Monday, February 27, 2012

Mother Nature on Team Bring It? John Cena Foiled by "Raintona"!

John Cena was scheduled to wave the green flag and invite racers to 'Gentlemen, start your engines' at the Daytona 500 yesterday. However, for the first time in the race's 50+ year history, the vent got rained out and postponed until today. Does any other wrestling fan see the obvious problem this poses for Cena? Yup! Monday is a work night for one of WWE's biggest stars!

Now initially it looked like things might work out - with the race rescheduled until 11am today, Cena would have time to perform his bit before hopping a 5-hour flight to Seattle for Raw. However, with the race rained out again and postponed until 6pm tonight, he has decided to place his day job ahead of extracurricular activities, and has booked it to Seattle, with a promise to return if the race ends up being held on Tuesday, but WWE comes first - especially since the Rock would be at Raw on Monday and "You have to understand ... he never shows up ... ever!"

If this stark contrast, which fits so nicely into the picture John Cena has been trying to pain of himself vs. the Rock, isnt' used in their banter tonight - and MAYBE even win Cena over a few fans for his putting wrestling first - I'll eat my hat. Although on the other hand, perhaps the hypocrisy he'd show by sticking around to wave a flag for just a touch of mainstream publicity, while accusing the Rock of the same type of thing, is just obvious. Either way - money where his mouth is. Got to give THAT credit.

Friday, February 24, 2012

ITVR Podcast

Please CLICK HERE to listen to this week's podcast. Enjoy the weekend! XO

Monday, February 13, 2012

Raw is BLOG

Hi all - sorry about the lack of podcasting this weekend we went out of town somewhat spontaneously. To make it up, I will be writing this blog throughout Raw with my thoughts as it happens. It's the go-home show for Elimination Chamber pay-per-view this weekend, and Shawn Michaels is advertised for the show, so it should be  a good one! I won't publish until it's done, but that will explain the sort of stream of consciousness style. Please enjoy.

The show opens recapping Kane's threats to Eve from last week. I still don't quite get why it matters to him so whether or not John Cena 'embraces the hate', but why not. I suppose wrestling feuds have been started over stupider. Hair commercial endorsements, for example, paternity disputes, Marcus Bagwell's mom ... lol. Anyway. Whatever, it is what it is. Still wish the stip was more on the lines of a no holds barred or last man standing match than an ambulance match. But whatever. They at least managed to incorporate that into storyline, as Kane vows to send someone sent home in an ambulance tonight.

As a nod to the interminable debates leading up to the Republican party presidential nomination in this election year in the US, the elimination chamber participants have a debate, in which at least the participants are great talkers. I know by now some are complaining 'Raw is A LOT OF TALK' and fair enough ... but this was entertaining (although I have to say, when Vicki Guerrero stepped up to speak for Dolph Ziggler, I expected her to use all his speaking time ... lol that would have been awesome). Punk and Jericho have a nice exchange, they acknowledge John Laurenaitis' staying on as GM of Raw, and they announce Jericho-Kofi Kingston as a match after the commercial break. They head to said break as Kingston blindsided an irate Jericho who was getting in Punk's face.

They have a very good five-minute before cutting to a backstage DX reunion - Shawn Michaels is here for a visit, yay! Commercial break then leads to John Cena talking to Zack Ryder in his (Cena's) dressing room. Cena's concerned for Ryder's safety in being present with Kane on the rampage, but Ryder wants to surprise Eve for Valentine's Day. Cena promises Ryder he'll bring Eve to him, but wants him to stay put in the dressing room for his safety. Because of course, the safest place for anyone when a monster is on the hunt for Cena, is Cena's dressing room.

Cut to David Otunga telling Johnny Ace that he has a plan to make him not only permanent general manager of Raw, but of Smackdown as well ... while they scheme, they cut back to the announcers (plugging the new Michael Cole action figure? Really?), and recapping the backstory to the next match - Randy Orton vs. Big Show (Big Show unwittingly cost Randy Orton a match with Daniel Bryan, in sum).

Cue the next match, including Daniel Bryan at ringside with the announce team. You know Bryan's heel turn is progressing when his longtime arch-nemesis Michael Cole has begun talking him up, discussing how sowing some dissension between two of his biggest opponents in the elmination chamber and having them fight days before the match was actually good strategy. A decent match between these two big guys I have to admit. Daniel Bryan ends things by attacking both men in the ring, while Michael Cole returns to discussing how weaselly he is now that he's no longer in earshot. This must be the one heel Michael Cole doesn't like. Oh well. Two RKOs on a monster like the Big Show was still a sight to behold ... good match while it lasted, and given it was A. a Raw match B. between big men, the time it was given wasn't insignificant.

