Kill him!

Short post about use of blood in the wrasslin’ bidness.

Back in the day, I didn’t know about blading. I wasn’t naive and I knew that when people got bust open, there was a good chance that it was planned (although sometimes it happens by mistake) but I just assumed that they hardway’d it. Now, in the PG era, I know that blading doesn’t really happen. It’s frowned upon. They tend to use blood capsules nowadays, which gives the same effect but with no harm to the competitor (except their pride).

Back then, when someone got bust, it was a real “holy shit!” moment where the suspension of disbelief went ballistic and you really were in the middle of the fight, wondering what the outcome would be. Nowadays, you know that if someone bleeds, it was a mistake, and that makes it less fun. If someone is bust, there has been a fuckup and someone in hurt and it is not entertainment then, at least not entertainment I like to watch.

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Jooooooohn Cena!

I fucking love John Cena. There, I said it.

I think John Cena is great. When I started watching wrestling again, I thought he was the drizzling shits. He has, what, like, five moves? And he has that super-cute goody-two-shoes attitude and he is followed by, “Let’s Go, Cena/Cena Sucks!”  chants everywhere he goes. The man is the worst.

No. NO. He is the best and I will give you many reasons.

1: John Cena has loyalty to the Fed.

There is nothing wrong with Cena’s love for the Fed as it has done a lot for him. In an interview with Howard Stern, Cena says that if it were not for Vince, he would still be mowing lawns in West Newbury, Massachusetts. If I were given all the riches in the world, allowed to carry a company on my shoulders and given fame, respect and adoration, I would be a company man too. This loyalty shows that he is not going to throw his toys out of the pram like Stone Cold or CM Punk did in the past. This loyalty means that when Cena is advertised for a match, he will be there unless he has an injury. Bear in mind that other company men are Undertaker, HHH and The Rock, all of whom have been huge draws for the Fed in the past.

2: He may not have the moves, but he does have the voice

John Cena can jump on that mic and just straight-up murder someone verbally. I rarely see him screw up a promo and he can be very, very funny at times too.

3: Safety is his prime concern

I’ve seen John Cena get his own nose smashed in my Seth Rollin’s knee, but I have rarely seen the boy hurt anyone.

4: That body!

Say what you want about Cena, he looks the part.

5: Make a Wish.

Alright, it’s worth stating that I am a sucker for this sort of thing. John Cena has made over 500 Make-A-Wish wishes. Justin Beiber, fair fucks to the cunt, has done over 250. When John Cena gets on the mic and talks about kids, I go weepy. When he hands children his wristbands, hats, whatever, I fucking love it. Say what you want, but the Fed is a PG product for kids that adults tend to like. It is no longer for men in my age range (let’s say… over 20). When John Cena makes a kid’s night, I don’t care how much everyone else hates him, Cena is my hero.

It’s…!

I love surprise entrances of wrasslers. I fucking love it. I almost always lose my shit when I hear an, “IF YA SMEEEEEELL!” or smashing glass or “Oh, oh, Shawn!” or a car crash. There is something about the first few chords of Kurt Angle’s Medal that just make me go crazy. See if Rusev went on an anti-American rant and in the middle of it, there was just that da-dada-da of Medal, I would hit the roof.

Imagine that. Imagine it.

For a good surprise run-in to take place, though, the character needs to make sense in the storyline so that the audience begin to connect the dots almost instantly. When Vince came out with Steph and was talking about the Vincent J. McMahon Macguffin of Excellence or whatever, and Here Comes the Money hits, the audience cheered because “Yay! Music!” then they considered this formula:

  • Here Comes The Money = Shane McMahon
  • If Shane = Face then Steph + Vince = Piece of shit
  • If Shane = Heel then Steph + Vince + Shane = Piece of shit

And then they just went from there. The crowd were just happy to see Shane O Mac but the fact that he was going against the Authority put him over in our eyes. The man was untouchable. And the fact that the chants supported him the whole time, he barely said a word and just pushed Vince’s hand away… the man was over as fuck.

When Tazz arrived and instantly started mowing people down, I didn’t need to know who Tazz was beforehand. I just knew he was a bad motherfucker. When AJ Styles came to the Fed at the Royal Rumble, same thing. He went over because of his actions. Their appearances were for newcomers as well as old fans. When Jericho arrived in the middle of the Rock’s monologue, he was being placed in a storyline and had only his words to get him over.

In terms of surprise entrants, the Royal Rumble is the king. If they come in early enough, then their lack of success can be blamed on the overwhelming numbers. If a newcomer comes in at 30 and they don’t win, then they look weak and unless this leads on to a feud with another wrestler, then it’s a waste.

