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Cheap Shots: South Beach Checkup

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In a rather awesome bit of fortune, my Extra-Terrestrial captors have FINALLY released me! Not just anywhere, too. I was set free to land along the coordinates of The Bermuda Triangle, in Miami. Vinnie took his talents to South Beach last night. Like most everywhere else though, he was stepping in someone else’s footprints. This time they belong to Eddie Graham. Why should fans of the art form revere that sir name? Three reasons: Sam Steamboat, Dusty Rhodes, And The Champ, David Von Erich! While I pick up the mic, allow me to explain.

While running the Florida Territory in the Mid 60s, a performer from The Hawaiian Islands (shoot), would come to Florida and dominate the territory as a baby face partner of Graham. Richard Blood is from New York. Thanks to his connections with Verne Gagne; and a striking resemblance, Blood acquired a Kayfabe Uncle and a new name before his run in Mid-Atlantic. Without Eddie Graham, there is no Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat!

Flash forward to 1977, Dusty Rhodes was arguably the biggest wrestling star in The Southeast at the time. So big in fact, a certain promoter in New York wanted in on the action because fans there had already heard of Dusty Rhodes. How does this happen? Eddie Graham and Vince McMahon Sr. pulled together a 3-Match Showdown between “Superstar” Billy Graham and The “American Dream Dusty Rhodes at Madison Square Garden. All this did was awaken the modern art form. “I came to New York to kick your ass!”

Conventional wisdom was: if you wanted to test yourself, alter your gimmick, or get ready for a Championship run: The NWA would send you to Florida and Eddie Graham to find out if you had the chops. The Patriarch; Fritz Von Erich had a dynasty to cement, and David got the call at just 22 years of age. David had just started his legacy in Texas. Even so, those who saw him in Florida swear he was ready to take Flair or Race out. A wrestling community still wonders: “What if?” Following a fateful trip to The Rising Sun. Tragically, Eddie Graham would meet a similar end in 1985, after Rhodes bought him out and sold Florida to Crockett.

With that epic backdrop and history, the latest Monday Night Raw from South Beach opens with a shot we haven’t seen in months. Brock Lesnar is in the building. Did anyone else think this was weird the whole night? Get him out of the hallway. Anyway, no surprise when Roman Reigns calls him out, only to get Paul Heyman instead. Heyman says Lesnar has fulfilled his contractual obligations for the night and will only get in the ring if he feels like it. One problem with that logic, Mr. Walrus. This is scripted, and Vince has already shown him. We know they are going to use him. WWE struggles with manufactured heat. This was no different. Felt like I was waiting on a dentist’s appointment all night.

First, Heyman says Brock is headed back to UFC with Universal Gold. This is part of the reason scripted promos make no sense. Brock is still serving a USADA suspension for six months. He CAN’T compete there until January at minimum. Why would WWE undermine their Main Event at one of The Big Five like this? Eventually, Roman tells Paul to shut up. “Brock Lesnar will go back to UFC…as Roman Reigns Bitch!” Does anybody believe that? This is why Roman is not capable of being John Cena. Did someone say scripted promos were stupid?

Heyman struggled to get his client to do anything all night. At one point Brock said he doesn’t watch the show, GASP! Somebody please explain to me why this man is a wrestling draw the second time around? Later, Paul was sulking as only he can when RAW GM Kurt Angle interrupted him, dropping a typical ultimatum of the art form in his lap. Unless Lesnar got in the ring last night, the advocate would be fired. Stop this nonsense! Vince isn’t gonna fire one of a handful of guys who can get authentic heat. By the end of the night though, Heyman was on his way to being terminated in another way. For only the second time I can recall, Brock Lesnar actually put his hands on Heyman with bad intentions. “We are not friends, Paul. You work for me. Go out there and do your job.” Who remembered that Brock can talk? At this late stage, Roman Reigns had been escorted from the building on orders of Stephanie McMahon. He wasn’t gonna interfere. Though nobody bought it. Kurt Angle; accompanied by Constable Corbin, called Heyman to the ring. He did The Brock Intro with no emotion, in fear of the outcome. Upon coming through the cables, his stress level escalated as he turned into his whiny self, Kurt Angle got the words “you’re fired” out with Heyman groveling at his feet, only to have The Beast’s music hit. I hate wrestling logic sometimes. Brock got in the ring with a mic and a simple question for both. “Do you have a problem with me?” Angle took an F5 for nothing and The Walrus got his face squeezed, forcing him to the mat. Interesting TV finish at the dentist’s office.

