29 years ago today the biggest and last super card in AWA history took place. WrestleRock better known for the WrestleRock Rumble took place today in 1986 in what some could argue was the beginning of the end of the AWA.
WrestleRock was Verne Gagne’s answer to the super cards being presented by his rivals the WWE and Jim Crockett Promotions. While the super card was not a new concept, WrestleMania took that idea to new heights. JCP was already in the game with Starrcade which by 1986 had become its own entity for the NWA fan base.
The AWA was on ESPN during this time and unlike the WWE and even JCP who booked their super card angles up to a year in advance, WrestleRock seemed to come out of nowhere. I remember watching the shows at the time and thinking about how random the event seemed. One would have assumed that with the power of ESPN television, WrestleRock could have turned the wrestling war around. It didn’t.
One of the biggest questions looking back on the event is why Verne didn’t take it to pay-per-view. For whatever reasons he did not and instead invested into an event similar to the Great American Bash which produced a tour and one big show to highlight the tour. The show took place on April 20, 11986 in the home base of the AWA, Minneapolis, MN.
Almost 30 years later this event is not remembered for any match, any angle, or any moment on the show. This show is remembered for one of the campiest, corniest, silliest promotional videos of all-time, the WrestleRock Rumble! This gem produced by Verne featured all of his talent rapping, yes rapping for an event with “rock” in the title, promos behind music. It was based on the highly popular cult video that the Chicago Bears put it out a few months earlier before the Super Bowl.
One of the biggest misconceptions about the event itself was that it was a flop. It wasn’t. The event reportedly outdrew both Crockett Cup tournaments which turned out to be a big financial flop for JCP. Financially it is hard to ascertain what the final result was because the payroll was ridiculous for the show. The show drew 23,000 fans and featured fifteen, yes fifteen matches! Sounds like a bad independent show lineup but that is what Verne came to town with.
Another interesting fact that many fail to remember is that the event featured a concert by Waylon Jennings. So to recap you have an event with “rock” in the title to play off of the rock and wrestling success the WWE had, promoted by a rap video, featuring a country music concert. You have to love Verne!
One other note which kind of surprised me. This is not on the WWE Network. The WWE bought the rights to the AWA library and owns the footage. I would have expected to see this on the network by now, especially with so many future WWE Hall of Fame wrestlers like Mr. Perfect, Barry Windham, the Road Warriors, Shawn Michaels, and Scott Hall on the bill.
I won’t go through an entire review of the show because quite honestly I can’t force myself to watch them all again. What I do remember is that for such a big event, there were a lot of non-finishes. In fact, two out of the three championship matches on the show ended in disqualifications. The only finish in a championship match was Scott Hall and Curt Hennig defeating the Long Riders.
The lineup was quite an eclectic mix of talent. The best match on the show was probably the Midnight Rockers against Buddy Rose and Doug Somers, but that only went 12 minutes. Special guests on the show included Harley Race, Mike Rotunda, Barry Windham, Tiger Mask, Kamala, and Wahoo McDaniel. Other notables on the show were full-time and part-time AWA players Sgt. Slaughter, Bruiser Brody, champion Stan Hansen, Jimmy Snuka (who cooled off quickly after coming in hot from the WWE), Rick Martel, the Road Warriors, Michael Hayes, and Jimmy Garvin.
What should have been the turning point in the 1980s wrestling wars was the beginning of the end. The AWA never came close to hosting an event like this and by the end of the year most of the big names had left for Japan, WWE, or the NWA. Looking at the results throughout the rest of the year, the Road Warriors only did a couple of dates after this as they were pretty much full-time JCP. Stan Hansen was gone in a few months. Rick Martel left shortly after to return to the WWE. The Freebirds and Sgt. Slaughter were gone. Jimmy Snuka also worked minimal dates by the end of the year leaving the usual AWA suspects.
By the time Verne got into the pay-per-view game it was 1988 and he had lost all of his big guns. While the idea of coming to pay-per-view with a title vs. title headliner was nice, there was little demand in seeing two declining territorial champions in Kerry Von Erich and Jerry Lawler unify titles. In all actuality it was Super Clash 88 that was truly the end of the AWA as the promotion survived on life support for the remainder of its existence.
It is interesting to look back and wonder what would have happened if this card was televised on pay-per-view or didn’t happen at all. Would Verne have been able to keep his big guns around longer if he didn’t lose a fortune on this and future events? We’ll never know but in the meantime take a few minutes out of this historic day to enjoy yourself some WrestleRock Rumble…you earned it!
AWA WrestleRock 1986 Results…
Road Warriors defeated Michael Hayes & Jimmy Garvin in a cage match
Verne Gagne defeated Sheik Adnan in a cage match
Greg Gagne & Jimmy Snuka defeated King Kong Brody & Nord the Barbarian in a cage match
Nick Bockwinkel defeated AWA Champion Stan Hansen via DQ
Scott LeDeoux defeated Larry Zbyszko via DQ
AWA Tag Team Champions Curt Hennig & Scott Hall defeated Bill Irwin & Scott Irwin
Sherri Martel won a 10 woman Battle Royal
Rick Martel no contest Harley Race
Shohei Baba defeated Bulldog Bob Brown
Barry Windham & Mike Rotundo defeated Fabulous Ones
Tiger Mask (Misawa) defeated Buck Zumhofe
Buddy Rose & Doug Somers defeated Midnight Rockers
Colonel DeBeers defeated Wahoo McDaniel via DQ
Brad Rheingans defeated Boris Zhukov
Little Mr. T and Cowboy Lang defeated Lord Littlebrook and Little Tokyo
The show opens with Daniel Bryan in the ring, and he says last week was one of his career highlights, when he climbed a ladder in front of 76,000 people and won the IC title at Wrestlemania. But a title only means as much as the actions of the holder, and that goes for any title, including his. So how does he make the IC title mean even more? By defending it with everything he has against anyone who wants to fight for the belt. And he did that the night after WM when he defended it against Dolph Ziggler. But after that match, who should come out? Sheamus. Sheamus came out, looking all stupid. He didn’t congratulate Bryan or even challenge for the title; instead, he kicked Bryan in the face. He then did it even worse to Ziggler, to the point that Ziggler couldn’t compete on the last two shows. So, what did Bryan do? He fought Sheamus last week. During that match, he got knocked to the floor, and he looked up, with blood on his forehead, and he saw Wade Barrett (Yes, Bryan called him Wade). In the middle of all that, what happens?
Bad News Barrett interrupts and says what happened was Bryan’s magical week turned into a nightmare when BNB dropped him with a Bull Hammer.
Sheamus joins BNB on the stage, and says he then kicked Bryan’s head off with a Brogue Kick as a reminder not to pick on someone who’s not your own size. The reason he tolerates BNB is because he’s not a munchkin like Bryan. When he determined how much he detests “undersized insects”, he decided that he and BNB should come down there and give Bryan a European-style arse kicking, because they can. The two head to the ring as Bryan takes off his belt and prepares to fight. Ziggler comes out with a mic and says Sheamus talks a big game for a guy who looks like Captain Jack Sparrow and Carrot Top had a baby that no one liked. And for BNB, maybe the reason he’s so tall is because he and Sheamus’ heads are so far up each other’s arses. They want to fight, let’s do it right now.
Ziggler joins Bryan in the ring and prepares to fight, when the Big Show comes out. I swear, Show is like that kid in high school that just leeched onto other people and whatever they were doing, like “Hey, guys! Me too! I like this stuff, too!” He is just a huge waste of space. Anyway, he says he and Sheamus don’t see eye-to-eye, but he has to agree that he’s sick of these little pipsqueaks whining and complaining all the time. He’s the winner of the Andre battle royal, which means he eclipsed Andre the Giant in history, which means he’s the greatest giant to ever set foot in this business. Ugh. Now, if Sheamus and Mr. Barrett are going to come out here and beat up these munchkins without him, they’re sadly mistaken. All three heels step into the ring, and that’s when Roman Reigns marches down through the crowd. Show tells Reigns not to step into the ring, so Reigns climbs in and immediately tackles him, which then leads to Ziggler tackling Sheamus while Bryan starts nailing BNB with punches. The faces clear the ring, and I’m guessing we’ll get a 6-man later.
“MizTV” is back with a special edition tonight. Also, Neville makes his Smackdown debut.
We get confirmation of the aforementioned 6-man.
