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Bellator MMA’s Scott Coker On Signing CM Punk, The Success Of Bellator, & More

January 22, 2015 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts, WWE | Pro Wrestling

Bellator MMA President Scott Coker appeared on Tuesday’s edition of the MMA Hour and this interview had some gems in it. Down below are highlights from the interview.

When asked if Bellator MMA would ever sign CM Punk, Coker said:

“We had talked about it, honestly, but we never reached out to him or made that call. We were not in dialogue with him by any means. It was just like, ‘He’s never had a fight before. You think he really wants to fight?’ I didn’t even know if he really, really wanted to fight, so let’s see. Let’s see how he does in his debut.”

…and Alberto del Rio:

“I’m not sure. From everything I understand, he’s still pro wrestling and he’s very busy pro wrestling. Even though he’s had some great MMA fights – he fought a couple of big names – at the end of the day, it’s a different sport completely.”

“To me, I know that they’re still in dialogue, but is he going to become a MMA fighter? That I cannot answer.”

Currently, Punk is signed to a multi-fight deal with the UFC and will debut sometime this year.

When asked his thoughts on today’s free agent market in MMA today, Coker said:

“There’s going to be free agent who come up time to time. It’s going to be our job to build these fighters from the ground up that we have, and keep building them and keep building them. What a great platform we have with Spike TV to keep building these new stars.”

“It kinda reminds me of Strikeforce, really. We bought a few free agents. It’s not just us going after them. Believe me, they’re calling us. This is not a one-way street where we’re just going after fighters. We’re going to win some. We’re going to lose some. That’s just how the nature of this beast is going to be.”

“If you’re a free agent out there or you’re going to become a free agent, you’re going to talk to everybody. You’re going to want to use your leverage to get the best deal you can. We’re in a position now with the Viacom ownership group, there’s not going to be any fighter that’s out of the price range.”

“If we feel the deal’s right and the fighter’s right, we’re going to do it.”

Coker recently visited Japan to scout talent and possible deals for Bellator MMA.

“To see K-1 in its heyday, to see PRIDE in its heyday, I think the new fans today are really missing out because it was something special, something spectacular. They just had that ‘wow’ factor.”

“I went to a couple of fights, actually three different events in five days….I met with some of the key players in that industry. You and I talked about Sakakibara and his mounting comeback. I met IGF people. I sat down with Fedor [Emelianenko], just a lot of different fighters. It was a great time and I’m glad I did it because as dominant as Japan was in the past, there’s a place for them in the world of mixed martial arts to make a resurgence and I think that what Sakakibara is working on over there is very special. He’s going to come out with a big bang before the end of the year.”

“I think anyone who can promote a fight on New Year’s Eve and sell tickets and actually have people show up and then throw a fight the night before and then a boxing match the night before and then a kickboxing fight – a new show called Blade – the night before that…I mean, here’s a country that’s, the word I would use is sleeping. They’re waiting for the next resurgence of a Japanese MMA promotion.”

While Coker did wonders for Strikeforce and most likely to do the same with Bellator, the idea of Bellator ever being on or near the same level of the UFC is just not realistic. The UFC has and will be the top promotion in the world when it comes to MMA.

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Matt Brown Talks CM Punk Fighting In The UFC

January 20, 2015 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts, WWE | Pro Wrestling

Welterweight Matt Brown recently appeared on the MMA Hour and he had a lot to say about the UFC signing former WWE champion CM Punk to a contract without him having any previous fighting experience.

“I thought the sport, the UFC, itself, was beyond that now, Bellator doing this, I could understand. I could see other organizations doing it. The UFC, I just didn’t expect it.

On CM Punk signing with the UFC: “I don’t have a problem with the UFC doing it. What I have a problem with is CM Punk being dumb enough to think he can do it,” Brown continued. “If he wants to come fight a real man I’ll be standing there. I’ll fight Tarec Saffiedine on [Feb. 14] and I’m the main event, everyone will be gone. I’ll fight him right after Tarec if he wants. Hopefully what happens here is that all these keyboard warriors that are like, ‘Oh I could go in there and fight’ see that a legit athlete — CM Punk is an athlete — and they see him go in a get demolished by a prelim fighter or someone that also shouldn’t be in there and they’ll see this shit is a little more than what you think.”

Punk has gotten both positive and negative feedback with this new move.

“On ESPN, they said I called him a ‘dumb athlete’. Well, I didn’t call him a dumb athlete. I said he’s dumb to think that he could compete with UFC-level guys in his first fight.”

Punk left the WWE in 2014 after several medical issues and now he is stepping inside the octagon without any previous fighting ability is a stiff dose of reality for Punk.

