The Spotlight On Stone Cold Live!

Last month when I sat live at Wrestlemania, I looked at my girlfriend with a look of anticipation when a commercial came up previewing all of the new original programming planned for the WWE Network in the future.  On the list I was intrigued with such new ideas as Culture Shock with Corey Graves, Unfiltered with Renee Young and the return of WWE’s mini documentary series- “24”.  However, one thing that seemed to be missing from the schedule was Stone Cold Live- a live sit down podcast/ interview hosted by Stone Cold Steve Austin.  Austin’s first two interviews with Vince McMahon and Triple H were both two of my favorite original specials on the network and I was disappointed that it wasn’t included in the lineup.  Well, today WWE changed all of that when they released a press release welcoming Stone Cold Steve Austin back into the WWE family by announcing that his live special would be returning after all.  Not only would it be returning, but it appears that Austin has signed a contract to do a new monthly sit down interview series set to air immediately following Monday Night Raw.  Here are some highlights from that press release.

1) Stone Cold is Back-  Make no mistake, the biggest thing to come out of this show being green lit for the WWE Network is that Stone Cold Steve Austin is back in WWE.  Thankfully the two sides were able to work out some sort of deal and to do so way before Wrestlemania 32  which just so happens to be in Steve Austin’s backyard of Arlington, Texas.  What better way to get 100,000+ people to fill in Cowboys Stadium than by having one more, true retirement match for the Texas Rattlesnake.  I still have my doubts that it will ever happen but at least now we can all add a bit of hope for that dream match with Austin back in the WWE family.

2) Paul Heyman on June 1st- Leave it to WWE, just when you think they’ve given you all you can handle for new subscribers in May by adding an Elimination Chamber Pay Per View on May 31st, the final day of May, they hook you to stick around in June by putting the return episode of “Stone Cole Live!” the next night on June 1st!  The guest for that show?  The man behind the one in 22 and 1, Paul Heyman!  So now not only did WWE just give you the return of Steve Austin to WWE telelvision but also the on screen return of Paul Heyman, who hasn’t been seen since Brock Lesnar was suspended the night after Wrestlemania, quite the hook isn’t it?  Regardless of the content, it’s always fun whenever these two former Dangerous Alliance Alumni get together.

3) Future Guests–  One of the things I wondered about when I started hearing about all of these live interviews on the Network was, how they’d keep up with the A-list level stars to be guests for the shows.  Certainly the first four Vince McMahon, Triple H, John Cena, and Stephanie McMahon were as big as they got but at some point there would have to be some sort of drop off, no?  Well it doesn’t appear to be happening anytime soon as the first guest is Paul Heyman and in the future guests section of that press release, the three names listed were Hulk Hogan, Sting and The Undertaker.  That means that on future epsiodes of Stone Cold Live, being promoted is a candid one on on discussion between Stone Cold Steve Austin and Hulk Hogan, Sting’s return to WWE in any capacity isnce Wrestlemania (perhaps to announce a return match?) and the first interview with the Undertaker since, well at least a decade (aside from some DVD clips).

Closing Thoughts

In the end, the big take away from this press release that I got, aside from Steve austin returning to WWE in some capacity, is that WWE still seems to be making the WWE Network a priority.  They seem to want the fans to think “whoa four pay per views in four weeks” and then still give us more with the return of Stone Cold Live.  It’s indeed a great time to be a WWE fan and as good a time as any to be a WWE Network Subscriber, after all it is just $9.99!

Below you will find the complete press release for all of those interested…

“STONE COLD®” LIVE ON WWE® NETWORK

STAMFORD, Conn., May 18, 2015 – “Stone Cold” Steve Austin will host Stone Cold Podcast, Live!, a no-holds-barred, in-your-face monthly interview series beginning Monday, June 1 at 11 p.m. ET on the award-winning WWE Network, with special guest Paul Heyman.

Each month immediately following Monday Night Raw, which airs on USA Network, the WWE Hall of Famer will sit down with the biggest names in WWE including Hulk Hogan, The Undertaker, Sting and other celebrities from the world of sports and entertainment for an exclusive interview on WWE Network.

“If you’re ready for the Stone Cold Podcast, give me a ‘Hell Yeah!’,” said “Stone Cold” Steve Austin.

