Back in the early 1980s several NWA stars made a living as independent wrestlers for their renegade style of traveling from promotion to promotion. They would come into town “unexpectedly” challenging the area’s top talent, and in the process they would give the fans in the arenas and venues someone knew to either love or hate. Their gimmicks worked well because the fans never got too attached, so when they left say Memphis or Dallas or Florida, promoters had another wrestler roll in to set the scene again.
Although he isn’t going anywhere, Dean Ambrose fills the renegade, anti-hero role about as well as anyone can in the WWE, past, present or future.
The company is about to embark on more changes after Hell in a Cell, some so obvious (Randy Orton’s face turn) and some maybe not so obvious (Mark Henry turning on Big Show). But trust me, they are coming. Ambrose is the closest thing to a new CM Punk/Bruiser Brody. He is just what the company needs to transition from the older guard (John Cena) to the new regime that has yet to make its mark (Seth Rollins).
And Ambrose did not need a shoot interview or to walk out of the company to make a statement. Wrestling Ambrose’s way is more about getting in the ring and doing what he does best, not taking your title and walking out.
Here is a look at some of greatest renegades to get in the squared circle.
Brody competed as a freelancer in several companies including the National Wrestling Alliance, Central States Wrestling, World Wide Wrestling Federation, Southwest Championship Wrestling, Windy City Wrestling, Texas All Star Wrestling, World Wrestling Council, Deep South Wrestling, Championship Wrestling from Florida, American Wrestling Association, and World Class Championship Wrestling.
In the States, he had numerous feuds with the likes of Kamala the Ugandan Giant, Abdullah the Butcher, and Jerry Blackwell. In Japan, he was in a tag team with Stan Hansen. Brody had a reputation for refusing to job to other wrestlers. He also competed under the moniker of Red River Jack in Texas, during an angle against Gary Hart’s men and Skandor Akbar’s Army in World Class Championship Wrestling. Brody also competed as the Masked Marauder for one time in the AWA.
Sawyer had an epic feud with Tommy Rich that led to many bloody matches, the greatest of which was billed as the Last Battle of Atlanta and for the first time featured a completely enclosed cage. It also saw manager Paul Ellering suspended 20 feet above the ring in a smaller cage. This is the match that Shawn Michaels credits for inspiring the Hell in the Cell concept used by WWE. The stipulation for this match was that Sawyer and Rich would never wrestle one another again. Tommy Rich lost a match to Ted DiBiase and the stipulation was a loser leaves town match. Rich would appear the next week on TV under a mask and calling himself the mysterious MR.R. There is no footage of the historic match as the rumors has it Ole Anderson tossed all the footage from classic Omni shows.
Hansen is renowned for his stiff wrestling style, which he attributes to his poor eyesight. He is also known for his gimmick of a loud, violent cowboy who wanted to fight everybody, which he further emphasized by appearing in interviews with a cowboy hat, leather vest and bull rope while often chewing on tobacco. Considered to be among the most successful and popular heels in professional wrestling history,
Hansen became more well-known and revered in Japan than in his native United States. Despite this, Hansen still found championship success in both countries, as he became a six-time world champion upon winning the AWA World Heavyweight Championship once, the CWA International Heavyweight Championship once and the Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship four times.
Slater wrestled in the 1970s, 1980s, and mid-1990s for various promotions including Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling and World Championship Wrestling (WCW).
Slater began wrestling with Mike Graham at Robinson High School, in Tampa, Florida. He attended the University of Tampa with Paul Orndorff. From there he began wrestling in Championship Wrestling from Florida and Georgia Championship Wrestling. He worked as a booker in Knoxville, Tennessee after Ron Fuller sold his promotion to Jim Barnett.
He wrestled in Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling (later World Championship Wrestling), where he appeared on the first Starrcade. He also worked in Mid-South Wrestling Association, where he was managed by Dark Journey. Made some trips to the World Wrestling Council in Puerto Rico. He wrestled briefly in the World Wrestling Federation as a babyface under a “Rebel” gimmick, but soon returned to WCW.
He wrestled there until receiving his back injury that ended his career.
It’s that time again; WrestleMania season is nearly upon us. Okay it’s not, but it sure feels like it is. After all, fans are already starting to hit the dirtsheets, looking for the latest rumors of match-ups that may take place on March 29 2015.
The top names are the only ones anyone’s really concerned about of course and those are the ones currently being speculated about the most. Brock Lesnar is supposedly still meant to pass the torch to Roman Reigns, Sting is apparently finally going to face The Undertaker and John Cena might work Rusev. That only leaves Triple H and The Rock; you do the math.
It was all just a rumor to begin with and I for one treated it as such. Fans talk all the time and even the most “knowledgeable” sites are laughable at best.
But don’t look now, seems like they may have gotten one right.
The spot that ran backstage between Hunter and The Rock on the 15th anniversary episode of SmackDown basically set up their match at Mania. And it was unlike any match set up in recent memory, which makes it different and actually gives us a little more time to digest the whole idea of it.
So how does it taste to you so far?
This didn’t start with The Rock interrupting The Authority, or Triple H condemning The Great One for attacking Rusev. This renewed heat is not the result of a falling out or disagreement of any kind. This time, a WrestleMania main event bout is born due to old wounds that just won’t close.
And it was the most entertaining moment that we have seen in a long time.
But that should not be a surprise to anyone, the fact this is what these guys do. Anyone can sit back and debate their physical skills and whether or not they have lost a step in the ring but no one can argue each guy’s ability on the mic.
We’ve seen Triple H versus The Rock quite a bit before but after SmackDown 15? I’m up for another one.
I can only imagine the complaining that’s going on right now among some fans, though. Of all the matches that we thought might go down at Mania, this is likely one of the last ones we expected. And for those fans that are currently upset it’s happening the argument is probably pretty typical.
“Good Lord this is lame. Who’s booking this crap?”
Truth be told, I’ve uttered those very words myself on occasion. After 30 plus years of being a fan, I’ve said them more often than I care to remember. But no matter how boring it may appear to be or how weak the basis for it is, the fact is that this match is one that will be worth the price of admission.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, however. There’s no guarantee it’s going to happen, only the carrot of possibility that’s been dangled in front of us. So before we go any further with speculation on this, why should we want to see it happen again?
First off, what’s the alternative? CM Punk is gone, so that’s one Triple H opponent out of the equation. Shawn Michaels has legit walked away and shows no signs of ever returning for one more match, so there’s no possibility of that happening. Daniel Bryan is still out and he’s already worked Hunter at Mania, even if he’s back in time, why go down that road again?
So, Triple H’s dance card is empty. But what about The Rock?
Roman Reigns was perhaps a possibility at one time, especially after The Shield took Rocky down on Monday Night Raw. But too much time has passed on that one. There is an outside chance of Seth Rollins being the man to step up but there’s probably not enough money in that yet. Lesnar could be the guy for Rocky but does anyone really want to see The People’s Champ become the WWE World Heavyweight champ again? Of course, there’s John Cena; no don’t say it, I’m only kidding.
So, The Rock has nothing to do either. Well, except make movies. And money. Lots of money.
Truth be told, The Rock and Triple H have no one to fight but each other. They are default opponents and because of that, many fans are likely seeing red right now. And to those fans, I can only respectfully say shut up. Shut your mouth.
The bottom line is the match will be top notch. It will entertain on every level and it will leave fans wanting more. By the end of this bout, the crowd will be on its feet applauding out of respect; not because they couldn’t wait to see it and not because it’s a dream match. They will applaud because they appreciate the work that both men will do to entertain.
