The Spotlight On WWE Summerslam returning to New York City

“We are thrilled to build on the success of the 2015 SummerSlam and welcome WWE back to Brooklyn in 2016 and 2017,”- New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio

It’s been just a little over one month since all of the festivities that were associated with WWE Summerslam wrapped up here in the New York City area but late last night the New York Daily News broke this on their official twitter:

That’s right for the next two years WWE Summerslam will be returning to the Barclay’s Center here in Brooklyn, New York.  This shouldn’ come as any real surprise to long time fans of the WWE product as WWE ran The Staples Center for six years from 2009-2014.  Furthermore, WWE had tremendous success at the Barclay’s Center last month, selling out the venue for three straight nights with NXT Takeover, Summerslam (raising $1.3 million from the gate on this event alone) and Monday Night Raw respectively.  It was announced that those same three events will all be returning to the Barclays Center in both 2016 and 2017 to create the mega three day weekend for WWE fans around the world.  It is obvious that WWE is continuing to build Summerslam up as the second biggest show of the year, behind only Wrestlemania.  While it hasn’t officially been announced, one would be right to assume that Summerslam will continue to be a four hour mega event, that is was this year, moving forward.  Other than the three big shows at the Barclay’s Center this past year, WWE became a real fixture throughout the New York City Area with autograph signings, television talk show appearances, panel discussions and charity events featuring WWE Superstars and Divas seemingly at every turn (many of which we covered here live and in depth at thedailyspotlight.com).  To me, it was the most main stream acceptance that WWE has received since the Attitude Era with even ESPN Sportscenter broadcasting live from the Barclays Center on Summerslam Sunday.  This is really exciting for me as a New Yorker, though it does mean that I’m going to be quite busy with now Summerslam in my hometown and Wrestlemania becoming an annual vacation for the girlfriend and I.

Moving forward, I really do wonder if WWE’s long term goal is to build up the other two big four events (Survivor Series and Royal Rumble) similar to the way that they have with Summerslam.  Back in 2004, I remember hearing that Vince McMahon wanted to run Wrestlemania at New York, Los Angeles & Chicago (The three biggest markets) for Wrestlemanias 20-22 before switching over exclusively to running Wrestlemania events out of stadiums.  That said, why couldn’t WWE run the Royal Rumble exclusively out of Chicago, Summerslam exclusively out of New York and The Survivor Series primarily out of Los Angeles?  This would give fans a big WWE three day weekend annually in the West Coast, the midwest and in the Northeast, while still allowing Wrestlemania to be the big vacation attraction in a city each year, while also being the only show to be featured in a staidum.  We are likely getting a little ahead of ourselves, and I have no knowledge and any discussions like this going on, but I think they would be a fun way to make each one of the events special and give each one the big time feel that they deserve.  One thing is for sure, they are well on their way to accomplishing that feat with Summerslam!

The Spotlight NFL Week 3 Picks Against The Spread- Thursday Night Football- Redskins at Giants 

Quicker than a hiccup Week 3 in the NFL kicks off later on tonight when the 1-1 Washington Redskins head to MetLife Stadium to take on the New York Giants. We are 12-3 here on our spotlight picks against the spread through the first two weeks of the season including every prime time game of the year, but I’m not confident about this game whatsoever.

 If NFL games were only 59 minutes long instead of 60, the Giants would be 2-0 and looking pretty good with wins over the Cowboys in Dallas and over the exciting Falcons at home. Instead, the Giants have had back to back heart breaking losses and they were also bad because the Giants didn’t only lose at the last second but they blew 10 point fourth quarter leads in each of their first two games. At some point these type of losses have to effect a team’s psyche! Honestly for me the Giants woes stem from the play calling and the fact that the Giants have lacked that killer instinct. It’s almost as if Eli Manning’s interception woes the past few seasons have made the play callers for the Giants forget that Eli is an Elite quarterback in this league. The Giants O Line is stacked with talent and have only allowed Eli to get sacked 3 times thus far. Furthermore Eli now finally has the weapons around him to air it out, SO LET HIM DO IT!!! Instead the Giants continue to run the ball with lackluster backs and play not to lose instead of to win and you can’t do that with defense that’s as bad as theirs is right now. 

