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Archive for the ‘WWE | Pro Wrestling’

WWE SummerSlam 2015 Card Takes Shape

July 22, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

The WWE is gearing up for its biggest SummerSlam event in years. The top matches have already been confirmed and an early indication of the buzz presents an event the magnitude of which makes the show on par with WrestleMania.

Why the WWE are bringing out the big guns for this SummerSlam as opposed to others is probably the most interesting question of all. Yet for whatever reason, the WWE are ramping up SummerSam to WrestleMania levels with special attractions the likes of which haven’t been seen on the biggest party of the summer in quite some time.

Coming out of WWE RAW on Monday night we all got a real good indication of top matches both confirmed and speculative. While some may still need some brewing, between television and reports, the card has all been confirmed and it’s a big one.

The Undertaker will wrestle his first SummerSlam in almost a decade as he returns to seek revenge against Brock Lesnar. I always thought that this match would be huge and while it would have been bigger at a WrestleMania, it will be plenty big at SummerSlam. Between the angles at Battleground and RAW, fans are already jacked up for the Mania 30 rematch. Again, the timing is odd in that Undertaker is working his first SummerSlam in almost ten years, yet the set up thus far has been nothing short of superb. A hot rumor floating around is that this won’t be the last we see of these two as they are expected to have a rubber match at WrestleMania 32.

In what is shaping up to be the number two match on the show, John Cena will challenge WWE world champion Seth Rollins for the world title. In an interesting note, this makes the third SummerSlam in a row that Cena is in the world title match. It should also be noted that Cena lost the world title at the previous two SummerSlams against Daniel Bryan and Brock Lesnar respectively.

While some are surprised and a bit disappointed to see Cena back in the top spot, I saw it coming weeks ago. After consecutive weeks of poor RAW ratings, Vince booked Cena back in the top spot to close the show against Cesaro on RAW. The second that happened I knew that Vince was going to lean on Cena to rehabilitate these ratings woes, especially with Monday Night Football on the horizon. As upset as some are at Kevin Owens tapping at Battleground, if Cena is coming in here to win the belt the finish makes sense.

There was a rumor at one point that Seth vs. Triple H was the planned SummerSlam match. If you remember back a few weeks ago, it certainly looked like the seeds were planted for it. Rollins was constantly interrupting Trips in the ring and at times came off as disobedient. Again, I think the last few weeks of ratings changed everything for Vince and the creative direction for Rollins and the title.

In what will probably be the third match from the top, Sting is scheduled to return to in-ring action on SummerSlam. Sting will be a part of the Roman Reigns vs. Bray Wyatt feud and wind up either in a six-man or tag team match. As it stands now, it will either be Sting, Roman Reigns, and Dean Ambrose (Shield 2.0) vs. a reuniting Wyatt family. Erik Harper’s status is still up in the air due to injury so it could wind up as Sting and Reigns vs. Bray and Luke Harper. Either way it will be fun to see Sting back in action, and it’s a great spot for him and everyone else in the match to be in.

The card is loaded and while the rest of the show will probably be filler, Again, I still question the increase in the budget with the additions of Sting and Undertaker. Regardless, it should be an exciting event and probably one of the biggest SummerSlams we’ll see for the next few years.

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Should Sean Waltman Be In the WWE Hall of Fame?

July 22, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

“He Beat Razor Ramon! He beat Razor Ramon!”

Those were the famous words of WWE great Bobby Heenan as one of the biggest upsets in wrestling took place on Monday Night RAW in May of 1993. That night, a confident Razor Ramon headed to the ring to face a small, babyfaced wrestler who called himself “The Kid”.

For most of the match, Razor dominated the contest with a flurry of power moves and looked like he was on the way to another easy victory.

However, he was in for a major surprise.

In a matter of seconds, Razor missed a charge to the corner turnbuckle, and was met with a moonsault with his smaller opponent.

“1…….2……..3!”

At that time, it was one of the biggest upsets in WWE history.

If you were exclusive to WWE wrestling at the time, you would have thought that this young guy was new to the business. However, nothing could be further from the truth.

Sean Waltman was a fresh faced kid from Minnesota who had dreams of becoming a superstar in pro wrestling. Trained by the great Boris Malenko, he was one of the first guys from the United States to incorporate Japanese high flying maneuvers in his arsenal.

In 1989, with the AWA on its last legs, an Indie promotion in Minnesota ran shows trying to fill the void that the AWA could not. Ran by wrestling trainer and former AWA referee Eddie Sharkey, the Professional Wrestling Association started running events all over the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, featuring some high paced action.

During that time, Sean Waltman started using the moniker “The Lightning Kid”, and feuded with another Minnesota grappler, Jerry Lynn. The two had amazing matches wherever they went, and pretty soon, their talents would be recognized nationally.

Around 1991, after the death of World Class Championship Wrestling, ESPN decided to take a chance on another wrestling outfit from the Dallas area. The Global Wrestling Federation (GWF) started showcasing some of the brightest wrestlers from all over the country, and bringing in a talent like “The Lightning Kid” could only help their promotion.

Waltman dominated the Light Heavyweight Title scene in the GWF, having really good matches with Lynn and a young up and comer named Chaz.

