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Thanksgiving wrestling memories – WWE Survivor Series 1993: Inside The Wheelhouse

November 28, 2013 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

For some reason when I think of Wrestling and Thanksgiving I immediately think of one event in particular. I don’t know why I think of this event when it comes to Wrestling and Thanksgiving but I do. Now most of you are probably thinking of a historic Starrcade or maybe the first Survivor Series. While they all had their moments on Thanksgiving there is one event in particular that stands out in my mind when it comes to Thanksgiving & Wrestling to this day.

For me the event I speak of is the 1993 WWF Survivor Series. The event was held on Thanksgiving Eve and was headlined by “The All-Americans vs. “The Foreign Fanatics.” Now you may be asking yourself, as you should be why does this event stand out to me the most when it comes to Thanksgiving Wrestling traditions?

The event itself wasn’t all that great. The matches weren’t over the top amazing and left us with any “Survivor Series moments.” But for one personal reason I will tell you why this event stood out to me.

Being born in 1986, yep I’m showing my age here and don’t expect me to do this kind of stuff when I get older, it was my first Wrestling Pay-Per-View I could watch live. I was seven at the time and any other time I would watch Wrestling PPV’s it would be on VHS a couple months later. But this was my first time being able to watch a Wrestling PPV live.

I was heartbroken when Owen Hart got mad at Bret Hart because families aren’t supposed to fight on Holidays! How could Owen do this to his family on a Holiday? Would he be at Thanksgiving? I would only find out years later that family’s fighting on holidays is actually the number one tradition in most households.

Oh and by the way here folks, wrestling at the time, was still real to me…damn it.

I didn’t understand why Shawn Michaels was leading “The King” Jerry Lawler’s team at Survivor Series that night. As time grew on and thanks to Google & Wikipedia I would later find out how much Lawler was legally in at the time. Talk about awkward foreshadowing as the history between Bret Hart & Shawn Michaels was well documented up to Survivor Series 1993.

I enjoyed the Four Doinks vs. Bam Bam Bigelow’s team. Seeing Men on a Mission and The Bushwhackers in Doink makeup was fun for a seven year old to watch. Looking back at it the match was horrible but the execution was great for a young kid. Now at 24 years old I realize that “Evil Doink” was actually a really cool character and could have been ahead of it’s time in the edge factor if they kept going with the gimmick.

Finally the show was wrapped up with “The All-American’s” led by Lex Luger taking on “The Foreign Fanatics” led by the then WWF Champion the late-great Yokozuna. While the team names were extremely corny, I was hyped for the match. It would be the long awaited rematch of Luger and Yokozuna getting back in the ring since Summerslam 1993.

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When you look back at the Luger/Yokozuna feud it really was a let down, even more so that Luger really never got his revenge back at Yokozuna and never became WWF Champion like it appeared he would eventually be. While Luger first appeared to be the new Hulk Hogan that Vince McMahon was looking for, it quickly turned into what would be Luger’s downfall in the WWF. This Survivor Series was the start of the end of the rise of Luger in the WWF.

The event in actuality didn’t continue the Luger/Yokozuna feud as it fed us The Undertaker/Yokozuna feud and the Ludvig Borga/Lex Luger feud. While Yokozuna and The Undertaker was successful in one of the early memorable moments from the Royal Rumble, the Borga/Luger stuff never really developed as Borga was out of the WWE months later. It was a tough transitional period from the Hogan era to the “New Generation” for the WWF.

At 7 years old I was too young to know that Hogan wouldn’t be back in the WWF until 2002 and that the WWF was under the microscope of the Federal Government. All I knew then was that I was excited to watch the Survivor Series live and that it would be my first wrestling pay per view live. It was a big moment in my young wrestling fan life.

While it may have not been the best show in the world at the time I was excited to be watching the show and to this day it holds a memorable spot in my life some 17 years later. Who knows maybe I’ll pop in the Survivor Series ’93 DVD some point this weekend.

Happy Thanksgiving to all the readers of Camelclutchblog.com!

You can listen to Jeff on “The Bower Show” every Monday – Friday from 3pm – 7pm ET on 97.9 ESPN in Hartford, CT. You can listen online at www.979espn.com

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The Greatest Pro Wrestling Angle Ever: Inside the Wheelhouse

July 07, 2013 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

It’s been 17 years now since the birth of quite possibly the greatest wrestling angle of all-time, the birth of the New World Order (n.W.o.) at WCW Bash at the Beach 1996. Many wrestling fans remember this moment of the birth of the n.W.o. so vividly and as if the angle happened yesterday. It impacted the future of wrestling and is without a doubt the greatest angle in the history of wrestling.

Now before you jump down my throat for such a bold statement as it being the “greatest angle of all-time,” let’s look back at what the angle helped accomplish for the world of wrestling in the late 1990s. At the time it cemented WCW as the #1 wrestling company in the United States and in the World. I title that had been held by the then WWF for almost 20 years. It was earth shattering in wrestling as it always appeared that the WWF would be atop the wrestling world forever.

From a WCW standpoint it was their birth into an “attitude era.” If WCW was the one that put the WWF out of business we may have been talking about this being WCW’s Attitude Era as the changes we would see on WCW TV after this were revolutionary. No more was it all about saying your prayers and taking your vitamins. WCW adapted the revolutionary aspects that ECW was already doing and what society was starting to preach. It was a game changing moment.

It did multiple things from the standpoint of grabbing the wrestling fan’s emotion. It made Hulk Hogan into a heel. For the most part those watching wrestling at the time were bred into wrestling during the “hulkamania era.” These were little Hulkamaniacs now becoming adults and watching their hero growing up turn their back on them for the “money” of the n.W.o.. It was a riveting from the viewpoint of the wrestling fan watching their television.

It also made fans feel like there was a legit wrestling invasion going on with the boys “up north” (the WWF) coming down to WCW to attack Ted Turner’s promotion. Despite the early stages of the internet fans were under the impression that what was going on was legit. That maybe Vince McMahon and Ted Turner came together for the good of the angle. It was a modern day Civil War of wrestling, something we later & quickly found out to not be true at all.

