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Chris Jericho Talks WWE Attitude Era and Bray Wyatt

October 23, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Chris Jericho is currently making the rounds promoting his latest autobiography and continues to be one of the most quotable wrestlers in regards to media. Jericho hit on a few interesting topics in a recent interview including some fascinating insight into a legendary era.

The WWE Attitude Era has taken on a life of its own in recent years. It is portrayed by the WWE as their golden years and fans of that era often ask for it to come back. Jericho is a guy that was a big part of the Attitude Era, jumping to the WWE while the era was at its hottest. Which is why it will probably surprise you to hear that Jericho prefers this current era over the Attitude Era.

“When you think of another time like ECW or the Attitude Era, it’s like, “Ah, those were the good old days.” But having actually lived through it, there was a lot of great stuff, but there was a lot of stuff that sucked, too. Mae Young gave birth to a hand in the Attitude Era. Is that really what you want to remember about wrestling? I thought that was one of the dumbest things.
There were a lot of great characters and a lot of great wresting, so I think you always look back fondly. I live in the now and I think the product is the best it’s ever been because it’s now.

It’s where we’re at in 2014, and I always look to the future. There were good moments in the past and there were bad moments. There’s going to be good moments in the future and bad moments, but I think it’s always best to look forward if you want to continue to improve yourself and the product, and improve what people are seeing.”

I couldn’t agree more with Jericho. I think the Attitude Era is highly overrated, especially when you look back at some of the ridiculous gimmicks and angles that took place during that time period. Jericho has said in other interviews that the new era is superior to the Attitude Era and while I think that is a bit of an overstatement, I certainly see his point.

Jericho is also a guy who has been around the WWE block a few times. This experience gives Jericho a unique perspective when it comes to picking talent. According to Jericho, being a successful WWE superstar is a lot more than just being a great worker.

“Personality and character, they’re the only things I care about. Honestly, I don’t really pay any attention to wrestling skills because they don’t matter. There are a lot of similarities between music and wrestling, because they’re all about connecting with the crowd. What kind of charisma you have. What kind of personality you have. They’re so much more important than whether you can do a shredding guitar solo or a triple-jump moonsault.

It’s show business through and through, so when you look at a guy like Bray Wyatt, I loved his character. He can work and he’s a good wrestler and all that sort of stuff, but it’s the character that really makes it, and if you see something like that that’s so different and so unique and riveting, it’s a no-brainer. That’s what I love about the business, the characters and showmanship elements.”

Jericho is very high on Bray Wyatt yet unfortunately it appears Wyatt has somewhat disconnected from the WWE Universe. I have always found Wyatt’s character a bit one-dimensional so I’ll have to disagree a bit on Y2J’s analysis of young Bray. Yet the criteria he lists behind a successful superstar seems spot on.

Check out the rest of the interview over at Rolling Stone for some fun road stories and more from the former undisputed champion.

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Chris Jericho Talks Dean Ambrose, WWE Run, and Vince McMahon

October 20, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Chris Jericho may gone from WWE rings but he has not left the WWE Universe. The former undisputed champion is making the media rounds promoting his new book and has some interesting thoughts on his feud with Bray Wyatt, Vince McMahon, and more.

Jericho was a recent guest on Turnbuckle Weekly with Chuck Carroll. He made a great appearance as usual in promotion of his new book “The Best In The World At What I Have No Idea”. Jericho was asked about his recent run in the WWE as well as past relationships with key WWE personnel and offered up some interesting insight as expected.

Jericho was asked about earning Vince McMahon’s respect and had this to say about the boss man.

“Once you gain that respect from Vince he expects it and wants that feedback. He’s surrounded by a lot of ‘yes men’ that don’t want to get into debates. When I’m questioning him, it’s never disrespectfully. I never say this is a stupid idea or you’re an idiot or a moron, because that’s not the way you get things done. I will say, “Vince, I think we can do this better” or “what is it you want from this, because I don’t understand it?” Or sometimes, it’s just blatantly “no, this is the way we’re doing it because I’m the boss and you’re not” and you have to accept that and respect that as well.

Things aren’t always rosy with the boss. Jericho and McMahon have been at odds several times over the course of his long WWE run.

Yes, there is a lot of confrontations with Vince, but that’s because there’s a mutual respect. And some of them get out of control,” he said. “It’s only because both of us respect each other, trust each other, and believe each other. It doesn’t mean I’m always going to like the things he does or the things he wants to do. And it doesn’t mean that he’s going to like the things that I do and the way that I act and react to things either.

Jericho appeared on my good buddy Brian Fritz’s Between the Ropes podcast recently as well. Jericho offered up some great analysis on his recent WWE run.

The Bray Wyatt cage match in Baltimore and then the Randy Orton – Night of Champions match in Nashville I thought were two…whatever a five star match is. Two really really really good matches that I would put on my list of all-time favorites. And that was good to know because as the years go by, I feel just as good as I ever did. When I go back I’m mentally prepared and I think I still work up to a level I set for myself. But when you go out there and actually do some of those things and actually get the feedback from the live audience that you know you can get and from the critics. The fact that my last match was the best match on the pay-per-view against Randy Orton, I take great pride in that. And if I never work again, I know I’ll always have that. It’s still cool to contribute at the highest level and the day — and Brian, I’m not exaggerating about this — the day I feel I can’t compete at the highest level I set for myself and can’t steal the show, I will not do it again. Throw it on the record, I’m the one guy who can say that. I’m sure Shawn Michaels could say that too. You will not see me in the ring again as a parody of myself or anything other than the absolute best and can go toe-to-toe with anybody else on the roster.

Finally, a veteran like Jericho knows good talent when he sees it. He told Brian about an up and coming WWE star that he thinks is the best bet to be WWE’s franchise player of the future.

I saw Dean when he first started and there was something different about him. He has that Jeff Hardy ‘X’ factor. There’s just something about him that you can’t push on somebody. You can teach them how to take a bump, give them a look, give them wins but certain guys have a certain something about them that you know is going to take them to the next level no matter what. Dean definitely has that and in my opinion – I’m not the god of everything but I have a pretty good track record of picking guys – I think he’s the closest that they have right now to being the next face of the WWE. I don’t think that’s as important now with the Network and less emphasis on pay-per-views and that sort of thing. But as far as a guy who can come in there as the top babyface, I think Dean’s your best best right now.
Don’t let Roman Reigns hear that.

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Triple H tells the story of the real dawn of the WWE ‘Attitude Era’ on ‘Talk is Jericho’

September 03, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

The WWE Network has been reliving the Attitude Era of the federation for the last few weeks. While the Attitude Era might not be a favorite time among some fans, those years of curse words, “puppies” and almost Rated R programming are probably the most profitable for federation.

Triple H was a major force during the Attitude Era. As part of DX, Triple H led the assault on WCW which eventually led to WWE winning the ratings war. In the ring, Triple H’s feuds and matches against The Rock, Undertaker and Stone Cold Steve Austin sold out arenas and headlined pay-per-views. For a long time, Triple H lived up to his nickname. He was, indeed, the Game.

Triple H’s role in the company has changed dramatically since the days of riding a tank to a WCW arena and telling fans to suck it. Now on the sidelines, but still in the story lines, Triple H is the Executive Vice President, Talent, Live Events & Creative in the WWE. He’s responsible for the success of NXT and was instrumental in WWE’s global presence in the last few years.

On the day of Summerslam 2014, Triple H sat down for a rare interview with Chris Jericho on his Talk Is Jericho podcast. I’m calling this interview rare because this isn’t an interview with Triple H of The Authority or Triple H as a member of WWE management. This is a discussion with Paul Levesque and an exploration into his early days in the business, his true passion for the sport, and his love of the WWE.

