Kurt Angle is currently the hottest free agent in pro wrestling. Angle has talked openly about a return to the WWE yet numerous reports have indicated that the E were not interested. That may not be the case after all according to a new report.
Mike Johnson over at PWInsider.com broke a story over the weekend regarding Angle and the WWE. According to Johnson’s sources it was the WWE that wanted Angle back and Angle who turned them down. Johnson reports that Angle wants a part-time deal yet the WWE offered a full-time (on the condition he can pass a physical) deal which Angle turned down. Deal or no deal, this does indicate that Vince McMahon has softened his stance on Angle returning.
This is big news on a few levels. One, it had been reported elsewhere that McMahon did not want Angle back. Those reports actually quoted Vince as telling sources that he didn’t want “an Olympic hero dying on his watch.” According to Johnson’s report, Vince must be convinced that Angle has turned his life around and those past skeletons are buried deep in a closet.
That said, it is ironic that the WWE would only extend Kurt Angle a full-time deal. At Angle’s age and injury history, there is no way that the company could seriously think that Angle’s body could survive a full-time schedule. Regarding Angle’s recovery, it also shows a gross lack of sensitivity to his struggles as a full-time schedule would surely end badly for Angle. It just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense in this situation.
I can understand the WWE being hesitant about offering a part-time deal. What is the point of investing television time into someone who isn’t going on the road? However, I think limiting Angle to television is perfectly fine in this day and age of the WWE Network. The house shows are important, but not as important. Angle could even go on the road as a special referee, M.C., etc.
Dave Meltzer gave his spin on this on his most recent F4Wonline.com podcast. Meltzer believes that if they did indeed give him the ultimatum of going full-time or no deal that they may have been doing it to save face, knowing that he could never survive a full time schedule. Meltzer doesn’t even know if he can go part-time at this stage in his career.
I think that Vince or Triple H need to close this deal immediately. Angle is still one of the best performers in the business. Even outside of the ring the man is an asset. He has more personality than 90% of the WWE characters. He is recognizable and yes he is still an Olympic hero. With all of the problems of star-power depth, the WWE would get an instant star back that could make an impact immediately.
At the same time it is a business. Vince McMahon nor Triple H are dumb guys. They see the writing on the wall. Angle is a free agent with only one serious bidder in TNA Wrestling. That serious bidder has no television deal as things stand today when 2014 comes to a close. There is not a whole lot of leverage that Angle has here. I can see why they’d play hardball but at the end of the day bringing Kurt Angle helps everyone.
Angle would fit in perfectly in the WWE. He could have programs with Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, Daniel Bryan, Brock Lesnar, and even John Cena that would not only tear the house down, but possibly bring some more fans back into the fold. There is a ton of potential here and with few options heading into 2015, part-time or not, Angle would be a welcome addition back to the WWE in my opinion.
Ah, CM Punk. In the ring, few could match him for his skill, innate charisma and penchant for creating memorable moment after memorable moment. Outside the ring, it seemed the Straight Edge Superstar was also in a league of his own when it came to the size of the chip on his shoulder.
If we’re to believe everything we’ve read about Punk chastising fans, ‘taking his ball and going home’ when denied a WrestleMania headline spot, and generally being a bit of a diva, Punk’s attitude away from the squared circle is hardly the stuff role models are made of.
Yet fans stood firmly behind their man. After all, once the clock struck clobberin’ time, the former WWE champ could go, and boy did he ever. Rarely was there a time that Punk’s appearance on a pro wrestling show didn’t give us something to talk about.
Even now, months after his supposed retirement, few wrestlers -retired or not- are able to keep the Internet buzzing like the man born Phil Brooks. Crowds still break out in ‘CM Punk!’ chants in arenas across the US, optimistic armchair bookers still fervently plot his big comeback, and his every public appearance still generate headlines by the truck load.
Take the recent news, for example, of Punk’s backstage appearance at an Ohio Valley Wrestling show. Though he was apparently there to watch his buddy Cliff Compton capture the company’s top prize, the bigger story emerging centered around the OVW roster being told not to bother former indie star.
Such rumors have since been rubbished, in particular by 502photo, a Reddit user who claims to work for OVW’s production team, and who insists that the roster were told no such thing. Rather, says our supposed man-in-the-know, the OVW locker room opted not to bother their guest out of respect.
Still, such rumor-squashing came a little too late for some fans, who by that point had already flocked online to either dismiss Punk as an arrogant so-and-so far too big for his britches, or else jump to his defense as a man simply trying to enjoy a quiet retirement.
Which camp were in the right? That’s not for this fan to say. Instead, let’s look at the argument from both sides, shall we?
In defense of Punk
On the one side of things, we have the Punk fans (some might even go so far as to call them apologists), who are always on call to jump to the man’s defense.
In this camp, we get the argument that Punk has always been perfectly justified in his somewhat less-than-exemplary attitude. If wrestling fans have been browbeaten, mocked, blocked or otherwise felt the wrath of CM Punk, it’s only because they deserve it.
As fans, they say, Punk owes us nothing. We paid for a ticket or a PPV stream to see him perform, and he gave us what we paid for, and that’s as far as the fan/performer relationship need ever go.. Heck, some fans haven’t even paid a cent to watch the man in action, so what right do they have to demand his time and attention, let alone take to the web to criticise him?
Nope, CM Punk’s only obligation to us wrestling fans was to deliver on WWE programming and at live events. After that, he owes us zilch.
Besides, we all know somebody who has met Punk and found him to be perfectly charming, pleasant and accommodating to fans. Rumours of his negative attitude have been greatly overstated.
What’s more, because he consistently delivered, and never took time off to make movies or play in a rock band, he absolutely deserved a Wrestlemania headline spot, and was totally justified in jumping ship when that wasn’t on the cards.
Punk was there, week in, week out, when all these part-timers were off doing other things, and they got to come in and steal his big moment on past ‘Manias? That’s not fair.
Then this year they want to dump him in a pointless match with Triple H, who would only bury him anyway because that’s what Triple does? No thanks! If we were Punk, we would have left too.
As for this whole Ohio Valley Wrestling incident? Look, Punk is effectively retired. He has no obligation to anybody and can pretty much do whatever he pleases. Wouldn’t you hate it if you went to hang out with a friend and were constantly being pestered? Of course he deserves to go backstage to a professional wrestling show and not be bothered by anybody. Whether he, the bookers, or the roster themselves insisted on it, it’s perfectly justified.
The other side:
Flipping the proverbial coin, we find Punk’s harshest critics, those quick to bash him for every move that isn’t a GTS.
Without the wrestling fans, his naysayers insist, Punk wouldn’t be where he is today. Yet we’ve all heard stories about him being rude to fans, blocking them on social media and being something of a **insert your favourite expletive here**.
Seriously? How ungrateful can you be?
As for WrestleMania, Punk just came across as a huge mark. Whilst he was busy complaining about part-timers bagging the main event spot, didn’t he stop to think that Wrestlemania might actually draw a bigger buyrate (and thus a bigger payout for Punk himself) with the likes of The Rock onboard than without?
Quitting just because WWE wanted to book him in a match with Triple H was silly too. The Game is still a huge name, and going up against one of the most influential men in the company would have effectively guaranteed a marquee match. Maybe not the main event, sure, but a money match nonetheless.
Besides, wouldn’t a real pro have made the best with what he was given, rather than packing up and going home?
In the case of his recent backstage appearance at OVW, it really doesn’t matter whether the rumours are true or not. If a big name superstar dropped by and didn’t at least say hello to the roster when Punk was on his way up, wouldn’t he have been one of the first to blast them? Others paved the way for Punk’s success and no doubt offered him some advice along the way. Isn’t passing on what you’ve learned the right way to do things in pretty much any industry?
