Thursday, March 31, 2011

Full WrestleMania 27 Card and Preview

WrestleMania weekend is here and I must say, WWE has gone all out this year to bring back the feel that has been missing for a few years in my opinion. To me the past few years have featured one or two interesting matches, with the rest of the card filled out with matches that could be on any other PPV.  The return of the Rock was a huge boost, Steve Austin back in the mix is always a plus, and a huge Hall of Fame have all added to the WrestleMania hype.  Let's take a look at the full Wrestlemania 27 card:

John Cena vs. The Miz (WWE Championship)

This match HAS to be the main event in my opinion.  This match will have the most "Mania Magic," whether its dueling chants for Miz and Cena or the involvement of The Rock, this match is going to be the big one this year.  It's great to see the WWE Championship match finally feel like a big deal again at WrestleMania.  Here's to hoping The Rock causes Cena to lose and their awesome feud will continue.  ANYthing but The Rock shaking hands with Cena PLEASE.

Edge vs. Alberto Del Rio (World Heavyweight Championship)

I'm glad Alberto Del Rio has gotten the big push, as it has lead to a fresh World Title match at WrestleMania that we can't say we've seen countless times already.  A few months ago I posted that Alberto Del Rio would be a headlining star in no time, and here he is as possibly the next World Champion.  Rumors of a Christian heel turn have popped up, and that would set up some interesting possibilities post-WrestleMania if that happens.

The Undertaker vs. Triple H

Even though Triple H vs. The Undertaker happened at WrestleMania 17, WWE is going with it again as one of the main matches this year.  Of course 10 years ago Triple H was just getting started as a main eventer, so this years match does feel more like an "Icon vs. Icon" type match.  Rumor had it this match was scheduled at some point to go on last, but I hope that is not the case because it won't feel as big as Cena vs. Miz with The Rock involved.  This one should be good, but there is no way it can top The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels from the past 2 years.  My prediction is The Undertaker's streak goes to 19-0 and Triple H will join Shawn Michaels and Kane as guys that have been beaten twice along the streak.

Randy Orton vs. CM Punk

This match has a decent story leading into it.  Punks performance is what has carried it, and his "Randall Keith Orton" references are always entertaining.  Randy Orton has once again become a little too "facey" for me, and is over dramatized mannerisms have gotten corny.  Luckily Punk is good enough to still make this an intriguing match.

Jerry "The King" Lawler vs. Michael Cole

This match probably has the best story of all leading into the match.  For anyone that is a fan or has seen classic Memphis wrestling, this story has had a lot of the same realism and heat.  A great natural build that fans saw progress for months, stemming from Cole's love for The Miz.  Also special because it will be Lawler's first ever WrestleMania match, which has been something that has been talked about for years.  Even Jack Swagger has gotten a much needed rub from this angle and is in a much bigger role thanks to this. Add in the legendary "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, and you have a match that will have the "Mania Magic" regardless of the actual in-ring quality of the match.

Cody Rhodes vs. Rey Mysterio

This is the dark horse interesting match on the card.  I honestly haven't cared about anything Rey Mysterio has done in years.  His World Title reigns have been a joke, as he's just too small to be believable. Most everything else he's done is lame and repetitive, but this year they actually have a nice little story going for him that makes sense.  The angle with Rhodes blaming Mysterio for injuring his "dashing" face is very old school, and has had a nice slow build that will culminate with this match.  The Dusty Rhodes turn on Rey a few weeks back was a very nice touch on this one.
John Morrison, Trish Stratus, and Snooki vs. Dolph Ziggler and Laycool

This is the match many fans are complaining about, I on the other hand think it is a perfect fit for a WrestleMania match.  You have a celebrity that (like her or not) gets coverage on every major media outlet, and enough workers involved to keep things smooth.  Trish Stratus returning to the ring on its own is a major plus that can't be overlooked as the Diva division has become super weak and no one seems to care like they did when Trish was around.  This match qualifies as something you would only see at Mania and will bring the press that will make the event seem like the true Super Bowl of wrestling.

Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan (U.S. Championship)They had a great match a few weeks ago when Sheamus won the belt, but doesn't feel like too huge of a match.  It won't be bad wrestling wise, but will definitely be early on the card due to the non-hype I'm sure.

