Friday, April 27, 2012

Head 2 Head: WWE Extreme Rules

Here we go again with another edition of Head 2 Head here at Two Spot Monkeys!  Tom has pulled ahead after Wrestlemania, 12-8 to 11-9 over Jim.  Will the standings change after Extreme Rules?  We shall see!  Jim will be live in Chicago for Extreme Rules, so look for a live report to be posted here on Monday! 

US Title Match – Pre-show
Santino Marella (C) vs. The Miz

JIM:  Wow, how far the mighty have fallen.  The Miz wins the main event of Wrestlemania 27, then wins the 12 man tag at Wrestlemania 28, which gives John Lauranitis control of both Raw and Smackdown, and his thank you gift at the next PPV is a pre-show match against Santino Marella for the US Title.  Ugh.  I have heard he is a bit in the dog house, and it seems fairly certain here.  On top of that, I see no chance of him winning here, Marella goes over for sure. 

TOM:  I have to admit, when I caught RAW last Monday and this was advertised, I wondered “Why?”  Santino was pretty over and I believe remains over with the fans.  Miz, well, Jim summed his drop pretty well.  Could WWE book a title change to make their pre-show or YouTube shows mean more?  Possibly, but I don’t think they care enough…yet.  Santino gets the win.

Intercontinental Title Match – Stipulation To Be Determined
The Big Show (C) vs. Cody Rhodes

JIM:  This is the biggest pick’em on the show for me, as I can make a good case either way.  Show has only had the title since ‘Mania, so, to take it off him so soon might seem strange.  But, the story was about Show getting a “Wrestlemania Moment”.  He’s done that…so what’s left for him?  Unless Cody Rhodes is headed to the main event (and it doesn’t seem like he is yet), I think you put the IC belt back on him and let him have another good run with it.  Cody Rhodes by shenanigans is my pick!

TOM:  I’m somewhat surprised this isn’t Show vs. Alberto Del Rio.  That is the way I though things were building, yet I am glad Cody get his title shot.  With the stip not being announced until Sunday, it really does make this a pick’em of sorts, as Jim alludes to.  Show has been booked like crap since winning the title, but Cody hasn’t been a world beater either…  I guess it comes down to would Cody re-gaining the title or Show dropping it to someone else mean more?  I go with the latter and thus, Big Show is my pick.

Falls Count Anywhere
Randy Orton vs. Kane

JIM:  As most of you know, I just haven’t been into anything Kane has done since he’s been back.  I really expected Orton to win at Mania and end the feud, but this HAS to be the end of the feud.  I hate Falls Count Anywhere matches when I’m at a WWE show live, as invariably we’ll end up watching the screen for a good part of it while they are backstage…but oh well.  Orton has to win here right?  I mean…right?  Yeah, I’ll go with him. 

TOM:  I am more apathetic to this feud than Jim...and that says something because he dislikes Kane and this matter something fierce.  Randy Orton, final answer.

World Heavyweight Title Match – 2 out of 3 Falls
Sheamus (C) vs. Daniel Bryan

JIM:  I really want to pick Bryan here, I really do.  But, it’s only because he’s on of my favorites going right now (and has been moving up my list of all time favorites for years as well).  So, selfishly, I want Bryan as World Champ, because he’s just awesome.  But, let’s be honest here, Sheamus is obviously a guy who WWE is behind in a big way.  Honestly, if he has any chance to get over as champ, they need to get him away from Bryan for now as quickly as they can, as the crowds are going to turn on him even more as time goes on if he stays programmed with Bryan.  My guess is Sheamus goes down 0-1 to start the match, and then has to play catch up, and wins 2-1, and moves on to Alberto Del Rio next. 

TOM:  No this is where business should pick up.  I am just giddy that there were be more than one fall in this match, so even if something cheap (like ‘Mania) goes down, there will be more to the body of the match.  One thing that is strongly on my mind is that Alberto Del Rio already has an earned title match in waiting and he seems likely to challenge at “Over The Limit” in May.  Sheamus wins here, but Daniel Bryan hopefully remains strong YES! YES! YES!

WWE Title – Chicago Street Fight
CM Punk (C) vs. Chris Jericho

JIM:  I really expected Jericho to win at Wrestlemania to set up Punk winning here in his home town.  But, with Jericho apparently getting ready to head back out with Fozzy before long here, I think Punk gets his vindication here and destroys Jericho in a hell of a Street Fight.  Part of me wouldn’t be shocked at a Jericho win, but in my heart of hearts, I gotta go with CM Punk in this one!