We could go back and forth all day on this, but there, in a nutshell, are the main arguments most fans seem to have when it comes to CM Punk. The big question then, is where do you stand? Hit up the comments box below and let me know!
Tonight is the 15th anniversary of SmackDown. The show opens with some clips over the past 15 years.
The first-ever SmackDown GM and co-head of the Authority, Stephanie McMahon makes her way down to the ring. She welcomes the crowd to the show, then asks who remembers the star who coined the phrase “SmackDown”. She points out that it was the Rock, then points out he lost to Triple H on the first episode. As the first-ever GM of this show, she gets to share many moments with the people tonight. The people represent something…
John Laurinaitis of all people interrupts this segment. A “People Power” chant starts. He reintroduces himself, and he thought who better to help celebrate than the man who created the greatest movement ever in WWE history, “People Power”. He’s been doing a lot of research on the WWE Network, he’s learned a lot and has a lot of matches to make. For example…
Teddy Long now joins the festivities to, admittedly, a huge pop. JBL starts dancing at ringside before running over to shake Long’s hand. We get a “Teddy” chant. He says he was the GM of the show for 6 years, and he’ll be damned if he’ll let Laurinaitis take it away again. Laurinaitis says he was better than Long then, and now. He and Steph aren’t feeling Long, but Laurinaitis is going to give the fans what they want tonight, and that’s a tag team match. Tonight, Damien Mizdow and Cesaro will face Sheamus and Jack Swagger. Can you feel that? Long says he’d make it a 6-man match, adding Bo Dallas and Mark Henry to the respective teams. Laurinaitis makes it a 10-man, adding Gold & Stardust, and the Usos. Long says that, since this is the 15th anniversary of SmackDown, he’s going to propose something that has never been done a before, that being a 15-man tag team match. Laurinaitis says that can’t be done. Long adds Mini-Gator and Slater Gator to the heel team, while adding Los Matadores, El Torito and Tito Santana to the face team. Steph says Tito isn’t here, but she likes the idea. Long says each team will have 7 1/2 men, so it works. Steph says these two are always in competition, so she’s going to steal an idea from WM 28, making it Team Teddy vs. Team Johnny. The two pick their teams, and the winner goes down as the greatest GM in SmackDown history.
Moving on, she points out that the match on RAW was made for John Cena vs. Dean Ambrose at HIAC, with the winner facing Seth Rollins in a Hell in a Cell Match the same night. So tonight, Miz will host a face-to-face with both Ambrose and Cena.
Adam Rose and the Exotic Express make their way out. I thought WWE had given up on this asshat? JBL points out he’s undefeated, which is the sad, pathetic truth. He says it’s time to party to honor 15 years of the show, but what’s a party without himself? He then tells Steph don’t be a lemon; be a Rosebud. Steph says it is indeed party time, and Rose should be in action, so up next, it will be Rose vs. Kane. She asks for the sound guy to hit Rose’s music, then starts mocking his dancing. Long starts dancing as well. Laurinaitis also starts to dance.
We get a video of the aforementioned Rock/Triple H match from the first episode.
MATCH 1: ADAM ROSE (W/THE EXOTIC EXPRESS) VS. CORPORATE KANE
Kane comes out and says he’s not a cheeseburger, a bunny, a lemon and certainly not a Rosebud. From time to time, he’s a demon. But tonight, he’s a party pooper.
Rose skips around the ring after avoiding a lock-up. He hits a kick, ducks an elbow, ducks a clothesline and goes for a cross-body. Kane catches him and goes for a powerslam, but Rose turns it into a sleeper. Kane breaks it by backing into the corner. Rose boots him out of the corner and goes up top. Kane nails him with an uppercut in mid-air, then hits the chokeslam for 3.
WINNER: CORPORATE KANE.
The Exotic Express all hit the ring to check on Rose, and Kane goes back in. He nails several of them until only the Bunny is left standing. Another Rosebud enters the ring, and Kane drops him with a chokeslam. The same things happens to a second one. The Bunny falls down in the corner, so two more come in. Kane hits them with a double chokeslam as the Bunny flees to the back.
Another video, and this one is the debut of John Cena in 2002 against Kurt Angle.
MATCH 2: WWE DIVAS CHAMPION AJ LEE VS. ALICIA FOX (W/PAIGE) (NON-TITLE)
Fox knocks down Lee as Paige is holding onto the Divas title outside. Fox throws Lee to the corner, then hits a northern lights suplex for 2. Fox applies a rear chinlock, but Lee elbows out. Fox hits her with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for 2, then goes for a standard one. Lee counters it into the Black Widow, and Fox taps out.
WINNER: AJ LEE.
Paige attacks Lee from behind after the match. Lee comes back with a pair of roundhouses for Paige and Fox, then throws Fox into Paige.
Video #3: A collection of high-risk moves and big spots over the years.
MATCH 3: SETH ROLLINS (W/JOEY MERCURY AND JAMIE NOBLE) VS. KOFI KINGSTON
Rollins goes on the attack, backing Kofi to the corner and stomping him down. Rollins kicks him to the floor, then hurls him into the barricade twice. Rollins breaks the count, then hotshots Kofi onto the ring apron. Back in the ring, Rollins nails a clothesline before grinding his forearm into Kofi’s head. Rollins hits a crossface punch, then a few more punches in the corner. Rollins stomps him down once more. He beals Kofi across the ring before raking at his face through the ropes. Kofi comes back with a quick small package for 2, then hits a pair of knees out of the corner. He connects with a clothesline, a back-chop and a dropkick. Rollins ducks a jumping clothesline and hits the Sling Blade. He pounds away at Kofi, then powerbombs him into the buckles. Rollins does it once more, then hits the curb stomp for 3.
WINNER: SETH ROLLINS.
We see the video of Bray Wyatt releasing Luke Harper from the Wyatt Family.
Video #4: Edge and Jack Swagger cashing in their MITB cases.
MATCH 4: RUSEV (W/LANA) VS. INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPION DOLPH ZIGGLER (NON-TITLE)
Ziggler avoids a charge in the corner and hits a few week body blows. Rusev shakes them off and kicks Ziggler down. He stomps Ziggler, then stands on his face before applying a head-and-arm. Ziggler elbows out, then hits a dropkick. He misses a corner splash and goes flying to the floor. Commercials.
Back from the break, Ziggler nails some rights and goes for a cross-body. Rusev catches him, sets him on the top rope, hits a few kneelifts and then hits a high fall-away slam. He locks Ziggler in a front chancery and pulls him down into a guillotine choke. Ziggler hits a few punches to break the hold. Rusev comes back by standing on Ziggler’s face. Ziggler comes back with a jawbreaker, nails some more rights, ducks a clothesline and hits another dropkick. He mounts the middle rope for some punches, and Rusev shoves him off. Ziggler avoids a kick and goes for the leaping DDT. Rusev powers through and goes for the fall-away again. Ziggler lands on his feet, avoids a corner splash and nails the rocker dropper for 1. Rusev blocks a superkick and flips Ziggler over. Ziggler lands on his feet, but gets put down immediately with a jumping side kick. Rusev locks in the Accolade and gets the submission win.
Lana says Philadelphia (where the taping is taking place tonight) is the birthplace of America, which is why this country never had a chance to succeed. On RAW, they encountered an all-American, the Rock. Rock is a coward. Lana then loses her sh*t in Russian before handing the mic to Rusev. He says “The Rock will pay for the consequences”. Big Show, you garbage American, you’ll pay for this, too. He challenges Show to a match on RAW this coming Monday, then says Show will be crushed.
