Wednesday, July 20, 2016

6 Things That Stood Out About the WWE Draft

The WWE Brand Split Draft happened last night, and, like any draft, these things cannot happen without controversy. I wanted to highlight what stood out for me, while making my case to be Smackdown's Assistant GM.

1. Seth Rollins Goes #1
This is the correct choice for the first overall draft pick. He went number one in Jonah's and my WWE Fantasy Draft, and there's really not anybody that should have been taken ahead of him. At least they didn't mess this part up.

2. Finn Balor and American Alpha Are Drafted into Stardom
We basically knew these were coming as why else would you have Balor take a couple of losses in the last few weeks and have American Alpha ever lose? This was the reason, and they are no worse off for taking those losses. They immediately get drafted as big deals, and it'll be interesting to see how they try to progress their careers now that they've made it to the big show.

3. The Other NXT Picks
This was a travesty. Let's start off with a caveat that champions were not eligible for the draft, so Samoa Joe, The Revival, and Asuka are all off the board. Still, these were their picks? I have no issue with any of the three ladies taken, as I actually think they are all very good, but I have also watched all of them get a ton better in the last few months, and I'd way rather see them continue to get better for the next few months. Oh, and the fact that we're supposed to believe that Shane and Daniel Bryan sat in a room together, decided they needed an NXT female with the last pick of the draft, and had the following conversation:

Shane: Let's go with Carmella.
Daniel: What about Bayley?
Shane: You mean Billie? Billie Kay? I don't think she's ready. 
Daniel: No, Bayley.
Shane: Wait, it's Bayley Kay? 
Daniel: No, just Bayley.
Shane: Oh, so she dropped half her name, like Antonio Cesaro. Well, that changes things, but I'm still going with Carmella.
Daniel: God damnit.

Okay, now that I typed it out, I could totally have seen that happening. Now imagine the same conversation happening but instead Shane goes with Mojo Rawley while discounting Shinsuke Nakamura for not being hype enough.

4. WWE and Black Superstars
Remember when Apollo Crews was heralded as the guy who could change WWE's inability to promote black superstars to headlining positions within the company? I remember that. The WWE definitely does not remember that. Apollo Crews is phenomenal in the ring, and I feel like people forget how good he is, because he has no character development outside of a nice smile. He could be something, and the brand split should theoretically help a guy like this out, but the WWE hasn't given us much reason to have faith in their promotion of black superstars, so I'm not going to hold my breath.

5. A Missed Opportunity
Wouldn't it have been great to see Raw as the established superstars side of things, and Smackdown just oozing with straight wrestling. It's not like Raw has to be completely depleted of wrestlers. I know of a simple trade that could benefit both sides (it would greatly help Smackdown)

Smackdown trades John Cena and Randy Orton to Raw.
Raw trades Sami Zayn, Cesaro, and Neville to Smackdown.

Who says no to that? Because right now, I don't have a whole lot of reason to tune in to Smackdown. It's American Alpha, seeing if WWE wants to push Dolph Ziggler after taking a few years off, and the whether Mojo Rawley can stay hyped. That third reason was a joke, because my other option was going to be the WWE figuring out how to push Apollo Crews, but that seemed like more of a joke.

Basically, if trades are allowed, I demand the position of Assistant General Manager on Smackdown. DB, I know you're reading this, so just imagine me as your Jonah Hill, and you, my Brad Pitt, as we Moneyball the shit out of the Raw roster.

