new mnw: the post-mortem

Leading up to Monday, I was asked by several people how I felt about the new and supposed Monday Night War, which was about to begin between the WWE and TNA. For the most part I kept my answer brief and vague because I didn’t really have an opinion. When in doubt, say nothing until you’re sure of where you stand. Admittedly, I don’t always play by that rule, but having nothing to go on but hype and anticipation, I wanted to see what happened first. Also, I was pretty new to wrestling when the original Monday Night Wars were drawing to a close. I didn’t fully appreciate what was happening until much later.

Raw was guest hosted by Bret Hart this week and it was a huge deal. After twelve years of hurt feelings, bruised egos and ever-increasing dollar bills hanging like a carrot from a stick, Bret Hart finally returned to the WWE and it worked. It was exciting. The fact that I was as excited as I was took me by surprise. I wasn’t just worked up about Bret’s return, I was actually looking forward to Raw as a whole. That hasn’t happened too often lately. I’ve mentioned before that Bret Hart is one of the very few wrestlers I remember as a kid. I have no overt  affection for him but, to a point, he is my oldest wrestling crush.

His moment of recompense with Shawn Michaels over the Montreal Screwjob at the top of the show was fascinating. It was like that family member you fell out with at so-and-so’s wedding coming up to you at some other family function and offering to make peace. When I first started watching wrestling, one of the things I loved about it was that you were never truly sure what was real and what was being played out for a storyline. It was neorealism before neorealism was cool. Often the lines were blurry, mixing genuine personal events with fictitious storylines. That still goes on but with the arrival of social media, secrets are harder to keep under wraps. One slip of the fingers on someone’s iPhone and a whole month of feuds could be blown. But it was different when I started watching. Ahhh life before the internet. Remember? Yeah, I’m struggling too.

The opening gambit where Shawn and Bret agreed to bury the hatchet without bringing it down on each other’s heads felt real. It fed off real emotions, yet you knew a story had been penned and agreed in advance. The whole show had a flow it’s been sorely lacking in recent months. Even down to the way The Miz entered the ring while Maryse was leaving. And that’s something that can continue regardless of whether Bret Hart is there or not. It wasn’t all wonderful. They could have done a lot more. But if Bret Hart’s got a floating contract to run until after WM26, the potential for interaction with young talent, specifically The Hart Dynasty, might still exist.

Moving on to less congenial television, TNA iMPACT was painful. I’ve made no effort in the past to hide the fact that I always find it painful to watch TNA. It sets my teeth on edge more than once every single week. It’s not that their wrestlers are bad. In most cases they’re pretty talented. Their Women’s Division alone is stacked with excellent workers and strong characters. But the lack of effort that goes into the production makes me want to yank my hair out from the follicles. Even little things drive me to distraction; the incessant crowd noise and awful acoustics, just for a start.

I explained how I felt about Hogan’s signing to TNA when it first blew up. I haven’t changed that view in the past couple of days. No, I don’t like him. I think he’s an awful figurehead for any company and he signifies everything I don’t want new fans of wrestling to buy in to. There’s no doubt his name is still a draw, but unless TNA make plans to progress the young talent begging for structured storylines with equally worthy wrestlers soon, they’ll do nothing but re-hash old feuds between wrestlers who can’t make the matches believable any more. The older statesmen should be used to put the younger talent over. If they refuse to do that, the whole company will become famous for being nothing more than the free night-bus for those with nowhere else to go.

TNA bookers are like magpies,  picking up every mildly sparkling free agent available but with no plans for how they might polish them to a brilliant shine. It was anticipated that Hulk Hogan’s debut on iMPACT  would force the show to be largely about him. But the fact that he’s making the entire company about him and his grotesque friends is appalling, and I still believe Dixie Carter will regret having him on board. At the very least I think she’ll regret giving him so much power. Eric Bischoff less so. He understands business. But Hogan’s there for a retirement party and a pay-cheque. I’m all for ‘jobs for the boys’. We all like to look after our friends, but this level of  nepotism is pathetic, both creatively and in a business sense. If I never see Brian Knobbs’ hideous face again, it’ll be too soon.