In part one of the two part interview, Jericho asks Triple H about his early days in the WWE and how he became involved with The Clique.  Jericho addressed the widely held belief that The Clique ran the show in the days prior to the Attitude Era. Triple H came clean about the faction, and how they did have some pull, but that everyone in the WWE at the time had Vince’s ear because that’s just how Vince operates.

Triple H did share an interesting story about The Clique and the moment in an Indianapolis hotel room that he feels might be the real dawning of the Attitude Era.

“I was in the room, even though I was the new guy and not saying anything, but I was in the room the times they (the Clique) put Bam Bam Bigelow over. Personally, did they all get along, no. There was a moment in time, and everyone talks about this meeting that took place in Indianapolis, where Kevin and Scott were really upset about something. It was the creative direction of something. And Scott was ready to quit. But it was about blow up, and I don’t even remember what it was, but Vince clearly thought they had a point. To the point where he got Jerry Brisco and they flew out to Indianapolis. He said ‘you guy stay there, we’re going to fly out to Indianapolis, and we’re going to sit in a room and go through all this. I remember what them saying ‘clearly the company needs a change of direction, and I want opinions.’

So, I went to just say hello to Vince and Jerry and just leave. Even though we did have a relationship. We would talk after my matches. So those guys so up and I said hi to Vince and hello to Jerry and turned to leave and Vince goes ‘where you going?’ and I said ‘this isn’t my place to be here’ and he said ‘oh no, you’re in this now.’ So I sat down. And Vince takes a roster out and hands it to each of us and goes ‘if this was your team, you’re making a team, who would you want on your team?’ and ‘what do you think is wrong with the product. Not saying we’re going to do it. I just want your opinions.’”

That’s just one of those things I distinctly remember. I remember Bam Bam being very vocal against us, like, “those guys got to go” and I remember every single person in the room had Bam Bam on his roster. It was like all of us said ‘listen, whether we get along with him or not doesn’t matter, the guy can go, and he’s a top guy, and he should be on the team. It was all business. In my mind, to me, and I’m not saying we laid claim to any of it, but that’s the first spark of the Attitude Era. It was the first conversation where wrestling talking about reality. Like, why do we have Doink the Clown?”

Triple H goes on to discuss how everyone asked why they needed characters, and camp, and why guys couldn’t just be who they really are in the ring.

The second part of the interview airs this Friday.
LINK — http://podcastone.com/Talk-Is-Jericho

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Batista Talks Failed WWE Run, Daniel Bryan Rumors and WrestleMania 30

September 02, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

I can’t imagine anyone as frustrated with the WWE in 2014 as Batista. His return at another time would have been big, yet timing wasn’t on his side this past January. Batista spoke on his frustrating six-month run to Chris Jericho on a recent podcast.

Put yourself in Batista’s skinny jeans for a second. Here is a guy that left the WWE at the top of his game and had a superstar run for several years before leaving for movies. Anyone else in that position would have been poised for a big return. That didn’t happen. Batista’s run and subsequent run will go down as one of the most disappointing in WWE history and he isn’t happy about it.

Batista is currently a star in the gigantic movie smash, “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Life is much better for Big Dave in Hollywood as opposed to the WWE where he received loud “Boo-tista” chants from large crowds. Batista has now had a couple of months to shake it off, but that doesn’t mean he has forgotten it.

Daniel Bryan got red hot as Batista returned. The fans saw Batista is an obstacle in front of Bryan’s ascension. Batista was originally scheduled to win the WWE title at WrestleMania. When plans changed to Bryan he says he was okay with that. What he wasn’t okay with is how the 24 hours between Mania and the following RAW went down.

This is what I was bent out of shape about. I loved the match and we put him over in the best way. I mean, you couldn’t… we threw out all the bells and whistles, everything up to the point of me tapping out. But the next night he came back and they didn’t want him selling.
It wasn’t his fault, Daniel’s an incredible worker, he knows what he’s doing, he totally gets it. But they didn’t want him to come back selling, which drove me nuts, man, because we beat the hell out of the guy. The guy is getting pulled off on a stretcher, he gets off the stretcher, comes back and wins but is somehow mysteriously is all healed up the next night. But they didn’t want him selling and even at the end of the night we ended up giving him a bunch of finishes but he was right back up.

That kind of stuff irks me to no end, man. It’s crap to me. It’s garbage. That’s not what we know, man.”
He has a very valid point whether you like him or not. Quite frankly what he proposes here about Bryan selling those injuries would have helped everyone. Bryan would have seemed tougher to fans who saw this guy push through broken bones and sore body parts to win the title, and Batista and Randy Orton are kept strong. I can’t disagree with what he is saying at all here.

Batista also addressed the rumor that he refused to put Daniel Bryan over at Payback in what some reported was the planned main-event.

It’s like, what else can I do, man? I was still getting grief from a lot of fans. There was even some rumor got started that I wouldn’t put Daniel Bryan over over the next PPV and they were pissed at me about that. ‘Who do you think you are?’ And I was like, ‘I just tapped out to the guy at WrestleMania, are you kidding me?!?‘”

I blogged extensively about what went wrong with Batista’s comeback. I said numerous times he should have returned as a heel. Many people forget how awesome his heel run was that capped off his last WWE tour of duty. On top of that you had the Daniel Bryan factor and anyone could have seen that Batista wasn’t the hero fans were looking for. Well anyone but Vince McMahon and Triple H.

They thought it would be better if they advertised it (his return), not sure if they thought more people would tune in. That’s why I actually made my comeback the week before in Dayton, Ohio. Ha ha ha, that’s where you want to make your return. (Sarcastically) ‘I want to make my big comeback in Dayton, Ohio’. They could have cared less, they cheered for like two minutes.

It was just bad right off the bat. They had me coming back… ‘so, we want you to come out and do this thing with Hunter and Steph and Randy’ and I was like, ‘it’s my first night back, you can’t give me five minutes in the ring by myself, me and the fans’?

Yeah, and I told them from the beginning (bringing me back as a babyface) was not going to work. ‘Oh, yeah, they miss you, they miss you, they love you’. I was like, ‘no, that’s going to last for like 30 seconds. They want to hate me and I’m good at that, you know, I’m good at being the guy they want to hate.’ It was a struggle creatively, like right off the bat. It went on for a while and then they finally started working with me a little bit.”

One thing I can say about Big Dave in the way assessed his run is that the guy has a great sense of self-awareness. I can almost guarantee you that most guys in Batista’s position would not have been this honest on such a failed run. Maybe that changes next time he comes back? Maybe he doesn’t come back? All I know is that I still think there is money in him yet it’s up to the WWE to use him right and at this point I have no confidence that it will happen.

The entire interview is worth a listen to so check it out over at Podcast One.

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Bray Wyatt vs. Chris Jericho is ‘Best for Business’

July 17, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

This Sunday at Battleground, for the very first time, Bray Wyatt gets in the ring with Chris Jericho. From the moment it started I got the feeling that this is exactly what Bray Wyatt needs right now.

Since the day Wyatt’s promos began showing up on Monday Night Raw, I knew he had the makings of something special. A cult leader that seemed to be a cross between The Undertaker and Mankind, Wyatt had a look and a voice that could change the landscape of the WWE. The more we saw of Bray, the more I was sure he could be a major player in the future. He tells a story in the squared circle like no one else currently on the roster. He uses creepy movements that fit his character and it’s always fun watching a big guy who can move in the ring.

