Monday, February 27, 2012

13 Questions with Adam Cole!

Adam Cole is one of the fastest rising young stars in professional wrestling today. Having wrestled primarily in Ring of Honor, fans also may know of him from his standout matches in CZW and PWG. On Sunday, March 4th Cole teams with Eddie Edwards in the main event of Ring of Honor’s 10th Anniversary Show against ROH World Champion Davey Richards and his Future Shock tag team partner, Kyle O’Reilly. Cole graciously gave Two Spot Monkeys some time to answer “13 Questions” before the ROH iPPV which can be ordered here for $9.99 : ... _Show/1319

1. How did you get your start in training for pro wrestling and with CZW?

Cole:  Well I was always a HUGE wrestling fan growing up, and as my passion as a fan grew, I knew that being a fan wasn't enough and I wanted to get involved. So as that passion grew, so did my expansion of the wrestling that I watched. I got into independent wrestling as well, and became a fan of ROH, PWG, IWA MS, and then CZW. I met DJ Hyde one day after a CZW show, and expressed to him my interest in becoming a pro wrestler, and the rest was history. I began my training at CZW with DJ and Jon Dahmer, and then continued to hone my craft all through the North East wrestling scene.

2. What are your favorite memories of pro wrestling as you grew up? What promotions did you follow? What wrestlers were your favorites and why?

Cole:  My personal favorite memory was the first time I ever got "goosebumps" in my life, and that was when The Rock wrestled Steve Austin at WrestleMania 17. Just Austin's entrance alone, with 67,000 people losing their minds, made me realize how special pro wrestling really was, and at that very moment I knew I wanted to be a wrestler. I was a big WWF fan, and watched all their programming religiously. I watched a little bit of WCW, and caught the tale end of ECW when it was on TNN, so I've played a lot of catch up over the years. And then like I mentioned earlier, I followed all types of independent and international wrestling as well. Pretty much anything I could get my hands on.

I really loved Steve Austin growing up, just because of his connection with the audience and his ability to do or say ANYTHING and have the people go crazy. Kurt Angle was another guy I really enjoyed. He was one of the first guys that made me really love the "wrestling" part of this sport. His ability to get the people so invested in what he did without any kind of whacky gimmick always captivated me. CM Punk was actually the guy who got me into Ring of Honor and the independents, just because of his awesome promo ability alone.

3. From your 2008 debut you wrestled in a variety of promotions and had a variety of opportunities to make your name. What led to your shot with Ring of Honor in 2009 and developed into something more regular in 2010?

Cole:  Well I had done a couple of dark matches for ROH by this point, and was really trying to get a full time roster spot there. Adam Pearce was the booker at the time, and although he enjoyed my matches, I couldn't seem to impress him enough to give me a roster spot. So I figured he had seen enough of my matches to form an opinion, so I needed to show him something different. I decided to send him some promos, hoping that would get his attention, and fortunately it did. He had me cut an in-ring promo before an ROH HDNET Taping, and Jim Cornette saw it as well, and liked what he saw. So a couple of months later, I was fortunate enough to be offered a contract and get a full time roster spot.

4. How did your team with Kyle O’Reilly come about? Was it an organic pairing or did it take time to gel as a duo?

Cole:  Me and Kyle were offered deals around the same time, and we both assumed that we were going to be singles guys. Then ROH came at us with the idea of having us as a team, just to see if it would stick, and fortunately it did. Me and Kyle are so different in the ring, but thankfully we gelled and had good chemistry right off the bat. Kyle ended up becoming one of my closest friends, and we really got to grow as wrestlers together in Ring of Honor.

5. You & O’Reilly broke out to the majority of the ROH audience against The All-Night Express at Final Battle 2010, then followed that strong iPPV showing with two awesome back to back match matches against The Briscoes and Kings of Wrestling respectively in Atlanta last year, also in iPPV. Did you consider any of those matches as catalysts for your team in terms of going to the next level or being given a more consistent shot?