However, tragedy struck in 1992, when Waltman suffered a blood clot on his brain when a wrestler attempted a dive and landed on Waltman’s head. Doctors said he would never wrestle again.

Waltman, on the other hand, had other plans.

In 1993, the WWF signed Waltman, and was used primarily as an enhancement talent.

For a few weeks, “The Kid” would show up on WWF television and be used to put over some of the Federation’s main heels. Even though he was on the losing end of most of those matches, you could tell he was something special.

It made for perfect television when Razor Ramon lost to Waltman on that RAW in May of ’93. The fans loved it, and one WWE legend had an idea.

“I was the one that gave him the moniker ‘The 1-2-3 Kid”, said Bobby Heenan in his book. “We were thinking of what to call him, and it only made sense to call him the 1-2-3 Kid”.

Soon after, the 1-2-3 Kid was placed in a match with “The Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase on an episode of Wrestling Challenge. When it seemed like Dibiase had the match won, the Kid rolled up Dibiase for the pin.

The crowd cheered in surprise.

Sean Waltman was climbing the ladder to success in the WWF. One minute, he was losing matches right and left. The next minute, he was one of the faces of the New Generation in the WWF.

1994 stands out in my mind as a great year for the youngster from Minnesota. He had a superb showing at the King of the Ring that year, before bowing out to eventual winner Owen Hart. He also had a pretty darn good match with Bret Hart that same year. He also held the WWF Tag Team Championship with both Marty Jannetty and then Bob Holly.

In 1995, the WWF decided to turn Waltman heel, turning on his friend Razor Ramon. He then joined the “Million Dollar Corporation”, feuding with Ramon most of the year. I personally thought that they should have never turned him heel, as I thought he was more convincing as a babyface. His wrestling style and selling was more catered towards being a fan favorite.

The next year, as WCW started acquiring WWF talent like Scott Hall and Kevin Nash, Waltman decided to make a move down there as well, joining the nWo, adopting the name of “Syxx”, and winning the WCW Cruiserweight Championship. In WCW, he had more wrestlers that complimented his fast-paced style, like Eddy Guerrero and Rey Misterio Jr.

In 1998, during a dispute with Kevin Nash and Scott Hall, WCW head Eric Bischoff decided he would prove a point and fire their buddy Waltman.

It turned out to be a mistake.

A week or so later, Triple H introduced a revised version of “Degeneration X”, minus Shawn Michaels. One of the first new members of the group was an old friend.

“When you go to war, you look to your blood. You look to your buddies……You look…….to THE CLIQUE!”

Out comes Sean Waltman.

It was a pretty big moment for WWF, who pretty much had been getting their butts kicked by WCW in the ratings for two years. The WWF product also was changing, for the better, and the quality of shows had improved immensely for almost a year. Sean Waltman jumping back to WWF sent a message that the younger stars of WCW wanted to jump as well.

Pretty soon, Waltman and D-X would make their mark on the Federation, as he won the WWF European Title soon after. Adopting the new name of “X-Pac”, he entertained the fans with his fast paced wrestling skill, and even introduced a new move, the bronco buster.

Eventually, he struck up a friendship with Kane, and the two became the unlikeliest tag team ever, winning the Tag Team Championship on two occasions. The two were a nice mix, with Kane’s brute strength and power moves, and X-Pac’s Japanese-style arsenal.

After the year 2000, Waltman stayed in the hunt for the Intercontinental, European and Light Heavyweight titles. In 2002, when Scott Hall, Kevin Nash and Hulk Hogan returned to WWE to form the nWo, Waltman was named a member of the group.

In 2002, Waltman and the WWE parted ways, and he eventually ended up in TNA Wrestling, where he has had a nice couple of runs in that group. He also had performed in Mexico, Chikara and other indie promotions around North America.

The case has been made for Sean Waltman to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. To me, this should be a no-brainer.

He was definitely revolutionary for his time. He made the Japanese style popular in America, and became one of the first light heavyweights to become a mainstream star. He also was instrumental in WWF’s resurgence in the late 1990’s. His wrestling ability was top notch and was very charismatic as well.

There’s no doubt that Sean Waltman should be inducted soon. He’s too just important to leave out.

WWE: Daniel Bryan: Just Say Yes! Yes! Yes! on Amazon.com

WWE: Ultimate Warrior: Always Believe

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WWE Battleground 2015 Review

July 21, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

WWE Battleground 2015 took place at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri. It featured three championship matches and a pivotal Divas tag match. It was available via traditional pay-per-view and for free to subscribers on the WWE network. So let us see how things turned out for the superstars involved.

King Barrett vs. R-Truth

The evening festivities kicked off with the pre-show match between King of the Ring winner Wade Barrett and rappin’ superstar R-Truth. The match was sold as the Battle for the Crown match due to R-Truth mocking Barrett by imitating him every chance he got. Barrett represented the heel in this feud and Truth went over as the face. The stale buildup in the RAWs leading up the event caused a lack of true interest in this match. However, the in-ring action was extremely solid and, by the time the crowd had filled in, Barrett and Truth had connected with the audience with a decent match that set a good stage for the rest of the show. A Bull Hammer Elbow from Barrett brought an end to Truth’s antics and hopefully closed out this feud as it did nothing to help either man.

