Sunday, April 6, 2014

4 pivotal questions that will be answered at Wrestlemania 30

It's a big night for WWE.

First off, it's Wrestlemania. That's their biggest show of the entire year.

Second, it's the 30th anniversary of Wrestlemania.



A lot of questions will be answered tonight. Who will retain their titles? Who will win their matches? What kind of surprise appearances can we expect? WWE have mended their rocky relationships with Bruno Sammartino, The Warrior and Hulk Hogan in recent years. We know 2/3 of those men will be appearing.

WWE has apparently reached out to a variety of other big names to appear. Steve Austin, The Rock and RVD are all in New Orleans. Then there's speculation about Sting.

It certainly seems like a lock that he'll be there tonight. I'm a fan of TNA as much as the next guy, but it's about time Sting showed up in WWE! Taker vs. Sting has been too long in the making.

The surprise appearances is something that will make Wrestlemania more exciting to watch, but it's not one of the pivotal questions that will be answered. It's not one of the questions that could change the shape of WWE in the near future or, possibly, long-term.


My Wrestlemania vs. The Real Wrestlemania

Two months ago, just after the Royal Rumble, I made a list of some 'should be' Wrestlemania matches.

A lot of wrestling fans have been debating how the current Wrestlemania card stacks up to Wrestlemania events of the past. To be honest, on paper, it looks kind of lame. That being said, it could turn out to be an awesome event. The big matches will likely deliver, if nothing else.

Still, after reviewing some of my 'should be' matches, I think Wrestlemania could be better.

My match: Tag Team Title match between The Usos, Cesaro and Swagger, Luke Harper and Erick Rowan, and The New Age Outlaws


Actual match: The Usos vs. Cesaro and Jack Swagger vs. Los Matadores vs. Ryback and Curtis Axel


Better booking: They're, more or less, the same, but I'm going with mine. I had The New Age Outlaws walking into the match as Tag Team Champions and The Usos winning the match, giving them a nice Wrestlemania moment. WWE has The New Age Outlaws in an entirely different match, making their championship victory at the Rumble seem random and pointless.

WWE is on point in having Cesaro and Swagger involved in the match, but Los Mattadores? I like the workers, but the gimmick is awful. I'd rather see Luke Harper and Erick Rowan involved as a tag team than Los Mattadores.

On a side note, it's ridiculous that the Tag Team Title match is being relegated to the pre-show since Wrestlemania is 4 HOURS LONG!


My match: Divas Championship Match between AJ Lee and Lita (or Trish or Tamina or Mickie or Emma or Natalya)


Actual match: Vickie Guerrero Divas Championship Invitational featuring: AJ Lee, Nikki Bella, Brie Bella, Natalya, Emma, Summer Rae, Tamina, Layla, Rosa Mendes, Alicia Fox, Naomi, Aksana, Eva Marie and Cameron


Better booking: While this Vickie Guerrero invitational does get every Diva on the card, it screams of poor booking. Remember Trish Stratus vs. Mickie James? That was a great match with a proper build. WWE had the time to build up a strong contender for A.J. Lee out of any of the Divas I suggested. Ideally it would have been A.J. Lee vs. her former idol, Lita. Tamina, Emma, Mickie, Nattie or Trish would have worked just fine as well though.

It's nice that all the girls get a pay day at Wrestlemania thanks to this match, but do all of them deserve it? Layla has been absent for the past 6 months, apparently dealing with personal issues. Rosa Mendes getting another match at Wrestlemania? She doesn't even deserve a job as a WWE wrestler, much less a match at 'Mania. I don't know who is more impressive for being employed so long: Rosa Mendes or JTG.

If WWE handles this match the way they did the 25 Diva Clusterf...err..Battle Royal at Wrestlemania 25, then this is going to be a giant catfight that results in a short match. Instead of elevating their division at Wrestlemania 25, WWE decided to have "Santina" win the match. The result of this match could be just as dreadful: Vickie Guerrero could win the Diva's Title.

No, she's not advertised as being part of the match, but it wouldn't surprise me one bit if she entered and somehow won the belt.



My Matches: RVD vs. Ryback, Big E Langston vs. Fandango, Damien Sandow vs. Sheamus, and Cody Rhodes vs. Goldust.




WWE's Match: The Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal


Better booking: Mine. Yes, it's Wrestlemania 30. Yes, there's a certain bit of poetry involved if The Big Show wins the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal. Yes, WWE's match gets 30 guys on the card. My booking would have left several wrestlers off the pay-per-view.