Cole:  Definitely the two scenarios that you mentioned were the biggest weekends for me and Kyle as a team up to that point. I feel that the Final Battle match that we had was the match where we proved that we belonged in Ring of Honor, but the Atlanta weekend I feel we proved that we could be ROH Tag Team Champions someday. Both crowds were so receptive and were so good to me and Kyle, and it will forever be ingrained in my head as one of the most special moments in my career.

6. You won the “Tag Team Lottery” and a future title shot in July, but it did not materialize into more success for your team. In your opinion what prevented Future Shock from going to another level?

Cole:  I think the biggest issue is the very same reason I find myself across the ring from Kyle at the 10 Year Anniversary show in NYC, and that's Davey Richards. Kyle began to put more and more attention and focus on Davey, so therefore he may not have had his head in the team as much as I did, and that hurt us. I'm not blaming Kyle or faulting him for his mindset, as he's getting a great opportunity to be with the ROH World Champion. That opened the gates for me to team with the only triple crown winner in ROH, Eddie Edwards. Myself and Kyle told ourselves when we formed Future Shock that we wanted to push ourselves to be the best wrestlers we can be, and I believe now, even though it's not together, we're doing that more than ever.

7. Did the challenge of overcoming that hurdle of success or the ROH World Tag Team Titles lead to the problems and/or apparent split of Future Shock and the alignment with Eddie Edwards?

Cole:  That definitely frustrated the both of us. When your an ROH wrestler, you want to be the best at what you do, and me and Kyle weren't getting the job done as a team. Although we had good showings, we really weren't getting those big wins that we needed. Is that why Kyle started teaming with Davey? I don't know. But I look at this new opportunity to team with Eddie as a chance to really improve and start getting some big wins.

8. You teamed with Eddie for the first time on the 2/18 TV show and got the win. With respect to the short amount of time as a team, how do you enter the main event of the 10th Anniversary Show with confidence to go against Davey Richards & Kyle O’Reilly?

Cole:  I think our biggest advantage is also our biggest disadvantage, in that because we haven't teamed that often, Kyle and Davey don't know what to prepare for. I know Kyle better than anyone, and Eddie knows Davey better than anyone, so we have a pretty good idea of what were in for in NYC. I can tell you that after the tag me and Eddie had in Baltimore, things felt right. Sometimes a lot of wrestling is gut feeling, and I have a very, very good feeling about my team with Eddie.

9. At the end of the 10th Anniversary Show and the main event has ended, what is the result, what you do hope has been accomplished/gained, where is your relationship with Kyle and what is next for Adam Cole?

 At the end of this event, people will know exactly what Adam Cole is capable of. I have prepared for four years for this very moment, and I don't take an opportunity like this lightly. I hope that the ROH Locker Room, the people of NYC, and all the fans watching on iPPV realize that I am not only here to stay, but to be a ROH World Champion someday. My relationship with Kyle will hopefully be no different. I love him like a brother, and will always have his back, but we need to prove to each other who is better. We need to. Hopefully this very event escalates my career in ROH to the next level.

10. You have also had some singles match opportunities recently, giving strong matches and performances against Roderick Strong and Michael Elgin specifically and getting fans behind you. What are your thoughts on a singles focused run in ROH and is there a singles match that you are really hoping to have?

Cole:  I think eventually down the line a fully focused singles run is no question in my future. Right now, having the chance to learn from Eddie Edwards is what I'm fully focused on. But eventually, I will take that knowledge and experience to hopefully create a successful singles run in ROH. I would love the opportunity to have a singles match with Davey Richards, he is the very best in the world, because he holds the ROH World Title. I would love to test myself against him in a singles environment. I'd love another crack at Jay Lethal as well. I came really close to victory in North Carolina against him, and I feel like if I had another shot I could get the job done.

11. Just about 4 years into your career, what is your most memorable accomplishment or what are you most proud of?

Cole:  I think getting to travel overseas has been my greatest accomplishment and what I'm most proud of. Getting to travel is such a perk of this industry, so having the opportunity to see the world and doing what I love in the process is something I hold very close to me. I hope I get to do even more traveling as the years go by!

