Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Saddest Ending In Sports

I didn't expect that to happen.

There were so many ways I could have seen Anderson Silva and Chris Weidman's rematch going, but that definitely wasn't one of them.

I have long been a detractor of Anderson Silva as I thought that any good wrestler with some semblance of submission defense should be able to take him out as long as they stuck with a good game plan. I was wrong, because it didn't take a good game plan; it took a perfect game plan. Anderson Silva is so dangerous on his feet that every second that a person spends standing up is a second where they have a high risk of being knocked out. I wrote about his greatness before this fight and how excited I was for this fight, but now I am left with nothing but this empty feeling.

I'll admit I didn't see it at first. I thought that I missed him getting clipped, and then when I saw him holding his leg, I knew it was bad. Then I heard his screams. God, those screams. It was as disturbing as a child's scream, and this is not meant to compare Silva to a child, but to recognize that somebody that tough to be in that much pain is just sickening.

Then I saw the replay. And my worst thoughts were confirmed. His leg snapped in half. After that happened, nothing else mattered. Even Weidman knew, he gave a quick raise of the arms, but then went to check on Silva before being shooed away so the medical staff could take care of him.

The UFC crowd is not known for their sympathy, but everyone knew that this was terrible. As Weidman had his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan, there were no cheers, there were no boos, there was just ambient noise that seemed neither positive or negative, it just was.

No matter what happens from here, he's the greatest fighter we have ever seen, and it's going to take an incredible comeback from Georges St. Pierre or an incredible run from Jon Jones for anyone to challenge that position in the near future. The man was made to fight and reached his highest potential. So very few in any occupation can say that.

This is an unfair scenario for Anderson Silva. This shouldn't have been how his career ended. He was so great for so long. I got angry watching him, because everything he did looked so easy that it made me sick. I could make up a game specifically designed to my strengths and still not be as great as he was at mixed martial arts. Even last night, I had that feeling of inevitability that Silva was going to start picking apart Weidman after surviving that first round. He never stopped being great. Instead, greatness was taken away from him.

I have been trying to figure out the right way to end this, but I'm at a loss for words. I guess that's fitting; Anderson Silva's career was made by leaving fans speechless.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Anderson Silva And The Art Of Showboating

When it comes to sports, I have a bias towards wrestlers. I loved Robert Quinn coming out of college, because he was a state champion high school wrestler. I loved Ray Lewis for the same reasons. I don't even know what level Deron Williams wrestled at before switching to basketball full-time, but I remember an announcer mentioning it while he was at Illinois, and I still support him, even though he has been rapidly declining. Never is this more true than in the UFC. In my mind, you need to have a wrestling background to be great, because without wrestling, you have no control of where the fight ends up.

I have always underrated Anderson Silva because of this. To be fair, he has gotten a ton better at wrestling, going from childlike to a poor wrestler. He's not going to shoot for takedowns, but his sprawl and underhook defense has gotten a ton better, and really, that's the only aspects of wrestling that Silva is going to need.

It's fair to say that my underrating Anderson Silva was a huge whiff on my sports predictions. It isn't the first, and won't be the last, but even though I have been wrong, it has been a blast watching him fight. Watching him strike from his feet is poetry in motion. It's so ridiculously smooth. There is nothing in this world that I can do as smoothly as he strikes, and that includes seducing the ladies. Win or lose this weekend, Silva's career is winding down, and we should appreciate all of the opportunities we have left, even if he is no longer in peak form.

My only proof that he may not be in peak form is that he is 38 years-old. Outside of that, there isn't much video evidence to suggest he has lost a step. Yes, he lost his last fight, but he got caught while doing what Silva does, believing in his skills to the point where he feels comfortable making his opponent look bad.

We have all been taught that showboating is bad. In most cases, it is. The showboating itself is not bad, but so few athletes can be so great that they are able to back it up. Anderson Silva is one of those amazing athletes who actually benefits from showboating. He demoralizes his opponents and kills all confidence with his showboating. Outside of the first Chael Sonnen fight, he has made his opponents believe that he was better than them in every other fight he has been in. He stands there with his hands down and easily dodges all strikes that come his way. At this point, his opponent feels helpless, and it is amazing how the energy can drain from an opponent who doesn't know what to do. Anderson Silva is the water; his opponents are the helpless swimmer. The harder they work, the more dire their situation becomes.

Don't fool yourselves. Chris Weidman has looked like an absolute monster in all of his fights, but by the second round with Silva, he looked beat. He was putting his head down and charging in for shots like the world's slowest bull. Silva dismissed him, as he should have, because all visual evidence was pointing to him being done. That all changed when one of Silva's dips mistimed into a left hook from Weidman, and all of a sudden, Silva was human again.

Michael Jordan stuck his tongue out, shrugged his shoulders, and shot free throws with his eyes closed. He didn't do this because it helped his game; he did it because he could. And mentally, his opponents were defeated before the end of the first quarter. Silva is that sort of athlete. He has such a myth around himself that his opponents are fighting a mental battle before they enter the cage. The showboating just puts the nail in their mental coffin.

As I said before, Weidman has been a beast in all of his previous fights, and the one time he didn't look like a beast, against Silva, he still knocked his opponent out. If he comes in with proper cardio and has his wrestling working, it's going to take something special for Silva to win. At the same time, I can't shake the feeling that we are going to see that classic Anderson Silva performance of easily rolling away from shots while effortlessly peppering his opponents with pinpoint striking.

I don't know what is going to happen on Saturday, but I know it's going to be special. If I had to make a pick, I'm going with Weidman. I have underestimated Silva throughout his entire UFC career (I thought Rich Franklin would win BOTH times), so why stop now? But this time, I will admit, there is a little piece of me hoping that I'm wrong, because getting another opportunity to see that sort of greatness is something I don't want to miss out on.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Scouting the 2014 NFL Draft: Zach Mettenberger

I am getting an earlier start on scouting the 2014 NFL Draft, as I'd like to do more of them, and some quarterbacks seasons are already over, so there is no more tape to study. The first guy that I will take a look at had a disappointing end to his year as he tore his ACL. Zach Mettenberger of LSU took a huge step forward this season. He flashed his talent last year, especially against Alabama, but this year, he consistently put big points on the board for the Tigers. It's a shame that LSU did not have a dominating defense for the first time in a while, and the ACL tear is obviously a pretty big bummer too. I took a look at his performance against Mississippi State as well as his games against UAB and Florida.

So the first thing that stands out is the arm. He has the physical tools to make all the throws at the next level. When he plants his feet and fires, he really drives the ball down field to his receivers. He makes this throw look effortless.

That is a beautiful ball. And here is another example of why scouts will fall in love with him:

He puts the ball right in there down the sideline and drops it into his receiver's hands. You cannot throw a better ball than that.

It is impossible to talk about how good Mettenberger can look without mentioning his receivers. I love how Odell Beckham Jr. snatches the ball out of the air. Attacking the ball is one of the most important features for a wide receiver, and he has shown a great ability to attack the ball with his hands instead of waiting for it to come to him. It's something that attracted me to Alshon Jeffery while in college, because it's a skill that carries over to the pro level when coverages are going to be much tighter. Here is an excellent example of that.

Yeah, that's really fun to watch. Oh, and Jarvis Landry isn't bad either.

Having those two guys will make any quarterback look pretty good. Which brings us to the bad...

A big issue that I have with Mettenberger is his ability to anticipate receivers getting open. Instead of trusting his receivers,, he waits until they are open to throw the ball. By the time the ball gets there, the defenders have closed the distance which makes the catch much more difficult for his receivers.

