RAW Thoughts

Flair was there - NirvanaLadies and gentlemen, welcome to Monday Night Rollins…where we’ve got more than just two weeks to promote a WWE event, so it should be interesting to see where RAW goes tonight.

Seth Rollins, Kane, and J&J Security came out to kick off the festivities. “I took a trip to Suplex City and I burned it to the ground!”

As a token of his appreciation for all that his three flunkies have done for him, Rollins gave each one of them a new Apple watch.

Hawaii 5-KaneRollins then moved to Kane specifically, where he said that for the past 17 years he was the glue that held the WWE together. As a special gift, Rollins decided to give Kane a vacation to Hawaii. This is where the segment turned weird for me. I get that Rollins is trying to take Triple H’s advice and mend fences, but this was a little bit over the top.

But before Kane goes on vacation, Rollins asks that they team up to destroy Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns in a no DQ match in the main event tonight.

The Price is RollinsThen Rollins decided to give J&J Security a brand new Cadillac 2015 CTS so they could roll around in style. He continued to repeat his thankfulness to the point that Michael Cole pointed out that he wondered just how much Chapstick that Rollins was using. Rollins then described every single incredible feature of this $56,000 car like he was the announcer on The Price is Right.

Honestly…this reminded me of a classic 80’s heel champion promo. A little over-the-top, obviously, but still…what a great segment. And just when I think Rollins can’t get any better on the mic, he does. Fun opening segment that really told a story.

Big Show vs Mark Henry– Big Show made his way to the ring and The Miz joined the boys on commentary. Out came Mark Henry to take on Show for the 1000th time. It was a nothing match; a squash, actually. Two knockout punches later and Show picked up the win. Ryback then made his way to the ring to attack Show.

Miz vs RybackRyback and Miz are next to face each other. I gotta tell you…Miz is one of those guys who may not have all the tools in the world and people LOVE to give him shit (myself included), but you cannot deny that he is one of the hardest workers in the entire business. Here is a guy who “gets it” when it comes to sports entertainment. How many incarnations have we seen of him over the past few years? He’ll never be a Bret Hart or a Ric Flair, but he’ll work his ass off to be as entertaining as possible. I respect the hell out of him for that.

And Miz did his damn best to make the match decent, considering his much less talented opponent. One spot in particular was a suspended vertical suplex for about 30 seconds. Ryback did next to nothing to actually perform it, even though he got all of the credit for “holding” Miz up there. That was 90% Miz, kids. VERY impressive.

When Ryback was about to win, Miz took a powder and literally ran to the back and lost by count-out.

Alicia Fox vs Paige– A member of “Team Bella”, Alicia Fox, was set to take on Paige. Since these two are best friends in real life, I expect this to be a pretty decent match inside of the ring (trust helps to make better matches). In fact, these two got two segments on RAW and didn’t stink up the joint (at all). The storyline is that Paige is a one-woman crusade against Team Bella, hopefully setting up the eventual call-up of either Charlotte or Sasha Banks (or both!).

I’ll give Alicia Fox credit where it’s due…she has improved TREMENDOUSLY over the past few years inside of the ring. As a wrestler, she’s better than BOTH Bellas.

John Cena came out to do his little “U.S. title open challenge” thing, but as a huge surprise out came Kevin Owens. Just when it looked like Owens was going to accept the challenge, he grabbed the mic and said he didn’t want to do it. So out came Cesaro. Mind games by Owens.

Cesaro vs Cena 3Let me say this about Cesaro: he’s got ALL of the talent in the world but is missing “something”. I think one of the things he’s missing is a decent look. I know he wants to be a “throwback” and all, but he just doesn’t jump off the screen when you look at him. It’s a shame, too, because Cesaro could be a frickin’ BEAST if they let him loose.

Owens joined the boys on commentary, so this match just got a whole lot better.

Cesaro vs Cena 4Honestly…you can’t go wrong with Cena vs Cesaro. Here’s the thing with Cena: he’ll dial it up when properly motivated. People like Neville and Owens and Cesaro motivate him, thus this was a pretty damn good match. As the match went on, the crowd went nuts. They were REALLY hot for this, which helped make it even better than it probably deserved to be.

