Kayfabe Forever, Episode 13 04/06/18: WELCOME TO WRESTLEMANIA (WEEKEND)!

Unlike the stupidity surrounding the potential Undertaker and John Cena match, I’m not just teasing, I’m delivering! Join me as I talk myself into picking winners for every single match across this weekend’s most high-profile events: NXT Takeover: New Orleans and Wrestlemania 34. I also get a little cranky when talking about the battle royals and again towards the end when I discuss the whole Undertaker/Cena thing, so apologies in advance! Kayfabe Forever Episode 13: It’s What the World Is Listening To!

 

Kayfabe Thoughts: Raw is Bore…

WWE has a problem. The “go home” episode of Raw, the Raw that is supposed to set the table for half the Wrestlemania card’s matches (not to mention 2 matches that might potentially be the main event), was a total snore last night.

Don’t get me wrong, there were some good moments (Finn and Seth with Miz on commentary was pitch perfect), but by and large the second most important Raw episode of the year took a very safe, paint-by-numbers approach to match making and booking. In fact, the shot sheet for the show found its way into the hands of Fightful.com’s Sean Ross Sapp well in advance of show time and the show was note for note as he reported.

Now, Wrestlemania is the biggest wrestling show of the year for WWE, and in order for WWE to achieve the level of spectacle that “The Super Bowl of Wrestling” demands, WWE must protect storylines that, in some cases, have been planned meticulously for up to a year.

I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to book a tank for a party at the last minute, but it’s not an easy thing to do. It’s not like you can just call “Tanks R Us” and somebody will show up an hour later with an Abrams. You have to plan that out well in advance.

It’s also a bit unfair to expect much match variety and excitement from this Raw. The last thing that WWE wants to do is have a superstar booked in a high-profile match to be injured performing a high-risk spot less than a week before the biggest show of the year. Likewise, talent don’t want to find themselves missing out on the year’s most lucrative payday.

Future WWE Hall of Famer Bubba Ray Dudley shared similar thoughts on his Twitter feed last night after the match between Finn Balor and Seth Rollins concluded, saying “The #RAW and #SDLive before ‘Mania are probably the most “nerve wracking” shows of the year because no-one wants to get hurt before the big one.”

So, if the storylines are baked and the in-ring performances play it safe, what makes it to air must be crisp and interesting and that is where Raw failed last night.

The in-ring work last night was largely solid. Most of the blame lays with the continued lazy booking and writing of the creative team. Unfortunately, clunky promos meant opportunities to heighten interest further were missed.

For example, Nia Jax’s interview segment with Renee Young may have been the best thing we’ve seen during her time in WWE and was among the high points of the show. Nia was at the same time vulnerable and strong, fiercely focused on getting revenge on her former best friend Alexa Bliss.

On the other side of the story, Alexa delivered what I consider one of her worst promos, punctuated by the WWE’s continued use of pop-up, bold font text. As in previous weeks, Bliss and Mickie James again poorly delivered the content of this Mean Girls like program, being more shrill and whiney than Regina George cutting and cruel.

What’s most troubling is that lately it feels like Alexa’s standing with the crowd might be suffering as a result of this booking, as her once narcissistic but charming character is receiving a bit of the infamous X-Pac “GO HOME!” heat from the crowd. Hopefully, once this story has run its course that the character recovers and no long-term damage has been done, because Alexa Bliss has developed into a bankable villainess on the main roster in a way unseen during her time in NXT.

Finally, the John Cena/Undertaker program still continues to confound much of the WWE Universe. Weeks of Cena calling out the Undertaker on Raw still ultimately led to nothing in return from the Deadman. With less than a week to go before Wrestlemania, WWE’s biggest star of the last decade and a half still has no opponent.

Personally, I’m in favor of the Undertaker continuing to remain retired, as last year’s swan song with Reigns at least made up for the uneven performances of the previous few appearances while providing a proper sendoff. However, the persistent, somewhat desperate pleas from Cena made a return seem imminent but still only silence. Ultimately, if there is no resolution here, if Big Evil and Super Cena don’t come face to face on the grandest stage of them all, fans will be left asking what all of that posturing was for if not a match between the two icons?

Of course, all of this will be forgiven if the payoffs for all these angles live up to their potential on Sunday, and I can’t wait to find out how Smackdown Live unfolds tonight.

WWE needs to be wary of the potholes on the home stretch of the Road to Wrestlemania. McMahon and company just need to keep their eyes and ears alert along the way.

Thanks for reading!

Kayfabe Thoughts: The Best Wrestling Week of the Year!

