Road to Wrestlemania RAW/SMACKDOWN recap

THE ROAD TO WRESTLEMANIA..

 

As ‘Mania gets closer and closer, the build continues to get crazier and crazier! There has been so much going on in various storylines as of late and while some of it has been insanely fascinating, other things have left me scratching my head. I am left wondering – What is creative thinking? What sense does that make? Why are things being taken in that direction? What surprises could WWE have in store?

Social media has also been buzzing with both anticipation and disappointment. Here are a few examples:

  • Disappointment – Kurt Angle vs. Baron CorbinKurt was afforded his choice of an opponent for the final match of his career. He decidedly picked the man who had “made his life a living hell as of late”, former RAW GM Baron Corbin. While this does make sense on one hand, fans on social media offered a different opponent – John Cena. The fans do make a good case – John Cena’s opponent in his debut match was none other than Kurt Angle; the match won by Cena. What better way is there for Angle to end his career than to go out on top against the man whose career he helped launch? Could WWE somehow sneak Cena into the match, perhaps have him take out Corbin and take his spot?

 

  • Anticipation – Seth Rollins vs. Brock LesnarThe build to this match has been absolutely phenomenal – from Seth winning the Royal Rumble Match to the weekly promos. Given Rollins’ past matches and his intensity, Rollins is most definitely the fan favorite to win this match. Fans are tired of seeing Lesnar with the belt and lack of title defense. We are ready to see the Universal Championship on RAW every week. If Rollins does emerge victorious, it would set up some very interesting potential future feuds; including Roman Reigns’ possible quest to recapture the title he was forced to vacate.

 

  • Disappointment – Kofi Kingston / Mr. McMahon storylineI don’t even know where to begin with this one – I can only scratch my head. Kofi has never been more over with the fans, and this is his time! He was given a huge opportunity at the Elimination PPV, and boy did he deliver! He and Daniel Bryan put on one hell of a show as the final two competitors in the EC match, elevating Kofi to be the most over he has probably ever been with the fans in his career. Fans demanded Kofi vs. Daniel Bryan at Fastlane. At first, it looked like a lock, with the contract signing on SmackDown. Cue the interruption by Mr. McMahon, and the announcement that Kofi was being replaced by the returning Kevin Owens. Kofi has proven beyond measure that he belongs in the title picture, and this is the storyline that WWE Creative comes up with?! It is seriously lame, and it’s gotten old quickly having to watch Kofi prove himself every week, only to have Mr. McMahon go back on his word. KOFI 4 CHAMP!

 

  • Anticipation – RAW Women’s Championship MatchWhile at first I disagreed with Becky being replaced by Charlotte Flair, this storyline has actually turned out to be quite intense and interesting. The build up to the eventual insertion of Becky Lynch back into the match was crazy. The intensity these three women bring to the ring, coupled with the explosive promos as of late could turn this feud into one hell of a match. With rumors of Ronda Rousey’s exit following ‘Mania, who knows what the future holds for the winner of this match and the RAW Women’s Championship?

 

THAT’S ALL FOR THIS WEEK.. STAY TUNED FOR MORE!!

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Ravens Sign Earl Thomas and Mark Ingram | Haloti Ngata Retires | Maryland Basketball

Gerald, Ross, and Duane discuss recent free agent developments in the AFC North. The Ravens made some big moves by signing Earl Thomas and Mark Ingram. But are the Cleveland Browns winning the offseason up to this point?

Smoked Spare Ribs | Culinary Carnivore Series Premiere

This is the premiere of a new show here on LitTube called Culinary Carnivore TV. It’ll feature primarily Gerald Royster from LitTube, and his cooking adventures, food challenges, Food Reviews, cooking events, and instructional videos. In conjunction to the videos there will also be articles and recipes available on this website! So go follow on instagram @Culinary_Carnivore, and follow here on the site for more updates!

