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Archive for the ‘WWE | Pro Wrestling’

Brock Lesnar: Part-Time WWE Champion, Full-Time Beast

January 30, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Brock Lesnar has held the WWE World Heavyweight Championship since August 17, 2014. He has defended the title only twice, and has been absent from 3 WWE PPV’s since he became champion. His infrequent appearances as the champion seem to have fans split. Some feel that it makes the World Heavyweight Championship seem more important, after being frequently passed between top stars for a long period of time. Some feel as though it makes WWE’s main event scene seem irrelevant, since big matches have no further implications, such as a title shot.

Even with his limited schedule, the value that Brock Lesnar brings to WWE as a whole is remarkable. Lesnar is always slated to be a monster, a story that is rarely told in the company today. There are plenty of reasons why he is seemingly unbeatable. Let’s start from the beginning.

Brock Lesnar debuted in WWE in 2002. He dominated every opponent that was fed to him, and fans instantly took notice. His character had the feel of a silent, untamed monster. Shortly thereafter, he was paired with Paul Heyman who served as his mouthpiece. Heyman dubbed his client, “The Next Big Thing”, a title he proved himself worthy of quickly.

Lesnar continued to rack up an impressive amount of victories, culminating with his win at the King of the Ring PPV in June, 2002. This match had an added stipulation; the winner would receive a WWE Undisputed Championship match. From there, Lesnar was launched into the main event scene at a meteoric pace.

In August of 2002, Brock Lesnar defeated The Rock to win the Undisputed Championship at Summer Slam. Not only did he take The Rock’s title, he also took his record of youngest WWE heavyweight champion in history. Lesnar was only 25 years old, but had already accomplished the top feat in WWE.

The “Lesnar Era” bridged the gap between WWE’s Attitude and Ruthless Aggression eras. Lesnar held his own with some of the best superstars professional wrestling has ever seen, such as Kurt Angle, The Undertaker, Triple H, and Eddie Guerrero. Although it was so early in his career, it never felt as though Lesnar didn’t belong in the main event scene with the best stars in the business.

Brock continued to reign as WWE’s resident beast until 2004, when he famously left wrestling to pursue a career in the NFL. His absence was very impactful to the company, as well as the roster. With their top star gone, WWE was left to fill a huge void. John Cena then made a fast rise to the top, and was WWE Champion by 2005.

The same question has been asked amongst fans for nearly a decade. If Brock Lesnar never left WWE, would John Cena be in the position he is today? Cena went on to build a brand and an empire, elevating WWE to new heights and giving them major visibility worldwide. He has become one of the most popular and decorated stars in the history of professional wrestling. WWE went from their top star, Lesnar, being a villain, to their new top star, Cena, being a superhero. Lesnar’s departure caused WWE to take a completely different path than they originally planned, and some could say that it altered the history of the business.

Following his failed pursuit of an NFL career, Brock Lesnar began a new career path and became an MMA fighter, signing a contact with UFC in 2007. Similar to his debut in WWE 5 years earlier, Lesnar dominated his opponents and quickly rose to the top of UFC, winning the UFC Heavyweight Championship in 2008. In 2010, he was the highest paid fighter in UFC.

After struggling for 2 years with a stomach condition known as diverticulitis, Lesnar was sidelined from UFC in 2011 and underwent surgery for his condition. He competed in one more match, which he lost, and retired from UFC formally in December, 2011.

Yet again, similar to when he left WWE in 2004, his absence was impactful to UFC as a whole. Lesnar was a box office sensation during his time with the company, participating in 5 of the highest selling PPV events in UFC history, 3 of which he main evented. After seemingly never recovering from the health issues that plagued him, fans wondered if Lesnar would ever be able to physically compete again in any sense.

In 2012, a healthy Brock Lesnar made his triumphant return to WWE after an 8 year absence. His first order of business was attacking John Cena, the man who took his top spot in the company following his departure. This was the start of excellent feuds that put him up against the likes of Cena, Triple H, and his former mouthpieces’ new client, CM Punk.

After winning the feud with Punk and realigning himself with Paul Heyman, Lesnar rode high atop a wave of destruction. In February of 2014, he demanded a World heavyweight Title shot at Wrestlemania 30, threatening to walk out of the company again if he didn’t get what he wanted.

The Undertaker, however, had different plans for Brock Lesnar.

A shot at defeating the most sacred streak in the history of professional wrestling is much more important than a title shot. The Undertaker’s annual WrestleMania match is always by far the most anticipated match amongst fans.

As we all know, Brock Lesnar defeated The Undertaker’s historic WrestleMania streak, becoming the 1 in 21-1. His victory changed the course of WWE history.

WWE legends and Hall of Famers such as Ric Flair, Shawn Michaels, Kane, and Triple H all had their chance to be the man that ended the Undertaker’s streak, but none were given that honor. Brock Lesnar was.

He carried the heat he gained from that match all the way to Summer Slam, where he decimated John Cena like no opponent ever has, and became WWE World Heavyweight Champion once again.

It seems as though Brock Lesnar never missed a step, even after being out of WWE for 8 long years. Now, in 2015, Lesnar is once again the most important star in the company.

Of course, he will never be a “kid-friendly” character. He will never sell the amount of merchandise that John Cena does. He will never have a fun catchphrase or chant. Lesnar’s effortless way of systematically destroying his opponents is all he needs to succeed as champion. That in itself is an impressive feat.

He beat The Undertakers WrestleMania streak, the most sacred thing amongst WWE fans. Still, he was the most cheered for star at the Royal Rumble PPV in his match against John Cena and a fresh, young heel, Seth Rollins. Another impressive feat.

