Wednesday, April 15, 2009
First up, those going to be Raw:
MVP: The US Champ was stalled on SmackDown for quite some time, but had just started to regain some traction in the run up to WrestleMania. The move to Raw may well spoil all of that. On SD, MVP was just below the main event, but by shifting to Mondays, he suddenly finds himself strongly entrenched in the midcard, and we've all seen how well the Raw creative team deals with the midcard...
The Big Show: Again, just as he starts to peak on SmackDown, Show is grabbed by Raw. Will he continue to get pushed or is Show going to sink back into the background (and probably McDonalds)? At least with his height, Show has a chance.
Matt Hardy: Will his post-Mania momentum stay up? Now that Matt is out of Jeff's shadow, it might just - but the US title is probably going to stay Matt's highest achievement.
Triple H: Well, at least Trips won't have to worry about getting pushed. The rest of the roster, on the other hand...
The Miz: Meh. Morrison gets another shot at a singles career, while Miz's best hope is another shot at the Tag Titles with a new partner.
Maryse: Big who cares, as Dr Perry Cox might say. The two women's titles swap over, nothing much changes.
Now, those moving to SmackDown:
Melina: See above.
CM Punk: The Punker has got to be ecstatic with this. He moves to SmackDown, MITB Briefcase in hand, just as their biggest star defects. I see big things in the near future for the former World Champ.
Kane: With Show moving to Raw, Kane looks set to be resident monster on the Blue Brand. However, yet another fued with his "brother" could derail any progress Kane makes.
Chris Jericho: The 2008 Superstar of the Year makes a swap to avoid the man that the IWC considers his nemesis. As I said above, SmackDown is somewhat lacking in star power at the minute, so this could be very good for Y2J.
Rey Mysterio: The IC Champ heads to Fridays, in an attempt to draw in the Latino demographic, and a chance to shine once again. The Intercontinental Title may well get a chance to regain some importance into the bargain.
ECW only gained one wrestler in the main draft, and that was...
Vladimir Kozlov: Well, another push for the world's least menacing big man. Hopefully Kozlov and his terrible offence will be kept far away from JACK SWAGGA~!
And as it is ending now, here are the highlights from the Supplemental Draft from WWE.com:
The Colons to Raw: Is the tag division moving entirely to Raw or is this an empty gesture?
Ezekiel Jackson to ECW: Hope you enjoyed the push back there Spanky...
Hornswoggle to Raw: Better get that CV ready, dude. Wonder if TNA have any use for a leprechaun?
John Morrison to SmackDown: Is the big push finally in sight for the Tough Enough II winner?
Hurricane Helms to ECW: Now there is a guy I'd like to see tangle with Mr Swagger.
Overall, Raw got the most stars, but SmackDown may have received the best deal. Looks like we're heading back to 2002 with SmackDown reclaiming its place as WWE's wrestling show.
Monday, April 13, 2009
It’s fast approaching April 15th, and with that comes memories of The Hillsborough Disaster. It’ll be 20 years since 95 football fans lost their lives on that day, with one poor soul managing to last almost a year before succumbing to his injuries, making 96 people that set off to watch a game of football - and never came back.
It’s almost unthinkable that such a thing could happen. Even worse, this horrific turn of fate happened on live television and events unfolded in front of a horrified audience.
I wasn’t there. I wasn’t anywhere near. I was 13 years old that day, and sat in my home in Glasgow, far from the devastation when I watched Grandstand. I eagerly awaited news of another Liverpool victory - I’d adopted Liverpool as “my English Team” when I began following football on a serious level and discovered Kenny Dalglish.
What I saw had a profound effect on me, and still does. Once the dust had settled, I begged my parents to drive down to Liverpool so I could do something, anything. I settled for signing the book at the cathedral and leaving a scarf at the gates of Anfield.
When Liverpool played at Celtic Park in aid of the victims’ families, me and my Dad were there. I’ve never heard You’ll Never Walk Alone sung with such passion before or since. The image that remains with me of that game is one of hope - the famous Jungle terracing of Celtic Park, usually the domain of the green and white alone was covered from side to side with all the colours of the football rainbow.
From the green of the Celts, to the red of the Kop, with all the blues of Everton and Rangers in between - that day in Glasgow, football was united as a family to remember it’s own. That’s what football should be, and sadly in this day and age isn’t - about.
Strange that a sight so beautiful and moving should be born from a day so terrible and horrific… like a butterfly emerging from the caterpillar, beauty comes from the strangest places sometimes.
RIP the Hillsborough 96. Never forgotten.
A good freind of mine, who is also a Newcastle Season ticket holder regularly goes to watch Whitley Bay FC in the Northern League (the 9th level of football in England, 5 tiers below League 2). It started for him a while back as something to do on a Saturday when Newcastle weren't playing, but he now gets down there as often as possible. They've had a pretty average season league wise, but they've gone on a great run in the FA Vase & now have a trip to Wembley on May 10th to look forward to. He's got that into it, he actually missed our home "game" with Chelsea on April 4th to go to the 2nd leg of the semi final. And do you know what? I can honestly really see the appeal. As well as being a Newcastle fan, I also support Greenock Morton in the Scottish 1st division. There's a lot to be said for going to smaller grounds to watch untelevised games. These ground more often than not have much more character than a lot of the big corporate ground these days. It's also a lot less frustrating knowing that the player that can't hit a cow's arse with a banjo isn't earning 3 times your annual salary for yet another piss poor performance. Mistakes you that at top level will leave you questioning the guys parentage, at lower level become "mistakes that anyone can make". I also like that no matter what happens at the ground, only the people that were there will ever get to see it, which leaves you with a pretty special feeling coming out the ground.