Randy Orton vs. Sheamus

Randy Orton won the first match of the pay-per-view against Sheamus, the Money in the Bank briefcase holder. Although Orton and Sheamus have excellent in-ring chemistry and succeed in putting on a good match every time they perform, the lack of a true story hurt this match. The only idea that any viewer had was that Sheamus is going to become the Authority’s new favorite and Randy Orton was still locked in his quest to destroy them. While any anti-Authority storyline plays well, this one faltered for the lack of a true reason for the feud. Nevertheless, Sheamus and Orton put on a hard hitting brawl that easily ranked as one of the night’s best matches.

The Prime Time Players vs The New Day (Tag Team Championship)

After the Orton-Sheamus bout, the tag team championship match felt like a filler match as the crowd caught their breath. The defending champions (Darren Young and Titus O’Neil – Prime Time Players) defended against (Big E and Kofi Kingston – New Day) while Xavier Woods (New Day) stood at ringside. The match featured high intensity action and plenty of heel antics from the New Day. As the end of the match neared, order broke down as each superstar hit his finisher in succession. When the dust finally settled, the Prime Time Players had retained the Tag Team Championships. As a wrestling match, this was excellent, but it failed to get the crowd involved until the very end. Solid performance from all parties here, but it needed a better story to create more interest.

Bray Wyatt vs Roman Reigns

The story leading up to this bout was one of the best on this card. Bray Wyatt’s promo skills are second only to Paul Heyman and he did an excellent job of selling the personal side of this match by targeting Reigns’ daughter. His veiled threats sparked Reigns to take rash actions to get his hands on him. Each time Reigns tried, he always caught a mystery man who looked like Wyatt. The bout itself was an excellent brawl that lived up to the quality of the buildup. Failed finishers and near falls kept the crowd on the edge of their seats. At the very end, the same mystery man interfered as Reigns was gaining control and Wyatt was able to hit his Sister Abigail finisher for the win. Afterwards, it was revealed that the mystery man was Luke Harper, a former Wyatt family member. This bout was an excellent kickoff to the Reigns-Wyatt feud. It left fans wanting to see more and you can expect them to clash at Summerslam.

Charlotte vs Sasha Banks vs. Brie Bella

On the last RAW before the pay-per-view, Stephanie McMahon announced that three divas had been called up to reinvigorate the divas division. At Battleground, two of them (Charlotte and Sasha Banks) were pitted against Brie Bella in a Triple Threat match. The new divas made an instant impact, delivering a high intensity match that the divas division hasn’t seen since AJ Lee feuded with Paige. The lack of a story was the only detriment to this match as Charlotte picked up the win by pinning Brie Bella.

John Cena vs Kevin Owens (United States Championship)

This was one of the most anticipated matches coming into Battleground. Each man had won one match in the feud and the stakes were high in this one. John Cena’s United States Championship was on the line. Given the utter disrespect that Owens had shown and the personal animosity he had against Cena, who could not afford to lose the third match. The buildup to the match fully expressed this and, when they finally got in the ring at Battleground, they delivered the match of the night. For all of the criticism regarding Cena, he is undoubtedly the best all-around superstar in the WWE today and Owens is fast proving himself to be one of the best superstars as well. After numerous, heart-stopping, near falls, Cena made Owens tap out to his STF. Where this feud goes from here is uncertain. They may have another rematch at Summerslam.

Brock Lesnar vs. Seth Rollins (WWE World Heavyweight Championship)

As Paul Heyman hyped this match, you honestly believed that Seth Rollins (current champion) was in for the whooping that he had coming for him since he stole the title from Lesnar at Wrestlemania. For much of the match, it appeared to going that way. Rollins could mount very little offense and Lesnar delivered 13 suplexes to him. The more stubborn and defiant Rollins got, the more angry and sadistic Lesnar got. An F5 put Rollins down and, as the referee counted two, the iconic bell tolled and the arena went dark. When the lights came back on, Rollins was gone and Lesnar stood face to face with the legendary Undertaker, whose undefeated streak at Wrestlemania ended at the hands of Lesnar in 2014. Two chokeslams and two tombstones to Lesnar ended the show. While bringing back the Undertaker to set up a Summerslam showdown with Lesnar is a moneymaking move, it left the Rollins-Lesnar storyline incomplete and it will remain incomplete until after Summerslam. Moreover, it ruined a great match and made Rollins look irrelevant.

WWE: Daniel Bryan: Just Say Yes! Yes! Yes! on Amazon.com

WWE: Ultimate Warrior: Always Believe

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Cesaro and the WWE Eternal Struggle of Ability vs. Character

July 21, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Cesaro has no charisma. Now don’t get mad, it’s not my fault. For that matter it’s not his fault, you either have it or you don’t. Despite how much fans want to believe otherwise and despite how much WWE needs him to have it, Cesaro just doesn’t.

As Cesaro fans sharpen their pitchforks and begin organizing the angry mob, let me assure you that I am one of his biggest supporters. I’ve always been a fan of his work and for my money; he is one of the best technicians in the industry today. He’s certainly in the top three for that company, next to Seth Rollins and Dolph Ziggler.

