Another year is in the books! Thanks so much for making RPad.TV a part of your 2016. To celebrate and reflect on the year that was, let’s take a look back at some of the best things of 2016. Naturally, when I mean “best,” I really mean “favorite.” (The idea of a movie or a record being “best” is…stupid.) Below is a “Best of 2016” list of my favorite movie, vaping gear, album, WWE Superstar, and more. I’d love to hear about your favorite anything and everything of 2016. Please share your personal highlights in the comments section. Now let’s do this!
WWE’s NXT Live tour hit Las Vegas on December 17, 2016 and put on a solid show. The card featured great wrestlers that are ready for the main roster now, some wrestlers that are still trying to figure out their characters, and a few greenies that have a long way to go. Overall, it was an enjoyable NXT Live card with several memorable moments. If there was one takeaway from the show, it was that Tye Dillinger’s “10” gimmick is incredibly over.
Below are the results from NXT Live Las Vegas and some random thoughts on the show. Also, there are a bunch of bad photos taken with my mediocre iPhone 6 Plus. (*sigh* I should have brought my real camera.)
Former WWE Superstar and current sexiest man alive Dwayne Johnson recently appeared in a pair of new trailers. Both clips celebrate his status as the top leading man in Hollywood and the king of ludicrous movies. Both trailers are wonderfully absurd vertical slices of (what should be) wonderfully preposterous movies. Check ’em out below.
Let’s start with the first trailer for The Fate of the Furious, the movie formerly known as Fast 8. Like the previous Fast and the Furious movies, this one appears to have crazy race scenes, impossible action, a dangerous amount of testosterone, enjoyably bad acting, and overuse of the word “family.” The Fate of the Furious ups the ante by cleverly using a tank, a submarine, and a gorgeous South African woman (Charlize Theron).
I don’t get Broken Matt Hardy. He looks stupid. He sounds stupid. And his gimmick is stupid. For reasons that completely escape me, Broken Matt Hardy is incredibly over with smart marks. While I respect and appreciate his late-career resurgence, I don’t understand why pro-wrestling fans are into Broken Matt Hardy (Matt Hardy Version 4?). Hopefully you can help me understand the phenomenon.
Let’s start with the new and not-at-all improved look. Broken Matt Hardy has a Gentile-fro…with a white streak. He was never chiseled, and at age 42 looks softer than ever. The first time I saw a photo of him in 2016, I thought it was a photo of Eugene, the mentally challenged WWE character. I can’t be the only smark that noticed the resemblance. Whatever the case, I can’t think of a reason why a pro-wrestler would want to look like Eugene, unless he was playing a mentally challenged character.
The first time I saw Daniel Bryan wrestle was at a Ring of Honor show in Chicago Ridge, IL in 2006. He was still working under his real name, Bryan Danielson. My excellent friend Justin and I were there to support our buddy Austin Aries (the greatest man that ever lived). As expected, Aries killed it. The bonus was the hours of spectacular wrestling I wasn’t expecting. The guys from Japan — Genki Horiguchi, Dragon Kid, and Blood Generation — were spectacular. Delirious totally cracked me up. Most importantly, that night made me a mark for Bryan Danielson and Claudio Castagnoli. The two would go on to have tremendous success in the WWE as Daniel Bryan and Antonio Cesaro, respectively.
Last night on WWE Monday Night Raw, Daniel Bryan announced his retirement. He’s only 34-years old, but due to multiple concussions, he has to call it quits as pro-wrestler. It’s sad that he won’t be able to do what he loves. Selfishly, I’m bummed that he won’t be able to sports-entertain me any longer. Still, his short career in the WWE was a remarkable one. He connected with the fans in a powerful and unconventional way. While he was always among the best technical wrestlers in the WWE, he didn’t have “the look” or the size of a typical WWE headliner. Instead, Daniel Bryan connected with the fans with unusual honesty and earnestness. He was amazing in the ring and went about his work with a contagious joy. While I thought he would do well in the WWE, I never imagined that he’d headline WrestleMania and become the most “over” guy on the roster.
In addition to the Chicago Ridge show in 2006, I also saw Daniel Bryan wrestle in Detroit in 2007. There was so much I enjoyed about this guy. As a hair metal connoisseur, I loved that he used “The Final Countdown” as his entrance song. I got a kick out of him grabbing the mic from the ring announcer so that he could append his introduction with, “The best wrestler in Chicago this weekend.” His in-ring style was fantastic — a wonderful blend of technical wrestling and high-flying. His use of old-school moves, like the airplane spin, was outstanding. I loved when Daniel Bryan would remind the ref, “I have ’til five!” While he was still Bryan Danielson, Daniel Bryan was everything I wanted from an indie wrestler.
