This Saturday, Bob Simpson is amped for the greatest fake show on earth.
This Saturday, Bob Simpson is amped for the greatest fake show on earth.
Wrestlemania XXVIII should be a fun experience for those who love horrible acting.
By Bob Simpson (Writer)
If you’ve ever been to a Ringling Bros. show, or Cirque de Soleil, or seen the Blue Man Group, then you’re probably someone that enjoys a spectacle, and I would argue that there is no greater spectacle on this planet than the Christmas of fake sporting events, Wrestlemania.
April 1st marks the 28th occurrence of this event, garnished in fireworks, Nickelback and teeny-tiny underpants, and, for a guy like me, it doesn’t get any better. I’ve been a professional wrestling fan since I was a kid, watching the Ultimate Warrior cut one of his indecipherable promos (“Load the spaceship with the rocket fuel! Load it with the warriors!) or enjoying Jake “The Snake” Roberts turn what should be a campy profession into something meaningful and terrifying (seriously, he’s the best actor in wrestling history).
What the crap is he talking about?
Like a boss
After my mother caught my dad, brother and I watching an Ultimate Warrior promo where the painted steroid-user called upon the spirit of demons to give him strength, wrestling was banned in my household. This didn’t stop us, and during the Attitude Era of the late 90s and early 2000s, with guys like “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, The Rock, and Mick “Cactus Jack/Mankind/Dude Love/Mick Foley” Foley leading the charge, wrestling stayed imbedded in my mind. Sure, I lost interest after college, but I’ve recently come back to the fold, and look forward to Wrestlemania with mild anticipation.
Why mild? Cause I think it might suck. The “sport” has changed a lot since the early 2000s, with the shows turning to a PG rating and a lack of really striking characters. Long gone are the Stone Colds or the New Age Outlaws or The Broods, replaced now by mostly cookie-cutter, boring performers that lack any type of microphone skills or knowledge on how to create a character. Sure, these guys are athletes, but if you can’t execute a promo without stumbling over every single word, I’m not interested.
Now, I could be wrong. Wrestlemania could be a blast, but there’s a small kernel of doubt in my mind. Regardless, I’d like to take my blog slot this week to go over the matches for the event, predict the winners, and explain why they might rule/suck.
John Cena vs. The Rock
Yes, you are reading that correctly. The Rock, who left the sport almost a decade ago to pursue a highly successful film career (the only professional wrestler to do so, though many have tried), will come back at Wrestlemania to battle the man that has become the icon, the Hulk Hogan, if you will, of the PG-era.
John Cena, beloved by kids and women, hated by everyone else, puts it all on the line against one of the most charistmatic and entertaining superstars to ever grace the sport.
The build up to this match has literally been a year in the making. Not joking, people, they actually scheduled this match a full year in advance, and have been pounding it into our heads ever since. Personally, I look forward to this match being over so I can stop hearing about how it is the “biggest match” in professional wrestling history.
It isn’t, and it won’t be. In fact, I’m predicting that this match will hardly live up to the hype it has received. John Cena is a good mic worker, but really below average in the ring. The Rock is great at both, but hasn’t performed in a match in years (I’m excluding the recent Survivor Series match, in which he barely did anything). He’ll be super rusty.
What’s surprised me the most about this match has been the last few weeks, where The Rock and Cena have traded barbs at Raw shows. From my perspective and the perspective of many experts, Cena has completely dominated the war of words between the two. Cena has been creative, devastating, and has even, gasp, cursed! The Rock has resorted to spouting catch phrases (seriously, Rock, we know you’re finally back in Atlanta) and plugging his Twitter account. If the match was only a verbal one, The Rock barely showed up.
Regarding the outcome, there is no way The Rock wins, which is unfortunate. Cena is too important to the business, and after Wrestlemania we won’t see The Rock again for months, if that. Cena has to win.
Winner: John Cena
The Undertaker vs. Triple H (Hell in a Cell match with special guest referee, Shawn Michaels)
A rematch from last year’s Wrestlemania, The Undertaker returns for his one match this year to defend his streak. For those unfamiliar with this, The Undertaker has never lost at Wrestlemania (he’s 19-0). That’s a little silly when you consider that the match outcomes are predetermined, but it’s a big story point for the match.