Cesaro and Tyson Kidd are in the ring, waiting for their opponents, which will be two members of the New Day. Wow. The crowd here in Dallas,TX immediately starts sh*tting on the New Day once their music hit. As they come down to the ring, Big E tries to start getting a New Day chant going, but instead gets a response of “Sucks!” every time. Xavier Woods looks confused, and E says they come out, clapping for the fans, and they want to chant that New Day sucks. Right now, he wants every fan to stand up and clap. Instead, we get a “New Day sucks!” chant. We may be seeing the first time Kofi Kingston ever goes heel in his career. E says they’re out here bringing positivity to everyone, and the people want to ruin their New Day? Something has got to change. E rolls into the ring and says the fans have got to like them. You’ve got to love them, because they’re here for you. They’re here for a New Day!
MATCH 1: WWE TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS CESARO AND TYSON KIDD (W/NATALYA) VS. BIG E AND KOFI KINGSTON (W/XAVIER WOODS) (NON-TITLE)
You know, I kind of like the fact that the New Day are acknowledging that the fans are supposed to like them but don’t. Kind of breaking the fourth wall a bit there. Kofi and Kidd start the match as a “New Day sucks” chant breaks out. Kofi goes for a waistlock, which Kidd counters. Kofi coutners that as well, only to have Kidd counter and trip Kofi. Kofi goes into a headscissors, but Kidd gets a rope break. Kidd boots Kofi, then nails him with forearms in the corner before hitting a monkey flip. Kofi lands on his feet and ducks a clothesline on the apron from Cesaro. Kidd clubs him from behind and pulls him to the heel corner for a tag. Cesaro comes in and drops him with a European uppercut. My feed cuts away, and when it comes back, E and Kidd are legal, with both men down. Kidd tags out first, and Cesaro prevents E from tagging out with a deadlift gutwrench for 2. Cesaro rakes at E’s face before hitting a series of crossface shots and applying a rear chinlock. Kidd tags back in and kicks E in the chest before driving his foot into E’s face. E rolls under the bottom rope, where Kidd hits him with a slingshot legdrop. Cesaro back in, and he hits a slingshot double-stomp for 2. Cesaro applies a front chancery, putting himself between E and Kofi. E tosses him off, but Cesaro lands on his feet, knocks Kofi off the apron with a back elbow, then avoids a corner charge, sending E shoulder-first into the ring post. Cesaro rolls him up in a schoolboy for 2, then hits the Cesaro Swing as Kofi tries to interfere, only to have the ref cut him off. Cesaro gets 2 before Kofi breaks up the pin. E pulls himself up in the corner and hits Cesaro with a uranage. Kofi and Kidd tag in, with Kofi hitting a springboard clothesline, a couple chops and a dropkick. He hits a jumping clothesline and then hits a Boom Drop. He calls for TIP as the crowd dumps all over him. Cesaro comes in, but Kofi stops him before E reenters the ring. The ref shoves him back to the corner, and as Kofi turns back to Kidd, Kidd catapults him into the ropes, where Cesaro blasts him with a European uppercut from the floor through the top and middle ropes. Kidd puts Kofi down with Just Kidding and gets 3.
WINNERS: CESARO AND TYSON KIDD.
After some commercials, we’re back with Curtis Axel in the ring. He says not to change the channel. Two weeks ago on RAW, the road to Axetreme Rules hit a small speedbump named Neville. But you know what, Axelmaniacs? Axelmania will live forever. That’s why he asked for this rematch tonight. So, Neville, whatcha gonna do when Axelmania runs wild on you?
MATCH 2: CURTIS AXEL VS. NEVILLE
So glad Neville is on the main roster now. I was worried he wouldn’t get the call-up due to his size, and I’m glad I was wrong. An “NXT” chant breaks out as the two lock up. Neville backs Axel into the corner, only for Axel to grab him by the hair and throw him into the ropes. Neville handsprings off, then does a backflip and hits a pair of armdrags before putting Axel down with a spinning back kick. Axel comes back with a knee to the gut, then throws Neville to the corner for some stomps. He grinds his forearm into Neville’s face, then goes for a corner whip. Neville avoids contact, then flips himself across the ring, where he hits Axel with a pair of boots in the opposite corner. Neville goes to the apron, shoulders Axel in the gut, flips over him, then lays in a flying forearm. Neville kicks Axel to the floor, then hits a twisting suicide dive. Back in the ring, Neville hits a bodyslam and heads up top. He hits the Red Arrow and gets 3.
God. How the hell does he do that move?
Renee Young, looking like she’s wearing a Joker mask, is standing by with Natalya, Cameron and Alicia Fox. One of these things is not like the other. Young says they maybe manipulated Kane into making a divas battle royal next week. Do they think they cheated Naomi (which young pronounces Ny-Oh-Me) out of her number-one contendership. Fox says no one cheated anyone out of anything; they were just trying to show Kane how important #GiveDivasAChance really is. Natalya says Naomi has earned her title match. Cameron laughs and tells Nattie to save it. She’s just happy she has a chance at the divas title as well, but that won’t happen. Come Monday, Cameron is going to win. Fox argues with her and calls herself a veteran, which makes me choke on my own bile. Nattie apparently feels the same way, and says Fox needs to show respect to the divas that came before her. They start shoving each other, as Cameron tries to break it up.
MATCH 3: ALICIA FOX VS. NATALYA (SPECIAL REFEREE: CAMERON)
Nattie hits a double-leg and starts pelting Fox with rights. Fox reverses and gets Nattie to the ropes, only to have Nattie roll to the apron. Nattie gets back to her feet in the ring, and now we get a shoving match. Now they trade slaps. Fox dives at Nattie, only for Nattie to catch her and take her down. They roll around into the ropes again, and Nattie once again ends up on the outside. Back in, Fox hits her with a forearm, then misses a flipping legdrop. Nattie runs over her neck and hits her with a seated dropkick for 2. Fox reverses a corner whip and hits a big boot. Nattie slumps in the corner, and Fox snaps her onto her back for 2. Fox hits a northern lights suplex for 2, aka one of the whole four moves she knows. Fox applies a rear chinlock. Nattie tries to elbow out, so Fox snaps her down by the hair for 2. Fox then goes right back to the rear chinlock. Cameron hasn’t shut the f*ck up this entire match, and she’s not even miked. Nattie elbows her way out, ducks a clothesline, then counters a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker into a cross-body. Fox is back up, and she hits a running clothesline. The two trade forearms until Fox hits a sunset flip out of the corner. Nattie rolls through and locks in the Sharpshooter, and Fox taps out.
After the match, Cameron lays both women out with DDTs, then calls for a mirror. Why does she have a job again?
We get a video package for Erick Rowan, because we’re apparently still supposed to give a damn about him, for reasons that have yet to be explained.
Bray Wyatt comes out, and says he remembers the first time he saw Erick Rowan. He was lost, cast out by a society that could never understand him. They looked at him as if he were some monster, some creature, some plague that could destroy everything this society considers real. But they were wrong, and when they saw all of his flaws, Wyatt saw his possibilities. He took Rowan in. He found him dirty, laying in the mud, and he became the teacher. He showed him what it was liked to be loved, what it was like to have a family, and there was a time Wyatt was proud to call Rowan a brother. He fixed Rowan like you would fix a broken toy. When the time was right, he had no choice. He had to set Rowan free. He had to show Rowan what a cruel, horrible, rotten world they live in, so he could see with his own eyes this was filled with carnivorous insects who want nothing more than to rip you apart because evil is real, and evil is all around us. Evil lives in every single one of you. And what did you do? You returned Rowan back to Wyatt, and he is broken just like he was before, and it’s everyone’s fault. So, he decided tonight would be special, because he wants to teach Rowan one last little lesson. He wants to show Rowan that you can trust no one, that evil inside of us all, and there’s no escaping it. So tonight, he’ll finally destroy Rowan. Now imagine if he could do that to someone he loved, someone he used to call his brother, just imagine what he could do to you. Behold, the new face of fear.