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The angle also had implications on their competition in the WWF as it made them have to change their game plan as a company. No more stupid gimmicks, no more “make believe” storyline, the WWF would soon enter into the “Attitude Era” with their backs against the wall. It’s very ironic that days before the n.W.o. angle we also had the birth of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin at the 1996 King of the Ring. It was a pretty instrumental stretch of days in the world of wrestling.

However you look at it wrestling was molded and shaped because of July 7, 1996 in Daytona Beach, Florida. The birth of the New World Order is what started the golden ages of wrestling for WCW, WWF & ECW. It was a chess match of “who could out do who” and it was the fans who were the eventual winners in it all.

I could go on and on with my thoughts & reasons on why the n.W.o. angle is the greatest wrestling angle of all-time but that defeats the purpose of downloading this week’s edition of “The Still Real to Us Show” where Eric Gargiulo & I discuss such. Develop your own opinions and thoughts on the angle, but when you look at the scope of things you might be surprised with how important in history it truly was. One thing is for certain, if you are a wrestling fan you remember the night of July 7, 1996 very well and the birth of the new World order.

You can listen to Jeff on “The Bower Show” every Monday – Friday from 3pm – 7pm ET on 97.9 ESPN in Hartford, CT. You can listen online at www.979espn.com

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WWE Main Events waiting to happen: Inside The Wheelhouse

June 13, 2013 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

This week marks my 4 year anniversary with Camel Clutch Blog and for those of you who have been at the site for know by now what my annual blog tends to be. The last three years I have looked back at my very first blog where I deemed John Morrison was “a main event waiting to happen.” Well, John Morrison isn’t in wrestling at the moment and I couldn’t have been more far off then stealing that line from the legendary Jim Ross on an episode of SmackDown.

I’m going to instead take my anniversary blog with the CCB and turn into “Main Events waiting to happen” in all of professional wrestling.

Who are the future top stars in wrestling? Who has the potential of main eventing a WrestleMania at some point in their career?

Well, let’s kick it into gear with my list of up and coming stars:

Dean Ambrose – No shock here that this guy is at the top of my “main events waiting to happen” list. Prior to joining the WWE we had heard that Ambrose (then Jon Moxley) had the “it factor” that not many wrestlers have. He had the “independent wrestling buzz” that we haven’t seen since the days of CM Punk, Bryan Danielson (Daniel Bryan) and Samoa Joe.

Ambrose has the ability to talk extremely well on the mic and be just as good inside the squared circle. While he’s with one of the best acts in wrestling right now, “The Shield,” the “cream will eventually rise to the top” and we will see him reach his full potential in the near-to-soon future. Dean Ambrose has the ability to be one of the best heels to come into professional wrestling for quite sometime.

Antonio Cesaro – The former “Claudio Castagnoli” on the independent scene has an extreme amount of potential and “it factor” that I cannot believe the WWE has tapped into yet. Like Ambrose, I can foresee Cesaro being a huge heel in the WWE for years to come. He’s a rising star that has the look, in-ring ability and underrated promos to be a top star in this company.

To be honest I’m quite surprised the WWE hasn’t given him the ball to run with. I could really see Cesaro as a heel battling it out with John Cena over the WWE Championship and him defeating Cena wouldn’t be something “shocking” based off of his look. It’s been great to see him rise in the WWE and I think it’s only a matter of time before he’s holding some sort of World Championship.

Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns – It’s very rare that there are multiple stars within a faction or stable but “The Shield” has the ability to “break the mold” when it comes to those theories. I still believe Dean Ambrose will surpass his two other Shield members eventually and be the big star first but Rollins & Reigns won’t be that far behind. We may look back at “The Shield” days as one of the most impactful groups/factions/stables in the history of professional wrestling based on what each star did post-group.

Rollins is a great in-ring worker who lacked promo ability with ROH in my opinion. Well he’s still a great in-ring worker and he has vastly improved in his promos with the WWE. The former “Tyler Black” is a guy who may take some time to grow but will be a major player in my opinion. I would not be shocked to see an Ambrose/Rollins feud somewhere in the near future, should that happen it will be a great thing for wrestling fans.

When it comes to Roman Reigns it has taken a while for him to grow on me but he is starting to reflect a wrestler who has a lot of “it” potential as well. I didn’t know as much about Roman Reigns as I did Dean Ambrose or Seth Rollins but I have been pleasantly surprised with what I have seen from him. The WWE has been missing that “Batista-like” wrestler (sorry Ryback) that can be a “monster” or “Animal” (pun intended) since Batista left and I think Roman Reigns could fill that role as well.

I would not be surprised if all three members of “The Shield” have some sort of World Championship reigns at some point’s in their career.

Brodus Clay – This is my wildcard pick for “main events waiting to happen.” I can foresee Clay being a force in the WWE frankly because The Big Show and Mark Henry can’t be those typical “monsters” in the company forever. Both stars are getting older and Brodus Clay has the legit ability to fulfill their roles.

Clay is very much underrated with his in-ring ability, we already know he can cut a good promo and he has a ton of charisma. Whether the WWE decided to keep him as this loveable “monster” face that he is right now or turn him heel I still think he could get the job done as a top star in the company. The WWE loves marketable stars and Brodus Clay can be a guy who can sell a lot of merchandise for years to come.

For more on this topic join us for the Thursday June 13th edition of “The Still Real to Us Show” and download the show atwww.wheelhouseradio.com or www.wrestlechat.net.

You can listen to Jeff on “The Bower Show” every Monday – Friday from 3pm – 7pm ET on 97.9 ESPN in Hartford, CT. You can listen online at www.979espn.com

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You should be rooting for Fandango: Inside The Wheelhouse

June 06, 2013 By: Category: Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

I had the pleasure this past Monday to sit down with WWE Superstar Fandango for nearly 20 minutes and walked out of it an even bigger fan then I was before I met him.