Recent NFL Transactions: Antonio Brown, Eric Weddle

By:  Justin Holden

Let’s start this article off with the breaking news, shall we?  Antonio Brown has been traded to the Oakland Raiders.  The Pittsburgh Steelers received 2019 3rd round and 5th round draft picks in return.  The Oakland Raiders also re-structured Antonio Brown’s contract so that he will be earning $50.125 million over the next 3 years.  $30.125 million of that contract is guaranteed money.  This is obviously a huge win for Antonio Brown from a financial perspective, as remaining with the Pittsburgh Steelers would have netted him $39 million over the next 3 years.  It is also an obvious boost to the Oakland Raiders’ wide receiver corps, especially given the departure of Amari Cooper to the Dallas Cowboys last year.  But let’s dig a bit deeper into the aftermath of this transaction, for both teams involved.

antonio_brown_raiders Aftermath of the Antonio Brown trade – Pittsburgh:

Even though Antonio Brown is a once in a generation talent at the wide receiver position and still should have at least a few years of quality production left in the tank, it is difficult to say that the Pittsburgh Steelers lost this trade given the situation they were in.  The Steelers will still have Juju Smith-Schuster and James Washington on the roster, two talented young WR’s that should be able to fill the void over time.  We must also consider that Antonio Brown was an unsettled player that clearly didn’t want to stay in Pittsburgh for the remainder of his contract.  By agreeing to a trade, the Pittsburgh Steelers potentially avoided another ugly holdout situation, like the one they endured with Le’Veon Bell during the 2018-2019 NFL season.  Having said all that, a 3rd round pick and a 5th round pick is not much in terms of compensation for an elite player, albeit an aging one.  I expect a challenging season upcoming for the Steelers, not just because of the departure of Brown and Bell, but also because of the age of veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and what appears to be a resurgence of the Cleveland Browns in the AFC North.

Aftermath of the Antonio Brown trade – Oakland:

I mentioned earlier that Antonio Brown would provide an immediate boost to the Oakland Raiders wide receiver corps, which has essentially been a wasteland since Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper departed from the team.  Acquiring a player of Brown’s caliber for 3rd and 5th round draft picks is a steal.  However, there are some things about this trade that I don’t like for Oakland.  First of all, they increased Brown’s salary from $13 million per year average to $16.66 million per year average, with a sizable chunk of the contract being guaranteed money.  While the Raiders certainly have money to blow, we still have to consider this into the evaluation of this transaction.  Did it make sense for Antonio Brown to be given a raise at this point of his career?  I would argue that he’s only going to get worse with age at this point.  A receiver playing into his thirties will lose speed and agility, which is why you see a lot of older receivers eventually relegated to WR2 or slot roles before they are bounced out of the league.  Brown is definitely a WR1 for now, but I wonder what will happen to his athleticism once he’s in year three of the contract.

The other thing I don’t like about this deal for the Raiders is that the team still doesn’t project to be a super bowl contender.  It would have made much more sense for Antonio Brown to go to a team where he was the missing piece of the puzzle; that last acquisition that could make a team a legit contender.  We all know the Raiders won’t be that even if they draft perfectly this offseason.  They’ve just given up too many impact players for draft picks and you need time for those draft picks to develop into solid NFL starters.  The Raiders made it perfectly clear through their actions last season that the franchise was in rebuilding mode.  So while “Carr to Brown” might end up being a great fantasy football headline over the next few years, I still can’t see the Oakland Raiders being anything more than an 8-8 team for the 2019-2020 NFL season.  Maybe someone should remind Jon Gruden and the Raiders GM that they’re managing a real life football franchise, not a fantasy roster.

Safety Eric Weddle released by Baltimore Ravens; signed by LA Rams:

eric-weddle-rams

Initially, I had mixed feelings about the Los Angeles Rams signing Eric Weddle at the salary they did ($6.25 million average over two years) and trusting him in a starting role for the 2019-2020 NFL season.  I then realized that safety Lamarcus Joyner, who played for the LA Rams during the 2018-2019 NFL season, is set to hit free agency.  When you consider that fact, this move makes sense for the LA Rams.  Joyner is most likely going to command a higher salary during the free agency process as multiple teams bid for him.  Rather than take the gamble of overpaying for a player in free agency, the Rams have opted to sign a veteran safety who has made the pro bowl in each of his last three seasons.  The fact that Weddle is originally from the west coast and was rated as the 10th best safety by Pro Football Focus helps ease concerns as well.  But, all of that doesn’t change the fact that Weddle is an aging veteran who showed a tendency to get burned by speedy receivers last year when he played for the Baltimore Ravens.  Clearly if the Baltimore Ravens saw him as a true pro bowl caliber player, they wouldn’t have been so quick to release him.  LA Rams fans will be hoping for the best with this key signing.  The signing of Eric Weddle could be looked back on as a great value pick, or as a flop.  Only time will tell.

Mike on the Mic!

New segment of LitTube which will spearheaded by our very own Mike Thompson! We introduce you to Mike on the Mic! He will give weekly updates in the Pro Wresting world! And of course videos and podcasts! Stay tuned for more!