Video #5: The highly underrated supermarket brawl between Booker T and Steve Austin.
Lilian Garcia welcomes former SmackDown GM Booker T into the arena. He’ll be on commentary for the next match.
Video #6: Steve Austin tortures the Corporation and DX, then blows up the DX Express.
MATCH 5: MARK HENRY, WWE UNITED STATES CHAMPION SHEAMUS, JACK SWAGGER, THE USOS (JEY & JIMMY), LOS MATADORES (DIEGO & FERNANDO) AND EL TORITO (W/TEDDY LONG) VS. WWE TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS GOLD & STARDUST, LIL’ GATOR, SLATER GATOR (TITUS O’NEIL & HEATH SLATER), BO DALLAS, DAMIEN MIZDOW AND CESARO (W/JOHN LAURINAITIS)
Swagger’s got a nasty black eye. Fernando and Goldust start, and Goldust shoves Fernando before throwing him across the ring. Goldust nails a couple punches in the corner, and Fernando comes back with chops. Goldust calls for a test of strength, then slugs Fernando. Fernando comes back with an elbow out of the corner, then hits a hurricanrana from the middle, sending Goldust to the floor. Stardust hits the ring, and Fernando throws him to the corner. Diego takes him down with a spinning headscissors from the apron, sending him to the corner. Slater comes in and eats a double dropkick. Both teams hit the ring, but the ref restores order before a brawl can break out. Commercials.
Back from the break, one of the Usos and Titus are the legal men, with the Uso beating on Titus in the corner. Titus comes back with a big punch and tags in Goldust. Goldust hits a few strikes and tags in Slater. Slater clubs the Uso down, then tags in Stardust. Stardust hits a headbutt, but it’s no good. Uso comes back with shots of his own, then tags in the other Uso. I learn this is Jey. Jey hits a series of chops in the corner, then whips him across the ring. Stardust backdrops Jey to the outside, where Jey lands on his feet. He nails Stardust, then nails an incoming Goldust as well. The distraction is enough for Stardust to hit the Disaster Kick, sending Jey to the floor. Stardust heads outside and throws Jey into the barricade, then rolls him back in. Goldust tags in and hits a few kneedrops. Jey is thrown into the corner, and Gator tags in, hitting a low avalanche. Slater tags in, stomps Jey and tags in Mizdow. Mizdow hits a bodyslam and a jumping kneedrop for 2. Jey gets back to his feet, but Mizdow grinds him back down. Titus tags in and boots Jey to a chorus of boos (the crowd wanted more Mizdow). Titus picks Jey up on his shoulder and drops down for a backbreaker. He stomps Jey in the corner, then clubs him down as a “Damien Mizdow” chant breaks out. Jey hits a boot out of the corner. Cesaro tags in and hits the deadlift gutwrench suplex. Commercials.
Back from the break, Slater is legal, and Jey is nailing him with rights. He goes for a tag, but Slater pulls him back. He spins Jey around, Jey continues to spin and blasts Slater with a kick. Cesaro makes the tag, walks over Jey and knocks Henry to the floor. He turns around into a back-body drop by Jey, who tags in Sheamus. Sheamus attacks everyone on the heel team, then rams Cesaro with a shoulder thrust before knocking him to the apron with a running kneelift. He goes for the 10 Beats, but only gets a few in before Stardust interferes. Sheamus blocks an attack and ties him up for the 10 Beats instead. Slater tries the same thing and receives the same fate as Sheamus trades off between all three. Cesaro hits a hotshot, but then gets hit with White Noise for 2 as Mizdow breaks it up. Swagger enters the ring and drops him with an elevated belly-to-belly. Slater in, and he hits a Harlem Side Kick, pleasing Booker T in the process. Titus comes in and clotheslines Swagger to the floor. Los Matadores go for a double-team, but Slater Gator see it coming. However, they don’t see the Usos on the outside, who trip Slator Gator and drag them to the floor. The Usos hold the ropes open, allowing Los Matadores to hit a pair of suicide dives. Gold & Stardust get backdropped to the outside, and now the Usos hit a pair of suicide dives on the entire other team, including Laurinaitis. Gator is in the ring, and Torito sends him outside with a dropkick. He goes for a suicide dive, but Dallas intercepts him and avalanche powerbombs him to the floor outside on the other wrestlers. Henry comes in and goes for the WSS, but Dallas escapes and low-bridges Henry to the floor. Sheamus in, and he levels Dallas with a Brogue Kick. Cesaro comes in and hits the first Cesaro Swing in ages, hitting 15 revolutions until Jimmy drops him with a superkick. Stardust clotheslines Jimmy to the floor. Mizdow tags in to a huge pop and goes for the SKF. Sheamus breaks free by backing into the corner. He snapmares Mizdow off and hits the Brogue Kick. Jey tags himself in and hits the Samoan Splash for 3.
WINNERS: MARK HENRY, LOS MATADORES, SHEAMUS, JACK SWAGGER, EL TORITO AND THE USOS.
Much like the Luke Harper video earlier, we see a video package of Bray Wyatt releasing Erick Rowan from the Wyatt Family as well.
The Miz is in the ring for MizTV. He blathers on to the delight of no one, then shows us what happened on RAW between Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose and John Cena. Back to the arena, Miz announces that Cena/Ambrose will be a Contract-on-a-Pole Match. Why? Why? Why?
Miz finally gets to introducing his guests, bringing Ambrose out first, followed by Cena. Miz points out Ambrose embarrassed Cena on RAW, then asks why. Ambrose says Cena needs to know that no one crosses Ambrose. He lives by a code that he doesn’t take crap from anyone. If you do him wrong, he’ll make you pay for it. Rollins crossed him, and he can’t live with himself until he sets it right. Rollins in HIAC belongs to him, and Cena is coming dangerously close to stealing that from him. Nobody steals from him, no matter how high on the food chain you are. Cena says he’s impressed. He watches everything and listens to everything. Ever since Ambrose came to WWE, those behind the curtain have been worried about him. Ambrose is unstable, dangerous, loves the business and will not stop until he achieves success. Groups like the Authority waste resources to look for the next guy who has “it”. Ambrose proved he has “it” on RAW, but his definition of “it” is a bit different. He pulls a pair of baseballs out of his pocket and says this is what it takes to be a success in the business before saying Miz has no balls. Ambrose impressed him. It’s what everyone has wanted to see. The fans want to see someone with balls who isn’t afraid to stand up to Cena. At HIAC, Ambrose is going to make Cena earn a victory. They don’t see eye-to-eye, but Ambrose is looking into a mirror when he looks at Cena. They’re cut from the same cloth. There is a reason Cena can always come down to the ring with his head high, because he’s proved to everyone that, after 12 years, he’s got two things: balls and his word, and he breaks neither for nobody. Ambrose needs to bring his A-game, and he may not know Cena now, but after that match, he’ll know Cena’s name. Cena likes his chances. This is…a really terrible promo by Cena. Miz repeats what Cena just said, then starts kissing his ass. He asks if Ambrose really has a chance. Ambrose simply says, “Yep.” Miz asks how he’ll do it. Ambrose says he doesn’t think he’s going to do it; he knows he’ll do it. Miz then repeats Ambrose, calling him a rookie in the process. Cena tells him to shut up, then says he’ll see Ambrose at the PPV. Miz doesn’t like that response and starts egging Cena on. He wants to stir the pot and see a brawl. These two are ruining the show. A fight is what people want to see. Cena says Miz is right. People want to see Cena and Ambrose fight. However, Miz has it wrong. They don’t want to see Cena and Ambrose fight each other. Philadelphia wants to see them fight Miz. The two then club the hell out of Miz. Cena goes for the AA, but drops Miz and throws him into Ambrose, who drops Miz with a double-arm DDT. Cena then hits Ambrose with an AA as we see Seth Rollins watching this on a monitor in the back.