Fandango, the WWE star we see on WWE television has gotten over with fans since his debut because the man behind Fandango has embraced it above and beyond. His in-ring work looks to be improving on a weekly basis, his promo ability is already pretty good, he has a ton of charisma and is a wrestler that has that special “it factor” we don’t see very often anymore. He reminds me a lot of a young Chris Jericho; it probably wasn’t irony that those two worked together at WrestleMania this year.

But what I like about the man behind the Fandango character is that he is a fan of the business. Nowadays we are stuck with wrestlers or divas that had professional wrestling as their “plan B” or maybe even “plan C.” That can be reflected at times due to those type of wrestler’s lack of passion for what they do. This is not the case with WWE Superstar Fandango.

This is a guy who started going to wrestling shows to get work during his teenage days. Sure he had your normal “jobs” to keep money coming in while he was chasing his dream but in the back of his mind and in his heart, professional wrestling was his passion. I can’t overstate enough how much that passion is reflected in his character.

To me, the “sky is the limit” at this point for Fandango. It already seems like it’s a matter of time before he is a babyface with the audience and that’s just a sign of natural progression in professional wrestling. One thing that I thought was very interesting in the interview was how big “always staying ahead of the curve” is important to Fandango. A year from now we may actually forget the gimmick behind his character was a ballroom dancer.

The biggest issue in wrestling right now clearly is a wrestler being “stale” or not evolving. Many fans criticize the WWE and their stars, most notably John Cena, for being the same character in 2013 that they were in 2006. Props to Fandango for noticing what weaknesses there are in wrestling right now, using it to his advantage and making sure he stays “with the times” rather then become complacent.

He clearly is a “student of the game” and has an underrated “mind” for the business simply because it hasn’t been reflected in many interviews. I don’t believe that will be the case much longer and while it isn’t known now; don’t be surprised if more people start picking up on how much Fandango “gets it.”

I had a fun time speaking with him and really appreciated him taking the time out this past Monday morning. I hope you enjoy the interview but more importantly appreciate not only Fandango the character, but the man working hard to keep his character growing each week on television as well.

Listen to the interview here:

For more on this topic join us for the Thursday June 6th edition of “The Still Real to Us Show” and download the show at www.wheelhouseradio.com or www.wrestlechat.net.

You can listen to Jeff on “The Bower Show” every Monday – Friday from 3pm – 7pm ET on 97.9 ESPN in Hartford, CT. You can listen online at www.979espn.com

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Antonio Cesaro has Daniel Bryan syndrome: Inside The Wheelhouse

May 30, 2013 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Let me preface the title by saying that Antonio Cesaro and Daniel Bryan are two of my favorite wrestlers today. Calm down internet world.

Reports are indicating lately that the WWE believes Antonio Cesaro is a “boring” wrestler. I could not disagree more with those reports because Cesaro has “the look” the WWE wants and the charisma of what I believe to be is an “old school ethnic heel.” What I mean by that is you dislike him because he cuts a promo denouncing the United States and when he enters the squared circle you believe he can easily beat anyone in the ring based off of his size/look.

Despite what is being said on “dirtsheets” lately I believe that Antonio Cesaro is a future World Champion in the making. He has that “it factor” that appeals to the masses and connects with the “hardcore” fanbase due to his popularity on the independent circuit. Now doesn’t that belief remind you of Daniel Bryan a couple years ago?

When Bryan first came to the WWE there was a belief that he was “boring.” Hell, Michael Cole would bash him about it on his commentary throughout most of Bryan’s matches, promo’s or segments. That didn’t sit well with the “hardcore” fanbase because Daniel Bryan (Bryan Danielson) was a “cult-like hero” on the independent wrestling circuit for the last decade putting on matches that people would either trade or discuss via word-of-mouth.

Most wrestling fans knew Daniel Bryan had the potential to be a World Champion and one day even main event a WrestleMania. When it came to Daniel Bryan the WWE either didn’t believe that could ever be, didn’t want it to ever happen or just tried to fool all of us with what we perceived to be their “belief” of Bryan.

Now it seems like Cesaro is dealing with the same fate as he is a wrestler that is being described as “boring” but that many fans believe is a future World Champion/Main Eventer in the making. I basically have called this now, with all due respect of course, the “Daniel Bryan syndrome.”

What do I mean by that?

“Daniel Bryan syndrome” can be defined as an Independent wrestling star not getting his or her due respect in the WWE but many “hardcore” fans realizing he or she has a world of talent and potential. That can be due to the star’s background in Independent wrestling and not being a “homegrown” WWE talent or because the WWE wants this Independent wrestling star to pay their dues on the “WWE level” despite paying dues for most of their professional wrestling careers. Most of the time when a star is dealing with said syndrome, the popularity of said star forces the WWE to realize that they have a star in the making…just like Daniel Bryan.

Antonio Cesaro is far from boring in my opinion. Anyone who has had watched the former Claudio Castagnoli the last decade on the independent wrestling circuit has come to realize he has in-fact came a long way in his promo ability and in-ring work. There is a reason why Cesaro was in developmental for a short period of time and it’s because he has that “it factor.”

He went from headlining ROH matches to being in the WWE one year later. It’s very rare that you see that happen and it’s because the WWE knew of the talent they have on their hands, which makes me really confused on why they aren’t capitalizing on his star potential right now.

I really believed and still believe that Cesaro would be the breakout star in the WWE in 2013. So far that prediction hasn’t come to fruition and I blame that solely on the WWE not being in “flavor” with the former WWE United States Champion. He’s proven to be a great in-ring worker and they haven’t even touched the potential he can be as a major heel player in the WWE.

It’ll take some time but I fully expect Antonio Cesaro to go through the same path as Daniel Bryan and be able to conquer this “Daniel Bryan syndrome” in the soon-to-near future. He is too good not to be featured in a more prominent role on WWE television.

For more on this topic join us for the Thursday May 30th edition of “The Still Real to Us Show” and download the show at www.wheelhouseradio.com or www.wrestlechat.net.

