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Monday, April 24, 2017

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EOTR Rewind: WWF Summerslam 1996

By @TrueGodImmortal

When the WWF was in a very dark period, we watched them lean on Shawn Michaels to lead the charge. After losing Kevin Nash and Scott Hall to WCW, and the start of the NWO with Hulk Hogan back in prominence and the hiatus of Bret Hart, the WWF turned to Shawn Michaels to be the star and the guy. Going into the 2nd biggest event of the year, Shawn needed a challenger. Enter Vader. A former WCW main eventer, Vader was on a rampage and this would lead to a huge clash against HBK on the biggest stage of the summer. In addition to HBK vs Vader, Summerslam featured a plethora of interesting matchups, kicking off with a hilarious 2 minute contest between Stone Cold Steve Austin and Yokozuna on the Free For All. Today, we wanted to take a rewind back to Summerslam 1996, and reflect on the PPV. Was it solid? Was it a good event? That's what I'm here to find out. Let's get into it.

*Owen Hart vs Savio Vega 

-This opening match was actually pretty good. Going a solid 14 minutes, Owen was a ring general to the fullest, helping to lead Savio to one of his best matches in the WWF. Owen was wearing the cast for his injury, and would utilize it to help him get the victory over Savio. The finish was Owen locking Savio in the sharpshooter after hitting him with the cast, and though Owen was the heel in this match, he would receive a number of cheers for walking out with the win. A solid opening match.

*WWF Tag Team Championship 
The Smoking Gunns vs The New Rockers vs The Godwinns vs The Bodydonnas 

-This was an interesting match. It was a fatal four way elimination match for the tag titles, but for some reason, it just felt extremely rushed. There was a weird element in this match, as Sunny had left the Bodydonnas and ended up turning heel by managing the Smoking Gunns, who came into this match as the defending champions. The Bodydonnas replaced Sunny with.... with.... a man in woman's attire named Cloudy. While today's society might enjoy this angle, it was disturbing and still is regardless. The Smoking Gunns would retain in this match and hold onto their titles however, leaving these three teams in the dust.

*Sycho Sid vs British Bulldog 

-Despite what Phranchize wants you to believe, Sycho Sid sucks. He always has. He was never a good wrestler to watch, and this match was short and sweet because he wasn't a great worker. Bulldog was a solid worker, but what more can be done to help Sid? Nothing. He picks the win in a slightly glorified squash that saw Sid look pretty dominant in the match. Bulldog deserved better than this to be honest.

*Goldust vs Marc Mero 

-This match was pretty standard, but was still fun. I think Goldust was on a role of sorts in 1996, and Marc Mero was still trying to find his footing. Both men were solid workers, and this match doesn't necessarily disappoint, especially with Marlena and Sable at ringside. Goldust picks up the win in a 12 minute contest, which I personally think Mero should have won.

*Jerry Lawler vs Jake Roberts

-I hated this feud. I hated this match. Lawler wins, when he shouldn't have, and this was essentially the beginning of the end of the 2nd run for Jake Roberts. I really didn't like how the WWF exploited his return from his demons, because I feel like this should have ended with him beating Lawler.... instead Lawler wins in 4 minutes. The less said about this the better.

*Boiler Room Brawl 
The Undertaker vs Mankind

-This match is one of a kind. It was interesting because the Mankind vs Undertaker feud was one of the best that I witnessed during the 90's. These two odd personalities kept clashing for months and after everything they had been through in 1996, this seemed to be the culmination of it. The first ever Boiler Room Brawl saw Taker and Mankind bring their best before the crazy ending that saw Paul Bearer turn on Undertaker at the end of the match leading to Mankind getting a victory. The 5 year partnership between Bearer and Taker came to an end, and Mankind seemingly got even stronger as a result. This is the best match of the night IMO, as it had enough drama and fun in it to make it work.

*WWF Championship 
Shawn Michaels vs Vader 

-This match was weird. One, it was far too long. Two, it had a bunch of finishes and restarts that didn't make much sense. First, Vader wins by countout. Cornette asks for the match to be restarted. Then Vader wins by DQ. Then they restart it again. It was really odd to watch and at the end of the match, HBK stood tall. I think the restarts and finishes were just to stretch out the match and try to make Vader look slightly strong, but it killed his entire credibility afterwards. Vader was a monster and to lose cleanly to HBK just felt as if his whole push was gone, and basically that was the case. He never got another big time shot at the WWF Title and after HBK won this match, he just sort of jumped from random feud to feud until Vader eventually became a glorified monster jobber until his departure.

