Monday, June 29, 2009

Shades of Wrestlemania -- 9 Months in Advance

Well here we are, a mere 9 months away from the Grandest Wrestling Stage of them all, keeping with my long and noble tradition of predicting the card, I'll give it another chance...

As usual all matches were put in suggested order

All or Nothing Match
Colons and Evan Bourne vs. Hart Trilogy and Finlay

A match that seems destined for the pre-show. I figure that the Harts are going to be holding the tag titles soon enough, and Finlay as the heel ECW Champion sounds great, so why not put those two matches into one? If the faces win then the Colons get the tag titles and Bourne gets the ECW Title. Seems easy and entertaining enough for me.

Intercontinental Title Match
Dolph Ziggler (c) vs. Shelton Benjamin vs. Rey Mysterio

Just because I couldn't find room for any of these guys in the MITB and I think it would be an awesome way to give Ziggler some exposure, especially if he defeats the masked wonder.

Money in the Bank Match
MVP vs. CM Punk vs. Kofi Kingston vs.
Christian vs. The Miz vs. M. Hardy vs.
Cody Rhodes vs. Jack Swagger

Great Money in the Bank match, or greatest Money in the Bank match? All eight of these performers would be great in the situation, and I for one would love to see them really excel here. I put both MVP and CM Punk in here because I think it would be a great underwritten story to have Punk claim to be ready to three-peat only for MVP (someone who was in for his first two wins) come out and take it at the last moment.

The Biggest Battle Royal Ever
Featuring: The Big Show, Kane, Mark Henry, The Great Khali,
Vladmir Kozlov, Santino Marella, Tommy Dreamer,
Festus, Mike Knox, Chris Masters and possibly others

Easily the best place to put the likes of Show, Kane, and Henry. These are 10 guys who would put on an entertaining Battle Royal. I'm not sure what the stakes would be other than knowing that you are the king of the heavy weights. It would be a great way to get any one of them over the top, or to have Santino do something entertaining for a bit longer.

Interpromotional Match
Shawn Michaels vs. John Morrison

HBK vs. HB2K10! This has star-making dream match written all over it. I would love to see these two go at it, and I wouldn't even mind HBK winning, as I am sure that Morrison could look good in a loss to Michaels. I am not sure if a Morrison heel turn would be required, but it probably wouldn't hurt.

Michelle McCool and Beth Phoenix vs. Gail Kim and Mickie James

Not sure where else to put the gals, this is probably the best match available. It could work if you end up with both titles on the line here.

Randy Orton vs. Ted Dibiase Jr.

The WWE seems set with having Dibiase making it as a singles star, and this seems like a great place to cement his, ahem, legacy. Apparently there are plans for him to turn face during the fall in the build up to The Marine 2, so I am not certain how long they can have this feud simmer instead of having them actually fight. But this would be the right place to have them have their big match. Even if they have a match or two before, it would be good to have them end their feud here.

Interpromotional Match
Triple H vs. Edge

These two had a one-on-one match back at last year's Great American Bash, but it received very little build and no follow up. To have these two huge stars not have a huge match is a huge crime. They deserve a big match on the big stage, I think that they could both really deliver.

WWE Title Match
John Cena (c) vs. Batista

Well it looks like big Dave is on the shelf once more. Apparently he is not due back until December, so a Royal Rumble victory could be a fantastic comeback for the big guy. Randy Orton seems like a logical opponent given how Batista went down, but that match feels a little tired at this point. The biggest option would be to have him get the big rematch with Cena from last year's Summerslam. Apparently that was the original plan for Wrestlemania 25, but Dave's injury ruined that one. This gives them a chance to have the rematch and for Cena to rightly, get his win back.

World Title Match
The Undertaker (c) vs. Chris Jericho

This really is the last big dream match that the WWE has among it's current top-level talent. The stars never once aligned for these two to cross paths, so it seems like it would be a huge addition to a huge card. It may seem obvious to have Jericho as the champion going into it, but in recent years we have twice seen a Title vs. Streak match. As such, I think that it would be even more amazing to have Jericho claim to want to take everything away from The Deadman, his title and his legacy to cement himself as the greatest of all time.