Bray was quickly involved with some of the biggest names the company had to offer. I’m never excited when Kane is involved in a feud, but a ‘Ring of Fire match’ was a perfect fit for Bray’s first pay-per-view. Wyatt would then get involved with Daniel Bryan in what was a great program. Personally, I thought it could have gone on a bit longer but that was the beginning of Bray’s greatness and of course, Bryan would sky rocket after that. Things moved very quickly for the ‘Eater of Worlds’.

When it looked as though Bray had targeted John Cena, I was really excited. No chance a program with Cena could hurt, right? Things started off with a singles match at WrestleMania 30. It was hard to believe that Bray would be getting a match with the company’s top star so quickly. It was a huge opportunity for Cena to put a future star over at the grandest stage of them all, but it didn’t happen. His program with Cena had moments of greatness but the bottom line is that Cena took two of three against Bray. As amazing as Bray’s promos were throughout the program, losing to Cena at Mania is all I will really remember.

What was WWE thinking? My guess is that they thought they could put Wyatt over despite losing to the face of the company. Cena would have lost nothing if he put Bray over at Mania, but I’m sure his pride got in the way. It’s always risky to try and advance the career of a potential star through losing, and I was worried that they may have ruined Bray. But thanks to the return of ‘The Best In The World At What He Does’, things are back on the way up.

The Monday Night Raw following ‘Money in the Bank’, Chris Jericho made his long awaited return to WWE. It didn’t take long for The Wyatt Family to attack Y2J starting the storyline that would put Bray back on track. I don’t have an answer yet but this already feels better than Bray’s entire feud with Cena. Wyatt’s promos have the same general theme but they feel more authentic with Y2J. Of course Jericho brings a different dimension than Cena. It seems as though Jericho has no problem ‘getting crazy’ in a fight with Bray. I’m really optimistic because of Jericho’s recent track record with putting up-and-comers over on the big stage. He clearly thrives in this role and sees the importance of building the young talent. Jericho is phenomenal on the mic and is great in the ring. Right now, he’s the perfect dance partner for Bray.

Of course this could all change if Jericho defeats Bray on Sunday.

Steven Grossi is a digital video producer who likes to write a little. He’s a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, hardcore MMA fan and a total wrestling nerd. He usually has a strong opinion on anything combat sports related so give him a follow on twitter @GrossiMMA.

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Bray Wyatt Keeps His Momentum Going with Chris Jericho Feud

July 09, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Bray Wyatt likes to tell everyone he’s got the whole world in his hands. That may not be the case, but it is safe to say that Wyatt has got the WWE management in his hands.

He is going to stay at or near the top of the company’s heel hierarchy for at least the foreseeable future. How else can you explain the apparent feud developing between Wyatt and Chris Jericho?

The sinister Wyatt just finished a star-making feud with John Cena that culminated with Cena beating him in a Last Man Standing Match at Payback. If you take a look at Cena’s past feuds with new characters, the momentum they generated during that feud came to a dead stop once the feud ended, and they found themselves way back down in the midcard (see Sheamus or Wade Barrett) or a comedy act (Lord Tensai / Sweet T). It took a considerable amount of time before Sheamus made his way back to the top tier of WWE Superstars, while Barrett has battled injuries and bad booking to even get a sniff at the top of the midcard.

So why is Bray Wyatt different? He just as easily could have found himself back at the end of the line waiting for the next break to come along. How come that didn’t happen this time?

Easy. Unlike the others, Wyatt built a relationship with the WWE Universe that did not end with the end of the Cena feud.

WWE management recognized that. They knew that kicking Wyatt back down the ladder was not going to set well with the WWE Universe. Wyatt is the closest thing WWE has right now to a car wreck, and we all know how people never can seem to turn away from a car wreck.

So once the Cena-Wyatt storyline came to its natural conclusion, WWE brought in hired-gun Jericho to be Wyatt’s next sparring partner.

Jericho is recognized as one of the best star makers in WWE. Since he has been to the top of the mountain so many times in his career, Y2J can afford to come in as needed and help young stars get over with the crowd. In this instance, he has been asked to keep Wyatt’s momentum going.

Judging by the beatdown he and his Wyatt Family minions gave Jericho Monday night, all parties seem to be looking forward to the next few weeks.

Hopefully, WWE Creative will develop a story for the Jericho-Wyatt feud that will be as entertaining as the Cena-Wyatt story was. Both Jericho and Wyatt have reputations as masters of mind games, so this feud stands the chance of becoming the Olympics of mind games.

Bill Atkinson is a frequent contributor to Camel Clutch Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @BAtkinson1963.

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Chris Jericho Is Exactly What The WWE Needed

July 02, 2014 By: Category: Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

The wrestling world is still buzzing about the return of Chris Jericho. The former WWE champion returned on Monday Night RAW in a rare surprise moment. Jericho’s return couldn’t have come at a better time for WWE fans.

Jericho has developed one of the most interesting working relationships with Vince McMahon that the Chairman of the Board has ever had. Jericho comes and goes for various time periods at a time, something unheard of years ago. I don’t believe that Vince acquiesced to Jericho because he is such a nice guy. Vince compromised because he needs Jericho and boy could the Genetic Jackhammer use him now.

Jericho is a unique character to the WWE which gives him the rare leverage for this type of schedule. Jericho is a guy established enough to be booked with headliners yet he can also be used to get the mid-card guys over. It’s funny because as important as winning and losing is, Jericho probably loses more than anyone in his position yet he is talented enough to withstand any tarnish that comes along with the stigma.

The WWE is hurting for top, credible, and established babyfaces right now. Sure they have Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose emerging, but John Cena is the only guy in that next tier. CM Punk is not coming back and Daniel Bryan’s future is a constant question. There is nobody credible to get the ascending talent ready for John Cena and the WWE title program. That was of course until Chris Jericho arrived.

Jericho has developed a reputation over the last several years as one of the least selfish guys on the roster. Jericho has done business with guys like Dolph Ziggler and Fandango, helping elevate them to the next level when nobody else could or would. You simply can’t get guys to that next level as effective as needed without someone like Jericho.

The emerging crop of heels had nobody to bridge the gap from bottom to Cena before Jericho. Cesaro, Rusev, Bray Wyatt, and Seth Rollins are three guys that desperately need someone like Jericho. Beyond the wins on paper that Jericho will give them, he will teach them more. There is nobody on the roster right now as seasoned as Jericho. Jericho can teach them intangibles here and there which are priceless on the upswing.

It looks like Jericho’s first program will be with Bray Wyatt. Now with Wyatt I think the objective is a little different. Jericho doesn’t need to get Wyatt ready with a win as Wyatt is actually coming down from Cena. Jericho needs to keep him hot. It’s scary to think what would have been next for Wyatt without Jericho. More important than the win and the heat is the knowledge. The company has a lot invested in Wyatt. Working with Jericho throughout the summer will only increase that investment.

The WWE may not need to be saved right now but assistance is necessary. Y2J is the man for the job and it’s a good thing for all of us he’s back…for now.

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Top Five WWE Money In The Bank Matches

June 26, 2014 By: Category: lists, WWE | Pro Wrestling

The WWE Money in the Bank match has produced some of the most exciting moments of the last ten years. The glorified ladder match features daredevil heroics, extreme punishment, and intense action. Today I look back and celebrate the top five Money in the Bank matches in WWE history.

I don’t think anyone realized in 2005 when the WWE announced the first Money in the Bank match the significance this match would have on wrestling history. Stars were made, history was written, and memories have been cemented forever thanks to this innovative match. With two new matches around the corner I thought today would be a great time to look back and count down the top matches in MITB history. Since we aren’t quite ten years into MITB I went with a top five as opposed to a top ten. Leave a comment if you agree, disagree, or want to mention your favorite Money in the Bank match memory.