Even reserve games are worth looking at. Some of the best games I've ever seen have been reserve matches. Usually, teams consist of a mixture of young players hungry to get their shot in the first team or senior players not getting a game looking to prove a point. Occasionally you get a first team player that seems to think it's beneath him, but the majority of the time, the effort is very high & the quality of the game shows.
It doesn't just have to be football. I've been going to a lot of Basketball over the past couple of years. Admittedly it was initially down to a couple of the players being friends, but when you follow a few games, you can't help but getting into it. The fact that the players are all approachable when kids want stuff signed after a game probably helps too. There's plenty of other teams & sports that would be gratefull for your support.
Not that I'm suggesting giving up on your team. In Theory at least, staying through the lows is what makes the highs (when/if they come) that bit more special. But there's no harm in going elsewhere for something to cheer you up once in a while...
Thursday, April 09, 2009
Bt we shall continue. I consider it a target now!
Seriously, how many people tried to read the star wars crawl no matter how fast it got? And how many went back and froze it when they got the video?
The changes are dramatic here, and the show becomes the Red Dwarf that most people consider the peak period. They've changed bunk-room to something glossier, we get Starbug, a rock theme, the Canadian-voiced version of Kryten and the permanent female Holly. There's effects, monsters, science...Tis is where the show moved to the (relaively speaking) mainstream.
But the writing didn't suffer - far from it, now there was someone other than Lister who could touch something and could be bothered to do so in Kryten, and the exposition could now be split between Holly and the newcomer, thus removing the curious situation of Holly having a low IQ yet being able to explain things like future echoes, the Holly-hop drive, the power calculations to run two holograms.
Look-wise not just the sets had been polished. Rimmer got the second of his multiple iconic costumes as captain emerald (although thank got the hat didn't appear that much!), Cat has clearly stepped up the fashion stakes with the costumes (and is clearly more part of the group than ever before), and Lister is now in the leathers and fuzzy cap that everybody remembers him for. The colours of the new set and budget are caried into the costumes, and the show seems to gain a spring in the step from it.
At the same time you have to note that this series came out around the same time as the first novel - "Infinity welcomes careful drivers". Why? Because when that book came out it retold the story of the first two series...with a few differences. In that Lister had dated Kochanski. Rather than a crew of 169 (of which he WAS number 169) there were now 1,169 (of which he was number 1,169 - still bottom of the barrel). The century of the show's origin changed. And gradually, all these changes made their way into the show itself. Some say that the crawl implies that we're looking at another dimension, who knows...?
Backwards“It’s not a bar-room brawl, it’s a bar room tidy! Un-rumble!”
A fan favourite, and deservedly so. One of the most traditionally sci-fi concepts the show had handled to that date, with some brilliant concepts and word-play. Llewellyn fits in perfectly, the first scene with him sets up the new take on both his character and the newer Holly so well. Probably the least convincing prosthetic head though - so little movement or expression compared to later years.
The Cameraderie between Cat and Lister really started to come alive in this series - right from the opening classic discussion. Until now, Cat had been a reluctant part of the team, there but always separate. Now we started to see him and Lister interact in their leisure time as well as during key moments.
Backwards earth is so simply realised, yet so effective. just a few simple reverse shots causing a few nauseating yet effective moments (the cafe one's particularly more nauseating when you run them forwards in your head, actually), a great adlibbed fanboy rant by Arthur Smith, and srely the most eye-watering punchline of any show ever.
The "glossy" era of Red Dwarf had arrived!
Best moment: What a way to start...Wilma Flintstone!
“I was Alexander the Great’s chief eunuch.”
“Kryten, fetch the hacksaw!”
So often the mark of a show is when it can make a fantastic "bottle" episode - Soaps like Eastenders do them with one or two characters just stuck together in a single location for a while. They alow for character development, revelaton, and really show the actor's talent off.
But sitcoms don't do that. Where are the laughs in a dramatic episode? Where's the action? The slapstick? And don't forget, these guys aren't actrs - they're poets, dancers, comedians.
But this works. It really does. We think we know all about Lister and Rimmer, but by stripping the pair of them of everything, we get to see more of them - how they cope with their situation, with each other. We get to understand just how analy anoracky Rimmer actually is - Napoleon's Armee du Nord, his father's Camphor-wood chest (echoing back to "better than life") - and just what importance Lister's guitar, becoming ever more part of the character, actually holds to him.
For me, probably the best episode of the series. So simple, yet so effective.
Best moment: “Now I know why dogs lick their testicles – it’s to get rid of the taste of the food!”
“Let’s get out there and twat it!”
“This isn’t a meal, it’s an autopsy!”
Finally we get a "monster of the week" story - but in true Red Dwarf style there's still no alien. The Polymorph is the first of a long tradition of Genetically Engineered Life Forms (GELFs) over the shows next few years.