That just about does it I think for the big card. Hey, it looks better than last year's Mania that's for sure!!!

Tune back to see if it comes true!

Until next time,


Thursday, June 18, 2009

State of the NHL

Well it's been a while since I yammered on a bout hockey, now hasn't it? To make up for it I'm posting a bit of an NHL roundup, talking about my thoughts on the finals, a Senator that is looking elsewhere, our nations best hopes, a variety of wheeling and dealing, and of course Hamilton, Phoenix, and the story that will never end.


Alright so all of the good “Pittsburgh”, “Penguin” and “Steel” puns were taken, so this was all that I had left. But the fact remains that it is GREAT to see the Penguins win the Stanley Cup. They have two of the best players in the world, and a fantastic organization from top to bottom. There is nothing to not like about this except if you live in Detroit or are Marian Hossa.

While I still consider Crosby to be the best in the world, it is hard to deny Malkin the Conn Smythe. He had a fantastic run, and scored more points in one playoff series by anyone not named Wayne or Mario. Not too bad. Of course, one could argue that Crosby drew the best of the opposition more often than not (especially against Detroit), so Malkin had it a bit easier, but none the less, well done Geno.

I would also like the record to show that I officially defeated a piece of Chinese Currency and two of my friends (in that order) to claim the Prediction Title for 2009, even with my disastrous Columbus, Montreal, and St. Louis picks.

Bye, Bye Danny

It looks like Heatley is on his way out of Canada's Capital. This is a shame, as I have always liked Heatley's ability, and there are not too many multi-time 50 goal scorers in their 20s playing at the moment, but if he doesn't want to be part of the system, good riddance.

There has been all sorts of talk about which teams are in the market, and if I were a betting man, I'd say that he ends up in LA. They have the cap room and are searching for a big named star. If they end up making a deal for LeCavalier that renders the point rather moot. Not certain if Heatley will waive his no movement clause for a trip to Hollywood, but it would be a good fit for both sides. Let's face it, if he ends up in a hockey-crazed city he'll end up a scapegoat yet again and end up getting jeered for his inability to backcheck. People keep saying the Sharks, as a Thornton-Heatley pairing sounds good, and could probably combine for 200 points in a regular season, but would struggle to get 5 in a playoff season. I hope for the Sharks sake that they stay away, they don't need him.

Olympic Posturing

I think that Heatley's current situation may have really hurt his chances to play in Vancouver next February. Let's face it, the GM of Team Canada, Steve Yzerman is a team first kind of guy, and to take a trade demand public, especially over a coach's decision to put him on the second power-play unit is not Stevie Y friendly.

With Canada having so much depth, with all things being equal who would you choose: someone who is concerned about the amount of goals he scored playing on a team that happened to underachieve (but has potential for next year) or a guy who consistently puts up good numbers for a terrible team and lit it up for Canada on the International stage last year? The second one, right? Replace those names with Heatley and St. Louis and Stevie's job may have just gotten easier.

I think that Thornton and Marleau's sub-par playoff runs really had them drop down on the depth chart with Heatley. The same also stands with Jeff Carter and Mike Green (although they are young enough to be given a pass I think). Crosby and Getzlaf's spot on the roster was never really in doubt, but their runs in the post season really solidified them as the top two centres on the squad I think. Add in Eric Staal's borderline legendary first two rounds, Jonathan Toews clutch play, and Martin St. Louis, Shane Doan, and even Steven Stamkos' world championship and I think some big name forwards may be enjoying a two week break in February.

The back end is slightly more stable. Chris Pronger proved that he can still go, and should not get bumped. Brian Campbell continued to be a disappointment, getting jumped by teammates for the biggest potential move in defense, Duncan Keith and maybe even Brent Seabrook, who did a fantastic job in a shutdown role in the first two rounds. Otherwise there should be little movement on the D from most pre-season predictions.

