Friday, April 28, 2023

Top Ten Things: Metallica Songs (30-21)

We're at the halfway point of our big Metallica Top 50 countdown with the middle ten songs!

Here we go....

30. No Leaf Clover

One of two new songs introduced for the S&M live album, "No Leaf Clover" is by far the standout, an ominous midtempo dirge with a killer chorus melody.  Lyrically the song seems to be about taking shortcuts to success and paying the price for it later - ("Then it comes to be that the soothing light at the end of your tunnel/Was just a freight train coming your way").  The orchestra heightens both the splendor and emotion of this tune, giving it an epic, apocalyptic feel.  This was the last great song of the Jason Newsted era.

29. King Nothing

Probably the most Black Album-ish song on Load is this straightforward midtempo track, also about the dangers of seeking success at all costs.  "King Nothing" has one of the strongest chorus hooks on the entire album, with huge open power chords and lots of attitude in James' vocal - "Then it all crashes down/And you break your crown/And you point your finger but there's no one around" - and a super-infectious 4/4 groove.  Love the sense of schadenfreude in this song.

28. The Call of Ktulu

Metallica's first great instrumental track was largely written by ex-guitarist Dave Mustaine, who later repurposed parts of it for the classic Megadeth song "Hangar 18."  But "The Call of Ktulu" is an eight-minute opus with delicate ascending guitar arpeggios in the intro/outro and a huge tritone-based main riff that gives Cliff Burton space to show off his distorted wah bass fills.  There's an atmosphere of desolation that fits right in with the HP Lovecraft-inspired title, and this is a monumental way to close out Ride the Lightning.

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Top Ten Things: Metallica Songs (40-31)

Welcome to Part 2 of our Top 50 countdown of Metallica songs!  In this segment we cover #40-31....  

Click for Part 1

Let's dive right in!

40. Bad Seed

Back to the Reload album, this midtempo chugger features a main riff that the band may or may not have inadvertently lifted from an old Soundgarden song called "Get On the Snake," which Chris Cornell's other band Audioslave then lifted for their tune "Your Time Has Come."  From there the guitars settle into a syncopated wah-enhanced groove over which James sings about the perils of greed, using the metaphor of a carnival barker preying on the gullible - "You bit more than you need/Now you're choking on the bad seed."  An overlooked deep cut from Metallica's experimental phase.

39. Until it Sleeps

The band pulled no punches when it announced the June 1996 release of their sixth album Load, leading off with a single very much out of left field.  Rather than going the safe and easy route with say "King Nothing," Metallica chose the moody, Chris Isaak-esque "Until it Sleeps" as the first single, informing the fans in no uncertain terms that their next album would not be what we were expecting to hear.  It was a ballsy move to say the least, but "Until it Sleeps" is a helluva piece of music, beginning with a fretless bass line and clean guitar with a rotary speaker effect, and featuring one of James' most sorrowful vocals.  Steeped in the abstract, the lyrics could be about trying to conquer addiction ("You feed it once and now it stays"), confronting one's destructive impulses ("So tear me open but beware/There's things inside without a care"), or simply falling on hard times ("So tell me why you've chosen me/Don't want your grip, don't want your greed").  Whatever your interpretation, "Until it Sleeps" is one of the band's most evocative songs, accompanied by one of their most visually striking videos, released during a time of unapologetic reinvention.

38. Carpe Diem Baby

Cheesy title aside, "Carpe Diem Baby" is one of my favorites on Reload, a slow, grungy song simply about seizing one's chance and throwing caution to the wind ("Bleed the day and break the rule").  Nothing thematically complex going on here, but this song boasts an infectious chorus hook and a fat, chunky guitar tone.  Loved it right away.

Top Ten Things: Metallica Songs (50-41)

Welcome to another special Metallica-related Top Ten Things, here at!

Yup, I still have Metallica on the brain so I decided to expand and update my old Top 10 list of Metallica songs from 2015 or so, and since the band just dropped another 12 tunes courtesy of their new album 72 Seasons it's as good a time as any.  This list is very subjective and tough to pin down, and would probably change somewhat on a daily basis, but hell, let's give it a go.  

