IN AUDIO: Me and Tennessee

A few days ago I mentioned that an article I’d written had been published in the new Fair to Flair Quarterly, which you should definitely buy. (Click here) The theme for this issue was Live Events, and my piece was written on an indie show I saw in Tennessee a few years ago. I found it emotional to write. The people, places and the event it details were and still are very important to me, both personally and as part of my ‘wrestling fandom’.

The version you’ll read in the Quarterly, however, is quite heavily abridged. While it had to be cut for the journal, it’s important to me that the full, unabridged version is available too. I wanted to do something a little different, so I’ve recorded a reading of my original piece. You can listen by clicking on the media player below. For those who can’t get the file to play, who don’t have time to listen or who just don’t like the sound of my voice, I may upload a downloadable text version to this post within the next few days.

Enjoy!


 

 

 

Dancing with Jericho: Part Three

As the Sidekick explained yesterday, last week we were all about getting over our Wrestlemania jetlag and cooing over the triumphant return of Tough Enough. But there’s one more thing we need to address before we start a whole new week of…. entertainment; Chris Jericho’s ever so sad tribute to his mum on Dancing with the Stars. God, I love when Canadians say mum instead of mom. It feels familiar and homely yet still foreign. Know what I mean? The Brits will understand.

This week, as well as having to learn an elaborate dance routine, contestants also had to dance to a song which meant something important to them “emotionally speaking”. My first reaction to this was to roll my eyes and scoff. Oh America. Must you try so hard to make everything a soppy, tear-drenched drama? We don’t do this exercise at all on Strictly Come Dancing. Stiff upper lip and all that, old-boy. To ask the celebrities do it in their third week of dancing also seems ludicrous. They’ve barely begun to think of themselves as dancers, now you’re going to make them even more nervous because there’s a personal connection to the dance? Oh America. On the plus side, this will at least teach them that they need to feel connected to every dance they do, much like X-Factor contestants are implored to connect with the lyrics of every tune they bark out.

The implication is that they’ve been given the freedom to choose any dance they like. Not so. My cynical guess is that they’ve been given the dance but they get to choose the music. The schedule of who dances what in which week is far too complicated to allow them to choose whatever dance they feel. Alright, let’s get on with this thing before I start getting into the muddy waters of televisual trickery.

Wendy Williams decides to dance to a song about how she got started in the media. i.e. radio. She cries a lot during her training video but considering some of the other heartbreaking stories coming up, she doesn’t raise even a tiny tickle in the corner of my eye. Her foxtrot is clumsy and far too loose. Chelsea Disney annoyed me further in her training clip by complaining again that the judges didn’t like her jive the previous week. SHUTUP! IT JUST WASN’T A JIVE! She decides to dance a Cha-Cha-Cha to a song written for her and about her by her ex-boyfriend. I wanted to hate it, but I couldn’t. It was brilliant. She was brilliant. The judges loved it, as did I, the fourth and most important judge. You see what happens when you play by the rules, kids?

Chris Jericho tiiiiiiime! Up until this point the show had been full of merriment and frivolity. That’s enough of that. Put your serious faces on right now! I had quite a fragile week, last week. It’s nothing I want to discuss, but let’s just say that it wouldn’t have taken much prodding to make my eyes leak. This was bad news when Chris Jericho chose to dance a rumba to Let it Be in tribute to his now passed away mother.

Don't let his tomfoolery convince you it's going to be a happy dance.

If you’ve read Chris Jericho’s first book you’ll already know the story of how his mum got into an accident and became wheelchair-bound. If you haven’t read it, shame on you. Thankfully, Chris retold the story for everyone unaware of his personal tragedy. It breaks my heart to see grown men cry at the best of times, but especially one I’m very fond of. It triggers an intense maternal instinct to nurture. This isn’t going to end well for my tear-ducts.

As if by magic, a stool and a park bench have appeared in the middle of the training room for ‘Story Time.’

Chris, choking back the lump in his throat, tells the story of the accident, how much his mum enjoyed dancing and how much she loved the song he’d chosen. I’m slightly concerned that he’s dancing a rumba. The rumba is the most intimate of all the dances. It’s a dance of love. It’s not the floaty, romantic love of the waltz or the foxtrot, but an I-NEED-TO-HAVE-YOU-RIGHT-NOW love. But it can’t be slutty. I absolutely loathe this word. It makes me gag. But it has to be sensual. If you’re not watching it and fanning yourself with your hand by the end, they’re doing it wrong. It’s also the most difficult dance for the male celebs. They spend a lot time out of hold and they find the vulnerability and intimacy of it uncomfortable. Cheryl decides that they’re going to make it soulful rather than sensual. Good call. I mean, who wants to be sensual for their mum, right? *gag*

I think I can watch this without weeping….until he mentions the fact that this week he’ll be announced as Chris Irvine instead of Chris Jericho. He’s being his real self FOR HIS MUM! Oh dear. I’m already sunk. Time to dance. And by the way, kudos to the set designers here for their part in making everyone sad.

Excellent mood setting. I really like that sideboard, by the way

He places the stylus on the record, presses a finger-kiss on his mum’s photo and hot-foots it down to the dancefloor. All of a sudden I miss the crackle of vinyl. Let’s rumba…….

Speaking as a Chris Jericho Irvine fan, he moved me to tears. He also made Carrie Anne smudge her eyeliner. Every second was heartfelt and at a certain point he spun Cheryl with such conviction I involuntarily held my hands to my heart and tilted my head in a way only usually executed by Disney princesses.

Speaking as the fourth judge, I agree with the other judges that his upper body was a little too rigid and it interfered with some of the fluidity of the dance. Overall it was a good try for a bulky guy and the great news, wrestling fans, is that he’s got the trickiest dance out of the way without too much bother. I was initially outraged that he ended up in the bottom two on the Results Show, but I’m reliably informed that, unlike the British version, the bottom two aren’t necessarily the two couples with the lowest number of votes.