“And I would completely stand by that statement. If he were standing right in front of me, I would tell him that. How many people walk into our gym all the time and say, ‘I want to be in the UFC’? I’m like, ‘Well, you’re dumb to think you’re going to be able to do that. I don’t care if you’re freakin’ CrossFit champion or gymnastics champion, whatever. Unless you’re a wrestling champion – not pro wrestling champion, but like a NCAA champion or something – then I would tell you you probably shouldn’t even think about it until a few years of training.”

Brown prides himself on a tough nose fighter, who has some of the best striking in all of MMA.

On Punk’s opponent: “Who is he going to fight? The only person they could bring in would be another person that doesn’t know how to fight. It’s crazy to me.”

On comparisons to Brock Lesnar: “At least Brock Lesnar, he at least knew what he had in store, what it felt like to get in there. The thing that I was getting at when I was talking about CM Punk was, I think he’s going to be in for a big shock. When you step in that UFC cage, when they say it’s as real as it gets, that’s the truth. When you walk in there, those lights shining on you, everybody looking at you and there’s a dude across the cage that wants to rip your head off, it’s a different feeling than anything he’s ever felt before.

Brock Lesnar had an actual wrestling background, Punk does not. That should be the start and end of any comparisons between the two. Bottom line.

“He’s going to have some really deep, dark thoughts,” Brown explained. “We call it the Worm of Doubt. He’s going to have lots of worms in his head causing doubt.”

Matt Brown is scheduled to fight former UFC Welterweight Champion Johnny Hendricks at UFC 185 in Dallas, Texas.

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Flashback: Alberto Del Rio Wins the WWE Royal Rumble 2011

January 14, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Originally published on January 30, 2011. The 2011 WWE Royal Rumble winner wasn’t who was expected and that is a good thing. Alberto Del Rio won the Royal Rumble and a trip to the WrestleMania 27 main-event against a WWE champion of his choice. Del Rio eliminated Santino Marella to win the Rumble and earn his title match.

Rey Mysterio, Kane, Wade Barrett, John Cena, Alberto Del Rio, and Randy Orton were the final six of the Rumble or were they? Mysterio eliminated Kane and was then quickly tossed out by Barrett. The announcers pushed the RAW vs. SmackDown theme of the final four.

In the shocker of the night, John Cena was eliminated by The Miz. Yes The Miz was down doing commentary and wound up running in. Alex Riley distracted Cena and The Miz wound up tossing Cena over. The ref never “saw it” and only caught Cena on the floor, thus eliminating Cena. Barrett, Orton, and Del Rio are final three. Del Rio eliminated Randy Orton, started to celebrate, and was then attached by Santino.

Santino emerged from under the ring and the place went ballistic. Santino Marella was never officially eliminated when he appeared early on. The announcers went nuts saying it would be the biggest upset of all time. For a second I kind of wanted to see it. Del Rio soon recovered, eliminated Santino and officially won the Rumble and the championship match of his choice.

CM Punk entered the Royal Rumble as #1. Punk was soon jumped by members of Corre. The RAW GM (how did he have power here?) chimed in and ordered Corre to the back. Daniel Bryan then entered as the official number two. Punk and Bryan started off which I am sure appealed to their hardcore following on the Internet.

Kevin Nash made a long awaited return to the WWE entering the Royal Rumble at #32. Nash entered as his old character Diesel with a black haired dye job and his old Diesel gear. Nash got a nice reaction but it was nowhere close to the reaction that Booker T received. Nash did his trademark Diesel moves but was eliminated pretty shortly by Wade Barrett. Nash and The Big Show walked by one another as Nash left and Show entered. It could have been a prelude to a WrestleMania match but let’s hope not. Hey Paul, don’t let him powerbomb you this time. Hey may try and finish the what he couldn’t do at Souled Out.

No Triple H for the record. Not sure what he is waiting for at this point but I have to admit that I was hoping to see him come out at #40 instead of Kane. No Undertaker either.

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Nash’s fellow Main Event Mafia partner,  Booker T also returned to the WWE. King Booker entered the Royal Rumble earlier at #21. Booker T got a huge pop and entered the ring to face four members of Nexus. Unfortunately the numbers got the best of him and Booker T’s return lasted for about 90 seconds before being eliminated. I am not a big proponent of seeing Booker T back but the fan reaction sure made it a great Rumble moment. The former TNA stars got nice reactions but were limited with short appearances in the Rumble match which was probably for the better.

CM Punk was looking like the favorite for awhile. At one point Punk and three members of Nexus just wound up eliminating everyone and continued to throw away future entrants. They just looked unstoppable after eliminating Booker T in less than two minutes. John Cena wound up entering at #22 with his Superman cape and eliminated all of Nexus including CM Punk. I was fairly certain up to that point that Punk was going to be Final Four if not the winner altogether.

