There has to be some irony in the fact that the WWE did not want to “break the rules” by inducting Ray “The Crippler” Stevens into the Hall of Fame the night before WrestleMania XXXI. The company, which has a policy of not inducting more than one deceased performer a year, will bring “Macho Man” Randy Savage to his rightful place amongst wrestling’s greatest on Saturday night, thus eliminating the chance for Stevens, a legend in the Bay area, of receiving the honor.
While so much is made about history and promotions and how stars became legends for the work they did in territories, Stevens should have been a no-brainer since wrestling’s biggest show is appearing in an area Stevens made his own.
As Charleston Post and Courier sports writer and wrestling expert Mike Mooneyham wrote, “Stevens, who died in 1996 at the age of 60, left an indelible mark on the profession during a career that spanned five decades.
“But nowhere was his presence felt more than in the San Francisco territory, where he earned a well-deserved reputation for being one of wrestling’s biggest draws and arguably its finest worker during the 1960s.”
WWE is holding its highly publicized Hall of Fame ceremony next weekend in San Jose, Calif., on the eve of WrestleMania 31 at Levi’s Stadium in nearby Santa Clara.
Someone told me a few weeks ago that while professional wrestling is a work, the induction into the Hall of Fame is one as well. Those words might be the most telling of anything I have heard on some time regarding the induction process and how the company selects its heroes for honor. This year’s class is impressive – headlined by Savage, along with Larry Zbyszko, Tatsumi Fujinami, Kevin Nash, Madusa, Rikishi, The Bushwhackers and Arnold Schwarzenegger – but I still question what happened to the greats who still have not heard their names called and for that matter, who from the past who is no longer among us, will be honored? Stevens, although in a bad situation, was the logical choice.
So would have been Ivan Koloff, Sable, Rick Rude, The Honkytonk Man and Demolition. But I am not one of the ones who politic for their “guy” to receive the honor. And if we are talking about Savage getting the nod over Stevens (which I do agree with), then shouldn’t there be three wrestlers honored posthumously? We cannot have Savage without the lovely Miss Elizabeth, his former wife and valet, at his side, can we?
This year’s class speaks volumes about who gets in and who plays a waiting game. As Mooneyham said in his column, “While other worthy candidates have been left off the list in recent years, there’s one that is conspicuously absent this year, and even more noticeably because of the Bay Area connection.
Former wrestling great and WWE creative consultant Pat Patterson, who is 74 years old, would have been the ideal choice to present Stevens. The two — dubbed the “Blond Bombers” — were regarded as one of the greatest tag teams in the business during the ’60s, as well as rivals whose torrid feud sold out venues throughout Northern California.
It was reported that Patterson had, in fact, pushed for his late partner’s induction this year. But apparently it was nixed when the long-awaited Savage induction was approved.
Next year, the WrestleMania train moves to Dallas. Does this mean that since The Undertaker is from Houston, and the potential confrontation with Sting, would automatically warrant him being inducted before his last match?
It is well deserved, but let’s still not forget who hasn’t entered before those who do enter.
Stevens should have gotten in, but the WWE did not want to “break the rules” as stated before. I find it hard to comprehend when rule breaking is something that has made the company and professional wrestling as popular as it has been over its existence.
Sometimes, you just have to take a break from tradition. In wrestling, rules are made to be broken.
CM Punk may wish to put his WWE career behind him but it will always be a topic of conversation with the former WWE champ. Punk was recently asked about his WWE career and had some interesting reflections on the past and the future.
Punk is now removed from the WWE for over a year and training diligently for a career in the UFC. While Punk may prefer to focus on the future, his sudden departure from the WWE is still a fascinating topic. Punk recently stopped by Fox Sports Wisconsin for a Q & A that started with MMA questions but took a sharp left down the pro wrestling radio.
Punk on making the move to the UFC at this point in his life. “Because I’m not getting any younger. I’m the kind of guy that jumps at an opportunity. I’m sure you’re going to ask, and I understand all the criticism levied towards myself and UFC, but at the end of the day I’m the one getting in there, I’m the one putting my neck out on the line. If I fail, I fail in front of the entire world. To me that’s the juice, it’s all about the action. I’ve been thinking about doing it for a very, very, very long time. The opportunity presented itself, so I’d be a fool to say no.”
I think it is interesting to look back at 2011 and the path Punk’s career took that summer. All of the rumors up to that point were that Punk was leaving the WWE when his contract expired. It is interesting to ponder whether Punk was seriously considering the move then. The MMA landscape was different and I am fairly certain he wouldn’t have gotten a UFC deal at that time. I am not sure if he has been asked but it is an interesting thought regarding whether he would have shifted to MMA in 2011 had he not stuck around.
Punk was then asked some WWE questions. Punk was asked whether he still watches the product. “None. I don’t watch wrestling anymore. I’ve tried to, but I have an aversion to it. You do something like that for however many years I did it, and it’s like a lifetime. I’ve seen enough.”
The interviewer jokes, “So no NXT for you then?” Punk responds, ” No, no. I lived it.”
That is a very common answer I hear among former pro wrestlers who retired. Many don’t watch it anymore and why would they? It was their job and Punk has obviously lost his passion for it. He does mention that he’ll watch his wife’s matches when she recommends them.
Punk was asked whether the WWE was his dream job when he signed and he offers an interesting answer. “I signed in ’05. My dream job was always wrestling in Japan. I looked up to guys like Bruiser Brody, Stan Hansen. I was huge All Japan Wrestling guy, so a guy like Kobashi. I loved Eddie Guerrero, because they were stars in a foreign land. There’s something about that that appealed to me. I liked the style a lot better than American wrestling, or WWF at the time. That was my dream job. That’s what I always wanted to do, was go over there, wrestle for four weeks, come home for two weeks, go there for five weeks, come home for one week. That was the dream. But the way things work, your goals change and your priorities change and I had already gotten to a level where I thought I needed to prove that I could draw money. And the only way to do that, because foreigners aren’t really given a chance in Japan, was to go to WWE.”
What is interesting about that answer is that Punk was always using the WWE to get to Japan, or so he says. It certainly adds context to him leaving and being burnt out when that wasn’t necessarily his end goal. It does make you wonder though whether Punk would entertain a modified schedule working for a Japanese company. Of course the Japanese landscape was much different in 2005 and the timing wouldn’t have worked out for him if that was his goal.