If Cena vs. The Rock is a New Era vs. Old Era match, this one is a battle of two of the biggest icons in WWE history. The Undertaker has been with the WWE since 1990, and Triple H was one of the biggest names during the hugely popular Attitude Era. Now, The Undertaker is broken and aging, and Triple H is in line to replace Vince McMahon as chairman of the company (for real, it helps when you marry the boss’ daughter).
Added to this drama, the match will be a Hell in a Cell, which means it’s a cage match on steroids, and features Triple H’s real-life best friend and co-founder of the incredible Degeneration-X stable, Shawn Michaels, as guest referee. Lots of speculation here on whether Michaels will turn on his best buddy, but I don’t think Triple H will need it.
Winner: Triple H ends the streak, and the 97 year-old Undertaker finally retires. He’ll be missed.
WWE Champion CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho
This will be, by far, the best match of the night, and I’m making a bold prediction: this battle will be one of the best in Wrestlemania history. You have two incredible performers, both on the mic and in the ring. Chris Jericho came out of retirement just to have this match, and he’s been bringing some incredible heat. He’s the first person to actually go toe-to-toe with CM Punk on the mic and stay standing.
CM Punk is the best wrestler in the company right now. He’s edgy, an absolute genius with his promos and microphone work, and one hell of a performer in the ring. The WWE didn’t have anyone that could touch him, so, they brought back a guy that was a lot like him during his heyday.
The build up for this match has been awesome. The performers are two of the best ever, and there is a feeling that there are real stakes involved here, when they should be felt in the previous two matches discussed. This match, without a doubt, will steal a show.
Winner: It’s a push, really, but I’ll give it to Punk because Jericho isn’t going to stick around long after Wrestlemania. He’s due to go back on tour with his metal band, so I don’t see him winning the belt.
World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan vs. Sheamus
This could be a great match, but, unfortunately, the company hasn’t given it the push it’s needed. Daniel Bryan has transformed into a really entertaining heel (that’s a bad guy, for non-fans), and Sheamus is a giant, pasty monster from Ireland. Both are entertaining on the mic and really great in the ring (Bryan is right behind Punk in the best in-ring performer category).
This could be a sleeper pick for best match of the night.
Winner: Sheamus. Bryan has had the belt for a while, and he’s better served as a heel chasing after what he wants, like a Mr. Perfect or Macho Man.
Intercontinental Champion Cody Rhodes vs. The Big Show
I don’t care about this one at all. Cody Rhodes is overrated and The Big Show is just a giant, bumbling dude that is a few years away from retirement.
Maybe I’ll be surprised, but, yeah, I won’t be.
Winner: Cody Rhodes cause who gives a crap.
Team Teddy vs. Team Johnny
Again, don’t really care about this one. The storyline behind the match is so burdensome and poorly executed that I shy away from even mentioning it. Basically, it’s a battle between the teams of GM Teddy Long (from Smackdown, the good guy) and GM John Laurinaitis (from Raw, the bad guy). Their two teams will battle it out to determine who will be the general manager of both shows.
It’s a match that was created solely because there are so many injuries in the WWE right now.
Winner: Team Johnny. Teddy has been there for years and the WWE seems to really be behind John Laurinaitis, despite the fact that he is the worst thing to happen to the WWE since Katie Vick. The dude can’t even remember his own name.
Randy Orton vs. Kane
Basically a dark match, in that there’s almost no storyline here and very little buildup, but it could be decent. This match was created because two of the company’s big performers didn’t have anything to do at Wrestlemania.
Both of these guys are abysmal on the microphone (seriously, completely freaking boring), but Orton always puts on a good show in the ring. It won’t be a disaster, but it won’t be good, either.
Winner: Randy Orton
Kelly Kelly and Mario Menounos vs. Divas Champion Beth Phoenix and Eve
This is when I will be going to the bathroom. The way WWE has handled their women’s division over the last year is basically a violation of female civil rights. It’s been a disaster. Believe it or not, there was a time when the women’s division in WWE was actually really, really exciting. Sadly, those days are long gone, and the women in the WWE now serve only two roles: scantily clad meat to gawk at, and an opportunity for the audience to get another beer without missing anything important.
