Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Who at The Royal Albert Hall

The Who last night wrapped up this year's series of Teenage Cancer Trust charity shows at London's Royal Albert Hall with a performance of the album, Quadrophenia. Here is a link to all of the songs which were posted on YouTube. Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder was a surprise guest at the show, as was Kasabian singer Tom Meighan. Additionally, there was a brass and string section.

This is the 1oth anniversary of the benefit, which is headed up by Roger Daltrey, and so there were 10 shows. The Who did the final show, but the other concerts featured some good performers as well, such as Noel Gallagher and Them Crooked Vultures, among others.

So far the Quadrophenia concert has received favorable reviews. The U.K.'s Times Online had this to say:

"Daltrey sang with his emphatic touch, while Townshend played acoustic and electric guitar with a combination of finesse and aggression."

Meanwhile, Rolling Stone raved about Townshend in their review:

"His playing was virtuosic, moving, on “5:15″ between bluesy licks, shredding solos and savage power chords, but also, more crucially, fueled by an enduring rage. The climactic one-two punch of “The Rock” and “Love Reign O’er Me” was drama worthy of this storied, 19th century venue."

Going into last night there was talk of the band touring Quadrophenia this fall. We'll see. The main issue is Pete's hearing. As you can see from the photo below, drummer Zak Starkey's set is enclosed by plexiglass, however, that was done during Roger's solo tour, as well. Incidentally, Starkey isn't using the cool bullseye cymbals he used at the Super Bowl, perhaps the N.F.L. trademarked them? Anyway, Pete was reportedly going to test out a new device last night for his hearing. Hopefully, things worked out fine. But I think Townshend had an idea ahead of time that it was not going to be an issue. I suspect the band will be announcing a tour similar to what they did in 2002; 20-25 dates in the U.S. in late summer and early fall. I don't think Pete wants to do a long tour like they did in 2006-2007.

Wrestlemania XXVI: Results/Thoughts

The W.W.E. put on a highly entertaining pay-per-view on Sunday night with Wrestlemania XXVI. There was very little fluff to the show and I was not disappointed watching at home, nor can I imagine were the over 72,000 fans in attendance. Here's what happened:

Dark Match (non-televised)
Yoshi Tatsu won a 26 man battle royal.
Ezekial Jackson was not in the match due to the loss of his father. I like Tatsu and I think it's too bad there isn't a cruiserweight division for him and guys like Evan Bourne to really show how talented they are.

ShoMiz (The Big Show and The Miz) opened the pay-per-view with a win over John Morrison and R-Truth to retain the Unified W.W.E. Tag Team Titles.
A bit short as it clocked in at about three and a half minutes.

Randy Orton defeated Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase.
Solid match, but this feud is done with. Hopefully, DiBiase is moved to Smackdown during the draft and turns into a major heel on that show. Orton will probably remain on Raw as a top "face" to try and make up for the loss of Shawn Michaels.

Jack Swagger defeated Dolph Ziggler, Shelton Benjamin, Drew McIntyre, Christian, M.V.P., Matt Hardy, Evan Bourne, Kofi Kingston and Kane in the Money in the Bank ladder match.
I really enjoyed this match and the surprising outcome. Bourne didn't climb to the top of a ladder but he was up pretty high when he did his shooting star press. SPOILER ALERT: Swagger has already cashed in the briefcase. He did it last night at a taping for this Friday's Smackdown. Swagger is now the new World Champion. I'm a big fan of Swagger because of his athleticism. He's got a lot of great mat skills and is another superior athlete out of the University of Oklahoma. The W.W.E. recently sent scouts to the college wrestling tournament in Omaha, Nebraska, which to me is good news. It means they are going after the pure athlete and not the very limited musclehead.

Triple H defeated Sheamus.
When I first saw Sheamus I thought he was another Snitsky, but he has proven me wrong and he's only going to get better. Sheamus and Hunter had a very good match at 'Mania.

Rey Mysterio defeated CM Punk.
Very exciting match, however, these guys should have been given at least 15 minutes to work together instead of the six and a half they were allotted.

Bret Hart defeated Vince McMahon.
Finally, Bret and everyone involved can put the "Montreal Screwjob" behind them. I liked the way this match played out because it protected Bret as I'm sure he is pretty limited due to his stroke from several years ago. I also liked that the Hart Dynasty was involved. Hopefully, the W.W.E. will now use Bret to get over the new generation of Harts.

