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WWE: Bryan Injury, Punk Deal and Other Thoughts

October 31, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

How will the WWE deal with news that Daniel Bryan will need more surgery on his already surgically repaired neck that will still sideline the superstar indefinitely? The latest Daniel Bryan news has the WWE and its fans wondering when Bryan will get back in the ring.

The former WrestleMania headliner went out with an injury this past summer. He ended up having a very low risk neck surgery that would allow him to get issues repaired. Surgeons found a few problems, but they were able to help Bryan with the issue. The problem was that this surgery seemed to cause Bryan an issue with his UCL.

The Ulnar Collateral Ligament is a big part of one’s arm. It helps us in picking things up, and when damaged, it can affect our strength and motion in our arm. The best and really only surgery to have for this issue is Tommy John Surgery. The surgery is popular among baseball pitchers who throw out their arm. Bryan had issues with his UCL more than he should have after the surgery so doctors, who didn’t want to put Bryan through another surgery, sent him to physical therapy where he had reportedly done well, according to his wife.

Bryan was, and to some extent, still is, the best thing to come along in the WWE in some time. Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns and Bray Wyatt have all shown moments of greatness, which gives the company hope, but when it comes to the fans and their support of faces within the WWE, Bryan and his “YES!” mantra may be the biggest thing to come along since the days of Hulkamania and the bet character to make his appearance in a WWE ring since Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock.

Yes, that is my opinion.

PUNK SIGNS (MERCHANDISE CONTRACT) WITH WWE

While the WWE Universe (if that title is still used) deals with the news of Bryan, the WWE made an announcement that it had reached an agreement with CM Punk on merchandising of the former WWE superstar.

According to an Oct. 27 report from Wrestling Inc,  CM Punk is back in the good graces of the WWE as the promotion has reached a deal with him and his legal team to sell merchandise bearing his name and likeness. The WWE has not released financial figures on the historic new agreement with Punk, and it should also be noted that Punk has not signed any kind of new performer contract to return to the ring.

Last month, the WWE pulled all CM Punk-themed merchandise from their online shop, after the former superstar served them with a 22-page letter from his legal team. The letter essentially asked the WWE to pay Punk for the royalties he felt he was owed for the merchandise the promotion sold with his name and likeness on it. In response, the WWE held a clearance sale on all Punk items, and then stopped selling his merchandise at all just a few days later.

Because this is a contract with Punk’s name on it, I am sure there is plenty of speculation as to what happens next. We really do not know. There is no word about anything else being discussed between the company and Punk. While his wife AJ Lee remains the center of the Divas Division and fans continually cheer his name in arenas, Punk appears to be enjoying life away from the ring.

WHAT TO DO WITH SURVIVOR SERIES

When I heard about the traditional Survivor Series match to be held at the pay-per-view event, I was almost giddy like a school kid watching Saturday Night’s Main Event.

There is some real potential in this match.

The company is still dealing with how to work with a small quantity of faces, almost if it was twisting in the wind. Currently, John Cena, Dean Ambrose and Dolph Ziggler the three main faces of the company at the present time. Bryan is hurt, Roman Reigns is recuperating from hernia surgery and the company has not brought in new talent to bridge the gap. Ryback came back last week and looks to be a face who could gain momentum again with the fans. He is not the answer – yet. Sheamus is now a mid-level talent who is being used ineffectively in a program with The Miz. Personally, I would love to see Damien Sandow get a push as a face.

I like the potential of Cena and Seth Rollins, but only if Cena puts Rollins over. The feud brewing between Dean Ambrose and Bray Wyatt will be nothing like we have seen before. But there is still a disconnection between the current feuds and how they build up to Cena saving the company in “Sting-like” fashion.

This is where someone like Punk or Bryan coming to the aid of Cena makes the most sense and would make for a killer pay-per-view.

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John Cena’s Greatest Rivalries WWE DVD Review

October 30, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Love him or hate him, it’s hard to deny that John Cena has been involved in most of the biggest feuds in this modern-day era of WWE. A new DVD and blu-ray release chronicles his ten best in John Cena’s Greatest Rivalries.

This new home video release is a quasi-documentary/match collection offering the best of both in spots, yet leaving viewers wanting a little more in others. The format of the DVD features the 15-time WWE champion breaking down his greatest rivalries, one rival at a time which then cuts to a match or series of matches between the two. The collection spans three discs so you will be getting plenty of John Cena if you are looking to add a little more Cena to your video collection.

Unlike the documentary DVDs, Cena doesn’t get into much detail with each rivalry, just offering a brief synopsis with some analysis from the future Hall of Fame superstar. Unfortunately you probably won’t learn much new or get in on any backstage dirt but that was not the intent of the DVD. It was presented like a Top 10 collection you’d see on the NFL Network with players talking about topics sandwiched between highlights, although in this case you are getting the full matches.

The ten rivals featured on the discs are…

  • Chris Jericho
  • Batista
  • Eddie Guerrero
  • Shawn Michaels
  • Edge
  • Randy Orton
  • Triple H
  • The Rock
  • JBL
  • CM Punk (Blu-ray only)

The biggest disappointment here is the omission of Punk on the main disc. The Punk-Cena rivalry is arguably the biggest of Cena’s career. I think most fans will expect to buy the DVD with the Punk rivalry chronicled for obvious reasons. Leaving Punk off of the main disc out of spite is a bit disingenuous with unsuspecting customers. He is on the blu-ray anyway! If you aren’t going to include him fine, but you aren’t screwing with Punk here, you are screwing with the customers who assume that Cena’s greatest rival would be included on a DVD entitled John Cena’s Greatest Rivalries.

That said, there are some gems on here. Cena has been around weekly for so long that you sometimes forget about some of the fun matches he had back at the start of his ascension. A great feud I completely forgot about was Cena’s rivalry with Eddie Guerrero. The Parking Lot Brawl in particular was a fun match I’d venture to say that most of us have forgotten about in recent years.