6. Did Shane and Stephanie Shoot Draft These Rosters?
I know that Shane is super beloved and everything, but are we sure he doesn't have the opinions of his father? Like, he hasn't been around for a while, and there is a pretty good chance that his wrestling tastes have not evolved in the last decade. And Stephanie, although hated onscreen, has watched NXT blossom thanks to guidance from her husband, so maybe she has a better grasp of where wrestling is going, as opposed to where it's been. Think about the simplistic justification that could have been used by Shane to make these picks:

Dean Ambrose - Champion
AJ Styles - Beat John Cena
John Cena - Is John Cena
Randy Orton - I remember him being really important the last time I was around.
Bray Wyatt - New Undertaker
Becky Lynch - Oh shit, they just got Sasha Banks.
The Miz - Intercontinental Champion
Natalya - Her Dad beat up my Dad (I'm assuming Shane does not understand the Hart family dynamics and thinks Bret is her Dad)
The Ascension - New Demolition
Alexa Bliss and Eva Marie - Hot

Are we positive that Shane didn't really make these picks and let Daniel Bryan have like 1 out of 10 picks where he could take Dolph Ziggler, American Alpha, and Apollo Crews? Also, doesn't this explain the biggest fall in the draft, Kevin Owens? Stephanie probably knew that Shane has the old school mentality that fat guys can't be important, so she locked up Sami Zayn early, knowing that she could grab Kevin Owens later on since Shane would never take a fat guy? You can tell me I'm wrong about this draft being a shoot, but you can't 100% convince me of it.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Breaking Down the Chicago Bears Seventh Round Pick: Western Michigan Wide Receiver - Daniel Braverman

The NFL Draft has come and gone, and it appears that the Bears have a plan in place. Did I agree with that plan at every twist and turn? No, not really, but I also really enjoyed some of their moves so it all balances out. And they were active, and that definitely made for an exciting weekend. But what's done is done. The picks I like will obviously work out, and hopefully my genius fails me on the picks that I didn't like. So far, I have had the chance to break down:

First Round Pick: Leonard Floyd, Linebacker, Georgia
Second Round Pick: Cody Whitehair, Offensive Guard, Kansas State
Third Round Pick: Jonathan Bullard, Defensive Lineman, Florida
Fourth Round Pick: Nick Kwiatkoski, Linebacker, West Virginia
Fourth Round Pick: Deon Bush, Safety, Miami
Fourth Round Pick: Deiondre' Hall, Defensive Back, Northern Iowa
Fifth Round Pick: Jordan Howard, Running Back, Indiana
Sixth Round Pick: DeAndre Houston-Carson, Free Safety, William and Mary

Finally, we wrap up this series with the Bears seventh round and final pick, Daniel Braverman, a wide receiver out of Western Michigan.Unlikesome of the Bears picks, I knew a surprising amount about Braverman going into the draft thanks to the "Move the Sticks" Podcast. The scouting report on him is that he's got the potential to be an ideal slot receiver, as the guy finds ways to get open despite not being the most physically gifted player. I watched his games against Michigan State and Ohio State, two very talented defenses that should be able to swallow up small school players like Braverman.

Braverman is definitely shifty, as he is always moving to try to get open, and he's got a good ability to cut, as shown on this play against Michigan State.

There ain't a linebacker out there that's going to stick with him on that outside cut.

Here, Braverman does a great job of selling the quick screen before exploding down the field to get wide open for an easy touchdown.
The only problem is he didn't make the catch. I don't think it's a big deal. Even the best receivers have drops. Focus on the moves, because that's consistently great. The drops will not be an issue.

If you're not totally sold on that, it helps that he has proven that he can go deep and make a play against top-level competition, as he finds a way to torch far better athletes from Ohio State on this play.
He shortens his stride early in his route, and the cornerback sits down on it, and then Braverman is able to accelerate right past him, avoid the safety (who takes a bad angle), and cruise in for six. And if you think that was a fluke, he had another play just like it later in the game that was called back for holding.

I do have to give Michigan State credit as they ate Braverman's lunch during most of the first half of this game. But that doesn't mean Braverman wasn't able to show off on some impressive plays. Here, he takes a quick screen (a play that got absolutely dominated early in this game), and makes some nifty moves to get a first down.
It's those sorts of cuts that not only help him get yards after the catch but helped him in previous clips to find ways to get open despite not being the best athlete on the field.

Braverman has moves on moves on moves on moves, as he showed on this play against Ohio State.

The guy has such an impressive ability to cut that he almost always maximizes his yardage while being very tough to get a clean hit on. On this play he shows that if you don't swarm to tackle him, he has the ability to make you pay.

