Friday, August 28, 2015

What do I like in WWE right now?

A discussion over on WCMB got me to thinking about what I enjoy about WWE right now.

Here's a list that isn't going to be comprehensive and is by no means in order:
  • Roman Reigns especially when paired with his boy Dean Ambrose.  I hope they never split them. 
  • Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman.  I don't think much explanation is needed.
  • New Day is absolutely, freaking hilarious.
  • Rusev w/his Hot Summer and their feud with Lana (to a lesser degree Ziggler in that feud)
  • The Wyatt Family especially with the debut of the Black Sheep to shake up that status quo.
  • Sting doing a final lap in WWE including his shot at Night of Champions.
  • The returning Dudley Boyz.
  • Seth Rollins being a slimy heel with The Authority although his eventual face turn will be phenomenal too
  • Stardust is growing on me with his Neville feud.
  • I liked Cesaro & Kidd, but I'm hoping this Cesaro singles push is for real.
That isn't all, but it's the first things that came to mind.  Here are some notable omissions and explanations:  Mark Henry (not around enough), Randy Orton (tired of Sheamus feud), Daniel Bryan (injured), John Cena (respect him and his accomplishments, but am tired of him), Undertaker (see Cena and add that he's been useless since The Streak was broken), Kevin Owens (I like him fine, but he's not a "move the needle" guy for me).

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Raw Review: Surprise Returns and SummerSlam Fallout

Expectations were kind of mixed heading into last night's show as NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn was a huge success and SummerSlam was an abject failure IMHO.  As for Raw?  Raw was pretty amazing if you ask me.  We got solid action, interesting returns, and even a big debut (literally, that guy was huge).  It was exactly the type of show they needed to kind of get things back on track aside from a very few misses (yeah, that's intentional).

Let's take a look...
  • Seth Rollins and his statue--I was all about Seth getting his statue as he requested last week.  I didn't think it looked all that bad either.  Of course, Seth was cheated out of his big moment by the returning Sting which was a legit mark out moment for me.  The only minor miss there was poor Sting's face paint didn't look so hot by the time of the big reveal.  He made it work though and that crowd was down for it.  You knew someone was going to be in there and it was great it was Sting and even better it wasn't Kane.  Great segment and I loved the interaction between The Authority and Seth leading up to it.
  • Jon Stewart explains himself--Stewart "doing it for Flair" was a decent explanation I suppose.  I didn't care much for this segment, but John Cena was by far the worst thing in it.  He couldn't figure out if he wanted to be serious or not and it was the exact kind of performance that makes me so sick and tired of that guy. 
  • The Wyatt Family grows--While I was kind of hoping to see the Wyatt vs Ambrose/Reigns thing wrap up so all could move on, I really liked this moment as well.  The way they debuted "Sister Abigail's Black Sheep" Braun Strowman was interesting as was him swatting down both Ambrose and Reigns.  "The Black Sheep" is a solid name and so far as I know the only person not down with this is probably Erick Rowan.  Braun's got a great look and fits right in with Wyatt.  He pretty clearly has some limitations in the ring so it will be interesting to see how they work around that.  Either way, I'm intrigued especially since it should mean that Reigns and Ambrose will be searching for a third.  Without Sting being available, I'm not sure where they'll go either.
  • GET THE TABLES!--First off, New Day is amazing.  I half-jokingly stated last night that it went Horsemen>nWo>Freebirds>Shield>New Day in terms of stable quality.  The trombone gimmick during their entrance and Xavier Woods' general hilarity were awesome.  Even more awesome was when the freaking Dudley Boyz returned after a decade of being gone as a tandem from WWE.  I liked their work in TNA as Team 3D, but much like Hogan or Flair or Sting coming to WWE this is so much better.  Xavier going through the table was a great moment as well.  
  • Brock Lesnar destroys Bo Dallas--Bo deserves the US Title at the very least for taking those German Suplexes like a champ.  My wife gasped at the first one.  Brock was scary strong there too.  It was great.  Bo is really underutilized.  He's perfect, annoying cannon fodder.
  • The Divas Revolution sputters--The best part of the Divas segment was The Miz.  This whole thing has come off as so contrived and phony that I'm not at all surprised the crowd crapped on it.  The Bellas and Paige went to Twitter to complain about the crowd, but I don't blame them at all.  WWE Creative deserves the blame.  This is probably the only time that I will ever defend a crowd that initiates a "We Are Awesome!" chant, but fair is fair.  
  • Everything else--The eight-man was fine for what it was, I wonder if Big Show is taking a little time off though.  Whatever else there was didn't leave much of an impression.
Great episode of Raw, could not have enjoyed it anymore.  They did a pretty good job of washing the SummerSlam stink off of everything. 