I have my own views on Jeff Hardy and Ric Flair’s bookings on Monday night and they revolve around loyalty. I’ll keep them to myself unless anyone actually wants to know what I think. Otherwise, hey, they’re both free to work for who they please. Who am I to be their moral compass? If Ric Flair needs to pay his electricity bill, it’s not for me to say he can’t keep his heating on at night. But purely on a booking level, they make no sense. Jeff’s in court for drug offences soon and Flair can’t possibly have anything to offer in-ring.  Use what you’ve got. Seek out your best assets and plug them to the hills. It’s not rocket science. Don’t grab at everything left on shell because it’s a brand everyone recognises. Have the self-confidence to turn people down from time-to-time. If the good stuff gets sidelined because the ‘names’ want an undeserved slice of the airtime pie, you should be outraged.

TNA are akin to teenagers having sex. All the mechanics are there and they’re sure they know how to do it, but they’re nervous, over-enthusiastic and they rush their way through the parts they should linger on. There was something very mature and confident about Raw this week. And I recognise the irony in calling any show with a  Hornswoggle segment ‘mature’, but it managed to deliver a well balanced show in a methodical and experienced manner. It was easy. It had rhythm and a gripping ending. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve shouted at the screen watching Raw too. But Raw’s problems are largely creative. They can easily be fixed. Also, WWE has other brands and business off-shootsto fall back on if one element of its product isn’t working.

There’s no doubt that TNA put their stamp on the industry on Monday night. In many ways, I admire their pluck, the fact that they had the courage to stand up to Vince McMahon and demand his attention. It certainly worked.  But to sustain the momentum they kickstarted this week, TNA are going to have to try harder. The novelty factor will wear off very quickly; not just for the viewers but I suspect for several of the newly signed roster too. Hulk Hogan in particular.

(I will recap Raw in the usual way before the end of the week. I promise I haven’t lost my sense of humour. Honest, guvna!)

more adventures in audio

Yep, a week has passed already and despite not thinking I’d be doing another audio post for some time, I’ve done it already. Thanks to my brother, Cezza, not only for helping me figure out this technology stuff but also for being an awesome guitarist and allowing me to use one of his very own tracks at the beginning and the end of the post. You can follow him on Twitter right here.

I actually picked a topic this week that wasn’t, well, me! I was afraid I was turning in to Ron Burgundy. It would be great to know what you think about what I discuss in this post, so please get in touch once you’ve listened.

This was kind of a serious topic so I’ll make the next one more fun.  Feel free to email me with suggestions.

Here goes part two of my adventures in audio……….

raw(lite): hubcaps for frisbees

It’s 2am on a Tuesday morning. What was I doing? Pretending to sleep. What was Birmingham, Alabama doing? Cheering at Monday Night Raw. Randy Orton is in the ring, his foot-soldiers are firmly by his side and the steel cage has been lowered around the ring. Let’s get cracking.

The tormentor of Mexican reporters everywhere explained once again how he planned on dealing with big Dave Batista at Extreme Rules. Tactics will include grinding Dave’s face against the metal (ouch), slamming the cage door in to his face (yaaawch) and running him face first, no, HEAD first in to every side of the cage over, and over and over again. Say over-and-over again for me, Randy.

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Randy went on to inform us, and Dave, that he’d arranged with Vickie Guerrero that there would be  a steel cage match that night. He flipped a coin to decide whether Batista had to face Cody or Ted. Cody’s up. Despite looking terrified at first, he remembered he had to live up to his daddy’s cage match reputation and sucked up his angst.  Randy verbally patted him on the head and told him everything was going to be ok. Then he gave us a demonstration on how to walk through a door. Where has this man BEEN all my life?  He began wrapping up the promo but just as he raised the belt in to the air, someone decided they had something to say.

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Yes, there were 13 WOOOOOs and 15 PUNKs in Ric Flair’s response to Randy’s promo. I counted. Randy reminded Ric that he was retired and was not legally permitted to take part in any in-ring fight or his pension fund may be jeopardised. But Ric didn’t want any old in-ring wrestling match. Oh noes, he wanted a car park brawl. (That’s a ‘Parking Lot Brawl’ for any Americans reading). Randy accepted and warned Ric that his days were numbered.  Cody, you’re up, buddy!

