Sunday, January 25, 2015

Royal Rumble 2015: CST Live Blog

8:13: Welcome to CST's live blog of Royal Rumble 2015. This year's event is being broadcast from Philadelphia, while this blog is thought experiment being recorded at the home of CST Kevin. My name is Doug and I will be your host this evening. Technical difficulties are causing us to run late, and we already have had one match between The Ascension and The New Age Outlaws. The Ascension took the duke in a short match. Frankly I know little and less about these guys, other than they're from NXT and have a gimmick where they dress like Legion of Doom. They need some work on the stick if last week's appearance on Raw is any indication. They have a tagline of 'Born and bred to rip and shred' and I've yet to see evidence of either ripping or shredding thus far.

8:21: Tag team of Miz of Damien Mizdow now coming to the ring. Miz is from Cleveland, and has delivered the city's only championship in 50 years. They're facing The Usos for the tag team championship. My colleague Kevin informs me that The Usos are Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's cousins and the sons of Rikishi. Trust but verify, folks, the action is too furious for me to google.

8:27: The match continues. Crowd is popping for Mizdow but don't like Miz. Miz was a star of MTV's Real World years ago, which is as good a reason as any not to like someone. Mizdow's gimmick apparently is as a stunt double for Hollywood A-lister Miz. A Hollywood gimmick for a guy who will star in a little movie called The Marine 4, a follow up to The Marine 3.

8:33: Hellacious Skull-Crushing Finale by Miz with a kick out at two by one of the Usos. Mizdow powders out and the Usos double team Miz, executing a flying body splash for the three-count and a successful defense of the tag-team championship.

Frankly I'm a little rusty with my wrestling knowledge. Both CST Kevin and I are somewhat lapsed fans. The last time I was really into WWE was during the so-called Pipe Bomb era when CM Punk was champion, circa 2011 or so. Then WWE went and cocked that up by hot shotting the title to Alberto Del Rio, and I fell off the map once more.

8:40: Women's match time, a tag team affair between the Bella twins and Paige/Natalya. The women's division has suffered for years, and the outfits the performers wear are still impractical at best.  Fans not super into this, and are engaging in a soccer chant, perhaps in homage of Paige's English heritage.

8:49: A Bella delivers a deadly forearm shiver to Natalya. It's over, folks, and now we go to commercial for Wrestlemania. Never been to one, though I did go to SummerSlam '96 at Gund Arena. That event featured CST contributor Ryan throwing a Super Ball at Big Van Vader from the second deck. In the ring, the Undertaker and Mick Foley engaged in a punch-up that started in Gund's boiler room and ended in the ring when Undertaker manager Paul Bearer turned on the Dead Man and gave the magical urn to Mick Foley, who smashed said urn into Undertaker's head and a bunch of monks came out and carried Taker's incapacitated body from the ring. Wrestling folks, pushing boundaries since 1887!

9:00: Three way dance for the WWE championship.That's John Cena, Seth Rollins and Brock Lesnar.  Lesnar makes maybe 10 appearances on WWE TV a year, but he has what you call 'zazz' so he gets to hold the belt and show up on television at his leisure. Cena getting booed by the Phili crowd. Phili is the birthplace of ECW hardcore wrestling and hence won't cotton with the kid-friendly palooka from Boston.

9:07: Rollins and Lesnar the heels here. Rollins has a security team given to him by The Authority, which is the kind of evil corporate angle that WWE has been trucking with since Vince vs. Stone Cold. Lesnar german suplexed both of Rollins's security guys at once. Impressive.

9:14: F-5 from Lesnar on Rollins for a near pinfall. Three Attitude Adjustments on Lesnar from Cena and a kick out from Lesnar. Now Cena tackles Lesnar through the announcer's table, followed by Rollins jumping on Lesnar right through the Spanish announcer's table. Or maybe the regular table. Again, fast and furious action here and this is live, so the loss of details is the price you must pay for my lively commentary. Phili crowd giving props to the performers with 'This is awesome' chant.

9:23: Double AA from Cena on Rollins' security team. Actually impressive no irony here in cynical town. Double AA sounds like something you'd search for on PornHub but I assure you it's a wrestling move. Lesnar completely out of the match now, working a 'rib injury' after the hellish elbow from Rollins on the announcer's table. Rollins and Cena going at it, more near falls. Lesnar flies back in and suplexes Cena from the ring. A couple of reversals including an attack with a Money in the Bank briefcase by Rollins on Lesnar.  Rollins goes for the Curb Stomp which is reversed into one final F-5. Lesnar retains and goes to Wrestlemania as the champ. Rumble next!

