Monday, October 24, 2011

[Wrestling] WWE Vengeance 2011

WWE’s Vengeance just wrapped up a few hours back, figured I would give some of my thoughts on the event.

Before I get into the matches, I gotta say… if the WWE *NEVER* mentions twitter again, it’ll be too soon.  I could not care less what WWE buzz-phrase is currently “trending worldwide”.  Instead of worrying about attracting followers and ridiculous made up hash-tags (like #ridiculousmadeuphashtag) concentrate on putting out a regularly-delivering top-quality product.

The show opened with a tag-title bout with Air-Boom defending against… um, Zig-Swag?  Decent match, however, I don’t think I ever need to see Dolph and Kofi in the same ring again.  Air-Boom got the win.  I was hoping Ziggler and Swagger would take this one; they’ve been making everyone they’ve worked with look great.  I don’t see any ceiling for either of them, and I hope to see them both moving up closer to the top of the card.

The second match again featured Dolph Ziggler… this time he was defending the United States title against Zack Ryder.  I know we’re supposed to dig Ryder, I mean, he’s the guy who made himself when WWE couldn’t be bothered.  I just can’t get into the guy, I think his appeal was that he *was* being held back.  Was worried for a bit that he’d beat Dolph and take the title… was very pleased when he didn’t.

The Divas Title match was quite good.  Eve and Beth worked well together, and for a few seconds there I thought Eve was going to win.  I’m glad Beth retained, it took her so long to win it (featuring far too many clean losses to Kelly Kelly), if she dropped it now, it would be tough to rebuild her as a credible threat.

I was shocked to see the HHH/Punk v Miz/Truth match this low on the card.  Considering how the World Title match ended, it becomes a bit clearer.  This was a fun match that showcased all four competitors.  Would have liked to see Miz and Truth look a bit stronger here (especially if this is all building to a Survivor Series elimination match), but for whatever reason, outside of Mark Henry, the WWE seems incapable of booking strong heels.  Was happy to see Kevin Nash return, that jackknife however, looked a bit rough.

Sheamus and Christian was a great match, which allowed Christian far more offense than I feared he’d get.  Really fun match, both men came out of it looking great.  Sheamus hit a wicked looking Brogue Kick on a spearing Christian to win.  Again, a really fun match.

I became otherwise engaged during Cody Rhodes and Randy Orton.  Had to pick a match to miss to handle some laundry… this was the one.  All I know is I heard Orton’s music twice, which was exactly what I expected.  Adding the Intercontinental title to this match would have made it more exciting.  Putting a secondary title on Orton could really improve the belt’s prestige in a time when it really needs it.

Mark Henry is probably my favorite thing in Pro-Wrestling… and he has been since his return to SmackDown!  Pitting him against the Big Show provided an awesome power-match.  This was a great match, featuring an incredible spot.  The ring implosion hasn’t been done in, what 8-9 years?  This was a lot of fun.  I hope this leads to another match in this feud.

Alberto Del Rio *barely* retained the WWE Title against John Cena in a Last Man Standing Match.  Over the past few years, I’d begrudgingly become a John Cena fan… this match, however… Cena was booked far too strong.  It took Alberto Del Rio, Ricardo Rodriguez, The Miz, R-Truth, the backstage interview set, the Vengeance “V”, and a belt shot to keep Cena down for a ten-count… and JUST a ten-count… if this was a “Stay Down for an 11 Count” match, it would probably still be going on.  The bout featured a lot of neat spots, and I’m glad Del Rio retained… just wish he could be booked a bit stronger.

Assuming The Miz and R-Truth running in on this match further builds the big Survivor Series Elimination Tag match (which will feature the in-ring return of The Rock), the attack should have left Cena laying until the show went off the air.  Instead, he got back up and had to take a belt-shot to end the match.  I’m sure Cena can cleanly lose a match, and not lose any fans… all this does is cause the heels to look incredibly ineffectual.  Alberto Del Rio, looked like he’d be the WWE’s next big heel going into 2011… now, he’s on his second dirty WWE title reign, and can only get clean wins over John Morrison… who I think *I* even have a clean win over.

Looking at it this way, Cena on his own is damn-near a Terminator-level beast.  It took four men and several gimmicks to (barely) end this match.  How are we supposed to fear for John Cena and his team of 3-4 partners (including The Rock) against a group of guys that have been booked like geeks over the past several weeks when Cena can just about withstand them all on his own?