You can listen to Jeff on “The Bower Show” every Monday – Friday from 3pm – 7pm ET on 97.9 ESPN in Hartford, CT. You can listen online at www.979espn.com

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I Believe In The Shield: Inside The Wheelhouse

May 23, 2013 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

It’s too early to tell but this past Sunday’s WWE Extreme Rules PPV could have a historical impact down the road. Sure, last week I blasted the setups and build for the PPV but when it comes to the execution, creative could actually be onto something.

“The Shield” is already established as one of the hottest groups and wrestlers in professional wrestling as we speak. They are fresh faces to a percentage of the WWE audience and were at one time, Independent wrestling heroes to a percentage of the WWE audience as well. I’ve loved what the WWE has done with them since they debuted and believe that creative has done the right thing by how this tandem has progressed thus far.

What I’ve enjoyed about “The Shield’s” build is that it hasn’t been anything like an nWo or most recently, Nexus type of impact either. “The Shield” has certainly made their mark but they are progressively building into dominant wrestlers with main event potential and I’m not just talking about one “breakout” wrestler like every stable tends to have, all three stars could be main eventers/world champions in the future.

I was fortunate enough to attend WrestleMania 29 this year at MetLife Stadium and “The Shield” had one of the more positive reactions from the 80,000+. Some may credit that to them being in the opening match but I’ll credit that to people really caring about what this group will do next. Sure they are labeled as “heels” but are “heroes” to many because the bright future each of the three wrestlers possesses is growing brighter by the day.

This takes me back to the whole point of this blog, WWE Extreme Rules 2013.

Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins all became WWE Champions that night in St. Louis, Missouri. While they’ve been on television since November, Extreme Rules was their “coming out” party.

Wrestlers who become champions have earned that title by the company, but wrestlers that can make a championship, separate themselves from the majority. I believe that “The Shield” will be able to make the Championship’s they are currently representing.

The group reached the “next level” at Extreme Rules and went from a group being taken seriously, to a group that could be headlining one of the bigger PPVs of the year, SummerSlam, in just a couple of months. I think it’s a safe bet to assume that “The Shield” will have a very big role in the WWE for the rest of 2013.

I don’t think that role will equal into World Championships quite yet but it will equal a change in the WWE as we now see it. “The Shield” represents the future of professional wrestling and that’s probably why so many people have climbed aboard their popularity. Say what you will about wrestling fans but they know a good talent(s) or stable when they know it and that’s exactly what “The Shield” represents.

It’ll go unnoticed for now but give it time when it comes to the historical impact of WWE Extreme Rules 2013 thanks to “The Shield.” I believed in them before, I believe in them now and I believe they are going to become the future.

For more on this topic join us for the Thursday May 23rd edition of “The Still Real to Us Show” and download the show at www.wheelhouseradio.com or www.wrestlechat.net.

You can listen to Jeff on “The Bower Show” every Monday – Friday from 3pm – 7pm ET on 97.9 ESPN in Hartford, CT. You can listen online at www.979espn.com

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The recent problem with setups in the WWE: Inside The Wheelhouse

May 16, 2013 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

There is a problem growing in the WWE recently that I don’t ever remember being this bad until now and that’s been how every match in the company has been poorly “setup” leading to a PPV match.

On paper the WWE has given us The Rock vs. John Cena II, The Undertaker vs. CM Punk, Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar II (soon-to-be III as well), Chris Jericho vs. Fandango I (soon-to-be II as well), Alberto Del Rio vs. Jack Swagger I (soon-to-be II as well), John Cena vs. Ryback and the underrated Kofi Kingston vs. Dean Ambrose match. While on paper those are all very solid matches to be showcasing on WWE television, they haven’t gotten over with the fans as well as one would think. The excitement for these matches hasn’t been that strong at all.

Now I know it’s easy to blame the WWE creative team for all these faults and that’s what I plan on doing right now because more then ever this has been their fault.

I’ve defended the WWE creative team and I’ve bashed the WWE creative team in my history of writing blogs for the CCB. I know it’s trendy to take the side of “negativity” in professional wrestling but when the creative team does something right they should be praised. When they do something wrong, they should be equal parts bashed.

The “setup,” build or whatever you want to call it for WrestleMania 29 just wasn’t there this year. There has been reports out there that creative had a “shake up” in March, weeks out from WrestleMania and that there card was ever-changing but that shouldn’t be an excuse for the company nearing their biggest show of the year. While it was a “solid” WrestleMania this year, I still felt like I was left wanting more and not because of the great in-ring work of the wrestlers, but because the company just didn’t deliver on a creative level.

You would’ve thought these issues would’ve been resolved heading into WWE Extreme Rules this Sunday but they are continuing yet again.

John Cena vs. Ryback has minimal interest right now because I think a good portion of fans are still trying to get a feel for Ryback as a heel. Let’s face it, he really hasn’t been booked well lately as he lost to Mark Henry at WrestleMania and his long standing feud with “The Shield” disappeared after losing to them multiple times. When your not booked strong but are all of a sudden the #1 contender to the WWE Championship AND a heel, it’s hard for fans to get excited or into it.

Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar III inside the steel cage will deliver at Sunday’s Extreme Rules PPV; there is no question about that. But the way it’s been built up has me scratching my head in disbelief and really wanting to see more but not given the opportunity by the WWE creative team. They have a “gold mine” on their hands and I feel like they aren’t tapping into this “rubber match’s” highest potential, something they were highly criticized for during The Rock’s recent run.
WWE’s saving grace lately has been “The Shield” and I’m even confused on how they will be used this Sunday at Extreme Rules. Fortunately for the WWE creative team this confusion is also inspired by a bit of intrigue since “The Shield” could go in so many different directions this Sunday. The one direction the WWE creative team can’t do is not having one at all.

I really believe wrestling fans have every right to be upset with the WWE creative team currently. It hasn’t been there best television lately and we right smack in the middle of “WrestleMania hangover season” where the WWE quiets down for a bit heading into SummerSlam.