I miss Strictly

Shall we race through the other dances? Alright then. If you insist. (YAY!) Kendra’s rumba crossed the line between sexual and sensual *gag* a little too much for me, but I think I have to accept that she doesn’t really know where that line is. Romeo lost his cool in training and claimed it’s because the song is too emotional for him. I knew this would happen when people started dancing for their deceased relatives. He also felt too emotional during the dance and made lots of mistakes. Oh America. See what you’ve done to these poor boys? Luckily, Hines Ward cheered everyone up by dancing a spectacular samba to an Earth, Wind and Fire track. I defy you not to listen to EW&F without wanting to shake something. Petra Nemcova decided to dance a waltz suitable for a real Disney princess to You Raise Me Up, for all the charity work she’s done in tsunami stricken Thailand. It was very pretty.

Sugar Ray Leonard did a Paso Doble, the first we’ve seen so far. I hated it. They gimmicked that thing to the hills and didn’t explain the dance at all. In the Paso, the man in a bullfighter and the woman acts as his cape. The choreography is built around that premise. What you’d remember about it though is that Michael Buffer got a pay-day and Sugar Ray came out with his boxing gloves on. Bleurgh. The actual judges thought it was great. We can’t agree all the time.

Just happy to be out on a Monday, to be honest

My loathing of Kirstie Alley’s self-obsession was tested this week when she danced to Over the Rainbow to commemorate the memory of her mother. She recalled how she got her big Hollywood break within the same few weeks that her mum died and her father was seriously ill. I’m a sucker for Over the Rainbow anyway, but when Maks pulled his quad, dropped Kirstie and struggled to carry on, my heart went out to them.

Aww

The Karate Kid did what I thought was a pretty boring rumba and the judges were so divided on how well they thought he’d done, they ended up squabbling.

I'm with Len

Wendy Williams was eliminated. She made some kind of excuse about having a child and a marriage and a career to hold together. Meh. Haven’t they all? You weren’t a good dancer and that’s OK. I have no idea which dance Chris Jericho is doing this week. He never replies to the tweets where I ask him. My mission to get him to reply to my tweets is ongoing. If I can get him to do it before the end of this series though, my life will be complete.

raw(lite): violets and maidens

I didn’t see the first hour of this week’s Raw. It was my last night in America and I was out with my young man stuffing my face with delicious Banana Cream Cheesecake. And for those of you with impossibly smutty minds, no, that’s not a euphemism. We also drove around Hillsboro Village for a bit and pretended we were going to spend lots of money at the Tiffany’s in the Green Hills Mall in Nashville. I’m not sure what gave our Plebeian tendencies away but I think my badly chipped nail varnish might have had something to do with it. Maybe I should have gone in there AFTER I dropped a fortune in Sephora and the Apple Store. Anyway, all this means I missed Little People’s Court. A blessing indeed, but I can’t start a Raw recap an hour in, so I went back to the start and took the bullet in the name of offering a full recap service. I will be rewarded in heaven.

I’ve spoken before of my disinterest in baseball, so the fact that Johnny Damon was guest hosting this week’s show didn’t really register with me. Although, I was informed by my previously mentioned young man that I should feign interest in any Yankee, just because they’re Yankees.

In a moment of pure class, this week’s Raw started with Damon in the ring,  a man in a tiger suit  being chased around the arena by a Swedish looking lady wielding a golf club and an acidic feeling in the stomachs of wrestling fans everywhere. Haha The breakdown of a marriage, the destruction of a family and the death of a perfectly manufactured public persona are HILARIOUS! It was so ridiculous it made the traditional Divas’ Santa’s Little Helpers Match look dignified.

Actually, Melina's leopard print trim is pretty cute.

As I mentioned, DX were finally summoned to Little People’s Court.

Time for a match – Legacy vs Mark Henry, Kofi Kingston and Evan Bourne *sigh*. Not the best of matches, but after LP’sC, it felt like heaven. And Mr. Bourne shone like the streak of lightning he is, which was rather pleasing.  Ok, so Kofi got the pin on Ted, but Evan did all the leg-work.

In my world, Cody keeps his hand there and gives Ted a big kiss to make him feel better.

Backstage, corporate escorts The Bellas entertained the guest host and Father Christmas while Eve helped herself to some Eggnog.  As is the norm with work-based Christmas parties, Carlito cracked on to Eve and tried to snatch a smooch under the mistletoe. Eve was repulsed and was quickly protected by her new and shirtless beau, Chris Masters. The fight had to be broken up by Santa.

Oh dear. Flashback to Matt Striker in his Santa-suit at the Wrestlegasm Staff Christmas Party. Now I think I remember why I like Melina’s outfit so much. Rumours that I wore something similar are a complete fabrication. Anyway, Santa turned out to be Sargeant Slaughter, who helped Johnny Damon  make a match between to two lovesick pups.

After some more DX awfulness, my brain was saved by a John Cena vs Jack Swagger match. Thank God they’ve let Jack Swagger back on Raw. I missed him. John Cena had vowed to remain undefeated until he won the WWE Championship back from Sheamus and for most of this excellent match it looked as if that vow was to be broken. But don’t be silly now. You didn’t think John would lose in the first week of his epic quest, did you? Completely unrelated to this match… while it proceeded my boyfriend’s teenage sister turned to me and said “Rachel, have you ever noticed that John Cena’s got a REALLY BIG BOTTOM?” “Yes, I have.” I responded.  “And it’s magnificent.” She agreed.

FACT! If by 'fact' you mean a lie I made up to make myself laugh.

Backstage, Johnny Damon was still hanging about with Santa, but Santa seemed to have scoffed a barrel-full of mince pies since the last backstage segment, as he appeared rather more rotund. MVP showed up and requested a title shot against Sheamus. As Santa was convinced that MVP could “wawk da wawk and tawk da tawk” he granted that wish. And just in case that unmistakable voice wasn’t ringing any bells with you…….

There’s nothing like a match with a purpose and a scrap to win the heart of a fair maiden always goes down well; especially when that fair maiden is wearing awesome over-the-knee boots. It’s no fun watching a lady forced to kiss a man she hates. That’s very illegal. So our hero just had to win. And his prize?

*Saved by the Bell style

Over in the GM’s office……

Gross!

Santa number three was being accosted by The Miz, who was doing his best Violet Beauregarde impression.

That third and final bringer of gifts turned out to be IRS, who proceeded to blister Miz about his dodgy tax forms. Then the blonde Swede ran in again, everyone disappeared but the boss, Mae Young molested Johnny Damon and  I threw my 6-iron at the TV in frustration. Yes, I like golf. What of it?

