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Round up: Axl Rotten Dead, Sunny Adult Movie, CM Punk, NXT

Yesterday ECW original Axl Rotten was found dead in a McDonalds near a hotel he was staying at, aged only 44.

Axl-RottenBorn Brian Knighton, the name Axl Rotten was a combination of names from Knighton’s own musical taste – singers Axl Rose and Johnny Rotten. Debuting at just aged 17, Rotten was mainly known for his long feud against storyline brother Ian Rotten after the break up of their tag team Bad Breed. The feud helped but ECW on the map as the two battled in gruesome gimmick matches throughout the first half of 1995 culminating in a Taipei Deathmatch where both men wrestled with taped fists dipped in glue then broken glass; a gimmick taken from the Jean Claude Van Damme movie Kickboxer.

Rotten would go on to form the tag team The Hardcore Chair Swingin’ Freaks with Balls Mahoney in 1997 and would have memorable matches against the Dudley Boyz until he left the company in 1999. Rotten would then wrestle on the independent scene until the various ‘reunion’ events in 2005 where he’d appear for both Francine and WWE’s shows.

After years of drug addiction and suffering with Bell’s Palsy, in 2005 Rotten was told that he needed urgent spinal surgery but opted to carry on wrestling. In 2014 his L3, L4 and L5 discs spine in his collapsed leading to Rotten losing the use of his legs and being confined to a wheelchair. Chris Jericho initially brought Axl Rotten’s health issues to light in order to help finance the surgery and a documentary was also filmed in which Rotten discussed his health, his career and his recovery. The documentary is free to view on YouTube but contains strong language and blood.

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Another wrestling related personality making mainstream news this week is Tammy Sytch AKA Sunny.

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Sytch’s tumultuous life and struggle with alcoholism has made headlines numerous times over the last few years but after trying to sell her WWE Hall of Fame ring on Ebay, Tammy instead opted to do porn for Vivid Entertainment. Not a massive surprise as she’d been doing “camshows” for fans for a little while.

HollywoodLife has a feature on the movie along with a safe for work (if there is such a thing for porn) trailer for the movie – Sunny Side Up: In Through the Backdoor. The trailer autoplays but can be watched here.

Sytch is also releasing an autobiography which is supposedly a ‘tell-all’ book entitled ‘A Star Shattered: The Rise & Fall of Wrestling Diva Tammy “Sunny” Sytch’. Just runs off the tongue that one…no porn jokes please!

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The book is available now on Amazon. Sytch will also be sentenced on March 28th for DUI charges and will be serving some jail time.
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WWE has parted ways today with NXT talents Bull Dempsey, Marcus Louis, Magno, Peter Howard and Sylvester LeFort.
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CM Punk is in the news again as he cut short an interview for Complex with freelance interviewer Kevin Wong after being unhappy with the line of questioning implying that he didn’t know that MMA isn’t fixed. The interview is actually a very well written piece and worth reading but is a good indicator of how much pressure Punk is under during his transition and the lines of questioning he’s normally subjected to. As with all things related to CM Punk outside the ring, expect strong language.

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Wrestlefailure? Have injuries derailed Wrestlemania 32?

In 28 days WWE will hold Wrestlemania 32, the Superbowl of professional wrestling/sports entertainment but this year will be a little light on stars. A lot of fuss has been made about certain fighters missing the upcoming UFC 200 supercard but their problems pale in comparison to WWE’s.

Just to highlight how bad it is – every single person who walked out of last year’s event as a champion is injured and in fact most of the participants from Wrestlemania 31 are on the shelf.

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Wrestlemania 31’s matches were as follows with their current status in brackets:

1. King Barrett (injured) lost his Intercontinental Title to Daniel Bryan (injured) in a ladder match also involving Dolph Ziggler, R-Truth, Luke Harper, Stardust and Dean Ambrose.

2. Seth Rollins (injured) v Randy Orton (injured).

3. Sting (injured) v Triple H

4. Nikki Bella (injured) and Brie Bella v Paige (recently returned from injury) and AJ Lee (retired)

5. Rusev lost his US Championship title to John Cena (injured)

6. Bray Wyatt v The Undertaker

7. Brock Lesnar v Roman Reigns saw Seth Rollins cash in his title shot and win The World Heavyweight Championship.

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With a number of stars out WWE had hired Alberto Del Rio along with AJ Styles and the rest of Bullet Club to try and fill some gaps but unfortunately Del Rio got injured by Brock Lesnar and may be out of Wrestlemania.

With Del Rio, John Cena, Seth Rollins, Sting, Cesaro, Randy Orton, Daniel Bryan, Nikki Bella and Tyson Kidd all injured, Sheamus and Sin Cara both injured but still appearing and then Sasha Banks and Paige only just returning from injuries, that’s a lot of people to book around. So much so that the current WWE World Heavyweight Champion is semi retired wrestler and WWE head honcho in training, 46 year old Triple H.

