– I woke up on Thursday morning to read the sad news that Chyna had passed away at the very young age of 45. As of this writing, the exact cause of death wasn’t known but police were treating it as a drug overdose. It’s a damn shame that Joanie Laurer could never escape her demons. Once she was fired by WWE, she was never able to find herself or find peace with life. She tried to sue for rights to the name “Chyna” and went by the moniker of “Chyna Doll” for awhile. One can only imagine what it’s like to be a wrestling superstar, television personality, and Playboy cover girl one day and then just another “regular person” the next looking for a “normal job”. She was never able to make that transition and it resulted in a downward spiral that saw her appear on The Surreal Life and Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew before doing five porn movies between 2009 and 2013. It had appeared that she had finally gotten her life together by becoming an English teacher in Japan. Hopefully her life will be remembered more for her incredible contributions to the wrestling industry than her life outside of the industry. Only time will tell.
– And later in the day I got the absolutely crushing news that Prince had passed away. I mean…goddammit. Prince was legitimately one of my childhood icons. From the very first time I heard ‘Little Red Corvette’ to the thousand times I listened to the Purple Rain soundtrack to his androgynous hits ‘Raspberry Beret’ & ‘Kiss’ to The Artist Formerly Known As Prince (one of the gutsiest, biggest FUCK YOU’s ever seen in the history of the music industry), this man’s music was always a big part of my life. He was a legitimate musical genius who produced, wrote, and performed almost all of the instruments on almost all of his albums. How incredible is that? There simply aren’t enough artists like that anymore. My wife and I watched CNN and Much Music all evening so we could hear stories about the man and watch videos that took us back to our youth. We’ll probably end up watching Purple Rain tonight and listening to his music all weekend. We’ve lost some good musicians this year so far, but this one hurts. RIP, Prince.
– I woke up this morning to the news that Samoa Joe had defeated Finn Bálor for the NXT title at an untelevised live event in Lowell, Massachusetts last night. This incredible news does two things: it gives Joe the spotlight in NXT and some potentially incredible match-ups over the coming months, and it frees-up Bálor to head to the main roster and join his Bálor Club brothers to either join AJ Styles or turn on him. It looks like WWE is finally pulling the trigger on the “invasion” of the Club, and I couldn’t be more excited to see what happens over the coming weeks.
– You gotta wonder just how long this “Shane McMahon in charge” storyline is going to last. And realistically, how long will Vince go along with putting the relatively unknown new stars in the spotlight before an immediate ratings spike doesn’t happen and he puts Big Show vs Kane back in RAW’s main event? Personally, I couldn’t be more excited to see AJ Styles, Sami Zayn, Cesaro, and Kevin Owens getting the main event spotlight. My only concern is just when will this bubble burst? I mean, it always does…doesn’t it? At some point, Vince will believe that he has “created new stars” and then push them back down the card while pushing returning stars like Randy Orton and John Cena. Enjoy it while you can…I don’t think it’s going to last very long.
– I finally got to see Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice this past week. I won’t simply jump on the “haterade bandwagon”, but I can’t say that I loved this movie. In fact, I absolutely loved a lot of it…Ben Affleck’s portrayal of Batman, Gal Gadot’s portrayal of Wonder Woman, the storyline around why Superman was garnering more haters from around the world…but Jesse Eisenberg’s version of Lex Luthor ruined the entire movie for me. I didn’t have a problem with Doomsday (though it was a bit unnecessary and too “unrealistic”…even for this movie) or the length of the movie or the overall story and how it didn’t make a ton of sense. It was the “Jack Nicholson-esque” portrayal of the clearly insane Lex Luthor that bothered me the most. I just thought it was unnecessarily over-the-top and reminded me of the cartoonish portrayals of villains from the 90’s Batman movies. I don’t think it deserved the hate that it’s received, but I can’t say that it was a good movie…which is a shame because it had a TON of potential.