MVP got that title match against Sheamus but made no headway. This was followed by a visit from John Cena, who wanted his rematch right there and then. Sheamus did not want to play ball and disappeared up the ramp post haste. And just in case you hadn’t heard by that point, it was pretty much confirmed that Bret Hart will be hosting Raw on 4th January. Also….. The Miz demolished Santino Claus, we had some more Little People’s Court and another plug for Ted DiBiase’s movie, The Marine 2. Not that I’m trying to skip through to the end quickly or anything.

Next we found Big Show in the ring, feeling sad and calling upon the real Santa to come down and grant his Christmas wish. That wish was for BFF Chris Jericho to be allowed back on Raw. Santa obliged. While he made a better job of covering his voice than Dusty Rhodes , that familiar Canadian lilt began creeping through as the segment went on and….

Shocker!

Then some little people came out. It was messy and stupid and wasn’t even saved the Hornswoggle’s official induction into DX. The only thing that made me not want the show to end was that I knew I had to pack my suitcase straight afterwards, so that I could leave America the next morning.

xmas round-up

Sooo I am indeed back in Britain and making an attempt at recapping the past week or so’s wrestling events. I can’t promise it’ll be any good but considering a) It’s Christmas Eve  b) I had the travel-day from hell yesterday and c> I’m battling jet-lag, you’re lucky to have anything at all,  so be grateful. I could be stuffing my face with shelled nuts, Twiglets, purple Quality Streets and tea, lounging in my new t-shirt and slippers, and flicking the TV between The Chronicles of  Narnia and the Jimmy Stewart marathon on TCM right now. Actually, I’m doing all those things…. but I’m also recapping wrestling events. For you. I’m lovely

First, the travel report: I left Nashville heavy of heart but was buoyed by the number of random strangers who took pity on my tears and wished me a Merry Christmas in both Nashville and Charlotte airports. There was the college boy who sat next to me on the first flight and discussed literature with me, the Starbucks dude in Charlotte who offered to re-write my name on my red cup because he misspelt it, the young American guy who asked me if anyone would kill him if he called football ‘soccer’ in London….. the list goes on. America, you’re very nice.

But my Christmas spirit was stretched to the limit yesterday.  I settled into my seat on the Transatlantic portion of my journey to (hopefully) sleep through most of it, but there was a mechanical problem with the toilets on the left hand side of the plane and we were left on the runway for two hours…..and not so much as a drink of water or a packet of pretzels offered. We finally got going but we were very late. On landing I got through passport control quickly but the sluggish baggage handlers took a full hour to start despatching our luggage, so I missed the bus I’d booked to Cardiff by 20 minutes. I was then charged £5 for the privilege of printing a new ticket on the 11:40am bus and hanging around Gatwick Airport for a further two hours. Finally on the bus, I was informed that the M25 was chocker and that it may cause severe delays. To cut a long story short, thanks to that and a snow induced 40mph speed limit on the M4, I arrived back in Cardiff at 6:30pm – exhausted, starving and with my spine shaped like a shepherd’s staff. Joy to the mother effing world!

Possibly somewhere near Oxford

Ok, wrestling. The last recap I gave you was the Smackdown before TLC, so let’s start there.  As you know, I usually watch PPVs alone and in the early hours of the morning. Being in America meant I could watch it with company and in a sensible timezone. Although, sharing the show with five other people, two dogs scrapping to be Alpha-Male and four cats, it was a struggle to keep up with all of Matt Striker’s quips. Nevertheless, quite a few titles changed hands that night so I’ll run through them.

Despite nobody believing it would happen, Sheamus beat John Cena for the WWE Championship, and it appears that my Celtic blood is thicker than the deep waters of love that I swim in for John Cena, because I shouted……

…..when John accidentally launched himself through that trestle table.  And in further ‘blood is thicker than water’ goodness, Drew McIntyre beat John Morrison for the Intercontinental Title. Ooooh my blood felt so thick, though that may have been the calorific South-Eastern US diet clogging my arteries with every delicious mouthful of double-loaded baked potatoes and BBQ pork ribs. Nom. Back to the Tokyo diet after Christmas.

Helps you work, rest, play and have severe chest pains.

DX beat JeriShow in the TLC tag-match, which meant that Jericho and Big Show had to go their separate ways.  YAY! But that also means DX will be around until at least Wrestlemania.  BOO! Jericho face turn now? Go on. It’s my Christmas wish!  Not all the titles were dropped though. Michelle McCool retained over lovely Mickie James…..

Mickie, your boots are wicked but you left the price tag on. It's ok, I don't think anyone noticed.

……and Christian kept the ECW title in the first match of the night. It was epic enough to feature much later in the show. There was real blood and everything.

The Undertaker almost lost to Batista, which I was chuffed about, but then Teddy Long stomped out and ordered that the match should restart, giving Taker the win.

SIDENOTE: The set was Ikea-tastic.

Oh yeah, Randy Orton beat Kofi Kingston in the only non-title match of the night. I was in a pro-Randy living room and got carried away with the Viper enthusiasm, cheering for the glossy one at every possible opportunity.

No problem, sweetheart.

So that was the pay per view. The following Monday was a three-hour Raw to incorporate The Slammy’s; where the most accomplished superstars of the year take home a glistening piece of plastic and the audience disagrees with the choices like they actually mean something. Dennis Miller guest-hosted and totally bombed with his climate change denial jokes. I could go into lots of detail about the show but, even though I didn’t think it was as bad as most, it was pretty dire so I’ll just comment on the actual Slammy winners.

After various elimination matches, John Cena was crowned Superstar of the Year. Much as I love him, he wouldn’t have been my first choice but as John Cena currently holds superhero status, hardly surprising. The “Oh My” award went to Michael Cole for vomiting shellfish over Chris Jericho’s shoes at the Smackdown 10th Anniversary party. I can still smell that acid soaked shrimp from here. I’ve witnessed far too many drunken spewings over the past week, so I’ll move on swiftly.  Bad memories. The Divas had a match. In ballgowns. Really! And while Maria won Diva of the year (?!?!??!?!?) my lady-based award goes to Layla, for Most Inelegant Entrance to the Ring Ever Witnessed. Having the ladies wrestle in party dresses was silly to begin with, but choosing an impractical frock and having to be picked up and rolled into the ring by Michelle McCool was actually quite funny. Still in the fashion realms, despite all those lovely dresses, outfit of the night went to Dave Batista.

