You’re Sweet

You’re a sweet boy
But you don’t have a clue
You can’t read minds
What is wrong with you?
You got a little nosy
And I didn’t approve
Let this be a lesson
Beware your next move

You’re a sweet boy
But you don’t know shit
Compassionate to a fault
You just don’t quit
Your innocent queries
Are incredibly offensive
Is it any wonder
I feel so apprehensive

You’re a sweet boy
And I know you mean well
But trying to understand me
Just makes me want to yell
When I’m deliberately vague
You should stop being so curious
Do the opposite of what you’re thinking
And I won’t be so furious

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, March 14, 2015
2:47 a.m.

Published in: on March 14, 2015 at 2:47 am  Comments (5)  

9 Terrible WrestleMania Matches (Part Two)

5. Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg (WrestleMania 20)

Wrestling fans love thinking up fantasy matches.  Hulk Hogan vs. John Cena.  Steve Austin vs. CM Punk.  So, when the WWE booked WCW legend Bill Goldberg against The Next Big Thing Brock Lesnar for WrestleMania XX back in 2004, it looked like a dream come true.

Under normal circumstances, it probably would’ve been.  But the match was doomed long before it ever happened.

Word had gotten out that Goldberg had not renewed his contract.  A week before the event, Lesnar announced he wasn’t planning to return, either.  (He was fed up working through injuries on a full-time schedule.)  The fact that both men were planning to have their final WWE match together at WrestleMania made their pairing all the more anticlimactic.  With no title on the line and no real interesting story to tell in the ring, despite months of slowly laying the groundwork for it, disaster was inevitable.

Despite the presence of Stone Cold Steve Austin (who had wrestled his own final match at WM 19 in a losing affair against The Rock) as special guest referee, neither Goldberg nor Lesnar looked the least bit interested in working that night.  In fact, the match took forever to get going which greatly annoyed the impatient Madison Square Garden audience.  As they booed and chanted negatively throughout the punishingly long 13-minute encounter, Goldberg finally ended it with a Jackhammer.

When Austin delivered his finisher, the Stone Cold Stunner, to both men afterwards, it got the only positive reaction.  While Goldberg hasn’t worked a match since, despite giving the crowd the double bird that night, Lesnar would eventually return under surprisingly welcome circumstances in 2012.  Two years later, he demolished John Cena to become the current WWE World Heavyweight Champion.

6. Aki Bono “sumo wrestles” The Big Show (WrestleMania 21)

When Cody Rhodes was the InterContinental Champion in 2012, he began mocking his WrestleMania 28 challenger over his lack of success at the Showcase of the Immortals by showing highlights of his failures.  One of those failures was an embarrassingly worked sumo wrestling match in 2005 with Japanese legend Aki Bono.

Dressed in traditional garb, The Big Show’s less-than-spectacular ass was singled out in particular for ruthless mockery.  It also didn’t help that in very short order, after a few needless delays, Bono ultimately threw him out of the ropeless ring.

On a night that saw both John Cena and Batista get their first world title pushes, this was not The Big Show’s time to shine.  As for the match itself, let’s be blunt here.  It was filler.

7. Jerry “The King” Lawler vs. Michael Cole (WrestleMania 27)

Good Lord, where to begin with this travesty?  During the first season of NXT, back when it was a competition show to find the next breakout superstar, play-by-play commentator Michael Cole suddenly starting taking a serious dislike to contestant Daniel Bryan.  Cole’s new heel turn would soon see him repeatedly butt heads with longtime broadcast partner, Jerry Lawler, on Monday Night Raw.  They would often bicker over the merits of then-WWE Champion The Miz.

After Cole cost The King his last opportunity to win the WWE Championship (and even brought up his mother who had just died prior to the 2011 Elimination Chamber pay-per-view in an interview), both men were booked in a grudge match at WrestleMania 27.  Jack Swagger helped train Cole for the event.

