Writer's Note: Before I even get to Hustle Madness, I want to make another plug for the Lords Of Podcast Roundtable's live show. This particular plug is going to be different, because it's for a bit of a "Fantasy Draft" that we'll be having on Tuesday. In honor of the upcoming WWE & NFL Drafts, we're going to do one where the four of us are each running our own wrestling promotion, and the live Draft is to build the rosters of said promotions. Every living worker on the planet is free to be selected, and everyone in the LoPR Livestream chat will be the "peanut gallery", giving live analysis of the picks. Nothing will be planned out beforehand. Everything will be 100% live, and then we turn it over to everyone else to decide who put together the best promotion. Then, in the style of a Fantasy League, we'll actually keep track throughout the year, and see how our picks do. See who wins titles. See who gets released. See who dies (it's unfortunate that I even have to say that, and even more unfortunate that it's only half-joking at this point). The action takes place on our Livestream page at 8pm EST on Tuesday, so come join us and get your Mel Kiper or Todd McShay on in the chat as we get gray hair over the entire drafting process. Here's the link..
Another week, another round of Hustle Madness. There was a mighty big gain in overall votes for this round, and I want to take this time to thank you all for getting your thoughts and opinions out there. I know I say this a lot, but it's certainly worth repeating.. this is your tournament. This is a time for your opinions. That's enough of that, though, because it isn't why you're reading this right now. Let's get to the results of the second round..
Red Bracket #1 Mick Foley defeats #8 "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase, 168-47
This was the biggest blowout victory for a #1 seed in this round, but I suppose that really isn't much of a surprise. Nothing against Ted DiBiase.. I'm a big fan of his work, and always have been, even when I was a little kid and wasn't supposed to be cheering for the heels.. but Mick Foley is a top seed for a reason. I even had a few people chime in and say that DiBiase is their all-time favorite wrestler, but even they couldn't vote against Foley here.
#5 Jim Cornette defeats #13 The Miz, 133-82
Wow. There were multiple times during the week where it looked like we'd be seeing another upset victory for The Miz. In fact, the final result is something that is a bit misleading, because votes for Cornette were the final 31 that I counted. A 20-vote deficit, with 31 votes remaining? That's obviously a situation that could have gone either way. I know a lot of people have been asking me about why The Miz won his first matchup, as well as why he was receiving public votes, but again, I have to say.. this is your tournament, ladies and gentlemen. If Wrestler A wins, it's because of you, not me. I guess there are plenty of Mizfits remaining in the IWC. Not enough to get the win here, but enough to make sure he had quite the Cinderella run, especially when you stop to consider where his career has been in recent months.
#3 Chris Jericho defeats #11 Christian, 151-64
Ohhhhhh Caaaaanaaaaadaaaaaaaa. I was interested to see how this one would go. On one hand, you have Chris Jericho, who was been on television every week recently, but up until that promo where he revealed CM Punk's father was an alcoholic, many questioned whether he had lost a lot of what he once had. On the other hand, you had Christian, who hasn't been on television, but has always been one of the IWC's favorites. I wanted to see if distance really would make the heart grow fonder, as the old saying goes. Apparently not. This one was never really in doubt, as Jericho jumped out to a big lead and never looked back. I'm a little disappointed that Christian didn't perform better here, but as evidenced by the seedings, I'm not surprised in any way, shape or form that he lost.
#7 CM Punk defeats #2 Hulk Hogan, 164-51
I'm going to be perfectly honest with you all right now.. I laughed at multiple points as I was counting the votes here. Legit laughed, not just on the internet, when you type "lol" even though you aren't actually laughing. I laughed at the lopsided victory for Punk. I laughed at a lot of the feedback that people gave, absolutely ripping Hogan apart. It was just fun to see. Even though it's, technically, an upset, I don't think anyone is really surprised here. In fact, a lot of votes for Hogan were accompanied by comments along the lines of "it won't matter, because Punk is going to win, anyway". I'm sure some are relatively upset that the "new school" destroyed the "old school" here, but there's not much I can really do about that.