 Shawn Michaels comes to the ring expressing how surprised he was last week to see Triple H turn down the Undertaker's challenge ... before expressing his belief that H was punking all of us - being the 'Cerebral Assassin', playing games with the Undertaker. He called his buddy out to the ring - man hugs and DX signs ensue. Triple H lets Shawn know he's glad to see him, wishes Shawn was around more often, but that he's wrong, Trips has no intention of fighting the Undertaker at Wrestlemania - he would have to finish him, and he's not that guy anymore. Shawn encourages him, telling him he's a closer who steps on throats and has no mercy ... unless marrying 'that chick' (WWE executive Stephanie McMahon, daughter of the WWE chairman) turned him into a corporate sellout. Shawn might not know much about the corporate world, but he does know that if a man backs down from a challenge, he's a coward.

Trips walks away, before deciding to argue - he has responsibilities. The WWE will someday be his, and that weighs on his shoulders. Trips doesn't look at the Undertaker as an opponent anymore - he looks at him as a brand that is good for business. Trips, Shawn and Undertaker are the end of a different era, and Triple H isn't going to be the one to end that era for no reason - and certainly not so Shawn can live vicariously through him as he does the things HBK could never get done.

Shawn tells him he's going to ignore that jab - he's at peace with his life, but doesn't think Triple H is. He demands Triple H look him in the eye and say he doesn't want it. Triple H does exactly that, although he looks thoughtful as HBK leaves him in the ring. The bell tolls ...

A new Undertaker video much like last week's ... 'This is not over', as he chops his hair (fans who frequent news sites knows Undertaker has been bald for several months, and has been wearing a wig in recent appearances; this is a great, intense, dramatic way to incorporate that new look into this storyline). Commercial ensues after a great segment. The only issue with segments like this is it does remind us of a bygone, incomparable era, and why these guys, even in their 40s, are head and shoulders ahead of so many of today's stars (with, of course, a few exceptions) ... it makes the rest of the show seem so ordinary in a lot of respects, and in some ways isn't fair to the new talent.

R-Truth vs. Dolph Ziggler is up next, another match with some potential ... Vicki Guerrero is at ringside. An expectedly short but good match is followed by Santino's love tips to Zack Ryder (hint - apparently garlic is the world's greatest breath mint ... remember that tomorrow all you love birds).

Cue up a Rock tribute video after the commercial break - before John Cena can react to it, we hear Eve screaming in the back - he races to her rescue before Kane can kidnap her, and she kisses him (he does respond, although comes to his senses first, pulling away and asking what that was for). Pan wide to see that poor Zack Ryder saw the whole thing. For the record - my prediction that Eve is a heel who's in on this with Kane (playing Cena and Ryder, being intimidated but never actually hurt by Kane) is looking more and more likely.

The 'it's not you it's me ... but can we be friends?' conversation follows the commercial break, with Eve blaming the heat of the moment after Cena rescued her - Zack Ryder wheels away leaving her looking ... well, something. Back out to ringside, hot damn we actually have a match going on between CM Punk and the Miz. Another five-minute match, won (surprise surprise) by CM Punk. The Miz definitely needs some kind of push or pick-me-up at this point ... he obviously doesn't have the attention of the back office, and as such his work feels stale, even though he is a hard worker with a great deal of potential. Enter the ambulance being backed into the arena ...

Cena comes out after the break to address what just transpired. Cena says he tried to apologize to Zack Ryder, but he wouldn't listen, so he tried again publicly. "So this was Kane's plan all along", Cena points out - turn his friends and the WWE Universe against him, and leave him no choice but to embrace the hate. It would have worked if it was anybody else - but not him. But obviously people think, like Kane, that he has a breaking point where he'll just snap. "It's been six years ... I'm comfortable in my own skin." But go ahead, he says - keep thinking I'm soft. I'll just continue to do what I do. Cena promises Kane will leave Elimination Chamber in an ambulance. And he has a message for "Dwayne" about Wrestlemania ...

But that can wait until Zack Ryder interrupts, walking to the ring on crutches (oooh, after his time in the wheelchair, who sees a ready-made weapon?). He ultimatley drops those too, although winces in pain as he slaps Cena's offered hand away and slaps him. Cena prepares to fight and fakes a punch, startling Ryder without actually hitting him. He offers him a hand to help him up - Ryder declines and leaves Cena in the ring while Kane appears on the TitanTron.

Kane congratulates him on embracing the hate - stealing the true love of his best friend, a depth to which even Kane wouldn't have stooped. He promises to send Cena home in an ambulance at Elimination Chamber - but first, a round of applause for John Cena (I'm guessing for finally showing his jerky side?) ... while Cena's rolling his eyes, Kane comes out and attacks Ryder again, pushing him off the stage. Cena runs to his rescue, calling out trainers and EMTs ... Eve comes out too, to a chorus of boos, to check on Ryder. Raw goes off the air, and we head to Friday's Smackdown, and Sunday's Elimination Chamber PPV.