9:33: Getting ready for Rumble. Kevin predicts Roman Reigns, as he eliminated the most competitors  last year which points to a 'push' (as is the parlance of the time) for an actual Rumble victory this year. I have no fracking idea who's going to take this, but I can tell you none of them have appeared in my kitchen. Daniel Bryan is a possibility after returning from injury a few weeks back. Bryan's a smart mark favorite though a Rumble victory may be too much ask at this juncture.

9:41: Miz and R-Truth start out. Next is...Bubba Dudley! Phili favorite and ECW alum. Devon cannot be far behind. ECW chant comes down from above and Truth and Bubba smite Miz with a Dudley Death Drop. Miz is out, Bubba throws out Truth soon after. Luke Harper is in the ring now, continuing WWE's tradition of sweaty deranged hillbillies well into the 20th century.

9:48: Bray Wyatt in, fighting the Boogeyman. The Boogeyman has not been seen for years and is thusly eliminated in 30 seconds. That's all i have to say about that.

9:55: Wyatt cleaning up the midcard now, eliminating Sin Cara and Zack Ryder in short order. Wyatt's got some of that gravitas and I can see the appeal. He plays a kind of spaced out southern fried witch doctor and does this creepy Exorcist spider move where he bends back and crabs around with his head upside down. I'll be frank cuz it's just us chickens: I'm actively afraid of Bray Wyatt.

10:00: Daniel Bryan in to huge pop from the 'smart mark' crowd in Phili. He's a favorite of the Internet Wrestling Community otherwise known as the 'IWC.' Think guys with glasses who think they're smart and only like indie wrestlers. They're the Pitchfork of the wrestling community and if they were into music would be listening to concept albums by The Decemberists and that's about it.

10:04: Now you're talking! DDP makes a surprise entrance. One of my favorites all time, and the only wrestler for whom I've bought a t-shirt. DDP has been out of the business for a few years and makes has buck with something called 'DDP Yoga.' It's like regular yoga but swishy names for positions have been replaced with manly monikers like 'Touchdown' instead of Child's Pose and so on. I wish I was kidding about this.  Used to follow Diamond Dallas on Twitter but all he talked about was yoga.

True story.

10:10: Ring's filling up, though Daniel Bryan has been eliminated which is a slight surprise. Roman Reigns coming down.  It's Wyatt, evil Russian Rusev and Reigns. Can't we have a nice Russian for once? The USSR split up 20 years ago, and now Russia is led by the warmest, cutest, gentlest leader since Yeltsin. Getting with the times means crossing political boundaries in the geopolitical arena and the squared circle as well.

10:21: Brief C.M Punk chant. Not gonna happen. Instead it's Corporate Kane. Poor Glen Jacobs, who's been saddled with some terrible gimmicks. Google Katie Vick and tremble. He's also in a film called 'See No Evil,' a post-'SAW' torture porn crapfest that I believe has a sequel coming out. Ambrose is next. He looks a little like that character actor who played Toombs in X-Files and made news when he married an underage girl with her parents' consent. I can't be arsed to look it up...not with so much furious action to chronicle!

10:31: Big Show your 29th entrant. Getting down to brass tacks, our players are looking tired as Show and Kane chuck out a couple of guys. Last competitor is Lakewood own's Dolph Ziggler. Dolph smashed with a K.O. punch by Show and his lifeless corpse is ejected ringside. I cannot believe what I'm witnessing!

10:38: God Almighty, it's Reigns with the win as he eliminates Kane and Show through various means. Show and Kane gang up on Reigns who's saved by..the Rock!  Massive pop. Then a bleeding Reigns takes out Rusev, who had not been eliminated as he'd rolled out of the bottom rope. Loopholes, people, you got to read the small print on these competitions. Reigns is celebrating with Rock as HHH and Stephanie, aka The Authority, come out and glare the glare of doom. They leave without further incident, and we fade to black as Reigns points to the Wrestlemania sign, which explodes with fireworks in a true sports-entertainment moment.

It's going to take time to digest what we've witnessed these last three hours. Rumble replay is at midnight, so we'll be watching that for analysis purposes as the initial viewing was for entertainment. Thank you for your support this evening.