So yeah, those were the first two times I saw Daniel Bryan in person. The last time was in 2013. This time around, he was a full-blown WWE Superstar and a huge deal. I was doing red carpet interviews at a charity event for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Despite his crazy success, it was fantastic to see that Daniel Bryan was still a goofy, laid-backed guy. Off camera, we chatted about our mutual friend Austin Aries, as well as his suddenly-improved wardrobe. His then-girlfriend (now wife) Brie Bella gave him a fashion makeover. He was still proud of his corduroys, which he had for a long time (and totally didn’t match the rest of an otherwise slick ensemble). Daniel Bryan had made it big, but Bryan Danielson was still the guy under the new suit.
As many longtime RPadholics know, after Shawn Michaels retired, I put all my WWE hopes and dreams on Daniel Bryan and Antonio Cesaro. The latter is out with an injury and the former just retired. *sigh* I loved Daniel Bryan’s WWE run (despite the lack of “cattle mutilation“). It was probably the last time I greatly enjoyed the WWE product. While he didn’t have the longevity of many “top guys” in WWE history, his star was one of the brightest that ever burned.
Last week while I was reading about hurricane Patricia, my mind drifted and I started thinking about hurricanranas. The first time I saw the move was in a match between two Japanese wrestlers. I couldn’t believe what I saw! At the time, mat wrestling and power moves were the norm in pro-wrestling. Jimmy Snuka’s superfly splash was as dynamic as it got. Years later, Scott Steiner popularized the move on American wrestling programs; it was the same deal — lots of wrestling fans couldn’t believe the move. These days, hurricanranas are fairly common, but they still get a nice pop from the crowd. Today’s Coffee Talk is about your favorite hurricanrana. Please let me know which wrestler you think does it best and, if you can remember, your reaction to the first hurricanrana you ever saw.
As for me, I’m torn between two variations of the hurricanrana. First up is Dragon Kid’s Dragonrana. It’s a top-rope somersault into a hurricanrana. The move requires great timing from both wrestlers, particularly the receiver. In order for Dragon Kid to change momentum and make the move aesthetically appealing, the receiver has to executive a powerful flip. Check it out the Dragonrana below.
Next up is the tope con hilo hurricanrana. Part of me loves the move simply because I often refer to it as the Cornholio hurricanrana and imagine Beavis doing it. It’s similar to the Dragonrana, but the tope con hilo hurricanrana has the opponent on the floor and the executor starting inside the ring. Many fans think of it as a suicide senton into a hurricanrana. The tope con hilo hurricanrana is arguably more dynamic than the Dragonrana, but I find the former more impressive because the latter gives the receiver a few seconds to adjust for mistakes. Check out the tope con hilo hurricanrana below, performed by WWE Superstar Neville when he was known as Pac.
Now it’s your turn! Kindly let me know about your favorite hurricanrana and your first hurricanrana experience. In case you need a refresher, check out the clip below with ten excellent ‘ranas.
The excellent people at Tether Studios have added Hell in a Cell 2015 content to the wonderful PickSix app for iOS. So in addition to virtually betting on NFL, MLB, and League of Legends games, you can bet on WWE PPV event results. If you’re not familiar with PickSix for iOS, here’s a brief writeup on the game. If you are familiar with PickSix then I triple-dog dare you to challenge me in a round of Hell in a Cell 2015 bets.
The bet questions are totally straightforward and easy to follow. You can choose individual match results by winner, pick how each match will end (pinfall, submission, DQ, etc.), make over/under bets on the length of each match, and more. There are even some wonky bets to place, like the number of tables that will be broken in the WWE Tag Team Championship match between New Day and The Dudley Boyz. There’s even a speculative bet on John Cena’s WWE United States Championship “open challenge” opponent (I’m hoping for Daniel Bryan or Samoa Joe, but would bet on something tame, like Dolph Ziggler). Since Hell in a Cell 2015 is in Los Angeles this year, there’s a chance that part-time wrestlers like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Chris Jericho will show up. Think they’ll make an appearance? Put your virtually currency where your mouth is and bet on it in PickSix!
Check out the screenshots below for some example questions. I’ll be waiting for your bets, sucka!!! (Imagine that I said the last sentence as if I were Booker T.)
Here’s an excellent chat between two excellent people about an excellent book. The book is Ultimate Warrior: A Life Lived Forever, by my friend Jon Robinson. Jon is a longtime videogame journalist and lifelong pro-wrestling fan. We’ve been on many road trips together and I’m amazed by his transition from videogame writer to best-selling author. The interview is a PaulSemel.com exclusive. Paul is also a longtime videogame journalist and former writer for the magazine Gene Simmons Tongue.
Since many of you RPadholics are WWE fans, I thought the interview and book would interested you. The Ultimate Warrior was one of the biggest stars in WWE history, but he was also an enigma. Chosen to carry the torch after Hulk Hogan, there was a point where Ultimate Warrior was the top guy in pro-wrestling. Unfortunately, he was a bit of a nut job and bought into his own gimmick, going as far as to legally change his name from Jim Hellwig to Warrior. He could have had it all, but pretty much self destructed.
