Here’s some WrestleMania 36 news that isn’t pandemic-related: as of today, there are two new places people can watch it as a pay-per-view.
For those who use the WWE Network, it can be easy to forget that WWE even still releases PPVs as PPVs. But the company has continued to do that since the Network’s launch, with big shows available to purchase through cable providers for typically about sixty dollars.
That’s how much people can pay to watch both nights of WrestleMania through Fox Sports as part of a new deal between the two companies. Per a press release issued today, for the first time ever, WrestleMania will be available to watch as a PPV on the Fox Sports app and FOXSports.com. Fox, like ESPN recently, will also begin to air past WWE shows starting “on Tuesday nights this spring,” including the 2020 Royal Rumble, “Best of” specials about top WWE stars, episodes from the WWE 24 and Ruthless Aggression series, and one-hour cuts of WrestleManias 31, 33, and 34.
WrestleMania will also be available on Fite TV for the first time this year, priced as sixty dollars for a two-night package deal or $34.99 for each show. According to a press release by Fite (which calls Mania, “WWE’s annual pop culture extravaganza”), the WM 36 can be purchased through the platform, “in the U.S. as well as select international territories.”
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And now, the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for March 30 2020.
Secondly, Raw was all about real names last night. Hey ALLEN JONES, I hope you don’t run into ADAM COPELAND, he could tell you about MARK WILLIAM CALAWAY! It’s a strong promo — Undertaker promos are always better when you don’t ask him to do them live, and can’t see him actively trying to remember which goth-ass idiom the script asked him to say next — although I could’ve lived without the suggestion that AJ Styles waited until all the good wrestlers retired before joining WWE. You uh … you don’t think anybody on the show’s worth a shit anymore? Cool, why am I buying the Anytime Fitness version of WrestleMania 36 again? To watch the one wrestler remaining from the time when WWE was good beat up a guy from TNA who sucks in a graveyardcemetery boneyard?
That’s just me not liking that intention and style of promo, though. Beanie Undertaker telling AJ he’s done it now, he’s gone and made a big mistake, and he can’t allow Styles to think he can just walk away has me hopeful that Styles went through all this trouble to bait spooky occult Undertaker only to get his asshole’s ass kicked by a bad-ass. So who’s the “unholy trinity” Undertaker’s bringing to counter Gallows and Anderson? Kane’s definitely one of them. Maybe Acolyte Bradshaw? Naked Mideon? I feel like a small gate with a lock on it would be enough to counter Gallows and Anderson.
Worst: Help Me, Ronda
You know, I thought it was pretty bad last week when Shayna Baszler sat in the middle of the ring in the center of an otherwise dark arena and couldn’t anticipate an attack from Becky Lynch. That shit was the Deadly Game tournament compared to this week, in which Becky Lynch spends 45 minutes standing on the stage with her back to the entrance watching last year’s WrestleMania main event. Why not tie an anchor to your ankles and go swimming in the ocean?
Contrivance of this aside, I feel bad that Becky had to stand there and watch an entire 22-minute match from a year ago plus multiple commercial breaks for the majority of an hour without a chair to sit in, while holding an awkward, six-pound title belt on her shoulder. I feel bad for the rest of us that we had to watch that entire main event again, now with multiple check-ins on Nugenix press conferences for updates on Frank Thomas’ dick integrity. I still think that (1) Ronda Rousey not tapping out in that match was a bum move, and that (2) Kofi Kingston vs. Daniel Bryan was the actual main event of WrestleMania 35, and six matches after it (Jesus Christ) were part of some weird post-show we were all roped into sitting through.
So yeah, Becky gets got, and you can’t say she didn’t deserve it. Hoping she loses by submission this weekend when Baszler threatens to Road House her.
Brock Is Here Again, Wonder What He’ll Do?
