The WWE and Madison Square Garden paid tribute on Friday night to the legendary Hulk Hogan. Kevin Nash, Ric Flair, Scott Hall, Jimmy Hart, and Triple H rolled out the red carpet for Hulk and while WWE cameras were not in attendance, plenty of smartphones were.
Thanks to all of the great fans who attended the big event on Friday night, there are plenty of videos floating around YouTube of the ceremony. The ceremony is awesome and the only disappointment in the video is that it didn’t capture what was reported to be a fantastic video tribute of Hogan that played during the ceremony.
It amazes me that the WWE didn’t capture any of this footage for the WWE Network. One of the ideas I proposed a year ago was the Network showing WWE house shows. I think in this case the WWE missed a golden opportunity to either simulcast the event or air it post-produced later on the Network. I think original, special content like that would really help in marketing the network.
Regardless, check out the entire ceremony here below. It’s long overdue and a real classy tribute to a man that sold out many Garden shows in his prime.
This week’s episode emanates from the Phillips Arena in Atlanta, GA.
We’re getting a rematch from Fastlane, as Erick Rowan, Ryback and Dolph Ziggler face the Big Show, Kane and Seth Rollins in the main event.
Daniel Bryan comes out, and he’s got a somber look on his face. A “Yes!” chant starts, but Bryan puts a stop to that by screaming “No!” He says, a couple years ago, that’s what he used to say instead of “yes”. He was frustrated, he didn’t feel like he had opportunities, or anyone in his corner. But, he was wrong, because the fans were in his corner. Because the fans gave him opportunities. We gave him so much opportunity, in the main event at Wrestlemania XXX, he finally, after scratching and clawing for 14 years, won the WWE World Championship. A big “Yes!” chant breaks out on this note. Back to Bryan, he says that, due to injury, he lost the title. At Fastlane, he got something most never get: a second chance. He got an opportunity to get everything back…and he failed. That means, this year, for Daniel Bryan, there’s no main-eventing WM, there’s no WWE World title match, and without that hope or dream, there have been a lot of people backstage asking him this: is the Yes! Movement dead? A big “No!” chant breaks out, and Bryan joins in. He will not give up or back down, and despite not being in the main event, he’s got big plans. This year, at Wrestlemania XXXI, he plans on going…
Bad News Barrett interrupts, sans IC title, and marches down to the ring. BNB asks how much longer Bryan is going to carry on with this nonsense. No one wants to here his sob story. It just so happens he’s got some bad news for Bryan, because Bryan won’t be getting a WM moment this year. Losers like him don’t deserve the spotlight, and there’s someone else who doesn’t deserve the spotlight, that being the “lunatic thief”, Dean Ambrose. Ambrose has stolen his IC title. He is still the champion. He has a warning: if Bryan doesn’t get out of the ring, he’ll show everyone exactly what happens when you step on his toes.
On that note, Ambrose walks down to the ring, IC title in-hand. Ambrose and BNB immediately go at, spilling to ringside, where Ambrose throws BNB into the barricade. BNB responds by pulling Ambrose into the barricade as well. Bryan is laughing in the ring, and then he spots the IC title. He picks it up as BNB climbs back into the ring, looking to get it back. Bryan teases that he’s going to keep it, so BNB starts screaming at him. Bryan hands it over, and when BNB turns around, he’s nailed by Ambrose. Bryan then takes a shot at him as well before Ambrose grabs the belt. Bryan then celebrates with the crowd as Ambrose smirks.
We’ll get an exclusive interview with Roman Reigns later.
MATCH 1: DEAN AMBROSE VS. THE MIZ
Miz comes out solo. He looks over his shoulder for Damien Mizdow, but Mizdow is nowhere to be found. Ambrose applies a side headlock, then hits a shoulder off the ropes. The two crisscross until Ambrose rolls through with a schoolboy for 2. He hits a bodyslam and a power-drive elbow for another 2 before throwing the Miz to the corner for some shots. Miz gets corner-whipped, hits a boot out of the corner and lands the Reality Check for 2. Miz rakes at Ambrose’s face, then applies a rear chinlock. Ambrose fights out, hits a boot off the ropes and lands a series of strikes. Miz eats a forearm off the ropes, then another. Ambrose throws him to the corner, stomps him down, slaps him in the face, hits a running forearm and a bulldog. Ambrose heads up top for the flying elbow, but before he can connect, Bad News Barrett runs down and grabs the IC title from the corner. Ambrose sees him, hits the floor, and lays him out with a clothesline. He grabs the belt and climbs back into the ring, where Miz hits a boot and tries for the SCF. Ambrose escapes and goes into a standing switch. Miz hits him with a back elbow, sending Ambrose into the ropes, leading Ambrose to hit the rebound clothesline. Meanwhile, BNB has grabbed the IC title once more and is heading up the ramp. Ambrose hits Dirty Deeds and gets 3.
WINNER: DEAN AMBROSE.
Renee Young tries to stop BNB in the back for some questions, but he cuts her off and says he reclaimed what is rightfully his from Ambrose. As everyone knows, Ambrose cannot hold a candle to him in the ring, and neither can that disgusting goat, Daniel Bryan. Now that the title is back in his clutches, he’s never letting it out of his sight.
MATCH 2: NAOMI (W/THE USOS) VS. NATALYA (W/CESARO AND TYSON KIDD)
Nattie starts off with a hip throw, into a side headlock. Naomi fights out, but then gets shouldered off the ropes. The two crisscross after a staredown until Naomi applies a sort-of crucifix for 2. Nattie comes back with a trip, but Naomi kips up and hits an armdrag. Nattie hits a double-leg, which Naomi counters into a headscissors from her back, which she then turns into a submission hold. Nattie powers her way back to her feet and goes into a modified airplane spin. Naomi counters that into a sunset flip, but Nattie rolls through. The two then crash in the middle of the ring off simultaneous cross-body attempts. Nattie is up first, but Naomi quickly kicks her in the leg she injured on Monday. Kidd jumps on the apron to check on her, so Jimmy jumps up and takes him down with a superkick. Cesaro pulls Jimmy down and looks to send him into the ring post, but Jimmy reverses, sending Cesaro into a superkick from Jey. Back in the ring, the ref pulls Naomi away from Nattie to see if Nattie can still continue. As he gets Naomi back, it turns out Nattie was suckering Naomi in, as she quickly drops Naomi with a discus clothesline for 3.
After some commercials, we are back, and Rusev & Lana are in the ring. Rusev holds the US title over his head and says this is a symbol of a true champion, a real champion, your American champion. Lana says an American champion is someone who stands tall, full of pride and above everyone else. Rusev stands above Americans that are beneath him. Far beneath him. And do you know what a champion does not do? Rusev pipes in says he doesn’t have to agree to anyone’s terms. Lana then cuts to the TitanTron to show a still of a pre-match Cena at Fastlane. She says he’s so sure and full of himself there. Look at your American hero, rising above all obstacles as always, except this time (we see Rusev putting him in the Accolade, which won the match). She says this is your American reality, slipping into unconsciousness. Rusev says when it gets tough, all Americans just give up. Lana says they were surprised when Cena begged for a rematch. Rusev is a champion. He answers to no one, especially someone who is falling asleep on the job. Anyway, they’re going to talk about something more important than Cena. Rusev has received emails from the greatest president on earth, Vladimir Putin (a shot is put up on the Tron), then a picture of what appears to be a letter in Russian. She translates it, and it’s supposedly a letter from Putin, saying how proud he is of Rusev for everything he’s accomplished, as well as refusing Cena’s demands. Rusev says he’ll have a great match at WM, against someone worth his time, who he’ll defeat like everyone else. However, that opponent won’t be Cena, because “Mr. Never Give Up” has been beaten, broken and crushed.
Oh, for sh*t’s sake. Here comes Jack Swagger. Please don’t tell me they’re going to do this feud for a third time. He asks if Rusev is scared to give Cena a rematch. If he’s scared to fight, he came to the wrong city. Rusev is surrounded by real America and real Americans. He climbs into the ring (looking kind of pudgy lately) and does his catchphrase. Rusev goes for a clothesline, but Swagger ducks and goes on the attack, hitting a series of knees in the corner before landing a forearm to the back of the head. Rusev rolls to the apron, where Swagger knocks him to the floor with a clothesline. Swagger rolls him back into the ring, but Rusev slides back out to the floor. Swagger tries to grab him through the ropes, but Rusev nails him in the face. He hits his thrust kick from the floor, then climbs back in the ring to nail Swagger with more kicks to the legs and body before putting him down with another thrust kick. Rusev then locks in the Accolade. Swagger taps out, apparently forgetting this isn’t a match. Rusev lets him go anyway, but then reapplies the hold as the Russian flag drops from the ceiling. A referee comes out to break the hold. Rusev does, only to reapply it again.