– A match recently took place in an NXT live event, but man oh man I just can’t wait until the day when it happens either at an NXT TakeOver or a WWE PPV. I mean…can you imagine watching Samoa Joe vs Shinsuke Nakamura battle over the NXT championship? Now imagine Joe vs Nakamura going at it at a very high level of intensity on a live televised NXT or WWE event. I’m already drooling at the 5-star possibilities now…
– I don’t know about you, but I’m super-excited about the Season 6 premiere of Game of Thrones on Sunday. For me, it’s one of those shows that is brilliantly acted and brilliantly written. No, I don’t understand all that’s going on but that’s okay because after five seasons I understand enough of the story to enjoy what’s going on. I’m constantly surprised and shocked by the story and the elements of supernatural (in addition to the occasional case of brutal violence) consistently keep me entertained.
– I’m really enjoying the subtle changes WWE is making to the character of Roman Reigns. He’s not a flat-out heel by any stretch, but he’s not pretending that he’s the biggest babyface in the company, either. He’s not trash talking or bad mouthing anybody…he’s being as respectful as he can while being super-confident at the same time. The crowds hate him in spite of the fact that he’s not doing anything “heel-ish”.
– Cesaro is back and is a borderline main event star right now. His “James Bond-esque” gimmick is unique and original. His charisma is oozing through and his mic skills are improving. I couldn’t be any happier to see this turn of events because I’ve been a big fan of Cesaro for a long time now. He has worked his ass off inside the ring to improve and show explosiveness in his performances. The crowds are really into him and giving him some solid wins will only help make him the superstar his fans know he can be.
– Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows are officially booked in a match against the Usos on RAW this Monday. I’m intrigued as to where this is leading. I’m doing a podcast on the possibilities, but you’ve gotta wonder if WWE is seriously playing with the idea of AJ Styles turning heel (which I doubt because he’s over as a babyface and the heel announcers are all calling him out for being in cahoots with his former Bullet Club friends) or if there is another massive swerve coming out way.
– What’s the deal with Conor McGregor? I get that he didn’t want to do promotion for UFC 200 because it would disturb his training schedule, but when faced with the possibility of getting removed from the fight entirely you would think he’d have changed his mind. Instead, he tweeted out a quick “retirement”. I don’t know if he’s interested in WWE or not (he began following Becky Lynch, Triple H, Stephanie McMahon, and Shane McMahon during the week of WrestleMania 32), but it seems crazy that he would give up the biggest payday of his entire career simply to continue working out on a fight that he could be pulled from. There’s more to the story, I think, and we’ll find out the details in the days and weeks to come. But having said that, I would welcome McGregor to the world of sports entertainment with open arms. Having seen what past MMA stars like Ken Shamrock, Josh Barnett, Kazushi Sakaruba, Minoru Suzuki, and yes…Brock Lesnar…have done inside of the squared circle, I have confidence that McGregor could do quite well.
– While I’m no fan of The Miz, I can’t tell you how happy I am to see Maryse make her way back to WWE. I have no problem seeing her on a regular basis.
– I’ve been a fan of Green Day since the first time I heard 2,000 Light Years Away from their album, Kerplunk. Once Dookie came out, I was hooked and I continue to be a huge fan of the band to this day. In spite of those who complain that the band’s newer material has “changed”, I still hear the same power-punk rock chords that I’ve loved since first hearing them in 1993. Have they matured as a band? Absolutely. Is the material more “commercial”? A little bit, yeah…but they’ve always had commercial sounds in their music. When I hear X-Kid or Stray Heart, I’m not hearing a huge divergence from Christie Road or When I Come Around. As of late, the band had been grounded because of the personal demons succumbed to by lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong. Now clean and sober, the band announced this week that they were heading back into the studio to record their 12th I, for one, couldn’t be happier.
In spite of all the “commercialism” that the band has profited from over the past few years (American Idiot was turned into a Broadway musical, for crying out loud), these guys are still the epitome of rock’n’roll. In a musical landscape where the definition of “rock music” is becoming more and more diluted, and bands like the Foo Fighters and Disturbed are becoming less and less popular, we need as much rock music as possible…whether it’s toned-down or not.
I’m still a fan of The Offspring’s new music. I can still rock out to the latest AC/DC track. Are they as good as they used to be? No, of course not…but they’re still trying to create a rock music sound that influences a new generation of rockers. I just hope that Green Day’s upcoming album can help me remember what that sound is supposed to be like.