It’s been literally six months and one day since I last reviewed a full album, and for those of you that followed the expansive works of Mojo20, you may even remember it was Taylor Swift’s ‘Reputation‘ that was last dissected (you won’t remember, I didn’t) and of course, I thought it was a load of self-indulgent crap. HOWEVER, after all this time it’s certainly a great opportunity to jump back in as social media has spent all of today venting and sharing opinions on the long-awaited sixth studio album by Sheffield indie rock gods, Arctic Monkeys. The oddly named ‘Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino’ dropped this morning but was already the object of scrutiny due to its obscure title and strange track listing. Not only that but bootleg digital versions were making the rounds the other day and people were, well, unsure about what to make of it. Of course though, being whiter than white here at Thinking Green I awaited its official release and ran out to pick up a physical copy of the new record… and here’s what I thought.
Now, the vast majority of opinion I’ve seen today on Twitter and all that has been negative. I can see why, but certainly wouldn’t agree. There are no huge indie bangers, the tempo has decreased and it does sound oh so very different to what we’re used to from them. “Which is what?” I hear you ask. Great question. Well I honestly wouldn’t know how to answer that because Arctic Monkeys have consistently evolved and expanded their sound and style since the very beginning. I honestly can’t name one of their other albums that sounds like another. “So why is it such a surprise that the trend has continued?” Again I don’t know but frankly the music sounds more mature, the songwriting suits a 32-year-old Alex Turner, just like ‘When The Sun Goes Down suited a 20-year-old Alex Turner. It’s about evolution, it’s about transcending expectation and documenting your art now, not retrospectively, not from a memory, I mean can you really see Turner, in his LA mansion, entertaining the likes of Richard Hawley, Nick Cave and John Cooper Clarke but writing music about his budget trainers that he recently bought off the market in Sheff? Of course not, he isn’t there anymore. He’s far removed from the lifestyle he once celebrated and invited us all into, that to stay in the same place artistically would seem disingenuous and cringy. “But it’s nothing like ‘AM’ or ‘Whatever People Say I Am..”, no you’re quite right, in fact it’s more akin to lounge music, in fact scrap that, elevator music, but it’s the coolest elevator in the worlds largest skinny jean factory I could ever imagine, or maybe a hotel… or a casino, and truthfully those albums still exist and are still fantastic but this is something else, a different beast entirely and should survive on its own merit, without comparison. Looking at the new album, it is an odd one and perhaps for the first time, there isn’t a stand out track. It’s a brilliant album, full of interesting, dark, wandering songs that centre mainly around the lyrical acrobatics Alex Turner is so proficient in. He’s a poet, a modern-day Northern, British Dylan and it’s clear that this albums main weapon of choice is his song writing. I have also seen some publications call this “the closest thing to an Alex Turner solo album we’ve got” which not only discredits his solo album for ‘Submarine’ the soundtrack, but also plays down the skills of the rest of the band. It’s possibly their funkiest work to date which just could not happen without a tight and talented rhythm section. It’s subtle, sexy, jazzy and a little brooding and I personally find that more intriguing than any three chord indie rock record I’ve ever come across. It is different, it really is, and as I said, I understand the uproar, but if you stop to take this album in for what it is and was intended to be, it really is superb.
Now, one downside from someone who’s seen the effects and ridden the consequences is that one of indie musics biggest names and sheer royalty of a genre thats flag isn’t flying so hard anymore, is doing nothing to maintain, preserve or aid the rock n roll that they championed so heavily on their previous album. Transmission indie night (hosted formerly by Mojo20) came to an end due to an ailing scene and poorly represented genre of music that ruled the world in the nineties and mid 2000’s. Arctic Monkeys appear to have left it behind too, just as much as I did. But hey, the album opens with the line “I just wanted to be one of The Strokes…” and so did I. I don’t anymore, and I guess these guys don’t either…
The weathers finally looking like it might improve and along with great weather comes great food and summer recipes, and here’s another of my favourites. I even remembered to take a picture of the finished product, unlike last time. So get involved and have a go at this dead easy favourite of mine, Hunters Chicken.
So we started basic last time with home made beef burgers and to be honest, it isn’t getting much more difficult here, but the best thing about Hunters Chicken is that there’s so many interchangable components and it does, ultimately, all come down to your personal preference. This relates mainly to the cheese and the BBQ sauce because as we know, there’s tons of variations and we all like something different, in fact I’ll change it up almost everytime I make it, with the method being pretty much the same but with the main characters of the performance altering dependant on mood. On this occassion, we’ll look at what I did last night, and if you don’t mind me saying so, it might be the best combination I’ve ever come up with.
Here’s the ingredients you’ll need ready, all kitchen essentials, nothing too exotic for this one, but the one absolute must is that all the meat is locally sourced and bought from our brilliant butchers just around the corner:
1 Tbsp of Olive oil
2 Large chicken breasts
Salt & Pepper
1 medium sized Sweet potato
4 Rashers of Back bacon
2 slices of Mexican chilli cheese
1/2 a cup of Garden peas
So as previously mentioned, your choice of cheese is completely optional but I always find sliced, whether pre-sliced or from a block, to be much easier to work with than grated in this instance. It saves mess and waste and generally makes the finishing touches that bit easier. As for the BBQ sauce, we’ve opted for Guinness BBQ as a nod back to our recent trip to Dublin, but also because it’s absolutely gorgeous. Of course, there’s some incredible BBQ sauces out there nowadays and the market is stacked with great quality names so take your pick. You could even make your own, but that’s a recipe for another day entirely. Anyway, now you’ve got your ingredients sorted, let’s get on with it…
Start by heating your Olive oil in a reasonably sized frying pan and once hot, throw in your chicken breasts, season with salt and pepper and cook on both sides for a few minutes each until both sides begin to brown slightly. This gets things going and speeds up the process. Whilst frying, chop your sweet potato into wedges around 1cm thick. Arrange your wedges on a baking tray and sprinkle lightly with some smokey paprika before popping in the oven at 180 degrees centigrade. No further oil necessary as the sweet potato will cook into a soft, yet dry wedge, minus the grease. Now the ovens hot and the wedges are in, remove the chicken from the frying pan and transfer into a deep roasting dish (so as to avoid chicken juice spillages), cover with foil and pop into the oven beside the wedges. Throw your peas into a small pan with boiling water and leave to do their thing until it’s time.