Vengeance 2011 was definitely a miss-able show, not terrible… but not necessary.  I’m probably coming off sounding pretty bitter over the whole thing, and I apologize if that’s the case… maybe I need a bit of a break from the product.  It’s been a pretty grating few months of WWE programming; I may just require a small respite.  The good news is the “three pay-per-views in a six-week span” is over.  The upcoming build to Survivor Series should be interesting and I’m looking forward to it.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

[Comics] DC Reboot Thoughts

Figured I may as well join the rest of the comics blogosphere and share my thoughts on the DC Comics Reboot post-Flashpoint. Funny, I’m actually quite enjoying Flashpoint, however, I’m not altogether certain that I will be able to fully appreciate what follows.

Back in the mid-late 1990’s, I found myself in a strange place in my comics fandom… I was a new reader. To DC Comics, that is. Of course, I was fully aware of Superman and Batman their origins and what they were all about, I just had no desire to follow their monthly adventures. Coming into my late teens, and finding myself with the first “disposable” income I’d ever possessed. Being a foolish teenager, instead of putting said income aside for the future or for my higher education, I blew it on comics. DC Comics. I’d already been buying the nearly the entire Marvel line I was interested in. Grant Morrison’s JLA, No-Man’s-Land Batman, Mark Waid’s Flash were just some of the new titles I’d used in effort of dipping my toe into the DC pool.

In the years to follow, I’d bounce back and forth between being a Marvel guy and a DC guy. Up until recently, I’ve been pretty heavily biased towards DC. What with the lower prices and less snarky editorial teams, DC just seemed like a nicer universe to play in and follow.

Now… Flashpoint and the Great DC Reboot. I can’t claim to have been a comics fan during the Crisis on Infinite Earths, so it’d be silly for me to compare this to that. I wonder if in the near future if we’ll be referring to the time we’re in now as pre-Flashpoint, or if this will serve as a simple blip of a gimmick that had already been overturned.

I don’t really have any problem with DC deciding it’s in their best interests to inject a bit of youth into their established franchises. I did, at the onset, think it was rather foolish to reboot titles such as Action Comics and Detective Comics back to Issue #1. I’ve come around to it (at least the logic of it) when DC announced same-day digital availability on all titles. It only makes sense to re-start the titles at #1 with that in mind. Granted, to use such logic is to buy in to the theory that it’s the scary numbers on the established titles that are keeping new readers away. Either way, it is what it is… time to buckle down and enjoy (or not) the ride. On to the… ahem, 52 Number One’s DC will be launching come September.

Action Comics #1 (by Grant Morrison and Rags Morales)
This list is obviously alphabetical, though, I really couldn’t pick a better title to start the list with. Grant Morrison on Superman may just make this entire experiment worthwhile. Out of the entire line, THIS is the title I’m looking most forward to. The apparent affinity for the silver age that Morrison has keeps me a bit more at ease on the entire affair. Definite buy from me.

Animal Man #1 (by Jeff Lemire, Travel Foreman and Dan Green)
Enjoyed some of the old pre-Vertigo Animal Man series (the Morrison and Milligan runs especially). Not really sure I’d like to read more solo-Animal Man. It’s likely I’ll pick up Issue #1 to try it out.

All-Star Western #1 (by Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti and Moritat)
Creative team notwithstanding, I’ve heard great things about Gray/Palmiotti’s Jonah Hex series, this is likely a pass from me. Not terribly interested in a Western Comic.

Aquaman #1 (by Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis)
Aquaman looks to be finally coming into his own as a bona fide A-Lister with Johns and Reis at the helm. I’ve not enjoyed Aquaman since the Peter David run of almost 20 years ago. I’ll more than likely try this one out.

Batgirl #1 (starring Barbara Gordon; by Gail Simone, Ardian Syaf and Vicente Cifuentes)
Not interested in seeing Barbara Gordon as Batgirl. Pass.

Batman #1 (by Scott Snyder & Greg Capulllo)
Really digging Snyder’s current run on Detective Comics, will probably grab this.

Batman & Robin #1 (by Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason)
Tomasi and Gleason had a brief run on B&R earlier this year that was really quite good. Not sure if I’ll continue being a Bat-Completist after the relaunch… this one seems like a good jumping off point for me.

