The Spotlight On The Survivor Series- Pt. 5-2011

I’m going to jump ahead a bit here on the survivor series retrospective and look back at Survivor Series 2011, a show I attended live at Madison Square Garden.  2011 was one of the more interesting times to be a WWE fan.  CM Punk was going through a period of time in which he was the most popular man on the roster following the summer of punk, Daniel Bryan had become world champion for the first time, the Rock had returned to the company and Zack Ryder had an absolute breakout year.  This was also the year that I attended the Royal Rumble, Wrestlemania and the Survivor Series so it was a pretty big year for me as a fan, you could say.

The 2011 Survivor Series was held live from Madison Square Garden and my buddy from work and I were planning on attending the event since the day tickets went on sale which was a first for me as I’m naturally a last minute planner.  I remember on the Friday leading up the Survivor Series there was a huge WWE party in the city, I believe it was in Penn Station.  CM Punk was there for a meet and greet and there was contest running that you could go to the event and win a private bus tour around New York City with Zack Ryder and Jimmy Hart.  My buddy and I were huge Ryder fans as we watched every Z True Long Island Story the day it came out while at work.  Being that our job only had so many employees, however, it was difficult for us both to get the day off together so we agreed to skip the party, though we did spend the day wishing we were there and scouring twitter for updates and photos from the event.

On survivor series Sunday, I remember my girlfriend at the time, begged me not to go.  There was a big time NY Giants game that night and she made up her mind that despite me dropping about $100 on tickets to the event with my friend, she didn’t want me to go to the show.  Though it was a hard decision,  I went to the show and we ended up breaking up two weeks later.

As for the show itself, this was also, to the best of my knowledge the last pay per view to be held at the Garden, to this date and it was a really big deal for us.  There’s something about going a show at MSG that is like none other.  I remember my buddy and I getting there at Penn Station early enough to grab a bite at Roy Rogers and then went down to wait online with the thousands of fans in attendance.  From the second we got there this crowd was all about Zack Ryder.  There were “We Want Ryder” chants in the lobby as many were frustrated that Ryder was not given a US title match against Dolph Ziggler on this show despite both men petitioning for the match on youtube and twitter, and instead John Morrison was given the match on his last night with the company.

In many ways it’s odd the crowd was so into Ryder as this was also the Rock’s first time back in New York and first match back since his return to the company in early 2011.  That said, When Ryder finally did make an appearance to run off Ziggler, this wasn’t only the biggest pop of the nght but the biggest pop I’ve heard in MSG with the exception of John Cena’s Royal Rumble 2008 return.  In fact, after the show when the Rock was making his speech to the live crowd, the Ryder Revolution, was still out in full force as the crowd chanted over the Rock’s speech until the Rock himself had to say “ Hell Yeah love Zack Ryder Woo Woo Woo and all that stuff!” It was probably the pinnacle of Zack Ryder’s career in many ways and it’s a shame he never really took off to the extent, at least that the New York crowd wanted him to on this night.

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Me and my buddy following the Survivor Series 

Follow the show, I remember my buddy and I racing out of the arena, past the idiot fans who were almost arrested for having a hardcore match taking unprotected chair shots to the head with the chair they got from the floor seats of the show, and down the street to a small theater.  We had tickets to a Mick Foley comedy show that were on sale for only $5 the week before.  This was still during the period of time where Mick just wanted to show people what he can do as he was still pretty early into his comedy run.

Mick was really good that night, he’s gotten better since, but with a bunch of diehard WWE fans in attendance following the Surivor Series, he was on fire. I remember there was a small VIP area that had a few Superstars there to watch like Dolph Ziggler and John Morrison.  Unfortunately, in New York City when you’re taking the long island railroad at least on the Port Washington line the trains leaving Penn station run on a schedule of 11:15, 12:15, 1:15 and then 3:15.  Thus, with work the next day, my friend and I agreed that we had to catch the 1:15 train.  What we didn’t think was that Mick would still be on the stage come 1AM.  This led to an embarrassing moment where my buddy and I had to run out of a small theater in an attempt not to be noticed only to have Mick say “Ladies and Gentleman, I’m so bad people are actually running out of the theater. “

When I was getting ready for bed that night, I checked the twitter feeds of some friends I knew were in attendance at the Foley show and at 2:30AM one of my friends tweeted that he was on line waiting to meet Mick.  Two thoughts crossed my mind, 1) Damn I missed a free Mick Foley meet and greet and 2) We probably wouldn’t have gotten out of there in time to catch the 3:14AM train!