I will say that you start to rethink Cena a bit after you watch the collection. He isn’t nearly as bad as most think he is. I think a lot of the Cena-hate comes down to the overexposure of Cena and the lack of quality opponents the company has had for him in recent years. Take a quick look at the list of rivals and you’ll notice that all but Orton aren’t competing in the WWE today. There is a reason that no recent feud other than The Rock is featured in the collection.

Overall I’d say this was a fun collection which serves a great defense of Cena as an in-ring performer. He is much more than his “Five Moves of Doom” and when inspired, can put on a hell of a match. I also think it goes without saying that if you are going to buy this collection, spend a few extra bucks on the blu-ray for the Punk rivalry.

DISC 1

Book of Knowledge

Number One Contender’s Tournament Match for WWE Championship
John Cena vs. Eddie Guerrero
SmackDown – April 3, 2003

Chicken Soup

Parking Lot Brawl
John Cena vs. Eddie Guerrero
SmackDown – September 11, 2003

Honed My Craft

OVW Championship Match
Prototype vs. Leviathan
Ohio Valley Wrestling – February 23, 2002

Different Dynamic

WWE Championship Last Man Standing Match
John Cena vs. Batista
Extreme Rules – April 25, 2010

Special Individual

John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels
RAW – April 23, 2007

Learned So Much

John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels
RAW – March 10, 2008

John Cena – Greatest Rivalries: Shawn Michaels

DISC 2

Gifted

WWE Championship Match
John Cena vs. Randy Orton
SummerSlam – August 26, 2007

Brought out the Best

John Cena vs. Randy Orton
RAW – February 10, 2014

Hard-Nosed

WWE Championship Match
John Cena vs. JBL
WrestleMania 21 – April 3, 2005

Heavily-Calloused

John Cena vs. JBL
RAW – June 9, 2008

Talk you into Building

“You’re Fired! Match” for the WWE Championship
John Cena vs. Chris Jericho
RAW – August 22, 2005

Gave Me a Chance

World Heavyweight Championship Match
John Cena vs. Chris Jericho
Survivor Series – November 23, 2008

John Cena – Greatest Rivalries: Randy Orton

DISC 3

Old Shoe

WWE Championship Match
John Cena vs. Edge
RAW – October 2, 2006

Who Am I ?

World Heavyweight Championship Last Man Standing Match
John Cena vs. Edge
Backlash – April 26, 2009

Measuring Stick

WWE Championship Match
John Cena vs. Triple H
WrestleMania 22 – April 2, 2006

Advice

John Cena vs. Triple H
RAW – October 19, 2009

Global Phenomenon

John Cena & The Rock Q&A
RAW – March 25, 2013

Sequel

WWE Championship Match
John Cena vs. The Rock
WrestleMania XXIX – April 7, 2013

John Cena – Greatest Rivalries: The Rock

BLU-RAY EXCLUSIVES

Underlying Passion

John Cena vs. CM Punk
RAW – November 23, 2009

Trying To Do My Job

Number One Contender’s Match for WWE Championship
John Cena vs. CM Punk
RAW – February 25, 2013

John Cena’s Greatest Rivalries [Blu-ray]

The Randy Savage Story DVD

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CM Punk, TNA and Other Pro Wrestling Thoughts

October 24, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Go to a WWE event and the chants are heard throughout the arena.

“CM Punk. CM Punk.”

It has been the same battle cry of the WWE Universe (if there still is a universe) since Punk walked out on the job after the Royal Rumble. Punk has not been part of a match, program or even a tease about returning to the ring.

Punk’s hiatus from the WWE is not a new thing, having left on two other occasions – the first after his infamous shoot interview that led to a “WWE Title vs. WWE Title” with John Cena. The other time he took “time off” was after his loss at WrestleMania to The Rock.

Since then, Punk has not been part of a world championship program.

The WWE is in a fairly peculiar situation because while it appears Punk is serious about his retirement from professional wrestling altogether, his wife, AJ Lee, is still a major part of WWE programming and the biggest draw on the women’s side of the ledger.

  • Right now, even in the fall of retirement, Punk is in the driver’s seat.
  • He is easily one of the top three biggest draws in the company still to this day.
  • The mere fact he generates such an outburst from the fans is a concern for the company.

Whether they admit it or not, the company is taking on water to some degree because of poor matches, poor feuds and injuries.
The company still needs him, along with Daniel Bryan and John Cena, to lead the “face” faction because there has not been a steady influx of younger talent to be brought in from NXT.

As long as the “Second City Saint” is walking the streets and not in a wrestling ring, his legend becomes more popular and in the process, he sticks it to the company that made him a star.

BETTER BUSINESS AT TNA WRESTLING

While the WWE is trying to figure out how to handle a champion that only wants to wrestle on his terms, the product in TNA is better lately.

There is something to be said for being under pressure, which is exactly what Impact Wrestling has been under as of late. But a string of solid wrestling packages have put TNA in better stead.

Over the course of the last month, wrestling between faces like Jeff Hardy, Bobby Roode, Eric Young and Austin Aries have boosted ratings as well give the fans quality matches that make wrestling matter.

So much has been made of how TNA is the second rate promotion. But judging WWE and TNA is not a fair representation of how the business is today.

TNA is about wrestling and shoot interviews and some of the iconic feel of the former NWA. WWE is about the gut shot, the light everyone’s hair on fire and see who screams moment.

I am a fan of the more traditional style of TNA and also understand how it can be abused in the wrestling community as the red-headed step child.

SCOTT HALL

On Monday, the wrestling world celebrated the birth day of Scott Hall, or Razor Ramon, as many of us knew him in his WWE days. Hall and Kevin Nash helped to define professional wrestling as The Outsiders, the party crashing duo who helped to create the NOW.