12. What are your goals for your career as you move into the future?

Cole:  Getting to travel more overseas is a goal of mine for sure. Winning some gold in Ring of Honor is definitely a goal of mine, whether that be the ROH Tag Titles with Eddie Edwards or maybe even some singles gold. And just continuing to hone my craft as much as possible. Of course WWE is something that any wrestler thinks about or imagines, so years from now who knows that the future holds. Until then though, I am fully focused on being the best wrestler I can be, and doing it in Ring of Honor.

13. How can fans follow your career, get any Adam Cole merchandise or contact you?

Cole:  I have a website out, That has links to my Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube channel, along with my schedule, merchandise, and general updates on everything. Please feel free to message me and keep in touch! I seriously can't say enough how thankful I am for all the support, and I can promise you guys this is just the start!

Two Spot Monkeys wants to thank Ring of Honor and Adam Cole for taking time to sit down with us for this interview!  Be sure to check out Ring of Honor's 10th Anniversary Show this Sunday on iPPV at!

Friday, February 24, 2012

UFC 144 Preview!

The UFC returns to Japan this weekend for the first time in 12 years, with a card so stacked, that they are going to have seven fights on the PPV portion of the card, and the PPV is scheduled for four hours instead of the traditional three!  That’s awesome, though for those on the east coast, it means the show won’t end until 2am.  Anyways, I thought I’d take a look at the seven bouts that are scheduled for the PPV portion of the show!  Here we go! 

Joe Lauzon vs. Anthony Pettis
Lauzon comes into this fight on a two fight winning streak, with wins over Curt Warburton and Melvin Guillard, both coming by Submission in less than 2 minutes each.  Pettis meanwhile is trying to get himself back in title contention, as he won his last fight, a split decision over Jeremy Stephens back in October, after a crushing loss to Clay Guida that caused him to miss out on a title shot last year.  Both are fight finishers, and this should be a hell of a battle between two guys who are good on the ground.  Pettis may have better hands than Lauzon, but Lauzon has won 5 of his 21 career wins by KO/TKO as well, so you can’t sleep on his hands either.  In the end, I think the experience factor is going to win out here and Lauzon will wear down Pettis and submit him, probably in the 2nd round I’d guess. 

Hatsu Hioki vs. Bart Palaszewski
Hioki comes in with a five fight win streak, and also has won 10 of his last 11.  Palaszweski is coming off a win himself, and has won 5 of his last 6.  This is one of those fights where if it stays on the feet, Palaszweski has the edge, but if it goes to the ground, I see Hioki having the edge there.  Hioki obviously has the home court advantage as well, but, since “every fight starts on the feet”, Palaszweski is likely to catch him at some point and put him down.  Palaszweski by KO/TKO is most likely the way I see this ending. 

Yushin Okami vs. Tim Boetsch
Boetsch is a beast at 185, a big, big man who is 2-0 since dropping down in weight.  He’s got a super tough opponent in Okami, who is coming off his TKO loss in a Middleweight Title fight with Anderson Silva.  Okami is tough though as mentioned.  In his last 22 fights, he is 18-4, with those four coming to Jake Shields, Rich Franklin, Chael Sonnen, and Anderson Silva, all top, top level fighters.  Is Boetsch anywhere near that level?  Well, this fight may help us figure that out.  Okami certainly has an experience advantage, but as seen with Silva, he can be KO’d.  Boetsch doesn’t have a KO since moving to 185, but certainly has the power to do so.  All that said, I just think the experience will be too much, and Okami will get a submission or decision win here.  He is at a different level than Boetsch at this point. 

Yoshihiro Akiyama vs. Jake Shields
I mean no disrespect to Akiyama, and I know he’s on the card because he’s a “big deal” in Japan and what not, but he’s 1-3 in the UFC, and frankly, I thought he lost the fight to Belcher as well and should be 0-4.  When you get tapped out by Chris Leben, I don’t like your chances in the least against a guy like Shields who is worlds better than Leben on the ground.  To me, this is likely the easiest pick I’ll make on the card, Shields by Submission.  If Akiyama is lucky, he might lose a decision, but he ain’t winning this fight. 