We spend a lot of time as fans talking about The Attitude Era. The Superstars, the storylines, the crazy angles, all of it has practically become the stuff of legend at this point. So when two of those stars step into a WrestleMania ring, fans should appreciate what they’re seeing. Triple H versus The Rock doesn’t have to happen but WWE knows it will work.
They also know that it will get over. Hate all you want, this match will deliver. Maybe it’s not WrestleMania season just yet but perhaps it should be. I’m ready, aren’t you?
Booking the WWE world championship is never easy and even the best laid plans can hit some pitfalls. I thought it would be fun to take a look back at 10 guys who while planned to win the WWE world title, failed to secure the gold around their waists.
Winners and losers may be predetermined in the WWE but not all ideas come together as planned. Back in different eras, Vince McMahon Sr. and Jr. would identify their future WWE world champion months, sometimes even years ahead of time. Yet for a multitude of reasons those plans shifted between the pencil and the bell. Here is a list of 10 planned WWE world championship title changes that never happened as scheduled.
Bill Watts defeating Bruno Sammartino for the WWWF championship in 1965 - The idea behind this blog came from this recent revelation on the Jim Ross podcast. Ross interviewed Watts and Watts claimed that he was scheduled to beat Bruno Sammartino for the title in what would have been 1965. Watts and Bruno had a red hot feud during this time period. Watts claims the office changed plans when he got in hot water for hitting a fan in a riot. Watts said that Vince Sr. told him to get out of the territory to avoid any legal heat. I had never heard this story before and it seems a bit hard to believe knowing how popular Bruno was at the time. Also, Bruno didn’t drop the belt for another six years. That leads me to think that there was never a plan for Bruno to drop the title. To that point, I see no incentive for Bill to make that up 50 years later. So who knows?
Batista defeating Randy Orton 2014 – You need to look no further than just a few months back for a case of a planned title change getting nixed by the WWE. The plan coming into 2014 was to bring Batista back with a big push, including a run with the WWE world title. The plan would have had Batista defeat Randy Orton at WrestleMania 30. Enter the YES Movement! A couple of circumstances dictated a change. CM Punk walking out and the media attention garnered by a Yes chant at the Michigan State vs. Ohio State basketball game forced the WWE’s hand. The WWE changed course and it was Daniel Bryan who left New Orleans with the WWE world title.
Eddie Guerrero defeating Batista in 2002 – Eddie’s story is a tragedy but one little known tidbit about this tragedy is that Eddie was booked to win the WWE world heavyweight title. The booking had Eddie penciled in to defeat Batista at the next SmackDown tapings, making him a two-time world champion. Batista actually wrote about this in his book as he was supposed to drop the title in a Triple Threat Match vs. Eddie and Randy Orton. Sadly Eddie never knew about this planned championship run.
Lex Luger defeating Yokozuna 1994 – There are actually two rumors surrounding Luger and Yoko. One is that Lex was supposed to win the title at WrestleMania 10. Luger has denied that rumor and said he knew in advance that he wasn’t winning. The second is that the Lex Express was supposed to leave SummerSlam with the title. That is true according to Luger. Luger revealed in an interview that Vince changed his mind after several of his peers threatened to walk out. Remember, this was the era of the Clique so that is quite possible. Most believe that Vince felt Luger wasn’t getting over at the level he hoped, thus plans changed. Regardless, it does appear that there was indeed a plan in place to put the WWE title around the waist of the Total Package.
Ted Dibiase defeating Randy Savage to win the WWE championship in 1988 - This one isn’t much of a secret as DiBiase and many others have talked about these plans on shoot interviews and podcasts. The original plans for WrestleMania 4 were to have DiBiase win and Savage chase him for the title throughout the summer. Hulk Hogan was leaving to film No Holds Barred and the thought was that Savage as the babyface on top chasing would sustain attendance. Nobody is quite clear on why plans change although some blame the Honkytonk Man. Savage was originally booked to beat HTM on the Main Event NBC special for the intercontinental title. HTM refused to do the job which brought Vince McMahon and the other bookers back to the drawing board. It is highly likely that if Savage won the I-C title as planned, DiBiase would have won the WWF title as originally planned. Regardless, I think things turned out for the best here with Savage winning and starting a year-long build to one of the most anticipated WrestleMania headliners in history.
Alberto Del Rio defeating Edge 2011 – Alberto was the flavor of the month leading into WrestleMania 27. Del Rio won the Royal Rumble and was the hottest heel in the company. Numerous reports indicated that he was a favorite of Vince McMahon. Del Rio was booked to win the WWE world heavyweight title at Mania 27 by defeating Edge. The creative team changed that decision because it is alleged that they thought it was too predictable. Unfortunately I don’t believe Del Rio never recovered the momentum he had going into Mania 27 for a variety of reasons.
Bret Hart defeating Hulk Hogan 1993 – This tale has become legendary although Hogan has denied in several interviews. Unfortunately what Hulk can’t deny is that many, including Dave Meltzer saw posters advertising the match for SummerSlam 1993 only to have the match mysteriously disappear off of the books. If you remember, Hulk defeated Yokozuna at WrestleMania 9 and lost it rather quickly (although today that would be an eternity) at King of the Ring. According to Bret, the plan was for Hogan to drop the belt to Bret at SummerSlam but refused feeling that Bret was too small. Vince reacted with the quick switch at K.O.R. and Hulk took off.
Booker T defeating Triple H 2002 – The stage was set and the plan was for Booker T to beat the Game for the WWE world heavyweight title at WrestleMania 19. While I have never seen this confirmed anywhere, one story accuses Trips of lobbying the office to change a planned finish which would have seen Hunter drop the belt to Booker at Mania 19. It worked and allegedly the title change was squashed. Another theory is that once the WWE signed Goldberg they changed plans thinking ahead to a Triple H vs. Goldberg feud so who knows.
Vader defeating Shawn Michaels 1996 – From several things I have heard and read, this title change was planned on two different occasions. The first was SummerSlam. According to rumors, Shawn Michaels just outright refused to drop the title fearing he would not get it back. Remember with Sid and Undertaker in the picture, that was probably a valid concern. The other planned title change was rumored to take place at Survivor Series. Shawn also got that one nixed and the match turned into Sid vs. Shawn which turned into a title change anyway. Vader never confirmed the details but has confirmed in interviews that he was promised a WWE title win twice when he signed with the company.
Steve Austin defeating Bret Hart 1998 - I was reluctant to go with this one yet I saw this rumored in a number of different places so I caution you that it may be an urban legend. However, there does appear to be some kind of working plan going into WrestleMania 14 for a Austin vs. Bret title change. According to what I have read and heard, the plan was for Bret Hart to go into Mania with the WWE title and return the favor from 13 to Austin by putting him over for the title. Now of course as you know plans drastically changed when a) Austin broke his neck and b) more importantly, Bret left to go to WCW at the end of 1997. This was probably on the books at some point but I have to think that plans played out much better in everyone’s favor with the actual booking of the 14 main-event with Mike Tyson.
So Batista is a hit in Hollywood. Let me say that again, just in case you weren’t listening or thought you may have misheard me; Batista is a hit in Hollywood. Blowing your mind? Yeah, me too.
Not only is he a hit, he’s actually in demand right now. Batista has reached a place that every Superstar who has ever ventured outside the safe environment of WWE has dreamed of; relevancy in pop culture. Think that doesn’t mean much to any of these guys? Think again.
We’ve seen it for years and the trend just keeps continuing. From Jesse Ventura and Terry Funk to Hulk Hogan and Roddy Piper, one star after another has put his best foot forward in Tinseltown, hoping for that ever elusive stamp of approval.