MATCH 4: BRAY WYATT VS. ERICK ROWAN
Rowan comes out, and the crowd goes mild. Wyatt clubs Rowan across the back, so Rowan throws him to the corner. He misses a splash, and Wyatt goes on the attack with punches. Rowan comes back with his own strikes before ramming Wyatt head-first into the buckles. He knocks Wyatt to the floor with a Pounce, only to have Wyatt come back in and lay in some more punches. He pulls Rowan up by the beard, which Rowan doesn’t like. Rowan lays in some headbutts in the corner, then misses a corner charge, hitting the post and falling to the apron. Wyatt sends him into the barricade with a seated dropkick as we go to commercials.
Back from the break, Wyatt has Rowan in a rear chinlock. Rowan fights out, only to get dropped with a DDT for 2. Wyatt goes for a running senton, but Rowan gets his knees up into Wyatt’s back. Both are back up, and Rowan hits a clothesline and an avalanche. He hits another across the ring, then puts Wyatt down with a roundhouse for 2. Rowan goes up top, but Wyatt rolls to the floor on the opposite side. Rowan charges after him, only to have Wyatt clobber him with a clothesline. He hits the running senton on the floor, then rolls Rowan back in. Wyatt goes for a uranage, but Rowan reverses into a full-nelson attempt. Wyatt escapes and explodes off the ropes with a flying back elbow. He bridges up and crab-walks over to Rowan, only to quickly put him down with Sister Abigail for 3.
WINNER: BRAY WYATT.
After the match, Wyatt cradles Rowan’s head in his lap, then looks up at the ceiling and laughs.
Considering Rowan has only one won singles match since the group broke up that I can recall, I’m wondering if they’re going to release him soon.
It’s now time for “MizTV”, and we see a poster for The Marine 4 on the Titan-Tron, because WWE knows no one remembered this movie even existed. Miz calls this a special “movie edition” of the show. His latest film comes out tomorrow on digital HD, and later this month on Blu-Ray and DVD. We are then “treated” to a trailer for the film, which co-stars fellow waste of a human life Summer Rae. Back to the ring, no one cares about the movie. He claims his film has been getting rave reviews from Holly…
Speaking of wastes of human life, here’s Summer Rae herself. She calls this “our” action movie. Miz bitches about interruptions, and tells her she should be privileged, since he’s “giving a diva a chance”. She says she’ll speak whenever she wants, and the crowd still doesn’t care. They argue over who the star is as she desperately tries (and fails) to look sexy. This segment absolutely sucks. Rae tells him Damien Mizdow upstaged him in the Andre battle royal. The fans only care about Mizdow, who isn’t even out here yet. Miz says he blames everyone in the WWE Universe for what has happened with Mizdow. Mizdow is not a leading man. You cheer him and chant his name, but you don’t want Mizdow without Miz. In three months time, you’ll forget his name. Damien Sandow was fired twice from WWE and was on his way out a third time until Miz saved his career. Miz made him.
Damien Mizdow comes out as Miz mocks him. Miz says he’s on a steep decline. He needs to do the right thing, get his career, life and future on track. These people can’t do that for him. Miz can, though, and he’s willing to forgive everything that has happened, because he’s a charitable person. He will forgive Mizdow if he just says “I’m sorry”, and everything will go back to the way it was. Mizdow looks around to everyone cheering him. Miz rambles on some more. He says he can make Mizdow a star if he just shakes his hand and apologizes. Does Mizdow want his career in the hands of the fans, or Miz? The fans will forget about him, unless he stays with Miz. Mizdow takes off his sunglasses as Miz demands a handshake and an apology. Mizdow shakes Miz’s hand, then says he’s sorry…he didn’t do this sooner. Mizdow attacks Miz with punches, sending him to the floor. He then starts tossing chairs as Miz heads up the ramp. He looks at Rae and proceeds to make out with her before celebrating with some fans at ringside.
MATCH 5: BAD NEWS BARRETT, THE BIG SHOW AND SHEAMUS VS. ROMAN REIGNS, DOLPH ZIGGLER AND INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPION DANIEL BRYAN
Ziggler starts with Sheamus, and Sheamus shoves Ziggler back to the corner before giving a clean break. Perhaps in response to Sheamus, I notice Ziggler has a ridiculous hairstyle tonight. Anyway, Sheamus backs him into the opposite corner off another lock-up, then slaps Ziggler. Ziggler retaliates, which leads to both throwing punches. Ziggler hits a few shoulders against the ropes until Sheamus comes back with a kneelift. Show tags in and hits a body blow before picking Ziggler up by the face. He throws Ziggler to the corner, where he hits a big chop. Ziggler gets whipped into the buckles, and Show follows up with a running hip attack. Show goes for the spear, but Ziggler dropkicks him in the knee before hitting a leaping DDT for 2. Ziggler charges at him in the corner, only to get swatted out of the air with a chop. BNB tags in and hits a swinging neckbreaker for 2. Ziggler escapes a chinlock, kicks BNB off the ropes, then runs into the Winds of Change for 2. Sheamus tags in, and he stomps on Ziggler’s hand. Sheamus picks Ziggler up, only to put him back down with a European uppercut. He stands on Ziggler’s face against the ropes, then slaps him around in the corner. Ziggler comes back with a flurry of rights, escapes a tilt-a-whirl, shoves Sheamus away and tags in Bryan. Bryan ducks a clothesline and dropkicks BNB off the apron. He hits Sheamus with rights, backflips off a corner whip, ducks a clothesline and hits one of his own. He fires up the Yes! Kicks, misses the Buzzsaw, then backdrops Sheamus to the floor. Bryan nails him with a suicide dive, then rolls him back into the ring. As the ref’s back is turned, BNB levels Bryan with a big boot. Commercials.
Back from the break, Show is now legal for his team, and he has Bryan in a bearhug. Bryan tries to fight out, so Show hits him with a bodyslam. Show then hits a big elbow off the ropes for 2. BNB tags in and throws Bryan into the corner before setting him across the top buckle for some forearms to the back, followed by a running kick to the gut. BNB pulls Bryan down for 2, then applies a rear chinlock. Bryan tries to escape with some elbows, only to have BNB nail him in the back of the head. BNB whips him across the ring before missing a big boot in the corner. He tags in Show, who prevents Bryan from tagging out by standing on his back. He then knocks Ziggler off the apron and into the barricade before signaling for the chokeslam. Bryan escapes and pulls Show down into the Yes! Lock, only to have Show toss him to the floor moments later. Sheamus tags in, and he hits Bryan with a European uppercut before rolling Bryan back in. He hits another one, then sets Bryan up on the top buckle. He hits a pair of kneelifts, then goes up for a superplex. Bryan fights him off, putting him down with a series of punches. He goes for a cross-body, but Sheamus catches him and tosses him onto his shoulders. Bryan spins out and hits a tornado DDT. Reigns and BNB tag in, and Reigns unloads on BNB in the corner with a series of short clotheslines. He nails an uppercut, then mounts BNB for some punches before blasting Show on the apron with a Superman Punch. BNB receives one as well, but only gets 2 as Sheamus breaks it up. Ziggler runs in, and Sheamus tries to catch him with White Noise. Ziggler escapes and nails a superkick, sending Sheamus into the ropes before clotheslining him to the floor. Outside, Bryan nails Show with a running knee off the apron. Back in the ring, BNB hits a mule kick on Reigns, then signals for the Bull Hammer, only to have Reigns surprise him with a spear for 3.
WINNERS: DANIEL BRYAN, ROMAN REIGNS AND DOLPH ZIGGLER.
After being sidelined in November due to injury, Sheamus returned to WWE television on the post-WrestleMania episode of Raw. He attacked Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler, which cemented his much-anticipated heel turn.
All it took was once simple segment for Sheamus to become more relevant than he has been in years.
Since making his WWE debut in 2009, Sheamus has achieved high levels of success. He won the King of the Ring tournament in 2010, as well as the Royal Rumble match in 2012. He is a 2 time WWE Champion, and a 2 time United States Champion. While there’s no denying that Sheamus is an excellent worker, the consensus amongst the WWE Universe has always been that his character simply lacked depth.
Early on in his WWE career, Sheamus was an unrelenting villain, a role that he played exceptionally well. He viciously attacked performers such as John Cena, Triple H and Jerry Lawler, and was absolutely ruthless.
When he originally became a baby face character in 2011, it was deemed a necessary transition in order for Sheamus to remain relevant in the midst of WWE’s star-studded roster. Although he has always worked better as a heel character, Sheamus had been stale for so long at that point in his career that a character shift was desperately needed.