The personnel dispersed and Dave Batista joined little Cody in the ring. Cody clung to the turnbuckle as The (caged) Animal smirked right in his face. Being half Dave’s size, Cody Rhodes was struggling. Randy came out cage-side to see if he could put a little pep in Cody’s step, but even his posturing, grimacing and general clawing at the steel couldn’t save his little puppy. Naaaw! Bless.

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Time for something really silly over in Vickie’s office. Big Show was bleating to Chavo and Vickie about the fact that he’d been paired up with chief prick, The Miz, against John Cena and a currently unnamed partner. They convinced him that all would be well and decided it would be a good time to draw a name from a pair of velvet wrestle trunks to see who John’s partner would be. By some amazing fluke, the name drawn was Chavo Guerrero. Wow! Whodda thunk it?

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By the way, has anyone noticed Vickie’s fabulous taste in aesthetics? There’s nothing like a Van Gogh street scene and black leather seating to give that sophisticated air of….oh, I dunno….. dentist’s waiting room.

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From one lady to another, Kelly-Kelly bounced her way to the ring and this dude made a proposal with his fan-sign.

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Thank God he chose to paint an engagement ring and not a different kind of ring, or Linda McMahon might have had to explain away another awkward mess.  By the way, man, nice penmanship and all, but I don’t fancy your chances. I mean, LOOK at her!!! Mickie James joined Kelly in the ring and she was closely followed by their opponents, Beth Phoenix and Maryse. Rosa Mendes floated around in some leather trousers so she could distract the ref at an opportune moment. It was all over disappointingly quickly and ended with Maryse sticking a DDT on Kelly, pinning her for the win. Look at Rosa. Remember when you were in high school and there was always a pipsqueak girl who wanted to be in your group of friends, despite the fact that everyone left her out of everything in the hope she’d just go away? Rosa is that girl.

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Next up, Carlito and Primo were taking on Matt Hardy and William Regal for the tag-team belts. YAAAAWN. Matt used his arm cast to try and take out Carlito but slipped and whacked his own partner instead. Own-goal, I believe. Regal dropped and Carlito capitalised with a pin to keep hold of the belts.

This was spotted…………….

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and the camera moved back to the ring post haste. Ssshhh, if we don’t about him everyone will just forget.

For the third week running Ric Flair, who was pacing up and down the car park looking for hubcaps to frisbee at Orton’s head, had a verbal altercation with his fave beefcake, Batista. Ric explained how much he missed being the Nature Boy (I’ll be taking about that all serious-like in a near future post) and told Dave if he called him ‘The Man’ once more he’d vomit. Now THAT would be a show. Go on, Dave. Say it! After an emotive speech, Ric managed to convince Dave that brawling with a man half his age was totally do-able and asked him not to be a hero and rescue him from the evil clutches of Randy Orton. Gotta be honest, I wouldn’t want anyone to rescue me from the grope grip of Randy Orton either.

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It’s been a while since we’ve seen a Man-Hug moment. The boys have been reather un-huggy of late, so huge thanks to Dave and Ric for enabling  me to resurrect this bit.

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Back over in Vickie’s sophisticated office Regal and Matt Hardy informed her that they have arranged a match between her and SantinO Marella for that night. Vickie went all mentalist and started yelling in Spanish, which she only does when she’s REALLY freakin’ out. But it was ok, the guys had a plan to make it work, which Matt whispered in Vickie’s ear. She seemed whole-heartedly on board.

Finally back in the ring and it’s time for The Miz to do his annoying pre-match gamble about how he’s what, like, 347-0 against John Cena or something? He informed us that John’s supposed penchant for corporate selling-out put him in the same category as Spongebob, The Jonas Brothers and Hannah Montana. Ok, so Spongebob is silly and The Jonas Brothers are far too miserable looking to be pop stars, but what’s wrong with Miley? To quote Britney, and God knows I never thought I’d say THAT, she’s NOT.THAT. INN-O-CE-ENT! Do a Google image search for Miley Cyrus. You’ll see what I mean.

And look, she’s a wrestling fan too…….

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I have no words.

