Monday, December 22, 2014

The 2014 Year-End Pro Wrestling Awards

Welcome to the Year-End Awards for pro wrestling!  I'll talk a little about the major events of the past year and then get to the Awards section, which includes my picks for every year I've been watching this wacky stuff.

Well, we've come to the end of 2014.  It was quite a roller coaster year for wrestling fans, as WWE presented the good, the bad, the awful, and seemingly everything in between.

The biggest story of 2014 is probably the advent of the WWE Network, which while drawing very disappointing numbers thus far, is nonetheless a game-changer.  Offering every PPV of the year for only $9.99 a month seems like a no-win prospect given how expensive traditional PPV is, but WWE took the gamble that the low price tag and the vast content library would draw enough subscribers to make up the difference in volume.  As of now they're about 300,000 subscribers shy of breaking even.  Hopefully in 2015 they'll grow the library and be able to attract more fans.  Of course presenting consistently entertaining programming week-to-week would help.  They sadly don't seem to grasp that concept. 

WWE was on both sides of the fence as far as being in touch with its audience.  At times they clearly listened to the fans, albeit begrudgingly (case in point the Daniel Bryan saga), and at times they were totally oblivious (Batista anyone?).  NXT has emerged as a viable third brand that presents simple, cutting-edge wrestling featuring exciting young stars eager to make a splash.  The third brand has consistently outshone its main roster counterparts, as it's booked by former wrestlers such as Dusty Rhodes and Ricky Steamboat, and overseen by Triple H who truly seems to "get it" as long as he's not an on-air character.  What's sad is I almost fear the top NXT stars being called up because the main roster creative is in such a shambles.  I trust the NXT team much more than their RAW/SD counterparts to utilize talents properly.  That's not a good thing.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

WWE TLC Predictions!!!

Welcome to another edition of WWE PPV Predictions!  This month is WWE's annual gimmick PPV Tables, Ladders & Chairs (and apparently Stairs as well).  My associate Dan Moore and I will attempt to prognosticate the outcome.

Once again the week-to-week writing has been horribly tedious and devoid of any urgency, as WWE goes through the motions until WrestleMania season starts up.  Survivor Series ended up being pretty good and featured a very fun elimination match as the main event.  Some of the booking was fairly nonsensical (Big Show panicking and switching sides when it was 3-on-3, Sting saving Team Cena at the end and never explaining why), but the match itself felt special and for one night at least, Dolph Ziggler looked like a superstar (as opposed to the rest of the time when he's booked like a Superstar TM - ya know, a second-tier guy who loses all the time). 

Despite Series being a fun show, the followup has been predictably dreadful.  Ziggler is back to feuding over the worthless I-C Title (If you need convincing of how devalued that belt is, ask yourself how many matches Luke Harper has won since becoming champ), every RAW main event is some combination of Cena, Rollins and supporting characters, and ends in a DQ, The Authority has been replaced by a revolving door of guest GMs, which didn't work in 2009 and still doesn't.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

WWE Survivor Series Predictions!!!

Welcome to another edition of's official WWE PPV predictions, with me, Justin Ballard, and my associate Dan Moore.  This month marks the 28th annual Survivor Series, which is the company's second-oldest PPV event.

As detailed in my History of WWE Survivor Series series, this event has a rich, but wildly inconsistent past.  Some years the show was near-perfect, others it was near-vomit-inducing.
The 2014 incarnation is shaping up to be somewhere in the middle.  For the first time in nine years we'll have a traditional elimination match as the main event.  Unfortunately we won't be seeing the WWE Champion wrestle, as WWE has bafflingly chosen to let Brock Lesnar sit at home for four months until January, when he'll fight John Cena for the thousandth time.