Either way, surprise entrances always get a pop from me… unless it’s the Rock because that man turns up at every single show.

Heels and Faces

In the old days, it was important that each character, each gimmick, sat somewhere on the heel/face spectrum. It was important for the fans (particularly little children) and it was important for bookers. If each battle is good vs evil then we know who to root for. If you have two good guys fighting each other, it muddies the water and the same goes for two villains. We need to know who is pure and who is wicked. But the heel/face spectrum is strange. How does a wrestler establish themselves as a heel or a face? What must they do to get fans to boo or cheer for them?

A lot of wrestlers set themselves somewhere on the spectrum in relation to other wrestlers. If there are wrestlers Heel A and Face B, where Heel A cheats, makes fun of the crowd, is cowardly and against Face B, then the crowd will boo them. Heel A gets heat. If Face B is good, honest, goes over clean and is likeable and against Heel A, then Face B gets cheers. (There are always exceptions to the rule. See The Rock during his initial Rocky Maivia run and Roman Reigns in his current drizzling shits run.)

If Wrestler C appears and allies himself with Heel A, then Wrester C becomes Heel C and the opposite happens if he allies himself with Face B. Or if he is in the middle, he is an inbetweener, a Tweener. If Wrestler C becomes Heel C and then betrays Heel A… things start to get complicated. Simply pushing away from another Heel does not necessarily move you towards being a Face. Look at Randy Orton when he went against the Authority and was curb-stomped by Seth Rollins. He was not really a good guy or a bad guy. He was something else. Same for Brock Lesnar when he rebelled against the Authority after losing the belt to Seth Rollins at WrestleMania 31. Things start to get confusing.

If we look at Stone Cold and The Rock in the buildup to WrestleMania X7 (the X-7-iest of WrestleManias) we see two monster faces who have split the crowd in two. Both were at the end of a very successful run and Rock was WWF Champion. Stone Cold needed to pull out all the stops for this match and when it was revealed that it would be a no DQ, you knew shit was going down. Vince comes out, Stone Cold gets handed a steel chair from him and hits Rock to win the championship. With that, the whole WWF fanbase had to make a choice: Does Stone Cold become a heel for allying himself with Mr. McMahon or does he stay face, Vince become a face and Rock become the heel?

It turns out that we hate a shitheel that cheats to win but we really hate a shitheel who cheats to win and sells out. Stone Cold cemented his heel status by being a total cunt over the next couple of weeks, but for a moment, no one really knew who was good and who was bad. It was actually really nice because for that moment, we hated and loved everyone based on their skills and their personality and their actions as opposed to “YOU WILL LIKE THIS GUY BECAUSE I SAID SO” that sometimes sickens fans.

Gimmick Infringement

Wrestlers are all characters. Sometimes these characters are extensions of the wrestler’s own personality, other times they are one simple character trait or flaw that is expanded to swallow the entire performer. Take, for example, The Miz. His gimmick is that he is a deluded narcissistic Hollywood A-lister who thinks he is better than he actually is. That’s his entire character. There are no moments of self-doubt or other flaws; the man is a stereotype.

Gimmicks tend to start off as stereotypes and stay there. The writers and the audience need the character to fit inside a certain box so that they can then link that character with other characters easily. Is your character an unapologetic ex-porn star with a huge penis who loves the ladies and the ladies love him? We can easily put him in feuds with any other wrestler with a wife/mother/sister/daughter or a censorship stable that will eventually absorb him. Are you a bald, smack-talking badass who kicks everyone up and down the ring? Let’s just have you fight an authority figure for, like, eight years or something.

I have nothing wrong with gimmicks but we are watching wrestling after all and I believe that the characters should be wrestlers-who-are-also-interested-in-other-things as opposed to people-who-should-be-doing-something-else-but-instead-they-are-wrestling. During the early nineties, every single wrestler was wrestling on the side, kayfabe. You had Big Boss Man, who wrassled when he wasn’t beating cons to death. You had the Undertaker who kicked men to death and then buried them in a tasteful ceremony. You had Steven Regal, who was a member of the Village People. Then it all changed to be the PG era where we have legitimate wrestlers who have entered professional wrestling (Dolph Ziggler, Chad Gable, Jason Jordan) you have second-and-third generation wrestlers (Charlotte Flair, Randy Orton, Curtis Axel) and you have wrestlers who are just wrestlers (Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, Daniel Bryan) amongst others.

Every now and again, the gimmick is strong in a character like R-Truth, Goldust, Stardust and do you notice how these ones do not have names but monikers?