Here’s an excerpt from the PaulSemel.com interview with Jon Robinson:
The Ultimate Warrior was one of the most fascinating characters in the history of professional wrestling, and the book breaks down everything from how he started out just hoping to make enough side money wrestling to open his own chiropractic business to how he ended up headlining WrestleMania against Hulk Hogan. Everything about Warrior was intense, from his face paint to his crazy physique, and all those aspects are detailed and displayed in full color.
When Warrior was growing up, he wasn’t even a wrestling fan. I just thought that was funny because he is such a memorable character, I would’ve thought he grew up watching the greats. But he was such a comic book fan, he found his inspiration for The Ultimate Warrior in the pages of DC and Marvel instead. I think that actually helped make him stand out even more.
When you have a chance, please check out the interview. If you dig the book, please buy it here.
The ad campaign for the Foot Locker Week of Greatness is exceptional — easily one of the funniest and most entertaining series of commercials I’ve seen in 2014. Taking athletes and sports entertainers from boxing, basketball, and WWE, these commercials poke fun at the stars they feature. There are currently four ads in rotation and I love three of them, while the other…well, you’ll see.
Let’s start with the Manny Pacquiao commercial up top. It has two guys training in a boxing gym and chatting about the Foot Locker Week of Greatness. The dude hitting the heavy bag says, “The people wanted it and Foot Locker made it happen.” Pacquiao, training in the ring, overhears that last bit and thinks the two are talking about the much-wanted Manny Pacquiao vs. Floyd Mayweather, Jr. fight. This spot cracks me up for several reasons. First, Manny’s Filipino accent is just funny (all my uncles sound like that). Secondly, this fight has been discussed for years and is way past the point where it matters anymore (aside from the huge money involved). While this would have been an incredible fight four or five years ago, boxing fans know that both fighters are past their primes and the fight wouldn’t be significant on an athletic level. Oh well, at least the preposterous negotiations gave us a funny commercial.
Next up is a spot that features Houston Rockets shooting guard James Harden. While Harden’s offense has exploded since being traded from the Oklahoma City Thunder, his defense has regressed. While it’s not nearly as bad as some make it out to be, there’s no doubt that his defensive efforts aren’t what they used to be. In the ad, Harden takes umbrage at being called defensive, saying that he’s never defensive and that he’s the last person you’ll ever see being defensive. It’s funny and I really like that Harden isn’t afraid to make fun of himself.
The commercial above is an NBA two-for. You get Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose and San Antonio Spurs power forward Tim Duncan! While it would have been hilarious to see Derrick Rose pretend to injure his knees due to excitement over the Foot Locker Week of Greatness, D-Rose is merely there for the assist. The real star of this commercial is Tim Duncan. Making fun of his reputation of being stoic and emotionless, Duncan expresses his excitement for the Foot Locker Week of Greatness in a wonderfully deadpan way. The part where he (not really) knocks over the plant kills me every time I see it.
Wrapping it up is a Foot Locker Week os Greatness featuring WWE Superstar John Cena. It makes fun of pro-wrestling being fake. It’s a cute spot and Cena has millions of fans…but I’m not one of them. He’s a super-nice guy, but I’ve never enjoyed Cena as a performer in WWE and I didn’t enjoy seeing him in this ad.
When you get a chance, check out all four Foot Locker Week of Greatness ads and let me know which one you like best (please!).
As great as WWE legend Bret “The Hitman” Hart was in the ring, few pro-wrestling aficionados would say that he was stellar on the mic. For the most part, The Hitman cut dull promos that weren’t particularly interesting, inspiring, or memorable. Sure, he had his moments as the anti-American Canadian babyface during the Attitude Era, but compared to guys like “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Hulk Hogan, The Rock, etc., Bret was a bit boring.
Then there was Bret’s WCW run, which was pretty lame compared to his WWE work. His ring work was uninspired, he was given dumb angles, and Goldberg ended his career with a botched spot. With that in mind, it’s surprising that one of The Hitman’s best and funniest promos took place in WCW. I’m talking about the legendary “Who Are You to Doubt El Dandy?” promo.
The promo starts off slowly, so skip ahead to the 1:22 mark. That’s when the magic starts to happen. “Mean” Gene Okerlund tries to put over Booker T as a worthy challenger for Bret’s US Championship title. The Hitman scoffs at this and rattles off some wrestlers he deems worthy. Bret tries to put over cruiserweight luchador El Dandy. After Gene protests, Bret delivers the awesome line of, “Who are you to doubt El Dandy?” Next, he tries to suggest Psicosis, but erroneously calls him Hypnosis. Ha! It’s hilarious stuff from a guy that’s usually not very funny.
Check out the promo below and let me know what you think of the shockingly funny Bret “The Hitman” Hart promo. After you’ve done that, ask yourself one question — who are you to doubt El Dandy?!?
Special thanks to my pal Lorie for inspiring this article with this Instagram post.