Cole was so worried that Lawler would thrash him at the announce table he started broadcasting in a glass box nicknamed the Colemine.  When it was their turn to fight, Cole came out in a ridiculously bright orange amateur onesie complete with old-school protective head gear.  Much like Brock Lesnar & Goldberg seven years earlier, there wasn’t a lot of early physical contact as special guest referee Stone Cold Steve Austin oversaw this pitiful display.  But Cole did yammer away at Lawler on the mic for a bit.

In the end, Lawler got a submission victory.  But thanks to the actions of the Anonymous Raw General Manager (that awful laptop computer gimmick), the decision was reversed and Cole won by DQ.  (Austin apparently got too involved for the GM’s liking.)  The feud dragged on needlessly for two more pay-per-views.  (To be fair, I did like the Extreme Rules match that also involved Swagger and Jim Ross.)  It only ended when Cole apologized to Lawler after tasting The King’s foot following another painful match at Over The Limit.  Cole’s heel character was thankfully discontinued in the fall of 2012.

8. John Cena vs. The Rock (WrestleMania 29)

They lied to us.  When the WWE began a year-long build for the main event of WrestleMania 28, they said John Cena facing The Rock was Once In A Lifetime.  But after The Rock won the WWE Championship from CM Punk in a mostly forgettable affair at the 2013 Royal Rumble and after Cena won the Rumble match itself, the rematch was on.

And what a disappointing rematch it was.  While their first encounter was good rather than great, number two felt very derivative and stale with no innovation or exciting spots.  (It didn’t help matters that Rock got seriously hurt in the middle of it.)  The backstory involved Cena having a bad year after losing to The Rock.  His marriage ended and he wasn’t able to win a championship in all of 2012.  Now the WWE Champion, The Rock simply wanted to prove that he could beat Cena again.

Despite their endlessly entertaining promos during this much shorter build to their rematch, the result of this title bout, like Hogan/Slaughter in 1991, was as predictable as it comes.  After outsmarting The Rock in the finish, Cena became the champion again.

The next night on Raw, Brock Lesnar was supposed to start a year-long build with Rock that would’ve culminated in a match at WrestleMania 30.  But because the former champ needed immediate surgery for his injury, that was completely cancelled.  The consequences of this cancellation would be felt the following year.

9. Brock Lesnar vs. The Undertaker (WrestleMania 30)

With The Rock out for WrestleMania 30, Lesnar needed a new opponent.  Although The Undertaker reportedly requested a match with Daniel Bryan, he got The Beast Incarnate instead.  (Bryan, of course, had a superb match with Triple H and went on to beat Randy Orton & Batista in a satisfying triple threat main event for the WWE World Heavyweight title.)

As the build began, Lesnar’s mouthpiece Paul Heyman began declaring that his “carnivore” would finally end The Dead Man’s long running WrestleMania streak.  At that point, Taker was 21-0.  Lesnar started wearing a t-shirt that said, “Eat. Sleep. Conquer The Streak.”  During one of his last promos before the event, Heyman said that Lesnar winning the match was not a promise, it was “a spoiler”.

Much to the utter shock of many, he was right.  Lesnar would indeed be the “1 in 21-1”.  I’ve noted in this space before how The Streak should and would be broken at some point.  But by an established talent like Lesnar who didn’t need any more heat in a match that was astoundingly slow and plodding without any real memorable spots?  Quite frankly, The Dead Man truly looked dead out there.  The remarkable energy he exhibited in his classic WM battles with Triple H & Shawn Michaels alone was glaringly absent at WrestleMania 30.  Taker’s WM 29 match with CM Punk was so much better.  After so many years of defying his age, it had finally caught up to him.

So, why did Vince McMahon decide to kill The Streak?  To jolt the floundering WWE Network, of course, which had just launched after a two-year delay.  It was a bad move, though.  Having lost half his fortune McMahon is now no longer a billionaire (I know, boo hoo).  But more importantly, he took away one of the easiest selling points of WrestleMania.  With Taker scheduled to take on Bray Wyatt at WrestleMania 31, imagine how much more compelling it could be if The Phenom had everything to lose and The New Face Of Fear had everything to gain.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, March 4, 2015
9:54 p.m.