Looking at NXT, a lot of the characters there are gimmicks. We have The Ascension, who rose to obscurity in the main roster and were some Mad-Max-Style-Egyptian-God-Worshippers, The Vaudevillains, who are due to join the main roster and promptly be forgotten about and Tyler Breeze, yet another self-obsessed model-cum-wrestler. It works in NXT because the storylines are simple and the wrestling is great, unlike the Fed where storylines are the focus and the wrestling is backseat (even then, they often call in the storylines).

Gimmicks are important to wrestling, but it should be noted that the most important thing in wrestling is (or at least should be) the wrestling.

Fuck Away Off

When did swearing become such a big no-no in a product which deals with such themes as murder, rape, necrophilia, racism, misogyny and overwhelming violence on a daily basis? I know that everyone thinks the Attitude Era was the greatest time in wrestling – and they are true, it was – and they remember the nice time when money was brought in by advertisers and not by ticket sales and flamboyant merchandising. They needed to push the envelope every week, which is why we had great storylines like Who Killed Mr. McMahon (murder), Does Heidenreich Love Michael Cole That Way? (rape) Katie Vick (necrophilia) Did Mr. McMahon Just Call John Cena an N-Word? (racism) Every Match In The Nineties With A Diva (misogyny) and everything else they show (violence).

Remember when Brian Pillman said “fuck” on TV? Or when Stone Cold said “ass” and told the crowd to “piss off” at his King of the Ring 1996 inauguration ceremony? They were times when language could be used to convey something – anger, hatred, love, whatever. Then they nixed it. They stopped blading (which I agree with, actually, as it had gotten a bit silly) and became PG. Every now and again Randy Orton comes out and says “prick” and that’s it.

But… But recently around the time of WrestleMania 32, the word “bitch” was thrown about loads by… Vince and his son Shane… to refer to THE UNDERTAKER! What madness! I mean, yeah, they run the company and they can say what they want but still to refer to the Undertaker as a bitch… c’mon bros.

I love swearing and I love language. Language is a tool that we use to communicate with others. I don’t think swearing has a place everywhere in life. I do not think children should swear because it makes them lazy and they do not learn new words. I do not think politicians should swear because we should see them as role models (I know, insane, isn’t it?) and I think swearing should only take place on TV after a watershed but I still think it has a place and for fuck’s sake, where is the best place to drop a cunt-bomb than in the middle of punching some bastard in the neck?

Enter Through the Gift Shop

I have never before seen an art form – and it is an art form – that has been merchandised as much as wrestling. Everything from the belts to fashion accessories like sunglasses and elbow pads have been made with the WWF/E/NXT/WCW/ECW/TNA/LUCHA UNDERGROUND tag on it. I went to a Metallica concert years ago and there were exactly ten t-shirts at the merch stall – three of them were current tour t-shirts, a handful of album shirts and that was it. There were some posters and a few other things. I went to a Nightwish concert shortly afterwards and bought Nightwish condoms (Seek Her, Seduce Her, Tame Her) for the lulz. I went to a wrasslin’ show a month ago and everything from DVDs of matches to T-shirts to polaroids with the wrestlers were being sold. Polaroids! With the wrestlers!

Maybe it’s a carny thing. Wrestling is, after all, originally a sideshow attraction for the time before TV. Maybe it’s because wrestlers expect to be paid a lot of money for not a lot of work – yes, it is dangerous work and difficult to mix entertainment with safety, but guys can get paid hundreds for minutes of work – and a lot of the money does not go into the promoter’s pocket. Maybe it’s greed. Whatever it is, outside of the Barcelona Stadium (where they, honest to God, sold grass from the pitch at fifteen euros a pop) I have never seen such disdain for fans in return for money. When we went to see NXT live, they sold signed posters of Finn Bálor, ones that my girlfriend wanted because she loves buff Irish guys, which is why she’s with me… she thinks maybe I’ll know some to hook her up with. Anyways, these posters were £15 each and were A3, glossy print. They probably cost about 50p to make, even less maybe if they printed lots of them. It would have been free to get Ferghal Devitt to sign his name (or get someone who is good at copying signatures). That’s a profit of £14.50 on each poster (OVER 2800%, kids!) and maybe Finn gets 20%, which is around £2.90 per poster, which still leaves £11.60 profit! Whaaaat!

I see this everywhere, though, even during the A-Z challenge. I see people charging $15 for reblogs and that is on sale! Surely someone who can charge that much for reblogs got there because they were reblogged themselves? It reminds me of when Metallica shit themselves over people sharing music on Napster, despite the fact that Metallica became big because people shared tapes and bootlegged their shows. Metallica even have a website simply so that they can pass off their own bootlegged shows with higher quality and 100% profits to the band.