WWE began to build him up as an unbeatable “good-guy” character, and the WWE Universe loved his feuds with Christian and Mark Henry. For quite some time, Sheamus was a fan favorite. It wasn’t until he began referencing his Irish heritage in promos, tried lame attempts at comedy, and beat Daniel Bryan for the World Heavyweight Championship in an astounding 18 seconds, that the WWE Universe slowly began to dislike him. As a baby face, his character became dull, annoying and stagnant, which had the audience begging for a change to the character once again.
Despite his successful run as WWE World Heavyweight Champion in 2012, Sheamus became an afterthought once his reign came to an end. Aside from an unimpressive reign as United States Champion, he did nothing noteworthy for the next two years prior to suffering a shoulder injury in November.
When a performer is off of WWE programming for a prolonged period of time, it usually ends up hurting their character’s momentum in the long run. However, in Sheamus’ case, being sidelined from action was an opportunity to revive his character and give it more fire than it has ever had before.
It had been heavily rumored leading up to WrestleMania 31 that a heel turn was in the works for Sheamus. When he finally returned the next night on Raw with a drastically different look, it was a breath of fresh air for the mid-card title scene. The success of Sheamus’ new character was very dependent on timing, and the timing of his return was perfect.
WWE has been lacking depth on their main roster for months now. Recently, this has improved a bit with performers such as Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, and Roman Reigns emerging as top tier, main event talent. However, the heel side of roster is still lacking a good amount of solid characters. Every “good-guy” needs a “bad guy” to go up against in storylines, and that is an issue WWE is still struggling with today.
The WWE Universe is tired of seeing Big Show and Kane in the main event scene week after week. Bad News Barrett has been given terrible storylines since winning the Intercontinental Championship in January, and ended up losing it to Daniel Bryan in a 7-man ladder match at WrestleMania. The previously undefeated Rusev has now been beaten, and lost his United States Championship to none other than John Cena at WrestleMania. Heel characters are now starting to feel weak and replaceable. Having an upper echelon performer such as Sheamus transition into a heel character is exactly what WWE needed at this time.
Sheamus is slated to feud with Dolph Ziggler in the coming months, which will be an excellent program for both performers. When that feud comes to an end, Sheamus will be capable of elevating himself into the main event scene effortlessly.
The best thing about Sheamus’ repackaging is that WWE has fully gotten behind it. His new appearance and entrance music, paired with a ferocious attitude, has enhanced the credibility and value that the character brings to WWE programming.
As long as the company continues to place Sheamus in meaningful feuds and storylines, his career renaissance has the potential to bring an immense amount of value to WWE’s programming for the foreseeable future. If booked correctly, the opportunities for Sheamus to obtain success really are endless.
A simple retweet from Stephanie McMahon has opened a Pandora’s Box of controversy for the WWE. Questions are now being asked about the sincerity of the WWE’s philanthropy and the heat has WWE playing defense against a former employee and critics.
The controversy started the day of the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony and the day before WrestleMania. Stephanie McMahon retweeted a comment made by an executive that stated “Philanthropy is the future of marketing, it’s the way brands r going 2 win.” Correct or not, the timing had some people sick to their stomachs.
The timing in question came just hours before the WWE inducted the late Connor “The Crusher” Michalek into the Hall of Fame. Michalek received the Warrior award. While nobody would ever question the idea of giving an award to a deceased child that had found his way into the hearts of many WWE employees, the reality is that the Warrior created this award to honor WWE employees who flew under the radar. Regardless, it was a generous gesture of the WWE to present Connor with this award.
Unfortunately for Steph the timing of her tweet and the emotions felt by many after watching Connor’s family receive the award created a firestorm. Some critics were downright appalled while some just chalked it up as a simple miscommunication. One voice however was heard louder than most and that was the voice of former WWE ring announcer Justin Roberts.
Roberts wrote a lengthy blog about the tweet and Connor. Roberts gave a lot of details on the background of the relationship between Connor’s family and the WWE. Roberts appeared to be very instrumental in that relationship, according to his version as told in the blog. Roberts closed his blog with a very strong accusation against the company as a result of Steph’s retweet.
“When I was reading Twitter this weekend, I felt like I was punched in the gut. Despite rewriting the story and using it to pat themselves on the back for being a standup organization, I wish Connor’s Cure and Connor’s induction into the Hall of Fame were driven by sincerity and not strategy. But sadly, it looks like they are just part of the “philanthropic” future of marketing”
The blog went viral in the wrestling community and a controversy began to erupt. How genuine was this induction? Were we all played like sheep in this beautifully orchestrated marketing ploy by the WWE? The WWE were quick to react by sending out a reaction a few days later steadfastly denying any and all accusations that any recognition of Connor was less than sincere and heartfelt.
“It is offensive to suggest that WWE and its executives had anything but altruistic intentions in honoring Connor and his legacy with The Warrior Award. In conjunction with Connor’s father, Connor’s Cure was established by Stephanie McMahon and Paul Levesque to raise awareness and funds for pediatric cancer, and to honor a boy that so many people within the WWE family came to love. The fund is managed by the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation and has already raised more than $200,000 for pediatric cancer research.
In addition, following the Ultimate Warrior’s impassioned Hall of Fame speech last year encouraging WWE to recognize its unsung heroes, the Warrior Award was established in his memory to honor those who exhibit unwavering strength and perseverance, and who live life with the courage and compassion that embodies the indomitable spirit of the Ultimate Warrior. With the full support and input of Ultimate Warrior’s widow, Dana Warrior, Connor Michalek was the first recipient of the Warrior Award, and moving forward the award will be given annually to acknowledge other unsung heroes among WWE’s employees and fans.
WWE is proud to use our global platforms to raise awareness for important social causes, including Connor’s Cure as well as our longstanding partnership with Make A Wish, our on-going partnership with Susan G. Komen, which has resulted in more than $1.5 million in funds raised, and our international partnership with Special Olympics.”
For the WWE to react so quickly to a blog by a former employee tells me that there were some people in the company very upset over these accusations or someone was doing some major damage control. Maybe it was a little bit of both yet nonetheless this is hardly the marketing strategy that Stephanie McMahon had in mind when she sent out her retweet.
At the end of the day I really don’t care what the motivations were behind honoring Connor. It was a beautiful moment and it is clear from listening to his family that the generosity shown by the WWE to Connor helped extend his life. Connor’s family and friends benefited from precious seconds, minutes, days, and hours of joy with Connor that they may have never experienced if not for Connor’s distraction.
Additionally, the money and media attention brought to “Connor’s Cure” wouldn’t have come elsewhere. Connor’s battles with cancer was not unique and maybe another family will benefit from the publicity brought by Connor through the WWE. Whatever the motivation was or is, it doesn’t matter to the people who matter the most which are Connor, his family, and anyone benefiting from Connor’s Cure.
I can empathize with Justin but I have to think some of this sounds like sour grapes. It is clear that Roberts invested a lot of time emotionally into Connor and loved him like a brother or even a son. I get that. Seeing his friend honored whatever the motivation may have been, should have been enough. Quite frankly a lot of his blog sounded like a guy who wanted to make sure we all knew what he did, in addition to a bit of sour grapes that he didn’t have a big on-screen part in Connor’s tributes. I am sure his heart was in the right place but there was a lot of hypocrisy coming through that blog in my opinion.
Would it have been better for the WWE not to induct Connor because they are receiving some positive press for it? Did Justin not think for a second when he worked with the company that there wasn’t even the slightest motivation at positive publicity and marketing inspiring the coverage and videos? Was it okay because he was still a WWE employee or was he simply the most naïve employee in WWE history? I don’t think anyone for a second believes that the videos on the Special Olympics or Connor aren’t inspired slightly by positive publicity residuals. But guess what? I don’t care! As long as people are being helped and someone is benefiting from this philanthropy I could not care less what the motivation is behind it.
Let’s all be logical for a second here. This is a company here that promotes one of the oldest carnival tricks in entertainment. We are talking about a company where everything is worked and manipulated to create the presentation that the WWE want you to see, not the presentation you want to see. So the idea that anything whether philanthropic or anything else you see on WWE TV doesn’t have some kind of “work” behind it is just simply naïve.
Was the timing of the retweet bad? Yes, and very surprising for someone who seems keen and sharp enough to avoid something like that. Is the WWE benefiting more than anyone else with their philanthropic efforts? I doubt it and as long as children are being helped and a little joy is overtaking pain and fear in a little child’s life for even a few minutes, I simply don’t care what the motivation is behind it.