Side note: I'm only including original Metallica tunes and not the numerous covers they've done.  Why?  Just wanted to have more space for the originals I guess.  Maybe I'll write up a separate covers list.

Anyway, here's Part 1, covering songs 50-41.....

50. Too Far Gone?

Right out of the gate we have one of the new tracks, "Too Far Gone?" which is a short, fast-paced banger with a memorable, hooky chorus.  The vocal harmonies remind me a bit of Misfits tunes like "Last Caress," while the lyrics more or less convey a desperate cry for help.  The middle section features some of those gorgeous, signature Metallica guitar harmonies that help make this song an 11th album highlight.


49. Hate Train

The Death Magnetic sessions yielded ten album tracks but also four leftovers, which the band released three years later as the Beyond Magnetic EP.  This roughly mixed quartet of tunes featured some very overlooked material, the best of which in my opinion is "Hate Train," another experiment in dynamics where the verse sections are heavy and the first two choruses bring it down with clean guitars and melodic vocals.  Then following the solo section the band explodes with a double-time, chugging chorus variation.  I actually find this song superior to a few of the DM album tracks and it's a shame it didn't make the cut.

48. Sweet Amber

St. Anger is pretty universally considered Metallica's weakest album, but that doesn't mean there aren't good songs on it.  One of the best for me is this addiction-themed piece that features a memorable galloping guitar riff and cleverly introspective lyrics like "She holds the pen that spells the end/She traces me and draws me in."  "Sweet Amber" is one of several later Metallica songs that resonates more as I get older.

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Top Ten Things: Metallica Albums, RANKED

Welcome to another Top Ten Things, here at!  Today I look at the catalog of the biggest metal band in history, the mighty Metallica!

Anyone who knows me at all knows I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Metallica aficionado, and if you've read for any length of time you've probably gotten that sense as well.  For me the summit of Music Mountain is twofold - there's The Beatles and there's Metallica.  Everyone else is just trying to reach the top.

With the release of the band's eleventh album 72 Seasons, it's time to update the album ranking.  Enough yakkin', let's get to it!

11. St. Anger

Metallica's much-maligned "therapy" record and its accompanying film Some Kind of Monster were essentially a document of a band coming apart at the seams and ultimately stitching themselves back together.  Recording began in 2001 when internal relations within the group were at an all-time low, and departed bassist Jason Newsted had been temporarily replaced by producer Bob Rock.  The album's tone was ugly, messy and raw, reflecting many of the previously unspoken feelings floating around between the remaining band members.  St. Anger was met with much scorn from diehard Metallica fans at the time of its release, and in 2003 I considered it a pretty big disappointment.  But over the years I've come to appreciate it from a visceral, emotional standpoint.  It was the album the band needed to make in order to come back together and trudge forward.  The muddy lack of production, de-tuned guitars, and that awful pinging snare drum helped put to music the state of mind the band was in, illustrating what a bloated monster Metallica had become.  With St. Anger out of their system Metallica would now be free to find themselves again.

Key Tracks: Frantic, My World, Sweet Amber

10. ReLoad

The second half of Metallica's late-90s two-parter, this 76-minute collection featured some of the band's most experimental material.  A continuation of the alt-metal sound established with Load, this album took things a step further, somewhat eschewing Metallica's riff-driven roots for more textural guitar work and unusual instrumentation.  Songs like the country-tinged "Unforgiven II" and the Tom Waits-influenced "Low Man's Lyric" (featuring a hurdy-gurdy) pushed the boundaries of what constituted the Metallica sound.  ReLoad definitely includes some B-material ("Better Than You," "Attitude") and a few songs too reminiscent of those on Load ("Fixxer" is essentially "Outlaw Torn 2"), but it's got a few classics as well, like the driving opener "Fuel," still one of my all-time Metallica favorites.