I wish I could be popular enough to charge that amount of money just for clicking a button. I also hope that I have the decency to not charge for such a thing.

Dallas Bálor Club

NXT TakeOver: Dallas aired on April 1st 2016 and it was NXT’s own WrestleMania. It came with the small crowds, huge enthusiasm and quality matches that we expect from NXT. As well as having all three titles on the line, most of the big familiar names were there, too – Finn Bálor, Samoa Joe, Sami Zayn, Bayley – and new faces like Austin Aries and Shinsuke Nakamura made their debuts. All in all, it was a great show and a fantastic start to WrestleMania Weekend. Here’s a quick rundown of the results.

NXT TakeOver: Dallas

The show starts with a promo about Texas, for some reason, like we’ve forgotten where it is. The two biggest events of the night – the NXT Championship and the NXT Women’s Championship – are shown before the smaller matches – namely the NXT Tag Team Championship and Austin Aries’ debut. It does a bit to hype the viewer up, but I don’t get the weight behind any of the matches. If they had showed super promos, then maybe, but neither Bayley nor Asuka have clashed that much and Balor and Joe have had a huge fight last week, yeah, fine, but show more of that. Make this PPV into something fantastic.

The crowd chant NXT! NXT! at an odd timing and pop like motherfuckers when American Alpha come out. To be fair to them, American Alpha are the best tag team in the business right now. Chad Gable and Jason Jordan are so over. When I saw them in Glasgow, they lost the match and still got a standing ovation. Great lads. Old Gable is slapping the fuck out of hands on the way to the ring as well. Jordon does the Brock Lesnar jump, but has the charisma to pull it off without making it look bored.

Cut to our announcers – Tom Philips (in Jew suit) and Corey Graves (dressed like he’s on his way to a prom). These two guys are the best in the business at the moment and clearly enjoy being here. Graves correctly states that, “This is our WrestleMania.”

The Revival (Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson) come to little heat. Their music, however, is class. Their t-shirts say, “No Flips, Just Fists” which is fine, but neither Jordan nor Gable use a lot of flips. Maybe it should have said, “No Towels, Just Testicle Attacks” or something. The crowd start a chant already, done to the tune of 2 Unlimited’s “No Limit”. Then they change it to another tune as Gable gets a slap in the corner. The crowd chants some more and then the wrasslin’ begins.

Tag Team Championship: American Alpha def. The Revival via Pinfall in 15:15

Gable gives Dawson a slap and The Revival chat in the corner for a while. As is usual for an American Alpha match, Gable takes a pounding for most of the match until Jordan comes in like a big dog and scares everyone off. He’s like The Rock, only with a legit wrestling background. Dawson does some behind-the-ref’s-back eye-raking and Jordan takes over, calls Gable in for some stereo Irish Whips and Flips. Jordan just looks ruthless. The comparisons to Brock Lesnar are true and fair, though Jordan looks like less of a cunt. Gable takes over and is predictably beaten to a pulp because of it. Dawson goes to super-backdrop Gable but is reversed. Follows is a lot of chain-wrestling and dropkicks.

The best spot so far is when The Revival go to double-suplex Gable and Jordan comes in to save him. The Revival are then stereo-German-suplexed by American Alpha. For a split second, the Revival look into each others eyes and touch their faces so tenderly before being dropped on their God damn heads. The crowd pops and Jordan does a victory lap. Crowd chants NXT! NXT! as if it invented wrestling. Revival are irishwhipped into each other outside and Gable’s fluffy hair gets in his face as he is knocked to the ground by the Revival. Some beating of Gable followed by an attempt at a double team. The crowd cry “You fucked up!” followed by “Botchamania!” at this. The Revival nod their heads as if to say, “Yes. Yes we did.”

Hot tag to Jason Jordan but Gable misses, rolls away, crawls under Dawson’s legs and gets the tag. Jordan cleans up, t-bone suplexes the men followed by brutal spears and more suplexes. The Revival knocks Jordan to the ground, tries to cheat the pin and botch another suplex. Two pin attempts followed by Gable springing across the ring. Double team is countered, Jordan goes for the pin and Gable dropkicks Wilder away. More two-counts followed by a whole bunch of two-counts. Every way two men can pin each other follows. It’s like the Kama Sutra of pinning.

Jordan gets the tag, runs outside while Dawson is distracted, spears him and the two hit their finisher for the win. We have new champs! And the crowd goes ballistic. Jason Jordan looks like he is crying and with good reason, they worked their socks off during this match. Great bunch of lads.