The show this week emanates from Fresno, CA, and we’re kicking off the show with the NEW WWE World Champion, Seth Rollins, who is accompanied by J&J Security, Kane and the Big Show. We see the Andre battle royal placed at ringside, which Show stands next to for no real reason. Rollins says it feels so good when a plan works out perfectly. This past Sunday at Wrestlemania, he cashed in his MITB contract, inserted himself into the main event, beat Brock Lesnar, beat Roman Reigns, and became the new champion. Just like that, he solidified himself as the new face of WWE. Being the champion isn’t all about being the very best in the ring, because right after he shocked the world and took the title, he flew on a private jet to New York for an appearance on the Today Show. After he showed them what’s what, he flew all the way back to California, just in time to walk into RAW and hear Lesnar demanding his rematch. He knows the fans can’t understand this, but flying coast-to-coast twice in a day makes you pretty jet-lagged. He’s new to being champion, but the WWE Universe deserves Rollins at his best. And although Lesnar does deserve a rematch, Monday night just wasn’t his night. For every action, there’s a reaction. If Lesnar hadn’t lost his mind, there might have been a title rematch tonight on Smackdown. The feed goes black for about 30 seconds, then freezes for another 30 or so. When it comes back, Randy Orton is out on the stage. He says he remembers everything that has happened between them. Several months ago, Rollins curb-stomped him through a desk and stepped. He remembers playing them all like fiddles until he got his sweet revenge. He also remembers nearly ripping Rollins’ head off with an RKO at WM right before he cashed in his contract. Most importantly, he swears he’ll go to the papers, if he has to. Also, he’s still owed a rematch from last year. So, with Lesnar suspended indefinitely, that should put Orton at the top of the list to face him for the title. Rollins says not to dwell in the past when the present and future of WWE is standing in the ring. He doesn’t know who Orton thinks he is, but in Rollins’ universe and WWE, he and he alone decides when and where the next title shot happens. Orton says Rollins has never done anything by himself. He gets why J&J leech onto who is in power, because they’re spineless sewer rats. But Show and Kane? They were monsters, but now they’re just lapdogs for the Authority. At least Show won at WM when he won the Andre battle royal. Kane? What did he do at WM? Orton doesn’t recall seeing him there. What does the Director of Operations really do anyway? As far as Orton can tell, he went from the “Big Red Monster” to Little Red Riding Hood. Kane says that, as DOO, he has plenty of power. That’s why tonight, Orton will face Show. And, if he can defeat Show, maybe the Authority will reconsider his title opportunity. By the way, that match starts right now.
MATCH 1: THE BIG SHOW VS. RANDY ORTON (W/KANE, J&J SECURITY AND SETH ROLLINS)
Show backs Orton into the corner, but Orton punches his way out before running into a shoulder. Show throws him to a corner for a body blow and a running hip attack. Orton avoids the spear, however, and puts Show down with a dropkick. Why is Orton wearing elbow pads? It looks odd. Show rolls to the apron, and as he tries to come back in, Orton boots him in the side of the head twice before hitting a suspended DDT across the top rope. Orton coils up for the RKO, but before it hits, the rest of the Authority hit the ring and beat Orton down, leading to the DQ.
WINNER VIA DISQUALIFICATION: RANDY ORTON.
Rollins enters the ring as the beatdown continues and tells everyone to part. He looks to be setting up the curb stomp, but Orton tackles him with a Thesz press. Kane puts Orton down with a chokeslam, which leads Ryback to run down to the ring. He takes out Kane and J&J before Orton hits Mercury with an RKO. Noble receives Shell Shocked, and Kane goes down after another RKO.
Originally, Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler were scheduled to face Sheamus and Bad News Barrett. However, Ziggler is playing up a storyline injury after the attack by Sheamus, so the match will now be Bryan vs. Sheamus one-on-one.
It was cool to see my girl Ronda Rousey at WM, by the way.
The Bella Tw*ts are on commentary yet again. Who the hell did I piss off to repeatedly have to listen to these two?
MATCH 2: NATALYA VS. NAOMI
We get an inset promo from Naomi. My computer is on mute, so I have no idea what she’s saying. Probably something about winning the Divas title. Naomi locks up with Nattie, who turns the hold into an arm wringer. Naomi counters, and Nattie counters that. Naomi breaks the hold, goes into a crisscross, and the two attempt simultaneous dropkicks before kipping up at the same time. Nattie backs Naomi into the corner, ducks a kick to the head, then goes for a slingshot back suplex, only to drop Naomi on her ass. She hits a low dropkick for 2, then pounds Naomi in the head repeatedly before applying a modified abdominal stretch. Naomi breaks it with some elbows to the knee, then reverses into her own attempt. Nattie breaks it with a snapmare, then goes for a corner whip. Naomi tries to catch her with a headscissors, but gets dumped to the apron. She lands on her feet, hits a high kick to the head and a springboard sunset flip. Nattie rolls through and looks for the Sharpshooter. Naomi counters with a roll-up for 2, then grabs Nattie in a low headscissors and drives the top of her head into the mat, which which is apparently enough for 3.
Shock of shocks, Nikki Bella holds the belt over her head at ringside while making stupid faces.
Later tonight, we’ll hear from both John Cena and Roman Reigns.
We see Kane in his office. Seth Rollins enters and apologizes for the RKO, but loves that he led Orton to believe he gets a title match. Kane says he is considering a title match. He has the authority to make executive decisions. Extreme Rules is less than four weeks away, and a title match between Rollins and Orton sounds good to him. Is Rollins concerned Orton will beat him? Rollins says Kane is buying into the hype, but the fact is he’s smarter than Orton. Kane responds that Rollins is better than Orton. Rollins says this stinks, and it turns out he’s actually talking about the office. We hear a toilet flush, and that’s when Dean Ambrose enters the frame. He compliments Kane on his office. Kane says that, since Ambrose rudely used his bathroom, he’ll face the man who threw him through a ladder at WM, Luke Harper. Ambrose likes the idea and thanks Kane.
Byron Saxton sat down with Roman Reigns for an interview earlier this week. Saxton asks what it was like to finally face Brock Lesnar. Reigns says it was an honor just to be a part of the main event. His plan was to come out swinging, and he did, only to have Lesnar throw him around. He showed a lot of people he could take a beating. He stepped in the ring, got knocked and picked himself up everything. He got right back in the fight. Saxton asks about strategy going in. Reigns says Lesnar gave him a ride to every borough in Suplex City, with Lesnar hitting every kind of suplex he could think of. Lesnar did it, but he doesn’t think Lesnar was ready when Reigns hit him in the mouth. He rode the wave and survived. He likes Suplex City. Lesnar wasn’t ready for him, because when he hit Lesnar in the mouth, Lesnar didn’t have an answer. He hit and hit, and finally knocked Lesnar down. When it comes down to it, he changed Lesnar’s face with his fist, permanently. Saxton points out that Reigns smiled and laughed during the match. What was the message he was trying to send? Reigns says you don’t see fights like this often. It changed their lives. Lesnar smacked the piss out of him and tried to keep him down for good. When you get to that point, you’re doing more than sending a message. Reigns kept getting back up, spit up blood and smiled in Lesnar’s face. Lesnar could not legitimately knock out Reigns. Saxton moves onto Rollins winning the title, right after Reigns thought he had the match won. Reigns calls it terrible. He was right there. He climbed the mountain. He felt the top. He was looking down, and he got pulled right off of it in a matter of moments. That was Rollins’ job, and that’s what he did. He had the MITB case he could cash in any time. What a perfect time. Let the animals take each other out and he could pick the bones. That’s what Rollins did. Reigns could have beaten Lesnar in about 30 more seconds. When it comes to Rollins, Reigns has beaten him before. He can, he has, and he will beat him again.
MATCH 3: THE MIZ VS. R-TRUTH
The two lock up, and Miz applies an arm wringer. Truth counters, so Miz punches him and applies a headlock. Miz hits a shoulder off the ropes, goes into a crisscross and receives a hiptoss. Truth ducks a clothesline and hits a jumping heel kick. Truth hits a corner splash, a kick and goes for the axe kick. Miz avoids it and goes for a roll-up. Truth hangs onto the top rope to block. Miz rolls to the apron, boots Truth through the ropes and then hits the Skull-Crushing Finale for 3.
