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Odd Timing For Randy Orton WWE Babyface Turn

October 21, 2014 By: Category: Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

We all knew it was coming. The Viper and Seth Rollins have been teasing tension for weeks. Yet nobody thought less than a week before Hell in a Cell and with a hot Dean Ambrose on fire that this would be the week the WWE would turn Orton.

In case you missed it, Rollins turned on Orton this past Monday on RAW. Orton and Rollins teased the issue throughout the show. Finally after the main-event Rollins hit Orton with a curbstomp to solidify the turn and kick Orton out of the Authority, well seemingly anyway. It wasn’t the turn that surprised me, it was the timing.

I just don’t see the logic in turning Orton right now. Is he suddenly over with the fans? Did the fans demand a change? If so I must be living under a rock because I haven’t seen it. Are they weak on babyfaces? Is business way down? Did Orton demand it? I just don’t get it…at least right now anyway.

For starters they have a big show on Sunday. Now you go into Sunday with fans more interested in seeing a match that isn’t even advertised. The match is Orton vs. Rollins and the fastest we will get that is TLC, barring a RAW giveaway. It makes Ambrose vs. Rollins seem insignificant as well as the entire show. Sure the match should be great, probably a match of the year candidate, but to casual fans it an obstacle to the payoff they want to see.

Speaking of Ambrose, what does this do to his push? Ambrose has been pushed hard since Roman Reigns went down as the number two babyface. He is hot and something new and the fans seem to like him. Does anyone think that Orton is taking a backseat to Ambrose? This is an obvious sign that the company has little confidence in Ambrose as the number two banana on Cena’s side.

And speaking of Roman Reigns, what does this do to the heir apparent? The plans have been to push Reigns as the next heir apparent to John Cena’s throne. Does Orton take a backseat to Reigns? He should if Reigns is the future but I am not so confident that the WWE brass will allow it. Orton has always been protected at the expense of others, and this could do some real damage to Reigns moving forward.

I would not be surprised to see some kind of a Reigns heel turn when he comes back. I could easily see a feud with him and Ambrose, playing off of the real-life story of Ambrose taking Reigns’ spot while he was out. Now that would make sense and at least even up the sides a bit. Without a Reigns turn, you have a heel side headlined by Rollins and Rusev and a very part-time Brock Lesnar at this point. Take Brock out of it and you have problems.

Finally, where does this leave Daniel Bryan when he returns? Granted, his return is undetermined at this point and you can’t plan for something that you don’t know is coming. Yet at some point he will come back and he will likely be super over when he comes back (absence makes a fan’s heart grow fonder). So now you are talking about Orton, Cena, Ambrose, and Reigns jockeying for position against a heel roster of Rollins and Rusev? Excuse me if I temper my excitement.

Again I don’t think anyone cares one way or the other about what side of the ring Orton stands on. I just think the timing is poor and it opens up a lot of questions, most which have predictable answers that won’t sit happy with most fans.

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Chris Jericho Talks Dean Ambrose, WWE Run, and Vince McMahon

October 20, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Chris Jericho may gone from WWE rings but he has not left the WWE Universe. The former undisputed champion is making the media rounds promoting his new book and has some interesting thoughts on his feud with Bray Wyatt, Vince McMahon, and more.

Jericho was a recent guest on Turnbuckle Weekly with Chuck Carroll. He made a great appearance as usual in promotion of his new book “The Best In The World At What I Have No Idea”. Jericho was asked about his recent run in the WWE as well as past relationships with key WWE personnel and offered up some interesting insight as expected.

Jericho was asked about earning Vince McMahon’s respect and had this to say about the boss man.

“Once you gain that respect from Vince he expects it and wants that feedback. He’s surrounded by a lot of ‘yes men’ that don’t want to get into debates. When I’m questioning him, it’s never disrespectfully. I never say this is a stupid idea or you’re an idiot or a moron, because that’s not the way you get things done. I will say, “Vince, I think we can do this better” or “what is it you want from this, because I don’t understand it?” Or sometimes, it’s just blatantly “no, this is the way we’re doing it because I’m the boss and you’re not” and you have to accept that and respect that as well.

Things aren’t always rosy with the boss. Jericho and McMahon have been at odds several times over the course of his long WWE run.

Yes, there is a lot of confrontations with Vince, but that’s because there’s a mutual respect. And some of them get out of control,” he said. “It’s only because both of us respect each other, trust each other, and believe each other. It doesn’t mean I’m always going to like the things he does or the things he wants to do. And it doesn’t mean that he’s going to like the things that I do and the way that I act and react to things either.

Jericho appeared on my good buddy Brian Fritz’s Between the Ropes podcast recently as well. Jericho offered up some great analysis on his recent WWE run.

The Bray Wyatt cage match in Baltimore and then the Randy Orton – Night of Champions match in Nashville I thought were two…whatever a five star match is. Two really really really good matches that I would put on my list of all-time favorites. And that was good to know because as the years go by, I feel just as good as I ever did. When I go back I’m mentally prepared and I think I still work up to a level I set for myself. But when you go out there and actually do some of those things and actually get the feedback from the live audience that you know you can get and from the critics. The fact that my last match was the best match on the pay-per-view against Randy Orton, I take great pride in that. And if I never work again, I know I’ll always have that. It’s still cool to contribute at the highest level and the day — and Brian, I’m not exaggerating about this — the day I feel I can’t compete at the highest level I set for myself and can’t steal the show, I will not do it again. Throw it on the record, I’m the one guy who can say that. I’m sure Shawn Michaels could say that too. You will not see me in the ring again as a parody of myself or anything other than the absolute best and can go toe-to-toe with anybody else on the roster.