He has to be regarded as one of the best pure athletes to ever set foot in a WWE ring; he’s fast, he’s smart and he’s strong as an ox. Cesaro has the ability to work any style imaginable because he’s well versed in all of them and his aptitude for pro wrestling is off the charts.

When a guy steps into the ring with Cesaro, he knows he’s in for a good match. He never has an off day; he always looks good and always delivers. He’s very unselfish because he knows that truly getting over in the business means you elevate your opponent to new heights when you work him. That is the only way to ensure the match looks good, the fans are happy and you end up looking good and are happy as well.

He would have fit right in with Jim Crockett Promotions circa 1985 and been a title contender to Ric Flair. That’s how good he is and is a testament to his level of respect for his craft; he cares more about getting the match over than anything else. It’s that old school mentality that would have taken him far back in the day, no doubt about it.

But this is not Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling we’re talking about here. This is WWE, the place where skills and ability come in second next to character. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that; Vince McMahon has built an empire on those characters.

He squashed his competition, he infiltrated pop culture and he became mainstream thanks to his characters. WWE has arguably never seen a better day than it has right now in terms of worldwide recognition, product awareness and respect for the athletes in the ring. Much of that is thanks to the characters that draw fans in.

If you want to get over in Vince’s world, you have to have “it.” Fans must be able to look at you and decide you are the next big thing, you are worth their time and more importantly, you are worth their money. If you don’t fit those criteria then you will not succeed on a high level. You will become part of the machine, relegated to the mid-card and used as a workhorse to bring credibility to the program.

That’s who you will be and it’s what you will do. Now, what’s wrong with that? Nothing. Ask how many guys on the indie circuit right now if they would he happy with that fate and I guarantee you practically all of them would snap at the chance to do it. McMahon knows this, WWE knows this and that’s why we continue to see guys like Cesaro come into the fold.

WWE as a company has always put over the notion of opportunity. They provide opportunity to guys, to get over and be successful and have the career they’ve always wanted. It sounds good. It sounds amazing, actually. Imagine being in the ring after working the main event of WrestleMania, your arm raised in celebration with a packed house that paid to see you perform. The rush must be absolutely mind blowing.

That’s what WWE is selling to its talents; the rush. Here’s your gear, here’s your opponent, and you have eight minutes, go out there and slay them. Make them notice you, make them remember you, make them care. But most importantly, do all of that with style. Find your voice and do it as only you can.

Therein lays the issue with Cesaro. Has he truly found his voice yet? Has he found his hook, the one thing that separates him from the rest of the WWE locker room? When fans see him, are they so impressed, so knocked out, they can’t wait to see him again? When he speaks, does he move them? Does he sell the match on the mic four weeks before it happens and sets the crowd on fire with anticipation? Or does he just get in the ring, have the best match of the night and leave fans wondering why he’s not higher on the card?

Technicians are great; they are the meat and potatoes of any pro wrestling presentation, not just WWE. I love those guys and so do most diehard fans. But while those guys get respect and adulation, they may or may not get the main event payday. If WWE fans want Cesaro to be successful in a very big way, then he must ascend to that main event level. His performance is already there, now his career needs to be as well.

But it all starts with character. If he cannot find his niche, to truly get over and be comfortable in his own skin inside of a character that’s very organic and natural to him, then he will not be that main event guy. He must connect to the fans and if he can do that, then he will make it. He may not have the charisma but he has an opportunity and he’s making the best of it.

Now it’s up to WWE to facilitate his rise and open doors for him. See? Not so technical after all.

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WWE Battleground 2015: Thoughts After The Dust Cleared

July 21, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Regardless of the fact he lost his last two matches to John Cena, Kevin Owens will never be as hot as he is right now in the WWE.

That might be a curse that haunts the former NXT champion. After going the distance with the United States Champion, where Owens proved to be every bit Cena’s equal, if not his superior, losing the final match – and a chance at a title – in the third and decisive match – might be Owens’ undoing. The WWE does not have a solid track record of taking talent that is ultra-popular and cashing in on a golden opportunity. At least where Cena is concerned. Could this be a change in the game plan for the company? Will writers and management take what they have in Owens, who could be the next great heel, and book him in another program with a solid veteran?

If the company can get away from the idea that Randy Orton and Sheamus presents a great angle for the fans, I think the Apex Predator and Owens would be a great feud – one where the 12-time world champion could help Owens get over again as the future of the company.

How the WWE handles the aftermath of Owens and Cena was not the only thing that caught my eye from the Battleground pay-per-view. Here are a few more thoughts.

A NEW DIVA ON THE HORIZON

Maybe the best part of Monday night, in my opinion, was the true birth of a new Divas division in the WWE.

Thank you, Charlotte.

Finally, we will all want to watch segments with women in the ring rather than take a bathroom break or raid the refrigerator. The fact the WWE is ushering in another Flair era makes this transition all the more exciting.

When I was younger, I always thought it would be Reid Flair who would eventually step in and try to challenge his father, Ric, for the family name. No one is ever going to replace the 16-time world champion, but now a new generation can get behind the beautiful and athletically gifted diva. While there will always be comparisons, the fact Charlotte does not have to live under the cloud of her father’s success will allow her to forge her own path in the company. And with the sudden push by Stephanie McMahon, Charlotte, Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks will help create the same kind of excitement that Lita, Trish Stratus and Torrie Wilson added to the Attitude Era.