Truthfully, Summerslam 1996 is a fairly weak event by WWF standards. Sure, there were a few decent matches, but overall, this PPV shows exactly why the WWF was losing the ratings war. Where does Summerslam 1996 rank on a scale of 1 to 10? I'd give it a 5 overall, meaning it's not horrible, but it definitely falls short of being a good event.


Friday, April 21, 2017

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Eyes On WWE: What's Next For John Cena?

By @TrueGodImmortal

John Cena, love him or hate him (I mostly hate him), is a legend in professional wrestling. He's been at the top of his game for the last few years, and despite missing a prime opportunity to have a Wrestlemania classic with The Undertaker this year, Cena has virtually done it all in the WWE. With that being said, as he enjoys his current part time role in WWE while earning more Hollywood fame, what is left for him to do? He won title no. 16, and has recently just got engaged to his girlfriend Nikki Bella, so what else is next? Let's take a look at a few things that could possibly be next for Cena.

*Match With Roman Reigns 

-This is likely going to happen between Summerslam and Wrestlemania 34 in some form of Smackdown vs RAW match. The smartest thing to do for WWE would be having this match  at Wrestlemania 34, and keeping both men out of the title picture. I'd hope Cena wins this one, but this would be another forcing of Reigns and another victory in a row. Still, this has to happen. It's the old vs the new superman essentially. The ultimate clash.

*Feud With Finn Balor

-I would like to see Finn turn heel and somehow end up in a feud with Cena. You could bring the Club into it or not, but Cena needs to feud or have a match with Balor at some point before walking away. Now that he's part time, there are limited opportunities for Cena matches and feuds, but this is one that needs to happen. I feel like the crowd would be electric for this and the match, at a Summerslam or Survivor Series or Mania, would be a huge draw.

*Putting Shinsuke Nakamura Over

-Nakamura is reportedly in the role of Cena now in terms of dark matches to keep people around for 205 Live after Smackdown ends. With that being said, the ultimate showman in Nakamura against the biggest name in the WWE over the last 10 years or so is a match that we need. Preferably at Summerslam, I think this match would be huge and honestly draw attention not just here in the US, but especially overseas. Imagine Cena vs Nakamura in Brooklyn for Summerslam or in front of 80,000 strong at Wrestlemania. That energy, the crowd, and most of all, that match would be electric. If there's one thing that Cena definitely should do before 2018 ends, it is put Nakamura over, which he probably wouldn't have an issue doing. Cena vs Nakamura. Just imagine how big that could be.

*Giving Baron Corbin His Biggest Feud

-Truthfully, there's no other match or feud for Cena on Smackdown that we haven't seen before minus perhaps a possible Sami Zayn feud. However, Cena vs Sami doesn't have that much of an appeal to it. We've seen AJ vs Cena plenty of times, and Cena vs Owens a few times, so the only feud that would appeal in terms of putting a young heel over on the brand is this match/feud. Corbin is improving and is due for a big push, so what better way to elevate him than to have him take on the veteran that is Cena. Cena vs Corbin probably wouldn't spawn a classic match, but the feud itself is enough to spark interest for just about any fan of the product. This is likely to happen anyways before 2017 closes out.

*Long Awaited Samoa Joe Feud

-If there's one feud that we have all wanted, it's this one. Samoa Joe. John Cena. One on one. This could very well be his Wrestlemania bout on a RAW vs Smackdown deal, similar to how he could end up battling Finn or Reigns. Regardless, this is the most intriguing match of them all for him, besides Nakamura. Joe is a tough fighter, a submission guy, and they have their own history with each other from years ago. The story built in this would easily work and the promos could be good as well. The match would be a lot of fun to witness as well, and if this feud were to spread out over a few months due to a brand change for either man, this could end up as a feud of the year candidate in WWE. Samoa Joe vs John Cena, Wrestlemania 34. Book it WWE.

