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Macho Man Randy Savage

This week:

  • Macho Man Goes into WWE Hall of Fame

  • Where’s Alberto Del Rio?

  • Royal Rumble Predictions

  • And More!

Mike Maillaro: Welcome one and all!  Cheap Pops is Critical Blast’s newest column.  Each week, we will be bringing you news and commentary about the wide world of wrestling.  One thing we noticed is that too many sites cover only the WWE.  And of course, the big dog will get focus here, but we hope to bring you news from all over the wrestling spectrum.

I’m Mike Maillaro.  Oddly enough, even though I’ve been a wrestling fan on and off since watching Wrestlemania III with my cousins, I haven’t written about wrestling since I did a weekly column for my college newspaper like 15 years ago.  But when I came over to Critical Impact, Chris suggested that we should do a wrestling column, so I figured, why not?

Chris Delloiacono - I initially became a wrestling fan right after the first Wrestlemania.  I can't say I've followed every day since, but I've been a regular watcher in the ensuing years.  I've been writing reviews of comics and movies for more than a decade but, like Mike, I've never written anything wrestling related.  I'm thrilled to finally have a forum to regularly collaborate with Mike about one of our passions.

Let's go to the ring!

Macho Man named to WWE Hall of Fame

Chris: Most of my wrestling life has been spent rooting for the guys who put on great matches. Barry Windham, Ric Flair, Ricky Steamboat, Bret Hart, Curt Henning, CM Punk, and Daniel Bryan are amongst the men I've called my favorite wrestler.  Oh yeah...and the "Macho Man" Randy Savage. Dig it!  

In the '80s there were so few capable of cutting promos and putting on matches like him.  Does anyone remember him beating Hulk Hogan a couple of months in a row at the Garden in 1986?  The decisions were by DQ and countout, but still, he came off like the most dangerous heel in the business. That was until his run as the top baby face a year or so down the line.  These things come together to illustrate an absolute no brainer for the Hall.  He was not just a master in the ring and on the mic, but he could play both sides of the aisle.  

Mike: When I told this news to our friend Josh, he said that Macho Man was the best wrestler ever in terms of overall talent.   I don’t know if he’s quite the best, but he’s easily in the top three for me.  I would probably rank Dusty Rhodes and Ric Flair just slightly higher.  

Macho Man not only put on amazing matches and gave brilliant promos, but he just had an amazing presence to him at all times.   And he seemed to have nothing but love for his fans.  On the WWE Network, his brother mentioned that even if it was for a small house show in a backwoods place, Randy would still put on a show just like it was Wrestlemania.  You have to respect that...especially in an era where we have a champion who doesn’t show up for TV tapings, much less house shows.

I don’t want to dwell on this too long, but I’m glad this FINALLY happened.  Just like Warrior last year, there are some things just more important that grudges and old wounds.  Just a shame that this didn’t happen before Macho Man’s death.  

Hey, Chris.  What do you think about Hogan inducting him?   I guess it makes the most sense, though I was really hoping it would be Steamboat.

Chris: Before I answer the question, I'd say Savage ranks right up there as far as the complete package goes.  I'd probably give Flair the edge based on longevity at the top.  The Nature Boy was, essentially, The Man for more than twenty years.  As far as Dusty, he's one of my all time favorites.  I love me the son of a plumber, the American Dream, if ya will.  His promos may be the best ever, but I don't think his in-ring work was close to Macho or Flair.  I'd say "overall talent" like Shawn Michaels or Steve Austin were closer to Savage and Flair.  Anyway, that's a huge digression.  Let's save this debate for another column.

As for Hogan, he definitely seems like the right choice.  He worked on top with Macho for years.  They drew serious money together and were great friends.  On the other hand, they had a horrible falling out, and Hogan never once did a "job" for Savage.  Not one clean, or even screw job, pitfall.  Ever!  

Savage wanted nothing to do with the Hall in life, unless they put his dad, Angelo, in as well.  Hogan claims he and Savage had made up just before Randy died.  If that's the case, maybe it's fitting.  Still, Savage's brother Lanny Poffo, a lower carder in the WWF, would have been a much better choice. When it's all said and done, I hope Hogan makes his speech all about The Macho Man and not more Hulkamania bluster.