This week on…  MIKE on the MIC (Part 1):

 

WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship

At WWE Elimination Chamber, six tag teams (3 from RAW and 3 from SmackDown) competed in a grueling Elimination Chamber match to determine would be the first ever Women’s Tag Team Champions. The match had a lot of great spots – seeing the superstars climbing the walls of the chamber, fighting on top of the pods, big moves and many near pinfalls. 

So.. who came out on top? Your inaugural WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions are – The Boss ‘N” Hug Connection.. Bayley and Sasha Banks! 

This just in! Their first official title defense will come at WWE Fastlane, where they will be defending against the Samoan Slaughterhouse – Nia Jax and Tamina! 

 

 

 

WWE Fastlane Preview:

 

Announced matches:

 

 WWE Championship – Daniel Bryan (C) vs. Kevin Owens

 

 SmackDown Tag Team Championship – Miz/Shane (C’s) vs The Usos

 

 SmackDown Women’s Championship – Asuka (C) vs. Mandy Rose

 

 WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship – Sasha/Bayley (C’s) vs. Nia Jax/Tamina

 

2020 Profiles: A Conspectus on Where Things Stand Right Now

By:  Justin Holden

I have previously written articles for my “2020 profiles” series on Richard Ojeda (who has since dropped out of the 2020 presidential race) and Tulsi Gabbard.  Many other candidates are in play at this point and I figured it would behoove me to write another article providing a broader overview on how the 2020 presidential race is shaping up, and things to look for going forward.  Let’s start by discussing the biggest elephant in the room that is not named Donald Trump…that would of course be former Starbucks CEO, Howard Schultz.

 

Schultz

Since late January of 2019, Howard Schultz has been seriously contemplating running as an independent candidate for POTUS in 2020.  Up to this point, Schultz has been taken more seriously as a candidate by the mainstream media than candidates who are already politicians and have officially announced their decision to run, such as Tulsi Gabbard.  We must explore why this is.  Hmm…could it be that Howard Schultz is a billionaire?  Well, that certainly could be part of it.  In the United States, it’s pretty easy to turn heads when you have a ridiculous amount of money.  You can essentially buy your way into the political conversation.  We saw this in the 1990’s when Ross Perot ran as a third party presidential candidate and ultimately garnered more than 20% of the popular vote.  Perot was eligible to participate in the nationally televised presidential debates, despite being an independent candidate.  That alone goes to show you the power of wealth in politics.

But wealth alone does not explain why the media is giving Schultz so much airtime.  That, in my view, has more to do with his political philosophy aligning with the establishment.  I mean think about it, what does Howard Schultz actually stand for?  He has made it clear that he is very much against progressive reforms such as a single payer healthcare system, green new deal, and tuition free public college.  Schultz has equally made it clear that, in his view, the far-right has gone too far with their agenda and the election of Donald Trump.  Schultz has told us what he is against, but he conveniently has little to say about what he is actually for.  He positions himself as the sensible centrist candidate, and as an outsider that is running as an independent, but most people are seeing through the facade and realize that on policy substance he is nothing more than an establishment insider.  The polls bear this out at the moment, as Schultz has yet to poll higher than single digits.  This is pretty sad considering that he’s been given loads of free media time, including his own CNN Town Hall event.

The scary thing for Democrats when it comes to Howard Schultz is that he could very well help Donald Trump win re-election as things stand right now.  Schultz’s base, as small as it is, is essentially made up of rich elitist Democrats/Independents that prefer a moderate candidate.  The case could be made that in a general election Schultz siphons off just enough votes (that would have went to the Democratic candidate) to help Trump win.  We will have to see if Schultz remains in the presidential race despite his low poll numbers.  As of now, his candidacy appears to be nothing more than a billionaire’s vanity project.

The Democratic Establishment Candidates:

establishmentSo while we are on the subject of “establishment centrists” and “corporatists”, let’s see what the Democrats have to offer in this category for 2020 presidential candidates.  Pictured above, you will notice Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and Kirsten Gillibrand.  Let’s not forget to include Amy Klobuchar, who also recently announced her candidacy for 2020.  If there’s one thing you need to know about this group of candidates, it’s that they are not real progressives.  Amy Klobuchar is an example of a candidate who doesn’t even try to hide the fact that she’s running as a moderate centrist.  She is for reforming the affordable care act, but has no desire to push for a “medicare for all” or “single-payer” healthcare system.  Klobuchar also hasn’t gotten on board with the idea of a $15 federal minimum wage, which many Democrats at least claim that they have warmed up to at this point.