The positives of my booking? The Intercontinental Title would have been defended (last year it was defended in a pre-show match between The Miz and Wade Barrett). RVD vs. Ryback has already been done, but I'm sure those two would have worked in some very cool spots for a Wrestlemania match. Goldust and Cody Rhodes could have had the brother-versus-brother match that fans had supportive of seeing for the past two years. Mostly, Damien Sandow could have had a singles match at 'Mania. There are three distinct matches rather than what's likely to be a forgettable battle royal.

Just like cage matches, you can't lose with a battle royal. It's an easy match to book, it provides some fun, and the match usually leads to exciting moments near the end of the match. How many battle royals do you distinctly remember, though? They all run together.

Battling for an Andre The Giant trophy? Eh. It pays some homage, so that's nice, but does it really mean anything? Is it going to elevate the winner in any way? No...and no to those two questions.

I would've preferred a few individual feuds that had a good story rather than a large, thrown-together match. WWE could've still done a pre-show battle royal. Heck, maybe even a battle royal on the main show. As it stands right now, however, WWE only has 7 matches booked for the pay-per-view itself! I know they'll have the Hall of Fame gig, a Hulk Hogan introduction, a National Anthem performance and cameos in some backstage segments, but only 7 matches?

Got off on a tangent there. My matches or WWE's? I'm going with mine because there's a little more creative effort involved in the matches I booked.


My match: John Cena vs. The Shield


WWE's match: The Shield vs. Kane and The New Age Outlaws


Better booking: Maybe I'm being too much of a critic here, but The Outlaws and Kane? All three of these guys were wrestling at Wrestlemania 14 -- the first Wrestlemania I ever watched. Why do they have a match at Wrestlemania over 15 years later? The answer is because WWE hasn't taken the time to create new stars.

WWE needs to elevate The Shield with this match. While a victory over Kane and The New Age Outlaws is impressive (there are about two dozen different title reigns between those three guys), The Shield going into Wrestlemania with a strong angle involving John Cena probably would have resulted in a higher profile match for them.

Better booking? John Cena vs. The Shield would have been more fun, but The Shield defeating The Outlaws and Kane works (not as well), too.



My Match: Bray Wyatt vs. Dolph Ziggler


WWE's match: Bray Wyatt vs. John Cena


Better booking: We'll call this one a tie. Bray and Dolph would probably have produced a better quality match, but if Bray can defeat John Cena, it will certainly help in taking him to that next level.

The only bad thing is that Dolph is left out of the spotlight. The dude seems to be in the doghouse and who knows when he'll be let out. It's too bad because Dolph seems to be going the way of RVD, Booker T, Chris Jericho and so many others who were stuck at midcard -- never to rise above it, despite fans being eager to see them do so.



My Match: The Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar


WWE's Match: The Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar


Better booking: I guess this one is void since we both booked the same thing.

Why we had to put up with Lesnar/HHH last year is beyond me. This is the first match Lesnar should have had after returning to WWE. The Undertaker and Brock Lesnar's UFC confrontation didn't seem so distant last year.

However, if we had gotten Lesnar vs. Taker last year, we would have lost out on CM Punk vs. The Undertaker, which was a very good match. You can't have your cake and eat it too.

This booking makes sense (though I'm not sure the build up does ... Lesnar has been looking pretty weak going into the match). "The Streak" continues and hopefully Sting shows up at 'Mania, laying ground work for next year's match. That's what I'm hoping happens in this match.



My Match: Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H vs. Randy Orton vs. Batista with the WWE World Heavyweight Title on the line


WWE's Match(es): Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H, Randy Orton vs. Batista vs. TBD



Better booking: I hate to give WWE credit for the booking here because they clearly didn't have this planned out when they had Batista win the Royal Rumble.

CM Punk walking out did result in an interesting match though. It's been a while since WWE did something as different as having the winner of one match compete in a second match later for WWE World Title match. It's not 'dream booking' but it does make this Wrestlemania stand out a little more. When it comes to the WWE World Title, for the past several Wrestlemania's, WWE's gone the very traditional, boring route of triple threats and singles matches (often with wrestlers who have faced each other numerous times over).

I still like my idea of having Daniel Bryan face all three former members of Evolution (and defeating them all), but, you never know -- that could still happen. Triple H and Daniel Bryan could both end up in the main event, depending on how their match goes down.

Kudos to WWE for (inadvertently) booking this main event match.

Looking at the card, from top to bottom, it's not that bad. Mostly it just reeks of 'let's get everyone on the card that we can!' booking. When fans talk about classic Wrestlemania matches, very rarely do they mention the 25 Diva Battle Royal from Wrestlemania 25 or the Gimmick Battle Royal from Wrestlemania 17 or the two 4-way Tag Team Title matches from Wrestlemania 20.