Blue Bracket #1 Vince McMahon defeats #8 Edge, 150-65
More full disclosure here.. I didn't think Edge would perform as well here as he did. He was still on the receiving end of a lopsided vote total, but Edge fans can still be proud that he scored 65 votes against a top seed in Hustle Madness. Vince looks to be a very interesting pick to win Hustle Madness, based on the massive amount of praise that he's been getting from people, both from those that absolutely love his mic work and from those that didn't think too much about it before the tournament began.
#4 "Macho Man" Randy Savage defeats #12 Bubba Dudley, 110-105
Fun. Fun, fun, fun, fun, fun. Incredible fun. This went back-and-forth all week long. There must have been at least a dozen lead changes. It was really like watching a heavyweight slugfest, with both fighters swinging for the fences. People praised Savage's work, but were able to give Bubba/Bully the credit he deserves for the heat that he's always been able to draw. I know I already made a bit of a joking comment about cocaine already, but a lot of you seem to feel the same way. You feel that Savage was actually hurt by his substance abuse. The phrase a lot of you ended up using in your feedback is "hit-or-miss". Sometimes, his "spaced out" promos were entertaining, but other times, they just didn't make any sense, so you rewarded Bubba/Bully for his consistency through the years. In the end, though, Savage's legend was just too much to overcome, and he picks up the win by one of the slimmest of margins.
#3 Bobby "The Brain" Heenan defeats #6 "The Enforcer" Arn Anderson, 125-90
A very nice old-school matchup here. This one also went down to the wire, but a big flurry for Heenan at the end made the final margin much wider. There was one thing that really stood out, based on the feedback I saw.. comedy. Heenan's comedic ability is basically second-to-none in the history of the wrestling business, and it looked to be the deciding factor here. Arn's intensity and memorable demeanor served him very well during his career, but Heenan's comedy is something that will live on forever, and he picked up the win because of it.
#2 Jake "The Snake" Roberts defeats #10 Eric Bischoff, 166-49
Another blowout that I was expecting to be an even bigger blowout than it was. Roberts used more psychology in one promo than Bischoff has used (or knows how to use) in all of his promos combined. Once again, I don't want you to get me wrong.. I'm a fan of Bischoff's promo skills and the command he has had over live crowds through the years. However, when you place him up against a juggernaut along the lines of Jake Roberts, he just doesn't have the proper pedigree to advance, and losing one of the biggest blowouts of the round proves it.
Yellow Bracket #1 The Rock defeats #8 William Regal, 134-81
Going into this round, I knew The Rock would win, but I was very interested to see how well Regal would perform, and now that the round is over, I'm really happy to see that Regal put up such a great fight. In this particular battle, you have Rock, who even the biggest of Rock fans would say is leaning towards the "one-dimensional" side with his promos, and you have Regal, who can do the comedic promos but can also do the more serious, menacing ones. Even with that said, though, Rock probably cut more promos in a single year than Regal got to cut in his entire career, and that probably played a major role in the outcome here.
#5 Jerry "The King" Lawler defeats #4 Triple H, 112-103
Hey, another matchup that went right down to the end of the voting period. Literally. The last few votes I tallied made all the difference here. This one really went back-and-forth, with both the Triple H and Jerry Lawler fans coming out to support their guy. In the end, based on looking at all of the feedback I got and all of the comments I received, I think the deciding factor that tipped things to Lawler's side were the lengthier promos that both men did. They could both do the humorous promos, and could both do the dastardly, evil bastard promos. However, when both men are cutting the longer promos, I noticed that a lot of the feedback began to lean towards Lawler's side. People felt that Lawler's lengthier promos didn't "drag" like Triple H's lengthier promos did. Whatever the reason, Lawler finally did pull out the victory in the end, and he moves on.
#3 "The Heartbreak Kid" Shawn Michaels defeats #11 Kevin Sullivan, 179-36
Let's see if I can find some good news for Sullivan fans, or for those who voted for him because they hate Michaels. Umm.. alright, I got it. When I started counting up the votes, I started with my e-mail, and the first 31 votes I counted were for Michaels, so that means Sullivan was able to narrow it down to a 148-36 defeat from that point on. That counts for something, doesn't it? It has to count for something, because without it, there wouldn't be much to talk about on that side of the fence. Now, I anxiously await him coming to find me and kill me.
