Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A1 Podcast Episode 263: Survivor Series 2015 Review

I joined Norko and the rest of the A1 Podcast crew (Seth, Jarret, and Josh this week) this week to discuss Survivor Series 2015 in ATL from the perspective of someone who was at the event.

Photo Credit:

Seth from the A1 Podcast has your full summary of the episode.
WWE Presented their annual Thanksgiving time tradition with The Survivor Series PPV/Network Event. Special Guest David McKinney of South Atlanta Wrestling, who attended the show live, joins the show to give an in-person perspective. Was Roman Reigns over? How did the crowd react to Sheamus’s cash-in and victory?

In other news, TNA Wrestling has announced that Impact will be moving to PopTV in January following a one-year run on Destination America. What is the eclectic history of PopTV, specifically its link to something everybody had on Cable TV in the 1990s?

Plus, Cesaro has a torn rotator cuff and well be out for several months. How bleak does 2016 look for the WWE Roster?

All this and more in another fun-filled A1 Podcast!
As usual I really enjoyed sitting in with these guys and as usual they had great discussions so I recommend you check it out.  Here's all the ways you can go retrieve the episode if you so desire which is also available at the link for this episode
Remember, the A1-Wrestling Podcast is a weekly thing and Norko from A1/South Atlanta Wrestling is regular member of the panel so check it out every week.

I will warn you though that I have a face for radio, but a voice for silent films.  

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Survivor Series 2015 Onsite Review

Took my wife and son to Survivor Series at Philips Arena in ATL the other day and had a phenomenal time despite the uncertainty surrounding the event.  WWE, and the authorities promised stepped up security for the show and that was readily apparent.  We saw Department of Homeland Security officers with dogs outside the venue while waiting to get in to the show.  We also had to completely empty our pockets and go through metal detectors before entering Philips.  The line inside the CNN Center was miserable, but the outside line we chose went pretty quickly actually.  I was pleasantly surprised with that.  Although MARTA was recommended we stuck with our decision to drive it and that worked out pretty well aside from dropping $20 to park.