TOM:  I was ready to pick Jericho here, but Jim’s note about Fozzy gives me second thoughts.  This has been really weird, because for the strength of Jericho’s psychological games he has played on Punk, you’d think he’d be more in his head going into this match.  Punk turned the tide on that last Monday and does seal this feud and moves on from Jericho with a big win in his hometown of Chicago.

Extreme Rules Match
John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar

JIM:  I am so, so pumped to see this live!  Lesnar’s return to a WWE ring, and in an Extreme Rules match, so it should hide any ring rust he’s got in a wrestling ring.  You don’t bring Lesnar back to have him job to Super Cena one month later, you’ve got to build up Lesnar as the unstoppable monster, so Lesnar absolutely has to win here, and probably goes to Raw to make even more demands of Johnny Ace.  Brock Lesnar is the winner here, and it should be a hell of a lot of fun getting there!

TOM:  I gotta say, I am going to be less than 30 minutes from the venue and the live PPV Sunday with my family, but after a day at the Aquarium and ROH the night before, I just can’t pull this show off.  And to add to it, it is FREAKIN’ Cena-Lesnar!!!  A twist was thrown in with Brock on Monday as he made high demands on John Laurinaitis and they were met.  I am intrigued if WWE allows faux-MMA to make up this contest, as Brock uses that as an asset versus the weaponry employed by Cena.  In the end, Brock has to win.  You don’t bring him back without big-time plans and you begin to get to those plans with a significant win over the face of WWE.

There you have it.  Jim and Tom differ by 1 pick yet again.  Will it even the score or will Tom’s lead increase?  Check back for our live reaction to the weekend and REACT as well early next week!

Preview: ROH “Unity” 4/28 Chicago , IL

To say I am excited would be an understatement.

 This Saturday night, I get the chance to experience live professional wrestling for the first time in almost 1 year! The last event I had the opportunity to attend was ROH Revolution: USA in May 2011 from Dearborn , Michigan . Since that time, family, work and the birth of my son in August have rightfully taken priority in my life.

 My fellow contributor Jim will also be in Chicago and truly gets his “pro wrestling holiday” as he will take in the CHIKARA event in the afternoon on Saturday (preview posted), then ROH and finally WWE’s Extreme Rules (Head 2 Head to come) with Brock Lesnar’s WWE in-ring return against John Cena!

 I decided to take a look at the ROH “Unity” show as part of the doubleheader of the day and Synergy with CHIKARA. Let’s get right to it! Ring of Honor’s approach to focus on the theme of “Unity” and an all-tag match format is interesting. Each match is going to need to offer something unique and interesting to keep the crowd engaged and not burned out on Saturday. I am excited for all of the matches, so more so than others.

ROH World Tag Team Title Match The Briscoe Brothers (C) vs. Jigsaw & Hallowicked

This match is a result of the CHIKARA duo winning their “Proving Ground” Match in January at “The Homecoming” event.  

The Briscoes are calling out to the ROH Locker Room and wondering if they will have their backs in Chicago . I expect this to be a great match, which I think Jay & Mark retain. I don’t believe the ROH-CHIKARA partnership or connect ends this weekend, but with the upcoming feud ending bouts with WGTT of Haas & Benjamin, The Briscoes being the champs in those bouts adds more to their meaning.

Davey Richards & Kyle O'Reilly vs. Charlie Haas & Shelton Benjamin

This is an interesting match up on paper. Haas & Benjamin have certainly changed their tune in ROH and are more aggressive than ever before. Davey & Kyle are still early on in their teaming, but have the deep background as training partners as part of Team Ambition. O’Reilly, as well, has shown signs of not caring about the fans or their cheers. This has the chance to be the most athletic match on the card. A win over Davey by Haas or Benjamin could lead to a ROH World Title shot. This is also a case where I am not sure the direction for either team really in the aftermath of this bout. I will go with WGTT as the pick, to increase/create tension between Davey & Kyle.