This PPV is being given away for free, and it sure feels like Creative has that in mind, meaning they're just going through the motions since WWE isn't making any money on this show.  What they should be doing is stacking the hell out of this card so all the additional viewers get instantly hooked and can't wait to shell out $9.99 for next month's PPV.  But no, Vince's strategy since WCW folded has always been to trick people into liking his product, rather than consistently presenting a can't-miss show.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

For Those About to Rock: Part 3

Part 3 of Michael Drinan's look at this years Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame ballot!

Welcome to the final installment of “For Those About to Rock”!  I tackle the final five nominees on this year’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame ballot and will give my final predictions on who will get in this year!  Feel free to respond and give your predictions as well!  Enjoy...

The Spinners - Mostly what I wrote about for The Marvelettes in Part 2 can be said for The Spinners.  Okay, sure, they had their share of hits.  “Could It Be I’m Falling in Love” is such a great, timeless song without question, but what did they do?  The answer: nothing!  They followed the traditional doo-wop formula and rode the coattails of the successful Motown groups of the 60s and 70s.  Sure, they were well respected, but commercially they weren’t a success.  You want to know how you can tell this group is unremarkable?  They’ve been eligible for the hall of fame since 1986, and the first nomination they ever received was in 2012.  They had been put off for 26 years!  Why does that make them worthy now?  As is the case with The Marvelettes, we don’t need to induct every single Motown artist into the hall of fame.  No one is going to lose sleep over The Spinners not being inducted.

Friday, October 24, 2014

For Those About to Rock: Part 2

From contributor Michael Drinan......

Welcome to Part 2 of my 3 part series, For Those About to Rock, where we go over the 2015 nominees for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame and predict who gets in and who gets the shaft.  You can read Part 1 here if you need to catch up.  For the rest of you, let’s tackle the next 5 nominees!

The Marvelettes -  I can already tell that this nomination is going to piss me off.  Groups from previous generations tend to do well once they finally get nominated because the people who get a vote for the Hall of Fame tend to go with groups with whom they grew up listening to while they were popular on the radio, even though they really don’t deserve induction.  (yeah, I’m looking at you The Hollies)  These Motown ladies had a huge hit with “Please Mr. Postman” and helped write songs that were covered by future music legends such as The Beatles, Bonnie Raitt, Jerry Garcia,

Thursday, October 23, 2014

WWE Hell in a Cell Predictions!!

What's up there, flapjack?  It's time once again for the official WWE PPV Predictions!

This month's obligatory PPV offering is Hell in a Cell.  I say "obligatory" because the writing has been so completely devoid of purpose or urgency it feels like the company isn't in the mood to actually make us care about these special events.  Maybe it's because we're only paying ten bucks a month to see them instead of 60.  I dunno.  But RAW has been a chore to get through, at best, and even the once red-hot Ambrose-Rollins feud has become a confusing, convoluted mess.  On paper though, this show looks pretty good, much like the well-executed-but-purposeless Night of Champions.

Let's get to it.  Justin leads Dan in prediction accuracy 36/52 to 33/52.

WWE Tag Team Championship: The Dust Brothers vs. The Usos - These two teams tore it up last month for the tag straps, and I expect them to do the same here.  Unfortunately Goldust and Stardust have been buried since winning the belts, much like every secondary champion.  It is baffling to me that the only way this company knows how to build up secondary title challengers is to have them repeatedly beat the champions in non-title matches.  I'd personally like to ban non-title matches for all-time.  Why would a champion bother to wrestle and risk getting hurt if he's not even defending the belt?  Makes no sense.  Instead how 'bout we get back to having contenders beat other contenders, thereby climbing the ranks and earning a title shot?  What a fucking novel concept.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

For Those About to Rock: Part 1

Welcome to Part 1 of the 3-part series For Those About to Rock where I break down each nominee for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and predict who makes it in this year and who is left waiting.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame recently released their list of 15 artists nominated for the 2015 Induction class and, just like every year, I’ve obsessed over the list, trying to predict who will make it in.  Some people feel Hall of Fames are pointless and are a waste of time, but whatever man, its fun and always leads to a great discussion.   This year, its a list of strong contenders.  Let’s see what we have to argue about...