MATCH 3: INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPION BAD NEWS BARRETT VS. DANIEL BRYAN (NON-TITLE)
R-Truth is on commentary, due to a non-title win over BNB last week. He calls Byron Saxton “Coach”. The match starts, and the two exchange several quick holds before BNB looks to make sure the IC title is still in the corner. He then boots Bryan in the gut before throwing him to the corner for an assault. Bryan gets whipped across the ring, but he hits a drop toehold on an incoming BNB into the middle buckle. Bryan nails a pair of European uppercuts, then begins to work on BNB’s left leg before going for a surfboard. BNB tries to power out and grab the ropes, so Bryan just stomps him in the back of his knees. BNB recovers and nails a headbutt before snapping off a suplex for 2. Bryan comes back with another pair of European uppercuts, then starts firing up the Yes! Kicks. Bryan comes off the ropes, and BNB catches him with the Winds of Change for 2. BNB throws Bryan to the floor, then grabs the IC title for a little celebrating as we go to commercials.
Back from the break, BNB has Bryan hung up in the ropes and is nailing him with kneelifts. BNB then drops Bryan to the apron with a running boot. BNB pulls him in for the pin, but only gets 2. He then applies a rear chinlock, but Bryan escapes after some elbows. BNB nails him with an elbow to the back of the neck and goes for a corner whip. Bryan flips out of the corner, ducks a clothesline and nails one of his own. He fires up the Yes! Kicks again, then drops BNB with one of the ropes for 2. Bryan continues hitting kicks in the corner, then lands a running corner dropkick. He tries it one too many times though, as BNB avoids a second attempt. He asks where his title went, as it’s missing from the corner. It dropped to the floor, so BNB goes out to put it back in the corner. Bryan hits him with a baseball slide near the announce desk, then wipes him out with a suicide dive. Back in the ring, Bryan goes up top. BNB recovers and crotches him, then goes for Wasteland. Bryan escapes and pulls him down into the Yes! Lock. Meanwhile, Truth gets up from the announce desk and steals the IC title belt, shoving it under his shirt. In the ring, BNB manages to get a rope break as Truth heads back to commentary. BNB hits a mule kick, then sends Bryan shoulder-first into the ring post. BNB sets up the Bull Hammer, but Bryan explodes out of the corner with the running knee for 3.
WINNER: DANIEL BRYAN.
After the match, BNB looks around for his belt and notices it missing from the corner once again. He looks around the floor and cant find it, then asks the referee to help him look. He asks everyone at the announce desk if they’ve seen it. Truth stands up and lifts his shirt up, where the belt was earlier. However, it’s gone now. BNB just slumps against the announce desk, looking distraught.
We go to an interview recorded earlier between Byron Saxton and Roman Reigns. Saxton congratulates him on his win over Bryan at Fastlane, calling it the most hard-fought match of Reigns’ career. Reigns agrees and says that’s the type of competitor Bryan is. Bryan knows what it takes to get where Reigns is going, and that is Brock Lesnar. He’s going to beat Lesnar at WM. Saxton cuts to what Paul Heyman said to Reigns on RAW, where Heyman more or less kisses Reigns’ ass, only to turn around and say Reigns still can’t beat Lesnar. Back to Reigns in the interview, he says Heyman talks nonstop. Reigns hates the word “can’t” and being told he can’t do something. He can and will beat Lesnar. Saxton asks how he’s preparing for this match. Reigns says maybe he’ll get back on his boat and take a cruise (jokingly). He says he has to train harder and faster, as well as watch old tapes of Lesnar. However, it won’t be athleticism that beats Lesnar. This is a man who has done it all before, including WM main events. Reigns hasn’t been there yet. Normally, he wants to do it on his own, but he’s not a fool. He needs to tap into his resources, talk to his family, get advice and prepare him. Where he’s at right now, he can be cocky, but this opportunity is once in a lifetime. The rug can be pulled any moment. He’s had to fight to keep this opportunity. He hopes Lesnar is cocky and confidence, bouncing around, staring at Reigns with his arrogant eyes. Through those eyes, he’ll look at a man fighting for a proud family, trying build a future for his family. That’s a scary combo. He’s going to beat Lesnar at WM, and he doesn’t care if anyone believes it; he knows it, and he’ll prove it.
It’s announced that the Bushwhackers will be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
We see R-Truth celebrating with the IC title in the back, when he’s stopped by Dean Ambrose. Truth makes up a lie about beating Bad News Barrett for the title, and Ambrose says he wants the belt back. Truth then hands it over before running away.
MATCH 4: FANDANGO (W/ROSA MENDES) VS. CURTIS AXEL
Apparently, Fandango will also be in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal this year. Before the match, Axel says not to turn the channel (I should point out he’s now wearing an “Axelmania” shirt that looks similar to a “Hulkamania” shirt). Everyone knows, at the Royal Rumble, he was attacked from behind and didn’t get the opportunity to get in the ring. Therefore, he was never eliminated, therefore, he’s still in it. He set the longest record for time in the Rumble ever. He’s been in the match for 32 days, 7 minutes and 20 seconds (Axel stupidly says “32 hours”). Sorry, but Maven’s been in the Rumble match for over 13 years now, Axel. No superstar has eliminated him from the Rumble, just like no one will eliminate him from the Andre battle royal at WM. He then fails at an “Axelmania” chant attempt.
The bell sounds, and Fandango applies a waistlock. Axel elbow out, then stomps Fandango down before tossing him over the top and to the floor. He points up at the WM sign, and the temporary distraction allows Fandango to roll him up for 2. Fandango ducks a clothesline and hits a standing suplex before coming off the top with the Last Dance for 3.
We see Damien Mizdow in front of a green screen with two women, apparently shooting a commercial. The Miz tells them to cut, and says he hasn’t seen acting this bad since Michael Keaton in Birdman. Mizdow points out that Keaton was nominated for an Oscar for that. Miz then does an impression of Mizdow, mocking Mizdow, calling him useless and whatnot. Miz tells the director to ditch Mizdow in favor of an “A-lister”. The director didn’t know Miz was interested, and says he’d love to have Miz in the commercial. He hands Miz a script, which Miz tosses, calling his face a script. They start to roll as Mizdow looks on, angry.
We get a special video package for Sting.
Adam Rose comes out for his match, but before that, we get an inset promo from him, surrounded by his Rosebuds. He says this year’s WM will be the ultimate party, because for the first time ever, he’ll be crashing that party and walking out the winner of the Andre battle royal. To the other competitors green with a jealousy, don’t be a lemon; be a Rosebud.
MATCH 5: ADAM ROSE (W/THE EXOTIC EXPRESS) VS. GOLDUST
Rose nails Goldust from behind, then throws him into the corner for some kicks. Rose hits a forearm and throws Goldust to another corner for a chop. Goldust comes back with a drop-down uppercut, then unloads on Rose in the corner. Rose reverses a whip, but then runs into a powerslam for 2. Rose comes back with a couple boots in the corner, then comes off the top with a dive. Goldust moves, and Rose lands on his feet. It’s all for naught, however, as Goldust quickly drops him with the Final Cut for 3.
Goldust heads to the back through the Rosebuds, only to have one dressed like a sock monkey attack him. The Rosebud throws him into the ring apron, only to strip off the top half of the suit, revealing himself to be Stardust. At least he’s back in his less goofy-looking gear. Stardust rolls Goldust into the ring and throws him around like a ragdoll before hitting what used to be called Cross Rhodes. Not sure if he’s changed the name of it yet.
The screen cuts to black, which means it’s time for Bray Wyatt. Do his words mean anything to you, “Dead Man”? Sometimes, he wonders if you can hear him at all. Or maybe you’re just to busy clinging to whatever life you have left, that you can’t even heed his call. He needs you to know this: he is not just a man; he’s is the serpent. Even the bravest rat can only outrun the snake’s fangs for so long before fate calls them by name. Your ignorance mocks him, Undertaker. How wrong is it you think can hide from him? Hell is his playground, and he would go through the deepest, darkest depths just to see your face. Time is ticking. Wrestlemania approaches. So come on, “Dead Man”. Show yourself. Find him. Find him.
MATCH 6: DOLPH ZIGGLER, ERICK ROWAN AND RYBACK VS. SETH ROLLINS, THE BIG SHOW AND KANE (W/J&J SECURITY)
Rowan and Kane start, with Kane applying an arm wringer. He turns it into a side headlock, then collides with a shoulder off the ropes, only to leave Rowan still standing. Kane hits a boot and sends Rowan into the corner. Rowan comes back with a shoulder that takes Kane down. Rowan hits a headbutt, then catches Kane off the ropes, hitting him with a fall-away slam. Rowan mounts the middle buckle and hits a spinning European uppercut for 1. Rowan rams Kane head-first into the top buckle, then tags in Ziggler. Kane drops Ziggler with a knee, then goes for a suplex. Ziggler lands on his feet and trips Kane, sending him into the buckles. Ziggler then hits a dropkick for 2. Kane backs Ziggler into the heel corner and tags in Rollins, who lands a punch, then sends Ziggler into the ropes. Ziggler knocks him into the corner with a kick, hits a corner splash and follows up with a neckbreaker before hitting the Shot to the Heart. He misses the rocker dropper, and Show makes a blind tag. Ziggler drops Rollins with a dropkick, then goes after Show. Show shoves him down, then swings Ziggler onto his back out of a cobra clutch. Haven’t seen him do that in about 9 years. Commercials.