WINNER: THE MIZ.
Damien Mizdow comes down and lays Miz out with a Skull-Crushing Finale of his own, then steals Miz’s sunglasse before standing over Miz.
John Cena, the NEW United States Champion, makes his way down. He has a document in his hand. After pandering to the crowd, he says that the paper (which is apparently the title contract he and Rusev signed) was his Declaration of Independence, WM would be his revolution, and now the US title will get the respect it deserves. He is taking nothing away from Rusev as an athlete. Rusev took him to the limit after spending a year undefeated, but him being the US Champion made him sick. Not because he’s Russian, and not because he can’t fight; because every time he opened his mouth, Rusev proved himself to be the world’s biggest jackass. Here’s the sad thing, Rusev IS the American Dream. He came to America, was given opportunity and had success. Was he thankful? No. Instead, he just told everyone how much America sucks. Newsflash, America doesn’t suck. Cena is proud of the US, and he’s proud of the US title. America is the land of opportunity, and this title is not just a beacon of excellence. From now on, it represents opportunity. He recites what’s written on the Statue of Liberty. He stands here now, saying bring him your outcasts, your underdogs, your future stars, your have-nots, anyone the Authority says is a B+ player, the ones the fans want to see that the Authority doesn’t want them to…Hell, bring him anyone from Lesnar to the Bushwhackers. He’ll fight them all. He’ll give them opportunity to become the champion, and here’s how. On RAW, he issued the first open challenge for any superstar in the back to come to the ring and earn the title. Right now, he’s going to continue the challenge each week, because the US was built on a fighting spirit…
Rusev and Lana interrupt. Lana says what happened at WM was a travesty, not an opportunity. Cena is not worthy of being champion, and he’s half the man Rusev is. Cena’s revolution is a mere fantasy. This is Rusev’s world, and everyone should be grateful they live in the era of Rusev. Rusev says he did not lose at WM, while staring a hole through Lana. He’s still America’s champion. He is the super athlete. He is a Russian tank. Cena is not a hero; he is a coward, just like all of the fans. He then speaks in Russian before saying this is his domain. This is his country. This is his world. In his world, little people like Cena get opportunities, too, like the opportunity to surrender what belongs to Rusev back to him, or get crushed at Extreme Rules. Cena calls Rusev dumb, blind and drunk. Rusev lost at WM and got his butt whipped. Cena is standing in the ring, and the only things standing between the two of them are fear and common sense. Rusev starts marching down to the ring and Cena says if he wants to get it on in Fresno, the champ is here. Rusev just starts waving the Russian flag back and forth, then orders the large flag to be dropped. It doesn’t come down, so he screams for it to drop again. Nothing happens, so Cena says Rusev means we’ll see [a giant US flag dropping from the ceiling]. Cena starts listing off stereotypical American things, then says he pledges allegiance to kick Rusev’s ass at Extreme Rules, which doesn’t even make sense.
So…Rusev/Cena will headline a third PPV in a row. Hooray.
We get a promo for Adrian Neville, who is apparently going to go by just Neville at this point. I’m glad they’re still calling him “The Man That Gravity Forgot”.
MATCH 4: LUKE HARPER VS. DEAN AMBROSE
The two immediately trade punches before Ambrose throws Harper tot he corner. He grinds his forearm into Harper’s face, then goes for a whip. Harper reverses and runs into a back elbow. Ambrose hits a spinning back elbow from the middle rope, puts Harper down with a snapmare, hits a low clothesline and then gets 2 off a power-drive elbow. Harper comes back with a throat thrust, then hits a pair of uppercuts in the corner. He rakes Ambrose across the face, then nails a European uppercut. Ambrose comes back with punches and a kick off the ropes. He hits several strikes, ducks a back elbow, ducks a clothesline and goes for a cross-body. Harper catches him and tosses him to the floor. Commercials.
Back from the break, Harper slaps Ambrose across the face and tosses him to the corner. Ambrose avoids a big boot, and Harper goes over the top rope before crashing to the floor. Harper catches a suicide dive and rolls Ambrose into the ring. Ambrose spins through, returns to the floor and drops Harper with a clothesline. He rolls Harper back into the ring, then comes off the top with a flying elbow for 2. Ambrose hits a few punches, but Harper retaliates with a big boot. He signals for the sit-out powerbomb, but Ambrose escapes and low-bridges Harper to the floor. Ambrose goes after him, but gets thrown into the timekeeper’s area. He starts tearing apart the announce desk, only to turn around into a flying forearm from the barricade by Ambrose. Ambrosse then goes for a powerbomb through the announce desk, but Harper shoves him spine-first into the ring post. Harper then powerbombs Ambrose through the announce desk.
WINNER: NO CONTEST.
The referee is calling for help as Harper walks over Ambrose’s body. The other referees manages to get Harper away from the area, then turn their attention to Ambrose.
During the break, EMTs and referees walked Ambrose to the back.
We see the Prime-Time Players in a studio. Titus O’Neil says they’re here to talk to everyone about something that is played out, that being the New Day. First off, Big E. Titus sprays himself with a water bottle as we cut to a still of E wiping his forehead. Titus mocks E’s dorky promos as Darren Young tries to calm him down. Titus doesn’t know what denomination E is going for, but he sounds like he has a possum stuck in his throat. Young says E has no rhythm. They both call Kofi Kingston a natural athlete, but then make fun of the fact that he has a Scott Steiner chest (okay, they called it sunken). Finally, there’s Xavier Woods, a personal hair disaster. Young used to have an afro, but Woods’ hair is nappy. If your hair is nappy, ain’t nobody happy. Now they’re trying to do the New Day chant as crickets start chirping. Titus then does his barking bit before breaking out the “millions of dollars” chant.
I love that even WWE admits the New Day gimmick sucks, and is having everyone say it sucks in some bizarre attempt to get it over.
Sheamus comes out for his match, and he has a fancy new entrance theme to go with the new look and attitude. It sounds pretty cool, actually. A “You look stupid” chant breaks out, and Sheamus just goes with it. If you’re wondering why he attacked Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler on Monday, the answer is simple: because he can. While he was out with an injury, he sat at home and watched RAW & Smackdown every week, and all he kept wondering was where have all the real men gone? All your Bryans and Zigglers…they’re great little fellas! Hard workers! Go-getters! But they make Kevin Hart look like Shaquille O’Neal. They’re two vertically-challenged runts, and yet you’re disappointed when they fail you. They can’t even hang in the main event. Shame on you. As for Sheamus, he’s not here to disappoint you or put a smile on your face; he’s simply here to crush your hopes and dreams. A real man has come back to WWE, and he promises everyone he won’t rest until he puts all of the underdogs out of their misery. Fella.
We get a commercial for four new WWE Network shows. The first is a TV-MA cartoon by Seth Green. Then, there’s some crap by one of the people responsible for Jackass. Third is a new show hosted by Jerry Springer. Finally, they’re bringing back the Divas Search. Sweet f*cking Chr*st. Seeing this garbage, I’m now starting to be really thankful that the WWE Network is completely broken in my household and that I’ve sworn to never pay for another month again.
MATCH 5: SHEAMUS VS. INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPION DANIEL BRYAN (NON-TITLE)
Bad News Barrett is on commentary. Sheamus pie-faces Bryan into the corner, but Bryan reverses and starts laying in some kicks. Sheamus comes back with strikes of his own, then goes to throw Bryan across the ring. Bryan puts on the brakes and lays in some kicks in the corner. Sheamus whips him across the ring, then hits him with a running clothesline. Sheamus nails a European uppercut, then another. Then another. Then another. Sheamus slaps him in the gut, then hits a kneelift. He steps on Bryan’s face, then pie-faces him some more while calling him “Danny Boy”. Bryan comes up with some more kicks, then hits a dragon screw before going into a leglock, which he breaks to then hit a series of palm thrusts to the side of Sheamus’ head. Sheamus heads to the floor for a breather, then comes back in for a lock-up. He backs Bryan into the corner, nails a shot, then goes for an Irish whip. Bryan ducks a clothesline, slides through Sheamus’ legs, then hits some kicks to the chest before Sheamus catches him with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker, sending Bryan to the floor. Commercials.