That stamp comes of course from the audience that pays to see them on the silver screen. That is the great unknown, the group of people that WWE Superstars have historically had a very difficult time reaching. For most non-fans, a pro wrestler in a movie is the equivalent of a blind monkey attempting to understand nuclear physics.
Hey, I didn’t say I thought that. Relax.
But one by one, all of the men listed above had a taste of success in Hollywood and each one made his mark; be it good, bad, or indifferent. So, the Hollywood connection has always been there and most of the time, it was hit and miss.
Then The Rock happened and the game changed forever.
Rocky tore down the wall that had separated WWE Superstars from big budget success for so long. Suddenly, there was every reason to believe that a guy from Vince McMahon’s company could hit the big time and make a lot of money doing it.
Of course, The Rock’s success was not guaranteed and it took quite a while for all of the pieces to fall into place. But when they did, The Great One’s movie career took off. Now, he’s a household name. The Rock made it.
But we know all this. It’s old news. What about Batista‘s movie career?
Never thought I would be asking that question, I have to be honest. I mean, did anyone see this coming? Back when big Dave decided he was done with WWE, most fans likely didn’t care very much. The guy had gained the reputation of being a crybaby, as someone that was upset Triple H was being used in Hollywood and he wasn’t.
The Animal had big dreams but for most fans, they were more like delusions of grandeur.
But Marvel Studios came calling and Batista answered. Guardians of the Galaxy has likely changed Batista’s life from this point on. He is no longer the former WWE Superstar hoping that something good will happen for him. He is now one of the hottest newcomers in Hollywood and he can only go up from here.
He’s landed a role as the heavy in Robert De Niro’s latest film Bus 657. And he’s reportedly also up for a lead antagonist role in the newest installment of the James Bond franchise. It definitely seems as though Batista is on his way to major notoriety in Hollywood.
And truth be told, he should be. The fact is Guardians was good. It was very good. And Batista’s turn as Drax was more then memorable; it was impressive. This was not a role that required Batista to just sit around and grunt some lame one-liners while the crowd laughed at his awkwardness.
Drax is big and tough but also proud and tortured. He is a warrior but truly only wanted to live in peace. He will take on an army by himself and never flinch yet inside he is burdened with great sorrow. This is not your typical Schwarzenegger strongman, this is something much more. And Dave Batista nailed it.
So what are we looking at now? Is The Animal headed to the heights that The Rock has achieved? Will we be seeing Batista in one major role after another from now on? At age 45, is Dave Batista on his way to a second career and real relevancy in Hollywood?
Don’t bet against him, he will prove you wrong. And it still blows my mind.
With two weeks to go the WWE are reshuffling the Hell in a Cell card deck. The planned card has been moved around allowing for more promotion and the usual indecisive booking we are used to seeing from WWE creative.
As evident on Monday Night RAW this week, plans have changed for the upcoming WWE Hell in a Cell pay-per-view. A scheduled card featuring John Cena vs. Dean Ambrose in a NHB contract on a pole match was switched around with WWE fans getting 1/3 of the main-event early, allowing the WWE to focus on promoting scheduled matches fans can count on seeing.
Dean Ambrose defeated John Cena on Monday night to win the match and advance to a Hell in a Cell main-event against rival Seth Rollins. The match was originally scheduled to take place at H.I.A.C. with the winner meeting Rollins later that night while the loser would meet Randy Orton in a separate Hell in a Cell match. Now that those matches are locked in, the WWE can focus promotional efforts in those directions.
Dave Meltzer explained the recent changes on his F4WOnline.com podcast. Meltzer reported that giving the Cena vs. Ambrose match away early was a last-minute decision. Meltzer reported that the change was made to allow the WWE to promote scheduled matches as opposed to promoting a card with no locked in main-event. Meltzer also reports that the pole stipulation added to Cena vs. Ambrose was made to avoid either guy taking an actual pin.
Meltzer also speculated that TLC could see a Four-Way main-event with Seth Rollins vs. John Cena vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Randy Orton with the winner getting a WWE world championship match against Brock Lesnar at the Royal Rumble. Plans are currently in place to book Cena vs. Lesnar at the Rumble. My hunch and this is purely a guess is that with Ambrose’s momentum, plans could change with Ambrose going into the Rumble to challenge Lesnar and Cena wrestling Rollins at the Rumble in a singles match.
I thought from the beginning that they should have went with a Rollins vs. Ambrose Hell in a Cell headliner. I think it gives both guys a boost with the perception that they are headliners and it’s a match that could deliver far better than any of the other options. It will be a real test in my opinion of how over both of these guys truly are. It’s hard to judge by social media reaction as that is where their fan base is. A strong number could go a long way in determining how Ambrose and Rollins are booked going into 2015 and beyond.
TNA Wrestling are not ready to roll over and play dead yet. With no TV deal in place past 2014, the company recently made a bold move. A move was made that could have majorly shaken up the pro wrestling landscape.
For whatever this is worth, TNA, through an intermediary who is friends with C.M. Punk, made a play for him just like they did for Alberto Del Rio several weeks back. The idea pitched was a huge deal to be the top star of the company and money similar to Hogan, with the idea he could be their flagship guy and if he signed now, could help them broker a stronger television deal.
Meltzer reports that Punk declined the offer and has no interest in returning to pro wrestling whatsoever. The timing of the move comes a few months before TNA’s extension with Spike TV is scheduled to run out. You have to give TNA some credit for going for it, yet I can’t seriously believe that they thought they had a real shot.
This isn’t the first move that TNA has made recently at an ex-WWE superstar. TNA reportedly reached out to Alberto Del Rio immediately after his contract was terminated with the WWE. Del Rio reportedly turned down their offer as well. I don’t know if these are desperation moves, moves simply for public relation purposes, or some kind of delusional strategy on the part of Dixie and company.
What is interesting to me is that they let Sting and Hulk Hogan walk due to money issues, yet were willing to spend even more money on Punk. Meltzer reports that Punk’s deal was for more money than Hulk which would have likely made him the highest-paid star in TNA history. I’d also assume that Del Rio’s figure was somewhere in Hulk’s range. TNA could have kept Hulk and used him in these television negotiations, yet expenses were cut. Hogan could have quite possibly got a better deal to return to WWE anyway, but they didn’t even make a serious play according to reports.
I speculated months ago that TNA could make a run at Punk. I thought that TNA or even ROH could make a deal with Punk which gave him ownership in the company as part of the deal. It would have been a one-of-a-kind deal in 2014, although points in a territory were common place back in the territory deals in regards to wrestler deals. I envisioned a scenario where Punk would be a player-owner, similar to what Paul Heyman wanted (booker-owner) but that isn’t happening.
I am not sure what TNA felt they could offer Punk that he couldn’t have gotten if he stayed in the WWE. A better schedule for sure, but the pay couldn’t have been comparable. Plus, Punk is astute and well aware of TNA’s television troubles. Imagine the egg on Punk’s face if he did agree to a deal with TNA and they couldn’t reach a television deal for 2015.
It’s hard to rationalize what TNA’s real motive was here. Why would a company make a high-dollar offer to someone like Punk with no deal in place? I would think that their time would be better suited trying to get a deal done as opposed to chasing an elusive prize they had virtually zero shot of signing.
Leave it to the WWE to move from one legendary tradition at WrestleMania and create something totally new to help create new hype and drama.