John Morrison may have had the best Royal Rumble spot I ever saw. Shortly after entering the Rumble Morrison was tossed over the top rope. However, instead of landing on the floor he landed on the barricade like Spiderman avoiding elimination. Morrison than leaped from the barricade to the metal steps and returned to the ring. The spot and sequence have to be seen to be believed.

Randy Orton entered at #39 and eliminated Sheamus and Kofi Kingston. He and Cena had a stare down that was designed to get a big reaction. Guess what? Nobody seemed to care. Maybe because WWE fans have seen Cena vs. Orton on and off for the last three years. I can’t imagine anyone having any interest in seeing Cena vs. Orton in any way, shape, or fashion in 2011 (or 2012, 2013, 2014).

Overall I thought the Rumble match was excellent. I never felt like it dragged and it had some pretty cool spots. I thought that 40 guys would be too much but it really wasn’t. If you missed the show, I’d go out of your way to try and get a copy of the match. It certainly wasn’t the best Rumble match of all time but it was far from the worst.

On a totally random note, listening to 40 WWE entrance themes is a reminder at how God awful WWE entrance music is in 2011. Well, 39 because Booker T’s music is still pretty damn good.

It would appear from the WWE championship match that CM Punk vs. Randy Orton is a highly likely WrestleMania match. Randy Orton vs. The Miz ended after interference from Nexus which saw Punk nail Orton with the GTS. The Miz capitalized and pinned Orton to win the match.

On yet another random note, I think I was vindicated for everything I have said about The Miz and his inability to be a successful WWE champion. He is not over at all! I have gotten a lot of criticism for a blog I wrote entitled “Is The Miz the worst WWE champion ever?” People told me that I don’t know what I am talking about, he is awesome, and I am in the minority. I think I stand corrected. He is now a day over two months as WWE champion and if he hasn’t been able to sell anyone by now, he isn’t going to sell them by WrestleMania. Guess what happened when he came out for the biggest match of his career? Nobody cared or reacted to him like a champion and quite honestly, the match wasn’t that good. The lesson learned here is just because a guy can go out and cut a 15 minute “great” (Wow the standards have dropped enormously) promo and deliver witty lines doesn’t make him a great champion.  The point being is that nobody believes in him as a champion and the fans see right through it. Sure you can blame the booking but he is just not championship material no matter how “funny” you may think he is.

I love the decision to go with Alberto Del Rio as this year’s winner. Del Rio is fresh and one of the best characters I have seen the WWE develop in years. Unfortunately I don’t know how much interest I have an Edge vs. Del Rio match. Quite frankly I don’t know how much interest I have an Edge vs. anyone WrestleMania title match. If it ends with Del Rio winning the championship and becoming the star of SmackDown, I like it.

An early look at WrestleMania 27 probably looks like…
The Miz vs. John Cena for the WWE title
Edge vs. Alberto Del Rio for the WWE world heavyweight title
Randy Orton vs. CM Punk
Nexus vs. Corre
Big Show vs. Kevin Nash

2011 WWE Royal Rumble results:

Edge defeated Dolph Ziggler to retain the WWE world heavyweight title
The Miz defeated Randy Orton after interference from Nexus and CM Punk
Natalya and Eve Torres defeated LayCool

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CM Punk: A Drastically Different View of Things

January 05, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Something has been bugging me ever since I first heard the original CM Punk interview with Colt Cabana. After reading so many comments and columns praising the CM Punk interview, I decided to listen to it again but this time I got a completely different impression from the interview, something I could never have gotten if I didn’t have a complete neutral point of view. Everything I was hearing from different websites and people really influenced my decision yet the only opinion that really matters to me is my own which mow happens to be drastically different than many others.

CM Punk is a jerk, and that’s putting it nicely in my opinion! While I do fully agree with some of the things he said like Vince McMahon being an “out of touch old man”, I think the way he bashed some of the people in the interview is wrong. For instance, the way Punk talked about Ryback came off as ignorant to me. I completely disagree with Punk’s statement that Ryback took a few years off his life.

How can you say that in a business like this? Ryback didn’t take a few years off your life, professional wrestling did. While I understand Punk’s frustration, you can’t go off on the man now if you didn’t do so earlier. I like to use the example of a wrestler names Droz/Puke, he got paralyzed when D Lo Brown botched a move after slipping on soda (or what not) that was thrown in the ring yet he doesn’t hold a grudge against D Lo, it’s the same with Ryback…accidents do happen but that’s what you have to deal with in the wrestling business not to mention the fact that Punk isn’t even close to being paralyzed.