If you answered, “nothing, while Paul Heyman talks,” congratulations, you’ve watched the show before! I’m not sure what I’m most disappointed about, the fact that they didn’t show that wonderfully melodramatic video of Drew McIntyre doing strongman training in Scotland, or how Paul Heyman had to work, “too big for just one night,” into a promo like that’s a thing somebody would say in real life. WrestleMania, which is Too Big For Just One Night, is happening during, “the most unique time in our lifetimes.” Nobody say what those times are, that might be too scary! Maybe if the “unique time” continues and WWE never figures out how to get out of these empty arena Raws, Lesnar will be in the go-home segment of next year’s go-home show for WrestleMania as a cartoon or a hand puppet.
+1 to Paul E. for saying, “that is the most extraordinary roster in the history of this industry,” though. Does the Undertaker know that? Does Paul know Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock aren’t around anymore? Anyway, Paul’s great. He can’t make these shows and “unique” circumstances any less of a bummer.
Note: This segment is prefaced by Brock vs. Rey Mysterio for Survivor Series in its entirety, and Raw was somehow able to work two whole commercial breaks into a Brock Lesnar match. They should’ve done that with Brock vs. Kofi from Smackdown.
I Can’t Tell Edge From Adam!
As previously mentioned, ADAM COPELAND has a message for [checks Randy Orton’s Wikipedia page to find out his real name] RANDY ORTON about how yes, he might have spent a year as a vampire dumping blood on people in the darkness and yes, he might have hung the Big Boss Man to death with a noose, and yes, he might’ve attacked Kofi Kingston from behind at the Elimination Chamber and taken his spot, and yes, he might’ve married Vickie Guerrero to be able to cheat more easily during his matches, and yes, he might’ve dressed up like Ric Flair to make fun of him having road rage in real life, and yes, he might’ve humped Tommy Dreamer’s wife while pinning her in front of him, and yes, he might’ve speared Mick Foley through a flaming table, and yes, he might’ve literally beaten up John Cena’s dad, but he would never mention somebody’s family in a promo. That is a BRIDGE TOO FAR. You’ve DRAGGED HIM BACK IN for ONE LAST SCORE, Randy.
You can’t just join a faction when you’re starting out, Randy, you have to forge your own path. Unless that faction is a group of vampires, who then become part of the Undertaker’s Ministry of Darkness. Or Team ECK. Or Team RECK. Or La Familia. Or Rated RKO. And you also should never bring in a tag team that looks like you and name them after yourself so they can help you cheat and win all the time. Forge your own path, you coward.
Worst: Austin Theory Practices Social Distancing
Shout-out to WrestleMania championship challenger Austin Theory for doing even less than The Miz would do to catch Montez Ford on this dive. Damn, dude. Shit sounded like somebody was closing the cage door on an old elevator.
Worst: The Team Challenging For The Raw Tag Team Championship At WrestleMania Loses Their Only Match Ever As A Team, And Kevin Owens Has No Comeback
The only match of note besides two jobber squashes was Kevin Owens and the Street Profits versus Seth Rollins, Angel Garza, and Austin Theory. You’d think with WrestleMania being only five days away they’d either have Owens pin Rollins or vice versa, or have the team we’ve never seen before until literally right now who somehow have a Raw Tag Team Championship match pin the Raw Tag Team Champions — welcome to a strange new world where I’m asking them to have a challenger pin a champion — but Owens just ends up pinning Garza after a Stunner. Sure, I guess. Not sure what that does for anybody, as the challengers really needed to prove themselves as legitimate opponents for the Raw tag champs and Kevin Owens really doesn’t need a win over Angel Garza to prove he can hang with Seth Rollins, but it is what it is.
