The Spotlight On The Week Ahead For WWE 10/5-10/11

Hello every and happy Monday.  I hope all of you out there had a great weekend.  I enjoyed mine quite a bit whether it be all of the football yesterday, checking out DJ Chucky at LAVO NYC or finishing up moving into my new place, I really couldn’t complain.  With Monday morning comes a brand new week of goodness (one that will see my birthday take place tomorrow actually) and a pretty big week in the world of WWE.  Let’s get right into it.

The Week Ahead For WWE

Monday-  Raw emanates live from Boston, Massachusetts and it is the next step on Brock Lesnar’s Go To Hell Tour, a stop that was added last week, as Brock will likely start the build for the Hell In A Cell Match for The Undertaker and Brock Lesnar later this month.  I will say that the build for Hell In A Cell has been particularly strong this year, in my opinion.  The two cell matches, Lesnar-Taker and Reigns- Wyatt have been going on for a long period of time and it makes sense to have the culmination of each take place inside the confines of Hell In A Cell. Almost, exactly one year ago to the day, I was live at Raw at the Barclays Center as my girlfriend was nice enough to get me tickets for my birthday.  This was the night where Dean Ambrose left Raw to head to Coney Island, only to return with a hot dog stand for Seth Rollins.  It was also the night where The Rock made a surprise appearance, out of nowhere, to interrupt Lana and Rusev.  That was one of my favorite live shows I’ve seen and it’ll be interesting to see if WWE brings forth a packed show like that tonight to the, sure to be, hot crowd in Boston tonight.

Wednesday- Ever since the first NXT: Takeover Special in last February, as most of you know by now, the NXT specials on the WWE Network have been some of my favorite parts of the Network.  This week will be no exception as NXT presents NXT Takeover: Respect this Wednesday night live from Full Sail University at 8:00PM EST in Orlando, Florida.  NXT has been one of my favorite weekly shows recently as I’ve found the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Tournament to be so unique and overall, a lot of fun.  It’s going to be pretty emotional to see whoever wins the tournament be presented with the trophy by Cody and Dustin Runnels, Dusty’s sons aka Goldust and Stardust,  But that’s not all their is to look forward to at the NXT special.  The main event this Wednesday is the first NXT Special that will be main evented by women as Bayley defends the NXT Women’s title against Sasha Banks in the first ever Women’s 30-minute Ironman match.  Also really glad to see that WWE has stretched the special out to 2 and a half hours this week as it will allow every match to get the time they deserve.  As always the NXT pre show, which take place outdoors on campus and really reminds me of ESPN’s College Gameday kicks off at 7:30PM EST.  This special is the highlight of the week for me as a WWE fan.

Network Original Programming- This is another big week filled with WWE Network original programming, other than the aforementioned Takeover special, that really caught my attention.  In descending order,  have a new episode of the very underrated Table For 3 that will debut just a few hours before NXT at 4:00PM Wednesday afternoon, featuring Kevin Owens, Dean Ambrose and Cesaro.  From there, on Tuesday afternoon at 3:00PM there will be an hour long preview for NXT Takeover: Respect and then at 5:00PM it’s the return of the docuseries- “Rivalries” featuring the rivalry between Lita and Trish Stratus.  For me though, the highlight is tonight following Monday Night Raw where the 24 series returns to the WWE Network, this time looking at the NXT: Takeover special that took place in Brooklyn a few months back, from a behind the scenes perspective.  The best news is that tonight’s 24 is set to be an hour long which is great news.  While the past 24 specials were great, I always felt that 30 minutes was a bit too short.

That’s going to do it for me but obviously a big week of action this week for WWE.  We’ll have coverage of all of it starting with Raw tomorrow morning.  Until then, what are you most looking forward to seeing in the week ahead for WWE.