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Cardale Jones and his "Decision"

AP Photo
There isn't a bar in all of Ohio, let alone Cleveland, that Cardale Jones can't (legally) have a beer bought for him right now (he's 22 after all.) The last three games in his football career and three months in his life have been like nothing before (and in all reality, nothing in the future) for young Mr. Jones.

And he's about to make a pretty big decision at 3PM 4PM today.

I've been saying since after the Alabama game, and especially now after the Oregon win to give the Buckeyes the Championship, if Cardale goes to the NFL (which is likely what this announcement is), it's the right move.

[Update: He's returning to school! Playing school for another year, getting his degree in the fall, and definitely playing football for another year. Welcome back Cardale!]

He's got the physical skills--the size, the arm, even the legs of a premier NFL QB in the mold of Ben Roethlisberger. He seems to have the game skills--dude didn't look rattled at all. Two "stupid" fumbles as he said, but none of the skittishness of, say, the Browns' rookie QB. His demeanor is amazing.

Mel Kiper was on television Tuesday morning saying that Cardale could be the #1 overall pick next year. If that's true, I don't see every NFL team passing on him for more than two rounds. And I certainly can see some combine work where he shoots up the draft board.

The risks--and not just injury--are pretty big. There is no guarantee that he can beat out JT Barrett or Braxton Miller, should they both return, for the starting position next year. There's no possible way he has bigger wins than the three he just had. Maybe the same--but the risk is a shaky showing against someone like Iowa or Rutgers.

If the NFL is your path--good luck, Cardale. It's been a fun but all too brief ride. It might take a couple years, but in the right place, I think you'll be fine.

Plus, looking forward to more of the amazing social media you'll put out there. Like this, probably the best tweet in Ohio State history.

Monday, January 12, 2015

What CST thinks about Ohio State - Oregon today


Buckeyes 41, Ducks 24

The last six weeks have been unreal for Cardale Jones and Buckeye Nation, and nobody can deny that Ohio State belongs here after dismantling Alabama last week. After that Virginia Tech debacle, I felt that we would be lucky to see six Ohio State wins this year. Now, they are operating on all cylinders a year ahead of pace, and I hope that continues tonight.

Buckeyes 34, Ducks 28

Urban brings the title with a third-string quarterback. Who thought this a month-and-a-half ago? No one.
Buckeyes 38, Ducks 31

Ohio State surprised the football world (and me) by punching big, bad Alabama in the mouth. The Ducks are an offensive powerhouse and a near touchdown favorite in tonight's championship tilt, but the Buckeyes have a Team of Destiny feeling about them, third-string QB be damned.
 
Buckeyes 40, Ducks 31

12-Gauge writes the most unthinkable story in Buckeye history.

Buckeyes 52, Ducks 45

There's always been an underlying feeling that Urban, unfailingly tightly-wound and testy, is not long for Columbus. His next move, of course, is Sunday Football. He'll either singlehandedly transform the Cleveland Browns into a dynasty or fall on his face and be forever humbled by the NFL. Either way, the result will be satisfying.

Buckeyes 35, Ducks 31

Urban Meyer is the difference in this one.



Buckeyes 35, Ducks 30

Urban secures his place as the nation's best coach. I didn't think he could top the undefeated sanctioned season, but his coaching job this season has been unfathomable.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Vox Lox: Clevelander Hating On Clevelanders

You want opinions and I have five or six. 
You like fresh takes and I write organically. 
You have time and I have white space.

We have all the ingredients for a reader and a column.

But, for the entire '14 NFL season, that battery was zapped of hydrogen and oxygen by the very fan base I humbly serve. I started to dislike you, C-town. If you weren't singeing the Ebola Nurse with vitriolic judgements and threats, then you were sucking the fun out of the Browns' 6-3 start with ludicrous demands for Johnny Manziel. I wrote in my September 4th column that "QB controversies destroy franchises, fan bases and my fondness for football." And, like clockwork, Coach Pettine's eventual cave to Manziel would cause more damage in Cleveland than Ebola ever could.