My 8 year old son loves the holiday season. Beginning on November 1, as he comes down from the candy high of Halloween the night before, he begins his countdowns: the first to Thanksgiving and then the big one to Christmas. His excitement grows every day as he anticipates the upcoming time with his extended family and, of course, the gifts. When Christmas finally comes, he wakes up early and with more enthusiasm than for any other day, determined to milk every moment out of the day he knows he only gets one time each year.

That’s me (and probably you, too) this week.

Get excited: it’s Wrestlemania week!

There are nearly 50 wrestling or wrestling-related events going on in New Orleans from promotions big and small. From NXT: Takeover and the flagship to “Pancakes and Piledrivers” presented by Pro Wrestling Revolver and WrestleCon; and even as far out as Kaiju Big Battel there is truly something for everyone to enjoy. Fans from around the world make plans up to a year in advance to attend, planning out their itineraries more meticulously than my wife planned our first trip to Disney World, in order to take in as much as possible and make memories that last a lifetime.

For those lucky enough to be in attendance, 3 things are for certain: sleep will be minimal; relationships will be tested; wrestling will be consumed.

Those of us who cannot attend will still find plenty of ways to take in as much as possible, pushing our ISP download speeds and couch cushions to their limits in the process. We can do so thanks to the number of streaming services offered these days by various wrestling promotions willing to take our money. While I can’t physically be present to see Cody and Kenny battle for Bullet Club supremacy (Bullet Club is FINE!), I can watch it all go down live for just $9.99 a month from the comfort of my own home.

Ah the internet: not just for porn anymore.

And the internet will be there for all of us fans, allowing those in attendance and those on their couches to give us their hottest takes about the week’s happenings, both real and fictional. Nope, scuttlebutt isn’t just for Meltzer anymore. Fans will take to Twitter and Periscope to tell us about how they had a friend who hooked up with a WWE creative team member and they saw the official match order and OMG Nakamura/Styles is on the pre-show and Alexa/Nia is going on last. They will tell us they saw Kenny kiss Kota outside a sex club on Bourbon St the night before SoH.

And we will eat that shit up, RTing and favoriting faster than a strike from Asuka and with less regard for the source than a GTS from KENTA.

We will also do our best to not just use wrestling’s biggest stage (bought and paid for by wrestling’s 800lb gorilla the WWE) as a platform to bring more people into wrestling’s fold, but we will use it as a device to continue to fracture and disenfranchise existing fans. We love to hate on each other in the name of what we think is the best way, instead of appreciating the differences between each promotion’s approach to booking their business.

There is nothing quite like the irony of someone in an Okada shirt berating a person in a Roman Reigns shirt because “Roman isn’t good. He’s just shoved down our throats every week.” It’s really quite breathtaking, but mostly it’s frustrating. One of my favorite places to browse for wrestling thoughts and ideas is r/SquaredCircle, but this week, I’ll try to avoid it. During this week, reason gets replaced by irrationality and flame wars abound. Still, to loosely quote the WWE philosophy, a negative reaction is still better than indifference, and there will be none of that to be found.

Still, there is so much more good than bad that will happen this week and, as always, I’m ready for it. Truthfully, I’ve been waiting for it since last year’s ended.

The best wrestling week of the year begins with excitement for ALL THE WRESTLING, ends after next Tuesday’s Smackdown with a feeling of gluttonous exhaustion from TOO MUCH GODDAMN WRESTLING, and usually features an apology to my wife somewhere in between.

Maybe I should go ahead and post a spoiler that the apology is coming via some theater tickets and a nice meal now?

Nah. Plans might change…

Thanks for reading!

 

Kayfabe Forever, Episode 12 03/30/18: Wrestlemania XIV 20th Anniversary Edition

With the height of wrestling season upon us, while others may Punch Out!!!, I’m punching in to bring you this week’s episode celebrating the 20th Anniversary of Wrestlemania XIV. I’ll take you through all the highs (Undertaker/Kane!!!), lows (Marco? Mero!), and groans (Gennifer Flowers) of this truly industry-changing event.

THE LINKS!

Fightful’s Brandon Howard wrote an excellent piece about Wrestlemania’s Business Stats that I found very insightful and it provided me with the financial info I mention about WMXIV early in the show. You should read it!

Here is the video of Undertaker’s WMXIV entrance featuring “O Fortuna”. So very cool.

An incredible promo featuring some great wrestling stars from the WWF’s early days. I forgot to mention Killer Kowalski is featured in this video, too. Watch it and know that  Vinny Mac’s eyes will well up with tears!

I mentioned that I’m writing an opinion column for NODQ.com now. Check them out over here!