*Win WWE Title No. 17

-This doesn't really need to happen, but knowing WWE, it just might. This would elevate Cena beyond Flair in the record books, and while I don't want that... it might be possible and I could see it happening. This might be the feud that WWE does when they go with Cena vs Corbin and let Cena put Corbin over for the belt. This could be something we see at Mania 34 after Corbin wins the Rumble (just a thought). Whatever the case, knowing WWE, this could be a reality sooner than later.

There's not much left for Cena to do, but these 6 possibilities all seem like they could very be a reality within the next year or two. At that point, it might be time for Cena to hang up the boots completely and move onto Hollywood. Will he? Who knows, but there aren't many new challenges for Cena at this point. What's next for Cena? I guess we have to stay tuned to find out.


Thursday, April 20, 2017

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Eyes On NBA: 7 Of The Best LeBron James Playoff Performances

By @TrueGodImmortal 

LeBron James has been to 7 NBA Finals, 6 of which he's been to consecutively. For all the talk (and the accurate talk) of him building up super teams to win championships, there is no doubt about it that his performances in the playoffs have been some of the most amazing things that we've witnessed in NBA history. With his 7 Finals appearances under his belt and over 200 playoff games, we wanted to narrow down his best performances in the playoffs to 7. Let's take a look at what we feel are his 7 best performances in the playoffs.

*Cleveland Cavaliers vs Detroit Pistons 
(2007 Eastern Conference Finals, Game 5)

-In what would end up being one of the all time greatest performances I've ever witnessed in NBA playoff history, Bron showed up and showed out as the true star that he was. At only the age of 22, Bron went out and performed like a much wiser and older player against the juggernaut that was the Pistons team. He put up 48 points, which was a career high in the playoffs at the time, along with 9 rebounds and 7 assists, but what stands out the most, is LeBron scoring the final 25 points of the game for the Cavs and willing them to a big time victory to go up 3-2 in a 109-107 win. This is one of his best easily.

*Cleveland Cavaliers vs Orlando Magic 
(2009 Eastern Conference Finals, Game 2)

-The Cavs went 66-16 in the regular season. LeBron was a leader. He was stepping up big time to push this team to the Finals and he had one more series to go (he wouldn't make it to the Finals this year). However, this was the game that showed me 100% that he was able to truly lead like no other. His game 1 performance is probably slightly better than this one, but what makes this one stand out is how he showed up to win the game when it was needed. 35 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and a game winning shot that shouldn't have went in. This was an amazing Bron performance and one of his most clutch shots ever.

*Miami Heat vs Indiana Pacers
(2012 NBA Semifinals, Game 4)

-After going down 2-1 in the series to a young and growing Pacers team, the Heat were in need of a boost. Enter LeBron James. Showing why he's the best player in the league, LeBron went as hard as he could at the Pacers team, leading the Heat to a victory and with 40 points, 18 rebounds, and 9 assists. A truly amazing performance.

*Miami Heat vs Boston Celtics
(2012 Conference Finals, Game 6)

-When LeBron wants to step up, he certainly can. He's made a career out of being a big time player and though he won't win every single time, he will win when it counts a majority of the time. With the Heat down 3-2 in the Conference Finals and staring down a possible elimination, LeBron stepped up big time and had his number called when it counted the most, going off in the first half hitting 12 out of 14 shots for 30 points before halftime, dunking at will against the Celtics, and just destroying them at every chance he got. He would finish with 45 points on 19 of 26 shooting, 15 rebounds, and 5 assists to force a game 7. This is one of his most efficient games in his career in the playoffs and it's widely seen as one of his best performances ever.

*Miami Heat vs San Antonio Spurs 
(2013 NBA Finals, Game 7)

-After Ray Allen saved the day in Game 6 (after Bron brought them back in the game), the Heat and LeBron would do what they needed to do to take game 7 against a focused Spurs team. LeBron stepped up in a big way to earn back to back championships, as he finished with 37 points, 5 for 10 from three, 12 rebounds, and 4 assists for a huge victory, including the dagger over Kawhi for the win.

*Cleveland Cavaliers vs Golden State Warriors 
(2016 NBA Finals, Game 5)

-This was the game changer. After Bron ended up down 3-1 in the Finals, he worked his magic to motivate the team to get back in the game. It helped the Cavs that the Warriors were without Draymond Green and lost Andrew Bogut in the 3rd quarter while they were up by a few points to injury, but what really pushed the Cavs to victory was the one-two punch of Bron and Kyrie. Bron would put up 41 points, 16 rebounds, and 7 assists to lead the Cavs to a huge victory over the Warriors 112-97.