It's such a great idea too. It changes shape, so it can be any number of comic items - a killer kebab??? - and you don't need a fully mobile model to realise it, plus it allows for different takes on each of the characters. And whilst conscience-free Kryten and Down and out Cat are great in themselves, again the spotlight falls on the two leads. And even though Craig Charles as the ultra-agrressive Lister utters one of the most famous "destined for t-shirts" lines in history with "Let's get out there and twat it" (I still have mine to this day) it's Beatnick Rimmer
who steals the show.
And we also get our first sight of the weapon of choice for Red Dwarf - the Bazookoid. But seriously, would you let ANY of this lot near a gun? Especially one with long-life heat-seeking rounds?
Best moment: “The committee for the liberation and integration of terrifying organisms and their rehabilitation into society...only one drawback, the abbreviation is CLITORIS” – even if you didn’t know what it meant, the whole delivery made you understand just what they were getting at!
“No more troughing!”
“Why do you want to look like that smeghead Rimmer?”
Apparently, we never really got to see the best version of this one - during filming, Craig Charles and Chris Barrie - never the best of friends in those days - were doing viciously accurate impressions of each other for the scenes where they played each other in their own bodies.
It's still a good litte idea - Rimmer has been ethereal since his death, so now he can touch what will he do? Ok, so you have to ignore his simulated ability to taste from "Thanks for the Memory" (The expression certainly suggests he can taste in that one) and his brief corporeal moments in "Better Than Life", but the idea holds.
The whole thing comes, of course, from one of the last appearances for a long time of one of the original crew...Bob the skutter, aka "stabbim". It was due to how many problems they had controlling it, but it showed that just a brief cameo could work so well.
Best bit: The self destruct scene at the start
“Hello Sabrina, hello sexual extacy!”
“Unpack Rachel, and get out the puncture repair kit!”
Quirky...mutated photo development fluid. At the same time, like Rimmer's "Tribute" video tape, a sign of the pre-digital era the show was made in.
The idea has a few good angles to it. The ability to go anywhere you have a photo, the limitations of the frame, off-the-wall moments like the Neuremberg Rally, and the question of how much you can affect history - timelines be damned!
It's great to see that Lister was still Lister, even with money and a life of luxury. But one question I have is who took a picture of boys sleeping in Bonehead's dorm room?
Best moment: I want to say it's Rachel - a moment that has lived in the show's folklore and spawned later jokes of it's own - but just for the delivery, I'm saying it's Holly and Rimmer working out what has changed to make the others disappear – “It’s my duty as a complete and utter bastard!”
The Last Day
“Where do all the calculators go?”
“I think I feel a Jackson Pollock coming on!”
“You’re forbidden passion fruit.”
So THAT's what Rob Llewellyn looks like! Hands up anyone who, eve when the episode was over, ddn't realise that was part of the joke back then? (puts hand up!)
It really was the start of an annual trend - getting to see Kryten sans prosthetics as a suporting character. With it being the end of the series as well, it was not guaranteed that he would be coming back, so in true "end of series" style, we get a story of the last hours of a character's life. And this is Kryten's episode.
And he remains at his most neurotic throughout, his feelings about the locaton of his "leaving do" and his repair schedule the next morning bookmark his journey of self-exploration (or, as Lister puts it, "star trek whacko-jacko").
And then there's Hudzen, the replacement. Gordon kennedy's steely-faced performance is so eerily evil that only the most insane of ideas could stop him. Cue "Silicon heaven"!
A strong send-off to a strong season
Best Moment: Hudzen’s analysis of the crew status
I will be back, I will finish this - even if the Back To Earth DVD is out before I get to it!
“I was only away two minutes!”
“I think I’m rebelling”
“We are not on the pull”
All three sum up the arrival of Series two and the changes it brought perfectly. The first series had put the show out there, but it needed more viewers to move forward.
So they smartened things up. And did it quickly. Now that the big fly-bys which drained the budget before were in the can, someone splashed out on something other than grey paint, and they actually got off the ship a few times. The whole limited scope of the show expanded. Now they weren’t just the remnants of humanity stuck on a ship which was their whole world. And this opened up new script ideas which, whilst keeping the distinctive Dwarf flavour, were more accessible to viewers.
It went even further – now they were guys who could fly the smaller ships, understood the ship, seemed more comfortable with the situation. It was as if they too had had a few months to become used to the situation. Rimmer, as hinted at the end of the first series, had mellowed a little, Lister had grown used to him, Cat had become part of the group rather than a loner who turned up occasionally, and this was all important, as it gave us a better dynamic between the characters.
Rimmer was more like the hanger-on you couldn’t shake than someone who would never be part of the group. You could understand better why he didn’t just move out anyway, or why Lister didn’t, or why Cat didn’t just stay away from them both most of the time. Unlike most sitcoms, there was real character development here.
The biggest change born of this second batch of stories wouldn’t really become apparent until the next series when Rob Llewellyn arrived, but that too would widen up opportunities, first with new jokes, then with more exposition options. But here we had a very different version of Kryten from David Ross, not that that was a bad thing. As a launchpad for the character’s later glory the pottering English butler worked – we got to see just how driven by his programming he originally was.
The best moment for most people is the whole reveal of the skeletons to the pottering droyd (“who’s dead?” “They are!”) but for me, it’s the dog’s milk conversation between Holly and Dave. So deadpan from Lovett, great reaction from Craig Charles, it’s just simple yet hilarious. (Lasts longer than any other type of milk, dog’s milk” “Why’s that?” “No bugger’ll drink it”)
An undisputed classic.
