WWE: MomentMania (2015)

★★★★

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I tend to write these WWE reviews in the form of an overarching blether, without much structure. They’re not even really reviews, just general thoughts on the state of the product at the conclusion of a particular pay-per-view. WrestleMania happened last night – y’know, that wrestling event sort of familiar to non-fans? The one all over television, bearing more taglines than Shawn Michaels? (My personal favourite is ‘showcase of the immortals’). A lot happened, and there’s inevitably a lot to talk about. For that reason, I’m going to do this match-by-match.

Some updated thoughts are given in bold brackets after each main show match review.

Tag Title Fatal 4-Way

This was fun. There were eleven people involved in a variety of spots, and the match flowed well considering the potential chaos. Kidd and Cesaro retained.

Winner: Kidd & Cesaro

Rating: 3 (White)

WM - Tag

Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal

NXT’s own Hideo Itami won a tournament over the weekend to enter this match, but maybe he should’ve stayed in Orlando. I’m not entirely sure why they had him in this; he never got an entrance and was eliminated early via Big Show, who eventually went over (ironically, by not going over). Nor am I entirely sure why they went with Show as the victor. Cole mentioned he’d never won a battle royal before, so perhaps they wanted to impart some legitimacy on the giant for future reference. However, this should’ve belonged to Mizdow. His split with Miz was rightly predictable and well executed. Cesaro was also over huge. Vince must not watch the pre-shows.

Winner: Big Show

Rating: 2 (White)

WM - Mizdow

Intercontinental Title Ladder Match

Daniel Bryan opened the show to a huge ovation (presumably Vince missed this too). The most affable man on the planet went on thereafter to win the title. Dean Ambrose took a nasty bump through a ladder, and it turns out R-Truth is in fact a wrestler. The crowd were damn loud during this, especially for Dolph Ziggler and our favourite bearded warrior. All of the guys deserve credit given the painfully tough environment. Look, it’s great and all that they’re lumping the IC title on the best wrestler in the world, but he shouldn’t be in this spot. 70,000 people were going crazy for him. Hey, whatever.

(UPDATE: These multi-man ladder matches are always dangerous and the guys involved deserve plaudits for taking risks. This one was as good as the old WrestleMania MITB ladder car crashes and, even though he shouldn’t have been in this position, Bryan winning and getting his moment was the right decision.)

Winner: Daniel Bryan

Rating: 4 (White)

WM - Bryan

Randy Orton vs. Seth Rollins

This was a solid match. I think a lot of us were hoping that this one would steal the show – the guys over at Inside The Ropes talked about Orton needing a WrestleMania moment, and this could’ve been it. I don’t think the bout was quite at that level, but the ending was exceptionally well executed. Orton reversed a Curb Stomp into an RKO (from outta nowhere!!!) and it was bloody delightful. I love the RKO, it’s my favourite finisher, and Orton is constantly thinking of new ways to execute it. I’m hoping for a stellar rematch at Extreme Rules in Chicago.

(UPDATE: I’m still reeling over that RKO. Presumably these guys will go at it again next month, presumably for the title. If so, I can’t wait.)

Winner: Randy Orton

Rating: 3 (White)

WM - Rollins

Sting vs. Triple H

Sting – who entered first to a weird Japanese drum thing – must’ve been rethinking his contract terms as he watched Triple H do the full Terminator shabang. It divided opinion on Twitter, but I really liked the presentation even though it was a mega babyface entrance. Perhaps that’s just the movie lover in me. The match itself wasn’t really a match. DX and the nWo showed up, which was cool and super over with the crowd. Triple H’s leg looked badly bruised, so maybe this was a way to compensate and save both guys some time in-ring. Triple H went over because he can’t lose to a 56 year old and Vince can’t have WWE lose to WCW. Come on guys. For me, this undid some of the work they put in.

(UPDATE: In hindsight, I probably done these two a disservice. It was actually a decent match. Sting still should’ve gone over. Triple H started the night as a heel, switched to babyface with the handshake, and then went heel again later. That’s either poor booking or an ego thing. Regardless, I’ve upped this to three stars.) 