Cook for half an hour, checking periodically, and when happy that the chickens cooked well remove and wrap two rashers of bacon around each chicken breast. Be careful on this bit, the chicken will be hot. Once wrapped, throw them back into the oven for another five minutes and pop your peas on to boil. When the five minutes is up and the bacon has begun to cook nicely, it’s time for the sauce and the cheese to join in. Pour over a generous amount of BBQ sauce onto each breast and then cover with the cheese slice. Then decoratively add a little more BBQ sauce as a topping before returning the chicken to the oven for the final time. By this point the sweet potato will be cooked and the peas boiled, ready for dishing up whilst the cheese melts over the chicken. Once your sides are dished up, it’s time for the chicken to come out and join them on the plate and then hey presto… dinner time.
As usual, choose your drink carefully, and of course responsibly, but on this occassion, one of my favourites by Brewdog is perfect for the job. Low alcohol, light and refreshing. Jobs a memory. Have a go and let me know what you think, plus keep in touch as things are about to get hotter and a little more complicated.
With social media starting trends every five minutes, it seems to be an everyday occurrence that the day, month or week belong to a particular fad, movement, issue or food group. However, this week (commencing Monday the 30th of April 2018) signifies National gardening week, and I can’t help but mention it because finally we have a national occasion that means something and could make a difference. With World Earth day happening not that long back, the same sentiments are still on everybody’s mind and for everybody that wants to, this is a great opportunity to get involved in making things a little bit greener.
Now I love gardening already and as my weekly Sunday pass time, I find nothing more enjoyable than getting my own garden organised, straightened out and looking great as well as tending to all the different plants and flowers I have on display. I’d implore anyone to get outside of their own house and make the most of the space they’ve got. It’s beneficial on so many levels and here’s a few examples: It’s great exercise and you can enjoy some real fresh air, you can improve your home aesthetically, plus planting flowers and plants not only brightens the place up but attracts and provides for bees, insects and wildlife in the area.
Not a fan of colour, fair enough but how about cutting down on your household waste by composting? That’s right. What if all your potato peelings and unwanted vegetable cuts didn’t have to go straight in the kitchen trash can but could go outside to your compost heap or bin and become food for the little monsters in your garden as well as eventually providing you with your own compost full of nutrients and goodness that you made happen. Pretty awesome right?
A lot of people might not have the space, or even a garden at all, but that’s alright. Get involved by bringing the garden inside. House plants like Aloe vera and Eucalyptus can work as extremely efficient air filters and provide a cleaner fresher oxygen within the home. Why not add a little green to the living room or even your office or spare room?
The possibilities are endless but the results are always the same, positive. A healthier you. A greener home. A more efficient and less wasteful household. An eco system benefitting from us rather than permanently being sapped of all resource. On National gardening week 2018, make a move towards making a change and giving something back to a world that gives us so much, whilst giving yourself a little something too.
So, the weekend is well and truly in full swing and I shouldn’t doubt that you’ve all spent it beautifully in your own way. However, if you’re looking forward to next weekend or the weekday evenings ahead then let me make a suggestion… if you’re looking for a recommendation for a great place for a dinner for you and your friends, or you and a loved one, then look no further than Olivares. Situated in the beautiful and historic Castle square in Lincoln. The one that, if you’re like me, have tried to get into multiple times whilst just walking past only to be told they’re full? I know that’s been the case for me in the past. Every time I pop in to see if there is a free table, the answer is the same, NO!
Well, whilst thinking ahead this past week I called and made a reservation for the Thursday night and me and my wonderful girlfriend Alice took a trip into town to go and see what Olivares was all about. Was it justified to always be so full? Did it compare to the other local tapas restaurant Ole Ole?
Well yes it did, and in some ways it was better. Now I’ve been to Ole Ole a few times in the past and I can’t deny for a second that the food is incredible and is a great place for a fun dinner all round. BUT, the decor at Olivares is so much more authentic and carefully considered, and although a little dark, it’s charming and comfortable. I wasn’t actually aware it was so large and actually has three different rooms in which to be seated including an upstairs with its own bar. We were seated upstairs and immediately greeted by extremely nice waiting staff and our drinks orders were taken.
Now the really important bit. The menu had a ton of choice all laid out conveniently into sub sections so as to make it easy to pick out exactly what you want. They even had some great set meal suggestions for a very reasonable price, but half the fun of Tapas is picking out the multiple dishes you’re going to spread all over the table, so we stayed away from any set menus on this occasion. With so much choice it was hard to whittle down the options but we went for seven of their finest dishes including Albondigas, Croquetas de pollo, Calamares, Chorizo al vino tinto and of course a few variations on Patatas bravas. Seven dishes in total was the perfect amount for the two of us, but then again we are particularly greedy when it comes to Mediterranean cuisine.
The food really was fantastic and the time it took from being seated to having our orders, whether drinks or meals, was very reasonable. As mentioned before, the restaurant itself is in a beautiful location and once inside the beauty continues. The waiters are friendly and knowledgable and made for a great experience. So in conclusion, I highly recommend Olivares, but of course, do call ahead and book due to its high demand and limited space. But on the right night and with the right person, this could be one of the greatest little spots in Lincoln, so go try it for yourself.