On the other side of th field you have the Washington Redskins who had about as low expectations as any team coming into the season but have actually look pretty good during the first two weeks, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. Don’t be fooled by the loss to Miami, that was due to one bad special teams play, the Redskins dominated that entire game. Over the first two weeks the Redskins defense has only allowed 1 offensive touchdown per game and last week they stifled a Rams team, (who just beat the Seahawks) holding them to only 2 3rd down conversions the entire game. This has allowed Kirk Cousins and the offense to win the time of possession game in that the Redskins offense is averaging close to 38 minutes time of possession, which is really impressive and good for second in the league. Of course, last week the Redskins may have also found a force in rookie running back,Matt Jones who rushed for 123 yards and 2 touchdowns. With he & Alfred Morris, the Redskins offense should be able to take some of the pressure off of Kirk Cousins. 

At the end of the day, with Tony Romo’s injury, this division game means that much more to both of these teams because the NFC East is wide open.  The Giants are definetely the more desperate team and need this win at home or the talk about this team is going to get even worse. Thus, I think the Giants will find a way to win this game but I’m not confident enough to say that they’ll win by much, so my pick for Thursday Night Football is The Washington Redskins (+4). Like I said with the Broncos & Jets last week, don’t be too surprised to see the Redskins win the game outright. 

That’s going to do it for right now but I will be back with my picks of the week tomorrow morning. I’ll be also back with my best knockout pool picks of the week so be sure to check those out as well. 

Yogi Berra, Survivor: Second Chance , Yom Kippur & More- The Daily Spotlight for 9/23/2015

Hello everyone, it’s been far too long since I’ve given you guys one of these less formal blogs and so I figured I would update today.  My plan is to update these blogs a bit more frequent as the days go by. The idea behind these blogs is so that I can give you all my quick opinions on all of the happenings in my life as well as some of the headlines in the world of sports, entertainment and everything in between.  I welcome all feedback as always either in the comment section of this post, via email at thedailyspotlight2@gmail.com and on twitter @TommyOnTheSpot.  Without any further ado let’s get right into it.