If you're looking for impressive catches, this should do the trick.

Obviously, the catch is incredible in that he makes the catch and manages to dot his foot on the ground in bounds. But nearly as impressive is the way that he stays open enough for the quarterback to throw the ball. He gets open earlier in his route, but he manages to stay enough in a zone to let his quarterback go for that pass, and he does what's necessary to come down with the ball.

When the Bears made Daniel Braverman their final pick, I loved it. After actually getting the time to watch him on film, he lived up to the hype, and I think the Bears got a steal late in the draft. Since I'm pretty sure everyone is already thinking it, no, he's not the next Wes Welker. He's probably more of a Cole Beasley. He's not a game changer, but he can be a solid contributor from the slot. He finds ways to get open, and that is a skill that translates at any level. For a seventh round pick, Bears fans should be ecstatic with Braverman. I know I am.

Monday, July 18, 2016

5 Podcasts You Must Listen To

There are a lot of dipshits out there who make blanket statements like, "I really enjoy music." That's great, dipshit, and also totally uninteresting and worthless. I like music, but not as much as many people. Hence, I listen to podcasts. It's all about learning and it keeps my mind fresh when I'm cooking, cleaning, or driving around. Since I listen to a fair amount of podcasts, I figured I would give a quick rundown of the best stuff I am listening to right now. Some of these are obvious to the podcast world, and some are a little less well known, but they are all fantastic, and if you listen to podcasts or feel yourself tiring of music, I'd highly recommend the following.

Art of Wrestling 
I listen to too many pro wrestling podcasts. I don't want to give a number, but it is definitely too many. I would not recommend any one of those outside of the Art of Wrestling. Colt Cabana does a great job of getting a wrestler tell his or her story, and you never quite know what the interview will focus on. The reason I would recommend a pro wrestling podcast, because as Cabana says, it's really "a life podcast," and I think that's fitting. It's very conversational, and it's fun to just be along for the ride. I got into it for the big name stars, but a lot of the unknown guys have the most fun stories. If you like hearing about people taking chances to follow their dreams, maybe they reach it, maybe they don't, maybe they're on their way up, or maybe they're on their way out, no matter what, it never fails to captivate.

The Dollop
This is probably the most popular podcast on my list, but there's a reason it's so popular, and that's because it's super funny and technically educational. It's an American history podcast which sounds super boring (I stayed away for quite a while because of this), but they focus on a lot of obscure stories, and they're both comedians, so they add a lot to what are already ridiculous stories. One of my favorites from the last month was about women starting to run the Boston Marathon and how one insane guy who didn't love the Marathon, but was IN love with the Marathon tried to stop them was a wonderful listen.

Lineup MMA
I just started listening to this podcast when they switched up the cohosts a few weeks ago. No offense to John McCarthy, but it's a pretty big upgrade to get both Ben Askren and Joe Warren to talk MMA with Sean Wheelock. I will admit that this is probably the most niche podcast in the group as you do kind of have to enjoy MMA to enjoy the podcast, but it's so great, because they talk shit about everybody. If one of them happens to like somebody, inevitably the other one will dislike that person. It's basically just an hour long shit-talking podcast with two guys who can actually back up everything they say.

Pardon My Take 
I am not a "Stoolie" by any means, but I'm also not against it either. I am a huge PFT Commenter fan, as I think the man is brilliant, and his ebook is the only book I have purchased myself in the last eight years. These guys have basically created a satirical First Take where they come up with the hottest takes, try to defend them but are in on the joke and just try to one-up each other on the hotness of the takes. I know that sounds stupid on the surface, but it's also quietly clever. They actually get far better guests than you would guess, and they ask different enough questions to get interesting answers. Really, their two best segments are "Ya Think?" and "Racehorse or Porn Star" which are both incredibly stupid but make me laugh my face off every damn time.