Back from the break, Kane is now legal for his team, and he’s got Ziggler in a rear chinlock. Ziggler gets to his feet and punches his way out before Kane whips him down by the neck. Kane misses an elbow off the ropes. Ziggler turns around and misses a rocker dropper, then runs into a big boot. Rollins tags in and covers Ziggler for 2, then gets another 2 off a punch. Show tags in after Rollins throws Ziggler into Show’s boot. Show drops Ziggler with a big boot and goes to the middle rope for his version of the Vader Bomb, which connects for 2. Show picks Ziggler up by the face and throws him to the corner. Ziggler blocks a charge, then takes Show down with a rocker dropper. Kane tags in as Ziggler crawls to Ryback. Kane knocks Rowan down with an uppercut, then turns around into a leaping DDT from Ziggler. Ryback and Rollins tag in, and Ryback dominates before hitting a Thesz press. He then bounces Rollins’ head off the mat before hitting an overhead belly-to-belly. Rollins blocks a corner splash and comes off the ropes, only to be caught in a gorilla press, which Ryback then turns into an over-the-shoulder powerslam. Ryback signals for the Meat Hook, which connects. Jamie Noble jumps on the apron, and Ryback wipes him out. Joey Mercury enters the ring, and Ryback bounces his face off the mat. He picks Rollins up for Shell Shocked, then looks at Mercury and decides to pick him up as well. He gets them both up, but then drops them when Show tries to enter the ring. Show puts Ryback down with a boot, so Rowan comes in and clotheslines Show to the floor. Rollins wipes Rowan out with a suicide dive, then comes back in, looking for a blockbuster from the middle rope. Ryback catches him upside-down in mid-air and looks for Shell Shocked again. Rollins escapes as Kane looks for a chokeslam, only to have it broken up when Ziggler takes him down with the Zig-Zag. Rollins tosses Ziggler to the floor, then hits a thrust kick on Ryback. He goes for the curb stomp, but gets distracted when Rowan tosses Noble into the ring through the ropes. Mercury gets dropped on the outside. Rollins goes for the curb stomp anyway, but Ryback sees it coming, moves and sends Rollins right into a Ziggler superkick. Ryback then hits Shell Shocked for 3.
WINNERS: ERICK ROWAN, RYBACK AND DOLPH ZIGGLER.
Even when Rowan wins a match, he’s barely a factor.
I have to say I am a bit skeptical of the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary on the Von Erich Family that will air tonight on the mother station. The short, which is part of an amazing series by the network that focuses on triumph and tragedy in all sports genres, is taking aim at one of the famed wrestling families of my generation. The show is expected to present the personal side of their successes and failures and a family that had its highs and lows before the peak of Hulkamania and in the beginning stages of the changes in wrestling culture.
For all you out there who are too young to remember the story, Their actual birth names are “Adkisson”, but every member of the family who went into the wrestling business used the ring name “Von Erich”, after the family patriarch, Jack (Fritz Von Erich) Adkisson.
Although the family patriarch Fritz lived to the age of 68, five of his six sons preceded him in death (three by suicide). The firstborn son, Jack Jr., died at the age of six. In 1984, David Von Erich died in Japan from acute enteritis of the upper intestine. Michael, Chris, and Kerry all committed suicide in 1987, 1991, and 1993 respectively. Mike died after taking an overdose of Placidyl. Chris shot himself in the head with a 9mm handgun at his parents’ home in East Texas. Kerry shot himself in the chest behind his father’s house on Shady Shores Road. Kevin Von Erich is the sole surviving child of Fritz (Jack Adkisson) and Doris Adkisson.
It was one of the first instances where the “dark” side of the business was exposed. Before Hulk Hogan was accused of taking steroids and long before Owen Hart fell to his death, the Von Erich family were the poster children for everything that wrestling did to cripple competitors, as some would say, because of the pressures of the business, the success and the family name.
Wrestling has a way of grabbing athletes and sucking them into the walls of the business, one where they eat, sleep and breathe everything around them. That may be why Ric Flair, Terry Funk, Jake Roberts and even Hulk Hogan to some degree cannot get away from the squared circle. They are sucked in like a magnetic field and never released from its clutches. The demons like alcohol, drugs, women and the mystique of staying in character ultimately destroy them.
Other wrestlers, most notably Ric Flair in “To Be The Man” spoke candidly about David’s death and how it affected the NWA at the time because as a rising star, he was viewed as a performer who could carry the banner of the promotion and lead it well into the 1980s.
The official doctor’s report allegedly states that he died of acute enteritis, but Ric Flair in the autobiography, said, “everybody in wrestling believes” that it was a drug overdose that really killed him and that Bruiser Brody (a fellow wrestler who found David) disposed of the narcotics by flushing them down a toilet before the police arrived. Mick Foley also claims that he died from an apparent drug overdose.
Kerry’s death was just as tragic. He was in a motorcycle accident that nearly ended his life. He suffered a dislocated hip and a badly injured right leg. Doctors were unable to save his right foot, eventually amputating it. According to his brother Kevin, Kerry injured the foot following surgery by attempting to walk on it prematurely, thus forcing the doctors to amputate it.
He was able to continue wrestling after the accident with a prosthesis and until his death, kept the amputation secret to the majority of fans and fellow wrestlers, even going to the extreme of showering with his boots on.
Due to the amputation, Kerry became addicted to pain killers, followed by several drug problems. Amongst the many of them were two arrests, the first of which resulted in probation. After the second, which violated the probation and likely would have resulted in extensive jail time, Kerry committed suicide by a shot to the heart on February 18, 1993 on his father’s ranch in Denton County, Texas. Bret Hart states in his biography, Hitman: My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling, that Kerry had told him months before about his plans – he had wanted to follow his late brothers, that they were calling him.
As a young teen, I can remember watching Fritz march his boys out on television every Saturday morning to the screams and cheers of the fans, like rock stars and entertainment gods. It’s a shame the adulation the fans gave the family only magnified how sad the losses were to the family and the wrestling community.
While I want to watch in anticipation, I hope the “short” is as well played as others that have left their mark on television and sports documentary coverage. Wrestling takes too many hits for its scripted outcomes, the breakdown of kayfabe and of course, the characters who come clean and tell everyone it is
Legendary pro wrestling journalist Bill Apter talked with former wrestling great (and one of my personal favorites) Austin Idol. Idol and Apter talk about the 40-year anniversary of one of the worst plane crashes in wrestling history in a fascinating interview.
It is amazing if you think about it that I can only name two well-known plane crashes involving pro wrestlers over the last forty years. One is the plane crash that almost ended the career of Ric Flair and the other is the plane crash that killed Bobby Shane. Austin Idol was on that plane and recounted all of the events surrounding that horrific crash with Bill Apter.
I can’t encourage you enough to go check out this interview. It is incredible from beginning to end and the details Idol provides are just downright scary.
From the Montreal Screw Job to Vince McMahon’s steroid trial to Jeff Hardy wrestling intoxicated, check out the top 10 pro wrestling controversies caught on video.
This interesting video comes from the folks over at WatchMojo.com. Watch this video as WatchMojo.com countdown the top 10 pro wrestling controversies…as they see it.
It’s certainly an interesting video and the crew did a great job of digging up video. I don’t know if I’d necessarily agree with these, but they do get you thinking. Some are a little corny such as the end of the streak so take this list for what it is worth. Check out the video below which runs a little over fifteen minutes.
Here is the list for those of you that don’t want to watch the video.
The Death of Chris Benoit
The Montreal Screw Job
The Owen Hart Tragedy
CM Punk Walks Out of the WWE
The Mass Transit Incident
Vince McMahon’s Steroid Trial
Edge/Matt Hardy/Lita Love Triangle
The end of the Undertaker’s Streak
Muhammad Hassan (the gimmick in general)
Jeff Hardy vs. Sting at TNA Victory Road (Hard wrestles inebriated)
Honorable Mentions: Raven-Sandman Crucifix Angle, Live Edge/Lita Sex Show, Triple H-Katie Vick, The Fingerpoke of Doom, Lex Luger Shows Up on Nitro, David Arquette wins the WCW title
Interesting list but I can think of about a dozen off of the top of my head that were omitted. Also, including something like the end of the streak on a list with two tragedies is controversial in itself. Check it out for yourself and see what you think.
