The WWE will be presenting its first Network-only special event from the main-roster on Sunday night. The Elimination Chamber returns with two chamber matches in addition to a rivalry renewed and the main-roster debut of the NXT star of the future. Let’s break down the card and take a look at the top matches on Sunday’s event.
Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins for the WWE world championship
Count me in as a fan that will never sick of seeing these guys wrestle, even when the go-home angle features Ambrose in a goofy police getup. I was excited when it became clear that the WWE was bringing this rivalry back. I can’t think of many better rivalries in 2014 that the WWE had. Adding the component of the WWE world championship could only make this one better…or so I thought.
I blogged extensively this week about the problems I am having with Seth Rollins as WWE world champion. Unfortunately Rollins’ cowardice is hurting this second chapter in the rivalry for me. I preferred to see these guys both want to tear each other up limb from limb but at least we are guaranteed a killer match on Sunday. I also think that a golden opportunity was blown here by not putting Ambrose over for the quick reign at Payback.
I don’t think there is a person reading this blog that believes that Ambrose is going to win on Sunday. That said, I think that Ambrose should absolutely win on Sunday. Ambrose has something special and it was never more evident than when he was featured last year during Roman Reigns’ absence as a top babyface. Ambrose has something and unfortunately for him, the company refuses to embrace and run with it.
This renewed friendship between Reigns and Ambrose seems rather suspect to me. If not for the fact that the company still has big plans for Reigns as a babyface, the friendship seems set up for Reigns to turn on Ambrose. This match would be the perfect set up for it. It will probably wind up with Ambrose turning on Reigns and I could see the finish on Sunday playing a big part of it. I think Rollins retains the title due to some kind of interference from Reigns that backfires on Ambrose. The company needs to give Reigns something to do while Rollins gets ready to wrestle Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam. A feud with Dean Ambrose is probably the way this thing plays out which takes us to Reigns vs. Rollins in the fall.
John Cena vs. Kevin Owens
I can’t recall a time where there was a match this close to predict. By watching RAW the last two weeks one would have to presume that Cena is beating Owens here. Owens has laid him out twice and Cena put him over big on promos. Yet Owens is red hot right now as NXT champion and all reports from behind the scenes are that management is very high on him. Do you have Cena get laid out two weeks in a row and lose…to a guy from the minor league nonetheless? Or do you have your star of the future get beat in his first big match on the main roster? There is no clear cut right or wrong answer here.
I am sure this will be a real good match. The goal here has to be to make Owens shine as he is a star of the future for the company. One thing you could do here is tell a story where Owens has Cena’s number throughout the match and Cena wins with a veteran move, telling the story that it was Cena’s savvy from being a top WWE performer for the last several years that gave him the edge. Leave the rivalry open and when and if the time comes when Owens comes up to the main roster for good, they pick right back up again with Owens winning the next phase of the feud. That said, when is the last time anyone on the upswing ever got the better of Cena in a feud? CM Punk would probably be the only guy I can think of and there have been a lot of them.
I think Cena does go over here and Owens has a strong showing. They could really do something special here and have Samoa Joe interfere, building heat on the Owens-Joe rivalry while introducing Joe to the main roster. That would work for everyone but at the end of the day I don’t see that much time being invested into a guy with a part-time NXT deal. I predict Cena goes over and social media goes wild once again with anti-Cena venom.
Sheamus vs. Ryback vs. R-Truth vs. King Barrett vs. Rusev vs. Dolph Ziggler – WWE Elimination Chamber Match for the Intercontinental title
This is a real tough match to predict. First of all let me say that I think this match rests on the shoulders of Dolph Ziggler. If Ziggler fights until the end I think we see a real fun match here. If Ziggler is an early exit, I think this match struggles a bit. No pressure at all Dolph.
So who walks away with the intercontinental title? I think you have to go with Rusev here. Rusev is coming off of three straight losses to Cena in addition to losing Lana. The company invested a lot of time into him over the course of 2014. That investment is all for nothing if the feud with Cena turns into a downward spiral. I don’t think it makes sense for the belt to go on anyone but Rusev. Which means that it will probably be Sheamus who wins. I’ll stick with my Rusev prediction, possibly coming down to a battle of the big men with Sheamus to decide the title and the match.
Note: Rusev suffered an injury this week and is questionable for Sunday’s event. If he can’t go I’ll go with Sheamus for the win and the title.
Full WWE Elimination Chamber 2015 card and matches…
Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
John Cena vs. Kevin Owens
Sheamus vs. Ryback vs. R-Truth vs. King Barrett vs. Rusev vs. Dolph Ziggler in a Elimination Chamber match for the vacant WWE Intercontinental Championship
The New Day (Big E, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods) vs. The Lucha Dragons (Kalisto and Sin Cara) vs. Tyson Kidd and Cesaro (with Natalya) vs. The Prime Time Players (Darren Young and Titus O’Neil) vs. The Ascension (Konnor and Viktor) vs. Los Matadores (Diego and Fernando) (with El Torito) in a Tag team Elimination Chamber match for the WWE Tag Team Championship
Nikki Bella (with Brie Bella) (c) vs. Paige vs. Naomi (with Tamina) in a Triple Threat match for the WWE Divas Championship
Neville vs. Bo Dallas
Kevin Owens is the newest NXT superstar to kick down the front door of the WWE and make an immediate impact with his brash behavior. All he did was challenge the money train of the company, John Cena.
Throw out the United State Championship, this has nothing to do with titles. This is more about respect than anything else. And the WWE is doing its best to make sure the “invasion” of its next line of superstars is done in such a way as to be methodical and precise in its success. With Seth Rollins, a former NXT champion, wearing the WWE World Champion and becoming the most hated villain in the company at the present time, there is now proof the company can survive once the likes of Cena, Randy Orton and Kane call it a career.
Rollins, Owens, Sami Zayne and Neville are just scratching the surface of their potential. Along with the likes of Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns, Wade Barrett and Bray Wyatt, has there been this much young talent and super stardom waiting to happen in recent memory?
Not since the days of Rocky Maivia, Steve Austin, Edge and Owen Hart has there been this much excitement over the future of the company. For the fans, it has to be the calling card to come back and visit a familiar time where sports entertainment is fun again.
And let’s not forget that at some point, Samoa Joe will be joining this list.
There are cautions to this sudden euphoria that is ever evolving inside the circus Vince McMahon has created and Stephanie McMahon and Triple H have taken over. But if you are looking for the future of this company, look no further than the previously mentioned superstars.
And the divas could be just as good. Paige, Naomi, Charlotte, Bayley, Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks could make us all forget how piss poor the division used to be. And I cannot wait to see if the Lana experiment really works.
Wrestling transition happens quite frequently and was the major reason for the birth of the WWF and Hulkamania and the establishment of Ric Flair as the greatest heel to ever put on wrestling boots. For some time now – probably with the end of the Attitude Era, the WWE has been treading water with a roster made of aging superstars who gave way to the likes of Edge, John Cena and Randy Orton.
