Friday, May 24, 2013

UFC 160 Preview!

The UFC is back in action this Saturday night with UFC 160 featuring a Heavyweight Title fight in the main event!  Let’s take a look at the five main card matches!

Lightweight Fight
Donald “The Cowboy” Cerrone vs. KJ “King” Noons

Cerrone is 19-5 overall and is 6-2 in the UFC, though he is coming off a TKO loss to Anthony Pettis at UFC on Fox 6 back in January.  Noons makes his UFC debut, and is 11-6 overall, but has lost 4 of his last 5 fights including his last loss, a controversial split decision loss to Ryan Couture at the final Strikeforce show in January of this year.  Noons is a boxer, and Cerrone is known for his striking too, so this should be a barnburner!  Cerrone is the betting favorite here and I think he’ll strike for a while and then put it on the ground where I do think he’s superior to Noons.  Cerrone by Decision is my pick here, early candidate for Fight of the Night though if things go the right way!

Lightweight Fight
Gray “The Bully” Maynard vs. T.J. Grant

Maynard comes in at 11-1-1 overall and 9-1-1 (with 1 No Contest) in the UFC.  He is coming off a split decision win over Clay Guida last June  Grant is 20-5 overall and 7-3 in the UFC and is riding a four fight winning streak with his latest win being a 1st round TKO of Matt Wiman back in January of this year.  Maynard is a wrestler, but Grant is a submission specialist, so being on the ground may not work to Maynard’s strength in this matchup the way it has in the past.  The oddsmakers have Maynard as the favorite, but I’m going to call the upset on this one and say Grant just may get a submission victory.  If Maynard can keep it standing and striking though, I think he could have a slight advantage.  

Light Heavyweight Fight
Glover Teixeira vs. James Te Huna

Teixeira is a superstar in the making at 20-2 overall and 3-0 in the UFC.  His last win came over former Light Heavyweight Champion, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson in January.  Te Huna is an injury replacement for Ryan Bader here.  Te Huna is 16-5 overall and 5-1 in the UFC with his last fight being a decision win over Ryan Jimmo.  Both of these guys are huge strikers and either guy can end it with one punch, but Teixeira has the edge on the ground in this fight without question in my eyes.  Teixeira is a favorite and he should be.  He shows off his BJJ skills and pulls off the submission win here, and just might be in line for a future Light Heavyweight Title shot with a win, depending on what Jon Jones does next (if that rumored Anderson Silva fight comes to fruition).  

Heavyweight Fight
Junior “Cigano” dos Santos vs. Mark “The Super Samoan” Hunt

dos Santos is of course the former UFC Heavyweight Champion, who comes in as a heavy favorite with his 15-2 record overall and 9-1 record in the UFC.  He is coming off a crushing decision loss to Cain Velasquez in December.  Hunt is only 9-7 overall, but is 4-1 in the UFC, riding a four fight win streak after an initial loss.  He is an injury replacement here for Alistair Overeem and this is easily his biggest fight of his career.  Both guys have KO power in their hands and I expect this to be a slugfest.  Hunt is susceptible to submissions, but I just can’t see it ending that way.  I think either guy has a punchers chance, but dos Santos is so devestating that I think he gets the KO in the 1st or 2nd round, likely setting up the rubber match with he and Velasquez (if Velasquez retains).  

Heavyweight Title Fight
Cain Velasquez vs. Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva

Velasquez is the defending UFC Heavyweight Champion and comes in at 11-1, with a 9-1 UFC record, his only loss being the KO loss to dos Santos, which he avenged by destroying dos Santos in December.  SIlva got this shot after a shocking KO win over Alistair Overeem in February and comes in at 18-4, with a 2-1 record in the UFC.  His one loss though was a totally lopsided three and a half minute beat down by Velasquez last May.  One year later he gets a chance at the ultimate revenge by hoping to take the UFC Heavyweight Title.  Honestly, I just don’t see it.  While I agree he deserves the shot after the Overeem win, I don’t think there is a heavyweight on the planet not named dos Santos that has a shot right now against Velasquez.  The guys is just a beast of a wrestler and has bricks in his hands.  Velasquez wins this one in the first or second by beat down again and goes on to a big money match with dos Santos for the third time.  