Hall may not get the notoriety that he deserves because of his out of ring issues with substance abuse, but when he was in his prime, there were only a handful of wrestlers who could match his in-ring ability.

The 56-year-old was a star in many promotions before making his mark in the WWE.

Beginning with his time in the American Wrestling Association (AWA), Hall maintained a perennially high profile as a wrestler, as he became a four time WWF Intercontinental Champion, a two time WCW United States Heavyweight Champion, a one-time WCW World Television Champion and a nine time world tag team champion (seven times in WCW, once in TNA, and once in the AWA). In addition, Hall is a two time world champion, having won the WWC Universal Heavyweight Championship and the USWA Unified World Heavyweight Championship. He is also notable for being a founding member of the New World Order. On April 5, 2014, Hall (as Razor Ramon) was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.

Hall was what Randy Orton is (minus the titles) today.

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TNA Reportedly Make A Play For CM Punk

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

TNA Wrestling are not ready to roll over and play dead yet. With no TV deal in place past 2014, the company recently made a bold move. A move was made that could have majorly shaken up the pro wrestling landscape.

According to a new report in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, TNA made a play to bring back CM Punk. Dave Meltzer reports that TNA were hoping to bring Punk in and use him as a chip in closing a television deal.

For whatever this is worth, TNA, through an intermediary who is friends with C.M. Punk, made a play for him just like they did for Alberto Del Rio several weeks back. The idea pitched was a huge deal to be the top star of the company and money similar to Hogan, with the idea he could be their flagship guy and if he signed now, could help them broker a stronger television deal.

Meltzer reports that Punk declined the offer and has no interest in returning to pro wrestling whatsoever. The timing of the move comes a few months before TNA’s extension with Spike TV is scheduled to run out. You have to give TNA some credit for going for it, yet I can’t seriously believe that they thought they had a real shot.

This isn’t the first move that TNA has made recently at an ex-WWE superstar. TNA reportedly reached out to Alberto Del Rio immediately after his contract was terminated with the WWE. Del Rio reportedly turned down their offer as well. I don’t know if these are desperation moves, moves simply for public relation purposes, or some kind of delusional strategy on the part of Dixie and company.

What is interesting to me is that they let Sting and Hulk Hogan walk due to money issues, yet were willing to spend even more money on Punk. Meltzer reports that Punk’s deal was for more money than Hulk which would have likely made him the highest-paid star in TNA history. I’d also assume that Del Rio’s figure was somewhere in Hulk’s range. TNA could have kept Hulk and used him in these television negotiations, yet expenses were cut. Hogan could have quite possibly got a better deal to return to WWE anyway, but they didn’t even make a serious play according to reports.

I speculated months ago that TNA could make a run at Punk. I thought that TNA or even ROH could make a deal with Punk which gave him ownership in the company as part of the deal. It would have been a one-of-a-kind deal in 2014, although points in a territory were common place back in the territory deals in regards to wrestler deals. I envisioned a scenario where Punk would be a player-owner, similar to what Paul Heyman wanted (booker-owner) but that isn’t happening.

I am not sure what TNA felt they could offer Punk that he couldn’t have gotten if he stayed in the WWE. A better schedule for sure, but the pay couldn’t have been comparable. Plus, Punk is astute and well aware of TNA’s television troubles. Imagine the egg on Punk’s face if he did agree to a deal with TNA and they couldn’t reach a television deal for 2015.

It’s hard to rationalize what TNA’s real motive was here. Why would a company make a high-dollar offer to someone like Punk with no deal in place? I would think that their time would be better suited trying to get a deal done as opposed to chasing an elusive prize they had virtually zero shot of signing.

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CM Punk: Where do you stand?

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

Ah, CM Punk. In the ring, few could match him for his skill, innate charisma and penchant for creating memorable moment after memorable moment. Outside the ring, it seemed the Straight Edge Superstar was also in a league of his own when it came to the size of the chip on his shoulder.

If we’re to believe everything we’ve read about Punk chastising fans, ‘taking his ball and going home’ when denied a WrestleMania headline spot, and generally being a bit of a diva, Punk’s attitude away from the squared circle is hardly the stuff role models are made of.

Yet fans stood firmly behind their man. After all, once the clock struck clobberin’ time, the former WWE champ could go, and boy did he ever. Rarely was there a time that Punk’s appearance on a pro wrestling show didn’t give us something to talk about.

Even now, months after his supposed retirement, few wrestlers -retired or not- are able to keep the Internet buzzing like the man born Phil Brooks. Crowds still break out in ‘CM Punk!’ chants in arenas across the US, optimistic armchair bookers still fervently plot his big comeback, and his every public appearance still generate headlines by the truck load.

Take the recent news, for example, of Punk’s backstage appearance at an Ohio Valley Wrestling show. Though he was apparently there to watch his buddy Cliff Compton capture the company’s top prize, the bigger story emerging centered around the OVW roster being told not to bother former indie star.

Such rumors have since been rubbished, in particular by 502photo, a Reddit user who claims to work for OVW’s production team, and who insists that the roster were told no such thing. Rather, says our supposed man-in-the-know, the OVW locker room opted not to bother their guest out of respect.

Still, such rumor-squashing came a little too late for some fans, who by that point had already flocked online to either dismiss Punk as an arrogant so-and-so far too big for his britches, or else jump to his defense as a man simply trying to enjoy a quiet retirement.

Which camp were in the right? That’s not for this fan to say. Instead, let’s look at the argument from both sides, shall we?

In defense of Punk
On the one side of things, we have the Punk fans (some might even go so far as to call them apologists), who are always on call to jump to the man’s defense.

In this camp, we get the argument that Punk has always been perfectly justified in his somewhat less-than-exemplary attitude. If wrestling fans have been browbeaten, mocked, blocked or otherwise felt the wrath of CM Punk, it’s only because they deserve it.