Now that Edge has retired, Cena and Orton have won the company titles too many times over and Daniel Bryan can no longer fulfill the promise of his career due to injury, the establishment of a new young core of talent isn’t just expected, it is needed. There is no real process of “next man up” in this case.
Even with the hotbed of talent rising from NXT, there is still a question mark about Zayn, who may have surgery to repair and injured shoulder and could be out of action for an extensive amount of time.
This transition should be embraced by the wrestling business and should allow Triple H and Stephanie to put their stamp of approval on the next generation of WWE stars.
If it were only that easy.
Sting was in place when Flair started to age. Hogan leaving the WWF was made easier by Austin and The Rock. When Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart hung up their trunks, Cena was waiting. There isn’t just one wrestler to fill the void left by the ones who are closer to retirement than stardom. Which ones are plucked to carry on the tradition is where this all gets interesting. We thought Sheamus and Wade Barrett would be the torch bearers for the next decade. That has not come to fruition.
As NXT continues to knock everyone down in its path and create its own stamp on the WWE, we can all breathe a sigh of relief that our veterans who may be close to leaving or are stepping into the mid-card will have a strong following act. There appears to be plenty of steam from the minor league. If Rollins, Owens and Ambrose continue with their momentum, there is nothing to worry about. Only when they slow down and there is no Plan B should the fans grow concerned. For all we know, this could have been the plan all along. But something tells me a lot of this was done on the fly. And in that case, the WWE is better to be lucky than good. Sometimes, throwing things on a wall and seeing how they fit works out.
This is one of those situations that appears to have worked itself out just in the nick of time.
If I could describe the Road Warriors, one word comes to mind.
Long before Goldberg went through opponents right and left en route to becoming one of the most intimidating men in professional wrestling, the Road Warriors pretty much beat everyone in their sight.
“There’s no appointment needed for dying”, Hawk once told announcer Milt Avruskin during one of their many trips to the Montreal territory in 1985.
When tag teams went into the ring to face this formidable duo, they knew the task that was ahead of them. Not only would a loss be on the menu, but also lots of pain and anguish. Because not only were Hawk and Animal rough looking, but their ring style was very much, well, stiff.
“You’d see the guys coming to the TBS studios looking at the sheet, seeing who were they working with that day”, said wrestling legend Jim Cornette. “And then, you’d just see their heart sink”.
Usually, when a wrestler breaks into the business, they have to pay their dues. It would take a couple of years for them to learn the ropes, and take a few lumps on the road to success.
When the Road Warriors debuted on Georgia Championship Wrestling on TBS in 1983, they didn’t need to pay their dues. They immediately won the Georgia Tag Team Championship, and preceded to destroy anyone who crossed their path. They made NWA mainstays like The Sawyer Brothers, Ole Anderson, and Jack & Jerry Brisco look feeble in comparison to their brute strength and undisputed toughness.
After about a year in Atlanta, they moved to the AWA in Minneapolis, where they continued their path of destruction. In a short amount of time, they beat longtime AWA mainstays Baron Von Raschke and The Crusher for the World Tag Team Championship in Las Vegas in 1984. You could tell that these guys were on a different level than the rest of the talent in Minnesota.
One main ingredient that made the Warriors special was that both Hawk and Animal talked a good game, and backed it up. They made everything they did in the ring look believable and exciting. They also had another great piece to their championship puzzle.
“Precious” Paul Ellering.
When Paul Ellering broke into the business in the late 1970’s, he followed the mold of “Superstar” Billy Graham, Jesse “The Body” Ventura, and Hulk Hogan of guys who lifted weights, and had unbelievable charisma. An unfortunate injury to his knee in match against “Rock and Roll Express” member Robert Gibson ended his career, but fortunately, he found his footing as a manager.
Many people will say without Paul Ellering, the group would have broken up early in their careers. He acted not only as their on-screen manager, but he also served as sort of a agent/business manager of the team behind the scenes. You could say he was the Jerry Maguire of the Road Warriors.
This might not be a popular opinion among most fans, but I think the Road Warriors were at their best in the AWA. One time, they did an angle on television were they beat up Curt Hennig pretty bad. He got hooked up in the ropes, and they preceded to bash his head in with a chair. This led to Curt’s dad, Larry “The Ax” Hennig to get involved, and set up a series of matches between the Warriors and the Hennig family.
One feud that drew a lot of money during that time was the war between the Road Warriors and the Fabulous Freebirds. Were they the greatest technical matches ever? No, but they were brutal brawls that people still talk about today. I wanted for Hawk and Animal to show Michael Hayes, Terry Gordy and Buddy Roberts a lesson, and they most certainly did.
As soon as the Warriors seemed to reach their zenith in the AWA, it all came to an end. For some reason, in late 1985, they dropped the tag team titles to “Gorgeous” Jimmy Garvin and “Mr. Electricity” Steve Regal. Although I enjoyed Garvin and Regal’s work, and certainly no disrespect to them as wrestlers, but the Warriors should have never dropped the belts. With the AWA having some good teams at that time like The Midnight Rockers, Scott Hall and Curt Hennig, and “Playboy” Buddy Rose and Doug Somers, the possible matches they would have had with those teams would sell out everywhere. But obviously, Verne Gagne didn’t think they were worth big money deals, so they bolted for the NWA in 1986.
When the Warriors went to the NWA, they exploded. The feud with the Russians was magic. Ivan Koloff was great. Nikita Koloff was still learning, but I thought he did a tremendous job as essentially the Russian version of the Road Warriors. And Krusher Kruschev added a lot as the third man in the group.
At this time, is when I really discovered how great the NWA was. I had been more of a fan of AWA and WWE, but it seemed like the guys in the NWA really went out there to make the matches as real as possible. The NWA and UWF (Mid-South Wrestling) quickly captured my imagination. It’s also where I discovered how great Ric Flair was.
And it was Ric Flair, Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson who made the Road Warriors really shine. With Flair as the World Champion, & Blanchard and Anderson as tag champions, they certainly didn’t have to go out on a limb and get beat up by the Warriors every night, but they really went out of their way to solidify them as big leaguers. In my opinion, at that time, they were certainly in the same discussion as Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage and Flair in terms of main event stars.
One incident that I remember clearly was when I was seven, and staying the weekend at my grandma’s house and watching NWA on TBS. It was something that I had never seen the Warriors do as long as I had been watching wrestling.
They turned heel.
Sure, they had been bad guys before, but I had never seen it. After a falling out with fellow War Games teammate Dusty Rhodes, they Warriors attacked him in the ring.
“Oh my god, they took his eye out!” NWA announcer Jim Ross yelled in only the voice Jim Ross could do.
Hawk and Animal took one of the spikes off their trademark shoulder pads and preceded to stick one of the spikes in Dusty’s eye. Blood started flowing out of his socket and all over his clothes. I was mad, but not too mad.
Despite the attempt to turn bad, the fans would have none of it. It was like when Steve Austin turned heel at Wrestlemania 17 and joined up with Vince McMahon. The fans laughed at it. Plus, at the time, Dusty Rhodes had kind of run his course as a top tier talent, and to be honest, the fans were sick of him. This led to Rhodes’ firing from NWA/WCW in 1989, and his move to the WWE that same year.