Finally, a veteran like Jericho knows good talent when he sees it. He told Brian about an up and coming WWE star that he thinks is the best bet to be WWE’s franchise player of the future.

I saw Dean when he first started and there was something different about him. He has that Jeff Hardy ‘X’ factor. There’s just something about him that you can’t push on somebody. You can teach them how to take a bump, give them a look, give them wins but certain guys have a certain something about them that you know is going to take them to the next level no matter what. Dean definitely has that and in my opinion – I’m not the god of everything but I have a pretty good track record of picking guys – I think he’s the closest that they have right now to being the next face of the WWE. I don’t think that’s as important now with the Network and less emphasis on pay-per-views and that sort of thing. But as far as a guy who can come in there as the top babyface, I think Dean’s your best best right now.
Don’t let Roman Reigns hear that.

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Fantasy Football Week 7 Sleepers

October 17, 2014 By: Category: Fantasy Football, NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

If you strictly follow the experts you are missing out on some serious fantasy football studs. It’s easy to play the guys ranked 1-20 but you are missing out on some big impact players. That is why I am here to give you some sleepers you can plug into your lineup and make your competition look foolish.

Last week was probably my worst in predicting sleepers. My Malcom Floyd pick was a nice hit as he had a big game against the Raiders as predicted. Bishop Sanke should have had a bigger game but he was vulture by Jackie Battle. Tony Romo had an 18 point game which was better than expected in Seattle. Chris Ivory’s one point was embarrassing for both he and I. Austin Davis looked good early but the 49ers played much better as the game went on than I expected. I love Mike Evans going forward as I do Jordan Reed.

As always I will base my sleepers on ESPN’s expert rankings for Week 7. I’ll do my best to make up this week for Ivory’s one point debacle. Here are how my sleeper picks did for Week 6.

Tony Romo 18
Austin Davis 13
Malcom Floyd 16
Chris Ivory 1
Bishop Sanke 6
Mike Evans 11
Jordan Reed 9

Quarterbacks

Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals - If there is one theme I love to look for in a sleeper it is the revenge game. The revenge game is often overlooked by the experts yet there are plenty of sleepers that fly under the radar in these situations (go see what Steve Smith did to the Panthers earlier this season). Palmer is one of them. Palmer is getting his first crack at his former team, the Oakland Raiders. While Palmer’s breakup with the Raiders wasn’t as messy as his breakup with the Bengals, there are still hard feelings here. I can guarantee you that the team will want to make sure that Palmer makes a statement and you are crazy not to get on that bandwagon and play him this week if you can. Palmer is ranked 11 on ESPN which is a little low in my opinion.

Brian Hoyer, Cleveland Browns - Brian Hoyer is ranked 18 this week by ESPN’s experts. The Jaguars are ranked 27th against fantasy QBs and up until last week have given up one touchdown per game. Hoyer has thrown at least 1 TD in every game this season. The Jags have a 12-1 TD to Interception ratio against QBs. The numbers don’t lie. This is a great spot for Hoyer and I would be shocked if he put up less than 2 TDs in Jacksonville.

Running Backs

Reggie Bush, Detroit Lions – Like Palmer, Bush has a revenge game ahead of him on Sunday. Reggie will be hosting his old team, the New Orleans Saints. Bush has not played the Saints in a regular season game since leaving the team in 2011. Again like the Palmer situation, you better believe that the Lions will do everything they can to give Bush opportunities to score. That and the fact that the Saints have been absolutely terrible on the road make for a big day from the former Saint’s draft pick. Bush is #22 which may be fair but I think he will wind up in the top 15 this week.

Bernard Pierce, Baltimore Ravens - This is a gut feeling here. Pierce is the 38th ranked RB this week so I am digging deep for a RB sleeper. Like Hoyer, this one is a numbers game and the Falcons are the worst defense against fantasy RBs. The big question is who do you trust in Baltimore? I think Pierce gets some short yardage work in the red zone and racks up double digits on single digit carries.

Wide  Receivers

James Jones, Oakland Raiders - Jones is not even ranked in the top 50 this week among ESPN experts. He has a great matchup against an Arizona Cardinals defense that is not nearly as good against wide receivers as it is against running backs. The Cardinals give up almost 28 points per game to FF wide receivers. I know that Andre Holmes is the hot pick right now among Oakland receivers but I think it is Jones that is the beneficiary of this enticing matchup Sunday.

Cecil Shorts, Jacksonville Jaguars - Shorts is a tough one because he always has potential yet the experts are always worried about him finishing games and rightfully so. I am willing to take that chance this week. Shorts has a ton of upside here against the Browns. Shorts put up a TD and 63 yards last year against this Browns D. He had a strong week last week going over 100 yards and the Browns have given up 5 TDs to wide receivers in five games. I love him this week and the good news here is that you m,ay be able to pluck him right off of the wire in 10 team leagues. Shorts is ranked 41 on this week’s ESPN board and that is just flat out ridiculous.

Tight Ends

Dwayne Allen, Indianapolis Colts - I have to admit that I was surprised to see Allen ranked 13th among tight ends this week. The Colts are playing the worst defense against tight ends this week in the Cincinnati Bengals. Allen has 4 TDs in six games and is turning into a favorite red zone target for Andrew Luck. The Bengals have given up three TDs to tight ends in just the last two weeks alone. A hot Andrew Luck and a generous defense to TEs make for a big Dwayne Allen day.

