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Judge David Packard's Blog
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Wrestlemania XXI thoughts
The Super Bowl of the Sports Entertainment world was held last night at the Staples Center. After months of watching some humorous (and some not-so-humorous) movie trailers given the WWE treatment, the usual questionable writing over at the SmackDown! brand, and a nice build-up to the real finale of this puppy -- Raw's Dave Batista getting his title shot after months of being put over by Triple H -- it was time to order the pizza, take the beers out of the fridge, and get down to the rasslin'.
Full results of the event are available at WWE's official Wrestlemania site if you're strictly interested in the winners and losers. I didn't want to simply regurgitate that list; instead, I thought I'd provide my opinions on the highs and lows of the event.
2. Kurt Angle vs. Shawn Michaels. As expected, it was a largely "technical" match, although both wrestlers provided their share of impressive blows throughout. I was surprised to see Angle pull this one out (via a lengthy ankle lock on Michaels that finally led to his tapping out); I felt sure that Michaels was going to win this one. Both wrestlers put great effort into this one, and Michaels received well-deserved applause despite coming up short.
3. The return of Hulkamania to Wrestlemania. Love him or hate him, there's no denying Hulk Hogan's massive appeal and association with Wrestlemania. A very long standing ovation and crowd chants of "One more match!" at the previous night's WWE Hall of Fame induction ceremony made it clear that the fans wanted to see those 24-inch pythons in the squared circle yet again. When Eugene came out to the ring, I was eager to see what the WWE had in mind. As soon as the music for Muhammad Hassan fired up, I knew then and there that Hogan would probably make an appearance after all. And it only took the first few guitar riffs before the crowd was screaming at the return of Hulkamania, if even for a few moments (Aside from giving Hassan and Davari The Boot and a few other moves, Hogan worked up more of a sweat from the post-beatdown posing.)
4. Randy Orton keeps The Undertaker's Wrestlemania win streak alive. I got quite the laugh at seeing Randy's dad, WWE Hall of Fame inductee "Cowboy" Bob Orton run out to the ring wearing a damn arm cast in an effort to help out his son (Anyone into the then-WWF from years back will remember Bob and that "broken arm" that mysteriously failed to heal.) Any match in which the Undertaker's hair actually gets a chance to dry is a good thing. It'll be interesting to see how WWE's creative teams handle Orton's future after the recent heel turn and Wrestlemania loss.
5. Diva Search winner Christy Hemme didn't look too bad -- and I mean it in the wrestling sense, gentlemen -- against Trish Stratus. The outcome was totally expected, but it was nice to see Hemme do something other than prance around to that damned music and partake in the occasional lingerie pillow fight. I can only hope her ring skills continue to improve; she could be a nice addition to the roster of divas doing real ring work vs. being there strictly for the T&A.
6. I've just loved seeing Triple H put Batista over these past several months, and their match lived up to expectations. Motorhead kicked it off with a live rendition of "The Game." Fans of the red stuff got to see Triple H flow like a sieve as a nice bonus. Let's just hope we don't see the writing team doing something goofy like giving the title back to Triple H anytime soon. Batista should make for a great champion, and it's my hope he has a nice run with it.
2. The Sumo match between former grand champion Akebono and Big Show was forgettable. I suppose we were supposed to be impressed that Big Show was able to temporarily lift the 504-lb. Akebono for the briefest of moments despite the fact that Big Show pushed a Jeep onto its side in the last month. Both men spent more time lumbering around and tossing handfuls of salt into the unsquared circle than they did pushing each other around. If you returned from a bathroom break and a bowl of nachos just in time to see Akebono fling Big Show from the ring like a rag doll, you didn't miss a thing. And as much as I bitched about Wrestlemania not being shown in high-definition (c'mon, WWE, get with it!) this made me realize how glad I was that it wasn't in HD. Not that I have room to talk, but I don't think I needed to see Akebono and Big Show wearing their man thongs in glorious 1080i. Whew.
3. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy "Rowdy" Roddy Piper's antics, but the "Piper's Pit" segment was boring and unnecessary. I know it doesn't help that I've never been a fan of "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and his middle-fingerin', beer guzzlin', redneck raisin' hell persona. And the best Superstar they could have interrupt this bit was Carlito "Caribbean" Cool? Good Lord. I can only hope I'll be spared of Piper and Austin again until Wrestlemania XXII.
4. The match between John Cena (sporting some new entrance music, presumably something from his forthcoming CD) and JBL was a complete disappointment in every way. Look, guys, this is a title match and one of the big finales of Wrestlemania. JBL, perhaps the worst WWE Champion ever, finally lost the title to Cena in a match that was too short, offered nothing new, and felt like a lackluster match straight from the tired SmackDown! brand's Thursday night show. Granted, JBL and Cena are hardly masters of their craft, but again, this is Wrestlemania. Every wrestler should push himself to the limit and give it his all on this night of all nights. Instead, we get an emotionless win by Cena that probably pleased only but the craziest of his "Chain Gang." Between this match and the Mysterio/Guerrero opener, it's obvious yet again that Raw continues to dominate the SmackDown! brand in every way -- from the creative side to the roster talent. Simply inexcusable.
Despite the low points, it was a fun Wrestlemania. The inclusion of a few legends into the action -- "Cowboy" Bob Orton, Hulk Hogan -- was a nice surprise in the absence of missing Wrestlemania staples like The Rock and Mick Foley. Title changes for both brands hopefully will invigorate new storylines. If you missed it, it's worth checking out on DVD when it hits (I've heard rumblings of May for the DVD release).
Star Wars in 3D?
So now I'm reading that George Lucas, along with several other directors (James Cameron, Robert Rodriguez) is hopping on the 3D bandwagon with talk of reissuing the original Star Wars films in 3D for the 30th anniversary of A New Hope in 2007.
I've no idea what to make of this. Last I heard, Lucas and company were having a hard enough time getting theaters to fork out the money to switch over to digital projection. Now this? I'm not sure if this new 3D process works on existing systems or will require further upgrades. Personally, I'm not too excited about the Star Wars 3D treatment -- after the Special Editions and further-tweaked Special Editions, can we leave the original trilogy well enough alone? -- but Cameron's new film intrigues me.
It'll be interesting to see if Lucas gives us a glimpse of this at the upcoming "Star Wars Celebration III" event in Indianapolis. My understanding is that the 3D treatment already has been given to a few minutes of the films, and the Celebration would be a great place to give fans a taste of the technology and start a buzz toward 2007.
Titanic special editions coming in October
James Cameron's Titanic will finally get the treatment it deserves when 2-disc and 4-disc special editions of the film arrive in October. The film will be spread across two discs, with the 4-disc version sporting a -- pardon the pun -- boatload of extras. The film will be identical to the original theatrical release as Cameron considers it the "director's cut," but roughly an hour of deleted footage will be brought up to release quality for the DVD. I've not heard if a DTS track will be included, but I'll certainly be hoping for it.
My assimilation into the world of blogging has arrived...
Chalk up yet another judge new to the blogging scene. I don't see this as a place where I'll maintain an online "diary" of sorts, but I do hope to make it a disturbing mix of news, rants, ramblings, and occasional coverage of film-related things like the upcoming "Star Wars Celebration III" event in Indianapolis, which I hope to attend.
Nice "news" article on the clamshell lawsuit, Mr. Lineberger!
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