Rollins Stomps him immediately following the pin, and Owens sticks around in the ring afterward to cut a promo in response to last week’s complete bodying. In case you missed it, Rollins cited history, pointing out his crucial role of being the face of FCW and then NXT during its formative years and how without him, history would be completely different and NXT might’ve never become a thing anybody cared about. The WWE Performance Center probably wouldn’t exist, and there wouldn’t be as easy a route to the big leagues for former independent stars like Kevin Steen. He also pointed out that Owens almost always loses like a goober at WrestleMania (including a losses to Shane McMahon and Zack Ryder) while Rollins has pinned Triple H, Roman Reigns, Brock Lesnar, Miz, and so on. So what’s Owens’ response this week? To say that yeah, sure, whatever, but nobody likes you. That’s it. Yes, you did all those things but also maybe you didn’t and you suck anyway so who cares. Even his claim that Rollins only ever won with help discounts major wins over Triple H (which was Rollins raging AGAINST being a cheating Corporate champion) and Lesnar. He won the Intercontinental Championship on his own in a triple threat match at WrestleMania 34, whereas Owens’ only IC title match at Mania ended with him on the ground while the lamest wrestler in the company stood tall.
It’s just … very WWE. The facts don’t matter. The facts are what BAD GUYS think. Logic and reason and remembering history and being able to form cohesive arguments is for jerks. The only thing that matters is whether or not people are clapping for you right now. Which is weird hill to die on already, but considerably weirder now that there’s no people and no clapping. I don’t necessarily think WWE’s problems will be instantly fixed when Vince McMahon dies, but at least maybe then we’ll be able to move past his aging one-percenter understanding of power and self-worth. Maybe we’ll be able to move past all the good guys being callous, selfish, opportunistic loners against the villainy of a bunch of free-thinking, complex human beings with friends and relationships.
Jobbers Of The Week
Aleister Black has that one quarantine match he keeps having against Jason Cade, whom you may remember from Full Impact Pro and WWN. He says he only lost the match because he got distracted by a fan, which is pretty funny. At least he got in one offensive move, which is better than Leon Ruff got in two identical matches!
NXT’s Kayden Carter also shows up to lose to Asuka, which is a nice if all too brief reminder of how cool and dominant Asuka was and could still be in NXT. I guess she needs a rebound win between losing clean to Alexa Bliss last week and losing to Alexa Bliss this weekend at WrestleMania.
Best: Boots 2 Asses
Finally we have my favorite moment of the week, which is Rhea Ripley confidently walking into the building with no peripheral vision whatosever and getting booted in the back by Charlotte Flair like it’s a Monty Python’s Flying Circus transition. I wish it’d made a “phhht” noise when it connected. If Rhea can’t see 6-foot tall-ass Charlotte Flair with her black clothes and Dolly Parton hair standing in the middle of an empty Florida parking lot in the middle of the day, I’m surprised she can get a fork from the table to her mouth without it going rogue and poking her in the eye.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
The Real Birdman
The Big Show Show?
The Wight House was right there
“To that dumbass who says ‘I can do that WWE stuff’”
Leave Natalya alone
“I hate to be the one to pull back the curtain.”
“JBL is only champion because Triple H doesn’t want to work Tuesdays.”
With no crowds, you could say the Street Profits are having a Private Party.
The term “go-home show” feels so different now.
(Angel Garza performs Camel Clutch move)
GARZA: They said avoid touching your face. They never said anything about touching other peoples faces.
Undertaker: AJ, I invite you to ride my bone train to our boneyard match at Wrestlemania!
AJ: What’re you laughing at, Karl?
Karl Anderson: If I’m laughing at what I think I am, it’s very funny
Big Baby Yeezus
LMAO Goldberg vs. (Card subject to changes)
“We’re going to show you how tough Brock Lesnar is”
*Shows Lesnar beating the smallest guy on the roster*
That’s it for this week’s attempt at a Best and Worst of Raw. I guess we’re just moving forward pretending the WrestleMania card still looks like that, huh? Should we sit back and accept that WWE’s going to eventually plan an in-universe explanation for why Roman Reigns and The Miz aren’t there, or should we be mad that they’re falsely advertising championship matches that aren’t happening to get Network subscriptions out of people who don’t read wrestling blogs and don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes? Is the answer somewhere in the middle?
