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

Some of the best and worst 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.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Things We Learned in 2013

There were a few things that were learned over the course of the last 12 months. Here are the most important things:

If you want a successful movie at the box office, put The Rock in it. The man was the highest grossing actor of the year (even beating out Robert Downey Jr.).

Batman is the best super hero of all time. They wouldn’t even let him rest in peace. The Dark Knight trilogy just ended and they're already planning more movies with a new Batman. Even Spider-Man got three years before they rebooted his franchise.

Billy Ray Cyrus is not the father of the year. Watch the Mtv Video Music Awards to see proof of that.

The Carolina Panthers can be a legitimate team. They've had the best season in over a decade. Super Bowl chances?? We'll see. One thing is for sure: it's Cam Newton's best season yet.

The Top 40 Singles of 2013

It's 2014, but I'm not done looking back on 2013 yet, so let's take a look at the top 40 songs that were played on the radio this year.

I was tempted to put songs like “Blurred Lines” or “Royals” on this list because of the fact that they were so successful, but this list isn’t about commercial success or radio play. It's simply my favorite 40 singles of 2013.

40. Come and Get It
Artist: Selena Gomez
Release date: April 7, 2013
Album: Stars Dance
Peak position on Billboard's Hot 100: 6

Selena Gomez proved that she's nowhere near as annoying as her ex-boyfriend, Justin Bieber. While her songs aren't as good as someone like Pink or Kelly Clarkson, Gomez may just end up being a decent pop singer yet.

39. Feel This Moment
Artist: Pitbull (featuring Christina Aguilera)
Release date: March 15, 2013
Album: Global Warming
Peak position on Billboard’s Hot 100: 8

This song, while not Pitbull's best, was a nice collaboration between the two pop standouts. The song uses the recognizable synth riff from A-ha's "Take On Me," which was one of the best aspects of the song.

38. Carolina
Artist: Parmalee
Release date: February 4, 2013
Album: Feels Like Carolina
Peak position on Billboard’s Hot 100:

I used to hate country music, but these days it's a different story because contemporary country music has some variety to it. Parmalee's "Carolina" is a great example of that.

It's got somewhat goofy lyrics, but the interesting singing voice and the musical elements of the song add up to make a very easy-listening track for a car ride.

37. Don’t Let Me Be Lonely
Artist: The Band Perry
Release date: August 26, 2013
Album: Pioneer
Peak position on Billboard’s Hot 100: 59

"Don't Let Me Be Lonely" is a catchy, ear-pleasing song, but the lyrics are deeper than most songs you'd hear on the radio. Essentially a plea to God for courage to find love, the song tackles a topic almost everyone has gone through, is going through or will go through.