Alright everyone? Hope you all had a great Earth day, as well as a particularly patriotic St. Georges day. However today is Tuesday, and the topic of conversation is very different and has been all day. As a matter of fact I’ve been talking about this for a while and if you recently read my article about shopping local then you’ll have a bit of an idea about my thoughts on retail and consumerism.
But Lincoln is rapidly becoming a joke of a city as more and more retail units lie empty, bars and restaurants shut down and business’s struggle. It was announced today that completely out of the blue Cote French Brasserie on Lincoln high street had closed and moving was already in the process. No warning, no announcement, just a big “fuck you and see you later Lincoln, you’ve been useless”. Now as far as I’m aware Cote has actually been doing well as far as customers through the door and the reason behind closing is still somewhat of a mystery. However, when you begin to look at how many other places are shutting down and disappearing, it’s quite alarming. It was only recently that House of Tiago, Lincoln’s completely unwanted Brazilian buffet shut down after it received poor hygiene ratings, we’ve seen Toys R Us close across the country of which we have a unit on Tritton road. Speaking of Tritton road, we’re also saying goodbye to Carpet Right, Homebase, Maplin and then just off the University bridge Chimichangas Mexican restaurant. THIS IS CRAZY.
Buildings are being built or renovated and infrastructure is being improved all over the city as well as a brilliantly modern and fresh looking transport hub which has began to transform the area around the train station but WHY? Whats the point? The High street is a complete embarrassment after St.Marks Square and shouldn’t even be considered the High street at all anyway. We’ve got that many empty units and redundant spaces that there is no need at all to be building anything. The city is becoming a joke and soon the transport hub will be just as useless because there’s nothing here anymore!
What’s to blame. Well of course I’ve had a scan through the comments sections on The Lincolnite and Lincolnshire Live which are both always sources for intellectual debate and scientific analysis… and found a plethora of different reasons, such as the issue of high-priced parking. Which I must say, I just don’t agree with. There’s transport links for all over the city and in fact I don’t even live in Lincoln and still manage to find myself in town every single week either paying reasonable prices in city centre car parks or on the train which is also dirt cheap. So no, I’m not buying that one I’m afraid. I’ve heard that people don’t have the money to go out for dinner or to bars or to pay High street prices, but the fact of the matter is that Lincoln is cheaper than most other places and everywhere else in the country manages just fine. Not everyone does have a disposable income, but Lincoln’s pricing is as low as it gets. Something needs to change and something has to be done, and I do hope that Lincolnshire County Council are as alarmed as me and many others in the Lincoln area are. However, the truth I would say is that you either use it or lose it and people in Lincoln just don’t use it. This one might well be on us, the consumer. Now I’m not a supporter of consumerism, I don’t believe people “need” half the things they say they do and there’s a much cheaper, more satisfying and possibly healthier life out there for everyone if we shun the traditions of the western world and stop gathering pointless tat to validate our lives. BUT, local economy relies on the customer and if you’re not supporting it at all, you’ll lose it. If you do all your shopping over the internet because you “just hate crowds” then the crowds won’t exist anymore. Keep it local, use your money and your time wisely. Keep your own economy strong, you do have the power to do it. By the same token, the business’s need to up their game, because it would seem that even in Lincoln, good isn’t good enough and complacency could lead to loss of livelihood. It’s time to rally together and make a change.
Sad times in Lincoln, let’s just see what happens next.
Now, I’m not even going to attempt to disingenuously elaborate on the personal effect a passing like this has because this man performed a long long time before I was born and was involved in an era of professional wrestling that I purely know about from research or retrospective. However, when a man the stature of Bruno Sammartino passes away, it’s a huge occasion and a sad one for the wrestling world and the industry he performed in as one of the best of all time.
If I say “wrestling” to you, you may immediately conjour up images of Hulk Hogan, The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin and John Cena, but before any of these men had even considered becoming a wrestler, Bruno Sammartino was defining what it meant to be one. At a time where the wrestling business was based on selling tickets and filling buildings rather than TV ratings and PPV buys, this man was main eventing every single night and when he was, the people came in droves. Madison Square Garden is widely considered the most famous indoor arena in the world, and performing there is said to be a huge honour, never mind main eventing. Bruno sold out MSG 187 times in his wrestling career. The WWE even made him the second ever WWE world heavyweight champion and he held the belt for a massive, record-breaking 8 years. People might say wrestling is fake, or it’s predetermined and choreographed but when a company makes you their top guy and uses your name and your face for 8 whole years to put people in seats, then you must be doing something rather incredible. What’s even more amazing is that they did it again and when he won it a second time 1973, he held it for a further 4 years, amassing 11 years as WWE champion. Hulk Hogan is in second place for the longest combined reigns, and yet he held it for about half the time that Bruno did. No wonder he’s a WWE hall of famer.
Born in Italy in 1935, he survived World War 2, Scarlett Fever, and 82 years on planet earth and in the business of wrestling and for that reason, Bruno Sammartino deserves to be remembered as a legend, an icon and one of the greatest of all time. RIP Bruno Sammartino.
It’s Sunday and that means adventure day and today certainly was as we headed out towards Worksop to visit Creswell Crags. This incredible limestone gorge dates right back to the last ice age and shows the effects of the changing world over the past 70,000 years. The large man-made lake in the centre of the gorge literally separates Nottinghamshire from Derbyshire and you can walk either path by the side of the lake and be in two counties in a matter of minutes.