In 1990, Vince McMahon finally got his wish and signed the Road Warriors. But something weird happened.
He changed their name.
For years, the nickname of the team had been The Legion of Doom. In interviews, David Crockett always referred to them as “The Legion of Doom-the Road Warriors”. But Vince decided that the Road Warriors weren’t the name he wanted, so Legion of Doom it was.
Almost immediately after their arrival, they made an impact in WWE. They cost Demolition the tag team titles at Summerslam ’90 against the Hart Foundation, and started feuding with their face-painted counterparts. After years of domination in WWE, Demolition basically were used to put over the new guys.
A year into their WWE run, they beat the Nasty Boys for the belts at Summerslam ’91. While I thought that their interviews were great in WWE, I thought their best work was in AWA and NWA. Unfortunately, their title run was short lived, as they dropped the titles to Money Inc. (Irwin R. Schyster and Ted Dibiase).
After this time, Hawk kinda drifted off into an abyss of drug use. They left the WWE soon after, and broke up for a short while. They went to different areas like New Japan, WCW and eventually back to WWE, where they once again won the tag belts in 1997.
It was around this time that I met them. They had done an appearance at a car dealership, and I really wanted to meet them. I was kind of afraid they were going to be pompous jerks, but they couldn’t have been nicer. I mean, they really took the time to talk to me, and were very polite, especially Hawk.
They stayed on with WWE for a few years. They did an angle with Hawk where he was suffering from his demons and contemplating suicide. I absolutely hated seeing him in this position. In one word, you could describe it as a tasteless.
WWE tried to re-package them as “LOD 2000” with Sunny as their manager, but I didn’t think it was as great as their past. They even took on Darren Drozdov as a third member, and while he did the best he could, the magic just wasn’t there.
Then, reality hit.
In 2003, while moving his family into a new home, Hawk died. He had suffered a heart attack. The wrestling business was in shock. The Road Warriors to me seemed immortal, and there was no way a guy like Hawk could die.
For their achievements, the Road Warriors should be recognized as not just the greatest tag teams ever, but as one of the greatest acts in wrestling history. The paint. The shoulder pads. The non-stop action packed moves. It made them so entertaining to watch.
In the words of Hawk, to describe the Road Warriors, “Oh, what a Rush!”
Has the WWE replanted the seed that will finally see the Ryback experiment come to fruition? After a stellar performance at the Payback pay-per-view on Sunday night, the “Big Guy” may have finally gotten over with the fans as a wrestler who should be taken seriously – as a contender and not an over-sized pretender.
All it took was a couple of years of seasoning and a big push from Bray Wyatt to make the Ryback experience seem like it will finally work in the WWE – a proposition that Vince McMahon hoped for a couple of years ago when CM Punk was the ruler of wrestling’s free world.
We all know Vince McMahon’s philosophy of what is bigger is better for the business. That is why Hulk Hogan stayed on top of the WWF/E food chain for so long. That is why it took some convincing that wrestlers like Daniel Bryan, Shawn Michaels, Eddie Guerrero and CM Punk could carry the promotion despite their size and stature.
When McMahon saw Ryback, a repackaged former member of Nexus, he saw dollar signs. Feed McMahon More!
In reality, the experiment is beginning to pay off and Sunday night, we saw the fruits of everyone’s labor in what can only be described as Ryan Reeves’ best outing yet in a pay-per-view.
Yes, Bray Wyatt had something to do with that. In this case, it is the kind of feud that Ryback needs – a prolonged program that can make him the superstar the company and fans have wanted him to be. All too often, wrestlers work a few matches, stretch a feud into a pay-per-view and are done and move on. Wyatt has been involved in many solid feuds, most notably with Undertaker and John Cena. I thought the Ryback angle was more of a demotion, but this was created in a way to show how Wyatt’s character and his ability to carry a wrestler has been best used.
This time, the WWE struck gold with Ryback – FINALLY.
There have been other big men in professional wrestling who have struck quickly and have been successful. Batista and Goldberg come to mind. Both had solid title runs in their careers. Ryback isn’t there yet. And if I can draw the comparison, the WWE did its best to push the Ryback proposition down the throats of the WWE fans much like they have done lately with Roman Reigns. Fans are adjusting to Reigns as a wrestler who has been on the grand stage and isn’t quite ready yet. The same can be said for Ryback.
But both will be there in a short amount of time.
Now that we have been teased with his fluidity in the ring, his ability to talk better on the mic and the expectation that he can hold his own in a program, the WWE better not be quick to rush Ryback into headline status. That might be harder now given that there isn’t a lot of room at the top. The mid card is exactly where he should stay for a while. Maybe challenge someone like King Barrett or take a run at Sheamus if he wins the Intercontinental Title at Elimination Chamber. But in the meantime, let him continue to work his program with Wyatt and see if the small amount of success leads to bigger things.
If everything continues to move forward and Ryback shows he can handle the bigger stage, then he can fulfill McMahon’s wish of the “bigger is better” prophesy. That means in the future, and only in the future can the WWE feed Ryback more and determine if it’s an appetite he can digest.
I was really looking forward to the day Rollins was going to be champion and sit atop the WWE as the number one heel in the company. Then, he won the Money in the Bank contract and I knew that day was coming sooner rather than later. He was on fire when he won that briefcase, and on many occasions I went on record saying he was the best thing going in the WWE. But as time passed, I started to worry that WWE waited too long and missed their opportunity to put the title on him.
Fast forward to WrestleMania 31 and the most spectacular cash-in in WWE history. Rollins turned the Brock Lesnar-Roman Reigns WWE World Heavyweight Championship match into a triple threat, where he would take advantage and become champion. It came a bit later than I expected, but it was well worth it. All of my speculation flew out the window the moment he came running down the ramp and won the title the way he did. The timing was perfect, not many people were expecting it, it was creative and best of all, Roman Reigns didn’t pin Brock Lesnar to become the WWE World Heavyweight Champion. It was great and it’s exactly what I wanted for him. Unfortunately, my excitement for his title reign wouldn’t last. Rollins lost pretty much all of his heel heat and his title reign has been extremely flat.
I have some thoughts on why things have gone so poorly and how things with Rollins can be restored.
Everything about Rollins’ push as champion is wrong. When he won the title I expected a CM Punk type of heel championship run. He had the potential to be the perfect “do what ever it takes to keep the title,” beatable champion he was supposed to be. Instead, Seth’s being made out to look like a coward. Getting put down by Kane, banning Randy Orton’s RKO in their title match at Extreme Rules, at one point asking Triple H for more security and seemingly running away and trying to avoid every challenger that comes his way; most recently Dean Ambrose. They even resorted to the “heel gets the face arrested” story to try to keep Ambrose away from signing the contract to face Rollins at The Elimination Chamber pay-per-view.