Beckham is able to make this catch, but if he throws that ball earlier, it is much easier for him. Instead he battles the defender and has to make a very good play on the ball. In college, the difference in talent between his receivers and the defenders they are facing is much larger than it will be at the next level.

His accuracy is not great. He struggles putting touch on the ball. On these two throws, he has open receivers but overthrows both of them.

The screen pass seems worse, because he badly overthrows it and it turns into an interception, but at least he had the excuse of pressure on that throw. With the ball down the sideline to Beckham, it's just poor footwork that causes him to miss his open receiver. He consistently misses on passes where he is forced to put touch on the ball.

When throwing over the middle, it seems like he is always throwing his receivers high. This is a major issue, because throwing low/short leads to incompletions, but throwing high/long leads to interceptions.

This is a pass that lands incomplete, but it is in very dangerous territory as there are plenty of Florida defenders around that football, and he gives his receiver no chance to make a play on the football.

On top of that, he underthrows balls down the field despite having plenty of arm strength. He still managed a 65% completion rate, but he doesn't make it easy on his receivers. He doesn't do a great job of leading them open, and it's much more a testament to the receiving corps' talents that their passing game was so potent this year.

At first glance, Mettenberger seems like a good prospect. He has great arm strength, good size, and enough mobility to survive. His stats look impressive enough that you could convince yourself that this is a guy to build a team around, but the more I watched, the more problems I saw. The biggest issue is the accuracy. This is not something that I would bet on being able to fix. He's been throwing the ball for 15 years, and it's not there yet, so I really don't see it happening at this point. Overall, he has a lot of arm talent, but the accuracy issues are too much for me to be willing to take a chance on him outside of a late-round flier. I fully expect a team to fall in love with the arm strength and take him off the board much earlier than that, but I do not see him as a starting caliber quarterback in the NFL.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Best Name For A Baby Boy: Machete

I know what you're thinking. Machete isn't the name of a child. It's a giant knife. Yeah, well John and Joe used to be the name for the bathroom and coffee, but it worked out pretty well for a large portion of the population). But the real question is: If I have the perfect boy name, why am I sharing it with the world? Unfortunately, I have to share it with the world, because my wife will not let me share it with my son.

My wife and I talk about baby names a lot. The girls' names we came up with were easy. I just went to the local strip club with a pen and paper and boom, 15 great names for girls that will make sure they are go-getters. But the boys names are tough. She would bring up crummy names, and I would point out how children are going to make fun of them for that name.

Finally, the perfect named dawned on me, like an angel setting me on a wondrous path. It was manly, classy, and there was literally no way to make fun of it.

Machete. How badass is that? My wife tried to ruin the name by saying kids will call him MaShitty, but that was a silly argument. Do you know how much fun my son would have when he was in high school and college and yelling at parties, "Who wants to get MaShitty tonight?" There would be a small earthquake from all the panties dropping at once.

Also, you can shorten it to Mach, which can be pronounced like Macho or like Mach-Five. Either way, it's gritty as all hell.

It's the best name ever, but my stupid wife (honey, if you're reading this, I'm only kidding about the stupid part; also, you're very pretty) won't let me use it. So, please, don't even include your wife on the naming of your child. She'll be so drugged up after giving birth that you can sneak in naming the child before she even realizes it. Machete [whatever your last name is] has a pretty good ring to it, doesn't it?

Be on the look out for most popular boys' names. Machete will be topping the list by the end of next year.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Jay Cutler: The Perfectly Average Quarterback

Jay Cutler is amazing in that everyone seems to have a strong opinion about him. But this is the wrong way of viewing J-Cutty. When taking an objective look at things, he's not great or awful, because all of that greatness and awfulness averages out to...well, average.

As a quarterback, he has a very strong arm, but man, he makes some really stupid decisions that kill the Bears. But he would also make ridiculous throws that would give you hope that he could accomplish anything on the football field. Then he'd throw an interception that would give you a neck cramp from shaking your head. I'll admit that I focused more on the latter, but it doesn't cancel out the former.

Cutler is amazing in that people have very strong opinions about him, and when it comes to football, there really shouldn't be strong opinions on him at all. As much as I have bashed Jay Cutler over the years, there's nothing inherently wrong with him. If opinions were simply based on his results, you would look at it and say that he is a perfectly reasonable quarterback. Nothing grand, but nothing awful either. Some good games, and some bad games. Most Bears fans think he has the potential to be a top-five quarterback in the league. Here's the problem with that. he's 30 years old. We're past potential at this point. He is what he is. But he's not awful. He provides a lot of ups and downs, but it all balances out to a middling quarterback. He's just a way more exciting version of Alex Smith. They both get you to the same end result, just with very divergent paths.

Why a lot of people hate him is his personality. From everything we know about Cutler, he seems like kind of an asshole. But his personality is actually a reason that I really respect him. Jay Cutler is who he is. He has not changed his personality a bit, and I bet he's really happy to be him. Peyton Manning may be the greatest quarterback ever, but there is no way he is as happy about life as Jay Cutler is. He spends so much time studying and worrying about football that he has no time to host annual 80s parties with a reality TV Star wife.

Jay Cutler is what he is. At quarterback, he's perfectly reasonable to play as a starter. As a person, he may be a bit of a prick, but at least he's honest, and he's doing what makes him happy. You gotta support that.

So, cheers to you, Jay Cutler. Throughout most of the first half of yesterday's game, I was convinced that he was going to get my team eliminated from the fantasy playoffs, but he turned it around and put in a perfectly reasonable performance. I don't know why I expected anything else.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Mark Prior Should Be in the Hall of Fame

I have loved Mark Prior for a long time, since 2001 to be exact. I have followed his career since then, and I remember watching the high points, and hoping for the best during the low points. I always thought he deserved another chance. I know he deserved it. Objectively, I know he doesn't deserve to be in the Hall of Fame, but subjectively, I feel like there are few players who deserve to be there more. This is a player that future generations should never forget.

Mark Prior was the reason I actually showed an interest in the MLB Draft, and I was immediately in love with the man. As a dumbass 16 year-old, I was concerned that I loved another man, but for Prior, it was totally worth it. This is a guy that pitched 138 innings, yet managed 202 strikeouts while walking just 18 batters during his Junior year at USC. He went 15-1 with a 1.69 ERA.

The Cubs had the second pick in the draft, which was a huge bummer, because there was no way that he wouldn't go number one overall. But I heard rumors that the Twins were considering not taking him, because of signing bonus demands. I had no idea that teams took cheaper players instead of the best players, so this was a huge shock to me. But I was overjoyed with the news. I remember thinking how badly the Twins shit the bed when they took a local catcher named Joe Mauer. What idiots.

But their loss was the Cubs gain, as the Cubs quickly snatched Mark Prior with the second pick. This was going to be awesome, as the Cubs could pair him with Kerry Wood and the next Pedro Martinez, Juan Cruz, and have the best 1-3 starters in baseball history.

He started his professional career in 2002, where he pitched in nine minor league games, striking out 79 batters in 51 innings, before getting called up to the big league roster. Nine games. In a perfect world, that would have been the extent of Mark Prior's time in the minor leagues. Instead he would pitch 64 games in eight different seasons over an eleven year span. This is not a perfect world.

He made his debut on May 22, 2002 and fulfilled even my insanely high expectations. He pitched six innings, had ten strikeouts, and got the win against the Pirates that day. He cruised through his rookie year with 147 strikeouts and 38 walks in 116 2/3 innings. He was only 21 years old.