All in all though another really fun experience that actually is probably most remembered not only for Ryder’s huge night but also for the first night of CM Punk’s 400+ day title reign.  I’ll end by saying that by reminiscing about this show, above all else, it makes me hope WWE runs the Garden for a pay per view again someday because there really is nothing like it. New York City is a great WWE crowd.

The Spotlight On Wrestling Podcasts- Colt Cabana’s Art Of Wrestling Pt. 1

Hello everyone and welcome to this week’s spotlight on wrestling podcasts.  This week’s entry is going to be a 2 parter because it’s going to be This week’s spotlight is actually going to be two pronged. I’m going to get into the Kevin Owens interview from this past week’s Art of Wrestling tomorrow but first I wanted to get into a bit of my admiration for the Art Of Wrestling as this past week marked the 5 year anniversary of the show.

Over the past two years, wrestling podcasts have really exploded on the scene with the help of podcastone hosting weekly podcasts hosted by some of the all time greats in the wrestling industry.  Everyone from Chris Jericho to Stone Cold Steve Austin, to Jim Ross to the late great Roddy Piper hosts their own show.  I can say that I enjoy all of these podcasts to some extent as they usually provide us with a candid conversation with two personalities in the wrestling business while also giving us insight into the everyday life of these legends.  Well, before any of there was ever a podastone, there was Colt Cabana’s Art of Wrestling.
I’ve always been a fan of Colt Cabana.  Back in 2006, my friends started to beg me to join them for a Ring of Honor show and I decided to take them up on it.  From the start of the show I noticed that there were some names I knew from local shows I used to attend in the northeast a few years earlier.  Names like Low Ki, Xavier, Samoa Joe and the Briscoe Brothers were staples on this show and used to be a part of every independent show in the New York area post ECW era.   From there, there were a host of unbelievably talented technical wrestlers from around the world that were doing things in the ring that I had never seen done before,  Wrestlers like Bryan Danielson, Nigel McGuiness, Kenta and Takeshi Morishima were impressing the crowd throughout the night.  That said, there was one wrestler in particular, however, who stood out to me over the others was Colt Cabana.
With his bright colors, his Barry Manilow theme song, and one of his signature moves (the flying asshole), Colt was able to differentiate himself from the rest of the Ring of Honor roster.  With his blend of comedy and wrestling, Colt was able to carve out a unique niche on the, often too serious, ROH live events.  The other thing about Colt was that aside from being hilarious, he was also really good in the ring.  Before long, Colt caught the eye of WWE and was signed to a developmental deal in 2007.  I went out of my way to see one of Colt’s final Ring of Honor shows and told him what an inspiration he was to me (an aspiring pro wrestler at the time).  Colt was one of the nicest people I had met and I knew he was going to be a success in WWE.
Well for whatever reason this didn’t happen,  Instead, Colt was given the character of Scotty Goldman who was a character with not much depth and after only a handful of matches, was released from his WWE contract. Just two years later, I was there live at the Hammerstein Ballroom to see Colt return to Ring of Honor at their 7 year anniversary show.  While I was thrilled to see Colt back in Ring of Honor, as I’d get to see him every month, I was genuinely sad to see that Colt’s time in WWE ended so abruptly.
Fast forward to the beginning of 2011, I’m now dating a girl who lived in southern New Jersey which was an hour and a half away from where I lived in Queens, New York (this is without traffic, with traffic it was as much as 3 + hours away).  Hell bent on making this relationship work, in spite of our distance, I would travel every weekend to New Jersey and, sometimes, as many as 3 other days per week.  These drives were long, they were expensive, they were frustrating and (having such an old car with limited air conidtioning) the rides were also very hot.  Now, I should point out that I’m not a big music guy while driving.  I love music and go out of my way to discover new music of all varieties all the time, but as far as drving while listening to top 40 radio? That really isn’t for me.  I much prefer to listen to sports talk or, of course, wrestling talk.  At the time, I used to listen to a lot of the stuff on pwinsider and one day I saw that Mike Johnson had an interview up with Colt Cabana.  Interested to hear what Colt was up to, i downloaded the show.
On this hour long interview, Colt spoke about this new project he had been working on for about 9 months called the Art of Wrestling Podcast.  Immediately intrigued, I signed on to coltcabana.com and started listening to all of the episodes.  I was immediately hooked at Colt’s Do It Yourself podcast.  It was truly remarkable insight into the world of independent wrestling as Colt would detail all of his adventures and also talk to a different personality each week. What I found so inspiring about the podcast was how positive Colt was.  He would often talk about the happy bus, and discuss the importance of not getting down on yourself.  Here was a guy who lost his dream job just a year earlier, after not really getting a fair shake, and rather then getting upset about it, Colt went continued to build his brand on his own.  As for the guests, I started with the familiar names, guys like CM Punk and Curt Hawkins but I found Colt so enjoyable, that I started listening to all of his other episodes with guests I hadn’t heard of.  The podcast became a great vehicle for independent wrestlers to promote themselves and for fans to understand the beauty of the independent wrestling world.
Before long, I went from being a Colt Cabana fan to an absolute fanatic.  I started to proudly wear my Colt Cabana Jewish Star shirt everywhere, I listened to every podcast in the art of wrestling podcast archives while often singing along with Colt’s open (Live from the studio…apartment in Chicago, Illinois!).  I even had a pretty good conversation with Daniel Bryan about Colt’s documentary, the wrestling road diaries, when I met Bryan at Wrestlemania axxess in 2011. I suddenly almost looked forward to my drive to New Jersey as it gave a reason to listen to some more of Colt, and sure seeing the girl at the end of the drive wasn’t so bad either.  Of course, later in 2011, Colt Cabana’s podcast really blew up (I feel in 2011 it was all about CM Punk, Zack Ryder, and Colt Cabana) when CM Punk uttered those famous words of “Hey Colt Cabana, how ya doing?” during his famous pipe bomb promo.  Colt’s podcast gained popularity once again late last year when CM Punk was his guest on the show on Thanksgiving day, his first appearance since leaving WWE.  That particular podcast was so shocking that my current girlfriend and I spent all of Thanksgiving weekend listening to it.
So yes, it’s great to see so many different types of wrestling podcasts to listen to every week but for me the originator of the wrestling podcast and the man who launched this whole industry is Colt Cabana.  Tomorrow, I will continue this look at Colt’s podcast by taking a look at his 5th anniversary special from last week, including a really eye opening interview with Kevin Owens that everyone should go out of your way to listen to.  Until then, thankssss!