The fact we saw nine female wrestlers with the chutzpah to make a statement in a male-dominant promotion over the better part of the last decade has me a bit excited.

WHAT TO DO WITH THE OVERFLOW

Maybe the two biggest losers from last night were two wrestlers who didn’t even get in the ring last night.

What is the WWE going to do with Dean Ambrose and what will happen to Cesaro now that he did not get a United States Title opportunity?

Since he lost to Seth Rollins at Money in the Bank, Ambrose has been toiling in obscurity and the WWE is allowing him to do it. Ambrose is too talented to not be in a major program – something the company has been blind to see. Here’s hoping in the next five weeks something materializes that will kick the Lunatic Fringe up the WWE ladder.

Cesaro looked as good as he has looked since arriving in the WWE in recent weeks. His program and matches with John Cena has shown off just how good a performer he is. And I would dare to say he is pound-for-pound the toughest SOB on the roster.

Could a Cesaro/Cena program work for SummerSlam? I sure hope it would. Cesaro is a main event talent who is caught in a numbers game right now.

WWE: Daniel Bryan: Just Say Yes! Yes! Yes! on Amazon.com

WWE: Ultimate Warrior: Always Believe

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WWE Live Events Aren’t Your Father’s House Shows

July 20, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

I recently attended a WWE house show in Philadelphia for the first-time in about 20 years. Rather than run down the same report you have seen elsewhere, I thought it may be more interesting to blog about the evolution I witnessed of the WWE house show.

I attended my first WWE house show on March 19, 1983. I attended dozens of WWE house shows from 83 until probably 1998 and to say that they were a mixed bag would be an understatement. Generally house shows evolved into this depressing event featuring guys going at half-speed (if you were lucky), a mundane crowd, and just a sad statement into what WWE live events descended to. Those days are over!

My nieces are big WWE fans so I decided to bite the bullet and take them to the recent July 10 Philadelphia WWE event. Needless to say I was expecting the same dull, half-assed event I saw through the mid 1990s. I couldn’t be more wrong and while I never thought I’d say this, I can’t recommend a WWE house show enough to casual or even hardcore fans.

Rather than break down the card, here are several key takeaways that have stuck with me from the event.

Everyone had their working shoes on – I don’t think I have ever seen a WWE house show, even going back to the early 1980s when the company was red hot during the Hulkamania era where everybody on the show worked as hard and maybe even harder than they would at TV. The talent seemed to relish working an environment with less restrictions and more time. John Cena and Kevin Owens put on a match similar to their classic PPV series and Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins did things during their match I would have never expected from two top guys. I am only showcasing these two but everyone from Roman Reigns to Bray Wyatt to Neville worked real hard and it was appreciated. Not only that, the talent all looked like they were (gulp)…having fun!

There is a huge difference between house show crowds and television crowds – I would venture to say that the majority of the crowd were kids and families, most wearing John Cena t-shirts. It was also very enlightening in regards to recent ratings woes. The WWE fans want John Cena in the main-events, they love him. Sure you had plenty of guys with big mouths ripping on Cena but he was far and away the most over star on the show. If you think the fans are going to accept a transition from Cena to someone else you are mistaken. He is still drawing the houses and I can’t even imagine what the crowd would have looked like without him.

There is a bit of a disconnect between the talent and security – There is a woman who appeared to run the security for the WWE. I was fortunate to sit ringside and got a glimpse of this odd situation first-hand. The woman explicitly told Wells Fargo Center security to make sure that fans stay seated during the matches. Even the local security seemed confused. So fans would get excited during the first couple of matches, get up, and start yelling and were told begrudgingly to sit down. I started to see problems early in the card when Chris Jericho kept telling the fans to stand up, yet security was telling them to sit down. This continued throughout the card and I kind of felt for the talent who saw a lot of excited fans in the audience, yet none were standing when prompted during the matches. It may be nitpicky but it just seemed kind of odd. Let the people have fun and let the talent get some heat, it’s a house show for goodness sakes.

WWE stars are the best in the business – Now I am not talking about WWE stars being the best at this or that, but what I saw were the most polished professional wrestlers I have ever seen from top to bottom all night long. Again sitting ringside, I was up close enough to watch facial expressions and see subtle nuances coming from the talent throughout the night. Every piece of talent had the entire package and it was crystal clear why many don’t make it to the big show.

Neville is going to be a star – This kid has “it”, just like everyone else for that matter. I am highlighting him since he was the new kid on the block so to speak on the card. He has the look, the psychology, and may be the best athlete next to Brock Lesnar on the roster. I don’t know if he has the potential to be “the guy” but he has a lot of potential to be a big time player for years to come. Everything he did looked so fluid and the fans absolutely loved him.

Dean Ambrose gets it – Ambrose did something following his match to close out the night that I have never seen before. Again keep in mind that I don’t regularly attend house shows so maybe this isn’t big news. Ambrose walked around ringside and took selfies with anyone that had their phone ready. How cool was that experience for a kid attending a WWE house show? Giving fans something a little extra like that goes a long way and says a lot about the character of the talent in the company these days. 19 years ago the guys were just hoping to put their 10 minutes in and get to the bar. Ambrose was actually yelled at by the WWE security guard to wrap it up because not only would he stop, he’d wait until fans got their phones ready. A class act!