The WrestleMania 31 rumor mill is back in action after a big report in this week’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter. According to the report, the WWE have a few ideas in place for the big event, one of them being a match you probably didn’t see coming.
Dave Meltzer has the latest report and offers speculation on the WrestleMania 31 card. Meltzer says that the WWE are confident that they have their top matches in place. While nothing is 100% confirmed, Meltzer speculates on three that could be coming to your WWE Network in March for the price of $9.99.
The biggest surprise is his speculation on a return to Mania of The Rock. The Rock’s appearances this week have gotten people talking, but it is his taped segment on SmackDown that caught Meltzer’s attention. Meltzer speculates that The Rock could wind up wrestling Triple H at the 2015 event. Meltzer is just as surprised about his own revelation as you probably are reading it here.
I did see the segment that will air this Friday on SmackDown 15 and I am not so sure that I agree with Dave. Dave’s logic is that they wouldn’t have been teasing the match if there wasn’t something to it. However, the takeaway I came away with from that segment is that they were teasing it for WrestleMania 32 in Texas Stadium. Triple H kept referring to 100,000 people and a big stadium. Why they would tease it this far in advance is anyone’s guess. I could also be over-thinking it here, but Triple H mentioned a large crowd several times which leads me to think it is more than coincidence.
The idea most of us had heard about for the last three years was for a Rock vs. Brock Lesnar match at WrestleMania. The match continues to get delayed and after Rock suffered serious injuries against John Cena at 29, I am starting to think that he has no interest in a match that physical. The money is certainly on Lesnar vs. Rock and not Rock vs. Hunter. I think the angles and build up would be fun but I just don’t know how many people are clamoring to see that match one more time.
To that point, Meltzer speculates that the WWE may make a big play to get Stone Cold Steve Austin back in the ring at WrestleMania 32 in Texas. That would certainly make sense, especially when you have such a big stadium to fill. There were numerous reports that indicated the WWE made a play to get him last year for a match with Triple H. The year before we all heard about the Punk vs. Austin Mania rumors. I would think at Austin’s age it is Texas Stadium or never for the Texas Rattlesnake.
Brock Lesnar is still penciled in to be wrestling Roman Reigns in a WWE championship defense. I wouldn’t count on it. I am watching a changing of the guard right now and that change is Reigns to Ambrose. I think by the time we get to Mania that the WWE will have no choice but to swap Ambrose into this spot. He is hot and unless things change he is only going to get hotter. I would be shocked if Amrbose isn’t winning the Royal Rumble and going to WrestleMania.
John Cena has two interesting options according to Meltzer. Hulk Hogan is politicking hard for a Cena match, although I don’t see it happening. I think Hulk has had too many back surgeries and is too old to be placed in that spot. Rusev is the other option and it’s hard to disagree with that one. I could see some swapping here with Rusev vs. Reigns and Cena wrestling someone else but the Rusev match could be pretty big if they can keep him hot until Mania.
Meltzer also reports that there was a plan in place to go with Batista vs. Triple H although he speculates that the plan is dead. I wouldn’t be so sure. I could see them going in this direction with Rock vs. Hunter booked for next year. Meltzer reports that the Batista vs. Hunter match and series would lead to Batista’s retirement. I could easily see that with Batista transitioning to Hollywood full-time.
Where this leaves Daniel Bryan and Seth Rollins is a big question. I would imagine if Lesnar does hold the belt through Mania that Rollins would be Reigns’ first challenger. I couldn’t see them beating Reigns that fast which begs the question, what is the plan for Rollins and the briefcase?
And what about Sting? Sting doesn’t appear to be in the plans right now. My hunch is that it all depends on The Undertaker. If Undertaker doesn’t come back I could see Sting working with one of the younger guys like a Bray Wyatt. I think Sting vs. John Cena could be intriguing for a few different reasons. Other than those possibilities I am not sure what you do with him besides maybe Randy Orton or even Sheamus.
It looks like Mania has potential but I still think the big one is 2016 in Texas with 31 being something of an appetizer.
On October 09 we celebrated the birthday of a champion and a hero. A man known the world over as one of the greatest cruiserweight champions of all time and someone that to a man can say, they miss seeing in the ring.
Eddie Guerrero was not only one of the greats from a great wrestling family, he was truly what professional wrestling was and is all about.
We celebrate him posthumously.
Eddie’s biography read like that of a warrior and rivaled by many. Born into the Guerrero wrestling family. He wrestled in Mexico and Japan for several major professional wrestling promotions. In the United States, Guerrero wrestled in Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW), World Championship Wrestling (WCW), and in World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). Guerrero’s gimmick was that of “Latino Heat”, a crafty, resourceful wrestler who would do anything to win a match. His catchphrase became “I Lie! I Cheat! I Steal!,” which was used in one of his entrance themes. Guerrero partly used this phrase in his autobiography Cheating Death, Stealing Life.
Despite being a villain for most of his career, he got over in and outside the ring being the youngest, yet most popular, athletic and successful of the Guerrero brothers. Guerrero was widely regarded as one of the most respected and gifted technical wrestlers in history. Guerrero experienced various substance abuse problems outside of wrestling, including alcoholism and an addiction to painkillers. These real-life issues were sometimes incorporated into his storylines. Guerrero won 23 titles during his career, which encompassed the WWE Grand Slam Championship.
But what Eddie brought to the business was life and excitement and the belief that even the underdog can prevail.
No matter what role he played, I always loved the Guerrero character. Having watched Chavo, Hector, Mando and Chavo, Jr, there was always something electric in his performance. Whether in Texas or Georgia or even Stamford, I was never disappointed when Eddie was on screen.
When I think of past champions and the crusierweights who have graced the mats across the globe, there is very little space between Eddie and the top.
· Chris Benoit – Benoit is a two-time world champion: a one-time WCW World Heavyweight Champion, and a one-time World Heavyweight Champion in WWE. Both of his world title reigns were represented by the Big Gold Belt: Benoit is one of only four men to have held the Big Gold Belt in both WCW and WWE, alongside Goldberg, Booker T and Big Show. He is also a record-tying five-time WCW/WWE United States Champion, having held the championship twice in WCW, and three times in WWE. He is the twelfth WWE Triple Crown Champion and sixth WCW Triple Crown Champion; he is the second of five men in history to achieve both the WWE and WCW Triple Crown Championships.
· Eddie Guerrero – No explanation needed
· Dean Malenko – He is best known for his time with Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW), New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) and World Championship Wrestling (WCW). Malenko was known by the nicknames “The Man of 1,000 Holds” and “The Iceman”, the former in recognition of his technical wrestling ability, and the latter for his cold and calculating demeanor. Although never a world champion, Malenko achieved significant championship success in ECW, WCW and the World Wrestling Federation (WWF, now WWE), holding multiple titles in each organization. Pro Wrestling Illustrated named Malenko the #1 wrestler in the world in 1997
· Chris Jericho – Jericho has won 30 championships between WWE, WCW, and ECW – the three most prominent American promotions in the 1990s and early 2000s. He is credited as being the first Undisputed WWF Champion, having unified the World Championship (formerly the WCW Championship) and the WWF Championship by defeating The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin on the same night in 2001. He is also the fourth WWE Grand Slam Champion and is currently the only Grand Slam Champion to have held every title in WWE.