Jared Cook, St. Louis Rams - I am going to give you a second tight end I really like this week. Jared Cook. We have heard his name as a sleeper TE for the last three seasons and every season we are disappointed. This season is different and Austin Davis loves him. Don’t let the Seahawks scare you here. They have given up seven, yes seven TDs to tight ends in five games which makes them the most generous team to TEs in fantasy football. On top of that, Cook put up a TD in their last game against the Seahawks. I love him this week as a sleeper. Cook comes in at 14 on this week’s ESPN board.

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Stone Cold Steve Austin Shoots Down WWE Comeback Rumors

October 17, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

The Internet went crazy last week with comments made by Stone Cold Steve Austin about a return. Many interpreted those comments made by Austin on his podcast to a return to the pro wrestling ring, specifically WrestleMania 31. While that may still be possible down the line, Austin is quick to temper your expectations for 31.

Austin commented on those rumors on a recent Steve Austin Podcast. Austin took calls and a caller asked him flat out about the comeback rumors. Austin was flattered by the comments but was quick to clarify his statements. Austin said that while he did say he was training for a comeback, he was referring to training for a comeback at Gold’s Gym. Austin said he was training at a hole-in-the-wall gym to get ready to get back to Gold’s. Austin said that he was getting in shape for a big project he has coming up in February. Austin also said that he has no desires to take bumps and has no time to train for a match.

But wait, that wasn’t all he said. Austin threw in a little teaser about the comeback wrestling fans have been waiting for. Austin was asked by the same caller about wrestling Brock Lesnar. Austin mentioned that if he were to come back (to the ring) that Brock Lesnar would be looking up at the lights for a 1-2-3 and he’d drop him on that stack of dimes he calls a neck. Austin cut the quick promo in Stone Cold fashion and while he was having fun with it, it was sure a fun teaser to a program that could be a lot of fun.

Austin has never shut the door
on a return to the wrestling ring. Austin has said several times that if everything aligned itself perfectly that he’d consider it.

“I’d consider anything if the perfect situation or opportunity arose and it would be more than a million-dollar question. I don’t want to sit here and promote a match, sell a match or talk about making a comeback. The dirt sheets, or whatever you call them, and I talk to Dave Meltzer and Wade Keller all the time and they’re nice guys and I would consider them friends. I see Dave at almost every MMA fight, but I don’t want to stir any pots or hint or tease anything.

People get their panties in a wad and say, “Stone Cold, either do it or not.” So, anything can happen, but I’m not going to endorse, promote, sell or tease anything in regards to a match.”

There was a rough plan last year at WrestleMania 30 for a Steve Austin vs. Triple H match would have tied into a feud with Trips and Stephanie feuding with Vince McMahon over control of the company. Obviously that never happened and while I can’t imagine Austin coming back for that, he must have been warm to it for the plan to be on the books. There were also lots of rumors about Austin wrestling CM Punk at WrestleMania 29 due to promos shot by Paul Heyman’s production company for WWE 2K13. Of course none of those matches ever came to fruition and it would appear that talks never got serious for either bout.

The Brock Lesnar match is interesting. Paul Heyman teased it on Austin’s podcast and did a very good job of selling Austin on it in under three minutes. WrestleMania 32 will be in Dallas at Texas Stadium in 2016. There are already reports that the WWE is gearing up for something big on that show in hopes of setting some kind of attendance record. I can’t think of anything bigger than Austin coming back for one last match.

Regarding a Brock vs. Austin match in 2016, I can’t think of anything bigger the WWE could put together for 32. That said, Brock’s contract is set to expire around WrestleMania 31 so he may or may not even be an option. I have heard rumblings of another Austin vs. Rock match but I think that is just pure guesswork as opposed to a plan. Depending upon where someone like Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, or even Seth Rollins are at that stage of the game I think you could always consider them, although they would have to be in a much better spot than they are today. I suppose CM Punk could always be a dark horse but I think you have a better chance of seeing Austin back in a WWE ring than Punk at this point.

The door may not be shut but I think 32 is it for Austin. He’ll be 51 heading into Texas Stadium and while he still looks to be in tremendous shape, I can’t see him trying to come back past 51.

Hey, there is always the Royal Rumble. Austin already told Vince last year if he is looking for a guy than to give him a call. It’s better than nothing!

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10 Planned WWE Title Changes That Never Happened

October 15, 2014 By: Category: lists, WWE | Pro Wrestling

Booking the WWE world championship is never easy and even the best laid plans can hit some pitfalls. I thought it would be fun to take a look back at 10 guys who while planned to win the WWE world title, failed to secure the gold around their waists.

Winners and losers may be predetermined in the WWE but not all ideas come together as planned. Back in different eras, Vince McMahon Sr. and Jr. would identify their future WWE world champion months, sometimes even years ahead of time. Yet for a multitude of reasons those plans shifted between the pencil and the bell. Here is a list of 10 planned WWE world championship title changes that never happened as scheduled.