Then again, they don't mention the Kane/Great Khali match from Wrestlemania 23 or the Steve Austin/Savio Vega match from Wrestlemania 12.

Singles matches, multi-man matches -- it really doesn't matter, so long as WWE creates some quality, memorable moments that fans can talk about for years to come. Hopefully WWE has some of those planned this year. Being the 30th anniversary of Wrestlemania, it'd be a shame if the event left fans with a feeling that's anything less than amazement.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The top 10 free agents Jeff Jarrett should sign if he starts a new promotion

It's been widely speculated for months now that Jeff Jarrett's big announcement (coming in about 48 hours according to his Twitter account) is that he is partnering with Toby Keith to start a new wrestling promotion.

Anytime there's the mention of the slightest bit of competition for WWE I immediately get visions of a new era of the Monday Night Wars. I became a wrestling fan in the middle of that era -- in 1997, when Monday Night Raw was losing the ratings war to Monday Night Nitro.

To Dixie Carter's credit, she hasn't killed off TNA. It's a company that's over 10 years old now. It's not a threat to WWE's global empire though. IF Jeff Jarrett is starting a new promotion and IF that's his big announcement, I'll have to remind myself that it's going to take a while before (or, more appropriately "if") it's going to be competition to WWE. Success won't come overnight.

I'm optimistic, however, because Jeff Jarrett already started one company. He's got experience as a businessman now. He's had meetings with TV executives, negotiated merchandising and television deals, headed up talent relations and worked on the creative side of things. At this point, he's probably much better suited to run a wrestling company than almost anyone else there is. This time around I don't expect Hulk Hogan or Eric Bischoff to be invited anywhere near Jarrett's company.

Timing may be in his favor, too. WWE is negotiating with a variety of networks to find a home for their programming. If they find a new network, that could leave an open slot on the USA Network. Jeff Jarrett's show could fill that void. If WWE ends up staying with the USA Network, then Jarrett could swoop in and offer his product to AMC or the other networks WWE is currently negotiating with.

I think the majority of the wrestlers involved should be independent talent -- up-and-coming stars who just need a platform to showcase their talents. If Jarrett wants to be successful, however, he will need some established talent. IF his company is successful, he'd likely be able to eventually lure away talents like Alicia Fox, Curt Hawkins, Zack Ryder and other disgruntled talents from WWE or TNA. Right now, he doesn't have that luxury, so he'll have to pick from the pool of free agents who are available. Luckily for Jarrett, there's a large pool to choose from right now.

The following talents could be enough to give Jarrett's company a strong standing as the number 2 wrestling promotion...possibly (again, with time) making their way to number one:



10. Joey Ryan - the man who trained Candice Michelle

Joey Ryan helped train Candice Michelle back in 2007. She was trying to improve her skills before returning to WWE after being put out of action for several months with a broken nose. Candice Michelle actually got better. Candice Michelle! The woman who certainly seemed like a hopeless case actually ended up producing some quality matches with the help of newcomer Beth Phoenix.

Joey Ryan deserves a job for that accomplishment alone. Beyond that, he's a decent wrestler and he's full of personality. For whatever reason, after giving him a job for a few months, TNA let him go. It puzzled me because he seemed to be getting over. Hopefully he is TNA's loss and Jeff Jarrett's gain.




9. Chris Masters - he's got something to prove

At one point, during his last run with WWE, it seemed Triple H had taken Chris Masters under his wing. Masters was working quality matches on WWE shows like Superstars and Masters' mic work had vastly improved from his early days as "The Masterpiece" in WWE. There were rumors that Masters was in line for a big push.

Then he was released. CM Punk praised Masters' improvement.

I don't know how active Masters is these days, but I hope he'd jump at the chance to work for a televised wrestling company again. He could finally reap some rewards for his hard work and improvement from a few years back.

The Masters name belongs to WWE, I'm sure, but whether he's 'Chris Masters' or he goes by his real name, Chris Mordetzky, it doesn't really matter. He's a recognizable face. Fans will know who he is. He's only 31-years-old, so he could have a good run at the top of a promotion if given the chance.


Friday, February 28, 2014

National Pancake Day....coming soon

The day that you can do a good deed by ordering pancakes is right around the corner or, in this case, on the other side of the weekend.

National Pancake Day is this Tuesday -- March 4. From 7 am until 10 pm you can stop in at any IHOP location and get a free stack of buttermilk pancakes. Of course anyone who does this is encouraged to make a donation to the Children's Miracle Network Hospital.

Outside of Miracle Treat Day, this is my favorite fundraising day of the year.