Winner: Triple H

Rating: 3 (White)

WM - HHH

AJ Lee & Paige vs. The Bella Twins

Not the divas match we all hoped for, primarily because they didn’t get enough time, which is a shame. AJ and Paige won. For future reference, maybe WWE should cut the ten minute musical act that nobody cares about and, y’know, #GiveDivasAChance.

(UPDATE: They needed more time.)

Winners: AJ Lee & Paige

Rating: 2 (White)

WM - AJ

Rusev vs. John Cena

Rusev trampled all over Triple Terminator with his insanely devious tank entrance, accompanied by the brilliant Lana. Cena got the patriotic montage treatment and the crowd still booed him. This was hard-hitting, as expected, but not as good as their match at Fastlane. Cena added another move to his repertoire (surely we’ve hit double figures by now) – the Cena Stunner! Austin was surely grinning from ear to ear, with sincerity too. The finish was quite damp. It only took one Attitude Adjustment to end the Russian/Bulgarian’s streak. I do like Cena as US champ though. Hopefully he and D-Bry and decriminalise the secondary titles now.

(UPDATE: That tank entrance was an absolute winner. This felt much the same upon second viewing. Kudos to Lana for her spot on ‘it wasn’t me’ reaction after the shoe throw. Rusev is very good, I really hope they keep him strong.)

Winner: John Cena

Rating: 3 (White)

WM - Rusev

Triple H/Steph & Rock/Ronda Segment

Triple H and Steph hit the ring and HHH became a heel again (after shaking hands with Sting earlier). The Rock appeared because that’s what he does these days. He’s been at every WrestleMania since 27 (as a host, a main-eventer and a surprise). I love The Rock, and I always will, but I’m sort of over the whole shtick now. It’s the same every time: Michael Cole loses his mind; Rock takes forever to walk to the ring; he stands silently waiting for a Rocky chant; he practices for his appearance on Catchphrase, and so on. Thankfully, he tagged in Ronda Rousey and she saved the segment. I can’t see her wrestling Steph any time soon, sadly. Rousey has a fight lined up and is, presumably, under contract to UFC.

(UPDATE: This went longer than any of the matches – twenty-five minutes – when it really didn’t have to. Steph was devilishly on point. I missed The Rock skip miming after his fallopian tube joke, which is hilarious. The pop for Rousey was brilliant. She’s a star, big time.)

WM - Rousey

Bray Wyatt vs. Undertaker

Neither entrance looked as good as they would have in darkness. It’s amazing how much stock we – or at least I – put in entrances. I prefer east coast outdoor venues and indoor stadiums, but it’s not a massive issue. Begone, light! Taker looked great, probably the best visually since he shaved off his hair in 2012. Bray Wyatt’s entrance was apparently an audition for the horror Wizard of Oz remake. The crowd were quite quiet during this, certainly at the beginning, which is understandable given the length of the show and the heat. Wyatt executed his spider walk and then melted to the mat before an up-sitting Deadman in what was an outstanding moment. Taker pinned Wyatt after a second Tombstone (only one AA to defeat Rusev though). This was a fine match, but Wyatt winning would’ve been more exciting and daring.

(UPDATE: I think Taker has almost cornered himself at WrestleMania given his amazing track record when it comes to match quality in the last decade. This was better than last year, but nowhere near the level of the HBK or even HHH bouts. Much like Rusev, I hope they don’t drop the ball with Wyatt now. Give him something with depth and he’ll make it work.)

Winner: Undertaker

Rating: 3 (White)

WM - Taker

Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar

Unsurprisingly, the people weren’t that enamoured by Roman. Brock was a mega babyface. Reigns shouldn’t have been in this spot: he’s not particularly likeable; he’s not over; and he has yet to exceed upper mid-card level. Brock’s early F5 was rousing and the stadium exploded. It’s almost as if the crowd ingested all of those roasting sunshine rays and subsequently discharged them all over Roman. He was booed big time. This match was suplex city again but Reigns kept laughing, presumably as he realised how not-over he was.