Cesaro vs Cena 2If this kind of performance doesn’t help “make” Cesaro as a singles performer in the eyes of Vince McMahon, I don’t know what will. He was absolutely on fire tonight and delivered a killer performance with Cena. Hell…I saw Cena pull out a couple of moves I’ve NEVER seen him do before. I was totally impressed. Seriously…this was a PPV-quality match. Simply fantastic.

Just when it looked like Cesaro might actually win this thing, Owens jumped in the ring and caused Cesaro to get disqualified. He then hit a pop-up powerbomb on BOTH men before walking out. If anybody’s going to be Cena for the United States championship…Cesaro vs Cena 1

Bray Wyatt delivered a pretty bad-ass promo. This one wasn’t overly rambling, as many of his recent promos have tended to be. It was concise and focused.

8 man tag– The Lucha Dragons made their way to the ring. Big pop, lots of arms in the air. I’ve seen them at a live event and I see the crowd reactions on TV. Anybody who claims that they’re not “over” simply isn’t paying attention. They’re teaming up with the tag champions, the Prime Time Players, to take on the New Day and Bo Dallas. An interesting combination, but this should be a fun match.

Bo Dallas basically got his ass kicked for the first half of the match before the heels got to take over. All-in-all, this was an entertaining match. It wasn’t fantastic, but it was good. O’Neil pinned Kingston for the win.

Dolph Ziggler and Lana made their way to the ring, arm-in-arm. Apparently, this is their way of “going public”. This will be VERY interesting. They began to tell the world that they were more than just friends and that Dolph was “very passionate”.

Out came Rusev, but he wasn’t alone: he came out with Summer Rae, looking her slutty best.

Going PublicThere was a little back-n-forth on the mic (VERY little) before there was a face-off between Rusev and Ziggler. Just as Rusev was beginning to leave, Summer Rae grabbed the mic and insulted Lana before slapping the taste out of her mouth (HARD). Then we had a great little catfight before the heels retreated and the segment ended. Interesting turn, though not unexpected.

Dean Ambrose delivered a promo backstage with Roman Reigns. Ambrose was actually happy to see Reigns in a bad mood as they hyped the main event.

– “The New Sensation” Neville makes his way out to a pretty decent pop and is going up against “Mr. Money in the Bank” Sheamus.

@wwesheamus heads to the ring to face #Neville right now on #RAW!

A post shared by WWE (@wwe) on

Neville vs SheamusUpon first glance, this might be a mis-match or something uninteresting. But the way Sheamus is wrestling lately, I expected this to be a pretty good two-segment match and it was. The match wasn’t fantastic at all, but it was solid. I was a little surprised to see Sheamus pick up the clean pin, but that’s the way it goes. No sign of Randy Orton anywhere nor any mention of him. Odd. I thought they were in a feud?

Bull HammerJack Swagger was sent out to be fed to King Barrett, which is good because Barrett needs to beat SOMEBODY these days. It’s ridiculous just how often Barrett loses matches, in spite of winning titles or crowns. Swagger went down in a matter of minutes, so there really isn’t much to say here. Thanks for coming out, Swagger.

– With over 20 minutes left in the show, we’re ready for our main event of the evening…

Main EventReigns vs AuthorityAfter a quick start by Reigns and Ambrose, the heels quickly took over as we went to our first commercial break. After about ten minutes, things began to break down and the crowd was getting hot. Because it was a NO DQ match, this was basically a brawl.

At one point Roman Reigns was clearing house, first with a kendo stick and then with multiple Superman punches on everybody. The crowd was going nuts and were really anticipating a hot finish.

Bray Wyatt vs Roman ReignsOut of nowhere came Bray Wyatt, who ambushed Reigns and attacked him outside of the ring. This left Ambrose alone to take on Rollins and Kane on his own. One chokeslam and a Pedigree later, and Ambrose took the pinfall for his team.

Powerbomb!J&J brought a table into the ring at the behest of Rollins. They picked up Ambrose and were about to powerbomb him into the table when Reigns made the save. The numbers game, however, was too great. Reigns tried multiple times to fight back, but The Authority was just too much for him. To end the show, Rollins delivered a MASSIVE powerbomb to Reigns and put him through a table.