And, you are reading this correctly. Maria freaking Menounos is in this match. The host of Extra is going to be wrestling at the biggest event of the year. Why? Because shut up, that’s why.
Winner: I can’t hear you, I’m peeing.
That’s it folks. I know the vast majority of people will not watch this show, but I sure as heck will, and I promise to either enjoy it or hate it just for you.
The amazing, ephemeral nature of theater.
By Kevin Michael Murphy
The best and worst thing about theater is that it is ephemeral.
One show closes, another one opens, and most people move on.
This week was the latest edition of If It Only Even Runs a Minute, a concert series I co-created with Jennifer Ashley Tepper, and Caleb Hoyer. These concerts aim to celebrate musicals that we consider to be "under-appreciated." We bring in original cast members(and sometimes the writers themselves) to tell stories of their experiences creating these shows. The result is nothing short of inspiring.
If you are even the slightest bit of a musical theater nerd, this concert is NOT to be missed. Check out highlights from the first half of our concert!
Try as I might, I just couldn't get into the games...at least not as much as I wanted to.
By Geoffrey Kidwell (actor)
I’ve only seen one of the Star Wars movies. Didn’t like it. Never saw the rest. I only read the first Harry Potter book. Couldn’t give two shits about quidditch or a boy who could use a few Mederma applications to the forehead.
Why am I telling you this? Well, the other day I was sick for the nine thousandth time in the last couple of months and I thought, “Alright, put down the Hatorade and starting reading The Hunger Games. See what all the fuss is about.”
You see. I don’t want to be a contrarian. I don't believe that being someone who hates things that are popular (read: a hipster) makes one necessarily smarter or cooler. I want to “get it.” I secretly want to be one of those guys who goes to opening screenings of big blockbuster movies at midnight and who has his very own light saber.
And so, with an open-mind and a stomach full of pepto bismol, I began reading the adventures of Katniss Everdeen and Peeta.
(Who, in my mind, was played by a piece of pita bread with arms, legs and a cartoon face.)
I’m not going to waste your time with some long, drawn-out, glorified book report masked as literary criticism because a.) I’m not a good enough writer. b.) Those are super boring to read. c.) Most importantly, they’re super boring to write.
What I will do is give you a few of my initial reactions to book one of The Hunger Games Trilogy.
I have always been embarrassing. Thoughts come flying out of my mouth completely unfiltered and usually wildly off-putting to others. I drop food on myself, wipe my nose on my sleeve, I trip over sidewalks, stairs, my own feet. I once walked all the way across a pubic library with my skirt tucked into the back of my tights while I wasn't wearing underwear. Normally I just cross my fingers and hope that very few people witness such events. But doing stand up comedy guarantees an audience to view embarrassing moments. It seems I've taken the most uncomfortable path I could find. Possible public failures? Almost certain moments of humiliation? Count me in!
-By Leah Bonnema
People will ask "Do you ever bomb?" "Have you ever been heckled?" To which I respond: WHEN I bomb or WHEN I am heckled... It happens to everyone. It's how you get better. And some bombs aren't even that bad: it's an off night, the crowd is crazy, you are performing in a sports bar during a huge event and all the TVs are on, you are working on new stuff, etc.
When love for your show means getting a little crazy...
By Kimberly Lew (Playwright/Blogger)
A while ago, producer Brisa Trinchero wrote a blog about Being “Committed,” Not Crazy In Musical Theater. It was a post that really spoke to me and actually reminded me of a time when my writing partner and I were talking about submitting our show, Searching for Candi, to the Fringe Festival. We knew in some ways that our show was a good fit for the festival-- it had a very simple, flexible set, only required four actresses that we could easily cast from our friends, and we had just come off of a very successful staged reading that we had produced ourselves (our very first experience producing anything, ever). Still, we had our doubts and with our busy schedules, we didn’t know if this was the right path for us.
“If we submit,” I told her, “I want to be sure that we are both totally committed to this. Because we need to be confident about this every step of the way, almost to the point of being a bit delusional.”