· Daniel Bryan – Bryan is a four-time world champion: a three-time WWE Champion/WWE World Heavyweight Champion and a one-time World Heavyweight Champion. He is also a former United States Champion, had a 245-day reign as WWE Tag Team Champion as part of Team Hell No, and is a Money in the Bank winner. Danielson has headlined several major pay-per-view events for WWE, including WrestleMania XXX, and was awarded the 2013 Superstar of the Year Slammy Award. Prior to joining WWE, Bryan wrestled for various companies using both his real name and the ring name (and later nickname) “American Dragon”. He had a notable tenure in Ring of Honor (ROH), becoming a one-time ROH World Champion, and the final ROH Pure Wrestling Champion (unifying the Pure title and World title). Along with CM Punk, Bryan is one of only two men to have won the WWE, World Heavyweight and ROH World championships.
· CM Punk – Punk is a seven-time world champion, having held the ROH World Championship and ECW Championship once each, WWE’s World Heavyweight Championship three times, and the WWE Championship twice. He won the World Tag Team Championship (with Kofi Kingston) and the WWE Intercontinental Championship, making him the 19th WWE Triple Crown Champion and the fastest man in WWE history to achieve this feat, in 203 days. Between WWE and Ring of Honor (where he is a two-time World Tag Team Champion), Punk has won a total of 11 championships. He won the 2008 and 2009 Money in the Bank ladder matches (the only wrestler to win the match twice), and the 2011 Superstar of the Year Slammy Award.
· Jeff Hardy – Hardy has experienced success as a singles wrestler and is a six-time world champion, having held the WWE Championship once, the World Heavyweight Championship twice and the TNA World Heavyweight Championship three times, a four-time Intercontinental Champion (also the youngest champion to win the title), and has held the Light Heavyweight, and European Championships once each. He is also a former Hardcore Champion, having held the championship on three occasions. Between WWE and TNA, Hardy has won 22 total championships.
· Austin Aries – Aries is a five-time X Division Champion (his first reign lasting a record 301 days), one-time TNA World Heavyweight Champion, and one-time World Tag Team Champion, making him the fifth TNA Triple Crown Champion. He is also known for performing in Ring of Honor, where he became the first two-time ROH World Champion.
Eddie was superstar until his death. On November 13, 2005, Guerrero was found unconscious in his hotel room (The Marriott City Center) in Minneapolis, Minnesota, by his nephew, Chavo. Chavo attempted CPR, but Guerrero was pronounced dead when paramedics arrived at the scene.
He was 38 years old. An autopsy revealed that Guerrero died as a result of acute heart failure due to underlying atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. Guerrero’s wife Vickie Guerrero claimed that he had been unwell in the week preceding his death. On the November 30 episode of WWE Byte This!, Chavo said that Guerrero had been working hard and was at peak physical fitness as a result, doing cardiovascular and weight training exercises every day.
After watching part one of the WWE Network’s “Monday Night War” series, I decided that I would take full advantage of the Network and go back to when it all started. With Raw beginning to air in January of 1993, I’d follow the WWF on pay-per-view going forward and pick up the WCW when Nitro starts in September of 1995.
Next up on the docket is one of the more talked about pay-per-view finishes of the 1990s: the 1994 Royal Rumble.
Worst: The intro music
A quick note about the intros from this time frame: they had some of the worst generic 1980s keyboard music of all time. Just totally nondescript and awful. It’s only fitting this is accompanied by Vince McMahon’s incoherent screaming.
Best: Ted DiBiase on commentary
Who would think that a coherent, well-spoken guy would be an improvement on commentary? I mean, I was fine with Vince just screaming at everything like it was either the most confusing or most exciting thing he’d ever seen in the world, weren’t you?
Seriously though, DiBiase was one of the top heels in the game for a reason. He plays the scumbag well, his motivations make sense (He’s rich and thinks he’s better than you) and he doesn’t sway from those motivations. Also, he’s seen pro wrestling before and doesn’t yell “MY GOD IT’S OVER 1, 2, 3 NO WAIT” all match like Vince does. Watch a goddamn match, Vince.
The first match of the night is Tatanka vs “The beast from the east” Bam Bam Bigelow with the always insane Luna Vachon accompanying him.
This wasn’t a bad match at all – it had a good pace and really played up the “Bam Bam is a huge dude” card – but I just don’t understand the push behind Tatanka at this point in time. He wasn’t anything that stood out: he wasn’t some freak physique, he wasn’t great in the ring and he didn’t cut an exceptional promo. He was a solid hand, sure, but they guy had a several-months-long unbeaten streak. Why? Why is this the guy you push when there are probably others that could get that push?
Best: Heel Owen Hart
This was one of my favorite storylines in the 1990s: Owen, the youngest of the Hart clan, feeling immense jealousy towards his older brother Bret, the WWF’s golden boy at the time. I know that everyone said Owen was the nicest guy you’ve ever met, but there had to be at least something behind his jealous rants. Those promos felt so real, like Owen had been dealing with this silently in real life for his entire life.
Naturally, they tease that the two had put their issues behind as they cut a happy promo (with Owen insisting he’ll lead the way and that Bret will latch onto his coattails) heading into their match with the Quebecers for the Tag Team Championships. A fantastic, months-long build getting ready to boil over.
Worst: Bret Hart on the mic
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t to say that Bret was the worst thing ever but it’s clear that his strong point wasn’t talking. He had a tendency to ramble a bit while trying to make his point (that you might be bigger/stronger/whatever, but he’s the best in the ring) and would routinely stumble over words. It felt painfully forced, but as a top star, he couldn’t just not talk.
A+ for effort, but he wouldn’t really be that great until he was playing the America-hating semi-heel with the Hart Foundation years later.
Best: Johnny Polo
Raven looks much cleaner here.
Best: The Hart Brothers vs The Quebecers
I’ve never been a huge fan of the Quebecers, but they do exactly as they’re supposed to in this match. They know they can match up with the technical skills of Bret nor the speed and athleticism of Owen, so they try to slow the match down and employ as many underhanded two-on-one tactics as they possibly could.
But really, the three things about this match I liked most came from the Hart corner. Bret sells a beating better than anyone ever has and really helps make the underhanded crap the Quebecers were doing look like a million bucks.
Secondly, you really get a sense of just how good Owen is in this match. He’s the perfect contrast to Bret’s technical, slower style: he’s flying around at a million miles per hour, hitting all sorts of high risk moves and generally lighting the place up. Almost like Daniel Bryan 10 years later.
The third and most important thing in this match is how the Quebecers unintentionally reignite the rivalry between Bret and Owen. At some point, Bret suffers a knee injury and the Quebecers spend the rest of the match working it over like a good heel team would. Eventually, the ref calls the match because Bret can’t finish (which has never happened, ever, but I’ll allow it for furthering the story). Owen, being the prideful and immature one, gets mad at Bret for not tagging out and attacks him.
This works because, though Owen handled it all wrong, you can feel for Owen. Bret should have tagged him in. Bret has been unintentionally keeping Owen in the background and costing them (and Owen) matches along the way. You can feel Owen’s rage and hurt as it comes bubbling to the surface, with him ranting about how selfish Bret is. It sets the stage for one of the most believable, interesting feuds in wrestling history.
Worst: Razor Ramon vs Irwin R. Scheister
Don’t get me wrong, I was and always have been a Razor Ramon fan, especially as he got into a groove both with his character and in the ring. But one thing I’ve noticed with him as I look back on these shows is that he was at his best when he was allowed to play the big man, letting smaller wrestlers (like Shawn Michaels, who he had some of his best matches with) bounce around and off of him while making his power moves look truly powerful.
Here, he’s battling IRS, a methodical (slow) wrestler who’s just competent enough to not be laughed at, but isn’t going to put on a clinic or wow the crowd. He can’t eat Razor’s offense, everything he does is slow but somehow doesn’t look terribly purposeful and this match just kind of plods along until they get to the finish.