Batman: The Dark Knight #1 (David Finch and Jay Fobok)
If we see this one in the year 2011, I’d be shocked. Pass.

Batwing #1 (by Judd Winick and Ben Oliver)
Batwing is one of the new Batmen from Batman Incorporated… so, does that mean Batman Inc. is still around in the new DC Universe? Utterly confusing that they’d pick Batwing of all people for an ongoing title. I don’t see this one hitting the double digits. An experimental title to show that DC have black heroes, perhaps… it’s taking place in Africa too, so maybe Winick can pummel us with more HIV/AIDs lectures. Pass.

Batwoman #1 (by J.H. Williams III, Haden Blackman and Amy Reede)
Wasn’t interested in this one pre-reboot, definitely not interested in it now.

Birds of Prey #1 (by Duane Swierczynski and Jesus Saiz)
Not feeling a non-Simone, non-Dixon BoP. Of course it’s unfair to judge a title under such circumstances… and to be completely honest, a Simone or Dixon BoP would barely interest me at this point.

Blackhawks #1 (by Mike Costa and Ken Lashley)
This may be a fun title to try out. I know next to nothing about the title, only having read the Howard Chaykin series of prestige format stories. Will probably give this one a try.

Blue Beetle #1 (by Tony Bedard, Ig Guara and Ruy Jose)
I really rather enjoyed the previous Jaime Reyes Blue Beetle volume post Infinite Crisis. Will likely give this one a whirl.

Captain Atom #1 (by J.T. Krul & Freddie Williams II)
Just last year I came into an almost complete run of the Captain Atom series from the 1980’s. Really enjoyed what I read of it. Didn’t so much enjoy the WildStorm mini-series or Bob Harras’s abortive Breach. I feel Captain Atom is a better team-member than a solo-hero. I’ve liked him as chairman of the JLE and as part of the Generation Lost JLI. Will probably grab at least the first issue though I’m not expecting much.

Catwoman #1 (by Judd Winick and Guillem March)
Nah. Nothing against the creators, but the only solo Catwoman I’ve ever liked was the Ed Brubaker one.

Deathstroke #1 (by Kyle Higgins, Joe Bennett and Art Thibert)
Always thought Deathstroke was a bit overrated as a character. Surprisingly, I liked the first issue of his Flashpoint mini. Dependent on how the mini works out, I may try this one out.

DC Universe Presents #1 (Anthology - first arc Deadman by Paul Jenkins & Bernard Chang)
I have a really hard time paying even $2.99 for an anthology title. I’ve never bought an anthology title and felt that I’d gotten my money’s worth. Depending on reviews, I may pick this one up in trade.

Demon Knights #1 (by Paul Cornell, Diogenes Neves and Oclair Albert)
Etrigan the Demon, you say? Sorry, I was napping just then. Etrigan, for me, is just THAT character. The one where whenever he’s on panel I’m suddenly more interested in just about anything… laundry, weeding, checking the smoke detectors… you get the point. Paul Cornell is a fantastic writer, and hopefully he can do something with the character that could draw me in. The fact that this title is apparently taking place in medieval Europe doesn’t really help matters. I have a feeling this will be a title with a cult-like following… all of whom will be terribly disappointed when it gets cancelled within its first year.

Detective Comics #1 (by Tony Daniel)
So, Snyder goes from 'Tec to Batman, and Daniel goes from Batman to Tec. I guess that makes it feel, err, kind of new. I’ll probably grab the first issue, though Daniel’s current run on Batman really isn’t holding my attention.

Flash #1 (by Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato)
Bit of a Flash completest, I may be… this one may depend on which Flash it showcases. Barry Allen was never MY Flash. I grew up knowing only Wally and hearing of the legend of Barry. I liked that. If it’s a Barry book, I’ll try it. If it’s a Wally book, I’m all over it. I won’t even hazard that it may be a Bart or Jay title.

Frankenstein, Agent of SHADE #1 (by Jeff Lemire and Alberto Ponticelli)
The current Frankenstein Flashpoint mini hasn’t captured my imagination, and his Seven Soldiers mini didn’t either. Not really looking forward to this one.