Better than life
“You’re my favourite all time fascist dictator”
“I write to inform you your father is dad”
Not just off the ship, but out of the studio. From the banality of Rimmer’s “Walrus polishing kit” speech to the ridiculousness of the reverse mermaid, this episode is unadulterated fun. Wish fulfilment all around, from the arrival of word from home which, to them, is just a few months past, to the game itself. Unless you’re Rimmer, obviously.
In a way this came closer to a traditional sit-com – they were off the ship and there were more than the four of them (Tony Hawks particularly making his first on-screen cameo). But at the same time, the ideas – particularly Cat’s ideas of perfection – we so distinctly different that the show kept it’s unique touch intact.
But of course, Rimmer’s mind has to ruin things for everyone, and the way it swings from bliss to agony is quick but brilliant to watch. Anyone would think from this that he was the first bipolar sitcom character!
Best moment: The mail. The Outland Revenue demand is worked well, but the letter from Rimmer’s mother tops it.
Thanks for the memory
“Do you know how many times in my entire life I’ve made love?”
It’s the anniversary of Rimmer’s death, and some great OTT drunk acting from everyone. If anything, this is one episode the “Remastered” version improved when it added the Blue Midget legs. The only one, though.
The whole idea of inserting memories was excellent – although a bit simple. Maybe that was to explain how Lister mastered it, maybe it was to explain why it was such a botched job. Rimmer’s complete change was almost another aspect of his aping of Charles, but was truly outshone by the best part of the episode.
Best moment: Rimmer’s drunken admission and the sandwich scene is possibly only topped by the reaction the next morning.
“I’m the Rimmer from the double double future. I’m the Rimmer who’s with the Lister who married Kochanski. Now from hereon in, things get a little bit complicated.”
“I don’t take orders from poultry”
Dear god, this is my favourite episode bar none. As much as I loved “Kryten”, this was so much more. From the simple concept (a way to get to the past and save someone) to the even simpler way they have to explain it to Cat, to the cameos of Mac MacDonald, Claire Grogan and Paul Williams as returning members of the original crew (which could almost leave you wondering which one would be added to the cast), everything was handled so well.
It’s an episode full of great moments. Rimmer reporting his hallucinogenic experiences after a magic mushroom breakfast, the captain in a chicken suit for a reason only given to explain WHY he was in the suit (“Captain Paxo”!), Hawks again, Cat experiencing women for the first time, the destination of the status leak, but despite the topical theatre reference (and I love Ray Cooney, so I don’t agree...) the real payoff is the last third of the episode, when we just get so many Rimmers and Listers running around that your head just screams at you.
Best moment: That final scene. That future Rimmer line. That last line.
"April may june july and august fool!"
"6? Do me a lemon – that’s a poor IQ for a glass of water!"
You’d have a redundant back-up of a key system, wouldn’t you. Especially when the key system only provides an early warning when the event has actually happened! And certainly if they’ve only got a single digit IQ! Charles Augins was excellent as the aforementioned back-up, especially as he was actually a choreographer by trade.
Neutral in delivery, but at the same time such an evil jobsworth you realise that maybe having guys who won’t stick to the rules as the last vestiges of humanity is the best way to go after all. I mean, Todhunter would have gone insane by now through actually TRYING to run the ship – you’ve seen Silent Running!
Chris Barrie gets another run at his excellently accurate cast impressions, plus (especially if you have seen the deleted scenes) further stretching of his vocal talents. The scene in the Holgraphic projection suite when he apes everyone else in the room in turn is amongst the best moments of the pre-“rock-themed” years.
Admittedly, they do repeat Holly’s idea of running an April Fools joke irrespective of the date, but when it’s this good, it’s just too got a chance to ignore.
Best moment: “Or is it the yellow one...Yes, it the yellow one”
“I remember betting you I could climb the walls of the nightclub using only my lips”
“Would you like a worm-do?”
“I’m going to be an uncle!”
Could this show actually get a distinct ending? The possibility that they can get home, or as Rimmer says, could it be that they “haven’t actually moved a Smegging inch”?
As the last episode of the series (and in many ways the end of the original Red Dwarf), the possibility of things finishing is a TV staple. Or at least, it was until the American TV trend of confirming a new season of a show half way through the last one. And Norman Lovett’s swansong is full of sign-offs. The skutters hardly appear again after this show until the 8th series, we wrap up the mystery of where the twins come from (although not, strangely, the question of how Bexley comes back to be blown up as seen by Rimmer), Lovett’s replacement appears in the world most public audition as he steps aside, Rimmer gets a new perspective on his letching, the “submarine” bunk-room is seen for the last time.
The female takes on the cast are so well envisioned, particularly the future “Brigadier Winifred Bambera” as Deb Lister. Sure the science is so “pony” (as DJJ is wont to say in the commentaries) as to be ridiculous, but the idea of a ship so similar but so different is realised here much better than in the later “Demons and Angels”.
Sure, this is the end of an era, and overshadowed by some of the episodes in the same show, but it’s still a great way to go, especially for the totally unexpected opening.
Best moment: Tongue tied...just Tongue tied.
God these take a while to write – I’ll try and slim these down and do the 3rd series at some point...