Friday, October 10, 2014

I'd Like to Introduce You To.......The Punk Singer

It's time for another review of a lesser-known cinematic gem from Michael Drinan.  Read on.....

I love female punk singers. I love documentaries.  When I heard there was a documentary about Kathleen Hanna being made, I almost lost my mind trying to find information about it.  Kathleen Hanna was a primary figure in the Riot Grrrl movement of the early 90s and the lead singer of the punk band Bikini Kill, kickstarting the feminist punk movement.  After Bikini Kill, she went on fronting the pop punk band Le Tigre.  She fought for women’s rights during the conservative Bush years and continues to be an outspoken feminist activist.  Let me introduce you to The Punk Singer.

If you know nothing about the Riot Grrrl movement, see this movie.  If you think female punk bands were nothing but bratty, angry, man-hating women, then see this movie.  If you think Joan Jett and Patti Smith were the only tough ladies of rock music, then see this movie.  You will re-consider all of those opinions after this film.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

WWE Night of Champions Predictions!!!

Welcome to another edition of's PPV Predictions.  This Sunday is the annual Night of Champions PPV, and on paper it looks pretty solid.  Unfortunately the company has done literally nothing to excite anyone about any of the matches, with the possible exception of Cena vs. Lesnar.  There’s almost no storyline built around any of it.  RAW was a pretty abysmal go-home show and if anything made this PPV less exciting (particularly the Reigns-Rollins match since we got to see it for free).  Let's get after it, shall we?

Justin leads the predictions 32/44 over Dan's 29/44.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

I'd Like to Introduce You to......Brick

Michael Drinan is back with his latest column about a little-known movie you should seek out.  So read it, and then DO IT.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt was an actor whom, seemingly by default, everyone loved from “3rd Rock From the Sun” and even more so from the remake of Angels in the Outfield and 10 Things I Hate About You.  Although each of these roles were pretty basic and not out of the ordinary for child actors to be casted in, you could tell this kid had chops.  It was just a matter of time until he found find a role that allowed him to showcase his talent.  He took a break for a couple of years from acting and upon his return, made a conscience decision to be in good movies, which started in 2001 when he starred as Lyle, a teenager who is in a mental institution for violent outbursts.  In 2004, he starred as a gay prostitute who had been sexually abused as a child.  Receiving praise for this role he began to hit his stride and in 2005, in my opinion, really came into his own as an actor and as a leading man...and with that, let me introduce you to Brick.

Friday, August 15, 2014

WWE SummerSlam Predictions!!!!

Well it's that time again.  Justin and Dan, the two wrestling prognosticators, will attempt to tell you guys what's gonna happen this Sunday at SummerSlam.

Currently Justin leads Dan 27-24 in the 2014 WWE Predictions Sweepstakes.

On paper this SummerSlam looks pretty good.  Not the most stacked lineup they've ever had but there are multiple potential show-stealers.  Of course everything would be much better if the planned main event of Daniel Bryan vs. Brock Lesnar were happening, goddammit.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

RIP Robin Williams (1951-2014)

I've been struggling all morning to come to terms with the loss of Robin Williams, an eminently talented actor/comedian, beloved by millions.  But like so many truly funny people there was a pervasive darkness under the surface, the unbearable weight of which none of us could possibly comprehend.  Williams' struggles with addiction and depression were well-documented but despite several stints in rehab he was evidently unable to conquer them.

His situation is not unique sadly.  So many of the funniest comedians have used their gift to help mask their pain; their comedy akin to an artificial stimulant.  While others laugh at them all is well, but when it's over they crash hard.  One is reminded of Richard Jeni's suicide in 2007, or Jonathan Winters' lifelong battle with bipolar disorder.  These were extraordinary comics whose talents brought happiness to everyone but themselves.