While the wrestlers are doing their part with the execution, the creative team is not living up to their end of the bargain based on the setup in recent months. This could be a very crucial time for the WWE right now, especially if ratings and PPV buyrates continue to tumble.

For more on this topic join us for the Thursday May 16th edition of “The Still Real to Us Show” and download the show at www.wheelhouseradio.com or www.wrestlechat.net.

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Was The Rock’s most recent WWE run a failure?: Inside The Wheelhouse

May 09, 2013 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

With WrestleMania 29 in the books and The Rock’s future in professional wrestling up in the air at the moment, I thought it would be a good time as ever to discuss if The Rock’s return to the WWE was a success or a failure.

I feel like the majority of wrestling fans believe that The Rock’s run with the WWE since WrestleMania 27 was a failure. I believe fans look at it as The Rock being paired with the wrong guy, John Cena, and use that as their focal point for how the run has been perceived since he returned to WWE television on February 14th, 2011. Now those fans that believe it was a failure have very valid points.

In my opinion Wrestlemania 27 was one of the worst WrestleMania’s of the last decade and that was due in large part to the The Miz/John Cena/The Rock storyline. The WWE Champion at the time, The Miz, was an after-thought to the main event match and the focus was more on John Cena’s interaction with the host of WrestleMania 27, The Rock. The feud between those two overshadowed the match itself and gave us one of the worst/anti-climatic WrestleMania finishes ever.

The night after WrestleMania 27 gave us our first official match for WrestleMania 28, The Rock vs. John Cena. It was an unprecedented move by the WWE to announce a WrestleMania match one year in advance and gave the creative team officially one year to build towards one of the biggest dream matches since The Rock battled Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania 18. The WWE had struck “gold” by getting The Rock back in the ring to take on their top superstar.

Rock vs. Cena at WrestleMania 28 gave the “old” “attitude era” fans someone to represent them (The Rock), while the “new” and “younger” fans got someone to represent them (John Cena). Fans were pumped up when the match was announced and it already had fans planning a Miami vacation to attend the perceived historic event with the match fans have been dreaming to see for some time.

Once WrestleMania 28 season began and the WWE creative team began building towards the match, fans became very critical. The buildup wasn’t what fans expected, it’s quite possible they expected too much and they began looking for excuses as to why they believed it wasn’t being executed correctly (The Rock was restrained on his promos due to the “PG” rating, etc.). Still, despite all that, fans were eager to witness one of wrestling’s last “dream matches” at a WrestleMania event.

The match itself wasn’t anything special nor was it 5-star quality at the slightest. It was a decent match that had more memorable moments from the introductions and what happened immediately after The Rock won then what happened inside the ring. The majority of fans were disappointed as their expectations weren’t met in what they saw at WrestleMania 28.

Following WrestleMania 28, The Rock vowed to be crowned WWE Champion once again before riding off into the “movie sunset” until making an appearance at the “RAW 1000” episode. The Rock’s appearance catapulted then-WWE Champion CM Punk from “super” babyface to “super” heel and the seeds were planted as “The Great One” was announced to be the #1 contender for the WWE Championship at the 2013 Royal Rumble. It definitely appeared that in July 2012 the WWE would go forward with The Rock being WWE Champion yet again.

The Rock had a good series of matches with CM Punk at the Royal Rumble & Elimination Chamber, with many people, including myself, believing that the feud and matches with CM Punk surpassed anything he did with John Cena the last two years. The Rock was the WWE Champion once again as he headed into the company’s biggest show of the year while the #1 contender to his WWE Championship at WrestleMania 29 would be his old “once in a lifetime” friend, John Cena.

I was in support of The Rock/John Cena II at first but quickly letdown due to the lack of buildup to the match heading into WrestleMania 29. It was as if either superstar had very little interaction with one another and it didn’t help that The Rock did not appear for two straight weeks in the month of March, a crucial time for WrestleMania buildup. The buzz for the match at WrestleMania 29 was a far cry from what it was at WrestleMania 28 and it translated at the biggest show of the year just a month or so ago.

The match at WrestleMania 29 was by far a better match then the two had a year prior in Miami and while they had the crowd “in it” at times, I believe it wasn’t as compared to the electricity that it had in the Orange Bowl. John Cena finally got the victory over The Rock and that’s when all the real news started happening in-regards to The Rock’s most recent WWE run.

Nearly 18 hours after WrestleMania 29, the wrestling news world went crazy when it was learned that The Rock got injured in his match with John Cena and left New Jersey without WWE knowledge. It left the WWE creative team reportedly “scrambling” heading into one of their biggest RAW shows of the year and killing any interaction between The Rock & Brock Lesnar where they would’ve “planted the seeds” for a match at WrestleMania 30. The Rock later confirmed the latter of the two, while denying he did not leave New Jersey without the WWE’s knowledge.

During that same interview The Rock spoke about his questionable future in the world of professional wrestling and said there was a “possibility” he may have wrestled his last match at WrestleMania 29. Ending what could be his most recent run with the WWE.

So with that said, was The Rock’s most recent run a success or a failure? It was 100%…a success.

Now how could that be? I just blasted nearly everything The Rock had done with the WWE in the last two years. How would something like that translate into success?

First off, it’s not The Rock’s complete fault some of those storylines never panned out like the WWE may have thought. In my opinion The Rock actually saved WrestleMania 27 and The Miz/John Cena from being any worse then it truly was. It gave a “buzz” to the show that it didn’t have weeks leading into the event.

Second, The Rock vs. John Cena heading into WrestleMania 28 had all fans excited. It’s very rare nowadays that an entire majority of wrestling fans get excited for a match and don’t honestly know who will be the winner, Rock/Cena at WrestleMania 28 brought that. It also helps that there was a good “WrestleMania buzz” heading into the event as well.

Third, WrestleMania 29 was the highest grossest WrestleMania of All-Time. Now obviously that’s not all thanks to The Rock, but he certainly played a major role in it when his match main evented that card. Throughout the entire 2-year run for The Rock he helped the WWE make a lot of money and bring them some good “pop culture” notoriety.