  • I want to take a minute to wish everyone observing the Yom Kippur holiday a safe fast.  I am celebrating myself but wouldn’t call myself overly religious.  I actually consider myself half Jewish and half Catholic as my mother is Jewish and my father the latter so I was raised this way.  My views on religion are basically that one should be able to practice their religion as they choose.  I don’t agree with celebrating or practicing something the right or wrong way, it should be a personal choice.  I feel that if your comfortable with the way you celebrate or observe than kudos to you.  Personally I am at work today and observe the holiday of Yom Kippur by both fasting and not driving for the day.  This meant that in the wee hours of the morning I walked four miles to work this morning and will walk those same four miles later today to the Yizkor service later today.
  • I’d also like to take a minute to acknowledge the passing of one of the best baseball players in the history of the sport, Yogi Berra, who passed away through the night at the age of 90 years old.  Many of you know that I grew up a Yankee fan and growing up,  I always heard stories about Gehrig, DiMaggio, Ruth, Mantle and Berra.  It truly is the end of an era as Yogi was the last living member of that era that was still pretty active even until very recently.  I used to go to Old Timer’s Day at Yankee Stadium every year, and while that franchise has iconic players from every era, there was a different feel whenever Berra was introduced. The legacy of Yogi Berra will be remembered forever through his many catch phrases and his incomparable accomplishments on the field.  He will truly be missed and my thoughts and prayers are with his family during this time.
  • Tonight Survivor: Second Chance premieres on CBS with a 90 minute special at 8PM EST.  I’m really looking forward to the season as it feels like just yesterday we were looking at the different contestants that we wanted to see on the show and tonight the 31st season of Survivor finally kicks off.  My plan is to be here with coverage of each and every episode of Survivor:Second Chance at some point during the week following each episode.  In general this is one of my favorite television nights of the year because CBS debuts the first episode of Survivor, the same night they air the 90 minute live Big Brother season finale.
  • A quick note on the Big Brother 17 season finale, to me the end of Big Brother signals the official end of the summer.  Times flies by right after this, we will blend right into Halloween, then Thanksgiving and before long after that, Christmas.  As for the finale, as much as I wasn’t a fan of Vanessa, I expect that if she wins the final HOH, she will win the season going away.  She has played the best game of the season and has played a role in every single person going home.  There is a small chance that all of the blood Vanessa got on her hands, will rub people the wrong way but honestly, if I’m Steve or Liz and I win HOH, I’m sending Vanessa home.  It’s good to see Big Brother getting an extra 30 minutes for the reunion.  There may not be a show that, if you follow along, takes over your life quite like Big Brother based on it being live and on going with the internet feeds, the twitter feeds, the three broadcasts a week, and the lack of TV competition during the summer. It’s sad to see it go.
  • The Washington Nationals very slim playoff chances continue to take a hit as despite the Mets losing a game they had no business losing last night, the Nationals lost as well.  To make matters worse, Jordan Zimmermann has a stiff neck and has refused to move up his pitching day to Thursday to face the tough Orioles.  That means the Nationals will have Tanner Roark on the mound tonight and the Mets magic number to clinch the division may in fact be down to 4 tonight.  I’ll be rooting hard for my Nats until that magic number is 0 but that may be before long.  Tonight we’re all Braves fans.
  • Lastly, there is a brand new episode of WWE NXT on the WWE Network tonight.  If you haven’t been watching NXt recently you have really been missing out.  I’m not sure if I could remember the last time I enjoyed a tournament as much as I have with the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team tournament.  The teams have been so unique and just a lot of fun to watch each week.  I caught up on last week’s episode and thought Johnny Gargano and Tamasso Ciampa looked great again and would love to see them get deals.  NXT continues to differentiate itself by putting a real focus on some aspects of wrestling we don’t see as much of in WWE, it was first the women and now tag teams.  I also think they’ve done a good job promoting that tournament matches would be taking place on the live shows as it gives fans an added incentive to go check those out.  I was hoping that the semi finals of the tournament would be added to the MSG special on the network but putting the semis and the finals on the Takeover special builds up that show as well.  I for one can’t wait to see Gable and Jordan vs. Dawson and Wilder tonight.

Well, that’s going to do it for me but a really big night for television tonight (even Empire is back),  I may have to break fast with a cold one on the comfort of my couch tonight! In any event, if you haven’t done so please do check out a really fun piece I did on a Dean Ambrose autograph signing that I attended a few weeks ago right here https://thedailyspotlight.com/2015/09/23/the-spotlight-on-dean-ambrose-at-iplay-America/ and stay tuned for more great stuff right here on thedailyspotlight.com.  Tomorrow, I’ll be back with my pick for the Thursday night Football game between the Giants and the Redskins.  I’ll also be back with another edition of the daily spotlight blog for tomorrow and I have a few more fun things that I’ve been working on.  Until then, have a great day!

The Spotlight On Dean Ambrose at iPlay America

A few weeks ago, my girlfriend, her younger brother and I took the 90 minute drive from Queens, New York to Freehold, New Jersey to meet “The Lunatic Fringe” Dean Ambrose.  My girlfriend’s brother’s favorite wrestler is Ambrose and he wanted to originally meet Dean during Summerslam weekend at the Barclays Center but the cost was a little steep at $150 per person.  Thus, I did a little research on the WWE superstars appearances section of WWE.com and saw that Ambrose was signing autgraphs at iplay America for a fraction of the cost at only $50 per person and that included both a photo op and a signed 8 X10.  We also figured that we may be able to turn it into a bit of a day out in Jersey.  Let’s get into a bit of the highlights of the event.