Now, it’s been only two months since he’s been Champion so this could be an easy fix, but time is possibly running out on his first reign. WWE needs to book Rollins as a strong heel. He’s being billed as the next cerebral assassin so maybe he needs to start acting like it. Instead of acting like a coward, he needs to cheat and take his cocky attitude to a new level. Instead of allowing Kane or potential challengers to punk him, he needs to get more aggressive and start showing a little more arrogance. In the situation with Kane, he should have just laughed in his face, punking him back and then laying down the law by taking Kane out. If he were pushed as an untouchable member of The Authority, he’d really be able to do what he wants with no consequences. Keeping him at the top would really be viewed as “best for business.”
Rollins looks really strong when Triple H and Stephanie McMahon are around, but when it’s just Kane, Big Show and his miniature security team, he looks like a joke. Luckily, Big Show hasn’t been seen since his match with Reigns at Extreme Rules. Unfortunately, Kane has been the focal point of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship and that’s really bad for business. The Fatal 4-Way match at Payback and the Cage match at Extreme Rules were more about Kane than any of the actual participants.
Potentially, another very easy solution here, Kane cannot ever be the focal point around Rollins ever again. He can still be around as part of The Authority and the director of operations but he can’t put Rollins in bad spots; make him look weak and he must have his back at all times. Also, Triple H and Stephanie need to be around him more. They ooze power and it will only help Rollins. I absolutely love Jamie Noble and Joey Mercury as J&J Security so they can keep that going.
What ever is going on with his amazing finishing move, the curb stop, is really hurting Rollins in my opinion. Taking the curb stomp away from him hasn’t been good for him at all. He had an original, devastating finisher and he made history with that move. He put Ambrose and Orton out of commission and earned his first singles title with it. Now, every time we see a highlight of Rollins’ accomplishments, there’s no finish and it looks really weird. Now, because I guess it’s viewed as too dangerous, Rollins had to come up with a new finisher. He used some kind of modified DDT in a couple situations and lately he’s been using Triple H’s Pedigree. I’ve seen a lot of mixed feelings about Rollins using the Pedigree, but I personally hate it. A champion who uses a variety of finishers is a champion who doesn’t actually have a finisher. Every top star that’s ever come though the WWE has had a finishing move that separated them from the pack. The Rock has the Rock Bottom. Hulk Hogan had the Leg Drop. Stone Cold had the Stunner and so on. Seth needs a finishing maneuver that he can call his own and he had that.
Once again, a problem that could be fixed without any issue… Find a way to keep the curb stomp safe and a part of Rollins’ move set should be the priority. Like the greats I mentioned above, the curb stomp set Rollins apart and fit him perfectly. It really needs to come back.
So, let me summarize. Seth Rollins’ title reign can be saved and it will only take three very simple changes. Stop booking him as a coward, keep the company around him strong and give him back the curb stomp. Time is ticking on his title reign and if they are going to get him scorching hot ever again, they need to start making some changes. He is too good to be dealing with these kind of issues. I still believe he’s the best overall worker today in the WWE and they need to allow him to be what he was before he was champion. Then and only then, Seth Rollins will be able to max out his potential as WWE World Heavyweight Champion.
We are now two months into the Seth Rollins era as WWE world champion and one thing has become abundantly clear. It’s not working. The champ needs a makeover and with a little more depth to his character, he may be able to turn it around before all is lost.
Let me start this blog off by saying this. I am a big Seth Rollins fan. I want nothing more than to see this guy succeed as a top guy. He is the first fresh face that the company has remained committed to as WWE world champion since The Miz. Yet any objective look at the first two months of his run will tell you that he is on his way to becoming a disappointment.
Disappointment may be a little harsh to some but as a fan I can’t think of anything other way to describe it. The ratings have been terrible since he took the title from Brock Lesnar and from a creative standpoint, his creative has become his biggest anchor. Rollins needs to be repackaged and a look at history and current booking will provide evidence of such.
Rollins needs to be booked stronger. I get the idea of a heel chicken or coward as world champion but it’s not working today nor has it ever worked for a sustainable amount of time. The problem with Rollins is that nobody in the casual audience is buying him as WWE champion and Rollins has nobody to blame for that other than the brilliant minds that are scripting his character.
I look at Ric Flair, heel NWA world champion as the gold standard of heel world champions. I grew up in the Flair era and watched him weekly on NWA World Wide Wrestling and TBS among other places. I have certainly seen enough of him on tape and video since to understand his greatness. While characters certainly have to evolve over time (although who would have expected a heel Russian to get over in 2015?), I think the WWE creative team could learn how to book Rollins using Flair’s character or any other successful heel champion for that matter.
Flair was never someone you would characterize as a chicken. Sure he’d beg off in every match and yes, he’d cheat to win when necessary but the one thing Flair never did was run from his opponents. Flair would get on television every week and whether it was Dusty Rhodes, Magnum TA, Lex Luger, Bruiser Brody, Barry Windham, Nikita Koloff, the Road Warriors, Ricky Steamboat, Ronnie Garvin, or Kerry Von Erich he’d tell you about how great his opponent was but emphasize that he was that much better. Flair was braggadocios, arrogant, confident which made you want to pay to see him get beat even more and it worked.
Flair wasn’t the only one who was a confident heel world champion that drew money. Look no further than the last couple of successful heel WWE world champions. Brock Lesnar, CM Punk, and Triple H cheated when necessary but never backed down from their rivals. Look no further than NXT champion Kevin Owens as a confident heel who will cheat when necessary, yet take the fight when it’s right. Even The Miz while not necessarily successful, exuded more confidence in himself than Seth Rollins. That’s a problem.
I am speaking not only for myself but for the casual fans. I talk to many casual fans that tell me Seth Rollins is too much of a “chicken sh*t” to be taken seriously as WWE champion. The first time I heard it I thought, “Well that is just one fan.” Now that we are two months into his title reign it is becoming more of a prevailing theme in his storylines. This is a guy who beat Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns in one night at WrestleMania! Controversial of course, but if anything that win should provide Rollins with false bravado as opposed to running away from a guy he has beaten on several occasions.
The Dean Ambrose storyline is puzzling to say the least. These guys are rivals, hated enemies, former friends that have fought several times before with Rollins coming out with all but one win in the rivalry. Rollins’ character should be chomping at the bit for this fight yet he is doing everything he can to avoid it. As great as their matches are and I am sure their Elimination Chamber match will be nothing short of excellent, this second phase of their rivalry would be so much better if you had both guys wanting to tear each other apart, like most of the great feuds in pro wrestling history. Let Triple H and Stephanie be the cowards, trying to avoid matches with Reigns and Ambrose (like they did with Randy Orton) while Rollins is ready to go anytime and anywhere.
I think there is so much potential with Rollins as WWE world champion. Unfortunately the opportunity to create a legacy such as this one may only come once for Rollins and he is not getting the support he needs from the creative side. Rollins needs to be repackaged quickly or he is going to fall deeper down a hole his career may never recover from.
After going head to head against John Cena in a stellar segment on Raw, Kevin Owens made it clear that he is on the same level as the United States Champion. Owens is an imposing force within NXT, and plays his heel character to perfection. By securing a victory over Cena at the upcoming Elimination Chamber event, the NXT Champion could prove to the mainstream WWE audience that he is one of the best performers in the company today.