The Six Hundred Dollar Podcast 
This is the newest podcast on the list, as it's only been around for a couple months, and you may know it from it's original name, "Wildin' Out Without Nick Cannon," or it's second name, "Totally Cannon," but since being threatened by cease and desist letters from Nick Cannon's lawyer, they have had to change the name. Still, it may be the one I most highly recommend for the general public. It's got comedian, Tommy Johnagin and comedy writers Justin Halpern and Patrick Schumacker. Probably my favorite moment was when they had a conversation about what they should refer to toddler's genitalia that nearly made me fall on the floor laughing. It is truly special the way they are able to sexualize toddlers during the podcast. Some would say it takes a certain kind of sense of humor to enjoy this show, and they would be right, but that certain type is just a good sense of humor.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Number One Rule of Snapchat

Snapchat is a very popular app with the young, hip generation. I was actually an early adopter of Snapchat, because I figure new technology is at least worth a try. But it absolutely amazes me how bad people are at using Snapchat. Sometimes they try to be clever; sometimes they try to be cool, but the harder they try, the harder they fail. That is why I will share with you the number one, and truly only rule that matters in Snapchat.

Show Me The Puppies

This is all you need to know. Just take pictures and videos of doggies, and the world will be a much better place for it. Have you ever grown tired of looking at cute dogs or even ugly dogs doing cute things? Of course you haven't, especially when that pup is so desperate to go on a road trip that she hops in and lies down in the trunk of the car.

I don't care about pictures of your babies; I don't care about pictures of beaches or mountains, or some other lameass body of land, and I certainly don't give a shit about a picture or video of you, because I already know what you look like, and no matter how hard you try, you'll never be as cute as a pupdog with a bunch of stuffing hanging from her mouth.

Let's face it. Your life is boring. You don't think it's boring, but trust me, to the outside world, it's boring as shit. This is no knock on you, as I am as guilty of this as anyone else. Instead of focusing on you, focus on something else, and preferably, that something else will have a snout and some big floppy ears, and extra points for tail wagging. I don't want to see you getting your zen on with meditation, but I damn sure want to see a cute dog doing the same.
#Namaste

This is the only rule that you need to know for Snapchat. Just show me the puppies. Those sexy, sexy puppies.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Breaking Down the Chicago Bears Sixth Round Pick: William & Mary Free Safety - DeAndre Houston-Carson

The NFL Draft has come and gone, and it appears that the Bears have a plan in place. Did I agree with that plan at every twist and turn? No, not really, but I also really enjoyed some of their moves so it all balances out. And they were active, and that definitely made for an exciting weekend. But what's done is done. The picks I like will obviously work out, and hopefully my genius fails me on the picks that I didn't like. So far, I have had the chance to break down:

First Round Pick: Leonard Floyd, Linebacker, Georgia
Second Round Pick: Cody Whitehair, Offensive Guard, Kansas State
Third Round Pick: Jonathan Bullard, Defensive Lineman, Florida
Fourth Round Pick: Nick Kwiatkoski, Linebacker, West Virginia
Fourth Round Pick: Deon Bush, Safety, Miami
Fourth Round Pick: Deiondre' Hall, Defensive Back, Northern Iowa
Fifth Round Pick: Jordan Howard, Running Back, Indiana

Next up, we have the Bears sixth round pick, DeAndre Houston-Carson, a free safety out of William and Mary. To say I knew nothing about Houston-Carson would be completely accurate, as I had never even heard his name before the Bears selected him late in the draft. I had pretty much assumed that this was going to be a quick and easy one, because who on God's green Earth would cut up tape of a William & Mary Free Safety? Draft Breakdown, that's who. They had tapes of his games against perennial powerhouses Villanova, Richmond, and Lafayette.

On the positive side of things, DHC is a very adept tackler. He's not putting big hits on guys, but he knows how to wrap up and bring a guy down. On the not-so-positive side of things, he often got taken down the field on blocks and had a really hard time shedding guys once they made contact with him. He was always around the ball, but a lot of times, guys got an extra 5-10 yards because he wasn't able to shake loose a block and make a play earlier.

If you're looking for a highlight, it doesn't get much better than this.