Back from the break, Sheamus has Bryan in a rear chinlock. Bryan elbows his way out, only to get cut down with a kneelift. Sheamus hits a release vertical suplex, then drops a big knee off the ropes. He screams, “Are you not entertained?”, which makes me happy. Sheamus then hits the release vertical suplex again. Bryan barely pulls himself to his feet, and Sheamus nails him with a straight right. Sheamus hits another European uppercut, then stands on Bryan’s head against the middle buckle. Sheamus heads to the apron to taunt the crowd, then comes back in to slap Bryan around and talk some trash. Bryan begins slapping Sheamus across the face until Sheamus retaliates with one of his own. Bryan backflips off a corner whip, ducks a clothesline and hits one of his own. Sheamus gets up and charges at Bryan, so Bryan low-bridges him to the floor. Bryan knocks him into the barricade with a suicide dive, then rolls him back in. Up top, Bryan hits a seated missile dropkick, then kips up. He fires up the Yes! Kicks, but Sheamus blocks the Buzzsaw and looks for White Noise. Bryan breaks free by kneeing Sheamus in the head and looks for the Yes! Lock. Sheamus won’t go down, and he shoves Bryan into the corner. He charges in, only to have Bryan hit a drop-toehold into the middle buckle. Bryan then kicks the buckle into Sheamus’ face and heads back up top. Sheamus crotches him, then hits him with another series of European uppercuts. He pulls Bryan off the buckles with a cravat, which he then turns into a spinning neckbreaker. Bryan rolls to the apron, and Sheamus pulls him up for the 10 Beats of the Bodhran. Bryan blocks it after three or four shots, hits a forearm and a series of headbutts. Sheamus shakes it off before knocking Bryan to the floor with a forearm. Bryan gets back up, and he’s busted wide open. The referee prevents Sheamus from going after him, and the distraction allows BNB to get up and blast Bryan with the Bullhammer. Alliteration is fun. Sheamus drops to the floor as a trainer has come out to check on Bryan. The match is still going, as the referee is counting down. Sheamus decides to take the cheap win by climbing back in at around 7, and Bryan is counted out.
WINNER VIA COUNT-OUT: SHEAMUS.
End of show.
Sheamus looked good in his return, and has added several new moves to his repertoire. The mohawk has to go, however. Why he couldn’t just shave his head? I don’t know.
It finally happened. Someone finally stopped the WWE in its tracks.
In what can only be described as the best thing to happen to the WWE since the Mr. McMahon character was created, Brock Lesnar took it upon himself to inflict punishment on the company in the only way he knows how – he destroyed those who got in his way.
Lesnar, who was “screwed” out of the WWE World Title at WrestleMania 31 by Seth Rollins (and subsequently the Authority), took out the WWE announce team and a camera man with F-5’s as a message to the new champion and the company.
It was the best thing that could happen the night after one of the best WrestleMania events in some time. The move also solidified Rollins as public enemy No. 1 and the baddest heel on the planet since Mark Henry’s Hall of Pain when he was the World Heavyweight Champion.
Remaining true to his contract and the storyline, Lesnar was “suspended” by Stephanie McMahon for his actions and fined. The only thing greater would have been if “The Beast” went all Randy Orton on McMahon, which would have delighted the crowd even more.
According to the WWE website, the injuries suffered by announcer Michael Cole as a result of an F-5 may have caused a cervical fracture.
The weekend’s events, including Monday night’s Raw show capped off what has to be a rebirth of the WWE moving forward. And to think it only took four months into 2015 to make that happen. Now, it will be interesting how the company uses the momentum of these events to make things more entertaining as the move to SummerSlam begins.
I for one am now an excited wrestling fan again. Hopefully, the euphoria will not wear off.
Ziggler and Bryan – The Way it was Meant to Be
I have been preaching this for a while. Give the mid card performers like Dolph Ziggler and Daniel Bryan the stage and let them work their magic.
The two stars – and former world champions – were at it again on Raw. As I re-watched the match from Monday night, the show put on by these two was a clinic in what wrestling should be and how performers are supposed to show off. It made me think of the greats from a decade again and beyond like Shawn Michaels, Randy Savage and Arn Anderson. Matches like those don’t get much better and this was a show that could have been a headliner at any pay-per-view event.
I suspect Wade Barrett will get his title rematch for the Intercontinental Title at Extreme Rules, but it will not only be against Bryant but also Ziggler in a Triple Threat event.
Happy April Fool’s Day, Randy Orton
Today is Randy Orton’s birthday (he turns 35, but seems like he has been in the WWE forever). I was curious which past performer or current superstar would celebrate his birth today. Orton wins the prize. I did not talk about Orton’s performance at WrestleMania in his match against Seth Rollins in my last blog. He and Rollins put on another clinic for the fans.
I wonder what happens to Orton in the shuffle of new champions and his place in the company. Both John Cena and Bryan have moved to the mid card. Rollins has been elevated to the top of the food chain and Dolph Ziggler is still ascending again. Wade Barrett will get a title rematch and Lesnar will undoubtedly get his rematch with Rollins at a later date.
Where does this put Orton, who has certainly become the enigma of the company at this point in his career?
Daniel Bryan has always been known as a candid interview. He will give you the answer you’re looking for as long as you ask the right question. So when you ask Bryan for insight on his current role, he will tell it to you straight without fear of repercussions.
Daniel Bryan was doing media at Axxess when he was asked about the last few months of his WWE career. The last few months have been some of the most fascinating in that the WWE continue to do everything in its power to hold back the former WWE champion. Bryan was asked about whether his health was the reason behind his questionable booking. His answer may surprise you.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I think that’s less of an issue than they’re concerned about Daniel Bryan being the WWE World Heavyweight Champion because he’s not very marketable. So I’ve realized that’s more of their concern than the injury thing.”
“I’ve had multiple people in the high levels of WWE say, “Hey, listen, you need to stop doing some of these things that you do.’ They have legitimate concerns over my healthy and wellbeing, which is nice, but also I feel like I consider myself an artist and I like to go out there and create art the way I like to create art.”
Wow! This guy has absolutely no fear because while his answer only confirms the obvious, it probably isn’t the company line that he is expected to walk. It doesn’t take an inside fan to see what is going on with Bryan and it’s very frustrating. The Yes Movement has been abandoned and the company is doing everything in its power to make sure it doesn’t peak as it did in 2014 and that is a shame.
Is Daniel Bryan marketable? Why not? He had a full house at WrestleMania 30 in 2014 standing on their feet and cheering him on. I would dare say that Bryan’s chase helped interest in the show last year. I think it is downright fascinating how the WWE is looking for stars on one hand yet is doing everything it can to prevent one when it comes to booking Daniel Bryan.
Bryan was also asked about the fan reaction in Philadelphia at the Royal Rumble 2015. “I knew this year,” Bryan said “I knew going in. I was like, well… You take your marching orders and you hope that they know what’s best for the company and whatnot, but, you know, it turned out okay, I guess .”
So count him and everyone else but the people in charge who saw that coming. Check out the entire appearance on the Sam Roberts Wrestling Podcast below.
Roman Reigns is heading into his first WrestleMania main-event Sunday night as he’ll be challenging WWE world champion Brock Lesnar. Reigns took a small detour on the way to WrestleMania 31 and stopped by the Camel Clutch to speak about WrestleMania 31 and a lot more in this CCB exclusive.
Roman Reigns will be one of a very few WWE superstars on Sunday to make his WrestleMania singles debut in the main-event. Reigns will earn that honor on Sunday amidst more controversy and criticism from Daniel Bryan fans and media. Facing more pressure than anyone in the industry, Reigns remains cool, confident, and prepared to prove the doubters wrong and conquer the challenge of Brock Lesnar.
Reigns was gracious enough to give me some time just days before the big match in conjunction with a SNICKERS “Who Are You When You’re Hungry?” contest. We hit on several hot topics including the pressure of making that historic WrestleMania leap on Sunday, the booing, thoughts on the Mania card, his Mania dream match, Brock Lesnar re-signing, and more in this CCB exclusive.
You are just days away from headlining WrestleMania 31 against Brock Lesnar for the WWE world championship. What is the pressure like to have your first WrestleMania singles match in the WrestleMania main-event?
“Well you know if we’re going to call it pressure I’d say it’s exciting. I’m pumped! This is an opportunity of a lifetime. You know you can’t write stories like this, well I guess you can. It just feels real good, it’s great to be out here on the west coast in San Francisco in the San Jose area. I was at Levis Stadium yesterday just looking around, I got to tour their facilities and everything. It’s just an awesome opportunity and I couldn’t be any happier.”