Published in: on March 4, 2015 at 9:55 pm  Comments (1)  

9 Terrible WrestleMania Matches (Part One)

Steamboat vs. Savage.  Austin vs. Hart.  HBK vs. The Undertaker.

Three great feuds that inspired several classic matches on the grandest stage of them all.  For 30 years, WrestleMania has showcased some of the greatest one-on-one encounters in the history of professional wrestling, memorable battles that have lived on beyond their original pay-per-view airings.

Sadly, not every match in its history has gone so smoothly.  Throughout the decades, the Showcase of the Immortals has had its fair share of athletic fumbles, ill-fated encounters that suffered from bad bookings, missed spots, heatless programs & indifferent, apathetic superstars.

Here are 9 such examples presented in chronological order:

1. Mr. T “boxing” Rowdy Roddy Piper (WrestleMania 2)

The main event of the Long Island, New York portion of the second WrestleMania was a return match of sorts between two of the participants in the main event of the original WrestleMania.  In 1985, Rowdy Roddy Piper teamed with “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff to face Hulk Hogan & A-Team star Mr. T.  Hogan & T got the win in a fun, entertaining tag match which helped begin the WWF’s launch beyond its then-territorial boundaries.  The following year, for some reason, Piper & T were booked in a “boxing” match for WM 2.  (Of course, T played Clubber Lang in Rocky III but still.)

The renewed rivalry began in February 1986 when Piper’s bodyguard “Cowboy” Bob Orton suddenly decided he wanted to box.  On his behalf, Piper challenged anyone to be his opponent.  Thanks to Hogan outsmarting Hot Rod during a Piper’s Pit segment Mr. T was one of two men who accepted.  (Jose Luis Rivera was the first.  He lost.)  The result was a briefly worked match on Saturday Night’s Main Event which ended after 2 rounds.  T won when Orton was knocked out of the ring.  (Yes, he won by count-out.)

After the match, Hot Rod kneed him from behind and with Orton now back in the ring holding him down, Piper whipped T with his own belt.  On a different Piper’s Pit during a weekly TV taping, Piper & Orton gave T’s friend, The Haiti Kid (a little person), an unwanted Mohawk haircut as a “tribute” to him.  Then, during a pre-taped segment on another weekly broadcast, Piper visited “the A-Team set” where T had to be held back by his entourage after Hot Rod repeatedly insulted him.

Piper & T didn’t have to fake their intense hatred for each other.  It was very real.  So, why were they stuck in a contrived boxing match where both men were booked to routinely pull their punches?  Wouldn’t a true contest have made more sense and been far more engrossing than a storytelling exhibition?

At any event, by today’s standards, the actual four-round match was a disappointing disaster.  No devastating punches were ever thrown.  Late in the bout, T was supposed to nail Piper with a roundhouse which would knock him right out of the ring.  Unfortunately, when he threw the punch, T came nowhere near Hot Rod’s face who overcompensated by overselling the miss.  When an enraged Piper returned to the ring, he threw his corner stool as hard as he could at a puzzled T.  The match ended when Piper bodyslammed T, causing a DQ.

How badly did the Nassau Coliseum react to the match after it ended?  They chanted “Roddy!  Roddy!” as Piper & Orton left the ring.  That’s right.  They rooted for the villain who lost.  After a brief hiatus, Piper would begin his first of many short-term babyface runs.  Despite a short return as a referee “enforcer” in 1989, T would never work a WWE match again.  On the plus side, he did get inducted into the WWE Hall Of Fame.

2. Hulk Hogan vs. Sgt. Slaughter (WrestleMania 7)

The Ultimate Warrior was supposed to be the man, the top babyface in the WWF.  After getting the ultimate push, a world title victory over Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania VI no less, the plan was for him to have a long title reign.