Punk was then asked whether he regretted signing with the WWE. “Well, yeah, of course. Like I said, I don’t live my life with regrets. I don’t even think there’s really situations where I wish I would’ve handled myself a little bit differently. I wish I would’ve punched one or two people in the face. But, no, I wouldn’t change a damn thing. Absolutely not.”
Punk was asked about the chances of ever working in the WWE again? “Zero.”
I would recommend reading the entire interview as Punk offers more insight into his WWE departure, highs and lows, UFC preparation, and more pro wrestling talk than he has engaged in anywhere else since the Colt Cabana podcast.
First off I’d like to thank Eric and Camel Clutch Blog for having me as a guest writer. I’ve been a fan of CCB for a few years now, so it’s great to be able to contribute.
For this inaugural edition of Wrestling’s Greatest Finishers I’ll be looking at one of the most popular of all finishing moves, the DDT. Such a simple maneuver, yet also one of the more treacherous and violent, the DDT was allegedly an accidental innovation from the man with whom it is most associated. Jake “The Snake” Roberts maintains he had grabbed his opponent in a front facelock when both men’s weight shifted, resulting in Roberts appearing to drive the other fella’s head into the mat. This origin story has been disputed over the years, but what’s unquestionable is the DDT’s lasting, visceral appeal, along with Jake’s success in making it one of the all-time great finishers.
In the 80s most North American wrestling holds (including finishing moves) were fairly basic. Hulk Hogan for example made a career of ending matches with the legdrop of all things; King Kong Bundy would simply squash guys in the corner; the Junkyard Dog used a rudimentary powerslam. Once in a while you’d get a high flier with a top rope finisher, but for the most part finishing moves looked pretty safe and unspectacular.
Then along came Jake’s DDT – one of those finishers no one, and I mean NO ONE got up from. Jake would often attempt the move several times during a match, but if he actually nailed it the match was over, period. It was portrayed as so effective in squash matches that Jake could subsequently dump his signature python on top of an unconscious opponent and the guy would never know what happened. Finishing moves in general were held up with much greater sanctity in the 80s than they are now, but even by the standards of that era the DDT was a showstopper. It was rather fitting that a character nicknamed “The Snake” was equipped with a maneuver so akin to a sudden cobra strike. Once the head and face of Jake’s poor victim were drilled into the canvas, he wasn’t getting up without smelling salts or an adrenaline shot to the aorta.
Another superb aspect of the move was Jake’s ability to execute it without warning, on an opponent of virtually any size. Given his slender, less than spectacular build, a power move like a superplex would hardly have suited Jake. But the DDT’s effectiveness only depended on quick reflexes and the inevitability of gravity.
The DDT became arguably the most popular single maneuver in the business, to the extent that the WWF eventually had trouble keeping Jake a heel. Even against popular babyface opponents the crowds started chanting “D-D-T” during Jake’s matches, and it was clear he needed to become a babyface. This may be the most significant example of a wrestler owing so much of his success to his choice of signature move.
A few other wrestlers adopted the move in the late 80s – Arn Anderson, Michael Hayes, and Dusty Rhodes each had a variation – but they all paled in comparison to the aggressive, lethal force Jake exerted when snapping it off. Over the years many other stars have put their own spin on the DDT: Mick Foley integrated a double-arm underhook to make the move seemingly inescapable. The Rock’s version was lightning-quick, and he also introduced a floatover variation off the ropes to give it an athletic flair. Gangrel and Edge both used the Impaler DDT which incorporated a jumping motion for extra impact. In today’s WWE The Miz executes the move on a kneeling opponent for greater torque. But probably my favorite variation belongs to another “snake,” Randy Orton. Several years ago Orton pioneered the Elevated DDT which involves dragging a facelocked opponent through the ropes but leaving their feet resting on the second strand. Then after a dramatic pause conveying sadistic glee, he drills them into the mat face-first from a floating position. From a character standpoint this is probably Orton’s most defining move.
While all these DDT variants have merit in one way or another, the downside is that this once unique, unendurable move has lost some of its lethality over the decades. Where 25 years ago the DDT spelled certain doom for its recipient, now dozens of wrestlers use it as a throwaway mid-match hold, and sadly it’s no longer all that distinctive. Probably the only current star actually using the DDT as a finisher is Dean Ambrose, and his version is essentially a carbon copy of Mick Foley’s. WWE might be wise to issue a moratorium on all non-finisher use of the hold to restore some of its mystique.
The DDT should still be one of those moves that realistically would kill a person, thus it should take a wrestler with little regard for the welfare of others to be willing to use it. Think of how much heat a heel could generate just by employing a finisher the babyfaces have too much compassion to resort to. Why a wrestler could build his entire career on the notoriousness of that one move. Just like Jake Roberts did.
Chris Jericho has always been one of the most outspoken WWE superstars when it comes to media. That is why it is always newsworthy when the Ayatollah of Rock and Rolla speaks including some very interesting insight on WrestleMania 31 and the current WWE landscape.
Jericho is out doing publicity for his new WWE home video release, “The Road is Jericho: Epic Stories & Rare Matches from Y2J”. Jericho spoke to Scott Fishman of the Miami Herald about a variety of topics including WrestleMania 31, his feud with Bray Wyatt, and more.
Jericho spoke about his feud with Bray Wyatt. “In this day, most of the guys are newer,” he said. “That’s just the cycle of wrestling. I’m fortunate enough to be doing this for 25 years and can still do this at a high level. I’m still Chris Jericho. As far as years in the ring, I have more than Triple H. I have more than Kane. I think only Goldust and Undertaker really have as many years in the ring. Just to stay in the company and continue to work, you have to work with the younger guys. I think that is important to do that.”
“This is why I included the Bray Wyatt match on the DVD because I thought it was a great match. I think the Randy Orton match I had was a great match. I don’t always want it to be a career retrospective just based around 1999 to 2004 or whatever. I’ve had great matches every year in my career, so I think it’s important to support that and continue to remind people of that. I’ve enjoyed working with Bray Wyatt. I think the cage match we had on Raw was tremendous. One of the best ones I’ve done. I think the match I had with Orton at [Night of Champions] is the best one we’ve ever had.”