The Spotlight On WWE Raw Live 05/25/2015

This pas Monday night WWE Monday Night Raw was held live at the Nassau Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, Long Island New York for the final time ever.  While the show probably doesn’t rank on my top live shows of all time with the likes of the Wrestlemanias or Royal Rumbles I’ve been to live, this was really a lot of fun.  It was such a nostalgic show for me filled with memories of the many times I had been at the Coliseum before.  Rather than doing a usual live thoughts on the show, I’m going to instead some thoughts on the live experience which will be intertwined with some highlights from the show itself.

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The Live Experience–  The last few events I’ve been to live for WWE have all been pay per views, with the exception of  Raw on my birthday (October 6th) in Brooklyn.  I will say the way that they have the merchandise truck set up outside of the arena with streaming videos of the outreach that WWE does is great and gets you really excited for the show.  As far as merchandise for the show they only had shirts for the superstars who were at the show like Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, The Bellas, Dolph Ziggler, Seth Rollins, Randy Orton, Kevin Owens, Ryback and of course John Cena.  I really liked this because there may be fans that want to get a Brock Lesnar shirt or a Triple H shirt but this guaranteed that the guys people bought merchandise for were on that show later that night.  The John Cena “US Champ is Here” shirt was the most popular superstar shirt I saw purchased with Kevin Owens and Dean Ambrose right behind him.  However, for me the coolest piece of memorabilia that I saw, and bought, had to be the commemorative final event at the Nassau Coliseum T Shirt.  They also did a great job in making sure that the live crowd was never bored during commercials by playing never before seen video packages which included some of the music stars who performed at the most recent Wrestlemanias talking about their Wrestlemania experiences as well as video highlight packages from the past.  In particular they showed the famous Stone Cold Steve Austin “Austin 3:16” promo from the King of the Ring 1996 and the crowd said every word in unison along with Austin, it was so cool.  The matches taped before Raw (I believe for Superstars) featured Adam Rose taking on Heath Slater and Harper & Rowan vs. the Meta Powers.  I’ll say this Mandow & Axelmania got some of the best reactions of the night, the people love them.  From there, before the show started we were all treated to a surprise appearance from Vince McMahon who talked about the history of WWE at the Coliseum and mentioned how he thanked every superstar who had ever competed in the ring and all of the fans who attended over the years.  It was a touching tribute to the Coliseum and while I wondered if it may have been even cooler to have Vince come out at the end of the show, his appearance at the start made the crowd get into the show right from the start.  At the end of the night, it was really cool to then see a main event for the live crowd pitting Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt.  This was cool because neither man was on the show and I don’t believe we’ve ever seen that match before.  Both men also worked very hard getting the steps involved as well as the announce table.  Orton won the match to send the crowd home happy and to finish the final match in Nassau Coliseum’s history.

