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Archive for the ‘WWE | Pro Wrestling’

Predicting the Future of WWE’s Newest Young Stars

April 16, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Is it my imagination or has NXT sprung a leak?

First, it was Alexander Rusev who finally, after weeks of video and entrance teases, made it all the way down the ramp to the ring on Raw Monday night and made mincemeat out of Zack Ryder.

Then Paige, the NXT women’s champion, showed up on the same program and did something that no other Diva on the main roster had done in the previous 300 days – defeat AJ Lee for the WWE Divas title.

On that same program, we saw video promos heralding the return of Bo Dallas and the arrival of Adam Rose. Dallas, as you recall, made his WWE splash last year in the Royal Rumble by eliminating Wade Barrett and holding his own in the ring. Rose, a rising NXT star, likely will be on the main stage sooner rather than later.

And if you read other Internet reports, more NXT stars ready for main-scene action include Sami Zayn and tag team The Ascension.

WWE usually trots out new talent in the weeks following WrestleMania to gauge how the WWE Universe will relate to them, not to mention them to the WWE Universe. It’s WWE’s version of Major League Baseball’s late season when young stars at the lower levels are brought up to fill spots left by injuries and other assorted vacancies. While it is unlikely that all who come up over the next few weeks will actually stick around for longer than a cup of coffee, a few do, in the words of Zeb Colter, “sneak across the borders” from the developmental territory into the big time.

I cannot say right now how Rose, Zayn and The Ascension will do at this level because I have not seen them enough to fairly judge them. I just have to rely on the assessments of those who have forgotten more about pro wrestling development than I ever will know.

But based on what I have seen from Paige and Rusev on Monday night, and Dallas last year, it is a safe bet to say that Paige and Dallas could have the longest staying power of those three.

Rusev is a throwback to the old Iron Curtain muscle characters like Ivan Koloff and Nikolai Volkoff, plus he wrestles without boots, which conjures up images of Jimmy Snuka, Argentina Rocca and Kevin Von Erich. But his character seems destined to be too one-dimensional with his low center of gravity and glacier-like speed. Plus, his partnership with the blonde Lana reminds us too much of Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale from the “Bullwinkle” cartoons. One might expect him to get on the mic and say something about “Moose and Squirrel.”

Paige has the potential to be a star and bring back some life into the lackadaisical Divas division. But the fact that she came in from NXT and walked right into the Divas Championship has to not be setting well with some of the more established performers in the division.
Dallas has the greatest potential for stardom of the young talent so far, but it may not be as the face he is in NXT. Remember that Dallas’ real-life brother is Bray Wyatt, leader of the evil Wyatt Family cult stable. I would not be surprised to see WWE Creative eventually come up with a plan to make Dallas the fourth member of that stable…eventually moving him up to become Bray’s right-hand henchman.

It will be fun to watch all these new stars develop in the coming weeks.

Bill Atkinson is a contributor to Camel Clutch Blog and the owner of WrestleWatch, a family-friendly wrestling web site. Follow Bill on Twitter at @BAtkinson1963 and visit WrestleWatch at www.wrestlewatch.com.

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Evolution Appears in Nick of Time as WWE Savior

April 15, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Don’t look now, but it appears the WWE has gotten it together and put the members of Evolution back into circulation as the new villains of the company to go along with the wilting “Authority” angle.

I applaud the efforts of the WWE giving this a go instead of taking a planned program like “The Authority” and shoving it down our faces. At least with Evolution, the WWE can use a basic premise of the past and apply it to the current unstable situation of new “Attitude” era.

Evolution is a villainous professional wrestling stable in WWE. They originally were apart of WWE’s Raw brand between 2003 and 2005. At the height of its original existence, the group consisted of Triple H, Ric Flair, Randy Orton and Batista. Each of the members represented “the best in: “the past” (Ric Flair), “the present” (Triple H), and “the future” (Randy Orton and Batista) of professional wrestling.

While Flair was not part of the “reunion” on Monday night, it was surely a sign that Triple H had taken over the wizened veteran role. Now, Orton and Batista represent the “now” part of the foursome, a group designed to model the Four Horsemen. But I must ask, “Who takes the fourth place as the futire of this group?”

Evolution was designed in the image of the Four Horsemen, who are still in my opinion the best stable of wrestlers to this day.

Here are a few names the fearless should consider as its newest member.

Roman Reigns

This might be the most logical solution. Reigns is a beast and could be the “future” of this company, I think he fits the role well in the same way Barry Windham came in and joined the Four Horseman when he realized he wsa not going to beat Ric Flair for the NWA World Title.

Curtis Axel

There is a good thing going on between Axel and Ryback, but in the end, the son of Curt Hennig should be a singles star, He fits in fine with the other three in an Arn Anderson-type of up and comer. If Axel is to get another push with the WWE, this might be the best way for it to happen.

Cody Rhodes

Another young star who has been around the business his whole life. Rhodes could be a world champion, but will never be given a push. He fits the original Randy Orton role to a “T”. We all know at some point, Rhodes and his brother Godlust are going to feud and dissolve their tag team partnership. Leaving to join Evolution makes for a great storyline.

Wade Barrett

The big, burly Brit could be the “brawling enforcer” Batista used to be. He is certainly able to hold his own in the ring. Barrett was once considered the future heel of the entire WWE. Now, he is mid-card at best in this company.

Drew McIntyre

For once could someone please cast him in the right circumstances? McIntyre was supposed to be the future of the WWE – but that fell through. Cast as a misfit in 3MB, it seems the company forgot about his talent and made him act the fool.

If Evolution is to now take the place of The Authority, it means other feuds will have to either dissolve or heat up. It apears Kane will come back to the ring and feud with Daniel Bryan. That might leave Brock Lesnar out 0f the title picture.

John Cena will most definitely continue his feud with Bray Wyatt into Extreme Rules. And we all need to watch as Cesaro moves up the championship ladder. From the looks of things, everything is beginning to look whole again. Thank Evolution for evolving into the same cast of bullies that kept the WWE in tact. Now, more than ever, it looks like the past will certainly aid the future.