 

Kayfabe Forever, Episode 11 – 03/24/18: Between The Rock and a Stone Cold Place

Oh hell yeah! Kayfabe Forever is back from a work-induced hiatus with the story of most electrifying trilogy of Wrestlemania matches in the history of sports entertainment: The Austin/Rock trilogy! I’ll take you from the roots of this rivalry as an IC title feud all the way through Austin’s final match at WMXIX, with plenty of clips included so you can experience again the moments as they happened. We’re on the Road to Wrestlemania, but take a detour down Jabroni Dr and stop off at the Smackdown Hotel.

THE LINKS!

The best thing Limp Bizkit ever did was allow their songs to be used by WWE. This promo package for the Wrestlemania X7 match between Austin and Rock is awesome. Watch it here!

One of the best sing alongs in the history of sing alongs. This is the full segment that is not available on “The Network” currently.

“The Mania of Wrestlemania” is one of the best things the WWE has ever produced and clearly influenced the popular 24/7 series on “The Network”. In addition to the behind the scenes stuff with Rock and Austin, there are some candid moments from the Undertaker, Kurt Angle, and Brock Lesnar. It’s worth your time.

 

Kayfabe Forever, Episode 10 03/09/18: Wrestlemania IV 30th Anniversary Edition

Wrestlemania IV is “What the World Is Watching” on March 27, 1988, and this year’s edition of the Colossal Tussle would feature a tournament for the vacant WWF World Heavyweight Championship. In this episode, we’ll take a No Holds Barred look at why they WWF found their championship vacated, for both kayfabe and real-life reasons, and review the entire card of Wrestlemania IV along with who wins it all.  A winner is YOU, this week on Kayfabe Forever!

THE LINKS!

Fightful’s Brandon Howard wrote an excellent piece about Wrestlemania’s Business Stats that I found very insightful and it provided me with the financial info I mention about WMIV early in the show. You should read it!

There is a great list of all the WWF supercards and tournaments, and the match order and times for a whole slew of PPVs over at prowrestlinghistory.com. Check out the bracket by clicking here!

If you want to buy No Holds Barred, you can do so via Amazon by clicking here (I don’t have a linked page or get any kickbacks, just so you know.)

…before you buy NHB, please check it out on Rotten Tomatoes first!

Bob Uecker gets choked by Andre the Giant at Wrestlemania IV!

Kayfabe Forever, Episode 9 03/02/18: A Completely Savage Episode

OOH YEAH! This week’s episode is about the one and only Macho Man Randy Savage. I’ll discuss his life and career (ok, I’ll try not to spend too much time on his WCW run) and spend some time breaking down some of his classic matches and feuds along the way. This one takes a little longer to listen to than your average cup of coffee, but I’ve heard that the cream always rises to the top, so give this week’s Kayfabe Forever a listen, DIG IT?

 

Macho Man Randy Savage – “Be A Man” on iTunes

Kayfabe Forever, Episode 8 02/26/18: Where Do Horsemen Come From?

Gather around everyone, it’s time for Episode 8 of Kayfabe Forever! This week,  I’ll tell you a tale of Golden Lovers; Elimination Chambers good and bad; and the cautionary tale of Jim Crockett Promotions: the most talent-rich wrestling promotion ever.

“Mark, where do Horsemen come from?”

“That’s easy, sport: Jim Crockett Promotions!”

All that and more, this week on Kayfabe Forever!

Links:

Jim Crockett Promotions: The Good Old Days documentary on HighspotsWrestlingNetwork.com

Tyson Kidd and Cesaro watch the Elimination Chamber match for the WWE Tag Team Championship

Upcoming Show Schedule:

March 2: Macho Man Randy Savage

March 9: Wrestlemania IV

March 16: Rock/Austin Trilogy of Wrestlemania main event matches

March 23: Wrestlemania XIV

March 30: Andre the Giant

April 6: Wrestlemania’s Top 10 Matches and Wrestlemania 34 preview

Kayfabe Forever, Episode 7 02/15/18: I Hart You!

While recording this episode, I almost lost my smile. Don’t worry: sunny days are ahead for Kayfabe Forever! Join me this week when I talk about the great Bret Hart’s incredible WWF tenure and I take you through some of the “The Hitman’s” greatest matches, some of which you know already and some are lesser known hidden gems. While not exactly excellently executed, this episode of Kayfabe Forever is beyond a shadow of a doubt the longest there is, the longest there was, and the longest there ever will be!

Here is the link to the reddit thread that has the list of Bret Hart matches put together by redditor MatthewMir (H/T to redditor NewSpicey for the rec!)