But Warrior was no Hogan.  And so, at the 1991 Royal Rumble, after just 9 months as champion, the villainous Sgt. Slaughter dethroned him, thanks to the constant interference of Macho King Randy Savage & Sensational Queen Sherri.

With Warrior & Savage set on a collision course for WM VII, Hogan was booked to take on Slaughter, the American military man who absurdly supported Saddam Hussein in the first Iraq War, in the main event.  (His considerable mic skills made up for this implausible heel turn.)

With next to no suspense, Hogan & Slaughter wasted 20 minutes of the audience’s time in this seriously underwhelming title match.  (How many times do we need to see Slaughter thrown chest-first into those soft turnbuckles?)  Warrior & Savage’s “retirement” battle proved to be far more gripping & memorable.  It also had an awesome post-match segment.  (Elizabeth rescued a defeated Savage from a vindictive Sherri and then they reconciled through a touching embrace.)

Put simply, Hogan & Slaughter could not compete with them.  In the end, as expected, Hogan became a three-time WWF Champion.  It was less of a big deal than his two previous title triumphs.  And despite the Gulf War already being over a month before WrestleMania VII even happened, the feud dragged on til late summer.  Slaughter would eventually realize his mistake, beg for forgiveness and become a ‘face again.

3. The Undertaker vs. Giant Gonzalez (WrestleMania 9)

Long before The Streak became an annual WrestleMania storyline filled with exciting, first-rate matches, The Phenom participated in plenty of snoozers.  None was worst than his sluggish confrontation with Giant Gonzalez in 1993.

Manager Harvey Wippleman had previously sent Kamala The Ugandan Giant after him in 1992 to no avail.  Now it was the nearly 8-foot Gonzalez’ turn to take on The Dead Man.  (The feud began when he eliminated Taker from the 1993 Royal Rumble match without actually being an official entrant.)

Gonzalez was not known for his speed or scientific ability.  He was slow as shit and moved awkwardly on his feet.  Despite the valiant effort of The Undertaker to try to get something going with him, this was a loser right from the get-go.  It ended mercifully when Gonzalez got disqualified for smothering him with a cloth soaked in chloroform (I’m not kidding) handed to him by Wippleman, one of the rare times an Undertaker WrestleMania encounter didn’t end with a pin or submission.

After seemingly being knocked out for a short while and stretchered out to the back The Undertaker would eventually return to beat on Gonzalez in an extended post-match scrum that was only slightly better than their actual boring match.  It would be many years before Taker would start having great WrestleMania matches.  Sadly, Gonzalez died in 2010.

4. Hulk Hogan vs. Yokozuna (WrestleMania 9)

Oh brother.  Bret “The Hitman” Hart had just dropped the WWF Championship to the 1993 Royal Rumble winner Yokozuna in the main event of WrestleMania 9, thanks to Mr. Fuji throwing salt in the champ’s eyes while he had the challenger in the sharpshooter, which should’ve been the end of the much maligned Vegas show.

But it wasn’t.  Just before the match got started, Hulk Hogan declared his intention to challenge the winner of this title bout.  After Yoko’s victory, out he came to check on Hart outside of the ring.  Hart motioned for him to take on the new champion.  Fuji accepted his challenge on behalf of Yoko.  In less than 30 seconds, Hogan was once again the WWF Champion.  Hart has long complained about this booking and with good reason.  (Hart claims he was supposed to face Hogan but the Immortal One was against the idea.)  Why take away Yokozuna’s greatest professional moment with a deflating squash during the WWF’s biggest show of the year?  And honestly, why did Hogan, who failed to win the tag titles with Brutus Beefcake in their WM match against Money Inc., need another title run at this stage of his career?

Just a few months later, however, Yokozuna would thankfully regain the title at King Of The Ring 1993.  After a proper title run, he would eventually drop it back to Hart at WrestleMania X.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, March 4, 2015
9:00 p.m.

Published in: on March 4, 2015 at 9:00 pm  Comments (1)