Tag Archives: Wrestlemania

SSEP – Episode 34: WWE Post-Chamber, MLB, and NFL Talk

Jon and the Jewaharaja discuss the current state of WWE post-Elimination Chamber and pre-‘Mania, and finally get back to current sports talk with MLB and NFL updates.

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Manopera! Episode 39: WrestleMania 33 Part 2 – DayShiftAMania Runs Wild

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Chris and Spaceman Frank are joined by www.ProWrestlingOpinion.com‘s Nicholas Jason Lopez to review WrestleMania 33, it’s aftermath, and speculate on the “Superstar Shakeup” angle. Spaceman Frank cuts a promo on the JBL/Mauro Ranallo situation.

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Manopera! Episode 38: WrestleMania 33 Part 1 – NXT TakeOver Orlando

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For the first half of our WrestleMania 33 coverage, we begin with NXT TakeOver: Orlando. Spaceman Frank cuts a promo on Amy Schumer and her recent swimsuit cover controversy.

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DNC Unable to Watch ‘Mania, Blames Russia

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The DNC was rather upset Sunday evening, but not for the reasons you may think.

The entire committee gathered at the Clinton estate to watch WrestleMania 33, but things went awry after the one hour WWE Kickoff special on the USA Network aired.

“Due to large amounts of delays, we were unable to watch WrestleMania,” said Hillary Clinton, an avid John Cena fan. “We believe the Russians hacked into our Xbox One console, sabotaging The Ultimate Thrill Ride for the Democratic Party.”

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin could not be reached for comment, but sources say he was very upset Rusev was unable to compete due to his shoulder injury and hopes he receives a proper main event push upon return.

“This is preposterous,” said Senator Bernie Sanders, who had no issues watching the event on his 80-inch Smart TV from his Vermont home. “Everyone knows the WWE Network lags on the Xbox One, plus when you account for the amount of new subscribers and people watching this event, it’s very clear that Russia has nothing to do with this.”

Over in the White House, the Trump Administration thoroughly enjoyed The Show of Shows on their Playstation 4. However, Vice-President Mike Pence was reportedly unable to watch any matches involving women as his wife Karen was out running errands all day.

“Mother and I love Bayley,” said the Vice-President.

It was also reported that President Trump and his wife Melania were having marital issues over the main event as Melania is a huge fan of Roman Reigns – a Superstar her husband despises.

“He’s hot and has muscles,” said the First Lady before calming down her son Baron, who was upset his favorite Superstar Baron Corbin did not win the Intercontinental Championship from Dean Ambrose.

President Trump could not be reached for comment, but we were told by Secret Service Agents that he thought “very bigly” of this year’s event and popped huge for the returning Hardy’s.

Then. Now. Hoax.

Spaceman Frank’s WrestleMania 33 Predictions

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by Frank Lucci

WrestleMania 33 is almost upon us, and it has to be better than last year’s WrestleMania…right?

The overall build has been very vanilla for the most part, with a few matches given stellar storylines while others feel like WWE just picked names out of a hat, announced a match, then moved on. Even more curious is that WWE has chosen to fill up much of the Raws and SmackDowns before the Ultimate Thrill Ride with mini rivalries that won’t even factor into the main show such as Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman, Luke Harper vs. Bray Wyatt, and Charlotte vs. Dana Brooke. Sure, there might be something to these throwaway matches on WrestleMania, but why cram all that into the preamble when you could just wait until after the Show of Shows and actually build up the main matches for the biggest show of the year?

However, it is WrestleMania after all, and there is always enough buzz in the air about the event to keep you excited enough to check it out. As I explained it to my manager at work, WrestleMania is like Christmas if it lasted for three days…so I guess that makes it a Mini-Hanukkwanzikkah. I’m Spaceman Frank and here are my WrestleMania 33 predictions!

2017 Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal

I wish this opened the show proper, as battle royals are always fun and wacky affairs and a good way to cart out all the mid and lower card wrestlers to give them some attention before the “real” (AKA part time) wrestlers take over the show. WWE initially seemed to be trying to build up this event by announcing a few guys early, but then did absolutely nothing with this match for weeks. Then they plugged in all the guys from SmackDown’s tag team division (sorry lads, better luck next year!) and here we go.

Really, this is the Braun Strowman show, and it seems stupidly obvious he is going to win here. I think it will come down to him and Sami Zayn, Zayn will struggle a bit, and then he will get tossed into the second row of the arena and crowd surfed away. Or maybe James Ellsworth will be last and sneak out a victory before being thrown into the second bowl of the stadium. Or, Beth Phoenix will enter and recreate her spot from the 2010 Royal Rumble and kiss Strowman so she can eliminate him. Just kidding, Strowman is hoofing people over the rope like it’s his favorite activity (which it is).

Neville (c) vs. Austin Aries (WWE Cruiserweight Championship Match)

Aries, being the pro that he is, sold me on this match when a fan asked him if he was upset that he was on the pre-show. He responded with “The pre-show just became must-watch, so no.” Classic.

I think this has potential to be a top three match of the evening, and both men have elevated the Cruiserweight division. The problem is while they are riding high they forgot to bring the rest of the division with them. I really wish they would have made this a multi man ladder match to get more people involved, but whatever. Neville needs to keep the belt here, but Austin is not a bad choice to prematurely end the reign of the king. Neville wins and this feud lasts for quite a bit as both men step up their game and keep the division hot.