Our view for the night.
  • Roman Reigns vs Alberto Del Rio--This was a fine match.  As usual it was hurt a bit by the inevitability of Roman Reigns moving on to the tournament finals.  Roman got the standard mixed reaction, but it was not nearly as overwhelmingly negative in the arena as people have suggested on Twitter, etc. which kind of baffles me. 
  • Dean Ambrose vs Kevin Owens--This one did not have the level of inevitability as the first match.  The crowd was firmly behind Ambrose, but Kevin Owens is certainly popular in his own right.  What concerned me about the outcome is that it was clear to even me that Ambrose would be more popular than Reigns in the final.  Honestly, as much as I hate it I am sure Owens would have gotten a pretty good pop against Reigns as well. 
  • Ryback, Kalisto, Sin Cara, The Usos vs New Day, Sheamus, and King Barrett--Highlights were New Day and their teammates dancing, the big dives which was punctuated by Ryback's incredible dive and the faces getting the victory. 
  • Charlotte vs Paige for Divas Championship--There was zero heat for this match and I will admit that we used this for our bathroom break.  It may sound silly, but even though the threat was ruled to be not credible we decided before the show that the three of us would stick together throughout the night so we figured that was our last good chance to get bathroom break, refills, etc. done so we took it.  I was very straightforward with how I felt about the tasteless Reid Flair references used to build this match and I just did not care about it at all.  The ATL crowd didn't care either, but I am not going to speculate why that was.  As much grief as Roman Reigns gets he at least gets a reaction.  Charlotte?  She's dying on the vine out there.  No one cares about her no matter how beloved her father is. 
  • Tyler Breeze vs Dolph Ziggler--Honestly, I forgot this match was on the card.  The right guy won, but I cannot possibly imagine caring about Dolph Ziggler at this point.  Tyler Breeze is pretty much in the same boat in that regard.  I appreciate the gimmick to some degree, but I simply don't care about him.  Summer Rae is talented and I like her, but this gimmick feels like the new Fandango to me.
  • Brothers of Destruction vs Wyatt Family--Unfortunately we could not really see the entrances for the night and it sounds like Taker's was impressive.  We could see the flames, the side of the flaming symbols, and of course the smoke.  I don't really care about Undertaker to the degree most of the WWE Universe does, but it was cool to see him here. The crowd was absolutely hot for it.  Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper ended up representing the Wyatt Family.  I liked the destruction of Rowan to start, and putting Strowman through the announce table was a nice touch.  This was pretty much what you expected and I hate it for Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper specifically as I think they deserve much better.  The crowd ate it up though so in a vacuum I guess it was a nice way to pay tribute to 25 years of Taker. 
  • Roman Reigns vs Dean Ambrose for WWE World Championship--This was the match I was most excited for as I wanted to see Roman Reigns' coronation as the WWE World Heavyweight Champion in person.  The match was fun, but it was kind of short which gave us too issues.  One, the finish seemed to come out of nowhere.  Two, it telegraphed even to us huge Roman Reigns fans that this wasn't really his moment and that there would be shenanigans.  Of course there were as you certainly know by now.  The crowd seemed to pop for the Spear Triple H took and did seem to want Roman to overcome the Sheamus cash-in.  I joked that I worked myself into a shoot because for that brief moment when Roman kicked out of the Brogue Kick I actually thought that he might leave ATL with the belt and I hoped he would.  Him kicking out was actually a legitimate mark out moment for me and it was fun to get emotionally invested like that.  Sheamus successfully cashed-in though and I still think that was a mistake. If nothing else, I would have had Roman thwart Sheamus before he actually got the briefcase turned in and have Sheamus successfully cash-in on Raw last night.  Anyhow, it was a flat ending to a show that I by and large enjoyed live.  Speaking of emotional investment I thoroughly enjoyed watching my 8 year old enjoy the show and my favorite moment was him screaming, "YOU'RE NOT OUR CHAMPION!" at Sheamus after the cash-in.  Sometimes I wish I could go back to enjoying wrestling through that lens. 
By the time I started reading reviews of the show I was surprised by two things which were shots taken at the crowd as I thought it was pretty feisty for things that deserved a reaction.  Secondly, the overall rating of the show seemed low to me so I wonder if that was a function of the live experience enhancing the show for me in general.  That coupled with the fact that I actively like Roman Reigns so his push or attempted push as "The Guy" doesn't bother me.  I cannot say that I have ever had a bad time at a wrestling show aside from maybe the Fingerpoke of Doom so I may be going to easy on this one.  I enjoyed it and I will be interested to see when and if they finally commit to Roman Reigns as the champion for real.  That's what interests me most right now in WWE.  That puts me in the minority, but it's the truth.  Despite the disappointment of the Sheamus cash-in I thought Survivor Series was a success and I hope to watch it on WWE Network soon. 

Sorry for the picture quality, I just use my iPhone and it obviously doesn't do the event justice.  

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Triple H Releases Official Statement on Survivor Series Security

I don't have much to add to this other than we will be at the show tomorrow night.  Triple H released a statement via Twitter about the rumored threats made against the show.

Our initial plan was to drive up, but now I am wondering about parking availability and traffic right around the venue. Not sure if we will take MARTA or not, but I've done that in the past. Just haven't done it with our son or daughter yet.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Raw Review: WWE World Title Tournament Quarterfinals