Maple syrup and a stack of pancakes for a good cause. What's better than that?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Celebs That Could Play Cartoon Characters -- Part 2


Seth Rogen as Cookie Monster

It's been about a year since I posted part one. I figured it was about time for a follow up.

Okay, so technically Cookie Monster isn’t a cartoon character. He’s a puppet – or is it mupppet?

Either way, if Sesame Street was to be brought to life on a Broadway stage with the assitance of blue makeup and fake blue fur, Seth Rogen would get the part. I don’t even know if Seth Rogen can sing, but he’d still get the part.

Rogen is Cookie Monster’s human look-a-like.

There really should be some kind of commercial that pairs the two of them together.



Amy Adams as Teela

If there’s ever a He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (I swear I will write a screenplay if somebody doesn’t finish it soon) Amy Adams would be the perfect candidate to play Teela. Take a look at the cartoon version of Teela and the real life photo of Amy Adams.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with He-Man (and why not?), Teela is a red-haired, strong-willed, combat-trained young woman. She doesn’t have any special powers or super strength, but she can hold her own against most men in a sword fight.

Amy has already been in a super hero movie as Lois Lane in Man of Steel. This time around she’d likely have a more physical role, but I think she could handle it.



Isla Fisher as Ariel

Amy Adams was in Disney’s Enchanted a few years back, but her celebrity doppelganger – Isla Fisher – could star as another Disney character: Ariel from The Little Mermaid.

Disney is going the live action route with Maleficent, which comes out in May. If they wanted to do a live action movie of The Little Mermaid, then they have their lead actress with Fisher.

She has brown eyes instead of blue eyes and somewhat of a chipmunk smile, but give her a dark red dye job and she’d get the job done. She could easily pull off the wide-eyed look of wonderment that Ariel had in the original movie.



Isla Fisher as April O'Neil

Speaking of Fisher, there’s another role I think she could pull off. I know Megan Fox is going to be April O'Neil in the new Michael Bay-directed TMNT movie, but, for some reason, I think Isla Fisher would make a great April Neil.

She seems like she could pull off the nosey, curious and gutsy TV reporter. Fisher has a certain innocence about her -- the same kind that the cartoon character had and the same kind that Megan Fox doesn't have.

It's too bad the role has already been cast. Fisher could've done well with that character.



Joey Lawrence as Raphael

I’m not surprised Joey Lawrence wasn’t cast in the new TMNT movie, but when I was watching some old Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle cartoons and movies, I realized that Joey Lawrence wouldn’t make a bad turtle.

He could pull off a Michelangelo or a Raphael with his natural ‘What’s up dude?’ attitude.

I don't know that he'd be a good fit for a more serious, action-packed TMNT movie, but if you're looking for comedic (more along the lines of the original Turtles movies and TV series), then Joey Lawrence wouldn't be a bad choice at all.



Eric Dane as Dr. Strange

One character I hope isn't overlooked with the new Marvel movies is Dr. Strange. He's always been a fun character, but is often overlooked. Get the right leading man and I think Marvel could have another successful movie on their hands.

Eric Dane -- perhaps better known as "McSteamy" on Grey's Anatomy -- would be a good choice. He's old enough to have a distinguished look, but not too old to not be a threat. He's a big guy (gotta' be over 6 feet), so he comes off as though he could be an imposing force while fighting villains and saving the galaxy from doom.

Dane is a decent enough actor, from what I've seen, so that always helps too.



Nicki Minaj as Marge Simpson

Last time I said that Nicki Minaj could play Prince Adam from He-Man. This time, it’s Marge Simpson. Given Nicki Minaj’s ever-changing hair and clothing styles, she could likely play a variety of cartoon characters.

She’s had this poofed up hair style before in pink and in blonde/black, but she’s never worn it in blue. That’s probably because Marge Simpson memes would be all over the Internet.

I don't know about Minaj's acting ability, but she sure does have the look down.



Jane Seymour as Queen Marlena

As if there weren’t enough He-Man references in this blog, let’s have one more. Though really can there ever be enough He-Man references in life?

There are probably a few middle-aged actresses who could play the Queen of Eternia and He-Man’s mother, but Jane Seymour would be a great choice in my opinion. She’s got a certain aura of sophistication about her -- kind of a maternal thing.

Yep -- she could definitely play a regal, level-headed queen.



Emma Stone as Daphne

This last one is my favorite. Emma Stone is always fun. If she went back to her red locks, she could easily get the role of "Daphne" in a Scooby Doo remake.

Speaking of the live action Scooby Doo movies, there's a double feature pack on sale for $3.99 at Best Buy right now. I've never seen the live action movies because they looked too ridiculous to be good. I figured I wouldn't enjoy them. Plus I'm not the biggest fan of Sarah Michelle Gellar.