In America we base success off of how much money you earn and have gained. The WWE earned AND gained a lot of money when The Rock was with the company the last two years. I honestly believe the figures they have had in the last two years deserve an amount of credit to The Rock. People aren’t spending money if they don’t care, so despite what the “internet” may tell us, fans were locked in.

The “pop culture” notoriety was also a big deal for the WWE as they were able to get “mainstream” attention. The Rock is a “machine” in Hollywood nowadays and people are clamoring to see him in a wrestling ring or on the silver screen. I’ll never forget how The Rock nearly “shut down” Twitter and various other social media outlets when he returned to the WWE in February 2011. All fans were genuinely pumped to have him back and to this day his return that night is one of my favorite YouTube wrestling videos to watch due to the amount of emotion/excitement that Anaheim crowd had that night.

You can’t deny that was not a “once in a lifetime moment” in professional wrestling history.

To me the facts state that The Rock’s 2-year run with the WWE was a successful one. Could it have been better? It most certainly could have but, the “would ya, could ya, should ya’s” are exactly that. Plus I believe it’s important for fans to appreciate everything The Rock has done the last two years because let’s be honest here, he didn’t have to come back in the first place.

His heart still had love for professional wrestling and he still had love for the wrestling fan(s). For that we should all be grateful for the last two years The Rock was with the WWE, should it be his last for whatever ever reason.

For more on this topic join us for the Thursday May 9th edition of “The Still Real to Us Show” and download the show at www.wheelhouseradio.com or www.wrestlechat.net.

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The Rock is NOT done wrestling: Inside The Wheelhouse

May 02, 2013 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

The Rock made some news last week in an interview with Peter Rosenberg of Hot 97 in New York City when he said that it was a “possibility” that his match against John Cena at WrestleMania 29 was his very last WWE match. To me I would be shocked if this is the last time The Rock wrestled for the WWE and in professional wrestling.

While I believe that thought has crossed his mind and that movie executives may suggest for him to do that since he was injured in his last match against John Cena, I would be shocked if he never wrestles again.

Lets be honest with ourselves, The Rock is a motion picture machine and in high demand right now in Hollywood. Movie executives are probably concerned that he would get back in the wrestling ring and put his movie career/schedule in jeopardy should he get injured again. The Rock needed to put word out there that he may have wrestled his last match so he didn’t lose any potential work coming up.

Movie executives will look at what happened to The Rock and instead of offering or giving him a role they may turn to a different direction and put the future of his movie career in question. The Rock can’t have that happen and while I don’t think it would happen since he is so popular right now, he needed to cover all his bases.

After 7 years away from the business where he tried to reinvent himself into a “serious” movie star, he returned to the company that gave him his first big break to “give back.” He gave back in a big way and there is no way you can deny that (stay tuned for next week). After everything I have seen in the last 2 years I believe that whether it is in the squared circle every WrestleMania or not, The Rock is back in professional wrestling to stay.

Plus we know how those “retirement” things go in professional wrestling; you never, say never, just ask “Stone Cold” Steve Austin who can’t stay in retirement some 10 years later.

If there is anything in question right now I would lean more towards his reported and confirmed (by The Rock himself) match with Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 30. If The Rock getting hurt again in a wrestling match is or becomes a bigger deal then many of us even realize then he could very well hold off wrestling at the SuperDome next April. I would put those chances of that happening at 10% right now and would not be shocked if we get word The Rock is confirmed for a match at WrestleMania around the fall of this year just to be safe.

The Rock is a smart business man and he knows it wouldn’t have been a good look had he gone out there the night after WrestleMania where he was injured. What he did was preventative maintenance by getting checked out, avoiding the in-ring confrontation against Brock Lesnar and putting a return to the ring in-question.

Wrestling is in The Rock’s blood and it’ll be tough for him to go away. The Rock is NOT done with professional wrestling.

For more on this topic join us for the Thursday May 2nd edition of “The Still Real to Us Show” and download the show at www.wheelhouseradio.com or www.wrestlechat.net.

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John Cena will NEVER turn heel: Inside The Wheelhouse

April 25, 2013 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

I know I have written about this subject before but unfortunately for all wrestling fans, myself included, this topic always seems to rear its ugly head nearly every year.

But I believe wrestling fans we can finally find closure on this subject and find our inner peace. Join me in permanently burying the subject or the notion that current WWE Champion John Cena will ever turn heel for the rest of his career.

For years we have “flirted” with the subject in hopes of it actually taking place because many wrestling fans, once again myself included, saw major dollar signs in the eyes of the WWE should they ever decide to pull the trigger. Reason for that is because many “older” wrestling fans, like myself, remember Hulk Hogan turning heel famously in 1996 and forming the nWo. The heel turn added years to the life of World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and nearly killed the then World Wrestling Federation (WWF).

Hogan’s heel turn was something many wrestling fans wanted to see at that time as the Hulk Hogan “gimmick” of “saying your prayers and eating your vitamins” basically had run its course in the wrestling world. The same can be and is said about John Cena’s current gimmick which naturally leads many of us to hope that a heel turn would eventually take place. The move would not only “freshen up” the character of John Cena but quite honestly the entire wrestling landscape of the WWE as well.

In 2010 we hoped that John Cena would turn heel during the midst of the “Nexus” angle and it never took place.

In 2011 we wanted to see John Cena turn heel as CM Punk was on his meteoric climb to the upper echelon of professional wrestling and it never took place.

The most recent hope came weeks ago at WrestleMania 29 as rumors swirled that John Cena would turn heel at the event, ala Stone Cold Steve Austin from WrestleMania 17, and reveal he was the one behind “The Shield” the entire time.

As we know now, that never took place either.