Key Tracks: Fuel, Carpe Diem Baby, Bad Seed

9. Kill 'Em All

The album that kicked off one of the greatest musical careers of all-time, Kill 'Em All essentially invented the speed/thrash metal genre, boasting razor-sharp twin rhythm guitars and machine-gun drum blasts.  It was the prototype for modern metal records and introduced the world to Hetfield, Ulrich, Hammett and Burton.  In my estimation it's still one of the greatest-ever debut albums and certainly one of the most influential.  Despite its efficacy however this record hasn't aged as well for me as some of the others.  It often feels like Speed Metal 101, as it lacks some of the depth and sophistication Metallica would discover only a few years later.  Still there's no denying what a metal milestone Kill 'Em All proved to be.

Key Tracks: Hit the Lights, The Four Horsemen, Jump in the Fire

Monday, April 24, 2023

Music Review: Metallica - 72 Seasons

Welcome to a special album review piece here at!  Now that the long-awaited 11th Metallica album 72 Seasons has dropped and my esteemed colleague Mike Drinan and I have had ten days to fully digest it, we thought we'd give it the same discussion treatment we gave Hardwired all those years ago!  Get ready for a deep dive...

JB: Michael, before we dig into the individual tracks, what are your high-level thoughts on 72 Seasons?

MD: It's a good, solid Metallica album that should satisfy fans of all eras of the band, whether you prefer their thrash style or the blues based rock of the Load era, it's all on this album. The production is really polished on this, James's vocals sound incredible and his lyrics seem to be more evocative and introspective, which I kind of felt was lacking on Hardwired. Rob's presence on this album is really at the forefront and I love what his playing brings to these songs. 

My biggest issue with this album that kept coming up was how they struggled with transitions and outros. There was a lot of starts and stops when going into a new section of the song, almost as if they didn't have any other ideas on how to bridge the sections together. The ending of the songs were even worse for me, especially on "Shadows Follow" where the song was over and they kept doing the same thing over and over and over until they finally ended the song. Those were my two biggest nitpicks. 

Other than that, I really enjoyed the album overall and felt it was exactly what I expected of the band at this stage of their career.

JB: I think this album is a big step up from Hardwired.  It continues that direction stylistically, bringing together elements from every era (minus St. Anger, though lyrically it harkens back to the early aughts as James worked through a recent bout with his personal demons).  But everything just sounds more confident on this album and it feels much more like a collaboration between all four members.  Kirk thankfully gets some songwriting credits again (the main riff of "72 Seasons" is probably his most front-and-center contribution, and it's a great one), and his soloing is the strongest it's been in probably 30 years.  His lead work is much more surefooted this time around and it's great to hear him playing to his strengths again after years of him just sorta being there.  Also like you said, Rob Trujillo's bass is very present on this one, featured more than anything they've released since Load/Reload and the songs are so much stronger for it.

Lars once again defies his age with laser-precision drumming and machine-gun double-kick parts on the fast stuff, and four-on-the-floor solid grooves on the Black Album-esque tunes.  He sure does love those snare fills.

As always James is the backbone of the band, supplying even more evidence why he's maybe the greatest rhythm guitarist of all time, while also pouring his heart out lyrically and making the songs much more relatable than on Hardwired, where they often felt at arm's length.  There's some really nice vocal production on here too that reminded me of the Bob Rock era.

The transition stuff you mentioned didn't bother me; I actually like some of the stop and start touches they added (the outro of "72 Seasons" for example - Lars' fingerprints are all over those bits I think.

Overall I consider 72 Seasons their strongest work in many years - it could've used maybe a bit more variety but they were obviously going for an exhausting, relentless metal journey and on those terms this is a really successful effort from where I sit.  There's a real maturity on display here, from a group of guys hitting their 60s (that just seems wrong to me), combined with early-era exuberance on some of the tunes.  It's an album that definitely rewards multiple listens, which is generally my favorite type of album.

What are the standout songs for you?

Friday, April 14, 2023

Top Ten Things: Shawn Michaels WrestleMania Matches

Welcome to another edition of Top Ten Things, here at!  And welcome to yet another episode of my barely coherent ramblings about the phenomenon known as WrestleMania.  Today I'm talking about the ten greatest 'Mania appearances by my all-time favorite wrestler, The Heartbreak Kid himself, Shawn Michaels.