Brock Lesnar has reminded us all that he is a unique, once-in-a-generation type of superstar that cannot, and will not, be duplicated.

With rumors of Brock leaving the company again after Wrestlemania 31 to go back to UFC, the possibilities seem endless whether he stays or goes.

WWE has been molded by Lesnar’s presence, and has also been radically altered in his absence.

This will surely again be the case when WrestleMania 31 draws to a close.

WWE: The Destruction of the Shield

The Randy Savage Story DVD

Grab discounted WWE DVDs, merchandise, t -shirts, figures, and more from the WWE Shop on Amazon.com

Roman Reigns Must Turn Heel at WWE WrestleMania 31

January 29, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

The WWE Universe is in a tailspin following the finish to the Royal Rumble. The groundwork has been laid and while it may not have been the plan, the best thing for business is to turn Roman Reigns heel at WrestleMania.

I hate to be one of those kneejerk reaction kind of bloggers. I really try and take a step back and analyze a situation before I make a radical suggestion and believe me, this is a radical idea. The WWE creative machine have been hard at work on the Roman Reigns babyface plan for over a year. Deviating from the blue print is something I don’t take likely.

At the same time, any successful company in or out of wrestling have been companies that have reacted as opposed to dictated. Wrong reason or not, the WWE reacted last year to the Yes Movement and it paid off with one of the most exciting Mania matches in recent memory. Imagine for a second what would have happened if the WWE stayed the course and firmly held Batista as a babyface? It would have been a disaster and fans would have been turned off, some tuning out. It could be worse for Reigns as Batista was never a long-term plan.

The plate has been set for a classic double-turn at Mania. Brock Lesnar has been booked like a babyface for weeks. I don’t necessarily like it, but that is how he has been portrayed. His comeback win on Sunday at the Rumble enough evidence to convince me that he really he is a babyface. Whether he stays or goes, Brock could always be a tweener and wrestle both heels and faces. He is the perfect partner to make this turn work.

It is also a great excuse to keep Paul Heyman around. Heyman booked this very same angle when he turned Sabu on Taz and flipped Bill Alfonso. The very same angle! Reigns desperately and I mean DESPERATELY needs a mouthpiece. Give Heyman the microphone, make Reigns a monster, and you are picking up right where you left off with Brock. Imagine if Brock does stick around. Imagine Heyman running his mouth for a few months about Lesnar the way he did the Undertaker with Brock coming back for revenge at SummerSlam.

The money for Reigns was to have him chase the title. That never happened. There was never a prolonged chase, ala Daniel Bryan last year for the title. That money could be saved for a future babyface turn in a couple of years. The money is in Reigns being a bad-assed heel and paying money to see the heroes conquer the impossible villain. In other words, the WWE gets their Brock Lesnar but this guy is full-time and he is not going anywhere.

There are enough challengers to carry Reigns as heel WWE champion from now through WrestleMania. Daniel Bryan, Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, Randy Orton, and yes John Cena are all matches that be sold as headline WWE title matches. I think if held off, Reigns vs. Cena or Bryan could actually be pretty big. Even bigger could be a Mania 32 showdown with The Rock. This is a lot more enticing than Reigns’ list of heel challengers which boasts of Seth Rollins and Bray Wyatt. Can you follow the money here?

Not only is this the right choice, quite frankly I see this as the only choice. The WWE have completely blew it on Reigns being a big-time babyface champion. They don’t have enough guys ready to challenge and he certainly isn’t ready to carry that ball. The booking is so freaking easy, even Vince Russo could do it.

On second thought…

WWE: The Destruction of the Shield

The Randy Savage Story DVD

Grab discounted WWE DVDs, merchandise, t -shirts, figures, and more from the WWE Shop on Amazon.com

Is it Time to Put the WWE Hall of Fame to Bed?

January 29, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

With the recent news of Macho Man Randy Savage’s long overdue induction into the WWE Hall of Fame, it’s time for the annual round of speculation and suggestions to begin anew.

Year after year, we bemoan the overlooking of our favorites, debate the reasoning behind those inductions that come way out of leftfield (Koko B. Ware, anyone?), and tread the proverbial rumor mill with an enthusiasm once only reserved for discussing The Streak.

Just like The Undertaker’s legendary ‘Mania run, however, it may be time to put the annual celebration of times gone by to bed.

At least for the time being.

Generating an interest like little else offered by the current product, the Hall of Fame ceremony has been a guaranteed money maker for Vince McMahon’s sports entertainment empire since it was revived from its eight-year hiatus back in 2004.

Eleven years and some 120 inductees later, you have to wonder how much longer WWE can continue to ride their illustrious history to the bank.

Hall of Fame Worthy Candidates
From the top of the head, this fan can only think of a handful of veterans who are -or at least should be- future certs for induction:

Owen Hart, Davey Boy Smith, The Undertaker, Kane, Big Show, Triple H, Kevin Nash, The Rock, Rick Rude, Goldust, and Vincent K. McMahon himself. There’s a strong argument too, for giving the nod to Sting, Lex Luger, and Paul Heyman.

Whilst we’re at it, why not recognize the achievements of Heyman’s biggest success, ECW, and award those Hall of Fame rings to the likes of Raven, RVD, Tommy Dreamer and The Sandman.

With a little more thought, you’ll probably come up with a few more, though probably not very many. For now though, we’ll concentrate on that core group of eighteen individuals.
Doing the math, let’s consider that WWE tends to make between six and seven inductions per year. That gives us what, three years of top-level, well deserved inductions before we really start scraping the barrel, something the company can ill-afford to do if the Hall of Fame is to keep on wringing a few extra dollars from fans pockets.

