Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Weather, NXT and other ramblings

Welcome to the Thursday edition of Blogs the Walls Down. In today's blog, we'll discuss the weather (always a fun topic), WWE NXT (Vince McMahon's latest attempt at being "different") and any other nonsense that occurs to me. So, think of this as a notes column... sort of.

- Those of you who know me well know that I absolutely hate the cold weather. I hate snow. I hate ice. I hate having to have the heat turned on in my house constantly because it's so frickin' cold outside. And when you live in Western PA as I do, the number of really nice days prior to May can usually be counted on one hand.

I remember Easter a few years ago when my mom was in the hospital. It was Masters weekend, and not only was it cold and snowy here, it was also frigid in Augusta. This was April, kids. April should not be frigid. The day after the Masters was the Pirates opener (also known as the day the Buccos are officially eliminate from the playoffs). Temps, I think, were in the 30s, and I was dressed like I was going to a Steelers game, not Opening Day. Sorry, but that's just not baseball weather to me.

This year, however, the weather gods are finally smiling on my part of the country. After what was probably one of the worst winters I can ever remember (and certainly the snowiest), the past few weeks have been, dare I say it, nice. Take today for example - I can't remember the last April Fool's Day when the temps went into the 80s. I'll be cooking out at least twice over the next three days, and I usually don't fire up my grill until well into May. If this is God's way of paying us back for the craptacular winter he put us through, then kudos to the big guy upstairs. And in case you were wondering, the early forecast for Monday's Pirates home opener against the Dodgers is partly cloudy with a high of 70. Now that's Opening Day weather... even if it's for the Pirates. Tune in tomorrow or Saturday for my fearless 2010 Pirates Preview. You'll laugh. You'll cry. You'll wanna read it again and again...

- Is anyone out there watching WWE NXT (Thursdays at 10 on Syfy)? Judging by the paltry ratings, probably not, but I have been, if only to see some of the potential new blood waiting in the wings to be brought up from Florida Championship Wrestling to the big leagues.

Here's the basic premise: 8 NXT "rookies" are paired up with 8 WWE "pros" who are supposed to take the rookies under their wings, show them the ropes, be mentors, etc. It was pitched as being more of a reality show and less of a wrestling show, but it's really not.

While I like seeing some of the newer guys I'd been reading about on the net, the whole show sort of feels flat to me, and here's why: of the 8 rookies, only 3-4 actually have the look of a WWE Superstar. The rest should move on with their life's work (to quote the great Chuck Noll).

The Bad

- Michael Tarver (paired with Carlito) - This was doomed from the start as Carlito is always in and out of the doghouse. Tarver calls himself Mr. 1.9, boasting he can knock someone out in 1.9 seconds. Well, if this was The Ultimate Fighter, that'd be fine, but it doesn't work in pro wrestling. The fact that he has zero in-ring ability and zero charisma doesn't help. After NXT is over, I expect he'll be released as he's been exposed badly.

- Darren Young (paired with CM Punk) - While Young actually has a bit of a personality, his ring skills are just godawful. No wonder Punk always looks bored when they go to reaction shots of him while Young is wrestling. Yeah, I know it's part of the storyline, but I can't help but think that's exactly what Punk thinks of Young. I have a better chance of being a WWE Superstar than this guy.

- Skip Sheffield (paired with William Regal) - I actually had high hopes for this guy based on his size and because he's actually been a wrestler for several years now, but his "Cornfed Meathead" gimmick is terrible. That might've worked 15 years ago, but not today. He's not a very good wrestler, either, and even though I know Vince loves his big men, I can't see Sheffield ever being anything more than a low to mid-card jobber, at least until he's repackaged. Then we'll talk.

The Mediocre

- David Otunga (paired with R-Truth) - This dude is Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson's fiancee and baby daddy. He does have the look, I'll grant him that, but he just leaves me flat for some reason. I think he's too busy already living his gimmick as being an A-lister, even though he hasn't done a thing. He also has little actual wrestling experience, so that's not helping. He'll probably stick around because Vince will wanna have some sort of connection to Hudson, for all the good that does.

- Heath Slater (paired with Christian) - Stater is a decent wrestler, has good enough size, and isn't too bad in the ring. The problem? Guys like him are a dime-a-dozen on the WWE roster, and there's nothing about him that screams "star." He's about the same size as Christian but only has about 25% of Captain Charisma's charisma. He'll probably make it eventually as a mid-carder, but I can't ever see him holding a big belt.

The Good

- Wade Barrett (paired with Chris Jericho) - First of all, he's getting the rub from one of the top 5 guys in all of WWE. That's a big help. Second, he's got the size that McMahon just loves. Third, he's British. Fourth, he already looks like he belongs with the big boys. Win or lose, he's going to get a huge push eventually. I already like him better than Sheamus.

- Justin Gabriel (paired with Matt Hardy) - He can actually wrestle. He's good looking. He has charisma in and out of the ring. He's foreign (from South Africa). And he's not a midget like, say, Evan Bourne. Trust me on this one - he's going to be a huge star down the line. His 450 Splash is awesome. You could put him in a regular tag team with Hardy, and they'd already be the best team in WWE.

- Daniel Bryan (paired with The Miz) - I'll admit to being biased on this one, because Bryan (a/k/a indy wrestling god Bryan Danielson) is already one of the five best wrestlers in the whole WWE. If you don't believe me, head over to YouTube and watch some of his matches. No, he doesn't have the size, but neither did Chris Benoit. This guy is the new Benoit, with much more charisma (more than I ever thought he had). Pairing him with The Miz was genius because compared to Bryan (who's been wrestling professionally for over a decade and was trained by Shawn Michaels), the Miz is a jabronie. The Miz has been putting him down at every opportunity, and it's only going to lead to a big time feud down the line (I hope). Bryan is the real deal, and I'm glad to see he's getting the rub already as he was ranked first in the Pro's Poll on this past Tuesday's show.

The worst part of the show is the announcing duo of Josh Matthews and Michael Cole (who just sucks... oh, it's true, it's damned true). Cole is playing a heel announcer of sorts on NXT, especially when it comes to Bryan, who he belittles by saying his indy background means nothing and so on and so on. Hey Cole... CM Punk is Daniel Bryan. They've had the same career path to WWE. Of course, you'll never hear that, so I guess Cole will keep right on being even more annoying than usual.

- Tomorrow is Good Friday, which is a very solemn day for Catholics and Christians. I'm very much a lapsed Catholic, but I still respect those of you out there who worship this very holy day. It seems to me that religion is not as valued as it used to be in our country. Perhaps that's just my perspective or perhaps it is that way. I'm not judging one way or the other. As a certain ex-Steelers coach used to say, "It is what it is."

- Someone wake up the Penguins. Please?

- Someone tell Santonio Holmes (and Big Ben, for that matter) to avoid any and all crazy chicks.

- Someone please tell me why suddenly Fidel Castro and socialism are viewed as good things. When I was a kid, Castro and socialism were (gasp!) evil. Ronald Reagan is spinning in his grave, folks...

- Someone please tell Sean Penn, Barbra Streisand, Bill Maher, Danny Glover, and Rosie O'Donnell (among others) to shut the hell up. It doesn't matter what you think!

And with that mini-rant, I'm outta here. Later, kids.


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