I, truthfully, haven't watched enough material of hers to form an opinion on her acting ability, but I always got a bad vibe from her -- grouchy or snobby or something.

Back to Emma Stone though. She has the perfect attitude to make a Scooby Doo movie work.


Related Content:
The Top 40 Singles of 2013
That Girl: Jennifer Nettles - reviewed.
Celebrity (look-a-like) sightings - part 4


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

That Girl: Jennifer Nettles - reviewed.

It's almost impossible to find Jennifer Nettles without a smile on her face, but on her new album, That Girl, she turns the happiness down a notch.

When I first heard that Nettles was coming out with a solo album, I fully expected to hear a bunch of pop-infused country jams. Well that theory was totally off base.

There aren’t very many pop songs on this album – not in the way “Like Sugar” was.

What That Girl does have is emotion. It’s dripping with emotion. It’s reflective and covers a range of topics, but most songs have roots in love. Songs that may be generic for other singers end up being impressive pieces of work when Nettles gets involved.

The writing on That Girl probably isn’t as amazing as some of Sugarland’s best work, but they’re still better than your typical pop song.


Falling

Jennifer Nettles starts off this album with a light, nice, country sound that features the impressive range of her powerful vocals. Just like some of the greats in the music industry, there’s no doubt when Jennifer Nettles is singing on a track.

While the music may be light, the topic isn't.

The song is about a young girl who, well, loses her virginity to a young man who was her summer love. He’s about to leave town though:

"That summer came and went.
You were working for my family,
one more job and then your classes would begin.
And you promised we'd be quiet,
and we hid behind the garden.
I walked out more than a woman than I walked in."

She has a night with him and, even though they parted ways, she still remembers him.

A song about losing your virginity – beat that Rihanna. In all seriousness, the song has a bit of romanticism to it. It's almost like a Romeo and Juliet song -- young romance that isn't deemed 'wrong,' but 'beautiful' instead.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Celebrity (look-a-like) sightings - part 4

Another exciting edition of celebrity look-a-likes -- part 4 to be exact.




On the left: Wes Scantlin
On the right: Edge

Edge was in the first two blogs about celebrity look-a-likes, so why not another time? Evidently I think this guy looks like just about everyone on Earth.

I previously compared him to Jamie Campbell Bower and Wilson Bethel, but this time I think I got it right: he's the spitting image of Puddle of Mudd member Wes Scantlin!

These days Edge doesn't have the shaggy hair, but when he was in his "Rated R Superstar" run in the WWE in 2006, he definitely could've passed for Scantlin. The big, square jaw and toothy grin? Yep -- they must be some kind of family.




On the left: Kelly Kelly
On the right: Amber Heard

From a former WWE superstar to a former WWE Diva. When I heard that Johnny Depp got engaged to Amber Heard, I typed my way over to Google and found a photo. I was looking at Amber Heard, but could've sworn it was Kelly Kelly.

After examining a few more photos, I can see that they don't look entirely like twins. However, in these photos, the hairstyles, the squinty eyes and the super-white smile sure make them look like the same person.

To think: had Kelly Kelly been quicker, she could've pulled a Stacy Keibler and landed herself a leading man. Those wrestler/Hollywood A-lister relationships rarely work out though, right?




On the left: Kurt Angle
On the right: Matt Damon

The wrestler/celebrity comparisons don't end with Kelly Kelly. Take a look at that side-by-side comparison of TNA wrestler (and one-time Olympic Gold Medalist) Kurt Angle and Matt Damon. Now just try to convince me they don't look exactly alike.

Granted, Kurt does have more weight on his frame (and therefore in his neck and face), but the eyes, facial expression and big, bald heads certainly match up.

If there were ever a biopic on Kurt Angle, it'd be a shame if Damon didn't get the role.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Matches that should happen at Wrestlemania 30

The Royal Rumble, disappointing as it may have been (none of my 'should be' surprise entrants made an appearance), is in the books.

That means Wrestlemania is right around the corner. Batista seems set to be in the main event at 'Mania. WWE has traditionally put that number one contendership on the line at some point in February, however, so things could still change.

C.M. Punk changed the Wrestlemania card the day after the Royal Rumble by essentially handing in his resignation (that's another blog for another day...I don't think it's a work though).

WWE has several weeks worth of buildup ahead of them. I'm hoping they end up with an awesome card, but there's been more than one Wrestlemania lineup in recent years that have been lackluster. That's why I'm offering my help. These are the matches I'd like to see at Wrestlemania.

Actually, I should amend that statement. These are the matches I'd like to see that have a realistic chance of happening.