Legitimacy
Sure, the whole thing is a gimmick, an event just like Wrestlemania, or at least a B-level pay per view, but still, its success depends on an air of legitimacy and a certain caliber of recognizable, deserving names as its headline attraction.

Lose that, and you ultimately start to lose the interest of the very fans you’re trying to attract. After all, would you buy a ticket to an event where the biggest draw is a posthumous recognition for Nelson Fraizer’s brief main event run back in 1995? Not that many would begrudge an induction for the long-tenured grappler, but that alone is hardly likely to inspire an influx of fans.

What’s the solution then? Simply convince Martha Hart to let Owen be inducted, blast through the aforementioned eighteen men above, and then call time on the whole thing forever more?

Not necessarily.

Filling the void
As we’ve already discussed, there’s money at stake here. It would be foolish just to ignore the cash-making potential of a ceremony-like event for the rest of time.

Rather, this writer is thinking long term. Avoid burnout and dwindling interest by putting the thing back on hiatus for a couple of years.

Those of us still desperate to see the likes of Davey Boy Smith welcomed into the Hall of Fame will still likely feel the same way six or seven years down the line. At that point, bring the ceremony back as an annual event, start working through those who should have been included a long time ago, and by the time the company has exhausted that list, the likes of Cena, Orton and their contemporaries can all receive their inevitable inductions without WWE looking like they’re running out of options.

What about the mean time? What would fill the gaping void in Wrestlemania Weekend left behind in the ceremony’s absence? Well, there’s always the option of upgrading the Slammy Awards from TV-filler to legit event. If anybody could make that work, it’s the sports entertainment empire that is World Wrestling Entertainment. Get fans excited, get the red carpet out, heck, go the whole hog and get Todd Pettengill back as MC. Anything’s got to be better than the diminishing returns the WWE are likely to see once worthy candidates for the Hall of Fame start becoming as rare as a Zack Ryder Raw appearance.

That’s just one suggestion though. For now, it’s time to start debating the names who’ll join the Macho Man in the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2015.

WWE: The Destruction of the Shield

The Randy Savage Story DVD

Grab discounted WWE DVDs, merchandise, t -shirts, figures, and more from the WWE Shop on Amazon.com

WWE 2015 – Let It Begin!

January 29, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

So my last article was back in the Fall 0f 2014. I had seen a number Raws but I didn’t have much to say. As the holidays approached I was going to do a recap and peak into what I would expect in 2015 but a stomach virus knocked me out for almost two weeks and then Christmas rolled around where I indulged in the holiday buzz of food, family, fun, and drinks. And then 2015 arrived! It’s a new year of wishes, predictions, expectations, and the unexpected; good and bad but one thing for sure is 2015 has started off with a decent bang in the WWE.

It felt like around the time of my last article there weren’t many things to look forward to heading into 2015 but a lot can change in a couple of months. Key WWE Superstars are back from injuries and it feels like multiple wrestlers are primed for a push. But on the other hand, there are still things within the WWE that needs improving, or eliminated, or streamlined. There’s lots to talk about that won’t fit this article from Last Sunday’s Royal Rumble heading into Wrestlemania season.

Injuries plagued the WWE last year that the creative team had to quickly move things around pushing back or changing their original plans along with a sudden exit of CM Punk. But being patient is a good thing. The main event at the Royal Rumble was a classic example of different wrestlers at different phases of their respective careers. All three participants of the triple threat match will take different paths to Wrestlemania but they will be important paths.

Brock Lesnar didn’t disappoint last Sunday at the Royal Rumble. He’s a monster but he may be wrapping up his time with the WWE after Wrestlemania. John Cena’s next feud to be determined but it depends on whether or not he wins the title. Seth Rollins is a continuous star in the making with a bright future. One way or another he should headline WrestleMania capturing the WWE title at the Rumble and taking it to Wrestlemania to face whoever it may be. I’m hoping I’m right.

Daniel Bryan’s back from his injuries so we’ll see how the Yes Movement progresses or digresses. The Philadelphia crowd last Sunday showed they’re huge backers of the movement while voicing their displeasure verbally when he was eliminated from the Rumble match. Yes, the WWE fans weren’t happy about what transpired last Sunday but I doubt Daniel Bryan will be kept down for long. But the big question is can he stay healthy? Speaking of injury, guess who’s back?

A favorite of mine, Wade Barrett is back. I’m hoping for the push he deserves as a heel. He has the potential to become one of the top heels even though he’s been getting pops from the crowd. He plays the heel so well.

Roman Reigns! Wow! Never thought he’d ever get that kind of crowd reaction at last Sunday’s Rumble with or without The Rock by his side. I’m happy that he won and the WWE Brass is sticking with their plans. Okay, he might have lost some pop from the crowd but he exudes major push and is a definite future WWE star.

Even the veterans are making it interesting. I loved the ending to the January 19th Raw when Sting interfered in the Cena/Authority match. I’m loving the slow, gradual buildup of the Sting/HHH feud dating back to last year’s Survivor Series. Both of them are legends in the business and they can work this program extremely well. They’ve confronted each other twice and we’re clamoring for more. I know Sting’s getting up there in age but I find it hard to believe that Wrestlemania may be his last match in the WWE. I hope it’s not.

And then there’s the unknown of two veterans in particular. They are Randy Orton and the Undertaker. Taking Orton off Raw has done him good. We’ll see what’s in store Orton and there are multiple options on how Orton’s opponent will be; assuming he does come back for Wrestlemania.