DHC has good coverage, adjusts to an underthrown ball to make the interception., and, most importantly, once he gets the ball in his hands, he looks like the most explosive player on the field as he sprints by everyone for a touchdown.

There is only so much you can see from game tape with a free safety. Although he had the interception, there were also plays where he gave guys way too much space in order to make plays on the ball. Again, it was a very limited sample, but it still wasn't ideal, especially against a slower game at a lower level of college football.

So that's where we're at with DHC. He shows some flashes of athleticism on the field but sometimes seemed a little too hesitant for my liking. There's a reason he fell to the sixth round, and even squinting, it's tough to see more than a special teams contributor out of DHC. There's nothing wrong with that. With all late round picks, you're hoping to find buried treasure, but I'm thinking the Bears may have just found some loose change. That's still better than nothing.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Blame Anderson Silva for Stalling Against Daniel Cormier

I have seen a ridiculous amount of stupid shit posted on the internet regarding Daniel Cormier's performance at UFC 200. Well, it's a ridiculous amount for what happened, but basically a normal amount for an MMA event. Everybody is shitting on Daniel Cormier for taking it to the ground, but it's Anderson Silva's fault that there wasn't more action.

First off, let me just say hats off to Anderson Silva for taking the fight on two days' notice and going in there against one of the best fighters in the world at a weight class above where he normally fights. That doesn't just take guts; it takes an arrogance that very few outside of Silva possess, and I'm saying that in the most positive way possible. But he signed up for a fight. He didn't sign the contract with it in writing that Daniel Cormier had to fight a fun fight and help give him chances to win.

Fighting is actually based off a super simple premise. If you want action, you have to create space. If you want to shut down action, you have to eliminate space. Anderson Silva did everything he could in this fight to eliminate space and shut down action. He locked up Cormier's upper body and leg locked one of his legs, so there was really no opportunity for Cormier to do anything of signifance, and he still managed to fire off constant punches so he at least could do something. Still, despite Anderson Silva doing nothing to work towards submissions or try to stand up, the crowd willed the referee into standing up the fight multiple times.

If fans wanted to boo a guy for stalling on top, it should have been directed at Brock Lesnar who was just looking to maintain his position as opposed to looking for a finish in his fight against Mark Hunt. In the first round, he got full mount and did not try to posture up but instead stayed tight and threw tight punches as opposed to unleashing on him. And in round three, he easily could have moved to full mount, but he took the safe option of keeping Hunt pinned down. And there is nothing wrong with that. It was the smart decision. It also helps that Brock Lesnar is such a freak that he still threw some pretty mean blows in that tight space.

Fans booing Daniel Cormier showed how clueless they are. So what if Anderson Silva doesn't get to show off his standup skills? He barely even attempted to fight off a takedown. He didn't deserve to stand up in that fight. Anderson Silva made a gutsy decision and took a fight against an elite fighter on two days' notice, and he deserves respect for that, but he doesn't deserve a win to be gifted to him for being gutsy. Those he has to earn, and last night against Daniel Cormier, he didn't do anything to deserve it. 

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Breaking Down Brock Lesnar vs. Mark Hunt at UFC 200

Brock Lesnar is coming back to the octagon for UFC 200. This is interesting on a variety of levels. First off, it's Brock Lesnar, the biggest draw the UFC has ever had coming back to fight again. He hasn't fought since 2011, and he hasn't had a win in over six years. But it's not like he's just been sitting around, he's been in the WWE, even becoming champion and only losing his title, because a guy was able to add himself to a match that had already been going on for 15 minutes; I don't believe this is legal in the UFC. But even though he was in the WWE, he only worked a part-time schedule, so he still had time to move to Saskatchewan, because Brock Lesnar is so anti-social, that he thought Northern Minnesota was too crowded. He will be representing Canada in his return to the UFC, a country that he accused of trying to kill him because of their shitty health care. Brock Lesnar is a truly fascinating individual.