In terms of a curtain-jerker, this is an absolutely great start to the PPV: fast paced, emotional, full of great spots and the losers leave to let the faces celebrate in peace. Long may American Alpha reign.

GRADE: A++

Jim Ross is in the crowd alongside Kota Ibushi. The announcers seem confused about this and Corey looks like he’s having a seizure for a while. New UK tour is announced but nowhere near me so fuck them.

Promo is cut for Austin Aries vs. Baron Corbin and Corbin comes down wearing his Skyrim cosplayer outfit. Austin Aries “The Greatest Man That Ever Lived” comes down. He’s wearing a waistcoat that could have just been a Stone Cold one from twenty years ago with “Austin” on the back, but it says Aries instead. How this man is not a heel is beyond me.

Austin Aries def. Baron Corbin via pinfall in 11:29

Austin Aries deserves a better match than this. He wails on Corbin in the corner for a while and then batters him out of the ring, then hits him with a double axe-handle nothing and blah blah blah. The match is the drizzling shits and consists of Corbin running away a lot, being battered sideways by Aries, hitting Aries with one move that puts him out of commission for a minute or so, then rinse, lather, repeat. Neither look very powerful, neither look impressive and this goes on for ten minutes. I blame Corbin for this entirely.

Aries reverses the End of Days into a pin and the Greatest Man That Ever Lived has the Shittest Match On This PPV.

GRADE: C

WrestleMania promo! Why they don’t have shots of Paige screaming, “THIS IS MY HOUSE, AJ,” mixed in with the song, I have no idea. The Rock will be there, apparently, which is exciting if the Rock didn’t turn up to every WrestleMania. The band Yelawolf have a song named Fiddle Me This, which sounds shit.

Cut to Finn Bálor! He’s on his way to the arena wearing a Star Wars T-shirt (Rey&Finn&Poe&BB-8) and a redesign of Dolph Ziggler’s DZ top that says BC for Bálor Club, presumably.

Not long for a promo on Shinsuke Nakamura, the “King of Strong Style”, which is great thing to be king of, all things considered. Sami comes out and gets a huge pop. Nakamura comes out and is so flamboyant and so over that it is difficult not to like him. His trousers are clearly padded as well. The man loves socks in his jocks.

Shinsuke Nakamura def. Sami Zayn via pinfall in 21:19

What a match! Lots of strikes and spots. Nakamura gets bust pretty early on and is bleeding from his nose. Sami and him go back and forth over and over. Very little wrestling moves but a lot of strikes, submissions and the crowd seem to enjoy the men batter the crap out of each other, at one point chanting, “Fight forever!”

All in all, it is not a wrestling match, more of a Fight Club match with some simple suplexes in the middle of it. Shinsuke finally gets out of the Exploder suplex, hits Sami with some mental ball-lariat, a high kick to the head and the pin. After the match, they hug, shake hands and the crowd thank Sami. Well, that’s him, I suppose. Close the door on the way out.

Grade: B

Promo for the Bayley vs. Asuka match. this has very little build-up beyond Asuka staring creepily at Bayley’s belt. Bayley looks unhappier since winning the belt, I don’t think I’ve seen her smile outside of her entrance.

Asuka enters first with her kimono, cherry blossoms, merch with her own face on it and weird mask. She is a stereotype and seems to enjoy every second of it. Bayley’s music hits and out she comes. The crowd seem to love her. Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm-Flailing Tube Men are there, waggling away. I don’t like Bayley that much, but the crowd do so that’s okay I suppose. Asuka looks worried, probably because she knows how the crowd will react to the ending.

NXT Women’s Championship match: Asuka def. Bayley by TKO in 18:25

The crowd do not know what to make of this and neither do I. Asuka and Bayley are both faces with Bayley being the fan-favourite. Neither have strayed from this on the build-up to the match. However, unlike Neville vs. Zayn last year, we cannot get behind Asuka as the young upstart desperate for a win as she has given no indication that she wants it that badly. Basically, Asuka comes across as someone who just takes what she wants but has not displayed this ruthlessness with Bayley, only with Dana Brooke and Emma.

The match starts off fast paced with both women giving it their all and surprising each other. Asuka does a lot of fast strikes and Bayley responds with reversals. The match comes across as the clearly superior fighter Asuka is overwhelming the heart of Bayley. The crowd sing along but are otherwise silent during the match. Asuka hits a bunch of submissions, all of which are reversed and Bayley takes a huge hit to her arm because of the armbars. Asuka finally gets a Asuka Lock and wins to little fanfare. The crowd seem confused and concerned for Bayley. Even when she lifts the belt above the ring, the crowd is unresponsive, disappointed.