The Spotlight On Tommy At The Garden- Survivor Series 2002

2002 has to be the most under rated year for WWE, you had the debuts of John Cena, Randy Orton and Brock Lesnar, you had the in ring returns of Hulk Hogan and Shawn Michaels and you had one of the most impressive mid cards ever to take place in the WWE. 2002 was also a year in which I attended my first live WWE pay per view when a buddy and myself went to the SummerSlam 2002 at the Nassau Colliseum. I’d say it was the year that I also got really into live pay per views because to me there was nothing like a live pay per view. It was just such a great atmosphere. Thus, when I turned 16 that October I was pleasantly surprised when my parents got me two tickets to the 2002 Survivor Series! This would be my first pay per view ever to come live from Madison Square Garden and to say I was excited was the ultimate understatement. The only question left was who I would take with me to the show. I was heavily involved in my own basement wrestling federation (sad I know) at the time and I already had a blast at SummerSlam with my buddy jimmy but I was suddenly now torn over a few buddies who wanted to come with. After much deliberation, I asked my father to come with me. My father’s interest in wrestling had started to wane but he had taken me to my very first wrestling show at Madison Square Garden so I thought he’d be the perfect person to attend my first pay per view at the garden with.

What was also cool about that birthday was that I had also got an autograph ticket from my family to meet Shawn Michaels in Howard Beach at Video Game Central the night before the Survivor Series. This time my mom was coming with as Shawn was always her favorite wrestler. This was Shawn’s first title match since his return to the WWE at Summerslam of that year and, to me anyway, he was the focal point of that event. It was crazy to have Shawn at this autograph signing only 30 minutes from my house and one of the truly starstruck moments of my life. I remember it was pouring rain and blistering cold out in the November New York weather. Despite this and despite my mother just getting out of surgery, my mother stayed on that line with me and my buddy for three hours to meet Shawn.  Ever the professional, I distinctly remember Shawn telling me after I wished him luck, “Thanks bud, many think I’m nuts to compete in such a big match and honestly I don’t know how many more of these I have in me.”  He went on to wrestle for another 7+ years.

As for the event itself, I remember that this was the first show I had attended at the Garden since 9/11 the year before and the security was insane.  I had to remove my hat, people were being asked randomly to remove their shoes and my dad was asked to remove his cell phone and flip it open (remember flip phones?) for some reason.  It took forever to file into the Garden that night, but once we finally did get in, it was sure worth it. The guys at Busted Open Radio (which airs 2-4pm Monday, Wednesday and Friday on Sirius/XM 92) actually did a live tweeting of this show last year and it reminded me of what a great show this was, despite the fact that there weren’t any traditional survivor series matches on the show.

From the beginning, the crowd was in an absolute frenzy as Jeff Hardy did one of his famous swanton bombs off the rafters through a table and then later in the same match the Dudleys reunited to great fanfare.

One of the other big things about this show was the debut of Big Poppa Pump Scott Steiner who debuted for the company that night following the expiring of his contract from WCW (18 months after WCW closed it’s doors I might add).  I know that Scott’s WWE career at Big Poppa Pump didn’t really go anywhere but go back and watch this debut, he was over huge.  Surrounding that debut was also a lot of fun I remember going nuts because I was a huge Matt Hardy fan (always one of my favorites to this day) and I also loved the RNN News skits which featured Randy Orton promoting his return, he was so good even at 22 years old.

From here ya can’t talk about this show without talking about the Smackdown Six.  This was the peak of the smackdown six,to me, which featured Kurt Angle, Rey Mysterio, Edge, Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero and Chavo Guerrero.  This, in my opinion was the peak of the WWE midcard in any era and it breaks my heart to think two of the six have tragically passed and 5 of the 6 have mostly retired at this point.

If there was one man in WWE in 2002 that defined the year, it’d perhaps be the same man who’s synonymous with WWE in 2014…Brock Lesnar.  I remember the Garden crowd being so into Brock and at the time he was the WWE champion and still undefeated.  This obviously was the night in which he lost due to Paul Heyman turning on Brock.  That turn stunned the crowd and I remember after Brock hit the F5 people started celebrating thinking it was over only to have Paul yank the referee. To this day, it still amazes me whenever Brock lifts the Big Show with such ease and I can tell you I’m looking forward to their match tonight.