So, there you have my picks and predictions, what do you think?  What are you most looking forward to on Saturday night!  Don’t forget there are three fights streaming on Facebook starting at 6:35pm ET, including former WEC champion, Brian Bowles.  Then more prelims on on FX at 8pm ET featuring a very intriguing matchup between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Abel Trujillo, and a welterweight clash between Mike Pyle and Rick Story.  Then the main card kicks off on PPV at 10pm ET!  Enjoy the fights!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Extreme Rules React!

Well, Tom and Jim each went 6-2 in picks that had a finish on Sunday night at Extreme Rules.  Since the John Cena vs. Ryback match ended in a No Contest (more on that in a bit), we’re throwing that match out.  (I mean, who would pick a No Contest in a Last Man Standing match!).  So, with a dead even Extreme Rules, Jim maintains his lead with a 20-6 record, to Tom’s 17-9 record.  Let’s get to our REACT!

Jim’s React

I have alot to say about one particular match, but I’ll start at the beginning of the show and work my way there. 

I wasn’t surprised Jericho won (hence my pick of him), and I’m glad that it seems they had a better back and forth match than Wrestlemania.  I am still really high on Fandango and hope that WWE stays behind him and doesn’t just kill off his push like they have with so many before him (see: Cesaro, Antonio). 
Ambrose winning the US Title setup what was to be The Shield’s night.  I thought he’d lose this match by DQ with the other members attacking Kofi, and lead to an eventual title change down the road, but they went with it here.  It’s clear that Ambrose has a bright, bright future in WWE, which is no surprise to those of us who watched him as Jon Moxley on the indy scene.  First step, first gold, good job Ambrose! 

Sheamus and Del Rio each won, makes sense as it keeps two guys strong to challenge Dolph Ziggler when he is back from his concussion.  I hope they do something with Henry soon though and keep him as the monster he deserves to be.  The guy is money as a beast monster killing everyone in his path! 

Of course I love that The Shield won the tag titles.  It was time to move them off of Bryan and Kane, and while I haven’t seen Raw yet, I like that they had Bryan snap on about losing the titles.  You know, losing a title should make you mad, after all, they are supposed to be important right?  So, great job there.  Reigns and Rollins will make great tag champs and the strong build for The Shield continues.  For all WWE does wrong (and they do plenty), they have gotten this right at almost every turn. 

Interesting in this day of concussion awareness, and with Dolph Ziggler just legit suffering one due to a kick to the head that they had Orton use the punt kick again as a finish in the Extreme Rules match. Don’t get me wrong, they can play it off that it took something that “extreme” to finish off The Big Show (and I expect they will), and I like it.  But, I don’t expect to see the punt kick back anytime soon either...too risky if he hits it flush. 

Ok, this brings us to the WWE Title Match.  What in the blue hell was WWE thinking here?  You have a Last Man Standing match.  You have Ryback killing Cena for most of the match (good, a monster heel should look strong, that’s what makes them a monster!).  Then you have the huge bump to “end the match”...and it’s a No Contest?  Ryback is back to his feet, and it’s a No Contest?  Are you kidding me?  That’s a crappy ending if it’s on Raw, and people actually paid to see this show and this match and that’s the ending you go with?  And then, just to top it off, they put video up on afterwards of Cena “refusing medical attention” and walking off on his own power?!?!  So, Ryback kills him the whole match, lays him out with a hellacious bump, and he walks away?  Does anyone in WWE wonder why people call him “Superman”?  I mean, the guy can’t be bothered to sell for anything, and WWE is A-OK with that it seems (and likely writes it all that way, so I can’t even lay that all on Cena).  Ryback should have won the title, as the money is in the chase of wanting to see the bad guy get his.  Now, you just proved that the bad guy can’t do a damn thing to Cena even after beating the holy hell out of him for the whole match and knocking him out cold.  I know they’ve set up an Ambulance Match (stupid gimmick that I’ve never liked) for Payback...but why do I think he can do anything to make Cena even need an Ambulance?  He didn’t after that beating?  Why should I pay to see that?  Oh yeah, I shouldn’t!  Does WWE understand they are in the business of trying to make money, not turn it away?  UGH.  Just stupid stupid booking on that one. 