Bill Watts defeating Bruno Sammartino for the WWWF championship in 1965 - The idea behind this blog came from this recent revelation on the Jim Ross podcast. Ross interviewed Watts and Watts claimed that he was scheduled to beat Bruno Sammartino for the title in what would have been 1965. Watts and Bruno had a red hot feud during this time period. Watts claims the office changed plans when he got in hot water for hitting a fan in a riot. Watts said that Vince Sr. told him to get out of the territory to avoid any legal heat. I had never heard this story before and it seems a bit hard to believe knowing how popular Bruno was at the time. Also, Bruno didn’t drop the belt for another six years. That leads me to think that there was never a plan for Bruno to drop the title. To that point, I see no incentive for Bill to make that up 50 years later. So who knows?

Batista defeating Randy Orton 2014 – You need to look no further than just a few months back for a case of a planned title change getting nixed by the WWE. The plan coming into 2014 was to bring Batista back with a big push, including a run with the WWE world title. The plan would have had Batista defeat Randy Orton at WrestleMania 30. Enter the YES Movement! A couple of circumstances dictated a change. CM Punk walking out and the media attention garnered by a Yes chant at the Michigan State vs. Ohio State basketball game forced the WWE’s hand. The WWE changed course and it was Daniel Bryan who left New Orleans with the WWE world title.

Eddie Guerrero defeating Batista in 2002 – Eddie’s story is a tragedy but one little known tidbit about this tragedy is that Eddie was booked to win the WWE world heavyweight title. The booking had Eddie penciled in to defeat Batista at the next SmackDown tapings, making him a two-time world champion. Batista actually wrote about this in his book as he was supposed to drop the title in a Triple Threat Match vs. Eddie and Randy Orton. Sadly Eddie never knew about this planned championship run.

Lex Luger defeating Yokozuna 1994 – There are actually two rumors surrounding Luger and Yoko. One is that Lex was supposed to win the title at WrestleMania 10. Luger has denied that rumor and said he knew in advance that he wasn’t winning. The second is that the Lex Express was supposed to leave SummerSlam with the title. That is true according to Luger. Luger revealed in an interview that Vince changed his mind after several of his peers threatened to walk out. Remember, this was the era of the Clique so that is quite possible. Most believe that Vince felt Luger wasn’t getting over at the level he hoped, thus plans changed. Regardless, it does appear that there was indeed a plan in place to put the WWE title around the waist of the Total Package.

Ted Dibiase defeating Randy Savage to win the WWE championship in 1988 - This one isn’t much of a secret as DiBiase and many others have talked about these plans on shoot interviews and podcasts. The original plans for WrestleMania 4 were to have DiBiase win and Savage chase him for the title throughout the summer. Hulk Hogan was leaving to film No Holds Barred and the thought was that Savage as the babyface on top chasing would sustain attendance. Nobody is quite clear on why plans change although some blame the Honkytonk Man. Savage was originally booked to beat HTM on the Main Event NBC special for the intercontinental title. HTM refused to do the job which brought Vince McMahon and the other bookers back to the drawing board. It is highly likely that if Savage won the I-C title as planned, DiBiase would have won the WWF title as originally planned. Regardless, I think things turned out for the best here with Savage winning and starting a year-long build to one of the most anticipated WrestleMania headliners in history.

Alberto Del Rio defeating Edge 2011 – Alberto was the flavor of the month leading into WrestleMania 27. Del Rio won the Royal Rumble and was the hottest heel in the company. Numerous reports indicated that he was a favorite of Vince McMahon. Del Rio was booked to win the WWE world heavyweight title at Mania 27 by defeating Edge. The creative team changed that decision because it is alleged that they thought it was too predictable. Unfortunately I don’t believe Del Rio never recovered the momentum he had going into Mania 27 for a variety of reasons.

Bret Hart defeating Hulk Hogan 1993 – This tale has become legendary although Hogan has denied in several interviews. Unfortunately what Hulk can’t deny is that many, including Dave Meltzer saw posters advertising the match for SummerSlam 1993 only to have the match mysteriously disappear off of the books. If you remember, Hulk defeated Yokozuna at WrestleMania 9 and lost it rather quickly (although today that would be an eternity) at King of the Ring. According to Bret, the plan was for Hogan to drop the belt to Bret at SummerSlam but refused feeling that Bret was too small. Vince reacted with the quick switch at K.O.R. and Hulk took off.

Booker T defeating Triple H 2002 – The stage was set and the plan was for Booker T to beat the Game for the WWE world heavyweight title at WrestleMania 19. While I have never seen this confirmed anywhere, one story accuses Trips of lobbying the office to change a planned finish which would have seen Hunter drop the belt to Booker at Mania 19. It worked and allegedly the title change was squashed. Another theory is that once the WWE signed Goldberg they changed plans thinking ahead to a Triple H vs. Goldberg feud so who knows.

Vader defeating Shawn Michaels 1996 – From several things I have heard and read, this title change was planned on two different occasions. The first was SummerSlam. According to rumors, Shawn Michaels just outright refused to drop the title fearing he would not get it back. Remember with Sid and Undertaker in the picture, that was probably a valid concern. The other planned title change was rumored to take place at Survivor Series. Shawn also got that one nixed and the match turned into Sid vs. Shawn which turned into a title change anyway. Vader never confirmed the details but has confirmed in interviews that he was promised a WWE title win twice when he signed with the company.

