An Ode to the Deadman

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It’s a feeling that I won’t ever forget. The chill that runs down my spine. The goosebumps that pop up all over from excitement. For 20+ years now a simple gong has inspired fear in his opponents, and excitement from fans. He is the Demon of Death Valley, the American Badass, the Deadman, the Phenom… he is the Undertaker and if this is indeed now his final ride we should soak it all up and enjoy what could be the last few months of the his legendary run in sports entertainment. This is my ode to the Undertaker.

Before I get into it I just want to take a quick second to introduce myself. My name’s Russell, I’m from Brooklyn, NY and this will hopefully be the first of many articles of mine on this awesome site. Now let’s get down to it. I love the Undertaker. I’m willing to bet that you do too. How could you not? He embodies the spectacle that is professional wrestling.

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Awesome entrance? Check. Memorable ring style? Check. Memorable signature and finishing moves? Check. Awesome attire? Check. Memorable debut? Yes. There’s no mistaking the Deadman. There is no other like him. He has tombstoned just about damn near everyone in the WWE and has taken quite a few superstars on their last rides. And now let me address the man directly.

Dear Undertaker,

Whether it’s your dark and terrifying persona or the American Badass rolling in on a Harley, you still laid and continue to lay the beat down on any who stand in your way.

Countless superstars have fallen to you.. Edge, Batista, The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, JBL, Randy Orton… you name a superstar and at some point in their career they have fallen victim to you.

You showed Shawn Michaels what fear feels like when you massacred him in the first ever Hell in a Cell match. You made sure Mick Foley would never be the same when you launched him off and through that same hellish structure. You terrorized the entire WWE when you formed the Ministry of Darkness. You showed the locker room that two brothers of destruction can take down all who come in their path.

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Of course this wouldn’t be a proper thank you without bringing up the streak. Your record now stands at 22-1 but no one will ever forget that you went 21 straight years without a loss at the grandest stage of them all. You struck down legend after legend and some more than once. Some have never beaten Triple H in their entire career and you beat him three times at Wrestlemania. You showed Bray Wyatt he has a lot to learn before he can call himself the new face of fear. You showed the Big Show and A Train that even a numbers advantage means nothing when someone challenges you at Wrestlemania. You showed a 16 time World Champion in Ric Flair that there are some battles even he can’t win and you showed your brother Kane that the Deadman will always prevail against the Demon.

You had the greatest match in the history of professional wrestling when you took on Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania 25 and showed the world that even at his absolute best, the Heartbreak Kid was still no match for the Phenom. A year later, you would prove it again under the bright lights of the University of Phoenix Stadium at Wrestlemania 26. HBK would never topple you.

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I could keep going on and on about your accomplishments and about the path of destruction you’ve left in your wake but there’s much more to you than just what you left and continue to leave in the ring. You continue to haunt the dreams of every WWE superstar, you continue to show us the drive and passion and energy you have for the fans and the company. You have an aura about you that commands respect when you enter the arena. You give me people a reason to stand up and cheer in a world where there are so many things to be unsure about.

If the rumors are indeed true that you will feud with AJ Styles for the WWE title and win it, there is no one more deserving at this point in their career. For you to go out a champion would be the cherry on top of possibly the greatest pro wrestling career in history.

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I want to say this final thank you to the Undertaker. Thank you for some of the most memorable moments in the history of professional wrestling. Thank you for giving the kid inside of me something to cheer for every time you enter the arena. Thank you for your continued service in WWE and your continued service to your fans.

Wait… there it is again… that unmistakable sound of a gong. That unmistakable sound that we soon may never hear again. That sound that reminds us all that a deadman still rules the land of the living.

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By: Russell Hartman

SmackDown: Taking Souls & Diggin’ Holes (Highlights 11/15/16)

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The 900th episode of SmackDown live is brought to you by Mauro Ranallo, who promises that it will be L-I-T. Given that I trust this man, I’m going to assume that he’s correct and it’s going to be a great night.

Maryse wins the title!

Okay maybe she didn’t win and The Miz is actually holding it….but she won for her husband. Maryse is the MVP of SmackDown and she’s the best wife in the world for helping her husband. I look forward to her turning on him and holding the championship herself.

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Natalya be Tubthumping.

Honestly she’s a great coach, speaking such wise words of Chumbawamba wisdom to Alexa Bliss. Team SmackDown is extremely lucky.

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Nikki vs. Carmella

It is VICIOUS between the two of them. There’s so much feeling and emotion there and I’m actually interested in this story because it’s not some garbage they threw together last second for Total Divas. It’s also allowing them to be vicious and “go hard” just like the guys do when feuds are continuous like this. It’s different, and I like it.