Many years ago people started referring to Shawn Michaels as "Mr. WrestleMania," and one doesn't need to look very hard to see why.  In terms of consistently delivering show stealing performances on the WWE's biggest stage, Shawn has no equal.  From 1994-1998, and again from 2003-2010, Michaels' WrestleMania match was generally considered either the best or second-best match on the show, and during those same years his 'Mania match won Pro Wrestling Illustrated's Match of the Year a staggering NINE times (plus he had two non-WrestleMania winners).

Look, I don't need to prattle on about what an incredible pro wrestler Michaels was, so let's just get to the list.  Here now are my ten picks for Shawn's greatest WrestleMania matches.

10. Diesel vs. Shawn Michaels - WrestleMania XI

What should have been main event of 'Mania 11 was also the only worthy match on the card, as former friends Diesel and Shawn Michaels battled for the WWF Title.  Diesel's abrupt main event push was the WWF's attempt to recreate the success of Hulk Hogan.  Sadly Kevin Nash had nowhere near the overwhelming fan support Hogan did, and the Hartford crowd actually ended up cheering the breathtaking athletic abilities of Shawn Michaels, despite his being the heel.  Even in losing the match, Shawn positioned himself as the next main event babyface and the most popular guy in the company.

9. Shawn Michaels vs. Ric Flair - WrestleMania XXIV

Shawn Michaels vs. Ric Flair was one of the most emotional matches I've ever seen.  Michaels obviously deserves a lot of the credit for making this match great, as he bumped around like crazy, per usual.  But Flair's storytelling was also off the charts and he emoted wonderfully, making the audience really care about his career-ending journey.  The final seconds of the match when Flair tearfully begged Shawn to hit the superkick, followed by the sorrow on Shawn's face, made for one of the most memorable of all 'Mania moments.  I given Flair's age at this point I had low expectations going into this, but two of the all-time greats stole the show with this memorable bit of storytelling.

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Top Ten Things: Undertaker WrestleMania Matches

Welcome to another edition of Top Ten Things, here at!  Today we're talking about The Phenom, The Deadman, The Conscience of WWE, and his greatest bouts at WWE's biggest PPV of the year, WrestleMania!

Probably the greatest streak in fake sports was the one held by The Undertaker, a winning streak at WrestleMania that lasted over two decades and led to one of the most shocking moments in wrestling history when it was broken.  What started as an organic bit of booking happenstance evolved into possibly the biggest perennial feature on The Showcase of the Immortals.  Suddenly there was a built-in long-term storyline for one of the top WrestleMania matches every year, and for quite a while Taker's match either stole the show or came damn close.  Even after The Streak was broken by Brock Lesnar, Taker's match would continue to be one of the top featured attractions.

But which of his 'Mania showings stand atop the others?  Here now are, in my estimation, The Undertaker's greatest WrestleMania bouts....

10. Undertaker vs. Kane - WrestleMania XIV

Taker's first great 'Mania bout didn't occur until he'd already established a six-match winning streak (Yes, his 1996 match with Diesel was solid, but aside from that his 'Mania outings up until this point were forgettable at best).  In 1997 Taker was involved in a long storyline arc wherein his former manager Paul Bearer revealed he had a long-lost half-brother named Kane (Ironically Kane was actually Taker's first name when he debuted).  The company built up Kane's first appearance for several months before he attacked Taker during the first Hell in a Cell match, and from then on he was established as an unstoppable monster.  Also to the company's credit, they held off giving away too much physical interaction between the Brothers of Destruction, so by the time this match finally took place it truly felt like Taker would be facing his ultimate adversary.  The match itself didn't disappoint; the two behemoths delivered a very physical fight that Taker was only able to win via three consecutive Tombstone piledrivers.  Even in a loss, Kane was set up as a major star.