Jericho also offered his thoughts on WrestleMania 31 with an interesting proposal for what he’d like to do if he returned. “I like the concept. It amazes every year. It’s always good,” Jericho said. “Of course, I want to see Triple H and Sting. I know what kind of match it’s going to be because I’ve seen Sting in TNA for the last 10 years. It’s not like he is going to come back and be different in the ring. The storyline is what counts. I’m excited for Brock [Lesnar] and Roman Reigns. I’m a big Reigns fan. I’ve been a supporter of his for years. I think the [Intercontinental championship] ladder match will be great. There is a lot of stuff on there. I think it’s pretty cool NXT is doing a big building before WrestleMania as well, 5,000 seats.”
“There are a lot of guys there I would like to work with. I would like to work with [Finn] Bálor. I would like to work with Sami Zayn and [Adrian] Neville. Even [Dean] Ambrose, [Seth] Rollins and Reigns I would like to work with. I would like to work with Daniel Bryan as a heel. I think I can bring something out of him that he hasn’t been seen. It is one thing the company really doesn’t have is strong heels. Maybe they have strong heels, but not the way Jericho would be if the circumstances were right. That would be interesting to come back as a heel.”
I think that Jericho is onto something there and I think he’d be a great investment for the company. Sticking Jericho with the up and coming NXT guys on the road and on big shows would payoff big for those guys. Jericho has found something of a niche of being the established guy who works with these up and comers from Bray Wyatt to Dolph Ziggler to CM Punk to Randy Orton to John Cena when Cena was getting hot and I think all of those guys came out of those programs better for it.
Check out the entire interview where Jericho talks about his DVD, his role in Sharknado 3, Fozzy, and more.
On Friday March 20th, 2015 Perro Aguayo Jr tragically lost his life in accident which took place whilst he was performing in a professional wrestling match.
Or, let me cut the crap and put it another way: A human being died last week. The fact that he did whilst performing in a scripted wrestling contest isn’t important.
A man went to work to provide for his family, and never came home again. A father and mother will now have to attend their child’s funeral (something no parent should ever have to do), a son or a daughter will have to grow up without a father. A wife is left without a husband. Somebody somewhere has lost a brother, an uncle, a cousin, a friend.
Do I know for certain that Mr. Aguayo had kids, a wife or a brother? No.
To be honest with you, I wasn’t even all that familiar with the man until news of his passing broke at the weekend. I have no idea if he was the jobber of all jobbers or Mexico’s answer to John Cena. Yet whether he jerked the curtain or headlined the card is irrelevant. What matters is that somebody lost their life, and those who loved and cared about him are now undoubtedly in mourning.
At least, that’s what I thought was important. According to some wrestling fans, I seem to have my priorities all mixed up.
Look, I’m a wrestling fan myself. Whether you call it fake, scripted, pre-determined or anything else, I’ll likely always be a wrestling fan because, for some dumb reason that I can’t quite explain, I find it entertaining. Yet I’d be lying if I said I didn’t sometimes find myself staring slack-jawed in disbelief at some of my fellow fans.
I get irritated by the delusional, entitled types who believe Vince McMahon and the WWE have a personal vendetta against them, and only refuse to make Daniel Bryan the top star as some sort of conspiracy. I get confused by those who vow to boycott WWE forever, only to tune in like clockwork the following Monday night, and I’m not particularly fond of those who claim you can’t be a proper pro wrestling fan unless you can namecheck every indie darling to ever grace the canvas in Ring of Honor.
Still, deep down, I like to believe that my fellow fans are, at heart, decent human beings. Much like I imagine Perro Aguayo did, I believe they have parents, kids, a spouse, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles and friends, and that when somebody tragically passes away, especially when that somebody was doing something to entertain them, they’ll be there to pass on their condolences in a respectful way.
So, imagine my disappointment then, when on first reading about Aguayo’s passing on a pro wrestling website, I scrolled down to the comments section to find that well wishes for the fallen grappler’s friends and family were scarce when compared to the abundance of comments discussing what a man’s death would mean for the entertainment art form we know as pro wrestling.
When fans weren’t discussing the implications for former WWE star Rey Mysterio (one of Aguayo’s opponents in his tag team match that night), they were on the verge of bragging that a professional wrestler dying whilst performing in a wrestling ring should serve as a big flip of the bird to those detractors who label our favorite form of entertainment as ‘fake.’
At the risk of tarring everyone with the same brush here, I will say that since I first saw that article, there has been the kind of outpouring of respect you’d expect when somebody passes away in such tragic circumstances, though for every two or three genuine mark of respect, there’s at least one tweet or comment that almost comes across as a gloating, “Ha! This is a big F-U to anyone who says wrestling is fake!”
Seriously? Is that what’s important here? Perro Aguayo didn’t die just so that you can feel better about yourself for watching professional wrestling.
If you like wrestling, go ahead and like wrestling, what does it matter if somebody else thinks it’s fake or not? You’re not going to change their minds by showing them that a man died because something went wrong in the ring. If you want to believe it’s not OK to call it fake, that’s fine too, but really, does it matter?
At the end of the day, we watch professional wrestling for no other reason than because, for whatever dumb reasons we have, it entertains us and we enjoy it. Yes, we’re passionate about wrestling, yes, wrestling is important to us, but when a man goes to work, puts on his tights, heads out to entertain us, and ultimately loses his life, doesn’t that put things into perspective?
It appears the WWE wants to capitalize on the wave of momentum from WrestleMania 31 by taking the initial step toward WrestleMania 32 at AT&T Center in Dallas by finally give wrestling fans the dream match they have wanted for years – Sting vs. Undertaker.
“According to multiple source, the current creative plan is for Undertaker to appear on the RAW following WrestleMania 31 to put over Bray Wyatt and to set up a match with Sting at WrestleMania 32. Wrestlezone.com is reporting that Sting is currently on his way to WWE HQ to talk with Vince about the details.
It’s widely assumed that WrestleMania 32 will be the last year that Taker will wrestle.”
It could very well be the last match for The Icon as well. What better way to send to living legends out in a blaze of glory then to have them face each other at what could be the largest crowd to ever witness a pay-per-view wrestling event.