Edge defeats Chris Jericho, Shelton Benjamin, Chris Benoit, Christian and Kane – WrestleMania 21

I can’t think of another MITB match that was more exciting than the one at WrestleMania 21. I think the big difference here was that it was the first. The match just had more intensity and crowd emotion than any other due to the fact that nobody knew what to expect. The match was full of crazy spots that fans hadn’t seen before or lumped into one match. It is hard to replicate the element of surprise that the first match had at 21. Spots like the Benoit diving headbutt and Benjamin running up the ladder had fans stunned in amazement at this new kind of match.

Not that this should be part of the criteria but it also had the biggest impact in regards to elevating a star. Edge won and once he cashed in became an established WWE elite superstar for the rest of his career. No other winner has taken as much away from this match as Edge did in 2005.

Mr. Kennedy defeated CM Punk, Edge, Finlay, Jeff Hardy, Matt Hardy, King Booker and Randy Orton – WrestleMania 23

I liked this match a lot and even though it was one of the longer MITB matches, it kept me interested from bell to bell. Edge and Orton bumped up the star presence here while the Hardys brought a ton of excitement to the match with the anticipation alone of what these guys would do in this environment. In terms of MITB moments, the spots between Jeff and Edge were some of the best in MITB history. Jeff’s jump on Edge is arguably the greatest spot in MITB history. What those guys did alone made this match great, yet it was a great effort from all back at 23, and the surprise winner in Kennedy was a nice touch.

CM Punk defeated Shelton Benjamin, Carlito, Chris Jericho, Mr. Kennedy, John Morrison and Montel Vontavious Porter – WrestleMania 24

I was surprised at how much I liked this match when I went back and watched all of the old MITB matches. On paper it looks pretty average but these guys went far beyond anything I expected going into the match. It did get a little spot-crazy at times but that is to be expected in such a match. Shelton Benjamin really stepped it up here and John Morrison was in his element, delivering a moonsault with a ladder in his hand at one point. Matt Hardy’s spectacular 20-foot Twist of Fate remains the highlight of this match for me.

Alberto Del Rio defeated Rey Mysterio, Kofi Kingston, Alex Riley, R-Truth, The Miz, Evan Bourne and Jack Swagger – Money in the Bank 2011

I debated a bit about the four spot here but in the end I went with the RAW MITB match from last year’s memorable show in Chicago. This match delivered on a lot of levels with the guys going out of their way to give fans plenty of breathtaking memories. Between Evan Bourne’s shooting star press 20 feet in the air, The Miz falling off the ladder, Mysterio and Kofi’s double leap, and Rey Mysterio getting unmasked, this was one of the more fun Money in the Bank matches. The hot Chicago crowd certainly didn’t hurt this one from entering the top five either.

CM Punk defeated Shelton Benjamin, Christian, Finlay, Mark Henry, Kane, Kofi Kingston and Montel Vontavious Porter – WrestleMania 25

I struggled quite a bit with the final spot here. I went back and forth between this one, last year’s MITB match, and the SmackDown match from the Chicago 2011 pay per view. In the end, the MITB WrestleMania 25 match was just too good to leave off the list. Shelton Benjamis was the show stealer in this one giving fans some of the best spots of the night in this match. One moment in particular saw Benjamin leap off the ladder placed in the aisle onto his MITB opponents. Watching these MITB matches reminded me how good Benjamin was and had me wondering why he isn’t the WWE today! Kofi also had his moments, one in particular had Kofi deliver a kick through the side of the ladder and climb the ladder while it was closed. Another saw Kofi run up the ladder and fall into a World’s Strongest Slam. Christian also had his moment hitting an Unprettier to Punk off the ladder. This match had a lot of great moments and is often one of the more underrated matches of the MITB series.

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Top 25 WWE Ladder/TLC/Money in the Bank Matches In History

June 19, 2014 By: Category: lists, WWE | Pro Wrestling

These Top-25 lists are picking up steam, so I’ll take the WWE approach of beating a good thing into the ground. With Money in the Bank coming up, it’s a good idea to look back at two decades-plus of WWE’s greatest ladder matches, and figure out what the best of the bunch truly are. There’s no bad matches to be found here; every entry is rewatchable time and time again. With TLC and Money in the Bank upping the ante of the classic ladder match, this list will cover a lot of ground, and no doubt provide a little argument fodder. Enjoy!

(Note: this list only includes matches which ended with the retrieval of a belt, briefcase, etc. As such, the TLC 2012 match with The Shield vs. Ryback and Team Hell No is excluded. Otherwise, it’d have likely been top ten).

25. Chris Jericho vs. Christian – Vacant Intercontinental Title, Ladder Match (Unforgiven, September 12, 2004)

Edge was forced to abdicate the gold after one of too many injuries in his career, so brother/’best friend’ Christian was called in for the match to fill the vacancy. Jericho suffered a bizarre injury of his own during the match, in which the ladder slammed into his anal orifice (hey, he makes it sound worse in his second book), but ended up winning a fairly lengthy match. In the end, Jericho was merely used to transition to gold onto a flourishing Shelton Benjamin.

24. Kane vs. Big Show vs. Matt Hardy vs. Drew McIntyre vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Cody Rhodes vs. Christian vs. Dolph Ziggler – Money in the Bank Ladder Match (Money in the Bank, July 18, 2010)

Firmly in the ‘let’s shoehorn gimmick matches into the secondary PPVs so that gimmick matches have less meaning’ era, Money in the Bank’s come away unscathed, thanks to the car-wreck spectacles that never get old. In this case, the maiden match of Money in the Bank’s spin-off event hit its mark, with a dose of big man psychology. Show and Kane were natural targets by the smaller competitors, while Show used a custom mecha-ladder for climbing.

23. Dolph Ziggler vs. John Cena – Money in the Bank Ladder Match (TLC, December 16, 2012)

Ziggler put his previously-earned briefcase on the line (stay tuned for that), and, as is modern custom, lost to Cena in several matches on Raw prior to the PPV contest. Just as naturally, Ziggler took his usual laundry list of wild bumps through the course of the match, before winning as a result of AJ Lee shoving Cena off the ladder. That’d be Ziggler’s lone win of relevance over Cena, but Dolph memorably cashed in four months later on Alberto Del Rio.

22. John Morrison vs. Sheamus – Ladder Match (TLC, December 19, 2010)

Forgotten in the dogpile beneath main event-and-celebrity over-focus, Morrison and Sheamus had themselves a nifty little feud late that year, and a title shot at The Miz was at stake. Akin to the Razor/Michaels matches of yore with the larger adversary throwing around the nimble stud, Morrison gradually overcame the odds and won in dramatic fashion after Sheamus attempted to tip the ladder. Sadly, the Morrison/Miz bout is just as forgotten as this great match.

21. Mr. Kennedy vs. Jeff Hardy vs. Matt Hardy vs. Edge vs. Randy Orton vs. CM Punk vs. King Booker vs. Finlay – Money in the Bank Ladder Match (WrestleMania XXIII, April 1, 2007)

Before Damien Sandow came along to look unceremoniously weak in failing in his cash-in against John Cena, there was Mr. Kennedy to lose his briefcase to Edge in a Raw quickie, following a Kennedy injury. The WrestleMania opener had plenty of intrigue, with a host of realistic winners. Jeff’s seated dive through Edge and a bridged ladder is cringeworthy, yet hilarious for the sight of brother Matt encouraging him to do it, then reacting as horror as Jeff lay hurt.