If it is true that Triple H and The Rock could be headed to a WrestleMania 31 showdown, then let me be the first to say Hallelujah. This is a former feud that could have some legs and could sell many tickets at the new Levi’s Stadium. It’s only fitting to bring The Rock to the millions (and millions) of fans in the WWE on the company’s grandest stage.
As a fan of professional wrestling and someone who loves WrestleMania, here are a few wrestlers who I would have loved to see headline the event, and could have carried it on their backs in grand fashion.
The son of wrestler Blackjack Mulligan. He is best known for his appearances with the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) and World Championship Wrestling (WCW).
In NWA/WCW, he was a one-time NWA World Heavyweight Champion, a one-time United States Heavyweight Champion, a one-time Television Champion, a one-time Western States Heritage Champion, a four-time NWA (Mid Atlantic)/WCW World Tag Team Champion and a one-time NWA United States Tag Team Champion with Ron Garvin.
In the WWF, he was a two-time World Tag Team Champion with his brother-in-law, Mike Rotunda. On March 31, 2012, Windham was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame as a member of the Four Horsemen.
Hennig is recognized by WWE as a one-time world champion, having held the AWA World Heavyweight Championship for 373 days (the seventh-longest reign in history). He won three additional world championships: the WWC Universal Heavyweight Championship once, and the I-Generation World Heavyweight Championship twice. A two-time WWF Intercontinental Champion, Hennig has been named by WWE as one of the greatest Intercontinental Champions of all time, and was the longest-reigning champion of the 1990s.
Hennig returned to the WWF for a brief period in 2002, being one of the last three men remaining at the Royal Rumble. He later challenged for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship in TNA, prior to his death on February 10, 2003.
KERRY VON ERICH
The Modern Day Warrior and the Texas Tornado. He was part of the Von Erich family of professional wrestlers. He is best known for his time with his father’s promotion World Class Championship Wrestling (WCCW), where he spent eleven years of his career, and his time in World Wrestling Federation (WWF).
Adkisson held forty championships in various promotions during his career. Among other accolades, he was a five-time world champion: a four-time WCWA World Heavyweight Champion and one-time NWA World Heavyweight Champion, and a one-time WWF Intercontinental Champion.
Funk has appeared in the NWA, AWA, WWF/E, WCW, ECW, ROH, and TNA.
In major promotions, Funk is a three-time World Champion, having held the NWA World Heavyweight Championship once and ECW World Heavyweight Championship twice.
He is the only man to have been inducted into the WWE, WCW, Professional Wrestling, NWA, Hardcore, Wrestling Observer, and St. Louis Wrestling Halls of Fame.
Funk is often noted for the longevity of his career, which has included multiple “retirement” matches.
In the 1970s and 1980s, he and his brother Dory Funk were two of the best mat wrestler to ever appear in a ring.
In WCW, Simmons was a one-time WCW World Heavyweight Champion; as the first African American to win the title, he is recognized by WWE as the first black world heavyweight champion in professional wrestling history. He was also a one-time WCW World Tag Team Champion with Butch Reed and a one-time WCW United States Tag Team Champion with Big Josh.
In the WWF, Simmons was a three-time WWF Tag Team Champion with Bradshaw as one half of the Acolytes Protection Agency. As the leader of stable The Nation of Domination, he also competed for the company’s singles championships on pay-per-view, headlining the 1997 King of the Ring event against The Undertaker for the WWF Championship. Simmons was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2012.
He is a current trainer currently working for WWE. He makes occasional on-air appearances on other WWE television and pay-per-views and works as a backstage booker and producer in WWE’s NXT Wrestling developmental territory. Billed as “the son of a plumber”, Rhodes’ character was that of the American working man, particularly in promo videos such as his famous ‘Hard Times’.
Rhodes is a three-time NWA World Heavyweight Champion, and during his time in Jim Crockett Promotions (the forerunner of WCW), he was a former United States Champion, and multi-time Television, World Tag Team, and Six-Man Tag Team Champion. He has also won many regional championships during his wrestling career.
He is one of six men inducted into each of the WWE, WCW, Professional Wrestling, and Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame.
Among his many accolades, Hart was a one-time world champion, having held the USWA Unified World Heavyweight Championship during the USWA’s partnership with the WWF, a two-time WWF Intercontinental Champion, a one-time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, a one-time WWF European Champion, and a four-time WWF World Tag Team Champion.
He was also the winner of the 1994 WWF King of the Ring. A staple of the WWF’s In Your House pay-per-view series from 1995–1998, Hart wrestled more matches at those events than any other performer with 22, including three headlining slots. He also main-evented SummerSlam 1994 in a steel cage match against older brother Bret Hart for the WWF Championship, which remains one of only five WWF matches in history awarded a full five stars in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.
Kurt Angle is currently the hottest free agent in pro wrestling. Angle has talked openly about a return to the WWE yet numerous reports have indicated that the E were not interested. That may not be the case after all according to a new report.
Mike Johnson over at PWInsider.com broke a story over the weekend regarding Angle and the WWE. According to Johnson’s sources it was the WWE that wanted Angle back and Angle who turned them down. Johnson reports that Angle wants a part-time deal yet the WWE offered a full-time (on the condition he can pass a physical) deal which Angle turned down. Deal or no deal, this does indicate that Vince McMahon has softened his stance on Angle returning.
This is big news on a few levels. One, it had been reported elsewhere that McMahon did not want Angle back. Those reports actually quoted Vince as telling sources that he didn’t want “an Olympic hero dying on his watch.” According to Johnson’s report, Vince must be convinced that Angle has turned his life around and those past skeletons are buried deep in a closet.
That said, it is ironic that the WWE would only extend Kurt Angle a full-time deal. At Angle’s age and injury history, there is no way that the company could seriously think that Angle’s body could survive a full-time schedule. Regarding Angle’s recovery, it also shows a gross lack of sensitivity to his struggles as a full-time schedule would surely end badly for Angle. It just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense in this situation.
I can understand the WWE being hesitant about offering a part-time deal. What is the point of investing television time into someone who isn’t going on the road? However, I think limiting Angle to television is perfectly fine in this day and age of the WWE Network. The house shows are important, but not as important. Angle could even go on the road as a special referee, M.C., etc.
Dave Meltzer gave his spin on this on his most recent F4Wonline.com podcast. Meltzer believes that if they did indeed give him the ultimatum of going full-time or no deal that they may have been doing it to save face, knowing that he could never survive a full time schedule. Meltzer doesn’t even know if he can go part-time at this stage in his career.
I think that Vince or Triple H need to close this deal immediately. Angle is still one of the best performers in the business. Even outside of the ring the man is an asset. He has more personality than 90% of the WWE characters. He is recognizable and yes he is still an Olympic hero. With all of the problems of star-power depth, the WWE would get an instant star back that could make an impact immediately.
At the same time it is a business. Vince McMahon nor Triple H are dumb guys. They see the writing on the wall. Angle is a free agent with only one serious bidder in TNA Wrestling. That serious bidder has no television deal as things stand today when 2014 comes to a close. There is not a whole lot of leverage that Angle has here. I can see why they’d play hardball but at the end of the day bringing Kurt Angle helps everyone.
Angle would fit in perfectly in the WWE. He could have programs with Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, Daniel Bryan, Brock Lesnar, and even John Cena that would not only tear the house down, but possibly bring some more fans back into the fold. There is a ton of potential here and with few options heading into 2015, part-time or not, Angle would be a welcome addition back to the WWE in my opinion.
Ah, CM Punk. In the ring, few could match him for his skill, innate charisma and penchant for creating memorable moment after memorable moment. Outside the ring, it seemed the Straight Edge Superstar was also in a league of his own when it came to the size of the chip on his shoulder.