Follow David on Twitter @davidlevin71

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Inside The End Of The Undertaker’s WrestleMania Streak

April 15, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

The pro wrestling world continues to remain in a state of shock at Brock Lesnar ending the streak. Yet now that a week has passed, what may be more fascinating than the end of an era may be the details surrounding this shocking result.

Over a week later and most wrestling fans are still in shock over the end of the streak. There is almost this sense of denial among those fans, some who believe that the result was more of a mistake than something planned. Unfortunately for them and any other doubters, the end of the streak is real and it was absolutely planned going into Mania.

Dave Meltzer of F4Wonline.com has done a tremendous job in peeling back the layers of this story and providing his readers with all of the juicy details that led up to this moment in history. I am not going to repeat word for word what Meltzer has reported, but I will take a look at some of the more interesting aspects of his investigation.

  • As of the last Monday Night RAW prior to WrestleMania known as the “go-home show”, the plan was for the streak to continue. The decision to put Lesnar over happened sometime between the end of RAW and the start of the match. This probably explains the criticism behind the build to the match. Many including myself thought the build was weak, made even more unimpressive when you put it into perspective with how the match played out.
  • Vince McMahon mandated that the Undertaker not be touched during the build to the match. It wasn’t until that final RAW where Vince lifted that decree and allowed Lesnar to get heat on the Undertaker. The cynic in me thinks that Vince changed his mind about the finish sometime over that weekend and changed his mind to allow Undertaker to get heat on Lesnar, knowing Lesnar would be the one going over.
  • Very few people in the company knew about the finish of the match including referee Chad Patton. I understand why this would be such a highly guarded secret but not telling the referee may be one of the dumbest things I have ever heard. The finish could have been an absolute disaster if the referee didn’t rely on his instincts and count to three. Strangely enough the oddsmakers (yes there are WWE odssmakers) shifted the odds in favor of Brock being the favorite over the weekend so someone leaked the result. The idea that the referee was given the wrong finish of one of the most historical matches of our lifetime is ludicrous.
  • Meltzer believes that the only way Vince would have booked this finish was if he felt that the Undertaker was retiring after the show. Nobody has confirmed whether or not the Undertaker has indeed retired, although it was certainly alluded to by the announcers after the match. However, Meltzer feels that something must have given Vince this vibe in order to make the move. Looking back I wonder if the same finish would have been booked last year if Vince felt Undertaker was wrapping it up at 29?
  • The Undertaker personally picked Brock to end the streak in 2011. Remember when the two shot an angle at a UFC event in which Lesnar and Taker had a confrontation? Vince, Lesnar, and Taker were all on board with the move but it was UFC president Dana White who refused to allow Brock to wrestle while under contract.

I found all of these tidbits interesting, especially the idea that the finish was changed a week before the show. The inside stories and the in-ring result will make this one a hard one to beat for the biggest pro wrestling in-ring story of 2014.

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21-1: Dissection of the Undertaker’s Streak

April 15, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

The Undertaker’s Streak, WrestleMania’s greatest attraction has come to an end, and I’m still not sure how I feel about it. I’m not outraged like a lot of fans are, even though I understand their sentiment. I’m not sure if I’m satisfied with how it ended, but I can certainly live with it. When I broke down this match on the Bodyslam Podcast, I said I wouldn’t be surprised if Brock Lesnar won which was the opposite opinion in the studio. I would have bet the farm on the Undertaker getting his hand raised but something about the buildup to the match told me it might go the other way. When Lesnar delivered that third F-5, I knew it was over. Instead of looking at the TV screen, I looked at my friends in the living room as the referee counted 1-2-3. The room was pin-drop silent, and my friend’s jaws were on the floor, which mirrored the fans inside the Superdome.

So, why Brock Lesnar? It’s been reported that it was Taker’s call to make him the guy, but what were the circumstances that lead to this decision? Was this Undertaker’s last match? Was this a designed to make Lesnar matter again? Or, was this simply done to give WrestleMania 30 that shocking moment that has everyone talking? We may never know the real answer behind this heavily debated decision.

The general consensus is that Lesnar was the way wrong guy to end the streak because he is already a big name player and is only wrestling part-time. Plus, his cantankerous reputation outside of the ring makes him hard to like thus he is undeserving of this accomplishment. I have a different opinion on the matter. If you look at wrestling through the prism that it is real and ignore all the internet rumors and backstage crap, It makes sense that Brock Lesnar ended the streak. His character has accumulated more titles and won more significant matches in a faster amount of time than most WWE Superstars. When he traded theater for combat, he won the UFC heavyweight title in his fourth professional fight by dethroning the seemingly un-beatable Randy Couture.

I was perusing the Camel Clutch Blog and found a fascinating article covering the backstage urban legends of WrestleMania. The word is Undertaker was in serious jeopardy of losing two of his WrestleMania matches before Sunday. A loss in either match would have dramatically altered the deadman’s career and killed the streak before it began. Now that Brock Lesnar has made history, the question remains, was he the right guy or was there a better choice along way to 21-1? Let’s take a look.

The Undertaker vs. Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka WrestleMania 7 - Taker was the new monster on the block and Snuka’s best days were behind him. There was no logical reason for outcome to go any other way but a Tombstone piledriver for the 1-2-3.

The Undertaker vs. Jake “The Snake” Roberts WrestleMania 8 - Roberts was on his was out of the company so it made no sense to put him over. Plus, Undertaker had just turned, so losing his first big match as a babyface would have stifled that endeavor.

The Undertaker vs. Giant Gonzalez WrestleMania 9 - It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if at one time, Taker losing to Gonzalez was on the books. Vince McMahon saw a lot of money in the 7’ 6” Argentinean at one time. However, history shows that the right guy won that night.

The Undertaker vs. King Kong Bundy WrestleMania 11 – This is one of the matches that Eric talked about in his article. Bundy had just returned to the WWF and Vince probably believed he would be the top heel again like he was against Hulk Hogan years earlier. The right call was made considering Bundy, in his second run, came off as more a caricature of his former self.