While his medical stories about Dr Chris Amann certainly do seem compelling, there is simply no way of knowing what really went on between the two. Obviously both sides will have vastly different stories and analysis on the event and there no way of knowing what happened. Is it really unheard of that CM Punk possibly lying, now don’t twist my words around and say that I am calling Punk out for lying but, hey, we’re all humans and we’re all capable of it. While CM Punk certainly did have some medical issues, nobody knows what happened between the two and you can’t really take Punk’s word for it without hearing Dr Amann’s side of the story which unfortunately, without a doubt, won’t be revealed for a long long time.

Finally, when it comes to Punk’s interaction with the fans, I found it inexcusably harsh. When responding to a fans comment that stated that the fan bought his house for him, Punk responded “F*** you, I bought my own house.” Am I the only one who sees something wrong with that response? This is a big FU to the fans, literally! Not only is this highly disrespectful, he may also be responding to a good point.

Where would CM Punk be without his fans, in fact he wouldn’t even be CM Punk, he would just be plain old Phil Brooks. Now it’s not right to say that the fan personally bought his house for him, but it’s even worse to swear at the people who made you famous. Also when Punk mentioned that he should have made way more money for what he did, I find that as being a big slap in the face to Indy wrestlers.

There are thousands of Indy wrestlers in the US aspiring to be in the WWE that don’t make nearly as much money as you do, yet it feels like he just blows it off while counting his millions. Yes, I understand that he was an Indy wrestler for a long time in companies such as ROH but that doesn’t mean you have to go out and bag on the people less successful than you are!

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CM Punk Talks Hypocrisy In UFC Signing

January 03, 2015 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts, Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

“It’s great that Rock is back. Anybody in the locker room that says it doesn’t piss them off, that he works however many days a year he works when we’re working 300 days a year, something ridiculous, they’re kidding themselves; they’re scared to say it.” – CM Punk

In a strange twist of irony it took a former WWE announcer to ask CM Punk the question that most of his critics wanted answered. Punk was asked about the hypocrisy of signing with the UFC in relation to things Punk has said in the past about WWE superstars and either Punk thinks we are all idiots or he truly is living in a delusional world.

Punk hosted a UFC Q & A on Friday and did some media interviews as part of the promotion for UFC 182. Most MMA media have gushed over CM Punk asking him softball questions and accepting his questionable responses without follow up. For whatever reason nobody has challenged Punk on the hypocrisy of him signing with the UFC in relation to Punk’s criticism of The Rock and others for coming into the WWE with similar circumstances.

I have no personal problems against Dwayne. It’s very frustrating being here and watch a guy come in and get credit for a WrestleMania buyrate when he didn’t do anything on the show. He certainly didn’t do anything entertaining.

That was nothing. Punk ripped Rock and others repeatedly for coming into the WWE, not doing house shows, and taking someone’s spot in the main-event. Punk even took a shot at Brock Lesnar in a recent podcast interview where he said that he told Vince Brock should do house shows. The irony of Punk’s situation is amazing considering all he has said in the last several years.

Now we have a situation where Punk is signed to a UFC contract with no amateur sports pedigree nor MMA fighting experience simply because he is CM Punk. No matter how you look at it, this is the same idea as Rock stealing someone’s spot as Punk is stealing someone’s spot. Punk paid no dues and if you think this isn’t lost on UFC fighters, just ask Jon Jones.

“At the same time it would be a bad thing only because every day I’m at the gym watching these kids training. These guys have no money and they’re training their tails off, giving up everything to be a fighter.

(These guys are) living in the gym, eating turkey and peanut butter, bare minimum to chase this dream, and then a superstar like (Punk) just gets to jump into the UFC just because he knows the right people and has a name.

I just think it’s unfair for the people who have been working their tails off to earn this opportunity. That’s why I really hope UFC gives him a real opponent, so we can watch him get knocked out.”

So Todd Grisham of all people was the first to put Punk on the spot about this criticism. Punk was asked about this hypocrisy but in the world of CM Punk, this is completely different.

“The irony of the situation is certainly not lost on me and I accept all the responsibility in the world for that. But there’s also so many differences. UFC employees thousands of fighters. I look at it more as I’m not taking a spot away from somebody, I’m allowing somebody to gain that spot because whoever fights me, they’re going to make a nice chunk of change I like to think. I think that’s a good opportunity for someone else too. There’s a myriad of other differences and if I wasn’t willing to put in the work and actually train and just fight tomorrow, I could see the parallels more.”

Where do I begin? For starters, the UFC does not have thousands of fighters under contract. Last I checked there were a little over 550 fighters under contract. While a lot more than the WWE, that is a far cry from “thousands.” The best part of this is that he defends this by saying he will be bringing more money to another fighter, which is correct. I find that defense ironic because for the three years, that is exactly what The Rock did when he came back to wrestle or appear on pay-per-views. I never understood why Punk was so upset about Rock coming back when Rock vs. Cena broke WrestleMania records, thus put more money in Punk’s pockets than he would have gotten without Rock.