In 2003, Mark Prior may have been the best pitcher in baseball. He only came in third in the NL Cy Young Award voting, but that was because Eric Gagne pitched one inning really well, and nobody knew that park factors could help a pitcher like Jason Schmidt while hurting a guy like Prior. The only thing that hurt Prior that year was some shoulder soreness in July, but it was no big deal. He had perfect mechanics, and he came back stronger than ever. At the end of July, he was 8-5 with a 3.01 ERA, and still finished 18-6, with a 2.43 ERA, struck out 245 while walking 50 in 211 1/3 innings. He went 10-1 while lowering his overall ERA by over half a run down the stretch. He wasn't just great; he was getting better.

And then there's the 2003 postseason. And everybody remembers Bartman, but that doesn't matter. What matters is 133, 116, and 119, the number of pitches Prior threw in the postseason after his first big league year. That middle number was thrown in a game the Cubs won 12-3. The cubs were already up 11-0 after five innings, yet the Cubs kept sending him out there until finally taking him out when he was unable to retire the first two batters in the eighth. I hated Dusty Baker for a long time as I looked back at those numbers, because I felt robbed. Mark Prior would never be fully healthy again.

But just because he wasn't fully healthy doesn't mean he still wasn't pretty damn good. He struck out 327 batters in 285 innings in 2004-2005. He still looked like Mark Prior but nothing was quite as crisp, and he couldn't consistently dominate like he used to. Also, he spent a lot of time on the disabled list. In 2006, the wheels came off. He had a 7.21 ERA in nine starts. The Cubs shut him down after an August 10 start against the Brewers where he gave up five runs in three innings, while striking out only one, the opposing pitcher, Doug Davis. It would be the last time he ever pitched in the major leagues.

He didn't pitch at all in 2007, 2008, or 2009. But in 2010, he pitched for the Orange County Flyers of the Golden Baseball League, striking out 22 in 11 innings with a 0.00 ERA. The Rangers gave him one minor league inning to end the year, and I still believed that he could be a valuable asset to a big league team. But it wasn't meant to be. When he pitched, he did well. From 2011-2013, with the Yankees, Red Sox, and Reds minor league affiliates, he managed an ERA of 3.66 while striking out nearly 12 batters per inning.

Unfortunately, over those three years, he only managed to pitch in 46 2/3 innings.

It is easy to look at Mark Prior's career and call it a failure. Mark Prior may even agree with that sentiment, as he stated when he retired, "I have no regrets. I did everything I could. I left it on the field, gave everything I could to it and came up short."

I agree with everything in that statement except for the very end. I'm glad he has no regrets, and this is a man who did everything he could, left it on the field, and gave everything he had to baseball. But he didn't come up short. He was a hero, and even though I was a legal adult during his greatest year, every time he pitched, I had the awe of a child. I know I'm not alone in that sentiment. And because of that, the name Mark Prior will stick with me forever.

Some may remember him as nothing more than a cautionary tale. I will remember him as what greatness truly looks like. Either way, he deserves to be remembered. Mark Prior for the Hall of Fame. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Look at 2014 Iowa Wrestling

I love Iowa wrestling. In fact, there may not be another sports team that I care about as much as Iowa wrestling. I love Iowa football, and I can't get enough Iowa basketball, but I get ill watching Iowa wrestling. I go from a well-adjusted adult to a screaming psychopath as I watch meets. I once wrote an Iowa wrestling song to the tune of 2Pac's Hit 'Em Up. This is not healthy, but sports are stupid, and I love them. Anyway, I'm really excited about this Iowa team, so let's break it down one weight class at a time.

125 - Cory Clark
Clark has been fine this year. He's getting wins, but they aren't always as impressive as fans would like to see. That's pretty nitpicky this early on. But they have Penn State in a week and a half, and that is the meet that will be a great test for him. Megaludis is tough, but Clark had the talent to beat National Champion, Jesse Delgado, last year, and even though Delgado was not wrestling as well as he was by the end of the season, Clark showed he can wrestle with anybody. If he beats Megaludis, the sky is the limit for him.

Also, Thomas Gilman may be the best backup in the nation. I would definitely pick him as an All-American if Iowa could wrestle two guys at one weight.

133 - Tony Ramos
He's the best wrestler at Iowa. I know DSJ has a National Title and is ranked #1 at his weight, two things Ramos cannot say, but Ramos is, without a doubt, the best wrestler on Iowa's team. He got upset by AJ Schopp, but I don't see him losing again this season. Schopp wrestled a hell of a match and Ramos wasn't getting to his offense and when he did, he wasn't finishing. This has not been an issue for Ramos in the past, and I don't see it happening in the future. He's going to come hard, score points and dominate the competition. Now that he lost a match, he's going to be looking to put absolute beatings on his next opponents. I feel bad for them. I won't feel bad when he wins a National Title this year.

141 - Josh Dziewa
It's pronounced Jeva. You'll be able to impress your friends (not really, none of your friends give a shit about college wrestling) by knowing the correct pronunciation. He got pinned in his last match, but outside of the end result, there were a lot of positives about the match. He wasn't able to really threaten any offense in the first, but he also shut down the second ranked guy in the country. He rode hard, got in an awkward position, and he lost the scramble in the worst possible way. Other than that, he's been taking care of business, and he could definitely challenge for an All-American spot this year, just as long as he can avoid Stieber as long as possible.

149 - Mike Kelly
I love Mike Kelly, and I know that I am in a very small minority with my feelings. Looking at the Iowa roster, 149 is the weak spot. Brody Grothus got the nod in the last meet, and he got destroyed. Mike Kelly always seems to make people work, takes some really great shots too, but man, that guy cannot win a scramble to save his life. He gets in 50/50 positions and can never find a way to get the better of his opponent. It's maddening, but he has tools to be good. His scrambling is an issue, and although if he became Ben Askren in that area, he could be an All-American, I can't exactly predict that. Still, I do see a step up from this weight with him qualifying for Nationals and even scoring some points for the Hawkeyes.

157 - Derek St. John
Derek St. John is the total opposite of Mike Kelly. He wins every scramble ever. It's maddening, because he is always centimeters from losing a match, but he fights for everything and always manages to get the best of his opponents. He's ranked #1, so he's the favorite to take this weight class, but it's tough to always win like that. He is in close matches constantly, so even though he has the ability to win all of them, it's tough to feel very confident that he is going to do it again.

165 - Nick Moore
Moore is a guy who looks like he's taken a significant step forward this year. He controlled a tough opponent at Iowa State, and he actually looked good against Edinboro, although some fans were hoping to see a major decision. He consistently got deep in his shots, but there were a few instances where he wasn't able to finish it off. Still, he's showing good offense, and if he keeps wrestling hard, he could be a threat to anybody not named David Taylor.

174 - Mike Evans
Evans is maybe the most interesting wrestler on the Iowa roster. He started his career at 165, and his offense was stagnant, but he may have had the best rides of anybody at that weight. Then he moved up to 174, and he got explosive offense but really struggled on top. This year, he has plowed through everyone he has faced, but 174 is stacked. He's ranked #6, and although Andrew Howe is the favorite, everyone in that top six is super dangerous. He doesn't have a stache this year, but if he replaces it with a national title, I think all Iowa fans would be pretty cool with it.

184 - Ethen Lofthouse
It's the same story with Lofthouse. He can look great at times and pedestrian at other times. He's been able to turn it on for the national tournament, and if he can do it again, he could be in the finals. If Ed Ruth gets kicked off Penn State, he could even win the whole thing. But it's another slow start for him. Since he's proven himself, it's too early to get worried.

197 - Nathan Burak
He hasn't wrestled yet this year, but considering how much better he got as the season went on last year, I'm really excited to see what he can do this year. I don't think he's going to win a National Title, but if the reports are true, he should be able to compete with anybody this year.