Dean Ambrose (c) vs. Baron Corbin (Intercontinental Championship Match)

With the Smackdown women getting the bump back up to the main card of ‘Mania, I honestly think this will take it’s place on the pre-show. It’s not fair to the men involved because they have made the most of the limited minutes of TV time they have seemed to get over four weeks to build this.

Ambrose has done nothing since getting the belt, which is a shame considering Miz and Dolph Ziggler worked so hard to get people to actually care about the Intercontinental title again. Corbin does really well whenever the WWE give him something to sink into, and this feud has plenty of untapped potential. Also, if it were taking place at any other time it would be a marquee match. Instead, they’ll probably get the shaft and we get a condensed version of what could have been. Corbin wins because he needs the belt while Ambrose can bounce around wherever needed. Plus, Corbin has a better chance of elevating the belt to where it was before.

The Club (c) vs. Enzo and Big Cass vs. Sheamus and Cesaro (WWE Raw Tag Team Championship Ladder Match)

This would have been my choice to get bumped to the preshow if it was not for the ladder stipulation that was tacked on after Sheamus had his head graphically split open. It seems like an odd stipulation given that there are plenty of huge men that I don’t see flying around and falling off ladders. I get the sinking feeling Enzo is going to bounce around like a pinball, and maybe Cesaro will fly around as well doing something inhumanly athletic (seriously, I’m pretty sure the guy is part of the X-Men. Is Cesaro secretly Cyclops? I’ve never seen them in the same room…). Anyway, I’d like The Club to retain now that they actually have the belts, but I think Enzo and Cass will get the win. They will have the feel good moment of the night, and since they are all over the Network’s build to the event it would make sense. They have deserved gold for some time, and it might as well be at WrestleMania.

Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Carmella vs. Becky Lynch vs Natalya vs. Mickie James vs. Naomi (Six Pack Challenge for WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship)

After some confusion with Naomi’s injury status we initially had this match advertised as SmackDown Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss competing against every available women wrestler on the blue brand going for the belt.

However, WWE is now selling this as a Six Pack Challenge, so I’m not sure if any surprise entrants are coming. I’ll just take this match as is, but if any surprise entrants do show up I think it will be Tamina Snuka over somebody like Asuka (especially since she retained her NXT Women’s Championship at NXT TakeOver: Orlando). Despite the multitude of ladies in this match, this might as well be Bliss vs. Naomi since they are the only two with a real chance of winning. Naomi is the popular pick here to win in her hometown, but Bliss is just too good as champ to lose the belt this quick. I think Bliss will retain after we get the customary R1 chain of finishers spot and we can transition into continuing her feud with Naomi.

Shane McMahon vs. AJ Styles

After putting the company on his back for months and delivering stellar matches with everyone under the sun, Styles deserves a better ‘Mania match than Shane O’Mac. The Boy Wonder pretty much has just one move – and while it is a spectacular one, this match is just a standard one, so I doubt we will see him dropping elbows off of something tall.

Instead, Styles will spend the whole match making his onscreen boss look good, despite Shane’s history of rather dubious boxing (drop the punches and focus on either diving off things or learning some real moves). That being said, they did do a fine job of building this contest, and they could not really do anything else differently to make it better. Shane is the weak point in it all, and we don’t need a Shane O’Mania match every year to go with the Undertaker and Triple H matches every year.

AJ wins and moves on to something bigger and better once the part timers are gone.

Seth Rollins vs. Triple H (Non-Sanctioned Match)

I have a big problem with this match from a kayfabe perspective. If Rollins signed the Hold Harmless papers and agreed to an unsanctioned match, what is to stop Triple H from bringing Samoa Joe or even some NXT callups from just dogpiling on Rollins?

Issues with the logic aside, this will be a fun little match depending on how healthy Rollins really is. WWE keeps running video packages telling us how devastatingly hurt he is, yet for a guy coming to the ring in crutches he sure can hit a lot of leg/knee-based moves (RIP kayfabe). Triple H will work said knee and generally be an evil bastard for a while, send Rollins to Dad Bod City before Crossfit Jesus recovers and wins the match via Holy Crossfit Powers (it is a Sunday, after all).

John Cena and Nikki Bella vs. The Miz and Maryse

The build to this has been absolutely golden, and it is easy to get people into this match based on the easily consumable YouTube videos that the skits and promo wars have produced.

Props to WWE for realizing that giving The Miz a chance to jab and poke the bear is the best. He is so good, and while people think this is a step down for Cena I think this is a makeup made in heaven. Plus, getting their respective female life partners involved also helps elevate their own division in the process. Sure, Maryse has not competed since coming back to WWE, but she is a former Divas champ and can go if need be. Having these two alongside a bonafide Superstar like Cena and the veteran Miz shows WWE has faith in their women to compete with the best of the men.

Cena has said that he is going to run through Miz with no problem, which makes me think Mr. and Mrs. Miz are going to get the win. Maryse gets the sneaky heel rollup because The Miz’s are just that good of bad guys. As for the rumored proposal of Cena to Nikki, I honestly don’t care, but if they do get engaged then congrats – but only if it’s for real and not happy ending storyline purposes (which would actually prove Miz right, turning Cena heel in real life).