Cheick Kongo vs. Mark Hunt
If you are looking for a clinic in submissions and quick switches on the ground and all that, you probably will want to look somewhere else.  This is going to be two huge heavyweights standing in front of each other and pounding the hell out of each other.  Hunt has only been KO’d once in his career, and has two straight wins in the division.  I have never been a big fan of Kongo, every time I start to like him, he has a performance that just makes me shake my head and wonder what the heck he’s doing.  Hunt is a big underdog on the betting lines for this fight, and frankly, I think he’d be a strong play, as he’s got every chance in the world to KO Kongo.  I’m going with the upset, Mark Hunt by KO/TKO!

Quinton Jackson vs. Ryan Bader
This is a fight I really want to see, because it says a lot about the future of the Light Heavyweight division.  Bader is a fast rising star, who clearly needs to learn not to get caught in guillotine chokes.  Rampage is a star at the tail end of his career, but is still really dangerous, especially in the punching game.  Is Rampage really into this fight though?  I know he wanted a “bigger name” to fight in Japan, so is he perhaps taking Bader lightly?  Bader is a great wrestler, and I think he has a real chance to frustrate Jackson on the ground.  Given that I’m not sure Rampage fully knows what a guillotine choke is, I don’t think Bader will have to be too concerned about that on a shot in, so I think he will shoot as often as he can and try to ground and pound and ride his way to a decision victory over one of the top names in the game.  Bader by decision.

UFC Lightweight Title
Frankie Edgar (C) vs. Ben Henderson
This is the fight between the two fighters who (all due respect to Gilbert Melendez), I believe are the absolute best two fighters in the world today at 155.  It’s a great style matchup, with Edgar’s quickness against Henderson’s relentlessness and non-stop motor that just goes on for days.  I could go either way on this fight, and likely have changed my mind more on this fight than any I’ve ever tried to pick.  Edgar is so tough to pick against, because every time you do, he wins, again.  He’s 14-1-1, with both the loss and draw coming againt Gray Maynard who he defeated by TKO the last time out.  Yet, Henderson is 15-2, with his last loss being the final fight in the WEC against Anthony Pettis (that was the fight Pettis hit that crazy running kick off the fence).  He’s rebounded nicely with three straight decision victories against tough opponents in Mark Bocek, Jim Miller and Clay Guida.  As I’m writing this, I’m going with my original prediction, it’s going to be a fight of the year candidate, and after all is said and done, your winner by a 48-47 score will be Ben Henderson, the new UFC Lightweight Champion!

Are you excited for the card?  Looking forward to any fights in particular?  Chime in here or interact with us on Facebook as well!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Elimination Chamber React!

The Road to WrestleMania XXVIII continued to be paved last night as WWE Elimination Chamber came to fans live from Milwaukee and on Pay-Per-View.  Check out the respective take’s of Tom and Jim in the aftermath of last night’s events!

Tom’s Take:
WWE’s Elimination Chamber was a much stronger show that last month’s Royal Rumble.  As I watched last night, I was constantly entertaining and engaged in the on-goings as they pertained to the wrestlers involved and the stories surrounding them.  Is it possible to nitpick?  Absolutely, but I’ve decided that I really won’t go that route in this take.  The positives outnumbered the negatives and that made me happy.

I was shocked that the show opened with RAW Chamber Match.  Ahead of the show, I was almost certain this was the main event and would close the show.  Also, it has been a long, long time where the strongest match on the show was the opening contest…yet, most openers don’t go 35+ minutes!  A clean shaven CM Punk retained his title (as I successfully picked on Friday!) and did so with the story between he and Chris Jericho nowhere near resolution.  I wasn’t the biggest fan of the way Jericho was outed of the match, but it was a “smart” way to do it without having him lose and keep the interest/issue between he and Punk going.  I look forward to their bout at WrestleMania without a doubt.  Other thoughts: Dolph Ziggler going out before The Miz was a head scratcher.  Ziggler was outstanding in this match, taking endless punishment!  When will WWE really get behind the Zig Zag Man?  Hopefully at ‘Mania.  Kofi Kingston was also a stand-out in this match and with the team of Air Bourne being done (most likely), I hope Kofi gets more opportunity to rise.