Click here to see a clip from Austin’s interview with WWE Chairman & CEO Vince McMahon from December, 2014, and click here to see a clip from his interview with WWE Executive Vice President, Talent, Live Events & Creative Paul “Triple H®” Levesque from February, 2015.

The hour-long series joins the slate of brand new original programming recently announced by WWE Network including, Too Hot For TV Presented by Jerry Springer, Swerved and WWE The List.

WWE Network, which launched on February 24, 2014, is the fastest-growing digital subscription service with more than 1.3 million subscribers as of March 30, 2015.  It is available in more than 175 countries, and was named Best Over-The-Top Content Service for 2015 at the Cynopsis Sports Media Awards.

Like other digital subscription services, such as Netflix and Hulu Plus, fans are able to sign up for WWE Network online by going to WWE.com and can watch WWE Network on their TVs through connected devices such as Sony PlayStation 3, Sony PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV and Roku streaming devices as well as Smart TVs including Sony and Samsung. WWE Network’s one-of-a-kind programming includes all 12 WWE pay-per-view events LIVE at no additional charge plus groundbreaking original series, reality shows, documentaries, classic matches, exclusive coverage of special events and more than 3,000 hours of video-on-demand programming.

For a complete listing of WWE Network availability by country and device, please click here.

The Spotlight On Attitude Era Raw- 12/29/1997

Hello everyone and welcome to another edition of the spotlight on Attitude Era Raw where each week we continue our journey through every episode of Monday Night Raw that took place during the famous Attitude Era as listed on the WWE Network’s Attitude Era Raw section.  Remember the hope is to have these listed for you as you’re waiting for this week’s Raw so that if you’d like to wet your wrestling pallet prior to Raw, you can go back and watch this episode.  This week we journey back to December 29th, 1997 in which Raw took place in the Nassau Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum.  For what it’s worth, the Nassau Coliseum is my favorite venue to watch a wrestling show, at least it rivals Madison Square Garden.  I have been going to shows at Nassau Coliseum since I was all but five years old in 1991.  With that said, however, I hadn’t gone to any television tapings until the late 1990s so I was not present for this Raw taping. Regardless, this was a really fun and eventful episode of Monday Night Raw so let’s get right into it with the highlights of the show.

Highlights
1) Crapper 3:16-   The highlight of highlights on this show has to be the opening segment featuring the brawl between The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust (Coming to a Do you remember section of this blog near you) and Stone Cold Steve Austin.  TAFKA Goldust comes out as the single most annoying character back then, dressed as the new year’s baby as this was the final Raw of 1997.  This leads to Stone Cold Steve Austin showing up and lowering a porta john from the rafters before throwing Goldust into said porta john.  It’s one of the great Stone Cold Steve Austin memories that I feel gets overlooked because it took place early in his run pre-McMahon feud but to me it’s one of my favorite memories of the Stone Cold character, well worth going out of your way to track down.
2) Jim Cornette’s Rant-  This is an interesting episode of Monday Night Raw because in many ways it’s a transition episode.  This being the final episode of 1997, a year in which WWF lost mostly every week in the Monday Night War and lost Bret Hart in well documented controversial fashion, this is right before the WWF started one of it’s most successful year’s in history, that being 1998.  Thus, in this episode you get a heartfelt thank you from Vince McMahon thanking the fans for sticking by the WWF and also to expect big things from the WWF in 1998.  Also on this episode, in a similar vein, you get a pretty controversial promo from Jim Cornette about the state of wrestling of 1997.  It’s worth taking a few minutes to check out and I’ve embedded the video for you guys above.
3) Shawn Michaels Vs. Owen Hart- The war between Sgt. Slaughter and D-Generation X continued this week as Triple H pulled out of his title match with Owen Hart, due to injury, only to have Sarge declare that Shawn would now have to defend his world title against Owen instead.  This is really a packed show as this was also the night that The Undertaker’s casket arrived to scare Triple H only to have Shawn pop out of the casket dancing to start the build for their match at the Rumble.  As for match quality, I’m trying to give you one each week and, even though there’s a screwy finish, it doesn’t get much better than Shawn Michaels vs. Owen Hart.  Owen was still super hot at the time as it seemed that perhaps he would be getting that major push towards the world title following the Montreal Screwjob.
Do You Remember…
Chainsaw Charlie?!?!?- This episode of Monday Night Raw won’t only be remembered for the great DX and Stone Cold Steve Austin segments, oh no!  This stacked Raw will also be remembered for the night in which Chainsaw Charlie made his debut.  If you don’t remember Chainsaw, this was the character portrayed by Terry Funk during the time period where Mick Foley (Now Cactus Jack) was searching for a partner to help him out in his battles against The New Age Outlaws.  So yes that man with the pantyhose over his face in the picture above is WWE Hall of Famer Terry Funk!
Closing Thoughts
Overall, this was obviously a stacked episode of Raw that’s worth going out of your way to check out.  I really like that not only did they start to put such an emphasis on the Royal Rumble (In December) but they also started to cement some of the seeds for Wrestlemania that year, three months out.  It’s because of long term booking like this that midcard matches at Mania that year like Owen Hart Vs. Triple H and The New Age Outlaws vs. Cactus Jack and Chainsaw Charlie meant so much more.  That’s going to do it for this week, I’ll be back early in the morning with the spotlight on this week’s Raw and back next week looking at the first Raw of 1998!