The Fury of Firestorm #1 (by Gail Simone and co-writer Ethan Van Sciver; art by Yildiray Cinar)
I’ll try this one. I tried getting into the early 80’s Firestorm recently. The stories were always solid and decent; however, on the whole it felt terribly dated. Glad to have the opportunity to read a contemporary Firestorm (having missed out on the Jolley run post Infinite Crisis).

Green Arrow #1 (by J.T. Krul and Dan Jurgens)
I can’t really mince words here. I really like the Green Arrow. Years ago I’d devoured the Grell run, and have been looking for a Green Arrow title that could recapture the magic, as it were. J.T. Krul’s already had over a dozen issues to do so… and hasn’t. Granted, he’s been stuck towing the Brightest Day line… but, still. I’ll grab the first issue.

Green Lantern #1 (by Geoff Johns, Doug Mahnke and Christian Alamy)
Green Lantern Corps #1 (by Peter J. Tomas, Fernando Pasarin and Scott Hanna)
Green Lantern: The New Guardians #1 (by Tony Bedard, Tyler Kirkham and Batt)
Remember when I mentioned using the reboot as a jumping off point for some of the ancillary Bat-titles? Green Lantern has been on my chopping block for a few months now… I’d only stuck with to see it through to the War of the Green Lanterns. Post-Flashpoint, I’m cutting Lantern titles cold turkey.

Grifter #1 (by Nathan Edmondson, CAFU and BIT)
Eh? Grifter was always a character I wanted to dig. He’s got a great look… sadly, I’ve never found him anything resembling interesting. Doubt I’ll pick this one up.

Hawk & Dove #1 (by Sterling Gates and Rob Liefeld)
Pass… and No, not because of Liefeld. Liefeld art isn’t something that’s bothered me in years… it’s obviously fashionable to bash his work… he’s a man who clearly loves comics, and was able to carve out his own piece of the industry, good on him. His work hearkens back to a very interesting period in comics history, I think it’s neat that he’ll be part of this. That said, I truly have no interest in the characters.

I, Vampire #1 (by Josh Fialkov and Andrea Sorrentino)
Wait, what? I think this may be a DC attempt at testing the axiom “If you build it, they will come.” catering to the bookstore crowd. Not for me, though… no thanks.

Justice League #1 (by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee)
This appears to be the lynchpin of the entire DC Universe post-Flashpoint. Yeah, I’ll be getting it.

Justice League Dark #1 (by Peter Milligan and Mikel Janin)
Perhaps the silliest title on this list. Really like the characters (and creators) involved in this, however, I just can’t shake the feeling that John Constantine does NOT belong on any Justice League team. Just feels wrong.

Justice League International #1 (by Dan Jurgens and Aaron Lopresti)
I never thought I’d EVER say “I wish Judd Winick were writing this” but, here we are. Love the JLI, so I’ll be picking this one up.

Legion Lost #1 (by Fabian Nicieza and Pete Woods)
Legion of Super-Heroes #1 (by Paul Levitz and Francis Portela)
I’ve never been able to get into the Legion. I’m sure I’ll be passing on both of these.

Mister Terrific #1 (by Eric Wallace and Roger Robinson)
Look DC has Black Superheroes! Mister Terrific is an odd pick for an ongoing title… especially as he’s most associated with the Justice Society… and the Justice Society is nowhere to be found post-reboot. Pretty sure I wouldn’t buy a solo Reed Richards ongoing… so, I’m really sure I wouldn’t buy a Mr. Terrific one.

Nightwing #1 (by Kyle Higgins and Eddy Barrow)
Maybe. I’ve invested a lot of time, interest (and money) in the current Batman direction… The current teams on the Bat-titles were able to convince me to accept Dick as Batman. I’m not totally happy with demoting him back to Nightwing. May try the first issue, doubtful for the long haul.

Omac #1 (by Dan DiDio, Keith Giffen and Scott Koblish)
Nope. Love Giffen… but, nope.

Red Hood and the Outlaws #1 (by Scott Lobdell and Kenneth Rocafort)
This is an odd one… Why isn’t Winick writing this one, now? Not that I would have been interested in the book either way. Pass.

Red Lantern Corps #1 (by Peter Milligan, Ed Benes and Rob Hunter)
I’d like to give this one a shot, due to it having Milligan writing it… however, I fear that since I’m not planning on picking up any of the other Lantern titles, I’d only be getting part of a story… that, and I’d hate to be pulled back into the Lantern-verse, just as I’m ready to leave it totally.