Lesnar winning the main event was absolutely the right call, though I do wish they hadn’t had Paul Heyman be the reason for his win.  Lesnar needs to win on his own even as a heel, because that’s the character.  He’s that damn good and that tough.  If anyone hit the cheap shot to lead to the win, it should have been him, not Heyman, but other than that, well done WWE, you got it right (for now at least).  

Tom’s React

Unfortunately, I didn’t see the show as I planned to so I am reacting to & giving my opinions based on what I have read only.

As you could tell from my Head 2 Head picks, I was favoring strong heels going over (Fandango, Mark Henry) and it was what keeps the distance between Jim and I in our competition.

The strong points coming out of this show for me are as follows:

1. The continued build and growth of The Shield.  WWE is doing it right there and they deserve credit.  I will be interested to see who steps up as challengers for the tag titles because Team Hell No was such a strong babyface team that there was no other babyface teams being built up.  Maybe it is a good excuse to turn the Primetime Players or pair up two singles guys like Randy Orton & Sheamus or Kofi Kingston & The Miz.  I, like Jim, love Dean Ambrose winning the U.S. Title.  So deserved.

2.  Brock Lesnar winning his feud with Triple H.  I still don’t know where WWE is going or what they want to do with Lesnar, but with this matter behind him he can move forward.  Maybe an extended feud with John Cena (if Cena loses the title to Ryback in June) or maybe Randy Orton or Sheamus.  Whatever Lesnar does, it needs to be big.  You don’t sign him and feature him for limited dates unless it can make money. 

3.  Del Rio being solidified as #1 Contender.  As much as I still hope WWE gives us a Ladder Match with Ziggler, Del Rio & Swagger, I have my doubts because of the concussion lingering effects that might be present or could be re-triggered if Dolph goes too hard, too fast.  With Ziggler’s legit wrestling background as an amateur (something I cannot recall WWE touting) they could really create something cool between he and Del Rio in a ground-based match that would be extremely safe and of course, play up that Del Rio’s armbar is as dangerous as advertised.  We shall see where it goes next.

My weak points:

1.  The Last Man Standing outcome.  Perhaps they should have had the Ambulance Match on this show and saved the Last Man Standing match for “Payback.”  It’s not just the Super Cena issue, it is bass ackwards booking and I cannot believe WWE doesn’t think that it creates an issue with fans that pay for PPVs.

2.  Mark Henry & Fandango losing.  More than just the difference between Jim and I in the Head 2 Head contest, I think that WWE really should be building up their heels a bit better.  Sure, you do have The Shield, but Henry can pull two semi-trucks on Smackdown, yet cannot use leverage in a Strap Match to beat Sheamus? C’mon, man!  Fandango is the lesser of the two that I have issue with and I still see him winning the feud with Jericho.

3.  Does Jack have any Swagger left?  I know WWE used the “instant replay” gimmick with Swagger’s loss here, but he’s now been bested by Del Rio on the big stage in back to back months.  WWE has every right to pull back on his push after the DUI and marijuana incident a few months back, but do they want to wipe the slate clean after the time investment put into him & Zeb Coulter?

There you have it.  Did you see the show?  What thoughts did you have?  Leave us a comment below and we’ll respond and engage with you.

Check back later this week for a potential UFC preview ahead of Velasquez vs. Bigfoot 2 and do not forget that next week Tuesday night, May 28th we have our next *LIVE* podcast and interview with one of the big stars of Dragon Gate USA/EVOLVE ahead of the EVOLVE tripleshot on May 30, June 1 and June 2.  We will announce just who will be joining us most likely on Memorial Day.  Have a great holiday!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Head 2 Head: Extreme Rules

WWE has its next pay-per-view this weekend with Extreme Rules coming from St. Louis, MO.  Normally Tom and Jim would try to get a podcast up for their Head 2 Head thoughts, but life is very busy this week for each of them, so instead, we present them to you in the blog format!  Heading into this event, Jim has a 14-4 to 11-7 lead over Tom.  This event can potentially create an insurmountable lead for Jim or see Tom creep closer back in the hunt.  Let’s take a look at what each Spot Monkey thinks we’ll see on Sunday night!  

Pre-show Match
The Miz vs. Cody Rhodes

JIM:  This is only here to re-build The Miz now that he’s back from filming the Christmas movie he’ll be in this coming Christmas season on ABC Family.  Rhodes is so mis-used it isn’t funny, but I don’t see that changing here.  Miz gets the tap out win and wins his 2nd pre-show match in a row; though this time he doesn’t get a shiny gold belt for doing so.