Kayfabe Forever Special Episode – 02/01/18: SO…MUCH…NEWS…

Since this Friday’s regular episode is all about The Hitman, I went ahead and eliminated the news segment from the show…by making it a stand-alone mini-sode (not a word)! In this special news-isode(also not a word), I’ll talk all about the big weekend that WWE had in Philly and get you up to speed about the latest Bullet Club drama that came out of New Japan’s New Beginning’s event in Sapporo.

Kayfabe Forever, Episode 6 – 1/26/18: Royal Rumblin’, Fumblin’, and Stumblin’

We’re back again this week, with an episode fit for royalty! This week, we’ll talk about the good, bad, and just plain weird of all things Royal Rumble in both our History and Main Event segments. We’ll also discuss the very strange news week that was had by the WWE and look ahead at next week’s very pink episode (hint, hint…). All of that (and some shameless self promotion) on this week’s over the top rope episode of Kayfabe Forever!

Kayfabe Forever, Episode 5 – 1/19/18: Finally The Mark Has Come Back…To Podcasting

They say that you can’t keep a good man down, but the illness running wild through my house sure tried, BROTHER! Kayfabe Forever is back and we’re here to talk 2017’s best wrestlers and matches, along with what we expect in 2018. I’ll also talk about some books (you know, those things you were forced to read in school?) that I read while trying not to tap out to The Reaper, and I’ll recap NJPW’s Wrestle Kingdom 12. This week’s episode is more than just a run-in, so grab your best hold and give it a listen!

Podcast Update: Too Sick, Bro!

Hey!

Unfortunately, the illness that started creeping up on me last week while podcasting has taken my voice completely, so there will be no new show this week. Sorry!

In place of the audio, I will be posting an article as part of the “Kayfabe Thoughts” series. It will be published Thursday morning, when the podcast would normally drop. Check it out then!

Also, we are now on Tune In Radio, just search “Kayfabe Forever” (or click the link here).

Thanks for listening and talk to you soon!

Kayfabe Forever, Episode 4 – 12/21/17: Deck the Hall (of Fame)!

Technological gremlins tried to play Scrooge with this week’s episode, but we said “bah humbug!” to them and prevailed. On this holiday edition of Kayfabe Forever, we’ll talk all about the WWE Hall of Fame. We’ll talk all about the naughty and nice honorees, see who’s stocking might contain an invite soon, and I’ll even play Grinch to some members who maybe should have gotten coal instead of a ring. Toss another Yule Log on the fire (or find that nifty channel on TV that plays it 24/7), pour yourself a hot beverage, and unwrap this week’s Kayfabe Forever!

Kayfabe Forever, Episode 3 – 12/14/17: Kayfabe Forever 4Life!

Hey yo! It’s Episode 3 of Kayfabe Forever and this week is all about factions. In the news segment, I’ll tell you all about the finals of NJPW World Tag League and the fallout from Kenny Omega and Chris Jericho’s first in-ring encounter as well as look ahead to WWE Clash of Champions. This week’s history lesson is about the legendary feud between the Von Erichs and Freebirds. Finally, in the main event, I’ll give you 6 factions that the WWE should be using right now. This episode is just TOO SWEET!

Kayfabe Forever, Episode 2

Check it to wreck it, let’s begin! We’re back for Episode 2 of Kayfabe Forever and this week we are all about tag teams! In the news segment, I’ll talk about some of the latest goings on in New Japan’s annual World Tag League event. In this week’s history lesson, I’ll tell you all about one of the greatest tag team matches EVER. Finally, in the main event, find out who I consider to be the best tag teams of all time! C’mon party people, let’s make like Tom Zenk and hit the HOT TAG, this week on Kayfabe Forever!

Kayfabe Forever, Episode 1 – 11/30/17

Episode 1 of Kayfabe Forever is finally here, and while we might not yet be the cream of the crop, we like to think we are certainly worthy of being snapped into. In this episode, we introduce you to how we think about the silly world of pro wrestling (while making a regrettable middle-initial swap), recap this week’s RAW and Smackdown episodes, and take a walk down memory lane as we revisit Survivor Series 1992. All that and an apology at the end? Yep, there is a lot to be sorry for here, but hopefully also enough to enjoy!

Subscribe to Kayfabe Forever!

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Hey everyone! Now you can subscribe to the Kayfabe Forever podcast via the Apple Podcasts app! We are working hard to get approval from the other podcast providers and will keep you updated as they become available! Click on one of the links below to go to our show page and download the latest episode and subscribe!

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