A.J. Styles, C.M. Punk and Daniel Bryan in a triple threat at Wrestlemania 30 would be amazing, but there's zero chance of that going down.

So, realistic matches that should happen at Wrestlemania 30:


Ryback vs. RVD

Goldberg wants millions of dollars for one Wrestlemania match? Meh. Who needs Goldberg? RVD vs. Ryback would definitely provide more athleticism anyway. RVD isn't about to walk into Wrestlemania and main event it.

He didn't come close to main eventing 'Mania when he was a regular member of the roster.

He's still got legions of fans and WWE knows that, so RVD could easily deliver a hot opening match or pick up the pace in the mid-card. RVD and Ryback squared off on the September 9 edition of Raw last year. There's still a lot that could be done between those two though.

A full-on feud would definitely help Ryback get back on track and would give us a fresh RVD feud. As much as I like RVD, I don't want to see him do battle against Batista, Chris Jericho or John Cena. Been there, done that.

Give Ryback the victory and then have both superstars move on from there -- or follow it up with a rematch at Extreme Rules in May.



Big E. Langston vs. Fandango (with Summer Rae)

I can't stand Fandango. I thought Johnny Curtis was one of the underrated talents on NXT, but the Fandango gimmick is horrible. It's such a blatant rip-off of Dancing with the Stars and serves no real purpose.

His dance? Alex Wright, Disco Inferno and Emma all have better trademark dances than Fandango.

That being said, I hope this match happens. The Intercontinental Title should be defended at Wrestlemania. Let Big E. plow through Fandango in a quick, 3 or 4-minute match.

WWE will probably want to feature Summer Rae on their biggest pay-per-view since she's going to be on the next season of that God-awful Total Divas, so give her a comedy spot or two.

Boom. There's your match.

Friday, January 24, 2014

10 'Should Be' Royal Rumble Entrants

One of the best pay-per-views WWE still produces is the Royal Rumble, largely due to the Royal Rumble match. Pat Patterson did well when he came up with that idea.

One of the great things about the Royal Rumble match has always been the surprise entrants.

As the Royal Rumble approaches, there are still a few slots left that haven't been announced. Who's going to walk through the curtain in Pittsburgh? Will Christian or Evan Bourne finally make their returns? Your guess is as good as mine.

Here are some people I'd like to see show up on Sunday though. DDP and Rikishi were originally on the list, but they just showed up at Old School Raw a couple of weeks ago. I'd rather be surprised by the inclusion of some other superstars.



10. RVD

It's been a while since Rob Van Dam has appeared in a WWE ring. The Rumble would be a great chance to bring him back for a nice run through Wrestlemania season.

Personally I'd like to see RVD and Antonio Cesaro have a few matches. Maybe RVD and Dolph Ziggler could team up to take on Swagger and Cesaro going into 'Mania? Or RVD and Kofi? The seeds for that could be planet in the Royal Rumble match.

To be honest, I don't really care who RVD feuds with. It's just nice to see him show up since he never overstays his welcome.




9. John Morrison

It's been a while since Rob Van Dam has appeared in a WWE ring, but it's been a really long time since John Morrison appeared. His last appearance was on November 28, 2011. An appearance in the Rumble after a two-year absence would be a nice surprise return. He's been gone long enough for people to miss him, but not gone long enough to lose touch with the WWE fan base.

I don't think there's any question that Morrison is still in his prime too.

He's been wrestling for a few independent organizations, so it's unlikely he's missed a beat during his time away from WWE. No ring rust and a guaranteed good pop?

Sounds like a good Royal Rumble entrant to me.




8. Chyna

There was a rumor last summer that Chyna may be inducted into the Hall of Fame alongside the rest of DeGeneration X at Wrestlemania XXX. That would be fitting, wouldn't it? Chyna being involved in Wrestlemania XXX? Adult entertainment jokes aside, Chyna broke a lot of ground in 1999.

She competed in a number one contender's match for the WWE Title, she won the Intercontinental Title and she competed in the King of the Ring tournament. She's certainly worthy of being inducted into the Hall of Fame.

It was also in 1999 that she competed in the Royal Rumble. That was arguably the start of her two-and-a-half-year run as one of WWE's most recognizable superstars. How fitting would it be to have Chyna show up 15 years later. She doesn't need to last long. Eliminating someone and then being quickly eliminated herself would be just fine. It would be a fun, nostalgic moment to see though.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Charlotte Cupcakes -- And the winner is...


A large part of my 2013 was going to 42 different cupcake shops in the greater Charlotte area, sampling over 60 different cupcakes and somehow preventing a sugar overload.

The result of all of that (besides a lot of exercise ahead for 2014) is an end to my search for Charlotte's best cupcake.