World Champion Chris Jericho defeated Edge.
These two never disappoint. The spear by Edge after the match was a definite highlight. This feud is just getting started.

Michelle McCool, Layla, Maryse, Alicia Fox and Vickie Guerrero defeated Mickie James, Kelly Kelly, Eve Torres, Gail Kim and Beth Phoenix.
This was a match we could have done without. The W.W.E. makes a mockery of these ladies by sending them out there to begin with, but thankfully, this match was only a little over three minutes.

John Cena defeated Batista for W.W.E. Title.
Loved this match, although I would have kept the title on Batista for a while longer. Opinions vary on Batista and Cena, but the energy these guys bring makes up for anything that they may lack in terms of wrestling acumen. Cena's entrance with the U.S. Air Force doing a routine with their guns was really spectacular.

The Undertaker defeated Shawn Michaels.
Unbelievable match! The two pros put on a clinic and once again Michaels is part of the best match of the year; the best match at this year's 'Mania and also one of the best matches of all time! So which is better last year's 'Taker-Michaels match or this year's?

For me, it's a pick 'em, they were both that great.

The Undertaker is now 18-0 at Wrestlemania and Shawn Michaels is headed off into retirement. Many people are skeptical that Michaels is really done, but regardless, Shawn Michaels has had an unbelievable career and will definitely be missed.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Wrestlemania XXVI: Preview and Predictions

WrestleMania XXVI takes place this Sunday night at 7 (eastern time) from the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona; home of the Arizona Cardinals. My lack of blogging shouldn’t be taken as a sign that I’m not looking forward to ‘Mania, because I absolutely am! On paper, this is a very good card with a solid build.

It still amazes me how far 'Mania has come. Now, cities bid on getting the event. That’s why Wayne Gretzky (above) was wearing this shirt a few years ago in a bid to get the biggest show of the year in pro wrestling to come to the desert. Next year the event comes to Atlanta and the Georgia Dome. As far as Sunday's show, several of the matches have a chance to be great and of course one of those is the rematch of Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker. This also is probably the healthiest roster the W.W.E. has had going into a 'Mania that I can ever remember. Here’s how I see the matches and the order in which I think they will take place:

Money in the Bank Ladder Match (Christian, Dolph Ziggler, Kane, Shelton Benjamin, Jack Swagger, M.V.P., Matt Hardy, Evan Bourne, Drew McIntyre and Kofi Kingston)
Opening with M.I.T.B. is a great way to get the crowd hot. Ten wrestlers is the most this match has ever had; normally it is seven or eight so some people believe that there are too many people in this match. But it may lead to more action as you can constantly have guys going in this match. I’d love to see Evan Bourne do a shooting star press off one of those really big ladders. If that were to happen, it would be the spot of the night! As far as a winner, the safe bet is Christian. But I'm going to go with McIntyre. Six months ago I would have said Kingston, but his stock has plummeted since his feud with Randy Orton fizzled.

Unified Tag Champs ShoMiz (The Big Show/The Miz) vs. John Morrison and R-Truth
Not much has been made of the fact that Miz is the U.S. Champ and so technically he holds three titles; including the World Tag Team and W.W.E. Tag Team titles. I’d say that’s a bit much to try and put this guy over. I’m hoping Morrison and Truth win this one.

Randy Orton vs. Cody Rhodes vs. Ted DiBiase in a Triple Threat match
It will be interesting to see what Legacy looks like at the end of this match. I think there will be a bit of a swerve in this one with Cody siding with Randy against Ted, giving Orton the win.

Rey Mysterio vs. CM Punk; if Punk wins, Mysterio joins the Straight Edge Society
Right now, Punk is one of the best heels in the business. As much as I like Mysterio, it would create some interesting t.v. if Rey loses. If these two are given enough time, this could be one of the best matches on the show.

Bret Hart vs. Vince McMahon in a No Holds Barred match
The history between these two is well-documented. Last week on Raw, Vince promised that Bret would be screwed again. Something will definitely happen, but I still see Bret coming out with the win in what will probably be the final match ever for Bret Hart.

Triple H vs. Sheamus
The two are buddies off-screen, so let's see if that translates into good chemistry in the ring between these two. I think Hunter takes this match.