The Undertaker vs. Diesel WrestleMania 12 – I understand the thought process behind Undertaker losing here. Shawn Michaels was getting the title and Diesel was set to be his first program as champion. You want a title challenger coming off a big win so the people will buy him as a threat. Luckily, Big Daddy Cool was headed for WCW so it was a non-issue.

The Undertaker vs. Sycho Sid WrestleMania 13 – Nothing to worry about here. Shawn Michaels lost his smile, scrapping the rematch with Bret Hart, and the call was made to put the belt on the Undertaker and push him as the top star in the company.

The Undertaker vs. Kane: WrestleMania 14 – Like Undertaker was eight years earlier, Kane was the new monster in town and looking for revenge against his big brother. As a non-smartened up fan who was oblivious to the internet, my jaw would have hit the floor if Taker lost since that was rare. Now that I’m a little more enlightened, Kane winning wouldn’t have been that big of a surprise and might have been the right call?

The Undertaker vs. Big Boss Man WrestleMania 15 – This is another streak match where the outcome was academic. The Attitude Era was in full swing and the Ministry angle was just gaining momentum.

The Undertaker vs. Triple H WrestleMania 17 – Thinking about it now, Triple H could have easily walked out of the Astrodome with the win. He was one of the top stars in the company and a mainstay in the world title picture. For a while, this was considered their greatest WrestleMania match.

The Undertaker vs. Ric Flair WrestleMania 18 – Ric Flair was on the back end of his career and more of an attraction than a serious contender. There was no reason to have the Nature Boy conquer the Dead Man. *Side Note* This match would be the last time we would ever see the famous Arn Anderson Spinebuster.

The Undertaker vs. Big Show & A-Train WrestleMania 19 – This was supposed to be a tag team match. However, Nathan Jones was so horribly bad in the ring that they filmed an angle, having him assaulted in the locker room, which removed him from the match. Even under handicap rules, Show and Train were too far down the card to be taken seriously as a threat.

The Undertaker vs. Kane WrestleMania 20 – This is the least likely time the Undertaker would ever lose at WrestleMania. Fans were tired of the American Bad Ass Biker gimmick and wanted the Deadman back in the worst way. That’s exactly what they got.

The Undertaker vs. Randy Orton WrestleMania 21 – This marks the first time the streak was used as a part of the story. Randy Orton was quickly rising through the ranks as the “legend killer” and some had him pegged as the future of the business. It would have made sense to end the streak here but Orton’s backstage attitude didn’t instill the confidence need for the company to go all the way with him at that time.

The Undertaker vs. Mark Henry WrestleMania 22: Before Mark Henry was sending opponents to his Hall of Pain, there was a fifteen year period where he couldn’t get heat if he was on fire. Vince gave the big man quite a few start and stop monster pushes in order to capitalize on his multi-million dollar investment. At the time, the streak was a deal but not a big deal. In the end, I think the powers that be were building Henry to make him credible for a match with the Undertaker with no designs of an upset.

The Undertaker vs. Batista WrestleMania 23 - Taker was coming off of his first Royal Rumble win and Batista was the world heavyweight champion. At the time, some felt Taker should have passed the torch to the younger superstar. However, ending the streak wouldn’t have increased Batista’s already popular status enough to justify such an accomplishment.

The Undertaker vs. Edge WrestleMania 24 – Edge was an amazing performer in any role, and while ending the streak would have served him well, telling a good story takes precedent over elevating talent who doesn’t necessarily need the boost. The Undertaker was in the unfamiliar role of underdog since he was going against a foe he had never bested and was also undefeated at WrestleMania. Redemption was required.

The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels WrestleMania 25 –Not only did this match make the streak famous but we really had no idea who was going to win. This babyface vs. babyface encounter between two wrestlers who are in the GOAT discussion not only exceeded expectations but shattered them. The result produced the definitive pro wrestling match of the modern era.

The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels II WrestleMania 26 – Streak vs. Career is all you really need to say. This match also produce that “who’s going to win” factor because Michaels’ retirement was a well-kept secret. I remember thinking Michaels would win and that would set up the rubber match with Taker wanting revenge for the loss.

The Undertaker vs. Triple H II WrestleMania 27 – A great story is not always about the end but how you get there. We knew Triple H wasn’t going to end the streak, but that didn’t matter. Undertaker losing in victory made us wonder if the tank was finally empty.

The Undertaker vs. Triple H III WrestleMania 28 – Proving that a win wasn’t a fluke is all the motivation one needs. Especially when the person you beat is unapologetically convinced that he has your number. Again, we knew Triple H wasn’t going to win but the end result proved he was the right guy across the ring that evening.

The Undertaker vs. CM Punk WrestleMania 29 – Before he walked out on the company, I believed that CM Punk could have been the right guy to end the streak. It was a fresh match up in a sense that their previous bouts took place before Punk was a main eventer. However, with Paul Bearer’s passing being used as a part of the story, there is no way Punk was going over in that situation.

The Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar WrestleMania 30 – We all know what happened here.

Many feel the Undertaker’s streak should have only ended at the hands of a star on the rise in order to make them into a main event player, but WWE’s proclivity to start and stop pushes makes giving the win an un-established star a fool’s errand. Roman Regins and Bray Wyatt are being groomed for main event success, and having one of them win might have been too predictable which is what you don’t want when trying to entertain an audience. Plus, Brock Lesnar is now special again after losing his je ne sais quoi when he put over John Cena in his first match back with WWE. So, in essence, the streak accomplished its desired intent. It made someone.

I’d remiss if I didn’t talk about the elephant in the room. The match itself was horrible, and that fact is now dwarfed the enormity of the moment. If what we saw last Sunday was a mirage, all we would be talking about is how slow and lethargic the Deadman looked. He was hurt during the match, still, the intensity was missing, and the magic is gone. I don’t think any of us want to live in a world where a poor performance is our last memory of the Undertaker. He’s earned better than that, and at 49 years old, I think he believes that too which is why he ultimately made the decision to put over Brock Lesnar. Along with Bret Hart, the Undertaker is my favorite wrestler of all time. If WrestleMania 30 was his last hurrah, I want to thank Mark Calaway for making me believe that a bad ass doesn’t have to be bad guy.