The WWE is fighting back against an Internet icon. The WWE is finally retaliating for statements made by CM Punk on Colt Cabana’s Art of Wrestling. While Punk’s pipe bomb podcast may have been fun fodder, the end result may be some costly hours of entertainment.
Punk broke his silence back in November when he finally spoke out against the WWE on Colt Cabana’s Art of Wrestling podcast. The interview came just weeks after both parties reached an undisclosed settlement. To say that Punk’s interview painted the WWE badly would be a gross understatement. Punk’s allegations towards the company made the WWE look irresponsible, incompetent, and negligent in regards to the health and wellbeing of its performers.
Fans and pundits jumped on Punk’s back and went on the attack against the WWE. Specifically Punk’s statements made against the WWE regarding its doctor’s treatment of Punk were horrifying. Punk alleged that the WWE doctor misdiagnosed fatty tissue on his back which almost cost him his life. He also made severe allegations against the way they handle concussions. Pitchforks were lit, wagons were circled, and many were heavily critical of the WWE as a result of Punk’s allegations.
That was then, this is now. The WWE and its doctor are fighting back and fighting back hard. The doctor filed a lawsuit seeking over a $1 million from Punk and Cabana for what he claims were all false statements made about him on the podcast. The WWE is supporting its doctor and have posted a statement on its website in which they blast Punk.
“In light of CM Punk’s allegations regarding WWE’s medical staff and the subsequent defamation lawsuit filed by Dr. Amann against CM Punk, WWE continues to have the utmost confidence in the ability and expertise of our world-class team of physicians, including Dr. Amann.
CM Punk claimed this past November that during the Royal Rumble pay-per-view event on January 26, 2014 he performed with a baseball-sized, purple lump on his back located near the waistband of his tights. WWE’s investigation has shown the following:
CM Punk did not discuss this alleged condition with WWE’s team of physicians and trainers, nor did he discuss it with anyone in our Talent Relations department.
Subsequently, WWE has no medical records documenting this alleged condition.
The first time WWE was made aware of this alleged condition was when we received a letter from CM Punk’s attorney on August 22, 2014 after WWE terminated his contract.
here is clear video evidence from the 2014 Royal Rumble, which allows all to decide whether there is any appearance of a baseball-sized growth on CM Punk’s back.
The video in question is something to be seen. The video is all slow-motion close-ups of Punk’s back during the Royal Rumble. I will tell you this. I watched the video twice and saw no signs of any fatty lumps on Punk’s back. It should also be noted that comments were disabled on the video. Those could have been fun.
It’s funny because everyone just assumed that everything Punk was saying was the truth on those podcasts. I mentioned several times in blogs and tweets that while Punk’s allegations are damning, we can’t take them at face value. According the WWE he was not telling the truth and that could come back to hurt him.
I can take away a few things from this week. One, I don’t think AJ Lee is ever coming back to the WWE. I feel badly for her in that she appears to be caught in the middle of this crossfire. I just don’t know how you can go work for a company whose own doctor is trying to take a million dollars out of your bank account. That said, Divas generally have a short lifespan in the WWE and maybe she already had her exit plan all worked out.
I also think that it is odd that the company settled with Punk so fast if these claims weren’t true. Many assumed that Punk had the goods on the company with his claims on medical which resulted in a quick settlement. If he didn’t, why did the WWE settle? I can appreciate the WWE conducting a full investigation however before responding to Punk’s initial comments.
This is going to get ugly. It certainly reminds me of the ugliness that went down for years with the Warrior and Vince McMahon. The only difference here is I don’t think there is any way whatsoever we ever see Punk back in the WWE ever again.
The go-home edition of WWE Thursday Night SmackDown features Seth Rollins against Dolph Ziggler and The Big Show vs. Erick Rowan.
MATCH 1: DANIEL BRYAN VS. THE MIZ (W/DAMIEN MIZDOW)
As Miz comes out, we cut away to earlier today, where Miz is talking to Mizdow about his match tonight, claiming Bryan owes all credit for his success to Miz due to them being on NXT season 1 together. Mizdow laughs, and Miz gets pissed. He says Bryan would have been a nobody without him, just like Mizdow. He’s trying to teach Mizdow to be a good assistant, but if he breaks away, he’ll never work in this town again. That’s fine, because there’s more than one town in the US.
The bell rings, and Miz does his pre-match nonsense. Mizdow does his version, which gets a huge pop. Miz gets a mic and orders him down, saying the people aren’t here to see Mizdow. Mizdow is an assistant, so he needs to go to the back to get a towel for Miz after the match. Miz calls him “Felicia” for unknown reasons, and then turns around, only to have Bryan start nailing him with kicks. Bryan nails a European uppercut and a kitchen sink off the ropes. Another uppercut connects, as does a third. Miz reverses a corner whip, Bryan flips out of it, ducks a clothesline and hits one of his own. Bryan hits a running corner dropkick, then lays in the Yes! Kicks before setting Miz up on top for a super hurricanrana. Bryan goes for the running knee early, but Miz bails to the floor. Bryan misses a baseball slide, and Miz rolls back into the ring, where he hits a seated dropkick to the knee. Miz drives his knee into Bryan’s several times, then goes for the figure-4. Bryan counters it with a small package, rolls through and goes right into the Yes! Lock. Miz tries to spin it around it get to the ropes, Bryan is having none of that. Miz taps out in a total squash.
WINNER: DANIEL BRYAN.
Completely one-sided match, just like all matches with the Miz should be. Mizdow returns with a towel as Bryan celebrates and looks at the Wrestlemania sign.
MATCH 2: RYBACK VS. KANE
Dear god, Kane needs to call it a career. The bell rings, and Kane applies a side headlock, only to have Ryback counter immediately with a back suplex. Ryback throws some rights and goes for an arm wringer. Kane comes back with an uppercut and a few rights of his own. He hits a corner whip and goes for an avalanche, but Ryback blocks it and hits a spinning belly-to-belly. He calls for the Meat Hook, but Kane slides to the apron, where he hits Ryback with a hotshot. Ryback shakes it off and lands some strikes before Kane hits a DDT off the ropes. Kane hits a pair of weak-looking big boots, then lands another uppercut in the corner. Then another. Then another. Kane hits a sloppy back elbow for 1, then applies a rear chinlock. Ryback fights his way out with rights, ducks a clothesline and hits a Thesz press. He follows up with a jumping splash and a spinebuster for 2. Ryback mounts the middle rope for a splash, but Kane knocks him to the floor with yet another uppercut. Kane is to uppercuts what Randy Orton is to chinlocks. Ryback gets back in and proceeds to hit a surprise Shell Shocked for 3.
Dean Ambrose makes his way down to the ring, as he’s going to be on commentary for the next match.
MATCH 3: R-TRUTH VS. WWE INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPION BAD NEWS BARRETT (NON-TITLE)
Ambrose makes fun of Truth’s pre-match ritual, which makes me smile. BNB hits a kneelift out of a lock-up, then beats Truth down in the corner. Truth blocks an Irish whip and hits a back elbow. He does his little dance, ducks a clothesline and hits an uppercut. In the corner, Truth nails some rights until BNB gets himself through the ropes. The ref pushes Truth back, which allows BNB to nail a big boot. He slams Truth into the adjacent buckles, then sets him across the top buckle. After a few hits to the back, BNB nails a kick to the gut for a 2-count. BNB applies a rear chinlock while talking trash to Ambrose at ringside. BNB nails another kneelift and sends Truth to the corner, where he runs into a pair of boots. Truth hits a pair of clotheslines and a jumping side kick for 2. Truth misses the axe kick, which allows BNB to hit him with the Winds of Change. He talks more trash to Ambrose, but Ambrose just lets it slide before complimenting Jerry Lawler on his t-shirt. BNB knocks Truth to the floor and assaults him against the announce desk, all the while yelling at Ambrose. Truth gets rolled back in, and BNB signals for the Bull Hammer while BNB screams at him to watch. Ambrose turns his back on the match, which pisses BNB off. He gets distracted, and Truth rolls him up for a quick 3.
Ambrose leaves, completely ignoring BNB the entire time.
Bray Wyatt appears on the screen, singing softly to himself. You like that song? He sings it to all his pets before he puts them down. Time’s ticking, man, and the angel with the burned wings is waving you home. Find him, or he’ll find you. (laughs)
Another promo for Sheamus.