One guy whom I think would be a great opponent for Randy Orton is Bray Wyatt. Wyatt’s been getting a push with victories over Dean Ambrose and he’s a crowd favorite. Randy Orton versus Bray Wyatt makes sense. Think about it; Orton hears voices in his head against Bray Wyatt who gets inside Orton’s head. Wyatt was a hit last year at Wrestlemania versus John Cena with a great match and the crowd singing “He’s got the whole world in his hands.” If I see another Orton/Cena match, I’ll puke.

Speaking of veterans, how about The Undertaker? Is he really done? We never got clarity on his situation since the loss. In my world, I would put him against Brock Lesnar in a rematch. In my world, I would have the Undertaker interfering in a Lesnar match whether or not it costs him the WWE title at the Rumble or on a Raw. Both Brock and his manager Paul Heyman have been boasting the victory over the Undertaker the entire year. Besides, to me there was something off with The Undertaker last year in the ring and with his look and I want to see him and his legacy finish on a better note. He looked slow and out of shape but I understand injuries and his age was a factor but his look didn’t suit him well. Do away with the buzz cut Mohawk!

So many more wrestlers to mention like Dean Ambrose, Rusev, Dolph Ziggler, Ryback, Sheamus, Erik Rowan, and Luke Harper but I don’t have room to address it in this article but you get my point. For now, let’s just say the WWE roster looks good for now bit what concerns me is how will these wrestlers be used and will the writing be better this year? I’ll admit some feuds did nothing for me fading out at times but I’m a lifelong professional Wrestling fan and I keep coming back for more. So let’s get going with the 2015 Wrestling season and I wish the key WWE superstars and happy and more importantly a healthy 2015.

WWE: The Destruction of the Shield

The Randy Savage Story DVD

Grab discounted WWE DVDs, merchandise, t -shirts, figures, and more from the WWE Shop on Amazon.com

WWE Creative Needs An Overhaul

January 28, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

It’s easy to boo Roman Reigns but the Royal Rumble fiasco is symptomatic of a bigger problem. The Reigns revolt caps off a decade of consistently poor creative and ignorance that has produced absolutely zero new superstars and has done more to damage careers than enhance them. It’s time for this department to start taking some accountability and it starts right at the top with the Chairman of the Board and his hand picked successor.

WWE fans find themselves in the same spot they were last year. Frustrations are peaking once again as the company has sealed themselves into a bubble, isolated from the fans, forcing a superstar on its customers. Many bloggers and pundits are looking for answers, most accusing the WWE creative hierarchy of ignorance while I tend to look at more at the obvious. This writing team and it’s commanders in chief are inept at their jobs.

It’s easy to sit back and criticize booking based on personal tastes. Whether you were a fan in the 80s or last month, no booking period has ever given you everything that you wanted. This isn’t even a case of the company getting its top guys wrong. That isn’t the issue. The issue here is that an objective look at this writing regime and its process over the last several years concludes that this writing team has done more harm in elevating talent and creating elite superstars than any other in the history of the WWE.

Stone Cold Steve Austin was the first guy to my knowledge to question the writing process to the head cheese, Vince McMahon. Austin asked Vince why it took so many writers, some with no pro wrestling knowledge, to book a company that was successfully booked by less than a handful of guys for decades. Vince gave him the “Oh Steve the business has changed” line and he’s right, it has changed. The WWE business model no longer elevates talent to the top of the card and has not been able to figure out how to do it since about 2010.

The current state of the WWE is full of guys that are what many in the business would call great hands. As a supporting cast, this may be the most talented supporting card that the WWE has ever produced in my lifetime. From bottom to the middle, it is hard to argue with the quality of most WWE talent yet there is a gap and it is a big one from middle to top. That gap continues to widen and Roman Reigns is the latest example of a company that continually fails to put guys in the right positions to make that leap.

I don’t know what it is because as many have said, it’s not rocket science. Booking pro wrestling is not that hard and elevating guys to the top is a lot more simple than Vince McMahon wants you to believe. Yet for whatever reason the WWE Creative department continue to muddy up the process with their terribly scripted promos, illogical storyline progressions, 50-50 booking, lack of continuity, and cartoon-ish character development. The more they tinker the bigger the misses and there is plenty of evidence to back that up.

The Miz, Jack Swagger, Dolph Ziggler, Christian, Mark Henry, Dean Ambrose, Sheamus, Alberto Del Rio, CM Punk, Ryback, and Bray Wyatt all come to mind as misses. Hear me out before you argue CM Punk. These guys were all identified at some point as guys the company wanted to elevate to the top. Everyone here at some one point garnered some momentum and were on their way to the top of the cards. All of these guys were able to create some buzz, acquire fan support, and appeared poised to fill one of those coveted top spots. That was of course until the creative team started to work their magic (I’ll call it black magic in this case), get cute, and successfully booked these guys all back to the middle and lower cards where they started from. At the end of the day the creative team did nothing to put these guys in a position to succeed, yet there has been minimal accountability for these failures.

But there have been some hits! Yes, there have been some hits. CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, and even Ryback for a short time were able to breakthrough and reach the top of the cards. In the case of Punk, if you look back at his pre-pipe bomb angle he was positioned a couple of times to move up the cards yet wound up in an eventual descend each time. The difference between all of these guys and the above is that their rises came about organically. Their success had absolutely nothing to do with the writing. Ironically the only thing that kept these guys from staying in those top spots was the creative team. It was the crack creative team that got cute and tinkered with an entity that was already appealing to fans. In the case of Ryback, he was never able to get his momentum back and was eventually sent back to the openers. Punk was talented enough to withstand it, yet even Punk never fully reached his potential thanks to the meddling of Vince, Hunter, and friends. Daniel Bryan is still a question mark. He already withstood the tinkering of the fall of 2013. We won’t know for a few months whether he’ll get past this phase.