Amazing!

Amazing!

CM Punk won Shocker of the Year for retiring Jeff Hardy, but the Hardy Clan countered; Jeff taking Extreme Moment of the Year for his performance at Summerslam. Sheamus took Breakout Star of the Year, which was fair enough, and the about-to-part ways JeriShow took Tag-Team of the Year. Most obvious award of the night went to Taker and Shawn Michaels for their Wrestlemania match. I read somewhere that while Triple H and Randy Orton were waiting backstage to follow this match, Hunter turned to Randy and said “We’re fucked!” He alluded to just that as he handed that golden resin over to Shawn for Match of the Year. The only worry was that Shawn suggested that he and the corpse should go at it again at WM26. No. Don’t spoil my fantasy that the WM26 main event will be Rock and Cena. My pants might just explode if that happens and I know you all want to see my undies blown to smithereens!

KABOOOOM!

So that was Raw. I’m not going to lie, I watched last week’s Smackdown on the plane to London late on Tuesday night so I’m a bit sketchy on what happened. I was drifting in and out of sleep and trying not to nudge the guy next to me while he slept. I’ll do Smackdown in picture form.

Dave paid homage to Lady Gaga

Rey looked super-trendy in a plaid shirt and a Vuitton-esque mask

Punk started to look a bit crazy

Maria and Mickie did what I'll be doing tomorrow

Vickie wore a very nice dress

Jericho showed Punk how to do good beard

Khali returned. Bleurgh!

The Hart Dynasty did some nice mic work

Regina George and Gretchen Weiners had their traps shut

The toughest girl in school hurt the most popular girl in school (That reminds me, I REALLY need a box of hair dye!)

Dave did a CM Punk Krazy-Eyez impression when Rey Mysterio became World Championship N1C against the Undertaker

In other news….. Bret Hart is returning to the WWE :o, Mike Tyson will be guest-hosting on 11th January :o, Tribute to the Troops was lovely, Crotch Watch is still outstanding (I know, don’t hate me) and Andrew has been skiving while I’ve been out of the country. But he has got little kiddies to look after so I’ll forgive him.  There’s still time to cover this week’s Raw and Smackdown before the next ones so I’ll get to them a day or so after Christmas.

Oh, I almost forgot to tell you about the Wrestlegasm Staff Christmas Party. Before I jetted off to the land of the free, we had a knees-up at the Cardiff Wrestle Bunker. Andrew got the train down from upt’ North and Matt Striker flew in from New York. Actually, Matt Striker flew back to America with me on my first flight, but he lived it up in Envoy while I sulked in coach. He wasn’t very happy that I’d lined the entire bunker ceiling with mistletoe, forcing him to kiss me constantly. Andrew didn’t seem to mind that part, but we did get into a huge fight when we disagreed over whether Fosters was a superior cheap lager to Carling or not. I was cheerleader for the Amber Nectar, while Andrew favoured the British brew. Matt Striker had to separate us before the punches got too serious but he soon became ensconced in the brawl himself when he suggested we all drink wine. WINE! Anyway, we all get very drunk. Striker whipped his manhood out again, I took lots of pictures and Andrew threw up on my satin pumps Michael Cole-style. Messy night! But we all love each other, so there was no awkwardness the next day. Although, I’m pretty sure Striker deliberately left me sitting at the back of Economy on that flight!

Back in the realms of reality, I wish you all very merry Christmas and an exciting 2010. I certainly plan on making it a great one and I hope you do the same. Excuse my sentimentality but it’s Christmas Eve so….. from the bottom of my heart thank you so much for visiting this website, commenting and emailing me. I had no idea so many people would ‘get it’ and I’m thrilled that it’s been successful. A big Christmas kiss under the mistletoe for Andrew for ‘getting it’ more than anyone else, for joining me on the Wrestlegasm journey and for being a fab mate. I’m also splitting a kiss two ways for Adam & Matt of LOL, Wresslin‘ for calling me to war, for toughening up my skin and for being nicer than they’d have you believe they really are.  And just one more really smoochy one for Tennessee Andy, who told me I should start this thing ages ago and knew I could pull it off. MWAH to one and all!

just jingling your bells

If you’re all sad about the lack of posts at WG this week, don’t cry. I’ll be back soon. How much I catch up with and how much I skip is still to be determined.  I may just skip everything, give you a Crotch Watch and tell you what happened at the Wrestlegasm staff party. Messy! Very Messy! I’ve been spending my time eating food like this…….

 

… and wondering when the USA became so efficient that they don’t write your name on your Starbucks cup any more, they print it on a label machine.

I also defy anyone to sit and write about wrestling when this thing wants nothing but to give you kisses and play with you.

If you missed my voicemail a couple of weeks ago, which explains my absence, click here.

I shall repay your patience will lots of good stuff, including the much requested Crotch Watch and a recorded Christmas message, as soon as possible.  Now, who fancies a smooch under the mistletoe?

raw(lite): the seven year itch

I watched this week’s Raw at approximately 37,000ft on a 52” HD TV, sat in the plush leather seats of my private jet, while chowing down on the finest cuisine imaginable and sipping on the most expensive champagne on earth.

In the real world, I did indeed watch Raw at 37,000ft. Unfortunately, I was watching it on my 4 year-old laptop’s 17” screen, was sat in some well worn pleather seats at the back of economy, was chowing down on Chinese chicken and egg fried rice with an identity crisis and drank tonic water…. because I refuse to pay for gin on a flight that was already very nicely priced. I was especially against paying for any extras after the airline charged me an additional $55 just for checking a second bag on an INTERNATIONAL FLIGHT! You suck, US Airways. On the plus side, the plane was only about two-thirds full, so there was plenty of room to spread out. Wait…. they had all those empty seats and they STILL charged me more money for a half empty hold-all? Mercenary sods! Anyway, here’s my photographic evidence…..

…… and here begins the Raw recap.