MATCH 4: BIG E AND XAVIER WOODS (W/KOFI KINGSTON) VS. THE ASCENSION (KONNOR AND VIKTOR)
Inset promo from the Ascension. They call Dusty Rhodes and Ric Flair old farts, saying they shouldn’t talk about the past when they are the past. Tonight, they’d destroy Flair and Rhodes, but instead, they’ll make the New Day their latest victims. New day, same old story. Welcome to the wasteland. Vikto locks up with Woods and applies a side headlock before nailing a shoulder off the ropes. The two crisscross until Woods hits a kitchen sink and follows up with a seated dropkick for 1. Viktor recovers, rams Woods into the corner and tags in Konnor. The Ascension stomp Woods down for 2, then Konnor whips him into the corner. Viktor back in, and he stomps Woods some more before hitting European uppercuts and chops. Konnor back in, and the Ascension hit a double shoulderblock for 2. Viktor in again, and now Woods is fighting back. He manages to make the tag, and E comes in with a pair of overhead belly-to-bellies, followed by a standard one. Konnor comes in, and E clotheslines him to the floor. He goes for the Warrior Splash, but Viktor gets his knees up. He sends E shoulder-first into the ring post, tags in Konnor, and the Ascension take E down with the Fall of Man for 3.
WINNERS: THE ASCENSION.
MATCH 5: LUKE HARPER VS. ROMAN REIGNS
Reigns nails a right and throws Harper to the corner, where Harper gets stomped. He comes back with a boot, misses a clothesline and gets nailed with more rights. Reigns kicks him to the floor, then heads outside for a running clothesline. Reigns rams Harper back-first into the barricade, then rolls him into the ring. He blocks a boot, hits a punch and a version of the Mark of Excellence. Harper comes back and sends Reigns to the outside, but misses a shoulder on the apron. Reigns knocks him to the floor again, but Harper recovers and shoves Reigns into the ring steps before hitting a clothesline. Harper rolls Reigns in and hits a tope con hilo for 2. Harper gets 2 off a few stomps, then applies the Gator Roll before going into a side headlock. Reigns gets to his feet and breaks free before hitting a kneelift and a Saito suplex. Harper nails a series of corner clotheslines, then drops Harper with a big uppercut. Reigns flies off the ropes with a clothesline for 2, but then gets pulled into the middle buckle, courtesy of a handful of tights. Reigns shakes it off and goes for a Samoan drop. Harper escapes and hits a sit-down scrapbuster off the ropes for 2. Harper sets Reigns up for a powerbomb, but Reigns counters with a Samoan drop. Reigns loads up the Superman Punch, but Harper nails him with a superkick. Reigns falls into the ropes, then comes off with a surprise spear for 3.
WINNER: ROMAN REIGNS.
MATCH 6: THE BIG SHOW VS. ERICK ROWAN
Oh, great. The world’s largest athlete vs. WWE’s biggest jobber. As Rowan tries to enter the ring, Show boots him to the floor. Rowan tries to come back with a slam, but no luck. Show tosses him up the ramp, then throws him into the steps. The match hasn’t officially started yet. Show picks up Rowan and sends him into the ring post, then rolls him into the ring. The ref tries to get Show to back off, but Show hits a boot instead. The ref separates them and asks if Rowan wants to continue. Rowan nods yes, and this match is underway. Show assaults Rowan in the corner with punches, then stomps him down. The ref separates them again, and Rowan throws a weak punch. Show hits a bodyslam, then knees Rowan in the face. Show stomps Rowan down in the corner again, then picks him up for the chokeslam for 3.
WINNER: THE BIG SHOW.
MATCH 7: CAMERON VS. PAIGE
The insufferable Bella Twins are on commentary. Hello, mute button! Cameron slaps Paige at the start, so Paige hair-mares her into the corner. She follows up with a series of back elbows, heads to the apron, and pulls Cameron through the ropes for some kneelifts. As she comes back in, Cameron hits her with a DDT for 2. Paige gets sent to the corner, and Cameron hits the sh*ttiest avalanche I’ve ever seen after doing some stupid dancing. Paige gets slammed on her face for 2, then gets whipped down y her hair. Cameron drops to the floor to slap Paige in the face, then taunts the crowd in the ring, only to get rolled up for 2. Paige hits a trio of short-arm clotheslines and a dropkick. She ducks a clothesline, nails a big side kick, and locks in the PTO for the easy submission win.
After the match, Paige challenges Nikki Bella to get in the ring. Just like last week, Nikki does what she does best: makes stupid faces and holds the belt over her head.
Renee Young is standing by with Goldust. She asks what’s going through his head as he moves onto Fastlane for a one-on-one match with Stardust. He says that, at first, he tried to embrace Stardust. He knows what it’s like. He doesn’t know what Cody was trying to do, but the team was on fire. They rekindled their brotherhood and recaptured the tag titles. Then, darkness crept in. Slowly, Cody slipped from him. Now Stardust is more than a persona. Stardust is a cancer who is eating his brother alive, and he wants his brother back. Now, he has to do something that is probably the most difficult thing he’s ever done, and that’s face his brother. He needs to beat Stardust at Fastlane. Stardust appears on the screen behind him, and it’s his typical rambling. He says, after Fastlane, “Cody” won’t be the only one who ceases to exist; the universe will forget the name of Goldust.
MATCH 8: WWE TAG TEAM CO-CHAMPION JIMMY USO (W/NAOMI AND JEY USO) VS. TYSON KIDD (W/CESARO AND NATALYA)
Inset promo from Cesaro and Kidd. Cesaro says they have a bond greater than brotherhood; they have the bond of friendship. Kidd says you can’t choose your family, but you can choose your friends, and teaming with Cesaro was the greatest decision of his life. Cesaro says the power of friendship will be proven to be greater than blood when they become the tag champs at Fastlane. Fact. The match starts with Kidd nailing forearms to the face. Jimmy reverses an Irish whip and hits an uppercut, followed by a bodyslam. In the corner, Jimmy hits a chop, then mounts the buckles for some punches. Outside, Rusev comes out of nowhere and nails Jey with a forearm to the face. He enters the ring and drops Jimmy with a spinning heel kick. He then turns to Kidd, dropping him with a kick to the face.
WINNER: NO CONTEST.
Rusev stomps Jimmy down, then nails him with rights. Jey hits the ring to try and stop him, but gets put down with a thrust kick. Rusev then mounts Jey for some punches, screaming for John Cena the entire time. We see Lana on the stage, laughing. Rusev grabs a mic and screams in Russian.
MATCH 9: DOLPH ZIGGLER VS. SETH ROLLINS
Earlier in the night, we were informed J&J Security are banned from ringside. The two lock up, and Rollins goes right into an armbar before turning it into a hammerlock. Ziggler reverses, and Rollins quickly gets a rope break. Rollins applies a side headlock, then takes Ziggler down with a hip throw. Ziggler makes it back up and sends Rollins into the ropes, where Rollins hits a shoulderblock. The two crisscross, and Ziggler comes back with a hiptoss and a dropkick. Ziggler misses a corner splash, and Rollins stomps him down as we go to commercials.
Back from the break, Rollins is in control with a rear chinlock. Kane and Big Show are now at ringside, as are Erick Rowan and Ryback. Ziggler avoids a back suplex and runs in for the leaping DDT, but Rollins counters with a Stun Gun for 2. Rollins hits a short-arm clothesline, then another. Rollins goes for a third, but Ziggler ducks. He ducks another, and the two collide when they both go for cross-bodies. Rollins is up in the corner, and Ziggler hits him with a splash. Rollins avoids the neckbreaker, but then misses a corner splash of his own. Ziggler hits another corner splash, follows up with the neckbreaker, then drops the Shot to the Heart for 2. He misses a rocker dropper, then counters a waistlock with one of his own before rolling Rollins up for 2. He ducks a clothesline and gets in a backslide for another 2. Rollins comes back up with a boot to the gut and goes for the curb stomp. Ziggler comes up with the leaping DDT. Rollins blocks it and turns it into a powerbomb, which Ziggler counters into a sunset flip for 2. He quickly follows up with the rocker dropper for another 2. Ziggler goes after Rollins, but Rollins gets through the ropes, where he hits a cheap shot. He tries to throw Ziggler out, but Ziggler reverses. Rollins lands on the apron, near Ryback and Rowan, and Ziggler knocks him to the floor with a dropkick. Rollins gets up and realizes where he’s at, so he shoves Rowan and slaps Ryback. Ziggler comes from out of nowhere with a clothesline, then rolls Rollins back in. He misses another corner splash, but lands on the middle buckle, where he hits Rollins with a mule kick. Kane jumps on the apron, and Ziggler knocks him down with a right. He then comes off the ropes with a hurricanrana on Rollins, but Rollins catches him and runs him across the ring for a corner powerbomb. Rollins then hits the curb stomp for 3.
WINNER: SETH ROLLINS.
J&J Security run down to congratulate Rollins as Rowan and Ryback check on Ziggler. Rollins points out there’s five of them, and only two in the ring, with Ziggler being done for. Rollins and company circle the ring as Ziggler rolls to the floor, leaving Rowan and Ryback in the ring. The faces go on the attack, knocking Show and Kane to the floor. Rollins jumps on Ryback’s back, but Ryback snaps him off. Kane drags Ryback to the floor, and Ryback responds with punches. J&J beat Rowan down in the corner as Ryback tries to fight off Kane and Rollins at ringside. Eventually, Rollins sends him crashing into the ring steps. Meanwhile, Rowan sends both members of J&J flying in the ring. Kane is in as Rowan hits J&J with a double avalanche. He turns around, and that’s when Kane and Show hit him with a double chokeslam. Rollins puts Rowan down with a curb stomp. He gets rolled to the floor as the Authority stand tall. Ryback clears the ring, then nails Show with a Meat Hook. J&J jump him, and he sends them flying. He sets up for another Meat Hook, but J&J grab his feet, allowing Show to hit the Knockout Punch. Rollins then finishes the job with another curb stomp.