John Cena is coming off of his third straight pay-per-view event victory against Rusev. Another win isn’t necessary for Cena to be taken seriously by the audience, nor will it assist him in gaining any momentum moving forward. If Kevin Owens defeats John Cena in his inaugural WWE match, however, it would skyrocket him towards the top of the company.
While he’s no longer in the main event scene, John Cena is still the most popular performer in WWE, and is arguably most famous superstar of his era. Securing a victory over the man who has been the face of WWE for more than a decade would undoubtedly give Owens the credibility he needs to become an upper echelon performer on WWE’s main roster.
Kevin Owens retained his NXT Championship title in a match against Sami Zayn at NXT’s special event, Unstoppable, on Wednesday night, and subsequently began a feud with new NXT star, Samoa Joe. It’s more than likely that this feud will continue in NXT, which makes it seem as though Owens’ match with John Cena at Elimination Chamber will be a one-and-done type of event. Cena defeating such an overwhelmingly popular NXT star in a meaningless match would be an awful move, as it would stall Owens’ momentum and make him appear to be less of a threat when he does make the move to the main roster on a full time basis.
From a storytelling standpoint, John Cena losing to Kevin Owens simply makes the most sense. Not only has he been consistently battling challengers in the weekly “John Cena United States Open Challenge” on Raw, but he was also recently involved in several hard-fought matches against Rusev. All of the physical and psychological damage that he has sustained over the past few weeks should be taking its toll on the United States Champion, and as a result, he gets defeated by an amateur. If any character could possibly exploit that and use it to their advantage, it would be Kevin Owens without a doubt. Cena could then seek his revenge on Owens when he becomes a full time member of the roster, setting up a meaningful feud that could potentially benefit both performers.
The roadblock that could possibly prevent a Kevin Owens victory from actually happening is WWE’s dedication to John Cena. Allowing their most prominent performer to lose a match against an unproven main roster rookie such as Owens would be a tough sell. Cena has become notorious amongst the WWE Universe as a performer that always emerges victorious in the end, even against his toughest opponents. Three things in life are guaranteed to WWE fans; death, taxes, and John Cena winning. Cena taking a loss to a debuting performer just seems too out of the ordinary for fans to believe that it could actually happen.
NXT, however, seems to have that same level of dedication for Kevin Owens. He was inserted into the main event scene the same night that he made his NXT debut in December, and won the NXT Championship just two months later. Owens has the support of Triple H, on screen and off, and is presented as the next big thing in the company as a whole. He has the support of the audience, puts on stellar matches on a regular basis, and is always furthering the development his character. If there was ever a time for a rookie to make an enormous impact on WWE’s main roster, it’s now, and Kevin Owens is the character who could pull it off flawlessly.
A win over the United States Champion also presents an opportunity for Kevin Owens to continue paving the way for more NXT performers to make the jump to WWE’s main roster. From Tyler Breeze to Bayley, there are countless performers anxiously awaiting their chance to play in the big leagues, and Owens being booked properly would give the audience hope that their favorite NXT stars will be properly utilized upon their arrival.
Kevin Owens is just one of several NXT performers that have recently made their main roster debuts; Neville and Sami Zayn both appeared on Raw in recent weeks to accept John Cena’s open challenge, but both failed to defeat the United States Champion. The success of WWE’s developmental brand is seen throughout the main roster, from Roman Reigns, to Rusev, to Paige. The hope now is that the people in charge see what this victory could potentially mean for Owens in the long run and execute the booking of this match accordingly.
This week’s episode opens with Roman Reigns making his way down to the ring. He says he has a bit of bad news: he didn’t win at Payback. But, he has some good news: he had a really good time at Payback. Any time you punch Seth Rollins in the mouth, it’s a good time. The Shield hit a triple powerbomb and blew the roof off the joint, and he got to go toe-to-toe with his boy, Dean Ambrose. The fact is, he can chase Rollins all he wants, but it won’t be a fair fight. By next week, he’ll probably have 50 more little security guards. While Reigns is fine with punching them all, sometimes, you have to think with your head and not your fists. It’s a new game plan now, as he’s entering the Money in the Bank match, and he’s going to win. You can believe that.
Dean Ambrose heads down to the ring. He apologizes for interrupting, but when he heard Payback, his ears started burning. So he looked for a bucket of ice to dunk his head into, but took a wrong turn at catering, and here he is. But before he came out, he heard something about MITB. He thought about the violence, which he loves. Then he remembered that this year, he won’t be reaching for an opportunity to become WWE World Champion, because by then, he’ll already be champion. Reigns says he hopes so, and he respects Ambrose outsmarting Rollins for a title shot, but for once, just once, would Ambrose please think of an exit strategy.
This prompts Kane to come out onto the stage. He can’t believe he’s about to say this, but he agrees with Reigns. Ambrose’s exit strategy ended with Rollins giving him a Pedigree. He may have gotten one over on the Authority, but in the end, the Authority always wins. Reigns asks how Kane could know that, since he’s always on his back. Kane says that, as far as he’s concerned, Reigns is not in the MITB match. This is not a personal bias; it’s based on fact. Reigns lost at Wrestlemania. He lost at Payback. The only thing Reigns has earned is his spot at the back of the line. The only way he’ll get another title match is proving he deserves it to Kane. Ambrose calls Kane a Justin Bieber groupie. Kane used to be a “brother of destruction”. Now he’s the redheaded stepchild of the Authority. When Triple H and Steph feed him the scraps from the table, does he get to use a fork and knife, or does he eat from a bowl like the lapdog he is? Kane gets pissy and says to not mention his “family” in any way ever again. Ambrose has a hard time listening, so maybe he’ll get this: tonight, Ambrose gets a RAW rematch with Bray Wyatt. Ambrose is happy about that, and he’s going to take care of Wyatt tonight. Kane then tells Reigns he has no plans for Reigns tonight. In fact, Reigns should reflect on his failures tonight. He needs to turn inward, and find ways to grow as a complete superstar. Enjoy the night off. Reigns thanks him. He’ll take a cheat day, fill a plate with Chesapeake crab cakes and cheesecake. But, he’ll still watch the show and make sure Kane does everything that is best for business, and Kane can believe that.
The Prime-Time Players and the New Day are on commentary for the next match.
MATCH 1-FOUR CORNERS TAG TEAM MATCH: LOS MATADORES (DIEGO AND FERNANDO, W/EL TORITO) VS. THE ASCENSION (KONNOR AND VIKTOR) VS. CESARO AND TYSON KIDD (W/NATALYA) VS. THE LUCHA DRAGONS (KALISTO AND SIN CARA)
Kidd and Cara start with a lock-up. Kidd applies an arm wringer. Cara counters and goes for a Gory Special into a pin for 1. He then turns it into a submission, only to have Kidd reverse into a sunset flip for 2. He hits an armdrag into an armbar, only to have Cara tag out to Viktor. Viktor beats Kidd down, only to have Fernando make a blind tag. Kidd trips him and goes for the Sharpshooter, but Torito jumps on the apron for a distraction. Nattie puts a stop to that by grabbing him and lugging him on her shoulders, only to have him spin out and sunset flip her on the floor. In the ring, Fernando kicks Kidd in the back, sending him into the ropes. Diego tags in and cannonballs onto Kidd’s back. Konnor tags himself in, and he hits Kidd with a powerbomb into a DDT. Commercials.