9. Undertaker vs. Ric Flair - WrestleMania X8

The most unexpected hit from the 2002 'Mania was this amazingly brutal Street Fight.  Taker, then a heel, had assaulted Flair's son David and his best friend Arn Anderson, in an effort to goad the aging former Champion into a fight.  In Flair's first truly good match since his WWF return, he bumped and bled all over the place to make Taker look like a sadistic, unstoppable bully.  The highlight of this match for me was a top-rope superplex that looked as punishing as any I've ever seen.  Flair fought valiantly but eventually fell to BikerTaker, giving the latter his tenth WrestleMania win.

8. Undertaker vs. Randy Orton - WrestleMania 21

After a serious in-ring slump in 2003-04, Taker was able to return to form in this underrated match with the Legend Killer.  Orton had just finished a horribly failed babyface run in late 2004 and the company wisely turned him heel again, leading to Orton challenging Taker to a Legend vs. Legend Killer match.  These two worked extremely well together, delivering one of the better matches on the card that ended with Taker reversing an Orton Tombstone into his own for the win.  Taker and Orton would go on to have a series of strong matches throughout 2005, in a feud that helped re-elevate Orton.

7. Undertaker vs. Triple H - WrestleMania XXVII

In 2011 both The Undertaker and Triple H returned from a long hiatus.  Taker's return was teased ahead of time, but just as he was about to cut a promo the familiar strains of Motorhead filled the arena, announcing The Game.  The two veterans stared each other down before Hunter wordlessly made a challenge by turning his gaze to the WrestleMania 27 sign.  The match itself, while full of typical No-DQ frills, was a fairly epic, very dramatic WWE-style main event with some great gasp-inducing nearfalls.  Taker finally won with Hell's Gate but was so exhausted he had to be stretchered to the back on a forklift.  But these two would outdo each other one year later, both in terms of storytelling and action.

Thursday, April 6, 2023

Top Ten Things: Women's WrestleMania Matches

Well it's been a while, but welcome to a brand new edition of Top Ten Things, here at, where I make a list of ten things and put them in a certain order.  It sounds so arbitrary when I phrase it like that....

Today I'm talking about matches taking place at WrestleMania, specifically women's matches.  Say what you will about WWE's annual spring spectacular or its product in general - the quality is hit-or-miss at best nowadays, and we went from obscenely long five-plus-hour shows to a two-night WrestleMania weekend (which I much prefer over the former).  But one thing we seem to be able to count on in recent years is that at least one offering from the women's division will deliver in the clutch.  Said division has come a very long way from the Divas matches of old, usually sandwiched in between far more important bouts and only allotted 4-6 minutes, or worse, given the eye candy treatment of Bra & Panties matches, Playboy pillow fights, and other stupidity.  For every time Trish Stratus or Lita attempted to transcend back in the day there were upwards of a dozen other instances of the women being presented as either an afterthought or a debasement.  But now the women's division has become one of the featured attractions at the Showcase of the Immortals, sometimes in more than one bout.  Hell, there are times when they end up more or less saving the show.  Here now are the best women's matches in WrestleMania history (and for the purposes of this article I've included one mixed tag match).

HM: Becky Lynch vs. Shayna Baszler - WrestleMania 36

2020's WrestleMania was an odd one thanks to COVID restrictions preventing it taking place in front of an audience.  The two nights were taped the week before, with very mixed results.  One of a few mild Night 1 successes was this RAW Women's Title match, pitting the uber-popular Becky Lynch against the winner of that year's women's Elimination Chamber, Shayna Baszler.  Shayna had singlehandedly run through all her Chamber opponents on the way to 'Mania, and it was expected she'd steamroll Lynch on her way to main roster gold.  But odd booking prevailed and Becky countered a Kirafuda Clutch with a Bret Hart-style rollup to retain the title at 8:30.  Not a great match by any means, but a solid showing from both women, and to date Becky Lynch's last WrestleMania appearance, wherein she'd all but guaranteed reaching a full year as the champion.