In between the pipes both Ward and Fleury made some noise for their inclusion on the team, while Price made even his most ardent supporters (I.e. me) question his ability under pressure. However, all of the competition appears to be for the role of third wheel/press box warmer as Brodeur and Luongo seem destined for the top two spots.

Draft Day Dealings

I'm not certain if Heatley will get moved before the draft, since he has a $4 million bonus coming on July 1st which some teams may be hesitant to pay for. However, there are some big names that may get dealt. I think that Philadelphia is going to make some big moves, most likely involving any of Daniel Briere, Simon Gange, and/or Joffrey Lupul in an attempt to clear up some space. They seem to have their sights set on Jay Bouwmeester, and they need to clear up some cap room. I would not be surprised to see them make a trade for Bouwmeester's rights much like they did with Hartnell and Timmonen a few years ago.

In other trade news, I think it's safe to say that the Leafs will NOT end up with Jonathan Tavares. The Islanders would be stupid not to take him at this point. They do not have much going on in their organization, other than Kyle Okposo, and as Pittsburgh and Chicago are showing, a dynamic duo up front can go a long way. Of course, every team needs more than just two forwards, but it is a pretty good start, especially when it comes to marketing. The Leafs talk of trading Luke Schenn is stupid for a variety of reasons. For starters Schenn is going to be a cornerstone of any franchise for years to come, but also because the pick that the Leafs traded for to get Schenn was with the Islanders. If they wanted him, they would have taken him last year, instead of trading down with the Leafs.

That being said, the Leafs will very likely move up in the draft, especially if they dangle Tomas Kaberle out there. I think that they would be very happy to end up with Brayden Schenn (Luke's brother), Evander Kane (Patrick's brother) or maybe Matt Duschene (nobody important's brother) to help their anemic offense.

Free Agent Frenzy

In addition to the previously mentioned Bouwmeester there are some big names available. The D-man should be the biggest prize, with some other great options, in particular up front, with Marian Hossa, Martin Havlat, the Sedin twins, Marian Gaborik, and Alex Tanguay being the biggest names.

While it is virtually impossible to predict at this point, I am going to try anyway! I think that the Flyers or Bruins are going to land big Jay, while the forwards are probably going to be scattered about on the following teams looking to make a big splash: Los Angeles (unless they end up with Heatley or LeCavalier), San Jose, Toronto, Montreal, Chicago, and maybe even Florida. I think that the Sedins are going to end up on the Blue Shirts, Hossa in San Jose, Gaborik in Montreal, Havlat resigning in Chicago, and Tanguay maybe even going to Ottawa.

Desert Dogs

It looks like, for the time being at least, that the Coyotes are staying in Phoenix to loose millions of dollars yet again. I, for one, will not claim to be shocked about this one. Sooner or later though, the NHL needs to realize that loosing money is a bad, bad idea. Franchises like Phoenix, Atlanta, Carolina, and Nashville are simply not viable in the long term. They are going to need to move somewhere else eventually. While everyone who understands the game sees that Southwestern Ontario is a better hockey market than the Southwestern United States, it seems like that is just not going to happen for the time being. I imagine that the next team to get an NHL team will be Kansas City, with Las Vegas as an outside second choice.

I think that if a team ever ends up in Hamilton, or anywhere else in Ontario they will probably have to pay $100 million to the Leafs and about $40 million to the Sabres. Ballsillie has deep pockets, but I think that even he has his limits, which is a shame because with the current economic climate a wealthy owner who likes the game sounds like a great idea. But what do I know about economics anyway?

As I said in my previous post on the topic, this is not about dollars, or about sense. This is about pride, which is a damn shame.

But fear not Canadian hockey fans, this was Ballsillie's third attempt to get a team in Hamilton, and probably the one that came closest to succeeding. With enough troubled franchises out there, he can always wait until next year.

I guess he has a lot in common with the Leafs on that one.