Comments and social media shares are deeply appreciated, and any other kind of love you’d like to show is going to mean more than ever in the current climate. Especially if we don’t have anything to write about for a couple of months. Join us this weekend for …. [checks notes] WrestleMania? You gotta be joking me.
With today’s plethora of communication technology, it’s now easier than ever for musicians to come in direct contact with fans whose lives they’ve touched in an array of ways. Drake, The Weeknd, and J. Cole were able to share some special moments with one of their biggest fans, an 11-year-old cancer patient named Elijah. Elijah, unfortunately, passed away this week, but the young music fan was able to meet his biggest icons over FaceTime before his untimely death.
In a video shared to social media by his older cousin, Drake, The Weeknd, and J. Cole all individually met Elijah over FaceTime with his family. “I’m so honored to be one of your favorite artists, buddy,” The Weeknd said in his FaceTime call. “Thank you.” Elijah’s cousin shared the video along with the young fan’s incredible story:
“Over the past 3 years, my 11 y.o. cousin, Elijah, has battled cancer with the utmost resilience. Elijah’s physical fight is now complete, as he transitioned to heaven on Friday. He didn’t leave this world without knowing how much he was loved though. Last weekend, Elijah got to “meet” 3 of his favorite artists — The Weeknd, J. Cole, & Drake. Incredibly grateful for these 3 super-humans being so caring for my family during this time. We’ll hold onto these moments forever.”
One way that basketball players have remained occupied during the league’s COVID-19 hiatus has been video games. Some have opted to stream games from their homes, with some reportedly hopping on board with an NBA 2K tournament that the league is going to hold and broadcast on ESPN.
Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports brought word of the tournament, which is slated to include 16 players from around the league. We’re still waiting to get the names of everyone who will participate, but on Tuesday morning, Haynes reported four of the All-Star names that we’ll see take to the virtual hardwood, which includes Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant and Utah Jazz standout Donovan Mitchell.
Via Yahoo Sports:
The NBA is planning a players-only NBA 2K tournament that is expected to feature some of the league’s sharpest video gamers, including Kevin Durant, and it will be broadcast on ESPN, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
The league hopes to launch the event Friday, with the 16-player tournament lasting 10 days. It is expected to include stars such as the Utah Jazz’s Donovan Mitchell, four-time All-Star DeMarcus Cousins and two-time All-Star Andre Drummond, among other big-name players, sources said.
It’s obviously going to be an exciting tournament and a fun way to watch basketball at a time when the only ways to do that are YouTube mixtapes and diving into the League Pass archive. But beyond that, Durant and Mitchell were two of the first NBA players to have confirmed cases of COVID-19 — Mitchell has been given the all clear, while we have not heard one way or another on Durant, and getting to see that both of them are doing well is a good thing.
We’ll be sure to keep you updated on the full list of names that will participate when it becomes available. This is not the only 2K-related event happening in the coming days, as the NBA 2K League is in the midst of its own tournament. We’ll be participating in it on Tuesday night, and you can read more about that right here.
Iconic songwriter John Prine has fallen ill to the coronavirus as the global pandemic spreads. While Prine is currently hospitalized in “critical” condition, many musicians are showing their support for the influential musician and wishing for his speedy recovery. Joan Baez recently shared a cover of Prine’s “Hello In There” to offer her support. Now, Big Thief’s vocalist Adrianne Lenker is following suit by sharing a cover of Prine’s “Summer’s End.”
Posting the cover to social media, Lenker expressed her well wishes to the singer: “I’m beyond grateful for the gift of his songs, sending love to his whole family,” she wrote. With just an acoustic guitar and her emotive vocal delivery, Lenker gives a heart-tugging rendition of the iconic musician’s song.