Actually, to end the show Bray Wyatt made his way back down to the ring to deliver a Sister Abigail to Reigns, who had already suffered two chokeslams and a Pedigree in addition to going through the table.Follow the Buzzards

#FollowTheBuzzards

All in all, this was a pretty entertaining show. There were three really good matches (including a better-than-expected Divas match and a spectacular match between Cena and Cesaro) and only one real dud (Barrett vs Swagger). Storylines continued and progressed and I didn’t find a ton of downtime, just more advertising for Terminator: Genysis than I would like. If that’s the worst WWE does, then they’ve had a pretty damn good night.

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25 All-Time Hottest Female Wrestlers: #9 – AJ Lee

AJ 8AJ 1Born April JeanetteAJMendez, Lee is a “Jersey Girl” who has loved wrestling since she was 12 years old. Shew as such a fan, in fact, that there is a video of her crying while meeting her idol, Lita, for the first time in 2001. She worked full time to pay for tuition and help support her family while training under Jay Lethal in 2007. She is a former “Queen of FCW” champion, FCW Divas champion, 3-time WWE Divas champion, and 2-time WWE Diva of the Year. AJ 3

AJ 13Currently Lee is married to former WWE superstar CM Punk and is retired from professional wrestling. She is a public supporter of pet adoption and dog lover, especially for the ASPCA (she appeared in a campaign to end dog fighting). She is keeping a relatively low profile as Punk prepares to enter the octagon of UFC, but is happy to make public appearances with him at local Chicago sporting events. AJ 10

AJ 4Trivia Notes: Lee wasn’t only trained by Jay Lethal, but was dating him, as well. Her original name on the independent circuit was “Miss April”. She is the youngest of three and had a tough childhood, growing up living in motels, other people’s houses, and even the family car. She attended New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts in New York City, where she majored in film and television production and writing, until family and financial issues led to her dropping out six months into her studies.AJ 15AJ 9AJ 5AJ 12AJ 11AJ 6AJ 14

RAW Thoughts

Happy Father's Day, Bray

– The night is kicking off with a trip to Suplex City! WWE’s smart…they’re making individual shirts for each city that Lesnar shows up at. Last week it was Suplex City: Cleveland…this week it’s Suplex City: Indianapolis. It’s a great way to make the shirts sell out at each arena.

Brock Lesnar & Paul HeymanPaul Heyman introduces himself and Brock Lesnar to the capacity crowd’s approval. After a recap package that explained why Lesnar hasn’t been around in awhile, Heyman proceeded to tell the world that the only reason Lesnar was being allowed back on RAW was because he agreed to apologize to both JBL and Michael Cole for what he did to them the last time he was on the show.

Apparently, when Lesnar takes Seth Rollins apart at Battleground, it’ll be what’s “Beast for Business”. Heyman finished off a fantastic promo (as usual) and Lesnar, quite frankly, looked to be in better shape than he was three months ago. Definitely a great way to kick off the show. At least he apologized to Cole.

Dean Ambrose vs Kane– “The Lunatic Fringe” Dean Ambrose made his way to the ring to take on Kane. Yawns everywhere as even Ambrose couldn’t get a decent match out of a man who so very clearly needs to retire. Seth Rollins came out to distract Ambrose, and it resulted in Kane getting the win. Sigh…

PTP vs Ascension– Next up is the new tag team champions, the Prime Time Players, taking on The Ascension. I don’t know about you, but the show has been on a steady decline since the opening segment. This whole match was a giant snoozefest. I mean, neither team are over in any way. The fans are barely behind the PTP and don’t find The Ascension to be any kind of credible threat at all. One “Gut Check” later and the champs come out on top.

Sheamus’ music interrupts the PTP celebration, and we’re about ready for our next match.

At this point I’m almost feelin’ what Missy Hyatt is feeling…

Roman Reigns– Sheamus was ready to take on Roman Reigns, in what should be a hard-hitting match-up. Reigns comes out to a pretty damn good pop. You gotta give credit where it’s due…WWE has done a great job in re-building Reigns since the debacle that was the Royal Rumble. He’s not the #1 attraction on the roster yet, but he’s a main event player who is going to be the #1 guy in a very short period of time.

Sheamus 2While I can understand the complaints about Sheamus winning the Money in the Bank contract, I’m a fan of the idea. I was never a fan of Sheamus before his latest run, but between his unique look and his above-average matches since his return, I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. I don’t think we need to see Sheamus as world champion again (hell…I think he should lose the briefcase in a stipulation match to somebody else in the next couple of months), but I have no problem with him getting the push.