Great job WWE.

Monday, August 24, 2015

New WWE 2K16 Roster Additions

It's Monday and that means IGN has the latest batch of roster reveals for WWE 2K16.

Here's this week's list:
  1.  Alicia Fox
  2. Bam Bam Bigelow
  3. Big Show
  4. Cameron
  5. Cesaro
  6. Darren Young
  7. DDP
  8. Dolph Ziggler
  9. Finlay
  10. Kevin Nash
  11. Layla
  12. Lex Luger
  13. The Miz
  14. Naomi
  15. Randy Orton
  16. Sheamus
  17. Titus O'Neil
  18. Tyson Kidd
That's it for this week, I have also updated the WWE 2K16 Roster and Booking Google Sheet with all the roster reveals to this point.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

What Do I Want From WWE?

I have discussed at least one thing I don't care anything about and that is The Undertaker vs Brock Lesnar.  On the other hand, what do I want WWE to do?  Thinking back to the first PPV I ever actually watched, WrestleMania XIV, all I wanted was to see "Stone Cold" Steven Austin dethrone Shawn Michaels for the strap.  Right now, I have a similar specific wish and that is to see Roman Reigns beat Seth Rollins for the WWE World Heavyweight Title. 

There are other things that currently interest me in WWE such as Rusev/Summer Rae vs Ziggler/Lana (although the Ziggler/Lana pairing still leaves a lot to be desired) or The New Day being consistently hilarious and entertaining.  There are other things, but my point is that while I enjoy all of that stuff I find myself kind of waiting for that one moment to really get into and that's Reigns avenging the Mania cash-in by Rollins. 

To me, that's the only way to kickoff a Roman Reigns WWE World Heavyweight Title run and is the only way that Rollins' first run should end.  I have written about that before, but I bring it up again because to some degree I am so focused on wanting to see that specific thing that it's caused my interest in everything else to drop a bit.

Hopefully we'll get it sooner rather than later or they don't do something stupid like having Cena win the belt at SummerSlam.  Either way, it needs to happen and if it does I will enjoy the heck out of it. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Undertaker in 2015

Not doing a Raw Review or even a Quick Raw Review this week, but I had to touch on one thing from the show.  That thing is that I am completely over The Undertaker in 2015. 

Look, I respect the heck out of the dude.  I even appreciate how this could be a great thing.  I loved Paul Heyman billing it as "The match too big for WrestleMania," but ultimately I just cannot bring myself to care about that dude at this stage in the game.  Honestly, this feels like a perfectly good waste of Brock Lesnar to me. 

This isn't really a newsflash either as I have often said that I was tired of Taker.  I thought it was complete garbage that Bray Wyatt had to try to carry that build by himself just for Taker to show up and beat him.  Basically, without The Streak I just flat out don't see any benefit in having him around anymore. 

My intention here isn't to bury The Undertaker by the way.  Like I've said about Kane and Big Show, I just think it is time to pay tribute to his career with a WWE Hall of Fame induction instead of having him in the ring.

They say Father Time is undefeated and that's the truth.  Not even The Undertaker stands a chance against him. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

WWE 2K16: Roster Reveal Google Sheet

I am going to try to keep up with the weekly roster reveal by maintaining this Google Sheets document.  Eventually I will begin modifying this document with my own WWE 2K16 Booking as I call it, but for now it is just a list of names. 

By my count there have been 39 wrestlers confirmed so far on the way to what is supposed to be the biggest roster in the game's history. 

So far I have gotten the reveals from GameSpot, IGN, and WWE 2K16's Official Site

October 27th will be here before we know it and I cannot wait to have WWE 2K16 in my hands. 