Can we talk about the art form now that that the aliens have let me go? Am I the only one noticing that PPV matches don’t matter anymore? Finn Balor defeats Baron Corbin at Extreme Rules, then has The Constable beat him up for the next month? Don’t get me wrong, matches between these two are always decent. Finn Balor could wrestle a chair and make it interesting, despite his move set being a bit predictable. Corbin went over with an End of Days. The only practical reason to continue force-feeding this down our throats is to have The Demon make a SummerSlam appearance since we haven’t seen him in a while. As long as this moves The 8-Pack Irishman forward, I’m alright with it.
Recess kicked off this week as cameras cut to the back and we saw Shark Bait. Ronda Rousey is back! Geography should’ve told us that Miami was next, although Buffalo got lucky. The Next Rowdy One was here to back up Nattie in a singles match against the resident weirdo of The Raw Women’s Division, Alicia Fox with Alexa Bliss in her corner. Solid contest, although wrestling physics got involved when The Queen of Hearts did not get out of a modified Abdominal Stretch by hitting the mat for the pin, as Fox was behind her. Alicia went over after shenanigans from Little Miss Math Class. This made Ronda furious as she went after The Champ outside the ring. Bliss squirmed away, which left Fox to take her non-submission finish that looks like a separated shoulder if the person taking it is not careful. This left Ronda exposed for Alexa to sneak in and attack her; and it was as vulnerable as Rousey has looked to this point. Though, the “danger” with bringing Rousey in is simple. Experienced watchers know there is no way for Alexa Bliss to kick Ronda Rousey’s ass. It will still lead to something fun next week. Ronda’s first televised match on Monday Night Raw!

Our other recess segment involved the newly “friended” Sasha Banks and Bailey taking on the Riott Squad. Maybe it’s because I’m one of the biggest practical Sasha marks out there. I noticed my girl wasn’t wearing her typical jewelry to the ring? In a twinnish wardrobe, the “besties” looked very good once again, dismantling Logan & Morgan. For everyone losing their minds over why this is happening, RELAX, we’ve got three months to figure this out. As for Evolution itself, I will have more to say down the road.

Sadly, a couple of nondescript moments this week. First, is Jinder Mahal finally finding his place as a glorified jobber? I can only hope. The Indian Brooklyn Brawler was placed in a match with Brawn Strowman. He actually won by count out because Kevin Owens is a great instigator, and Stephanie McMahon is reading my stuff! Quoting Mr. Stevens: YOU’RE WELCOME! As we all know, Steph hates baby faces. Why not put Strowman and Owens in a match for the Money in The Bank Briefcase at SummerSlam? I’m taking full credit for this. Steph, where’s my cut? Something I cannot take credit for? Apollo Crews Beating Akam of The Authors of Pain because we have nothing else for these guys to do. My sincere apologies.

Two promos to set up other matches at The Biggest Party of The Summer. First, Elias was talking up his “album” while executing his tweener promo to perfection. Of course, Miami sets up for a Rock shout out. The Guitar Man made one mistake, mentioning Bobby Lashley. The Army Veteran came down to confront him. After a root canal of a segment that saw Lashley try to sing; not a work, he took a guitar shot to the back. Why not have a program between these guys? Elias is getting more mileage out of this then some initially thought, and he’s getting better. Next, we go to the locker room where Mojo Rawley is running down the carpenters. Easy jock, you’ve beaten two of them in a month. In a very 3 o’clock High moment, Robert Roode walks up. “Wanna say that to me?” fists start flying. The Canadian deserves more. This is better than nothing.

Can someone PLEASE explain the fascination with The B-Team? Comedy doesn’t sell. Painful is unwatchable. These guys have legacies that should get them passed The Three Stooges “What the Hell are we doing?” phase. Sheep hate everything, and these guys are over like it’s 1988? Dallas & Axel are better than clowns in the ring, right Charles? Anyway, Tag Champs are cutting a typical gee whiz promo when they are interrupted twice. The Deleters of Worlds come to run them down again, while The Revival follow suit with the former champions. This leads to a tag match between both contending teams with The B-Team on commentary. Stop the presses! The Revival win clean with A Shatter Machine! Guessing this sets up a Triple-Threat at SummerSlam for RAW Tag-Team Gold?