End of show.
Final thoughts: You know, it’s really hard to take the trio of Rowan, Ryback and Ziggler as a threat when a) Rowan is such a jobber, b) Ziggler has only been allowed to beat Rollins clean once, despite the fact they’ve faced each other about 812 times since Survivor Series, and c) the three of them wind up having their asses beat down pretty much every single week.
The greatest trilogy in the history of pro wrestling kicked off 26 years ago today. On this date in 1989, Ricky Steamboat and Ric Flair began a classic three-match series that remains one of the most influential rivalries in wrestling history.
It is amazing to think that this classic series is 26 years old. It feels like yesterday that I was counting down the hours before Chi-Town Rumble. Sure, it wasn’t the first time Flair and Steamboat wrestled. Their rivalry dates back to the late 1970s. But for a young fan like me who only read about these great matches in magazines, it was the first time I was going to get a chance to witness this Dream Match.
Flair vs. Steamboat really was a dream match at the time. Steamboat left the territory in 1984 when Dusty Rhodes took over as booker. Steamboat would land in the WWE while Flair soared to greater heights with the expansion of the territory. Even apart, my friends and I always tossed out Flair vs. Steamboat as the dream match we’d like to see. Steamboat tore it up in the WWE, creating a WrestleMania masterpiece against Randy Savage while Flair was stealing the show with everyone. Yet at the end of the day, every WWE and WCW fan knew that Flair and Steamboat were the best workers in the business and a match between the two would have to happen.
As fate would have it, we would all get our wish. Steamboat would leave the WWE in 1988 after a disagreement with the WWE. Steamboat announced his second retirement in several years. Flair had just finished up feuds with Barry Windham and Lex Luger and was looking for new challenges. Ted Turner had just purchased Jim Crockett Promotions, creating WCW. Turner wanted to feature Flair and he knew the best way to do it was against his greatest rival. Thus Steamboat was signed and returned home shortly thereafter.
Ric Flair revealed in an interview on WWE.com that he was instrumental in bringing Steamboat back to WCW for the series in 89.
“I requested to [NWA producer] George Scott, and they gave him a very lucrative deal for the three big shows and TV tapings in-between. I said, “Let’s go get him.” George knew how good he was, because he was there in the infancy of the relationship. Who wouldn’t want to have him, right?”
Steamboat returned in an odd angle. The angle took place on WCW’s TBS show which was odd because up until this point, the Saturday night TBS show was relegated to squash matches and long promos. Again, this was a new era and a new regime so things were about to change.
The angle that kicked it off actually took place prior to this event. Ric Flair interfered in a match between Eddie Gilbert and Barry Windham. Flair and Windham double-teamed Gilbert. Gilbert came back the next week and a challenge was made to wrestle Flair and Windham with a mystery partner, “Mr. X”. The mystery partner entered last and revealed himself to be Steamboat. A great match between these two teams ended with Steamboat pinning Flair and the war was back on!
Enter Chicago. The match was made for Chi-Town Rumble. Flair would defend the NWA world title against Steamboat. The match itself was a technical masterpiece. Ironically many will call this match the worst of the series. I disagree. This match set the stage and was a critical part in telling the entire story of the trilogy and yes, the entire trilogy was a well-booked story. Steamboat had Flair’s number and Flair was obsessed with beating him. I dare anyone to find a series of matches from 1989 that holds up today better than this series, including this first match. Jim Ross added an element of emotion when Steamboat pinned Flair that cannot be ignored.
I will admit that I was pissed when Tommy Young was bumped. I had lived through four years of Dusty finishes that I thought had been flushed away from the company. I assumed that this match would end with some kind of screw job, the same way many of Flair’s matches did under the previous booking regime. I was pleasantly surprised and I think that is why the finish was so exciting. The roar from the crowd and the excitement from Jim Ross when Teddy Long counted Flair’s shoulders down iced the cake in Chicago.
“Even though, I get asked a lot, even though that was the match in which I had won the world belt, and was the only time I had the world belt, the match that I liked was the second match, the re-match, the two out of three falls match from New Orleans, where we almost went the hour. I like that match better. People always say, “God, the one in Chicago is the one you won the belt. You won the belt! Come on, the one Chicago!” No, I said, “The match that I like better.” You know, Eric let me say this. I have been working with Flair since the late seventies, he and I going into little Sumter, South Carolina, or even Greenville, South Carolina, you know little Spartanburg. Believe it or not him and I had better matches than the match in Chicago, then the match in New Orleans. In these little spot shows, where we had 6-1200 people sitting there. I did not know that about our Chicago match.”
“It was hard, because the fans were starting to like me even though I was the bad guy. [Ricky’s wife] Bonnie insisted on coming to the ring with him. It was a nightmare. He needed to be by himself. He didn’t need a woman that wanted to be Miss Elizabeth that was never going to be Miss Elizabeth. I never got along with Bonnie and she doesn’t like me. She just disrupted his career and thought she was Miss Elizabeth and she wasn’t.”
Steamboat felt that the crowd was a big part of what made this match so great. He was asked on WWE.com whether or not the fans and atmosphere contributed to the legend of this match.
“Yes. Flair had a ton of fans in Chicago. A lot of guys in Chicago loved the bad guys. His transition to being completely loved by the fans might have started as early as then. They loved Ric Flair, as flamboyant as he was.”
So here we are 26 years later and thanks to the WWE Network, anyone can hop on the network and watch any one of these great bouts at any time in perfect quality. I would highly recommend that you watch these matches in sequence to truly appreciate the masterpiece that was crafted between Flair and Steamboat.
The craziest WrestleMania rumor reported on websites for weeks has been the return of the Undertaker. The Undertaker is reportedly set to go for one more match at WrestleMania 31. That’s great news but the opponent makes absolutely no sense at all.
The rumored Taker match pits the Dead Man against Bray Wyatt. Those rumors have been strengthened in recent weeks with Wyatt’s promos on RAW which certainly appear to be geared towards an Undertaker match. Yet this whole idea seems like one big wasted opportunity by the company, something that appears to be a theme with Taker’s recent Mania matches.
Let’s go back a couple of years, three to be exact and look at the creative leading up to Undertaker’s Mania matches. The Undertaker’s streak has arguably been the biggest match or at least second biggest match on Mania since Michaels started playing it up at 25. Ever since then the streak has taken on a life of its own and been something to look forward to every year. It seems so easy to write yet the booking has been some of the most uncreative in recent Mania years.
I’ll start with 28 against Triple H. The whole idea behind that match was absurd. The Undertaker won yet it was Taker seeking the rematch for some kind of “revenge.” I am still not clear what that revenge was. The booking of 29 with an ad-hoc Fatal Four Way on RAW with the winner meeting Undertaker resulted in one of the writers getting fired. I should point out how easy that could have been with Punk putting up his own streak of 400+ days as WWE champion vs. Taker’s streak. That would have been huge! The match that wound up ending the streak wound up so underwhelming going in because the angles were rather dull and predictable. I just can’t understand why it is so hard to book this guy correctly at Mania.
Now we are here a year after the streak and it appears we are heading towards a Wyatt vs. Undertaker match. That match makes zero sense for one reason. If Undertaker is coming back, why in the world wouldn’t he want to avenge his streak? Is he scared of Brock? Does he know he can’t beat Brock? Have you ever heard an interview with a losing team or player in a championship game who says his or her goal is anything but getting back to the championship next year? While the streak is not necessarily a championship, the idea of avenging it is the same in my opinion.
I have written for a year that Taker vs. Lesnar 2 at Mania 31 could be absolutely huge. Like Rock vs. Cena at 28, the match and angle has been promoted for a whole year, more if you go back to pre-30 promos. Undertaker coming back to silence Heyman’s obnoxious mocking and end the reign of terror of Lesnar writes itself. Who wouldn’t pay $10 to watch Undertaker shut Heyman up once and for all about “21 and 1″? Who wouldn’t root for the Undertaker to get his win back and stop the beast in his tracks?
The angle was so easy to write that it’s mind boggling it wasn’t done. Have Taker start messing with Lesnar with the lights going down, etc back in November. The Undertaker appears and wants his rematch which Heyman and Lesnar decline out of fear because we all know that the Undertaker has nothing to lose at this point. The Undertaker enters the Royal Rumble as a mystery entrant and wins his title match. The match is made with the caveat of Taker having to retire if he loses the match. He can either win the title and drop it on RAW the next day or a month later, retire with it, or lose the match and retire gracefully. You could also have Taker screw Lesnar out of the title with Brock demanding the match against Heyman’s wishes. It’s not rocket science.
