were going to need reinforcements.

After all, other than 'guest inductions', which The Deal himself would fine tune, it was pretty much just he and I running the 'classic site.' And even then, my forays into football writing had pushed Headlies aside.  So more than ever, it became a one-man show.  RD wanted changes, but knew that just the two of us couldn't handle it.

RD and I have spent the last several months plotting what would be on the New WrestleCrap, how it should look, how often it would be updated, blah blah blah. Since RD was doing the technical legwork of designing the new-look site, I decided to help out by recruiting some fresh faces.

And we got 2 old ones.

I asked Sean Carless if he wanted to return, and he said yes. Also, it's notarized by Facebook, so any claim he's made that he doesn't remember agreeing, remember: Canadians are habitual liars, and their currency looks like Rip Taylor's confetti.

Then RD gave us all a Christmas surprise by bringing back the legendary Blade Braxton. Reunited are wrestling's greatest D-team since the GWF's Cartel, and trust me, there are way more than a 'dozen listeners' who are ecstatic the two are back together.

Jed Shaffer also returns for "Rewriting the Book", so WrestleCrap maintains some of its old flavor. This is for you hipsters out there that hate change, despite demanding it often. You know, like the way you patronize WWE ("Push someone new for a change!, not him!")

Plus we have Paul Kraft, Emerson Witner, Michael Dunlap, Travie Yak, and Jordan Mishkin as our "rising stars", kinda like how WWE has NXT. In fact, next week, they will all get their new corporate-approved stage names the way WWE developmental talents do. For instance, Emerson Witner can keep his real name if he jumps to Ring of Honor, but now he'll likely be Hobie Bryant.

But there was one more man we had to get.

See, around the time I courted Sean with his usual bribe (a Vietnamese mail order bride dressed like Walter Sobchak), I also scouted someone who took the idea of "WrestleCrap" and ran with it in a way that has been very, VERY successful in its own right.

He is a hero and idol to many a wrestling fan who enjoy the "worst" of the industry, much in the same way that R.D. has presented for nearly 13 years.

Except he does it in video form.

That's right folks, the ace in the hole for the new comes to us all the way from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, England, and he is now a big part of our strange fraternity.

The man.....

The myth.....

Botchamania's own, MATTHEW GREGG!

Yes, the man behind "People Talk Too Much", "Messed Up WCW Endings", Cornette Face, and curator of a million awesome Randy Savage soundbytes, is bringing his charming blend of absurdist humor and diehard wrestling fandom to WrestleCrap, and we welcome Matthew/Maffew with open arms.

At this time, Matthew's contributions are still to be determined. Certainly his latest Botchamania works will be promoted on the humor site, but he's also a man with tremendous gift for caustically breaking down WWE PPV's in rant form, as well as bleeding his heart about what's annoying him in the biz today.

Simply put, with Matthew Gregg here, the possibilities are endless.

So.....RD and Blade reunited, Sean returns, and we get the man behind Botchamania as well. Plus you have me, but who am I?

Oh yeah, the guy who brought Matthew Gregg on board. *pause for effect* You're welcome.


Monday, December 17, 2012

Interviews with Jerry Lynn and Blue Meanie


With Extreme Rising's year-end event approaching, I'd like to present a pair of interview pieces done with two performers working that night's show. And I gotta say, as a fan of ECW since I was nine years old (the TPE vs. Badd Company days), being able to write these two pieces means a great deal to me.

The first is with the soon-to-be retired Jerry Lynn, written after tagging along behind the scenes at an NWA event in South Jersey. Lynn gave much insight on his long career while providing a refining session for many young indy workers, and even played ping pong with me. For an hour afterward, I didn't even know what to do with myself.

The second was conducted this past week with a gentleman who shares my undying love of crappy Eagles football, The Blue Meanie. Meanie gave a little insight on ECW's past and Extreme Rising's future, while being his usual charming self.

As for Extreme Rising, let's just say this old ECW fan is giddy to have what looks like an authentic revival of the chaos he grew up enjoying.

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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Guys, Vince is Feeling Inadequate Today. Let's Tell Him How Buff He Looks

Let me ask you something. If you tuned into Monday Night Raw this past Monday, could you have been turned away by something?

Lemme make it clearer. You knew that, by tuning in at 8 PM EST this past Monday night, you would probably be subjected to the following: CM Punk continuing down his anti-primrose path of being Just Another Cowardly Heel, the Cena/AJ/Vickie/Dolph sludge that makes about as much sense as Kurt Cobain marrying Courtney Love in anything other than a heroin-blinded state, and 3 hours of Even-Steven booking in which whims, not wins, matter most.

If you've made it that far, at least moderately okay with the idea of all of this, chances are nothing else is going to faze you.

I mention this because WWE acted upon a quirk that I'd read about them (read: Vince) having months ago, when WWE ran Raw from Columbia, South Carolina. This time, the show was held at the Cajundome in Lafayette, Louisiana, and I realized that this 'quirk' looking like a pretty damning fact.

Several newsies have confirmed what I noticed. Other than Cena mentioning "Lafayette" in a promo, never once was the city name stated during the broadcast. Instead, Michael Cole would simply say, "We're here at the Cajundome" when prompted.

That's because Vince, old insecure and shriveling Vince, apparently doesn't want 'smaller' city names mentioned on the broadcasts, because it makes WWE look bush league.

I thought Michael Cole shilling for Twitter, bad Divas matches, Cena's stale act, a reliance on legends when convenient, and the bad writing made WWE look bush league, but what do I know?

Lafayette is the fifth largest city in Louisiana, behind New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Shreveport, and Metairie. If Vince is so worried about looking like a two-bit carny running towns of toothless crones (which Lafayette probably isn't), then I ask who made the call to run in those arenas?

WWE has had a history of running at the Cajundome in Lafayette. They ran a Raw there the night after the 2001 Royal Rumble, which was in New Orleans. Surely Austin, Rock, Undertaker, Kane, Triple H, Angle, and others at their peak, and headed for the most exciting WrestleMania of all time, didn't feel like lesser men for working in a 13,000+ seat venue that's less than thirty years old.

The managers and employees of the Cajundome probably went to a lot of trouble to make sure Raw ran as smooth as possible, and Vince somehow thinks mentioning the name of the city will cause Madison Avenue to throw its Cosmopolitan in his beggary face.

Put it like this: if you were soliciting a prostitute, you'd try to find one that met your standards. Say, a hooker that looks like Mila Kunis. You have about a 1 in 1000 chance of finding Jackie Burkhart patrolling the red light district, so you have to settle for a plain-looking street urchin. And you're disgusted, because she doesn't meet your standards, but yet still good enough to polish your knob, and do that thing you like that involves the table leg and some Nickelodeon Gak.

If, during her attempts to please you to your hearts content, you refuse to look her in the eye, or even treat her with a shred of respect or dignity, then you're Vince McMahon. It's that simple.

Maybe that's why Linda lost the election in Connecticut. Perhaps she did a campaign stop in some city with a low population like Beacon Falls, and some resident yelled "BEACON FALLS LOVES YOU LINDA!", and she recoiled in disgust, like she just smelled lentil soup-scented vomit.

I wouldn't rule it out. When it comes to the McMahon way of thinking, there are literally no boundaries to how you can diagram their thought processes.

When someone is good enough to give you their money to help sustain your empire, they're also good enough to be acknowledged, even if it's just their city name.

To do otherwise is just as insulting as the writing, and that's saying something.