20. Dolph Ziggler vs. Damien Sandow vs. Tyson Kidd vs. Christian vs. Tensai vs. Santino Marella vs. Cody Rhodes vs. Sin Cara – Money in the Bank Ladder Match (Money in the Bank, July 15, 2012)

Another case of a heel being so much fun to watch that the crowd can’t help but cheer for them, the fans in attendance went berserk over Ziggler bumping Christian off a ladder in the end so that “The Show Off” could claim the briefcase. The match also seemed to be a coming-out party for Kidd, whose acrobatics finally had the forum for which to shine. Unfortunately, a torn meniscus sustained early in 2013 would sideline Kidd for almost a year, halting any push.

19. The Dudley Boyz vs. The Hardy Boyz vs. Edge and Christian – WWE World Tag Team Titles, Triple Ladder Match (WrestleMania 2000, April 2, 2000)

The ‘unofficial’ TLC match (the official moniker for such matches wasn’t coined until SummerSlam that year) was the brightest bulb of a shockingly-dim WrestleMania. A quiet crowd most of the night, the fans memorably buzzed for the Dudleyz setting up the table bridge across two ladders inside the ring. Some of the slower spots haven’t aged well, thanks to innovation and improvement, but there’s still plenty of sick spots to marvel at.

18. Edge vs. John Cena – WWE Heavyweight Title, TLC Match (Unforgiven, September 17, 2006)

A bit of a shocker when Edge went over Cena in Cena’s Boston backyard at SummerSlam, but that only meant Edge would return the favor in his native Toronto. The visual of Edge being AA’d off of a ladder through a double stack of tables would remain a fixture in WWE’s “don’t try this at home” PSAs for quite some time afterward. Seems as though out of all of Cena’s frequent opponents, only Edge matches CM Punk in creating consistent greatness with Cena.

17. Jeff Hardy vs. CM Punk – World Heavyweight Title, TLC Match (SummerSlam, August 23, 2009)

Given what a merchandise vessel Hardy had become for a company that loves its multiple revenue streams, it’s hard to believe Hardy would be gone by week’s end, with no return five years later. Punk’s victory transitioned into his tepid feud with The Undertaker, beginning immediately after the match as “The Dead Man” performed a supernatural body switch with a downed Hardy. In 2009, it was astonishing that Punk could win any PPV main event.

16. Christian vs. Alberto Del Rio – Vacant World Heavyweight Title, Ladder Match (Extreme Rules, May 1, 2011)

What a weird time period for WWE. Edge vacates the championship three weeks earlier upon his hasty, very real retirement, and a top contender’s match is made for the PPV. The crowd heavily bought into Christian, and a dramatic finish saw Edge providing timely interference to offset that of Ricardo Rodriguez and Brodus Clay. Christian winning the gold was possibly the biggest pop of his career, so naturally he lost the title to Randy Orton two nights later.

15. Paul London/Brian Kendrick vs. The Hardy Boyz vs. MNM vs. William Regal/Dave Taylor – WWE Tag Team Titles, Ladder Match (Armageddon, December 17, 2006)

Teddy Long punched up this one by adding the Hardyz and MNM, as well as the ladder modifier, seconds before the bell rang, I suppose in an effort to get non-buyers to purchase the show at about 8:23 EST. The match is most notable for Joey Mercury damn near getting his face grafted off in a see-saw spot gone awry, forcing him to wear facial contraptions for a time afterward. London and Kendrick retained in the midst of an 11-month reign the company barely promoted.

14. Daniel Bryan vs. Kane vs. Sheamus vs. Cody Rhodes vs. Justin Gabriel vs. Heath Slater vs. Sin Cara vs. Wade Barrett – Money in the Bank Ladder Match (Money in the Bank, July 17, 2011)

Takes a back-seat to CM Punk and John Cena’s all-timer to close the show, but it holds weight as the match that boosted Bryan into the main event tier where he’d more or less reside ever since. A wellness policy exodus played out as Sheamus powerbombed Sin Cara through a ladder, leading to a stretcher job into thirty days of oblivion for the luchador. Bryan’s victory was fairly unexpected, and the Chicago fans gave him a pop nearly comparable to Punk’s.

13. Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels – WWE Intercontinental Title, Ladder Match (WWE Challenge Taping, July 21, 1992)

The WWE’s first ever ladder match seems very tame compared to the anarchic stunt shows of later years, but two masterful workers in their relative youth put together a dramatic series of ‘near-falls’, with the match more about the drama of the climb instead of insanity. Hart purportedly suggested the match to Vince McMahon, who asked for a demonstration at this TV taping. The match made it onto several video releases, and became a tape-trader’s bounty.

12. Randy Orton vs. CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Sheamus vs. Rob Van Dam vs. Christian – Money in the Bank Ladder Match (Money in the Bank, July 14, 2013)

In a roundabout way, this match made it possible for Daniel Bryan to stand tall at the end of WrestleMania XXX, holding two World Titles aloft (although the Rumble was definitely the fuse). The best ladder match in the spinoff PPV’s history began with a hero’s welcome for the returning RVD, and culminated with Paul Heyman turning on Punk, just prior to Orton’s victory, which was confusing at the time, but became much clearer following SummerSlam.

11. The Rock vs. Triple H – WWE Intercontinental Title, Ladder Match (SummerSlam, August 30, 1998)

A year later, Rock was a mega-babyface that transcended the business, while Triple H would be the slimy villain he was born to play. Here, however, was the match that virtually shot both men into the main event for good. In front of a nuclear Madison Square Garden crowd, Rock about blew the domed roof off with a People’s Elbow while Helmsley lay prone on the oddly-yellow ladder. HHH’s win only freed up Rock for the World Title run we all saw coming.

10. Chris Jericho/Chris Benoit vs. The Dudley Boyz vs. The Hardy Boyz vs. Edge/Christian – WWE World Tag Team Titles, TLC Match (SmackDown, May 22, 2001)

A worthy sequel to Benoit and Jericho’s heart-stopping title win over Steve Austin and Triple H one night earlier, an irate Vince McMahon booked the new champs against the TLC Six on free television. WWE Network, assuming it survives the long haul, will eventually have this episode up, as the match is otherwise lost to history thanks to Benoit’s involvement. A shade below the original TLC battles in terms of overall quality, it’s still one of the best ladder matches ever.

9. The Hardy Boyz vs. Edge and Christian – Ladder Match (No Mercy, October 17, 1999)

Hanging above the ring was a bank robber’s sack of cash, and the winner would win Terri Runnels’ managerial rights. If it was believed that the winners would be elevated by association with Terri, the four just elevated themselves with a performance for the ages, becoming made men to varying degrees. Interesting note: Edge came dangerously close to missing the match, as he was almost unable to fly to the show due to a hurricane (he lived in the Bahamas at the time).

8. Eddie Guerrero vs. Rob Van Dam – WWE Intercontinental Title, Ladder Match (Monday Night Raw, May 27, 2002)

Easily the best ladder match in Raw’s history, even if Undertaker and Jeff Hardy’s clash a month later received more company hype, despite it being a dramatic finish to an average match. This match was so good, even a moronic fan running interference couldn’t ruin it. RVD regained the gold, leading into the post-match involvement of Steve Austin, who went after Guerrero, only to be thwarted by a returning, suddenly-heel Chris Benoit; an angle that ended up fizzling.