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First Shows are always fun– One of the really cool things about this show for me was that I got to take my girlfriend’s brother to the show and be there with him as he took in his first wrestling show and had a ball doing so.  He saved up his allowance money and went to town ordering everything from a Dean Ambrose T Shirt, WWE Pop Toys and the souvenir cup.  He really enjoyed checking out the different cameras around the arena trying to get on TV.  Then after the show, he was excited to wait and see the superstars as they left while pointing out all of the different production trucks in and around the arena.  I’ve been to a lot of WWE shows throughout my life but will never forget my first and I’m glad I was able to take him to his first show.  It’s always amazing to see just how much goes into a WWE production of Raw.  There are so many people who work tirelessly behind the scenes to make that show work.  For an example while waiting to watch the superstars leave, we saw a number of (I’m assuming interns) who ran to the lot to retrieve the different cars bring them back down into the tunnel and then run back up the ramp to get the next car, they did this time and time again.

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Memorial Day- As always the packages that WWE showed for Memorial Day were really well done and classy as can be.  This really felt like one of the more patriotic shows as everywhere you looked someone was holding an American flag.  Just next to us there was a family that brought a huge flag with them that stretched across four people.  It was really nice to see and the whole show just made me feel patriotic.  I’ll point out that wrestling fans have come a long way.  There was not a single person to interrupt the ten bell salute or not take every Memorial Day tribute very seriously.  I used to go to shows all the time where people would do What chants during the national anthem and it’s nice to see the crowd showing respect.  This almost made me wish there was a WWE event nearby ever memorial day or fourth of July, perhaps atop the USS Intrepid?  Any one?

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The John Cena US Title Open Challenge- Another week, another great John Cena US Title Open Challenge that I found to be the highlight of Raw.  Everything about this segment from the time John Cena’s music hit to the time he was laid out by Kevin Owens, this segment was great.  Say what you will about John Cena but whether you love him or hate him he elicits a reaction like no one else.  The crowd was louder than they were anyone save for maybe Dean Ambrose or the great Lana-Rusev segment earlier in the show.  I thought it was really cool for Zack Ryder (who is beloved in Long Island and who people were chanting for all night long) to get the shot at Cena and the people who are complaining about the way Ryder was used, really shouldn’t be.  Ryder was brought out to the ring by the cast of Entourage for a US Title match against John Cena in his home town at the last show at Nassau Coliseum and got to hit his finisher on Cena, He was not going to win the US Title nor should he but, in particular, with John Cena giving Ryder the rub this may have been the rebirth of the Ryder character.  It’s funny because Kevin Owens came out from the back corner of the arena just a few sections over from us.  I thought his attack on Cena was so well done and already, whether or not Owens defeats Cena on Sunday, this is a great introduction for him and great exposure for NXT.

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Closing Thoughts

All in all I thought this was a really fun show that had a hot Nassau Coliseum crowd there throughout the show.  The show did a great job in building the Elimination Chamber pay per view as it should have done being that it was the last Raw before that show.  Every match from Neville-Dallas to both Chamber matches to Cena and Owens was built up over the course of the show and made that show Sunday out to be a can’t miss show.  I also really liked the continuing story between Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose throughout the show as it reminded me of the old Austin-McMahon stuff from back in the day.  In the end though it was fun to be a part of the final show in Nassau Coliseum’s history and to take my girlfriend and her brother to show.  I was able to point out different areas of the building and show them where I graduated and even take them around the town after the show to show them the different areas near Hofstra that I used to go to while I was a student there.  It was a fun night that I’ll remember for the years to come and another memory to long list of memories I’ve had at the Nassau Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum.

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