Atlee Greene is a contributor to Camel Clutch Blog and host of the Bodyslam Podcast. His other work can be found at Gerweck.net, ForcesofGeek.com, and his own personal blog. He can be found on Twitter at @MidnightLogicGo.

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WWE RAW Ultimate Warrior Tribute Video

April 15, 2014 By: Category: Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

WWE RAW opened up RAW with a tribute to the Ultimate Warrior that will bring chills to even the most hardened of wrestling fans. The WWE are going to make sure that while the Warrior may be gone, he’ll never be forgotten.

The WWE Universe continues to mourn the untimely passing of the Ultimate Warrior. Vince McMahon and the company have done more to pay tribute to Jim Hellwig than any other wrestler that I can remember who has passed away since Vince took over the company. The RAW tribute was only a piece of a two week tribute ongoing in the WWE.

The WWE Network begun devoting programming to memorialize the Warrior the day of his passing. Warrior’s career highlight, beating Hulk Hogan for the WWE championship at WrestleMania 6 has been replayed several times in recent days. The WWE Network will continue its tribute presenting a four-part special on the Warrior throughout the week.

I have to say that the treatment and honor that Vince is paying the Warrior is nothing short of bizarre. I don’t know if it is Vince getting older or just timing but there is obviously a deep personal connection here he had with the Warrior. I say this is all bizarre because the two spent more time fighting with one another in and out of court over the last 20 years than Warrior actually spent wrestling in the WWE. Vince has shown more class here than he ever has which is just downright strange considering the turbulent history they both had.

If there is one negative that I will bring up with all of these tributes it is that Randy Savage deserved the same or better. Savage had a brief tribute on RAW after he passed away. It’s ironic if you think about it as Savage passed just as he started getting back into the spotlight with WWE gaming ads. The relationship with the WWE didn’t blossom the way Warrior’s return did but most expected that it wind up that way at some point. It’s certainly debatable but over the long haul I think Savage was a much bigger star and had a better run in the WWE than Warrior yet received nothing more than a polite mention. He deserved the same if not better.

That said, take a few minutes out of your day to watch this fantastic tribute to the fallen Hall of Famer. It’s one of the best tributes you will ever see on WWE television.

Rumored Brock Lesnar WWE WrestleMania 31 Opponents

April 14, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

What do you do with Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 31 a year after breaking the Undertaker’s streak at 30? That is the question being asked on social media and a new report reveals some interesting scenarios in discussion for the former UFC and WWE champion.

Bryan Alvarez has the scoop in the latest edition of his Figure Four Weekly newsletter. According to Alvarez, the WWE have penciled in a couple of possible Mania 31 opponents for Brock. One is the usual suspect while another is a bit of a surprise.

According to the report the WWE are still hanging on to the hopes that they can pull off a Brock vs. Rock match at WrestleMania. Alvarez reports that the WWE are penciling in the match, hoping that The Rock will be game for the big match. For those of you keeping track, that will be the second Mania in a row that they have tried to pull off the match although I remember hearing some rumblings back at 29 about a match.

I think the idea is great but I am not so sure it is realistic. The Rock suffered some serious injuries in his last match with John Cena at WrestleMania 29. The injuries were so serious that The Rock’s starring role in the move Hercules was put in jeopardy. There was a fear at the time that Hollywood directors would pressure Rock to avoid any more ring time. There will be a lot of hurdles to overcome to get this match done.

The Undertaker’s injuries this year against Brock are going to do the match no favors. If The Rock had a hard time staying healthy against John Cena, imagine the risk he is putting himself in with Lesnar? Lesnar is very physical and while he’ll take care of The Rock, there is only so much he can do without compromising the integrity of the match. Their match at SummerSlam 2002 is one of the most underrated matches of that decade but that was a decade ago and a lot has changed since then.

Undoubtedly this is the biggest match the WWE could pull off next year at WrestleMania. I don’t see another breakthrough match on the table. If Sting were a few years younger they could have done something with him and John Cena but I have doubts Sting can live up those expectations at this stage of the game. I suppose you could do something with Kurt Angle against Brock or Cena if Angle returns but that is still nothing compared to the potential of Rock and Lesnar.

The dark horse would be Cesaro vs. Lesnar next year at Mania 31. Alvarez reports that the match is something of a backup plan if they can’t sign The Rock. If the WWE can commit to this now, they can take a whole year to build this up. Otherwise a lot can happen over the course of a year and it remains to be seen whether the WWE can fully commit to pushing Cesaro.

I’d love to see it but the WWE have never given fans the perception that Cesaro is capable of hanging with the elite level of guys. On paper today it reads like a squash match. Cesaro needs to go on a roll and get some big wins before I can take this match seriously. Coming close against John Cena is one thing but pinning him is another.

I will throw a name in here as a complete guess. Roman Reigns. I predicted a Reigns vs. Lesnar match in my WrestleMania 31 predictions. I could see people buying this one before Cesaro vs. Lesnar. Reigns going over the guy at Mania who ended the streak would be a game changer for him as well where I don’t know if Cesaro is ready for that. I love Reigns in this spot.

Of course it is very early and if you go back through the last twelve months you can find many ideas that the WWE had on paper for WrestleMania 30 (Daniel Bryan/Bray Wyatt vs. The Undertaker, Triple H vs. Steve Austin) that sounded good at the time but never had any serious momentum outside of the initial story.

This is all card subject to change until we get much closer to the big event. Although it’s nice to see the buzz started early.

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WWE: The Greatest Wrestling Stars of the ’80s

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Put The Next Madison Square Garden Show On The WWE Network

April 14, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Are we all enjoying WWE Network?

I know I sure am. Six weeks into its existence and I haven’t even begun to grow bored with it yet. Virtually every 1993 Monday Night Raw is available, most ECW episodes from 1994, every PPV under Vince McMahon’s lock-and-key can be watched, and WrestleMania XXX was there to be relived the day after the event.

Why, if I had a social life, I’m sure the people in it would be worried about my continuous absence.