Right from the jump I'd like to say that Raw was pretty good this week.  It wasn't an episode that was fantastic or incredible, but it was a lot of fun and avoided a lot of the typical nonsense.  The main reason for this is the tighter focus the show had due to the WWE World Title Tournament.
  • Main Event Angle with Charlotte/Paige--Full thoughts here and needless to say I wasn't a fan.  It was lazy and unnecessary to bring Reid Flair's death into it.  
  • QF: Roman Reigns vs Cesaro--I don't give matches stars or analyze them to the degree that many hardcore fans do, but this was a really good match.  I think Roman Reigns advancing is the right decision (he should win the whole thing IMHO), but it was another example of how criminally underutilized Cesaro is.  I liked the mutual respect moment at the end. 
  • QF: Alberto Del Rio vs Kalisto--Most seem to think that Kalisto might be in line for a big face push.  I have no issues with that.  ADR is a guy I really like although I think the gimmick hampers him right now.  This match wasn't that good, but the finish was cool with ADR getting the win.
  • QF: Kevin Owens vs Neville--Owens is obviously not buried although some seem to maintain that he is.  Neville, like Cesaro, is underutilized and delivers in moments like this.  He strikes me as a guy that the fans would love to rally behind like Daniel Bryan.  Unsurprisingly, Owens advances. 
  • QF: Dean Ambrose vs Dolph Ziggler--Enjoyed this and Dean's promo after his win, but it feels like we are once again heading into a scenario where it looks like Dean and Roman are going to split.  In this case I do believe Dean will turn and I'll get into that with our next point.
  • The Authority Lurking--One reason I think Dean Ambrose is turning is this Raw Fallout video from this week's show.  Now this could be a red herring, but it's also been noticeable that Dean Ambrose has not been publicly approached by The Authority so far as I recall.  They certainly could be swerving us and obscuring the Roman Reigns turn, but Reigns turning at this point makes little sense.  Once he was offered the opportunity to get a bye to the finals I can't really see him turning that down and then accepting the deal down the road.  You can make it make sense still though if you sell it as Reigns once again being so close to the big prize that he reconsiders the deal.  I don't know.  I think they are going to keep Roman face for now and his buddy is going to turn on him.  
  • Everything Else--The Ascension got squashed by the Dudley Boyz, New Day was entertaining as always, and that's all I really recall as being important.  Like I said the focus on the WWE World Title Tournament has really improved Raw tremendously.  
 Raw went from near unwatchable in the lead up to Hell In A Cell with Rollins vs Kane being the draw to insanely interesting even with the Rollins injury.  Good Raw and I hope they keep the momentum going with whoever the new champ ends up being as we get close to the Road to WrestleMania. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Charlotte, Paige Main Event Angle on Raw

I am breaking this post out from the Raw Review I intend to do because I feel it's important enough to earn its own post.  If you watched Raw last night it should be obvious why that particular angle warrants a higher level of scrutiny.

Right from the jump I will tell you that I was not a fan at all of that closing segment.  Part of it has to do with how forced and contrived this Divas Revolution has been from the beginning.  Part of it was Charlotte's stilted delivery that oddly reminded me of a bootleg Stephanie McMahon.  The major issue, of course, was bringing up Reid Flair for the purpose of furthering an angle.

The Reid Flair aspect of it absolutely destroyed any interest in the angle from that point forward as well.  It was tasteless, tacky, and unnecessary.  Above all of that it was simply lazy.  WWE Creative had to go that direction because they could not find or at least felt they couldn't make this feud compelling otherwise.  The whole Divas Revolution has been a mess.  The PCB split has been a mess.  That segment last night was the definition of "trying too hard" in my opinion.

Some will defend it saying that apparently Ric and Charlotte must have been OK with it.  To me, that obviously helps, but it doesn't absolve WWE from criticism.  Even if the family is carny enough to think it's fine, doesn't mean the viewing audience necessarily has to agree with that.  I think @GolazoDan summed it up best as it related to the Eddie Guerrero/Randy Orton controversy.

The moment Charlotte mentioned her brother I cringed a bit. By the end of it with Paige's response to her about him it was pretty much full-on disgust.  If you were fine with it and thought it added to the proceedings I don't really have a problem with that.  I will continue to maintain though that it was cheap, lazy, tacky, and distasteful. 

I am no prude, but I think some things should be left alone.  I wish WWE had thought better of this particular tactic before the main event segment on Raw last night.   They didn't and I think that's a shame. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

RIP Nick Bockwinkel

Over the weekend the wrestling industry lost a true legend when Nick Bockwinkel passed away on November 14, 2015 at 80 years of age.

Now Bockwinkel is one of those guys that I knew more by reputation through the magazines, etc. than I did first-hand. Once I did finally get to see Mr. Bockwinkel in the ring I knew that everything I heard was absolutely true. By all accounts he was the consummate professional as well. Just being in the same room with him at the NWA Legends Fanfest in ATL was a huge moment. He walked by me a couple of times and I could not believe that I was sharing space with him. The thing that struck me the most was the he seemed...happy. I an industry that chews up and spits out far too many of its contributors that was nice to see.

Honestly, I don't know what else to say other than in an industry where the term "legend" is tossed around lightly, Nick Bockwinkel was the real deal and he as class personified.  He will be missed.  Thoughts and prayers go out to his family as well. 