All Night Express vs. Roderick Strong & Michael Elgin

By this point, many people that I know and discuss wrestling with fully expected the cracks in foundation of Strong & Elgin as the House of Truth to be on the verge of finally breaking. Nothing could be further from the truth. While Strong & Elgin’s teaming is still somewhat infrequent, they are unified by Truth Martini and both are experiencing greatness; Strong winning the ROH World TV Title and becoming the 2nd ever ROH Triple Crown wrestler, Elgin being a part of many people’s current top Match of the Year candidate with Davey Richards less than one month ago in Ft. Lauderdale as he was SO close to winning the ROH World Title. Their opponents, Kenny King & Rhett Titus, are looking to recapture the momentum that they had before Rhett Titus suffered a knee injury in late 2011. They are getting back into the groove as a team and they have their sights set on becoming ROH World Tag Team Champions, with a title shot from a previous “Proving Ground” match in their back pockets. I expect a good match and that the ANX (as they are on the path towards their eventual title match) get the win.

ROH vs. CHIKARA Trios Action Jay Lethal, Adam Cole & TJ Perkins vs. The Colony of Fire Ant, Soldier Ant & Green Ant

This match is going to be fun! While the ROH trio is kinda thrown together, The Colony have tremendous experience in this type of match. TJP and Fire Ant did battle in Ft. Lauderdale , with TJP getting the win. I just plan to sit back and get “lost” in the action. Again, depending on where the ROH-CHIKARA relationship goes from here, either team could win. I am going to go with The Colony to get the W on ROH turf.

Kevin Steen & Jimmy Jacobs vs. El Generico & BJ Whitmer

This is probably the match I am most interested in. Kevin Steen is the most interesting and engaging thing going in ROH (and likely all of wrestling) today. He has “infected” Jimmy Jacobs and they continue to battle with rival El Generico and the returning BJ Whitmer. Any ROH fan worth his or her salt knows the history between Jacobs & Whitmer, so that adds a great element to this grudge battle. I expect this the match to be violent and possibly bloody. Steen & Jacobs will get the win.

The Young Bucks vs. The Bravado Brothers

The Bravado Bandwagon rolls back into ROH!!! Harlem & Lancelot return from their tour of Pro Wrestling NOAH and to ROH rings here. While not successful in the ring much during 2011, they did make their mark with fans. Has their in-ring work improved from their time in Japan ? I hope so and cannot wait to see! They will battle Matt & Nick Jackson, The Young Bucks. These teams have a little history as well, with The Bucks previously being dominant over the boys from North Carolina . My honest opinion is that each team is going in different directions. The Bucks are almost done with their feud with ANX and The Bravados have a clean slate to build-on. I think they begin here and get a surprise, impressive win here.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Chikara: Hot Off The Griddle Preview!

On Saturday afternoon, Chikara returns to Chicago, IL for “Hot off the Griddle” at the Frontier Fieldhouse as part of “Synergy” with Ring of Honor.  This will be my first live Chikara experience, and I’m really looking forward to the show!  Let’s take a look at the card! 

Archibald Peck vs. Kobald

Peck is now doing a “Mixed Martial Archie” character.  He’s a great fit here in Chikara and is a great comedy character.  Kobald is a “goblin” who does a lot of screaming, so this will be pure comedy, and probably will be a ton of fun.  Peck has been played as a patsy for the most part, so I’m thinking Kobald gets the win, unless they want to get behind the new character. 

Arik Cannon & Darin Corbin vs. The Young Bucks

A match between two teams that aren’t usual members of the roster.  Cannon of course is best known as one of the D.U.F. in DGUSA and Evolve, and Corbin is a Midwest based guy who formerly formed The Northwest Express with Cannon and Ryan Cruz.  They should make a decent team.  However, I just don’t see any way they get a win here, unless they’ll be in more regularly, which I don’t expect, so I think More Bang For Your Buck leads to the win for the Bucks here. 

3.0 & The Spectral Envoy vs. The Bravado Brothers, Tim Donst & Jakob Hammermeier

I am VERY excited to see the Bravados on both this card and the ROH card, as it will be very interesting to see what they learned at the NOAH dojo over the last 3 months.  3.0 reigning as the Campeonatos de Parejas seems to give them the edge here, along with the fact that Hallowicked and Ultramantis Black are higher on the card than the former BDK members Donst & Hammermeier.  Donst has been screaming to get a one on one match with Hallowicked, so the interaction here will be interesting to watch.  One of two things happens, either 3.0 gets the win for their team, or Donst chokes out Hallowicked to try and get him to give him that one on one match, I would assume at the next iPPV. 

The Throwbacks vs. The Batiri

Both teams are looking to get their first point towards a future shot at the Campeonatos de Parejas.  The Throwbacks seem to have some dissension in their ranks as the uber good guy Dasher Hatfield seems to be taking exception with Mr. Touchdown’s hyper competitiveness.  The Batiri on the other hand are as united as ever as they continue a feud with Sara Del Rey.  I think we’ll see some miscommunication between The Throwbacks, leading to The Batiri picking up their first point to start to head back towards another title shot. 