Also, super excited for Sam Brooks, who has been wrestling up a weight in replacing Burak. He has looked very tough so far.

285 - Bobby Telford
He's hurt, but still ranked #3. He's working with the guy that made Tony Nelson an unbeatable monster, so maybe he can finally beat Nelson this year, but I have trouble believing it until I see it. Still, I don't think there's another heavyweight out there that he can't beat, so making the finals would not surprise me.

Overall, Iowa has a shot at 9 All-Americans (10, if you're willing to jump on that Mike Kelly bandwagon with me), and two guys who are probably going to be favored to be national champions. That's if everything goes right, and at the NCAA, it never does. There are going to be upsets. Penn State and Minnesota are stacked this year, so Iowa is going to need more upsets go their way than go against them, but I think this Iowa team does have a chance to finally break up Penn State's dominance, although it won't be easy.

Anyway, Iowa has a meet on Thursday night against Buffalo where they should dominate. After that, the season really begins. Next Saturday vs. Penn State in a meet that you should make time for if you have BTN and even a small interest in wrestling. It's going to be an awesome meet, and I am already way too excited for it. Seriously, watch wrestling; don't be a pencil-neck geek.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

I Am The Life Of The Party At Weddings...Don't Be Like Me

Well, my friends really fucked me over on this one. At my wedding, everybody was on the dance floor. Not only were pro wrestling moves happening. There was not a man, woman, or child that they were not willing to dance with in some ridiculous manner. I went along with the whole thing, because as a West Coast Dancer, I know how to get down and boogie. Honestly, it was a blast and definitely the weirdest wedding dance floor that I have ever seen.

But now every time I go to a wedding with my wife's family and friends in attendance, they are not looking forward to seeing me for riveting conversation, they are looking forward to my breathtaking dance moves.

We went to a wedding a couple weekends ago. Right after the wedding, before the bride had even exited into the limo, her mother came up to me to let me know that she was looking forward to seeing me out on the dance floor. Was I flattered? Of course, but it put a lot of pressure on me when I should just be a random guest at the wedding.

Did I deliver? Well, yes, I wowed the crowd. I went to some of my patented moves, like the duck walk grind, which is just like it sounds, incredibly tiring, but always gets the crowd excited. I also brought out an invisible basketball, had it transformed into a soccer ball and didn't miss a beat. I danced with every lady in the building including when I brought out the bride in the middle of a dance circle and twerked on her. People were awed, and a great time was had by all.

So what's the problem?

The problem is that I have only heightened expectations for the next wedding. I'll have to come up with even fresher moves and deliver another high energy performance. Sure, next time I'll still be fine. Even the time after, I should be good. But what about 6, 7, 8 weddings down the road? How am I supposed to keep this up? I hate to admit it, but I'm not getting any younger. A few years down the road, I'm going to have to come to the realization that I'm not as good as I once was, but can I continue to be as good once as I ever was? I'd like to think so, but there are no guarantees. There is the very real possibility that this all comes crashing down when I try to push through the flu to dance my ass off, and instead I am left leaving a $50 plate of food on the dance floor. The scariest part is I'm not sure which hole it is going to exit out of.

It is not worth it being the center of attention, because the pressure and expectations are only going to increase as time goes on. I'm going to have a hip replacement and still be gettin' jiggy in the middle of dance floors despite extreme pain in every part of my body.

So, please, take my advice. Play it safe at weddings. Pick your spots. Find one song to break out a patented move and nail it. People will remember you as making an impact, and you won't have to be out there all night to do it. I wish I could follow my own advice, but me? I'm stuck. All I can ask is the next time you see a guy dancing his ass off all night long at a wedding and making sure everybody is having a blast, take him aside and thank him for his service. I know I'd appreciate it.

Monday, December 9, 2013

I Ate At Cook Out, And It Was Amazing

In November, I moved to Florida with my wife. A few weeks later, she forced me to drive to Ohio. I was not happy about this for a couple of reasons. I had just driven a 26 foot truck for 24 hours to move us down there, and I wasn't real keen on more driving. Second, it was nearly December, and I was not looking forward to going from sunny skies to bitter cold.

The drive wasn't so bad, as I caught up on some podcasts and learned some Spanish while on the road. The temperature was another story. It was pretty depressing when I saw the temperature had dropped 25 degrees before we had even got out of the state. It would drop another 40 degrees and give me a couple inches of snow before it was all said and done.

My wife visited friends both on the way up and on the way back, but I only had one request for this trip. We must go to Cook Out. Cook Out is a burger joint that are all over North Carolina and spreading to some surrounding states. I learned about Cook Out from Drew Magary's Deadspin article (and let's face it, this is just a ripoff of his work, as I will be recounting my own amazing experience with this place).

On the way up, we were unable to go as we got into North Carolina late and had to get back on the road early. I would not be denied on the way back.

So, blah blah blah, had Thanksgiving with the family, went to a wedding, danced my ass off, watched a variety of Iowa teams kick some ass, and throughout all of it, I had one thing on my mind: Cook Out. All of those things were great, but they paled in comparison to what was ahead.

I strategically planned our trip back to reach a Cook Out in Columbia, South Carolina around 12:30 where I knew my stomach would be growling and waiting to devour anything that was set in front of me. I saw the sign, and was unable to hide the smile across my face. As we pulled into the parking lot, I wanted to sprint out of the car and leave the wife behind. I controlled these animalistic instincts and did my best to hide my excitement.

When I walked through the door, playing it cool was thrown out the window. I know that I looked like a kid on Christmas. I stared up at that majestic menu, unsure of what I wanted to unwrap and put in my belly. I ordered a combo with one main dish, two sides, and a drink. I decided to get a double cheeseburger with everything but mayo. As sides, I got french fries and chicken nuggets. Yep, chicken nuggets as a side. Finally, I upgraded my drink to a Caramel Cheesecake Shake. All for about $6.

The gentleman behind the counter asked me if that was all, and I promptly replied that yes it was. It was at this point that my wife piped up and said, "Uh, I still need to order." "Oh yeah, go ahead honey." She ordered something too.

Then I (technically we) sat down and waited. They called my number, and I was nearly sweating with anticipation. I opened up my Styrofoam container to reveal so much food. The double cheeseburger was great. The fries were fantastic. The nuggets were delectable. The shake...oh, that shake. Words cannot describe it, because at this point, I was in an orgasmic haze of pure food joy.

I stopped speaking to my wife, outside of a thank you when she gave me a hush puppy. I'm not sure what she thought about her food, but there weren't any leftovers, so we both did pretty good that day.

Honestly, I wasn't too keen on the trip up for Thanksgiving, but that combo at Cook Out made it all worthwhile. So much so that I'm a little bummed out that we're not heading back up for Christmas.

The nearest Cook Out is in Statesboro, GA. I love you Cook Out and can't wait to see you again. According to Google Maps, that will be in 6 hours, 59 minutes. Oh, the things we do for love.

Friday, December 6, 2013

The X12 Superhuman Is Back

If you have not heard of the X12 Superhuman, I highly recommend this in-depth piece I did about a year ago exposing a real life genetic freak. This man is stronger than a baby and faster than a semi. His physical feats will never cease to amaze me.

But the other day, I was notified that someone had posted a comment on that article. Craig M had posted this message, "Take a look at the X12 at this link:" What was so odd about this was that Craig Morrow is the human name of the X12 Superhuman. It couldn't possibly be him, could it? 

After further investigation, I found his profile picture on Google+ (the official social media website of superhumans).
There is no doubt; that is definitely Craig Morrow, waiting to crush his latest opponent, a random piece of plywood. 