Final televised athletic competition of the night found Seth Rollins taking on Drew Galloway. Dolph Ziggler would involve himself as usual. This was a fantastic match, faster than normal because the boys got squeezed for Lesnar. Galloway is a physical freak, and Rollins can push anybody at this point. Speaking of which, he hit The Curb Stomp and Ziggles jumped in before he could complete the clean pin. Seth Rollins got the win by DQ. He later got jumped backstage while cutting a promo. Ambrose is healthy. Maybe next week? Hang in there Brickyard! For WWE, South Beach got a very good show. Florida itself has am awesome Territorial History. This time, Vinnie added another solid night to a proud legacy.


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MadMan: She’s Handing Out Blues Better Than A Namesake Will

Madman decided to follow his blue dragon back towards the titans! Let’s see what black magic he weaves in this edition.

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Madman decided to follow his blue dragon back towards the titans! Let’s see what black magic he weaves in this edition.

I may not be in regular rotation, but when they give me a chair, I swing for my fences. As a decades-long consumer of the art, I don’t have many left. The only Home Runs WWE has placed within my scope, can be found in Women’s Division on both Monday Night Raw & SmackDown Live.

The year I began watching wrestling, some very interesting circumstances took place surrounding cable television. WTBS; (Atlanta), WAS the home of The NWA’s Jim Crockett Promotions. At least until “Black Saturday,” which ultimately saw Vinnie Jr. Hijack the famous 6:05 time slot. This nearly cause riots among cable viewers opposed to McMahon’s product and presentation.

Though the million dollar ransom The Crocketts paid to get their flagship spot back on the dial gave the head of Titan Sports the backbone to finance WrestleMania, which helped to wreck most of the territories. Hell, it can be argued somewhat convincingly upon its 30th Anniversary, Vince himself ruined his biggest display’s pristine intentions for two consecutive years with Lesnar beating the streak instead of Bray Wyatt; and, Sting losing his ONLY Mania match because someone else had the right bride on their marriage license.

Despite the objections of both smarks and sheep in certain cases, we must respect the history of this pop culture institution. IF WrestleMania is Woodstock, it is only appropriate that Tito Santana opened the show with a victory!

In recent years, there has been only one person on The Main Roster who has matched the swag of Santana’s initial accomplishment without even trying, and she wrestled in the last Mania Match I cared about. Finally got tired of giving fans The Blues. She’s ready to deal some out in the form of steel chairs and God knows what else.

“Cut Her talent LOOSE!” We kept screaming. “A REAL run with Gold, PLEASE?” Like a kid aching just before Christmas. As with Solis, she was a true pro, until the strangest thing I’ve ever seen in the modern art form washed over us.

Fans and insiders alike FORGOT about Social Media! Don’t get me wrong, it’s still here. Can’t get away from it. Hell, I’m doing a roll-in on the internet right now! If you’ve been fans of us long enough, you’ll realize that last sentence was not a botch! Seriously, this thing felt like the territories back in the day. No one knew a damn thing! Even some of those paid to know were flipping a coin every five minutes. Thanks for the constant stress, you ancient prick!

Come on folks. If you know my current wrestling HEART at all, you KNEW the last Chair Shot on her return was coming from her Super Mark in Middle America! When older dudes at this circus describe what true fandom is like; they’ll often say: “That’s bulls***, that’s bulls***, that’s bulls***, BUT THAT’S REAL!”

For her boatloads of fans and the woman herself, Christmas is here! The Stamford’s latest Blues enthusiast is very real, And WWE’s Black Magic Woman IS BACK! Line ’em up. they’re all falling. Charlotte & Ronda too. To The Man and those in charge of her Twitter Account, thanks for keeping the possibility top of mind when things first got weird. We never gave up, but you will! MISSED YOU LADY BANKS!


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Mad Man’s Spinal Tap & 20 Questions

Back to back weeks we see the Mad Man come to play in our sandbox. Does this article go to 11? Are the retread concepts, just hollow nowadays?

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Back to back weeks we see the Mad Man come to play in our sandbox! Does this article go to 11?