7. Edge vs. Chris Jericho vs. Chris Benoit vs. Kane vs. Christian vs. Shelton Benjamin – Money in the Bank Ladder Match (WrestleMania XXI, April 3, 2005)

The first of its kind remains the best of its kind. From Benjamin’s hands-free ladder ascension to Benoit German-suplexing Jericho, who was holding a ladder, it’s possibly the most uncluttered Money in the Bank match ever, and one that didn’t overstay its welcome. It’s also arguable that Edge’s eventual cash-in on John Cena was the most relevant of its kind, since nobody had ever seen a cash-in until he did it nine months later. Anything since dilutes the fun to a degree.

6. Chris Benoit vs. Chris Jericho – WWE Intercontinental Title, Ladder Match (Royal Rumble, January 21, 2001)

There’s a moment of retroactive horror in the body of the match, wherein Benoit goes for his patented headfirst dive to the floor, only for Jericho to wallop him upside the head with a jarring chair shot. If seeing that moment overrides any possible enjoyment you can derive from the art of the match, it’s understood. For the more unmoved, it was a viable candidate for 2001’s match of the year, rivaled by a litany of classics, one of which is to come.

5. Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon – WWE Intercontinental Title, Ladder Match (SummerSlam, August 27, 1995)

Gorilla Monsoon’s first act as figurehead President was to remove Psycho Sid from SummerSlam, and give Razor the shot at Michaels’ gold, in the match they put on the map. Wise choice; it boosted the show into pretty good territory, rare air in 1995. Ramon played de facto villain, smashing Michaels’ knee to pieces with the ladder, before Michaels superkicked him off a second ladder. The botched ending, and Michaels’ tantrum, somehow adds to the charm.

4. The Dudley Boyz vs. The Hardy Boyz vs. Edge and Christian – WWE World Tag Team Titles, TLC Match (WrestleMania X7, April 1, 2001)

From the greatest WrestleMania ever comes the ideal spotfest: accelerated, minimal set-up for the convoluted spots, and the type of chaos that comes from involving a few intruders. Nominee for the best bump visual in ladder match history: Bubba Ray Dudley and Matt Hardy smashing four tables into dust after an interfering Rhyno tipped a painter’s ladder over. Edge and Christian’s win was a bit anti-climactic, but you can’t discount the efforts before then.

3. Edge and Christian vs. The Dudley Boyz vs. The Hardy Boyz – WWE World Tag Team Titles, TLC Match (SummerSlam, August 27, 2000)

Gets the slight nod over its WrestleMania kid-brother for the sole reason of a less rushed ending. Conventional wisdom had the Hardyz going over here in their home state of North Carolina. In defeat, Jeff busted out a frightening Swanton Bomb off a ladder on the floor through Bubba Ray Dudley. The match is also known for an unfortunate double-entendre that Jim Ross made about Edge and Lita that gained new perspective about five years later.

2. Chris Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels – World Heavyweight Title, Ladder Match (No Mercy, October 5, 2008)

Doesn’t stand out, but it should. In fact, a lukewarm crowd is possibly all that kept this from the number one spot. Jericho and Michaels’ hate-filled feud in 2008 came to a head with this match, which was less about cutesy spots, and more heavy on the “I’m gonna kill you” brutality. Indeed, most of the ‘spots’ were Jericho and Michaels trying to make the other suffer, without the need for Rube Goldberg-esque contraptions. An inexplicably undervalued masterpiece.

1. Razor Ramon vs. Shawn Michaels – WWE Intercontinental Title, Ladder Match (WrestleMania X, March 20, 1994)

Like Savage and Steamboat, a newer fan may wonder what’s so special about this match, after seeing many a stuntshow since. For 1994, Ramon and Michaels put together a match just unheard of for the time, and wouldn’t become standard for a few years yet. Michaels took at least five or six crazy bumps off of Ramon’s power-based offense, and the dramatic near-finishes had the MSG crowd buying into every second. It’s still the gold standard.

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

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Top 25 Best WWE B-Show PPV Events In History

June 12, 2014 By: Category: lists, WWE | Pro Wrestling

When you look past WrestleMania, Royal Rumble, SummerSlam, Survivor Series, and even King of the Ring, what have been the best PPV events in WWE history? I pored through the last two decades of the promotion, and came up with this list of secondary-PPV excellence. All are recommended viewing on WWE Network.

25. Backlash 2009 (April 26, 2009 – Providence, RI)

After a largely-unfulfilling WrestleMania outside of Undertaker and Shawn Michaels’ timeless epic, WWE rebounded with a better show, surrounded by Chris Jericho’s battle with an ageless Ricky Steamboat, a tremendous Last Man Standing match with John Cena and Edge for the World Heavyweight belt, and Christian felling Jack Swagger to become ECW Champion. Tack Taker/Shawn onto this, make it four hours, and boom: a great WrestleMania.

24. No Mercy 1999 (October 17, 1999 – Cleveland, OH)

One of the few PPVs from 1999 that actually holds up years later, No Mercy took place two weeks after Vince Russo jumped to WCW. Perhaps his exodus was the good omen this show needed? Everyone remembers the Hardy Boyz, Edge, and Christian making literal and figurative leaps in their ladder match/coming-out party, but Triple H and Stone Cold held their own in a violent brawl of a main event for the WWE Championship.

23. Unforgiven 2006 (September 17, 2006 – Toronto, ON)

Blowing off a number of feuds in one satisfying event generally makes for a really good show, and three pressing issues were finished here: Trish Stratus retired after winning the Women’s Title from Lita to end their on-again/off-again rivalry, DX won a bloody Hell in a Cell match over The McMahons and The Big Show, and John Cena began a year-long WWE Title reign, toppling Edge in an excellent TLC match. Rare in this day, the conclusions felt definite.

22. In Your House: Beware of Dog (May 26-28, 1996 – Florence/Charleston, SC)

Stretched across two nights because of a powerful storm that knocked out satellite transmission during the PPV (Part II took place before Tuesday’s taping of Superstars), the composite event yields some forgotten classics, including Marc Mero and a still-green Hunter Hearst Helmsley, and Steve Austin and Savio Vega’s brutal Caribbean Strap Match, where Austin began his ascent. It was quite rare for an In Your House to have two great matches.

21. Elimination Chamber 2014 (February 23, 2014 – Minneapolis, MN)

With the notion that Daniel Bryan probably wasn’t winning the WWE Championship here, more focus was on the WWE Network launching twelve hours later than the event itself. The final traditional “pay-per-view” boasts the anticipated Wyatt Family-Shield dream battle (before it was done in by free TV rematches) and a great Chamber match itself, which teased fans with a possible Bryan win before Randy Orton retained in the end.

20. Judgment Day 2005 (May 22, 2005 – Minneapolis, MN)

Twin Cities with another gem. SmackDown in 2005-06 produced a handful of quality PPVs when apparently Vinnie Mac focused solely on Raw (i.e. less micromanagement on the blue brand). The result: John Cena and JBL’s barbaric I Quit match for the WWE Title (surpassing their Mania match four times over), Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio’s throwback to simpler times, and a rare Paul London Cruiserweight title showcase, against Chavo Guerrero.

19. TLC 2012 (December 16, 2012 – Brooklyn, NY)

The brand-new Barclays Center was christened with one of WWE’s more inspired efforts in recent years. The first match everyone thinks of is the in-ring debut of The Shield, as they stole the show with a Match-of-the-Year nominee with Kane, Daniel Bryan, and Ryback under modified TLC rules. Forgotten in its shadow: Dolph Ziggler scoring his only high-profile win, and a damn good one, over John Cena, via a ladder match where AJ Lee would turn heel.