Exploring every nook and cranny of the WWE Network map with a grapple-mark’s wanderlust, the section I love most, being a thirty-year-old male fogey who still actively buys CDs (“Digital downloads?! In my day….”), is the Old School folder.

After a steady diet of WWE’s glitzed-up, high-tech, billion-watts-of-light, jillion-watts-of-salesmanship-and-huckstering production for years and years on Raw and pay-per-view, it’s fun to just turn the lights down, install some low-key announcing from Gorilla Monsoon and whoever else, and just take the sense of urgency out of the action, no commercial breaks to be in bondage to.

I have more appreciation for these kinds of broadcasts after attending a house sh–err, ‘live event’ a year ago in Atlantic City. Characters that were just tiresome on television, such as The Miz, Alberto Del Rio, and Jack Swagger, were unencumbered by the live show format, and just impressively worked up a storm. In fact, the pre-intermission match pitted Miz, Del Rio, and Chris Jericho against Swagger, Wade Barrett, and Fandango, and I dare say it’s one of the greatest matches I’ve ever seen live. Without a half-baked script and rigid timing cues, they could just, you know, wrestle.

As much as I love Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall (maybe in part because I once won big on a penny slot at Caesar’s down the block), there exists a magic to seeing a WWE event at historic Madison Square Garden in New York City. Even when Raw emanates from there today, and MSG’s distinguished features are cloaked under the gaudy lighting, the New York attitude shines through, spurring the performers into a different state of mind. The WWE Tree’s roots are firmly planted in New York City, and it’s a raucous homecoming any time they work within the hallowed halls.

Even if the Madison Square Garden shows on the Network aren’t always five-star quality, they’re eye-catching visuals. You see the stars, ranging from Hogan to Flair to Hart to Backlund to Slaughter, and you hear the unmistakable Noo Yawk roars and catcalls, but the image of it taking place in sobering darkness gives it a special feel.

Sadly, Garden house shows stopped being recorded and broadcast on the MSG Network in 1992 (save for a one-night revival in March 1997), and MSG events in general have petered out. What was once a monthly occurrence through the early 1990s became quarterly-annual by the mid-2000s. In fact, there have only been ten Garden shows since the start of 2010, and just one in 2013 alone.

While the novelty of wrestling in ‘the world’s most famous arena’ took a backseat to the constant trek of global branding for WWE, I think there’s still an audience out there that would love to see a ‘classic’ Madison Square Garden show, one without the now-standard production values that televised events are afforded.

If fans will pop for Hacksaw Jim Duggan and Sgt. Slaughter playing with glorified Legos at WrestleMania, and excitement abounds for the episodes of “Old School Raw” (“There’s going to be metal guardrails again! Those are tremendous!”), then why not go REALLY old school, and put together a classic Madison Square Garden event?

A quick check of the calendar indicates that the company will be swinging through the Garden on Saturday night, July 12. There’s no PPV for eight days afterward, so it’s possible that WWE could throw together a story-centric event with a couple of long matches (maybe even a twenty minute draw, remember those?) with lesser-pushed talents. Then Cody Rhodes can tell young whippersnappers one day, “Sandow and I, we had 20,000 people screaming from the rafters on down, as we went to a twenty-minute broadway. He potatoed me pretty good, but the rush from the people kept me going well into my comeback.”

Rhodes will then pause to sip from his flask.

Of course, since such an occasion would invoke fond memories from the yesterday-clutching generation, this would be a good spot to stick in few Garden legends. After all, WWE’s never hesitated to hit Sgt. Slaughter’s number on their speed dial, have they? You’re telling me that Slaughter, Duggan, and Backlund destroying 3MB in Madison Square Garden wouldn’t be harmless fun?

Naturally, this would be broadcast on WWE Network, since they’re getting a lot better at preventing bandwidth and usage lag (even though the PlayStation 3 version of the Hall of Fame ended nine minutes behind the WWE.com version). Hearing a more subdued Michael Cole introducing himself and JBL at ringside, at a wooden table, would be surreal enough, just as disarming as hearing him and his colleague speak more freely, without plugging the App or talking over each other.

Also, red, white, and blue ropes, with blue ringposts. Do the right thing.

Furthermore (to use Jack Tunney’s favorite word), when a wrestler’s theme song hits, he can’t make his entrance for 30-45 seconds. The song has to build up a bit, and we have to see the wrestler walking through the main hallway of the Garden, loosening his arms and neck in stride, before stepping out of the curtain. It’s the Madison Square Garden way.

Finally, no disrespect to Justin Roberts, but give him the night off, and put good old Howard Finkel in that bow tie once more. Let him introduce Daniel Bryan for his pre-intermission title defense, along with everyone else.

Put this together, and you’ve got a special presentation that would make WWE Network even more incredible.

As if I didn’t watch the Network enough as it is.

Justin Henry has been an occasional contributor to Camel Clutch Blog since 2009. His other work can be found at WrestleCrap.com and ColdHardFootballFacts.com. He can be found on Twitter, so give him a follow.

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WWE SmackDown Results & April 11 Recap

April 13, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

This week’s WWE Friday Night SmackDown opens with a graphic for Warrior who, as you know, passed away on Tuesday. Michael Cole announces a special this Monday night on RAW.