House shows are truly live “events” – Finally what impressed me more than just about anything else was how much of an event that the WWE gives to the house show experience. The WWE played promos hyping a lot of the big matches throughout the night and most talent got big entrances. I saw nothing like this as a kid, even when Hulk Hogan came to town at his peak. It gave the event something extra and left most fans ready to pay for a ticket the next time the WWE comes to town whether it is a house show or a SmackDown taping.

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WWE: Ultimate Warrior: Always Believe

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WWE Battleground 2015 Results and Recap: Undertaker Returns, Owens Taps

July 19, 2015 By: Category: Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

TheThe Undertaker WWE Battleground road to SummerSlam began at WWE Battleground. The prelude to the biggest party of the summer kicked off with one of the most exciting angles in recent memory to set up one of the biggest SummerSlam seasons in recent WWE history.

The Undertaker returned in what was arguably the best angle of 2015. The Undertaker returned to set up a big money rematch with Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam. The return of the Dead Man while predicted and reported prior to the show, still came as a bit of a shocker in the way it was done. The heat for it was the best of any angle I can remember on a WWE show in recent memory. Lesnar and Taker are expected to wrestle at SummerSlam.

The return came at the conclusion of the Seth Rollins vs. Brock Lesnar match. Lesnar dominated Rollins for most of the match, sans a brief flurry of offense from Rollins. Lesnar at one point hurdled the barricade in a jump that was much more impressive than it sounds. The finish came when Lesnar dropped Rollins with the F5. The ref began to count, the lights went out, the bells rang, and Undertaker was in the ring. The best part of the entire angle was Undertaker’s facials. His eyes were bulging out of his head the entire time he was in the ring. It was simply awesome! Rollins disappeared and Lesnar looked scared and confused. Taker kicked Lesnar with a low blow and eventually hit a choke slam and laid him out with two tombstones. Again it was the look on Taker’s face that put this thing over the top. The reaction from the fans made this probably the biggest “must see” WWE moment since Lesnar defeated Taker at Mania 30.

I blogged shortly after Mania 30 that a Taker vs. Lesnar Mania rematch would be a blockbuster matchup. Between the shock of the moment and Heyman’s constant taunting of Taker, I think it would have been huge which was I was surprised that Taker came back for a mid-card match with Bray Wyatt. I love the revenge angle and it will be big but I can’t help thinking that they are losing out by not pulling this angle off at the Royal Rumble and setting it up for WrestleMania 32. Regardless, this will be the first non-Mania big match the Undertaker has worked in years and that is something to get excited about.

The timing of it all does seem odd in that the WWE finally pulled the trigger on turning Lesnar babyface. The crowd has booed Heyman at any mention of the streak and the crowd in St. Louis were 100% pro-Taker when he laid out Lesnar. It will be interesting to see where things go post-SummerSlam for Lesnar and Heyman.

The finish leaves the belt on Rollins and leaves the situation between Lesnar and Rollins open. I predict with Cena winning and the ratings woes RAW has experienced this summer (although I’d expect that to end tomorrow night) that Cena will wrestle Rollins at SummerSlam and regain the WWE championship. I don’t know this nor have I seen it reported, it’s just a gut feeling reading the lay of the land and seeing Vince go back to Cena a couple of weeks ago to close out RAW.

In what will go down as one of the most disappointing, yet expected results of the night John Cena defeated Kevin Owens…by tap out. To say that fans on social media are irate would be an understatement. These two had another very good match, probably not as good as their last but very good nonetheless. I do think that having three matches so close together prevented this one from being appreciated as the classic that it was. Cena defeated Owens via tap out when Owens was caught in the STF. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. I published a blog shortly after Owens won the first match reminding all of you optimists out there that Cena never loses twice in these situations. At least he’s consistent!

I can’t describe this as anything other than disappointing. Owens had a ton of steam coming out of Extreme Rules but has been marginalized ever since Payback. Owens desperately needed a win here and while he still got himself over with a loss at Payback, this was not the case at Battleground. I am not sure where you go from here. I think Owens and Cena need to be kept a part for a while. Owens will be challenging Finn Balor for the NXT title at NXT’s biggest event in history on SummerSlam weekend. However, it seems like a step backwards for Owens to win the NXT title and I think it’s too soon for Balor to lose.

Bray Wyatt defeated Roman Reigns in a bit of a shocker. The finish saw former Wyatt family member Luke Harper interfere and attack Roman Reigns outside of the ring. Bray then hit a Sister Abigail on the apron, rolled Wyatt back into the ring, and covered Reigns for the win. The match was much better than you probably would have expected. It was very similar to a house show match I saw the two have but with much better timing. At one point the crowd was chanting “This is awesome!” I am not sure if I agree with that, but it was a pretty damned good match nonetheless.

One thing that I’d like to point out is that while Harper was wearing a hooded sweatshirt it was obviously him. Yet the commentators all “had no idea” who it was, not even a guess that it could be a former Wyatt family member. I think the announcers all look like idiots while most casual fans who aren’t necessarily the “experts” can clearly see who the attacker is.