As fans, they say, Punk owes us nothing. We paid for a ticket or a PPV stream to see him perform, and he gave us what we paid for, and that’s as far as the fan/performer relationship need ever go.. Heck, some fans haven’t even paid a cent to watch the man in action, so what right do they have to demand his time and attention, let alone take to the web to criticise him?

Nope, CM Punk’s only obligation to us wrestling fans was to deliver on WWE programming and at live events. After that, he owes us zilch.

Besides, we all know somebody who has met Punk and found him to be perfectly charming, pleasant and accommodating to fans. Rumours of his negative attitude have been greatly overstated.

What’s more, because he consistently delivered, and never took time off to make movies or play in a rock band, he absolutely deserved a Wrestlemania headline spot, and was totally justified in jumping ship when that wasn’t on the cards.

Punk was there, week in, week out, when all these part-timers were off doing other things, and they got to come in and steal his big moment on past ‘Manias? That’s not fair.

Then this year they want to dump him in a pointless match with Triple H, who would only bury him anyway because that’s what Triple does? No thanks! If we were Punk, we would have left too.

As for this whole Ohio Valley Wrestling incident? Look, Punk is effectively retired. He has no obligation to anybody and can pretty much do whatever he pleases. Wouldn’t you hate it if you went to hang out with a friend and were constantly being pestered? Of course he deserves to go backstage to a professional wrestling show and not be bothered by anybody. Whether he, the bookers, or the roster themselves insisted on it, it’s perfectly justified.

The other side:
Flipping the proverbial coin, we find Punk’s harshest critics, those quick to bash him for every move that isn’t a GTS.

Without the wrestling fans, his naysayers insist, Punk wouldn’t be where he is today. Yet we’ve all heard stories about him being rude to fans, blocking them on social media and being something of a **insert your favourite expletive here**.

Seriously? How ungrateful can you be?

As for WrestleMania, Punk just came across as a huge mark. Whilst he was busy complaining about part-timers bagging the main event spot, didn’t he stop to think that Wrestlemania might actually draw a bigger buyrate (and thus a bigger payout for Punk himself) with the likes of The Rock onboard than without?

Quitting just because WWE wanted to book him in a match with Triple H was silly too. The Game is still a huge name, and going up against one of the most influential men in the company would have effectively guaranteed a marquee match. Maybe not the main event, sure, but a money match nonetheless.

Besides, wouldn’t a real pro have made the best with what he was given, rather than packing up and going home?

In the case of his recent backstage appearance at OVW, it really doesn’t matter whether the rumours are true or not. If a big name superstar dropped by and didn’t at least say hello to the roster when Punk was on his way up, wouldn’t he have been one of the first to blast them? Others paved the way for Punk’s success and no doubt offered him some advice along the way. Isn’t passing on what you’ve learned the right way to do things in pretty much any industry?

The verdict
We could go back and forth all day on this, but there, in a nutshell, are the main arguments most fans seem to have when it comes to CM Punk. The big question then, is where do you stand? Hit up the comments box below and let me know!

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No CM Punk, No Daniel Bryan, No Roman Reigns: Who Steps Up in the WWE?

September 30, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Like many other wrestling fans, I am at a loss over the lack of superstar talent in the WWE right now. The reuse of wrestling angles, the misguidance of the Authority program, the lack of a tag team division at the moment and the disrespect shown to Randy Orton has me scratching my head of late. Maybe that is why it is past 2 am and I am writing this to you now. Or maybe I need some hobby to keep interest past midnight like SLEEP.

The WWE is about to embark on what appears to be something new for John Cena. While there needs to be a new challenger to Brock Lesnar and the WWE World Title (Randy Orton), the 15-time WWE Champion twists in the wind, waiting for another destiny. With the crop of current talent that still includes Bray Wyatt, Sheamus, Cesaro, The Miz and Dolph Ziggler, it will be the two of the younger minions in the company who will do battle with the WWE’s cash cow – John Cena.

Can both Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose take the money maker over the edge?

As fans, we never want to see our favorite stars get injured and lose time from the ring. We never want to see our heroes leave the company due to injury or retirement and when they do, we are all too quick to try and replace them. We hope out loud that Dolph Ziggler becomes Shawn Michaels or Randy Orton becomes as good as his father was or that Chris Jericho becomes Roddy Piper.

In a perfect world, those wrestlers move right into place and the world carries on as if nothing ever happened.

No one has replaced Ric Flair and no one has become Harley Race. I think the WWE has a while to go until someone can actually replace the wrestling greats we grew up watching at noon on Saturdays.

But in reality, if there is no CM Punk, No Undertaker, No, Roman Reigns and no Daniel Bryan wrestling in the company at the moment, who in the hell or the WWE for that matter, takes the stick and moves forward.

Sting has not “arrived” yet and the thought of Wyatt winning world gold left the building when the hourglass ran out of sand. This is a sad time for the WWE. It needs Rollins and Ambrose now more than ever.

The question remains, however, can two young and exciting superstars coexist with a crowd favorite, the most recognized WWE superstar ever, and still get over. Cena is not the easiest guy to work with and we all know when it comes to changing stripes, The Champ has a hard time playing with all the kids in the sandbox.

Facts are facts.

Cena once said that CM Punk was the only wrestler in the company that was worthy of being in the same ring as him and the only one who could give him a solid match. While it was a huge statement, almost cavalier (ok, totally cavalier), it may have been true. Matches with The Rock were awful. He and Orton put on a great show. Daniel Bryan’s matches with Cena have been very good. But for now, who else is going to give him a push to put him over in some regard?

It must be both Rollins and Ambrose.

For all the talent these two have, they have to give more. Ambrose could actually take the Punk character (the voice of the voiceless) and run with it. Rollins could be another Edge – if not better. The WWE is drowning in poor storylines (Rusev vs. Everyone) and the Divas with Bella vs. Bella and Paige vs. AJ can only get you so far.