The Spotlight On Wrestling Podcasts- Wrestling Observer Live 

Hello everyone and welcome to the this weeks edition of The Spotlight On Wrestling Podcasts where we look at different wrestling podcasts you may have never heard of , you may be overlooking or maybe an episode of a wrestling podcast you should go out of your way to listen to. This week on the docket I’m going to talk to you about Wrestling Observer Live. Hosted by F4Wonline.com’s Bryan Alvarez & Mike Sempervive, Wrestling Observer Live airs Sunday thru Friday across the sports byline USA networks as well on Sirius Satellite Radio. Without any further ado lets get into some of the highlights of the show.

Highlights

1) Daily Wrestling Radio- As a lifelong wrestling fan I’ve always dreamed of a time where I could head home after a long day of work and turn on the radio to hear some wrestling radio. Well one of things I love about WOL is that it airs Monday thru Friday at 3PM EST. The show is also easy to find replays of either on F4WOnline.com or by finding a replay schedule on sports byline USA’s website. I personally love to listen to WOL on the way home from work as its a great source to find out all of the up to the minute news in a concise fashion.   Being that it’s only an hour each day, It’s the perfect way to get my fill of all of the wrestling and MMA news of the day quickly. Also don’t forget about the Sunday show, which airs at 6PM EST for two hours each week. The 2 hours on Sunday allow for the show to really go in any direction and it’s often my favorite show of the week. In particular, these two hour shows often end up making for a great pre show to the pay per view on Sundays when there’s one. For an example, just last night they did their own commentary to the Meta Powers/Ascension pre show tag match prior to the payback show.

2) The Hosts- Bryan & MIke are both incredibly knowledgable in both wrestling and MMA. Bryan Alarez in particular not only has been covering the world of pro wrestling for over 20 years but used to wrestle in his own right. This, to me sets him apart from other wrestling journalists because he can offer that in ring perspective, and that’s meant as more praise for Bryan than a knock on anyone else. That said, while the guys will offer there opinion in an entertaining fashion, you know that the insight you hear on Wrestling Observer Live can be trusted.

3) The Guests–  One of the real highlights of Wrestling Observer Live is that you never know who’s going to show up for a guest appearance on the show.  Anyone from Chris Jericho to Rey Mysterio to Ethan Carter III has been on WOL recently and this really makes the show can’t miss.  Guests are usually on the show on Tuesdays and Thursdays and what’s cool is that if you subscribe to f4wonline.com then you can usually catch a longer interview with Bryan and the guests, though the free interviews on Observer Live are also great listens.  What’s great about the guests is that they are usually timely so that when a guest is on they’re also their to promote something that may otherwise go unnoticed by the wrestling fan.  For example, last week JTG was on to promote his book “Damn Why Did I Write This Book?”  which I knew nothing about prior to Observer Live but picked it up after his appearance and found it quite enjoyable.  Other appearances included Court Bauer & Wale prior to Walemania as a part of Wrestlemania week as well as Jay Briscoe prior to a Ring of Honor pay per view.