The Corre vs. Kane, Big Show, Santino Marella, and Vladmir Kozlov

This is the throw away match.  The Corre was great as "The Nexus," but the move to Smackdown has knocked them down a level even though they hold some titles now.  After Monday, the opposing team is total comedy act so this won't mean too much. 

Overall a very promising card that will hopefully deliver.  Some glaring omissions include there not being a Money in the Bank match (due to it having its own PPV now,) no Tag Team, Intercontinental, or Divas title match (unless there is a Divas title match as a pre-show match.)  This year seems much more driven on good stories and special appearances unlike last year which only had a couple of stand out matches going in.  Hopefully on Sunday night we can report that Mania was great and opened the door for a lot of great stories that will unfold post-WrestleMania.

And for anyone in the Atlanta area or anyone planning a last minute trip, WrestleMania tickets are still available.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Bret “Hitman” Hart – The 1998 Tribute Videos and Pre-Screwjob Story

Did I ever tell you the story about my involvement in the infamous Montreal Screwjob? Ok, before you get your panties in a bunch, let me first clarify that I wasn't directly involved in the screwjob. I wasn't even associated with it. Truth be told, I just happened to be "around" it. Not as a "worker" or decision maker, but as a broadcast journalist.

See, for those who don't know - this is where I get put myself over for a minute - I had the FIRST EVER pro wrestling radio talk show (later turned TV show) on the internet. At the time, there weren't too many people who understood the concept of what the internet was, and even fewer owned computers in their own home. In 1997, I signed on with the first ever streaming broadcast company in New York and brought my creations to the air for a global audience. The name of the show was, "...And Justice For Brawl", and because of my ties in the wrestling business, the show shot off like a stud in the last minute of a porno - but without the sticky mess, of course.

Because the show was still in its infancy and I was still working on strategic marketing and building a fan base, I didn't want to start booking big names just yet and blow my load too early - there we go again with the adult references. You may be too young to remember, but internet porn was TERRIBLE back in the 90s. It was basically websites made with old digital cameras that took 3-hours to load one picture with a dial-up modem. Oh, how we've come so far since those days.... I mean in terms of progress. Not in the trajectory or distance you can...nevermind. Back to the screwjob....Here we go again! Get your minds back to pro wrestling!

Long story short, I decided to give Bret Hart a call at the end of October to see if he'd be interested in doing a rare interview. As the true professional he is, was and always will be - Bret obliged. The "Hitman" was one of my all-time favorites and getting the rare opportunity to interview him gave me the jitters. I wanted to do some prep work and ask questions that he had never been asked. What also made the opportunity so rare was that Bret was the reigning WWE champion at the time and during an era where the title was much more valued than it is today. Scoring an interview with the WWE's title holder was unheard of at the time. So Bret and I agreed to wait a few weeks to do the live interview. It would give me enough time to promote the appearance, and I could tie it into a Survivor Series promotion if the WWE office gave any resistance in having their heavyweight champion doing an interview leading into one of the most anticipated events in history.

The Monday Night Wars were in the heat of battle. The WWE's attitude era had just started picking up some steam with the formation of Degeneration-X, led by Shawn Michaels. The white hot heated history between Bret and Shawn had already been exposed to the public and was being used in the storylines. Bret blasted Shawn for what his character had become and what it was doing to the industry. The "Hitman" questioned The Heartbreak Kid's lifestyle and choice of attire. He ridiculed Shawn's ring outfits, perhaps because they weren't designed by a Bryant Park fixture like Hank Shalom of Soho Fashion. But as the date drew closer to the Survivor Series event, and to my interview which was scheduled days before the pay per view, the industry blew up with rumors that Bret Hart was leaving the WWE and signing with the rival WCW.

My heart raced like fat man running to an alton brown ribs all-you-can-eat buffet! I knew that with the interview scheduled, it was my responsibility to address the rumors. My fear was that Bret might have been gag-ordered to keep quiet until after the pay per view. Perhaps by discussing his decision live on the air, fans would lose interest in the event if they could figure out the result based on Bret's decision to stay with the company or not.

