1. Here it is, six days from WrestleMania 28. I for one am psyched because of how good the take-home show from last year was. Granted, the event ended up being a bit overwhelming, but at the time, it was one of the best RAW episodes in recent memory. Hopefully a second straight year of awesome WrestleMania lead-in transpires, but this time, with WrestleMania living up to the hype. I don't see Michael Cole on the card, so that's definitely a good start.
2. For thought number two (and with Hustle's blessing), I turn it over to the Ultimate Warrior.
WARRIOR: IT'S A SHAMEFUL THING, LOBSTERHEAD! DO YOU HOAK HOGAN KNOW SELF PITY? HAVE YOU BEEN IN THE COCKPIT, HOAK HOGAN? ALL OF THE TIMES ARE INTERFERING WITH MY DESTRUCITY SONAR, HOAK HOGAN! IT IS ENTIRELY UNACCEPTABLE TO BLASPHEMIZE THE EIGHTH WONDER OF THE WORLD WITH ALL OF THIS FLOTATIOUS CITRUS! I AM THE DISTRICT MANAGER OF THE TERRAIN OF TESTAMENT, HOAK HOGAN, AND WHEN I'M NOT LOADING THE SPACESHIP WITH THE ROCKET FUEL, I DRIVE A DODGE STRATUS HOAK HOGAN!
3. I can honestly say I never thought I would see the tag team of Daniel Bryan and masked Kane. Two of the bigger matches on the WrestleMania card are tagging up here, and I'll take this over an entire show of promos. Though it sounds like Michael Cole has decided he does like Daniel Bryan this week. Consistency? That's for announcers who know how to commentate. The face team dominates a lot of the opening offense, but with a cheap distraction, Kane throat punches Sheamus into next week and Bryan does his running knee to, of course, take us into commercial. Want to see a full match to get the full effect of the buildup into the climax of the match? Too bad; we have to show that dumbass Matt Christiana driving 1000 miles for Taco Bell for the eight millionth time today.
4. Daniel Bryan's kicks and Sheamus's forearm smacks are going to be an interesting combination in Stiff-Fest 2012 at WrestleMania 28. Both of them can go and have to be anxious for a shot to steal the show. The faces get their comeback after about eight seconds of being back from commercial, and an interesting spot where Kane actually pulls Daniel Bryan out of the ring. Not a very monstrous thing to do if you ask me!
5. Seeing Daniel Bryan and Sheamus get the hot tag makes me realize that we really haven't seen these two interact much at all since the Elimination Chamber when the match was made. The heel interaction with using AJ to save him for a Brogue Kick was classic old school chickenshit heel, and the heels get the win. Great way to start off a WrestleMania buildup, though by Pay-Per-View logic, that means at least one of those faces are winning at the big show, right?
6. Well, just when we thought WrestleMania was safe from Michael Cole, that douchebag is what I see when the commercial break is over. Cole says that he's the commentator for Team Johnny, because you know, partisanship is always something that's encouraged in the commentary booth. In case Cole's antics were too subtle for anyone, we just had to clear that up. We're followed up with Vickie Guerrero being the official flagbearer, though I'd have rather seen John McChesney and his Big League flag personally. And just because not enough non-wrestlers are involved, Booker T then gets up to introduce Theodore Long. Long brings out Santino and Hornswoggle carries the Long flag. At least it's getting a lot of people their WrestleMania payday, I suppose.
7. Am I the only one who finds the selection of team captains a bit odd? I mean, I know Santino has been great in the last couple months, but he's been booked like a chump for the year before that, and has been virtually squashed since being named so. David Otunga was enhancement talent to enhancement talent when he wasn't the token quick loss heel until he started wearing a bowtie and slurping his coffee. If he does not do the Carlton dance at some point, it is a lost comedic opportunity.
8. Santino gets the win via Hornswoggle flag distraction, which finally gets them a win in this feud. There was about as much wrestling in that match as there was pizza, but that's not important right now. Just as it appears Santino is going to hit the Cobra on Laurinaitis, Miz makes the sneak attack and gets announced as the sixth man of Team Laurinaitis. Good for him, at least he got on the big show... Wow, I just realized how homo-erotic that could sound in the wrong context.
9. The show comes back with a clip from last year when the challenge for Rock vs. Cena was made, to go into another vignette about The Undertaker and Triple H. The video does an amazing job at showing both of them in their early career as well as quick career highlights. I've said it before, but if there is one area of WWE that is consistently amazing, it's the video production department. The only thing that's missing is the Last Outlaw theme, just for the use of "In Time" in the promo video.