MATCH 1: The Big Show vs. Cesaro (w/Paul Heyman)
I LOVE the pairing of Cesaro and Heyman. This will do nothing but further Cesaro’s push, without question. Heyman comes out to do a formal introduction for “The King of Swing”. He continues talking as Cesaro and Heyman make their way down, listing off his credentials, then calls Cesaro the “Next Big Thing”. The bell rings, and Cesaro offers a handshake. Show obliges, and it’s clean. Heyman is now on commentary. Cesaro shoves Show back out of a lock-up, and Show reciprocates, knocking Cesaro down. Cesaro runs into a shoulder, but then comes back with a European uppercut. Show hits another shoulderblock, and Cesaro rolls to the apron. Show picks him up and hits an open-hand chop against the ropes. He rolls Cesaro back in the ring, where Cesaro hits a boot and goes for a suplex from the apron. Show blocks it and picks Cesaro up on his shoulders. Cesaro rolls through and looks for a powerbomb to the floor, but Show simply sits down on his chest. Cesaro is rolled into the ring, where Show gets a 2-count. He signals for the KO Punch, but Cesaro rolls to the floor to get some advice from Heyman, who tells him to take Show’s air, because he can’t fight if he can’t breathe. Cesaro climbs back into the ring and goes for a waistlock. Show breaks it with an elbow, then hits a headbutt. He fires off some body blows in the corner, then hits another open-hand chop. He goes for another chop, but Cesaro slugs him. He hits a couple of European uppercuts before getting hit with a back body drop off the ropes. Cesaro may have landed awkwardly, as he’s grabbing his ankle. Show hits another chop in the corner, then another. He comes back with a back elbow, a European uppercut, a punch and a series of throat chops. Show stops that with a pair of headbutts, then walks across Cesaro’s gut. Show shoulders Cesaro in the corner, then hits yet another chop. Cesaro blocks a corner charge, then applies a scissored sleeper. Show manages to break it by throwing Cesaro in the corner. Cesaro dodges another charge and reapplies the sleeper. Show starts to fade, and Cesaro turns the hold into a rear chinlock. Show eventually armdrags Cesaro off, then hits a pair of clotheslines, a corner whip, a running hip bump and a running shoulderblock. He signals for the chokeslam, but Cesaro turns the hold into another scissored sleeper in mid-air. Show breaks it by falling backwards, and now he’s pulling himself to his feet. He mounts the middle rope, where he misses a flying elbow. The crowd starts a “Swing!” chant, and Cesaro looks to go for it. Before it can happen, Jack Swagger enters the ring and locks Cesaro in the Patriot Lock, leading to the DQ.

WINNER VIA DISQUALIFICATION: Cesaro. Show shoves Swagger to the floor over the top rope. From behind, Cesaro bulldogs Show over the top rope, hits a European uppercut to the back of the head, a spinning one from the middle rope, and he caps it off with a damn impressive Neutralizer.

John Cena comes out and says it’s been an exhausting week. It started with WMXXX, and that event started with the most iconic moment he’s ever seen with Austin, Rock and Hogan together in the ring. After that, Kofi Kingston defied gravity again, Cesaro win the Andre battle royal, Bray Wyatt tried to turn a man into a monster, but he figured out he still can’t see Cena. And sadly (speak for yourself, John), the Undertaker was defeated, ending the historic “Streak”. On the flipside, “The Game” got played, and now we have a new WWE World Champion. A “Yes!” chant breaks out. And that was just WM. At RAW, that’s when everything really went down, listing off what happened with the Shield, Cesaro and Bad News Barrett. He also thanks the WWE Universe for re-writing his theme music. They say the future is now, and he agrees. On Monday, he was told to Bolieve in himself. He also mentions Adam Rose and Alexander Rusev, then says the Divas division has finally turned the Paige. It’s an exciting time to be in WWE, and there are so many promising stars. He’s not the One, the Viper, the Animal, the King of Swing or the Boss. He’s the measuring stick, the standard bearer. He’s John Cena. Any WWE star can talk all they want, but past, present or future, they know if they want to be on top of the WWE mountain, they have to go through him to do it.

The Wyatt Family appear on the TitanTron. Luke Harper says they say time heals all wounds. Unfortunately, Cena has only given them more time to hurt them. Embrace the future, Cena. It’s his gift to you. Bray Wyatt says sometimes he wishes he could feel pain. But he’s different, and we should all embrace our differences. If he lost at WM, why can’t he stop smiling, and why does he feel so good? Because he saw it in Cena’s eyes. For the first time, he saw that Cena isn’t hollow. It’s inside of him, and it’s something Wyatt knows too well. When he looks in himself, he sees everything, dreams you haven’t dreamed and worlds you haven’t explored. He is free. It must’ve been so frightening for Cena, because he was this close. All he needed was one last little push. Now, Wyatt realizes he has to go to new extremes to bring out the monster. Strap it on, John. This party is far from over. He’s got the whole world in his hands.

MATCH 2: Los Matadores (Diego and Fernando, w/El Torito) vs. Rybaxel (Curtis Axel and Ryback)
Ryback and a Matador start with a lock-up. Matador hits a chop, ducks a clothesline and hits a trio of them. Apparently, this is Diego. Ryback sends Diego into the ropes, Diego ducks a boot and a clothesline, then hits a dropkick. He hits another chop in the corner, blocks a charge, then goes for a cross-body. Ryback catches him and turns it into a powerslam. Axel tags in and boots Diego down. Diego comes back with punches, but Axel stops him with a Northern Lariat. He hits a running knee to the side of the head. Axel assaults Diego in the corner before tagging in Ryback. Axel hits a running elbow in the corner, and Ryback follows up with a clothesline for 2. He applies a rear chinlock, and as Diego tries to get to his feet, Ryback pulls him back down. Diego gets hit with a kneelift, but then escapes a suplex before hitting a dropkick. Axel tags in and tries to knock Fernando down. Fernando avoids it, then makes the tag. He hits some chops, then a pair of flying headbutts. He hits a handstand headscissors out of the corner, then nails a chop on the opposite side. Axel reverses a corner whip, then runs into a back elbow. Fernando comes off the middle with a double axe handle, then hits a Devil Lock DDT for 2 as Ryback breaks it up. Diego low-bridges Ryback, and Torito comes off the top with a plancha. Ryback catches him, and Fernando dropkicks Ryback from behind before Diego wipes him out on the floor. Axel hits the Stonecutter on Fernando off the distraction and gets the 3.

WINNERS: Rybaxel.

Renee Young stops Rob Van Dam in the back, asking how it feels to be home. RVD says it’s a whole new day, and since he’s been gone, the whole face of the company has changed. There’s a face that’s been missing, but it’s back. Everything’s cool when you’re RVD.