The match went back and forth and these two guys beat the snot out of each other. Reigns has improve tremendously since the split of the Shield and, quite frankly, I’ve yet to see a bad Sheamus match since he returned from injury. He does a lot of little things extremely well. And credit where it’s due, the match went 20+ minutes and entertained the hell out of me. Roman Reigns vs Sheamus

Bray Wyatt distracts Roman ReignsUnfortunately, there was a slightly disappointing ending as Bray Wyatt appeared on the TitanTron to show Roman Reigns that he was having a tea party, insinuating that he had Reigns’ little girl with him. Reigns left the ring to go to the back and Wyatt showed he was talking to an empty rocking chair (Sister Abigail?).

Too bad…this match was really good.

After the break, they show Reigns backstage looking for Wyatt. He finds the room, but inside is an extremely creepy shrine…

Neville vs Kofi Kingston– The leader of the “Altitude Era”, Neville, is now ready to pick things up by taking on Kofi Kingston. In a very unusual entrance, Kofi skips down to the ring clapping like the mom from The Nutty Professor going “Hercules! Hercules!”

In a weird turn of events, New Day were looking to team-up on Neville when the Prime Time Players came to his aid. The referee then kicked the tag champs out of the ringside area. New Day then got all up in Neville’s face, so the ref kicked them out, too. 20 seconds later, Neville hit the Red Arrow for the pinfall. The match was too short, but still entertaining.

King Barrett vs Zack Ryder– King Barrett is ready to battle Zack Ryder. At least Barrett’s in there against somebody he can beat. Well…it took a lot longer than it should have, but Barrett got back on the winning side of things. I just don’t get why WWE continues to shit on Barrett. They build him up just to bring him back down. So strange.

– John Cena comes out to deliver a promo about the U.S. title and not giving up and blah blah blah. Rinse, lather, repeat. Thankfully, Kevin Owens came out to deliver a few words of his own.

Basically, Owens wanted to confirm that his challenge to Cena for the United States title was being accepted. What’s interesting is that they flipped to backstage to show Triple H and Stephanie casually talking about Owens. Foreshadowing? Perhaps…

Rollins talked with The Authority about getting “the band” back together. Triple H delivered a nice motivational speech that helped explain why they made the match with Brock Lesnar to begin with. He said that in order to rejoin Kane and J&J Security, he’ll need to publicly apologize in the middle of the ring for being a douchebag. Well…maybe that wasn’t an exact quote but you get the drift.

Team Bella– So Naomi & Tamina Snuka were in the ring to wait for the Bella Twins (with Alicia Fox). I’m flabbergasted at this point. Why in the blue hell are the Bellas (HEELS) playing the babyface team against Naomi & Tamina (HEELS) in this match??? If I don’t know who to cheer or boo, why should I give two shits about anybody in the Divas division??? This really is ridiculous. Whoever is running the book for the Divas on the main roster needs a swift kick in the balls. This is ridiculous.

Awwwww…FFS…is it bedtime yet?

– Ryback won with a splash off the top rope. Ryback vs Mark Henry

Apparently Big Show and Mark Henry had a “falling out” after the match was over. Wait…wasn’t their last storyline together a feud? Oh well…

Backstage, Ryback and Big Show got into a fight that ended with Show eating concrete. Ugh.

Dolph Ziggler vs Adam Rose– Dolph Ziggler made short work of Adam Rose. I appreciate the fact that WWE gave Rose a microphone to promo prior to the match. I don’t hate the idea of Rose & Rosa Mendez together, either. I just think that the gimmick can still be tweaked (a LOT) so he’s going to continue to flounder around as enhancement talent.

Afterwards, however, while Ziggler was kissing Lana in the ring (they eased up on her make-up tonight, so she looked a LOT better…as if you could even improve upon perfection), Rusev was shown watching the whole thing on a monitor backstage. He got pissed and threw his crutches away before slipping on the floor. As he looked up, he saw the incredible physique of Summer Rae in a tiny micro-mini dress. She gave him a crutch back, said “Lana’s not worth it”, and walked away to end the segment.