This trail was a slightly different one as normally we’d prefer to get our boots on and go exploring without a guide or any real idea what we’re doing, but with the multitude of caves situated within the cliff faces and the incredible historical background we just had to book ourselves in for a tour, and it was well worth it. For over an hour we heard about the different prehistoric animals that were discovered to have called the gorge home and also how the Neanderthal man would have followed them to this area to hunt for food as well as the materials required to create clothing and tools. We were taken around the caves and told all the stories behind them and shown replicas of flint and stone tools that had been found on site. The cave is also home to the European cave spider which was a fact worth not knowing, especially when you were inside already and it was a little late to escape. Isn’t it weird that when you find out something is there, you see tons of them…
Anyway, the tours are great and the information is staggering but the sights and scenery are what steal the show at Creswell Crags and despite not being a conventional walkers dream, it certainly provides plenty for a fun and exercise filled Sunday. Once the tour was over and we were left to our own devices we walked the length of the lake and then onto the Robin Hoods way trail which led us through a string of fields and over hills which boasted stunning views across Derbyshire. At the end of the path we found ourselves in the neighbouring village with no real choice but to turn back and do it over in reverse, but it was a great Sunday walk, enjoying the fresh air and the great company. Once back at the cliffs we walked the other side of the lake and therefore a different county and managed to end up amassing around 5km on todays trail. Not so bad, at least we’ve earned our roast chicken today. Go check it out, it’s crazy interesting and the kids will love it.
It’s Saturday and it’s midday which no doubt means your city centre, wherever you live is heaving and thriving. It’s the biggest shopping day of the week as people take advantage of a couple of days off to go wild and indulge in some well needed retail therapy, or as I call it, frivolous consumerism. What you do with your money is of course up to you and if touring round shops and making some spontaneous purchases is your thing, then you go right ahead. However, may I interject with a particular point which I believe at this stage has been a little lost.
With the inception of online shopping and mail order convenience, high streets all over the country have suffered and business’s far and wide are shutting down and liquidating due to competitive online pricing and the attractive quality of being able to get what you want without leaving your sofa, or bed depending on just how lazy you are. In Lincoln at the minute there’s an epidemic of empty units and shops. What makes this even worse is that a lot of money is being poured into infrastructure and retail in the city, problem is they are constructing brand new buildings and complexes whilst an existing one lies derelict and empty only yards away. With every brand new restaurant, two bars close. As one new Bar opens, two pubs struggle. The same units appear to take on new business, and 6 months later end up empty again. However at the same time, your franchises and large corporate names continue to do well, and even on their quiet days, their outlets nationwide keeps them safe.
The point being, I implore you, even if just for today have a think first before deciding where to out your money. Here’s a few examples…
Going for a Coffee today? Well Starbucks, Costa and Nero will still be there tomorrow. Why not head to one of Lincoln’s incredible, award-winning coffee shops, whether they be the Angel Coffee House, or Coffee Aroma in the center of town or even one of the incredible tea shops on Steep hill?
Doing the big shop today? Trade in Tescos or Asda for your local Butchers, head to your nearest green grocers. You’ll save a ton of money and support that family owned business near you, plus more often than not, the produce is fresher and of a much greater standard.
Are you sat at the computer now, getting ready to order that thing you don’t need. Hey man, there’s definitely a place in town that’ll do it. Amazon is great for books but so is Waterstones in the city centre and guess what, we’ve got two!
Got a crate of Stella in the fridge for tonight? Christ, call a friend and go catch up in the pub down the road. It’s the same bloody thing but you might actually have a good time rather than falling asleep at 10pm and regretting your weekend choices.
By thinking more about how you spend your money, you could easily save some too. Get some exercise and head into the city. Support your local business’s and keep some of these places open. This goes for all of you, everywhere… give it a try. Show some love and keep it local.
So here’s the first of many of my favourite recipes and things to make at home. You’ll see a theme as I do more and more of these in that the ingredients are fresh and it’s all home cooked. One theme I hope you don’t see is the fact that the picture at the top is NOT of tonight’s product. It’s from years ago, I found it on my Instagram, in fact I don’t even have fish anymore, I don’t even live there anymore, nor do I own the gorgeous red plates… the reason for this is simple, I didn’t take a picture of the finished article because as soon as they came off the grill I smashed two of them in fast succession and didn’t realise that I’d not taken a photo. A bit of a rookie move but I’m hoping I can trade my recipe for your forgiveness. EDIT: had a BBQ on the bank holiday and finally snapped a recent picture!
So, it’ll be clear to anyone that loves cooking that I’ve started very basic here as burgers are one of the easiest things to make at home, rendering fast food or B&Q butty wagons obsolete for anybody that knows how. However, I hope you’ll enjoy this super simple yet healthy twist on a hump day staple.
Oh look it’s my actual house! Anyway moving on, the first bit is the simplest and the most fun as all you need is these ingredients and a large mixing bowl:
500g lean steak mince
1 medium-sized onion
1 clove of garlic
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp yellow mustard
That’s all it is. Simple. Many people use egg or oil to bind the meat but with this recipe I’ve always found you don’t need it at all. They form great and shape perfectly. Before that however you’ll need to get a bit messy as you mix the ingredients by hand. Once satisfied with the mix divide into four and shape. Once you’re happy with the size, thickness and shape of your burgers, pop them in the fridge to set for around half an hour. Do what you want with your half an hour, I’m not here to tell you how to live your life, but one thing you can do is prepare the other components such as the bread rolls, the salad, the cheese and of course, your sauce. The sauce is always so important but it really does depend on your own personal taste, but since I’m writing I’ll give you my perspective.
So as I said, you can really do the rest of this how you like, but for me, it’s medium sized crusty white rolls, single sliced cheddar cheese, a mild Chipotle sauce spread on the bottom half of the bun and of course the world famous Red’s Dirty Burger sauce for the top and a handful of mixed leaves to add a little something green. Equally as important is your choice of beverage and on this particular occasion I went for a Beavertown 8 Ball Rye IPA. Make sure you aren’t driving after dinner if you plan to join me on one of these.