I can also assure you that Punk made more money working with the Rock at the Royal Rumble and Elimination Chamber than he would have made with anyone else at the time. It’s the same damned thing! Punk is defending his signing by saying he’ll make someone a lot more money…the same way Rock put more money into Punk’s pockets.

Look I have been accused of ripping Punk a little too much lately on here but the reality is this. All I am doing here and in other blogs is taking Punk’s own words and relating it to the current situation. I am not making this stuff up nor am I on some vendetta. I have also said that Punk desperately needs a media coach and this is another case. I can’t help but think that Punk had to be prepared to answer this question at some point and if that was the best he could come up with, the guy needs some assistance from someone in a high-level public relations firm.

The circus continues…

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The Camel Clutch Blog WWE 2014 Year In Review

December 29, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

The World Wrestling Entertainment had an eventful 2014. The WWE saw new stars breakout, a historic result, & one of the most fascinating stories in recent years with one top star quitting and jumping into the world of MMA. Rather than look back myself at the WWE 2014 in review, I am joined by a collection of pro wrestling writers from CamelClutchBlog.com.

WWE Wrestler of the Year

Eric Gargiulo – Brock Lesnar. This may not be a popular opinion but I am going with Brock Lesnar for Wrestler of the Year. Yes I know he wrestled a part-time schedule, but look at what he accomplished in just a handful of matches? He not only ended the streak but he destroyed the WWE world champion in the most one-sided match you’ll ever see headline a WWE pay-per-view. Nobody even came close to giving Lesnar a run for the money. Rollins was my initial choice but even he didn’t have victories as historic as Lesnar. Speaking of historic, Lesnar had two historic matches in one year! I know some people will argue the schedule but I can’t think of anyone who had as dominant of a 2014 in the WWE ring as Brock.

Dustin Nichols – Dolph Ziggler. Had he not gone down with an injury early in the year, I think 2014 would have been the year for Daniel Bryan. Having said that, I am going with Dolph Ziggler. After being punished for some untimely (albeit truthful) comments about Randy Orton being boring and holding the roster back, WWE seems ready to forgive and forget and allow Ziggler to be the star we’ve all known he could be for years. Ziggler’s last few months in WWE have been spectacular, with great match after great match, as well as several key, big wins over guys like Luke Harper and Seth Rollins, including being the sole survivor in the main event at this year’s Survivor Series. Not only that, but he has brought a lot of prestige back to the Intercontinental Championship, and with the WWE title being on a part-timer who only works 30 days a year, Ziggler has done what he promised and made the IC title the most important singles belt in the company.

Tom Clark – Dolph Ziggler. Dolph Ziggler is usually the fans’ choice and honestly I have to go with him this time out.  Dean Ambrose had a good year and Seth Rollins did very well but for me, no one was as consistent as Ziggler.  Every time he laces up the boots, he impresses.  Just because he’s not a top guy makes no difference in terms of what he means to that company; Dolph is an absolute workhorse and he gets it done every time out.  He looks more comfortable and more at ease than he perhaps ever has before and if this is what simply allowing a guy to work with little main event expectations is like, then I for one say keep him where he is. He will eventually rise to the top, the guy is too good and he’s too over to be kept down for much longer.

Jeff Peck – Seth Rollins. Heading into 2014, Seth Rollins may have been the least likely guy on The Shield to breakout on his own and now he is by far the best star from The Shield since their split back in June. Rollins how tremendous matches throughout the year with guys like Dean Ambrose & John Cena and now he is poised to be a WWE Champion at some point in 2015. It’s amazing to see how far Seth Rollins has come from Tyler Black in ROH to the star we see each and every week in the WWE.

Atlee Greene – Dean Ambrose. In the wake of Daniel Bryan’s injury in May, no one has captured the imagination of WWE fans more than Dean Ambrose. Seth Rollins, and to an extent, Roman Reigns have had some good matches and fun moments but the lunatic fringe, with his versatile performance on the microphone and in the ring, has proven that in the case of The Shield, the sun of its parts is greater than the whole. Dolph Ziggler and Seth Rollins also deserve consideration for this honor.

Steve Grossi – Brock Lesnar. Some people are going to think I’m crazy but I’m going with Brock Lesnar for my wrestler of the year.  When I think of the individual that should win this, in my mind, it’s the wrestler who had the biggest year – the wrestler who made the biggest impact.  Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, Daniel Bryan, John Cena and Dolph Ziggler all had great moments but no one even comes close to the impact Brock made in the ring in 2014.  I hate the idea that he didn’t wrestle enough to win wrestler of the year.  This isn’t football or baseball where stats are compiled.  He works when he works. It’s not about collecting stats to compare against someone else.  With Ziggler’s win at Survivor Series being close, Brock had two wins that are untouchable by anyone else.  Lesnar’s domination of Cena at SummerSlam was unbelievable.  It was the most one-sided beating of Cena’s WWE career.  Brock hit Super Cena with 16 German suplexes, and two F-5’s, pinning Cena clean to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.  Four months prior, the thing I never thought would ever happen, happened.  Brock Lesnar did exactly what Paul Heyman said he was going to do, he defeated The Undertaker at WrestleMania, putting an end to Taker’s 21-match undefeated streak. Those are two moments I never thought I would see and Brock Lesnar did them both in the same year. Hands down the wrestler of the year for 2014.