Actually, I got more than I bargained for.

9 different cupcake shops had cupcakes that I gave over 4-and-a-half cupcake star ratings to.

Cupcake Delerium’s Aunt Jemima cupcake (complete with bacon on top) was incredible! Big View Diner’s amazingly delicious chocolate cupcake is any chocolate lover’s dream come true. Cupcrazed has a lot of amazing cupcakes, but I enjoyed the maple bacon quite a bit.

Maddy’s Fatty’s cannoli cupcake brings a bit of New York City into the Queen City.

And then there’s The Polka Dot Bake Shop’s red velvet cupcake (pictured on the right), the cupcake that got my 2013 cupcake obsession going.

Of all the cupcakes I sampled, I think Granny Mac's cupcakes were probably the biggest. For that matter, they may give you the best deal for your buck.

As much as I wasn't a fan of the Kimberley's Bakeshoppe red velvet cupcakes that you can find in four-packs at various grocery stores, their cupcake was not the worst one I tried.

Unfortunately the bubblegum cupcake from Splat! Cakes n' Such, located in Gastonia, got the worst ranking with just one-and-a-half cupcake stars. They had a lot of very delicious cupcakes too though. Their strawberry cupcake got 4-and-a-half cupcake stars.

Strawberry was the flavor I tried more than any other. The strawberry cupcakes from Splat's and Decadent Design's Bakery were the two best.

Other cupcakes I didn't like too well included Earth Fare's vanilla cupcake (two cupcake stars) and Earth Fare's red velvet cupcake (two-and-a-half cupcake stars).

Also getting two-and-a-half cupcake stars were Cloud 9 Confections' vanilla/chocolate cupcake and Granny Mac's Peanut Butter cupcake. I appreciated the effort from Granny Mac's, but it didn't work.

Just like Splat!, Cloud 9 and Granny Mac's weren't all bad. Cloud 9 makes an incredible raspberry cupcake (four cupcake stars) and Granny Mac's had a really good (and enormous!) pumpkin cupcake.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

10 more TV shows and movies that aren't on DVD, but should be

Last year I made a list of 10 TV shows and movies that aren't on DVD -- even though they should be. The Nanny (seasons 4-7), Batman, Spellbinder, Ready or Not, Maid To Order, Susie Q, The Elf Who Saved Christmas, Ocean Girl, The Secret World of Alex Mac, The Wonder Years and The Torkelsons/Almost Home were on that list.

One year later and none of them are available on DVD yet. What's wrong with the higher ups? Whoever has the rights to those shows should be working their connections, making phone calls and signing deals to get those awesome movies and shows out there, available for purchase at Wal-Mart, Target and other major retailers. If not Wal-Mart and Target, at least on Amazon -- please!

Here's a list of 10 more gems that really ought to be released as well:

10. The Parent Trap III and IV

The original Parent Trap is still one of my favorite movies of all time. It's amazing -- from the writing to the acting to the camera shots. It's definitely a four-star flick 50-some years later.

The Parent Trap 2, made in 1986, wasn't as good, but it was still a fun comedy.

The third and fourth movies? Well, I understand why they were made-for-TV movies that only aired on The Disney Channel. The writers tried their best to keep up with the continuity, making mention of the fact that Susan divorced Brian Carey, who she was married to in The Parent Trap 2. It's hard to keep the momentum of a franchise going when casts and plots change though.

What is fun about these movies is the fact that there are recognizable names involved. Barry Bostwick is the lead male actor. Patricia Richardson (the mom from "Home Improvement") is in The Parent Trap 3. Also, Leanna Creel (more famous for her role as Tori Scott on Saved By The Bell), plays one of the real-life triplets in the movie.

Even if they aren't the best movies in the world, these are two I'd pick out of the $5 bin at Wal-Mart.


9. The Golden Palace

When Bea Arthur left The Golden Girls, which aired on NBC, CBS network executives wanted to hang onto the show's success, so they signed on for 24 episodes of The Golden Palace. Apparently the show sucked. That's why it was cancelled.

When Lifetime aired the complete series of The Golden Palace several years ago, I watched a few episodes. It did kind of suck. It was nothing compared to The Golden Girls.

Don Cheadle and Cheech Marin weren't bad choices as new cast members, but the characters just didn't fit the mold. Thank God they got rid of the foster child (played by Billy Sullivan) early on. That character had no place in the show.

The writing wasn't as good, the new characters weren't as entertaining, and Sophia, Rose and Blanche weren't the same without the fourth member of their team.

Dorothy did make a few special appearances, but that didn't save the show.