Pre-heat the grill to 180 degrees and cook for around 10 minutes depending on how violent your home appliance is, before flipping and doing the same on the other side. When times up and you’re satisfied that your burgers are cooked, throw a slice of cheese on top of each burger and slide back in for a minute to melt the cheese through. Then construct your burger and enjoy. Based on the ingredients you can comfortably create four burgers so that’s two for you and two for a friend, well, depending on how greedy you are.
Note: Eating four burgers alone is not advised as it may lead to health complications or death.
If you’ve been anywhere near social media today you’ll know that last night, the WWE held Wrestlemania 34 from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. The biggest show in the pro wrestling calendar finally arrived and with a stacked out card there was a hell of a lot of pressure and excitement on the event to deliver as Wrestlemania often does. With the event, shown on the WWE Network, spanning a colossal 7 hours including the kickoff show, it’s certainly a mammoth task getting through it all and especially for us fans in the UK who had to stay up until 5am to watch it all, battling fatigue and tiredness to witness first hand this years Wrestlemania moments. The moments were certainly plentiful this year too and with 33 other Wrestlemanias preceding it (including my Top 10 favourite as reviewed last week) it had a huge task of standing out, but it may have just managed to do that based almost entirely on unpredictability and shock factor.
Now, Wrestlemania has been known for big moments, shock returns and huge developments and this one had no throw away matches and everything was important, however it did have its ups and downs and it has divided opinion today as social media would normally illustrate anyway. Let’s take a look at what went on, beginning with the three matches from the Kickoff show…
We began with the annual Andre The Giant memorial battle royal, which has found itself relegated to the pre show a few times now. This year I was surprised to see it take a backseat as HBO have recently premiered an exclusive Andre The Giant documentary and I’d have expected that a natural promotion point would be to make more of a show of this particular match, however it still delivered despite its position and despite no huge entires into the match, be that legends or NXT stars, we eventually saw Matt Hardy win with an assist from his recent adversary Bray Wyatt. It’ll certainly be interesting to see what this unlikely new union has to offer on the Raw brand. Following this, the Cruiserweight championship was contested in the finals of a recent tournament and we saw Cedric Alexander pick up the win after a long campaign to become champion spanning right back to before Enzo Amore was released and the title became vacant. The crowd appeared only as interested in this match as they normally are with the stars of the 205 Live brand, but the men in the ring gave them a hell of a show regardless. We then saw the Women’s battle royale, billed as the first, but widely known that it isn’t (see Wrestlemania 25). A messy match but with a cool NXT vs WWE gimmick going on for the first half. It came down to Sasha Banks and Bayley and eventually Bayley eliminated Banks and began to celebrate, as did I because I had £10 riding on it, until Naomi reentered the ring as it transpired that she’d not been eliminated… unreal. Naomi won, and I lost some money.
The main show began and with all the pyro, the pageantry, the video packages and the shots of the 70,000+ fans in attendance we were ready for Wrestlemania to really begin. Now, they’d really crammed everyone onto the card this year and there was more than a few multiple person matches, but they all had their place and all delivered. The show kicked off with a Game of Thrones inspired Seth Rollins, a LGBTQ supporting Finn Balor and then of course the Intercontinental champion the Miz, and it’d be Rollins that took home the belt and added his name to the short list of grand slam champions in the WWE. We also had a Fatal Four Way United States title match featuring champion Randy Orton, Bobby Roode, Jinder Mahal and Rusev (who is as hot as hell at the minute with his Rusev Day gimmick). Another athletically impressive match and again we saw the title change hands as Jinder Mahal left as the new US champ. I’ve seen a lot of complaining online about this result but I had him backed from the beginning and was over the moon to see him win. Pro wrestling is still pulling off the evil foreigner gimmick and it still works perfectly, so why not. Keeping within the trend of title swapping between multiple people, the Smackdown Live Tag Team titles were won by the awfully named and repackaged Bludgeon Brothers, also known as Luke Harper and Erick Rowan. They’ve proven a thousand times over how good they are but this new persona isn’t working for me and although the win was possibly the right call, I don;t find myself caring about this match at all and it sits at the bottom of the list for the main show matches.
Moving onto some of the more high-profile matches of which there was loads, we saw The Undertaker return to FINALLY answer the challenge of John Cena in a match barely lasting three minutes, The Deadman won in convincing fashion as he hit Cena with a tombstone and made sense out of everything that had been going on. With a massive build up but no real conclusion it’d become quite confusing, but it is now clear that the whole point behind this story is that they knew the match would have its limitations and constraints so don’t promote something you won’t deliver. By doing it this way, I feel that they actually over delivered. I was impressed by Takers movement and physical condition, the story was exciting and the entrance felt huge. It’s easy to doubt the WWE but they do get it right more often than not. Same goes for the return of Daniel Bryan as they put him into a tag team match with Shane McMahon against Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. By being one half of a team, Bryan could be eased back in whilst giving him to time to re-acclimate and also build further anticipation for his in ring return. The match was fantastic and despite spending most of it feeling terrified for both Shane and Bryan, it all came off great and the right team won, asking the question, whats next for KO & Zayn? Raw maybe? Speaking of Raw, I don’t even know where to start with the Raw Tag Team championship match as we saw The Bar take on Braun Strowman and a mystery partner… You’ll have without doubt seen memes and pictures from this match as Strowman selected a shy young child out of the audience, called Nicholas, who awkwardly joined him in the ring and is now, not even joking, is now one half of the Raw Tag Team champions. I could slag it off and complain that we waited for a huge return or big reveal, but honestly, this was hilarious and is still cracking me up all this time after.
