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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.

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

You can follow Jeff on Twitter at www.twitter.com/JeffPeck979ESPN

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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.

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

You can follow Jeff on Twitter at www.twitter.com/JeffPeck979ESPN

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Check out Jeff Peck’s wrestling podcast “The Still Real to Us show” which can be available at www.wheelhouseradio.com and www.wrestlechat.net

“LIKE” The Still Real to Us Show on Facebook: www.facebook.com/thestillrealtousshow

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