But no, the Undertaker will instead rise from the dead to answer some random challenge from a guy who most see as an upper-mid carder. I have never been a big proponent of the Sting match but hell, if he’s coming back a match with Sting would make more sense than this one. It makes less sense than a Lesnar rematch but more sense than anything else. This one makes Undertaker look more like a coward picking a fight with a lower card guy than the legendary tough guy he has been portrayed to be.
While I understand that Vince McMahon thinks his fans have short memories, nobody is forgetting about the loss at 30, especially when we have been reminded of it for a whole year. It will be nice to see the Undertaker back but at this point I’d rather let sleeping dogs lie. Keep him on the sidelines until you have something worthwhile. That match is not Bray Wyatt.
This week’s WWE SmackDown episode opens with the Usos, Los Matadores, the Ascension, Slater-Gator and the Miz & Damien Mizdow in a locker room with Kane. He’s talking about some kind of match being about the luck of the draw (my feed likely missed the first part; I’m guessing we’re looking at some kind of tag team turmoil match for tonight). He says the matches are chosen at random, but it’s certain that the turmoil match (yep) will start with Roman Reigns and Daniel Bryan teaming together. The Big Show steps in and tells these guys this is their chance to prove who is the dominant team in WWE, to grab the bull by the horns. El Torito flips out at this comment, so the Matadores grab him by the horns. Kane says anyone can win tonight. Miz/Mizdow could be back in the title hunt. The Ascension are young bucks looking to make a name for themselves. Slater-Gator have reinvented themselves. The Usos…well, all they have to do is prove they are the champs. All of these men have the opportunity to make an impact, so let’s get out there! The teams shove each other a bit before leaving the area.
I guess there’s no love for the Masters of the WWE Universe or Gold & Stardust in the division this week.
MATCH 1: BRAY WYATT VS. R-TRUTH
Wyatt shoves Truth to the corner right away and goes for a punch. Truth blocks, hits a few of his own, hits a kick off the ropes and an uppercut before Wyatt puts him down with an uppercut of his own. Wyatt chokes Truth over the middle rope, then nails a straight right and a knee to the back. Wyatt chops Truth against the ropes, then hits another uppercut. Truth puts on the brakes off an Irish whip, does some dancing and suckers Wyatt into a low bridge. Wyatt is back up on the apron, and Truth puts him down with a hotshot. Truth heads out to the apron, and the two trade blows before Wyatt snaps Truth down onto the apron with an arm wringer. Wyatt drags Truth to the ring post, places his head against it and blasts him with a right to the side of the head. Back in the ring, Wyatt hits a sit-down splash out of the corner, then drags Truth to the middle for a trapezius claw. He turns it into a rear chinlock as Truth tries to fight out. Wyatt hits a kneelift and sends Truth into the ropes. Truth goes for a sunset flip and gets blocked. Wyatt tries for another sit-down splash and misses. Back up. Truth hits a jumping side kick. He follows up with an elbow in the corner, ducks a clothesline and connects with the Lie Detector for 2. He goes for the axe kick, misses and hits a jawbreaker. It’s all for naught, however, as Wyatt turns around and drops Truth with a clothesline. Wyatt does the crab walk, spins over and lays Truth out with Sister Abigail for 3.
WINNER: BRAY WYATT.
MATCH 2: SUMMER RAE VS. PAIGE
The Bella Twins are on commentary, so my feed goes on mute. The two lock up, and Paige hits a snapmare into a pin for 1. She then hits an armdrag for another 1. Rae comes back with a roll-up for 1, and Paige responds with a big side kick and a headbutt for 2. Rae misses a roundhouse, and Paige hits a mule kick. In the corner, Paige hits a series of back elbows, then screams at the Bellas before pulling Rae to the apron for some kneelifts over the middle rope. Back in the ring, Rae connects with a roundhouse for 2, then hits a few weak punches and attempts to apply an Indian deathlock. She shoves her free foot into Paige’s chin, turning the move into a pin for 2. Paige reverses into a roll-up for 2. Rae comes back with a roll-up into some mounted punches, then does god knows what before sending Paige into the ropes. Paige comes back with a boot and a trio of short-arm clotheslines. She hits a dropkick off the ropes, ducks a clothesline and hits a back kick to the face before locking in the PTO for the submission win.
After the match, Nikki does what she does best-holds the Divas title over her head while making stupid faces.
We get a promo for Sheamus, who is set to make his return soon. That is followed by a blurb about Rikishi, who is the newest inductee into the WWE Hall of Fame.
MATCH 3: FANDANGO (W/ROSA MENDES) VS. ADAM ROSE (W/THE EXOTIC EXPRESS)
Rose comes out and goes for the trust fall bit again, but then decides no and orders all of the Rosebuds to back off. The bell sounds, and Rose drops to the outside to lecture the Rosebuds. Fandango grabs him by the hair, but Rose breaks it with a hotshot. Back in the ring, he throws Fandango to the corner, then hits a short-arm clothesline. Rose hits a European uppercut, then stomps Fandango down in the corner. Rose hits a snap suplex for 2, then applies a bodyscissors. Fandango falls back into a pin for 2, so Rose breaks the hold and applies a sleeper. Fandango counters with a back suplex, then snaps off a few left jabs and a pair of clotheslines. Rose comes back with a boot off the ropes, but then runs into a powerslam. Fandango goes up top for the Last Dance, hits it and gets 3.
One of the Rosebuds checks on Rose after the match, so Rose shoves him down and hits another one with a forearm to the face before storming off to the back.
MATCH 4-TAG TEAM TURMOIL MATCH; PARTICIPANTS: DANIEL BRYAN & ROMAN REIGNS, THE MIZ & DAMIEN MIZDOW, WWE TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS THE USOS (JEY & JIMMY), LOS MATADORES (DIEGO & FERNANDO, W/EL TORITO), SLATER-GATOR (TITUS O’NEIL & HEATH SLATER), THE ASCENSION (KONNOR & VIKTOR), AND THE BIG SHOW & KANE
Bryan/Reigns and Miz/Mizdow are the starting teams. Bryan and Miz lock up, with Bryan quickly turning it into a snapmare and hitting a kick to the back. He tags out to Reigns, who throws Miz to the corner for some rights. Reigns talks some trash to Bryan before throwing Miz down, then tags Bryan in. The fans want Mizdow, and surprisingly, he’s tagged in. He locks up with Bryan, and Bryan sends him into the ropes for a kitchen sink. Back up, Mizdow ducks a clothesline and hits the Reality Check. He goes for a corner charge, but Miz stops it and tags himself in. Miz misses a clothesline, and Bryan nails him with a corner dropkick. Bryan goes for it again, but Reigns tags himself instead. Reigns nails Miz with the Superman Punch and calls for the spear, but Bryan tags himself in. He nails Miz with the running knee and gets 3.
Miz/Mizdow are eliminated.
Team #3 is the Usos. Bryan puts a side headlock on Jey, then turns it into a schoolboy for 2. They lock up, and Jey applies an arm wringer, but Bryan counters into an armdrag, then turns that into an armbar before stomping the arm. Jey applies a waistlock, but Bryan counters with an armbar into a wringer. Jimmy makes a blind tag, and the Usos hit a pair of back elbows and a double elbow drop for 2. Reigns tries to talk Bryan into tagging him out as Michael Cole mentions, I think for the first time ever, that Reigns is a cousin of the Usos. Bryan begrudgingly makes a tag and now Reigns locks up with Jimmy. Jimmy applies a side headlock, but Reigns breaks free and hits a shoulder off the ropes. Jey tags in and applies a side headlock before suffering the same fate as his brother moments before. Reigns and Jey lock up once more, and Jey goes back to the headlock. Jimmy makes a blind tag as Jey hits a shoulder off the ropes. Reigns doesn’t go down until Jimmy comes flying off the middle rope with a shoulderblock. The Usos then clothesline Reigns to the floor and call for the dive, but Reigns sees it coming and circles to his corner, exchanging some words with Bryan in the process. Bryan offers a tag, and Reigns takes it. Bryan applies a waistlock on Jimmy, then takes him down before applying an Indian deathlock. He breaks his own hold to pelt Jimmy with rights and a jumping knee. Jimmy comes back with a chop, and now the two are trading blows until Bryan fires up the kicks in the corner. He drapes one of Jimmy’s legs over the middle rope and hits it with a running dropkick. Bryan nails a European uppercut, and Jimmy comes back with a few shots of his own. He shoves Bryan into the corner, where Jey makes the tag and follows up with a big splash for 2. Jey shoves Bryan to the corner for a shoulder thrust and tags in Jimmy, who comes off the top with an elbow to the shoulder. Jey tags in and does the same. Jimmy tags back in, but Bryan slides to the floor before the third one can connect. Now, Reigns is jaw-jacking with Bryan, reversing the roles from a few minutes ago. Commercials.