Steve Austin defeating Bret Hart 1998 - I was reluctant to go with this one yet I saw this rumored in a number of different places so I caution you that it may be an urban legend. However, there does appear to be some kind of working plan going into WrestleMania 14 for a Austin vs. Bret title change. According to what I have read and heard, the plan was for Bret Hart to go into Mania with the WWE title and return the favor from 13 to Austin by putting him over for the title. Now of course as you know plans drastically changed when a) Austin broke his neck and b) more importantly, Bret left to go to WCW at the end of 1997. This was probably on the books at some point but I have to think that plans played out much better in everyone’s favor with the actual booking of the 14 main-event with Mike Tyson.

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WWE Make Changes To Hell In A Cell 2014 Card

October 14, 2014 By: Category: Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

With two weeks to go the WWE are reshuffling the Hell in a Cell card deck. The planned card has been moved around allowing for more promotion and the usual indecisive booking we are used to seeing from WWE creative.

As evident on Monday Night RAW this week, plans have changed for the upcoming WWE Hell in a Cell pay-per-view. A scheduled card featuring John Cena vs. Dean Ambrose in a NHB contract on a pole match was switched around with WWE fans getting 1/3 of the main-event early, allowing the WWE to focus on promoting scheduled matches fans can count on seeing.

Dean Ambrose defeated John Cena on Monday night to win the match and advance to a Hell in a Cell main-event against rival Seth Rollins. The match was originally scheduled to take place at H.I.A.C. with the winner meeting Rollins later that night while the loser would meet Randy Orton in a separate Hell in a Cell match. Now that those matches are locked in, the WWE can focus promotional efforts in those directions.

Dave Meltzer explained the recent changes on his F4WOnline.com podcast. Meltzer reported that giving the Cena vs. Ambrose match away early was a last-minute decision. Meltzer reported that the change was made to allow the WWE to promote scheduled matches as opposed to promoting a card with no locked in main-event. Meltzer also reports that the pole stipulation added to Cena vs. Ambrose was made to avoid either guy taking an actual pin.

Meltzer also speculated that TLC could see a Four-Way main-event with Seth Rollins vs. John Cena vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Randy Orton with the winner getting a WWE world championship match against Brock Lesnar at the Royal Rumble. Plans are currently in place to book Cena vs. Lesnar at the Rumble. My hunch and this is purely a guess is that with Ambrose’s momentum, plans could change with Ambrose going into the Rumble to challenge Lesnar and Cena wrestling Rollins at the Rumble in a singles match.

I thought from the beginning that they should have went with a Rollins vs. Ambrose Hell in a Cell headliner. I think it gives both guys a boost with the perception that they are headliners and it’s a match that could deliver far better than any of the other options. It will be a real test in my opinion of how over both of these guys truly are. It’s hard to judge by social media reaction as that is where their fan base is. A strong number could go a long way in determining how Ambrose and Rollins are booked going into 2015 and beyond.

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TNA Reportedly Make A Play For CM Punk

October 14, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

TNA Wrestling are not ready to roll over and play dead yet. With no TV deal in place past 2014, the company recently made a bold move. A move was made that could have majorly shaken up the pro wrestling landscape.

According to a new report in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, TNA made a play to bring back CM Punk. Dave Meltzer reports that TNA were hoping to bring Punk in and use him as a chip in closing a television deal.

For whatever this is worth, TNA, through an intermediary who is friends with C.M. Punk, made a play for him just like they did for Alberto Del Rio several weeks back. The idea pitched was a huge deal to be the top star of the company and money similar to Hogan, with the idea he could be their flagship guy and if he signed now, could help them broker a stronger television deal.

Meltzer reports that Punk declined the offer and has no interest in returning to pro wrestling whatsoever. The timing of the move comes a few months before TNA’s extension with Spike TV is scheduled to run out. You have to give TNA some credit for going for it, yet I can’t seriously believe that they thought they had a real shot.

This isn’t the first move that TNA has made recently at an ex-WWE superstar. TNA reportedly reached out to Alberto Del Rio immediately after his contract was terminated with the WWE. Del Rio reportedly turned down their offer as well. I don’t know if these are desperation moves, moves simply for public relation purposes, or some kind of delusional strategy on the part of Dixie and company.

What is interesting to me is that they let Sting and Hulk Hogan walk due to money issues, yet were willing to spend even more money on Punk. Meltzer reports that Punk’s deal was for more money than Hulk which would have likely made him the highest-paid star in TNA history. I’d also assume that Del Rio’s figure was somewhere in Hulk’s range. TNA could have kept Hulk and used him in these television negotiations, yet expenses were cut. Hogan could have quite possibly got a better deal to return to WWE anyway, but they didn’t even make a serious play according to reports.

I speculated months ago that TNA could make a run at Punk. I thought that TNA or even ROH could make a deal with Punk which gave him ownership in the company as part of the deal. It would have been a one-of-a-kind deal in 2014, although points in a territory were common place back in the territory deals in regards to wrestler deals. I envisioned a scenario where Punk would be a player-owner, similar to what Paul Heyman wanted (booker-owner) but that isn’t happening.

I am not sure what TNA felt they could offer Punk that he couldn’t have gotten if he stayed in the WWE. A better schedule for sure, but the pay couldn’t have been comparable. Plus, Punk is astute and well aware of TNA’s television troubles. Imagine the egg on Punk’s face if he did agree to a deal with TNA and they couldn’t reach a television deal for 2015.

It’s hard to rationalize what TNA’s real motive was here. Why would a company make a high-dollar offer to someone like Punk with no deal in place? I would think that their time would be better suited trying to get a deal done as opposed to chasing an elusive prize they had virtually zero shot of signing.