Bayley (c) vs. Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte vs. Nia Jax (Fatal 4-Way for WWE Raw Women’s Championship)

WWE shot their load early by giving the title to Bayley on Raw, which would have been the WrestleMania worthy moment. Instead, she ended Charlotte’s undefeated Pay-Per-View streak at Fastlane to further kill interest in this match and then said “screw it” and added Sasha Banks and then Nia Jax to this feud.

I think this was WWE’s only choice, and hopefully they mix things up soon because I am rapidly growing sick of seeing the same matches over and over again on Raw. Jax is my dark horse here, and I think she needs to eliminate Charlotte to establish how dominant she really is, then feud with her going forward. Sasha and Bayley should then team up to take Jax down before Sasha does a betrayal five to win the belt.

Chris Jericho (c) vs. Kevin Owens (United States Championship Match)

THE MEGA BEST FRIENDS EXPLODE!

The Festival of Friendship is the new standard of ending friendships in wrestling, and since then these two men have done…not a whole lot. Sure, Owens lost the Universal Championship when Y2J meandered out at Fastlane to distract him, but since then Owens has been regulated to one of Triple H’s lackeys – the other being Samoa Joe (who for reasons unknown is not on the card at all). Jericho will probably be done with his current run by May, and since he has done nothing with the US title, I see Owens grabbing it here.

They then can have an Extreme Rules match to settle things and have Owens destroy him to write Jericho off TV. Then we can pray for an Evolution 2.0 with Owens, Joe, Pete Dunne, and Triple H because that would be excellent.

Bray Wyatt (c) vs. Randy Orton (WWE Championship Match)

One of the best long term stories WWE has put on since Rock vs. Cena sees Bray finally getting his belt and defending it against WWE’s longest tenured crazy person.

Seeing Wyatt get his due was great, but the build to this match since has been hit and miss. Orton commits arson and nobody but AJ Styles seems to bat an eye, while Wyatt spreads ashes all over himself and gets some buddies to beat up Orton with him. This should be a Triple Threat with Luke Harper involved, but maybe next month he can get his chance at the main event. However, I see Harper making his presence felt before the returning Erick Rowan takes him out and helps Wyatt retain.

Side note: I really don’t want to see babyface Orton on top of SmackDown. He is a boring good guy and I just cannot handle it. Please don’t do this WWE.

Goldberg (c) vs. Brock Lesnar (WWE Universal Title Match)

You know you’ve got a barnburner of a match on your hands when the champ has wrestled five minutes in the past three months, has two moves in his arsenal, and has not defended the belt since winning it.

When your champion of a brand featuring some truly talented individuals threatens to hit a third move in interviews, you know your main event scene is messed up. Brock Lesnar has been severely damaged by all this, so I hope he destroys Goldberg to win the belt and we get The Beast returning to his unstoppable ways. With Goldberg’s run rumored to be finished after ‘Mania, he is probably going to lose.

The next night on the Raw after ‘Mania, Finn Balor comes out and challenges Brock to a match for the belt he never lost, kicks Lesnar’s head in, and I start caring about the Universal Championship again.

Side note: The Beast Incarnate vs. The Demon King is serious money. Please do this WWE.

The Undertaker vs. Roman Reigns

This is rumored to go on last, and I think it should – especially if this is Undertaker’s last match (judging from his frankly rough look over the past few weeks, I believe this to be true).

Triple H has already stated in interviews that Reigns is the heel here, so I’m glad they’re smart enough to realize that nobody is cheering him over ‘Taker. ‘Taker does not seem very mobile, so this will be a plodding affair since Reigns is not good enough to elevate a match with a limited opponent. Expect a greatest hits package from Undertaker in a match that will be more memorable for the crowd giving Reigns the business rather than anything entertaining happening in the ring. Reigns wins due to ‘Taker being a pro and wanting to put people over, plus the rumored ‘Mania 34 main event of Reigns vs. Lesnar being more interesting if both men have beaten the Undertaker at WrestleMania.

For more of Spaceman Frank’s antics, check out Spacemanfrank.com and listen to our pro wrestling podcast, Manopera!

Spaceman Frank’s NXT TakeOver: Orlando Predictions

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by Frank Lucci

It’s time again for WWE to put on their biggest show of the year. Lately, that big show had been overshadowed by the critically acclaimed Takeovers that precede it, which act like the Guardians of the Galaxy films to the populist Avengers movies. They are not suppose to be better, but really, with this cast, how could they not be? This year it seems like WWE has made a concentrated effort to tamper or even dull the NXT before Wrestlemania, with the build being built primarily on video packages as other people who are not even on the card (cough, Kassius Ohno) to keep the weekly NXT shows running in the meantime. I mean, I get that WWE does not wanting for Shinsuke during the main event of their big show like last year, but why not just try to make Mania better rather than hurt NXT? Petty conspiracy theories aside, until NXT actually disappoints me I will be all in on their live events, and their is plenty to like here despite the promo package heavy build. I am Spaceman Frank, and here are my NXT: Orlando predictions.

