Monday Night Raw Moves to 3 Hours

With WWE deciding to move their flagship show Monday Night Raw to a new three hour time slot on the USA Network, the online wrestling community has been buzzing at the prospect of an extra hour of action, and a new era of edgy and more creative story lines that none of us have seen since the Attitude Era. I can see the logic folks, I really can, Vince gets an extra hour on the air to put out more content that will speak to the old-school fans, and give them all something that they’ve been crying out for since Stone Cold hung up his boots. With the children gone to bed, happy in the knowledge that the baby faces of the company have won their 5 minute matches against the minnows of the industry who will never get the push that they deserve, the last hour of the show can now shake of the shackles of PG programming, and WWE can show the world that it still has a pair of balls!

However, I am truly sorry to inform all of you that this is just not going happen. There is no chance of it happening my friends, Vince McMahon does not think like this anymore. He last lost touch with the needs of the fan base that made his company what it is today, the smart wrestling fans who remember how good professional wrestling was and still can be if it is ran by competent people. Vince McMahon has a brilliant business mind and an unparalleled work ethic, but even with the best intentions in the world, he is not the man to lead the company anymore.

This extra hour will be devoted to one of two things; either the introduction of a cruiserweight division, or a time slot used to present pre-show or post-show coverage. But what will either of these things achieve? The cruiserweight division has been neglected for far too long, and that has been particularly disappointing seeing as many other companies realised the importance of the cruiserweight talent when it was too late (WCW for one). The idea of pre-show or post-show coverage is something which annoys me even more. Let me put it this way, if you were to have watched a shitty 0-0 draw in a football match, would you stay tuned for an hours discussion about the “action”? No you wouldn’t. It’s not like WWE are coming up with the best story lines or booking the best matches right now, if we’re being honest we spend more time astounded at the fact that we still tune in to this repetitive PG crap than we do digesting the garbage that Vince McMahon is sticking down our throats week-in week-out.

The WWE won’t go out of business anytime soon, there’s no competition! TNA is dying a death, but my God they have some talent that the WWE should be chasing for dear life. The problem is, even if WWE did sign someone like AJ Styles, they’d bury him and leave him to rot on the shelf. WWE Creative just wouldn’t know what to do with him, and Vince probably wouldn’t sanction a good idea that they approached him with.

Take off your rose-tinted glasses folks, things aren’t changing any time soon.

Betting on WWE has arrived!

Betting on WWE is something that has been recently introduced by Paddy Power, and it brings me great joy! They first introduced it for Wrestlemania 28, but I wasn’t able to place a bet while I was in America, even over the Internet! But now that I’m home, once a month I get to sit down and study the prices, check the Twittersphere and get any inside track that is available, before the price compilers at Paddy Power HQ get them.

Extreme Rules was the first PPV I bet on, and I don’t mind telling you that I lost a fortune. I smashed into John Cena to beat Brock Lesnar, and he did, but I also had a double and got involved with a bit of Daniel Bryan action. Silly old me forgot to consider the fact that Sheamus is good buddies with Triple H, and was never gonna drop his title run 1 month after winning it at ‘Mania… Lesson learned!

Over the Limit brought me similar misfortune, but I’m getting very close! I piled money on Johnny Ace to beat Cena, Sheamus to retain, Kane to beat Ryder, and Natalya to beat Beth Phoenix. It was ALL going swimmingly, I was one fight away from winning about €1,500, until… CM Punk versus Daniel Bryan. I was CERTAIN that Bryan would win the belt, it felt right, it was the smart thing to do, but it didn’t happen. Punk won in controversial circumstances, and they’ve set it up for a rematch next month. I felt sick. I was disgusted. Furthermore, I read today on Wrestlezone that the original plan was to have Bryan carry the title for a few months, but they changed it last minute. Never before have I hated WWE Creative so much, they cost me a holiday!

I’m not giving up, I will get it right, I know more than the suits in Paddy Power, especially when it comes to wrestling! Who knows, if things don’t work out in my current job, I might just apply for head of WWE odds compiling at Paddy’s, now that’s what I call a dream job!

WWE? Racist? Surely Not?