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
Back in 1998, I finally got a chance to wacth a taping of the show that to this day remains MY show - one of the first I got hooked on when I first got my own TV in my room as a kid. I'd taped every episode and baring a couple of days working and one date, I'd seen every episode the first time it was screened. And now I was there watching Dave, Arnold and the crew first hand. On my birthday too!
The Birthday was probably critical in getting me in there. We'd had tickets, but I live in Stoke and had had to work early that day. By the time my ex ad I had got down to Waterloo, met my uncle and aunt on the train to shepperton and got to teh studio, the warm-up man was on and they'd let people without tickets in. The whole trip seemed for nothing, until suddenly they came over and said they had one seat they could sqyueeze one of us into. I refused, but was pushed by the others to take it...and was greeted by a front row seat right by the prison cell set for "Pete". The others, it transpired, were squeezed in later at the back near Ruby Wax and her family. And a great evening was had by all!
Red Dwarf - the spine of my video collection, pride of place in my DVDs alongside Kevin Smith and Jerry Lewis films, favourite T-shirts, dog eeared books..and this week the Boys from the Smegstuff are back!
The cult sit-com, never deemed popular enough to move up from BBC2, has been on the front cover of nearly every TV guide, interviews across the board, a huge ad campaign based around www.listerscominghome.com...it's finally achieving the applause it's deserved after 21 years.
So to "prepare" for it, I'm watching all 52 episodes together. I say watching, but I can pretty much quote most episodes word for word, especially the third series. I was going to try and blog my way through it, my memories and opinions, but I've left it more than a little late to start watching. Doesn't mean I won't try, but it'll be a little more generic. Plus I was already on series 3 before I thought of doing it, so it's hardly real-time reminiscences.
I remember seeing the trailer on BBC2 for the first time the week before the show debuted. I'd just got my own TV, and I was of the age where you're really looking to find things to help create your identity - I didn't want to just watch the same TV shows my family did.
It was following on from seeing Back to the Future, Star Trek 4...Sci-fi and comedy being combined was two of my favourite things coming together, so this show caught my eye.
From the first episode I was absolutely hooked. It had the distinctive grey look which marked it out as being a more alternative, almost independant producton through the low budget, the chance it would be a bit edgier. It certainly wasn't going to be Terry and June. And I wasn't alone in thinking that. Viewing figures may have been very "BBC2", but the audience appreciation was apparently the best they'd ever had outside the Jubilee.
Sure, the scripts were maybe a little ropier, few effects, but there was a chemistry and a sense of intelligence with the script - more than in the characters themselves! The story I heard goes that Grant + Naylor actually vetoed repeating the first series in favour of getting the second out quickly, both to capitalise on the audience appreciation and because they were unhappy with the quality.
Shouldn't have been.
3. The creation of the second Rimmer - "You don't seriously think I'd have put Kochanski's disc into Kochanski's box?" - and in Me2, with the ensuing realisation that two are clearly NOT better than one. See also "Gaspatcho soup"
2.Future Echoes - The "Deja Vu" scene between Rimmer and Lister in the drive room is hilarious and so cleverly written, where Chris Barrie does the same scene twice. Plus of course the great "How simple do you want this?" "So ister can understand" ".....oh."
1. A scene I still enounter in converstions to this day. Work conversatons just seem to remind people of it every time someone just doesn't get something...Holly's "Everybody's Dead, Dave" speech from "The End"
Sunday, April 05, 2009
We've got one hour to go before the show starts, so I'll be with you then.
23:38: 411mania are reporting that the Unified Tag Title Match is off the main card. Because we need more time for Kid Rock and the rest of the celebrity nonsense rather than actual WRESTLING at WrestleMania. I was really looking forward to that as well.
23:51: The last few minutes waiting for the show to start are really bloody boring. There's not even anything else on to watch!
00:00: "No satellite signal is being received". This CANNOT be happening.
00:01: Scare over, although I may have paid for it twice now. We're LIVE and the show opens with the superstars talking about their memories of Mania.
00:04: Hall of Famer The Fink introduces that Nicole woman for the American national anthem. Meh.
00:07: Reports state that The Colons won the Tag Titles, when Primo pinned Morrison. MITB starts the main show.
00:08: JR, Lawler and Cole are the hosts. Can Jimbo carry two men for four hours straight?
00:10: What in the hell is Finlay wearing? Sweet Christmas!
00:17: Ballin' elbow off the apron! Nice!
00:18: Shelton Benjamin just hit a tope con hilo from the top of the BIG ladder to the floor. HOLY SHIT!
00:22: Kingston just climbed a closed ladder. That kid is amazing.
00:24: Unprettier off the ladder!
00:25: Obligatory Benjamin ladder running spot.
00:28: PUNK REPEATS! PUNK REPEATS! YESSSSSS! Fantastic ending sequence there. ***1/2 is my rating, and 1/2 for my predictions.
00:30: "I'm from Scunthorpe". And he got on TV!
00:31: Kid Rock. Please only let him do one song. Please.
00:34: Song number two. Rock looks like a geek with those glasses and that shirt. Can we have some more wrestling soon?
00:37: Ahh, the Sweet Home Alabama rip-off. This must be the last song.
00:40: Ten minutes in, Rock is onto song number five. And management wonder why Carlito dogs it in so often. And the Divas are coming down the ramp without even getting introduced. What a pile of crap.
00:43: And we have eliminations as Justin Roberts is still talking. Mae Young is the guest timekeeper. I think Santino is in the ring.