If we’re to believe everything we’ve read about Punk chastising fans, ‘taking his ball and going home’ when denied a WrestleMania headline spot, and generally being a bit of a diva, Punk’s attitude away from the squared circle is hardly the stuff role models are made of.
Yet fans stood firmly behind their man. After all, once the clock struck clobberin’ time, the former WWE champ could go, and boy did he ever. Rarely was there a time that Punk’s appearance on a pro wrestling show didn’t give us something to talk about.
Even now, months after his supposed retirement, few wrestlers -retired or not- are able to keep the Internet buzzing like the man born Phil Brooks. Crowds still break out in ‘CM Punk!’ chants in arenas across the US, optimistic armchair bookers still fervently plot his big comeback, and his every public appearance still generate headlines by the truck load.
Take the recent news, for example, of Punk’s backstage appearance at an Ohio Valley Wrestling show. Though he was apparently there to watch his buddy Cliff Compton capture the company’s top prize, the bigger story emerging centered around the OVW roster being told not to bother former indie star.
Such rumors have since been rubbished, in particular by 502photo, a Reddit user who claims to work for OVW’s production team, and who insists that the roster were told no such thing. Rather, says our supposed man-in-the-know, the OVW locker room opted not to bother their guest out of respect.
Still, such rumor-squashing came a little too late for some fans, who by that point had already flocked online to either dismiss Punk as an arrogant so-and-so far too big for his britches, or else jump to his defense as a man simply trying to enjoy a quiet retirement.
Which camp were in the right? That’s not for this fan to say. Instead, let’s look at the argument from both sides, shall we?
In defense of Punk
On the one side of things, we have the Punk fans (some might even go so far as to call them apologists), who are always on call to jump to the man’s defense.
In this camp, we get the argument that Punk has always been perfectly justified in his somewhat less-than-exemplary attitude. If wrestling fans have been browbeaten, mocked, blocked or otherwise felt the wrath of CM Punk, it’s only because they deserve it.
As fans, they say, Punk owes us nothing. We paid for a ticket or a PPV stream to see him perform, and he gave us what we paid for, and that’s as far as the fan/performer relationship need ever go.. Heck, some fans haven’t even paid a cent to watch the man in action, so what right do they have to demand his time and attention, let alone take to the web to criticise him?
Nope, CM Punk’s only obligation to us wrestling fans was to deliver on WWE programming and at live events. After that, he owes us zilch.
Besides, we all know somebody who has met Punk and found him to be perfectly charming, pleasant and accommodating to fans. Rumours of his negative attitude have been greatly overstated.
What’s more, because he consistently delivered, and never took time off to make movies or play in a rock band, he absolutely deserved a Wrestlemania headline spot, and was totally justified in jumping ship when that wasn’t on the cards.
Punk was there, week in, week out, when all these part-timers were off doing other things, and they got to come in and steal his big moment on past ‘Manias? That’s not fair.
Then this year they want to dump him in a pointless match with Triple H, who would only bury him anyway because that’s what Triple does? No thanks! If we were Punk, we would have left too.
As for this whole Ohio Valley Wrestling incident? Look, Punk is effectively retired. He has no obligation to anybody and can pretty much do whatever he pleases. Wouldn’t you hate it if you went to hang out with a friend and were constantly being pestered? Of course he deserves to go backstage to a professional wrestling show and not be bothered by anybody. Whether he, the bookers, or the roster themselves insisted on it, it’s perfectly justified.
The other side:
Flipping the proverbial coin, we find Punk’s harshest critics, those quick to bash him for every move that isn’t a GTS.
Without the wrestling fans, his naysayers insist, Punk wouldn’t be where he is today. Yet we’ve all heard stories about him being rude to fans, blocking them on social media and being something of a **insert your favourite expletive here**.
Seriously? How ungrateful can you be?
As for WrestleMania, Punk just came across as a huge mark. Whilst he was busy complaining about part-timers bagging the main event spot, didn’t he stop to think that Wrestlemania might actually draw a bigger buyrate (and thus a bigger payout for Punk himself) with the likes of The Rock onboard than without?
Quitting just because WWE wanted to book him in a match with Triple H was silly too. The Game is still a huge name, and going up against one of the most influential men in the company would have effectively guaranteed a marquee match. Maybe not the main event, sure, but a money match nonetheless.
Besides, wouldn’t a real pro have made the best with what he was given, rather than packing up and going home?
In the case of his recent backstage appearance at OVW, it really doesn’t matter whether the rumours are true or not. If a big name superstar dropped by and didn’t at least say hello to the roster when Punk was on his way up, wouldn’t he have been one of the first to blast them? Others paved the way for Punk’s success and no doubt offered him some advice along the way. Isn’t passing on what you’ve learned the right way to do things in pretty much any industry?
We could go back and forth all day on this, but there, in a nutshell, are the main arguments most fans seem to have when it comes to CM Punk. The big question then, is where do you stand? Hit up the comments box below and let me know!
Tonight is the 15th anniversary of SmackDown. The show opens with some clips over the past 15 years.
The first-ever SmackDown GM and co-head of the Authority, Stephanie McMahon makes her way down to the ring. She welcomes the crowd to the show, then asks who remembers the star who coined the phrase “SmackDown”. She points out that it was the Rock, then points out he lost to Triple H on the first episode. As the first-ever GM of this show, she gets to share many moments with the people tonight. The people represent something…
John Laurinaitis of all people interrupts this segment. A “People Power” chant starts. He reintroduces himself, and he thought who better to help celebrate than the man who created the greatest movement ever in WWE history, “People Power”. He’s been doing a lot of research on the WWE Network, he’s learned a lot and has a lot of matches to make. For example…
Teddy Long now joins the festivities to, admittedly, a huge pop. JBL starts dancing at ringside before running over to shake Long’s hand. We get a “Teddy” chant. He says he was the GM of the show for 6 years, and he’ll be damned if he’ll let Laurinaitis take it away again. Laurinaitis says he was better than Long then, and now. He and Steph aren’t feeling Long, but Laurinaitis is going to give the fans what they want tonight, and that’s a tag team match. Tonight, Damien Mizdow and Cesaro will face Sheamus and Jack Swagger. Can you feel that? Long says he’d make it a 6-man match, adding Bo Dallas and Mark Henry to the respective teams. Laurinaitis makes it a 10-man, adding Gold & Stardust, and the Usos. Long says that, since this is the 15th anniversary of SmackDown, he’s going to propose something that has never been done a before, that being a 15-man tag team match. Laurinaitis says that can’t be done. Long adds Mini-Gator and Slater Gator to the heel team, while adding Los Matadores, El Torito and Tito Santana to the face team. Steph says Tito isn’t here, but she likes the idea. Long says each team will have 7 1/2 men, so it works. Steph says these two are always in competition, so she’s going to steal an idea from WM 28, making it Team Teddy vs. Team Johnny. The two pick their teams, and the winner goes down as the greatest GM in SmackDown history.
Moving on, she points out that the match on RAW was made for John Cena vs. Dean Ambrose at HIAC, with the winner facing Seth Rollins in a Hell in a Cell Match the same night. So tonight, Miz will host a face-to-face with both Ambrose and Cena.
Adam Rose and the Exotic Express make their way out. I thought WWE had given up on this asshat? JBL points out he’s undefeated, which is the sad, pathetic truth. He says it’s time to party to honor 15 years of the show, but what’s a party without himself? He then tells Steph don’t be a lemon; be a Rosebud. Steph says it is indeed party time, and Rose should be in action, so up next, it will be Rose vs. Kane. She asks for the sound guy to hit Rose’s music, then starts mocking his dancing. Long starts dancing as well. Laurinaitis also starts to dance.