HM: Bayley vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax - WrestleMania 33

This Fatal 4-Way Elimination match came to be after Charlotte lost the RAW Women's Title to Bayley on an episode of RAW.  She then also lost in her bid to regain the belt at Fastlane (her first-ever loss on a main roster PPV).  Sasha meanwhile had been feuding with Nia, and both of them beat Bayley in non-title matches to earn a spot here.  This match was a step down from the WrestleMania 32 women's Triple Threat match but still featured some fun action.  Charlotte, Sasha and Bayley triple-teamed Nia Jax to get her eliminated first, Charlotte eliminated Banks with the help of an exposed turnbuckle, and Bayley quickly used the same turnbuckle to defeat Charlotte and retain.  This saga could've easily been better planned by having Bayley win the title from Charlotte at WrestleMania 33, thus ending her previously undefeated streak on PPV.  But aside from squandering a bigger moment this match was a pretty good showcase of the burgeoning RAW women's division.

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

NJPW Sakura Genesis 2023 Preview & Predictions

Welp, now that WWE has chased me away again as a fan, time to talk about more fun things, namely this weekend's NJPW Sakura Genesis show!

The April spectacular is back this year, and it mostly feels like the Sakura/Invasion Attack shows of old, with a slew of title matches and some potential shakeups.  NJPW is pushing a couple of new faces to the top of the card - I say "new" as in, we haven't seen them in this position before.  David Finlay has taken over Bullet Club in the absence of his former fellow Young Lion Jay White (though on this show he's relegated to an undercard six-man).  Meanwhile former LIJ stalwart Sanada has departed Naito's stable and joined the Just Five Guys group (That's a terrible name for a wrestling stable, are they making hamburgers?), on his way to winning the New Japan Cup and becoming the #1 contender.  Okada vs. Sanada isn't a new matchup by any means, but Sanada has a new lease on life and could finally win the big one.  But we'll get to that.  I'm only going to do picks for the five title matches because the first four bouts on this show are multi-man fluff.

IWGP Women's Championship: Mercedes Moné vs. Hazuki vs. AZM

Mercedes has her first IWGP Women's Title defense on this show, and it's tough to know what will happen here.  I think she only signed on to wrestle at Battle in the Valley and Sakura Genesis, so unless she's extended her NJPW time it's possible she loses the belt (likely without being pinned, hence the triple threat).  Considering the state of WWE right now, I can't imagine she'd want to go back at this time.  So if she is indeed done with NJPW let's hope AEW can get her on board; The Outcasts stable is a couple members short of a level playing field.  Then again, maybe this won't be her last NJPW match, who knows?  It does seem counterproductive for her to lose the title in her first go as champion, so I guess I'll pick her to retain and hope she's sticking around for a while.

Pick: Mercedes retains

NJPW World TV Championship: Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Shota Umino

This might be the one I'm most excited about.  Umino is absolutely a future star and he's really finding himself.  ZSJ is always great.  This could go either way.  ZSJ becoming the first TV champ was the right move to establish the belt, but since Umino is clearly someone the company wants to push it would make sense for him to capture it here.  I guess I'll go with the new guy.

Pick: Umino

IWGP Tag Team Championship: Bishamon vs. Aussie Open 

Weirdly four of these titles were won by the current champs on the same date.  This is another match that I could see going either way.  With Will Ospreay on the shelf for a bit it's hard to gauge what's in store for the rest of United Empire.  I guess I'll pick the champs to retain?

Pick: Bishamon retains

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship: Hiromu Takahashi vs. Robbie Eagles

Here's one that's an easy pick I think.  Takahashi is the division centerpiece and the only one in a position to be that right now.  Taking the title off him only three months in wouldn't make sense.  Takahashi retains in a banger.

Pick: Takahashi retains

IWGP World Championship: Kazuchika Okada vs. Sanada

And here's where the company is at a crossroads.  On one hand Okada is their bread and butter, and the company isn't super hot where they can take many risks.  Nor is Sanada the beacon of charisma Okada is.  That said, it might be time for a shakeup, even if it's only for a couple months.  NJPW has often in the past given a new top guy a run with the belt during the spring, just to test the waters.  They did it with Okada in 2012 (February to June), with Naito in 2016 (April to June), with Jay White in 2019 (Febuary to April), and with Evil in 2020 (July to August).  If things don't work out with Sanada on top they can always switch it back to the proven commodity at Dominion.  I think that's probably what will happen; they don't really have a clear Dominion opponent for Okada otherwise.