Mike: Lanny will likely be accepting for his brother, so I am assuming that is why he is not inducting him.  

As long as Hogan doesn’t come out to promote the Network the whole speech, it would be a step up from his latest appearances on WWE TV…

Alberto Del Rio makes Lucha Underground debut

10394465_942173965807795_4316805465661928067_n.jpgMike: Alberto Del Rio made his debut over the weekend at the Lucha Underground tapings as Alberto El Patron.  Someone made the comment on the Lucha Underground Facebook feed that Alberto getting fired by WWE was probably the best thing that could have happened for his career, with him making appearances in Ring of Honor and Lucha Underground.  Yeah, WWE is the big leagues, but  I am still hard-pressed to disagree.  I think he’s going to get a much better chance to show off his talents in smaller promotions.

I always thought ADR was terrific in the ring, though I didn’t always like his character in the WWE.  I  think they pushed him a little too fast and didn’t have a real clear direction what to do with him other than rich arrogant Mexican guy.  I did like him with Ricardo. 

Chris: Albertoooooooooo Delllllll Riiiiiiiiiiiiio!  Oh right, Al Patron.  He's one of my favorites and it's fantastic we are going to see him in Lucha Underground.  They've already got one of the best wrestling hours on TV.  He's a storyteller in the ring, which is what it's all about.  I cannot wait to see him face off against Prince Puma, Johnny Mundo, King Cuerno, Mil Muertes, and I can keep going.  This will be fun!

Royal Rumble Analysis and Predictions

Match 1 - 30-man Royal Rumble match for a WWE World Heavyweight Championship match at WrestleMania 31 - Confirmed entrants:  Roman Reigns, Daniel Bryan, Rusev, Bray Wyatt, Bad News Barrett, Dean Ambrose, Stardust, Goldust, Big Show, Kane, The Miz, Damien Mizdow, R-Truth

Chris: Look, WWE seems to be building towards a major Wrestlemania moment and a first championship victory for Roman Reigns.  Judging by his ring work and interview abilities, neither of which approach the abovementioned Macho Man.  Hell, his work in either instance doesn't approach The Junkyard Dog, for that matter.  To say, he's not ready, is clear to so many.  Can he be ready some day?  Of course, but this year shouldn't be it. 

The only viable alternatives I see, though are a mixed bag for one reason or another.  

  • Daniel Bryan - he is so over with the crowd that he deserves another shot at the belt. If he proves healthy enough, perhaps that's the way it goes.  Odds: Unlikely, but possible.
  • Rusev - Rusev isn't bad in the ring, but his gimmick bores the day lights out of me.  That said, he draws crazy heat and I think this would be their best bet.  Have him win here then crush , I mean utterly destroy, I'm talking eviscerate, Brock Lesnar at 'Mania.  If Brock's really going back to MMA, then you have a new elite monster.  Let him hold the title for a long run, and whoever beats him, become the new ultimate babyface.  Odds: WWE has main event plans for Rusev, but I don't think yet.
  • Undertaker - This would be an interesting way to go.  Taker wins the Rumble and repays the favor for ending The Streak last year.  He could then retire with the title, and take a Last Ride into the sunset. Odds - Doubtful

Chris's Prediction: Its kind of sad, but I only see these few with any shot.  The WWE needs to build new stars.  In the end, I think it's time for the Roman Empire, to ascend and try to take hold of the top spot.  He may just be a failure as the top guy, like Diesel, but maybe there's glory at the top too.  I don't want to see it, but it's going to be Roman.

Mike: The Royal Rumble is pretty much my favorite wrestling event every year.  One big problem though is that since the WWE only has one big title, it sort of takes a lot of the suspense out of the match.  There is no way you will get a relative low carder to win, because winning this match means you will be main eventing Wrestlemania.  And there aren’t many guys elevated to that level right now.

On the surface, I don’t think anyone has a shot at winning this other than Daniel Bryan or Roman Reigns.  Daniel Bryan was on top of the world until his injuries derailed him.  If there was any sense in the world, he would be right back at the top of the card.  BUT, WWE might want to give some time to make sure he’s not going to get hurt again.  