And then of course there is Roman Reigns. Reigns has been groomed for the last year and a half for his WrestleMania spot. There were always questions around the pick, but Reigns had the buzz and the fans loved him. That was until the creative team started to spend more time with him. Reigns as a character has not been the same since creative made him a priority. His scripted promos are awful, his character choices lack logic most of the time, and the persona he has morphed into over the last several months is a complete 180 from the persona that got him over. He is just the latest victim of Vince’s writing army and the next miss on the list of victims.

The answer is obvious. Whether it is Vince, Triple H, the writing army, or the process, something has to change. Everyone always says that Vince signs off on everything so I’ll put the blame there. Vince doesn’t even know who he is writing for anymore. He is completely out of touch with the majority of his fan base and all you need to do is look at the current economics of the company to support that. None of his superstars sans Brock Lesnar invoke any of the passion past top guys both heel and babyface have received from the fans. The creative just isn’t connecting and the lack of successful ascensions (no pun intended, well maybe a little) is all of the evidence you need to see this.

It’s Roman Reigns this year, it will be somebody else next year. Until Vince and his writers learn how to adapt and react instead of dictating to its fans, no new talent will be able to sustain a top spot and that is very disappointing. At some point the creative team needs to take a long hard look in the mirror and accept some accountability. Nothing will happens until the process changes and that is unfortunate for the next “chosen one.”

WWE: The Destruction of the Shield

The Randy Savage Story DVD

Grab discounted WWE DVDs, merchandise, t -shirts, figures, and more from the WWE Shop on Amazon.com

New WWE Mantra: Fix the Solution, Avoid the Elephant in the Room

January 28, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

The snow storm in the northwest may have been the best thing that could have happened to the WWE after the fallout of the Royal Rumble pay-per-view from Sunday night. The impromptu “Raw Review” did a lot to confront some of the major issues form the events of Sunday night, but did not completely reverse the fact hundreds of thousands of fans, whether in the arena in Philadelphia or hose who bought the WWE Network or a cable buy, are not happy with the Rumble match, the ending to the night and the fact the first PPV event of the year left us all feeling a bit empty inside.

It’s unfortunate the brunt of the backlash has been thrust toward Roman Reigns after he won the Rumble match to a chorus of boos and chants for the Russian Rusev rather than the man who was passed over for Batista last year for reasons we all still scratch our heads and ask, “Did that really just happen?”

I guess if there was no Batista and a fraudulent Rumble win last year, there would not be a “YES” movement like there was and no Daniel Bryan title win in The Big Easy.

Like someone said to me the other night, there is no veteran to come in and save the WWE from itself right now. Those days when a Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan or Steve Austin grabbing hold of an arena and holding it hostage until the fans in their seats and at home are delirious with excitement and hope are gone.

The WWE’s coverage of Brock Lesnar and his interview with Michael Cole was potentially the best of Raw, bringing the events of WrestleMania XXX full circle with what the company hopes will be a colossal confrontation with Reigns at the company’s signature show in 63 days.

Right about now, Vince McMahon and his cohorts (including Triple H and Stephanie McMahon) are praying for forgiveness and hope the next two months can lead to enough buildup that fans will acquire cases of amnesia and forgive the three-headed monster for not reaching deep enough to see problems that could exist for not having Plan B and Plan C in their hip pocket.

This used to be a trademark of McMahon back in the days when sports entertainment was new and fresh and the Internet was not the watchdog of the industry and bloggers and media types like myself couldn’t voice their opinions about the death of kayfabe.

When asked, Lesnar said he hoped Reigns was ready for the challenge of facing the man who is currently the baddest ass on the planet and the man who self-promoted himself as being on a roll. The WWE should think the wrestling gods right now for that “roll” because along with Seth Rollins and John Cena, Lesnar saved the pay-per-view from becoming the worst piece of paid-wrestling viewing we have seen since he later stages of WCW’s death.

The people laid the Smackdown on the WWE this time – not the other way around.

Please understand that in light of what has taken place in the last 48 hours, the events are not the fault of Reigns. He is just the puppet that the WWE wants to try to get past the Cena Revolution and the carnage left behind by management and creative writers trying to escape the problems that exist from continually placing a gold strap on the should of Cena, Randy Orton and anyone else that has a 10-year ring license (Daniel Bryan, excluded) that for some reasons means they know what it is to sell at the gate and keep the green machine flowing into WWE coffers.

The WWE is slow playing its hand when it comes to WrestleMania, probably because Vince McMahon has no idea how he really wants the event to breakdown. Reigns had all the momentum in the world before a hernia operation sidelined him. The symbolism of The Rock getting in the ring and passing the torch to the younger Reigns couldn’t work with the Philadelphia crowd, some of the hardest fans to please in the country in any sport.

Add to the fact that we saw this between Rock and Cena a couple of years ago and it proves that McMahon likes to go to the well more than once too often. It is more than possible McMahon at 69 years of age is finally losing his magic stroke?

Maybe the WWE should go back to its “TV-14” rating and get more familiar with chair shots and blood and potentially more violent content. It would bring back the masses, but not solve the issues that exist with programming, script writing and fan dissention. That comes with time and the belief the WWE really does support a changing of the guard and will work to make WrestleMania the best it can be.

Sting should have been in Philadelphia. He should have been the veteran to get the crowd delirious with excitement. The Rock getting in the ring was the most electrifying failure in his Hall of Fame career. And it made no sense. McMahon sent him out there – hoping to change the temperature of the climate in the arena. It did not work. The WWE now has a Batista-like situation on its hands.