It all falls on Ambrose and Rollins. If the two former mat mates can produce as much with Cena as they do against each other, then the WWE can feed off of the adrenaline for the remainder of the year until the Royal Rumble. If not, then the company will have proven once again that it has destroyed something great – Ricky Steamboat and Randy Savage great. That cannot be recaptured, but it sure can reused, repackaged and redistributed so it looks fresh.

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My WWE Mount Rushmore

September 10, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Before I get into the guys who are in my Mount Rushmore, I need to breakdown why certain legends are not represented.

I grew up watching WWE in the 1980’s, starting with WrestleMania 1. Somewhere during the greatest era in wrestling history, my priorities changed and I stopped watching. I had a vague idea of what was going on but I had zero emotion invested in the product. Thanks to the WWE Network, I know exactly what I missed. Without question, I recognize Shawn Michaels as the greatest performer in WWE history. Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock are biggest stars this company has ever seen. The Nature Boy Rick Flair is a 16-time champion and the only two-time WWE Hall of Famer. For pretty obvious reasons (not watching their careers play out live), these Hall of Famers do not have a place on my WWE Mount Rushmore.

Hulk Hogan

The first and most obvious member of my Mount Rushmore is the Immortal Hulk Hogan. As a kid growing up and watching wrestling in the 80’s, I looked up to Hogan. He was the face of the company and dominated the WWE Championship. Everything he did was geared towards kids and of course I loved it all.

I vividly remember watching King Kong Bundy hit avalanche after avalanche and splash after splash on Hogan during a Saturday Night Main Event. I truly believed he was seriously injured, if not dead. Then, like the God I believed he was, he came back and defended his WWE World Title against Bundy at WrestleMania 2.

His amazing comeback victory over Hercules after surviving the backbreaker rack, programs with Macho Man Randy Savage, Ultimate Warrior and of course Andre the Giant made him larger than life.

Even today when I hear “I Am A Real American”, the little kid inside of me still gets a little excited. Hulk Hogan will always have a special place in my heart.

CM Punk

Next on my list is CM Punk. This is the one that I know people will question the most. I’m fully aware that he’s not in the top four of greatest WWE superstars ever.

Here’s a cliff notes story that will explain this. At some point in 2010 I was flipping through the channel guide and saw that Monday Night RAW was on so I decided to stop and see what they were up to. A few minutes into the show, a small, soft guy with a bunch of tattoos came out and started talking. I was immediately sucked in. I can’t remember exactly what he was talking about but I was hooked. I had absolutely no idea who he was but I wanted more and had to see what he was all about. I credit CM Punk with singlehandedly bringing me back to wrestling. With as much as I have enjoyed my time watching wrestling again, I am extremely grateful that he was on TV that night.

When it comes to in-ring performers, his skills do the talking. And when it comes to talking, he’s the best I have ever heard. There have been so many promos where I couldn’t tell if he was being real or not. His famous “Pipe Bomb” on RAW will go down in history as one of the greatest promos of all time.

Punk always stayed true to himself and I love that about him. Outside of the persona, he’s one of the best in-ring workers I’ve ever seen. This applies to most people, but outside of Hogan, I haven’t seen anyone hold the WWE Championship longer than Punk. That was a truly historic streak. All of that combined, Punk will always be an all-time favorite of mine.

The Undertaker

Someone that should be on everyone’s Mount Rushmore is The Undertaker. I will never forget seeing him debut at Survivor Series in 1990. At that time, I had no idea what was going on and didn’t recall anything like him before. He is the true definition of one of a kind. 24 years later and we still haven’t seen anything like him. His size, athleticism, look and ability to always keep in character and never let that go, makes him one of the greatest of all time.

How he went 21 years undefeated at WrestleMania is simply amazing. Just the fact that he was able to perform at that many WrestleManias is an incredible feat.

In addition to all of that, there is no one in the history of wrestling that has a better entrance than The Undertaker. The moment the gong hits, I immediately get chills. No one in the history of the company can ever come close to topping what he does every time he comes to the ring.

Unfortunately, I was not able to see the bulk of his career but I was there for his debut and I will be there for his retirement and without question amazing Hall of Fame speech.

Brock Lesnar

Finally, the Beast Incarnate Brock Lesnar rounds out my WWE Mount Rushmore. I did miss his meteoric rise into the WWE, but I am very much aware of what he did. Has anyone ever made such an impact on the WWE in that short amount of time? None that I can come up with.

Don’t forget, I’m a huge MMA fan and when I heard that Brock Lesnar was trying to become a fighter I thought it was a joke. I knew he was a stud collegiate wrestler, but there’s no way he was going to be a successful professional fighter. He ended up winning the UFC Heavyweight Championship. I know this is a wrestling thing but him kicking ass in the UFC makes him very special.

I don’t think there was anyone more excited than me for his return. When he showed up on RAW and hit John Cena with an F-5, I knew I was seeing something very special. I watched all his destruction in his first run online and I am very much enjoying his second run in the WWE.

Just like his first run, he made an impact bigger than anything anyone can ever imagine. Despite losing a couple times, he was still so dominating in defeat. I will never forget the night that he defeated The Undertaker at WrestleMania. I absolutely hated the idea that someone like Brock was the one to break the streak. But as time went on, it really grew on me and I fell in love with the idea. Then, as I predicted, he beats – no he destroys John Cena to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. I never thought I would see a day that Super Cena would get dominated like that.

He hasn’t had a long career, but I can’t think of anyone who has made a bigger impact. With the combination of him and Paul Heyman, Brock Lesnar is arguably one of the greatest wrestlers in the history of the WWE and that’s why he’s made my WWE Mount Rushmore.