Closing Thoughts

I think Wrestling Observer Live is definitely worth going out of your way to listen to.  While the hosts may be critical, I feel that they come off fair as opposed to many in the wrestling media that are often negative for the sake of being negative.  I also feel that the guys do a great job in mixing in some mixed martial arts chatter, but not enough to overwhelm the wrestling fan listening.  If anything Wrestling Observer Live and the coverage that they do on MMA makes me more of a fan of UFC and keeps me up to date on important issues going in the sport. That said, on shows where a big wrestling show is coming up, you will rarely hear any MMA talk on the show and vice versa on the shows prior to a big UFC show so it’s a good mix.  In closing one other really cool thing about WOL is that because it’s also a radio show, fans are given the opportunity to call in towards the end of the show provided that they stay on topic. The phone lines remain open a good amount longer on the Sunday shows where really nothing is off limits.   Thus, go out and listen to wrestling observer live which you can find streaming live here  http://sportsbyline.com/wrestling-observer-live/ or you can subscribe to the wrestling observer website at f4wonline.com.  If you check out the show I would love to hear some of your feedback and if you have any other suggestions for future editions of the spotlight on wrestling podcasts feel free to leave those as well as I’m always looking for more content.

If you didn’t get a chance you can check out my spotlight on wrestling podcasts from last week which focused on the Lapsed Fan wrestling podcast and you can view that right here https://thedailyspotlight.com/2015/05/09/the-spotlight-on-wrestling-podcasts-the-lapsed-fan/.  Thanks for all of your support, now go listen to some podcasts!

The Spotlight On WWE Payback 

  
WWE Payback was presented live tonight on the WWE Network and on pay per view from Baltimore, Maryland. The show kicked off a four week stretch for WWE in which they have four different live event pay per view style events on the WWE Network with WWE Payback, NXT Unstoppable (Wednesday night at 8PM  EST), the Elimination Chamber two weeks from tonight and then Money In The Bank on June 14th. It’s an exciting time to be a fan of WWE to say the least. With that said lets get into the highlights of tonight’s show in chronological order. 

For those looking to avoid spoilers Id stop reading now as the show has already aired. If you’re looking for a recommendation, I’d suggest going out of your way to watch the show. The show was a lot of fun with no match being bad & everyone making the most of their time. With their only being 7 matches I felt that every match got time to develop & kudos to the superstars & divas who did the most with that time. 

 1) Ziggler vs Sheamus- Lets be honest the build for Ziggler & Shemus has been a bit silly with all of the kiss me arse stipulations. The truth is the kiss me arse stuff just isn’t necessary as these guys have good to great matches every time out. Tonight was no exception as the two gave 110% and had a great match to start off the show. The finish where Ziggler legitimately spilt his head open by head butting Sheamus & taking a Brogue Kick was brutal. Since each guy got a win I actually hope they are both kept out of the Intercontinetal title match at the chamber & we get a rubber match.   2) The New Day Vs Kidd & Cesaro- To me this was the second best match on the show as both teams looked so strong. All four men worked so hard to put on an exciting 2 out of 3 falls match. The New Day are also continuing to do a great job in their role. Having the New Day go out there and trying to encourage the Baltimore Orioles to finally win a World Series, made them even more hated in Baltimore and was a great way to utilize the players in attendance. I just hope that Kidd & Cesaro stay together as a team. They are both so strong in the ring & should be big single stars but have worked hard to perfect their tag craft that they’ve become an integral part of the tag team division. I personally can’t wait for the tag team elimination chamber match.   3) The I Quit Match- I figured that the finish here would have either been Lana quitting for Rusev or Lana in on it with Rusev all along and the two getting one over on Cena. In the end, Lana did in fact quit for Rusev but I didn’t take it that she was screwing Rusev at all. Rather, I took this to mean that she was actually in love with Rusev and couldn’t stand to see him suffering in the STF, I could be completely off by the way. Regardless this match was great! Total brutality that you would expect to see in a match blowing out off the feud, as I assume this was the end. Both men came off strong in that neither man quit and, as unpopular as this may be, John Cena continues to have great matches week in and week out while helping to make younger stars shine so kudos to him. The only thing I thought was a bit off was that I would loved for one guy to get a clean win & thought Rusev winning by knock out would have been cool as that’s how the feud started. Regardless if Cena winning means more Open Challenges than sign me up because those have been great.   4. What a Main Event!- I do these chronologically but if I had to pick one match that stood above the rest it would have to be that main event. There was so much that went on in that match, it was just so much fun. Even though I feel some of the interferences make Rollins look weak, WWE is doing a great job in making him absolutely hated in that he continues to find a way to keep the title. (Though I will say that this has to be the end of whether Kane is going to turn because he’s made it clear he’s loyal to Triple H).  Moment of match for me had to be the shield reunion and the return of the triple powerbomb through the table. (Especially since it was at Payback last year when the Shield had their defining win, as a unit, in sweeping Evolution) It was also nice to see Ambrose & Reigns going at it without one turning on the other. As we saw in the shield documentary these guys are friends & so it would make sense for them to work together and then admirably go at it. I felt this was another strong showing for Reigns, who’s gotta be winning over even his most passionate of haters at this point. In the end Orton is the right guy to take the pinfall here as he’ll always be a bonafide main eventer, so it’s good to protect Reigns & Ambrose. 