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Kurt Angle Reportedly Turns Down WWE Return

October 13, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Kurt Angle is currently the hottest free agent in pro wrestling. Angle has talked openly about a return to the WWE yet numerous reports have indicated that the E were not interested. That may not be the case after all according to a new report.

Mike Johnson over at PWInsider.com broke a story over the weekend regarding Angle and the WWE. According to Johnson’s sources it was the WWE that wanted Angle back and Angle who turned them down. Johnson reports that Angle wants a part-time deal yet the WWE offered a full-time (on the condition he can pass a physical) deal which Angle turned down. Deal or no deal, this does indicate that Vince McMahon has softened his stance on Angle returning.

This is big news on a few levels. One, it had been reported elsewhere that McMahon did not want Angle back. Those reports actually quoted Vince as telling sources that he didn’t want “an Olympic hero dying on his watch.” According to Johnson’s report, Vince must be convinced that Angle has turned his life around and those past skeletons are buried deep in a closet.

That said, it is ironic that the WWE would only extend Kurt Angle a full-time deal. At Angle’s age and injury history, there is no way that the company could seriously think that Angle’s body could survive a full-time schedule. Regarding Angle’s recovery, it also shows a gross lack of sensitivity to his struggles as a full-time schedule would surely end badly for Angle. It just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense in this situation.

I can understand the WWE being hesitant about offering a part-time deal. What is the point of investing television time into someone who isn’t going on the road? However, I think limiting Angle to television is perfectly fine in this day and age of the WWE Network. The house shows are important, but not as important. Angle could even go on the road as a special referee, M.C., etc.

Dave Meltzer gave his spin on this on his most recent F4Wonline.com podcast. Meltzer believes that if they did indeed give him the ultimatum of going full-time or no deal that they may have been doing it to save face, knowing that he could never survive a full time schedule. Meltzer doesn’t even know if he can go part-time at this stage in his career.

I think that Vince or Triple H need to close this deal immediately. Angle is still one of the best performers in the business. Even outside of the ring the man is an asset. He has more personality than 90% of the WWE characters. He is recognizable and yes he is still an Olympic hero. With all of the problems of star-power depth, the WWE would get an instant star back that could make an impact immediately.

At the same time it is a business. Vince McMahon nor Triple H are dumb guys. They see the writing on the wall. Angle is a free agent with only one serious bidder in TNA Wrestling. That serious bidder has no television deal as things stand today when 2014 comes to a close. There is not a whole lot of leverage that Angle has here. I can see why they’d play hardball but at the end of the day bringing Kurt Angle helps everyone.

Angle would fit in perfectly in the WWE. He could have programs with Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, Daniel Bryan, Brock Lesnar, and even John Cena that would not only tear the house down, but possibly bring some more fans back into the fold. There is a ton of potential here and with few options heading into 2015, part-time or not, Angle would be a welcome addition back to the WWE in my opinion.

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Fantasy Football Week 6 Sleepers

October 11, 2014 By: Category: Fantasy Football, NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

It’s easy to tell fantasy football players to start Matt Forte or Aaron Rodgers but you aren’t going to find them on your bench or waiver wire. That is why I look at the sleepers. They may get no respect from ESPN but I am here to give them their props and recommend some savvy starts.

Unfortunately due to scheduling I had to take a break from the sleepers last week and wasn’t able to get a blog in on time. However, I have done fairly well the first few weeks with my sleepers. They haven’t all been hits but there haven’t been many misses. Of course it’s impossible to account for injuries so barring unforeseen circumstances, here are several sleepers that you need to give some serious consideration to starting this week if you need help.

The theme of this week’s sleeper list is reputation. A lot of guys are being devalued simply due to the reputation of defenses. However, a closer look at the numbers will tell you that these defenses are more bark than bite and those reputations open up some valuable opportunities for you. For consistency I am comparing my sleeper ranks to the overall ESPN rankings of Week 6.

Quarterbacks

Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys – Romo is the 15th ranked QB by ESPN this week and I think that is ridiculous. Don’t be scared by this Seattle Seahawks defense. It’s good but it is not nearly as good as its reputation, especially against Tony Romo. Romo has played very well historically against the Seahawks. As a matter of a fact, Romo has thrown at least 1 TD in every game against the Seahawks. Going back further he has scored over 23 fantasy points in his last 3 of 4 games against the Seahawks. The Seahawks are ranked a mere 22nd against fantasy QBs. Kirk Cousins was even able to throw 2 TDs against this D. The attention paid to DeMarco Murray should open up all kinds of opportunity for the Cowboys QB on Sunday.

Austin Davis, St. Louis Rams – Even more ridiculous than Romo’s 15th spot is ESPN ranking Davis as the 20th best QB this week. That is just insane! Austin Davis is a guy who probably isn’t on your fantasy radar yet he should be. This kid has put up over 50 FF points over the last two weeks thanks to a struggling running game and disrespectful defenses. This week they play a San Francisco 49ers defense that like the Seahawks, are highly overrated. Thanks to an inept Nick Foles, the 49ers are ranked 4th against FF QBs but that number is misleading. They gave up 7 passing TDs the first three weeks and have struggled on the road. Davis is going to need to put this team on his shoulders Monday thanks to an injured Zac Stacy and I expect big numbers on Monday.