MATCH 3: Damien Sandow vs. Rob Van Dam
They lock up, and RVD applies a waistlock. Sandow elbows out and misses a clothesline, allowing RVD to roll him up for 2. RVD nails a superkick off an Irish whip, then taunts the crowd. Sandow rolls him up for 2, then goes for a corner whip. RVD reverses before hitting a corner spinning heel kick. He connects with Rolling Thunder, which sends Sandow to the floor. As Sandow tries to get back in, RVD baseball slides him before missing a moonsault from the apron. Sandow throws him head-first into the barricade, then rolls him back in for 2. Sandow begins driving his knee into the ribs, then applies a rear chinlock. RVD elbows his way out, but then gets yanked down by the neck. Sandow pulls his kneepad down and drops it before hitting the Cubito Aequet for 2. Sandow lays in some headbutts, then drags RVD to the apron, where he hits another elbow. Sandow drags him back in, hits another elbow for 2, then applies a rear chinlock. RVD tries to elbow out, but Sandow hits him with a headbutt. RVD comes back with a high kick in the corner before hitting a bodyscissors takedown for 2. He follows up with a step-over spinning heel kick, then goes up top. Sandow meets him with a right, nails a headbutt, then mounts the middle for a superplex. RVD fights him off, knocking him down with a forearm. He gets to his feet on the top and connects with the Five-Star Frog Splash for 3.

WINNER: Rob Van Dam.

We get a vignette for Adam Rose and the Exotic Express.

Hulk Hogan comes out, and I die just a little bit more. Is he still in the Silverdome tonight? He says that, as the host of WM, he was there at the SUPERDOME when he witnessed one of the greatest moments of all time. When Daniel Bryan won the title, he turned the show into “YEStlemania”, brother. As held the titles over his head, Hogan got chills. So, he’s very proud to introduce the new champ, brothers. Let’s hear it for Daniel Bryan.

Bryan comes out, and instantly this segment has been saved. Kudos to the man who grew up just down I-5 from me about 30 minutes on his huge win at WM. A more deserving person, there is not. Bryan does Hogan’s bit, then calls this the greatest week of his life. He’s back here on Smackdown after five weeks, he’s getting married, he just main-evented WM and became the new WWE World Champion. And now, he’s in the ring with the “Immortal” Hulk Hogan. He’s just like everyone in the crowd-an average guy from a small town. He sat in those same seats and watched those same screens as a kid, and during that time, the biggest star in the world in his eyes was Hogan. He listened to everything Hogan said. He prayed every night he could main event like Hogan. He took his vitamins every day, trying to get 24″ pythons like Hogan. He didn’t quite make it, but he’s still working on it. He’s been a Hulkamaniac as long as he can remember, and this is a special moment to him. But there is one thing that could make this awesome week better. There’s one thing he’s always wanted to see live in the ring. Please, play his music. Hogan’s music hits, and he goes through his usual shtick, asking Bryan to join in, which he does.

MATCH 4: Kofi Kingston vs. Bad News Barrett
While I don’t particularly like this gimmick, I am so glad Barrett is getting to wrestle again. That’s a pretty fancy cape he’s got now, too. The fact that he’s always had good matches with Kofi certainly isn’t hurting anything here tonight. After the bell rings, Barrett calls for a mic and asks for some decorum. He then slugs Kofi and says he has some bad news. He drops the mic and lays in some rights to the head before throwing Kofi to the corner. He nails another right, then corner-whips Kofi. Kofi jumps to the middle rope and hits a comes off with a dropkick. He lays in some punches and kicks, then hits a top rope cross-body of a corner whip for 2. Barrett recovers and hits a right to the gut before throwing Kofi to the outside. Kofi skins the cat, ducks a clothesline and hits a jumping one of his own. He hits the Boom Drop and calls for TIP. Barrett sees it coming and drops to the floor. Kofi chases him back in, and Barrett meets him with a boot. Kofi blocks it and nails a roundhouse kick. He goes for TIP once again, and Barrett nails him mid-spin with the Bullhammer for 3.

WINNER: Bad News Barrett.

MATCH 5: Santino Marella (w/Emma) vs. Fandango (w/Layla)
How many times have these two wrestled on TV since Emma’s debut? 45? 127? Either way, it’s way too much. At least Layla isn’t a disgusting Ent (look it up) like Summer Rae. They lock up, and Santino hits a judo throw before hitting a hip throw into a side headlock. Fandango nails him with a right off an arm wringer, then hits a chop as Santino tries to power walk off an Irish whip. Fandango knocks him down with another one, then hits a back elbow off the ropes for 2. Santino comes back with snap jabs, ducks a clothesline and hits a hip toss. He pulls out the sock for the Cobra, but Layla grabs it from him. Fandango rolls him up in a schoolboy and gets the 3.

We get a video package for Paige, the new WWE Divas Champion.

The “RAW Exclusive” for this week is Rey Mysterio vs. Bad News Barrett. I only mention this because I am laughing my ass off at the complete lack of reaction Rey got from the RAW crowd when he came out, while Barrett got a HUGE pop, not to mention a big-ass chant while the crowd dumped all over Rey once the match started. Stuff like this is why I love wrestling.

Another Adam Rose promo.

Kane is in his office with Randy Orton and Batista. He says they need to put their problems aside and not be selfish. They have two things in common: Daniel Bryan and the Shield. Orton adds a third with the Usos. Kane wants Bryan tonight, and now they’re fighting over who gets him, as well as a title match. Kane says this is what he’s talking about. Tonight, they need each other, and they all answer to a higher Authority. After he leaves, Batista and Orton both say they don’t answer to anyone.

MATCH 6: WWE Tag Team Champions the Usos (Jey & Jimmy) and WWE World Champion Daniel Bryan vs. Kane, Batista and Randy Orton
I just noticed there are two guys in the front row wearing “I’m a Pat Patterson Guy” t-shirts. That’s nice. Real classy. Batista with an Uso. He backs the Uso in the corner, but Uso comes back with punches and a mule kick. He hits an uppercut, then applies an arm wringer before tagging in the other Uso. Uso hits a chop and a kick off the ropes before running into a spinebuster for 2. After a Google Images search, I believe that is Jey in the ring. Sorry. Now that they both have big, matching chest tattoos, it’s hard to tell them apart. Orton tags in and kicks Jey in his ribs, which are all taped up. He then stomps him in the gut before ripping the tape off. Orton mounts Jey for some punches, then tag out. Commercials.