#2 "Rowdy" Roddy Piper defeats #10 JBL, 140-75
Roddy Piper and Randy Savage are probably going to be connected for as long as they both remain in this tournament. A lot of the comments I received about Savage and cocaine, whether they were serious or in a joking manner, I also received about Piper and cocaine. It's as I've said all along.. when Piper is in a groove, there really aren't many better in the history of the business. However, there are just so many promos that he's done where he was clearly on cocaine, and maybe even more than that, so things just head in a strange direction. He rambles. He goes off on nonsensical tangents. Sometimes, he can make those really funny, though, and that's why it doesn't hurt him more than it does. I think JBL received more votes than he "should have" because of the wacky cocaine-driven promos from Piper, though. To this point, it hasn't hurt Piper's overall standing in the tournament, but with things getting really tight now, that could change very soon.
Orange Bracket #1 "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes defeats #8 John Cena, 109-106
I had to go back and count every single vote several times, just for this one matchup, to make sure the result was correct. I still can't believe it, to be honest with you. I get that Dusty Rhodes was doing his thing before a lot of you were watching wrestling (and before some of you were even born), but it's not like he's a legend that has been swept under the rug, never to be heard from again. He's been on WWE programming numerous times. He has a WWE-produced DVD set. He's been involved in numerous other WWE-produced DVD sets. In the last seven days, I saw more John Cena praise on the internet than I've seen in well over six years. Maybe.. just maybe.. this recent string of promos he's cut on The Rock is opening the eyes of people. Perhaps not making them fans of his, but allowing them to remember that he actually is very talented on the mic when he's focused and has something real to say. When I say this came down to the wire, I really mean it. I don't have all of the information right off the top of my head, but I believe this is the closest matchup in Hustle Madness history. It was so close, in fact, that Cena was winning 106-105 before I scooped up the final votes from my LoPForums private messages. That's the equivalent of a buzzer-beater shot in basketball going in from half court. Very interesting result here, and almost one of the biggest upsets in Hustle Madness history (based on the respect levels for both men, not based on seeding).
#4 Paul Heyman defeats #5 Terry Funk, 117-98
This was another one that was really close all week long. Heyman got a mini-flurry at the end to put things away, but it was anyone's race pretty much from the beginning. Unlike a lot of other "old VS older" type matchups in the tournament, I think this one leaned towards the younger of the choices based solely on the fact that.. he's younger. A lot of people, based on their comments, really missed out on Funk's prime years, and really only got to see his work as Chainsaw Charlie during the Attitude Era, where he wasn't really doing a whole lot of talking to begin with. That's a shame. With as close as this final tally was, I have no doubt that Funk would be advancing if he were turning 48 or 58 this year, instead of turning 68 like he actually is.
#3 "Stone Cold" Steve Austin defeats #11 Scott Hall, 177-38
This is an interesting bracket, because we went from two straight ridiculously close matchups to the biggest blowout of the entire round. I guess it's no real surprise that this was a blowout, though. Hall was doomed from the start, and didn't put up much of a fight at all. Not that I think Hall should have performed better in this round, but it really is a shame that people only know him for his addictions these days, and not for the worker, in-ring and on the mic, that he once was. Sad.
#2 "Nature Boy" Ric Flair defeats #10 "Flyin" Brian Pillman, 172-43
Two of the closer matchups in the round. Two of the biggest blowouts in the round. The Orange Bracket was a wild ride here, as you can see. Pillman actually got off to a bit of a fast start, racking up the first ten or so votes that I counted, making me think that another huge upset was brewing, but things quickly calmed down, and went back to "normal". There's not much else to really say here. Ric Flair is Ric Flair. His career pretty much speaks for itself at this point.
Now it's time for everyone to get their vote on again. It's time for the Hustle Madness Sweet Sixteen. Things are really getting good right now, and your "voice" means more than ever at this point. Here are the new matchups..
Red Bracket #1 Mick Foley VS #5 Jim Cornette
This one could be fun, because Cornette is a very strong #5 seed, but is he a strong enough seed to really do damage against the man that many feel is the top overall seed in the entire tournament? That remains to be seen, but this should be a nice, old-school matchup to watch unfold, whether we get an upset or not.