Monday, August 17, 2015

WWE 2K 16: Feature Summary

WWE 2K16 and one of my favorite times of the year inches ever closer.  The kind folks over at 2K have posted a Feature Summary on the game ahead of its release in the Americas on October 27, 2015.  As usual, I am stoked about the game so let's take a look at the major features along with my thoughts on them.
  • Largest Roster Ever--Goes without saying this is a plus especially if they avoid filling that roster out with three different Foley and Triple H gimmicks or looks.  They specifically promise "an unprecedented combination of current WWE Superstars and Divas, emerging NXT talent, WWE Hall of Famers and WWE alumni from multiple eras."  They will probably never dig deep enough for some of the old school wrestlers I'd like to see there, but I am confident they will have some nice additions and I hope we get some Legends/alumni that we've never seen before as well.  Specifically looking forward to our first year of The Shield in their current attires. 
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger as The Terminator--Fun pre-order bonus.
  • 2K Showcase--This is a interesting game mode which I'm glad to see return although I typically abandon it to play WWE Universe or Exhibition modes.
  • MyCareer--Assuming this is actually coming to last-gen I am looking forward to this.  PS3/Xbox 360 did not get this last year.  It sounds interesting and is a common mode in sports games. 
  • Creation Suite--We have a pretty good idea of what we are getting here, but I hope they really flesh out the entrances a bit better this year.  It became difficult to find solid generic entrances for created wrestlers.  The return of custom themes would be nice.
  • WWE Universe--Not expecting anything shocking here, but the added ability to put wrestlers on multiple shows is a really nice additions.
  • Online--I never use this aside from downloading created wrestlers so I have no real opinion on it. 
  • Soundtrack--Sounds like the jukebox premise is coming back where you can choose what songs you'd like to hear and more importantly filter some out.  The site linked about says the soundtrack will be announced, but they have since announced it
  • Gameplay Improvements--They are promising better gameplay which is a fairly routine thing at this point.  I have no issue with the core gameplay as it is so a minor revision is fine with me.
    • Improved Controls--New attack positions sounds promising, but I'd have to go hands-on to offer any further thoughts on it.
    • New Reversal System--This might be the most intriguing change.  Hopefully the days of constant reversals on higher difficulty levels are a thing of the past.
    • New Pin System--New min-game?  Sounds good.  Dirty Pins and Rope Breaks?  Sounds even better. 
    • Chain Wrestling--This tie-up thing sounds promising as does the cheap shot functionality. 
    • Working Holds--You can finally engage in rest holds! What a world we live in!!
    • Improved AI--They are promising to clean up some of the AI frustrations we've had over the years.  I hope they can deliver on this point.
    • More Match Types--More is always better when it comes to match types.
    • Dynamic Entrances--Now this sounds really cool.  They used to have something like this in one of the older games where you could show respect or attack after the bell.  They've moved these options to before the bell and that should make for a more authentic experience. 
  •  Additional Improvements--New moves and better Submission system? Sign me up for all of that.
  • Overall Enhancements--Authenticity seems to be the focus here and I hope they deliver.  A lot of these features sound promising if they can pull them off.
    • New Commentary Team--You get JBL, Cole, and King now which will at least give the game a new sound, Maggle.
    • Visual Upgrades--This is to be expected and much like the change in commentary, I'd think a different "look" to the crowd would be nice.  Hopefully clipping will be minimized as well. 
    • Broadcast Presentation--No more traditional loading screens?  That sounds phenomenal.  
Every year I look forward to this game and this year is no different.  Right now I'm kind of in a funk as it relates to video gaming and I am hoping this game snaps me out of it.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Quick Raw Review: August 3, 2015

I'm sitting here watching SmackDown and it reminds me that I never got a chance to discuss Raw in any way, shape, or form the other day.  This isn't going to be the fully leaded Raw Review, but a real quick look at the show.

The opener was a heck of a lot of fun with Neville playing the underdog to Seth Rollins.  Neville looked like a bona fide star in there with the WWE Champion.  Even as poorly as Rollins has been booked I was pretty surprised by some of those nearfalls and how they were played up as if Neville may have actually won.  My wife and I both thought it looked like that Pedigree spiked Neville pretty badly, but I guess he was fine.  Great way to kick of the show.

Now maybe I'm just a mark for this six-man tags, but I also really enjoyed the main event.  Everyone, especially Roman Reigns, seemed to be fired up and it made for a fun match.  Even the typical finish with everyone hitting their finishers came off well IMHO.  Sheamus showing up during the Wyatt promo was a nice touch as was the mutual admiration society deal they had Bray do with him. 

The Piper tribute stuff was excellent.  I read some complaints about the lack of pre-WWE footage and even the choice of music, but I loved it.  This was a really classy tribute to Hot Rod.