18. Money in the Bank 2013 (July 14, 2013 – Philadelphia, PA)

The ladder matches are pretty much never a bust, and were divided into two concepts for 2013: an “all-stars” match with former World Champions that was won by Randy Orton, and a “rising stars” one in the opener, taken by Damien Sandow. Both matches were great, even if the cash-ins made many fans miserable. Mark Henry’s startling heel turn on John Cena was paid off here with a quality World Title match, though the feud was abruptly cut short.

17. Fully Loaded 2000 (July 23, 2000 – Dallas, TX)

These days, the match results would lead to the armchair bookers to cry over the juiced-in main eventers going over on the new class, but there was more optimism in the Attitude Era. Triple H and Chris Jericho’s Last Man Standing match is hellacious, and Chris Benoit’s World Title battle with The Rock is a close second place. The best visual of the night goes to Rikishi, who pancaked Val Venis with a Superfly Splash off of a steel cage. Yes, really.

16. Backlash 2007 (April 29, 2007 – Atlanta, GA)

Take away the ridiculous handicap match where Vince McMahon became ECW Champion, and it’s top-to-bottom great. Both World Title matches (Undertaker and Batista’s Last Man Standing match, and John Cena retaining in a four way) are both WrestleMania quality. On the undercard, Chris Benoit’s US Title match with MVP, Hardy Boyz’ formula-tag with Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch, and Melina and Mickie James’ Women’s Title match all held their own.

15. No Mercy 2002 (October 20, 2002 – Little Rock, AR)

With creative in freefall thanks to necrophilia, a stunt gay wedding, and a lack of Steve Austin and The Rock, WWE was in a bad place, though the SmackDown half of No Mercy thrived, while Raw withered. Two matches fought for the right to steal the show: a tag team tournament final between Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit, and Edge and Rey Mysterio, was perfection, while Undertaker and Brock Lesnar’s Hell in a Cell match artfully pinned the gruesome meter.

14. Payback 2013 (June 16, 2013 – Chicago, IL)

Something about the city of Chicago that brings out the best in WWE; they’ve had a PPV every year there since 2006, save for 2008 (though TNA had Bound For Glory there that year). CM Punk returned after a sabbatical to win match of the night honors against Chris Jericho, while The Shield’s Tag Team title defense against Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton got an honorable mention. The worst match of the show, Dean Ambrose vs. Kane, was actually pretty good.

13. One Night Stand 2005 (June 12, 2005 – New York, NY)

The spirit of ECW soared with the ultimate in reunion shows, hitting on every era in the company’s truncated history. One Night Stand was an all-star spectacle which thrived, in spite of the matches being relatively shortened. Mike Awesome and Masato Tanaka waged their usual war, Chris Jericho and Lance Storm didn’t miss a beat in commemorating their first ever match, and the ECW brigade turning back WWE’s ‘invasion’ was a feel-good moment.

12. No Way Out 2000 (February 27, 2000 – Hartford, CT)

Ended on a major downer with what was thought to be Mick Foley’s retirement, but at least he went out in ultraviolent style via a Hell in a Cell match for Triple H’s WWE Title. The WCW defections enhanced the undercard, with Chris Jericho and Kurt Angle’s Intercontinental Title match, and a Radicalz six-man against Rikishi and Too Cool. That’s not even mentioning the usual quality tag team match pitting Edge and Christian against The Hardy Boyz.

11. No Mercy 2008 (October 5, 2008 – Portland, OR)

Not as well-regarded as many of the events on this list, but maybe that’s just because the IWC consensus had grown more cynical by this time? The main event, Chris Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels in a World Title ladder match to conclude their hate-filled war, is, as such, a ‘lost’ five star match. The World Title match between Triple H and Jeff Hardy is an awesome face-vs-face match-up, and Big Show and Undertaker have their best match together.

10. One Night Stand 2006 (June 11, 2006 – New York, NY)

Gets the slight nod over its predecessor by having a better story element, and some appropriately lengthier matches. The WWE/ECW equivalent of nWo Souled Out, there are two very good World Title matches: Rob Van Dam vs. John Cena, and Rey Mysterio vs. Sabu (which the internet would have gushed buckets for in 1995). The show-stealer: a six-person bloodbath with Edge, Mick Foley, and Lita against Tommy Dreamer, Terry Funk, and Beulah.

9. Extreme Rules 2012 (April 29, 2012 – Chicago, IL)

Hopefully in the past two years, the IWC has forgiven the ending to John Cena and Brock Lesnar’s “is this really the PG era?” car wreck, which displayed a level of intensity and pacing rarely seen in today’s WWE. Daniel Bryan and Sheamus finally got their proper match after the 18-second punch-in-the-sack that WrestleMania was, and it was a great two out of three falls match. Plus, CM Punk got to kick Chris Jericho’s ass in front of his family. Good times.

8. Vengeance 2003 (July 27, 2003 – Denver, CO)

Next to WrestleMania XIX, it’s the only other PPV from a dismal 2003 worth going out of your way to see. Three great matches dot the card: Chris Benoit vs. Eddie Guerrero for the US Title, The World’s Greatest Tag Team vs. Rey Mysterio/Billy Kidman for the Tag Team straps, and Brock Lesnar, Kurt Angle, and Big Show’s triple threat for the WWE Title. Also notable for John Cena’s true breakthrough match in defeat to locker room measuring stick, The Undertaker.

7. Backlash 2000 (April 30, 2000 – Washington, DC)

One of the earliest examples of the PPV following WrestleMania being way better than WrestleMania itself, Backlash was almost an apology for their grandest event being more bland than grand. Putting the Radicalz in four different matches only stretched the greatness evenly, with Dean Malenko/Scotty 2 Hotty and Chris Benoit/Chris Jericho as standouts. Steve Austin’s return to help Rock win the WWE Title was one of those great markout moments.

6. Backlash 2004 (April 18, 2004 – Edmonton, AB)

Much harder to watch with Nancy and Daniel Benoit at ringside (along with now-aspiring wrestler David Benoit), Chris Benoit wins his WrestleMania rematch over Shawn Michaels and Triple H, nearly matching the quality in the process. The real story of the show was Randy Orton’s gutsy performance against Mick Foley in a hardcore war. The undercard produced some solid matches, namely Chris Jericho’s handicap win over Christian and Trish Stratus.

5. Vengeance 2005 (June 26, 2005 – Las Vegas, NV)

After Judgment Day and One Night Stand (which followed a great WrestleMania 21 and decent Backlash), Vengeance was the apex of an underrated 2005. The event began modestly enough, complete with awful Victoria/Christy Hemme ‘match’, but the last three matches bail it out big: Shawn Michaels vs. Kurt Angle II, John Cena defending the WWE Title against Chris Jericho and Christian, and Batista and Triple H’s brutal Hell in a Cell World Title bout.

4. Judgment Day 2000 (May 21, 2000 – Louisville, KY)

With WWE’s spotless roster in the year 2000, and a desire to keep trouncing WCW every whichway, shows like this came to be. Count the classics: The Rock vs. Triple H in a WWE Championship Iron Man match. Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho’s submission match for the Intercontinental Title. Eddie Guerrero vs. Radical-mates Dean Malenko and Perry Saturn for the European Title. Can’t leave out Kurt Angle, Edge, and Christian as ‘The Jug Band’.

3. No Way Out 2001 (February 25, 2001 – Las Vegas, NV)

What can you say about a show that would have been the best PPV of the year in most other years, but is only nipped by the awesomeness of WrestleMania X7? Triple H and Steve Austin’s Three Stages of Hell match is an all-timer, as is Kurt Angle’s World Title loss to The Rock. Chris Jericho’s Intercontinental Title defense against Chris Benoit, X-Pac, and Eddie Guerrero understandably brightens the undercard. Even Stephanie and Trish had a great match!