The story seemed obvious from the get-go: Lesnar to beat up Roman just like he beat up Cena, but Roman to overcome it. After an ass-whipping, Rollins’ music hit. He cashed in and pinned Reigns. I didn’t see this coming at all – in fact, I thought Rollins was going to fail and take the pinfall to get rid of the briefcase spectre and keep the Reigns/Lesnar feud going. I like that Lesnar wasn’t pinned. Unanswered questions are abound: Who is the number one contender? Is Lesnar? Or Orton? Where does Reigns go? There was a heck of a lot riding on this match and, to WWE’s credit, they adapted. Hardly anybody wanted to see Reigns leave as champ, therefore he didn’t. I would’ve preferred Brock going over but I understand the thinking, and Rollins is phenomenal.

(UPDATE: I underrated this. Wrestling is about drama and suspension of disbelief, and they dramatically fooled me. It was a little too similar to the Cena SummerSlam match, but this one had even more at stake. “Suplex City bitch!” is ready-made merchandise money. Brock is WWE’s biggest asset and he should be booked as such until he decides to lace up the boots. Reigns done well here too – his comeback was (terrifyingly) excellent. Rollins has that main event aura. I updated this to four stars.)

Winner: Seth Rollins

Rating: 4 (White)

WM - Brock

This WrestleMania was all about the special moment, and maybe that’s how it should be. Mizdow’s breakaway. Bryan winning. Various entrances. DX versus nWo. Ronda Rousey. Spider walk versus sit-up. Rollins’ cash-in. Those were all thrilling moments built upon either forsaken hope or unshaken nostalgia. The in-ring action wasn’t anything to write home about though. For me, the wrestling never quite piqued. The opener and main event worked best, the former for its anxiety-driven excitement and the latter for its raw drama. The crowd in San Jose seemed to enjoy the show a lot, which is important because those folks paid heaps of cash to be there. As a home viewer, I think it was good. Occasionally great.

(UPDATE: To be fighting it out with WM17 and WM19 as one of the best ever, I think the show needed a few classic matches. There weren’t any bad bouts to be fair, only good matches and greater moments. I normally avoid 0.5 scores, so even though the show was probably 3.5 stars, I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt and round up to 4.)

On January 26th, 2014 CM Punk tweeted: “The view never changes”. This tweet, and all that followed, really hurt.

On January 27th, 2015 Seth Rollins tweeted: “I am the light at the end of the tunnel”. He was right. How exciting.

WM - Seth

Images credit: WWE

Reeling Them Off (June 2013)

Today I am going to talk about a few random bits and pieces — from film news to upcoming releases to recent movies I have watched. I reckon I will do this type of thing more often, rather than relentlessly bore you with four or five separate blog posts. About once or twice a month sounds about right.

“There goes my plans to do a live-action Garfield The Cat movie.”

Sony recently announced that, not only will we be getting The Amazing Spider-Man 2, but we will also be given extra helpings of the franchise by way of a third in 2016 and even a fourth at some point in 2018. Talk about optimism, eh? Well perhaps rightly so, because I think it is safe to say that, just like last year’s Spidey reboot which garnered over $750 million at the box office, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is likely to line many a pocket come next year, vindicating the somewhat premature announcement of a further two instalments.

One of the main problems with telling your audience that there will be another two films after the upcoming one, is that it sort of diminishes the importance of the next Peter Parker saga. Surely a Spider-Man film is not a Spider-Man film without Spider-Man, which would more or less exterminate any suspense during upcoming potential death scenes, as we know Spider-Man cannot die (at least, not yet)? Of course, there are ways around this — Alien: Resurrection being a somewhat distant example — therefore I guess the impending, or lack thereof, death of Spider-Man is not a huge issue going into part two. I have every expectation that the outing will be a solid one, much like the first, and will hopefully continue what is shaping up to be a successful reboot of the previously fledgling franchise.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is scheduled for release on the 18th April, 2014 in the United Kingdom.

Sticking with the subject of upcoming films for a moment, I would like to talk briefly about a few on the horizon. Firstly, the premier trailer for Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street — where Leonardo DiCaprio plays New York stockbroker Jordan Belfort — hit the internet a few days ago and, to be honest, it is not exactly what I had expected beforehand. My vision of the film was that it would be one focused far more on drama, with a more serious tone (who knows, this may well still be the case) however the trailer seems to give off a refreshingly comical ambience. This sits well with me as, being a big fan of Leonardo DiCaprio and his previous work with Scorsese, I reckon it will be interesting to see the two delve into a more comedic setting for the first time together. The trailer certainly made me laugh, and we are in the more-than-capable hands of a wonderful director and an exceptional cast, so this one should not disappoint.