TOM:  The pre-match bout of underutilization!  Sorry for the sarcasm there, but Cody Rhodes’ use just irks me to no end…and I don’t see it stopping here.  The pre-show matches are all about the fans getting excited before the main PPV and Miz is a great guy to achieve that in this role.  Miz wins.

Chris Jericho vs. Fandango

JIM:  This screams Jericho wins to “end” their issue, but man, it would be a BIG mistake to do that already I think.  Fandango has the Wrestlemania win, and then hasn’t been used as well since in my eyes as they had him walk out on a match with R-Truth (he can beat 6 time World Champion Jericho...but decides to basically quit against R-Truth?  Are you kidding me?).  And in the age old pattern of “whoever was standing tall on the go home show before the PPV usually loses”...that screams Jericho wins too.  I really hope I’m wrong about this, but I have to go with Jericho here.  

TOM:  My pick is Fandango.  Jericho doesn’t need the win, doesn’t need the rub, doesn’t need another feud victory.  Fandango is money and WWE should be smart enough to know that.  I love Jericho and wish he was around 100% of the time, but with his Fozzy gig, that just cannot happen. Say it with me: FAHN-DAHN-GO!

Extreme Rules Match
Randy Orton vs. The Big Show

JIM:  This bears out of Orton sticking up for Big Show going into Wrestlemania, and then Show turning his back after the match vs. The Shield on both Orton and Sheamus.  That being said, while they have built an issue here, I don’t think it’s an issue that warranted “Extreme Rules” stipulations, other than that they had to find a spot to throw an Extreme Rules Match on the card.  That being said, I’m sure we’ll see plenty of plunder as they try and find a way for Orton to put the giant on his back.  Randy seems to be getting the better of Show lately, so I think Show gets the win here and this feud continues for at least another month.  

TOM:  This feud makes more sense and is at least fresher than had they gone with ANOTHER run of a Sheamus-Big Show feud.  Two vets who WWE can rely on and utilize anywhere within the promotion.  I see it differently here and I will go with Randy Orton to get the win.

Strap Match
Mark Henry vs. Sheamus

JIM:  This has built well since it began right after Wrestlemania, and the idea of dragging either of these guys around the ring to touch all four corners is something that will be a sight to behold (though Henry has proven how much he can lug around with the semi pull on Smackdown).  This is a tough one for me to pick as I can come up with reasons for either of them to win.  Henry is a beast and honestly should be a World Champion in the company or at least in the mix there, which it seems he is not at this point.  Sheamus needs to get away from being the “aw shucks” babyface and back to being more of a bad ass, but I don’t see it happening anytime soon.  As much as I think Henry should win this match, I think they give it to Sheamus when he comes up with a creative way to get the four touches needed.

TOM:  A Sheamus win seemingly sets him for a future crack at Dolph Ziggler (or the man who dethrones him).  A Henry win continues the “momentum” of his win over Ryback at WrestleMania.  I agree with Jim that this of all of all of the matches is a true pick’em.  I will either use this to close the gap with Jim in our contest or fall further back.  Mark Henry gets the win. 

WWE Tag Team Title Match - Tornado Rules
Team Hell No (C) vs. Roman Reigns & Seth Rollins

JIM:  Gotta admit, I figured it would be Rollins and Ambrose who won the tag titles and leave Reigns as the singles guy, but it’s clear they see something in Ambrose as a singles star going forward, so Reigns and Rollins get the tag title shot instead.  It is time for Team Hell No to drop the belts and The Shield are exactly the right guys to carry the straps for now, so I definitely see Rollins and Reigns walking out with the titles here.  This could be a sleeper for match of the night as I expect all four guys to work hard!

TOM:  I agree with Jim, I did not see Rollins and Reigns as the duo here, but the more I think about it, the more I like it!  I love Team Hell No and while disappointed to see their reign end, they have done about all that could be done.  Rollins and Reigns win the titles in a wild bout!