Speaking of which, that was drawn out as unnecessarily as possible. Basically, with the ref down, Shawn Michaels comes out and whacks Razor with his fake IC title belt leading to IRS getting the pin. Earl Hebner comes out, explains to the ref what happened and Razor hits IRS with the Razor’s Edge to win. We couldn’t have had Razor just kick out and do this?
Best: Paul Bearer
It really can’t be understated just how important Bearer was to the career of the Undertaker. He was the mouth piece for a guy who wasn’t that great of a talker when he wasn’t talking about the bowels of hell or telling you that you’ll rest in peace.
Bearer managed to amplify Undertaker’s creepiness with his own in addition to doing his managerial duties like making his guy sound like the most dangerous man ever. Just LOOKING at Bearer, you really get an idea of just how creepy the guy who hangs out with him has to be.
Worst: The match that legitimately frightened me as a kid
The main singles event of the evening is The Undertaker vs Yokozuna in a casket match for the WWF Championship. For the uninitiated, a casket match is pretty basic: put your opponent in the casket and close the lid.
Quick tangent: Vince McMahon really is the drizzling shits on commentary. Before the match begins, he’s trying to sell up the fear on Yokozuna’s face. He asks if the fear will become a weapon for Yoko or whether it’ll turn the big man into a “600lb pile of jellyfish”. He means jelly and frankly, a 600lb pile of jellyfish would scare the shit out of me. I’ve never been stung by one but it looks painful. 600lbs of them stinging you? No, thanks. Vince just can’t articulate this because on commentary, he was every terrible thing we’ve ever hated about announcers.
The match itself is nothing to write home about: it’s your typical 1990s hoss-fest between two big guys. It’s a lot of punches and kicks, but the match itself isn’t the important part. No, it’s the end of the match that we’re supposed to focus on. As Undertaker closes in on the win, ready to put Yokozuna in the casket, he’s ambushed by literally every heel on the roster: Crush, Kabuki, Genichiro Tenryu, Bam Bam Bigelow, “Double J” Jeff Jarrett, Samu and Fatu, Diesel and Atom Bomb. He slowly fights them off one at a time, with the power of the urn on display, before being overwhelmed by the numbers. It’s just the biggest, most drawn out cluster of all-time until Yokozuna finally figures it out and takes the urn from Paul Bearer. He breaks it and green smoke billows out of the thing as Vince McMahon screams “IS THAT THE POWER OF THE UNDERTAKER?” They eventually succeed in getting him into the casket and even nail it shut.
That’s not the terrifying part. You see, I was eight years old when I saw this. So when the Undertaker is being wheeled up the aisle, only to have the lights go out and show the Undertaker “inside” the casket, it was scary. But when he ROSE UP FROM BEHIND THE VIDEO SCREEN AND ASCENDED TO THE RAFTERS, it terrified the hell out of me. Did the Undertaker die? Am I seeing this? I’m eight, why am I seeing this? Of course, the real story was that Taker had a back issue and needed time off, but eight-year-old me didn’t know this. Needless to say, I was very dumb at eight years old.
Worst: The most boring Rumble in years
First of all, totally sarcastic best to KWANG, who is Savio Vega in his normal Savio Vega gear plus a weird ass mask. If Kwang isn’t the ultimate “1990s WWF loved goofy characters” meme, I don’t know what is.
Diesel is the guy they are clearly building up in this match as he comes in and eliminates like six guys in a matter of five minutes, including Owen Hart and WWF legend Bob Backlund. He then mauls Billy Gun and Virgil to death, tossing them out to stand alone and wait for the next guy, which turns out to be the always-insane “Macho Man” Randy Savage. Still, Diesel gets his moment in the spotlight by tossing seven dudes before Savage cuts him off at the knees. Needless to say, it’s not terribly long before Diesel is one of the top guys in the company.
Other than that, this was a very boring Royal Rumble. There were rivalries, sure, but they weren’t really more than “these two guys kind of don’t like each other”. It was just a bunch of guys running out and waiting to be eliminated. The only part that really stood out was…
Worst: The ending
I would say “spoiler alerts ahead” here, but it’s a 20-year-old event so screw you. Lex Luger and Bret Hart, who hobbles out with his bum knee, are your final two. Instead of picking one guy and riding him to Wrestlemania, the WWF, clearly in need of a big-time face or two, decide to let both guys win and earn title shots at Wrestlemania X.
Worse than that, they drag out the ending as long as they possibly can. There’s a bunch of standing around and posturing, pointing and yelling before Howard Finkel announces the winner…three times. First it’s Bret, then it’s Luger, then it’s both. It’s like they realized the Rumble was going to suck before the show even started so they came up with a way to drag out the ending as long as possible. It didn’t really help.
This sets the stage for our next pay-per-view: Wrestlemania X. See you folks next time.
Bray Wyatt is one of the WWE’s most intriguing upcoming superstars. The youngster has captivated WWE audiences with his unique presence and persona and gave a behind-the-scenes look at both in a recent interview.
Bray Wyatt took the WWE world storm a year ago. The anticipation for his debut was maybe the most for a debuting star in quite some time. Wyatt lived up to expectations with a unique presentation of persona and attitude, topped off with a new flavor of promo unseen in the WWE Universe. Wyatt recently talked to Scott Fishman of the Miami Herald about his promo style and revealed some of the inspiration to his mad ramblings.
“When I speak, I like to speak powerfully,” Wyatt said. “I like feeling behind my words. I just don’t say things. Everything I say has a piece. Martin Luther King Jr., I’ve studied a lot of his work. Just the way he was able to speak, and the power he gives us is really incredible. In my opinion he is the greatest speaker of all-time. There are so many that I’ve studied and idolized. It’s deep for me…”
Wyatt also talked about the controversy behind some of his promos and whether he walks the PG WWE line behind the microphone.
“I don’t think I toe the line,” he said. “The things I say sometimes can be offensive to some, but for the ones that can figure it out and solve the puzzle or the labyrinths I put out there, they deserve it. Here is your cake. Here is the prize because there are so many complexities. I like to throw curveballs.”
Wyatt also credits the guy who ironically is blamed for holding back many careers for pushing the Wyatts and championing their push.
I can tell you Hunter [Triple H] was very instrumental in the upbringing of the Wyatts. He saw something in us that we saw. We were so attached to it that we were dying to make it work and to get it out there.
“Hunter saw the same thing. From the first glance, people are just comparing us to hillbillies. I’ve heard ‘Deliverance’ and all kinds of things, but they were missing that underlying factor. Hunter was able to see that because we are more complex in the way we speak if you listen to the message behind it. You’re not looking at three Neanderthals. You’re looking at three very smart, capable athletes. Hunter was able to see it.”
Again this is a bit or irony here as Hunter has a reputation among many of Wyatt’s fans as being the guy responsible for holding back talent and squashing careers. According to Bray if not for Hunter, who knows how his career in the WWE would have played out. Something to think about the next time you accuse Trips of being the King of Buriers.
Finally, Bray has had a stellar 2014 but he has high aspirations for 2015. He had a prominent feud with John Cena which included a WrestleMania match as well as a recent feud with former undisputed champion Chris Jericho. So where does Wyatt go next? Wyatt sees one man and one match as the ultimate goal and that goal is the Dead Man.
“Bray Wyatt versus The Undertaker would be the greatest I could accomplish,” he said. “Just being there side-by-side with him. I get the comparisons, but we are also very different. He is ‘The Deadman.’ He will always be ‘The Deadman,’ and I’m Bray Wyatt. When or if, or when we shall meet, it will be every bit of everything I thought it would be.”