Beth Phoenix-Tamina Snuka was a good Divas Title Match.  The story of “The Glamazon” being just so dominant is a good one.  She has competitive matches but comes out in the end on top.  Will Kharma be the one to finally prove to be the challenge she cannot overcome?  Time will tell.

The John Laurinaitis segment was fun, if for no other reason than to see Alberto Del Rio and Christian again.  I feel like the whole “GM of BOTH shows” story is coming up because of election season, but perhaps I am wrong.  Could it be the heels aligning with Laurinaitis and the faces aligning with Teddy Long?  If so, it would be a perfect tie-in to a “Bragging Rights” or “Survivor Series” –style match, but that is just wishful thinking on my part.

The Smackdown Chamber Match was a pleasant surprise, in that as it went on, it did get progressively better.  Beginning the bout with Big Show and Wade Barrett gave it a flat start to me.  Randy Orton’s absence was very noticeable, but I continue to be amazed by Santino Marella.  For the scuttlebutt and the apparent on-line disdain for Santino, the people in Milwaukee were going crazy for him last night.  Isn’t that a staple of what wrestling is all about?  Making a connection with fans and getting them to invest in you?  Santino did that better than half of the wrestlers on the show last night.  Was it magic in a bottle, right place, right time or something else?  Regardless, it made the final stretch of the this Chamber match the most dramatic thing of the night!  My only minor complaint on the match was that the Big Show-Daniel Bryan issue was not fully resolved to me and I would have liked to see that.  Bryan getting the win and going to WrestleMania as defending champion is very awesome to me, having first seen him live in a small Philadelphia venue 10 years ago.  Sheamus’ post-match involvement made sense too and gave a nice nod to PPV continuity as he made his “choice” of which title he’d be going after thanks to his Rumble win.

Jack Swagger-Justin Gabriel was somewhat of a throwaway match.  The basis for their “issue” was created just minutes beforehand and spoke to the times where it comes across that WWE doesn’t even attempt to develop issues/feuds/rivalries.  On paper, I could see this being a fun match, but that means it would be more than just an after thought when it comes together during the show.  To me, it comes across as more “time filler” instead of “anything can happen in the WWE!”

The Ambulance Match as the main event was a shocker to me, if for no other reason than it displaced the Chamber bouts.  For the TV time and more invested, it did make good sense to see Cena look to end his issue with Kane on top.  I make no bones about it, I am a Cena fan.  I don’t ever have issue with where WWE places him.  His earned and is worth all that he gets.  This match certainly exceeded my expectations and all of the “stunts” aside, it was main event worthy to me.  It ended with the proper close of Cena speaking to the camera, standing tall heading towards his encounter with The Rock and the WrestleMania logo in the background.  Cena vs. Rock should be epic and I cannot wait!

Jim’s Take:
Elimination Chamber has come and gone, and we are in the express lane on that Road to Wrestlemania! 

All in all the show did what I expected it to.  We are all set now for Punk vs. Jericho at Mania, as well as Bryan vs. Sheamus.  It also seems to have (at least for now) ended the Cena/Kane storyline so Cena can move on to more pressing matters (and frankly for me, more interesting matters), namely his main event match that has been one year in the making against The Rock at Wrestlemania. 

I do have to agree with Tom that I was very surprised the Raw Chamber opened the show, I had also thought it would be the main event, and was disappointed to see it open the show, but it did it’s job it seems.  Kofi Kingston definitely needs to be pushed as a top guy right up there with Cena/Punk on the top of Raw, so I hope we continue to see that.  He has more than earned it, and we’ve seen a few times that it seems he would be able to carry the ball, if only creative would actually give him the damn thing! 

Tamina Snuka has been built up nicely, but it was obvious she was going to be the “flavor of the month challenger” for Phoenix.  Let’s hope we start a build towards Phoenix/Kharma tonight as I think that’s a GREAT woman’s match to add to Wrestlemania (provided they give them more than 30 seconds).  I do hope however that they try to keep Snuka strong…they have to figure out that if there are more than 1-3 ladies strong at any given time, that’s actually a good thing! 