GRADE: C

The main event is almost upon us and is in need of a promo almost as long as God. Out comes Joe and even though he is a heel, we love him because he’s so entertaining. Even if his theme tune sounds like a toilet being flushed. I’m sure Joe uses the toilet, of course, but is that all his character is? A terlet?

Finn normally comes out in some sort of dress for his PPV matches. Sometimes it is just bodypaint, but in London, he dressed like Jack the Ripper. He’s in Texas now, so what could be possibly-

HOLY SHIT FUCK IS THAT A FUCKING CHAINSAW.

Yeah, he comes out with a working chainsaw. Clearly the teeth have been removed or he is mental chicken oriental. He sees the NXT belt in the aisle and slithers towards it, bringing it to the ring for the match. Outside of The Undertaker, Finn has the best and most elaborate entrances in recent memory. He’s also wearing Spider-man red and blue pants. Fair play to him.

NXT Championship match: Finn Balor def. Samoa Joe via pinfall in 19:30

The beginning of the match is marred by a botched headbutt where Joe is bust open. This ends up with a lot of officials coming to clean him up. The crowd hate the slow in pace and chant, “LET HIM BLEED!” constantly. Even Finn does not know what to do, feigning injury for a while before finally barking, “Let the man fight!”

The rest of the match is okay, but the two men are clearly put off by this. Because of Joe’s size, a lot of Finn’s wrestling cannot work so they are relegated to strikes, submissions, reversals and timewasting. Both men are very much frustrated and find it hard to build the momentum back up from Joe’s bust eyebrow. Finn does a great ‘Taker-style sit up, where he does a wee pushup to get to his feet. Finn’s hubris almost costs him the match as he does his Cous de Grace double stomp and lifts Joe up for the Brainbuster only to have the Coquina Clutch put on him. Weak reversal and pin by kicking off the turnbuckle and Finn retains.

GRADE: B

Could have been a great match but marred by timewasting due to Joe’s injury. Joe stomps off when the match is over, turns to stare at Finn and the show is over.

All in all a great PPV but could have been far better.

Crock of Shit: Top Ten Celebrity Appearances at Wrestlemania

Vince tends to pull out all the stops for WrestleMania. Even if the card is underwhelming, it is always worth watching for the spectacle and to see what will happen next. From the entrances to the guest surprise returns to the swerves, even the most casual of wrestling fans can find something to enjoy in WrestleMania. This is never more obvious than when it comes to the celebrity endorsements. Vince and the Fed tend to seek out the greatest celebrities that humans created to find the perfect cross-platform show that appeals to everyone from diehard fans to moms at home watching it with their kids. I present to you the top ten greatest, funniest and weirdest celebrity appearances at a WrestleMania event.

 

  1. Cyndi Lauper (WrestleMania I)

Nothing says “I AM FROM THE EIGHTIES” more than Goonies, MTV (when it actually had music), “Captain” Lou Albano and big-ass hair. What do they all have in common? Cyndi Lauper. The music superstar was one of the biggest stars of the time and was involved in the Rock ‘n’ Wrestling Connection which resulted in The Brawl to End It All that was broadcast on MTV. Lauper finally ended up in WrestleMania I, where she was the manager of Wendi Richter, one of the very, very few female wrestlers at the time. At the event, Richter regained the WWF Women’s Championship from The Fabulous Moolah. You will know Moolah from the Attitude Era, along with Mae Young. Why don’t you know about Richter? Because she was involved in the Original Screwjob, 12 years before Bret copied it at Montreal. Richter was in a match with The Spider Lady, a female wrestler in a bad Venom gimp mask. The Spider Lady pinned Richter, the ref called for a fast three count and Richter lost the championship. Who was under the Spider Lady’s mask? Only Moolah. Bit of wrestling history there for you.

 

  1. Burt Reynolds (WrestleMania X)

That moustache. That stare. That voice. Burt Reynolds is one of those men who now just plays himself in things and can get away with it. He’s like Hasselhoff, if Hasselhoff chose his roles wisely as opposed to with a dartboard. Reynolds was the guest ring announcer for the Yokozuna vs. Bret Hart match. He appeared with the Owen Hart-style plaster on his wrist, was told to look at the hard cam and then promptly ignored it. He had to read the damn thing off cue cards. All he had to say was that the contest was scheduled for one fall and Roddy Piper was the referee. Roddy got a better pop than Reynolds, the rascal. Reynolds (still not facing the damn hard cam), introduces Yokozuna over Yoko’s own music and they have to lower the damn volume so the crowd can hear him. Reynolds doesn’t even get into the intro for Bret before his music hits. Reynolds tries to get some good heat from the crowd by stating that Bret, is “in [his] opinion, one of the great athletes in wrestling today,” which is a true statement. Reynolds leaves through the ladies’ rope and, although his role was pretty crap, I mean, good God, Burt Reynolds was in WrestleMania!