The rumor is that the finish set up the Wyatts vs. Reigns and Sting for SummerSlam. That would certainly make sense coming out of the match. It’s a great spot for Reigns who will likely avoid the booing when he is teaming with Sting. It’s also a great spot for someone like Sting to come in and help get Wyatt and Reigns over.

Full WWE Battleground matches and winners…
Seth Rollins defeated Brock Lesnar via DQ to retain the WWE title
John Cena defeated Kevin Owens to retain the U.S. title
Charlotte defeated Sasha Banks and Brie Bella
Bray Wyatt defeated Roman Reigns
Prime Time Players defeated the New Day to retain the WWE tag team titles
Randy Orton defeated Sheamus
King Barrett defeated R-Truth

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Was Roddy Piper Screwed Over By Steve Austin?

July 18, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

In this day and age, having a podcast is a beautiful thing. You can pretty much say what you want to say, without having to worry about watching your language or going over the allotted time you are given. It’s free reign to express what you really want.

It seemed like it would be a perfect avenue for entertainers such as “Rowdy” Roddy Piper.

I won’t hide the fact that I’m a huge mark for Piper. When I became a wrestling fan in the mid-1980’s, Roddy Piper was the man I cheered. Even though he was a villain, I enjoyed and appreciated his comedic talents and the non-stop entertainment value he brought to the table. Whether it be he smashing the coconut over the head over Jimmy Snuka’s head, or him cutting the Haiti Kid’s hair, I pretty much enjoyed all of his segments.

Roddy was my guy.

Fast forward to 2015. I’m still a fan of Piper, and when he comes out and does a “Piper’s Pit” segment on WWE RAW, I will stop what I am doing and watch it. Piper’s ability to tell a story to the crowd and explain the emotions of his interviewee and what they are going through is a lost art that is rarely seen on television anymore.

Piper, along with Steve Austin, Ric Flair, Jim Ross and Chris Jericho have segued into the world of podcast radio. When I first heard that Piper was going to be doing a podcast, I was very excited. After all, who wouldn’t want to listen to all the crazy stories and funny locker room tales that Piper and his guests would talk about?

I was wrong.

To say that I have been disappointed would be an understatement. Roddy is great on television, but it doesn’t translate well to radio. Piper likes to repeat himself a lot, using what we say in the radio business as a “crutch”, as he constantly uses the phrase “Sweet Baby Jesus”. It was cool the first time I heard it, but it gets annoying as time goes by. Plus, Piper rambles for what seems like forever. He loses his train of thought way too often, and it makes for confusing and unlistenable radio.

All of this came to a head this week after Piper was removed as a host on Podcast One. Apparently, he had former “Mad TV” host Will Sasso on, and controversy ensued after Sasso started imitating fellow pro wrestler and Podcast One host “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Austin heard the podcast, didn’t like what Sasso was doing, and complained to his bosses about the episode.

As a result, Piper was wished well in his future endeavors as host of his podcast.

Austin released a statement on his podcast a few days after.

“To Roddy, you’re one of the all-time greats in the professional wrestling business. I cheered for you as a babyface, I booed for you as a heel and respected everything that you did. Your Hall of Fame career speaks for what it is. To that, no hard feelings. I don’t want to back and forth on this, it’s a closed book. That’s my side of the story, I will not respond to anything else. What I’ve spoken is the bottom line, and what I’ve spoken is the truth. I had nothing to do with Roddy Piper leaving Podcast One. End of story”.

Many fans have voiced their opinions on both sides, mostly siding with Piper. However, I don’t think Austin got Piper fired. What I believe happened was Austin went to his boss, wasn’t comfortable with what was being aired during the Piper-Sasso broadcast, and complained. It happens in every form of business.

At first, I didn’t understand the details of the situation. But I realized one complaint isn’t going to get Roddy Piper fired. This was probably stewing for a while, with multiple instances where his bosses at Podcast One weren’t satisfied with his performance.

It pains me to say this stuff, because I grew up a huge Roddy Piper fan. I still think he has value in small doses doing “Piper’s Pit” on WWE RAW. He was great on “Legend’s House”. If you haven’t seen it, check it out on WWE Network. Throughout the season, both he and “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan become buddies, and Duggan hilariously becomes obsessed with hanging out with Piper (in a bro-mance type of way). Piper can still deliver the goods from time to time.

However, in my opinion, Piper got himself fired.

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The WWE and the Death of Kayfabe

July 18, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

While ESPN was putting on its version of the Emmy Awards on Wednesday night, we all got a chance to see Stephanie McMahon in a stunning dress, looking like she was Hollywood royalty and belonged among the masses of celebrities. But did anyone get a glimpse of the picture being passed around the Internet of the owner of the WWE and Ronda Rousey, who also looked stunning in a black and white dress?

I’m no fashion expert and frankly could not care about who was seen and who wasn’t at a sports award show. What does get me a little heated is the fact that McMahon and Rousey, who not four months ago were standing toe to toe in a squared circle in California at WrestleMania, were chummy and posing for the cameras.