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CM Punk Moves on With his Life With No Regard of Your Approval

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

You know those writers that see an interview or read a headline and it just compels them to go off and bang away on their laptops to get their thoughts on the subject down as soon as possible? Sure you do. You’re a pro wrestling fan. That’s why you’re reading this, right? And you yourself obviously read this particular headline so you know what this piece is about. Now it’s very likely you’ve heard more about CM Punk in the past few days than you perhaps ever wanted to. If that’s the case then you should know you’re about to hear a lot more.

Again, you read the headline. Oh, just so you know? I’m one of those aforementioned writers. And no, I just couldn’t wait to get this out. So now you get to join in on the fun. Yay for you. For anyone that saw The Best in the World’s recent red carpet interview, it‘s clear that his head is in a very good place right now. Punk looked great, he sounded great and his composure was that of a man at total peace. There was no drama on his face and no stress in his voice. Punk was more at ease and more himself than we have seen in a long time. This was Punk at his most rested and most happy. And I don’t know that we’ve ever seen that.

So why is that? Why did Punk look 10 years younger and healthier than we have ever seen him? Well, he’s not getting dropped on his back every night now, that’s a start. These guys may be trained to take physical abuse but it does take its toll eventually. And the crazy road schedule does not help either. Being separated from family and friends for the majority of the year is something that many cannot even fathom. Living out of a suitcase from one hotel to the other is even more unimaginable.

Try sleeping a regular schedule every night of the week when your body hurts and you have to be up at the crack of dawn to catch a flight. The eyes tend to get heavy when they do not close enough. All of this equals one very obvious truth; CM Punk no longer looks like a WWE Superstar. He now looks like a regular guy, a self-professed jerk that is just enjoying life and having fun. That’s who he is now.

And while it may be hard to take, the thing is Punk doesn’t need you. He really never did.

It’s a lot to process, I know. But if you really think about it, the whole thing makes perfect sense. Since the night that he dropped the pipe bomb on Monday Night Raw back in 2011, fans have heard the same mantra repeated over and over again. “WWE needs Punk a lot more than he needs them.” We all knew it. We all agreed with it the first time we heard it. It made a lot of sense as it not only referenced the incredible popularity explosion he was enjoying but it also alluded to his attitude.

And Punk’s attitude has always been screw you, get out of my way. Now there’s a T-Shirt idea. Oh wweshop.com?

But now our knowledge of Punk’s attitude seems to have faded away. It’s like we have forgotten who he was and replaced him with ho we wanted him to be. The CM Punk that he became in 2011 was a more PG version of his heel character. Yes he was sarcastic and yes he was egotistical but that was all for the camera. Punk understood the fans were the ones that ultimately made him a star, he knew they respected him and he respected them.

With that being the case, he checked his character at the door. He may have become the company’s antihero and bucked authority at every turn, but he did so with a not so subtle wink to the crowd. Punk had a way of looking into the camera and with a smile, he was saying “yeah, I can’t stand most people but don’t worry; you and me? We’re cool.”

But the problem is, it wasn’t true. That wasn’t him. It was never him. Punk was likeable and played to the crowd because he was a babyface and that’s what he was supposed to do. He worked us as much has WWE ever worked him and at the end of the day, no one has any right to complain about it. Professional wrestlers are paid to lie and that’s exactly what he did.

Even as a heel, Punk was loved and respected for what he brought to the table and what he meant to the fans that supported him. They booed him because they were playing along. They knew he was having fun and they were having fun right along with him. But he didn’t care then, either. Punk had a job to do and he did it. And honestly? He didn’t care if you approved or not.

See a recurring theme here? Doesn’t it just make you hate him? When you look at Punk now, especially in the context of that red carpet interview, doesn’t it just feel as though he’s laughing in your face? Well, it shouldn’t. The fact is he won. Punk left at the top of his game and he didn’t look back. CM Punk leaving WWE is akin to Michael Jordan leaving the Chicago Bulls in 1999, except Punk is being a real jerk about it. Maybe Punk isn’t Jordan, maybe he’s Dennis Rodman. Maybe he’s something else altogether.

Right now CM Punk is just happy. And he really doesn’t care if you are or not.

Tom Clark is a WWE Featured Columnist & Consultant for Bleacher Report, a Contributor for JBL’s Layfield Report and a Contributor for Whatculture.com

Follow Tom on Twitter @tomclarkbr

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CCB Extra – Hot Topics: Stephanie McMahon, Brock Lesnar, CM Punk, Lana, and More

July 25, 2014 By: Category: Podcast, WWE | Pro Wrestling

Freelance writer and published author Chris Illuminati and the CCB’s own Eric Gargiulo talk about all of the latest pro wrestling news and hot WWE rumors. This giant one-hour plus podcast also touches on a lot of old school wrestling with plenty of talk about the wrestling Eric and Chris grew up watching in the 1980s. The list of news and rumors covered in this podcast are…

  • WWE Battleground results and reaction
  • WWE RAW and the big angle featuring Stephanie McMahon getting arrested
  • The controversy surrounding Lana and Rusev’s promo at Battleground
  • Sting in the WWE, will he wrestle, and against who?
  • The future of Brock Lesnar
  • The booking of Stephanie McMahon and Triple H
  • Paul Heyman’s promo on RAW
  • Where is Vince McMahon?
  • John Cena’s longevity as a babyface
  • Rumors regarding possible legal action the WWE may take against CM Punk
  • And much, much more.

This podcast topped out at around 67-minutes. Check back soon for more podcasts from Chris and Eric!

Check it out and let us know if you want to hear more podcasts like this one in the future. Subscribe the CCB Extra podcast on iTunes at – https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/camel-clutch-blog/id787421073?mt=2

Chris Illuminati is a published author and freelance writer and can be followed on Twitter @ChrisIlluminati.

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CM Punk’s Retirement Writes the Final Chapter in Champions’ Saga

July 18, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Now that the Cleveland Cavaliers have won the LeBron James Sweepstakes, the biggest question in sports and sports entertainment may center on whether or not CM Punk will “un-retire” and return to the WWE. According to multiple sources, it looks like “Straight Edge” superstar and arguably one of the top three draws in the company, is official off the roster. This doesn’t necessarily make him a free agent like the former Miami Heat star, it just makes him someone who has hung up his boots for the last time.