In professional wrestling it seems that casual racism is perfectly acceptable. Multi-millionaire Vince McMahon has built a company that turns blatant racism into something that is apparently high in entertainment value.

R-Truth

The most recent example I can think of is the wrestler R-Truth. As a crowd-pleasing gangster-rapper, he was a very popular character, but in order to turn him into a baddie, or ‘heel’, as we wrestling nerds would call it, he took on the persona of someone who was angry at the world and believed there was a conspiracy against him. He began to jump into the crowd, throw drinks on the children, and light up cigarettes on live TV, showing blatant disregard for and social rules and etiquette. This controversial change in persona has on one hand fit in to a very negative stereotype of black people, but on the other it has catapulted him to superstar status. Sadly this isn’t a unique example of the racism that we have seen in the WWF/E over the years.

John Bradshaw Layfield vs. Mexicans

JBL was a well-to-do Texan who claimed to be the ultimate patriot, and we saw how ‘patriotic’ JBL was when we sat on the US/Mexico border looking to catch illegal immigrants trying to come into America. He singled one Mexican out of the ‘herd’ and kicked him to the ground. Very entertaining indeed…

HHH vs Booker T

This one is just disgraceful. Not only does HHH ask Booker T to entertain him and “do a little dance for me” because “that’s what he does,” he goes on to say to Booker T’s job is to make people like him laugh. This promo was steeped in racism and even at a young age I found it very difficult to watch. He made fun of of Booker’s ‘nappy hair’ and kept saying ‘you people’. No justice was served in the end as Triple H retained the title at Wrestlemania despite his horrific comments. How can this happen? It’s almost as if he was sleeping with the boss’s daughter at the time. Oh wait, he was!

As if to spit in Booker T’s face, he was involved in yet another moment of disgrace for the company in this next clip. Vince McMahon was having a backstage chat with then WWE Champion John Cena and asked “What’s good in the hood?” However this was not the moment of shame, though it did make many cringe. Vince then goes on to say, “Keep it up, my n***a!”, with an onlooking Booker T there to hear him say it. Shocking!

WWE is not some racist organisation ran by an evil man. It is however an extremely powerful organisation ran by an idiot. The stereotypes it sets, and the comments it makes do have an impact on viewers. It outrages viewers who are switched on enough to realise how wrong these incidents are, it shows blatant disrespect for and ignorance towards its employees, but most importantly is demonstrates behaviour that young and impressionable children may find acceptable in the real world.

The power and influence of professional wrestling cannot be ignored, the organisation must realise it is neglecting its moral and social duties.

Meeting The Superstars

As always, Anthony managed to get access all areas to the hottest ticket in town! Below are some pictures from Wrestlemania week, but don’t forget to check out the full gallery here, featuring CM Punk and more!

The legend himself, Jim Ross, who is regarded by many as one of the most talented sports commentators of all-time. Behind the scenes, I’ve never spoken to a nicer man, he was very approachable and stopped to chat to me for quite a while. I asked him what his favorite Stone Cold Steve Austin moment was to commentate on, and after a long pause, he told me that it was at Backlash when Austin returned from neck surgery to help the Rock beat Triple H and the rest of the McMahons. I’ll be buying more of his BBQ sauce soon, top bloke!

A man who needs no introduction, The Viper, The Apex Predator, The Legend-Killer! Fresh from the Hall Of Fame ceremony in the American Airlines Arena, Orton was eager to get back to his hotel and have a night of relaxtion, no doubt in anticipation for his excellent match with Kane the following night. Orton was in great form and was happy to give me a few minutes of his time, don’t believe what you read, he is a nice guy even though Justin LaBar might tell you otherwise!

I was sitting in Starbucks in the Intercontinental Hotel Downtown, and the Miz strolled in with his lovely girlfriend Maryse. We sat and had a good chat over a cup of coffee and I told him of the admiration I had for him and the work he has done for the company over the years. He is definitely going to be the face of the WWE when John Cena passes the torch!

John Lauranitis AKA Johnny Ace, the man who has a phone stuck to his hand at all times! Couldn’t have tried any harder to remain in character, but he managed to crack a smile when I asked him how much his phone bill costs every month!