Let’s try and forget that image and talk about the match….. It was fine. You know. Not blow your brains out brilliant, not absolutely awful either. John was not looking too healthy and The Miz wanted him, not LITERALLY, I mean he wanted the pinfall himself. But Big Show wanted in too and tried to persuade The Miz to tag him back in. But it was no dice, and when The Miz turned to go and throw himself at JC, Big Show swung his ginormous fist at The Miz to clear the way.

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With The Miz out cold Chavo leaped in to the ring and pinned him for the win. The crowd went nuts for Chavo who, in his role as Vickie’s sycophantic nephew, doesn’t get much of a chance at big-time matches these days.

John was none too pleased that Chavo had stolen his pin and slammed him in to the mat. There was a further tussle between John and BS which left John unconscious too. When does this Big Show/John Cena storyline end again? Whenever it is, make it snappy! PLEASE!

Fresh from the senior prom, MVP was preparing to face Kofi Kingston to hold on to the United States Championship. It began with a polite meeting of the mutual appreciation society, but soon dissolved in to a slanging match and then an AWESOME wrestling match.

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I wasn’t sure where it was all going at first. I was wondering why everyone on the interwebz were so excited by it when I got up on Tuesday morning. The crowd were seated and silent. But as it progressed it really did turn out to be fantastic.

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Yep, we have a new United States champion.  Congratulations, sir. I feel like I want to reward Kofi with something. Because, you know, winning the match, the belt and the title just isn’t enough. He doesn’t fall in to my swoon worthy gentlemen category, but what the hell…………….

Play it and do some chair dancing for the remainder of this post. Wind ya waaaist, people.

From a great match to a great mess. William Regal and Matt Hardy’s evil plan to take out Santino Marella was about to come to fruition. I won’t bore you with the details. It was physically and emotionally painful to watch. Who knows what complete and utter tripe they’ll churn out at the PPV tomorrow night. Just know that the match ended like this.

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Looks like Batista defied Flair one more time and called him ‘The Man’ again. Well, Ric DID promise he’d vomit if he did it again. Speaking of Flair, his Fight to the Finish was about to kick off in the car park. (See what I did there?)

Ok, so it started with a game of Hide & Seek. Off screen, Randy had already stood in the corner with his eyes covered and counted to 100.  Ric had scuttled off to hide.

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Anyway, let’s be honest, the fight didn’t set me on fire. We all know Ric Flair isn’t supposed to be doing this stuff. But I would like to thank him for ripping the chest area of Randy’s shirt open. It made up for the nonsense. Wait, is that one of the $45 Top Rope t-shirts? It seemed to rip open awfully easily. I won’t be wasting my money buying one THOSE then . Shoddy products or set-up to rip when Flair touched it? The decision is yours.

And then, because people paid good money to see a main event, they shuffled their way in to the arena. By the time they made it to the ramp, the oldest player in the game was not looking too clever. Randy had full command. The King said “Right now, this is especially difficult to watch.” Not really, Jerry. It’s actually hilarious to watch. Randy finally ripped off the scraps of fabric hanging from his arms and got back to work. But as Flair looked like he was finished for all time, he did a bit of a mule kick and caught Randy in the knackers. Obviously, being a girl, I have no idea how painful this is, but I did grab at my crotch in sympathy. And I have it on good authority that it’s the most painful thing a man can experience. So you have that and we have childbirth.

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Back to the match and Randy’s manhood was still causing him some trouble, giving Ric the opportunity to capitalise.  There seemed to be a lot of blood, but it could have been jam or ketchup or hot chili sauce from when they collapsed in to the refreshments table in the car park.

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Flair put Randy in a figure-4 and the rest of Legacy came to the rescue. They dragged him in to the steel cage which, by some coincidence, had been lowered back over the ring. They were meant to have some fisticuffs in the car park, right?  This was not an official match, right? Ha. It ended up with Ric and Randy locked in the cage with Dave watching on in despair.  Even if he could get in, he made a promise not to be a hero and save him. Poor Dave. He was just trying to protect his pal from some serious geriatric abuse.

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Randy did his “My IED is kicking in now” face and Batista shouted through the barricade that he was going to break Randy in half. If he did break him in half, which half would I want to keep? Tricky. Both are impressive. Oh well, it’s not going to happen anyway.