While Batista was visibly pissed off in the Rumble match at the way fans reacted to him, which made matters worse, Reigns has been the heir apparent for some time. The WWE brought him along with The Shield for the ride and now, he must balance Disney World on his shoulders – like it or not, ready or not.

It isn’t Reigns’ fault the WWE universe doesn’t want him in the main event. It’s not his fault the fans wanted to see more of the Triple Threat Match between Seth Rollins, John Cena and Brock Lesnar. It isn’t his fault wrestling sensibilities have changed. Blame it all on McMahon and Triple H and the idea of the Authority.

But by the same token, Reigns must stand up after what happened at the Royal Rumble and help fix it by getting better on the mic and in the ring. And most of all use the experience as a lesson that will ultimately make him the champion the champion needs him to be.

WWE: The Destruction of the Shield

The Randy Savage Story DVD

Grab discounted WWE DVDs, merchandise, t -shirts, figures, and more from the WWE Shop on Amazon.com

Roman Reigns As A Human Actually Works

January 27, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

A year ago following Royal Rumble Abortion Mark One, Batista was receiving the Joan of Arc treatment in his clumsily-designed victory. Between that, Daniel Bryan’s utter absence from the Rumble match itself, and CM Punk’s startling walk-out from WWE, it seemed as though a star was born out of the wreckage of a gimmick match gone bust.

Indeed, Roman Reigns couldn’t have been booked a whole lot better in last year’s Rumble. He eliminated 12 men, which stood as the new record. He scowled, punched, speared, and roared with the intensity that Goldberg had used to forge his own name in 1997-98. Angry fans after Sunday night may find it sacrilegious to even compare Reigns with “The Man”, but it’s not too much of a stretch.

Up until Reigns regretfully served up ipecac-laced coffee to the McMahons this summer, he’d cultivated a Goldbergian image of muted monster, one that can break ribs with a charging tackle, or collapse you with a leaping punch, his mane of hair whipping like Predator dreadlocks.

Much like Goldberg, Reigns’ appeal was twofold. There’s that force of nature element already mentioned, and then there’s the aura of mystery surrounding them. Goldberg barely spoke. The only sentences he seemed to speak once upon a time were merely sentences in the academic sense; they were more or less grunts that took on an extra syllable.

Same with Reigns. While Dean Ambrose delivered his manic soliloquies, followed by Seth Rollins delivering hard-boiled dialogue with a raspy drawl, Reigns would merely punctuate the sentence with a chilling thud, his expression barely changing as he would say all while saying very little.

The dynamic worked, because all we knew about Reigns, character-wise, was that he was a scary guy that indiscriminately hurt people in some grasp at the vague idea of justice. When Goldberg was notching off that undefeated streak, it was all ‘arrive, kill, leave’. Same with Reigns. And that’s how we like our monsters: inhuman. There seems to be little chance that a wrestler can tightrope the pencil-thin line between wrecking machine, and articulate everyman. Mark Ruffalo’s price-tag for playing The Hulk in WWE would be astronomical.

If you’re going to humanize the monster, you run the risk of killing off the mystique. To this day, exasperated fans will bring up Goldberg’s early foray into WWE where a twitchy Goldust placed his silky wig upon the monster’s head, and Goldberg simply smiled, rather than doing what the old Goldberg would do, which is rip Goldust’s head off, and place it on a stake like Colonel Kurtz.

We all knew something was up when Reigns, post-hernia surgery, took part in satellite videos to assure everyone of his imminent return. When it became apparent that Reigns’ line-reading was less lively than your phone company’s automated menu, the aura cracked and snapped. Reigns was no longer the icy killer; now he was Frankenstein’s mumbling monster trying to flirt with the manufactured Bride.

Since no other wrestler received so much airtime while injured (save for Triple H’s “Beautiful Day” videos thirteen years back), the horror became apparent: THIS GUY is on the fast track to going to WrestleMania, and these are the promos we’re going to be hearing along the way.

If Reigns had his larynx crushed in a tragic dune buggy accident instead of suffering an incarcerated hernia, he doesn’t get booed so caustically at Sunday’s Rumble. If you can’t talk, you don’t have to take Vince McMahon’s hack-work scripts and then try to succeed with them. Granted, Vince could just as easily have had Reigns communicate through piano playing like Holly Hunter, since a film released in 1993 is on-par with McMahon’s pop culture awareness (see ‘Is, Whoomp There It’ from the Rumble).

The awful satellite chats gave way to in-arena script-recital, featuring such anti-classics as “Sufferin’ succotash” and a Jack and the Beanstalk monologue that was roughly the length of a Tarantino director’s cut. That’s probably the biggest reason Reigns was booed out of Philadelphia. If Daniel Bryan doesn’t win, that sucks, but had Damien Mizdow, Dean Ambrose, or Dolph Ziggler won, the sting would have been lessened considerably. All three are also underdogs championed by the dedicated viewer, so no booing would have been necessary.

Reigns, meanwhile, through his promos has crystallized into the obvious chosen one of a regime that constantly clashes with fan sensibility, and lost that killer’s edge that made him the last hope against Batista one year ago. It’s akin to being neutered. Bryan, Ambrose, and Ziggler all have an edge about them to some degree: Bryan’s remarkably human, Ambrose is masterfully spastic, and Ziggler’s sure to leave veiled comments about what a soulless hellhole WWE is on his Twitter, so you can’t really accuse any of being corporate lapdogs. Reigns bellowing “BA-LEE DAT” with all of the rigidness of a rusty crowbar while cribbing Merrie Melodies for promo fodder is the antithesis of that.