Resurrection Man #1 (by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning and Fernando Dagnino)
I remember liking what little I read of DnA’s Resurrection Man from over a decade ago… the first issue had like a holographic pog on it, I believe. Still, as it didn’t exactly set the world on fire then, this is a strange title to pick for a launch. Haven’t decided on this one yet.

Savage Hawkman #1 (by Tony Daniel & Philip Tan)
I thought James Robinson was supposed to be writing this one? Oh well, the only Hawkman I’ve ever been able to get into was the Geoff Johns version from JSA and the solo-title from that era… hearing the rumblings of Hawkman being given yet another new origin has me spooked… Pass.

Sgt. Rock and the Men of War #1 (by Ivan Brandon and Tom Derenick)
I can’t even think of an interesting way to say I’m not interested in this one. Pass.

Static Shock #1 (John Rozum, Scott McDaniel and Jonathan Glapion)
See, DC has black superher—oh, Static? I may actually be interested in Static. Great creative team at that. Yeah, I’ll grab this one.

Stormwatch #1 (by Paul Cornell and Miguel Sepulveda)
Never read any Stormwatch… wonder why they’d launch this, and not something like, say, WildCATs… I’ll have to do some Stormwatch reseach and see if this sounds like something for me.

Suicide Squad #1 (by Adam Glass and Marco Rudy)
It’s suddenly apparent why we have no Secret Six on this list. I’ve recently gone on a crusade to collect the entire Ostrander run on Suicide Squad, and am nearing completion. The Squad is a fun concept, and I look forward to checking it out. The cover, however, is… well, not so good.

Superboy #1 (by Scott Lodbell, R.B. Silva and Rob Lean)
Depending on how Superboy is in Teen Titans, I may check this one out from time to time. Probably not though.

Supergirl #1 (by Michael Green and Mike Johnson)
Nope. Sorry, nothing more to say on this one.

Superman #1 (WRITTEN BY George Perez; art by Jesus Marino)
Nah, I think Action will be my Superman title.

Swamp Thing #1 (by Scott Snyder and Yannick Paquette)
I’ll reserve judgment on this one, until seeing how the Brightest Day Aftermath series pans out. Swamp Thing without Moore has never even registered on my interest meter, though.

Teen Titans #1 (by Scott Lobdell, Brett Booth and Norm Rapmund)
Scott Lobdell wrote a whole load of X-Men comics during my more formative years. Seeing him on a Teen Titans book shouldn’t excite me as much as it is. Will be grabbing this one.

Voodoo #1 (by Ron Marz and Sami Basri)
Voodoo? The WildCATs member Voodoo? This was green-lit, why? Will any of us be surprised when this one goes down?

Wonder Woman #1 (by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang)
Never read Wonder Woman… the creative team here feels an odd choice. Though, I actually now find myself interested in checking this one out.

Well, there we go. Fifty Two Number 1’s for DC this September. I’m sure the sales will be incredible that month… October through the end of 2011, however, will give us the real story.

For the moment, I’m reading all the Flashpoint tie-ins, and will be opining on those shortly (this week’s comics has the last of the flashpoint #1’s). I’ll do a full run down on them either later this week, or early next… I’ll pass on which ones I’ll continue reading, and which ones I’m not going to grab the last two issues of.

I know this was a long one, thanks for reading!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

[Wrestling] WWE WrestleMania XXVII

I've attempted to put this little column together for most of the day... can't seem to shake off the write-rust. Gonna give it another go... haven't written anything of substance in quite some time now... nothing for fun, anyway.

Anyhoo... off we go. WrestleMania 27! We'll attack this beast from top to bottom.

WWE Championship Match
The Miz (c) vs. John Cena

Regardless or where this match falls on the card, I feel this is THE main event of the evening. Most places I've seen this program discussed, the main focus was placed on the ongoing discourse between John Cena and WrestleMania "Host" The Rock, leaving the actual MATCH somewhere in the background. I think it's been played quite well so far, however, this past week on Raw, the WWE may have crossed the proverbial rubicon in teasing us with a potential Rock/Cena match-up... that I feel they're going to have to eventually deliver.