00:46: Santino is so winning this, what a damn shame. Final five are Melina, Beth, Mickie, Michelle and Santino.
00:50: Santino wins. Beth does not look too impressed. And I paid money for this, so neither do I.
00:51: ROH makes it to WrestleMania!
00:58: Legends v Jericho now, and the HOFers stop to hug Mickey Rourke on the way to the ring.
01:00: Piper just about hits a dropkick, nice effort for his age. Snuka is not looking good. ARMDRAGON! YES!
01:03: Snuka taps to the Walls.
01:04: Piper falls to the Y2Stinger. CROSS BODYBLOCK FROM THE TOP FROM THE STEAMER!
01:06: The Dragon is wrestling a blinder here. Roll up almost gets Jericho. Can we have this one on one at Backlash?
01:08: Codebeaker gives Jericho the win. Damn. Flair is going wild!
01:10: Jericho calls out Rourke. RAM JAM time?
01:14: Apparently Jericho has forgotten Mickey used to be a pro-boxer. Left hook puts Y2J down, but we don't get a Ram Jam. Boooo!
01:17: The Hardy Boyz EXPLODE, next! Oh, and because I forgot: ** for the Legends match.
01:20: Matt has bought some real tights. Jeff is still wearing the cargo pants. But is that enough for JR to tell them apart?
01:26: Matt is bleeding slightly, but he's got most of the offence so far.
01:30: Jeff kicks out of a Twist of Fate. They can't be near the finish already can they?
01:32: Jeff hits a splash through two tables, a chair and Matt to the outside. DAMN.
01:36: Matt wins with a Pillmanized Twist of Fate. These two really can't have a good match together. The 2001 match was a dull resthold-fest, and this was just a disjointed collection of spots. **1/2.
01:38: And my predictions are now 1/5. Oh, and Vince takes yet another shot at Hogan by having Cena give him the F... er, Attitude Adjuster on the Legends of WrestleMania advert.
01:40: JBL v Rey now. First IC title defence since WrestleMania 18 by my count.
01:41: Rey has gone for a Joker costume this year. How original.
01:45: Nice heelery from JBL as he boots Mysterio in the head as the ref is still explaining the rules. Rey is still in the match. Enziguri, 619, Splash, NEW IC CHAMP! Squash, no rating. 1/6 for the predictions.
01:49: JBL looks like he's going to cry, and quits wrestling. Looks like we've found Tazz's replacement.
01:52: Taker v Shawn is up next. This better be fantastic, because this card is circling the drain already.
01:56: In the following match, Shawn Michaels will be playing the role of "God". That is absolutely fantastic, utter heel genius. Nice of HBK to ease up about his Christianity as well.
02:00: Shawn lowered down from the heavens, Taker rises from the deep - SYMBOLISM WIN!
02:03: Taker makes it to the ring ins a sprightly (for him) 3 minutes.
02:19: I genuinely can't tell if HBK has injured his wrist and they're stalling for time or if this is all part of the match. Leaning towards the latter, because the camera man must have been a plant.
02:27: TOP ROPE ELBOW FROM TAKER! But HBK rolls out of the way!
02:28: SHAWN JUST KICKED OUT OF THE TOMBSTONE! TAKER IS IN UTTER, UTTER SHOCK.
02:35: And Taker gets the victory by countering a moonsault press into a Tombstone, and I get a second match right in the predictions! ****1/2. Utterly enthralling, with some great false finishes. Almost certainly match of the night, and a shot at Match Of The Year.
02:39: WHC Triple Threat match is up next. Looks like HHH is keeping the gold tonight.
02:43: Vickie Guerrero is back in the wheelchair, and Chavo wheels her to the ring. Err, why can't she walk now?
02:46: Basic Thuganomics is back, and we have an army of Cena clones. This would appear to be everyone under WWE contract on the ramp, dressed as Cena. RAPADOOOO! John-boy makes his entrance. Nice entrance, let's see if the match can live up to it.
02:56: Show gets unstuck from the ropes, and he is PISSED OFF. KNOCK OUT PUNCH TO CENA. Is this Big Show's night?
02:58: EDGE SPEARS SHOW THROUGH THE SECURITY WALL. Edge is up! Cena is rolled into the ring! ULTIMATE OPPORTUNIST! Kick out.
03:02: Cena and Edge team up. Foreshadowing a heel turn?
03:04: Attitude Adjusters to Show, and then Edge. Cena pins Show, and we have a new champ. My predictions are getting better. Cena celebrates in the crowd. Good match, especially for a Triple Threat: ***1/2
03:07: WrestleMania 26 will be coming from Arizona.
03:16: Impressive timing there. The Hall of Fame Class of 2009 are out on the ramp. Steamboat has found time for a shower and to get into his tux. And Austin is driving to the ring! BEER BASH! Austin and JR share a beer! Oh, Trips and Randy are going to love all that beer covering the canvas.
03:22: Vince, Shane and Hunter share a silent moment backstage. And the Champion's Advantage has been removed by Vickie. Interesting...
03:25: Nice all black trunks for Orton. I'm not sure I should say that in public.
03:30: Scott Armstrong is the ref. Good choice, as he has some credibility from his wrestling days, which adds importance.
03:32: RKO two minutes in! Punt misses! PEDIGREE! Blinding start.