Sara Del Rey vs. El Generico

Easily the match (not involving Kevin Steen) that I am most excited for on this double header.  It’s going to be really fun to watch these two work together, as they are both among the best in the world at what they do.  Not much more I can say except that it will likely be worth the cost of the DVD to check this match out when it’s over!  I see Del Rey getting the win since Generico isn’t a regular here. 

Handicap Match
Gran Akuma vs. Icarus, Johnny Gargano & Chuck Taylor

Akuma has been in a trial series that somehow Icarus got him put in where if he loses, he’s gone from Chikara.  So, this is another way of Icarus trying to get Akuma gone from Chikara, this time in a 3 vs. 1 handicap match with all three members of F.I.S.T.  I really don’t see how Akuma wins this one, but I also don’t see him leaving Chikara, so perhaps Gregory Iron will come down and help Akuma (since Iron has said he’ll be in Chicago I believe).  I’ll go with Akuma in a big upset here!

The Colony & Jigsaw vs. The Swarm & The Shard

The Swarm, The Shard, and 17 have been tormenting The Colony, Jigsaw and Mike Quackenbush.  There are a ton of theories out there about who the members of Gekido are, and whether they are “alternate versions” of the original Chikara roster members, or exactly what is going on.  I am very excited to see this as most of the matches between the factions so far have been wars, and this should be no different.  I think you keep giving The Swarm and The Shard wins since once they are defeated, what does that mean for the rest of the story? 

Chikara Grand Championship
Eddie Kingston (C) vs. Kevin Steen

Steen is RED HOT right now, and frankly this will just be awesome.  Kingston and Steen will beat the hell out of each other and we will all enjoy them doing it!  Part of me thinks Steen winning the Chikara title would be a huge swerve and lead to all sorts of craziness, but at this point, I just can’t see Chikara putting a ROH guy over their top guy, so I see Kingston winning this one, maybe after some interference from someone like El Generico or something.  Either way, this will be a war!

I am really excited to be headed to Chicago for both parts of Synergy, as well as Extreme Rules on Sunday.  Look for some sort of recap/live show thoughts to be posted on Monday as I look back at the weekend! 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

WrestleMania XXVIII REACT!

WrestleMania XXVIII is in the books, and we have a new leader in the Head 2 Head competition here at Two Spot Monkeys! Tom went 5-3, while Jim went 4-4 in his picks, so Tom takes the lead, 12-8 to 11-9. Let’s see how we do in Extreme Rules later this month (which Jim will be attending live!). Let’s take a look at our reaction to Wrestlemania (and sorry for the delayed REACTion)!


All in all Wrestlemania was a good show to me, it had three really strong matches, and some ok work underneath. What kept it from being a “great” show was the first match.

I absolutely HATED the Daniel Bryan/Sheamus “match”. 18 seconds? Really? This isn’t Kane and Chavo Guerrero. This is supposedly your top title on the Smackdown side of things. This is a guy who’s had the title since December and been defying the odds against your Royal Rumble winner. I could have dealt with a Sheamus win, and thought about picking that way, but let Bryan lead Sheamus to have a Wrestlemania Moment with a great match on the biggest show of the year, and instead, we got that crap. Just awful, short sighted booking. We’ll see where they go from here with Bryan, but it already appears he’s out of the title picture as it appears we’re going to Sheamus/Del Rio. UGH.

Kane/Orton was what I expected, until the finish. Kane goes over clean on Orton? Really? Wow, I sent a text to Tom after this match and asked “who’s booking this show?” I mean, it just made zero sense for Kane to go over clean here. He has bored the hell out of me since his return, and unfortunately it seems we get to continue this feud going forward into Extreme Rules. Snore.

Cody/Big Show was pretty ok, and while I’d love to have had Cody Rhodes get the big win, it was set up for Big Show to get the win no doubt. I did dig the new entrance gear for Rhodes, thought that was a great look for him. I hope Rhodes gets to move on to a bigger feud here next…I’d really like to see a Rhodes/Orton feud once Orton is done with Kane, I think that could be a fun feud and a good way to bring Rhodes along up the ladder.