This would also go a long way toward clearing debris from the night before should the outcome of wrestling’s biggest night fall short.
When word got out that Sting would finally appear in the WWE ring to wrestle, the immediate speculation was a dream match of The Icon and The Dead Man, the Undertaker. The reason for this colossal match never getting off the ground had plenty to do with management’s fear that ‘Taker, who took a beating last year when Brock Lesnar broke The Streak, could not carry his end of a solid match.
Now, with only seven days until WrestleMania, the wrestling world still wonders of Mark Calloway can summon the powers of the underworld to create a main event match with Bray Wyatt.
And to be honest, I have my doubts as well.
But an announcement like this one might put a poor performance by Undertaker on the back burner as a match like the one rumored is must see pay-per-view television. I’d be curious how the build is planned and would the two face each other in or out of a ring during the next 12 months.
It also makes you wonder what the WWE has in store for Wyatt after the card Sunday night.
Instead of the usual build of the WWE most tenured star coming to the ring in dramatic fashion, creating a buzz as only he can, fans and media types alike wonder if there is still anything left in the tank for a one-a-year performer who looked as beaten as a grade schooler who has been taken to the woodshed by the playground bully. I was worried about a Sting-Undertaker match for the simple fact a 56-year-old Sting can’t carry the match by himself and therefore, in this situation, Wyatt will not only have to carry the match, but will shine in doing so.
While I believe the Daniel Bryan – Dolph Ziggler confrontation in the IC Ladder Match may be the show stealer of the night (yes, throw the pun in there), Wyatt may come out of WrestleMania as the performer who gained the most. What better way to cement yourself as part of the future of the WWE than to defeat the man who the company could count on for a “W” for the past two-plus decades.
Now, the WWE will be able to build a year-long program, much like John Cena and The Rock in their first battle. The Rock beat Cena in Miami. It was not a one in a lifetime event – the two faced each other again, this time Cena getting the upper hand.
A match with Sting and Undertaker will only happen once.
This week, the show emanates from Kanas City, MO. To kick things off, here comes Roman Reign through the crowd, sporting a new shirt that says “I Can. I Will.” He says Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman think they can intimidate him.
Mark Henry interrupts and says he came out last week and he wanted to find out just what Reigns had in the ring, and Reigns showed him something. Henry climbs in the ring and shows what happened last week, for those that weren’t watching. We cut to last week, where Reigns knocked Henry to the floor and speared him through the barricade. Back to the arena, Henry says he doesn’t normally say things like this, but he got what he deserved. He then tells Reigns that, at Wrestlemania, he not only expects Reigns to beat Lesnar, but he’s putting all of his money on it, because Reigns can and will. The two shake hands, and that’s when Seth Rollins’ music hits.
Rollins comes out, flanked by J&J Security, as well as Kane. Kane mocks Henry and calls him the world’s biggest self-help guru. He can’t believe for a second that Reigns will beat Lesnar at WM. Rollins says, then again, anything can happen, before staring at his MITB case. The real reason they are out here is because everyone’s been buzzing since he accepted Randy Orton’s challenge at WM. Unfortunately for the fans, Orton isn’t here tonight, and he won’t be here. The best security team in the world, J&J, have secured the entire building and blocked the entrances. Orton will not step foot in here tonight. This isn’t for Rollins’ protection; this is for Orton’s own good, because when he finally gets face-to-face with Orton, he’s saving all of the humiliation for WM. Thankfully, for Reigns and Henry, he’s in the mood for a WM tune-up. Kane interjects and announces he and Rollins will take on Henry and Reigns. Believe in the Authority.
Tonight, all of the title contenders in the IC title ladder match at WM will face each other in a gauntlet match.
Tatsumi Fujinami is the latest inductee into the WWE Hall of Fame.
MATCH 1: PAIGE VS. BRIE BELLA (W/NIKKI BELLA)
AJ Lee is on commentary, which is A-OK with me. Nikki Bella is also going to be on commentary, which now means I have to mute my computer, godd*mmit. The match starts, and Paige immediately tackles Brie to the floor and lays into her with punches. Paige slams her back-first onto the announce desk and hits a few more punches before Brie fights back and rolls her back into the ring. Back inside, Brie hits a middle rope missile dropkick for 2. She applies a rear chinlock, then whips Paige down by the hair. In the corner, Paige goes face-first into the top buckle a couple times, then gets hit with a running bulldog for 2. Brie then goes back to the chinlock because why the f*ck not? Paige tries to elbow out, so Brie clubs her with a forearm. Paige comes back with a kick off the ropes, and the two collide with simultaneous clotheslines. Paige is up first and goes for the big kick, but Brie blocks it and snaps Paige onto her face. She hits a weak running knee against the ropes and goes for a lackadaisical cover for 2, which Paige counters into a crucifix for the surprise 3.
We’re outside the arena, with J&J checking in with their security staff. Jamie Noble tells them they need to tell him right away if Orton shows up.
MATCH 2-GAUNTLET MATCH; PARTICIPANTS: DEAN AMBROSE, STARDUST, R-TRUTH, LUKE HARPER, DANIEL BRYAN AND DOLPH ZIGGLER
Ambrose and Stardust are the first two competitors. Stardust gets an inset promo during his entrance. He says the competitors don’t matter, something about the “ivory enterprise”, blah, blah. Basically, he wants the IC title. Ambrose applies a hammerlock, but then eats a back elbow before hitting a forearm off the ropes. Ambrose snaps off some jabs, then ties Stardust up for some chops. Stardust bails to the floor off an Irish whip, leading to a chase back into the ring. Stardust hits Ambrose with a kick, ducks a rebound clothesline and hits the Disaster Kick for 2. Another pin attempt gets 2 before Stardust hits a boot off the ropes. He stomps Ambrose down against the ropes, then hits a standing gourdbuster. We see Bad News Barrett watching on a monitor in the back. In the ring, Stardust goes for a sunset flip, but Ambrose drops down and pins Stardust for 3.
Stardust is eliminated.