#3 Chris Jericho VS #7 CM Punk
Well, well, well, well, well.. it isn't by accident that these two are facing off in Hustle Madness during the week leading up to WrestleMania 28, where they will be facing each other for the WWE Title. They were placed in the same bracket for the possibility of this very matchup happening at this very time. Seed-wise, Jericho is obviously the favorite, but Punk is the favorite in IWC support, in my opinion. Will back-to-back weeks of outstanding promos by Jericho sway things back in his direction? This one is going to be very fun to keep track of throughout the week.
Blue Bracket #1 Vince McMahon VS #4 "Macho Man" Randy Savage
Hey, speaking of interesting matchups.. Vince McMahon VS Randy Savage. We've all heard the rumors. We've all made the jokes. Now, these two icons of the wrestling business square off in Hustle Madness. Against almost anyone else, I wouldn't need this particular concern, but against Savage, will people punish Vince for not allowing Randy into the WWE Hall Of Fame? Sure, that isn't "fair" to Vince, but as I've said again and again, you can vote for any person for any reason, even though this is supposed to be all about their promo ability and mic skills.
#3 Bobby "The Brain" Heenan VS #2 Jake "The Snake" Roberts
Another very intriguing "old school" matchup here, and once again, it sees someone strongly leaning towards the comedic side of things taking on someone strongly leaning towards the serious side of things. Even though both men could be called "one-sided", they excelled in that one area, so this should really come down to everyone's core personal preference and what type of emotion you prefer to be feeling when you listen to a promo.
Yellow Bracket #1 The Rock VS #5 Jerry "The King" Lawler
Even though The Rock has been around and on our televisions for the last 15-plus years, and even though Jerry Lawler continues to be on television every week as a color commentator, this very much is a "new school VS old school" matchup. Rock's style is really new, and he rides the wave of what's considered "current" and "hip", but will that be enough to defeat the man that basically set Memphis (one of the hottest wrestling territories on the map for years) on fire with his promos?
#3 "The Heartbreak Kid" Shawn Michaels VS #2 "Rowdy" Roddy Piper
This is really one that could go either way. Seed-wise, Piper is the "favorite", but just barely. In actuality, though, I think this is an even closer contest than the seeds would indicate. They both have their strong points. They both have their weak points. They've both been referred to as "overrated" and "underrated" by several people thus far in the voting. I'll have to keep a close eye on this one, too.
Orange Bracket #1 "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes VS #4 Paul Heyman
I still can't believe that Dusty/Cena outcome. Damn. Anyway, this could be another interesting one, because Dusty is again going up against someone that is more "current" than he is, so will he see another batch of votes go to his opponent because of it? On pure seeding alone, Heyman defeating him wouldn't be as big an upset as Cena defeating him would have been, but it would still be a top seed taking a loss, so we'll have to see how things go.
#3 "Stone Cold" Steve Austin VS #2 "Nature Boy" Ric Flair
These two are going to go down as some of the biggest and best performers that have ever stepped inside of a wrestling ring. If you polled wrestling fans and asked them to name the five greatest workers of all-time, I'd bet dollars to donuts that both Austin and Flair will be a part of those lists far more often than not. We've seen them work with each other on numerous occasions through the years, but it could be said that neither man was in his "prime" when they faced off. For something like this, we can look at their "prime" years, and that's when things become difficult. Do some punish Austin for not really finding his promo groove until he reached the WWF? Do some punish Flair for the last few years of his career, where he's been viewed as an "embarrassment" by many people? This one should be fun.
Here's the quick version of the Sweet Sixteen matchups..
Red Bracket #1 Mick Foley VS #5 Jim Cornette #3 Chris Jericho VS #7 CM Punk
Blue Bracket #1 Vince McMahon VS #4 "Macho Man" Randy Savage #3 Bobby "The Brain" Heenan VS #2 Jake "The Snake" Roberts
Yellow Bracket #1 The Rock VS #5 Jerry "The King" Lawler #3 "The Heartbreak Kid" Shawn Michaels VS #2 "Rowdy" Roddy Piper
Orange Bracket #1 "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes VS #4 Paul Heyman #3 "Stone Cold" Steve Austin VS #2 "Nature Boy" Ric Flair
As you can see, the tournament is relatively "chalk" to this point, but it has allowed for some very attention-grabbing matchups in this round, and it's still anyone's competition to win, so go ahead and keep on voting. As usual, you have one week to vote, and you have no less than a dozen ways to get those votes in, so there's no excuse for you to miss a week. Let's get it poppin.