Team Perfect Best Friends (Tye Dillinger, Roderick Strong, No Way Jose, and Ruby Riot) vs. Sanity

The big question here is if this will be the standard WWE mixed tag match, or if NXT will be bold and allow Ruby Riot and Nikki Cross to mix it up with the boys. It would make sense for Cross to attack the men since that would very much be in her character, and I believe the best way to get the debuting Ruby over with new fans is to have her stand up to Sanity and lay into them  regardless of gender. I like everyone here, and given that this is one of the best built up feuds in NXT, I think NXT can have a brawl for the ages here. If this is a plain jane mixed tag natch I see Cross getting the win to give Sanity some cred and herself some momentum because I think she is next up for the Women’s Championship. If everyone can hit anyone I think this will end up being an epic chain of finishers that give Tye a win that he is desperate for. Dillinger has put in the work in NXT, and her deserves a Big Damn Hero moment for once. In front of the Mania crowds right in the backyard of NXT and I think The Perfect Ten gets the pin.

Aleister Black vs. Andrade “Cien” Almas

Another big debut sees the former Tommy End get his proper debut (after showing up during the UK Tournament in an exhibition loss to Neville) against Almas. Almas has gotten so much better as a heel, and honestly I see him taking over the mantle of cocky heel for Bobby Roode whenever he gets called up. It seems odd then that NXT would feed him to their next big debut, and it is even stranger that Kassius Ohno is nowhere to be found despite being all over NXT TV the past weeks. Ohno has not exactly impressed since coming back, and NXT honestly seems to be punishing him by having him lose and wear unflattering outfits. I think a triple threat between the three would have been dynamite and add an air of mystery here, but without Ohno I see Black getting the win. He is knew, he has a stellar look, and he can be the star power NXT will need post-Mania. I just hope Almas gets his stuff in and looks good here because NXT is going to need him to step up even more in the weeks and months to come.

Asuka (c) vs. Ember Moon (NXT Women’s Championship Match)

Asuka is facing literally the only women possible that seems to have a remote chance to take her championship. I should be super hyped for this and yet…I am not. Triple H is on the record for saying he is not pleased that the NXT Women’s Division was gutted by the WWE draft, and it really shows that only Asuka and Moon are the legit ladies left who can get the crowd into a singles match for the belt. But the booking has done Ember Moon no favors, and she has been hot and cold since her debut the past summer in Brooklyn. She is undefeated, sure, but she appears infrequently and did not face as stiff competition as Asuka has. I think Asuka will win here in a competitive match, then go the main roster (preferably Smackdown because in generally I think they handle people much better there). She is very close to breaking Goldberg’s streak, and if there is one thing WWE loves is stats they can parade around every week. Have her keep the streak intact so she has a default storyline and drawn out her beating each person on the roster as she gets closer. Then we get Asuka vs Charlotte in the battle of ladies with have/had streaks to get her past 176. Asuka is ready and we need new blood ASAP. Meanwhile to cover the cost of getting to the main roster she gives up her NXT championship without losing it and the long rumored women’s tournament crowns a new champ in Moon leading to an eventual rematch down the line. Book it Triple H the Spaceman demands it (please don’t hurt me).

Authors of Pain (c) vs. The Revival vs. Team DIY (Triple Threat Match for the NXT Tag Team Championships)

This is NXT’s (and WWE’s by extension) Big Giant Indy Exhibition Craziness Matchup of the weekend. The important (aka only) tag teams in NXT go at it all at once, and this will surely big the match that people talk about when the dust has settled on the weekend. Team DIY and The Revival are opposite sides of the same workhorse coin, while The Authors of Pain are the stereotypical team WWE craves while at the same time showing of some impressive moves when asked. Something special is here, and what I really want is a Wrestlemania 17 TLC match between the three to crown the next wave of stellar tag teams going forward. Instead, we get an elimination match between the teams, which is fine but I really want to see something that requires people to crash and burn to achieve glory. I could almost see the two smaller teams teaming up on Authors of Pain to take them out, but I think they are keeping the belt her and sticking around to dominate for a long time as is customary in NXT I could also see the long standing split between Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Wrestling actually happen if not for the fact that NXT (and WWE) are desperate for tag teams. I think The Revivial are the ones out first because they are the most main roster ready (Evolution 2.0 with them, Joe, and Pete Dunne with Triple H being the shadow puppet master please!) and to balance things out between face and heels. But in the end AOP needs the belts to stay relevant, as heel tag teams have a bad record in NXT once they lose the belts.

Bobby Roode (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (NXT Championship Match)

After putting on a psychological showcase, we now get Roode trying to fend off a pissed off Nakamura in Orlando. What I do not get is WWE first running the injury angle of Nakamura, followed by backstage or pre taped segments of the former champ. I can give a pass on the whole injury angle if I believed for a second Nakamura was actually inured. Meanwhile, Shinsuke is best in front of a live crowd to feed off their energy and showcase his charisma, as he just does not have the same effect over Twitter updates and taped footage. Roode has suffered as well, though props go to the props department for adding little things for people to praise the champ over such as the picture of himself behind the champ during his sit down interview. Bobby is such a dastardly heel that my roommate Kim has wished get dies in a fire, so he must be doing something right. I think he will retain here cause Nakamura has nothing left to give NXT and needs to be on the main roster. Roode is the evil champ the brand needs as it collects some new stars, and Nakamura is the exciting new babyface both shows needs. I think this match will be fine, but I am ready to see what’s next.