 

  1. Pamela Anderson and Jenny McCarthy (WrestleMania X)

Both these ladies get the same billing because they arrived on WrestleMania XI as eye candy, which is good work if you can get it. McCarthy was on the arm of heel Shawn Michaels and Anderson was valet for Diesel (Kevin “Supershredder” Nash), they current WWF World Heavyweight Champion. Their appearances, however, were overshadowed by the wrestlers. Not only did Sid have a lot more charisma than the two put together, but when Diesel wins, he invites his opponent’s valet into the ring and they all stand around like goons. To the wrestling fan, their appearance was crap but to a Baywatch fan, the sight of Anderson in a white dress probably excited them more than Big Daddy Cool ever could.

 

  1. Mickey Rourke (WrestleMania XXV)

In a list of “celebrities that challenge wrestlers to a fight and knock them out with one punch”, it should never contain Mickey Rourke, a man who was only there because, for the love of Christ, he was in a God-damned movie called The Wrestler about a wrestler who wrestled and liked wrestling so much he (SPOILER) died doing it (maybe). Mickey even bladed during the movie, for real. What, they couldn’t pay him enough to hit Jericho with his own move? Come on, Mickey.

But then Kid Rock played some music and it was okay.

 

  1. Mr. T (WrestleMania I, WrestleMania II)

I love me some Mr. T. I’ll mention the WrestleMania I main event later and talk here about the WrestleMania II event. WrestleMania II was actually three different events that ran on the same night, each with a main event. The first main event was a boxing match between Mr. T and Roddy Piper. T had Joe Frazier in his corner and Roddy had Lou Duva. Why anyone would want to watch a boxing match between an actor who played a boxer and a wrestler whose main gimmick was that he was a cheating weasel is beyond me. The match was finished after the fourth round when Roddy, in true Hot Rod style, bodyslammed T. Good while it lasted. Mr. T would later be inducted into the WWF Hall of Fame in 2014, where Kane would interrupt him.

 

5.Muhammad Ali (WrestleMania I)

During the WrestleMania I main event, a tag team match for some unknown reason, Vince must have been giddy as a schoolgirl over the amount of celebrities he fired into every conceivable role: Billy Martin of the New York Yankees was guest ring announcer. Liberace and the Rockettes were guest time keepers. Cowboy Bob Orton accompanied the team Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff. Jimmy Snuka accompanied the team of Mr. T and Hulk Hogan. To top it all off, the special guest referee was none other than Cassius Clay himself. Of course, Ali punched Roddy in the match (what else are special guest referees useful for?) and his appearance was relegated to the history books.

 

  1. Ronda Rousey (WrestleMania XXXI)

At the time of WrestleMania XXXI, Rousey was the biggest name in female MMA and pretty much undefeated. She was fun, an absolute tank and loved pop culture. The woman appeared with an “OVER 9000!” t-shirt and revealed she used to be part of a Pokémon forum on the internets when she was a kid. Amazing. When she appeared in the audiences for the 31st WrassleMania, it was clear that shit was about to go down. When The Rock brought her into the ring and she applied at elbow lock on Stephanie, her inclusion in WWE history was all but secured. Everyone wanted a Rock/Rousey vs. Hunter/Steph match, but that was not to be… yet.

 

  1. Alice Cooper (WrestleMania III)

He makes the list because his inclusion in WrestleMania III was so insane that it could never be replicated. This, as well as the mental promo that Jake “The Snake” Roberts and Cooper shot weeks before the event, where the two men lay back on a couch with Damien the snake and talked about how they were going to beat The Honky Tonk Man good-looking was amazing. Roberts says to Alice, “It’s good to be different,” and he replies with, “I think it’s good to be as cold as this little guy right here,” and strokes Damien before giving the snake a good, hard stare to make sure it doesn’t eat him alive. Cooper then mentions that he and Jake are road rats and will eat Honky Tonky and Jimmy Hart. In the actual event, Cooper swung Damien about to scare their opponents and I’m sure animal rights got on that as fast as humanly possible.