Friday, July 18, 2014

WWE BattleGround Predictions!!

Welcome to another round of Enuffa PPV Predictions!  Today we'll dissect the upcoming WWE BattleGround card.


Current Standings: Justin - 23, Dan - 19, out of a possible 28

Despite solidly being a B-level PPV sandwiched between Money in the Bank and SummerSlam, and despite Daniel Bryan still being out of action, I gotta say the BattleGround show looks pretty damn enticing on paper.  There are seven matches on the main show, all of which have some sort of intrigue for me, and a Divas pre-show match.

Pre-Show Match: Cameron vs. Naomi

The former Funkadactyls (who would've thought a year ago that of the four Funka-team members only the two women would still be on the roster now?  I have basically no interest in this match, but it should be noted that Naomi can go in the ring.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Thomas the Tank Engine Pisses Me Off

People who know me are well aware of the fact that I get worked up to absurd levels about stupid shit that in the long run affects no one.  Hell, if you've been reading my work on this website you've probably gotten a more than adequate sense of this.

Well sir, today I'll be bitching about my son's favorite television program, Thomas the Tank Engine.  For those of you who aren't familiar, Thomas the Tank Engine takes place on the fictional island of Sodor in a time and place vaguely resembling turn-of-the-century England.  All the major characters are anthropomorphic train engines.  They all speak to each other, have thoughts and feelings, and each episode often parallels events that young children go through, and contain a life lesson at the end.

Now due to my own unreasonably vigorous awareness of logic (or lack thereof) I get super analytical watching these stupid shows.  There are multiple episodes where the trains are hauling large, poorly secured objects on their flatbeds, and inevitably at some point they go over a bump and the object falls off. 

For instance there's an episode where Thomas has to move a giant tank of bubble soap from one location to another (this clown Mr. Bubbles needs them to get his bubble soap to the venue where he's performing), and as he goes over bumps, the soap spills out all over the place.  Now look, I accept the fact that these are magical trains who can speak and think and are cognizant.  What I cannot accept is that any self-respecting railroad engineer of any intelligence would load a large vat of liquid onto a train flatbed WITHOUT A COVER. 

Yeah this looks like a sound plan.  Dick.

Who, in the name of all things holy, THE FUCK, would ever convey any large quantity of liquid in this fashion??  It should be noted that Thomas doesn't realize the soap is spilling, and by the end of his journey is aghast to discover the tank is empty.  Yup, every single drop of goddamn bubble juice is strewn about Sodor.  Christ, did Thomas unwittingly run over a pile of Cadillacs on his way to the party??

Friday, June 27, 2014

Money in the Bank Predictions!!

Welcome everyone to another edition of WWE PPV predictions.  Today we'll cover this Sunday's Money in the Bank PPV.

I'm gonna start by saying how disappointing the overall direction of WWE has been since WrestleMania and the night after.  As of April 7th it really felt like the whole company was gearing up for the future, pushing new stars, keeping things simple, and presenting fresh, compelling storylines.  It appeared we'd see a massive spring/summer feud of The Authority vs. Daniel Bryan & The Shield.  Inexplicably the company decided to take the weakest member of Triple H's faction, the exceedingly damaged 47-year-old Kane, and have him feud with the hottest star and WWE Champion Daniel Bryan.  They had one good match at Extreme Rules but the feud itself was asinine.

Then everything got royally screwed up when Bryan unexpectedly had to get neck surgery, which has forced him to the sidelines indefinitely, sadly resulting in his being stripped of the WWE Title.  Worse timing in wrestling I cannot remember.  This would be like Austin getting the infamous Owen Hart tombstone a month after winning the WWF Title at WrestleMania XIV.  It really just sucks.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

WWE Payback Predictions!!

Welcome to the official predictions column for WWE Payback.  This Sunday's PPV is gonna be a tough sell without Daniel Bryan wrestling on the card, but he is slated to be there for his "We He or Won't He Drop the Belt" angle.  I'll include a prediction for that segment as well.  Let's get to it.