World Champ Chris Jericho vs. Edge
Another match that has potential to be great. I’d like to see Jericho win this and extend the feud for a while.

The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels in a no disqualification, no count-out retirement match
The Undertaker's undefeated 'Mania streak vs. Michaels' career is on the line. There are four ways I see this match ending:

1- Michaels wins clean.

2- ‘Taker wins clean.

In either of the two above cases, I think this match would close the show and give fans a feel-good ending.

3- HHH interferes and helps Shawn win.

I could see a scenario where Hunter hits ‘Taker with the sledgehammer and Michaels gets the pin, but Shawn for some reason doesn't see Hunter cheating on his behalf. He finds out the next night on Raw and goes ballistic.

4- Triple H interferes and causes Michaels to lose.

In either scenario 3 or 4, this sets things up so Michaels has an emotional breakdown similar to the one at the Royal Rumble. Michaels takes some time off and then comes back later this year to build things with Hunter for next year's 'Mania.

At this point, I see no reason for 'Taker to lose at Wrestlemania but after hearing that a few years ago Mark Henry was going to beat Undertaker and stop the streak, I'm not so sure. If this is going to be Michaels last match, nothing would be better to see him beat The Undertaker. All in all, this is going to be a great match. As great as last year? That's tough to do, but these two veterans always bring their best so I wouldn't be surprised.

W.W.E. Champ Batista vs. John Cena
Batista’s stock has really risen as a heel. I like Batista either as a heel or a babyface. I’m also a fan of long title reigns and so I would like to see Batista hold onto the strap. More than likely, though, this match closes the show with Cena once again the champion.

WWE Hall of Fame

The 2010 class of the W.W.E. Hall of Fame is a good one. Here is the list of people that are going in with their inductors in parentheses:

Antonio Inoki (Stan Hansen); Ted DiBiase (his sons Ted and Brett); Wendi Richter (Roddy Piper); Maurice "Mad Dog" Vachon (Pat Patterson); the late Gorgeous George (by his ex-wife Betty and the Super Destroyer) Stu Hart (by his sons, presumably led by Bret) and Bob Uecker (Dick Ebersol). Uecker is going into the "celebrity wing" for his involvement with some of the earlier Wrestlemanias. The ceremony takes place Saturday night and at least part of it will be on the USA Network.

Survival of the Hitman

Bret Hart is many things – some accurate, some not so much – but one thing about Bret, he and his career have not been boring. This is evidenced again by “Survival of the Hitman,” which is a one hour documentary done by the Fight Network in Canada. Part one of the video is above. Bret says many things in this film and I’m glad to see that his recent return to the W.W.E. is helping to put closure on the bitterness that resulted from the 1997 “Montreal Screwjob.”

It will be interesting to see how much or how little Bret can do on Sunday against Vince McMahon at Wrestlemania. He did have a stroke several years ago, but somehow I think Bret will put on a good show and surprise the critics.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Pete Townshend Interview in Premier Guitar Magazine

Always a great interview, Pete Townshend doesn't disappoint in Premier Guitar Magazine here, or does he? When asked about the future Townshend states that there are no plans for a tour at the moment and also discusses his latest project:

"Floss is not a new Who album. It is a musical play. Some of the music might work for Roger and me; I am still working on it. I reckon I have another year to go writing."

Townshend also talks about his hearing:

"I don’t use in-ears on stage. Not yet. I have just been introduced to a new microprocessor- controlled system with three transducers in each ear. They sound amazing. But the Chinese might hack into my gig… I have started wearing hearing aids in the past months. The new ones are incredible. Tiny. The only way to protect my hearing would be to stop playing music. I get the most problems from long periods of studio work, which is how I compose. So I am nervous about the future right now."

For me, Pete has given more than enough already and anything he does going forward is gravy. What's most important is that he takes care of his hearing, which he appears to be doing.

Pete Townshend and The Grateful Dead

I came across this video recently of Pete Townshend jamming in 1981 on a couple of songs with the Grateful Dead.

This reminds me of a story Roger Daltrey told once of a jam session that broke out under the stage at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967. Daltrey claims that Jimi Hendrix, Brian Jones, Mama Cass, George Harrison, Pete Townshend, Keith Moon and Janis Joplin - he mentioned a few others but I can't remember who at the moment - were jamming away to an extended version of "Sgt. Pepper."

