Another week, another pissed off John Pollock. And, once again, he has every right to be.
Much like most 18-to 34-year-old males (including myself), John wasn’t home to catch the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony on Saturday night. He relied on his trusty PVR to tape the show but, just like I did, he missed out on the telecast due to the UNC-Louisville NCAA tournament game running a little long. That coupled with The Score’s (the network that televises all WWE programming in Canada) head-scratching decision to air a repeat episode of Smackdown following the game AND THEN the HOF Ceremony made for a lot of angry Canadian wrestling fans come Sunday morning. Once again, I was reminded why I love American cable that much more than Canadian (I am currently in Montreal so I couldn’t watch it on the USA Network).
Anyhow, take a listen as John recounts his pain-staking attempt to watch quality wrestling programming.
One more note on Shamrock-Le: I am not trying to take anything away from both men by stating it wasn’t a fight of the year candidate. That third round was a tremendous display of guts and courage made even better by Mauro Ranallo, Stephen Quadros and Bill Goldberg’s call of the action. As a team, those three have received more than their fair share of heat but I thought they did an outstanding job last night.
I have actually rewatched the final round a couple of times and my favorite moment, by far, was when Le used a leg sweep to drop Shamrock and just walked away (2:26 of the first video embed below). Consider it poetic justice for all of Shamrock’s antics.
The first time I saw the move it reminded of a famous sports moment when an NBA rookie named Allen Iverson made Michael Jordan look like a fool when he used a deadly crossover to score over him. Cung Le officially arrived last night much like A.I. did eleven years ago.
If you plan to watch one wrestling event this year this should probably be it. The Super Bowl of wrestling, the grand daddy of ’em all…blah blah blah. By now you’ve heard it all.
I usually don’t do this kind of thing when it comes to wrestling (or any other sport for that matter) but I thought it would be interesting to share my thoughts as to how I would book ‘Mania. Most of the matches appear to be up for grabs so this could be fun.
* Battle Royal for a shot at the ECW title: I really like this idea. It actually sort of kind of makes the ECW title mean something especially since the winner will face Guerrero later in the show. My mind says Kane but my heart says Cody Rhodes and since I am in charge I am going with the son of a plumber’s son. I have no interest in seeing Kane vs. Chavo but I could get into Cody vs. Chavo. A nice little segment should air prior to the match detailing Dusty’s son rise to prominence and then it should culminate in a victory later in the evening. Again, the title doesn’t mean jack but this could go a long way into restoring whatever credibility it ever had.
* Bunnymania Lumberjack match: Ashley & Maria vs. Beth Phoenix & Melina: We’re accustomed to seeing the current Playboy cover girl winning but Beth Phoenix is such a strong heel and champion that I would give her team the nod. Plus, since Ashley appears to be in the doghouse that might work against Maria. I am still not quite sure what Snoop Dogg will be doing in this match but I doubt he will play a large role in the outcome.
* Belfast Brawl: JBL vs. Finlay: Is it just me or does this match feel like it should be on Smackdown? Nevertheless, it will probably be a fairly entertaining brawl highlighted by a Hornswoggle return leading to a Finlay win. You know, sort of like the movie “In the name of the father.”
* Umaga vs. Batista: I love how this match is being built as Raw vs. Smackdown yet the “brand extension” has been completely ignored over the last month or so. Batista is the bigger star so he should win cleanly although I would book Umaga to win in an upset raising his profile a little more.
* Money in the bank ladder match: Mr. Kennedy vs. Chris Jericho vs. Shelton Benjamin vs. Carlito vs. MVP vs. CM Punk vs. John Morrison: Jeff Hardy’s suspension has made this bout a whole lot more interesting. I am loving MVP right now and he deserves a chance to play with the big boys.
* Ric Flair vs. HBK: I know Flair was just inducted into the Hall of Fame and I know that it’s fairly common knowledge that he is on his way but wouldn’t it be something if he won tonight? I would extend the program one more month, give Backlash the rub and have him lose then. That would be a much more memorable Wrestlemania moment than the predictable loss tonight.
* WWE Championship: John Cena vs. HHH vs. Randy Orton: We all know who’s winning so no point in even dreaming (HHH to the uninformed).
* World Heavyweight Title: Edge vs. Undertaker: So many possibilities with this one. The right thing to do, without a doubt, is Edge retains the belt. ‘Taker’s days are numbered and a loss tonight won’t tarnish his legacy at all. Edge is not quite at the Austin, Rock, Cena level but holding the distinction of being the only man to defeat the Dead man at WM would certainly elevate him. Go Edge!
* Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Big Show: I just can’t see Mayweather agreeing to lose a wrestling match since he loves to boast that he is undefeated. It’s still unclear whether or not PBF will be sticking around post-Mania but I am going to guess this is it for him. If so, old wrestling logic says Show should win. Thinking of an outcome for this match gives me a headache as I really have no clue what will happen. So, here’s hoping Floyd Mayweather Sr. appears, makes up with his estranged son only to turn on him leading to a Show victory. One can dream right?