Triple H does a weekly segment on WWE.com with Michael Cole called the Hot Seat. Hunter generally speaks on these interviews in a worked shoot mode, sometimes more one than the other. This week’s interview appears to be more shoot which features plenty of conversation about The Rock.
Hunter and Rock had a great rivalry in the Attitude Era so it is always fun to hear Triple H talk about the Great One. Hunter tells Cole how the WWE pulled off The Rock’s appearance and gives a lot credit to Rusev and Lana. It is quite an endorsement from the C.O.O.
Hunter also talks about the new match made for Hell in a Cell between John Cena and Dean Ambrose. Here you can see Hunter go more into working/promoter mode in how he answers the question. Hunter teases more conversation about Hell in a Cell in next week’s interview.
Finally, Hunter talks about 15 years of SmackDown. Hunter mentions that more SmackDown shows have been taped in Philadelphia than any other city which is something I never knew. Hunter teases the segment between him and The Rock on SmackDown. I saw the segment at the tapings and it was fantastic, well worth going out of your way to see.
Trips and Cole also talk some more RAW, Ambrose vs. Cena, and more. Check it out here.
I attended the WWE SmackDown 15 taping in Philadelphia, PA this week with my niece (Hi Alyssa) and brother-in-law. Rather than give you the typical spoiler rundown of the results, I thought it would be more interesting to give you some quick takeaways from the big anniversary event.
One thing I should note before I get into the takeaways and news from Tuesday’s taping is that this was the first WWE live event I have attended in 15 years. Ironically the last event was a SmackDown taping in Trenton, NJ. Needless to say the presentation is entirely different as we are talking Attitude Era vs. PG era WWE. So with that in mind, here are my five takeaways from the big anniversary event.
So that was an anniversary show? – I have to admit I got pretty excited when news broke that the Tuesday taping was going to be presented as the 15th anniversary event. I look back at the big RAW milestone shows and they were always full of surprises and big matches. I expected the same Tuesday, especially with 15 years to celebrate. What I got instead was nothing more than an ordinary SmackDown show with some very minor surprise.
The “celebration” was disappointing. I expected much more. The biggest surprises were the returns of Teddy Long and John Laurinitus. That was it! Sure, you got The Rock in a tremendous taped segment with Triple H but that was the extent of it. Expenses were certainly mitigated here as the WWE didn’t even bring Hulk Hogan back for the event. I think I’ll temper expectations for future anniversary events.
Strange timing for a NHB Ladder Match at Hell in a Cell. – In case you missed it, a stipulation was added to the John Cena vs. Dean Ambrose at Hell in a Cell. The match will not only be a No Holds Barred Match, but it will also be a ladder match as the winner must grab a contract to wrestle Seth Rollins which will hung above the ring. This screams of a lack of creativity from the WWE. It is very reminiscent of WCW and TNA when they’d just throw stipulation matches around with little reason or regard for future booking.
The stipulation would be fine if not for two important factors. The first factor being that it will take place on Hell in a Cell. Isn’t the HIAC enough to draw viewers to the $9.99 WWE Network? The second and most important factor is that the next special event is Tables, Ladders, and Chairs. Why in the world would you book this the month before you are trying to sell an entire show based on that very same concept? Overall it just seems like a case of poor planning to me.
Dolph Ziggler is a machine! – I walked into the show as Ziggler was wrestling Bo Dallas. I think we can all agree that Bo is nothing special in the ring. I am sure he is a nice guy but he isn’t what I’d call a Blue Chipper or standout. Yet Dolph made this kid look like a million bucks. Dolph worked like a maniac throughout the match, running and bumping like he was working the WrestleMania main-event. I have always been a fan but seeing him live gave me more of an appreciation for how talented he really is. I don’t know what this guy did to get on the boss’ wrong side but he deserves a lot more than what he has gotten the last year.
Why in the world is The Rock hanging out with Triple H? – I don’t want to spoil too much but The Rock taped a segment which will air on SmackDown in which he walks into Triple H’s dressing room to reminisce with the Game. The segment is one of the best I have seen on WWE television in months, and credit goes to both men for that. Rock and Triple H argue a bit about their past rivalry and then start pontificating about a future WrestleMania match. The segment ends with Stephanie walking back in the dressing room, calming them down, and then sending them both off to eat dinner together. In the words of Steve Austin, “What?”!
This goes back to a blog I wrote several weeks ago about the WWE wanting it both ways with Stephanie and Hunter. One minute they are the dastardly authority figures screwing with John Cena and Dean Ambrose and the very next night they are going to dinner with arguably the most popular star in the WWE. That makes zero sense to me! Additionally, why would a character like The Rock be going to dinner with the guy cheating the fans and screwing the heroes? As great as this segment was and it was tremendous it made zero sense to me.
Dean Ambrose is the future WrestleMania headliner, not Roman Reigns. – The WWE really have something with Dean Ambrose. As much as we all hate the idea of someone losing their spot due to injury, the timing of Roman Reigns’ injury is the opportunity that Ambrose needed. The fans in Philadelphia just loved him and he was far and away the most popular wrestler of the night.
I think it is becoming more evident by the week that it is Ambrose, not Reigns who should be the future of this company. He certainly isn’t the prototypical WWE superstar that Vince and Triple H would choose to be the face of their company. However, he has something that no other babyface has had in years. He is authentic and he is someone the fans can relate to. Even CM Punk as popular as he was in 2011 lacked the authenticity that Ambrose has. Quite frankly I never expected the jeans look to work for the guy but what it has done is make him something of a common man. There is a lot of Stone Cold Steve Austin in Dean Ambrose and that is something the company has not had in many years.
The WWE either did the smartest thing it has done in months or created too much buzz over a potential one-time appearance when The Rock walked into Raw Monday night and laid the smack down on Rusev. While the thousands in attendance in New Jersey watched with excitement – as only The Rock can deliver, it raised more questions as to what direction the company is turning, and more importantly when and if this might lead to a showdown between “The People’s Champ” and the current champion of the WWE, Brock Lesnar.
Lesnar is on a short schedule right now with the company and will not be defending his WWE World Title at Hell in a Cell this month, which for me and the millions (and millions) of wrestling fans does not sit well. Scheduling issues, contract issues and no true opponent for Lesnar on the current roster have left holes in a lineup up can drive a tractor trailer through.
The WWE has been famous for bringing back veteran superstars who have spent short stints in the company with the hope of making a baseball-like save, only to leave in time. There have also been wrestlers like Chris Jericho who repeatedly come and go, help put rising stars over, and then there are wrestlers like Batista where things go south faster than a Roman Reigns spear.
As Eric Gargiulo pointed out in his story “The Rock Returns to WWE RAW,” (http://camelclutchblog.com/the-rock-returns-to-wwe-raw/) The WWE desperately needed that boost from The Rock. Other than Dean Ambrose, the company is really struggling in creative. The storylines aren’t clicking and you saw an entire arena turn on most of the show Monday, sans a few segments like the Rock’s. Not that a one-night return of the Rock is going to turn things around, maybe it will somehow motivate the creative team to give the fans what the fans want and not want creative wants.
The Road to WrestleMania began the day after the event ended in New Orleans in April. The company looked a little more alive … Daniel Bryan was champion. Roman Reigns was about to become a household name. Bray Wyatt was just uncorking his potential and The Authority angle looked fresher and more exciting.