Danny Bixby – John Cena.John Cena. Let’s go ahead and everyone agree to just disavow me now. My pick is…sigh…John Cena. Ugh, I hate myself for this! But let’s be honest, this year has been pretty much a crapshoot talent-wise. With CM Punk quitting in January, Daniel Bryan getting injured for 6-12 months right after he won the title at Wrestlemania and WWE’s new golden child Roman Reigns being out for a few months this fall, the WWE main event scene has fallen to one guy: John Cena. He has main evented 7 out of 12 PPV’s this year, and been the “2nd main event” for the other 5. Nobody else can boast that. The WWE relies on him to carry the weight of the product, and he does it year after year. 2014 was no different.

David Levin – Daniel Bryan. The rise of Bryan over the course of two years is one of the best stories in wrestling history. It is as important to the business as it was back in the 1970s when it was thought Ric Flair wasn’t worthy enough to hold the belt because Dory Funk and Jack Brisco had better wrestling backgrounds. The cult-like rapport’ Bryan has with the fans from a simple catch phrase – “YES!” – is one for the ages.

Robert Goeman – Seth Rollins. If Daniel Bryan had stayed healthy, this award would have been his. When the Shield broke up this year, Ambrose and Reigns had easy transitions into their face roles. Ambrose became a vengeful psychopath hell bent on destroying Rollins and Reigns…he changed his gear! Rollins became the handpicked golden boy of the Authority and has knocked it out of the park as a cocky little turd. With the sudden disappearance of alleged real world’s champion Brock Lesnar to visit every Jimmy Johns in a goodwill tour to spread the word of Vito Meats, Rollins has settled comfortably into the top heel spot. The highlight of his is of course the excellent Ambrose feud and good to great bouts against the likes of Ziggler and Cena among others. Rollins has cemented himself as the top heel in the company and I really don’t see anybody on the roster unseating him or even challenging him. Of course, I’m not forgetting all of the excellent work Rollins did in the Shield; he just impressed the heck out of me in this role. I honestly thought he would struggle in the role, but Rollins has been a natural in the role.

Chris Skoyles – Dolph Ziggler. Equally revered by casual fans and die-hards alike, Dolph Ziggler -in this writer’s opinion- deserves the nod for Wrestler of the Year not so much for any kayfabe accomplishments, but more for continuing to maintain his status as a firm favourite despite his continual mistreatment at the hands of the WWE machine. Whilst others are held up as bastions of greatness one minute, only to be scorned the next (see: Roman Reigns), Ziggler manages to retain the respect and adulation of fans thanks to his always-on-form work in keeping us entertained.

Eric Darsie – Dean Ambrose. If you told me at the start of 2014 that the Shield will break up and Dean Ambrose would be the guy I was most excited about watching out of the three, I’d laugh at you. When the three broke apart at the end of the spring, all three men jumped up the singles ladder rather quickly and I can see all three men as main eventers in the future, but with Dean Ambrose having a two pay-per-view main events under his belt as a singles star, he’s my wrestler of the year.

WWE Story of the Year

Eric Gargiulo – CM Punk Quitting the WWE and signing with the UFC. I struggled between CM Punk leaving the WWE and going to UFC and the Ultimate Warrior’s return and subsequent passing. With all due respect to the Warrior, I think the CM Punk story was much bigger on so many levels. Never have we had a story where a top guy just walked out of the company, impacting WrestleMania, and going to the UFC all in one year! On top of all of that you have the added element of Punk’s wife still working for the WWE. This is one hell of a story and the recent podcasts and interviews only heated it up again. I don’t think we’ll ever see anything like it again and for me, this was the biggest story of the year in and outside of the ring. How big of a story was this? In a year where the WWE essentially eliminated the pay-per-view model in favor of a network, this story was bigger.