So, the likely winner is Roman Reigns.  Even though he’s still real green on the mike and the ring, the WWE seems determined to push him to the moon.  I actually like Reigns, but I don’t think he’s ready.  I’m worried he’s going to flame out like Miz or Sheamus.  Those were both guys WWE pushed too hard and then abandoned for vague reasons.  You could probably add Del Rio to that list, come to think about it.

Mike's Prediction: I have decided to be real optimistic here.  My pick?  Ziggler.  Somehow he ends up in the match, and like Survivor Series he ends up being the hero.  I am probably being delusional here, but that is who I am going with.

Chris: Oh, baby!  That would be something else.  Ziggler deserves a shot on top. He's got the crowd behind him, isn't bad on the mic, and he can work a fantastic match.  

Mike: You know what just occurred to me.  They could have Sting win it.  At least that would be a surprise (shout out to our friend Rob).  Right now, it feels like Sting has one of those Eric Bischoff WCW contracts.  He showed up at Survivor Series...collected what I assume was a ton of money...and they’ve done nothing with him since.  

Chris: That would be a shocker.  Rumor around the mill is Sting's contract calls for a grand total of six appearances, one of which has been used.  I bet he's at the Rumble in some capacity.  

Mike: Limited number of appearances?  He could definitely be the next champ.  Works for Brock.  And Rocky before Wrestlemania 29.

Chris: So true. We saw Sting this week on Raw, so perhaps we see him again Sunday.  At least it would be unexpected.  When was the last time someone shocked the world by winning the Royal Rumble?

Mike: Probably Edge in 2010 or Cena in 2008….BUT, the caveat there is that both men were injured at the time and not expected back for some time.  So them being there in the first place was a huge shock, not them winning.

Match 2 - Triple Threat for WWE World Heavyweight Championship - Brock Lesnar (c) vs. John Cena vs. Seth Rollins

Mike: I feel pretty bad for Seth Rollins.  To me, it seems like he’s just thrown in this match so that Cena and Brock don’t have to do the job and can have a big blow off match at Wrestlemania.  I really hope I am wrong about that.  

The ideal way for this match to end for me would be Cena beats Lesnar.  Seth cashes in Money in the Bank and ends up winning the title.  Should Seth main event Wrestlemania?  Probably not, but you have two months to get the title off him.  But that is just not happening.   

Mike's Prediction: Brock gets the pin on Rollins.

Chris: The cash in after Cena winning the title back would be awesome.  Maybe Rollins vs. Reigns or Bryan could be the championship match at 'Mania?  It would play second fiddle to Lesnar, Taker, or Cena, for sure.  Since the belt is never on TV, anyway, I'd be happy with that.  When it comes down to it, and the more I think about it, that's actually what will happen.  Super Cena has to beat Brock then Rollins finally cashes in after playing coward most of the match.

Chris's Prediction: Cena becomes new champ but so does Seth Rollins

Match 3 - WWE Tag Team Title Match - Damien Sandow and The Miz vs. The Usos

Chris: Both of these teams are so entertaining.  They put on good matches and often steal the show on TV. I'm waiting for the inevitable face turn for the super-over Mizdow (Sandow).  It's been building for so long and it's time for it to happen.  He's ready for a spot on the upper midcard.

That all said, I have no faith in WWE to properly build a storyline lately.  This should end with the USOs retaining and the inevitable breakup of Miz and Mizdow.  At one time, I thought the Ascension would be getting involved in the title picture.  

The biggest issue is the lack of tag teams on the roster. The only other teams around are New Day, The Matadors, and Tyson Kidd/Cesaro.  A group getting minimal TV time, a joke team, and two jobbers that deserve way better.  Of course, the Ascension are one of the worst call ups ever from NXT, and don't deserve a spot on the main roster.  What we will probably get afterwards are more matches with the USOs and Gold and Stardust.  I have no clue who else the Usos can face.

It's sad what tag team wrestling has become in WWE.

Chris's Prediction: Usos retain

Mike: Sandow is definitely on the rise, and I think we’ll very likely see a Sandow vs. Miz match at Wrestlemania, so I think the straps are staying on the Usos.  

It’s kind of ridiculous that NXT has a much smaller roster of guys, but many more viable tag teams.  Only two years ago, the WWE seemed stacked with tag teams, but that is gone.