This week’s show came from Dallas and was guest hosted by Mark Cuban; owner of the Dallas Mavericks, part-owner of HDNet, all-round business guru and former Dancing with the Stars contestant. So, you can imagine which accolade impressed me the most. Cuban is quite an exuberant character and promised to be a stellar guest host but, quite frankly, after last week’s show it only had to be passable to look fabulous. After introducing himself and putting his stamp on the show, Cuban announced that John Cena and Sheamus would be meeting in a press-conference type confrontation later in the show. And then, because he’s all about giving the people what they want, he brought the champ out for a warm-up match against Carlito.

It appeared that Carlito had jobbed his last job to Cena last week. Most were pretty sure he was about to be wished well with his future endeavours. Not so. He came back for more. As John was disposing of Carlito once more, Sheamus showed up with the intention of interfering. But Mark Cuban, who happened to be watching from ringside with The Bellas, cut him off at the pass to avoid any early pummeling. This triggered the release of several security monkeys in black golf shirts to protect the billionaire. Montgomery Burns releases the hounds at the touch of a button, Mark Cuban has a constant supply of security monkeys.

Now you know what Matt Striker does on his day off.

This out-of-ring action only served to distract John from his match, giving Carlito a rare moment of superiority. It didn’t last. John stuck the Attitude Adjustment on him and finished it, which pleased the boss.

By the way, what are The Bellas now? WWE's resident escorts, pimped out to every guest host to use as they wish?

Speaking of pimps and subservient attendees……………..

Randy wanted a word in Cuban’s ear. He still can’t let go of the idea that he’s due another title shot. Dude. Seriously. You’ve had loads! He even threatened Cuban with a repeat of what happened in 2003 (RKO).

So much money, such bad hair. Doesn't compute.

Cuban wasn’t budging and ordered that Randy take Kofi Kingston on again that night with himself as the guest referee.  Cody Rhodes bad-mouthed the Mavs and went on to challenge Cuban to a match. No dice! And just to exert his authority even further, he put Randy’s two rent boys in a match against Evan Bourne *sigh* and Primo. Sadly, the bad boys were too much for our facey heroes and took the match. Cuban wasn’t happy and so decided to bring his security monkeys back out to eject them from the building. Now that’s some serious power. I wonder if he does that in everyday life. Like, if his maid misses a spot while polishing the sideboard.

You know, Raw hasn’t been the same since Lillian Garcia left. Justin’s a good guy, but Lills managed to steady the ship that is HMS Raw and be a beacon of calm in the chaos. I miss having a sultry voiced lady at the helm. Oh. Wait. They’ve found a replacement.

Maybe not.

Maryse and Gail Kim had a decent but impossibly short match, letting us all know that Maryse was indeed back and coming after Melina’s Divas title. Kelly announced the healed one as the winner, but that wasn’t enough for Maryse. She wanted to be known as ‘the next Divas champion’. Kelly refused to say it, there was a load of pushing and shoving, then Maryse started beating K² up. Thankfully for our newest ring announcer, Melina ran out to save her perfectly tanned skin and Maryse scuttled away.

What? That's what friends do. I'd want her to tell me if my tights were laddered or if my skirt was tucked in my knickers. It's girlie code.

DX did a paid advertisement for their Christmas themed merchandise, Hornswoggle launched his own illegal version of the DX t-shirt, there was some general Star Wars discussion, the tree was trashed, arguments ensued, punches were thrown and…. oh it sounds exactly like Christmas at my house.

Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler confirmed the exciting news that Sky Sports had extended their contract to broadcast WWE activities in the UK for a further five years. Great stuff! Until Michael Cole said “I know the United Kingdom is keeping its eye on one of its countrymen, that’s Ireland’s Sheamus.” Oh Michael Cole. Do you do these things on purpose?

Next, we had Kofi vs Randy, with Mark Cuban guest-reffing. With Rhodes and DiBiase ejected from the arena, there was no chance of any interference. It turned out to be a pretty good match. Who would’ve thought wrestling on a wrestling show would be such a big hit? AMAZING! Randy Orton’s continued fall from grace perpetuated as Kofi pinned him and Cuban called it. This feud carries on at TLC.

Aww. Don't cry! :( *HUGZ*

The Miz and Mark Henry had a match for the United States Championship but I have nothing to say on that. The Miz kept the belt. That’s it. I did do a Miz impression when the lady at the check-in desk told me I had to pay that extra $55 for my luggage. Take note kids: saying REALLY? REALLY? REALLY? in someone’s face is annoying and does not win their favour. Anyway, all these real wrestling matches on Raw are messing with my head. Although, the remnants of my jetlag might have something to do with that.

Next a second round of Diva action. Good lord, Raw, what are you? TNA? I’m so confused. Pleased, but confused. While we waited for the arrival of Eve, Hornswoggle, Jillian and Chavo, we got a peek at Chris Masters having a chat with Mark Cuban. Wow! Chris Masters with clothes on. A revelation!

Eve and Jillian carried the match beautifully, with Eve winning it for herself and Hornswoggle. But things got messy when Chavo tried to do some damage to Horny after the match was over. Chris Masters jumped in the ring, pulled his shirt off and flexed his pecs with the same confrontational passion as the New Zealand rugby team doing the Haka. Then he put Chavo out of action and endeared himself to Eve. Uh-oh. Jack Swagger won’t be pleased with Masters moving in on his crush. Never trust your lady alone with a man who has dancing pectorals. It makes us go a bit silly.

See that look on Eve's face? That's how I look ALL the time while watching wrestling.

As decided last week, Chris Jericho had to face DX all by himself which, as you might expect, was a tall order for the little fella. Big Show couldn’t stand idly by as his buddy got beaten up, so he came to the rescue, starting it off by nutting Michaels. They have a TLC match on Sunday so various, large climbing implements were brought out to finish the job. I particularly enjoyed the DX panini they assembled.

Now on to the finale – the opportunity for John Cena and Sheamus to say whatever they like about each other before their big title match on Sunday.   There was a lot of chatter, but basically it went like this.

After the carnage, Mark Cuban decided he wasn’t going to stand for this young punk taking over his show. Bad move. After much pacing back and forth from one leg to the other, Sheamus kneed that foolish billionaire in the belly and slammed him through a table. Then some random basketball players chased Sheamus up the ramp and John took his top off.