The move by the WWE, and kudos to them for keeping this as tight-lipped as possible, to have us all smell what The Rock was cooking last night means a few things. The angle with Dean Ambrose and John Cena is about to get red-hot. The thought of Lesnar and the WWE World Title is on the back burner for now and the idea of Roman Reigns taking over the company will have to wait until after the Royal Rumble. As it stands right now, The Rock had to come to New Jersey and save the day,
Right now, we are not sure if this was a cameo appearance or if The Brahma Bull will fight in a WWE ring or was he just defending America for all the world to see like every good movie actor does. The potential for a Dusty Rhodes-like performance where The Rock defends the flag against Rusev not only helps save the WWE, but it also helps put the mid-card behemoth over and on the fast track toward WWE gold.
While wrestlers like Cesaro and Wyatt have stalled, Rusev will move forward.
All of this is great, if The Rock wrestles and it leads to a showdown with Lesnar in the future. If not, then only half the goal is reached and for those of us still wanting more from our current WWE champion, we still play the nasty game of waiting.
The Rock is back! Dwayne Johnson made a surprise return to the WWE on Monday Night RAW. The Rock confronted Rusev and Lana in what was the only bright spot of Monday’s show. Is this a one-night stand or will we be seeing more of the Great One?
This was one of the rare occasions where the WWE was able to pull off a surprise without a whole lot of leaks prior to the segment. Now there were numerous reports that the Rock was in New York on Monday. However, nobody was able to predict exactly how this all played out and many were skeptical it would lead to a WWE appearance and thank goodness it did.
Where do we go from here? Is this the start of a long road to WrestleMania 31? Dave Meltzer on his F4WOnline.com podcast noted that while a Rusev vs. Rock match at Mania is possible, it is far from booked. Meltzer noted that while possible, nothing is set in stone for the Rock to return at Mania. I would think that if Rock returned at Mania to wrestle that it would be in a far bigger match than Rusev.
I still think the betting line is a Rock vs. Brock match at Mania if Rock comes back. The match makes sense and it is probably the only match you could give both guys at this point that would make sense financially. Although that said, I still think an Undertaker vs. Brock rematch would be big, big money.
The WWE desperately needed that boost from The Rock. Other than Dean Ambrose, the company is really struggling in creative. The storylines aren’t clicking and you saw an entire arena turn on most of the show Monday, sans a few segments like the Rock’s. Not that a one-night return of the Rock is going to turn things around, maybe it will somehow motivate the creative team to give the fans what the fans want and not want creative wants.
Every once in awhile a great pro wrestling rivalry spills from the world of make-believe into the world of real life. Considering the fact that Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan are two of the smartest businessmen in pro wrestling, it is surprising as to how much heat the two have outside of the ring. Personal issues aside, Hogan vs. Savage is one of the greatest rivalries of all-time.
Hulk Hogan vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage
There are many factors to consider when labeling a wrestling rivalry as one of the greatest. Longevity, money, fan interest, storylines, and excitements are what I would consider the key factors in a legendary rivalry. Hogan vs. Savage had it all.
On paper this didn’t look like it would be anything other than a routine challenge for Hogan. Savage came into the WWF without ever wrestling on a main stage. Savage didn’t have the monster muscles that most of Hogan’s rivals had at the time. Savage by all standards looked to be a perfect fit for WWF’s Intercontinental title division.
There was something different about Savage than the rest of the other wrestlers relegated to the Intercontinental division. While Savage was an outstanding wrestler, he had that “it” factor that most of the upper mid-carders missed. Savage was an entertainer from the second he appeared on WWF television. Timing and chemistry would play a big part in this classic wrestling feud.
Savage and Hogan would wrestle on house shows right in the midst of his Intercontinental reign. There was something different about these matches. Unlike most Hogan matches, the fans began cheering Savage. The two had immediate chemistry and it was evident from the start that these two would see bigger things in the near future.
An interesting backstage story to this feud is that this rivalry may have never been on the books if not for of all people the Honkytonk Man. Ted DiBiase was originally booked to win WrestleMania IV with Savage chasing him for the title while Hogan was away filming a movie. Savage was booked to defeat HTM on the NBC Main Event special to win the intercontinental title. Honky refused to do the job and this new change of plans caused the WWE creative team to change direction. It is highly likely that had Savage won the I-C title from Honky and DiBiase won the tournament at Mania that Hogan would have been challenging DiBiase at WrestleMania 5 and not Savage.
Timing was Randy Savage’s best friend. Hogan started to develop an interest in doing movies. At the peak of his fame, Hogan had agreed to star in No Holds Barred. Hogan needed time off and the WWE needed someone to carry the company. Vince McMahon gave Savage his vote of confidence, turned him babyface, and gave him the all-important championship run. The run of course was temporary until Hogan returned.
The seeds were planted a year out from Hogan and Savage’s biggest match. Savage won the WWF title at WrestleMania IV. Hogan came into the ring and put Elizabeth on his shoulders. Savage gave Hogan a subtle glare which planted the seed of doubt into Savage’s babyface intentions. A brilliant idea that most fans didn’t even catch until the tape was replayed a year later.
Hogan finally returned to active wrestling in the summer of 1988. Hogan and Savage teamed up as the “Mega Powers” to take on Andre the Giant and Ted Dibiase at SummerSlam. The two would continue to team on big shows including the Survivor Series. The tension began to mount when Hogan took Savage’s manager Elizabeth as his own manager around this time.
Savage’s legendary jealousy behind the scenes would be the catalyst for one of the greatest feuds of all-time. Savage’s off-screen jealousy was written into the storyline. Savage finally had enough and attacked Hogan following a tag team match on The Main Event. This last attack would finally make the match that had been built up for almost one year between the Mega Powers.
WrestleMania V was entitled, “The Mega Powers Explode.” A year of tension would finally explode into one of the most memorable WrestleMania matches of all time. Elizabeth would take a neutral corner as her two colleagues would battle for the gold. Elizabeth would later be ordered to return to the backstage area after she blocked an offensive move from Hogan.
365 days of tension would end in a little over 17:00 on the biggest stage of the year. Savage looked on his way to victory as he leaped off the top rope and nailed Hogan with his patented flying elbow drop. Hogan miraculously kicked out to the roar of the crowd. After a big boot and a leg drop, Hogan pinned Savage at 17:54 to win his second WWF world title.
As I said earlier, longevity was a key to this classic feud. WrestleMania V would not be their last encounter. Savage would now become the victim of a double-cross at the hands of his old nemesis. Hogan turned on Savage, Sting, and Lex Luger in WCW to join the N.W.O. Once again these two legends would be a part of one of the biggest money-making angles in pro wrestling history.
The two would continue their feud with several matches over the next couple of years in WCW. Due to the inconsistent booking, the two actually reunited in one of the many N.W.O. stables. Their final go-around ended when Hogan regained the WCW title at Savage’s expense in 1998. In over 10 years of matches, Savage would never pin Hogan.
Behind the scenes, this feud has become legendary in the wrestling business. It is hard at times to decipher what is real or what is a work when it comes to these two. Savage’s wife Elizabeth left Randy and stayed with the Hogan family for awhile. This would cause an enormous amount of tension between the two colleagues.
As much as Savage as trashed Hogan over the years, he isn’t a stupid man. Savage and Hogan have both made several attempts through the decade to make money together. The closest the two came was when Savage wrestled briefly for TNA Wrestling. TNA was negotiating with Hogan at the time. Savage quit the company claiming that he wouldn’t share a locker room with Hogan. To this day nobody will ever know if this was all part of the angle or if this was the result of TNA not being big enough for the two of them.
No matter what you think of Hogan or Savage, together they combined for one of the greatest rivalries of all-time. Every great hero needs a great villain, and Savage may have been the greatest of Hogan’s villains. It is this combination of fiction, fact, and drama that allows me to honor Hulk Hogan vs. Randy Savage as one of wrestling’s greatest rivalries.