2. In Your House: Canadian Stampede (July 6, 1997 – Calgary, AB)

At the height of The Hart Foundation’s mutual beef with Steve Austin and The United States, WWE put together it’s best two-hours of wrestling imaginable. The Harts’ ten-man tag with Austin’s American contingent nearly blows the roof off of the Saddledome, and there’s no lull in action. As for the rest of the card, you have Mankind vs. Triple H, Taka Michinoku vs. The Great Sasuke, and The Undertaker’s WWE Title defense vs. Vader, each of them a winner.

1. Money in the Bank 2011 (July 17, 2011 – Chicago, IL)

Barely ekes it out over Stampede, as Money in the Bank was three mostly great hours instead of two. CM Punk winning the WWE Title in one for the ages over John Cena, in front of his neighbors and friends, is an indelible memory. Christian and Randy Orton continued their engrossing World Title feud with a heated rematch. Both ladder matches are tremendous, namely the SmackDown one that Daniel Bryan took the briefcase in.

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Daniel Bryan Says He Owes CM Punk His WWE Push

May 28, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Daniel Bryan continues to be one of the most honest interviews you’ll get from a top WWE superstar. Bryan recently appeared on Chris Jericho’s podcast and what he said about his current push reveals a lot about how committed the WWE may be to the champ.

The WWE world champion was a guest on Chris Jericho’s Podcast One show recently. The two-part interview is fantastic and Bryan pulls back the curtain more than you’d expect from someone in his position. Yet it was their conversation regarding his current push that is drawing headlines.

According to Bryan his push to the WrestleMania main-event and the WWE world championship had more to do with CM Punk than it did with the Yes Movement. Bryan told his former partner and foe that if it wasn’t for Punk leaving, we probably would be seeing a different guy with the WWE world title

“It wasn’t necessarily that I felt a shift. It was essentially after Punk quit. It was like, ‘Well, we’ve got John and we’ve got eeeeeeeh.’”

Talk about truth in jest. What many people don’t know is that Bryan was originally penciled in to wrestle Sheamus at WrestleMania 30. The match would have been low-mid card and served to get Sheamus over as a new heel. Keep in mind that this was still in the midst of the Yes Movement and after the Royal Rumble (although Punk did quit the day after).

This confirms what many of us believed from the start. The WWE are not nearly as committed to pushing Bryan as they appear to be. I have said this plenty of times in this blog and I’ll say it again. He was not their choice. While he should have been their choice, they were ready to ignore him in spite of all of his momentum. One thing I think a look at WWE history will reveal is that they don’t push guys that aren’t necessarily “theirs” the same way they would a guy they groomed.

Bryan also talked about the booking in 2013. Bryan confirmed what many refused to believe at the time. Bryan was not necessarily receiving a push. Many Bryan supporters would become enraged at the booking of Bryan during this time. Bryan told Jericho that he was never meant to be the guy. Bryan revealed that the angles were meant to get Randy Orton over and not Daniel Bryan.

The only reason I bring up all of this is that I think the jury is still out on Bryan. His injury withstanding, I am not convinced he is going to have this long title reign that many pundits and fans feel he will receive. Again I am not saying he doesn’t deserve it. I am just saying that he was never their guy, thus I don’t expect anything substantial to come out of this.

I also think this goes back to the argument whether Daniel Bryan is a draw or not. Vince McMahon is not a stupid man. If he felt that the business was shifting along with the Yes Movement, Bryan would have been picked to be their guy. But the fact remains that there have not been any significant increases in business reported since Bryan won the belt. An impact on business would immediately shut down this argument and solidify Bryan’s spot. Unfortunately he doesn’t have that security.

On a side note Jericho brought up a great observation he had about Bryan early on. Jericho said that he was confident that Bryan would get over at some point the second he was signed by the WWE. Jericho said that to him, if a guy can get over elsewhere, he can get over anywhere. It makes sense but that isn’t always the case. I think at the end of the day it doesn’t matter what you did elsewhere if the booking team doesn’t have the confidence in you. Yet if you look back he is right in that most of the guys like Punk, Rollins, and Bryan who got over elsewhere eventually got over in the WWE. The same can’t be said about guys like Low Ki, Monty Brown, and the original Sin Cara to name a few.

The positive to all of this is that for Daniel Bryan fans, you are getting more than you should. If CM Punk never left, your Daniel Bryan WrestleMania 30 moment would have been Bryan putting over Sheamus. Instead you got one of the greatest moments in WrestleMania history and a guy on top you probably wouldn’t see in most other eras.

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Chris Jercho, Bray Wyatt vs. John Cena and other WWE Thoughts

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

According to rumors, the WWE has made contact with Chris Jericho about a potential return to the company. Jericho – who has been involved intensely with his band Fozzy and tour dates – emphatically has demined the notion that he will return to the company anytime soon.

So, as we all know, expect the 40-something former WWE Champion to be in a city near you soon.

In a story from i4u.com, Jericho explains to the readers he is more than comfortable doing what he is doing now, which means music is more important than barbs with Triple H or Daniel Bryan. The idea of the former superstar returning comes on the heels of a recent poor showing by Batista in his return at the Royal Rumble and his stay with the company up until recently.

Honestly, it would appear that a return to the WWE would be more interesting to the fans, but putting him in a title situation so quickly may turn them against him like they did The Animal. I do have to admit seeing a Daniel Bryan/Jericho match is intriguing.

Jericho is one of the few old guard wrestlers who would be popular in any situation and could still draw for the WWE. Matches between him and CM Punk or Shawn Michaels are instant classics. I would love to see a program with him and Dolph Ziggler, Cody Rhodes, Damien Sandow or even a “heel” Kofi Kingston to make it a bit interesting.

But since Jericho has stated that is no longer interested, then the idea is off the table – for now.

Cena and Wyatt move on

How long should the Bray Wyatt/John Cena situation continue? It is customary of the WWE to allow feuds like these to go through two pay-per-view events. But the continuation of the feud, the use of brainwashed children and the fact Cena has no other wrestler to face, this could have some legs.

For those of you old enough to remember, this is on the same level as Dusty Rhodes and Kevin Sullivan back in Florida in the early and mid-1980s.

The satanic and sadistic nature of Sullivan, speaking in tongues, keep a core of misfits with him (Purple Haze, Jake Roberts), and the avalanche of fan approval when Rhodes got in the ring with the much smaller Sullivan made for great Kayfabe drama in those days.

Cena has that same kind of appeal as Rhodes, fighting the good fight. Fans dislike Cena for whatever reasons they have, and he will never have the same popularity as Rhodes, but the take is a similar one and should not go away any time soon. Wyatt works too hard and sells this angle better than most could.

It’s also good to see more of the inner workings of The Wyatt Family in this program.

New Champions, New Feuds

Now that the mid-card belts have new holders, who will face them head on?

Before there is talk of unification, there has to be some defenses for respectability’s sake. Dean Ambrose held the title for almost a year and maybe had six matches to defend it. I applaud the WWE for finally making the titles worthy of recognition. Wade Barrett should get some stiff competition from Dolph Zigger with the Intercontinental Title on the line. Sheamus should face Damien Sandow for the United States Title. I am curious to see if there is title unification and how the company plays that up as they WWE moves toward SummeSlam.

If the title is unified, it should remain the Intercontinental Title. The United States Championship is outdated and holds no real link to the WWE.

Follow David on Twitter @davidlevin71

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