Pick: Sanada finally wins the big one

This is a pretty solid lineup, albeit not the most exciting one.  New Japan is still working on regaining their mojo.  Some new blood in the championship scenes might help.

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Tuesday, April 4, 2023

WWE RAW: Cody Is Just Another Loser

Well if Sunday's WrestleMania finish didn't tip you off, last night's RAW sure must have: Vince McMahon is back in charge of WWE.  And WWE is back to sucking.

After months of mostly very compelling, very focused, very engaging television under Triple H's creative leadership (a period that saw WWE become the hottest it's been in many many years) Vince, ever the malignant narcissist, forced his way back in to dump a big rancid bucket of piss on the raging fire Hunter built.  "Yeah I know with Triple H in charge ratings are way up and ticket sales are way up and the crowd is more emotionally invested than they've been in two decades and this WrestleMania drew a metric fuckton of money, but screw all that, I need to be in control."  

I guess Vince doesn't want fans like me to come back.  And man, WWE almost had me this time.  This WrestleMania build, while not perfect across the board, was nonetheless the most promising one in over a decade.  I really, truly cared about seeing these stories culminate at the Show of Shows.  'Mania Night 1 (clearly booked primarily by Paul) turned out to be one of the best 'Mania shows in company history and drew unanimous praise from diehard and casual fans alike.  Night 2 had Vince's greasy fingerprints all over it, and was universally considered inferior.  Imagine being so insecure you can't just let someone else get the big win for the team.  

Monday, April 3, 2023

WWE WrestleMania 39 Review: Cody Rhodes = Lex Luger

Welp, WWE did it again.  And by that I mean two things.  The first "it" is, they presented one of the best WrestleMania shows of all time on Saturday, a lean seven-match lineup capped off by two stellar title bouts.  The second "it" is, they snatched a stupid and unnecessary defeat from the jaws of total victory by porking the ending of the Sunday night show.  And then at the post-show press conference they tried to rationalize it with a bunch of word salad.

It's really a shame this company can't be counted on to just deliver a layup, like ever.  They were handed an all-time great main event story that by all rights should've culminated in a triumphant title win for the returning hero.  Ya know, like they did in 1994, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2014, and 2019?  There's a reason this story gets told a lot - it works.  Basically every single time.  Wrestling has always been about telling logical and usually predictable stories that build to a satisfying payoff.  Know what doesn't work?  Having the hero come up short and look like a cuckhold on the biggest stage of them all.  Who wants to cheer for a guy who can't deliver in the clutch?  Cody Rhodes had a chance to become the next John Cena and instead he left SoFi Stadium looking like the next Lex Luger.  

Triple H proceeded to twist himself into logic pretzels at the media scrum, saying stuff like "This is just a chapter, there's more to the story."  Where?  What more?  WrestleMania is never supposed to be "just a chapter," WrestleMania is supposed to be the climax.  Even if Cody gets another shot, which I'm sure he will, he's already failed once.  The luster's already gone.  Winning the title at SummerSlam or some other secondary PPV doesn't have the same impact as winning it at WrestleMania.  I think Hunter of all people knows this.  Hey, remember that time in 2002 when a top babyface returned from an injury seven months earlier, won the Royal Rumble, and beat the Undisputed Champion at WrestleMania to complete his hero's journey?  Yeah, his name was Triple H.  "RAW the next night continues the story."  You don't expect us to believe you consider having Cody show up on RAW cutting a tearful, mopey "I failed" promo more compelling than his showing up with the belts on his shoulders, giving an impassioned victory speech before a new challenger emerges.  I refuse to believe you believe that.  I also refuse to believe you had a compelling "next chapter" already in the works going into this weekend.  This is just another case of them punting the ball until they come up with something else.  WWE had a golden opportunity to have a new made man, and they once again ignored it, in the most unimaginative way possible.