Stardust attacks Ambrose from behind and rams him shoulder-first into the ring post twice as entrant #3, R-Truth, comes out. He pelts Stardust with rights, ducks a clothesline and hits a jumping heel kick. The ref checks on Ambrose to make sure he’s okay, Ambrose nods, and this match continues. Stardust jumps on the apron, and Truth quickly knocks him down. He turns around, only to have Ambrose drop him with Dirty Deeds for 3.
R-Truth is eliminated.
Entrant #4 is Luke Harper. He also gets the inset promo treatment, and says you never know true freedom until you’ve lost everything. He knows, because they took it from him. Now he will use you to set them all free. At WM, he will piece himself back together.
Back from the break, Ambrose pelts Harper with rights before dropping him with a cross-body. More rights from Ambrose, but Harper recovers and snaps Ambrose down with an arm wringer. He hits an armbar takedown, then applies a modified top wristlock. We see BNB looking on once more. Ambrose gets back to his feet and tries to fight out, but Harper cuts him off with a kneelift. He hits a snake eyes into the middle buckle, then applies a modified crossface. Ambrose shimmies his way to the bottom rope, leading to a break. He pulls himself up on the apron, where he low-bridges an incoming Harper. Ambrose comes off the apron with a flying elbow. Back up, Ambrose rolls Harper in the ring and goes for a tornado DDT. Harper tosses him and goes for the discus clothesline. Ambrose ducks and rolls Harper up for 2. Harper recovers and surprises Ambrose with a seated scrapbuster for 2. Harper goes back to the crossface hold from before, torquing Ambrose’s bad shoulder in the process. Ambrose breaks the hold by biting Harper in the hand. He then snaps off some jabs and chops, hits a kitchen sink against the ropes, then follows up with a seated dropkick. A la magistral gets 2, and now Ambrose heads up top. He dives over an incoming Harper, rolls through and gets blasted with a superkick before hitting a rebound clothesline. Ambrose goes for Dirty Deeds, but Harper shoves him off and hits the discus clothesline. He then folds Ambrose up with a sit-out powerbomb for 3.
Dean Ambrose is eliminated.
Entrant #5 is Daniel Bryan. Commercials.
Back from the break, J&J are talking to security staff, stationed by doors. Noble tells one of them that no one can come through the doors without credentials. Someone comes in on a phone, but he has photo ID, so they let him go through. Noble says to keep an eye out for suspicious people and they should radio him immediately if they see anyone.
Back to the ring, Harper/Bryan is already underway, with Bryan targeting the legs of Harper, wrapping the left one around the ring post from the floor. Back in the ring, Bryan kicks at Harper’s left leg repeatedly, finally taking him down. Bryan goes for a surfboard stretch as BNB is still looking on. Back in the ring, Bryan gets the surfboard on, then turns it into a rear chinlock. Harper elbows out of the hold, but can’t stand up. Bryan fires up the Yes! Kicks, but goes for one too many as Harper blocks him, picks him up and dumps him to the floor. Harper then collapses before he’s finally able to stand up. Bryan rolls back in, where Harper meets him with a pair of elbow drops for 2. He hits a bodyslam, but is still limping a bit. He locks in the Gator Roll, then goes into a side headlock. Bryan gets to his feet and breaks the hold with a legbreaker. Harper manages to immediately hit a European uppercut, however, then lands another big bodyslam. A third slam connects, and he goes for another uppercut. Bryan ducks and gets Harper in a backslide for 2. Harper pops up and hits his big boot for 2 before applying a rear chinlock. Harper hits a couple of knees and goes for another slam. Bryan escapes and hits a few kicks before getting sent over the ropes. Bryan holds on, skins the cat and pulls Harper to the floor with a headscissors. He sends Harper into the barricade with a suicide dive, then hits a few more kicks against the barricade. Back in the ring, Bryan fires up the Yes! Kicks, but misses the Buzzsaw. Harper then drops him on his head with a dragon suplex for 2. Bryan blocks a discus clothesline, but Harper spins once more and connects on the second try for 2. Harper goes for the sit-out powerbomb, but Bryan counters into a sunset flip before turning it into a heel hook for the submission win.
Luke Harper is eliminated.
The sixth and final entrant is Dolph Ziggler. Ziggler gets an inset promo, and says the IC title ladder match at WM has all types. Whether you’re a dirty lunatic, a rapper that refuses to get high, a guy going to a costume party on Mars, a homeless zombie, a Brit with no stones or just a turd, they’re not as good as him. He’s bringing the title back where it belongs, and it’s just too bad he’s too good. Commercials.
We’re back, and the two start with a lock-up. Bryan turns it into a hip throw, which Ziggler counters with a headscissors before Bryan escapes back to his feet. They lock up again, and repeat the sequence, but with the roles reversed. BNB watches on. Bryan applies an arm wringer and backs Ziggler to the corner before hitting him with a spinning back kick. Bryan hits some more Yes! Kicks, then picks Ziggler up for a European uppercut. Ziggler comes back with a flurry of rights, only to have Bryan trip him up. Ziggler blocks the attempt at a submission hold and stacks Bryan up for 2. The two go for a test of strength, but Ziggler boots Bryan, backs him into the corner, and hits a Rude Awakening. Nice touch there. He misses a corner splash, which allows Bryan to hit a running corner dropkick. He connects with a super hurricanrana, but Ziggler rolls through into a sunset flip for 2. The two trade shots, which Ziggler eventually getting the best of the exchange. He headbutts Bryan in the corner and goes for a whip. Bryan backflips out, ducks a clothesline, and the two collide off simultaneous cross-body attempts. Commercials.
Back from the break, Bryan is working over Ziggler’s arm. Ziggler escapes a back suplex, hits a couple kicks and lands a big dropkick. He goes for the rocker dropper, but Bryan counters it with a powerbomb into a jackknife for 2. Bryan goes up top, but Ziggler crotches him and looks for a superplex. Bryan slides under his legs and crotches Ziggler. Bryan then goes up for a back superplex, which Ziggler counters with a mid-air cross-body for 2. Ziggler goes for the Zig-Zag, and Bryan grabs the ropes to block. Ziggler rolls away, only to get nailed with a Buzzsaw for 2. Bryan signals for the running knee. Ziggler sees it coming and drops Bryan with a superkick for 2. Ziggler picks Bryan up in a front chancery, but Bryan counters it into a quick Yes! Lock. Ziggler breaks free and jackknifes for 2. Bryan powers up to a vertical base, and now the two fight over a backslide attempt. Bryan drops to one knee and manages to pull Ziggler down for 2. He misses the Buzzsaw, and Ziggler hits a surprise Zig-Zag for 3.