The timing of Punk’s retirement has been offset as of late by the return of AJ Lee, Punk’s wife as of about a month ago.

Punk’s contract with WWE officially came to an end on Thursday. Punk hadn’t appeared on WWE television since January, and he’s finally been moved to the alumni page of wwe.com. Both sides have been quiet about Punk’s departure, but the former WWE superstar seemed to address the situation with a tweet on Tuesday (July 15).

“Nope, thank YOU. Thanks for all the help and support through the years. Health and happiness above all. Don’t ever take any s— from anybody,” Punk said on Twitter.

The timing of Punk’s “retirement” comes when the WWE is wasting away in its own form of purgatory of sorts. Daniel Bryan, the biggest draw in the company, is out of action with a neck injury, with no time table set on his return. The writers have worked to bring along talent in Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, Bray Wyatt and members of the Family, but have not been willing to put the World Title on anyone else but defined talent like Bryan or Randy Orton or the current WWE World Champion, John Cena.

Other talent has been left to twist in the wind (Cesaro), move on to the tag team ranks (Cody Rhodes) or has given up on their potential (Dolph Ziggler, Damien Sandow). The WWE needs a plan and needs it now, and cannot expect veterans to come back like Chris Jericho or The Miz to save what is left of dying story lines.

A story on christianpost.com (http://global.christianpost.com/news/cm-punk-retires-from-wwe-superstar-moved-to-alumni-section-of-wwes-website-123473/) states that “The wrestler known as CM Punk has officially retired from the WWE. Rumors have been rampant about his departure since he abruptly walked away from the organization in January, but now things seem to be official.”

The story also states that. “The WWE moved Punk from its website’s section of active wrestlers to the retired section. Fans immediately noticed the change and took to social media to discuss what it meant for Punk’s career. The fan-favorite also took to Twitter to thank fans for all of their support over the years; it was perhaps a swan song for all those who continually chanted “CM Punk” at WWE events.”

Punk is a seven-time world champion, having held the ROH World Championship and ECW Championship once each, WWE’s World Heavyweight Championship three times, and the WWE Championship twice.

He won the World Tag Team Championship (with Kofi Kingston) and the WWE Intercontinental Championship, making him the 19th WWE Triple Crown Champion and the fastest man in WWE history to achieve this feat, in 203 days. Between WWE and Ring of Honor (where he is a two-time World Tag Team Champion), Punk has won a total of 11 championships. He won the 2008 and 2009 Money in the Bank ladder matches (the only wrestler to win the match twice), and the 2011 Superstar of the Year Slammy Award.

Punk is also titled in the company as “the longest-reigning WWE Champion of the modern era”, having held the title for 434 days from November 20, 2011 to January 27, 2013. Punk is officially recognized as the sixth-longest reigning WWE Champion of all time and the longest reigning champion of the modern era.

As a fan, I hoped the fact AJ won the Divas Title in her return would signal the return of Punk. I was mistaken. Now, the WWE must figure out a way to keep true to the idea of promoting newer talent to move the company forward or there is no chance opportunity for the younger talent become successful with veterans continually running the show.

Follow David on Twitter @davidlevin71

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AJ Lee’s Return Ramps Up WWE’s Need to Acknowledge CM Punk

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

Maybe I am in the minority here, but I am not convinced that AJ Lee’s return to WWE is completely “best for business.”

Her surprise return Monday night definitely is a shot in the arm to a dragging Divas division. And – just maybe –putting the Divas title back around her makes sense because you always want your top-name performer to sport the gold.

But on the other side, AJ’s return is only going to ramp up the “CM Punk” chants from the crowds. And sooner or later, WWE is going to have to publicly address them, whether or not they want to.

After all, that is his wife who is wearing the Divas title. Not his storyline wife…his real-life spouse.

Maybe that is cracking open the door for a possible Punk return. Lord knows the WWE Universe would eat it up.

But he says he is done with wrestling. That’s not stopping his wife from getting back into it.

To top it off, AJ seems to be all over her crazy-girl phase. No high-pitched screams. No thousand-yard stares. The skipping still is there, but it seems to have regained the reflection of a child-like innocence, not the psychotic break of a modern-day Baby Jane.

When AJ was around, the Divas division had become fun to watch. She is not the truest wrestler in the division – that distinction still belongs to Natalya. But AJ connects with the crowd in a way that none of the other Divas seem to do.

You possibly could include the Bella Twins as ones who can connect with the crowd. But they do so in a Hollywood glamour, unapproachable style. AJ, however, comes across approachable, as the next-door neighbor you might wave at over the fence or hang out with at a neighborhood block party.

She certainly moves the needle in terms of being a charismatic champion.

Thankfully, her arrival and Monday night victory brings an end to the dreadful Paige experiment as Divas champion. In my opinion, Paige was rushed into the top spot way before she was ready. But she offered the ideal storyline “out” for AJ to step aside, get married and get some much-needed rest.

Skills-wise, Paige had all the makings of a good champion. What she may have lacked in personality, she made up for in ring moves. Her combo of a Scorpion leg lock and chicken-wing lock was one of the most original finishing holds I have seen in a long time.

But you cannot succeed as a top champ on skills alone. That is why we refer to wrestling as sports entertainment.

As champion, Paige was not entertaining. As champion, AJ was very entertaining.

I just have a feeling that WWE may have waded into waters they did not intend to navigate.

Ever since his abrupt departure earlier this year, Punk has been the 800-pound gorilla in the room for WWE. Maybe they think they moved past all this on that night last March when they played his entrance music, only to have Paul Heyman come out.

Since then, the Punk chants have become a staple at WWE televised events. They may not start the show and may not end the show, but you know they are going to come sometime.