So I called Bret, and explained to him my concerns about doing the interview and how he'd like to approach it. I even offered to postpone the interview until everything was finalized and he could openly speak about the rumors and his decision. Bret calmly said, "I don't have anything to hide. You can ask me anything you want and I will tell you as much as I can. Don't hold anything back."

Not only was I relived after hearing Bret giving me the green light, but I also realized the pressure I was under. I was the ONLY journalist on the planet who could publicly discuss the rumor of Bret Hart leaving the WWE with the man himself. The show was booked for Tuesday, November 4th. The Survivor Series was set for Sunday, November 9th. Bret hadn't addressed any of the rumors and decided to wait to make his first statement on my show. Not only were the wrestling fans eager to hear the broadcast, but I'm sure the WWE offices were listening too.

On that Tuesday, Bret made his scheduled appearance on my show. The draw and out-pour of the fans crashed our broadcast servers several times. And when the time came for me to ask, "...Bret, are you going to WCW?...", I literally felt the world stop moving for a moment. Bret gave his explanation and discussed his feelings, and without giving a final or definitive answer, he concluded in saying that at that very moment, his decision was "strongly leaning towards going to WCW".

Yeah, some of you may be saying - "Big fucking deal!". Well, at the time it was. It was a big deal for Bret Hart, for the WWE, for WCW and for the industry as a whole. It was a move many thought was even bigger than when Hulk Hogan signed with WCW. Afterall, here is your current heavyweight champion publicly stating that he is going to work for the competition. But for me, it was the real launch of my career. I may not have been the guy who broke the story, but I was the guy who got the answer to confirm the rumor. What made it more magical is that it wasn't a "hear-say" story. I had the power to put the champion under the interrogation light to ask the question and get the answer that the world wanted to hear. It was my Edward R. Murrow moment.

So I guess Vince McMahon and the WWE locker room was listening too. Between my show on Tuesday and Sunday's PPV event, Bret got screwed out of the title on live television, punched Vince in the eye and hastily departed the WWE to join its arch enemy.

Almost two months later, it was finally announced on WCW television that Bret Hart would be joining the company leading into their Starcade event. Ironically enough, the WCW office was listening to my show as well and I surprisingly got a call where I was offered a contract to work for WCW as a broadcaster on their soon-to-launch internet programming and as the Tuesday voice on the n.W.o. hotline. I was flown down to Washington D.C. to sign my contract at the Starcade PPV, the same night Bret debuted for the company. Not only did I start with Bret on the same day, but we were stranded together at the airport during a nasty blizzard that had our flights delayed for hours. When we talked about the irony of the interview and how it ended up with us both working for WCW, Bret said, "Things have a really weird way of working out and it's only proof that your destiny is already chosen".

I never thought I'd have the chance to be on an open forum with one of my childhood heroes. I never thought I'd be in the center of the news with the exclusive scoop on a breaking story. And I never thought that based on those events, I'd be working with Bret Hart in WCW. And that was just the beginning.

A year later, Bret's fascinating documentary "Wrestling with Shadows" was set to debut. A few months before the public got to see it, Bret contacted me to do a follow up interview and promotion. Although our interview wasn't featured in the documentary, I felt it had its own place in part of that history. Bret felt the same way and it was one of the reasons he sought me out. Unfortunately, Bret's run in WCW had been botched, and by the time the movie was ready to debut - he had already regretted making the decision. It was at that point that I reiterated his own words, "Things have a really weird way of working out and it's only proof that your destiny is already chosen".

Hearing the sentiment in Bret's voice, I wanted to do something on the show that expressed the appreciation that the fans wanted to share with him. I took it to task and edited my first ever videos. Don't be too harsh on me, this was before Final Cut Pro!

The videos are two tributes to a legend, Bret Hart. And some of the footage used was from the screener copy that Bret had sent me himself. So if you're a fan of the "Hitman", I not only ask you to enjoy the video, but to share it so that fans will remember and honor the legacy of the best there is, the best there was and the best there ever will be.

Bret Hart Tribute Video 1 - Song: Measure of a Man - Performed by Elton John

Bret Hart Tribute Video 2 - Song: Untouchable Themes - Performed by Ennio Morricone

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Wrestling Celebrities on The MMA Red Carpet

Have you ever heard of a fan convention that has it’s own red carpet???…Neither have I, but ironically I attended one back in October for an MMA Expo in Atlantic City.