To me, this does three things:

  1. This gives Adam Rose even LESS chance to get over now that two other superstars (main event performers, at that) have valets in a major storyline.
  2. This gives Summer Rae something to do, which I thought may have happened with The Miz but, obviously, they’ve got bigger plans for her now. She’s a gorgeous woman who can talk and get physical, if need be. Is she a fit with Rusev? That’s impossible to say right now but at least they’re giving her an opportunity.
  3. This gives the whole Ziggler/Lana/Rusev love triangle a HUGE boost in terms of what they could do with the storyline. This reminds me of old World Class storylines with Chris Adams, Steve Austin, and Jeannie Adams…at least a little bit, anyway. Regardless, this is a “real” storyline that doesn’t seem to over-the-top and could hook a lot of female viewers for the soap-opera-esque way it’s being presented. Very smart storyline by WWE.

– Seth Rollins entered the ring. He got Kane and J&J Security to come down and stand in front of him so he could apologize publicly.

He asked if they would take him back. As he offered his hand, the Authority members were very hesitant. Then came Brock Lesnar’s music.

Lesnar began to dismantle Rollins, hitting German suplexes while the crowd went absolutely ape-shit.

Brock Lesnar vs Seth Rollins

The Authority, however, decided to help out Rollins.

Seth Rollins vs Brock LesnarAt the end of the day, however, even Lesnar couldn’t overcome the odds. After a couple of chokeslams from Kane and a knee to the head from the top rope by Rollins, the WWE champion decided to provide the exclamation point by hitting the Pedigree. When we faded to black, The Authority were standing tall.The Authority

Well…most of the Authority, anyway. Unfortunately, Jamie Noble got destroyed during the melee and ended up going to the local hospital.

All in all, it was an up-and-down RAW tonight. Some things were really intriguing, where others were snoozefests and showed extremely lazy storyline writing and booking. WWE can certainly do better.

25 All-Time Hottest Female Wrestlers: #10 – Candice Michelle

Candice 9 Candice 1Born Candice Michelle Beckman, this Milwaukee native had a very illustrious run during her time in WWE. She entered the RAW Diva Search in 2004 and, despite not ending up in the Top 10, was hired by the company. Up until her departure in 2009, Beckman worked extremely hard to become a better in-ring performer, which resulted in her becoming Divas champion in 2007. She has appeared in Playboy and was the “Go Daddy Girl” spokesperson. Candice 5

Candice 11Currently Michelle is mother to two daughters and has been happily married since 2005. She is an outspoken advocate for a number of causes, most recently attending a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting in protest of SB277, which calls for mandatory vaccinations in California. Because she thinks it’s “cute”, she calls her fans #CandiAddicts.Candice 4

Candice 7TRIVIA NOTE: Candice is of German and Costa Rican decent. She played varsity and college basketball, has appeared in television programs (Party of Five), movies (Anger Management, Dodgeball), and is a massive fan of the Green Bay Packers. Candice 10 Candice 2 Candice 3 Candice 6 Candice 13 Candice 12