Back from the break, Kidd is fighting out of a rear chinlock, only to have Konnor club him down. Konnor knocks Cesaro off the apron. Moments later, Kidd falls into a tag from Cara, who hits Konnor with a springboard somersault plancha. Cara ducks a clothesline and hits a springaboard cross-body for 2. Konnor boots him and sends him into the corner. Cara boots him away, hits Viktor, then takes Konnor down with a twisting armdrag from the middle rope. He follows up with a handspring elbow, then goes for a lionsault. Konnor blocks it with his knees and tags in Viktor, who stomps Cara down. Konnor back in, and the two hit a double powerbomb. Viktor back in, and he stomps Cara for 2 as Kalisto breaks it up. Viktor hits Kalisto with a falling tigerbomb, then talks trash to Los Matadores, only to have one tag himself in. He covers Kalisto, even though he’s not legal. Viktor pulls the Matador off, and the two of them argue before fists start flying. Their respective partners hit the ring and continue the brawl. Viktor takes a Matador out with a running STO as Konnor and the other Matador spill to the floor. Apparently, during the shoving match between Viktor and the Matador, a tag was made, making Viktor legal again. He sends Cara in for an Irish whip, only to have Cara backflip off a back-body drop attempt and tag in Cesaro. Cesaro nails an overhead belly-to-belly, then hits his series of corner European uppercuts. He calls for the Cesaro Swing, hits a spinebuster, then goes into the Swing in order to set up Montezuma’s Revenge by Kidd, who apparently tagged in at some point. Diego makes a blind tag off Kidd and throws him to the floor, then covers Viktor for 2, only to have Cesaro break it up with a double stomp. Konnor then nails Cesaro and sends him to the floor, only to have Fernando send him out with a hurricanrana. Diego is back up as Viktor tags out to Kalisto, who hits a springboard cross-body. He dropkicks Diego in the knee, then drives his head into the mat off a hurricanrana for 2, only to have Konnor break it up. Konnor grabs Fernando and throws him to the floor as Kidd comes back in the ring. He ducks a Konnor clothesline and hits a somersault plancha on Fernando, who is on the floor on the opposite side. Cesaro comes in and clotheslines Konnor to the floor, only to turn around into Kalisto tossing Cara onto him with a flying dropkick. Cara heads up top and hits a corkscrew plancha, wiping out everyone. Diego sneaks back in and rolls Kalisto up for 2 and goes for a catapult. Kalisto lands on his feet on the middle rope and hits a blind hurricanrana into a roll-up for 3.
WINNERS: THE LUCHA DRAGONS.
I don’t think I’ve seen a blind hurricanrana like that since Jonny Storm’s Rewind.
After some video of what happened between Rusev and Dolph Ziggler on RAW, Renee Young is standing by with Ziggler. She asks for Ziggler’s reaction to what we just saw. He says it’s been a hell of a week. He got busted open at Payback. On RAW, after he was told he’s in the Elimination Chamber match for the IC title, Lana kissed him, only to have Rusev come out and assault him. He’s no stranger to women kissing him, but this is the first time he’ll be locked in a steel structure with the ex-boyfriend. Tonight, he faces another one of his EC opponents, King Barrett. It’s the week that keeps on giving. Lana walks up, and she wishes him good luck before saying she’ll be watching. Ziggler asks Young to leave. He says he knows what Lana was doing on RAW. He knows she was just trying to make Rusev jealous. Rusev needs to respect women. He knows the game she’s playing though, and he’s fine with it. She’s not too bad of a kisser, either.
MATCH 2: KING BARRETT VS. DOLPH ZIGGLER
My feed goes to commercial, and when it comes back, the match has already started, with Ziggler in a rear chinlock. Ziggler fights out and nails Barrett with a right cross before planting a dropkick. He misses a corner splash, then turns around into the Wasteland for 2. Barrett complains about the count as Ziggler rolls to the floor. Barrett heads out and rams Ziggler back-first into the apron. He then launches Ziggler into the barricade by the timekeeper’s area before slamming him face-first into the announce desk. He rolls Ziggler in before taunting Jerry Lawler at ringside. Back in, Ziggler sneaks in a stack-up pin for 2. Barrett comes back with a pair of mule kicks, the last one to the face, for 2. Barrett calls for the Bull Hammer, but Ziggler superkicks him in the arm. He goes for the leaping DDT, only to have Barrett toss him face-first onto the mat. He goes for the Bull Hammer, but Ziggler ducks and drops him with a Zig-Zag for 3.
WINNER: DOLPH ZIGGLER.
Lana comes out and applauds Ziggler from the stage. She’s wearing less makeup, which is actually a huge improvement.
Paige heads down to the ring, and says it’s so good to be back. Last time she saw the fans, she was in her, and I quote, “hometown of England, in London”, in front of her friends and family, in a divas battle royal for a title match, which she won. That was one of the best moments of her career, but her triumph was short-lived. We go to the footage from said match, where Naomi attacked her after it was over and put her on the shelf. Back to the arena, Paige says that’s when Naomi finally became relevant. You’re welcome, pumpkin. She has a weird admiration for Naomi because she took what she wanted. Paige has done that countless times. On the way, Naomi found herself a “boyfriend” in Tamina. She then says Tamina is int he wrong division. Moving on, she’s fully recovered and despite her admiration for Naomi, she took what is Paige’s. This is her division, the Divas title is her title, and the ring is her house.
Naomi and Tamina come down to the ring. Naomi laughs and says she must’ve hit Paige harder than she thought. Paige doesn’t understand where she is in the pecking order. Someone like Naomi, with all of her qualities, deserves to be the top diva, not someone who’s made a career out of screaming, which is all Paige is good at. She doesn’t know what it’s like to struggle and be overlooked by the same people she’s trying to impress. Paige got a title shot on day one. She didn’t earn it, and she damn sure didn’t deserve it. Paige hasn’t been here as long as Naomi has, but this is how things work: you can’t wait for opportunities; you have to take them. Naomi is doing that right now. Paige had an opportunity, and someone better took it from her. Don’t take it personally; Naomi simply removed her from the equation. Paige says taking an opportunity is exactly what she did. In one year, she did more than either Naomi or Tamina in their long, dinosaur careers. There’s more to being a diva than athleticism. You also have to have opportunity, which Naomi lacks. What she doesn’t lack, however, is excuses. Shut up, get over and get over yourself. Naomi starts screaming and says she’s about to run over Paige and everyone else who gets in her way. This is Paige’s house? Naomi and Tamina are about to clean house. They jump on the apron, only to have Paige attack both of them. Eventually, they’re able to double-team her and beat her down, which leads to Nikki Bella “running” down to the ring and chasing them off. She then goes after them outside, only to fall from the ring onto her stupid face. She grabs Naomi by the foot and manages to throw her into the ring, where Paige drops her with a side kick. Nikki tries to climb in, but Tamina pulls her back down. Nikki fights her off as Paige goes for the Ram-Paige on Naomi. Nikki enters the ring and hits Paige with a forearm to the face at the same time, then hits her with the Rack Attack.