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RAW Invades SmackDown

WHAT?! It was AWESOME. Nia Jax made a clean sweep tossing around the entire women’s SmackDown team before the ladies managed to regain control. Plus Naomi did a beautiful splash off of the top rope. Ugh, fantastic.I’d love to see more of this. These two matches/segments didn’t feel exclusively female like WWE’s been doing for years, they felt like two matches/segments that would apply to any gender.

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“Taking souls and diggin’ holes.”

God damn it, Undertaker is so cool.

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The Raw Bits: (Highlights 11/14/16)

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Right off the bat RAW started out by giving me extreme secondhand embarrassment. The moment Mick started dancing and partaking in his best imitation of Enzo Amore, I just…I felt like an embarrassed grandkid. Kudos to you Mick ,but um, I’ll be here hiding in mild embarrassment. Then it got worse when Stephanie McMahon unveiled her soccer mom inner self….gosh. Too much to handle.

Damn it, wrestling is so stupid and ridiculous, I love it so much.

Roman’s a great partner.

Sure, Kevin Owens wouldn’t help during the match; and yeah, he tagged himself in just as Roman was finally about to execute his finisher and take the win for them. However, even though Kevin was the legal man Roman did the right thing. He knocked out their opponent and dragged Kevin’s body on top of Sheamus in order to secure the win. Honestly, that’s a great, and considerate teammate being so selfless and supportive.

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The New Day is ready for cuffing season.

They show their readiness with a stunning interpretation of cuffing season, using a New Day sock and unicorn horn. They didn’t even remember to wrap the horn first, sigh. So irresponsible.

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Closing Segment RAW Vs. SmackDown

From Kevin cupping Chris Jericho’s sugar tit, to AJ Styles and his soccer mom hair making it on the List, all the way to James Ellsworth being dubbed Chince McMahon. I just….this entire segment was complete gold and too hilarious for words. Raw vs. SmackDown was perfect and I can’t wait for this match at Survivor Series.

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Stephanie McMahon loves Mortal Kombat

“Finish him!”–Such orders sound so fitting coming from Stephanie.

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What It’s Like Watching: Lucha Underground

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For the first time this week I was able to watch Lucha Underground on television. I have no idea how this happened, but suddenly I had acquired the El Rey network and I was not about to let it go to waste. I hopped on my stationary bike in a pitiful attempt to do some cardio, and I dove into the world of Lucha Underground.

Holy shit, what a world it is.

My previous experience watching LU was always whatever clip I could manage to find on the internet in an attempt to piece together an episode. Sure, I’m very late in the game but you can blame my service provider for that.

My first match of the episode was: Famous B with Brenda and Dr. Wagner vs. Mascarita Sagrada with Son of Havoc in a Believer’s Backlash Match 

I know what you’re thinking, what the fuck is a Believer’s Backlash Match? I’ll tell you what it is–it’s pure gold. This was ridiculous in the most incredible way. I saw magic happen–actual magic that produced a bowling ball which led to a perfect strike! I saw a cardboard standee get the Marie Antoinette treatment. I mean, I did see popcorn get used as a weapon, and while my heart whimpered at the thought of that popcorn not finding a home in my stomach; I dealt with it.

The match was incredible. It was silly, it was ridiculous, the wrestling was awesome and it was so fun to watch. On top of all that, it told a story that didn’t need to be fed to the audience. While I was completely oblivious to the plot of their feud in the beginning, by the end of the match I understood exactly what was going on and I was able to enjoy the show like I had been following this entire time. Plus I enjoyed the inclusion of the audience, and the “all weapons being legal” stipulation to the match.

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All Inclusive Matches

The second match I enjoyed was: Ivelisse, The Mack, Marty The Moth Martinez, Mariposa and Jeremiah Crane vs. Killshot, Dante Fox, Brian Cage, El Texano and Argenis.

The Winner of this match will be entered in Aztec WarFare 

May I just say this right off the bat: the names for their matches and segments are fun. I definitely dig what’s going down here.

I can’t say anything bad about this match, this was a great match. More importantly what I loved was the inclusion of women in this match. I love Ivelisse very much and she’s a wrestler whose matches I will go out of my way to find and binge away a weekend over. Ivelisse I’m familiar with, and I knew she would bring her A-game. This was the first time ever being exposed to Mariposa, and I was not disappointed. To see the women wrestling the men and not being treated as though they’re fragile or incapable was so refreshing. They’re included in matches and showing that they can throw down with the boys and can even be better than them.

 

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A Puma put to sleep.