I didn’t have the guts to go all out and predict a Cung Le victory prior to his bout against Frank Shamrock but I wish I did because as far as performances by a fighter with six career MMA fights against someone with 34, this was one of the best ever. As for Shamrock, other than the fact that he was able to eat some of Le’s best shots (especially in the third round) I thought he fought a HORRIBLE fight. Le has no ground game while Frank does so why would he not try to expose him on said ground? Makes no sense. I know he wanted to prove all his doubters wrong but I am sorry to say that his ego was a major reason why he lost. Furthermore, all his antics during the match really got under my skin. I appreciate the fact that he’s a salesman and an entertainer but when it’s time to fight just shut up and fight.
Le needs to develop that KO power but last night he used his best kicks as an axe and just kept chopping away. Mauro Ranallo said it best when he referred to him as a lumberjack. It reminded me a lot of the Keith Jardine vs. Chuck Liddell fight from September.
All that said, I am not so quick to label this “fight of the year” just yet. This was more of a kickboxing than MMA match and that leads me to compare it to the great boxing bouts of 2008 which, in that case, it doesn’t quite measure up. I guess I am a little spoiled but for MMA fans that pay little attention to the sweet science I can sort of understand why they are giving it such high praise. It certainly was a an epic clash but when one fighter sweeps all three rounds its hard to call it a real classic.
One thing’s for certain, though, I hope that the next time we see Frank Shamrock get ready for a fight he will keep the talking to a minimum. I am all for showmanship and bravado but since signing with EXC he is 1-2 and I simply don’t want to hear any nonsense from a fighter who has lost two of his last three. Legend or not.
We’re 72 hours away ladies and gents. The Grand Daddy of ’em all under the (cloudy?) Florida sun. Can’t wait. Sure, we’ve all had some issues with the buildup but there’s still nothing like Wrestlemania. Today we finish off our countdown of the top 24 ‘Mania moments. If you’re joining us in progress, click here for moments #24-21, here for #20-17, here for #16-13, here for #12-9 and here for #8-5.
I fully expect many people to disagree with these selections and welcome all arguments. Here we go…
#4: Icon vs. Icon
Wrestlemania X8 – Skydome, Toronto, ON
March 17, 2002
The Match: “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan vs. The Rock
The Moment: This match, and WM X8 for that matter, have a place near-and-dear to my heart because it was the only Wrestlemania I have ever attended. I have been to the World Cup of Hockey and Soccer, the Stanley Cup Finals, the NBA Finals and the NCAA Tournament and I have never heard a crowd as loud as when the Hulkster and the Brahma Bull stepped into the squared circle to face off for the first time.
#3: The Heartbreak Kid meets Kid Dynamite
Wrestlemania XIV – FleetCenter, Boston, MA
March 29, 1998
The Match: WWF Championship: Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Shawn Michaels (c)
The Moment: Remember when Mike Tyson first appeared on WWE Raw in January 1998 in the midst of the whole Stone Cold vs. Mr. McMahon saga. How amazing was that? The baddest man on the planet going up against the toughest S.O.B in the WWF. Predictably, Kid Dynamite joined forces with Austin’s opponent at WM XIV, “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels, only to turn on “his friend” on the grandest stage of ‘em all. Gotta love Jim Ross’ call at the end of this one – somewhere Howard Cosell must have been smiling.
Wrestlemania – Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
March 31, 1985
The Match: “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff & “Rowdy” Roddy Piper w/ Cowboy Bob Orton vs. Hulk Hogan & Mr. T w/ “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka
The Moment: The match that started it all. Not only was this the inaugural Wrestlemania Main Event featuring the likes of Hogan, Piper, Snuka and Mr. T but check out this impressive list of celebrity representatives at ringside:
Guest Ring Announcer: Billy Martin
Guest Time Keeper: Liberace
Guest Official: Muhammad Ali
Add the Rockettes and Cyndi Lauper (who appeared earlier in the night) and there will never, ever, be another Wrestlemania I.
#1: The Irresistible Force meets The Immovable Object
Wrestlemania III – Pontiac Silverdome, Detroit, MI
March 29, 1987
The Match: WWF Championship: Andre the Giant vs. Hulk Hogan (c)
The Moment: A battle which featured two of the biggest legends ever in front of, at the time, the largest audience in North American wrestling history. WWE returned to Detroit last year at the new-and-improved version of the Silverdome, Ford Field, dreaming of another moment quite like this one. Obviously, that didn’t happen and it probably will never happen. The slam heard ’round the world – it doesn’t get much better than that.
Frank Shamrock vs. Cung Le finally goes down this Saturday night and it’s about time since it seems as though we’ve been waiting for it a long time. That said, this one certainly seems to be lacking the kind of hype and excitement that surrounded Baroni-Shamrock in June. It might have to do with the fact that Cung Le’s no Phil Baroni on the mic or that Shamrock’s YouTube videos have been less than stellar. Regardless, this one just doesn’t have the same kind of juice. That’s not to say I am not looking forward to the fight becuase I think the San Jose crowd will make it seem extra special.