Ahead of Lenker’s cover, Prine’s wife Fiona shared an update about his condition. Fiona also contracted a case of the coronavirus and shared Sunday that she’s made a full recovery. “I have recovered from Covid-19,” she wrote. “We are humbled by the outpouring of love for me and John and our precious family. He is [stable]. Please continue to send your amazing Love and prayers.” Prine was rushed to the hospital Thursday after showing symptoms of the virus. Prine has suffered from cancer twice, so his pre-existing health conditions put him at greater risk with the virus.
Watch Lenker cover Prine’s “Summer’s End” above.
Read more of Uproxx’s coverage on the coronavirus here.
News anchor Chris Cuomo has tested positive for the coronavirus, according to CNN. Cuomo will continue to host Cuomo Prime Time from home where he’s quarantined in his basement. Cuomo released the following statement on Twitter where he expressed concern about exposing his wife and children, but remained optimistic about his outcome as well as the nation’s:
Sooooo in these difficult times that seem to get more difficult and complicated by the day, I just found out that I am positive for corona virus. I have been exposed to people in recent days who have subsequently tested positive and I had fevers, chills and shortness of breath. I just hope I didn’t give it to the kids and Cristina. That would make me feel worse than this illness! I am quarantined in my basement (which actually makes the rest of my family seem pleased!) I will do my shows from here. We will all beat this thing by tough and smart and united!
Since announcing his diagnosis, CNN reports that Cuomo’s brother and New York governor Andrew Cuomo has responded to the news with good humor during his daily press briefing.
“This virus is the great equalizer,” he said. “My brother, Chris, is positive for coronavirus. Found out this morning.”
The governor called Chris “my best friend” and added a little bit of the good-natured ribbing they’re known for: “He’s young; in good shape; strong — not as strong as he thinks, but — he’ll be fine.”
The two brothers spoke by phone earlier on Tuesday. “Now he’s quarantined in the basement,” the governor said. “But he’s funny as hell, he says to me, ‘Even the dogs won’t come downstairs.’”
Cuomo is the third coronavirus case to hit CNN headquarters in New York City, and the network has been rapidly working to address the pandemic through “sweeping changes,” including having employees work from home and filming segments from their own personal studios/basements.
You can watch Governor Cuomo address his brother’s diagnosis below:
Whether it’s mandated or self-initiated, the coronavirus quarantine is on. Hopefully, by now you’ve gotten yourself a few supplies — don’t hoard toilet paper! make chicken broth! — and you’re feeling some degree of safety and security. This next stage is going to be a hard one: staying inside, keeping out of public spaces, and not going to large social gatherings.
You’re likely to get a little stir crazy. Okay, maybe a lot stir crazy.
To help you through the quarantine, we’re going to be offering recipes throughout the month that will allow you to level up your cooking game and eat well at home. The ingredients we’re using are easily available through delivery services (and stores). If you do go to the store or a market, remember to wash produce (and yourself) thoroughly.
For anyone who reads my writing, it’s no secret that I really like Italy. I travel there probably more than any other location. And, I’m not going to lie, the driving force behind all that travel is the food. I don’t have a drop of Italian blood in me. I wasn’t raised anywhere near Italian culture — European or American. But there’s just something about the culture, the place, the people, and the food and drink that just speaks to me on a sub-atomic level. Plus, I live in Central Europe and can usually get there in an hour or two for the cost of a couple of trips to the movie theater. That helps.
Anyway, I like to cook all things Italiano. And one of my favorite recipes that I’ve been reveling in recently is focaccia. This crunchy, light yet thick, and salty bread is the perfect comfort food to bake right now. It’s fairly low-impact and will warm you to your very bones. It’s also fully adaptable. You can top it with anything or not. Hell, I’ve seen the stuff topped with hot dogs and fries in Sicily.
I’m using Samin Nosrat’s recipe from Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat without the salt brine at the end. Not because I don’t like salt. I just don’t think it’s necessary if you’re throwing a few topping on the bread. All-in, you’ll need bread flour (AP is fine), dry yeast, salt, honey, olive oil, and water. After that, it’s up to you. I use dried thyme, oregano, and basil as well. Also, in this case, I’m topping this focaccia with low-moisture mozz, black olives, and slices of ripe tomato.