Highlights:

 The iPlay  America Venue and Deal: The way that iPlay set up this event was just fantastic.  The second you approached iPlay America there was a huge Dean Ambrose billboard along the highway that immediately drew you in and also got you excited for the event.  Also included in your price tag for the autograph session was a $10 gift card to redeem at iPlay America the same day.  Iplay is actually a really big place and we ended spending a good amount of time there.  They have a state of the art arcade, lazer tag, a 4D movie (we did the penguin one and it was great), indoor rides, and so much more.  IPlay also had a number of different events going on from hosting a UFC viewing party later that night to hosting a free concert later that week with former American Idol contestant Casey James.  It also is a great place for families and birthday parties for the little ones.  It was really nice to see a venue so open to so many different things and offering deals and promotions to make the exciting experience affordable at the same time.  From Autograph Signing to WWE Event: We’ve all been to those autograph signings that can be a bit of a drag where you stand on line for 2 hours and it’s excruciating.  Then when you get up to meet the WWE superstar you get two seconds to grab your autograph and go.  If the photograph is even an option, it’s often as the talent is signing or you’re leaned over the table awkwardly.  Well I’m happy to say that this was not the case at IPlay America, not at all.  Instead, they made the whole event seem like a really big deal.  It started when you walked into a big arena setup where Dean Ambrose was and immediately you saw big screens everywhere playing Dean Ambrose entrance videos, best of WWE videos, and Dean Ambrose matches (against Bo Dallas, Bray wyatt, Sheamus and more) so that you could enjoy the matches while you waited on line.  From there they were also selling a variety of really unique WWE memorabilia and light up gimmicks at the event.  The highlight for me, however, was that Dean Ambrose was standing in front of a backdrop waiting for a posed photo.  I’ve never seen this at a signing and it was really cool as you got to stand for posed photos with Ambrose. Then, in order to save time, Iplay took a professional photo of you with Ambrose and, after you were finished talking with Dean and getting your picture,you were given the code to download your photo the next day and your signed 8X10.  By having Dean pre sign all of the 8 X 10s and eliminating anyone’s need for their own personal camera, it saved so much time and gave people the chance to just focus on their time with the superstar.  I feel like anyone running a signing should take a page out of iPlay’s book because it was really well done.  As for Ambrose, it was also great that (maybe because WWE had a show in town that night or because he was asked to do this) he was dressed like the Dean Ambrose you see on television and also acted the same way.  I remember one time I met the ultimate Warrior when I was a kid and he was wearing lounge clothes and a baseball cap, it was still cool but also sort of killed his allure.  Ambrose was out and about after the signing, checking out the iPlay America candy shop and walking through the restaurant on site.   It was a great experience but that wasn’t all. IPlay America also had a special guest in attendance as the host of the festivities which leads us too…

 Howard Finkel: If everything I wrote above wasn’t enough, Howard Finkel was on hand as the host of the event.  He hosted “OutThink The Fink” trivia contests for free tickets to the WWE event in Wildwood that night, Dean Ambrose T Shirts and IPlay America gift cards.  Fink would ask fans how long they’d been fans for and from there would ask questions ranging from “What is John cena’s catchphrase?” for kids to “What Sumo Wrestler did the Big Show wrestle at WrestleMania 21?” for lifelong fans.  This kept the fans entertained while on line and gave ambrose an opportunity to meet with some of the fans who paid for a VIP experience.  Howard was then available for a photo op of his own positioned right at the end of Ambrose’s signing and was also included in the price of admission.  I can tell you that Howard Finkel was one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.  He seemed genuinely touched by everyone in attendance their to meet him and chatted with everyone for as long as they wanted.  He was also open to taking selfies and signing autographs and even handed out free WWE trading cards to the kids.  A really cool bonus, in a way it was like Dean was there for the new generation of fans an Howard was there for the lifetime fans.  I personally got to reminisce with Howard about meeting him at the Fanfest for WrestleMania 10 when I told him I was afraid of every superstar there and he told me that I didn’t have to be because all of the superstars were told if they weren’t polite they wouldn’t get to wrestle at WrestleMania (protecting the business) which he got a good laugh out of.