I think that the GM angle isn’t going to go to Bragging Rights or Survivor Series.  The way that WWE burns through angles with reckless abandon, it could be decided as early as Raw, but most likely they’ll have some sort of match at Wrestlemania where each has a wrestler or wrestlers representing them, with the winner becoming GM of both shows.  Eh.  Hope the match will be good at least, be interesting to see who Long picks, given that it looks like Del Rio, Christian, Henry and Otunga could represent Laurinaitis

The Smackdown Chamber may just have made a star out of Santino.  The guy actually can work when they let him, so I’d love to see them make him a bit more serious in the ring, he could evolve into a solid mid-carder.  I love the comedy stuff, don’t get me wrong, but if there is a way to mix that with some actual wrestling skill (which he has), that would be really fun to watch develop.  Bryan winning was the only way they could really go in this match, especially with Orton out, and frankly, he’s earned the right to have a featured World Title match at Wrestlemania.  Now, let’s hope they don’t do what they did with Del Rio/Edge last year and have the World Title start off the show.  Sheamus coming out and choosing Bryan made total sense, and it’s sweet revenge for both guys since their match last year got cut for time restrictions. 

Swagger/Gabriel, totally agreed with Tom, no build, no nothing, just looks like someone in creative went “we gotta fill some time….umm…how about Swagger and Gabriel, yeah, let’s do that”.  Heck, there had been more build to Primo/Epico vs. The Usos lately, that could have gone here just as easily.  Or Hunico vs. Dibiase…something that actually had a moment of build…oh well. 

While I’m not crazy about the Ambulance Match ending the PPV, it ends the feud, and sounds like it was a decent enough match.  I freely admit that my distain for the angle in general has clouded any hope of me liking the match.  I’m ready to move on to Cena/Rock, big time! 

Well, after the Head 2 Head tally is all done for Elimination Chamber, Tom was perfect in his predictions, while I missed my Raw Chamber prediction of Jericho, leaving us tied up at 7-5 each going into Wrestlemania!  Bring it on for ‘Mania Tom!!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Head 2 Head: WWE Elimination Chamber

We’re back with the second installment of Head 2 Head here at Two Spot Monkeys! Just a reminder of the stakes: Tom and I are competing to see who can be more successful predicting the outcome of the matches at WWE Pay Per View’s this year. Whichever person loses will have to purchase a shirt of the opponent’s favorite NFL team and wear it to the first show Tom and I attend together live in 2013. Currently after the Royal Rumble, I am 4-4, and Tom is 3-5. Let’s get to our look at the Elimination Chamber! (Fair warning: Smackdown Spoilers appear in the thoughts below!)

Divas Title Match
Beth Phoenix (C) vs. Tamina Snuka

JIM: They have done a nice job of building up Tamina over the last month or so, and I love her now using her last name as well. When someone is a 2nd generation superstar, and they are presented as that, but don’t use the same last name (or one at all), it comes off weird to me (don’t get me started on Michael McGuillicutty’s name). That being said, I really think we are headed towards Beth Phoenix vs. a returning Kharma at Wrestlemania, so I just don’t’ see any way Tamina gets the win here. Down the road though, I could absolutely see her with the Divas Title. My prediction is Beth Phoenix in this one.

TOM: From seeing the re-tweets that WWE is sending via Twitter, they are really pushing Beth Phoenix as truly unbeatable. I do like the idea of Tamina utilizing her family name, but in the end she will be another notch on the champions resume of successful defenses. My prediction is Beth Phoenix.

Ambulance Match
John Cena vs. Kane

JIM: This could be my favorite match of the show, but only because it means this awful storyline will finally (hopefully) be over! It has been painful to watch a bad horror movie play out for a couple of months now, so it is nice to know it ends this Sunday. Ultimately, one of these guys is in the main event of Wrestlemania facing The Rock, and the other isn’t. No question here, my prediction is John Cena.