Before that though? Be sure and check in later this week (Wed. or Thurs. I'm hoping - Friday or Saturday at the latest) for our Elimination Chamber predictions and more, right here In This Very Ring. Thanks for reading! :)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

An OK Raw

First - sorry for the non-posting this week; after not doing TOO badly with my posting (not quite every other day, but not more than 3 for a few weeks there), we had company over the weekend and were too busy living life, honestly, with beautiful winter days out on the Canal, a Toronto Maple Leafs shutout over the Ottawa Senators, and other good stuff. That said - you can hear our thoughts on last week's Royal Rumble and Raw over on Kayfabe Radio (see last entry including links). As to this week, though ...

It had some moments I guess. In no particular order, the Chris Jericho-CM Punk was every bit the fun promo - with words and without - I expected it would be when they finally confronted each other. Jericho's frustration with Punk's wordlessness was amusing, although I do have to throw out there, echoing Jason Powell's sentiment over at, that I'd sort of been hoping with all this buildup that Jericho would have developed a new character in this return to the WWE, where from what I'm seeing to date, he's basically doing a sendup of his previous WWE returns, with a much quicker heel turn reverting to the character he played when he last left the WWE (basically, his last return in fast forward).

Now ... the sendup has been entertaining but I was hoping maybe for a bit of a more creative payoff than that. Maybe those expectations are unrealistic, and emblematic of the high bar Jericho has set for himself as one of the smarter and more creative visionaries in the WWE, and it's not like he's done BADLY, but ... momentum is everything in wrestling, and I feel like we've gone from a very creative return to he's another top-level heel very quickly. Yes, top-level, but he's gone from a very hot, anticipated return to he's another face in the Punk/Daniels/Cena/Orton/etc. crowd. Now ... he's a heel, which is different, and important at this time, with far too many top bad guys either on the DL (Alberto del Rio ... Mark Henry ... Christian ...) or not being pushed properly (Wade Barrett ... the Miz ...). But he should just have meteoric heat right now and I'm afraid he doesn't ... which pains me to say about one of my favourites. That said, his last comeback went flat pretty quickly and he used that to come up with one of the most creative directional shifts I've ever seen in a wrestlng character, so who knows what we'll see in the weeks ahead. But if it's him and CM Punk ... we at least know we'll see an awesome feud. :)

And we have John Cena again ... I have to give that WWE is doing really well with the promo videos for him and the Rock, demonstrating their personalities, and their contributions to wrestling, among other worthy causes, really well. AND Cena gets to wave the flag at the Daytona 500 - the biggest NASCAR race of the year, and a great way to get some notice and attention on the road to Wrestlemania. Add that to a nice piece on the Rock in People magazine last week, and the Hall of Fame induction announcement for Mike Tyson, and WWE is getting more publicity than they have in a very long time ... WM weekend is shaping up to be quite the Big Deal (but then, what else is new?).

My only complaint about the Cena storyline? I get they need to continue his angle with Kane until post-Elimination Chamber, at which point the Rock will be back to help build up to Wrestlemania - but an ambulance match? If this is their attempt to make this feud less hokey, and hocus pocus ... a last man standing or no holds barred match would have been more appropriate, and taken more seriously. I'm glad in that this is clearly the blowoff to what has been an uninspiring feud, but ... really?

I enjoyed the six-pack challenge to determine who gets to enter the elimination chamber last at the PPV in ten days' time. A good match, given the potential chaos in a 6-man bout, with the right outcome in Jericho's win. Actually, the action on this show was pretty good all in all, with only the two quibbles about injuries (Eve Torres and R Truth were injured in matches - which frankly is two injuries too many this cloes to WM, in a season where everyone should be starting to think ahead and play carefully), and - in trying to fit everything in - a bit of jumping around and not giving everything it's due time (which is better than a whole lot of filler, which is usually the bigger complaint - but to go straight from Jericho and CM Punk's interaction to pumping up the next match ... at least address the importance of what had just happened ... they'd have never done that to toher main eventers like Triple H or Undertaker) ...

Speaking of which, last but not least, those two gentlemen had an excellent joint promo/video set at the top of the show. It was a BIT long for some tastes, and admittedly laggy in some parts, but overall both men were very believable (in Triple H saying he doesn't want to participate in the Undertaker going out and embarrassing himself, that he's aging and no longer 'has it'; and the Undertaker saying he doesn't want the fans' last image of him being his beaten body being carried from the ring; he wants one more chance to set that right). With Shawn Michaels' set to guest on next week's Raw, it will be interesting to see his role in getting Triple H to agree to the match with Taker, since I'm assuming that's what they're working toward.

So Raw had some brilliant moments, but it was more a 4-star than a 5-star show ... that said, if they're going to have weeks like that - which is a given in any kind of long-running television show - better now than say, a month from now when they're building to WM in earnest. This was their scratch; remember, next week's the go-home show for EC, and then all roads lead to Mania ... so it's about to get hot in here, boys and girls. Let's keep on watching ... shall we?

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