Then something happened Monday. With Raw officially snowed out, WWE made use of their studios for in-house interviews, including one with Reigns that was shockingly authentic. Reigns spoke about his family ties, and touched on the negative crowd reaction. That last point was way too close to the smiley Cena-esque concept of, “They can cheer or boo, they paid their ticket and I respect them all” patter, but it sure as hell beats him saying something like, “Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, Jack won the Rumble, using his mighty fist.”

The monster’s been humanized, and yet it seems like the road to revitalizing the monster could be legitimate humanization. We lionize the human Bryan, and that makes his kicks and dives more believable: because we *want* to believe in him. Promos like this one, where Reigns comes off humble, realistic, and personable would do more good than trying to recreate Cena’s pandering-for-kids crap, which nobody does well, maybe even least of all Cena.

This won’t end the Reigns hate overnight, but it’s a move in the right direction. Which begs the question: if WWE knows how to make their wrestlers look good on TV, why does it take a snow day for them to actually put these steps into motion?

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Roman Reigns Comments on Getting Booed at the WWE Royal Rumble 2015

January 27, 2015 By: Category: Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

Roman Reigns got the Batista treatment from rabid WWE fans in Philadelphia after winning the Royal Rumble. How would Reigns react to getting booed out of the building during his defining moment? It didn’t take long to find out.

Irate fans in Philadelphia took their frustrations out on Reigns after Daniel Bryan was eliminated early in the Royal Rumble. The hostile crowd made Reigns and the WWE look like fools, practically turning Reigns heel before the biggest run of his career. Reigns however took it in stride…at least on camera in this WWE post-match exclusive.

The WWE released a video on YouTube documenting Reigns day, beginning with Reigns walking into the building. The video was shot like a documentary and featured pre and post-match locker rooms with the former enforcer of the Shield. The video ends with a humble Reigns commenting on his win and fan backlash.

You know, what? I went out there, I did my thing. One hell of a crowd, you know what I mean? Whether it’s love or hate, if I can be out there that’s all that matters for me. If I can go out there and they’re going to make some noise… they’re going to do what they want, and that’s cool. They paid their money, they can do whatever they want, they can cheer, they can boo. As long as I can be a part of it and do my thing, I’m smitten, man.

Well that was certainly a much different take than when he was asked about his critics in an interview a few days before the Rumble on CraveOnline.com.

Yeah, I think it’s hard not to pay attention these days with all of the social media networks and all of the different outlets. It’s so easy to connect with fans nowadays. You know, I have a Twitter and things like that. I’m not a crazy Twitter guy to where I’m tweeting out stuff every day and rarely even once a week, do I tweet. But I mean, occasionally, I read some stuff.

The funny part is, you have a guy like me who is kind of getting like a mixed vibe from time-to-time. I get a lot of love and then you’ll get the hate in the middle of it but its just funny, the perspectives you know, the differences between the love and the hate. As far as the hate, it makes me laugh. Everybody is a critic. Every critic I’ve ever had, they weren’t wrestlers [laughs]. Every wrestler I’ve ever had critique me, they were always into my stuff or what I’m doing out there. For a non-wrestler, someone who doesn’t even know how to lock up, and if we did lock up, they wouldn’t know what to do, for them to critique any of us, it really does pop me.

That’s what haters do. They hate because they hate their lives.”

Looks like someone got himself a media coach.

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No Riot Necessary: Just Unsubscribe from the WWE Network

January 26, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

On the whole, the 2015 Royal Rumble was better than last year’s immediately-infamous show, not that last night’s event isn’t already being burned alive like Samuel L Jackson at Calvin Candie’s estate in Django Unchained. After Daniel Bryan was eliminated, Samuel L could have tried to rally all of Philadelphia to help him get the motherf–king snakes off the motherf–king plane with him, and they would have booed him out of the building as well. Or somebody would’ve yelled that Capital One sucks, whatever.

This space isn’t meant to disparage the name of Roman Reigns, mostly because he doesn’t deserve the venom. Hell, technically, Batista didn’t really deserve it last year; he was just playing the role he was paid to play. When WWE reversed course and put Bryan into the spotlight, Batista not only cleanly submit to him at WrestleMania, but cleanly lost to the Shield members at the ensuing PPVs. What more can you ask from a guy? He did his part to push the next generation forward when he was, quite presumably, set to win the WWE Championship at WrestleMania. He even admitted afterward, during the promotional blitz for Guardians of the Galaxy, that Bryan not winning the Rumble was the wrong call.

That’s why I won’t be dumping on Reigns, in spite of the awful job he’s done trying to make the scripted lines he’s given work. Reigns isn’t a miracle worker, that much is evident. He does work hard and, at one time, connected with the fans at a high level. That’s when he was part of the Shield, and could get his stuff in between Dean Ambrose’s energy-setting brawling and Seth Rollins’ daredevil act.

The winners of the matches never deserve the vitriol from fans. They’re just toy soldiers in Vince McMahon’s backyard sandlot, getting gunned down when he decides they should be gunned down. Just so happens that one of the soldiers was fragged by a pyrocentric television last month.

As soon as the Rumble ended, Reigns passed by the grand poobah of all cliche signs: “If ________ wins, we riot.” That became played out when John Cena held up one such sign at the end of SummerSlam 2007. Presumably, a chuckle was had by all during his silent rejoinder of, “Ha, that’s cute”, metaphorically spitting on the feeble sign. Unless you’re perfectly willing to spend a night in jail by inducing a chair-throwing riot the likes of which hasn’t been seen since the ECW days, the sign is merely a whine.