United States Title Match
Kofi Kingston (C) vs. Dean Ambrose

JIM:  As I mentioned before, they clearly see something in Ambrose, and they should, the guy is money.  In some ways, it seems too soon to get the title off of Kingston as he won it less than a month ago, but I would hate to see them have Ambrose beat cleanly either.  They easily could go with Ambrose winning here and putting titles on all three members of The Shield, and I could definitely see it happening, but my guess is that Kingston almost has Ambrose beaten when the other two members of The Shield come in for the DQ win for Kingston.  

TOM:  I was rather surprised when Kofi took the title off Antonio Cesaro.  That surprise will be lessened here as I do anticipate that Dean Ambrose wins the title off of him here to strengthen the image and aura of The Shield.  Ambrose wins his first singles title.

World Heavyweight Title #1 Contender I Quit Match
Alberto Del Rio vs. Jack Swagger

JIM:  This is obviously a change in the match due to the concussion suffered by Dolph Ziggler, canceling the triple threat ladder match that was to take place here.  I Quit rules work well for these two guys as both have great submission finishers, and both are portrayed as being tough as nails, so they should beat the hell out of each other as they try to get to the finish.  Swagger against Ziggler doesn’t do alot for me, with two heels against each other, so, I think Del Rio gets the win here.

TOM:  I was REALLY looking forward to the Triple Threat Match with a Ladder…I could just envision Ziggler like a pinball bouncing around the ring, but health is the priority and because I want to see Ziggler go and go for years, I am glad that they have changed the match.  So, it comes down (seemingly) to the Armbar vs. Anklelock here and I must agree with Jim that Del Rio vs. Ziggler makes more sense than a heel-heel match-up.  Del Rio gets the win. 

Steel Cage Match
Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar

JIM:  Triple H got the win at Wrestlemania which I figured was the end of it.  Brock is 1-2 in his return to WWE with a win over HHH at Summerslam and the loss to HHH at Mania as well as losing to Cena last year at Extreme Rules.  To me, it makes the most sense for Lesnar to go over here, as I think there is a better shot he’s working again this year than HHH.  Granted, maybe they have Lesnar win here and HHH wins yet another rematch down the road, but I would put Lesnar over here and then let him move on to whatever is next for him.

TOM:  Lesnar must get the win here.  It made sense for Triple H to win at WrestleMania because there is still more mileage on his odometer and it was not his time to retire…yet.  I’m not really sure where Lesnar goes or what is planned next for him, but for that to be taken seriously by the fans then a loss here won’t do anything but undercut that.  Steel Cage Matches have lost their luster in my eyes with WWE, but hopefully these two can carry this strong.  Lesnar is my pick.   

WWE Title Last Man Standing Match
John Cena (C) vs. Ryback

JIM:  This is another one I can go back and forth on.  Cena is so overexposed and boring as champion.  Ryback on the other hand definitely seems to be on the rise and has done a nice job with his recent heel turn.  Honestly, he should be a heel, it works far better for his gimmick.  Yet, it’s never wise to bet against Cena, as Superman always seems to come out on top (heck, he took out all three members of The Shield on Monday night...granted, two by DQ, but still).  I pray they do the right thing here and put the title on Ryback.  He deserves a shot with it, and the money is always in the babyface chasing the heel, so, if we must continue to have Cena in the top of the card mix...then I hope it’s chasing, not holding the title.  Ryback wins the title in my hopes and dreams, and maybe that will come true Sunday night!

TOM:  Will WWE pull the trigger on Ryback?  Sure, it has been stated and will continue to be that, Cena does not need the WWE Title, the World Title or the Fruity Pebbles Cereal Box Championship!  On the other hand, I think we are not in an era anymore of heel champions being the position to be chased and draw money when babyface challengers are coming for them and to “rescue” the title.  Maybe I am wrong, I just think that cycle is no longer current in the WWE landscape.  That attitude gives credence to picking Cena to retain.  The next WWE PPV in June is “Payback” and how fitting would it be to have the dastardly champion Ryback looking to prevent Cena from getting his payback in a re-match?  Really both scenarios make sense in my mind and don’t forget, Money in the Bank is not too far off in July and the briefcase winner for the WWE Title might have more of an impact if he can cash in and win over the reigning and defending Cena.  I am going to pick Cena to retain, but I am the least confident in this pick over any other on the card. 
There you have - some good difference in picks between Tom and Jim.  Come back next week, either here or via the Podcast to get our thoughts via REACT.