Paul Heyman cut one of the best promos that I recall him cutting.  Billing Taker/Lesnar as "The Match Too Big for WrestleMania" was perfect and he brought the passion throughout.

The Divas Revolution stuff is fine, but I must admit that it feels like they talk about it more than you actually see it.  In other words, it doesn't so much feel like a real revolution so much as they are just insisting that it is.  It all feels a bit manufactured I guess is my point.

This was an excellent episode of Raw in my estimation.  If they were all like that I think the show would be in pretty good shape. 

Sunday, August 2, 2015

RIP "Rowdy" Roddy Piper

“Do you think they would’ve loved you so much, if they hadn’t hated me?”--
"Rowdy" Roddy Piper

 That was Roddy Piper to Hulk "Hollywood" Hogan at Halloween Havoc 1996 when he made his surprise WCW debut.  It was a really great moment and Piper's early-WCW run was excellent in just about every way really.  That line really spoke to what a great foil Roddy Piper was for Hulk Hogan during the '80's WWE Expansion.  He was a phenomenal "Anti-Hogan" that could rile the crowd up.  Dave Meltzer put it this way...

Piper/Hogan and Flair/Rhodes are the first two feuds I think I really remember. For that, Piper always had a special place in my heart as a fan. As great as he was as a heel a lot of my favorite Piper moments where when he was a face such as his WCW debut. Others would be when he came back and doused Morton Downey, Jr. with a fire extinguisher at WrestleMania or won the Intercontinental Title.  Not matter which side of the fence he was on, the guy knew how to push buttons.

Outside the ring my favorite Piper vehicle is the cult classic, "They Live."  The hook for even watching that film was that "Hot Rod" was the lead.  Even better it turned out to be a really cool film with a quote that's currently trending due to Piper's passing.  Seriously, if you haven't seen "They Live" then you need to track that down.  I bought it for Dad on DVD years ago, it really is a lot of fun.

Piper's passing at the age of 61 shocked me, I could not believe it when I read it on Friday night.  Sometimes it feels like we are losing all our heroes and/or villains.  "Rowdy" Roddy Piper was great at both and epitomized "larger than life" when it came to the wrestling business.

Rest In Peace, Roddy.  You are missed. 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

WWE's Handling of the Secondary Titles

One of the most often mentioned issue with WWE programming is how they treat their secondary title holders.  It's gotten to the point that many joke that winning the Intercontinental or US Title is punishment.  What's sad is that while it is a joke, it is actually fairly accurate.  Over the years there have been several claims that "WWE is getting serious about bringing respect back to the secondary titles."  Foolishly, we read these things and then against all logic hope and believe they will actually happen.  WrestleMania 31 was allegedly yet another turning point, but Daniel Bryan's injury derailed that to a degree.

What has happened is John Cena has been a strongly booked US Champion.  This makes sense because while Cena has been taken away from the WWE Title scene for a bit (thankfully imho) he's not "just another guy."  So while I'm tired of John Cena, I have actually enjoyed his run as US Champion and the US Open Challenge.  There is a frustrating aspect to this though.  John Cena's run has looked exactly like what we've clamored for with other secondary champions. 

Imagine guys like Cesaro, Bad News Barrett, Sheamus, The Miz, Ryback, Dolph Ziggler, whoever else you see at that level getting a similarly booked US or IC Title run.  It would be awesome.  I mean it doesn't even have to be a situation where they use that to jump to the main event scene.  All those guys who are trapped down at that level would have something important to do and an extended title run would make a huge difference in how they are perceived.  When the title changed hands, it would also be a big event.  The main thing it would do is relieve some of the nonsensical parity booking or even stevens booking you see at that level.  Might as well let a couple of guys shine brightly at that level than just let them all form a huge rat king I figure. 

While I said they don't have to use these runs as a springboard to the next level, it would certainly help those guys be more ready for it.  Basically, they would have some flexibility on what to do with these guys.  Either they get promoted which is great or maybe they linger at that level and gain credibility in an exciting US or IC Title division.  Either scenario is better than using the tired method of building challengers by having them pin the champ in a non-title match.  It's not an invalid way to build challengers, but it is an overused one in WWE.

Ultimately, I'd like to see both titles gain more relevance no matter who holds them.  Whether it's John Cena or Wade Barrett, I think WWE needs to allow their secondary title holders to get some real traction.  I'm not holding my breath though.