But maybe the most fascinating thing is the opponent for Brock Lesnar, Mark Hunt. Mark Hunt's record, much like Brock Lesnar's actually, is unimpressive. 12-10 just doesn't jump off the page at anyone, but that greatly underestimates how good Hunt has become as a mixed martial artist. He started as a Kickboxer, but transitioned into Pride MMA bouts, because that's what Pride did back then. He's literally never had an easy opponent, as he has only faced guys in Pride, Dream, K-1, and the UFC. He's also gotten a lot better as the years have gone on, and is actually 7-3-1 in his last 11 fights in the UFC with all three of his losses coming to UFC Heavyweight Champions.

But the most important thing about Mark Hunt is that first part, he's a kickboxer, and he's about as pure of a kickboxer that you're going to see in today's mixed martial arts. With Brock Lesnar, you have a grappler, and most importantly, a wrestler. This is as close to UFC 1 as we are going to get, it's one guy who wants to stand up and strike versus a guy who wants to take it to the ground and pound him out or submit him. It's beautiful in its simplicity.

So the question becomes, does Brock Lesnar have a chance after such a long layoff? I believe he does. I mean Hunt has only lost to champions, and Lesnar is a former UFC champion. More importantly, there aren't many good wrestlers in the heavyweight division. During this great run Hunt has had, he hasn't faced anyone that would be considered even an average wrestler. Hell, I'm not sure if he's faced anyone with average wrestling in his entire career. Even if Lesnar's wrestling is rusty, it's still going to be good by heavyweight standards.

Could Hunt knock Lesnar's head off? Of course, but thinking that it's a foregone conclusion is foolish. Never forget what a legitimate physical freak Brock Lesnar is. If there's anybody that can come back from this sort of layoff, it's Lesnar. That's why I am predicting a triumphant return for Lesnar. I don't think Mark Hunt has the defensive wrestling to deal with Lesnar. Although I don't think Lesnar can quite pull off a Suplex City performance, I do think he can at least him to Takedown Town and finish him in the first round.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Why I Love the Al Jefferson Signing for the Indiana Pacers

It has been announced that Al Jefferson will sign a free agent contract with the Indiana Pacers that will earn him $30 million for three years. A lot of people have been skeptical of this deal, as Larry Bird fired Head Coach, Frank Vogel, partially because they wanted to play at a faster pace, and Jefferson would not seem to help them in this pursuit. I was surprised with the backlash, as I absolutely love the deal for the Pacers.

Al Jefferson may not be the same guy he was a few years ago, but he has a super important skill, and that is that he can score. Even last year when he was battling injuries and his playing time was limited, he still did about the same thing he's done for the last ten years on a per minute basis. In basketball, it is good to score points, so Jefferson being able to do that should help the Pacers win games. I know that is an incredibly simplistic view of things, but there really is no need to make things more complicated than they need to be.

Sure, his defense is basically non-existant, but it doesn't need to be great, because he's going to be coming off the bench to provide a reliable post option where he should be able to eat up most bench big men. And on defense, those guys aren't going to be able to exploit him all that well either. If a team goes super small, yes, they'll be able to take advantage on offense, but they also aren't going to have anyone who can stop him in the post.

Is $10 million a lot for a player like this? Two years ago, yes, it definitely would have been, but now, as crazy as this may seem, a three-year, $30 million deal is practically nothing in the NBA. I mean, Timofey Mozgov, who is a very large human being, and not very notable outside of that, got four years and $64 million. Mozgov is a guy who takes up space as a traditional center, which is getting phased more and more out of NBA lineups. Before even really looking at numbers, I feel like I'd rather have Jefferson than Mozgov. Then you throw in the fact that Mozgov got $6 million more per season and an extra season, or another way to put it, Mozgov got Jefferson's deal with a fourth year for $34 million, and it's clearly a no brainer.

The Pacers are becoming an interesting team. With Paul George already on board, upgrading from George Hill to Jeff Teague, and then pairing up Thaddeus Young with an emerging Myles Turner will at least make them fun to watch. They're still a few pieces away from a contender, but they could surprise some people this season, especially with Big Al providing scoring off the bench.