03:44: The crowd are pretty dead for this match. Trips must be having flashbacks to 2002.
03:52: And Trips uses the hammer behind the ref's back - and your Backlash main event is...
03:54: Pedigree gives HHH the win. That was pretty lifeless really. I can't go over **3/4, in all honesty.
Well, my predictions were WAY out. As for the show, it was a bit of a letdown. MITB and the WHC were pretty good, and Shawn/Taker was amazing, but everything else was a wash. I'll go for a C+ overall, and recommend checking out HBK vs UT.
As annouinced on SmashLives this evening, today sees the official launch of SmashBlogs, with Lewis's Live Mania Blog to celebrate the event by enjoying the greatest show of them all!
There are four guys now, but there will be more bloggers representing the boards coming in in the next few weeks.
For now, with Red Dwarf 3 on in the background (and I'll try to blog about that over the next week), I'm going to look forward to 'Mania 25 and just say what I think of the card in preparation for the show:
Matt Hardy v Jeff Hardy - Extreme Rules
It's good to see that this has gone better than the early 21st century attempts at a feud between the two. Back then they were still young, still predominantly a tag team, and it just didn't work, but the years of singles work the pair have done wonders since, culminating in Matt's long-running feud with MVP and their title reigns over the last year.
It's fair to say that one concern that many people - myself included - used to have about the brothers Hardy was their promo ability. They're still no Rock/Y2J/HBK but the solo work has help to develop their characters to the point where - Jeff especially - they have finally made people buy into a battle between the pair.
Whilst I would have preferred a Jeff v Edge match, or Jeff v Edge v Matt v Christian, or even Jeff + Christian v Matt + Edge, I can understand reluctance to sit the title match on the shoulders of a guy who screwed up enough to be suspended from the show last time out. This match is both in their element - charter members of the TLC matches, team Xtreme, hardcore titles, so it should be a great one and quite possibly a show opener to get the crowd going.
Winner: Unless they're trying to bury him it has to be Matt. Sugestions that Jeff could somehow get into the MITB later in the night would back this up. Matt it is.
Money in the bank match
A strange one this. So much of its usual fire could be taken by the Hardy's match, maybe that's why they've added Mark Henry to the line-up? Kane has show he can work this match before despite his size, as did the grappler Finlay, but the worlds's strongest man (I would love the official WSM Marius Pudzianowski to challenge him over that - talk about one-sided!) is another matter. The tradional big spots aren't something I can see Henry doing.
End of the day, though, those three aren't going to be the focus of attetion in this match - they're there to give the other guys something to look spectacular with. Perennial MITB also-ran Shelton Benjamin is riding as high as he has since he first moved to RAW and beat Triple H repeatedly, MVP has gone from the best pushed losing streak since Christian to the US title scene effortlessly, Christian was always gone to be a big point of interest with this, both for his comeback and for his E+C /TLC heritage, Punk and Kofi are young and quick.
But realistically, Punk isn't as hot as he was twelve months ago, Kingston is good but has been pushed to his current limits aready in the upper midcard and needs one or two big feuds to get into the picture, Shelton is never going to win the big one, so it's MVP (who may be too close to the losing streak to be seen as credible) or Christian (which depends on how the head office feel about his defection a while back).
Winner: Probably Christian, but that Hardy rumour rears it's head again.
JBL v Mysterio
Two totally differenty guys in a match withistory. For those wo don't remember, it was a defeat to Rey that led to JBL's retirement a few years back. Both are guys with a history of injuries now, but going by current rumours JBls are significantly worse.
If rumour is to be believed, JBL has finaly worked out that just because his back stopped hurting 18 months ago didn't mean it was better, and that his last match v2 is on the horizon. This could well be tonight, with a title on the line in his hometown against his big nemesis.
Both these guys have managed to pull of good matches as Mania in the past, but it's safe to say that this is likely to be closer to a JBL power match than a Rey-Rey spotfest. There'll be speed and jumps from Mysterio, but a large part of this will likely see Bradshaw destroying his smaller oponent before a sudden "underdog" comeback...straight into a clothesline from hell.
Winner: JBL to retire with the belt
Tag unificaton - Miz & Morrison v Carlito & Primo
Finaly they've realised that they've not had enough tag teams with the required quality, as well as too much crossover to properly differentiate, to jusify two titles. Add Cryme Tyme (and Priceless if they actually bothered to have matches) and this is pretty much the totality of the tag division.
Remember when Miz was never going to amount to anything? Whe he was dumped to ECW so that they could shunt him aside as Extreme Expose's manager? This is one guy who has come on massively over the last few years. Ditto Morrison - although he had more to work with from the start. On the flipside of that you have Carlito, a man who was once close to breaking through to the title picture, a character people cared about, who was successfuly pushed strauight out of the traps. To be drawn into the failing tag division, even if it is alongside his brother (he who one day was a RAW wrester who hated his brother, next was on Smackdown and forming a tag team with him...), is a shame for someone as talented as him. Since the angle with Flair was dropped from Mania a couple of years back, the ball has been continually dropped with him. He was marketable, but they may have done too much damage now.
I wouldn't be surprised to see the Bellas get involved, but I think it could take more than that to get me interested. And getting everybody who doesn't have a mtch to Lumberjack doesn't count.
Winner: Miz and Morrison.