For more of Spaceman Frank’s antics, check out Spacemanfrank.com and listen to our pro wrestling podcast, Manopera!

Spaceman Frank’s Top 10 WrestleMania Moments: #1 – Human Demolition Derby

by Frank Lucci

Welcome to Spaceman Frank’s Top 10 WrestleMania moments! Rather than just create another generic Top 10 list, I will be discussing the greatest moments from WWE’s biggest show of the year and explaining why I consider them the cream of the crop. This is based on in-ring quality, storyline quality, meta quality, as well as my own unique bias. Be prepared to read about triumph, heartbreak, and above all else, some truly unique moments in this unique form of entertainment.

The Moment: TLC II, WrestleMania X-Seven

While writing out this list I have seen some amazing moments in wrestling. I have seen moments that crowned careers and rejuvenated others, I have watched legends go out in a blaze of glory, and I have seen matches that will never be seen again. So how do you top legends, icons, and five-star performances? You lay it all on the line to make a statement, and that’s what happened at WrestleMania 17 with TLC 2.

This match has it all – including death-defying stunts that WWE has wisely chosen to avoid in recent years. You have kayfabe stakes as all three teams are willing to throw themselves off ladders and through tables just to get the Tag Team Championships. It seems inconceivable that WWE would ask tag teams in 2017 to do the same to this degree, which just goes to show how important it was to have any belt in this era. You have meta importance of six men trying to elevate themselves and make them stand out among the Rock’s and Stone Cold’s of the day.

One of the biggest outcomes and legacies of this match is the fact that in the years since half of the people involved have won the top prize in WWE, and five out of six won world championships if you include TNA titles (poor Devon Dudley, but last place here is being half of the most decorated tag team in history and a behind the scenes role in today’s WWE is not too shabby). Finally, you get an emotional roller coaster as you watch three teams that endured themselves for their fans to cement their status as the future of the industry in a match that was never seen before or since.

I could give a blow by blow of this match, but words cannot do justice for what transpires. I cannot fathom how nobody was seriously injured here (besides Spike Dudley who lost a few teeth), and even more amazing  it is that half these guys are still wrestling today. Hell, Edge was the first to retire, and that was a solid decade after this car crash of a match.

The only complaints I have this match are purely aesthetic. There are three extra people that make run-ins during the match, which is three too many. Second, instead of a video package we get shots of production people pulling out ladders and tables for the match, which does not exactly sell people going in cold why they should care. Also, I wish commentator Paul Heyman would be a little biased towards The Dudleys and Rhyno, or at least mention that he was their boss in ECW and sell them more as the killers they are.

Instead of immediately going for crazy spots, everyone builds up slow here. It starts off with some brawling, and the first big spot involves Jeff using his brother as a springboard to dropkick Edge off the ladder. The Hardys then do a tandem splash/leg drop on Christian off the ladders, and it makes sense that the daredevil brothers would be the first to go to extreme lengths to hurt their opponents. Edge and Christian are the cowardly heels and The Dudleys are more likely to just hoof you through a table, so Matt and Jeff setting the bar in terms of extreme risk first is a nice piece of psychology.

The Dudley’s take control, and it’s up to them to set up the toys for future spots later. They make the four table stack as well as three ladders in the center. Soon enough all six men are on the ladders and as flashbulbs go off all six take a dive. A special mention goes to Christian for falling completely out of the ring and view, making it look like he may be the first real-life casualty of this match.

Now we get to the run-in portion of the match. Even these Superstars have gotten a certain amount of respect for their involvement in this legendary match. Spike Dudley is out first, delivering a Dudley Dog to Christian through a table on the outside. Spike is one of my Boys as the excellent OSW Review defines them (one of your favorite wrestlers who never won a world championship), so seeing him get involved always makes me happy. Rhyno is up next to destroy people much more effectively, and being the smart cookie/ future Michigan House of Representatives candidate that he is, he wisely drags his compatriots towards the ladder he sets up in the center of the ring. Finally, to the biggest entrance pop (including for the people actually in the match) comes for Lita, who jogs awkwardly to the ring.

At this point things go too fast to recap properly and you just have to watch it unfold. It is beyond belief what these guys do here, and another special mention goes to Jeff Hardy for being involved in the biggest spot of the match. Sure, he failed in his big leapfrog spot involving three ladders, but considering he jumped off a giant ladder to the floor through two tables about 90 seconds before, I will let it pass. Edge hits the most perfect spear of his career in midair, sickeningly spiking his own head into the canvas. The match almost ends anti-climatically as Christian grabs the belt as Devon just kind of stops trying to climb the ladder.

Somehow everyone walks out of this match, moving gingerly around the debris and human bodies left around the ring. I’m not sure how these six men did it, but they survived something that could have gone much, much worse. Above all else, at the end of the Attitude Era WWE established a future crop of main eventers that not only WWE, but other wrestling companies would rely on for the next decade. Sure, they had to put themselves through hell during this match, but what would you pay to punch your ticket to immortality?