Until next time,


Sunday, June 07, 2009

You Can Be Censored Under My Umberella-ella-ella

Just in case any of you were worried, there was not a hint of unrest or disorder in my part of China last Thursday on the anniversary of what shant be named. As I mentioned in my post on the day, the internet was less than accessible, and some careful subversion had to be done to get around the Great Firewall of China. However, all was for not because at the end of the day not a heck of a lot happened.

The one interesting story comes from the CNN, BBC, and AFP reporters who had the strangest form of censorship that we may have ever seen. As their reporters were on the edge of the square attempting to report on the day, they had plain clothes officers with large umbrellas come in between the journalists and their camera to try to attempt to block the shot. I understand what they were trying to do but it came across as being pretty stupid. I'm not sure who came up with this idea, but I am sure that they did not deserve a raise for it.

Check it out for yourself (courtesy of the Shangaiist):

Great eh? How about it as a video...

If that wasn't enough, check out this great remix of it, sadly there is no Rihanna involved....

Umbrellas, saving the masses from the horrible truth since 2009.

Until next time,


Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Ignorance is Strength

Party Mottoes, 1984

Some days I feel like I am living in Orwell's nightmare.

Today is an important anniversary of a solemn event, or maybe it is a day like any other, it all depends on who you ask, or who you don't ask. As many of you may know, twenty years ago today an infamous student protest in China drew the wrath of the government and their tanks, and many people were killed. Pardon me for using cryptic language, but I do not want to attract the attention of the powers that be in the country I reside in.

There has been a huge crackdown in the buildup to this day. A few months ago YouTube was banned, and blogger is currently banned (I am posting this via a proxy), while Wordpress has been banned since I arrived in August. The most recent additions to this were Twitter, Flickr, and Hotmail which went down on Tuesday (eerily as I type the rough draft for this post). Interestingly, the on-again-off-again bans on sites like BBC, Wikipedia, and Google are not in effect. In essence websites that allow regular people like me to communicate with the outside world (through posting videos or blogs) are not allowed. Somebody is worried that something is going to happen.

Also, the popular messaging system Skype, is very difficult to download in this country, instead it diverts you to a program called TOM-Skype, which restricts some of the messages that you send. For example, if you try to send the F word the message will not go through. I read reports (not going to link, too dangerous at this time) of it tracking the use of certain hotbed words that the people in charge would not like.

But the internet is not alone in it's censoring. Apparently there has been some grassroots movement to get people to wear white (the colour of mourning in Asia) on the day. There is a rumour persisting that newscasters are not to wear white for the next several weeks (which appears to be adhered to by turning on the television). A few weeks ago, an interesting bit of news came out that 300,000 newspapers had to be recalled because it had an incredibly subversive photo in it. Just in case you didn't see it when it made the rounds a few weeks ago, check it out.

Do you get why it was somehow subversive? I'll give you a hint, look at the pants of people in the front row. Now divide the picture in two and count the people on either side. Now think of today's date.

There are six people on the right side and four people on the left side, translate that into a date and you have today. Look at the four digit number on the little boy's pants in the bottom left and you have the year that the event took place.

Think about this for a second or two. If this was something that someone caught after the fact, what more obvious things are being caught before publication? I imagine someone refusing to publish an image because it bears a picture of someone who resembles a certain spiritual leader or not taking an ad for the classified because every 5th word spelled out the National Anthem for the island that China claims to be its own. I'm probably wrong, but maybe not too far off. If this picture is deemed subversive, what else gets to be in the same category?

All of this is done with one simple mission in mind: to restrict the flow of information. In other words, the government wants to keep people ignorant in order to keep the nation strong. Ignorance is strength.

What I find the saddest about all of this is how most of the concern comes from outside of the country. In the two decades that have passed since this event China has undergone a tremendous economic boom. Naturally in times of economic fortune people tend to not focus on problems with the government, and demands for change lessen. This coupled with the party's crackdown has made many of the demands of the original dissenters disappear.