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Shall we have some Smackdown next, folks?

raw(lite): orgasmic borderlines and over dressing

[I wrote this recap last night, but I was so tired by the time I got done with the writing, I fell asleep before I could do all my lovely photoshopping. So just put your brain on rewind and pretend it's still Friday night.]

It’s Friday night, I put my pink bow PJ bottoms on at 8pm, flicked the mushrooms out of my Chinese food (because they are the work of Satan), had a semi-cold Carlsberg Export, felt sorry for myself  ’cause my jaw problems kept me from going to the gym, argued over the name of Eminem’s new single, opened another beer, failed at Guitar Hero, watched Eastenders and felt happy when Terry got sent to prison, started watching Gordon Ramsay humiliate pitiful chefs, remembered I need to recap the rest of Raw. So here I am. Don’t you just wish you had my rock & roll lifestyle? I can feel your jealousy burning through the monitor.

So, Thursday’s post pretty much told you what was bad about this week’s Raw. Tonight I will try to be a little more optimistic. I’m not gonna lie, the alcohol is helping. I am also alternating between re-watching Raw and listening to Fall Out Boy’s Folie a Deux album. Patrick Stump makes everything better.  Vince McMahon had just pushed his phoney Kroenke out of the ring and I was waiting for things to improve (’cause they couldn’t get much worse.) WROOONG! Here’s The Miz. He revealed a Cavs jersey, the crowd booed, and he declared himself 6-0 against John Cena. There I was, wondering how long it’s going to be before John’s actually allowed to retaliate, when…….

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Hoorah! Things are looking up. But before John could make it in to the ring and finally shut The Miz up, Rhodes and DiBiase started laying in to him. The Miz joined in and before we knew it, my John was being kicked in to a pile of mush. Heels = 3,  Babyfaces = 1.  Things are looking a little uneven. Oh, DAAAA-AAAVE! You’re needed. Batista came to help and managed to flatten all three bad dudes in succession. The Big Show appeared (urgh) and then Jerry Lawler. Lakers colours never looked so…..so….. stretched? The asymmetrical shoulder strap though. Very ‘on trend’, |Jerry. Love you, King. Mwah!

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With the ring cleared of nasty boys, there was nothing else to do but announce a five v five, good v bad, Yay v Boo match for the end of Raw. At this point I was really hoping the jerseys were just for graphic effect. They weren’t. Much to my disgust. I’ll come back to that later. Wait, who is the fifth good fella? You’ll have to wait to find out.

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It was time for the regular show to start. After Maryse’s dalliance last week with a can of Elnett (which they’ve totally changed the smell of, by the way) she was taking on Baby Kelly, to retain her Divas Championship.

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I was little worried for Kelly. She does a mean backflip but Maryse is a mean ole madame and I was pretty sure she’d get creamed in to the mat. But from the moment Kelly did her (better) version of the Maryse hair-flick, I knew she’d be ok. It all started to go wrong when Maryse had Kelly on the announce table and was pounding her in the face. NOOOOO! Not the face! Maryse spent too much time out of the ring and was counted out, allowing Kelly to win the match but not the belt. Damn! Kelly was furious and went flying straight at her.  Your day will come, sweetheart.

Gratuitous America's Next Top Model Reference

Gratuitous America's Next Top Model Reference

Backstage, this happened……………..

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and over in the locker room, Batista was trying to tell Ric Flair what we’re all thinking. Lead balloon time again.

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Back inthe ring, Matt Hardy, William Regal and Kofi Kingston are scrapping it out to contend for M.V.P’s Yankee Belt next week. Kingston pinned Matt Hardy for the match. Ok, M.V.P and Kofi Kingston will be good. And they even managed to be friendly about it. Aww, they really do make a lovely couple.

So after that Ric Flair woooed his way to the ring. This can only end badly. But It does promise an appearance from Randy Orton, who was nowhere to be seen and we’re already 40 minutes in. Flair reminded us that Orton sucka-punched him and had his wicked way with him last week. Really? Had his way with you Ric? Is that available on bootleg DVD anywhere? Anyway, Ric called Randy out and HOLY HELL did he answer.