In the end, I remember being really excited for the Elimination Chamber as it was the first Chamber match in history on this show and look at the six men in the match.  A who’s who of hall of fame level talent in Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Chris Jericho, Kane, Booker T and RVD.  This was the match in which RVD landed a five star frog splash and crushed Triple H’s larynx.  I also remember, other than Shawn, Booker T may have been the most over man in the match.  My father and I had a great time doing the “5 Time!” routine in the crowd with our entire section.  In the end, Shawn Michaels (proving to me he was in fact playing me the night before, which I couldn’t be happier about) won what would end up being his final world title reign in WWE.  As the confetti rained down on Shawn it was probably the best live moment for me as a fan until this past year’s WrestleMania.

All in all just a great and enjoyable show from top to bottom that more than holds up today as so much happened on that show it’s unbelievable to even think.  The show for me is memorable as it was the last show I attended live with my dad who’s interest in the product had really fell off then so it was the end of a 16 year era but what a finale we had.  That’s gonna do it for this review but it’s crazy to think we are gearing up for Lesnar and the Big Show some 13 years later on the Network tonight…and it should be great!

The Spotlight On Tommy At The Garden- Pt. 1 The Fear of Papa Shango

Hello everyone and welcome to my little preview for the WWE at Madison Square Garden tonight, live on the WWE Network at 8pm.  With this being the first WWE event from the Garden to be broadcast, I felt it would be fun to take a look back at some of my personal live experiences seeing WWE live at the Garden.  The Garden will always hold a spot in my heart because it’s the fist venue that I had ever been to a live WWF event.  I have countless memories of heading from Bayside to Penn Station on the Long Island RailRoad with my parents first and then with my friends.  When I was a kid there seemed to be a WWF show at the garden every month or so and I went all the time.  Without any further ado let’s get right into some of the highlights of my time at the Garden with an event back in September 1992.

On September 11th, 1992, my father got he and I two tickets for the WWF at Madison Square Garden.  I couldn’t believe it as this was going to be one of my first live events, I didn’t even know what to do or think.  We jumped on the Long Island Rail Road from Bayside to MSG and it was a feeling like none other.  Everywhere  looked there were wrestling fans, everyone was wearing a shirt and holding a sign.  It felt like i was a world of wrestling fans and it was great.  It would be the same feeling I would feel during every show I’d end up going to, but there was something that felt big time about MSG.

A we arrived to MSG, following an embarrassing moment where I took a leak in a potted plant at penn station, my dad told me he had a huge surprise for me.  Before he revealed that, however, my dad bought me a program which always showed the match card.  I opened it up and screamed off every big match on the card.  Ric Flair vs. The Undertaker!  Randy Savage vs. Razor Ramon!  Then my face sank…I nervously proclaimed to my dad ” Dad, Pap Shango is wrestling tonight, he’s wrestling Bret Hart”.  This only got worse when my dad revealed his surprise, which were front row seats!

I immediately began to scream as this was unbelievable and intimidating at the same time. I told my dad as great as this was we had to give the seats away.  I couldn’t sit there petrified of Shango.  I’m sure my father wanted to kill me but, being a good father, agreed to make someone’s day, by asking some fans to switch seats with us.   We enjoyed the show from the sixth row until the Hart-Shango match.  At this point, I had to use the bathroom and the only way this was possible would be to walk against the barricade and passed the first row.  We tried to do this while Hart had Shango in a headlock and we were in the middle of tiptoeing past the front row when Shango disposed of Hart and ran at the ropes as quick as possible taunting the crowd.  Well, that was it!  I was off to the races as I ran quickly into the lobby.  I had never seen my father run faster in his life as he screamed for me to stop.  I eventually did but we hung out by the souvenirs until Hart won.

To make matters worse, I then pleaded with my dad to run up to the barricade to see the Undertaker up close.  That’s right, the deadman was fine but Papa Shango was the problem!  As for what happened to ole Papa Shango?  Well, he had to retire as he soon realized that “Pimpin’ Ain’t Easy!”

Keep tuning in for the rest of the day here at