Closing Thoughts

Overall this was a really fun show with a strong main event that had everyone I was watching with jumping with every near fall. I try to limit these posts to three or four highlights but if I extended it to one more I would have added Wyatt & Ryback, those guys also worked hard especially with Ryback pulling out a version of a frog splash. In the end they also had me excited to see where they go from here and interested to see who Rollins and Cena defend their respective titles against in two weeks at the Chamber. However, before we even get that far, the guys & gals on NXT have one helluva show to follow. I can’t wait! 

The Spotlight On Survivor: Second Chance- Did They Ruin The Worlds Apart Finale?

Next Wednesday Popular CBS Reality show main stay, Survivor will wrap up it’s 30th “Worlds Apart” season.  Survivor prides itself in making sure that nobody knows the results of the season finale prior to the show’s airing but I wonder if they shot themselves in the foot this time.

Two weeks ago Jeff Probst announced that for the first time ever, Survivor will be handing the casting power over to the fans with it’s “Second Chance” concept for it’s 31st season.  Jeff went on to explain that the cast will consist of players hoping for a second chance on the show.  The show will consist of 10 women and 10 men, 20 contestants in all who are chosen out of a possible 32 returning contestants and will be chosen based on an online fan vote.  The possible contestants all have one thing in common, they have all only played Survivor one time and they all haven’t won, hence they are getting that “Second Chance”.

I personalty love when Survivor brings back old favorites and, as much as I love Russell Hanz and Boston Rob, I’m glad that the choices of returning contestants are made up solely of players who have only played the game one time.  I plan on breaking down my choices for Survivor:Second Chance and who I predict will make it  but before getting that far I was curious if any of the contestants on the current season of Survivor were on the ballad.

I was pleasantly surprised to see Joe Anglim on the ballad and figured that he would no doubt be on the list as he was a fan favorite and the ultimate underdog,  I fully expect Joe to make it onto the cast of “Survivor: Second Chance”.  Likewise, it was nice to see that quirky lifelong fan and Survivor: Worlds Apart contestant, Shirin Oskool was also on the ballad for Second Chance.

Now here’s whee it gets interesting, not only are Shirin and Joe on the ballad but so are Mike Holloway and Carolyn “Mama C” Rivera, both of which are still in the running for the million dollar prize that will be determined this Wednesday.  If Survivor is already telling us that the contestants are going to be returning contestants looking for a second chance, doesn’t that pretty much make it clear that Mike and Mama C wont be winning the finale on Wednesday?

It also makes sense from the perspective that Mike has been on a miracle run winning most individual immunity challenges, at least since Joe was voted out, but is obviously on the chopping block if he should slip up on the challenges along the way.  Likewise, this past week Carolyn’s fate would have been sealed had she not played her immunity idol as the tribe turned on her.  Thus, by both candidates being on the ballad for Survivor: Second Chance, one would have to expect that Mike will slip up on an immunity challenge down the stretch and, with no more idols in play, Carolyn will be the other to go over the next two votes.  This would mean that the winner of Survivor: Worlds Apart will be one of the aligned Will Sims II, Rodney Lavole Jr. or Sierra Dawn Thomas, who would all lose if they took Mike or Carolyn to the end anyway.

Sure, they could always add a stipulation in before the finale stating that if Carolyn or Mike is voted in and win the finale Wednesday, they won’t make it onto the cast of Survivor: Second Chance, but I haven’t seen that anywhere just yet.  It’s a surprising move for CBS who is usually so protective of their results getting out ahead of time. Regardless, I’m looking forward to Wednesday’s season finale and hoping I’m wrong as I’m pulling for Mike Holloway to pull off his miracle run and win Survivor: Worlds Apart.  The Finale of survivor 30: Worlds Apart airs this Wednesday night at 8 PM EST.