To say that Randy told Ric off is an understatement. Randy lost his temper and shut his mouth good an proper. There haven’t been too many wrestlegasm moments in recent weeks, but Randy’s angry rant delivered on all markers. To be truthful, it wasn’t just a wrestlegasm moment…. it was  borderline orgasmic. And THAT doesn’t happen that often from viewing alone. Bravo, Randy. BRA-VO, my love!

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Wait, I just got turned on by a young man shattering the few remaining dreams of  a pensioner. That’s wrong, right? Don’t answer.

Aaaanyway. Ahem. Ric slapped Randy’s face and Randy knocked him down, pummelling him in the face. Batista came to the rescue and Orton made a hasty retreat to the comfort of the ramp, leaving Dave trying to hold Flair back from retaliating. Randy gave a few parting words and just as he was about to leg it, we heard….

.                                               .

KENN-E-DEEEEY

.                                                .

YYYYYYEEEEEEEOOOOW! I love you, Ken Kennedy. Welcome back. I missed you. But seriously, the beard needs to go. Like, pronto. You’re just a line of boot polish away from looking like Scott Steiner. That wasn’t even a good look for Steiner. Get! Rid!

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Facial hair aside…..WRESTLEGASMMMMMM! I believe that’s called multiple wrestlegasm-ing. Ah, it’s good to be a girl. Assuming Kennedy’s new injury can be fixed relatively swiftly, Mr. K and Mr. Ohhh need to have a proper feud. It would be AWESOME.

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Oh, yeah, Kennedy was named the fifth good guy in the YAY v BOO match at the end of the show. From the sublime to the ridiculous, Santino and Mickie James were up against Chavo and Beth. Mickie pinned Beth FTW and Santino was left to choose a stipulation for SantinA’s match against  Vickie at the PPV. He chose a Hog Pen Match, did more pi g squeals and forced Vickie in to one of her patented screeches.

Backstage The Big Show reminded The Miz that he was not allowed to pin John Cena……

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You don’t really wanna know anything about Goldust and Hornswoggle v Festus and The Brian Kendrick, do you?????? Phew. Good. ‘Cause I was about to skip it anyway.

On to the final match of the night. The Five v Five.  There were varying responses to this match from the guys. Big Show struggled to keep his body inside his custom made jersey. Suck it in, honey. Suck it in like you just finished eating on Christmas Day and realised jeans were a bad option.

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Randy looked pissed off that he’d been forced to cover his chest.

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Kennedy came out to a Brett Favre joke. (Miss you, Brett…. but please stay retired this time, k?). And John Cena looked like he’d travelled back in time to his thuganomics days. Actually, his arms were rather weedy back then, so I’ll stick with present day John, thank you very much. Thuganomics-John SOOOOO couldn’t bench press Big Show. Batista took it all too seriously and came out in  full Lakers regalia. Long shorts and everything. JR said…..“Behind those iniquitous blue eyes of Randy Orton is a mind that is thinking -I have to step inside a steel cage in two weeks on Pay Per View against The Animal?” I hate to challenge Jim Ross, but what Randy was REALLY thinking was “Dave, you moron. You could have worn less clothes than that and you CHOSE to wear extra fabric? I don’t get you.”

The match was as expected. Some amazing stuff, some rubbish, but it was far more entertaining than I was expecting. Good conquered Evil when M.V.P pinned Cody Rhodes to take it for TEAM YAY!

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But the real story of this match is that when Kennedy was on the receiving end of the RKO, he suffered a fairly nasty looking wrist injury. You can usually tell real pain. They try to smile through it but the grimace can’t help but break through. I can’t find any info online that says he’s going to lose any major time away from the ring, so I hope it’s nothing that can’t be fixed with an ice pack and a healing kiss. You have to feel a little bit sorry for the guy. You spend 10 months rehabbing your shoulder only to pick up another big inury in your first match back. :(

So that WAS the Denver Debacle. After Thursday’s rant I felt a tiny bit disloyal, but there’s no point in pretending I loved Vince’s tactics when I didn’t. However, when Michael Cole said this at the end of the show….

“Well thank you WWE Universe for all your support, this week, and each and every week. Thank you everybody, and good night from Los Angeles.”

………..I felt compelled to accept the gesture of gratitude. Now, let’s just forget this every happened and move on to better things.