WINNER: DOLPH ZIGGLER.
Damn, that was a hell of a match. It was pretty average at first, but once R-Truth was out, it really picked up and didn’t stop. I could watch Ziggler/Bryan all day.
After Ziggler celebrates, he has a stare-down with Bryan, only to shake his hand a moment later. BNB comes out and congratulates them for stealing the show, just like they’ve been trying to steal the IC title over the last few weeks. He’s got some bad news for both of them: stealing the show is a code. It’s a code for being…well, we never find out, because BNB immediately drops Ziggler with a microphone shot. Bryan starts nailing BNB with kicks and goes for a running corner dropkick, but BNB is back up, and he nails Bryan with the mic as well. He loads up the Bull Hammer and blasts Ziggler with it, then gives one to Bryan as well.
Bray Wyatt promo, hyping the match with the Undertaker at WM. Sorry, but as soon as this match was made official, I completely lost interest.
We get predictions from the divas on who will win the divas tag team match at WM. Who the hell cares? It features the Bellas, so it will absolutely suck. Listening to Cameron and Summer Rae talk…I’d rather hump a splintered piece of balsa wood.
Another Sheamus hype video.
J&J are with more security guards, by the shutters. Same stuff as the last two times.
MATCH 3-jINTER-SPECIES TAG TEAM MATCH: WWE TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS CESARO & TYSON KIDD, AND NATALYA VS. EL TORITO AND LOS MATADORES (DIEGO & FERNANDO)
Cesaro and a Matador start, with Cesaro hitting a shoulder and dropping an elbow for 2. The two crisscross until the Matador hits a hurricanrana. Nattie tags herself in, which automatically brings Torito in. Kidd tags himself in before anything can happen. Torito kicks Kidd in the leg, then tags in a Matador, who suckers Kidd into a trip into the second rope. The Matador drops himself across Kidd’s back as he slides through the ropes and to the floor, tagging in the other Matador in the process. The legal Matador hits a tope con hilo for 2. Kidd recovers and sends him throat-first into the middle rope for a knee-choke. Behind the ref’s back, Cesaro hits a boot on the apron. Cesaro tags in, and he stomps the Matador down before hitting a European uppercut. The Matador gets tossed to the floor. Kidd tags in and goes for an attack from the apron, but gets tripped. The other Matador tags in and hits a springboard chop. He knocks Cesaro off the apron and hits a spinning headbutt. Torito tags in, and the two hit a springboard version of the Sidewinder (the Smoking Gunns’ old finisher) for 2. A Matador tags in and hits a somersault plancha from the top for 2 as Cesaro breaks it up. The other Matador hits Cesaro with an enziguri, then pulls his partner over for a tag to Torito. Torito sends Kidd head-first into Cesaro off a springboard hurricanrana. Nattie tags herself in as Los Matadores send the champs to the floor with a pair of dropkicks. They follow up with stereo suicide dives. Torito looks for one, but gets grabbed by Nattie. He counters into an armdrag, then comes off the top for a hurricanrana. Nattie catches him and hits a sit-out powerbomb for 3.
WINNERS: CESARO, TYSON KIDD AND NATALYA.
Nattie sure looks good in a leather catsuit. Just saying.
Roman Reigns comes out for the main event, and Mark Henry’s music hits next. However, after a minute or two, Henry isn’t coming out. THe cameras cut to the back, and Henry’s been laid out near the locker rooms. Seth Rollins and Kane come out, flanked by J&J Security. Rollins waves his arm, and about half a dozen security guards join them. The guards line up at the bottom of the entrance ramp, and it looks like this is going to become a handicap match.
MATCH 4-2-ON-1 HANDICAP MATCH: ROMAN REIGNS VS. KANE AND SETH ROLLINS (W/J&J SECURITY)
Kane starts off for his team, eating a series of rights by Reigns. Rollins distracts the referee, which allows J&J to trip Reigns near the ropes. Off the distraction, Kane hits a big boot before tagging in Rollins. Rollins clubs Reigns down, then hits a neckbreaker for 1. Rollins chokes Reigns over the middle rope, then tags in Kane. Kane sends Rollins into the corner for a forearm, and Rollins then sends Reigns into Kane for a sidewalk slam, which gets 2. Kane rams Reigns face-first into the top buckle, then sends him across the ring. Reigns blocks a splash, hits a few rights, then gets caught with a DDT off the ropes for 2. Rollins tags in, pulls Reigns to the apron from the floor and nails him with rights, followed by a running boot. Back in the ring, Rollins clubs Reigns down. Reigns comes back with rights until he gets hit with a complete shot into the middle buckle. Kane tags in and hits a quick pair of elbows. Rollins back in now, and Kane sends him in for a corner splash. Reigns sees it coming and backdrops Rollins to the apron before hitting Kane with a leaping clothesline. Rollins misses a springboard knee, lands in the corner, and gets hit with several clotheslines from Reigns. Reigns misses a short-arm, ducks a kick, misses a leaping clothesline and hits a tilt-a-whirl powerslam. He loads up the Superman Punch and nails an incoming Joey Mercury with it. He goes for it again on Rollins, but Rollins blocks it and goes for a spinning neckbreaker. Reigns blocks that, the two spin through several more times, and Reigns ends the series with a shot to the back of the head. Jamie Noble gets knocked off the apron as Rollins rolls to the apron himself. Reigns goes after him, and Rollins hits him with a hotshot. Rollins goes up top as Kane tags himself in. Reigns nails Rollins with a punch in mid-air, but Kane then comes in and grabs Reigns for a chokeslam. Reigns escapes, ducks a clothesline and connects with the spear for 3.
WINNER: ROMAN REIGNS.
After the match, Reigns shoves the security guards on the ramp out of the way. Rollins starts throwing a fit in the ring as Randy Orton’s music hits. He turns around, and Orton hits the ring through the crowd. He tackles Rollins, then proceeds to take out the security guards. He catches and incoming Rollins with a powerslam, then coils up for the RKO. Noble tries to interfere, but gets hit with an RKO. Rollins escapes an RKO attempt, but Orton grabs him by the foot before he can leave the ring. Mercury tries to attack Orton from the buckles, but gets hit with a mid-air RKO as Rollins escapes up the ramp.