As for the match, I must admit... I figured The Miz would have dropped the title, either at the Royal Rumble or in the Elimination Chamber... leaving him free to give Jerry Lawler (who we'll discuss later) his inaugural WrestleMania match. I've enjoyed the Miz's reign thus far, and feel his sneak attacks on Cena in recent weeks have been extremely well played... however, I don't see him leaving Mania with the strap. With a heel more than likely going over in the World Title Match (spoiler: I'm picking Del Rio), I think they'll give Cena the win.

World Heavyweight Championship Match
Edge (c) vs. Alberto Del Rio

Alberto Del Rio has sure become a big deal... pretty quick. Not too many will "get" that, I'm sure. Del Rio fulfilled his "destiny" by winning the 2011 Royal Rumble match, launching him into the WrestleMania "Main Event" (which I'm guessing will be placed firmly in the mid-card) and a shot... er, opportunity for the World Heavyweight Championship. I really can't see him losing here. Across the ring, we have Edge... who, well... I'm not really sure where I see him fitting right now. It simply seems as though there isn't a whole lot left for him to do... On Smackdown! he's either World Champion or challenging the World Champion. He's in the 2006-2008 Batista rut, which wasn't a whole lot of fun to watch. While I was hoping for the inclusion of Christian into the match, it appears that he'll probably get involved in some way... possibly costing Edge the title, either by accident or design.

No-Holds-Barred Match
The Undertaker vs. Triple H

Okay... I *know* I've seen this match before... Could've sworn these two faced off at WrestleMania before... nah, if that were the case, they'd have surely mentioned it, right?

All joking aside, I guess I kind of understand their not bringing up Hunter's WrestleMania X-7 loss to The Undertaker... many younger fans probably haven't the foggiest idea it even happened. I can understand it... but don't appreciate it. I keep feeling as though I should care about this match more... or at least, that I'm being told by the WWE that I should. This match is being portrayed as the second coming of Hogan/Andre. Though I can't argue it'll probably be a better match from a technical standpoint (may even be match of the night), there's no way this match has anywhere near the spectacle.

The Streak is the thing, of course. Winning this year, would put the Undertaker at 19-0 at WrestleMania. The recent face-to-face confrontation these two shared on Raw (along with a surprise visit from HBK) just may have served us a bit of a curveball. They were clearly setting up the classic guy who looks better on the go-home Raw loses the PPV match, with Michaels telling Triple H he wouldn't be able to win. Even with all of that, I can't see The Undertaker losing here. I think NEXT year will be the more likely end to the streak, with Taker hoping to go 20-0.

It bugs me whenever I think of how the WWE blew John Cena's WrestleMania undefeated streak in a lousy three way match at WrestleMania 24 (Cena's WM record now stands at 6-1). If next year, Cena were to challenge the Undertaker to a streak vs. streak match... now, THAT match would have a decent amount of spectacle to it.

CM Punk vs. Randy Orton

I'm a big fan of CM Punk. It bugged me that he was taken off program with Cena and put with Orton for WrestleMania. I wanted the Raw Main Event to be Cena/Punk for the WWE Title (with, as previously mentioned... the Miz vs. Lawler). I haven't really enjoyed the New Nexus storyline. Prior to losing Wade Barrett, the Nexus felt like a force of nature... now, they're just a faction. Hell, right now, they've all been punted back to FCW. Orton's always come off a bit wooden to me... kinda dug his more sociopathic persona, right now it's like he's being shown caring for his family... I just don't "get" Orton as a sympathetic character. I think Orton will take this one, in a great match.

Rey Mysterio vs. "Dashing" Cody Rhodes

This is the match I've forgotten about several times while running down the card in my head. Cody Rhodes has grown leaps and bounds as a competitor and a character, and Rey always shines in big-match scenarios... The lead up to this match was almost done in the background... very well done. The announce team making comments during the Royal Rumble that Cody couldn't compete due to the facial injury suffered at the hands (err, knees) of Mysterio... leading to the confrontation and challenge. Fun build which will lead to a fun little match. I think Mysterio will take it.

Jerry "The King" Lawler vs. Michael Cole

This match is a bit of a double edged sword for me.