We get a video of the aforementioned Rock/Triple H match from the first episode.
MATCH 1: ADAM ROSE (W/THE EXOTIC EXPRESS) VS. CORPORATE KANE
Kane comes out and says he’s not a cheeseburger, a bunny, a lemon and certainly not a Rosebud. From time to time, he’s a demon. But tonight, he’s a party pooper.
Rose skips around the ring after avoiding a lock-up. He hits a kick, ducks an elbow, ducks a clothesline and goes for a cross-body. Kane catches him and goes for a powerslam, but Rose turns it into a sleeper. Kane breaks it by backing into the corner. Rose boots him out of the corner and goes up top. Kane nails him with an uppercut in mid-air, then hits the chokeslam for 3.
WINNER: CORPORATE KANE.
The Exotic Express all hit the ring to check on Rose, and Kane goes back in. He nails several of them until only the Bunny is left standing. Another Rosebud enters the ring, and Kane drops him with a chokeslam. The same things happens to a second one. The Bunny falls down in the corner, so two more come in. Kane hits them with a double chokeslam as the Bunny flees to the back.
Another video, and this one is the debut of John Cena in 2002 against Kurt Angle.
MATCH 2: WWE DIVAS CHAMPION AJ LEE VS. ALICIA FOX (W/PAIGE) (NON-TITLE)
Fox knocks down Lee as Paige is holding onto the Divas title outside. Fox throws Lee to the corner, then hits a northern lights suplex for 2. Fox applies a rear chinlock, but Lee elbows out. Fox hits her with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for 2, then goes for a standard one. Lee counters it into the Black Widow, and Fox taps out.
WINNER: AJ LEE.
Paige attacks Lee from behind after the match. Lee comes back with a pair of roundhouses for Paige and Fox, then throws Fox into Paige.
Video #3: A collection of high-risk moves and big spots over the years.
MATCH 3: SETH ROLLINS (W/JOEY MERCURY AND JAMIE NOBLE) VS. KOFI KINGSTON
Rollins goes on the attack, backing Kofi to the corner and stomping him down. Rollins kicks him to the floor, then hurls him into the barricade twice. Rollins breaks the count, then hotshots Kofi onto the ring apron. Back in the ring, Rollins nails a clothesline before grinding his forearm into Kofi’s head. Rollins hits a crossface punch, then a few more punches in the corner. Rollins stomps him down once more. He beals Kofi across the ring before raking at his face through the ropes. Kofi comes back with a quick small package for 2, then hits a pair of knees out of the corner. He connects with a clothesline, a back-chop and a dropkick. Rollins ducks a jumping clothesline and hits the Sling Blade. He pounds away at Kofi, then powerbombs him into the buckles. Rollins does it once more, then hits the curb stomp for 3.
WINNER: SETH ROLLINS.
We see the video of Bray Wyatt releasing Luke Harper from the Wyatt Family.
Video #4: Edge and Jack Swagger cashing in their MITB cases.
MATCH 4: RUSEV (W/LANA) VS. INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPION DOLPH ZIGGLER (NON-TITLE)
Ziggler avoids a charge in the corner and hits a few week body blows. Rusev shakes them off and kicks Ziggler down. He stomps Ziggler, then stands on his face before applying a head-and-arm. Ziggler elbows out, then hits a dropkick. He misses a corner splash and goes flying to the floor. Commercials.
Back from the break, Ziggler nails some rights and goes for a cross-body. Rusev catches him, sets him on the top rope, hits a few kneelifts and then hits a high fall-away slam. He locks Ziggler in a front chancery and pulls him down into a guillotine choke. Ziggler hits a few punches to break the hold. Rusev comes back by standing on Ziggler’s face. Ziggler comes back with a jawbreaker, nails some more rights, ducks a clothesline and hits another dropkick. He mounts the middle rope for some punches, and Rusev shoves him off. Ziggler avoids a kick and goes for the leaping DDT. Rusev powers through and goes for the fall-away again. Ziggler lands on his feet, avoids a corner splash and nails the rocker dropper for 1. Rusev blocks a superkick and flips Ziggler over. Ziggler lands on his feet, but gets put down immediately with a jumping side kick. Rusev locks in the Accolade and gets the submission win.
Lana says Philadelphia (where the taping is taking place tonight) is the birthplace of America, which is why this country never had a chance to succeed. On RAW, they encountered an all-American, the Rock. Rock is a coward. Lana then loses her sh*t in Russian before handing the mic to Rusev. He says “The Rock will pay for the consequences”. Big Show, you garbage American, you’ll pay for this, too. He challenges Show to a match on RAW this coming Monday, then says Show will be crushed.
Video #5: The highly underrated supermarket brawl between Booker T and Steve Austin.
Lilian Garcia welcomes former SmackDown GM Booker T into the arena. He’ll be on commentary for the next match.
Video #6: Steve Austin tortures the Corporation and DX, then blows up the DX Express.
MATCH 5: MARK HENRY, WWE UNITED STATES CHAMPION SHEAMUS, JACK SWAGGER, THE USOS (JEY & JIMMY), LOS MATADORES (DIEGO & FERNANDO) AND EL TORITO (W/TEDDY LONG) VS. WWE TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS GOLD & STARDUST, LIL’ GATOR, SLATER GATOR (TITUS O’NEIL & HEATH SLATER), BO DALLAS, DAMIEN MIZDOW AND CESARO (W/JOHN LAURINAITIS)
Swagger’s got a nasty black eye. Fernando and Goldust start, and Goldust shoves Fernando before throwing him across the ring. Goldust nails a couple punches in the corner, and Fernando comes back with chops. Goldust calls for a test of strength, then slugs Fernando. Fernando comes back with an elbow out of the corner, then hits a hurricanrana from the middle, sending Goldust to the floor. Stardust hits the ring, and Fernando throws him to the corner. Diego takes him down with a spinning headscissors from the apron, sending him to the corner. Slater comes in and eats a double dropkick. Both teams hit the ring, but the ref restores order before a brawl can break out. Commercials.
Back from the break, one of the Usos and Titus are the legal men, with the Uso beating on Titus in the corner. Titus comes back with a big punch and tags in Goldust. Goldust hits a few strikes and tags in Slater. Slater clubs the Uso down, then tags in Stardust. Stardust hits a headbutt, but it’s no good. Uso comes back with shots of his own, then tags in the other Uso. I learn this is Jey. Jey hits a series of chops in the corner, then whips him across the ring. Stardust backdrops Jey to the outside, where Jey lands on his feet. He nails Stardust, then nails an incoming Goldust as well. The distraction is enough for Stardust to hit the Disaster Kick, sending Jey to the floor. Stardust heads outside and throws Jey into the barricade, then rolls him back in. Goldust tags in and hits a few kneedrops. Jey is thrown into the corner, and Gator tags in, hitting a low avalanche. Slater tags in, stomps Jey and tags in Mizdow. Mizdow hits a bodyslam and a jumping kneedrop for 2. Jey gets back to his feet, but Mizdow grinds him back down. Titus tags in and boots Jey to a chorus of boos (the crowd wanted more Mizdow). Titus picks Jey up on his shoulder and drops down for a backbreaker. He stomps Jey in the corner, then clubs him down as a “Damien Mizdow” chant breaks out. Jey hits a boot out of the corner. Cesaro tags in and hits the deadlift gutwrench suplex. Commercials.