Back from the break, Reigns and Jimmy are legal, with Reigns hitting a waistlock takedown. Reigns hits a suplex, and Bryan tags himself in. Bryan hits Jimmy with a European uppercut, makes fun of Reigns’ suplex and hits a snap suplex of his own for 2. He hits another European uppercut, then nails some kicks in the corner. Jimmy comes back and shoves Bryan to his corner to tag in Jey, who hits Bryan with the running hip attack for 2. Jey applies a 3/4-nelson and turns it into a modified wristlock. Bryan snaps him off, but then runs into a back elbow. Jey drags Bryan to the corner and tags in Jimmy, who comes off the ropes with a flying headbutt for 2. He goes back to the arm, but Bryan fights out with punches. Jimmy stops that with a headbutt, then lights Bryan up in the corner with a chop. Bryan flips off a corner whip, ducks a clothesline and hits one of his own. Bryan pulls Jimmy to his corner for a tag, and Reigns accepts. He hits a snapmare on Jimmy, then takes him down with a low running boot for 2. Reigns applies a rear chinlock now, but Jimmy is fighting his way out. He hits Reigns with an uppercut, then hits a kick off the ropes, but Reigns shakes it off and takes him down with a clothesline. Bryan tags in and drives his knee into Jimmy’s face before hitting yet another European uppercut. Bryan misses a corner dropkick, and Jey makes the tag. He charges into the corner, and Bryan sidesteps him, causing him to collide with the ring post and then hit the floor. Bryan baseball slides Jimmy on the floor, then proceeds to assault Jey against the barricade. Reigns doesn’t like what he sees and pulls Bryan off, screaming that Jey is hurt and that Bryan can’t win outside the ring. Bryan tells him not to get in his face and this is how he wins. Reigns tells him to do it int he ring as we go to commercials.
Back from the break, Bryan is still in control of Jey, holding him in a hammerlock. Jey elbows his way out, then runs into a dropkick. Bryan taunts Reigns with the “Yes!” chant, then covers Jey for 2. He looks for a tag from Reigns off an arm wringer, but Reigns isn’t having it. Bryan folds Jey’s arm in an awkward way, then hits a butterfly driver into an armbar. Jey quickly gets his feet on the ropes to break the hold, so Bryan picks him up for another European uppercut. He goes back to an armlock, but Jey counters with a Samoan drop. Jimmy makes the tag and hits Bryan with a pair of clotheslines, a superkick, a drop-down uppercut and a full-nelson bomb that sends Bryan to the corner. Bryan avoids the hip attack by backdropping Jimmy, but Jimmy makes the tag before landing on the apron, and Jey comes off the top with a cross-body for 2 as Reigns breaks it up. Jimmy gets in Reigns’ face and then hits an uppercut. Reigns throws him to the corner, misses a charge, blocks a kick, then gets hit with a reverse dragon whip, setting him up for the hip attack. Reigns rolls tot he floor to avoid the move, and Bryan comes up with a corner dropkick on Jimmy, sending him to the apron, in perfect place for Reigns’ apron dropkick. Jey takes Reigns out with a suicide dive, so Bryan does the same to Jey. Jimmy rolls back in for a dive of his own, but Reigns flies into the ring with a Superman Punch. Jey then puts Reigns down with a superkick before Bryan comes off the top. Jey sees him coming and meets him with a superkick. He goes for the Samoan Splash, but Bryan blocks it with his knees and rolls the move right into the Yes! Lock for the submission win.
The Usos are eliminated as Reigns has to pry Bryan off his cousin. Reigns screams at Bryan that Jey tapped and he needed to break the hold. Bryan talks some trash of his own. Commercials.
Another video for Sheamus.
Back from the break, Reigns and Bryan are still arguing as team #4 comes out, that being Los Matadores. Bryan gets hit with an armdrag by Diego, then comes back with an arm wringer. Diego ducks a clothesline and hits a spinning headscissors that sends him to the corner. Diego stomps him down in the corner, but Bryan comes back with a kitchen sink off the ropes. Bryan goes for a surfboard, then turns it into a dragon sleeper combo. Diego punches his way out, so Bryan hits him with a European uppercut. Diego avoids a kick and trips Bryan into the middle rope before hitting a sit-down splash across Bryan’s back. Up top, Bryan crotches Diego, then climbs up for a butterfly suplex, right out of William Regal’s playbook. Bryan applies the Yes! Lock, and Los Matadores are done.
Los Matadores are eliminated.
Team #5 is Slater-Gator. Slater got a haircut. Reigns tags himself in, to Bryan’s chagrin. Reigns immediately drops Slater with a right, then hits a misdirection flying clothesline. He knocks Titus off the apron, hits Slater with a corner splash and a fireman’s carry into a flapjack. Titus tries to come back in, so Reigns drops him with a Superman Punch. Slater eats a spear and Reigns gets 3 as he stares at Bryan.
Slater-Gator are eliminated. Commercials.
Back from the break, and team #6 is on their way out, that being the Ascension. Bryan is back in for his team, starting off with Viktor. The two lock up, and Viktor breaks it with a straight right. He throws Bryan to the corner for an assault, but Bryan fights his way out with kicks and elbows. He applies a side headlock, goes into a crisscross, and gets low-bridged by Konnor. The Ascension double-team Bryan on the outside until Reigns gets involved. He fights them off for a minute, but the Ascension quickly overwhelm him, then toss him over the announce desk. They turn their attention back to Bryan, beating him down against the barricade before throwing him into the ring post. Reigns then meets the same fate before Bryan is rolled back into the ring. The referee appears to have ended this match, but the Ascension don’t care and hit Bryan with the Fall of Man.
The Ascension are eliminated.
The Ascension continue their assault, rolling Reigns into the ring as another referee comes down to try to restore order. The rest of the refs come down, and they are finally able to hold the Ascension back as the Big Show’s music hits.
Looks like we have a team #7, and it’s Show/Kane. Commercials.
Back from (hopefully) the last break, a limping Reigns is starting with Kane. Kane immediately goes on the attack, stomping Reigns down for 1. Kane applies a side headlock, then hits a shoulder off the ropes for 2 before applying a rear chinlock that he turns into a hammerlock. Reigns elbows out, ducks a clothesline and hits a flying one of his own. Bryan tags in and fires up the Yes! Kicks, but misses the Buzzsaw and runs into a big boot. Show tags in, drops to the floor and drags Bryan to the apron for a chop to the chest. He pulls Bryan to the floor and throws him into the ring post, then gorilla presses him back into the ring. Show stands on Bryan’s hand, then hits a bodyslam. Show casually pushes Bryan with his foot, then kicks him in the ribs. Kane tags in as Show stands on Bryan’s face. Kane stomps Bryan down in the corner, then sends him into the adjacent corner for a splash before hitting a sidewalk slam for 2. Bryan gets thrown to the heel corner, where he tries to fight his way out. Kane goozles him, but Bryan starts kicking him in the legs. Kane shoves Bryan into the ropes, and into Show in the process. Show yells at Kane for not paying attention before Kane tags out. They pick Bryan up and hit him with a double back elbow. Show taunts Reigns on the apron as Reigns looks for a tag. Kane lectures Show about focusing on business, so Show picks Bryan up for the chokeslam. Bryan kicks his way out once more and hits a DDT. Bryan crawls for the tag as Show is slow to get up. He nearly makes it, but Show splashes him across the back to stop the tag and get a 2-count. Kane and Show continue to argue as Show picks Bryan up by the neck for a headbutt. Kane tells Show to finish Bryan, but Show says he’s having fun and taking care of his job. Show goes up for Vader Bomb, but Kane tags in. He tells Show not to take any risks and cause him this match. Kane goes to pick up Bryan, but Bryan pulls him down into the Yes! Lock. Show breaks it up after a moment, causing Reigns to come in. As the ref is distracted, Show pulls Kane to his corner to make the tag. Bryan crawls for the tag as Show and Kane continue to argue. Show puts Bryan down with a headbutt, then knocks Reigns off the apron with an elbow. Show calls for the chokeslam, but Bryan reverses into the Yes! Lock once more. Kane breaks it up with a boot this time and continues to berate Show. Show tells Kane to get out of his face, and that this isn’t all about him. Show turns his back on Kane, and Kane turns him back around, only to have Show blast him with the Knockout Punch. Reigns comes in and takes Show down with a spear as Bryan pulls himself up in the corner. He calls for the running knee, hits it and gets 3.
WINNERS: DANIEL BRYAN AND ROMAN REIGNS.
Bryan celebrates the win before both he and Reigns stare up at the big Wrestlemania sign. Reigns helps Bryan to his feet, and they nod at each other out of respect.