As for the other above mentioned candidates, they appear to be towing the line on some kind of middle ground between running as moderate centrists and running as progressives.  All of these candidates’ previous record in politics paint a clear picture that time and time again they have sided with the establishment wing of the Democratic party, which as we know has led to the U.S. government giving out corporate welfare, deregulating Wall Street, inflating the military budget, starting pointless offensive wars, etc.  Furthermore, each of these candidates has taken plenty of campaign contributions in the past from wealthy donors, corporations, special interest groups and PACs.  In politics, you should always look at the source of candidates’ campaign funding because this is the best predictor of the action they will take (or decide not to take) while in office.

Having said all that, we have seen the rhetoric of Booker/Harris/Gillibrand sound increasingly progressive during the beginning phase of the 2020 presidential race.  This may be because polling indicates that more and more of the American people are siding with the progressive solution to issues such as healthcare, climate change, education, minimum wage, etc.  But ultimately, if you are for progressive solutions to political issues, you are better off looking at where candidates get their campaign funding from and how hard the mainstream media networks try to prop certain candidates up.  These are more reliable indicators of where a candidate falls on the political spectrum than their rhetoric.  Also, beware of candidates that avoid discussing policy substance.  This is another red flag that you’ll be looking at the second coming of Hillary Clinton rather than a candidate who is serious about implementing bold solutions to solve America’s problems.

The Progressive Candidates:

sanders-warren

Bernie Sanders is officially in the 2020 presidential race and he shattered the record for most campaign funding on the first day of announcing, hauling in a figure over $3 million comprised of thousands of individual contributions.  Grassroots fundraising at it’s finest!  Clearly, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are the front-runners right now on the progressive side of the Democratic Party.  However, we should not overlook Tulsi Gabbard, nor Andrew Yang, with Yang being the first Asian-American man to ever announce his candidacy for POTUS.

But let’s talk policy on these candidates.  It is clear that Bernie Sanders is the candidate who has been unapologetic-ally pushing for progressive policies his entire career.  This of course includes “medicare-for-all”, which now has mainstream support from the American people (although not the American mainstream media).  Tulsi Gabbard has been the loudest voice when it comes to ending offensive regime change wars.  Elizabeth Warren has been a leading voice on anti-corruption (getting the corporate money out of politics) and raising taxes on the ultra wealthy.  Andrew Yang has proposed universal basic income as a solution to a future that forecasts to be increasingly dominated by technology and automation.

These candidates clearly have grassroots support on their side, as well as authenticity, and the ability to side with the majority of the American people on a number of important issues.  What these candidates have going against them is a lack of media coverage (or negative media coverage), and possibly favoritism given to their centrist primary opponents by the DNC, although that remains to be seen for this particular election cycle.  It will be interesting to see how the debates turn out for these candidates, and if Gabbard/Yang even get invited to the debate stage.

As Things Stand Now, My Prediction:

I predict that Bernie Sanders’ campaign contributions will continue to lead the pack amongst Democratic primary candidates in a huge way.  While overlooked by the mainstream media, Sanders has polled as the most popular politician in the country ever since the end of the 2016 presidential election, and it’s not even close.  Sanders now has name recognition, which he didn’t have at the beginning of the 2016 Democratic primary when he challenged Hillary Clinton.  I also believe that Sanders will benefit from a populated field of candidates, which will split the vote more and allow him to emerge as the clear favorite rather than be challenged by a single moderate/centrist candidate as he was in the 2016 primary.

The only way I see Bernie Sanders losing the Democratic primary to another candidate is if he gets relentlessly smeared by the mainstream media (a realistic possibility) OR if the DNC claims that Sanders is not a Democrat and decides to disqualify him from the Democratic primary process.  Should the latter happen, Sanders would have an interesting decision to make on whether he bows out or runs as an independent.  I believe that Sanders would ultimately bow out at that point because the prospect of further splitting the vote to help Trump win would not be something he could stomach.  Then again, let’s wait and see if Trump is even still president by the time primary voting starts.  FBI investigations still loom large.

 

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5 Better Running Backs the Ravens could sign| UMD Natl. Signing Day recap

Gerald and Ross, go over 5 better Running backs hitting free agency that the Ravens could pursue over Leveon Bell, Also go over some of the top University of Maryland pick ups from National Signing Day, as well look at Local College Lacrosse around the area. We also talk about MLB free Agency and the Orioles, and pay respects to Orioles Legend Frank Robinson

Intro- O.A.R. “Love and Memories”