*Cleveland Cavaliers vs Indiana Pacers 
(2017 Playoffs, 1st Round, Game 3)

-This performance isn't even 24 hours old, but it's nothing short of magnificent. It might be the greatest first round performance in LeBron's entire career and easily his most impressive. With a 25 point deficit at halftime, the Cavs could have just called it a game and rested LeBron, Kyrie and Love who couldn't seem to get things going in the first half. He was not his most efficient during the first half, but he finished with a solid and efficient shooting performance going 14 for 27 from the field, and he finished with a 40 point triple double during this game, with 41 points, 13 rebounds, and 12 assists to rally the team back to take a 3-0 series lead and a 119-114 victory. 200 plus playoff games later, this might be the best Bron performance in the playoffs ever.

There are many more performances that could be here, from his series against the Hawks in 2015 to his many games against the Bulls, and his game 6 against the Spurs, or even his game 7 performance against the Warriors, but these are the 7 best IMO. LeBron James is a force to watch and one of the best players I've ever had the pleasure of watching and when it's playoff time, there's really no one better (except the GOAT Jordan, of course). He won't be around forever, so let's continue to marvel at the feats of LeBron while he's still here.


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

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The Last Ride Of The Undertaker Part 3: WrestleMania

By @Phranchize19

Wrestlemania and The Undertaker go hand in hand. You cannot think about Wrestlemania without thinking of The Streak and the Undertaker. Today, I wanted look at the long history of The Undertaker at WrestleMania.

*Wrestlemania 7
(The Undertaker vs Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka)

-The debut Mania match for Undertaker. This was just the usual with Taker squashing a Hall of Famer. Nothing to see here.

*Wrestlemania 8
The Undertaker vs Jake "The Snake" Roberts)

-A friendship turned sour. The Deadman and the Snake would do battle in nothing more than another (albeit longer) glorified squash. Another victim.

*Wrestlemania 9
(The Undertaker vs Giant Gonzalez)

-One freak meets another. Undertaker was always tasked to take on the freaks and the weirdos and this was no exception. This is the only time Undertaker would win by disqualification at the event.

*Wrestlemania 11
(The Undertaker vs King Kong Bundy)

-The Phenom was in the midst of a feud with the Million Dollar Corporation (1995 was such a bad year for WWF) and Bundy was one of the few guys not feuding with anyone of importance, so I guess there's the logic. Taker wins handily here.

*Wrestlemania 12
(The Undertaker vs Diesel)

-IMO, this is the most underrated match in Taker’s Mania catalog. Both men screwed each other out of WWF title matches to lead us here. A battle of two big men which ended up being an borderline classic to me.  
*Wrestlemania 13
(The Undertaker vs Sycho Sid)

-This was the first time Undertaker would challenge for the WWF Title at Wrestlemania. Undertaker would have what I believe was a stellar match with Sid (Editor's Note: This is seen as one of the worst Mania main events ever by many, but there's always people who like those matches). I think Sid doesn't get enough credit and neither does this match.

*Wrestlemania 14
(The Undertaker vs Kane)

-Brother against Brother. Undertaker’s borther would return and haunt him until they had a match. Taker would finally oblige and they would meet in a GREAT confrontation.

*Wrestlemania 15
(The Undertaker vs Big Bossman)

-The first time in the history of Mania where a match would be contested in Hell in a Cell. While that sounds big, this match disappointed. A lot of it had to do with time constraints and the placement on the card. Taker wins and gives us an image WWF probably wasn't too proud of.

*Wrestlemania 17
(The Undertaker vs Triple H)

-A classic. Hands down. HHH was WWF’s best heel and had been for a long time. After missing WM16, Taker came back, laid down the challenge and they both would bring the house down.

*Wrestlemania 18
(The Undertaker vs Ric Flair)

-Apparently the Undertaker lobbed for this match and it was surprisingly good considering Flair had ring rust. "Double A" Arn Anderson hitting the spinebuster is my favorite part of the match though, but it was a very good contest.

*Wrestlemania 19
(The Undertaker vs Big Show & A-Train)

-While this is not a technical masterpiece and it should've just been Big Show vs Taker, it was a solid enough outing.