With all of that being said, I'd still like to see it on DVD. It's like this final chapter to The Golden Girls that's out there, but not accessible.


8. Flash Forward

Just like Almost Home/The Torkelsons, this is another great sitcom that Disney never released. I don't know if today's group of teens would watch it, but Disney could probably make a decent profit off of the nostalgia of '90s kids like myself.

I know it wasn't a stellar show, but it did keep me watching. Maybe that's because some of my weekends consisted of trying to find as many television shows to watch as possible -- that way I could avoid doing chores. 'I have to watch this show, Mom! Then I'll go cut the grass.'

It's been such a long time since I've seen the show that I don't remember much about it.

The fact that I don't remember it kind of builds the desire to watch it again. I'd buy a season of Flash Forward if it was available for $8 at a store.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The movies of 2013

The other day I ranked the albums I listened to in 2013. I'm not done with 2013 yet. Today it's time to rank the movies of 2013. From the good to the bad to the horribly, horribly boring -- they're all here:

25. Mud

I kind of feel like I should give this one another shot. After all, I was playing Candy Crush when I was watching it. Then I fell asleep. That's how boring it was though. It failed to keep my interest from the start.

Mud is a drama about two young boys who find a man named Mud hiding out on a secluded Mississippi island. The two boys -- Ellis and Neckbone -- help Mud in what he says his goal is: trying to win back the woman he loves. In return, Mud will give the boys his boat.

Mud ends up tricking the boys into stealing. All the while there's other drama unfolding with Ellis' parents, who are separating. The entire movie seemed pretty disjointed, but maybe Candy Crush is to blame for that (love that app!).

Joining McConaughey are Tye Sheridan, Sam Shepard, and Reese Witherspoon. Usually Matthew McConaughey movies are watchable, but this one was a struggle.

I'll probably end up watching it again one day -- just so I'm sure that I gave it a fair shake.


24. Broken City

Catherine Zeta-Jones, Mark Wahlberg and Russell Crowe star in this snoozer about an ex-cop (Wahlberg) who is blackmailed by the mayor (Crowe) into doing dirty work when the mayor's wife (Jones) is suspected of having an affair. There is a twist or two, but who cares about a twist when you don't care about the story in the first place?

Despite the (somewhat) surprising twist, the movie is fairly typical. What ends of happening is exactly what you'd expect to happen after reading the description of the movie at the Redbox.

It's a political blackmail movie that doesn't come close to being as good as a lot of other political thrillers. You don't end up suffering through this movie, but when it's over it leaves you questioning why you wasted your time.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Christmas lights and New Year's fireworks

I was going through some of my holiday photos and videos and finally got around to uploading some of them.

First up: Christmas at the Western Mall.

This light show is a yearly tradition in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

It originally became a local attraction in Crooks, South Dakota -- a small town outside of Sioux Falls.When the show became too big for the residential neighborhood it started in, the show was moved to a mall in Sioux Falls.

I did a story on the move when I was still a reporter in South Dakota.

It doesn't cost anything to watch the show, but organizers and sponsors ask that people donate to Make-A-Wish.

With over 55,000 lights, the show is incredible. I went to watch it twice this year.

Friday, January 3, 2014

The albums of 2013

2013 ended too quick! I didn't get the chance to finish up my 'best of 2013' lists. Today I'll tackle the best albums of 2013 and tomorrow it'll be the top movies of 2013.

I didn't get the chance to listen to every album that was released in their entirety, but I did get the chance to check out the 13 of them that were listed below.

13. BEYONCÉ by Beyonce

Sorry Beyonce fans, but BEYONCÉ didn't do it for me. While many praised the album for being groundbreaking, I struggled to maintain any interest in it.

Overall it was boring. The theme of almost every song was about sex. There wasn't much variety when it came to the music either.

Beyonce has a nice voice, which was showcased on a handful of songs on BEYONCÉ, but most of the songs consisted of her trying (and failing) her hand at rapping, singing breathily the way Britney Spears would or simply speaking. Maybe that's new ground for Beyonce, but it's hardly groundbreaking.

12. Spitfire by LeAnn Rimes

Where, oh where, did LeAnn Rimes go wrong? She's a very talented singer, but most of her songs are too generic to care about. This was supposed to be her deeply personal album, covering her affair, divorce and second marriage, yet there wasn't a lot of emotion on any of the songs.

"You've Ruined Me" is the one song that I gave four stars to in my iTunes account. It has a nice, country crooning sound to it, but has some energy at the same time. Most of the rest of the songs are ballad-types, but without a big chorus, large vocal range or interesting beats.

I'm not asking for Pitbull-esque club beats, but a little something to liven up these songs would've done wonders for Spitfire.