My favorite pro wrestling territory of all-time was Memphis wrestling. Jerry Lawler captivated fans with his emotional interviews and gritty battles. Sadly none of this will be captured on an upcoming WWE home video on the King.
The WWE will paying tribute to the King with an upcoming DVD chronicling their version of his career for WWE fans. An early look at the matches is highly disappointing as there is very little of Lawler at his best. If you didn’t know better you’d think that Lawler’s greatest came in WWE ring which is unfortunate for a guy whose best came elsewhere.
It’s early but Wrestling DVD News revealed the content listing for the upcoming Lawler DVD. The UK website released a few matches every day on the upcoming WWE compilation. The full content listing according to the website looks like this.
Growing up a Memphis Wrestling Fan
Father Passes Away
Jerry’s Art Teacher
Jerry’s Start in Wrestling
Passing the Torch
Family Life as a Wrestler
Building a Star
A New Beginning for Memphis Wrestling
Memphis Wrestling in the 1980s
Jerry’s Start in the WWE
Running for Mayor of Memphis
Leaving & Returning to the WWE
Hall of Fame
1st WWE Title Match
Empty Arena Match
Jerry Lawler vs. Terry Funk
Memphis Wrestling • April 25, 1981
Jerry Lawler vs. Andy Kaufman
Memphis Wrestling • April 5, 1982
No Disqualification, Loser Leaves Town Match for the Southern Heavyweight Championship
Jerry Lawler vs. “Superstar” Bill Dundee
Memphis Wrestling • June 6, 1983
Jerry Lawler vs. Eddie Gilbert
Pro-Wrestling USA • October 20, 1984
Jerry Lawler vs. Curt Hennig
AWA Championship Wrestling • March 12, 1988
Jerry Lawler on Being AWA Champion
AWA Championship Wrestling • May 29, 1988
AWA & WCCW Championship Unification Match
Jerry Lawler vs. Kerry Von Erich
World Class Championship Wrestling • September 24, 1988
Jerry Lawler’s WWE Debut
Prime Time Wrestling • December 7, 1992
Jerry Lawler vs. Jim Powers
RAW • April 5, 1993
King’s Court with Giant Gonzales
Wrestling Challenge • May 23, 1993
Jerry Lawler interrupts Bret Hart’s coronation
King of the Ring • June 13, 1993
King’s Court with Tiny Tim
RAW • July 19, 1993
Jerry Lawler vs. Owen Hart
Wrestling Challenge • July 25, 1993
Bret Hart vs. Bam Bam Bigelow
RAW • July 26, 1993
RAW • April 11, 1994
King’s Court with “Rowdy” Roddy Piper
RAW • June 6, 1994
Jerry Lawler vs. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper
King of the Ring • June 19, 1994
Jerry Lawler vs. The Undertaker
White Plains, NY • September 28, 1994
King’s Court with William Shatner
RAW • January 9, 1995
Kiss My Foot Match Training #1
RAW • June 5, 1995
Kiss My Foot Match Training #2
RAW • June 12, 1995
“Kiss My Foot Match”
Jerry Lawler vs. Bret Hart
King of the Ring • June 25, 1995
Jerry Lawler vs. Al Jackson
Superstars • March 23, 1996
Jerry Lawler vs. Jake “The Snake” Roberts
SummerSlam • August 18, 1996
The Great Debate – Jerry Lawler vs. Paul E. Dangerously
RAW • March 10, 1997
Jerry Lawer & Rob Van Dam vs. The Headbangers
Shotgun Saturday Night • June 14, 1997
Jerry Lawler vs. Tommy Dreamer
ECW Hardcore Heaven • August 17, 1997
Jerry Lawler & Brian Christopher vs. Flash Funk & Scott Taylor
Shotgun Saturday Night • October 14, 1997
Jerry Lawler vs. Tazz
SummerSlam • August 27, 2000
Jerry Lawler vs. Ric Flair
RAW • November 29, 2004
Jerry Lawler – Hall of Fame Induction
Hall of Fame • March 31, 2007
TLC Match for the WWE Championship
The Miz vs. Jerry Lawler
RAW • November 29, 2010
Jerry Lawler vs. Michael Cole
Special Guest Referee: Stone Cold Steve Austin
WrestleMania XXVII • April 3, 2011
Meeting Jimmy Hart
Jerry’s First Match
The King Gets His Crown
Life on the Road
The King vs. The King?
Brian Christopher: Mexican Shooter
NWA World Heavyweight Championship Match
Ric Flair vs. Jerry Lawler
Memphis Wrestling • August 4, 1982
Wrestler vs. Boxer & Manager Match
Jerry Lawler vs. Andy Kaufman & Jimmy Hart
Memphis Wrestling • November 21, 1983
King’s Court with Jerry Lawler interviewing himself
Wrestling Challenge • June 27, 1993
Jerry Lawler & Nova vs. The Prototype (John Cena) & Sean O’Haire
OVW Wrestling • June 28, 2002
After Raw Birthday Celebration
RAW • November 29, 2010
The Lawler vs. Kaufman stuff is great but it needs all of Kaufman, Jimmy Hart, and Lawler’s promos to be truly appreciated. I was pleasantly surprised to see the Lawler vs. Dundee Loser Leaves Town Match on here. The same goes with the Lawler vs. Terry Funk Empty Arena Match. Maybe they are all there but my gut tells me no. Documenting Lawler’s feud without including matches, videos, and promos from classic feuds with Jimmy Hart, Austin Idol, Eddie Gilbert, (that PWU match is nothing more than a glorified squash match) and Nick Bockwinkel is quite honestly pointless.
Don’t get me wrong. I am glad Lawler is getting a payday out of this and it is always nice to be featured in a WWE documentary. That said, re-telling his story with your own spin is not what I’d call a tribute. If you really want to see Lawler at his best, you are better off going on YouTube or looking through forums for Lawler compilations from Memphis. There are plenty that are more worth your time than this disappointing production.