A couple of months ago, Shamrock stopped by the Park to talk about his upcoming fight against Le and a whole host of other topics such as:
* Why he chose to fight Le after once saying he had no interest in fighting him
* Whether he plans to be a face or heel against Le
* Why fight Le before his brother Ken Shamrock
* The status of his fight with Ken
* His thoughts on Ken
* Why he believes Renzo Gracie won’t grant him a rematch
* His thoughts on the Randy Couture situation
* Which network passed on his reality show at the 11th hour
Keep in mind this interview was conducted before the Ken Shamrock’s lackluster performance against Buzz Berry.
We all heard the news that Vince McMahon purchased WCW one fateful Friday in March of 2001 but it was on this date seven years ago that it was all set it stone. The final episode of WCW Nitro aired on TNT and when the telecast opened with Mr. McMahon announcing that he “held the fate of WCW in his hands” the wrestling world officially turned upside down.
March 26, 2001 will probably go down as the most memorable night in wrestling history if only because it was (and probably will ever be) the only time two shows were simulcast on two different networks. Of course, we all remember Shane McMahon announcing he was taking over WCdubya at the end of Nitro and while it all sounded like a great idea at first, sadly, things didn’t really materialize as hoped.
It was a strange night in Panama City in which some wrestlers knew this would be their last moment in the sun while others would move on to bigger and better. And, wouldn’t you know it, Ric Flair delivered a most memorable promo before what was thought to be his final match ever. Of course, we’re now four days away from his latest retirement match and the Nature Boy is still chugging along.
The UFC’s Light Heavyweight champ talks TUF 7 & more
Quinton “Rampage” Jackson is probably being pulled in 800 different directions nowadays. He is arguably the most marketable MMA fighter around and he is also about to star on the seventh season of The Ultimate Fighter on Spike TV (season premiere is on 4/2 @ 10 pm).
Nevertheless, he was kind enough to take a couple minutes out of his busy press tour this afternoon to talk to Jarry Park. I was hoping to get the happy-go-lucky Rampage but instead I got the to-the-point Rampage.
Some of the topics we discussed included:
* Why he agreed to do the show
* His upcoming bout against Forrest Griffin
* Whether Chuck Liddell deserves a third crack at him
* John Cena stealing his chain gimmick
And these are some of the topics he didn’t want to talk about:
It was on this date seven years ago that Mark Coleman defeated Allan Goes via TKO at PRIDE 13. The win was Coleman’s sixth in a row but it kicked off a rough four fight stretch in which he lost three of his next four bouts. Although consider the fact that those defeats came at the hands of Fedor, Big Nog and Mirko and then it doesn’t sound as bad.
Coleman ended Goes in quite the original fashion in this one – from his knees but the highlight had to have been how Goes had no idea the fight was over and kept on chugging away long after the ref called for the bell.
Of course, for our MMA newbies out there, you can see Mark Coleman V. 2.0 (or is it 3.0?) this August when he faces Brock Lesnar at UFC 87. Can’t wait for that one…
And, by the way, the above photo is not from the Goes fight but rather from 10/21/06 when Coleman lost again to that Fedor character. Seeing his daughters react to the sight of their beaten father was one of the strangest/scariest/touching moments I have ever seen in combat sports.
Apparently when you interview models on the world of combat sports other models want in on the action. I kid you not. Exhibit A: the wonderful Cilicia Teal. She saw our interview with Ashley Mull and just sent us in her take on the exact same questions along with some, um, interesting photos. Her go-getness intrigued us so I am thinking she may be our first model audio interviewee but, for now, her take on the fight game…
AH: Are you a lover or a fighter? CT: I’m both but if I had to pick just one, I’d say I’m more of a fighter. Not that I go around beating people up or anything. I’m just pretty feisty.
AH: Would you ever date a fighter? CT: For Sure. Their bodies rock and you would feel so protected.
AH: Which sport intrigues you the most: boxing, mixed-martial-arts or wrestling? CT: MMA. I think there’s a greater skill in learning and using multiple forms of fighting and it’s better to watch.
AH: Who is your favorite professional fighter? CT: The Iceman and my good friend The People’s Warrior (Josh Burkman).
AH: Have you ever been to a live fight? If so, tell me about your experience. CT: I went to the Belfort/Ortiz fight. Fortunately, I had great tickets and was sitting in the front row. It was without a doubt one of the best experiences EVER! I also went to a Couture/Liddell fight. Not as good of seats, but a much better fight.
AH: What do you think of female fighters? CT: More power to them… A fellow model, Tasha Marzolla, is a K1 fighter…. I have much respect for her.
AH: Would you ever consider stepping into the octagon or ring? CT: Not to fight, just to chit chat and congratulate the fighters.
She seems pretty knowledgeable – don’t you guys agree? Could make for a fun interview.
Anyhow, more photos from Cilicia after the jump including a special shot with Rico Suave Burkman.