TOM: My wondering is “Can the maximize the storyline here of Kane getting John Cena to ‘Embrace The Hate’?” That is what I was hoping for at Royal Rumble and based on TV it had continued to challenge Cena in that regard. Aside from the “stunts” that this match should feature, that is my biggest hope. On the flipside, if Cena does indeed embrace hate, what does that really mean? That he’s successful in beating Kane? That he is really ready to face The Rock? We shall see and I am not holding my breath in hopes that the story concludes in any satisfactory way. John Cena wins and that is my prediction.

World Heavyweight Title – Elimination Chamber Match
Daniel Bryan (C) vs. The Big Show vs. Santino Marella vs. Wade Barrett vs. Cody Rhodes vs. The Great Khali

JIM: With Randy Orton’s injury meaning he’s going to miss this match, to me, the only way you can go is Daniel Bryan retaining and go with him and Sheamus at Wrestlemania. You can then either have Orton/Barrett, or somehow work Orton into a three way with Bryan and Sheamus. Big Show has another match already in the cards for ‘Mania (I’ll keep this spoiler free for those who don’t know who he’s facing). I just don’t see Barrett or Rhodes walking into the biggest show of the year as the World Champion, not in their first month as champ. Both will be World Champion someday, but this is not the time. And Khali and Marella have no chance in hell, so honestly, the only way they can go here is Daniel Bryan winning this match. Whatever they need to do to setup their planned Mania matches, do it after this one (unless it’s just Bryan/Sheamus planned, in which case, this is easy!) My prediction is Daniel Bryan.

TOM: What a rough 3 month stretch for Randy Orton, huh? Missing him in this bout puts a lot of spotlight on the other talents and with that spotlight, comes pressure. Compare the star power in this match to the RAW bout and it also pales in comparison. I see Santino getting “Kofi’d” like a few years ago with Edge, but with Mark Henry or possibly Alberto Del Rio getting the other spot. Henry’s inclusion would really allow the story between he, Show and Bryan to wrap up. Del Rio could be the star power spark that this match needs. No matter what, I am eager to see the match play out. I also predict Daniel Bryan to win.

WWE Title – Elimination Chamber Match
CM Punk (C) vs. Chris Jericho vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. R-Truth vs. The Miz vs. Kofi Kingston

JIM: Another match where there are only two real possibilities here. Ziggler, Truth, Miz and Kingston are all good talents and the quality of this match will likely far exceed the quality of the Smackdown match, however, there is no chance any of those four win the title here. Punk vs. Jericho at Mania is obviously where they are going for Mania, so the question here is, does Punk retain the title here and head to Mania as the defending champion, or does Jericho somehow win the title and Punk gets his rematch at Wrestlemania? I can really go either way with that one, as you can create a great story out of either one. Hmmm…I guess my official prediction will be Chris Jericho winning the title here, somehow “stealing” it from Punk.

TOM: This is the match I am most interested in. It speaks very loudly on how those involved have been built and positioned heading into this contest. I share the same ideas to an extent, as Jim. As big a fan of Dolph Ziggler as I am, this is not yet his time. This will come down to Punk and Jericho and while historically this show (be it called Elimination Chamber or its former name, No Way Out) has often shaken up the champions headed into WrestleMania, I am going to side with the “surprise” of both champions being successful and heading to Miami as defending their titles. CM Punk is my pick here, but Jericho will still oppose him at WrestleMania!

There you go – it will be another close weekend for picks.

Can Tom pull neck and neck with Jim or will Jim extend his lead?

Check back early next week for ‘REACT.’

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Wrestling Bucket List

So, we all know the idea of a “Bucket List”. The things you want to accomplish before your time on this earth is done. Today, we want to take a look at our “Wrestling Bucket Lists”. That is, what are the things as a fan of pro wrestling that we each think you should do before you leave this earth. Some of the things we may have already “accomplished”, which we will note, but certainly, some are yet to happen!

Jim’s Wrestling Bucket List

1. Attend Wrestlemania Live – CHECK: It is the “granddaddy of them all”, and the biggest show in pro wrestling each year. Even if you aren’t a huge fan of the current WWE product, you owe it to yourself to check out the pageantry and atmosphere of it at least once. And hey, there are always a bunch of other wrestling themed things happening in the city it’s in each year too, so a perfect time to check out a ROH or DGUSA show, or Axxess, or something else. I’ve been lucky enough to attend Wrestlemania 23, 24, 26 and 27. I certainly plan to make another few in the years to come!