But why would Craig send me a YouTube link? Did he want me to see videos of the pickup artists on Keys to the VIP? Did he want to share his Brony lifestyle with some My Little Pony videos? But then I clicked on the link, and it was clear that he was showing his latest conquest, because only a physical specimen like myself could fully appreciate his athletic prowess. Without further adieu, I present to you this amazing video:

Holy shit! It's tough to describe how amazing this is, so I'll let Craig's description explain it:

Watch this video of 260lb (118 kilograms) X12 running 18 yards (16.45 meters) from start with a 30 MPH (48.3 KPH) cruising 18 wheeler truck with a radar gun on that vehicle. The X12 was matching the speed of that 18 wheeler around those 6 cones close together while that radar gun measuring the speed of that 18 wheeler, and not the X12's speed. Notice those cones up front are 1 yard (0.9144 meter) apart, and the cone in the background is 5 yards (4.57 meters) from that last cone of those 6 cones close together. There is a fence behind the camera the X12 had to crash into, and the X12 had to brake after passing those cones in that video.

Video Recorded On November 20, 2013
By Craig AKA The X12
An Experimental Highspeed Superhuman
Of The X12 Superhuman Field Test.

The man crashed into a fence racing a semi. What a boss. Clearly, that fence now has a 260 pound hole in it.

Anyway, it looks like the age old debate is settled. Two legs are better than 18 wheels. God bless you, X12 Superhuman.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Paul Walker, We Hardly Knew Ye

I was at a wedding reception on Saturday when I heard the news. A friend texted me that he didn't want to ruin my night, but Paul Walker died in a car crash. At first, I thought it was ridiculous that this would somehow alter my night, but it did kind of hit me. I don't know Paul Walker in any significant way outside of his roles as Lance Harbor, Dean Sampson, and Brian O'Conner. The latter role has had a much larger impact as the last two Fast movies have been two of my favorite movies ever made.

What may have been most interesting is what followed when I heard the news. Despite hearing from a friend that some media outlets (mainly TMZ) were reporting his death, I wasn't totally convinced (and neither was he, for that matter). I quickly tried to confirm the news as there were varying reports on whether it was a hoax or whether it was true. Finally, the evidence piled up and it appeared that it was true. The bad part of the internet is that death hoaxes are prevalent, but the good part is that you can actually confirm the truth. The internet definitely didn't invent the death hoax as there are still people out there that think the original Ultimate Warrior is dead, but there has only been one, and he's alive and making insane YouTube videos.

There is no doubt that this was sad. Outside of the most awful people in the world, anytime someone dies young, it is a sad occurrence. I am bummed out by this news, but only in the most selfish of ways. They were currently filming Fast 7, and had already signed on for 8, 9, and 10. I love those movies (Fast Five is the only movie I have ever seen twice in the theaters), and even if they follow through on all of them, it won't be the same without PW involved. I didn't know Paul Walker, so I can't really vouch for him as a person, but I never heard anything bad about him. And with the overreporting on Hollywood stars, that is an accomplishment in and of itself.

So good for you, Paul Walker. Between Varsity Blues, She's All That, and the Fast and Furious franchise, you have been in some fantastic films. And the good news is that in Heaven, you won't tear your ACL, you'll win the bet to make sure that nerdy girl never becomes Prom Queen, and you can rest easy that Dom didn't let you win, you won it fair and square.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

You Best Believe I Watched Christmas Bounty

When I found out there was going to be a Christmas movie with a pro wrestler in it, there was no chance I was not going to suffer through it. I don't like Christmas movies, and I don't like The Miz, but you know what they say? A double negative makes a positive, so I was pretty sure I was going to love this movie.

The movie starts with a child being kidnapped. Luckily, his teacher is a no-nonsense chick who jumps off the building onto the SUV who stops the kidnapper. It turns out it was his Dad who lost visitation rights, but the teacher is not having any of it, because it turns out she's a bounty hunter. Now I bet you're thinking that she is going to have to save children in the end of this movie, and that is why they made her an elementary teacher, but you'd be wrong. Her being an elementary teacher serves no purpose outside of her having a "normal job."

The main character's name is Tori Bell. It's like if a person from Jersey was saying terrible. 

She put a guy named Manucci put in prison when she was a teenager, because she comes from a family of white trash bounty hunters. Also, we find out that if you are a bounty hunter, you must dress like a ho fo sho to avoid suspicion. That's how they roll in Joisey.

Even worse, she has to work with her ex-boyfriend on this case who is played by The Miz. What's his character's name? Haha, so glad you asked, because his name is Mikey Muscles. The man can literally only respond to Mike or The Miz. Anything else may make his brain melt.

Back to the mission: Tori has to take out Manucci's sister, Big Donna, who has three bodyguards. Luckily one bodyguard gets distracted by mannequin breasts, another gets chloroformed, and another gets in a fight with The Miz. He obviously loses. They plant a tracking device that is the size of Zack Morris's cell phone in her purse, which she finds immediately and uses to bait them into a trap.

They get into a shootout, and my favorite moment happened. Tori yells 12 o'clock to Mikey Muscles, and he blindly shoots above his head and kills a bad guy. Nobody has ever used the clock location system to determine whether people are above or below you in the history of the world, but Mikey Muscles knew. I cannot wait to start using this new method of location.

Her Dad doesn't believe in sleeves; I just thought I should bring that up. Oh, also her brother is a nerd, mostly because he wears sleeves. We don't learn much else about him.

So you're probably wondering whether The Miz and Tori are going to get together, but she actually has a new nerd-man who proposed to her. James is a nice guy who has no idea that she is a bounty hunter. He also seems to have no idea what a shot and beer chaser is. He tries to make a joke about Cristal, but nobody gets it. Don't worry James, I laughed at it.

There is a shootout at the tree farm, and during the middle of the shootout, the boyfriend peaks his head out to say, "Hey, what's going on over here? Why you got a gun?" This is not how I would react to a shooting, but this guy is a little dense. His density gets him kidnapped. 

Big Donna's getting married. Instead of a coat check at the wedding, they have a gun check. Yep, that happened.

Then they finally catch the bad guys, so woohoo on that. Mikey Muscles is working on getting a law degree so he can become more of an adult. Then he wishes Tori the best with her new man. Tori thanks him for being mature and goes to spend time with James. They have a really nice talk until she promptly dumps poor James to get with The Miz. It didn't really make any sense. Then there was a random dance scene to tie everything together. Nothing makes sense.

Overall, this was not a good movie, but at the same time, it wasn't offensively bad. Compared to the other bad movies that I have watched in the past, this was a rather enjoyable experience. I'd give this movie 10 inch arms, obviously on a scale of 24 inch pythons.

Friday, November 29, 2013

9 Thoughts on Iowa vs. Nebraska

My thoughts going into this Nebraska game is surprisingly confident. Nebraska is a team that needs to run the ball to be successful, and Iowa does an excellent job of shutting the running game down. Iowa's offense started to show some dynamic trends last week, even with the three interceptions. Nebraska is prone to turnovers, so as long as Iowa doesn't badly lose that turnover battle, I see them having more ways to win in this game.

1. Hitchens's interception was just a nice job of dropping into a zone and reading the quarterback's eyes. He really didn't have much of an idea of where the receiver was, but he saw where the quarterback wanted to throw and cut it off before it could get to the receiver.

2. Iowa was busting up Nebraska early on in this game as the offensive line was creating holes and Weisman was punishing defenders who came up to make the tackle.