Coming from a family with Sika, Rikishi, the Rock, have you gotten any advice from your family, peers, or other veterans about the WrestleMania main-event experience?
“Absolutely and that is something that I am so fortunate to have are those resources that you kind of just tapped into there. For me it’s all about gaining as much experience as fast as I can so with my family I am just communicate and talk, ask questions. It seems like the consensus is to just live in the moment, have fun, and regardless of whatever happens this is the biggest opportunity I am ever going to have so just live in it, practice humility, and just represent our family.”
Has the booing gotten to you at all?
“It’s one of those things, it does a little bit. I am not going to lie. I care a lot about what I do, I have a deep passion for wrestling, sports entertainment, and just performing in front of a live crowd in general. So obviously you want things to be positive and support you but at the same time I really firmly believe that the fans, they have a choice, they pay their hard-earned money, it’s their opinion, and we live in a great country where you can voice that so it’s on them. No matter what happens I’m going to work my butt off, I’m going to go out there and perform to the best of my ability and the rest will take care of itself.”
Are there any other matches you are looking forward to watching at WrestleMania 31?
“I am. That’s the great part of WrestleMania, it’s the grandest stage of them all. Some of the best matchups, it’s not like other sports where it’s just one game. There’s so many different games being played and with that being said I’m really pumped for Triple H and Sting. I have to say that there’s another unique opportunity for a younger talent in Bray Wyatt taking on the Undertaker and as we saw last year the beast Brock Lesnar broke the streak so I am very curious to see how Undertaker bounces back, how he uses his wisdom and his experience to get back on track. With that being said the younger guys, the I-C ladder match is going to be as physical as there is going to be a matchup for WrestleMania.”
What is a WrestleMania dream match of yours against anyone past or present?
“I’m doing it man, it’s happening for me this year, Brock Lesnar the beast incarnate, a guy who carries so much respect not only in the UFC world but in sports entertainment world as well and just such a great athlete, he’s a proven competitor, I’m looking forward to showing what I can do and proving my abilities.“
What is it about the Samoan blood, the intangible that has made not only so many good pro wrestlers, but successful professional wrestlers?
“Well thank you for that, I think the main thing is it’s our blood. We have it in us, that intensity, that aggression we can tap into, I think it’s extremely believable. It’s something we are able to get lost in and I think not only for myself I am able to do it but there’s going to be a long line of more family members of mine coming up. If there is one thing we can do is reproduce.”
I tell a story about being scared as a kid after watching an interview with the Wild Samoans. What was it like for you to bring your friends to your house and meet your father (Sika the Wild Samoan)?
“It was awesome, you know like you said it’s a bit of a scary persona and a larger than life out there persona. A lot of times when I’d bring friends over or other kids from the neighborhood they’d be really shocked at just how laid back and cool he was. Most of the time when you come off of the road you’re tired so he’d just be super calm. The big thing is when you’re the only kid with a wrestling ring in your backyard, that’s a huge distraction so I think he could have been just terrifying but they’d still love him because he had a wrestling ring in his backyard.”
Did you ever consider MMA along your trajectory to the WWE?
“You know I didn’t. One thing I am kind of throughout my sports days is I never got into amateur wrestling. Growing up in Pensacola, Florida football and baseball were kind of the big sports and what I was pushed to do. Amateur wrestling never popped up and I thought that would have been a really nice segue as I got older into the Mixed-Martial Arts so I’m a little bummed I didn’t ever get to dabble in that side of athletics but I think my path happened for a reason and I am pretty happy where I am at.”
Roman’s thoughts on Brock Lesnar re-signing with the WWE.
“I think it’s great, I think it’s great. Anytime we can lock down top talent, Brock is a proven veteran, he’s been in the ring and he’s performed at the highest levels and he’s going to do so again Sunday so I think it’s awesome and it’s just another guarantee that he’s going to show up Sunday.”
Can you talk about the SNICKERS “Who Are You When You’re Hungry?” contest?
“That’s something that I am very proud to be a part of, to partner up with SNICKERS you know that’s the question. Who are you when you’re hungry? As we know anything can happen when you’re hungry so for me I was able to show a different side than most people were expecting, a bit of a questionable, insecure side of me and you take one bite and everything’s better and you can see it in the commercial where I snapped out of it, a bit of a kick-out if you will, and I was back to the regular me.”
Your personal favorite match up to this point in your career?
“You know there’s been a lot. I tend to favor the ones that are on the higher level or the more prestigious matches which are usually on a pay-per-view or a WrestleMania setting. With that being said I think thus far it’d have to be either the SummerSlam match against Randy Orton or the Fastlane match against Daniel Bryan. They were both awesome matches, great guys to compete against, and hopefully they’ll be many more down the road.”
The 2015 WWE Hall of Fame will go down was one of the most emotional ceremonies in recent memory. Tributes to the late Randy Savage and Connor “The Crusher” left plenty of tears while Kevin Nash and Madusa provided the laughs and entertainment.
The entire ceremony was streamed live on the WWE Network. You really can’t beat the bargain of getting the entire ceremony and WrestleMania 31 for less than ten bucks. If you decided to pass on the Network, the WWE You Tube channel provided a compilation of speeches and moments including Vince McMahon presenting the class with their Hall of Fame rings.
The 2015 WWE Hall of Fame class….
“Macho Man” Randy Savage
Connor “The Crusher” Michalek
Check out the playlist of videos below along with the entire ceremony on the WWE Network…for just $9.99. It’s a great way to kill four hours today as you count down to Mania!
The WWE has a lot of seats to fill in 2016. WrestleMania 32 will emanate from AT&T Stadium and will need some heavy hitters to fill the building. The Rock is one of those heavy hitters and he isn’t ruling out a return to his wrestling roots.
The Rock has been long rumored to be on the WWE “wish list” for WrestleMania 32. The WWE has had Rock penciled in the last two years to wrestle Brock Lesnar in one of the most anticipated rematches in WWE history. The rematch would come 14 years later and could go down as the biggest rematch since Andre vs. Hulk Hogan drew a record rating on the Main Event in 1988.
Rock was asked about the possibilities of the match in a recent interview and while he isn’t committing to anything, he certainly hasn’t shut the door on the option.
“In Dallas? Possibly. There’s a lot of things that are up in the air. Lot of things are up in the air. We’ll see. I would love that rematch, I would love… whatever it is, you want to create something that’s going to be special, memorable, especially in Dallas at that stadium you have a shot at breaking the attendance record. It’s got to be special.”
This also explains the stress and anxiety that Vince McMahon felt trying to re-sign Brock Lesnar. Keeping Lesnar is bigger than just keeping him away from the UFC or booking him on SummerSlam. Lesnar held the key to the city because without Lesnar under contract there is no Rock rematch. Without the rematch there may be no Rock and there aren’t a whole lot of special matches available to fill the large stadium. Vince got his man so the match is in play.
This is the one component I think most have missed when breaking down the Lesnar-WWE negotiations, including myself. Lesnar is critical to next year’s show. If the WWE can’t pull off Rock vs. Lesnar, Steve Austin vs. Lesnar is another possibility that has been rumored. Again without Lesnar, the WWE is without a dance partner for Rock and Austin and without the right dance partner, both are likely less interested in coming back.
I have always felt that the WWE have already penciled in a Rock vs. Triple H match at Mania 32. That promo they did together on SmackDown 15 was a huge tease in my eyes for the match. I was convinced when I saw it that Rock already committed and it was the first seed to be planted. However, I have to think that a match with Brock is much more appealing to Rock who wants the biggest match possible.
There is already a great story to be told in Rock vs. Brock. Brock beat Rock for his first WWE championship. Rock never got a rematch. Plus if you do re-sign Brock, you could have him beat Roman Reigns this year and use that match as part of an angle to set up next year. Maybe Paul Heyman dubs Brock a “Samoan Killer”, he taunts the Samoans for a few months, and Rock returns to avenge the honor of his family and the Samoan heritage. There is a lot the WWE could do here and I think the match would be enormous. Unfortunately for them they haven’t been able to pull it off for the last three years and the timing may be one year too late.
The Rock also teased an appearance at WrestleMania 31 this year so stay tuned…