John does his best thinking with his top off. And so do I. Wait, I mean I think better when JOHN'S shirtless. Not when I'M shirtless. Never mind.

raw(lite): the game says the show’s over

Before I get to recapping Raw, a little personal background…..because I’m home from work sick and am feeling a little philosophical. It’s my blog and I’ll ponder national identity if want to. Skip ahead to the non-emboldened text if you’re not interested.

I’m very pleased that I’ve been able experience real America, because it’s an incredible  place which most people outside America never truly get to see beyond the tourist traps. My love affair with the USA is largely unexplained but I think it has something to do with being a closet optimist and being fond of success. America enjoys success. Britain has an inferiority complex. It’s ok Britain. Don’t cry. Without you I never would have garnered a dry sense of humour based on sarcasm and irony. I remember crying because my parents wouldn’t take me to Florida as a kid.  I also remember crying when my parents went to San Diego without me. In 2001 I went to visit my lovely friend, Lisa, in New Jersey. The rest is history. And don’t even get me started on my silly, raging lust for New York City. It’s all your fault, Lise. ;)

I’ve spent a fair amount of time in the North, but I’ve spent a lot of time in the South. It took me a LONG time to understand the South. I think I got there in the end, but it wasn’t easy. I don’t think I’ve ever done this before, but to quote Jeremy Clarkson , “Three religions down here. George Bush, God, Country and Western. In that order. Ascending order.” That’s a little unfair and there are many beautiful things about the South, including the wonderfully friendly people. But you know which Southern obsession I’ve never understood, never want to understand and could very much do without? NASCAR.  The only good thing about it is that it spawned the Disney-Pixar movie Cars, which allows me to listen to Owen Wilson speak without having to analyse why I find his crooked face so appealing.

Speaking of NASCAR while driving through Alabama for Top Gear’s American Adventure, James May said “Jeremy has written on the boot [of my car] ‘NASCAR SUCKS’. Now that’s a type of saloon career racing that is very very big in this part of the world. This is where all the drivers come from, all the building of the cars is done, all the supporters come from down here. And to say it sucks, is a bit like going up and punching somebody’s sainted mother.” Nevertheless, I think from my bunker in Cardiff it’s safe for me to say that NASCAR sucks and so did the painful hosting performance of this week’s Monday Night Raw hosts – NASCAR supremos, Kyle Busch and Joey Logano.

Here begins your Raw recap………

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Raw got started with Chris Jericho and treacherous Big Show, who both dared to come out on Raw wearing Smackdown blue! And even though Bragging Rights is a brand new PPV gimmick and has no history or prestige attached to it, Jericho still cradled that tin cup like it was his first-born child.  It all started as a meeting of the Mutual Appreciation Society, but soon turned sour when Jericho got too cocky. A new lovers’ tiff ensued.

This was all called to halt when Busch and Logano sped their way in to arena in NASCAR vehicles.

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Men!

I’m not entirely sure what Kyle Busch was trying to say to Show and Jericho. He seemed a little lost. Maybe I missed something.

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Yeah, I definitely missed something.

Basically, the NASCAR kids played the heel/face game and lost. As my podcasts attest, I’m not exactly a broadcasting natural myself, but seriously, you’d think they might have rehearsed this part beforehand. Anyway, one of them shouted “We’re in the city of Buffalo!” really loud and got a consolatory pop from the crowd. But then he ruined it by saying….

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24 hours later, that's a compliment. I suppose that means the Bills are going to the Superbowl then.

This whole piece of audio-visual torture lead to Big Show being set up for a match against Triple H.

Remember last week when I questioned whether Kofi Kingston could still be called Kingston if he’s dropping the whole Jamaican bit?

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So. Many. Johnson. Jokes. But my head hurts too much so you can make up your own.

Yeah, well Kyle Busch must have been thinking the same thing because he announced Kofi as Kofi Johnson before swiftly correcting himself. Bless. Kofi was there to have a match with Jericho, which was to start right away. Considering this was just 24 hours after Bragging Rights, they did an awesome job. And to everyone’s surprise, Kofi Kingston won. But while he was BOOM!-BOOM!-BOOM!-ing his way up the ramp he was half way through his second BOOM when Randy Orton ran out and sent him flying over the edge.

Josh Matthews tried to extract from Randy why he attacked Kofi and was informed that Randy basically blames him for his loss in the Iron Man match at Bragging Rights. Yeah, had Kofi not chased Legacy out of the ring Randy would TOTALLY have won that match. Lame, Randy. Even for you. Ted and Cody showed up, chased Josh away and then ushered their illustrious leader towards a peace-offering in steel form.

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Yes, Teddy and the Codester smashed open their piggy banks and purchased Randy a racing car with his physical form emblazoned over the bonnet.  It answered that age-old question which plagues all our lives. “What does one buy for the megalomaniac who has everything?” Randy thought it was incredible. In fact, he seemed a little too enamored with his gift.

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Ahem. Moving on swiftly, there was another segment with the guest hosts but it was  UUUUURGH so I won’t go into it. And I should probably skip the mixed tag match, which involved Jillian and Chavo vs Melina and Santino. But Santino was rather amusing so it warrants a mention. I’m all for mixing comedy with the serious stuff, but I wonder how Melina feels now that she has nobody decent to defend her belt against. I have a feeling there will be another Diva draft soon to redress the balance. Anyway, no Chavo Guerrero match would be complete without Hornswoggle’s interference. But this time, things didn’t come up roses for the little man.

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This looks totally normal, right? I love wrestling.

DX served him with a legal document which compelled him to stop wearing the DX gear on TV. Awww, poor Horny. He just wanted to be one of the cool kids. I know how you feel, man. By the way, the DX line of green office stationery is available now from WWEShop.com for a very reasonable price.

So, Legacy came out next and proclaimed that they should be given a shot at the WWE Title. John wasn’t too sure, but he was willing to give “The Baby Oil Boys Club” a chance to earn a title shot by facing MVP and Mark Henry. If they win, they get to dance with John. Seems reasonable. I’d fight my way through Ballin’ and Bigger to dance with John Cena too. Guess who won….