Dustin Nichols – CM Punk quits and signs with UFC. I think there’s really only one story that can earn this award, and that’s CM Punk parting ways with WWE and eventually signing with UFC. Regardless of which side you believe (although Punk’s seems more likely), the fact is that Punk was a major star during his time with WWE, and leaving the company for a variety of reasons was even more major. The split was bitter, and Punk eventually decided to not only not return, but to leave pro wrestling for good, announcing his retirement before the age of 40, something almost unheard of in this sport. If that wasn’t shocking enough, Punk recently signed a major contract with UFC, with both sides likely looking to replicate the success of Brock Lesnar a few years back. Punk is already training for his first fight, and is expected to debut sometime in 2015. Already, speculation is running rampant on not only who Punk will face, but how well he is expected to fare in “the Octagon”. Regardless of what you think of his career move, Punk signing with UFC has the whole sports world talking.

Tom Clark – The CM Punk saga. For me, this has to be the CM Punk saga.  The guy that once stood up for the WWE locker room decided to leave it behind in favor of healing up and trying to have a normal life with his new wife.  It made sense and I for one didn’t hold it against him.  When he finally broke his silence on WWE, everyone lost their minds and when the UFC announcement was made, things got even crazier.  The voice of the voiceless was screaming louder than ever before and he wasn’t even in the ring anymore.  Fans can either hate him or love him but no one deny Punk’s drive to be his own man and not be controlled by anyone else on any level.  We should all be that brave.

Jeff Peck – CM Punk vs. the WWE. From the walkout to the podcast pipebomb to Vince McMahon’s response the CM Punk/WWE saga has dominated headlines throughout of 2014. From rumors of CM Punk being at RAW in Chicago back in March 2014 to rumors of CM Punk being at WrestleMania 30 to rumors of any and every type of return. It’ll be interesting to see what twists it takes heading into 2015 as CM Punk prepares for his UFC debut and if there is any “burying of the hatchet” between he & the WWE.

Steve Grossi – The Ultimate Warrior Returns. The debut of Sting is a very difficult story to pick against but for me, The Ultimate Warrior was the story of 2014.  After a long and ugly feud with Vince McMahon and WWE management that lasted 18+ years, The Ultimate Warrior took his rightful place in the WWE Hall of Fame with a speech that will never be forgotten.  Then, the night after WrestleMania XXX, he made an epic return to Monday Night Raw with an even more powerful and very eerie speech.  He said, “No WWE talent becomes a legend on their own.  Every man’s heart one day beats its final beat; his lungs breathe their final breath.” It’s almost like he was saying his final farewell.  Then the following day, one of the saddest days I can remember, he passed away.  There is no doubt in my mind that after everything that had happened in the events during WrestleMania weekend, he was happy and finally at peace.  He will forever be one of my all-time favorite wrestlers.  He’s the kind of personality you never forget.  The music, his sprint to the ring, the face paint and one-of-a-kind promos and there’s no question the spirit of the Ultimate Warrior will live forever. I couldn’t be happier that he was able to make his return and take his place in the WWE Hall of Fame.

David Levin – CM Punk Walking Out. Punk marched to the beat of his own drum. He walked out and then was fired on his wedding day. Arenas chant his name, hope he will appear in person in a “Sting sitting in the rafters” type scenario.Now, after hearing about how Vince McMahon publically apologized to him for the way he company treated him, to how Punk was never treated properly for MRSA to how he now is property of the UFC, Punk continues to make headline just for the mere fact he is the most polarizing wrestler who has not appeared in a WWE ring in the last 11 months.

Danny Bixby – $9.99! Say it with me: $9.99!!! That’s right, the absolute biggest story of the year was the creation and promotion of the WWE Network. A fan’s wet dream when it comes to watching pro wrestling. You can see every WWE/WCW/ECW ppv that ever existed, along with every new WWE ppv live while they air. I mean really, even if it was current PPV’s, you’re looking at $600 in ppv cable costs…instead of $120 for the year for the Network. That’s a crazy deal. Throw in all the old stuff, the new special content (Countdown, Monday Night War, etc) and every fan has been salivating at this. Hell, it’s worth $9.99 just to be able to watch NXT every week! As time goes on, the future of WWE will rise and fall with the success of the Network. All of their eggs are in this basket. Hopefully it doesn’t get crushed.

Robert Goeman – CM Punk’s Walk Out. This to me was a tough vote because we had the Network launch and it struggle leading to the stock debacle. You had Daniel Bryan cementing himself as the new face of the WWE, to only see his career in doubt. We all know or at-least we thought we knew the story being Punk leaving, sitting out his contract and then seemingly disappearing. Punk had never talked about the walk-out; the WWE seemed to be in radio silence mode and CM Punk became CM Sticky Note. Everybody theorized when Punk would return, then people were happy he was gone, and then everybody wanted him back. We also wondered when Vince would be seen driving a dump truck full of money down to Chicago. The company took pot shots at him in Chicago and Punk to his credit maintained silence. On Thanksgiving weekend, Punk would appear on Colt Cabana’s podcast, revealing

Chris Skoyles – CM Punk and WWE part way. I badly wanted to give this one to the Undertaker’s streak reaching its end. After all, did anything come as far out of the blue as that? Yet ultimately, I have to concede that the Punk/WWE break up earns the win simply because it’s dominated headlines for pretty much the full course of the year. Months after the Straight Edge Superstar’s last appearance in a WWE ring, we were still talking about him online, chanting his name in arenas and wondering what he’d do next. The move to MMA means we’ll still be talking about him long into 2015.

