February 4, 2011.
That was the day the most consistent columnist on Inside Pulse debuted with his signature column, The Stomping Ground.
I know, I know; I’m being too modest, right?
It’s interesting to look back and see what a difference a year makes. The Stomping Ground debuted on a Friday afternoon with my Top Ten Mark-Out Moments from all my years as a wrestling fan. From there I parlayed this weekly gig into the column you all know and love on Thursday mornings.
What was going on in the world of professional wrestling last February?
*CM Punk was in charge of the Nexus, which quietly disbanded not long after, and was in a hostile feud with Randy Orton.
*The Miz was WWE Champion in a mini-feud with Jerry “The King” Lawler.
*Alberto del Rio had just won the first-ever 40-man Royal Rumble.
*Mysterious promos boasting the return of the Undertaker aired.
*The Rock was revealed as the host of Wrestlemania XXVII…which was a 4-hour promo for Wrestlemania XXVIII.
*Edge, without the knowledge of the fans, was quietly preparing for his retirement match at Wrestlemania.
*Jeff Hardy was TNA Champion while taking the term “riding high” way too literally.
Where are we now?
*CM Punk is the WWE Champion, poised to replace John Cena as the company’s go-to guy (we can only hope).
*The Miz has fallen into near obscurity.
*Alberto del Rio turned out to be a bust as champ; though it wasn’t all his fault. Punk’s pipe bombs overshadowed everything.
*The Undertaker has just returned to challenge Triple H to Round 3.
*The Rock and John Cena’s year-long promo for Wrestlemania XXVIII is nearly over.
*Edge is heading into the WWE Hall of Fame.
*Jeff Hardy has “cleaned himself up” and is once again a fan favorite.
I find it intriguing to look at how things have changed in twelve months. With the exception of the Undertaker and The Rock, could anyone have correctly predicted the state the business is in right now? CM Punk was on his way out the door, we all thought Jeff Hardy was gone for good, and nobody expected Edge to retire.
And yet, here I remain, unchanged. Still witty, still classy, and always fun to chat with. Here’s to another year of inanity!
Yes, inanity. NOT inSanity. Look it up.
*My friends and I decided to make the Royal Rumble fun again this year by participating in some gambling. With thirty slots in the Rumble match, at $1.00 a slot, we decided to hold our second annual Rumble Pool. I paid for 5 slots, so here were my numbers:
2: Alex Riley
17: Booker T
18: Dolph Ziggler
30: Big Show
I was elated at the prospect of holding the coveted number 30…that is, until I saw Big Show lumber down to the ring in anticlimactic fashion. My saving grace was Ziggler, but Show ended that dream when he tossed out both Ziggler and Rhodes at the same time.
*My buddy’s girlfriend wound up with numbers 22 and 29…who just happened to be Sheamus and Chris Jericho, respectively. Needless to say, she didn’t care at that point who won the Rumble because she was now $25.00 richer (she paid for 5 slots as well).
*Another buddy of mine only paid for one slot, and he received that of Cody Rhodes. He was going crazy, shouting in vain at the television for Cody to stay in the match for as long as possible.
*The Cobra/Socko showdown was tremendous. By the time we reached the first third of the match, it dawned on everyone that the roster truly was incredibly thin and we shouldn’t expect a really riveting Rumble. When Foley and Santino began their duel, we all enjoyed it for what it was.
*I didn’t know Kharma had the kid already! Apparently she had a son, born on New Year’s Eve. That’s an awesome birthday!
*I was wrong in my prediction that Barrett would be a part of the final four. He was eliminated rather quickly by Orton, awkwardly enough.
*How fucking awesome was Ricardo Rodriguez, appearing in that busted car? That man is comedy gold.
*Yes, Kofi did a hand stand. I guess he can keep his job for now, until the company decides they no longer have a use for him.
*Why can’t every episode of Raw and Smackdown have two GREAT matches and one decent bout like we had this week?
Mike Gojira’s Fave Five
1. CM Punk: Despite the fact that I’m getting dangerously close to calling Punk a hypocrite (“I’m anti-bullying, but I’m not above poking and prodding Johnny Ace”), he has been putting on solid matches with Dolph Ziggler and Daniel Bryan in the span of one week. His pipe bomb two weeks ago at the expense of Laurinaitis proves he hasn’t lost a step on the mic.
2. Daniel Bryan: This guy is really making the most out of the fact that it appears he’s heading in the direction of a Miz-like title run. I’m pretty sure he thought he’d be main-eventing with guys who could ACTUALLY WRESTLE when he became champ, but you take what you can get. Now can we please get DB some quality opponents? That’s all I ask! The match with Punk was an example of what he can do when given someone who can move.
3. Chris Jericho: He’s back, baby! The REAL “best wrestler in the world” fired the first shot in the war with CM Punk on Monday with a Codebreaker. I can’t wait until these two confront one another on the mic. I salivate at the very thought of it.
4. Cody Rhodes: I’m a fan of this kid because you can see that he’s really trying to perfect the dickish heel who backs up what he says. Say what you want about his skills, but I think Cody has a bright future. Is he World Champion material? I’d say he needs some more seasoning. Perhaps in six months he could break into the main event scene.
5. Rosa Mendes: Those damn hips.
Super Cool Important Announcement Time!!!
For the past couple of weeks, I’ve hinted at a change coming to my Smackdown Report. I’m pleased to announce that, on Saturday, February 4 (a year to the day that I debuted), Kelly Floyd and I will watch Smackdown simultaneously and chat about it through the Interwebz! Picture one of Rhett or CB’s interviews and you’ll get the general idea. The interesting thing about this concept is that she’s in Arizona and I’m in New York, so it should be quite the experiment. We’ll post the chat on Saturday evening for your enjoyment.
What does this mean for the Not-So-Live Smackdown Report and Top Ten Thoughts on Smackdown that are usually up? Who knows? If this works out, it might replace both. Be sure to comment on our first joint venture so we know what you think.
Before I leave you to your devices (whichever porn sites you regularly visit), here are a few of my favorite editions of The Stomping Ground, in case you may have missed them:
A look back at the most famous heel stables in wrestling (part one)
Part two of my retrospective on heel stables
My stance on the relevance of the IWC
100 (yes, 100) thoughts on wrestling in general
A decidely different take on the 2011 walkout
Guest columnist Kelly Floyd and her thoughts on the Divas
My live notes in attendance for Survivor Series
The biggest wrestling hiccups of 2011
Finally, here’s a real treat for you: my first-ever appearance on Inside Pulse on Glazer’s Morning Backlash last January.
So long, and thanks for all the views.
Tags: alberto del rio, chris jericho, cm punk, Cody Rhodes, Daniel Bryan, edge, Jeff Hardy, John Laurinaitis, Kelly Floyd, kharma, Kofi Kingston, Mike Gojira, monday night raw, Ricardo Rodriguez, Rosa Mendes, royal rumble, sheamus, Smackdown, The Rock, TNA, undertaker, WWE