When you have decades of experience watching the art form, your eyes and thought processes change. It’s the reason my colleagues can break down pending news and angles we haven’t seen yet. Mr. Meltzer made a cottage industry out of it. A ton of people on The Internet are trying to follow suit. Then, there are fans like me. As much as I love twitter, Professional Wrestling fans were never meant to receive “spoilers” every day.

This is NOT a “Back in my day…” thing. My eyes have changed too. However, I am focused more on WWE’s calendar when watching Stamford’s offering. If I think about wrestling. it’s very simple. My suspension of disbelief is gone for very few performers. In fact, I would say it’s gone for most fans. If we know it’s a work, why are scripts and outcomes still based on the assumption that we don’t? If I have seen a gimmick before, I am VERY hard to impress. Make me believe you can beat somebody; and stand out doing so, or I will chew you up and spit you the Hell out.

For those who say I should keep my mouth shut because I can’t perform and never have, I DON’T CARE! Saint Dave gets a pass, and y’all still watch the current product like his lap dogs and clones, despite “knowing’ the outcome? I don’t watch for the outcome anymore. Based on character development and pushes, I can see that coming. Call me a hypocrite and I will play 20 Questions with you. Can you get me to the finish line without looking like an idiot or a laughable copy of someone else?

Su Yung is 5’6’’ish. Marks and sheep world wide are transfixed and petrified? Make up aside, why? She is impersonating three legends with no unique move set and doing it very badly. Without her zombies, can she beat anybody? Mr. Calloway used druids. He was 6’10’’ and did not need them to kick your ass. Mick Foley put himself and you through HELL before using The Mandible Claw. You had no choice but to take it. The Great Muta was arguably the best Rising Sun performer of all time. He had a move set most American fans had never seen before. The Mist was believable in his hands because audience and opponent were spinning trying to keep up with him. Where is Su Yung’s Mysticism? As much as fans love her, there are no OMG moments in her matches, and her gimmick is predicated on them.

She is far from the only example. Twitter went crazy about a month ago because a top name on the indies put something in her opponent’s mouth during a match. Outside of a prison fight, when would this EVER HAPPEN? Why is this necessary? If this is a work, why would any girl allow someone to do this? Tell me why either woman gets hired again without the parrot response? Same question applies to Joseph. Dude ain’t pickin’ up anybody like that in real life. I dare him to pick my wheelchair up with his finish. He would be in traction.

Tony Schiavone is our crazy wrestling fan uncle. Our memories of him when we were kids and teenagers all ROCK! He is without question one of the best to ever call the action. God Bless Conrad Flair for bringing him back to the art form. Among other fun stuff, he now does commentary for MLW. With tongue firmly planted in cheek; I must say, I have a slight problem with him. I understand that it is his job. He continues to put MJF over because?? I get the gimmick. It’s just OLD! He is ripping off The Miz. One look at him, and you can see that. “I have more money than you.” So did DiBiase. And if you did, you wouldn’t need the $50.00 a night you made before Tony started calling your matches because you’d be paying him. Just wait until Mike retires before you go to New York.

Finally, we arrive at the biggest tent. Vinnie’s circus was on The West Coast in The House of Hot Rod & Billy Jack Haynes. Sheep under 25 are now asking a three-worded question. The only help you’ll get from me is to say that he may have been the father of Modern Independent Wrestling. Sometimes, it wasn’t his choice, and he is still fighting demons today.

Back to this week. Didn’t Spinal Tap all stand in the Center Ring around a month ago and do a babyface promo? “It’s our fault. We’ll do better for you. This is YOUR product.” First, I believe Stephanie as a babyface as much as I believe Saint Richard as a babyface. Shut up and go home as a shoot. Second, as big a moron as Vince is, he’s NOT leaving the person carrying the big top out of WrestleMania! Outside of the obvious, Becky’s leg is a work. SHE WAS LIMPING ON THE WRONG ONE ON MONDAY! Seth Rollins is hurt as a shoot. He WASN’T at Monday Night Raw. If Becky wasn’t cleared, she wouldn’t be on either show. So WHY is everybody going apes*** over this?

Sometimes, I can’t tell which group is Spinal Tap?

Is it the group on stage or the sheep who believe what they’re watching? I truly wish this art form was treated more like real competition.


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