One of the most frequent questions asked of John Cena in interviews is that of the proposed fan’s hope of him turning heel. Cena always has the same answer that it isn’t worth him turning heel based off of all the outside good he does for the WWE and various other charities or groups (Make-A-Wish, connections with the military, etc.). Many of us look at that as just a way to dismiss the idea and try to “swerve” the wrestling fans hopes of it actually taking place, but clearly Cena is telling the truth in every single one of those interviews.

It wasn’t that fans thought John Cena was lying, but more of the fact that in the world of wrestling you can’t take everything a wrestler says as “fact.” It’s still professional wrestling and the aura/allure it can hold onto from yesteryears where a “face” couldn’t hangout with a “heel” is still important to the business.

At this point of John Cena’s career if it hasn’t happened now then it’ll never happen. His feud with The Rock slightly opened the door for John Cena to turn “heel” but now that the feud is all but done (maybe one more WrestleMania or SummerSlam match left) I would say the idea of John Cena being a heel is too.

Let’s face it, Cena is at the downside of his career and may not be an “everyday” active wrestler 5 years from now when he’s in his 40s. I think it’s time that we all as wrestling fans close the door on the idea and end our flirtation with the subject of him ever becoming a heel (again).

It was fun while it lasted but John Cena was right this entire time. Very rarely wrestlers are meant to be a certain character their entire career, John Cena is the exception.

For more on this topic join us for the Thursday April 25th edition of “The Still Real to Us Show” and download the show at www.wheelhouseradio.com or www.wrestlechat.net.

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Early WWE WrestleMania 30 predictions: Inside The Wheelhouse

April 18, 2013 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

I’ve been doing this blog the last several years a week or so after that year’s WrestleMania wrapped up and once again it has returned by looking at the 2014 edition of the biggest show of the wrestling year, WrestleMania 30.

First and foremost I need to give credit where credit is due and say that this blog was inspired by Camel Clutch Blog creator Eric Gargiulo who “penned” a predictions blog just like this several years ago. I “borrowed” the idea myself and decided to give my own WrestleMania predictions one year before the event actually happened. So with that said lets take a look at my very early WrestleMania 30 predictions:

The Rock vs. Brock Lesnar

This is a pretty easy prediction to go with since there were reported plans for the two of them to plant the “seeds” for a match in the Superdome at WrestleMania 30 the RAW after WrestleMania 29. I like the WWE going with this match because it involves two “part-time” wrestlers having a match at the biggest show of the year and not leaving a wrestler who would be more deserving to be in a WWE Championship match at WrestleMania (CM Punk, Dolph Ziggler, Daniel Bryan to name a few) the “odd man out.”

Rock/Lesnar has a big match appeal to it and if it’s like anything compared to their SummerSlam 2002 encounter then wrestling fans will be in for a show at WrestleMania 30.

Ryback vs. The Undertaker

Right now it appears that the WWE has decided to take Ryback out of the babyface role and make him into a monster heel. Personally I love the move WWE creative has made because I feel that someday Ryback has the potential to “slide” into John Cena’s top babyface role and putting him as a heel, outside the “babyface shadows” of John Cena, will make him look stronger to the WWE audience.

The amount of opponents for The Undertaker at WrestleMania are a slim list and if Brock Lesnar is going to be involved in a match with The Rock, then the next big thing (no pun intended) to threatened The Undertaker’s streak is to have the “everyday monster heel” of the WWE to challenge “The Deadman.”

John Cena (c) vs. CM Punk (For the WWE Championship)

When we look back at the John Cena vs. CM Punk feud historically, we will look back at it as defining an “era” of professional wrestling in the WWE. I believe we will put it upon the mantle piece of such era defining feuds like Hogan/Savage, Hart/Michaels and Rock/Austin. But what those feuds all have in-common that the Cena/Punk feud does not, is a main event match at a WrestleMania.

I loved listening to interviews leading up to WrestleMania 29 where CM Punk candidly said that he believed it should be himself vs. John Cena main eventing WrestleMania 29. Quite frankly, while Rock/Cena may look like the “big money draw,” John Cena vs. CM Punk could be a match that leaves people talking for years. Case in point their most recent RAW match back in late-February, arguably one of their best one-on-one matches of All-Time.

Dolph Ziggler (c) vs. Daniel Bryan (For the WWE World Heavyweight Championship)

This is the “wrestling fan’s” WrestleMania dream match right now. It’s two of the best in-ring workers in professional wrestling battling it out at a WrestleMania with a World Title on the line. Imagine if the WWE gave wrestling fans this match and allowed them to do battle for 25-30 minutes. Just the thought of that is making Wrestling fans around the world salivate.

The best thing about this is it has a very good chance of happening a year from now as they are two of the biggest rising stars in the company. Their popularity is growing at every WWE show and they have the ability to kick-off the “30’s decade” of WrestleMania in-style by quite possibly being that Cena/Punk feud that could define an era. To me, it’s the closest thing to a Hart/Michaels-like match that we may ever see in today’s professional wrestling landscape.

Chris Jericho vs. Triple H

Heading into this new “fiscal year” of the WWE will be pretty interesting. Throughout the year their will come times where these stars will be brought back to due battle with some sort of rising star like Chris Jericho did (i.e. Fandango or Dolph Ziggler) or due battle with an established star like Triple H did (i.e. Brock Lesnar). But now that WrestleMania 29 is in the books what does each of these two legend’s future hold for WrestleMania 30?

I’d personally love to see a throwback to one of the most underrated feuds of the “Attitude Era” and see Chris Jericho & Triple H battle it out for one more time. This feud actually headlined a Wrestlemania during that time period (WrestleMania 18) and a rematch between these two towards the end of what I presume to be their careers, would be a nostalgia match for the “older” wrestling fan. Not only that but I believe these two legends would give us a great match on the grandest wrestling stage of them all.

Plus who wouldn’t mind seeing another underrated feud, Chris Jericho and Stephanie McMahon, be rehashed one more time?

For more on this topic join us for the Thursday April 18th edition of “The Still Real to Us Show” and download the show at www.wheelhouseradio.com or www.wrestlechat.net.