10. I stand corrected. The flash transition into "The Memory Remains" was absolutely perfect. Alex Martel and I were talking about how The Undertaker could basically become the Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino of the WWE without even wrestling a whole lot, and we wouldn't mind. And just as I say that, the flashback to the "He is" moment brings in another flawless return to the song. Odd though, I noticed they cut out the weird woman adding background sounds to the song, but then again, I never understood that in the first place, even back when the song came out. I'm not Metallica mark or anything, but that was a bit strange to me.
11. Well, the divas are on, and Kelly Kelly is set to point at the crowd and get a "Hoeski" chant started. Mick Foley does not approve, but CM Punk may be impressed.
12. I am absolutely amazed. Never in the years of my life have I seen a Diva match end in a roll-up. Everyone needs to stand in awe of this moment, for history has truly been made tonight. Even Wade Barrett would stand up from his skybox that I didn't even know he had until someone told me and applaud as if he was in Moscow and Rocky Balboa had just given a victory speech. I salute you, Kelly Kelly, for truly innovating the business.
13. In what has to be a dream match for the IWC, Christian will be taking on CM Punk in a singles match. It's good to see Christian back. He's apparently grown his hair out in his best attempt to look like Macaulay Culkin from Home Alone, to complement his teammate Biff Swagger on Team Johnny.
14. Before the match can get started, Chris Jericho addresses Punk from the Titan Tron for the third straight week. While his former Vitamin C tag team partner awaits to face Punk in the ring, Jericho rehashes the last few weeks of family facts, but he saved Punk's mother for last. Apparently since Punk's birthdate was before his parents' marriage date, it makes Punk a bastard. This becomes a good thing because it truly appears to bring out a really aggressive side of CM Punk that we have not seen in a long time, if ever. It's very similar to how Kane screwing with John Cena made him flip out on Biff Swagger, but hopefully it doesn't just magically disappear like that did after the match.
15. The match never really gets started as Punk throws a GTS to the stairs and then locks in an Anaconda Vice. Perhaps it's being done to protect Christian from getting re-injured, but not exactly the most glamorous return in wrestling history. Punk is going absolutely nuts, which is a tremendous nod to Jericho's work as a heel as well as Punk being able to summon that kind of emotion and show that he's more than just a wise-ass. Well done.
16. While they're saying that Christian might've gotten re-injured, Booker T talks about how it's blowing up all over the internet... while looking at a picture of Shawn Michaels superkicking someone. Now I know it's serious!
17. Hey, look who it is! Just because I know Becky loves it so much... FUNK IS ON A ROLL! FUNK IS ON A ROLL! I don't care, I mark for this entrance. Hopefully this is more than just another squash, like he's been doing on the house show circuit in the last few weeks with The Miz. To truly advance his character, it's going to be necessary to do more than just win thirty second matches.
18. Aaaaand we're going back to facing Curt Hawkins yet again, because giving Brodus Clay something productive to do would just take too much effort. As Hawkins does his best CM Punk Is Not Impressed face, I have to wonder if he's thinking about how he was training with The Rock and is now the proverbial Marty Jannetty of the Majors Brothers/Edgeheads. Then again, who would've thought that the other half of that team would end up being as big as he is? Predictably, the match ends in about a minute. It would be nice if a Brodus Clay match would last longer than his entrance just once.
19. Big Show is out next, meaning hopefully we're in for another entertaining Cody Rhodes moment. But he's facing... Primo? Dear JBL, this is gonna be the fourth straight match that I don't see lasting very long. What is the point of this? Getting a lot of the guys who won't be on WrestleMania at least a spot on the go-home show? During this, we find out that Christian has been taken out of the GM battle, which is a damn shame if it's a legitimate injury. Big Show wins in about a minute with a chokeslam. Damn, who saw that coming?
20. Cody Rhodes is out to save the day, and he makes me laugh instantly with comparing Show chasing Rhodes to a water buffalo running down a cheetah. I'm amazed at how much he's improved, as well as my opinion of him has risen a great deal in recent months. Rhodes says he will make Big Show's name synonymous with several different embarrassing situations and words, which even seems to make Big Show laugh. Though his laugh is in that rather disturbing cackle before you meet a painful death way, of which Rhodes should be quite wary.
21. Remember how I said having a bunch of wrestling matches would be better than a night full of promos? Well last year had three excellent promos. Tonight has had four matches that may have lasted about four minutes combined, and that's probably being very generous. The first match had it right; seeing the wrestlers in the matches next week interacting and making their final WrestleMania preparations. This has just been really underwhelming since the first match, and I'm hoping that the end hour will bring it back to save the show.
22. It's time for a Lord Tensai AKA totally not A-Train vignette, with a samurai standing behind him speaking in Japanese. I'm not going to speculate on his improvement in Japan because I haven't seen it to know. I'll be giving it an open-minded chance when I do. Maybe he'll be the sixth man to replace Christian? That would be an interesting surprise.