Closing Thoughts:  All in all this was one of the best signings that I’ve ever gotten to go to.  I hope Iplay America continues to do events like these and I believe that they will because I did look back at their twitter feed and noticed that some of the superstars they’ve had in the past included Hulk Hogan, Roman Reigns & Daniel Bryan.  Even if their aren’t any WWE superstars their Iplay America is a great place to watch a UFC show and a great day for the whole family.  For more information on Iplay America, check them out at http://www.iplayamerica.com/ .

The Spotlight NFL Picks Against The Spread- Monday Night Football- Jets At Colts

Hello everyone,  first off I just wanted to apologize for being off the grid these past few days.  It was actually my three year anniversary with my girlfriend and so I was away for the weekend.  We did a variety of different activities from checking out a lobster bake at Penthouse 808 in Long Island City to boat riding at Central Park to checking out Matilda on Broadway.  They were all a lot of fun and you can expect reviews of each one of those in the coming weeks.  Due to this,  I was unable to give you guys the usual Picks entry you’ve come to expect but will return with that this Friday.  However, what I was able to do was post some of my picks over on twitter (@TommyOnTheSpot) throughout the week.  I hate missing more than one but I missed two this week, including our lock of the week- the Detroit Lions who got manhandled by the Minnesota Vikings.  It looked like Adrian Peterson was able to knock off some of that rust from week 1 and Matt Stafford just doesn’t look like himself.  I also missed badly on the Titans (-1) over the Browns.  This was a game that I wouldn’t have touched had Josh McCown been starting for the Browns but I got suckered in when I heard Manziel was starting.  While I’m not a believer in Johnny Football,  I should have realized a rookie quarterback on the road in Cleveland so early in the season wasn’t going to be able to do much.  Like I said in my preseason predictions, there will be growing pains with Marcus Mariota.

The good new is that I absolutely cleaned up with the rest of my 1pm picks yesterday connecting on the Patriots (-1), the Cardinals (-2), the Steelers (6), the Falcons (+2) and the Bengals (-3).  I then ended then night out strong by picking the Packers (-3.5).  This brings our total over here this season up to 11-3 with our NFL Picks Against The Spread and we’ll attempt to keep the hot hand going with Monday Night Football tonight.  Remember with the Sunday night, Monday night and Thursday night games, I’m going to give you guys a prediction because they are the primetime games but I’m not including them in my picks of the week.  That said,  I do think the primetime games are a little bit easier to pick sometimes due to the fact that they allow you to focus in on one key game.  With that said,  let’s get into today’s game.

In the interest of full disclosure,  I’m a big fan of the New York Jets, I like them more than any team in any sport and have rooted for them my entire life.  You will very rarely see me pick against them as one of the picks I choose to place action on but since they’re playing on Monday Night, I’ll will remain as impartial as I can be when I pick the Jets (+7) tonight.  I’m not saying the 1-0 Jets are going to beat the 0-1 Colts in Indy but I expect them to keep it close.  The number one thing I look at here is the injuries that the Colts have. It remains unclear if Robert Mathis will make his season debut and also remains unclear if TY Hilton is going to play.  If Hilton is out this means that Andrew Luck is left with unproven Donte Moncreif and Andre Johnson, who he really didn’t seem to click with during Week 1.  Furthermore, I’m already pretty unimpressed with the Colts on the defensive side of the ball and now Cornerbacks, Greg Toler and Darius Butler have both been ruled out as well.  I’d look for Eric Decker to have a big game tonight and for Ryan Fitzpatrick to exploit the weaknesses that Indy has at the cornerback position tonight.

Thus, my pick is The New York Jets (+7),  I expect a close game and don’t be shocked to see the Jets win the game outright.  Until next time who were some of your winners and losers from last night?