Running Backs

Bishop Sanke, Tennessee Titans – Sanke is the 27th ranked RB this week on the ESPN board. He is being highly undervalued in my opinion but it is not without merit. The lack of commitment to Sanke has hurt expectations but this week should be different. Shonn Greene is hurt and even better, they play the very sliceable Jacksonville Jaguars defense. The Titans have to give Sanke more carries this week and while the Jags don’t give up rushing TDs, they give up a ton of yardage.

Chris Ivory, New York Jets – This is a tough call. Ivory is the 23rd ranked RB this week and while I understand it, I think there is bigtime sleeper potential here. The idea that the Jets will need to throw to keep up is highly logical. However, the Broncos have a very poor rushing defense. They are 27th against RBs and have given up at least 1 TD in each of their last three games. The Broncos have had one road game thus far and I think that is going to come into play here. I think the Jets are going to surprise the Broncos and a guy like Ivory is the type of RB who can really punish this defense through four quarters. The Broncos don’t give up a lot of yards but they do give up TDs and for a red zone guy like Ivory, that’s all you need to know.

Wide Receivers

Malcolm Floyd, San Diego Chargers – I am reaching really, really high here as Floyd comes in as the 48th ranked WR this week. I am basing this a lot on player history. Floyd has owned the Raiders scoring 3 TD in 4 games including a 213 yard bonanza. I am not as convinced as most that the Chargers are going to trust Brandon Oliver. I think they keep it in the air and look for Floyd in the red zone. Floyd has been fairly dependable as a WR2/3 and for a guy ranked 48th, he should highly exceed expectations.

Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Evans is another longshot here but that is the point of a sleeper isn’t it? Evans ranks 49th on the ESPN rankings and boy do I think there is some big value here. The Baltimore Ravens are living off of a reputation here that is undeserved. Are they are a great defense overall? Absolutely but against WRs, they have been eaten up alive. They are stingy on TDs but they do give up yards which overall has totaled up as an average of 23.2 points per game given up to WRs. With Vincent Jackson hurt and a hot Mike Glennon at the helm, I think Evans surprises a lot of fantasy players on Sunday.

Tight Ends

Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins – Reed ranks 11th this week among TE projections. As of today he is questionable although the majority of reports indicate he will play. There is certainly reason to be conservative because Reed hasn’t played since the first week. However, Reed is playing an Arizona Cardinals team that have been decimated by tight ends. The big question here is whether you expect Reed to finish the game. If you do, you have to roll him out against this generous defense.

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New WWE WrestleMania 31 Card Rumors

October 10, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

The WrestleMania 31 rumor mill is back in action after a big report in this week’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter. According to the report, the WWE have a few ideas in place for the big event, one of them being a match you probably didn’t see coming.

Dave Meltzer has the latest report and offers speculation on the WrestleMania 31 card. Meltzer says that the WWE are confident that they have their top matches in place. While nothing is 100% confirmed, Meltzer speculates on three that could be coming to your WWE Network in March for the price of $9.99.

The biggest surprise is his speculation on a return to Mania of The Rock. The Rock’s appearances this week have gotten people talking, but it is his taped segment on SmackDown that caught Meltzer’s attention. Meltzer speculates that The Rock could wind up wrestling Triple H at the 2015 event. Meltzer is just as surprised about his own revelation as you probably are reading it here.

I did see the segment that will air this Friday on SmackDown 15 and I am not so sure that I agree with Dave. Dave’s logic is that they wouldn’t have been teasing the match if there wasn’t something to it. However, the takeaway I came away with from that segment is that they were teasing it for WrestleMania 32 in Texas Stadium. Triple H kept referring to 100,000 people and a big stadium. Why they would tease it this far in advance is anyone’s guess. I could also be over-thinking it here, but Triple H mentioned a large crowd several times which leads me to think it is more than coincidence.

The idea most of us had heard about for the last three years was for a Rock vs. Brock Lesnar match at WrestleMania. The match continues to get delayed and after Rock suffered serious injuries against John Cena at 29, I am starting to think that he has no interest in a match that physical. The money is certainly on Lesnar vs. Rock and not Rock vs. Hunter. I think the angles and build up would be fun but I just don’t know how many people are clamoring to see that match one more time.

To that point, Meltzer speculates that the WWE may make a big play to get Stone Cold Steve Austin back in the ring at WrestleMania 32 in Texas. That would certainly make sense, especially when you have such a big stadium to fill. There were numerous reports that indicated the WWE made a play to get him last year for a match with Triple H. The year before we all heard about the Punk vs. Austin Mania rumors. I would think at Austin’s age it is Texas Stadium or never for the Texas Rattlesnake.

Brock Lesnar is still penciled in to be wrestling Roman Reigns in a WWE championship defense. I wouldn’t count on it. I am watching a changing of the guard right now and that change is Reigns to Ambrose. I think by the time we get to Mania that the WWE will have no choice but to swap Ambrose into this spot. He is hot and unless things change he is only going to get hotter. I would be shocked if Amrbose isn’t winning the Royal Rumble and going to WrestleMania.

John Cena has two interesting options according to Meltzer. Hulk Hogan is politicking hard for a Cena match, although I don’t see it happening. I think Hulk has had too many back surgeries and is too old to be placed in that spot. Rusev is the other option and it’s hard to disagree with that one. I could see some swapping here with Rusev vs. Reigns and Cena wrestling someone else but the Rusev match could be pretty big if they can keep him hot until Mania.