One of my childhood idols, X-Pac! It was a dream to meet the former face of D-Generation X, the greatest faction to ever feature in the WWF/E. He actually approached Isenberg and myself as he had met Isenberg the night before at a pre-‘Mania party. The guy gets a lot of bad press for his personal antics, but he was a real pleasure to meet!

First Blood to Isenberg!

I’ve been called out recently for removing a blog I wrote about my Royal Rumble predictions (this was on a separate website that I contribute to) as my predictions were so off the mark. The person that called me out for it was none other than the bain of my very existence since I have returned from Miami, Josh Isenberg. Much to his delight, I lost a bet at Wrestlemania. The bet was, if the Rock won, I would be forced to re-post a horribly inaccurate blog that contained my predictions for the 2012 Royal Rumble. If John Cena won, I would be a guest-host on Chair Shot Reality the night after Wrestlemania. As the following blog shows, The Rock won, and I now look stupid. But there’s always next years Rumble, so don’t get too cocky Isenberg!

“The Royal Rumble is a WWE Pay-Per-View that kicks off what is called the “Road to Wrestlemania”, the WWE’s version of the Superbowl. It includes a 30-man over the top rope battle royal, and the last person left in the ring goes on to main event Wrestlemania 28 in Miami, Florida this April.

I made some predictions a while back, but I thought I’d update them now that everything pre-Rumble has fallen into place. I made my old predictions based on the assumption of Orton not competing, and before Jericho’s storyline really unfolded. So, with that said, I think the two choices most likely to win the Rumble are, indeed, Orton and Jericho. I have reservations about them both, as I’ll point out, but I think they’re the most likely candidates. I also have an outside shot on CM Punk, more on that in a minute.

Chris Jericho

It now seems that the Jericho story is going to advance at the Rumble, and with the knowledge that he’s in it, a victory for Jericho seems like a strong possibility. I have a handful of concerns. One, will Jericho even wrestle? He broke his streak of talking for a moment the other night, but will he also break his no-wrestling streak? It remains to be seen. I’ve heard talk of everyone eliminating each other down to #30, and Jericho simply enters the match and wins it automatically. I’m not sure about the feasibility of that. I also accept the possibility that he’s just trolling again. It would be a pretty good masterstroke, to promise “The end of the world as you know it” at the Rumble, then do absolutely nothing of note. So I also accept that.

Randy Orton

Orton seems like the obvious, traditional favourite to win. Established star, he’d set up a big title match at Mania, etc., etc. There are a lot of signs pointing to him. My problem is this – if he was going to win, why not as a surprise entrant in the Rumble itself? It may have been a business strategy – i.e., ensure everyone that Orton will be at the Rumble to get the buys, as he is the #3 star in the WWE and sells PPVs and tickets. Still, the WWE has passed on that opportunity before in favour of the surprise return, and will the Rumble really be improved in terms of buys by any one star? I figure that the Rumble itself is the real selling point. So having him return early on SmackDown smells fishy to me, and I think they’re likely to have Orton win a chamber match next month instead.

CM Punk

Their emphasis on any superstar being able to enter the Rumble is what makes me think about this. Why point that out? Arguably it’s to explain the presence of someone like Ziggler in the match after he (probably) loses the title match, but I recall him being in the Rumble match last year after losing to Edge, and there was never any prior qualification to his doing so. They’ve also explicitly referenced world champions entering the match, which makes me think Punk is going to make an appearance. The reason I think he might win is because of the WWE’s increasing trend toward tearing down the brand split and forming the “supershow”. SmackDown is more of a B-show than ever these days, and I get the feeling that the WWE would rather just unify the world title and have the champion feature on both shows than continue on with two world titles. I could envision CM Punk winning the Rumble and challenging Bryan at WrestleMania to unify the titles. It’s an outside shot, but not impossible, in my mind.

Anyway, it all makes for a fascinating evening for a wrestling geek like me! Unfortunately, WWE is not something that you can have a punt on so I will have to make do with enjoying the spectacle purely for entertainment purposes.”