 

  1. Mike Tyson (WrestleMania XIV)

The fact that a convicted rapist could be managed by a suspected mobster and become one of the biggest draws in boxing, bite guys ears off, breed doves, play himself in The Hangover and still be on this list says something about the insanity of the celebrities at WrestleMania. Iron Mike was guest ring enforcer for the main event between Shawn Michaels and a young upstart named Stunning Steve Austin. Austin was using his Stone Cold gimmick at the time. Something something 3:16. Tyson did damn all in the match other than hit the three-count for Stone Cold when the ref was knocked out. He then joined Mickey Rourke in the “celebrities that challenge wrestlers to a fight and knock them out with one punch” list only Mike could probably have legitimately murdered Shawn and eaten part of his corpse before Jake and Alice could come in to join in the feast.

 

  1. Dwayne Johnson (Every WrestleMania Ever)

In the future, they’re going to look back at old PPVs and say, “enhance” a lot and find out that The Rock is in the background of every single one, just watching. “He’s been there the whole time,” a man will say. A woman will faint. A second man will remove his glasses and say, “My God.” The president will turn up. “God can’t help you now,” he will mutter. “It’s the Day of Rockening. Ragnorock. The Arockalypse.” For real, though, The Rock has main-evented lots of WrestleManias and turned up at a bunch more to cut a damn promo, hit some punches, do the old Rock Bottom/People’s Elbow combo and roll out a couple of million richer. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Rock and he’s just gotten better with age, but he’s like a thuggish son by this point, who turns up unannounced and everyone says, “Yay! It’s the Rock,” but in actual fact, he takes grandma into the back room and threatens her until she writes him into her will. That analogy got away from me fast but I really do love The Rock and he’ll be there this year at WrestleMania XXXII with his three punches and two special moves.

Baron Corbin Cannot Wrassle

I just finished watching NXT Takeover: Dallas and my review will be coming Monday or so. It was an all-round great card with some fantastic matches – the Tag Team Championship match between American Alpha and the Revival was amazing and the NXT Championship match between Finn Bálor and Samoa Joe was great, as to be expected – but there was one match that should not have been as bad as it was – Austin Aries and Baron Corbin.

For those of you who do not know, this is Baron Corbin:

His tummy looks like a face and his face looks like a douche. He is Baron Corbin.

Corbin is the latest in a long line of lads brought up to the roaster before their time. Corbin is billed as being 6 foot 8, 275 pounds and from Kansas city. He comes to the ring in motorcycle leathers, doesn’t smile much, has about six moves and squashed people for about six months when he first joined. For the longest time, the crowd counted how long it took Corbin to hit his End of Days and finish the match. They actually counted up. It rarely reached thirty and not because wrestling fans can’t count that high (we can, I can count super high) but because his squashes were embarrassingly short.

I have no problem with talent being pushed to the moon and back. I have no problem with that at all, in fact I love it. I love when new people join and I love seeing young wrestlers take the stage. What I don’t like is when someone tries to pull the wool over my eyes. Baron Corbin is probably a decent enough guy and his size isn’t an issue. What he lacks is charisma (which can be taught), a decent moveset (which can be taught) and a compelling storyline (which can be written for him). So, basically, he is a failure as a wrestler due to either his own incompetence or his trainers’, or both.

I’m going to go with both.

See, Corbin has been in NXT for about two years now and had matches with Rhyno, Samoa Joe, Finn Bálor, Apollo Crews, Adrian Neville, Austin Aries… pretty much the best the business has to offer and each time, he has made the match severely weaker because of his limited moveset and lack of understanding of ring psychology. It is like a scene between Al Pacino and an actor who has not had any amount of formal training… or bothered to learn his lines or ask the director for help with his character… or turned up to rehearsals… or spoken to Pacino at all before shooting the scene. Unless the actor has some natural skill, it is up to Pacino to carry it and it is going to look naff.

To be fair to Corbin, he has tried to change his character to accommodate this. He legitimately was a Golden Gloves regional champion and had a football career in the Indianapolis Colts and Arizona Cardinals. He has the size. He has the drive and the ferocity that one must have to take part in a sport like football. The man can do it, he just isn’t. And he looks bored. He walks on stage every week with thousands of fans wearing his gear, booing or cheering him and he looks like he doesn’t give a shit. His character had that gimmick where he didn’t care for a while as well but he needs to be tough enough to back it up. When he loses, he loses hard and looks pathetic. When he wins, it’s because he happens to hit his one move after punching a lot. He needs to train, train, train.

Of course, this is coming from a guy who can’t lift himself off the couch, so it might be a little cheeky of me. I’m a rascal.