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Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning were can't miss-top picks, immediate starters, Pro-Bowlers and playoff winners within two seasons. They were also drafted fourteen years apart. In between, the first round of the NFL draft yielded Tim Couch, Akili Smith, Cade McNown, David Carr, Joey Harrington, Patrick Ramsey, Kyle Bowler, Rex Grossman, Byron Leftwich, JP Losman, Jason Campbell, Vince Young, (go make yourself a sandwich and I'll be finished with this list by the time you return) Matt Leinart, Brady Quinn, Jamarcus Russell, Josh Freeman, Blaine Gabbert, Jake Locker, Christian Ponder, Brandon Weeden, Tim Tebow, Robert Griffin, and, later, an undersized party animal out of Texas A&M that facilitated his own drafting by texting our recently-fired QB coach. Don't misunderstand: I'm not underestimating the importance of the position and I've obviously cherry-picked over first-rounders like Joe Flacco, Eli Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Big Ben, Matt Ryan, Matt Stafford and Cam Newton....but somehow the exception became the consensus fan formula for identifying a Quarterback. 

You're mostly wasting your breath informing Clevelanders that undrafted Tony Romo and Rodgers spent three years in the NFL before becoming starters. Tom Brady, sixth round poster boy, got his chance because of injury. Russell Wilson was a third rounder and the Seahawks made him earn it. Even Drew Brees couldn't crack round one. See, there are many ways to skin the football-kitten, but a legion of front office fuck-ups with BROWNS on their business cards couldn't find fortune no matter the method. You have to wonder if those pathetic Suits, past and present, are simply a fateful extension of our largely-ignorant fan base. Based on our sardonic reaction to a semi-successful bridge-QB from Lakewood, do we even deserve prosperity? 

So this weekend, like always, we'll look with wide-eyed amazement at some other city's stud signal-caller, like pre-botox Courtney Cox in the "Born in the USA" video. But there won't be any smiling hand coming through our television screen, offering to pull us out of our daydream with quirky, rhythmic snapping. No, this year, we already got what we wished for back on draft day...remember

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Cowboys (+6) over Packers, 4 Dimes
Colts (+7) over Broncos, 2 Dimes
Patriots (-7) over Ratbirds, 1 Dime
Seahwaks (-11) over Panthers, 1 Dime

Season: 2-2 (even)

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Who is the Vox?

SamVox is not a professional handicapper, but a premier one. He has been gambling his entire adult life and has experienced every sickening turn and nasty twist of fate (think Tony Romo, fumbled hold) that occurs during a football season. What distinguishes the Vox is his amazing intuition, astoundingly long memory, attention to detail and preparation, aversion to propaganda and access to the industry's sharpest bettors. He is a two time Pick'Em champion and went 144-125-14 against the spread with his Vox Lox over six seasons for a net profit of over 35 units. 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

What CST thinks about Ohio State-Alabama in the Sugar Bowl today


Buckeyes 31, Crimson Tide 27

I really don't know what to think here. The two devastating championship losses to SEC teams and the Michigan State loss last year are still too raw. Yet the last time we saw Cardale Jones and the Buckeyes, they looked terrifying. So I'll just make the homer pick. No score from +40 to -40 would absolutely shock me. In the Rose Bowl, Oregon 31, FSU 17. Please no Jameis Winston to the Browns.

Crimson Tide 31, Buckeyes 21

OSU finds out once again that the Big Ten is not in the same league as the SEC. The talent gap is still too wide to mount a serious challenge. (Editor's note: Wisconsin just beat Auburn.) In Pasadena, Jameis Winston is too much to handle and FSU beats Oregon 44-41. The last unbeaten team stays that way.

Crimson Tide 38, Buckeyes 27

As much as I dislike 'Bama, Nick Saban and the SEC you cannot deny the firepower that makes the conference so dominant year after year. The Crimson Tide will be too much to handle for Urban Meyer and a Buckeyes squad facing a roster of unparalleled talent and spotlight savvy. In the Rose Bowl, Oregon sets the college football world right by defeating the loathsome Jameis Winston and the Seminoles, 42-38.
 
Buckeyes 27, Crimson Tide 24

Ohio State needs the defense to play out of their minds like they did against Wisconsin. Cardale Jones showed me he can make some plays during his first start, and I'm confident he can do it again. In the Rose Bowl, now that Florida State is playing a good team, after struggling against so many average teams, their streak ends 48-24.

Crimson Tide 43, Buckeyes 38

I'll never subscribe to the Legend of Nick Saban - not after he struggled to achieve mediocrity with the Dolphins and then complained he couldn't fill his NFL roster needs as easily as he could in college. But he squeaks by Urb in a duel befitting a college football playoff. 


Buckeyes 38, Crimson Tide 31

Cardale writes another chapter in his Cinderella story. I'm thinking we get some unexpected production from somebody like Michael Thomas or Jalin Marshall.



Buckeyes XX, Crimson Tide XX

What I think...