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As expected, Randy Orton reneged on the agreement to end his feud with Cena for good and demanded a rematch. Nobody wanted to listen, least of all Kofi Kingston. Kofi had snapped. No longer was he that cheerful, smiley Jamaican we had all grown to love. He was now an angry, feisty West African (with an American accent) and he was taking no prisoners.

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I think I love you now.

He answered that other age-old question of “How does one truly hurt a megalomaniac the most?” You trash the NASCAR with their face painted on it. Of course. Why didn’t I think of that? Genius. Because when someone trashes your car you aren’t allowed to go and stop them. You just have to stand idly by and watch as the paint job gets ruined and the windscreen is smashed in. You’re not even allowed to send your two bitches to put a stop to it. Nope! Not even that.

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I can't tell if that's orange paint or just Randy's tan.....shuttup. I'm sick, ok?

For the  wrestling novices (Because I know some of them are reading. They told me so.), is called a push. Kofi is getting his long-awaited push. And yes, Randy could go and stop Kofi Kingston from reducing his very special present to a mish-mash of steel and broken glass, but then we wouldn’t all fall in love with Kofi for being a total badass and becoming a champion for justice. You see?

Next, Evan Bourne and The Miz had a non-title match, which was going well until Jack Swagger came out to crack on to Eve, who was the guest ring announcer for the match. (?) The Miz got distracted by Swagger’s sexy-times propositions to Eve and lost the match.

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Kissy faces across the room don't work. I promise.

For some reason, Sheamus has been moved from ECW to Raw. It’s ok, nobody can figure it out. So, on the two main brands we now have representation from Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland. Which proud celtic nation isn’t represented yet?

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Sheamus had a match against Jamie Noble, in which he mushed him into the mat without too much effort.

There was only one thing left and that was Triple H’s revenge match against Big Show. Except, Trips forgot to mention that he’d invited some good friends to help him out. This was, in fact, a lumberjack match. If you turn on your own kind, there are consequences. Remember in The Sopranos when Adriana had been running intelligence to the feds so  she and Chris-to-phah could start new lives for themselves, but Tony found out? Then Silvio lured her into his car so he could drive her to the woods and make the problem go away? There was this excruciating moment she where realised what was going to happen and the people who should have been there to protect her all disappeared.

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The match was also no DQ and had John Cena as its guest referee. Big Show – dead and buried in the woods.

The match was just a mixture of everyone putting their finishers on Show, naturally ending in some Sweet Chin Music, followed briskly by a Pedigree. The Game says the Show’s over. Get it? Never mind. I said there was only one thing left to do, but actually we still needed to know who the number one contender was for John Cena’s title.

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Next week’s guest host is Ozzy Osbourne, accompanied by his fog-horn voiced wife, Sharon. I’m always happy to translate Brit speak into American when required. I often do it for Drew McInyre and I’m quite fluent in Transatlantican. You’re on your own next week, folks. Even Keith Richards makes more sense than Ozzy. And Keith Richards should technically be dead.

The end.

And if you actually made it to the end of this post without quitting, you have my heart forever. Thanks for indulging me.


night of champions: swagger of a college kid

Alright, so, before I get in to the matches let me just say…. POOR. PERFORMANCE. PHILADELPHIA. What was with that crowd?  They bearly managed to lift out of their seats until Jeff Hardy started Swantoning all over the place. And that was the last match! I always imagine that cities and states with a particular connection to wrestling will rock harder than other places. Maybe they were distracted by the baseball season or something. Anyway, there’s a lot of bling exchanges to get through so let’s get cracking.

15DHDPretty much every NoC recap I’ve read has said this, but it was kind of telling that Legacy’s much anticipated match with Chris Jericho and a mystery partner was on first.  First matches aren’t generally the best you’re gonna get. They’re there to make sure the people stuck in line waiting to buy an overpriced hotdog and the PPV people at home who can’t get their viewing card number to go through don’t miss the biggest match of the night.

When Jericho announced he’d reveal a new tag partner at Night of Champions, the internet tom-toms started beating and all kinds of wild and wonderful names were thrown about. My personal favourites were the Undertaker, Randy Orton and Christian. How great would it have been for Randy to go up against his helper monkeys and win? Later to lose the WWE title, of course.  And how awesome would Jericho and Christian have been? Team Canada Part Deux? Amazing. Look, I’m even making up my own wrestlegasm moments now.  Anyway, what we actually got was Big Show. Ok, so kind of an anti-climax, but he totally redeemed himself by leaving giant paw-shaped slap mark on Cody Rhodes’ chest.

If it's make-up, don't spoilt it and tell me. I like to think he gave him a really good thump.

If it's make-up, don't spoilt it and tell me. I like to think he gave him a really good thump.

Jericho and Show kept the belts. Game on!

Next up CM Punk, the Maude Flanders of WWE, wanted to confront the audience concerning their debauched, toxic ways and accused the parents (sorry, paRENT) in attendance of damaging their kids.

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It’s strange, part of me thinks “who the hell do you think you ARE, Punk? Telling ME  having a beer is tantamount to shooting heroin in my arm?’ But there’s something a little bit tantalising about a boy THAT square, even if Preachy Punk is just part of a the character. It’s almost like he’s begging to be corrupted. If he ever wants to go the other way and clink pale ale bottle necks together with someone, I’m right here.

Drank a couple of bottles of these on an empty stomach and couldn't feel my feet. True story.

Drank a couple of bottles of this on an empty stomach and couldn't feel my feet. True story.

One question though, a tattoo is ink embedded in the pigment of your skin, right? A foreign chemical under your skin? Just sayin’.

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Moving on, I don’t often give much blog time to ECW. It’s not that I don’t watch or love it, it’s just that I don’t have time to squash everything in here. I can confirm though that I am a total peep and every time Christian’s music kicks I get a funny little tingle in my fingers. We’ll call them Mini-Wrestlegasms. The match was solid and the two shared a lovely, bromantic moment when Christian took the title at the end. But you’ll have to wait til the end of the week before I tell you more about that. Man Hug Moments are now a special feature all of their own.

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Alright, so next we had a Six-Pack Challenge for the US Championship, fought over by Jack Swagger, Carlito, Primo, The Miz, M.V.P and Kofi Kingston.  It went how you might expect a Raw mid-card match to go and wasn’t spectacular, but it was energetic and seemed to turn the key in the backs of the audience for a few minutes. Especially with this ménage à quatre.