Most people in this country seem to be living in a bit of a fool's paradise, similar to how I imagine America being in the 1950s, and even the 1990s. There were certainly bad things happening in the country then, but people mostly kept quiet because things were going well and they did not want to rock the boat. Flash forward a decade in either case, and the economy starts to fall and people start to protest more about the “corrupt government” and “illegal wars” which were going on before, but nobody ever cared when they were making money.

The party seems to have found the right mix of 1984 and Brave New World. Oppress people and control information while giving them all sorts of distractions that they have never imagined. Either way, it is keeping people in this country from the one thing that they truly need for development, the truth.

Until next time,


Monday, June 01, 2009

Dr. Atmoic or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Start Loving Geopolitics

It seems like whenever I click on some news somebody is always talking North Korea, and their nuclear ambitions. It seems like everybody is ready for World War III to start on the Korean Peninsula. It seems like nobody is taking the time to realize that nothing is going to change.

That's right, there will be no nuclear war, no reunification, just more of the same status-quo that has persisted for the last 56 years. This is just another big scare that will inevitably blow over, and things will continue on as they are.

Sure, the North seems to have nuclear capabilities (maybe), and long range missiles (definitely) which seem like quite the game changer, but we can't forget the ultimate x-factor, and biggest benefactor from the way that things are, China.

Allow me to give a quick overview of East Asian geopolitics. The unquestioned forces are Japan and China, which are currently the 2nd and 3rd largest economies in the world, respectively (although they will probably flip by the end of the year). China has a very large military, and while Japan does not have any forces of their own, they have near unquestioned support of the Americans. Japan and China have long been distrustful of the other, and have been at war with each other several times in their history, most notably during WWII. Conveniently, between the two nations, there is the Korean Peninsula. This was divided at the conclusion of the Second World War, with the southern half being in the US sphere of influence, and the Northern half being in the Soviet sphere of influence. North Korea quickly became a reclusive state, relying on itself, and only itself, with the South has grown into a very vibrant economy and has served as a model for development in Asia.

While the South has been culturally closer to Japan, in recent years it's economy has been getting closer to China's. According to John Pomfret's blog on the Washington Post "Why China Won't Do More With North Korea" (the inspiration for this post), he mentions that China is South Korea's largest trading partner. While this may seem surprising, let me tell you from the inside that there are a LOT of very wealthy Korean companies doing business in China. Almost forty percent of the students at the international school that I currently work at are Korean and those kids do not come from poverty.

This huge amount of money pouring into the PRC is helping fund the current economic boom, and China needs to keep it that way. Obviously a thermonuclear war in a country that has so much investment in China is not in their best economic interests. So they will do nothing to help empower the North in a horrible to "reclaim" the South.

All of this Korean money is flowing into China because, quite frankly, there is not much else for them to develop in their own country. However, should the North collapse a massive humanitarian and economic undertaking would ensue. The North would need to be developed in a bad, bad way which would trigger require a flow of capital and efforts from companies like Samsung and Dae Woo, which are currently doing business in China. Given the current economic climate, it is likely that any of those companies would need to contract elsewhere in order to set up shop in North Korea, which would probably mean a lot of them would move out of China. China can not let this happen, certainly not while their economy continues to benefit from Korean involvment in the country.

Also, should the North fall and the Peninsula become unified, there is the pesky question of the ethnic Koreans living in the Chinese Northeast. A huge swell in Korean nationalism would no doubt catalyze the notion that those people should join their reunified homeland. Jilin and Liaoning provinces both have sizeable Korean populations, and should they ever get vocal about their land leaving China, then the PRC has large problems on its hand. They already have enough seperatist regions to deal with, why add another one? Especially one that would have Japan and America's sympathy? Jilin in particular has a great deal of national resources, notably iron, coal, and oil, which an industrializing nation like China certainly needs and could not afford to jeopordize.

China is in a clear case of "damned if we do" with very little "damned if we don't". This can only lead us to one conclusion, we're going to get more of the same, so you can crawl out of the bomb shelter.

Until next time,