Let me paint a picture for you: The promoter is some money mark who spent over 90K just so he can hang out with a bunch of wrestlers, MMA fighters and kung fu experts. He basically looks like Ox Baker’s retarded son. This guy will lead you to believe that he’s the next Dana White, but that’s about as true as believing that Charlie Sheen is sober.

So when I get to the event, I hear that there is going to be a “red carpet affair”. Now I’m not sure if they mean a legit red carpet like they do for Hollywood premieres, or if this had something to do with seeing April Hunter take off her panties. Either way, I was curious enough to leave the bar for an hour, load up the camera and score some behind the scenes footage.

Low and behold, the time comes and sure enough there was a red carpet….No, not April’s. I mean a Hollywood style gala event with, well – not real media, but some people and fans with cameras…me included.

The kicker is that most of the talent booked on the convention was there and they were dressed to the nines. You would have actually thought they were going to the Oscars. All the of the female talents were fashionably dressed in designer outfits, and had their hair and make up done like they were stars of the silver screen. The men wore their best suits and tried looking somewhat normal than their professional barbaric personas. They were interviewed by some little hottie holding a microphone and whose head was filled with more air than a blow up mattress. But the funniest moment must have been when it was all done, and everyone on the red carpet wondered to themselves – “What the f*ck are we supposed to do now?”

See the convention was the next two days. There was only some lousy Muay Thai fight exhibition on the red carpet night. The real action was on the following days. So that basically left all the talent walking around the Taj Mahal like they just came from an Elvis Chapel Wedding or leaving the women looking like high priced escorts. I guess it proved at that moment, if you have money to burn then you too can try making yourself look important by paying celebrities to hang around you.

Hey – atleast I got some footage!

This video is provided by DieHard Pro Wrestling

Follow us on Facebook at facebook/DieHardProWrestling and Twitter @DHProWrestling

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Timeline: The History of ECW - 1997 as Told by Sabu DVD Review

I had the chance to watch my first wrestling "shoot interview" around 1996, and at the time it was so amazing to see these wrestling stars openly discussing the inner workings of the business and telling stories of experiences a fan would normally not have access to.  After a few years the style of shoot interview became pretty formulaic and there were some glaring problems that annoyed viewers.  Asking the same questions, moving to the next topic before the wrestler was done with the current one, skipping some topics completely, and the interviewer being afraid of really digging for answers to the uncomfortable questions were all the norm.  Today I can gladly report that "Kayfabe Commentaries" is changing a lot of that.

Kayfabe Commentaries has taken the art of the shoot interview and broken it down into a series of features that allow viewers to really get the full story.  In "Timeline: The History of ECW - 1997 as Told by Sabu" we get the entire year of 1997 in ECW, event by event (with some background info. popping up on screen in between questions to set the stage for what was happening on a given date.)  Every PPV, house show, memorable event, untold story, it's all here with Sabu describing his side of each story. 

What makes this feature even more interesting is that as many of you know, during this period and for most of his career, Sabu has very rarely spoken.  He never did interviews or promos, and only the last few years has given a few interviews.  But on this DVD Sabu really goes deep into his feelings on ECW and the events in 1997 which included his memorable "Born to be Wired" match with Terry Funk, his Barely Legal match with Taz, and ECW's 1997 invasion of WWE, and much more. 

Also included is Sabu's feelings on just about everyone he worked with in 1997 including Paul Heyman, Tod Gordon, The Dudley's, Rob Van Dam, Vince McMahon, and everyone in between.  Host Sean Oliver isn't afraid to push Sabu to dish the dirt on any topic including drug use and other stories that Sabu is almost hesitant to tell.  It's great to see an interviewer on screen interacting with the guest which gives the vibe that we're getting to watch an interesting conversation rather than seeing a wrestler alone on camera looking like he's getting the third degree.

This is the first time I have seen Sabu be so open on camera, and there are many stories I had never heard.  At one point in the interview, I was in total shock to see a hardcore icon like Sabu break into tears when discussing what he did to help ECW and the treatment he received regardless.  If you were a huge follower of ECW in 1997, this is an awesome perspective from a main eventer in that period, and someone who is more involved than we ever knew...until now.