Booing is a little more forceful, but even then, all the booing in the world didn’t send Daniel Bryan to the WrestleMania XXX main event until six weeks after the Pittsburgh Rumble. That was coupled with the bad press of a CM Punk walkout, and an initially chilly reception to WWE Network, particularly trying to figure out how to acquire and operate the damn thing.

Bottom line is, WWE is only moved to give the fans what they want if the very structure of the company is threatened (Cena proves that booing forces no hands). Bad press is more their worst enemy than booing, much in the same way that stockholders are more important to Vince McMahon than the actual fans. It’s a screwed up system, of course, but it’s what we have when the second-best wrestling company is so far behind WWE in terms of accessibility and clout.

If you’re as angry as last year over WWE’s choice in booking, put your money where your mouth is. I mean that literally and save the $10 a month.

As I write this late Sunday night, there are many fans allegedly cutting their WWE Network subscriptions. I say allegedly, since not everyone is posting Vine videos of them actually going through with it, so it could just be hot air. It’s a month to month service though, so it’s not like deciding whether or not to have a limb amputated. Reportedly, the cancellation page actually was overloaded at some point around 11:30 and crashed. That’s some rage.

The next investor’s conference call is on Thursday, February 12. As a rule, they pretty much have to reveal the number of subscribers the Network has. If it’s less than the last time (WWE announced in late October a sum of 731,000, but that reflected the end of the quarter in September, so tonight’s cancellations probably wouldn’t factor in for the next call), that’s pretty bad news headed into WrestleMania.

A WrestleMania, as it stands now, that features Brock Lesnar against Reigns for WWE Championship, barring some deus ex machina that factors Bryan, or even Dean Ambrose or Dolph Ziggler or some other make-good, into the title match.

You don’t need to threaten a fake riot. Instead, if you’re that mad, commit real action and cut off WWE from your money.

The less money WWE has, the less they have to fly Rock in and endorse Reigns, which of course means WWE clearly knew the fans would defecate all over Reigns winning, which in turn essentially means the company clearly knows they do things that they know the fans won’t like, unable to even plead ignorance of fan tastes.

A riot is a social response. So’s clicking ‘unsubscribe’. The latter won’t hurt your social standing any.

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WWE Royal Rumble 2015: Thoughts On A Weak Beginning To WrestleMania 31

January 26, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

We could smell what the WWE was cooking after Sunday night’s Royal Rumble. And the fans were not happy with it.

The company stuck to its game plan that has been brewing basically since last year’s Royal Rumble when Batista eliminated Roman Reigns in the Royal Rumble last year. While the overall tenor of the pay-per-view was weak at best for the majority of the night, the only thing that saved it from becoming a total washout was the Triple Threat Match between Brock Lesnar, Seth Rollins and John Cena and a few stolen moments in a Rumble match that was anything other than average.

In the end, the fans saw Roman Reigns accomplish exactly what the WWE wanted – which was to finally eliminate Rusev after the Rock had to come down the aisle restore some order and save the kid from total embarrassment.

If the WWE wanted more controversy, it sure as hell got it. And all I can say is that if this was the Armageddon this Reigns claimed would happen when he returned from his injury, I have six words for you – SETH ROLLINS CASHES IN AT WRESTLEMANIA.

I give this pay-per-view a solid C-, not the B+ that Daniel Bryan would have gotten had he won the Rumble match. But the World Title Match that I thought would be the defining moment of the night proved me right. Seth Rollins showed he is every bit the future of the company – much like Edge was before he retired and every bit the loose cannon CM Punk could be in the heel role. He was dominant on Sunday night in an arena of stars who were beyond him in experience. He, Cena and Lesnar sold the match like the days of Shawn Michaels in his glory days in the WWF and Bob Orton Jr. when he was wrestling the likes of Greg Valentine and Roddy Piper in the NWA.

Yes, it was that good. And as Bill Apter and I traded tweets after the match, it is the early favorite for match of the year.

That, my friends, was an instant classic.

For all the rumors over the course of the last 24 hours of The Rock getting in the ring and possibly facing Brock at WrestleMania XXXI, which would have pissed me off to no end, it may have been better than seeing what we saw in the ring in Philadelphia.

No one, I mean no one, wants to see Reigns in the main event. His mic skills are limited and Lesnar, who is good at selling his matches, will have to carry Reigns the entire match.

Here are some other general thoughts…

KUDOS TO THE DIVAS

This was not a great match between The Bellas and Natalya and Paige, but it was better than most we have seen. For the first time in some time, there was a tag team match where there was some actual wrestling. The Divas Division may have athletes like Naomi or eye candy like Rosa Mendes, but at the end of the day, the four best wrestlers got in the ring and gave us a decent enough show.

WELCOME BACK BUBBA RAY

Seeing Bubba Ray back in the WWE was pretty cool and watching him and Luke Harper was colossal. I wish the company had brought back Devon as well, but it gave us something to potentially look forward to. I was also hoping Shelton Benjamin would make an appearance, but that did not happen.

The Rumble match was weak for the first 30 minutes and the performance of Bray Wyatt was impressive, lasting over 38 minutes in the match, but there could have been more in the first 4-8 entrants and there should have been more excitement to keep the crowd entertained.

The WWE was certainly slow playing this match that did not get the build it needed.

THE NEXT CHAPTER

If Reigns and Lesnar is the way the WWE wants to go, then it must place Cena in a program with Rusev and find a way to get Rollins to cash in at ‘Mania. Anything else is a real shame and the “Fast Lane” PPV will fail miserably.

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