Verne Gagne and Vince McMahon, Sr. must be spinning in their graves right about now. The WWE hammered the final nail in the coffin of Kayfabe a long time ago, but now that looking good and being seen is more important than preserving some amount of secrecy of the business of wrestling, we can honestly say the business we once knew and the “sport” Ric Flair, Lou Thesz and others tried their best to protect has finally died a painful death.

A moment of silence, if you will (thanks, Dusty).

While there has been some degree of disbelief in this business since I was a child, and has been reiterated over and over again as sports entertainment rather than wrestling, the company that has taken away every ounce of competition and has created its own vacuum with monopolization has done it again. The WW has proven it does not matter who stands side by side for a photo opportunity.

Way to go, Vince. You are so desperate to control the camera and media attention, you have lost sight of what you father and other promoters from that era had built as a business shrouded in secrecy.

As Ric Flair once said, some wrestlers would sleep with their titles, because they meant so much to them.

Not anymore, Nature Boy.

Loosely by definition, Kayfabe is the portrayal of staged events within the industry as “real” or “true,” specifically the portrayal of competition, rivalries, and relationships between participants as being genuine and not of a staged or pre-determined nature. Kayfabe has also evolved to become a code word of sorts for maintaining this “reality” within the realm of the general public. Though the general public had been aware of the staged nature of professional wrestling for decades.

Kayfabe is often seen as the suspension of disbelief that is used to create the non-wrestling aspects of promotions, such as feuds, angles, and gimmicks, in a manner similar to other forms of fictional entertainment. In relative terms, a wrestler breaking kayfabe during a show would be likened to an actor breaking character on camera. Also, since wrestling is performed in front of a live audience, whose interaction with the show is crucial to the show’s success (see pop), one might compare kayfabe to the fourth wall, since there is hardly any conventional fourth wall to begin with.

In years past, one tool that promoters and wrestlers had in preserving kayfabe was in their ability to attract a loyal paying audience in spite of limited or nearly nonexistent exposure.

This is hardly the case now that the Internet, social media, snapchat and Twitter have all helped to create a wrestling community that is always ahead of the game. It also does not help seeing favorite superstars hobnobbing with the opponents they just brawled with at a live show or chatting with each other on Twitter accounts.

Wrestlers in the 1970s and early 1980s could not be in the same dressing room together or eat in the same restaurant together or even share the same section of an airplane for travel. They rode the back roads and kept themselves together like a close fraternity or secret society.

That would never happen now that John Cena is dating Nikki Bella and E! Entertainment has an arm bar on Total Divas.

As a wrestling generation slowly fades away, so does the belief that wrestling in some fashion was a cult-like business. Now, it’s high end business with major stakes and an open door that anyone who wants to know anything about the WWE or TNA or ROH can easily access. This wasn’t what I remember to be “wrestling” as Gordon Solie used to call it, but then again, the McMahons have taken away the idea that this is in fact a “sport” and is more entertainment.

I suppose that’s why two pretty women on a red carpet in Hollywood should not mean that much in the grand scheme of things. But to a wrestling purest, it means more than you will ever know.

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The Undertaker and Sting Expected to Return at WWE SummerSlam

July 17, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

WWE Battleground may be only a few days away but all of the talk is about SummerSlam. A recent report confirms rumors that not one but two big superstars are expected to return for the biggest party of the summer.

Rumors started swirling earlier in the week about the Undertaker returning as early as Battleground. While those rumors are red hot, the only confirmed report places the Undertaker at SummerSlam. Dave Meltzer confirmed the report on several posts and podcasts on F4WOnline.com.

Meltzer reported that the Undertaker’s angle is expected to be a part of SummerSlam as he is included in future advertisements. While Undertaker’s role has not been confirmed, most suspect that he will be wrestling. A recent tweet posted a picture of Undertaker training and he looked to be in great shape and ready for an upcoming match.

Undertaker was rumored to be slotted with Kevin Owens at WrestleMania 32. Meltzer shot down that report in a recent Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Meltzer and others suspect that Undertaker will pick back up on his feud with Brock Lesnar and seek revenge. Most have commented that it was no coincidence that Paul Heyman recently started mentioning the streak, WWE announcers have made recent mentions of Undertaker and Kane as brothers, and Lesnar broke Kane’s leg this week.

This goes back to something I blogged about shortly after WrestleMania 30. I predicted that a Lesnar vs. Undertaker rematch would be absolutely huge. I do think it would have been bigger at Mania 31, yet I still think there is a lot of money on the table here. Many have predicted that Undertaker will get involved in the finish of the Seth Rollins vs. Brock Lesnar match at Battleground. The waters are a little muddied with Lesnar and Heyman as babyfaces, although fans booed Heyman recently when he did bring up the end of the streak.

The Undertaker isn’t the only big name reported to return at SummerSlam. Sting is expected back in the ring at SummerSlam. Meltzer also confirmed those reports. Meltzer mentioned on a recent podcast that Sting was slotted to wrestle someone who was recently injured, thus causing a change in the booking. I can only guess who Sting will wrestle but it could be anyone at this point.

The WWE are really bringing out the big guns here for SummerSlam. This could also explain why the company bumped Lesnar vs. Rollins up from SummerSlam to Battleground. Regardless, with Lesnar, Undertaker, and Sting all expected on SummerSlam, the event will likely go down as the biggest SummerSlam event in recent memory.

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