On one hand, it displays the importance and prestige of a "WrestleMania Match". Jerry Lawler has mentioned in passing on commentary for the past several YEARS that he's never once had the opportunity to compete at WrestleMania. It goes a long way to show how competitors strive to and work their entire career hoping to showcase their talents at WrestleMania... and cements it as the biggest show of the year... not just for WWE... but for the entire wrestling world. It's great the Jerry Lawler, after nearly 20 years in the WWE, is finally getting his match.

On the other hand... he's facing Michael Cole. So, we've already established the prestige and honor it is to have competed at WrestleMania... and instead of giving Lawler a match against a credible talent... we get Michael Cole? Don't get me wrong, as a character... Michael Cole has been fantastic since the inception of NXT and his heelish character... a character we've all been begging to see Jerry Lawler throw a fireball at... I was just hoping, again, that we'd have Lawler vs. The Miz (with Michael Cole).

This is probably the match that has been given the most build... as Lawler and Cole are ALWAYS on-screen (at least vocally), and I must say... the build has been absolutely fantastic. I'm hoping the fall-out of this match has Cole left on Smackdown! as a commentator, while appearing on Raw as a manager... with Jim Ross returning to Raw's announce booth permanently. Oh, yeah... the match... Lawler wins... hopefully with a piledriver.

WWE United States Championship Match
King Sheamus (c) vs. Daniel Bryan

I'm glad they're finally showcasing a secondary title at WrestleMania. Sheamus and Bryan have had some really fun matches leading up to this... and I'm quite confident they'll "bring it" at WrestleMania. I'm very excited to see Bryan Danielson's first WrestleMania match. This is the only match of the show that I can't with great confidence, pick a winner. If I have to choose, which I don't... but I will anyway... I think Daniel Bryan will re-capture the United States Championship.

6-Person Mixed Tag Match
John Morrison/Trish Stratus/Snooki vs. Dolph Ziggler/Layla/Michelle McCool

Up until recent episodes of Raw I had no idea what a "Snooki" was. I know I'd heard the name before, and that she was on a reality show of some sort, but I wouldn't be able to pick her out of a line-up... and life was just a little bit nicer. I haven't followed TNA Wrestling since Hogan and the gang came in... but I'm hearing they are also using Jersey Shore people... jeez.

Anyhoo... the match. It's a real shame to waste the talents of... well, everybody involved in this match... in this match. Ziggler and Morrison certainly deserve better... and a Trish return to the ring would've been, in my opinion, best served in a non-gimmick match. Perhaps a one-on-one with Layla El or Michelle McCool.

This being a celebrity match, Snooki's team will more than likely get the win... more than likely with Snooki pinning Ziggler after either a botched "finisher" they teach her, or via capitalizing on a Starship Pain. Not looking forward to this one... and it will ultimately be this generation's "Limp Bizkit is WWE's favorite band", in trying to use popular culture without realizing how terribly it dates the product.

8-Man Tag Team Match
Big Show/Kane/Santino Marella/Vladimir Kozlov vs. Wade Barrett/Heath Slater/Justin Gabriel/Ezekiel Jackson

Hmm... Just where in the hell is Diesel? I was hoping that Big Daddy Cool would somehow get involved in this one. While we're at it... where's Kofi Kingston? He certainly deserves to perform at WrestleMania more than... err, Santino? Kozlov?

Oh well... what can ya do? The Corre needs to get the victory here to stay strong. I feel that since the original Nexus dissolved, the founding members lost a bit of their cache. Don't get me wrong, three of the four members currently carry championship gold (Intercontinental and Tag Team, respectively) but, the dangerousness of the original Nexus just isn't there.

The lack of a Money in the Bank ladder match really hurts the card, in my opinion. Too many worthy competitors are being left off the biggest show of the year. Kofi Kingston, Jack Swagger, Christian, Evan Bourne, Drew McIntyre, Ted DiBiase, Mark Henry... guys that should have fit somewhere on this show... ultimately will be relegated to the pre-show Battle Royal, that nobody will care about, or even mention the winner of, possibly only in passing. Hell, they could have debuted Sin Cara (Mistico) in the Money in the Bank match. Maybe even Awesome Kong.

Warts and all, this IS WrestleMania, and should be a good show. Haven't decided if I'll head to O'Sullivan's for this or maybe just order it and have some friends over. I am looking forward to it, for sure... and will hopefully share my thoughts on the proceedings after the show.