*Wrestlemania 20
(The Undertaker vs Kane) 

-Kane was on a rampage the entire year of 2003 and his brother was the only person who could stop him in what was a glorified squash. Kane became the first man to face Undertaker twice at Mania, and the first to lose twice as well.

*Wrestlemania 21
(The Undertaker vs Randy Orton)

-This was really the first time this was referred to as The Streak. There was so much emphasis placed on Taker being undefeated. Orton and Taker would put on a 4 star match and tear the house down. Orton solidified himself as a main event guy here.

*Wrestlemania 22
(The Undertaker vs Mark Henry)

-The first time in Wrestlemania history there would be a casket match at the event. Mark Henry was receiving somewhat of a monster push and of course the only person who could stop him was The Undertaker. While not a classic or anything close to it, this is still a solid outing to me.

*Wrestlemania 23
(The Undertaker vs Batista)

-This was only the second time The Undertaker would be vying for the World Title at Mania. After winning the Royal Rumble, Undertaker would put his streak on the line against Batista’s World Heavyweight championship. This was a STELLAR bout as both men would basically steal the show.

*Wrestlemania 24 
(The Undertaker vs Edge)

-Undertaker would again be in the main event for the World Heavyweight Title at Mania. This time it wasn't about the Rumble or really earning a shot, this was about destroying Edge. Edge had been a thorn in Undertaker’s side for almost a year prior. They would meet in a very stellar championship bout. This would be the first time Undertaker would win a Mania match via submission.

*Wrestlemania 25
(The Undertaker vs Shawn Michaels)

-The Greatest Match Ever. Period. You already know this. I know this. From start to finish, this is the epitome of a perfect match  and Taker emerged victorious.

*Wrestlemania 26
(The Undertaker vs Shawn Michaels)

-After creating the best match ever the year prior, these two rematched the following year. While it is not as good as the first match this was still a great match. This would mark the first time Taker would main event a Mania without the title being on the line.

*Wrestlemania 27
(The Undertaker vs Triple H)

-I was a bit skeptical of this match because both men essentially became part time performers in 2010, but they delivered a CLASSIC. One of the best matches I've ever seen. It would mark the first time Taker looked vulnerable as he was the victor, but he also was a victim.

*Wrestlemania 28
(The Undertaker vs Triple H)

-Only the second time HIAC would appear at Wrestlemania, but one of the few times in the history of HIAC that the match would have a special guest referee. This might be the best HIAC match ever as the two most accomplished HIAC combatants would finally do battle in the structure and quite frankly had a classic.

*Wrestlemania 29 
(CM Punk vs The Undertaker)

-One of the best matches I've ever seen. Undertaker couldn't carry a match like he used to but CM Punk is one of the best at that. It only made sense for this match to happen and with Paul Bearer’s unfortunate passing, this match took on a little more meaning.

*Wrestlemania 30
(The Undertaker vs Brock Lesnar)

-The most infamous match in WWE history. I think we all know what happens here (Editor's Note: The match itself isn't very good, but the moment makes it big), and it will never be forgotten.

*Wrestlemania 31
(The Undertaker vs Bray Wyatt)

-Somewhat of a passing of the torch. Undertaker looked way better in this match than the prior match the previous year. Bray Wyatt had an injury but he did the best he could and gave us a solid match.

*Wrestlemania 32
(The Undertaker vs Shane McMahon) 

-The return of the prodigal son was cause for Vince to bring out the heavy guns and that's his most loyal employee in his most famous match, the Hell In A Cell. This match was pretty good considering the circumstances (Editor's Note: Also a bit too damn long), and Taker gets the victory while Shane gets the most memorable moment in the match for jumping off the cage.

*Wrestlemania 33 
(Undertaker vs Roman Reigns)

-The send off. The final gun fight for the gunslinger. The streak started with a member of the Samoan dynasty and the last Mania for Taker ended with a member of the Samoan dynasty. Reigns would achieve the biggest victory of his career but the real moment came after the match was over. Despite many not being a big fan of the match (Editor's Note: It's one of the worst Mania main events ever and that cheapens this whole thing), the aftermath was the best sendoff that The Undertaker could have. Let's try to remember that moment more than anything.

-C. Yates