The World According to ZAH: 06-18-15

  • Game of ThronesWhat in the world happened in the season finale of Game of Thrones?? I mean, Stannis absolutely needed to have the “Worst Day Ever” after letting his daughter burn to death, so that didn’t bother me at all. But is Reek now Theon again? Is Arya going crazy after her BRUTAL murder of Meryn Trant? Does Myrcella’s death mean that war between the Lannisters and those Sand Snake chicks? Is Daenerys about to be captured, influence a new army, or watch her dragon, Drogon, have a buffet of horse & men? Does this mean Tyrion will FINALLY become the awesome ruler of somewhere that fans of the show have been waiting for? Will Cersei’s “atonement” change her for the better or make her even more brutal? And just who in the hell was that insanely large guard who vowed to protect her? And what in the actual fuck is going on now that Jon Snow is dead??? Seriously…Theon lives but Snow dies? I already can’t wait for next season, but one of the most entertaining and likeable characters has been killed off. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it’s tough to watch a show when you’re not rooting or liking anybody. At least there’s still Tyrion…
  • Wyatt vs ReignsSo the next feud for Roman Reigns will be Bray Wyatt. WWE has got balls, I’ll give them that. I mean, here is the guy you want to try to put over as your next big superstar and you’re putting him against someone who is (at this point, anyway) almost as popular. I can guarantee that the first PPV match will see Wyatt cheered and Reigns heavily booed. Long term, they obviously want to get both men over so we’ll just have to wait and see where things progress from here. They’re booking Reigns in a smart way, having him about to win time after time only to be thwarted at the last second. That and improving his in-ring promos has helped increase the cheers of the fans, though the crowds have been more entertained by Ambrose, as of late. At this point, what do you even do with Reigns and Wyatt once this feud has ended? They both, apparently, want to be champion…so does whoever win go on to become #1 contender? What happens to the one who loses the final battle between them? I’m intrigued to see how WWE handles this delicate balancing act.
  • Fear the Walking DeadFear the Walking Dead can’t get here quick enough. After reading this past week that two episodes in FTWD will reflect a parallel time period from both Seasons 2 and 3 of The Walking Dead, I’m totally excited to see how fast-moving this show plans to be. The big change, obviously, is the fact that the show will start as the world is initially infected. Being in Los Angeles, the virus should sweep through the millions of people pretty quick. Do they just skip ahead at certain moments in the show? It’ll be extremely interesting to see what they do with this show to (a) differentiate it from TWD and (b) make it a zombie show worth watching on a weekly basis.
  • Prime Time PlayersIs it really time to put over the Prime Time Players? They just recently got back together, didn’t they? And not to sound rude, but are they as “over” as some of the other teams on the roster (i.e. Lucha Dragons)? And let’s face it, The New Day has been red hot as a 3-man heel tag team. Is this to differentiate the world champion from the tag champions? Or is this a Ryback situation where WWE wants the belt to (hopefully) get the performer over? Whatever the reason, it’s too soon. The PTP didn’t need to win yet and The New Day certainly didn’t need to lose so soon after winning the belts. Not sure if they just needed to pop the crowd at the PPV or not, but this was not the right booking decision.
  • Orange is the New BlackSo far, I’m digging Season 3 of Orange is the New Black. I’m only four episodes into it, but it seems like they kicked things off with a bang. I can’t wait to see where the rest of the brief 13-episode season takes me. Seeing Vause and Chapman going at it repeatedly certainly helps move the story along. On top of that, I’ve heard that there is a new hottie making her way to the prison this season. Bring it on!
  • Owens vs CenaKevin Owens, without a doubt, is the best thing going in WWE today. I can’t even begin to describe the feeling as a fan watching this guy get pushed to the moon when, just a few short years ago, it wasn’t even fathomable. And the tweener status that he has right now has me popping even more. I mean, he’s beating up John Cena and throwing some no-name rapper off of a stage. Hell yeah, he is. Score one for the anti-hero. I can’t wait to see what they do with him next. My guess is an eventual U.S. title reign and a place by Triple H‘s side as the new cornerstone of The Authority. The sky seems to be the limit to a man putting on some incredible matches and simply being incredibly entertaining in WWE right now.
  • Song of the Week is a classic mash-up from 2008: Led Zeppelin vs Snoop Dogg. It’s by somebody who doesn’t do nearly enough mash-ups anymore: Party Ben. I’ve never been the biggest fan of Zeppelin or Dogg, but I freakin’ LOVE this mix.

Throwback Thursday – Dusty Rhodes vs Harley Race feat. Ron Bass

Dusty 2It’s been a sad week since “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes passed away. Many kind words have been spoken and many a tear has been shed. One of the good things to come out of all this has been the resurgence in Dusty’s popularity, with fans clamoring to watch the special, unique talent that was Dusty Rhodes.

Today I think I have a clip that puts over everything great about Rhodes:

  • A match versus the NWA heavyweight champion, the incredible Harley Race;
  • A fantastic storyline featuring “Outlaw” Ron Bass as Dusty’s childhood best friend;
  • The in-ring ability of Rhodes;
  • The natural charisma of Rhodes;
  • The ability by Dusty to carry a conversation while still putting over a storyline (he commentates throughout the entire match);
  • The acting ability, making what he says at the end believable; and
  • The promo at the end tells all the story you need. Just an incredible finish to a great clip.

Truly, the wrestling world lost a great legend last week. But thanks to the WWE Network and YouTube, he’ll be gone but never forgotten.

#ThankYouDream