Diva batte royal for Miss Wrestlemania
for once I really DON'T want to see Santino getting involved in a match. It's hilarious watching him get bitchslaped by the whole woomen's locker room once a year, but that's enough.
Most of the contenders here are just there to get them on the show. I mean, The Bellas? Jillian? Layla El? It's like a pre-2002 rumble with all the filler in there. At the end of the day, there are maybe half a dozen realistic winners from the current crop - Beth, Mickie, Melina, Maryse, Michelle - and the returnees who will no doubt be given at least a brief moment of glory.
Winner: Mae Young!
Taker V HBK
Hands up nyone who hasn't been wanting this match again for years. The rumble hinted at it two years ago, but they've held off for the aniversary show (24th goddamn it, not 25th!). And so far the build-up hasnt disappointed. No constant punch-ups, no constant arguments, but great promos with a brief clash at the end.
And for their home state, two guys who rarely disappoint - who pretty much OWN Wrestlemania - will surely be one of the best matches on the card, if not of the year.
That said, if the idea is to make you think that Taker's record is in doubt, they've failed with that. For weeks, HBK has made Taker look like a chump. For anything other than a Taker win to occur would mean that they'll have essentially destroyed one of their biggest names with no comeback. Unless Taker was to vanish until SummerSlam and get revenge then (and his injury record does suggest that could happen). But I really don't see anything but another Taker Mania moment
Jericho v The legends
This could have gone either way in the build-up. It could have been great, it could have been a huge bomb. As far as my interest is confirmed, I think it's falen somewhere in the middle, but only courtesy of one of the few men to hark back to the great energy and promos we got back in the attitude days and before - Chris Jericho. Right now, despite what the back office might have decided one week into his comeback, the former Y2J remains one of the best, most intelligent and most articulate promo-cutters in the busness, so he can pretty much get my interest for any match.
I wish they'd gone for something better than one guy aginst three legends plus the egend in the corner plus the guy in the crowd plus the guy on the mic plus ...you get the idea. I' glad they've kept Flair out of the ring - last year's send off would not have deserved that - but the ending is just too obvious
Whoever he faced, there was - and still is - a damn near certainty that he'll fall foul to the finishers of every legend who could make it to the ring on the night. Expect all three guys to hit theirs, along with Flair, Austin, Lawler and maybe Rourke to boot as well. He'll probably pin two, but that's when the interference will begin. And contrary to popular opinion, I don't see Piper being the one who pins him.
Winner: Steamboat caps his HOF weekend with the win
Triple H v Orton
Dear god, this again???
At least, part of me thinks that, but another part has seen the work they've actually put in this time to make us interested.
From nowhere, they've acknowledged Trips and Steph's marriage. That's fine, because during the DX reunion, I found the jokes referring to it to be a great nod to the smarks and a real laugh. It's given the smarks a mini-payoff - they called her phoning him in January, they caught all the "McMahon's son" and DX stuff. They could maybe have done the first reference better, or at least said "we reconciled, we just wanted to keep it private this time", but it's put his motivation into it and given us a more driven Triple H than we've seen recently.
Orton's "IED"...glad they axed that. Never really bought that as a story, but the way they did - to suggest it was used to manoeuvre him into place for this, to get at Triple H - was much better exectued than the original idea. The promo at RAW this week, explaining that he had bided his time to get revenge for his original betrayal by Evolution, was excellently delivered, but it dd emphasise two things for me.
1. Orton doesn't have the ability to keep a crowd heated on the mic - he had to break from the text to insult them to get a reaction. After all this time, only his actions seem to get the crowd's back up.
2. The Legacy is not working. The two of them have gone form a promising pair and a good young tag team to two lackeys on a par with the Edgeheads. This isn't a stable, it's one man with his own security.
With the Evolution refernecs, I wonder if Batista will somehow get involved here, but maybe not the way you think he might. Randy to have pointed out to him how Trips used and dumped them both?
Winner: Orton. Trips doesn't need it, and they've only ust done the Legacy T-shirts so they're going nowhere.
Edge v Big Show v Cena
Edge v Cena has probably, alongside Trips v Orton been the biggest feud in the five years since the last milestone mania. And that means we've seen it so often. But not for a couple of years.
Personally, I do think that Cena has improved in the year or so since his return. There seems to be something more to him than there was before. But I still don't rate him as anywhere near the level of the top guys in the company. Edge needs something to realy spark him again - the "opportunist" thing relying on Vickie has got a little stale to me, the title switches back to the old style of dropping it quicker than you win it. Everything seems to need cheating or sneakiness. He needs, for me, to actually start taking a few cleanly.
What does Big Slow offer here? Very little. He'll be the big obstacle for the others, but no more. The potential of a non-belt feud over Vickie afterwards is intriguing, though - it may give Edge what he really needs.
Winner: With Orton taking the first title match, and to free Edge for Show, you'd think Cena here, but again, the Hardy rumour could come into play. I'll say Edge, with Hardy using the MITB contract straight after to get the big finish.
God that took longer than I though...possibly be another ECW battle royal and Title match in there too (Swagger to retain though)... not long to go now so we shall see!
Dave "Garibaldi" Nevett
As those of you on SmashLives know, I'm quite a lefty and my bias WILL be showing, so try not to get too offended (looking at you there Phenom).
Anyway, I'll be back later today with my special WrestleMania liveblog. Catch you then!
(Hmm, Anthony was right, these things are hard to come up with).