To get to the top of an industry that had just shifted seismically in the wake of WCW and ECW folding, the six men here did what they needed to do to prove they were just as worthy of that spotlight of the legends already in it. For paving the way of the future, delivering something never before seen or replicated, and the physical toll that even the stoniest of hearts can appreciate makes TLC 2 my favorite WrestleMania moment of them all.

For more of Spaceman Frank’s antics, check out Spacemanfrank.com and listen to our pro wrestling podcast, Manopera!

SSEP: SSEP – Episode 11: WrestleMania 33/NXT Takeover Orlando Preview

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by Jonathan Schorr

Jon and Matt go on the ultimate thrill ride with their WrestleMania 33 and NXT Takeover: Orlando predictions while watching WrestleMania 13 from 1997.

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Spaceman Frank’s Top 10 WrestleMania Moments: #2 – Icon vs. Icon

by Frank Lucci

Welcome to Spaceman Frank’s Top 10 WrestleMania moments! Rather than just create another generic Top 10 list, I will be discussing the greatest moments from WWE’s biggest show of the year and explaining why I consider them the cream of the crop. This is based on in-ring quality, storyline quality, meta quality, as well as my own unique bias. Be prepared to read about triumph, heartbreak, and above all else, some truly unique moments in this unique form of entertainment.

The Moment: The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan, WrestleMania XVIII

Whenever two of the all time greats come together and compete it’s always a spectacle that demands attention. Even if it ends up disappointing like Mayweather vs. Pacquiao huge amounts of people dissect every aspect of the contest right up until things actually kick off. What’s even rarer is when the best of different generations come together and have a contest worthy of all the hype, which is why Hulk Hogan vs The Rock at WrestleMania 18 is such a special moment in wrestling. While such contests are either improbable or even impossible, this not only happened but it was a pretty damn good match to boot.

The Rock was inching his way out the door in 2002, and while he would stick around for a little bit after this, it was clear he was moving on to bigger and better things. He guided the WWE through the dreaded Invasion angle and was looking for something to do to follow up his spectacular match at the previous WrestleMania with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin.

How do you follow up on the match that is widely considered the greatest main event in WrestleMania history and the end of the Attitude Era?

Enter Hulk Hogan. He collected on his guaranteed contract from the now dead WCW, missing the Invasion entirely. This probably helped himself and many other big names from tarnishing their legacies and made sure they were able to pop up in WWE with some actual fanfare and hoopla. When he showed up with the rest of the NWO in tow it was a big deal, and I can only imagine how much this match would have suffered if Hogan and his cronies were forced to plod through the Invasion and kiss up to Stone Cold.

Instead we get Hogan being quite the evil bastard. The video package highlights his cartoon villainy as he blames the fans for making him walk out of the WWE in the early 90’s and running into his ambulance with a freaking semi truck. This match is famous for the double turn during the match that the fans started by cheering Hogan over The Rock, but to be fair Rocky acts like a dick during this hype video. Despite the choral music that accompanies his first appearance in the video he does attack Hogan first, and I can excuse an old man for getting his buddies to help him face off against a man half his age.

Hogan is out first and he definitely gets some cheers, but nothing like he would receive later. At some point people are just happy you’re still around and conceded that yes, you are one of the best of all time. It happened to Hogan, it happened to Flair, and it’s even starting to happen to the greatest heel of all time, Tom Brady. Thankfully, Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler do not try to ignore or cover up the fact that Hogan is getting cheered like today’s WWE announcers would (and if we had to listen to JBL yell “THESE CANUCKS JUST LOVE TO HAVE FUN MAGGLE!” during this match I would have shot my television). Poor Rocky again gets a pretty lame pop for the second ‘Mania in a row, and the dude just cannot seem to catch a break.

Then the magic happens. Toronto just goes nuts when both men stare at each other and they never really stop. The two stars know how to work a crowd, and being the pros that they are they milk the reaction for everything it’s got. Hulk has a reputation for not wanting to put people over, but props to him for agreeing to lay down for The Rock here. Hogan pushes Rocky down and crowd acts like Jesus Christ just came down from heaven wearing a Maple Leafs jersey and the sky was raining poutine down like manna. One shove was all it took to people to lose their minds.

I cannot help and have a flashback to Mayweather v.s Pacquiao at this point. I watched that fight expecting a slugfest between two of the greatest of all time, and instead we got a lame duck boxing match. That legitimate sporting event collapsed under the weight of it’s own hype. Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg fell into the same trap when they first wrestled at ‘Mania 20.

Wrestling is a much more forgiving form of entertainment, and due to it’s unique nature we can see the fantasy matches we want and they can be just as good as they were in our head. Hogan was never the best technical wrestler (and neither was The Rock, for that matter), but when you book dream matches for him they look exactly like this.

This match goes back and forth pretty evenly for the first part, and Hogan pulls out some excellent heel moves. He really knows how to cheat in that old-school way that makes the internet lionize people like Kevin Owens and the like. Hogan worked like a bad guy even when he was America’s favorite hot dog in the 80’s so it is no surprise when he pokes eyes, rakes backs, and literally starts choking The Rock. Like Flair’s retirement match, this is essentially a greatest hits montage for Hogan. Rocky being the future actor that he is, bounces around like a cruiserweight.