Back from the break, Jey blocks a corner charge from Kane, then jumps off the middle into an uppercut for 2. Batista tags in and stomps Jey before hitting some shoulder thrusts to the back. Orton begins slamming Jey’s head into the top buckle before Batista pulls Jey to the apron on the floor for an elbow. Orton tags in and catapults Jey under the bottom rope for 2. Jey fights back before Orton hits a kneelift. He then hits a gourdbuster across the top rope, which is good for 2. Orton applies a waistlock, but Jey elbows his way out. He hits a chop, then runs right into a dropkick. Orton tags out to Kane, who sends Jey to the corner for a clothesline and a sidewalk slam for 2. Kane applies his own waistlock, but Jey breaks it with back elbows. Kane yanks him down by the hair before he can tag out, then tags in Orton, who gets 2. Kane drops all the way to the floor when exiting, only to immediately jump back up on the apron. Weird. Orton applies a scissored rear chinlock because he’s Orton and chinocks are what he knows. Jey fights out and hits a series of chops, but Orton shoves him into the ropes, then nails a powerslam. He knocks Jimmy off the apron, then talks trash to Bryan. This allows Jey to hit a Samoan drop. Kane tags in, and Jey nails him with a jumping spin kick. Bryan tags in and comes off the top with a seated missile dropkick. He dropkicks Batista off the apron, then trips Kane into the second buckle. Kane reverses a corner whip, Bryan backflips off, ducks a clothesline and hits one of his own. He fires up the Yes! Kicks, but misses the Buzzsaw. Kane shoves him into the ropes, where Bryan low-bridges him to the floor before hitting a suicide dive. Orton and Batista attack him as the Usos hit a pair of somersault planchas. Kane is back up, and he nails Jey while Batista throws Jimmy around. Kane nails an uppercut on Bryan, and now the bell has rung.

WINNER: Double Disqualification. Batista and Orton throw the Usos into the ring as Kane takes care of Bryan by the announce desk. One of the Usos gets hit with an RKO. Kane is now taking apart the announce desk as Batista hits the other Uso with a Batista Bomb. Kane goes for a chokeslam through the table, but the Shield come from out of nowhere and begin destroying Kane. They jump on the apron and into the ring, sending Batista and Orton running for the hills. Kane comes back in the ring with a chair, but before he can do anything, Bryan wipes him out with a running knee strike. He signals for the Shield to hit Kane with the triple powerbomb, and they are happy to oblige. Rollins screams at Batista and Orton, “This is your future!” as they celebrate with Bryan in the ring.

End of show.

Dustin Nichols is a freelance writer, and you can keep track of all of his work on his Facebook page, which can be found at www.facebook.com/DustinNicholsWriter. Oh, and if you like bodybuilding, check out his mom’s official site by clicking the banner below:

Eric Young: Right TNA Wrestling Champion at the Wrong Time

April 12, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

It’s unfortunate that some professional wrestlers are picked to win a title at the wrong time in the business. For Eric Young, Thursday night’s win over Magnus on TNA Impact Wrestling and the TNA World Title reign could not have come at the worse time for him as a professional.

Young, who may me as talented as any cruiserweight in the business, does not get the credit he deserves for not only his work in the ring, his work on in promos and the zany antics that he has had to endure for 10 years in TNA’s outfit. But putting him over now was really the wrong thing to do.

It was just as odd to me as it was to the Miami Herald that wrote about Young’s ascension to the top the TNA food chain.

“In a surprising twist, professional wrestler, TNA Superstar, fantasy sports fanatic and Animal Planet star Showtime Eric Young (twitter: @ShowtimeEY) became the new TNA World Heavyweight Champion, defeating Magnus at Universal Studios Orlando during an explosive episode of IMPACT WRESTLING on Thursday, April 10 on Spike TV.”

When things like this happen, I have to stop and think to myself, “who comes up with these things?”
The fact Young’s win over an over-the-top Magnus, who is the perfect foil for any of the face contenders in the promotion, can only days after a much smaller, more compact wrestler like Daniel Bryan won the WWE World Title in a Triple-Threat Match with Batista and then champion, Randy Orton, who some could say Magnus is fashioned after.

It’s another display of how TNA Wrestling cannot stand on its own and has to regenerate second-rate storylines that mirror the WWE and what has worked for the “parent” company in the past.
This is not the first time things like this have happened. Transitional champions were used by promotions to divide time between “heel” or face reigns. Rarely did you see a “Face vs. Face” title match and watching “Heel vs. Heel” confrontations were almost unheard of in the 1970s and early 1980s. That is why matches like Bruno Sammartino vs. Pedro Morales were rare and the idea of Ric Flair vs. Arn Anderson really never came to fruition.

And all of this began from a 10-man gauntlet match for the No.1 Contender’s spot, resulting in Young’s win.

“This moment is 17 years in the making and a childhood dream realized,” Young said in a release. “Professionally, it doesn’t get any better than becoming the TNA World Heavyweight Championship.”
Young began his professional wrestling training after graduating from high school and quickly made his mark. He joined TNA in 2004 and became a multiple-time tag team champion. Young is also the first and only male to hold the TNA Knockouts Tag Team Championship, winning with his TV wife, ODB. Recently Young has been feuding with his former best friend — a former lawyer, monster and Magnus business associate, Abyss.

What happens in TNA now is something we all have to wait and see. There is a really great storyline to be had with Young – who by all accounts could be another Bobby Roode in the business (hell, he already is and does not get the deserved accolades) – but now it looks like the title reign will be lost within the next few weeks.

I am huge fan of Young the performer, who reminds me some of Anderson and a bit of Randy Savage in his time in Memphis with Jerry Lawler. While the Canadian cannot carry a candle to Savage in charisma, in-ring style and popularity, he does give everything he has night after night. The title reign is great, but I am saddened by how the company is now using this great talent.

Follow David on Twitter @davidlevin71

Ultimate Warrior: The Ultimate Collection DVD

WWE: The Greatest Wrestling Stars of the ’80s

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