Bret-Hart

WWE has reached out to numerous former stars and Hall of Fame inductees including The Rock and Dave Bautista to secure appearances though even that has a somewhat dark cloud as Bautista has apparently said no and Hall of Famer Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart has just announced that he has prostate cancer.  As Hart’s late brother, Owen, was expected to be inducted to the Hall of Fame this year by Bret, it’s unclear now what the plans are.

It’s not all bad news though.

While WWE’s roster is lacking star power some of the injured are making good progress with their recoveries and so Wrestlemania 32 may see at least one return. Also the lack of stars means that some talents lower on the card have a great opportunity to elevate their status.

Owens

Right now WWE has a roster of 54 wrestlers, not including the injured ones, so that’s a lot of talent who normally have to fight for screen time. Wrestlemania 32 could be a big day for Kevin Owens, Dolph Ziggler, New Day, Braun Strowman, Kalisto, Neville and others who would not ordinarily be considered for a upper echelon match at Wrestlemania.

There’s also one other man who could make Wrestlemania 32 a must watch…

AJ

AJ Styles was one of the hottest talents in wrestling last year and now he’s landed in WWE at a time when they can’t afford to do the usual routine of breaking down a talent who isn’t home grown and then rebuilding them. Styles has reportedly signed for a massive amount of money; quoted as being a $450,000 or $500,000 per year downside guarantee. At 38, Styles is also one of the oldest men on the roster so presumably WWE will be looking to get a good return very quickly for their investment

AJ Styles is someone who lives up to his ‘Phenomenal’ nickname and is certainly capable of 5 star matches, so with all eyes on him it’ll be up to him to prove he’s worth the money and steal the show.

WWE has a history of pulling a win out of the worst situations and with a roster full of hungry talent looking to get noticed, Wrestlemania 32 may actually end up being one of the best.

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Spider-Man Essential Reading #2

In Part 1 we looked at Denial, in part 2 it’s the turn of ‘The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man’

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The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man – Amazing Spider-Man #248

Roger Stern is a name you’ll be hearing more of in another instalment but his run on Amazing Spider-Man is often talked about to this day, 30 years later. What most people don’t remember is that a lot of it was pretty bad.

Stern started on issue 229 cover dated June 1982 and for the next two years meandered between issues which were either must read or infinitely missable. Issue 247 started a two parter where Wrecking Crew member manages to acquire The Wrecker’s crowbar in addition to his own ball and chain allowing him to become more powerful thanks to the crowbar’s Asgardian power. Issue 248 wraps up the story halfway through the issue with a backup story, ‘The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man’ filling out the rest of the space.

kid-who-collects2While John Romita Jr provided art for Amazing Spider-Man at the time, The Boy Who Collects Spider-Man was drawn by the team of Ron Frenz, Terry Austin and Christie Scheele which initially gives the story a feeling of just being filler. There had been some truly dire issues and heavy featuring of z-list characters in the previous near 2 years so this story completely blindsided every reader especially as Amazing was a ‘kids’ title.

The story features Spidey going to visit his biggest fan, a young boy named Tim Harrison, who has collected whatever Spider-Man material he can including newspaper clippings and video tape reels from the wall crawler’s TV appearances before he turned to fighting crime. Tim gets to hear about the radioactive spider and Spider-Man’s origin along before being shown the web shooters and how they work.

The wall crawler shows and tells Tim of his various abilities before talk turns to the transition from TV star and entertainer to crime fighter. Surprisingly Tim gets to hear the story of Uncle Ben’s murder and Spider-Man’s guilt driving him to fight crime which makes the tone of their meeting more somber. It’s at this point where the change in art team starts to feel like it was deliberate in order to give the story the visual it needs. As good as Romita Jr is, it’s hard to imagine his style fitting the storytelling here.

In an effort to cheer Spidey up, Tim shows him retractions J Jonah Jameson had to publish about Spider-Man along with bullets he had dug out of a wall after the hero had foiled a bank robbery. After realising how long they’ve been talking, Spider-Man tucks Tim back into bed but as he leaves, Tim has one last request. While the original coloured version was powerful, The Essential Collection reprints this issue in black and white giving more gravity to Tim’s question.

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Spider-Man explains that he can’t give away his secret identity because if his identity were to become public it could endanger his friends and family from his numerous villains. TIm promises that he’ll keep Spidey’s secret and after a moment’s hesitation, Peter Parker shockingly reveals his identity and that ironically, he was the one who took most of the pictures Tim has collected and that J Jonah Jameson has been paying Peter to take pictures of himself.

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As they share a hug, rather strangely, Peter cries before putting his mask back on and leaving. Outside, Spider-Man pauses on a wall with his head in hand. As he swings away we see a close up of the sign on the wall and a final newspaper clipping which explains Spider-Man’s surprising decision to reveal his identity and his tears while hugging Tim.

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