The Divas tag was what it was. I was shocked they had an injured non-wrestler pin your Divas Champion in the middle of the ring. I get that the celeb has to win…but seriously, let her pin Eve after Kelly Kelly hits her finisher or something….come on. Again, short sighted booking. Why do I think Phoenix can beat anyone when an injured non-wrestler pinned her?

Then the show really, really picked up! Undertaker vs. Triple H was a great follow up to last year. Not sure that the cage was really needed, as they did very little with it, but I guess you really can’t just do No DQ again or anything. But, that’s a minor complaint really….the match had a ton of drama, and the ending was perfect, including the hugs between all three guys after.

The 12 Man Tag was placed here so that we had a break between big matches, which made sense, and it was what I expected. Johnny Ace looked totally like Brother Love in that crazy suit! As expected, Ace wins, and we get to see him every show now…awesome. Or not. Oh well, at least the guys got a payday!

Punk/Jericho told a really good story and built over time. You could tell they were going long when they started slow, but I was good with that. In the end, they had a great finish, and I loved Punk changing his angle on the Anaconda Vice so that Jericho couldn’t kick him anymore, made so much sense, and worked really well. I liked this match a lot, and had it ranked as the 2nd best match of the night after ‘Taker/HHH.

Brodus…well, he got a payday, that was nice.

Cena/Rock was a CRAZY atmosphere! I could have completely done without the concert pieces before the introductions though. Really, we had to have that? Cut that and at least give Bryan/Sheamus 5-6 minutes. I mean, they were terrible. Added NOTHING to the show, but then once the guys came out, the crowd reacted just as I figured they would. Super hot for Rock, and LOUD boos for Cena. All in all the match was fine for what it was, but no one should have expected a Flair/Steamboat classic here. It was about the atmosphere, which was off the charts. Really surprised that The Rock won, but in the end, I see where it made some sense…Cena kept calling him out, and Rock got to one up him.

I know it sounds like I didn’t like the show, but all in all I did. The three good matches out ranked the not so good, though the Bryan/Sheamus debacle (which may have killed this title run for Sheamus, we shall see) kept it from being great.


I had the opportunity to watch WrestleMania with a big (12 people) group this year. Much different from being in the Georgia Dome last year, but very fun nonetheless. Watching the show with people who have varying levels of interest and engagement in the product is always interesting and as long as they are there to enjoy themselves (they all were) versus crap on it, then I am game!

Show gets a definite thumbs up from me. I won’t go match by match like Jim, but I’d rate the top 3 matches as follows: Punk-Jericho, Rock-Cena and Taker-Triple H. They all were really, really good. To be honest, the endings with Punk retaining and Cena losing actually caught me by surprise. I felt, as I wrote before, that Jericho not winning the title was a bad move. That title and the moniker of “Best in the World” was his driving force since returning in January and then he could not win on the biggest stage. Would it have been feel good to the paying customer? No. Would it have likely made more sense to have it happen, even if dirty and set up Punk to challenge in a re-match for the belt in his hometown in Chicago at Extreme Rules? Very likely. But it did not go that route and I felt that both men looked fantastic. I look forward to the next chapter in this feud.

Rock-Cena was an epic match and lived up to its billing. Like Jim, I could have done without all of the musical entrances (and I am a big fan of the unique Cena entrances each year), but understand their place in the “WrestleMania Landscape.” Both guys just proved to be absolutely incredible at what they do and made magic in the ring. I had some serious doubts on if Rock could “Bring It” and he did. Rock getting the win does not make sense at all to me, especially if he is less of the WWE’s future than Cena, but I have to hold on to hope that it all transpired that way for a reason and it will make sense at some point.

Since the WWE has taught us to “never say never,” I hope that they actually hold to it with “The End of the Era” Match. It was a fitting ending to the story that has played out beginning at WrestleMania 25 and wrapping up here. Three true “Icons” in this sport got to have an incredible display and leave the fans with a memory that will linger on always. I had watched the original match between Taker and Triple H earlier in the day and felt that this really topped their previous effort. Sure, they mimicked much of the big moves from the first bout early, but it was done in a fantastic way that built everything and added such tremendous drama as it all unfolded. One very unique thing to me was the use of the cage (or lack thereof) and the amount of brutal chair shots delivered (and the physical toll that was taken). WWE does that so infrequently that when it does occur, it really means something big and fans then know that they are seeing something much different as part of the “WWE Universe.”

I will end my reactions there. The three biggest matches and memories that I take away from the show. I am eager to re-watch them again when the Blu-Ray DVD comes out in about a month.