This bread needs 12 hours to rise. So my advice is to make this before you go to bed so you can bake it for lunch the next day.
I’m weighing everything out so it’s exact and I get the same results consistently.
First, I weigh out 600 grams (21.16 ounces) of luke water tap water and add 15 grams (0.53 ounces) of honey. I then add 3 grams (0.1 ounces) of active dry yeast.
I set that aside to bloom. The extra sugars from the honey will accelerate that process and you should be able to see the yeast blooming with your eyes.
Next, I weigh out 800 grams (28.2 ounces) of all-purpose bread flour. I add in 18 grams (0.63 ounces) of fine sea salt. Lastly, I add-in 50 grams (1.76 ounces) of good olive oil. I then add in the yeast and water mix and start hydrating the flour with my right hand.
You don’t have to go crazy. You just want to hydrate the flour and bring everything together. This is a no-knead bread recipe. Keep that dough in the bowl, fam!
The addition of olive oil will help keep the stickiness down and bring it together fairly quickly. Finally, I cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm, dry spot to rest of 12 to 14 hours.
The next day, the dough has more than doubled in size and is alive with bubbles. It has taken on an ever-so-slight sour smell and is ready to become focaccia.
The first thing I do is use a rubber spatula to pull the dough from the sides of the bowl. You need to do this gingerly but with enough effort to release the dough from the bowl. You should also have long strands of gluten — as you can see from the photo above.
I then use the spatula to release the dough into a well-oiled baking pan — again, use olive oil and don’t skimp. The dough should almost roll out of the bowl. Be careful not to press down or deflate the dough as you transfer it to the pan. Then you need to let the dough rest for 30 minutes.
I also use this time to preheat my oven. I crank it up to around 425F and place an upside-down cookie sheet on the middle shelf. If you have a pizza stone, use that. I (oddly) do not, so a cookie sheet it is.
After about 30 minutes of resting, oil up your fingers and create dimples over the whole focaccia. Just dip your fingers right in there and pull back once you hit the bottom.
Lastly, I top my focaccia. You can go in two main directions at this point. You can go simple (see below) with just a nice herb, salt, and more olive oil. Or, if you’re feeling maximalist, you go a bit more for the sfincione you see in bakeries in Sicily — fresh tomato, black olives, low-moisture mozzarella, a mix of thyme, oregano, and basil, and a good punch of sea salt and olive oil. It ends up being like a proto-pizza. The order of toppings is: Olive oil, sea salt, tomato, cheese, olives, dried herbs, another hit of salt and another hit of olive oil.
That then goes in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes. It’ll depend on your oven. I check it after 20 minutes and turn the baking pan 180 degrees for a more even bake and then bake for another 8 minutes.
I remove the focaccia from the oven and immediately transfer it to a cooling rack. The bread should slide right out of the pan with little to no effort thanks to the crazy amount of olive oil involved.
I let the bread rest of at least 30 minutes. It’s best to serve while it’s still nice and warm but all the toppings are set.
I cut the focaccia into 12 single servings and that’s it. You’re ready to tuck in!
The bread has an amazingly crunchy — almost fried — bottom. This provides an olive-oil-infused base that supports light and salty bread.
The interior of the bread is the real star of the show. There are bubbles galore with slight sour bite. It’s thick, comforting, and delicious. I ate two pieces without hesitation. No regrets.
As mentioned above, you can make this with simple toppings and use it as sandwich bread too. The above is the exact same recipe with only olive oil, salt, and dried thyme. Everything else is exactly the same.
I then used that bread to make focaccia BLTs and, holy shit, those were amazing sandwiches. If you’re into the Twitter/ internet trend of baking during the quarantine and you want to try bread, this is the perfect place to start. It’s relatively easy and insanely tasty — the perfect combo for the (stuck at) home cook.
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