And they do, usually during matches where the audience is bored.

That’s all changing with AJ’s return. As soon as the first few notes of “Let’s Light It Up” blare across the sound system, the chants will start … and continue throughout her appearance.

And they likely are not going to die down as long as AJ remains active on the roster – or Punk finally makes some kind of appearance. He now is claiming he is retired, but think about it. Have you ever seen anyone completely “retire” from WWE? Even Edge and Shawn Michaels make appearances on the show despite the maladies that forced them out of active action.

Meanwhile, the Punk chants are going to continue. And WWE has only two choices to deal with this.

Come to some kind of reconciliation with Punk. Or invest in a whole bunch of noise-cancelling headphones.

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

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WWE Half-Year Predictions For 2014

July 01, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

There is still plenty of time to go in 2014 as we cross the halfway mark. Thus far it has been one of the least predictable years in recent memory. What other shockers and/or surprises await the WWE Universe? Let’s dust off the crystal ball and see if the rest of 2014 will be full of just as unpredictable.

If you were to make predictions at the start of 2014, I would have missed out on some of the bigger stories of the year. Would you have predicted that Daniel Bryan would ascend at WrestleMania only to lose the title due to a legitimate injury? Would you have predicted that Seth Rollins would be the one to turn on the Shield and unite with Triple H? Would you have predicted that the Shield going over Evolution twice? Would anyone have predicted that CM Punk would walk out and retire within the first 30 days of 2014? Maybe you would and maybe you wouldn’t but it is fair to say that most of the big stunners were missed.

Dolph Ziggler will get a push - The pressure is starting to mount. Recent reports reveal that Ric Flair has gone to management and suggested they push Ziggler. The voices are growing and the sounds of fan support get louder and louder every time he is in the ring. He is hands down one of the most talented guys they have inside the ring and rarely if ever has a bad match. Why he isn’t utilized more is one of wrestling’s biggest mysteries. I think it happens, not at the top, but more mid-upper mid card by year’s end…at least I hope it does.

CM Punk will not be back - I think it is time to close the door and throw away the key. If Punk ever comes back it isn’t going to happen for awhile. We have all heard the different theories on why he walked but have yet to hear it directly from the horse’s mouth. Punk’s colleagues continue to predict his return, yet those who know him best say otherwise. The irony is that Punk probably walked at one of the most inopportune times during his WWE career. With Daniel Bryan out, Cena stale, and the new crop of babyfaces not quite ready for the top spot, he would have had the run of the kingdom up top if he stuck around. He knows that and the fact he’s still not here tells you he doesn’t care. I think the next time you see him in a ring will be on some indepdent show for charity or having fun with his friends. It won’t be in a WWE ring.

Kurt Angle will be back - Punk may not be back but I am betting that Kurt Angle will be back. I will be the first to admit that this is more wishful thinking than anything else. The WWE have a new class of young stars ready to ascend to the next level. Unfortunately what they don’t have are many established veterans to put them over and give them that stamp of approval. Angle provides that in and out of the ring. Angle’s outside of the ring troubles are certainly cause for concern and those issues will likely be the only thing that prevents his return. He is still one of the most entertaining personalities in the business and when he is on in the ring, he is on. It all boils down to how big of a gamble the WWE want to take on him. I think they go all in!

Dean Ambrose will make a bigger imapct than Roman Reigns - It is no secret that Roman Reigns is the “chosen one” to become the next John Cena according to numerous reports. Yet it would appear at this point that his biggest threat is coming from his old Shield teammate Dean Ambrose. In the few weeks that Ambrose has gotten time as a singles, he has consistently delivered the best promos among the wrestlers in the company, only second overall to Paul Heyman. In the ring he has more charisma and versatility than Reigns and has more of the tools to produce long, main-events on the special events. It is going to be real interesting come December which is when we’ll have an idea who is being positioned for the WrestleMania spot. As of now all of the money is on Reigns. The more I hear Dean talk and the more I see him in singles action the more I think that could change.

Daniel Bryan will not have another WWE title run - This isn’t much of a bold prediction but it appears that Bryan won’t be stepping back in the ring any time soon. The decision has yet to be made as to whether he will need a second surgery so I am basing this on Bryan coming back without a second surgery needed. I think the ship has sailed on Bryan and the WWE are moving forward with Reigns, Ambrose, Rollins, and Wyatt which leaves Bryan out in the cold. The Yes Movement was lightning in a bottle and you can already hear the chants getting softer. The WWE finally has their out and Bryan was never their guy. This isn’t to say that Bryan won’t get another title run in 2015 or 16, I just don’t see it happening in ’14 if he does return to the WWE rings.

Bray Wyatt will be a top babyface - The booking of Wyatt has been one of the strangest WWE creatives in awhile. He was pushed to be one of the top heels of the company yet he’s been booked like a babyface. This all came full circle at Money in the Bank when he received one of the biggest reactions upon his entrance to the match. I will be the first to admit that I missed this one. I never expected a character like this to resonate with fans but I am dead wrong. The people absolutely love him. Reigns not only has to worry about Ambrose nipping at his heels, he has to worry about Bray. I predict Bray goes full-fledged babyface by year’s end and goes into the Rumble as one of the top five favorites.

Prince Devitt and Kenta will not live up their potentials - The news is out and it appears that these two international stars are WWE bound. The WWE are scheduled to hold a press conference to announce the signing of Kenta in a few weeks. Does this sound familiar? These guys are both two incredibly talented wrestlers but that was outside of the WWE. I think the track record is pretty clear on how these kind of international stars fare in the WWE. They don’t do well. The only guy to break the mold in recent years was Rey Mysterio and he had a fresh coat of WCW seasoning on him. Maybe they live up to their potentials down the line but I think that these guys have a ton of hard work ahead of them to do so. It won’t happen this year and it may not happen at all which is a damn shame.

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