Our “main events” were the bit that drew some ill feeling from the viewers both live and at home as it seemed the wrong match had been scheduled for last and we’d be forced through a predictable Roman Reigns vs Brock Lesnar match to close the show. AJ Styles vs Shinsuke Nakamura for the WWE World Heavyweight championship had been hyped so heavily and yet the WWE didn’t invest in it enough to feature it at the top of the card which immediately pulled a little interest away for me. I lost focus and allowed tiredness to set in and by the time the match came to a close the only thing that woke me up was the shocking result that AJ retained his title. I thought it was an absolute lock that Nakamura would become champion and so what a twist this was, but wait, there’s more. During a celebratory show of respect Nakamura would then low blow Styles and proceed to kick the shit out of him, literally throwing stiff, real boots to the face and head of Styles. It appears we may be seeing a new side to Nakamura and it may be exactly what he needs since struggling to connect properly with fans since his main roster debut a year ago. As if that wasn’t enough, we’d be given the same treatment in the Universal title match which ended the show. The fans were at no point excited about this and the match was predicted correctly at the end of last years Wrestlemania. But nobody, absolutely nobody saw Brock Lesnar winning. In an ugly, brutal match full of power moves, suplexes, throws and power moves we’d see Reigns take six F5’s before being pinned. A ridiculous amount by anyones standard and just like John Cena’s AA, I suggest both Reigns and Lesnar go shopping for new finishers as they clearly don’t work too well. Still, both these matches appeared to lack something last night, but on re-watching them I find that I enjoyed them both a lot more and actually have no issue with either.
HOWEVER, the night belonged to the women of the WWE. They stole the show without doubt and gave everything, including the debut of “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey who adapted to the WWE style of entertainment like a duck to water. Smooth in the ring, as legitimate looking as Brock Lesnar and an absolute natural in the ring. Her opponent Stephanie McMahon gave as good as she go to and they were both backed up by Triple H and Kurt Angle who played their parts wonderfully, including the best performance since his return by Kurt Angle who has looked unnatural and lost in previous matches. The match had every right to be an absolute dumpster fire and yet it prevailed, sitting as one of the best of the whole show. Nia Jax and Alexa Bliss gave an amazing performance featuring a dominant Jax, a cowardly heel in Bliss, a very selfless Mickie James who I assume is dead after the beating she received at ringside, and to cap off a great match, the most authentic, honest emotion of the night from Nia Jax as she won her first Womens title in the WWE. The match of the night by far came from Charlotte Flair and Asuka as they embarked on another dream match of sorts. It’d be Flair’s championship against Asuka’s streak of 914 days undefeated. In another shock move Charlotte Flair would retain her title and push back the challenge of the undefeated Royal Rumble winner, ending the streak at the same time. It was the right call as nobody else would really be viable for ending the streak other than Charlotte, and if she couldn’t do it, then it’d have made more sense to let her stay undefeated forever. The match was technically impressive, featured a ton of great spots and moments and could have been the main event to the entire show. The Womens Evolution may have made its most recent evolution and the men will have to up their game, as the women could be closing the show next year.
Monday Night Raw emanates from New Orleans tonight and there’s a lot to look forward to. Will there be any NXT call ups? What will Ronda Rousey move onto now? Will Lesnar be there and will he be defending his title soon? Are Nicholas and Braun still getting along as the newest tag team on the scene… Only one way to find out.
This time next week every big wrestling fan in the world will be reliving the events of the night before as Wrestlemania 34 emanates from New Orleans, Louisiana and the grandest professional wrestling event of the year will have taken place. The annual extravaganza is always a can’t miss event and always delivers one way or another with its stand out matches, dream feuds and storyline culminations being blended with superstar returns, stunning presentation and entertainment unlike any other. Pro wrestling gets a bad rap for being “fake” but go and sit through the Eastenders omnibus and then come tell me what is clearly more entertaining. Either way, with Wrestlemania being less than a week away and with a stacked out card that has everyone excited and speculating the results, let’s take a look at some of the greatest Wrestlmanias from the past as I present my top 10 favourites…
10. Wrestlemania 31 / 29th March 2015 – Levi’s Stadium, California
The number 10 spot was tricky to figure out and it could have easily been Wrestlemania 12 or even Wrestlemania 18, but this one makes the list due to the fact that the previous year was just such a great story line year. Daniel Bryan had left and returned from injury, The Shield had broken up and gone on a singles path, Orton and Seth Rollins had been heating up for months and Roman Reigns obvious climb to the main event was now in front of us. We saw Bryan take the Intercontinental title, Rollins and Orton tear the house down, Reigns and Brock Lesnar beat the hell out of each other and finally one of the most incredible endings to a Wrestlemania main event when Seth Rollins hijacked the title by cashing in his money in the bank contract. Very memorable and often mentioned as well as being a fun show.
9. Wrestlemania 6 / 1st April 1990 – Skydome, Toronto
As Wrestlemania has evolved and grown through the years it leaves some of the older shows lacking in both athletic performance and show production, but Wrestlemania 6 makes the list. As one of only two that stepped outside of the USA, and one thing this one really stands out for is the main event. If the ranking was for marquee matches, this one would make top 5 easily as Hulk Hogan faced The Ultimate Warrior. The two biggest characters in pro wrestling at the time and also two of the fan favourites would battle for both the WWE title and the Intercontinental title in a real passing of the torch moment as Hogan allowed another to sit atop the main event scene alongside him. The match was epic and feels big even when watching it now. However I remember this one for another reason entirely as it produced one of the loudest crowd reactions of all time when Demolition defeated Andre The Giant and Haku for the Tag Team championships. What a huge roar that still shocks me even now.