Out of context, it seems like a strange thing to say, but the truth is that theatre can be a very scary thing. Putting your work out there is already a practice in developing a thick skin, but also doing whatever it takes to have your work staged, including wearing hats in production that you’ve never tried on before, can be absolutely terrifying. It takes a lot of blind faith and conviction to believe that a piece can weather all the ups and downs of production, and to a certain degree, it takes a bit of madness to take all of that on and insist that you’re going to make it through, if not find a little success.
A big key in taking the leap is finding a project that you’re absolutely passionate about. After all, as the Drew Gasparini song above asks, aren’t we all a little crazy when it comes to love? And what love is stronger than the one between creation and creator? At an ASCAP panel last summer, Chris Dimond talked about a friend of his who said that a good idea for a new work should ‘devastate you,’ and it’s a phrase that’s really stuck with me since then. There is a magical thing that happens when the spark of an idea is just right, when all the pieces start falling into place, and when you connect with the material enough to truly believe that your story is going to survive the constant self-doubt, practical pratfalls of writing, criticisms from colleagues, and revision after revision.
We didn’t end up submitting our show to the Fringe that year, but a big part of that was taking a step back and realizing that the timing wasn’t right. We did, however, recognize the passion that we needed to keep the play alive, and we continued to move the show forward in other ways (one resulting in a production at Mt. Holyoke College). And I think back on that commitment and am determined to apply it to everything I work on in the future. Maybe it’s a little crazy to think that something small can become something huge. But how do you know unless you try?
KIMBERLY LEW is a playwright with two published one-act plays for high schools, as well as full-length Searching for Candi (co-written with Gabriella Miyares), which had its first production at Mt. Holyoke college. Her latest play, Other People's Children, was recently featured as a part of The Beautiful Soup Theater Collective's new works reading series. She also created/manages the Emerging Musical Theatre blog. www.kimberlylew.com
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The odd jobs and guest appearances of some of Broadway's Greatest Divas.
By Ryan Bogner (Producer, Wingnut)
Its tough to be a Broadway Diva. When a Diva gets to a certain point in her career the great roles aren't always easy to come by..but as I showed you all a few months back in She Did What Now? Part I there's plenty of weird projects for Divas to do to help them pay the bills.
So without further ado I give you 5 more of my favorite random performances/gigs by famous Broadway ladies.
Murphy counts down his Top 10 Spring Music Discoveries.
By Matthew Murphy (Photographer)
I'm obsessed with music. There's just no getting around it, and that obsession has led to more than a few iTunes purchases clogging up my credit card receipts. That is, until I discovered Spotify, the mind-blowing, revolutionary, earth-shattering, orgasmic, and LEGAL program that gives you access to virtually hundreds of thousands of albums....for free. Even more ridiculous? For $10 a month (the price of ONE album on iTunes) you can store up to 3,000 songs on your iPhone and take them everywhere...without having to be online.
All of my clients at photoshoots have heard me go on and on about the service, but rather than continue on raving about it here, I thought I'd share my latest Spotify discoveries that have been taking over my spring photoshoots. (Oh yeah, one more thing about Spotify: it's just about the greatest tool ever for discovering new music that you wouldn't necessarily find on your own.)
1. I FEEL BETTER-Gotye
Everyone is currently obsessed with his chart-topping "Somebody That I Used To Know," which is a spectacular song. But "I Feel Better" is the joyous counterpoint to "Somebody's" eerie melancholy, making it the perfect springtime strut song.
2. VELVET ELVIS-Alex Winston
I don't know where this girl came from. But her debut album is pure pop delight with a little dose of Regina Spektor's quirkiness and Florence and the Machine's jubilance. Not to mention, she randomly holds a power tool in the video.
3. THE CITY-Patrick Wolf
Similar to Gotye's album, this song has a bit of an '80s flair to it. And I'm not complaining one bit.
I kind of can't stop listening to this song, which many of you may have discovered on SNL a few months back. It's like Sara Bareilles, Jessie J, Nicki Minaj and Katy Perry had a baby, which all adds up to a song that's way too catchy for its own good.
5. ALL THE ROWBOATS-Regina Spektor
Who else but Spektor could write a song about rowboats in paintings that are trying to escape from the frame? Lyrically this is such a fascinating song to me and I'm endlessly impressed with how she's managed to make a song about the perils of existing as a priceless work of art so engaging.