It is so engaging to see, even if Hogan’s reluctance to leave his feet is stupendously obvious. They work the crowd like the two bosses that they are, and it still feels surreal that this match actually happened. Hogan vs. Michaels and Cena vs. The Rock tried to mimic this match, but they just could not follow in this match’s footsteps. Blame ego, blame age, but this is damn near as perfect of a big time wrestling match as you get. This is the wrestling equivalent of a Mark Twain book. It may not have the pop of modern day writing, but you can appreciate the wisdom and wit on display.

The end is wrestling 101. The referee gets knocked out and misses Hogan tapping out to the Sharpshooter from the People’s Champion. Hulk regains control with a low blow/stolen finisher combo because WrestleMania is one of the few times a year wrestlers resort to stealing finishing moves. Hogan whips The Rock, but Rocky channels his future self playing Black Adam and returns the favor while looking like a menacing bastard. He hits a Rock Bottom but Hogan gets his seizure of strength and we get the moment that lives on in a million YouTube ‘Mania countdowns.

In this moment it does not matter what Hogan has said and done in his personal life, because brother he is coming for Rocky! Rocky sells this like he is having an out of body experience. He has realized that he is the villain in all this, and he is standing across the ring from his childhood hero much like Roddy Piper, Andre The Giant, and Randy Savage have done before him and is staring down at his doom. I cannot say this enough, but the crowd is unreal.

When people talk about suspension of disbelief, this is what they are talking about. There are no crazy athletics or extreme violence to sell you on the fact that these guys are tough. In a vacuum this scene is slightly ridiculous. An actor is staring in fear of an old balding man as he grimaces and shakes his fists, but to wrestling fans, this is like watching The Power Rangers form their Megazord right in front of their eyes.

In the end, Hogan’s comeback is cut short, and the legendary Leg Drop of Doom cannot put The Rock away and The People’s Champ must chain together two Rock Bottoms and The People’s Elbow to put down the old lion. Despite Hogan’s monstrous face pop this was the right call, and we get a sign of respect from both men as the torch is officially passed. This is how it should be, as one man gives his endorsement of the other in front of a stadium of people and millions around the world.

Oftentimes in wrestling, backstage drama and politics get in the way so that these dream moments either don’t happen or are not of this quality. Hogan himself is guilty of doing this many times over his career, and Rocky would leave before he could put his stamp of approval on many of the superstars of the new millennium. I think the decline of wrestling after the Attitude Era can be linked to the lack of these critical transitional matches, as many of the Superstars of old were either unwilling (Triple H, Hogan) or unable (Stone Cold, The Rock) to give their blessing in the ring to a replacement, but for one night the right move is done properly.

Looking back at other singles matches I singled out for this list, most have a No-Disqualification stipulation around them. This may be the biggest non-gimmick match in WrestleMania history, and it certainly is my favorite. These two colossus are bigger than gimmicks, and they did not need the shortcut of weapons or bloodshed to tell the story that they wanted. All that mattered was the two men in the ring, and everything else was just icing on the cake. For delivering a real Icon vs. Icon moment rarely seen in any entertainment medium, Rock vs. Hogan is my number two WrestleMania moment.

For more of Spaceman Frank’s antics, check out Spacemanfrank.com and listen to our pro wrestling podcast, Manopera!

Spaceman Frank’s Top 10 WrestleMania Moments: #3 – The Attitude Era’s Supernova

by Frank Lucci

Welcome to Spaceman Frank’s Top 10 WrestleMania moments! Rather than just create another generic Top 10 list, I will be discussing the greatest moments from WWE’s biggest show of the year and explaining why I consider them the cream of the crop. This is based on in-ring quality, storyline quality, meta quality, as well as my own unique bias. Be prepared to read about triumph, heartbreak, and above all else, some truly unique moments in this unique form of entertainment.

The Moment: “Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs. The Rock, WrestleMania X-7

WrestleMania X-7 (or 17 to those who the words “attitude” and “extreme” do not apply to) is regarded as the best WrestleMania of all time, and for good reason. It features several classic battles and marks the distinct end of the Monday Night Wars and showcased the deep WWE roster during their most successful period. No other WrestleMania looks and feels like this one, including the ones that came immediately before and after it. This is the singularity in the center of the WWE Universe, and more than any other event is the reason the company is still going strong today. This is modern wrestling distilled into its most basic form, and at its nucleus is the main event between Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock.

Even though these two faced off two years earlier at WrestleMania 15, circumstances had changed so much in the wrestling world that their previous encounter felt like ancient history. It would be like if the WWE decided to put John Cena vs. The Rock on at WrestleMania 34 after Cena becomes the new Superman in the Justice League movie and it grosses $3 billion worldwide. Both men had reached absurd levels of mainstream success since ‘Mania 15, and I would rate The Rock and Stone Cold as numbers one and three respectively of wrestlers normal people are likely to recognize (two is Hulk Hogan and Cena is a distance fourth due to the memes). If both men stuck around I could have seen a scenario where these guys constantly headline every other WrestleMania until…well today and fans would still be into it all.

It’s unimaginable that WWE would have one super hot megastar on their roster, let alone two, so this is already catapulted into the top ten. It also doesn’t hurt that the crowd for this match is on fire, the story leading into it is on point, and both men happen to be damn good wrestlers. This moment is proof that WWE had the most success when they gave the wrestlers a chance to adapt to what the crowd wanted and let the most talented people on the roster shine on their own merits instead of trying to lead audiences by the nose (makes coughing noises).