Just a sort of random aside, but I am probably the world’s biggest Cody Rhodes mark.  This is not a knock on Goldust but I think Cody’s talents are wasted here.  So are Goldie’s for that matter.  I would love to see these two guys feuding against each other for some meaningful title, especially if you throw Dusty into the mix.    

Mike's Prediction: Usos retain

Match 4 - New Age Outlaws vs. The Ascension

Chris: The Outlaws are one of my all time favorite tag teams alongside the British Bulldogs, the Midnight Express, Road Warriors, and the Hart Foundation.  It would seem they are here just to put over the new guys.  I hope they just run 'em out of town, but that doesn't seem to be what's best for business.

I know you're a big Outlaws fan too, Mike.  Don't you just want to see the old dogs rolling once again?

Chris's Prediction: The Ascension

Mike: NAO are my all time favorite tag team, and I still have my big Road Dogg plush dog with dreadlocks someplace.  I am always happy to see them.  

I am sort of torn about the Ascension.  I don’t think these guys have what it takes to be in the WWE, and they would have been way down on my list of guys to make the jump from NXT.  BUT, at the same time, I think we can’t complain about the lack of tag teams and then want to see new tag teams barely getting a shot.  

Ascension have basically been dead on arrival.  When they were supposed to be an intimidating force, you had JBL mocking them on commentary.  And now they get beat up and chased off by older wrestlers. Whatever happened to Legend Killers?  That was a great gimmick for Randy Orton and Chris Jericho.  These days, when we see legends, it is so they can beat up on young up -and-comers.  During the segment on Raw this week where the APA, NWO, and Outlaws chased off the Ascension, I texted Chris saying “They got Heath Slater’d.”

I do think that they will beat the Outlaws (Billy and Roadie seem to have no problem helping build the younger wrestlers), but I’m not sure if the damage hasn’t already been done.

Mike's Prediction: The Ascension

Match 5 - Bella Twins vs. Natalya & Paige

Mike: I don’t get the appeal of the Bellas at all, other than eye candy.  Actual trained wrestlers like Alicia, Paige, Natty, AJ, and Charlotte look so out of place in the ring with the Bellas.  But, Total Divas is big business, so I think you’re right.  The Bellas win.

Mike's Prediction: Bellas win and not a **** was given...

Chris: Natalya and Paige are the two most talented women on the current main roster.  Throw AJ and Alicia Fox in the mix and call up Charlotte and Sasha Banks.  That's where the Divas division should be focused. The Bellas aren't entertaining in the least.  They don't deserve the push they're getting.

Chris's Prediction: Bellas win and Paige and Natalya break up

Pre-Show Match - Six-Man Elimination Match - The New Day vs. Tyson Kidd, Cesaro, & Adam Rose

Chris: A talented bunch one and all.  This should be an excellent match, if they give it a good portion of the Pre-Show.  I hope we don't get forty-five minutes of useless talk by the panel, and a short match. In any event, this doesn't appear to need Nostradamus to predict.  New Day seems to be on the rise and the other guys are just being put in random matches.

Mike, I know you're a fan of Big E, Kofi, and Xavier Woods.  Do you think WWE will push them big?

Chris's Prediction: Clean sweep by New Day!

Mike: This match is actually physically painful for me.  There is such a misuse of talent going on here on both sides.

Crowds just don’t seem to know what to do with New Day.  Big E, Kofi, and Xavier Woods have shown a lot of charisma and humor...but typically those are only shown on the WWE App between matches.  They are also really good in the ring, and I like the coordinated tag team attacks they do..  I am glad they are getting some TV time, but I just am not sure this is the best use of their talents.

On the other side, you have three incredibly talented wrestlers, though I am not sure any of them have the charisma to get over.  Sticking them all together like this is just creating a black hole.  How about giving them a manager or something?  How about let Cesaro do the Giant Swing or the UFO?  Something that the crowd can get behind.  