The final match of the night was a Grave Consequences match, featuring: Mil Muertes with Catrina vs. Prince Puma

Good lord if you think anyone would actually die in a match, it might actually be this match. It was brutal, right off of the bat. The second Mil Muertes made his entrance, Prince Puma was on him like shoppers on Black Friday. The match was on fire from start to finish, and leaves you desperately rooting for the underdog as these two wrestlers finally put an end to their story together.

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How does it feel?

So how did I feel watching Lucha Underground? Fucking great. The show is an hour long, and with three fantastic matches PLUS extremely cinematic (and entertaining) promos, it’s a recipe for success. Not a single moment of it feels like the show is dragging on. I wasn’t begging for the show to just end in preparation of everything else I had to do before calling it a night. To me, that’s exactly the way a show should feel. You should feel completely immersed in it that the time just flies by and you don’t feel pained by watching the program.

On the other hand, as a Latina, I really love what Lucha Underground is doing. The immersion of culture without any mockery or objectification is such a pleasant change of pace. I want the utmost success for LU.

Added bonus: the commentary team does not make me want to put my head through a desk, nor keep any of them away from society for being horrifyingly mysognistic. Take notes, WWE, Lucha Underground is doing some great things.

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SmackDown: Mascot de Ellsworth (Highlights 11/8/16)

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It is election day, the scariest day in American history and we are watching SmackDown. Brace yourselves for potential political quips and references, and possibly a night all about Survivor Series.

James Ellsworth: Official Mascot

That’s right, he will be the official mascot for team blue during Survivor Series. This is incredible. I mean, honestly, he actually volunteered himself for this role. To be a mascot. Oh this poor cinnamon roll.

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Breezango is a bunch of strippers.

True story, Glasgow really brought their sexy out of them. I say, they’ve got promising careers in Vegas if this whole wrestling thing doesn’t work out.

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Shane O’Mac replacing Baron Corbin!

Er….well that’s interesting. Okay, I love Shane McMahon, I really do, he’s fantastic. But….taking Baron Corbin out on some lame “injury” thing? I would have loved to see him at Survivor Series, I don’t see enough of him! I don’t know, I find this switch to be rather…odd to say the least. I wonder where they’ll take this, if there’s more stipulations or how that match will play out.

 

SmackDown surprisingly had much more wrestling compared to Raw the night before, especially since Raw is a three hour program. Next week we get to see Edge and Undertaker, so I’m looking forward to a damn good episode to make up for this week.

 

The Raw Bits: All About Survivor Series (Highlights 11/7/16)

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The show opens up allowing us to learn that RAW is currently in Glasgow. Yes, this was filmed practically half a day in advance, and the crowd will be especially censored and filtered before us dirty Americans see it.

JeriKO: Oh Captains My Captains

Yes, you read it correctly. The Universal Champion Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens (shades of LayCool for sure), are going to be the co-captains for team RAW on Survivor Series. I don’t know what’s better, the fact that they’re somehow sharing this championship, or that they bad mouthed the Shield and proceeded to pretend that Braun wasn’t even there.

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Cesaro takes great offense!

Not really, he made a point of saying that if The Club really wanted to grind his gears, that they’d just say he was the third member of their little group. Well hot damn, drop the mic and moonwalk right outta there. He was killing it with the smack talk, even against his own teammate Rooster! I mean, Sheamus. His name is Sheamus.

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There really wasn’t much to this episode of RAW. Most of it was setting up the matches for Survivor Series so everyone knew what the teams were. I suspect the exact same will happen for SmackDown tomorrow. Eh, maybe next week things will go back to normal.

 

SmackDown: Hungry Eyes (Highlights 11/1/16)

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I feel like I need to preface this with my disbelief that James Ellsworth has his own theme music. Don’t get me wrong, that’s great for him and everything…but when do I get my own personalized theme music huh?

James Ellsworth apology session

All I can think about during this is how James has become the Urkel of WWE. It’s really incredible, his entire existence on the roster so far as has been “Did I do that…?” Plus his pout! My oh my, when he apologizes to Dean, all I can think about is the Olsen twins in Full House. That man really has a face perfect for television.

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Hungry Eyes

Luke Harper. Randy Orton. They were about to lock lips on SmackDown Live, I guess they’re saving this moment for a PPV. That’s not something you just give away for free all willy nilly. Ah….so when can I expect Luke to serenade Randy with “Hungry Eyes” ?

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Alexa Bliss is the best interviewer of all time

WHAT?! She took charge and honestly led the interview better than any designated interviewer ever could have. Plus she was so attentive to her guest Carmella. Quite frankly, Alexa Bliss is career goals.

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James & Dean = True Love

I can’t with James Ellsworth and Dean Ambrose. They’re too much of a good thing…my sides hurt from laughing.

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