23. The Bellas are arguing about which GM Team they support, because apparently they're convinced someone on this planet gives a flying fuck what they're doing. I'm pretty sure I saw Drew McIntyre in the background, and that was more amusing. That also marks the first time I've ever referred to anything involving Drew McIntyre as amusing, sans his badass entrance theme. Zack Ryder makes an idiot out of himself, and then Eve asks him where his hotel is. All right then.
24. CM Punk continues to impress with his serious, intense attitude toward Jericho's remarks. I think all that has needed to be done has been said in the case of those two, and they simply have to go out and do what we all know they're capable of doing on the big stage.
25. Oh dear JBL, this could be ugly. The Great Khali and Mark Henry are shown walking in two side panels, which means these two might be wrestling. While Mark Henry has improved tremendously, this match could be more painful than buying the double DVD set of "The Best of the Masterlock Challenge" and "Melina's Greatest Banshee Impressions."
26. As Khali is walking to the ring, I have to admit the tiger eyes glowing with his entrance name plate is kind of badass. During his entrance, it's announced that Christian has been replaced with... Drew McIntyre. I suppose his random background appearance just impressed Laurinaitis so much. In the fifth straight incredibly short match, Mark Henry hits the World's Strongest Slam on Khali, which I have to admit is pretty damn neat to see. Laurinaitis feeds Teddy Long to Mark Henry and calls for the troops, which should provide a payoff moment to unveil the sixth man on Team Long.
27. Only two members of Team Teddy come running out, which makes total sense. Nothing shows unity quite like making separate entrances. Mark Henry is stalling as long as he can, but turns around just in time to catch a Kofi Springboard into another World's Strongest Slam. Of all people to make the save, it ends up being... Booker T? Well, I can safely say I didn't see that coming. I did laugh at the whole crowd singing "SUCKA!" when the entrance music cut off. Good for Booker for getting another shot at performing at WrestleMania.
28. The Rock does another Hogan pause before finally beginning to address the crowd. He talks about everyone asking him when he was gonna come back, including a funny moment about Rock not dropping his pants for his dentist. There are a noticeable amount of boos in the crowd, which is really a testament to the amazing work John Cena has done in the last six weeks.
29. Rock really gets into the promo groove, building up to a "FINALLY"! Once Rock says Cena's name, that goodwill of heat seems to be gone though, as the reaction is mostly heat. The crowd is chanting, though for some reason all I can hear consistently is two guys chanting "Fruity Pebbles", which they're either near a mic or the acoustics for crowd reaction are just really terrible tonight. As Cena begins his rebuttal, I see that Civil War Pie is trending, and a tiny part of my soul died.
30. John Cena makes a great case for the emotion that he brings to the audience, really remarking on the dueling chants that have been going on for years. He compares himself to the rest of the superstars who have turned on the crowd when they've turned on him, but he just continues to rise above and win. The Rock responds in pretty heated fashion, being very serious and passionate, though both of them end with saying that everyone knows they're going to win. Cena counters with Rock's "It Doesn't Matter" catchphrase. The show must've gone overtime, because it awkwardly ends right after Cena concludes his final speech. No physical confrontation takes place, which is all right, but all that needs to be said has been said. For a final sell for WrestleMania, it was pretty lackluster, but fortunately the card might be the most stacked we've ever seen, and that should prevail over a really bad go-home show.
Gotta go with Booker T here. Anytime he was speaking, he was even more over the top than usual. He'd give James Roday a run for his money in a ham-off.
1-9-12 – R-Truth
1-16-12 - John Laurinaitis
1-23-12 - William Regal
1-29-12 - Ricardo Rodriguez
1-30-12 - R-Truth
2-6-12 - Triple H
2-13-12 - Shawn Michaels
2-19-12 – Santino Marella
2-20-12 - John Cena
2-27-12 – Al Laiman, for thinking no one read this
3-5-12 – John Laurinaitis
3-12-12 - James Roday
3-19-12 - Theodore Long
3-26-12 - Booker T
AL'S WEEKLY RIDDLES
This week's winner of the Large Ham for Riddles is talbzmeister. If you recall last week's riddle...
"He would've made Jack proud, putting the proverbial Tom in his place as a man who knew the responsibility of being on top going into Los Angeles."
Not only was JBL a Black Jack, but he also played Jack Nicholson's character from "A Few Good Men" in the trailer, across from John Cena, who played the Tom Cruise character. JBL explained the responsibility of going into Wrestlemania 21 as the champion, which took place in LA/Hollywood.
Who will win this week's Large Ham? Remember, they're not all about wrestling.
#1 - The Killer Angels was not a motorcycle group
A Major Leaguer stood across from either Dumb or Dumber
And the fate of a nation rested in their hands
#2 - When things don't quite go My Way
It's still good to know we could've at least had lift-off
If the stars and gimmicks align in a royal battle