Pre-Show Match: El Torito vs. Hornswaggle - Mask vs. Hair

Yeah, don't care about this at all.  Hornswaggle's gettin' a trim.

Justin's pick: El Torito
Dan's pick: El Torito

Rusev vs. Big E

This will be the big Russian's (or whatever he is) first real match.  Could be a decent, if short, power display, and Big E is certainly a game talent.  I'm not sure why his stock dropped so suddenly, but he'll give Rusev some solid offense before losing.

Justin's pick: Rusev
Dan's pick: Rusev

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Extreme Rules Predictions!!!

Welcome to a quick Extreme Rules Predictions column, with me Justin Ballard and my colleague Daniel Moore.  It's pretty straightforward - we'll run down the card and tell you who our picks are and why.
Big E vs. Bad News Barrett - Intercontinental Championship:  Barrett just won an 8-man tournament to earn a title shot.

Justin's pick: Barrett.  There's no way they spent three weeks on this tourney just to have the winner choke at the end.  I liked this tournament and the fact that it made the I-C belt feel like a prize again.  What I didn't like was the non-entity status of the Champion, Big E.  Barrett had to wrestle three times to get a shot at a champion who's hardly been on TV lately.  Makes no sense.  At that point why not make the tournament for a shot at Daniel Bryan's WWE Title?  Also, a couple weeks ago on Smackdown Big E lost a match by DQ to Alberto Del Rio....who was eliminated in the tournament's first round!  If the Champ can't beat a first-round loser that's a pretty lame prize they're all fighting for.

Dan's pick: I’d like to see Barrett win here. I’ve enjoyed what they’ve done with this new incarnation of his character…however, I don’t think they’ll just have Big E dump it here. I think (hope) it starts an actual feud, and the IC belt gets elevated, the way it should be.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

One-on-One: The Future Stars of WWE

Greetings everyone!  Welcome to the newest Enuffa feature - One-on-One, where I'll pose a question to one of my wrestling pals and we'll each give our thoughts. 

This week my friend Jim and I talk about who we think are the future stars of WWE.  This year's post-'Mania RAW episode felt like a season premiere of sorts, with new stars debuting and young WWE talent being given the spotlight.  We'll see where it goes from here, but as of now the WWE product feels fresher than it has in a long time (I'd liken it to 1998 when the Austin era began in earnest).

Question: In 5-10 years who do you see as the top 5-10 guys in WWE?

Jim: To me, the biggest star of the next ten years won’t be a person at all.  For the second time, the real biggest star will be a place: the Performance Center at WWE Full Sail University, the home of NXT.

For years, the real biggest star in the world of professional wrestling was the NJPW dojo, in Sendai and later Tokyo.  Look at the great performers who survived to conquer: Asai. Hashimoto. That-shithead-I-won’t-name-but-was-an-incredible-wrestler. Fujinami. Joe. Shamrock. Melissa. Liger.  Too many stars to mention, really.

The thing that doesn’t get mentioned much about the New Japan dojo is its commitment to wrestler safety.  You’ll get hurt there, sure.  But graduate and you won’t get hurt much later, or hurt others much later.  This is a very good thing.

Full Sail wants to be the NJPW dojo.  And it’s already getting there.  Look at the current training staff.  Want to be a striker?  Sara Del Rey!  Want to be a power grappler? Nick Dinsmore!  Want to be a technical wrestler?  Ricky Steamboat!  Want to cut a promo? Dusty Rhodes!  Want to learn all of that stuff in a safe environment?  Google “NXT mat”.

That place will make stars, hell it already has in the Wyatt Family in particular, and that makes the place a star.

