Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Best in the World

Plural, not singular.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cj-RoQk4vPg

Could this really be happening? And dare I dream of a title unification at Wrestlemania?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Introducing the Hoigh King of Oirland

Anddd Sheamus wins the Royal Rumble 2012, probably the least-hyped, lowest-content, lowest-intensity Rumble in years.

Does he really have it to make it to the next level? He's been strapped, unstrapped, re-strapped, made King of the Ring, turned heel, turned face and yet, there seems to be something about him that's missing the mark. I fear for his legitimacy going forward and for a roster so thin on talent and a Creative so bereft of ideas that, really, the only ready reason I can offer for him winning the Rumble is that he had nothing else going on storyline-wise.

By God, John Cena v. The Rock better put bums in seats, otherwise this is going to be the worst Wrestlemania in a long, long time. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Evolution

Much like any other "greatest of all time" debate, the question of the greatest wrestling stable of all time also attracts much disagreement. But, mostly - and I think the same applies to other such debates as well - it offers connoisseurs the opportunity to reminisce. 

I'm not old enough to have seen the original Four Horsemen, I always thought that, apart from its original run, the nWo was bloated and overemphasised, I cannot find myself in agreement with those who claim that DX were less shock-value and more substance and I strongly felt that the Hart Foundation were forced heels.

Talk of wrestling stables always leads me back to one name and one name alone.

Evolution.

Never before has a group been launched so simply yet so effectively with just one promo. Never before have four such distinct individuals come together with such synergy and success (six world titles, two world tag team titles, two intercontinental titles, one Rumble winner in exactly twenty months). Never before have stable members so furtively retained unmistakable individual identities (The Game, The Legend Killer, The Animal, The Nature Boy) and yet come together with such a vengeance. Never before has each member of an alliance retained something distinct from the entity and contributed something unique. 

Most of all, though, the very existence of the group made sure that the result was greater than the sum of its parts - Triple H finally ascended into the pantheon of all-time greats, Ric Flair finally played mentor in a way no one since Handsome Harley had, Batista finally got the push of a lifetime, all the way to a word title win at Wrestlemania 21 and Randy Orton finally got the chance to serve notice of the greatest God-given pro-wrestling talent perhaps since Curt Hennig and Bret Hart first broke through.

That all this happened without ever having to resort to a face turn, without clogging up the main event (Evolution members were involved in only eighteen out of thirty-seven pay-per-view main events during the existence of the group) and despite some potentially momentum-stopping injuries is simply extraordinary. It seems fitting, then, that Evolution dissolved bit by bit - the heel turn on Orton, Batista's "thumbs up, thumbs down" face turn and, eventually, Hunter's heel turn on Flair, all of which pushed to the limit the possibilities and psychology, inside the ring and out, of a wrestling stable.

However, what I've put down are just words, descriptions. They do not convey what it meant to follow Evolution for those twenty glorious months, what it meant to believe in the philosophy of the group, how much I looked forward to watching Raw every week to see what poor soul would get destroyed next. It all seemed so sure, so well-crafted, so perfect. And yet, their epochal theme song spoke of lines in the sand, of seeing your reflection change, of changes that no one sees, of finding out who you are. It's easy to see why that appealed to directly and passionately to the fifteen-year-old me, but it's equally easy to see why it, that, then and, most of all, they continue to embody words I live by.   


We all know what it means
Nothing's ever what it seems
Unforgiven, unforeseen.

(c) PWI, 2012.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Disgusted

That's right - keep selling our best players to bloody Norwich City.

I can't believe I was stupid enough to be optimistic about this season less than ten weeks ago. I was hoping that awful, awful night at Barnsley on New Year's Eve was an aberration but it is becoming increasingly impossible to believe that there is any direction, discipline and, most sickeningly, desire to turn this around. 

This latest departure means that just two of the fourteen players who featured in the Manchester United FA Cup game two years ago are still around and, quite honestly, Kisnorbo is not half the player he was two years ago and I'm willing to wager that someone will steal Snoddy in the summer, if not sooner.  

It may well be a passing thought but even as such it vividly captures what I'm going through right now - I don't think Leeds United will play Premier League football in my lifetime.  

Monday, January 16, 2012

Seven Sessions Ain't Much of a Fight

It is highly instructive that the widely reported verbal response by Virat Kohli to David Warner during the recently concluded Australia/India Test match at Perth occurred...during the Australia/India Test match at Perth. The series was certainly still alive during the third Test but the fact that the response should be one of claiming that Australia would get sorted out when they toured India next shows us something quite remarkable about the extent of the defeatist attitude that has percolated down to even the newest members of India's Test squad - it shows us that, even with all to play for and the series in the balance, the conclusion that Australia could not be sorted out in Australia was forcefully, inevitably final.

***

Three cricketing clich├ęs that are so not true:

3. "That's a great decision by the umpire."
No, it's not. Maybe the umpire just guessed and dropped lucky about that ball that brushed the thigh pad at warp speed or that LBW that was clipping half a bail on the leg stump. Maybe he didn't give it out because it didn't "look" out. Isn't it shocking that, whenever humanly possible, umpires refer decisions to technology because they're just thankful that they don't have to make that decision? I'm astonished in the extreme that umpires aren't lobbying harder for DRS to be made mandatory and, if possible, for significant expansion in the scope of decisions that can be referred to technology.

2. "He knew exactly where the fielder was."
No, he didn't. Much like its football cousin "he picked his spot", I find it incredibly hard to believe that batsmen always know exactly where the fielders are - if they did, they'd get out caught much less. With the advent of Ultra Motion cameras, which demonstrate exactly how much the bat turns in the batsman's hand, it has become increasingly hard to accept that the batsman knew exactly where the fielder was and therefore placed the ball with any great skill because clearly, the batsman intended the ball to go wherever he did before the bat turned in his hand. I haven't yet seen a batsman say that he regularly accounts for the bat turning in his hand when deciding where to hit the ball.

1. "The reason he played so well is because he looked to play in the 'V'."
No, the reason he played so well is because he scored so many runs, the majority of which were most certainly not in your stupid 'V'. I am yet to see much credible evidence to support the hypothesis that players who play straight score more runs. In fact, to the contrary, players who play straight tend to get caught behind the wicket a lot more because they are actively looking to drive and therefore end up edging a lot more, whereas, especially in Tests, players who look to play behind the wicket ("if you flash, flash hard"; "through the slip cordon...there's no third man...another boundary"; "you cannot afford to bowl on leg stump, he'll keep picking you off to fine leg all day") tend to score a lot more because most teams tend not to heavily protect that area. I am also completely at a loss to explain why commentators gush over square cuts and pulls and backfoot drives and sweeps and leg glances without ever looking to reconcile it with the preposterous "playing in the 'V'" theory.

***

http://twitter.com/uhohitsthebigo - What a guy.     

I'm not sure if there's a point to this story but I'm going to tell it again.

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I've been wilfully caught up in the self-defeating quest to get to know myself for years. I've never expected anything beneficial to result from such a quest. I tend to evoke extremely polarised reactions from people I get to know in passing. Consequently, only those people who know me inside-out would honestly claim that I'm a person who's just "alright." It's not a coincidence that the description I've laid out above has no fewer than, title included, eleven references to me (make that twelve). I'm affectionately referred to as "Ego." I think that last statement might have given away a tad too much. Welcome Aboard.

IHTRTRS ke pichle episode mein aapne dekha...

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