This is only our first review on a Kayfabe Commentaries DVD but we hope to review all their future releases, as the "Timeline" series is just one of their many features.  There is also the "YouShoot" series which allows fans to actually be the interviewers by sending in questions and having them asked - and trust us the questions asked aren't censored and there are some eyebrow raising questions for sure.  Head over to Kayfabe Memories to order your copy of "Timeline: The History of ECW - 1997 as Told by Sabu.

Interview with former WWE/TNA Star, Shawn Daivari

"DieHard" Derek Gordon conducts a one on one sit down with the former WWE and TNA star to discuss his career in both organizations, his challenges as a smaller competitor, the state of the indy wrestling scene, and what led to his TNA release after a successful run as X-division champion.

In a business that was built on characters that are larger than life, Shawn Daivari defied the offs for the smaller athlete with giant dreams. Considered by many as one of the most underrated talents in the last decade, not only did Daivari have an uphill battle in making his dream a reality based on his size, but he also faced many challenges due to his ethnicity - as the pro wrestling world immediately exploited him as an anti-American villain and capitalizing on the 9/11 tragedies.

In this interview, Shawn Daivari discusses his experiences as a smaller performer, an antagonist performer, and most of all, as a performer of a young man who worked hard to achieve his dreams and share the ring with his childhood heroes.

Kurt Angle’s Ultimate Teen Challenge

Pro Wrestling superstar Kurt Angle joined the MMA Sports Expo in Atlantic City, NJ to host his new project, Kurt Angle's Ultimate Teen Challenge, and to promote his new line of nutritional meals under the banner of Angle Foods. Here are some highlights of Kurt coaching these kids through the fitness trials.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Remember When...The Undertaker vs. Triple H Happened at WrestleMania 17

We found it quite humorous earlier today when we read that WWE has instructed their writing team to not bring up the fact that The Undertaker and Triple H have already wrestled at a WrestleMania (17).  For anyone that has only become a WWE fan in the past few years, the fact is true.  Triple H is already a part of The Undertaker's 18-0 streak.

WWE is obviously trying to not remind people of this fact so they can build their WrestleMania 27 match so Triple H comes across as a serious threat to the streak.  Granted, Triple H and The Undertaker are stars on a different level than most in WWE, and their match still has a "big time feel."  At WrestleMania 17, there wasn't much of a story leading to their match, and overall it felt like the match was thrown together because they had 2 big stars that had nothing else to do.  It feels pretty similar this year, as it seemed like Triple H just suddenly decided to be pissed off at The Undertaker and made a challenge. 

In the video below of their WrestleMania X-7 match, we also get to see some of the buildup to the match, and it features Triple H talking about beating everyone...until Undertaker lets him know that he's never beaten him.  Sounds pretty familiar, only difference being it was "The American Bad Ass" version of The Undertaker back then.  So if The Undertaker does defeat Triple H at WrestleMania 27 (which i definitely think he will,) Triple H will join his DX partner Shawn Michaels, and Kane as the three guys The Undertaker has beaten twice along his WrestleMania streak.

So WWE doesn't want you to remember this, but here is the Triple H vs. Undertaker match from WrestleMania 17.  The match turned out to be really good in my opinion, and the match went all over the building (something else we may see again this year since it's a no disqualification match.) 

Wrestlemania 17 Undertaker vs HHH by catalanforever

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Pro Wrestling Roundup Launches Official Radio Show

As you have noticed over the past few months, Pro Wrestling Roundup has made strides in improving the site and bring more posts, writers, and features.  Now we have taken a huge step as we have launched our own online radio show, "The Wrestling Jerks."  Hosted by Tony G. and Stevo, The Wrestling Jerks will hit the airwaves multiple times during the week, covering everything from WWE to TNA, and featuring interviews with special guest wrestling stars.  Just like the PWR site, The Wrestling Jerks pull NO punches and will bring honest opinions whether they are good or bad.  You can listen to the show live or listened to archived episodes, and there is also a live chat and call in number available if you would like to speak your wrestling opinions.  You can check out the first episode below, as Tony G. and Stevo discuss what's wrong with TNA, Triple H vs. The Undertaker at WrestleMania, and so much more.

The Wrestling Jerks Episode 1