Upload Credit: WWE

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

WWE World Title Tournament

The WWE World Title Tournament is underway and I have enjoyed it so far even if some of the entrants were less than compelling.  All the talk is about how this thing will play out at Survivor Series and I go from thinking it's obviously THIS to obviously THAT.  After having pondered it and discussed it on Twitter (@S_ATL_Wrestling).  This is kind of where I am at with the whole thing:
  1. It is Roman Reigns time.  In a perfect world you can hold off and give your next "guy" his big WrestleMania moment.  I don't believe they can do that with Roman though at this point.  The thinking changes a little bit once Rollins goes out with the injury, but at the moment he became number one contender it felt like his first WWE World Title run was a) going to happen and b) needed to happen.  It's time, the ATL crowd will embrace him.  It will make for an excellent moment.  WWE needs to do this.
  2. The final four should be Roman Reigns, Alberto Del Rio, Dean Ambrose, and Kevin Owens.  I will be shocked if these four don't all make it. 
  3. Shenanigans will take place. The other day I had decided that one of the following would definitely happen:
    1. Roman Reigns turns and becomes Corporate Champion.
    2. Dean Ambrose turns on Roman in the finals.
    3. Sheamus successfully cashes-in on a victorious babyface Roman Reigns.
  4. Number 3 there is what has me so perplexed.  I think it's time for Roman coronation (as a babyface), but these three scenarios seem the most likely and none of them actually give Roman his babyface victory.  After Triple H's promo on Raw it seems that someone has to be his Corporate Champion because why wouldn't he reach out to another guy and offer him the Rollins/Reigns deal?  So as much as I believe in my first point, the only way I actually see it happen is if he wins it as a heel I hate to say.
Ultimately, I am just really happy that I will be there at Philip's Arena to see what WWE does.  As much as I'd love to see it be Roman Reigns standing tall in the city he played college football I am guessing that shenanigans of some sort will carry the day.  He will either have the belt or be the face.  I am almost thinking it will be one or the other, but will not be both.  

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Seth Rollins out 6-9 months; WWE World Title tournament at Survivor Series

Seth Rollins injury at WWE Dublin ended up being as serious as feared.   News was confirmed by Jonathan Coachman of ESPN.

As someone attending Survivor Series this is a pretty big disappointment. There is good news however...
  • We are guaranteed to see a new champion crowned.
  • The focus on Raw leading up to the show should be tighter as I am assuming we will get qualifying matches for the tournament.
Now admittedly I wanted to see Roman Reigns beat Rollins for the strap and still hope Reigns leaves ATL as the champion. That said I am optimistic that at least those two things above play out for an exciting build.

There are a few elephants in the room.  One, Sheamus is still lurking with the Money in the Bank briefcase.  Two, Reigns could become Corporate Champion like The Rock.  That one I would be down with had we not just seen Seth Rollins play that exact role.  Third, and I'm the least excited about this one, is Dean Ambrose turning on Roman Reigns at some point in the night.  Now I think a Dean Ambrose/Roman Reigns feud has a ton of potential, but I stand by the premise that I'd prefer those two not feud.

Oh, there's one other elephant and he looks like a bowl of Fruity Pebbles.  Anything, but that WWE!

Either way, Survivor Series just got a lot more interesting and to some degree unpredictable.  I'm glad I will be there even if it's not what I initially wanted to see. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Larry Zbyszko on Transitioning from Ring to Commentary

Browsing today, I noticed this recap of an interview with Larry Zbyszko.  The most interesting part IMHO was his comments about transitioning from the ring to the commentary team.
For me it worked out great. I had a good twenty year career. By about 1992 I was thinking I'd start settling into the broadcasting thing. It was a good time, I was lucky with the body that I didn't get hurt and didn't have any artificial parts, didn't have any major surgeries, none of that stuff. It kept me alive with the new generation and gave me more publicity because I was on Monday Nitro, then I was on some of the syndicated shows so I had a lot of publicity with the new generation and it was a great job. I worked out and kept myself in good shape and would golf a bunch, I was home so much the wife would get sick of me. It was kind of like the perfect ending to a good twenty year career. Anybody who does that it's almost like you've got this special gift of gab or you are full of bullsh*t because either you can do a good interview for a couple of minuets and weren't good color guy but for some reason I felt right at home. I had to soften my character up because for twenty years I was a big asshole and people believed I was an asshole and I softened up the character to where everybody loved me and then I was too old to hate and then I was a legend when I went against the New World Order.
I found it interesting that Larry was apparently able to avoid major injuries. I guess stalling for 10+ minutes per match probably helped in that regard. I always thought he was a real asset on Nitro's commentary. His involvement with the nWo angle was absolutely perfect as well. The recap also touches base on Dusty Rhodes joining the nWo, working at the WWE Performance Center, seeing old friends and the passing of Piper and Warrior, and The Dangerous Alliance.  