8. Wrestlemania 33 / 2nd April 2017 – Camping World Stadium, Orlando
As it stands at this time, the most recent Wrestlemania was a truly great show and certainly deserves mention. With a lineup of matches that made sense and was stacked with not only great feuds but huge stars, it delivered massively from start to finish. Opening with possibly the match of the night featuring AJ Styles vs Shane McMahon delivering technical wrestling, high-flying moves and big spots that got the crowd excited. Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho for the United States title made so much sense as a featured match and was also entertaining, as was Seth Rollins vs Triple H who also told a long story heading towards a match that you could now invest in emotionally. The Hardy Boyz returned for a four-way tag team ladder match and won the Raw tag team titles in a modern classic of a Wrestlemania moment. The issue with this one was length and change of pace. The second half slowed down and became laboured and by the time Goldberg, Brock Lesnar, Randy Orton, Bray Wyatt, Roman Reigns and The Undertaker took to the stage, the crowd both at home and live were tired and worn out and had already been exposed to everything. The second half of the event was easily stolen by the Smackdown Women’s division in pace and creativity.
7. Wrestlemania 28 / 1st April 2012 – Sunlife Stadium, Miami Gardens
After coming off not only a couple of lacklustre Wrestlemanias in 26 & 27, but really a laborious couple of years in the WWE with the PG era beginning and the themed PPV’s kicking off, hopes were sure high for this one and it deliver. 2011 had turned everything around as CM Punk blew up and reignited the entire wrestling world, plus with a main event between The Rock and John Cena that had been set for an entire year, things were looking good. The show kicked off with one hell of a shock as Sheamus defeated World Heavyweight Champion by beating Daniel Bryan in 18 seconds. Everybody has different opinions of this but I remember still, jumping out of my seat when it happened. Some great mid card singles matches, an incredible, technical WWE title match between Punk and Chris Jericho and a Hell In A Cell match between Triple H and The Undertaker with HBK as the referee had already put the show up there as one of the greatest. The main event match between Cena and The Rock delivered massively too and finished off a great show with a “Once In A Lifetime encounter…. until the following year where they did it again.
6. Wrestlemania 25 / 5th April 2009 – Reliant Stadium, Houston
Billed as the 25th anniversary of Wrestlemania despite it not really being at all, this one stands out for everything except its main event. The Money In The Bank ladder match still stands out as one of the best, JBL’s retirement match against Rey Mysterio was a short but memorable point, John Cena vs Edge vs Big Show in a Triple Threat match for the World Heavyweight championship was a lot of fun and had fans gasping when Cena lifted both of them up at the same time and the Hardy Boyz imploded as they faced off one on one in an Extreme Rules match. The card featured a lot of big moments and a lot of memorable events but without doubt, and the reason the is number 6 on the list was the match between Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker. The match lasted almost 31 minutes and was dramatic, fast paced and had a string of big moves which, I remember, had me out of my seat screaming at the screen that they’d done enough, just end the match now. Both veterans did everything they could to create possibly the greatest Wrestlemania match in history which did include a hellacious dive from The Undertaker that could have gone terribly… go check it out if you’ve never seen it. Also, the reason Wrestlemania 25 isn’t higher on the list is that the main event sucked. Boring, slow and we’d seen it all before. A tiring end to a long show.
5. Wrestlemania 14 / 29th March 1998 – Fleet Center, Boston
People often romanticize the Attitude era for the WWE and this particular event seemed to be the start of a huge evolution in this era. The match card reads like a hall of fame induction list and each match was entertaining and meant a lot going forward. The Rock was steadily rising to the heights he’d soon enjoy in a brilliant heel Intercontinental champion, Stone Cold Steve Austin was finally in the main event and vying for the WWE title against Shawn Michaels, The New Age Outlaws would take on Cactus Jack and Chainsaw Charlie in a brutal dumpster match which for a young lad was a match to be repeated over and over, we had a great Light Heavyweight title match, the coming out party Sable and the culmination of some incredible long-term story telling as The Undertaker faced Kane for the first time. Every match was epic and set the tone for one of the most memorable and important years in the business’ history.
4. Wrestlemania 22 / 2nd April 2006 – Allstate Arena, Rosemont
Following the earlier years of the first decade of the new millennium a lot had changed and Wrestlemania in the middle of the decade is almost unrecognisable compared to the beginning of it. A lot of the big stars were gone and new ones were being made. Not only were The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin gone, but Eddie Guerrero had recently passed away, Shawn Michaels was back, Bradshaw is now a former WWE champion and starts like John Cena, Edge, Batista and Randy Orton are now seen as the top players. However, this new direction seemed to have set in by 2006 and this new crop of wrestling talent was legitimized and respected meaning that John Cena vs Triple H was a big main event calibre match, Rey Mysterio was a believable champion and Edge was the perfect opponent for a legend like Mick Foley. We saw Rob Van Dam win an amazing Money In The Bank ladder, The Undertaker defeat a monstrous incarnation of Mark Henry in a casket match, Rey Mysterio beat a vicious and aggressive Kurt Angle as well as a wrestling super heel in Randy Orton, and Shawn Michaels beat the hell out of Vince McMahon. The highlight however was no doubt the aforementioned Hardcore match between Mick Foley and Edge as both took as good as they gave and after 15 minutes of barbed wire, tables, drawing pins and fire we;d all witnessed one of the most violent matches in WWE history and witnessed proof that Foley was still a Hardcore Legend.