3. I know I mentioned this last week, but Rudock's increased pocket awareness is a huge development for the Hawkeyes. He is hanging in the pocket and waiting for receivers to work their way open instead of panicking and trying to scramble. On the Hawks first touchdown drive, it got him sacked on second and goal. On third down, it gave him enough time to scan the field and find CJF crossing the field for the touchdown.

4. The defense was not threatened by Nebraska's pass attack which made things a whole lot easier for them. If Ameer Abdullah isn't getting yards on those early downs, Nebraska's offense really provides no threats and Iowa took advantage of that.

5. To start the second half, Nebraska just beat the shit out of the Hawkeyes. There is no other way to put it. They ran it right down Iowa's throat, they handled the pass rush and marched right down the field for a touchdown.

6. There was nothing that filled my heart with more joy than seeing Iowa stop a fake punt.

7. Iowa has done a great job of mixing up their defenses. Everybody has noticed that Iowa has blitzed a lot more this year, but it doesn't end there. Iowa is mixing in zone and man coverage to keep giving quarterbacks different looks. They are letting their corners hang with wide receivers down the field instead of having to decide whether to pass them off to the safeties. Last year, that caused major issues as the cornerbacks were left looking for help from safeties that never came. There is much better communication and coverage from the Hawks defensive backfield.

8. Along that line, Tanner Miller has made such a tremendous step forward from last year to this year. I'm not saying he's an All-B1G talent, but he's gone from bad to solid, and that is not an easy transition to make.

9. I was grumbling a little bit as Iowa only called Weisman runs as they tried to run out the clock, but it set up the bootleg from Beathard, which was a great call as Nebraska sold out to stop Weisman.

Overall, it was one of Iowa's best performances as the defense did not let Nebraska build any momentum, and the offense grinded out enough to keep putting points on the board. There is a decent chance of the Outback Bowl against a member of the SEC. Obviously that can mean only one thing: We Want Bama.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

8 Thoughts on Iowa vs. Michigan

Thoughts going into this game: Mostly fear. I can't believe Iowa is 6.5 point favorites. Of course, I have been much higher on Michigan this entire year. Even when they were struggling with Akron and UConn, I still felt they would pull through. I still think Devin Gardner has some great tools to be successful, but that Michigan offense has not been able to put it together.

1. Obviously, the first Rudock interception was bad. Michigan had a perfect call for that play, but had they had a different call, Hamilton was running open for what probably would have been close to a first down. But yeah, that Favrean interception was not fun.

That second interception from Rudock actually looked worse than the first when I watched it live as it looked like he threw it to three Michigan defenders. It was obviously bad, but it is a mistake that a lot of quarterbacks make. He expected Countess to hang with Hamilton, but since he drifted back, he was right in the passing lane for Rudock. It's bad, but it's also a mistake that he can learn from.

The third interception was another play where he thought he could get the ball off, but he got hit just a split second too early. I thought it was going to get overturned, but I don't see this as a big worry going forward.

Outside of that, I really liked some of his decisions. He was willing to wait in the pocket to attack downfield which is not something I had seen enough of early on in the season. It really paid off as he threw some deep (by Iowa standards) balls down the sideline. He also made some quick throws where he made the proper pre-snap reads. You can tell he's getting more comfortable as a quarterback. Before, it was clear that when he had a thought of running, he made the decision to run. On that first touchdown, he ran hard to the outside, but turned his body and delivered a nice ball to Fiedorowicz. Early in the season, he runs that ball, and I think he may have gotten a first, but highly doubt he would have made it into the end zone.

2. I'm falling in love with Jordan Canzeri. He has shown an excellent ability to find the best running lane and just squirt through holes to turn no gains into 3-4 yards.

3. That being said, it's also still fun to see Mark Weisman rumbling down the field. He is basically Mike Alstott in that he is a downhill runner who will always fall forward and offer very little else.

4. That Iowa defense was swarming to the ball. The thing that really helped was Iowa trusting their secondary to make plays. This allowed them to blitz which caused happy feet from Gardner and a lack of space for their running game. Gardner was able to get away a few times and do some damage, but overall, I thought they played very well.

5. Desmond King is definitely my favorite Hawkeye. He sticks to receivers on intermediate routes. He is not the most athletic guy, so he can get beat deep, but his aggressiveness is really paying off. He may not be betting interceptions, but he is breaking passes up and helping to get the defense off the field. The way he was able to hang with Jeremy Gallon was very impressive.

6. Devin Gardner has some talented players around him, but he just can't get the job done. The offensive line is below average in pass protection (worse in run blocking), but I don't think they are awful in handling a regular four-man rush. Fitzgerald Toussaint is a very poor running back. He has all the physical tools, but he is incredibly indecisive in every decision he makes. I like Gallon as a receiver as he knows how to get open. He's not a top prospect, but he's a guy to use a late round pick on and use as a third or fourth receiver to have a reliable option for the quarterback.

7. That final offensive play before Iowa downed the ball was a thing of beauty. Iowa went out and won the game instead of trying to avoid losing. Running on the first two downs was smart, but they had the option of burning 40 seconds of clock or not giving Michigan any chance of winning the game. They chose the latter and it paid off. I was one of the biggest Greg Davis haters last year, and I can fully recognize that he is a good offensive coordinator for Iowa. Kirk puts the shackles on any offensive coordinator, but he has learned to complement the running system with some option-based passing plays. I'd still like to see more passing down the field, but they did go down the sidelines 15-20 yards today, so it was a positive step forward.

8. The Iowa offensive line is fun to watch. That is the number one reason that Iowa is better this year than last year, and I feel like they do not get nearly enough love. One huge reason is that Scherff is a monster. There are so many plays you could point to of him dominating the defense to spring a big play. On the first play of the final Iowa possession, Scherff made it to the second level and sealed off the outside linebacker. Since he's such a huge human being, he also stopped the middle linebacker from being anywhere near Weisman as the running back had an easy 22 yards. An underrated aspect of Iowa's offensive line is that everyone is good. There is no weak link. No team can depend on getting consistent pressure from a basic four-man rush, and they have opened up holes for a variety of running backs all year long. Yes, the stretch left is always going to be the number one play, but the fact that teams can't overload that side in fear of getting destroyed going to the right is crucial to Iowa's success on the ground. Only nerds watch offensive line play, but it is still pretty damn fun to watch Iowa plow forward. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Looking For Jobs on Craigslist

As I stated earlier this week, I moved from Iowa to Florida recently, and I am still looking for employment. Now, being unemployed and single is great, but being unemployed and married loses its luster pretty quickly. The whole "caring about someone and wanting to be somewhat useful in the relationship" makes the lack of a job a lot less hilarious. 

I have been searching all over for a job and still haven't nailed anything down. I decided to expand my search and go down a road that I was simply not ready for. Yes, I decided that the normal job sites were not fulfilling my needs, so it was time to search for jobs on Craigslist. I'm so glad I did. I found some great opportunities.

 Male Models needed for TOMORROW! (Miami)

Searching for male underwear models for an event TOMORROW. Model will wear underwear and a bowtie for the event passing out orderves to guests and taking photos. Event is from 7pm-9:30pm. Please submit CURRENT photos in the email with full name and clothing measurements including height, Client needs photos. MUST BE MUSCULAR!!

This one was eerie, as it was like they specifically wrote this job listing for me. I'm motivated to work soon, and this job is tomorrow (today, by the time this posts). Plus, I am always looking for new challenges. This job offers me a couple as I rarely wear underwear and never wear a bow tie. Finally, the last line, "MUST BE MUSCULAR." Yeah, that definitely won't be an issue. 

Only issue: They spelled hors d'oeuvres as orderves. If only you had spell check, you could have had your new employee of the month. 