2. Attend a WWE live event in Madison Square Garden: It’s WWE’s home base, and likely the most famous wrestling venue in America, and next to maybe the Tokyo Dome, likely the world. I would have loved to have made it there before the renovations, but alas, it didn’t happen. I hope to someday make it to at least one show there.

3. Get a picture with your all time favorite wrestler if possible – CHECK: Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat is my all time favorite, and I had the chance to meet him at a ROH show in 2004. Really an awesome moment for me, the picture came out somewhat dark though, as the guy I asked to take the photo of us didn’t use the flash, and it was a disposable camera, so I was unaware. It’s an ok photo, but I would love the chance to update it.

4. Attend a live event at the “ECW Arena”: Well, this one will likely never be fulfilled for me, as it seems we have seen the last of shows at the Arena, but, honestly, this has been on my list for quite a while. Perhaps one day shows will return there and I’ll get a chance.

5. Be sure to sit in the front row for a show – CHECK: I’ve sat all over the arena for shows, and there is just nothing like sitting in the front row. You may have a chance to interact with the wrestlers and of course, no one (outside of camera guys and managers) are in your way! Do it, if only for an indy show!

6. Attend the Royal Rumble live: To me, the Rumble is always a favorite match to watch, and I would love to see it live. This year it was actually close enough, in St. Louis, but due to a variety of reasons, I wasn’t able to go. Hopefully it will be back in the Midwest sometime in the next few years and I can get there to check it out!

I am going to take a little different direction from Jim on my list, in that I am listing things only that I have yet to accomplish:

Tom’s Wrestling Bucket List

1. Attend a WWE live event in Madison Square Garden: As Jim states, it is the “home” venue of WWWF/WWF/WWE and the most famous venue in the United States. Be it a pay-per-view, TV event or a house show, seeing wrestling at MSG is a big goal of mine. Having been in NYC for ROH many times before, I’ve walked right by this venue. I hope my next time is to attend wrestling there!

2. Attend a WrestleReunion Weekend in California: This just wrapped up for the year a little over 1 week ago, bringing Dragon Gate USA, Pro Wrestling Superstars and Pro Wrestling Guerrila live events, wrestling legends, photo opportunities and so much more. It comes across like such an amazing weekend and one as well that challenges your “wrestling stamina.” I really hope, maybe as early as next year, to get to L.A. and take one of these in.

3. Attend a live Pro Wrestling Guerrila event in Reseda: Now, you may ask why would see PWG twice, especially if you can see them at WrestleReunion? Well, based on the DVDs I have watched, there is no venue and atmosphere that comes as close to capturing the “magic” of what the ECW Arena had from 1995-2001 than PWG and their venue in Reseda. No ring barriers, the potential for wrestlers flying your way and the overall involvement (including banging on the mat) just draws me in each time I watch and makes me want to be there live.

4. Attend a live UFC event: Diverging a little from the “wrestling” theme of this list, I am throwing a MMA event on here. UFC has run once in Detroit since the growth of the company and I could not hit that event. I imagine they will run again in the Motor City, but even in surrounding areas like Chicago, Indianapolis and more, I would like very much to see the best in MMA clash live.

5. Attend SummerSlam live: This is an important item for me, as I was once planning to go to SummerSlam in 2009, but life events caused that to not occur as planned. Having attending WrestleMania twice and The Royal Rumble once, to me SummerSlam and attending live would complete the trifecta of the “big” 3 for WWE events.

6. Meet John Cena: This may shock some people - I am a really big Cena fan and supporter. He comes across as one of the most genuine wrestlers and I feel like his “character” is more of who he is in real life than possibly any wrestler before him. Getting a chance to meet Cena would be an opportunity to see the larger life person who comes across on WWE programming up close and personal.

So, there you go. Jim and I have opened up and allowed you a peek into our worlds. What is on your personal bucket list as it relates to wrestling? Leave a comment below or “Like” us on Facebook to bring the conversation over there!