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WWE WrestleMania 29 Thoughts and Recap: Inside The Wheelhouse

April 11, 2013 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

This past Sunday I was able to live out most every wrestling fan’s dream by attending my very 1st WrestleMania at MetLife Stadium. The atmosphere & excitement was like no other and I highly recommend it to any wrestling fan that is or has contemplating going to the “Super Bowl of Wrestling.” With that said I thought I’d figure to give some my thoughts on the 29th installment of WrestleMania:

- The Miz def. Wade Barrett

Not a bad opener to start off WrestleMania and I completely understand the time constraints of it being on the pre-show. Therefore it wasn’t as good as some of their recent RAW matches but it got the crowd on the right foot with a Miz victory. It’s nice to see two stars with a ton of potential, be pushed up and down the hierarchy of the WWE only to make their climb back to the top.

- The Shield def. Sheamus, Randy Orton & The Big Show

The Shield was very over with the NY/NJ crowd which came as a surprise to no one. Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns continue to grow on WWE television and I really hope are given the ball to run with now that ‘Mania is in the books. If the stars align correctly this trio could one of the best groups/stables from this current decade.

As for the “superfriends” trio of Sheamus, Orton and Big Show, I got to admit I was pretty surprised they went back to (or stayed with) The Big Show heel turn. All three stars really have looked weak throughout this whole thing and I am intrigued with how WWE handles these stars heading into Extreme Rules. Currently they don’t reflect the top star “mantra” that they should be receiving in my opinion.

- Mark Henry def. Ryback

This was your typical “brut” match. I thought both stars did a lot with what they had and made it work for the most part. I’m not a fan of these type of matches but Ryback and Henry proved that they are much more athletic then the normal “brut” matches we have been accustomed to.

- Team Hell No def. Ziggler & Langston

I wasn’t a fan of the buildup for this match because while the WWE Tag Team division was a bright spot for the WWE in 2012, a tandem of Ziggler and Langston never materialized as an actual tag team until weeks before WrestleMania. Having Ziggler and Bryan in the ring against one another during WrestleMania was enough for me and I thought the match was good as well. I think had the WWE given more focus to these four superstars we could’ve gotten a lot more emotional attachment to this match from a fan’s perspective.

- Fandango def. Chris Jericho

I was in the majority when I felt this match could ultimately steal the show from an undercard’s perspective and frankly it did not. The finish was sloppy but it was made up for as both stars are heavily over with the WWE fans. Fandango is going to be a major player in the WWE and Chris Jericho continues to prove why he is one of the best in the business as he continues to help build for wrestling’s future.

While the first match didn’t “blow our socks off” like we thought, I do look forward to seeing an eventual rematch on a smaller stage then WrestleMania. I still have high hopes for this feud and the potential it has.

- Alberto Del Rio def. Jack Swagger

The Del Rio/Swagger feud fell way below expectations and rightfully so. If you go back 12 weeks ago one of these stars was a heel and the other wasn’t even on WWE television. Fast forward to post-Elimination Chamber and one of them is being pushed as a major face (Del Rio) while the other is being pushed as a #1 contender to the World Heavyweight Championship despite just being back on television (Swagger).

It’s to work a World Heavyweight Championship match like that with those things restricting them from connecting to the audience and it doesn’t help it was for a WrestleMania. Like many matches on the card I feel like if it was given more room to grow and be built the fans would’ve accepted it more. It had a ton of potential but overall I feel like it fell flat out of most, if not all, the WrestleMania matches on the card.

- The Undertaker def. CM Punk

This was the best match from the event hands down. Despite everyone “knowing” what will happen the fans are completely invested with every near fall, reversal or regular move when The Undertaker is performing at WrestleMania. It helps when “The Deadman” is quite possibly facing the first person since Randy Orton at WrestleMania 21 to really give people hope that “the streak” could end.

Huge props to both stars for putting on a show under the type of injuries they had. It was a great story told in the ring and I look forward to watching it again once the show comes out onto DVD.

- Triple H def. Brock Lesnar

Other then Undertaker/CM Punk I felt like this match told a great story inside the ring that led to a compelling finish to the match. Both guys really beat the hell out of one another to give the fans a solid match and that’s exactly what they got. Despite Lesnar losing 2 out of his first 3 matches back in the WWE I still feel like he is as strong as when he debuted.

The Triple H/Lesnar feud in my opinion was highly underrated as well and gave fans one of the better buildups heading into MetLife Stadium. I’d be perfectly fine if the WWE wanted to move forward with some sort of “rubber match” between these two at another Summerslam to really end this thing on the right note and unfortunately for Triple H the right note is by getting Lesnar over again as a monster heel. Once again, great job by both guys at WrestleMania.

- John Cena def. The Rock

Sadly the majority of fans could careless about this match and that’s unfortunate for all the hype it received two years ago as being one of those last “mega-matches” in professional wrestling. The match started off slow but I felt really picked up towards the end and had a lot better flow then their WrestleMania 28 match in Miami. While I would’ve preferred to see some sort of heel turn from John Cena (because who doesn’t at this point) or some sort of finish that left us talking, the WWE decided to let all the talking be done in the ring.

The silver lining in this all is that there are questions surrounding both of these wrestlers in regards to what’s next for both of them. Will The Rock ever wrestle again especially after the injury he suffered? Who will be able to feud with John Cena heading into the summer? Can Ryback be that guy?

Overall I was very impressed with the show as a whole and felt it was really solid. Undertaker/CM Punk went beyond expectations and everything else didn’t make me desire anything more but left me pleasantly pleased with the performances. WWE does a hell of a job with their live shows and I felt WrestleMania lived up to all that they deem it to be.

When it’s all said and done I felt like WrestleMania 29 was a 4-out-of-5 show from my standpoint. Very solid show from top to bottom that will probably be one of, if not the best, WWE pay-per-views of the year.

For more on this topic join us for the Thursday April 11th edition of “The Still Real to Us Show” and download the show at www.wheelhouseradio.com or www.wrestlechat.net.

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