Attractive Males needed for upcoming ADULT FILMS!

Recruiting GUYS for an Adult Website!

We only want to work with the best and our starting pay for male models is $2,000.00 for a solo production.

If you think you have what it takes, send your pictures (face and body, either shirtless and/or nude please), include a contact number and I will get back to you to discuss further details.

Models should:
-Have NO previous experience in the adult industry!
-Have six-pack abs
-Ages 18-35ish
-Have an athletic/muscular body
-Be very handsome

Before you email please make sure you read the list of requirements above. Yes six packs are required, yes you must show face. We do use stage names for all of our models. No resumes please. 

Ah, an attractive male is needed for an adult film. Getting two grand for a solo project doesn't sound too bad to me. This is another job that I am almost overqualified for. No experience in the adult industry, check. Six pack abs, I just hope I can fatten up so only six of my abs are showing. Athletic/muscular body, we went over that in the last post. And again, being very handsome may be difficult, as I'm usually referred to as extremely handsome. 

Now I'm guessing that most people believe the issue is that I must "show face," but I'd be happy to have my face on a film starring me. My only problem is that they use stage names for all of their models. Sorry, but I've got to keep my Hott Joe brand strong. A stage name simply won't due.

I kind of wanted to take this job just so I could finish up and say, "Two grand for this? You should see me at home; I do it for free." I bet everyone would have laughed really hard, and I probably would have started up a huge career as a comedy porn star.

Looking for straight males for video (North Dade)

I'm looking for open minded straight males who are in shape and under 30 years for a gay production, only serious replies please, if interested send stats and pictures to be contacted with more details

Uh, straight males for a gay production? You're not exactly making an appealing offer. I mean, you probably shouldn't discriminate against homosexuals if you want us all to have a gay old time. I mean. have you seen homosexuals? They're like the happiest people ever. Good luck, I guess.

And finally, the last job, which isn't a job at all, but may be the best thing ever.


Now Casting New Show w/ "The Rock".

Seeking family members who are in a big fight or misunderstanding and can't seem to reconcile on their own... we are here to lend a helping hand!!!!

Call 310-360-2580

OR submit your story here w/ photos and a contact phone number.

Must live in S. Florida

OH MY GOD! When I saw this, my initial thought was to immediately called my wife a bitch to try to start a fight (I decided against it). I know they are looking for problems with siblings or parents, but I'm willing to take a chance for a special episode and have The Rock save my marriage. Now, it may be insane that I would jeopardize my marriage to hang out with The Rock, which is exactly the reason I need to be on this show. I prioritize The Rock over my own wife. Please help me, The Rock. 

So, yeah, overall, it was a pretty successful day of job hunting. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The 10 Brightest Futures in the WWE

For the first time in a long time, it seems the WWE has an influx of young talent making their way up the ranks. This is exciting in that all wrestlers eventually become stale. Of course, in the WWE, if you remove those old talents for a while, the staleness reverses and it becomes super exciting to see them again. This is why I am very excited about the possibility of Hulk Hogan back in the WWE. Although he appears to be an awful human being, he's got nostalgia on his side. Still, the WWE cannot depend on Hogan, Rock, and Undertaker comebacks to help them forever.

1. Now, whether these guys are actually young is not important, but I did want to pick guys who have not quite established themselves. Fandango is Fandango forever, so he's not on the list. Antonio Cesaro is unlikely to be a Real American in a year so he is on the list.

2. I only included the top two guys on the NXT roster in terms of their place in NXT and not their future. This means I was unable to write about guys like Alexander Rusev, Aiden English, and Tyler Breeze.

Now onto the list:

10. Erick Rowan - He is a big bruiser, and the WWE can always use guys like that. He's a future tag champion, and has a shot at a lower-tier singles title. Still, he's kind of a poor man's version of the next guy on this list.

9. Luke Harper - Don't underestimate how awesome Luke Harper is in the ring. He's a large human being who does a great job at making what he does look like it hurts...a lot. His match a couple weeks ago on NXT against Kassius Ohno was tremendous, and it was so different than what the WWE usually produces in their matches. Since he brings something different than others in the WWE, I think he can definitely be a bruising singles champion down the line after a run with the tag titles.

8. Antonio Cesaro - I am an unabashed mark for Antonio Cesaro. I never fast forward through any of his matches, because he's so good that he can make any match entertaining. Pound for pound, there is nobody close to as strong as he is, which means he can toss around smaller guys and easily pick up the bigger guys. I hate putting him this low, but can he ever rise to the top tier? He has two things that oppose each other, and that is that he is foreign but awesome. I recognized early on that he was awesome, but now everybody is starting to come around on that front with The Giant Swing. He's getting cheered despite being a heel. And when was the last time a foreigner got a real push as a face? Sheamus is the closest thing they've done, and even he is from an English speaking country. The odds are stacked against him, but let us never forget this wonderful moment.

7. Bo Dallas - I love Bo Dallas in NXT. I am a huge BOliever. That being said, I can't believe I'm putting him higher than Cesaro. He's going to get a huge push when he gets up to the main show, and I'm guessing that he will win a Money in the Bank match in the next two years. Because of that, I wouldn't be surprised if he wasn't the first person on this list to hold a top tier title, but I only see his ceiling as the World Heavyweight Champion (not too shabby).

6. Bray Wyatt - Wyatt can be a poor man's Kane. He doesn't have that size, but he's a monster, and he can sell himself being a monster to an audience. He's going to laugh at pain, and that makes him a legitimate challenger to anyone.

5. Dean Ambrose - Probably my most controversial ranking. When The Shield came in, Ambrose seemed to be the guy with the brightest future of the trio, and I think he's going to be great. I could see him having a CM Punk like career, but I don't know if it's likely. This is still really good, as if I made him eligible, I think Dolph Ziggler would be right around this range.

4. Seth Rollins - Maybe a homer pick, but one of my thoughts while making this list is whether this guy could beat Cena. Out of the guys below Rollins on this list, I think Cesaro has the best chance, and that would be in a non-title match, because I do think Cena recognizes really great wrestling and wants to help out those guys who stand out. Rollins can beat Cena, because he brings something very different to the table in his offense. Another thing that helps him is that any moment that he and Daniel Bryan are in the ring together is absolutely awesome.

3. Big E Langston - He just got the Intercontinental Title, but bigger things are ahead for him. He used to do a five count in NXT where he pinned his opponents for five seconds instead of three, and it was awesome. Since they don't care about the IC title as much anymore, isn't this the perfect time to let Big E defend his title by pinning guys for five seconds? This gives the WWE a good guy who is a beast, and if he's pinning guys for five seconds for six months, it legitimizes a run at the top titles. Also on his side is that he is actually entertaining on Twitter, and he has shown his charisma in bursts. He might have the highest ceiling of anybody on this list.

2. Roman Reigns - He came in with the least hype out of any member from The Shield, but he has gotten so much better in such a short time that it's hard not to see his sky-high potential. He's the new Batista, and I don't see any way that he doesn't fulfill that role with the company. He's going to be a multiple time WWE Champion, and I don't see anybody else on this list that you can definitely say that about. He may not have the highest ceiling, but he is the surest bet to be a dominant top tier champion.