The Wolf on Wall Street is set for release on the 17th January, 2014 in the United Kingdom.

“It’s good to be The Rock.”

Time for a dip into the rumour market and it turns out that the most electrifying man in sports all of entertainment, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (or just The Rock to all the cool people, like me) is being touted as one of the stars of the upcoming Terminator 5 film. The Rock, as he shall be known from here on out in this post, has had an excellent past few years in the film industry, and these have been capped off by a simply outstanding first half of 2013. In fact, the semi-retired professional wrestler, who’s four films this year have already grossed over $1 billion combined, has had a movie in the US box office top ten for the past seventeen weeks in a row — stretching all the way back to late February — and this run does not look like stopping any time soon with Fast & Furious 6 still going strong. The Rock has become something of a franchise resurrect-er recently, having taken stagnant franchises such as Fast & Furious, G. I. Joe and Journey to the… and giving them the shot in the arm required to reinstate themselves again. Being a massive professional wrestling fan myself, I have loved The Rock for over a decade and hope to see his acting career continue to thrive.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson stars in Hercules: The Thracian Wars, which is due for release on the 25th July, 2014 in the United Kingdom.

Just a quick note before I continue. Even though I have never watched The Sopranos (I know, I know) it is always extremely sad to hear about the passing of an actor, let alone one of such significance to the world of television. One day, i do hope to watch The Sopranos in order to truly appreciate James Gandolfini, but until then I do not think it is really my place to talk about the man as an actor — although I am sure I do not need to anyway, having read about his greatness on my Twitter feed. All I will say is may he rest in peace.

The other day I re-entered the realm of Netflix, something that was long overdue. I decided to watch a film titled The ABCs of Death, based on what I had heard about it. To begin with, The ABCs of Death is not a film — it is a collection of 26 short stories, each of which convey a depiction of death based a word associated with a letter of the alphabet. The ‘film’ is directed by 26 different directors from all over the world, and thus there is no real narrative to it and the audience already knows the eventual outcome of every short-story — death. There were a few entertaining letters, such as Q and T, and a number of the clips made me laugh due to their sheer ridiculousness — I am thinking H in particular — but on the whole the clips just did not make much sense and some of them were a bit too over-the-top in terms of violence and, well, other stuff. It is one of those things where you kind of have to watch it due to the intrigue, but afterwards — if you are like me — you will probably be regretting wasting over two hours on it.

“Chairs are for wimps.”

I finally got around to watching a few films I had wanted to see for while — The Breakfast Club, A Few Good Men and Broadcast News — and I loved all three of them, particularly The Breakfast Club. John Hughes has a way with making films which ensures they remain relevant so many years on: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Planes, Trains & Automobiles are two classics which more than hold up in 2013, and The Breakfast Club is no different. For a courtroom drama, a type of film which can sometimes venture dangerously close to the boring mark, A Few Good Men kept me grasped throughout, with the tension slowly bubbling as the film progressed, and it boasts a number of excellent performances from the likes of Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson. I watched the television show The Newsroom, starring Jeff Daniels and Emily Mortimer, last summer and in anticipation for this summer’s upcoming season two, I decided to watch Broadcast News, a film about three colleagues and their relationship with each other and their job. It struck me how similar the two are, even though they are created on different platforms, as both contain vibrant, witty scripts and bubbly, likeable characters (Holly Hunter and Emily Mortimer’s characters are incredibly similar).

Oh, and I also got around to seeing Die Hard. I now get the hype surrounding Alan Rickman in this film, although I do not quite get the hype surrounding the film itself. Maybe I should have watched it ten years ago, before being lambasted with similar “Cowboys and Indians” (“in The Towering Inferno,” as Mark Kermode likes to put it) type films over the last decade.

Anyway, I think that will do it for today. If you have any comments just write them below and I look forward to doing some more of these in the future!