We start off with one of, if not the best video packages WWE has ever produced (the fact that I say that with Limp Bizkit playing over it is mind boggling). Stone Cold won the Royal Rumble, The Rock beat Kurt Angle at the next PPV, and here we are. The only two  things I would really change is jamming Debra (Stone Cold’s then real wife) into the picture, and Stone Cold’s look. I know it’s an iconic look, but the dude’s knee braces/shorts combo makes him look like an old man with garters on. Every staredown, every line of their sitdown interview we see, every physical blow between the two is pure gold, and it all revolves around the WWE Championship, as it should be.

Howard Finkel is here to announce this is a No-Disqualification match, and WWE should have him announce the main event of every WrestleMania since he named the damn thing. Stone Cold comes out to the best song Disturbed every recorded (again, licensed music makes wrestlers seem so much more legit) and a massive pop.  Rocky gets a mild pop and his classic movie sounds like call holding music to me. Commentator Paul Heyman reminds us that Stone Cold is a man of integrity which is why Texas loves its native son (not because of the swearing, beer drinking, and ass kicking). Speaking of ass kicking, things immediately break down as the two trade blows. This is how to start a WrestleMania main event, and if Brock Lesnar and Goldberg just stand there after all that has happened between them (as I assume they will headline) I will be pissed. We get brawling around the floor and flurries of punches and kicks with the occasional big move through in. Heyman and JR sell everything so well, and I do not think there has ever been a better commentary team despite their brief tenure together.

Rocky ends up bleeding due to a shot to the head via ring bell and then flops on a table that breaks under his weight. One of the funniest accidental moments in WrestleMania history, and The Rock almost got away with it not being on camera. These guys are such master craftsmen that simple things such as mounted punches makes the crowd go crazy. This is why WWE needs to let their product breathe a bit more. Many “big time” matches these days usually consist of one person hitting a move as the other stands there with a “OMG I can’t believe they hit that move!” look on their face (for an example of this, see Sting vs. Triple H from WrestleMania 31). Here both men work a normal pace, but they exaggerate every move so that it feels like a move that is championship caliber. Just look at the way The Rock flies through the air when taking a simple hip toss and the way Austin flops around when hitting the exposed turnbuckle. When people mention how selling is important to wrestling, this is an essential match that shows why. The only other people I can think of that goes to such lengths to make their opponent look like a million dollars these days is AJ Styles and Sami Zayn.

Steve Austin, perhaps to show Rocky how a real Texas SOB blades, soon has his entire head turn red under the crimson mask. Both men get a turn to grimace under sharpshooters and look like maniacs as they scream and writhe in pain. There are no finishing moves done in the first few minutes, so once we actually get one it actually means something – and in a twist it’s Rocky hitting the Stunner on Austin! It’s one of my favorite moments of the match that for some reason never really gets mentioned.

Fresh off getting beat up by his son and formerly comatose wife (did that come up during Linda McMahon’s congressional confirmation hearing?), Vinny Mac is here to creep on the match. The crowd has gone from booing The Rock to cheering his People’s Elbow, but Vince breaks it all up. Heyman has been hinting that Stone Cold may be up to something dastardly all night, and this is clue number two to what’s going to happen next. Vince hits Rocky with a chair while Austin holds him up. Honestly, I think they could have done the turn better. For example, have the turn come at the very end with a sudden Austin heel turn rather than having him cheat (in a No-DQ match by the way) and selling out to his boss and mortal enemy. The Rock sells a stunner as only he can (acting 101 ladies and germs), but when it does not get the three count Austin just goes berzerk and beats him with a chair until he wins. What should be the biggest betrayal in wrestling history falls slightly flat when the crowd still cheers.

This is like watching Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, and Judas Priest touring in 1978 with Motörhead as the opening act. This is undefeated 1972 Dolphins vs. undefeated 2007 Patriots in the Super Bowl. This is a blockbuster movie with Humphrey Bogart, Clint Eastwood, Denzel Washington, and Meryl Streep as the main cast. Nothing else comes close to wrestling fans as the holy grail of an event, and this match solidified the evening as one of the greatest. From here we transitioned to The Invasion and the gradual decline in wrestling’s importance, but the match between Stone Cold and The Rock will be the lasting image of the sport for decades to come. The Rock’s career has soared since leaving WWE full time, and Austin has enjoyed plenty of his own success after retiring two years after this (in poetic justice, his last match would also be against The People’s Champion at WrestleMania XIX). Neither man truly passed the baton to a successor who could match them, but their gift to modern WWE wrestlers is a standard that they should all strive for. With the talent WWE has in their wheelhouse I can see a revival eventually happening, and when it does happen I see this match being the one people pointing to as the bar. It replaced Steamboat/Savage at WrestleMania 3 as the showcase match example, and for good reason. For ending an era the right way and giving causal fans, smart fans, and wrestlers themselves a masterpiece on ‘Mania main events this match is my number three pick for WrestleMania moments.

For more of Spaceman Frank’s antics, check out Spacemanfrank.com and listen to our pro wrestling podcast, Manopera!