1. Sami Zayn - Before you shout me down for trying to be too much of a smark about this list, hear me out. Zayn can be the WWE's most valuable asset in that he can be a babyface that even the internet wrestling community loves. Everybody sees Cena as the new Hogan, but Cena's gimmick is what Hogan did in low level feuds. He makes dick jokes and calls people gay. Hogan loved to call people gay, but in real feuds, Hogan was just super positive about how Hulkamania could conquer all. That's what Zayn brings to the table. He just states things matter-of-factly, and he believes that he's going to overcome everything. He reminds me of GSP in that he is just a super polite dude who is incredibly talented at what he does. Usually, the internet wrestling community would hate something like this, but he's so good in the ring that it's impossible to not get behind him. The WWE has always focused on large muscular guys as their lead dogs, but they may finally be ready to change that. The UFC's biggest star is GSP, and boxing's stars are Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao. You no longer need the larger than life guys to carry the sport, and I think Zayn has what it takes to rise to the top. He's going to be a star, and if done correctly, he could be the face of the WWE.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Goodbye, Quad Cities

Goodbye, Quad Cities.

That is a something that I have wanted to say for as long as I can remember. I grew up in the Quad Cities, on the eastern border of Iowa, and despite my family being from there and most remaining there, I can never remember a time where I thought I would grow old there. I hated the area, and I was going to do my best to leave.

Since I didn't want a massive debt, I stayed in state for college and went to the University of Iowa. It was less than an hour from my hometown, but it felt like a world away. It had a thriving nightlife with college girls, tailgating, alcohol, and college girls. For an 18-22 year old, good looking college women could make Siberia seem like Paradise. It was not too bad.

When I graduated, I was wiling to move anywhere for my first job. I really lucked out as I got a job in Seattle, one of the best places on the planet. If I were a single guy and found any job in that area, I would move out there in a heartbeat. In fact, if you are young and single, do that. Move to Seattle. The rain is way overblown and the summers are perfect. 

So why did I leave? Well, the main reason is that my bosses hated me. That meant I had no chance of being promoted, and even if I were promoted, the long-term job prospects of the Seattle SuperSonics were not the best (Spoiler alert: They moved to Oklahoma City). Because of that, I had to look around for jobs. Luckily, the guy who originally hired me for the Sonics really liked me and he took a job with a different sports team. Unluckily, he happened to move from Seattle to the minor league baseball team in my hometown. Back to the Quad Cities, it was. I was happy to have a good job, but it was bittersweet for the area I was moving back to. 

This next go-around wasn't so bad. The most positive thing was that I worked so much that I barely had any free time. Because of that, where I lived really didn't matter. When I did have free time in the fall, I could go to Iowa football games to tailgate, but still, I knew that the area was not made for me.

After two years, I quit my job and decided to move to Albuquerque. This was my "Be young and stupid" phase of life. Surprisingly, my young and stupid phase did not involve drugs or alcohol. But I moved to Albuquerque, tried to write a screenplay (I finished it; it has potential, but needs a major overhaul, something I have not done three years later) and trained in mixed martial arts. It was a great experience overall, but I knew I was never going to be a fighter (I'm a pussy), so it had no long-term potential. I got my ass kicked for the better part of a year before moving back to Iowa, but this time, it was at least West Des Moines.

West Des Moines was good; I lived with my brother, and since we are practically the same person, we got along really well. But there was a girl that I had been on and off with, but we were going to try to be on again, and she convinced me to move back to the Quad Cities for the sake of love. I packed up and headed back.

She dumped me two weeks later. 

So I was back in the place I wanted to be the least, with no job, no lady friend, and living with my parents (pretty cool roommates, but not exactly an ideal situation for a single guy). The best job offer I had was a part-time tennis instructor for children. The job was great, the money was not, and I was still in limbo with life, just hanging out in the QCA, not really doing much of anything. 

Don't get me wrong. When things lined up nicely, and a big group of people came out or something special was going on, I had some fun times. But for the most part? Going out in the Quad Cities is awful. There wasn't a single place that delivered more fun times than times where I was staring at my phone hoping for the night to end. It was miserable.

But this story does have a happy ending. I got a job and got promoted twice in a year. That on-again, off-again lady friend became on again. I proposed, and we got married in September. 

Since we both hate the cold weather, we quit our jobs and moved to Florida last week. I have finally left the Quad Cities, and this time, it's permanent. Hooray, me. I finally did it.

And yet, as much as I hate living in the Quad Cities. This moment is still bittersweet. It's 80 degrees down here and has snowed and been in the teens up there, so the weather is really, really sweet. But it's still tough.

Although a lot of friends have moved around the country, there are still some awesome people in the Quad Cities that I am going to miss. Those people don't hate the Quad Cities. They go out and have a blast, and there's nothing wrong with that. Just like I am doing what makes me happy by moving away, they are doing what makes them happy and staying in a place that they thoroughly enjoy with people they love to spend time with. I will always look forward to going back and hanging out with those people, and I hope they're smart enough to come visit me during the winter.

As much as I love my friends, there are two people I am going to miss even more, and those are my parents. My parents are the nicest people ever, and none of my bad traits should be attributed to them. They have gone above and beyond in helping me out in every way imaginable, and I am going to miss them only being a 15 minute drive away. I would not be where I am today without their love and support, and for that I am forever grateful.

The one thing that makes this easy is the number one person in my life. My wife is an amazing person, and I am incredibly lucky that she settled for me. We're going at life together, and although there is still a lot of uncertainty in our immediate future (we should probably try to get jobs soon), there is nobody I would rather face this uncertainty with than her. 

In my hometown, there is a saying that runs on the local news where people get on TV and say, "Hello, Quad Cities." Today, I say, "Goodbye, Quad Cities." Although this is definitely a happy moment, I am going to miss my family and friends. But with my wife by my side, it's hard to not be excited about the future, and I'm really happy with where things are going.

Oh, and the weather is going to be pretty sweet too.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Johny Hendricks Did Not Get Robbed

So the overwhelming majority of people who watched the GSP-Johny Hendricks fight felt that Hendricks was robbed when the decision went GSP's way. I hate to break it to you, but Johny Hendricks was not robbed in that fight. It was close, and the decision did not go his way. This isn't an issue with the judging; this is simply a case where the judges watched a very close fight and two of them favored GSP over Hendricks. It's a defensible position and not a robbery.

The issue that people have is that there were a few things working heavily in Hendricks's favor. The first is that the crowd was behind him, because he is the first guy to give GSP a competitive fight in six years. That means that the crowd was reacting more to his shots than they were to GSP's which made them feel more powerful.

The second thing that was working for Johny was Joe Rogan. I'm not saying that Rogan is biased towards Hendricks; I really think he just got caught up in the moment, but either way, his commentary was definitely biased towards Hendricks. When GSP hit a strike, he would note that it was a nice shot by Georges. When Hendricks landed a shot, he would say, "That was a HARD shot from Hendricks." It made Hendricks's shots seem like they were a lot more powerful than GSP's. Now I think that judging the power behind shots from television is incredibly difficult, so it may have been than Johny was landing harder shots, but I do not believe that the difference was as pronounced as Rogan made it sound.

Finally, the third thing working for Johny is that he doesn't bruise easy and GSP does. GSP has always bruised easy (Fedor Emelianenko had this same issue), so even if he was landing better shots, he was the one who looked worse at the end of fights. This gave the impression that Hendricks did far better in his strikes but basic skin damage is not a way to judge who won a fight.

Because of all of these factors, people thought that there was going to be a new welterweight champion in the UFC. There wasn't, and I have no issue with this. According to FightMetric, Hendricks outlanded GSP in strikes by 17 through the fight, but GSP outlanded Hendricks in significant strikes by 16. Just because the majority of people leaned towards Hendricks in a close fight does not make this a robbery.

It was a close fight and GSP got the win. The judges don't need to be fired for that. There are a lot of really awful decisions in MMA, but this isn't one of them.

With all that being said, I would have given the edge to Hendricks.