Pete denied the session ever took place. Perhaps he really doesn’t remember due to some drugs taken that weekend or maybe it’s because Townshend loves to needle Roger. If such a session did take place, what a shame that there is no film of it.

Odds & Sods

Two people were killed yesterday by subways in NYC. In once incident, a lady on the Upper East Side dropped her purse on the tracks and jumped down to get it. The story is here. Some of the quotes in the story are pretty graphic. It’s pretty unbelievable and in some ways makes me believe it was really a suicide.

Richard Belzer is denying choking a woman in an Apple store on the Upper West Side.

I remember when Belzer himself was choked out on his t.v. show by Hulk Hogan about 20 or so years ago..

I also remember Belzer ducking bullets in the movie Scarface.

But, I don't remember Belzer ever being funny.

Expecting a tax refund this year? Don't bet on getting it for a while as some states are freezing funds until the summer and maybe even the fall. What a joke.

I listened to most of Bob Heussler and Mike Francesa calling the Syracuse-Georgetown game yesterday.

Bob did a great job as always.

Speaking of which, the Mets look to be in for another one of those years.

In all likelihood, the Rangers won't make the playoffs this year. We can all blame head coach John Tortorella - and yes he deserves his share - but general manager Glen Sather should be called out for constructing a team with absolutely no cohesion.

Will Jets head coach Rex Ryan still be the media darling when the team takes a big step back next season?

Manny Pacquiao should have little trouble tomorrow night against Josh Clottey at Cowboys Stadium. Too bad we aren't seeing Pac against Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Now THAT would be a fight!

Mick Jagger and Keith Richards discuss here the spring re-release of Exile on Main Street, which will contain some unreleased tracks. I hope those songs are good, otherwise why mess with a perfect album?

Bret Hart Interview

Bret Hart went Off The Record with Michael Landsberg last night. This is a must-listen - or must-watch as the show is on TSN - for fans of “The Hitman” or wrestling, in general. He takes some shots at Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan while also talking about his improved relationship with Shawn Michaels.

I am a regular viewer/listener of Landsberg's show. I like his style. He is knowledgeable without trying to big-league anyone. His is a true sports show. Sadly, New York sports talk is a two-horse race: baseball and football. That’s fine. I’m a fan of both sports, but not all day and everyday. As a result, I listen quite often online to WNST in Baltimore or the FAN 590 in Toronto. Why? Because I want to be entertained, not lectured. Back to the interview...

Bret Hart had this to say about Ric Flair:

"Flair stayed in the wrestling business, forgot about his family, his family moved on and left him; the only thing Ric Flair knows is the dressing room, the airports, the bar after, and drinking."


The link for the Bret Hart interview is here.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Inside The Squared Circle: Wrestlemania Taking Shape

Many things have been happening in the world of wrestling lately. T.N.A. has moved to Monday nights to go head to head with Monday Night Raw and Wrestlemania continues to take shape.

T.N.A. flopped in the ratings on Monday night and Raw took a dip, as well. NXT also dropped in the ratings. I'm not going to read too much into it at this point. Next Monday night will be a huge Raw with "Stone Cold" Steve Austin hosting.

One of the most fun matches at 'Mania to watch is the Money in the Bank ladder match. Last year, people scratched their heads when Mark Henry, Kane and Finlay were put into M.I.T.B., however, the match was still very good. This year, based on the wrestlers in M.I.T.B., it looks as though it could again be very good. But I have a couple of suggestions.

So far the lineup is: Christian, Kane, Dolph Ziggler, Shelton Benjamin, Jack Swagger, Montel Vontavious Porter, Matt Hardy and Evan Bourne. I’d still like to see Kofi Kingston and Drew McIntyre in this match and would have no problem if Matt Hardy and Kane were not involved. Amazing how Kingston was getting pushed for a few months and then fizzled after his feud with Randy Orton. Kofi has become completely stagnant, if not forgotten altogether.

Speaking of Orton, I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up in M.I.T.B. His feud with Legacy does not seem to have the ability to get into the next gear, unless if they do something where maybe Brett DiBiase is recruited to team with Randy against Ted Dibiase and Cody Rhodes. Regardless, when it comes to M.I.T.B. the W.W.E. has to be careful not to put too many guys in the match.

I could definitely see a scenario where Orton wins M.I.T.B. and then challenges the winner of Cena vs. Batista at Wrestlemania that night.