Back from the break, Slater is legal, and Jey is nailing him with rights. He goes for a tag, but Slater pulls him back. He spins Jey around, Jey continues to spin and blasts Slater with a kick. Cesaro makes the tag, walks over Jey and knocks Henry to the floor. He turns around into a back-body drop by Jey, who tags in Sheamus. Sheamus attacks everyone on the heel team, then rams Cesaro with a shoulder thrust before knocking him to the apron with a running kneelift. He goes for the 10 Beats, but only gets a few in before Stardust interferes. Sheamus blocks an attack and ties him up for the 10 Beats instead. Slater tries the same thing and receives the same fate as Sheamus trades off between all three. Cesaro hits a hotshot, but then gets hit with White Noise for 2 as Mizdow breaks it up. Swagger enters the ring and drops him with an elevated belly-to-belly. Slater in, and he hits a Harlem Side Kick, pleasing Booker T in the process. Titus comes in and clotheslines Swagger to the floor. Los Matadores go for a double-team, but Slater Gator see it coming. However, they don’t see the Usos on the outside, who trip Slator Gator and drag them to the floor. The Usos hold the ropes open, allowing Los Matadores to hit a pair of suicide dives. Gold & Stardust get backdropped to the outside, and now the Usos hit a pair of suicide dives on the entire other team, including Laurinaitis. Gator is in the ring, and Torito sends him outside with a dropkick. He goes for a suicide dive, but Dallas intercepts him and avalanche powerbombs him to the floor outside on the other wrestlers. Henry comes in and goes for the WSS, but Dallas escapes and low-bridges Henry to the floor. Sheamus in, and he levels Dallas with a Brogue Kick. Cesaro comes in and hits the first Cesaro Swing in ages, hitting 15 revolutions until Jimmy drops him with a superkick. Stardust clotheslines Jimmy to the floor. Mizdow tags in to a huge pop and goes for the SKF. Sheamus breaks free by backing into the corner. He snapmares Mizdow off and hits the Brogue Kick. Jey tags himself in and hits the Samoan Splash for 3.
WINNERS: MARK HENRY, LOS MATADORES, SHEAMUS, JACK SWAGGER, EL TORITO AND THE USOS.
Much like the Luke Harper video earlier, we see a video package of Bray Wyatt releasing Erick Rowan from the Wyatt Family as well.
The Miz is in the ring for MizTV. He blathers on to the delight of no one, then shows us what happened on RAW between Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose and John Cena. Back to the arena, Miz announces that Cena/Ambrose will be a Contract-on-a-Pole Match. Why? Why? Why?
Miz finally gets to introducing his guests, bringing Ambrose out first, followed by Cena. Miz points out Ambrose embarrassed Cena on RAW, then asks why. Ambrose says Cena needs to know that no one crosses Ambrose. He lives by a code that he doesn’t take crap from anyone. If you do him wrong, he’ll make you pay for it. Rollins crossed him, and he can’t live with himself until he sets it right. Rollins in HIAC belongs to him, and Cena is coming dangerously close to stealing that from him. Nobody steals from him, no matter how high on the food chain you are. Cena says he’s impressed. He watches everything and listens to everything. Ever since Ambrose came to WWE, those behind the curtain have been worried about him. Ambrose is unstable, dangerous, loves the business and will not stop until he achieves success. Groups like the Authority waste resources to look for the next guy who has “it”. Ambrose proved he has “it” on RAW, but his definition of “it” is a bit different. He pulls a pair of baseballs out of his pocket and says this is what it takes to be a success in the business before saying Miz has no balls. Ambrose impressed him. It’s what everyone has wanted to see. The fans want to see someone with balls who isn’t afraid to stand up to Cena. At HIAC, Ambrose is going to make Cena earn a victory. They don’t see eye-to-eye, but Ambrose is looking into a mirror when he looks at Cena. They’re cut from the same cloth. There is a reason Cena can always come down to the ring with his head high, because he’s proved to everyone that, after 12 years, he’s got two things: balls and his word, and he breaks neither for nobody. Ambrose needs to bring his A-game, and he may not know Cena now, but after that match, he’ll know Cena’s name. Cena likes his chances. This is…a really terrible promo by Cena. Miz repeats what Cena just said, then starts kissing his ass. He asks if Ambrose really has a chance. Ambrose simply says, “Yep.” Miz asks how he’ll do it. Ambrose says he doesn’t think he’s going to do it; he knows he’ll do it. Miz then repeats Ambrose, calling him a rookie in the process. Cena tells him to shut up, then says he’ll see Ambrose at the PPV. Miz doesn’t like that response and starts egging Cena on. He wants to stir the pot and see a brawl. These two are ruining the show. A fight is what people want to see. Cena says Miz is right. People want to see Cena and Ambrose fight. However, Miz has it wrong. They don’t want to see Cena and Ambrose fight each other. Philadelphia wants to see them fight Miz. The two then club the hell out of Miz. Cena goes for the AA, but drops Miz and throws him into Ambrose, who drops Miz with a double-arm DDT. Cena then hits Ambrose with an AA as we see Seth Rollins watching this on a monitor in the back.
The WrestleMania 31 rumor mill is back in action after a big report in this week’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter. According to the report, the WWE have a few ideas in place for the big event, one of them being a match you probably didn’t see coming.
Dave Meltzer has the latest report and offers speculation on the WrestleMania 31 card. Meltzer says that the WWE are confident that they have their top matches in place. While nothing is 100% confirmed, Meltzer speculates on three that could be coming to your WWE Network in March for the price of $9.99.
The biggest surprise is his speculation on a return to Mania of The Rock. The Rock’s appearances this week have gotten people talking, but it is his taped segment on SmackDown that caught Meltzer’s attention. Meltzer speculates that The Rock could wind up wrestling Triple H at the 2015 event. Meltzer is just as surprised about his own revelation as you probably are reading it here.
I did see the segment that will air this Friday on SmackDown 15 and I am not so sure that I agree with Dave. Dave’s logic is that they wouldn’t have been teasing the match if there wasn’t something to it. However, the takeaway I came away with from that segment is that they were teasing it for WrestleMania 32 in Texas Stadium. Triple H kept referring to 100,000 people and a big stadium. Why they would tease it this far in advance is anyone’s guess. I could also be over-thinking it here, but Triple H mentioned a large crowd several times which leads me to think it is more than coincidence.
The idea most of us had heard about for the last three years was for a Rock vs. Brock Lesnar match at WrestleMania. The match continues to get delayed and after Rock suffered serious injuries against John Cena at 29, I am starting to think that he has no interest in a match that physical. The money is certainly on Lesnar vs. Rock and not Rock vs. Hunter. I think the angles and build up would be fun but I just don’t know how many people are clamoring to see that match one more time.
To that point, Meltzer speculates that the WWE may make a big play to get Stone Cold Steve Austin back in the ring at WrestleMania 32 in Texas. That would certainly make sense, especially when you have such a big stadium to fill. There were numerous reports that indicated the WWE made a play to get him last year for a match with Triple H. The year before we all heard about the Punk vs. Austin Mania rumors. I would think at Austin’s age it is Texas Stadium or never for the Texas Rattlesnake.
Brock Lesnar is still penciled in to be wrestling Roman Reigns in a WWE championship defense. I wouldn’t count on it. I am watching a changing of the guard right now and that change is Reigns to Ambrose. I think by the time we get to Mania that the WWE will have no choice but to swap Ambrose into this spot. He is hot and unless things change he is only going to get hotter. I would be shocked if Amrbose isn’t winning the Royal Rumble and going to WrestleMania.