Bray Wyatt appears on the screen and says not too long ago, people used to treat these so-called lunatics as if they were evil. Some would go as far as to claim perhaps they were possessed by demons. Nowadays, these claims are looked down upon, as if they were primitive and outrageous. Here’s the thing: they were right. Demons are all around us and exist in us all. Tonight, he will prove to Dean Ambrose he has his inner demons, but they watch the minds of men (I think. That part was hard to hear). Ambrose is asking himself, “why me, why now?” Simple. Ambrose is in his way. Run.
It is announced that Nikki Bella will defend the Divas title against both Paige and Naomi in a triple threat match at EC.
MATCH 3: R-TRUTH VS. STARDUST
Stardust gets the jobber non-entrance treatment. He hits a boot, then clubs Truth across the back. Truth comes back with a hiptoss, then nails an uppercut that sends Stardust to the outside. Stardust hits a hotshot from the apron, then nails a springboard dropkick for 2. It’s announced Truth will be in the IC title match at EC as well. Back to the match, Stardust stomps Truth down against the ropes, then drives his knee into Truth’s back before applying a straightjacket. He snaps Truth down by the neck, then stomps the side of his head. He hits a short-arm clothesline and a punch to the face, then goes back to the straightjacket. Truth gets to his feet and manages to break free with elbows and punches. He goes for the Osaka street cutter, but Stardust escapes and hits the Disaster Kick for 2. He gets another 2-count, then hits Dark Matter for 2. Stardust pulls off one of his gloves and nails Truth with punches in the corner. As he grabs his glove, Truth kicks him in the face, picks up the glove in some kind of weird distraction, then hits Lil’ Jimmy for 3.
Renee Young is standing by with Ryback, who is also in the IC title match. She asks about what is going through his mind going into the Chamber. He says he’s never competed in this match before, and he’d be lying if he said it wasn’t intimidating. At the same time, he’s chomping at the bit to get inside. He’s a starved lion trapped in a cage with five antelope. What does Young think would happen. She says something stupid about vegans. Ryback then delivers a message to the five others: The Big Guy’s hungry, and anything that stands between him and the IC title will get devoured. He’s hungry. The WWE Universe is hungry. And when people are hungry, people say “Feed me more”. Ryback then tells her he has some great vegan recipes and he’s quite the cook. Again, stupid vegan lines.
MATCH 4: THE META POWERS (CURTIS AXEL AND MACHO MANDOW) VS. ADAM ROSE AND HEATH SLATER (W/ROSA MENDES)
Mandow and Slater start with a lock-up, with Mandow backing Slater into the ropes before giving a clean break. He misses a clothesline, and Slater applies a side headlock. The two crisscross until Mandow hits a back elbow. He throws Slater into the buckles, then snaps off some jabs. Rose comes in and gets the same treatment before Mandow hits him with an inside-out hotshot. Back in the ring, Slater hits a Harlem side kick for 2, then kicks Mandow in the back. Rose tags in, and the two hit a double suplex for 2. Rose drops some elbows and a fist for another 2, then tags in Slater. Slater hits a kick to the gut, then chokes Mandow over the middle rope. Rose back in, and he kicks Mandow off the ropes for 2 before applying a rear chinlock. Mandow counters with a back suplex. Rose tags out, as does Mandow. Axel hulks out, does the finger point, hits the three punches and the big boot. Rose comes in, but Mandow backdrops him to the floor. Axel hits an Atomic Legdrop and gets 3.
WINNER: THE META POWERS.
The two have a pose-down after the match.
Renee Young is now standing by with Bo Dallas for some reason. She says Dallas made quite the impact on RAW when he attacked Neville. We go to that footage. Back to Young and Dallas. She asks why he attacked Neville. He says when he was a kid, a bird used to land on his windowsill every morning. God, his voice is obnoxious. The bird was beautiful with bright colors, and could fly higher than the rest. One day, it flew too high, hit a power line and hurt its wing. He watched it try to fly again, but it couldn’t, so he came along, took the bird, fed it, coddled it and nursed it back to health. With his help, the bird overcame adversity and flew away. Just like that bird, Neville has a broken wing. He’s trying to make Neville stronger. With Dallas’ help, he can overcome adversity and fly away. All he has to do is Bolieve.
MATCH 5: DEAN AMBROSE VS. BRAY WYATT
The two lock-up, and Ambrose applies a side headlock. Wyatt comes back with a shoulder off the ropes, but then runs into a drop toehold. Ambrose pounds Wyatt’s knee, then snaps it backwards before hitting a dragon screw. He sets Wyatt’s leg up on the middle rope in the corner and hits a kick to the knee, but Wyatt shakes it off and drops Ambrose with an uppercut. Ambrose comes back with a kneelift against the ropes and a flying forearms that sends Wyatt to the floor. He follows up with a suicide dive, breaks the count, goes for a dive off the apron, only to have Wyatt sidestep him and send him knee-first into the ring steps. Commercials.
Back from the break, Wyatt has Ambrose in a rear chinlock, with his knee in the back. Ambrose fights to his feet, but then gets kicked in the knee. Wyatt hits a bodyslam, then misses a running senton. Ambrose pelts Wyatt with rights and goes for a cross-body, but Wyatt blocks it with a vertical splash. My feed cuts in and out, making the next minute choppy. When it comes back, Wyatt has Ambrose draped across the middle rope. He then yanks on Ambrose’s neck from the floor and looks for a suspended DDT. Ambrose fights him off and turns it into a tornado DDT on the floor. Ambrose is up first, and he throws Wyatt in before climbing back in himself. They pull themselves up in opposite corners, and Ambrose hits a corner forearm. Wyatt shoves off a bulldog, but Ambrose rebounds with a clothesline. He hits several strikes, and my feed starts acting wonky again. When it comes back, Wyatt is on the floor, and Ambrose goes for a suicide dive. Wyatt catches him and looks for Sister Abigail. Ambrose escapes, so Wyatt tries to roll him back in the ring. Wyatt spins through on the apron and levels Wyatt with a clothesline. Back in the ring now, Ambrose heads up top for the flying elbow. Wyatt catches him and looks for the standing uranage. Ambrose escapes and goes for Dirty Deeds. Wyatt escapes and hits the uranage on the second try for 2. Wyatt hits a right, and my feed sucks yet again. Back on a few second later, Ambrose hits a low dropkick and goes up top. Jamie Noble runs down and jumps on the apron to distract the referee, which allows Joey Mercury to shove Ambrose off. He lands on his feet, but gets caught in Sister Abigail. Ambrose reverses it into a schoolboy for 2, gets hit with an uppercut, then rebounds off the ropes with a clothesline. As both men are down, Seth Rollins marches down to ringside. Before he gets to the ring, Roman Reigns heads down through the crowd. He nails both members of J&J, then chases Rollins back up the ramp. Noble attacks him from behind, and Reigns chases him into the ring, where Ambrose pelts him with fists. Wyatt is back up, and he throws Ambrose into the ropes. Ambrose avoids a charge and ends up hung up on the middle rope. as the ref is getting Noble out of the ring, Reigns nails a Superman Punch on Wyatt, and Ambrose follows up with Dirty Deeds for 3.