Meltzer also reports that there was a plan in place to go with Batista vs. Triple H although he speculates that the plan is dead. I wouldn’t be so sure. I could see them going in this direction with Rock vs. Hunter booked for next year. Meltzer reports that the Batista vs. Hunter match and series would lead to Batista’s retirement. I could easily see that with Batista transitioning to Hollywood full-time.

Where this leaves Daniel Bryan and Seth Rollins is a big question. I would imagine if Lesnar does hold the belt through Mania that Rollins would be Reigns’ first challenger. I couldn’t see them beating Reigns that fast which begs the question, what is the plan for Rollins and the briefcase?

And what about Sting? Sting doesn’t appear to be in the plans right now. My hunch is that it all depends on The Undertaker. If Undertaker doesn’t come back I could see Sting working with one of the younger guys like a Bray Wyatt. I think Sting vs. John Cena could be intriguing for a few different reasons. Other than those possibilities I am not sure what you do with him besides maybe Randy Orton or even Sheamus.

It looks like Mania has potential but I still think the big one is 2016 in Texas with 31 being something of an appetizer.

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Bray Wyatt Talks Triple H, Promos, and The Undertaker

October 09, 2014 By: Category: Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

Bray Wyatt is one of the WWE’s most intriguing upcoming superstars. The youngster has captivated WWE audiences with his unique presence and persona and gave a behind-the-scenes look at both in a recent interview.

Bray Wyatt took the WWE world storm a year ago. The anticipation for his debut was maybe the most for a debuting star in quite some time. Wyatt lived up to expectations with a unique presentation of persona and attitude, topped off with a new flavor of promo unseen in the WWE Universe. Wyatt recently talked to Scott Fishman of the Miami Herald about his promo style and revealed some of the inspiration to his mad ramblings.

When I speak, I like to speak powerfully,” Wyatt said. “I like feeling behind my words. I just don’t say things. Everything I say has a piece. Martin Luther King Jr., I’ve studied a lot of his work. Just the way he was able to speak, and the power he gives us is really incredible. In my opinion he is the greatest speaker of all-time. There are so many that I’ve studied and idolized. It’s deep for me…

Wyatt also talked about the controversy behind some of his promos and whether he walks the PG WWE line behind the microphone.

I don’t think I toe the line,” he said. “The things I say sometimes can be offensive to some, but for the ones that can figure it out and solve the puzzle or the labyrinths I put out there, they deserve it. Here is your cake. Here is the prize because there are so many complexities. I like to throw curveballs.”

Wyatt also credits the guy who ironically is blamed for holding back many careers for pushing the Wyatts and championing their push.

I can tell you Hunter [Triple H] was very instrumental in the upbringing of the Wyatts. He saw something in us that we saw. We were so attached to it that we were dying to make it work and to get it out there.

Hunter saw the same thing. From the first glance, people are just comparing us to hillbillies. I’ve heard ‘Deliverance’ and all kinds of things, but they were missing that underlying factor. Hunter was able to see that because we are more complex in the way we speak if you listen to the message behind it. You’re not looking at three Neanderthals. You’re looking at three very smart, capable athletes. Hunter was able to see it.”

Again this is a bit or irony here as Hunter has a reputation among many of Wyatt’s fans as being the guy responsible for holding back talent and squashing careers. According to Bray if not for Hunter, who knows how his career in the WWE would have played out. Something to think about the next time you accuse Trips of being the King of Buriers.

Finally, Bray has had a stellar 2014 but he has high aspirations for 2015. He had a prominent feud with John Cena which included a WrestleMania match as well as a recent feud with former undisputed champion Chris Jericho. So where does Wyatt go next? Wyatt sees one man and one match as the ultimate goal and that goal is the Dead Man.

Bray Wyatt versus The Undertaker would be the greatest I could accomplish,” he said. “Just being there side-by-side with him. I get the comparisons, but we are also very different. He is ‘The Deadman.’ He will always be ‘The Deadman,’ and I’m Bray Wyatt. When or if, or when we shall meet, it will be every bit of everything I thought it would be.

Unfortunately I don’t think that’s going to happen but nobody would have ever predicted a Cena vs. Wyatt WrestleMania match at this time last year. Overall this is a great interview which you owe yourself to check out over at http://www.miamiherald.com/sports/fighting/article2529425.html

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Triple H Talks Rock, Hell in a Cell, SmackDown, and More

October 09, 2014 By: Category: Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

Triple H does a weekly segment on WWE.com with Michael Cole called the Hot Seat. Hunter generally speaks on these interviews in a worked shoot mode, sometimes more one than the other. This week’s interview appears to be more shoot which features plenty of conversation about The Rock.

Hunter and Rock had a great rivalry in the Attitude Era so it is always fun to hear Triple H talk about the Great One. Hunter tells Cole how the WWE pulled off The Rock’s appearance and gives a lot credit to Rusev and Lana. It is quite an endorsement from the C.O.O.

Hunter also talks about the new match made for Hell in a Cell between John Cena and Dean Ambrose. Here you can see Hunter go more into working/promoter mode in how he answers the question. Hunter teases more conversation about Hell in a Cell in next week’s interview.

Finally, Hunter talks about 15 years of SmackDown. Hunter mentions that more SmackDown shows have been taped in Philadelphia than any other city which is something I never knew. Hunter teases the segment between him and The Rock on SmackDown. I saw the segment at the tapings and it was fantastic, well worth going out of your way to see.

Trips and Cole also talk some more RAW, Ambrose vs. Cena, and more. Check it out here.

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