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Kofi kept the belt, which was probably a great weight off his mind, what with his dog having hernia surgery this week and all. (I <3 Twitter) I do have a bone to pick with WWE though.  What’s with all the Waffle House hate? First The Miz tells Mickie James he predicts she’ll be reduced to working as a Waffle House waitress within a few years, then Jerry Lawler describes  Jack Swagger as “tougher than a Waffle House steak”? In the interest of fairness, you could have said Denny’s or Shoney’s or IHOP or Cracker Barrel or Bob Evans. Ok, not Bob Evans. Bob Evans is freakin’ awesome.

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From one thing that makes me feel fat to another – Michelle McCool vs Melina. It’s a sad day, people. Like all passing crushes, my girl-crush on Michelle McCool has come to an end. I’m not entirely sure why, but her voice started to grate on me and, ultimately, I tend to shake my pom-poms for faces. I always fall out of love with heels after the initial excitement. (Unless they’re Chris Jericho.)  So, I was fully in Melina’s corner, despite her Smackdown promo involving her chucking foundation powder all over Michelle. Must we ALWAYS use beauty products to fight, ladies? I’m looking at you too, Maryse! My brother informs me that that’s the only way girls know how to fight. I proved him wrong by punching him in the gut………. and sweeping some Jeff Hardy inspired liquid eye-liner across his face.

The match wasn’t bad, but they’ve probably done better on Smackdown. I should know. I actually pay attention to most women’s matches. I would have concentrated a little more closely on this one but the incessant screeching kept distracting me. Kind of like watching women’s tennis. Michelle kept the title, but it’s ok Melina. You’ll get another chance. And, alright, you haven’t got any gold to hang around your waist at the moment, but you boyfriend can hold jewels IN his waist. Hmm? Feel better?

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Ok, time for a big ‘un. Triple H and John Cena try to capture the belt from around Randy Orton’s waist…..or his shoulder depending on what mood he’s in that day.  It started off kind of slow. There was all kinds of slipping under the ropes and posturing. Not that I ever complain about man parades but from a wrestling point of view… slow. But proceedings picked up and it turned in to a pretty good match. Hunter had Randy in a sharp shooter, John joined in with an STF and even the great Randy Orton couldn’t take the pain of the two of them on top of him and started tapping out. I’d be willing to give it a shot, but that’s for another day. Despite the submission, with both guys on top of him, the ref couldn’t decide whether to grant victory to John or Triple H. Tricky! The official scratched his head and consulted his mental rule book on what to do.

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But all this dithering gave the helper monkeys time to scuttle in and remove the boys from Orton’s back.  John tried to put Cody out of action, but before he could adjust his attitude Randy stuck the RKO on John’s neck and took the match. Ok, I need to sit down for a moment to recover. What? You didn’t realise I write these things standing up?

I’m gonna go and sneak backstage to eavesdrop on someone’s conversation. Oh here’s something juicy – The Miz and Maryse. The Miz made his usual advances which, after initially encouraging, Maryse shot down in flames. The line between flirty retreat and outrageous tease is fine and it looks like Maryse travelled too far in the wrong direction.  When even The Miz is turning you down, things ain’t looking too crash hot.

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It was the start of a bad night for Maryse, who went on to lost the Women’s Title to my new number one chickie, Mickie James.  The crowd were AWFUL for this match. AWFUL! And ok, it certainly wasn’t the best match they’ve had together, but apart from the odd wolf whistle and a decent cheer when Mickie took the match, nada.

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It’s funny how things change. Who would have thought a year ago that Smackdown would dominate the final two matches of a PPV and that one of them would involve a former Spirit Squad member.  But Dolph Ziggler has moved up the ladder pretty swiftly over the past few months, and even though I was suspicious of him at first (mainly because of his hair) he was impressive in this match. Ok, so Rey Mysterio is a more than generous performer. But still, I thought Ziggler was kind of special and it makes me excited about the band of college educated athletes floating round the roster at the moment.

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As expected, Mysterio won the match, taking Ziggler out with a 619 once but he’d had his fun. But he gave him a gift of a match. Welcome to the big-time, sir. By far the match I enjoyed most but, oh dear, looks like Maria might be rethinking her choice of beau. She didn’t exactly run to his broken side, did she?

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By the way, if you were as hypnotised by Dolph’s tiny, shiny shorts as I was, keep your eyes peeled at the weekend. I might have a treat for you. Wink-wink. Nudge-nudge. Say-no-more.

Final match of the night belonged to CM Punk and Jeff Hardy. Ok, listen guys. I wanted Punk to win as much as you did. You KNOOOOW how I feel about Mr. Brooks.  But all the marks need to take a Xanax (very un-Punk like, I know) and give Jeff his props.  He’s been working hard for a long time now and if you remember, he only held the belt for a few seconds before Punk cashed in his MITB contract and snatched it away. It’s not Jeff’s fault the powers that be decided to push him. He even asked for a break! It’s not his fault that kids are eating up the promos and feel connected to him.  Embrace! Rant over.

The match itself was pretty solid, as most of their matches have been, and it was awesome to see even more personality then usual from Punk. This strong Straight Edge angle has really brought him out of his shell and I LOVE it. Excuse me for going all-out girly, but there were points when my mind said things like “Oh My God, I don’t think he could look any cuter than he does right there.”

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Punk put the GTS on Jeff but failed to make the pin. And again. And again. Exasperated, Punk took his ball (belt) and went to go home, hoping he’d be counted out, disqualified and remain keeper of the gold. But Jeff was having none of it and dragged Punk back in the ring by the ear.  A few minutes and a Swanton Bomb later – the title had changed hands.

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Ahhhhhhh, it’s awesome to be back on my wrestlegasm throne. I missed ya. More before the end of the week and lots to come over the weekend.

UPDATE: As you will see from the first comment in the comments box, Maude Flanders was supposed to be Helen Lovejoy. Soz. A lapse of concentration on my part. But the dearly departed Mrs. Flanders  would not have been a Jeff Hardy fan anyway. And  you got the idea, right? No harm, no foul.   Huge thanks to my colleague, Adam of LOL Wresslin, for so graciously pointing out my error.