Mike's Prediction: New Day wins, Big E is the sole survivor

What Else We Watched this Week:

Ring of Honor (Episode from Week of January 12th, 2015)

Chris: ROH put on an excellent show this week.  It's not available on TV in a lot of markets, but the show can be viewed for free at  Honestly, it's rare to see a "bad" match on ROH, and the production values are good.  This week's show is headlined by an intense triple threat grudge match between Tommaso Ciampa, Michael Elgin, and Hansen.  All three are talented big men who come up with great spots.  The finish is a setup for the next PPV, but it's a fun and lengthy match.  The opener between Mark Briscoe and Roderick Strong was an excellent back and forth affair, as well.

While we will have to wait a little while to see him in Lucha, next week brings the debut of Alberto (Del Rio) El Patron.  He is ready to be a regular part of ROH for at least a few months.  Alberto brings another elite worker to compete on cards that feature the likes of AJ Styles, Jay Briscoe, Adam Cole, Matt Sydal (Evan Bourne), reDRagon, Jay Lethal, and so many others.  I don't have time to watch everything ROH puts out, but I'm never disappointed in the time I spend with these guys.  

Wrestling with Death (Episode from January 13, 2015)

Chris: WGN premiered this "reality" show this week. It follows the Lathams, an Arkansas family that works as morticians during the day and wrestlers at night.  If you watch a program like this, thinking you are seeing true life, then you are a bigger Mark than has ever walked into a wrestling arena.  Still, the best of these types of shows, offer a look at interesting people and something approaching life.  

I figured this would be just the worst of the worst, but it was fairly entertaining.  We see them at work in the mortuary and the ring.  Amazingly, both jobs are treated with respect. It's got a weird duality like nothing I've seen before.  Everyone is reasonably likable, rare in reality television, and it's only a half hour long. Unfortunately, giving the next episode description a gander, it mentions something about cast members getting preoccupied with the old west.  That is typical invented reality show nonsense. With a two year old son, television time is at a premium, so I don't think I'll be revisiting.  

Lucha Underground (Episode from January 14, 2015)

Mike: Lucha Underground quickly became my favorite wrestling show on TV.  It’s a real pain to try and keep up with it, since El Rey Network still isn’t in most homes, but it’s definitely worth it to me.  

Last week’s Aztec Warfare was a terrific way to mix up a bunch of storylines, and to crown LU’s first champion, Prince Puma (indy darling Ricochet).

This week’s episode featured Puma’s first title defense, against Fenix.  Though the beginning of his match had a few timing issues, it ended up being a great main event.   These two guys, along with Johnny Mundo (AKA John Morrison) are definitely the two most popular guys in LU, and this match went a long way to showing exactly why.

We also got the debut of four new luchadors, when Aerostar, Argenis,  Angelico, and Cage fought in a four-way elimination match.  I wasn’t expecting much from this match.  I was figuring it would be a quick squash match to show how dominant Cage was going to be in LU.  Instead, we got a match that was close to ten minutes long, with each man getting a chance to show our their skills.  The best moment of this match was two back to back suicide dives.  I especially loved the smirk and shrug Angelico gave after his absurd dive OVER the ring post, like it was no big deal.

Cage did dominate in the end, and looked real impressive.  We would get to see more of Cage later in the night, when he came back out to beat down Puma after his title defense.

Chris: I've got to agree, this is probably the best wrestling show every week.  The past two episodes have been dynamite.  I enjoyed the cinematic backstage vignettes from the earlier episodes, but the show has been stronger the past two weeks without them.  They've really put almost every minute of the running time in the ring, and that's where these men and women shine.  

You mentioned most of the key moments from the show, but I also wanted to draw attention to the segment with Chavo Guerrero and Blue Demon, Jr.  It was all built around Chavo apologizing for destroying Demon with a chair earlier in the run.  As with most great villains, the whole thing was a ruse.  Chavo certainly knows how to get heat like few wrestlers in the world.  His use of a chair, as a weapon, or just to sit in the center of the ring and gather that heat, brilliant.

As to the difficulty of watching, I've got the same issue, so I watch in Spanish each week on UniMas.  I've been working on my Spanish the past year, which allows me time to build my language skills in an enjoyable way.  Really, the language barrier isn't a big deal.  A good portion of the promos are in English and wonderful ringwork, like math, is a universal language.  In the end, watching in Spanish is not for everyone.  It would be nice if El Rey could get clearance in more markets.