I’m one of many professional wrestling fans who are fascinated with the behind the scenes look of the business. Established wrestlers will tell you it’s a lousy business with the travel schedule, injuries, and the dangers of in-ring wrestling. One wrong move could put them out of commission for a while or for good. But what’s more fascinating to me are the training schools that produce professional wrestlers. These schools determine whether or not the students have what it takes to make it to the WWE.
What strikes me as unusual is the demeanor of trainers on their respective students. They yell at them, tell them to do specific moves over and over again until that person gets it right; sometimes maybe in front of the entire class watching them. I say to myself “I have to deal with all of that to become a professional wrestler?”
I remember over a decade ago on MTV there was a program about professional wrestling including an episode of a wrestling class taught by “Pretty Boy” Larry Sharpe. What I noticed is how his demeanor changed when class began. Yes, he needs to show tough love but he got to a point when he would act a like an A-hole to get his point across. This is possibly a psychological ploy to weed out the weak ones who don’t have the mental toughness to make it.
Tough Enough came along which was stepped up in terms of quality TV. I loved it! Steve Austin reverts back to Stone Cold Steve Austin while sexy Trish Stratus turns heel. I felt for the students whose dreams are realized or dashed through verbal and physical punishment.
Then there’s Bill DeMott. I remember watching him in particular being a sourpuss acting or maybe not acting like he had it out for his students. I thought DeMott’s character, Hugh Morruss was unique and I liked the kookiness extreme of his sadistic side to his maniacal laughs. Of the number of scenes I’d watch Bill DeMott, all I could I think of it the angry man. He’s like the one teacher in school you don’t want or the tough driving instructor when going for your driver’s license. If his demeanor was worse off the TV screen then I wouldn’t want to be anywhere near him. Because of What I’ve seen and read about what DeMott did to his students, I’m not surprised he resigned his post as head NXT trainer but I am surprised that it took this long.
In today’s day and age of technology and the internet you can’t get away with a lot of things. What one says or does can be posted or tweeted in quick turnaround time. Twenty-five, thirty years ago these stories wouldn’t have been publicized or made it on the main stage of media. Back then, the accused could claim “it’s my word against yours”. Not so in today’s case where we under the consistent microscope.
Enter Matt Bloom; formerly Prince Albert and Tensai. My initial reaction would be “Really?” But from what I’ve been reading about Bloom, this could be a smart move for the WWE. Bloom’s demeanor has been the opposite of instructors like DeMott. Bloom’s actually helping out the students rather than berate them constantly. I see this as good PR move but also good hiring for talent development. Bloom’s travelled around the world as an international wrestler. He comes with a wealth of knowledge of the professional wrestling industry. His gimmicks may not have been a hit with the fans compared to HHH, The Rock, and John Cana, but he was a hard worker.
The intangible is that he loved what he did and wants to further the business by grooming new talent. Can he be teach mic skills and encourage students to bring out the best in themselves? The WWE has been lacking in mic talent as currently there have only been a few like Bray Wyatt and John Cena. He may get on some students but that would be if had to. You need to show tough at times to get the point across and this a big difference compared to abuse by his predecessor. Will this formula work? Only time will tell.
Is there any reason to not to believe Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler will steal the show at WrestleMania XXXI?
There are nine days until the event, which is just enough time for the WWE to continue to build the Intercontinental Title Ladder Match as best as it can – which so far has been one of the highlights of the WM pregame. But if you ask me, the idea of a Bryan-Ziggler feud is about as exciting as it can get in the WWE right now, and in creating such a rivalry, it will help re-establish the title once thought to be the stepping stone to becoming the WWF-WWE champion.
Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Steve Austin and Triple H were all title holders before moving on to the golden nugget of the promotion. Ziggler and Bryan have both held the brass ring before, which makes the potential for a solid program moving toward the summer months. I spoke of title unification of the IC Title and the United States Title at SummerSlam between John Cena and Bryan before, but adding Ziggler to the mix, with his ability to take over a match and deliver nightly makes this an even more captivating possibility.
Are you listening, WWE creative? This is the kind of match the fans want to see. This kind of rivalry conjures memories of Michaels and Hart, Ricky Steamboat and Randy Savage and Savage and The Ultimate Warrior. In other words, make it so.
For everything Bryan and Ziggler are, they do not have rivals like their predecessors did. Austin had The Rock. Michaels had Hart. Sting had Ric Flair. Savage had Hulk Hogan. That might be the missing link to the decline in ratings, creativity and lack of attention from its fan base. Somewhere along the way, the company has gotten away from its core – the fact that feuds and rivalries mean something in this business.
The basic premise of professional wrestling was established on the idea of a face and a heel and interchangeable parts – meaning characters who could move in and out of those roles. While there was a given that Hulk Hogan was always the main face of the WWF, there were other “role” players who filled in, like Warrior, Savage and Roddy Piper. The next generation had its share as well, with Michaels, Hart, Rock and Austin, however those lines were skewed based on the idea that cheering the heel was a “cool” thing to do.
Now, with a company that promotes the 10-minute match and does not revert back to sensibilities of older fans, it loses steam. A great 30-minute “wrestling match” is just as valuable to its viewership, but ladder matches and other hardcore events lead the way. If this is the case, then Bryan and Ziggler are the ideal paring to face each other in a feud, which I hope leads to a confrontation with Cena with the IC and US Title as part of the program.
The WWE has the talent in the mid card, with Stardust, R-Truth, Dean Ambrose and others (yes add the current IC champion, Wade Barrett to that list) to give the fans the matches they want. The company must use this match as a springboard for the next few months, creating more opportunities for potentially great feuds. Ambrose and Stardust could be one. We have yet to see if that could work. What I am trying to get at here is the WWE started to put all of its eggs in the heavyweight basket, trying to prove it could only find success if the bigger, stronger wrestler led the way. While Vince McMahon is doing his best to accomplish that with Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns, he cannot succeed like he wants to and now, by switching gears a bit, he has created more drama.
And if anyone loves drama, it’s McMahon.
The WWE World Title match may give the company its desired champion, but it still will not appease the fans. Ziggler, Bryan and the mid card does just that.
And to steal a phrase that is picking up some steam with the show of shows less than two weeks away – You Can Believe That.