Here's the Full Episode Link to the Two Man Power Trip of Wrestling show and here's The Living Legend talking about the feud with Scott Hall and the nWo which he mentioned above.

Friday, October 30, 2015

WWE 2K16: Early Hands-On Thoughts

I picked up WWE 2K16 on launch day and have played for a couple of hours since then.  At this point I am ready to give some way too early thoughts about the game.  Before that though I think it important to lay out a few things so you can see where my perspective on this game comes from exactly.

One thing you need to know is that I have always been generally happy with the series.  I know it's a common mentality that WWE 2K14 was far superior to 15 or that the game is in serious need of revamping.  I don't personally see any of that.  It's not perfect, but I am pretty happy with how the game plays and am actually more concerned that they'll break the gameplay if they try to revamp the controls specifically.  Second, I don't play this game to compete against other people.  I basically don't care so much about how difficult the computer AI is to defeat or anything.  I just want to simulate what my version of WWE should look like and do things in the game I enjoy.  I have no interest in the challenge of the matches for the most part.  Basically, while others have said for years they want to see the game undergo a massive revamp, I've been more than content with minor revisions and roster/graphics upgrades.  With all that said, here's my thoughts:
  • Movement/"Feel"--This was the most jarring change from previous iterations.  When I initially fired it up I felt like Ric Flair was moving in quicksand.  At that time I felt that once I got accustomed to it that it wouldn't be that bad.  I was right about that.  Also, the slightly slower pace alone with some new transitional animations does make the game feel more realistic.  Wrestlers don't dart around the ring any longer which never bothered me, but now that I see a more controlled, slower, and realistic pace I notice it more.  Transitions such as wrestlers pulling themselves up on the ropes adds to the realism.
  • No Custom Themes--They have got to bring this back.  It is beyond aggravating that we cannot load custom music any longer especially when you give "Nature Boy" Ric Flair an older WWE theme that he's never used with the look you modeled him after.  Basically, they used an early-90's theme with what is modern day Ric Flair and it's awful.  UPDATE: Jose Lothario on Twitter reminded me that this was removed due to technical reasons on the PS4/XB1.  It was aggravating being a PS3 user last year and losing that capability, but as this Tweet notes the XB1/PS4 simply don't have the capability to do it at this time.  Hopefully that limitation goes away in the future. 
  • Roster--There are some duplicates, but the roster is massive and has enough randoms to keep things interesting.  For example, you get the entire Nation of Domination basically minus the rappers and Owen Hart.  Those types of off the wall choices are always a plus for me.  In that particular case I loved that gimmick anyway, but just having some more random people on the roster is always a good thing IMHO.
  • Controls--The primary controls have changed little, but the submission mini-game is something I still don't like after playing for a few days.  I'm sure I will get used to it, but I'm guessing at the end of the day I will still prefer the button mashing version of it.  In theory it's not a terrible submission system as it is similar to what some of the UFC games had.  In practice, it doesn't feel like the controls are responsive enough for it to work right. 
As I've played it and gotten used to it I have started to enjoy the game more and more.  I don't make recommendations because apparently I'm a heck of a lot easier to please than most wrestling video game fans.  I think it's worth the money though if for no other reason you get the latest and greatest roster.  The DLC (I already bought the Season Pass) will only improve the game in that area.

Long story short, I like the game and don't see the glaring flaws with it many do, but then again I am easy to please.  

Also, I neglected to mention this previously, but this is my first year with the PS4 version of the game.  I had not purchased a PS4 last year so I was still on the PS3 version then.