John Cena has two interesting options according to Meltzer. Hulk Hogan is politicking hard for a Cena match, although I don’t see it happening. I think Hulk has had too many back surgeries and is too old to be placed in that spot. Rusev is the other option and it’s hard to disagree with that one. I could see some swapping here with Rusev vs. Reigns and Cena wrestling someone else but the Rusev match could be pretty big if they can keep him hot until Mania.
Meltzer also reports that there was a plan in place to go with Batista vs. Triple H although he speculates that the plan is dead. I wouldn’t be so sure. I could see them going in this direction with Rock vs. Hunter booked for next year. Meltzer reports that the Batista vs. Hunter match and series would lead to Batista’s retirement. I could easily see that with Batista transitioning to Hollywood full-time.
Where this leaves Daniel Bryan and Seth Rollins is a big question. I would imagine if Lesnar does hold the belt through Mania that Rollins would be Reigns’ first challenger. I couldn’t see them beating Reigns that fast which begs the question, what is the plan for Rollins and the briefcase?
And what about Sting? Sting doesn’t appear to be in the plans right now. My hunch is that it all depends on The Undertaker. If Undertaker doesn’t come back I could see Sting working with one of the younger guys like a Bray Wyatt. I think Sting vs. John Cena could be intriguing for a few different reasons. Other than those possibilities I am not sure what you do with him besides maybe Randy Orton or even Sheamus.
It looks like Mania has potential but I still think the big one is 2016 in Texas with 31 being something of an appetizer.
On October 09 we celebrated the birthday of a champion and a hero. A man known the world over as one of the greatest cruiserweight champions of all time and someone that to a man can say, they miss seeing in the ring.
Eddie Guerrero was not only one of the greats from a great wrestling family, he was truly what professional wrestling was and is all about.
We celebrate him posthumously.
Eddie’s biography read like that of a warrior and rivaled by many. Born into the Guerrero wrestling family. He wrestled in Mexico and Japan for several major professional wrestling promotions. In the United States, Guerrero wrestled in Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW), World Championship Wrestling (WCW), and in World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). Guerrero’s gimmick was that of “Latino Heat”, a crafty, resourceful wrestler who would do anything to win a match. His catchphrase became “I Lie! I Cheat! I Steal!,” which was used in one of his entrance themes. Guerrero partly used this phrase in his autobiography Cheating Death, Stealing Life.
Despite being a villain for most of his career, he got over in and outside the ring being the youngest, yet most popular, athletic and successful of the Guerrero brothers. Guerrero was widely regarded as one of the most respected and gifted technical wrestlers in history. Guerrero experienced various substance abuse problems outside of wrestling, including alcoholism and an addiction to painkillers. These real-life issues were sometimes incorporated into his storylines. Guerrero won 23 titles during his career, which encompassed the WWE Grand Slam Championship.
But what Eddie brought to the business was life and excitement and the belief that even the underdog can prevail.
No matter what role he played, I always loved the Guerrero character. Having watched Chavo, Hector, Mando and Chavo, Jr, there was always something electric in his performance. Whether in Texas or Georgia or even Stamford, I was never disappointed when Eddie was on screen.
When I think of past champions and the crusierweights who have graced the mats across the globe, there is very little space between Eddie and the top.
· Chris Benoit – Benoit is a two-time world champion: a one-time WCW World Heavyweight Champion, and a one-time World Heavyweight Champion in WWE. Both of his world title reigns were represented by the Big Gold Belt: Benoit is one of only four men to have held the Big Gold Belt in both WCW and WWE, alongside Goldberg, Booker T and Big Show. He is also a record-tying five-time WCW/WWE United States Champion, having held the championship twice in WCW, and three times in WWE. He is the twelfth WWE Triple Crown Champion and sixth WCW Triple Crown Champion; he is the second of five men in history to achieve both the WWE and WCW Triple Crown Championships.
· Eddie Guerrero – No explanation needed
· Dean Malenko – He is best known for his time with Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW), New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) and World Championship Wrestling (WCW). Malenko was known by the nicknames “The Man of 1,000 Holds” and “The Iceman”, the former in recognition of his technical wrestling ability, and the latter for his cold and calculating demeanor. Although never a world champion, Malenko achieved significant championship success in ECW, WCW and the World Wrestling Federation (WWF, now WWE), holding multiple titles in each organization. Pro Wrestling Illustrated named Malenko the #1 wrestler in the world in 1997
· Chris Jericho – Jericho has won 30 championships between WWE, WCW, and ECW – the three most prominent American promotions in the 1990s and early 2000s. He is credited as being the first Undisputed WWF Champion, having unified the World Championship (formerly the WCW Championship) and the WWF Championship by defeating The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin on the same night in 2001. He is also the fourth WWE Grand Slam Champion and is currently the only Grand Slam Champion to have held every title in WWE.
· Daniel Bryan – Bryan is a four-time world champion: a three-time WWE Champion/WWE World Heavyweight Champion and a one-time World Heavyweight Champion. He is also a former United States Champion, had a 245-day reign as WWE Tag Team Champion as part of Team Hell No, and is a Money in the Bank winner. Danielson has headlined several major pay-per-view events for WWE, including WrestleMania XXX, and was awarded the 2013 Superstar of the Year Slammy Award. Prior to joining WWE, Bryan wrestled for various companies using both his real name and the ring name (and later nickname) “American Dragon”. He had a notable tenure in Ring of Honor (ROH), becoming a one-time ROH World Champion, and the final ROH Pure Wrestling Champion (unifying the Pure title and World title). Along with CM Punk, Bryan is one of only two men to have won the WWE, World Heavyweight and ROH World championships.
· CM Punk – Punk is a seven-time world champion, having held the ROH World Championship and ECW Championship once each, WWE’s World Heavyweight Championship three times, and the WWE Championship twice. He won the World Tag Team Championship (with Kofi Kingston) and the WWE Intercontinental Championship, making him the 19th WWE Triple Crown Champion and the fastest man in WWE history to achieve this feat, in 203 days. Between WWE and Ring of Honor (where he is a two-time World Tag Team Champion), Punk has won a total of 11 championships. He won the 2008 and 2009 Money in the Bank ladder matches (the only wrestler to win the match twice), and the 2011 Superstar of the Year Slammy Award.
· Jeff Hardy – Hardy has experienced success as a singles wrestler and is a six-time world champion, having held the WWE Championship once, the World Heavyweight Championship twice and the TNA World Heavyweight Championship three times, a four-time Intercontinental Champion (also the youngest champion to win the title), and has held the Light Heavyweight, and European Championships once each. He is also a former Hardcore Champion, having held the championship on three occasions. Between WWE and TNA, Hardy has won 22 total championships.
· Austin Aries – Aries is a five-time X Division Champion (his first reign lasting a record 301 days), one-time TNA World Heavyweight Champion, and one-time World Tag Team Champion, making him the fifth TNA Triple Crown Champion. He is also known for performing in Ring of Honor, where he became the first two-time ROH World Champion.
Eddie was superstar until his death. On November 13, 2005, Guerrero was found unconscious in his hotel room (The Marriott City Center) in Minneapolis, Minnesota, by his nephew, Chavo. Chavo attempted CPR, but Guerrero was pronounced dead when paramedics arrived at the scene.
He was 38 years old. An autopsy revealed that Guerrero died as a result of acute heart failure due to underlying atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. Guerrero’s wife Vickie Guerrero claimed that he had been unwell in the week preceding his death. On the November 30 episode of WWE Byte This!, Chavo said that Guerrero had been working hard and was at peak physical fitness as a result, doing cardiovascular and weight training exercises every day.