Nobody ever doubted whether Kevin Owens had the tools to make the switch to the WWE. Yet even Owen’s supporters are impressed with his quick success in making the transition yet according to Owens, it really hasn’t been much of a transition at all.
Kevin Owens made one of the most memorable WWE RAW debuts in years this past Monday when he laid out John Cena. Owens is on his way to becoming a money player in the WWE as NXT champion and a new feud against John Cena. Owens rise to the top is coming quicker than anyone has expected and as Owens told RollingStone.com recently, his success may be credited with a very minor transition process from the independents to the WWE.
“I had a bit of a struggle at first with thinking, “Who do I want to be here? What part of myself do I want to tap into so I get on NXT television as quick as possible?” Then I realized what I’d been doing for 14 years had worked because it had gotten me here. So there were little tweaks, maybe clean up the language a little, but besides that I think I’ve been pretty true to myself. And I think that’s a big part of what helps me be successful. I’m genuine, and I think people can see that when they watch. I’m just gonna keep going that way and see where that takes me.”
Owens’ story is a great lesson here that I hope isn’t being missed by the WWE. The process for most new signees has been to strip them down to basics and rebuild them with a WWE style. Guys like Finn Balor, Hideo Itami, and even Seth Rollins all had to go through rebuilding periods. For whatever reason, Owens was able to stay true to himself and the skills that brought him there. Whether this was an experiment or not, it’s working and it needs to be considered for all future signees coming in with large pedigrees outside of the WWE.
For independent road warriors like Owens, the NXT schedule is a breath of fresh air. I worked with Owens quite a bit in CZW and at the time he was making drives from Canada to Philadelphia in a packed car for little money. The new schedule is well deserved for someone like Owens who has certainly paid his dues.
”One of the big advantages of NXT for me was I get to sleep in my own bed every night almost. For years, I was on the road with the indies two, three days a week, and it got to the point where I’d wake up not sure which town I was in. Which, honestly, I kind of liked. That’s part of being a wrestler. But when I signed with WWE and moved to Orlando, my wife and my two kids came with me. That’s been great. My daughter just turned one a couple of weeks ago, so I get to be there for a lot of the landmarks I didn’t necessarily get to see with my first kid. That said, I do look forward to getting back on the road when the time is right.”
It also doesn’t hurt to work with your close friend and best rival in your first WWE program. Owens jumped right into NXT feuding with Sami Zayn. Zayn and Owens as El Genrico and Kevin Steen had one of the greatest rivalries in Ring of Honor history just a few years back. Owens was asked about the NXT feud and distinguishing it from their past rivalry.
“I haven’t done anything in particular. We have been who we are, and I speak for Sami Zayn here as well. In that aspect, we are very alike. A lot of people have doubted us throughout the years, we know we can make those people come around. We’ve never faltered from that, so why try to be different here? And we haven’t tried to be different and it’s been working very well, so I think that says something not only about the faith we have in ourselves, but about people being true to themselves. I think that’s important in this day and age. With social media around, people can see glimpses of who we are there, so why shy away from it in another environment? All around, we’ve been true to ourselves for years, so why change now?”
Check out the entire interview in RollingStone.com where Owens goes into much more depth about his transition, his mentors in NXT, and more.
TNA Wrestling are fighting back against reports that Impact Wrestling has been cancelled effective this September by Destination America. Unfortunately TNA are spending more time attacking and threatening the source as opposed to commenting on the actual story reported.
TNA loyalists (fans) immediately shot back accusing Dave of being a “hater” and the report being another of Meltzer’s continuous “lies” about TNA Wrestling. As a subscriber of Dave’s since about 1988, the irony of those statements have not been lost. For starters, Dave’s reviews of Impact have been extremely positive since TNA went to Destination America. Thus the accusations of Dave being a hater are obviously being made by those who don’t read Dave nor listen to his podcasts. Furthermore, I am unfamiliar with these countless “lies” Dave has made about TNA. Would it be the lie Dave was accused of when he reported Impact was not being renewed by Spike? Would it be the lie that Dave was accused of when TNA waved the white flag on the Monday night venture? Was it the lie Dave was accused of when he reported that Vince Russo was still working for TNA? Was it a lie when Dave reported that TNA were in negotiations to sell the company to Toby Keith? Right, point being I don’t recall one report Dave has made about TNA in the last several years (or ever) that wasn’t eventually confirmed. Yet these TNA supporters (and boy are they completely oblivious to reality) continue to call Dave a liar yet continue to lie about Dave’s credibility. Ironic isn’t it?
“It has come to our attention that several internet news sources have falsely attributed statements to TNA, its executives and broadcasting partner. These false statements constitute defamation and if necessary we will seek all legal remedies available to us.”
Let’s read into that for a second. For starters, TNA are not denying the reports of Destination America cancelling or not renewing TNA programming. Nowhere in this statement does TNA say that those reports are false. The only thing TNA is accusing the reporters of is attributing statements to TNA, executives, and broadcasting partner. Number two, the threat of legal action is an interesting bullying tactic. The problem here is that if TNA does seek legal action against Dave, Dave may have to reveal his sources and it could get extremely embarrassing for the company. Dave has been doing this for a long time and my hunch is that Dave is not reporting anything he can’t back up. Now as for other sites, that could be a problem depending upon the way they “report” the story.
Dave responding to a fan asking him on Twitter about TNA filing a defamation suit against him responded with the tweet…”@KevinGedert2 Why haven’t they threatened me is the question. Why haven’t they addressed one thing written?” This could turn into a very embarrassing game of chicken for TNA if they continue to make those threats towards Dave.
Ironically Dixie Carter has remained mum on the report. Dixie, who is very active on Twitter continues to tweet yet has ignored commenting on the story that her company’s television deal may be cancelled or not renewed.
New TNA booker Billy Corgan (who joins an esteemed creative team featuring Christy Hemme and John Gaburik among others) has questioned Dave’s credibility in a tweet. Meltzer responded on Twitter, “Sort of sad about Corgan, his words are almost identical to Russo about Mike Johnson when he did that story last year.”
I have to admit that I am enjoying this game of chicken. If the reactions from those within TNA and the company weren’t almost identical to reactions when reports of Spike dropping Impact I may be inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt. Unfortunately the biggest victims here are the talent. I don’t know what talent are being told but the company owes it to the talent to address this report with honesty and integrity. Anything less could damage the company’s integrity internally beyond repair.