3. Wrestlemania 19 / 30th March 2003 – Safeco Field, Seattle
You’d have to look back to realise it but 2003 had, without a doubt, the greatest roster of all time. The main card for Wrestlemania 19 featured Rey Mysterio, Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker, The Big Show, Chris Jericho, Triple H, Booker T, Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit, Hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper, The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Trish Stratus, Brock Lesnar and Kurt Angle. It’s a hall of fame roster and they’re all in there for what would become a supercard. Each match was either one of the best of all time, the best of the night or a career highlight. Booker T vs Triple H for the World Heavyweight championship remains one of my favourite matches ever as Triple H relentlessly and creatively works on the leg of the former 5 time WCW champion. Hogan and Vince McMahon surprised the world by having an amazing Street Fight and Lesnar and Angle main evented with a technical masterpiece. Never before had a Wrestlemania marquee match been so technical and methodical and despite the botched Shooting Star Press by Lesnar (again, go and watch that) it was as close to perfect as a main event could be. A big time for WWE in 2003.
2. Wrestlemania 17 / 1st April 2001 – Reliant Astrodome, Houston
Deemed by many as the greatest Wrestlemania of all time, this one was the one that changed it all for me. After being a casual fan since the early 90’s, this show was mesmerizing from start to finish. Again with a stacked roster, it featured the second ever TLC match between Edge & Christian, The Hardy Boyz and The Dudley Boyz which was the absolute peak of a tag team rivalry that spanned around three years. We saw Triple H vs The Undertaker for the first of three times and it was a hell of a brawl that made its way around the arena. Speaking of fighting around te arena we saw a Hardcore Triple Threat between Kane, The Big Show and the champion at the time Raven and of course we also saw Vince McMahon vs Shane McMahon in a straight up crazy family feud involving every member of the McMahon family as well as Trish Stratus and Mick Foley. We were introduced to Shane’s unbelievable athleticism and mainly the “Coast to Coast” front dropkick move. However this stacked show was all about one thing and that being the main event, The Rock vs Stone Cold for the WWE title. It would be the second time they’d closed a Wrestlemania but by this point they were both mega stars, house hold names and the two biggest fan favourites in the business. The promotion and build up for the match was fantastic and Limp Bizkit’s ‘My Way’ was immortalised along with this feud. The shock ending when Austin was helped by Vince McMahon, his mortal enemy, left us all with a sour taste but not one that could ever dampen the spectacle of the entire event.
1. Wrestlemania 30 / 6th April 2014 – Superdome, New Orleans
AND THE WINNER IS… Wrestlemania 30. Anybody who knows me knows what a huge fan of Daniel Bryan I am and it’s all because of this event. This Wrestlemania once again stood as a huge sign of the times and the stars on top weren’t anything like it was ten years before. This event stood as a launching pad for names like Cesaro, Bray Wyatt, Daniel Bryan and The Shield. The whole point of Wrestling or even any entertainment is to tell a story, capture your imagination and draw you in, and I’ve seen very few examples as strong as this. With the Daniel Bryan saga having run since Summerslam of the previous year, the world was willing the eventual success of the ultimate underdog and after beating Triple H in a great opener and going in to defeat Batista and Randy Orton in the main event, we were left with the image of Daniel Bryan holding bot the WWE Championship and the World Heavyweight Championship high in the air as the crowd chanted “YES, YES, YES” right up until the closing seconds of the show. It was a journey we’d all witnessed and joined him on and after seeing him finally win it all, you could go to bed that night with a smile. On the flip side however, Wrestlemania 30 marked the first loss for The Undertaker at a Wrestlemania ending his 21 match winning streak. The streak had become so mythical that it had become unthinkable that he would ever lose but when faced with Brock Lesnar, the chances were higher than ever, and when Lesnar hit his third F5 I’ll never forget the silence in the room as everybody watching, not only with me, but in the Superdome, realised this could be it, and even when the referee counted to three nobody believed it was true. It was only as the graphic on the screen read 21 – 1 and Lesnar’s music began to play that everybody continued breathing and began asking what the hell we’d just seen. A rollercoaster from start to finish and that’s why it’s my favourite Wrestlemania.
So with less than a week to go I’m looking forward to seeing where Wrestlemania 34 will sit on my list. Let me know what your top 10 looks like and if you agree at all…
For quite some time now, it seems that almost every day, a brand new business, bar, restaurant or venue is popping up in Lincoln. There’s so many shiby new places cropping up that it seems almost impossible getting around to head out and visit them all. However, on the 30th of March (Good Friday 2018) a brand new bar opened up amidst the historical quarter of the city, on the Bailgate, and so began its first day of trading. The BeerHeadz brand which also has bars in Nottingham, Grantham and Retford had begun plans for their Lincoln branch a while back and although they were met with a few setbacks they persevered and eventually opened up at the most opportune time, the first bank holiday weekend of the Spring.
I visited the bar on the early evening on the first day and was instantly surprised by the warm atmosphere, the great look of the place and also how busy it was, and after speaking with staff behind the bar I was told it’d been consistently busy throughout the entire day. Most importantly of course, the selection of beers was exciting and they had everything from IPA’s to Porters, and Lagers to flavoured Craft Ales. They had six beers on cask and nine on the keg and each of them were being tried and tested by a constantly changing local lineup of new customers. I was extremely pleased to see a tropical IPA by Alphabet Brewing Co called Juice Springsteen of which I went back for seconds. For anybody who enjoys interesting, foursome and substantial beer, it is essential that you pop in and check the place out. No Carling, no Fosters and no Carlsberg. It’s ale with a purpose and filled with passion and it shows.
From a very happy customer who will be returning soon, and the rest of Lincoln, we welcome BeerHeadz to Lincoln’s Bailgate as the city continues to evolve and grow in every single way. You can find BeerHeadz in Lincoln at 4 Eastgate, Lincoln, Lincolnshire, LN2 1QA, and find more at http://www.beerheadz.biz or on their Facebook page.