If I have to pick someone currently there that’s a “lock” major star, I’ll say Paige.  She’s gold, baby.  But it’s the place.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Guest Column: I Love You, Pro Wrestling - by Jim Fitch

Editor's Note: I made friends with a couple of dudes over a decade ago that were probably as serious about this silly fake fighting stuff as I was, and definitely as analytical.  Each of them has achieved great success in their respective fields (much more than I have in mine, I assure you), and the fact that I personally know two such highly intelligent fellas who are as passionate about pro wrestling as myself is a testament to how far-reaching this "male soap opera" really is.  Tonight's guest column is from one of these guys, Jim Fitch, a Senior Legal Writer with Thomson Reuters.  In the coming weeks I'll be posting some discussions with Jim about various aspects of the wrestling industry, but for now I'll let him have the floor, so to speak.  Enjoy!

There are seven stages of grief, supposedly.  For a wrestling fan of my vintage (I am 44 now), there were really just three stages of development for want of a better word, and for me none of them contained grief at all.

In real terms stage one was when my Dad told me “professional wrestling is when the bad guy wins and then the good guy wins”.  It remains for me the truest expression of the perfect 19th-century melodrama that is wrestling at its best.  “Look behind you, puppet Prince Kindness!  It’s the big mean dragon!  Puppet Prince Kindness, why won’t you just LOOK BEHIND YOU”?   In a perfect story, the bad guy wins, and then the good guy wins.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

WrestleMania XXX & RAW Thoughts - The Daniel Bryan Era Begins!

Wow.  What a huge few days it's been here in Wrestling Nerdville.  WrestleMania XXX is in the books, as is the follow-up RAW.  Both shows were immensely significant on so many levels, and it'll take some time (and multiple viewings) to process everything and figure out just how important the events of the past two days were long-term.  But for now here's where my head's at....

WrestleMania XXX

First up, the pre-show Fatal 4-Way Tag match was a fun, action-packed bout and would've been a welcome hot opener on any card.  It really should've been exactly that on the actual PPV.  Nice to see The Usos retain, and even nicer to see Cesaro turn on Jack Swagger and begin his rise to singles stardom.  More on that later.

The PPV itself opened with the obligatory Hulk Hogan host segment, but Steve Austin and The Rock made surprise appearances, and seeing all three in the ring together was certainly historic. 

Unfortunately the segment lasted twenty-five minutes.  Twenty-Five.  Look, I get that this was a really special moment, having these three in the ring at the same time, but this is WrestleMania.  This night should by and large be about the actual wrestling and the promos should be kept to a minimum.  A promo is meant to sell a match or an event.  We've already purchased the event, so what are you selling us at this point?

Anyway getting past that, the opening match (which incidentally didn't begin until 38 minutes in!) was the much-anticipated Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H main event qualifier.  And as expected it was an epic duel.  Both guys played their roles to perfection and told a helluva Face-In-Peril story for 26 minutes.  As predicted, Bryan won the match clean to propel himself into the WWE Title match, but Hunter attacked him after the bell in the hopes of rendering him too injured to compete later on.  Made perfect sense and beautifully enhanced the drama of Bryan's quest.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

WrestleMania XXX Predictions!!!

Welcome to the official Enuffa Blog WrestleMania XXX Preview, where I'll dissect the card and my colleague Dan Moore and I will make our predictions for the show.

We've reached the three-decade mark of the monumental wrestling extravaganza known as WrestleMania.  It's the biggest wrestling event of the year when WWE attempts to pull out all the stops and present the most stacked card imaginable.

This year, for the first time in a long while, it genuinely seems like WWE is looking to the future.  In recent years the company has been much too reliant on names from the past to sell the show, and while that's still true to an extent, the big story around which WrestleMania is centered this year is The Rise of Daniel Bryan.

As of January, the company was all set to build yet another 'Mania card around big ticket returning stars while the current full-timers once again took a backseat.  But the fans spoke loudly and clearly that this was not acceptable for the biggest show of the year.  The fans wanted Daniel Bryan to be the main focus of the show, and WWE had no choice but to acquiesce.