Eric Darsie – CM Punk vs. Vince McMahon. Since he walked out the night after the Royal Rumble, CM Punk was silent until Thanksgiving, when his first part interview with Colt Cabana on Art of Wrestling came out. With the lawsuit and all, he couldn’t come out sooner than he did, but it all made sense after both editions of Art of Wrestling came out. McMahon appearing on the Steve Austin Show with Stone Cold, it appears to me that what Punk mentioned in his two interviews with Cabana opened up a can of worms that the WWE has to close with their doctors, and with CM Punk.

WWE Match of the Year

Eric Gargiulo – Team Authority vs. Team Cena (Survivor Series 2014). This was another tough one because I hate to be accused of recency bias but I don’t think there was a match as exciting all year as the Survivor Series 2014 Team Cena vs. Team Authority match. The match was 43 minutes long which has to be the longest WWE PPV main-event in recent years. The match was incredibly dramatic, more so than even Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H. The fans were fantastic as they added an element of excitement to the match rarely seen outside of WrestleMania. The final fifteen minutes were as fun as you will get on a WWE event in 2014. I watched it again before writing this to confirm and it was just as entertaining several weeks later as it was live. I loved this match and the drama that came with it, thus it gets my nod for Match of the Year.

Dustin Nichols – Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton vs. Batista (WrestleMania 30). Although not the most spectacular match I’ve ever seen, I’m going with Bryan/Orton/Batista at Wrestlemania. Although something of an average triple threat match, the story of Bryan defying the odds and continuing to come back from absolutely everything thrown at him told a great story and made the match (as well as the payoff) completely worthwhile. Andre/Hogan at Wrestlemania III wasn’t the greatest of matches, but everyone remembers it because of the great build and the fantastic story. I think the same will be said for Bryan finally reaching the pinnacle of WWE in front of a crowd 100% behind him.

Tom Clark – Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton vs. Batista (WrestleMania 30). This one has to be Daniel Bryan’s title victory over Randy Orton and Batista at WrestleMania 30.  It may not get the nod overall in terms of being a technical masterpiece but it was the main event of WWE’s biggest night of the year.  Combine that with the fact it was Bryan’s ascension to the top and it meant so much more.  There has arguably not been a guy more deserving and more suited to fill that spot in recent history than Daniel Bryan and I’m very happy that he got his Mania moment.  It was the biggest night of his career and it came on the night when the company made the most money.  For me, that’s an epic match that’s hard to top.

Jeff Peck – Charlotte vs. Natalya (NXT Takeover – May 29th, 2014). This may come as a shock to some but it really stands out to me as the best match in a WWE ring from this past year. Charlotte and Natalya took the Flair/Hart rivalry to the next level back in May 2014 by putting together one of the best women’s wrestling matches I have seen in some time. The chemistry between the two of them is amazing, both are extremely athletic and they brought a emotional investment into the match.

Atlee Greene – Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins (Monday Night Raw 8/18/14). Their match at Summer Slam was match of the night and they upped the ante tenfold the next night on Raw. This was 25 minutes of televised mayhem that engulfed the Thomas & Mack Center and completely captivated the viewers at home. Nothing was wasted and everything meant something, unlike most Falls Count Anywhere matches, which are simply done for shock and awe. The finish where Rollins curb stomped Ambrose’s head through the cinder blocks was perfectly executed and heightened the drama of an already intense feud.

Steve Grossi – Wyatt Family vs The Shield: Elimination Chamber. The Shield vs. The Wyatt Family at Elimination Chamber is my choice for match of the year.  There are many ingredients that make for a great match and this one had it all.  All six members of these factions are spectacular performers and we are seeing that play out today.  The buildup for this match was great.  The promos and altercations were all fun and highly entertaining.  The anticipation was unbelievable for them to finally have the match and that was evident the night of Elimination Chamber. The second these two groups entered the ring the crowd was jacked up.  They were chanting, “this is awesome” before the match even started.  Of course the contest lived up to the hype.  This faction war had Dean Ambrose go missing, Seth Rollins flying everywhere including through an announce table, excitement, unpredictability and most importantly a definitive finish. There were a ton of great matches in 2014 but this one tops them all.

Eric Darsie – The Shield def. Evolution (WWE Payback). One of the matches I believe put over the Shield, especially the night after they’d break apart, was their clean sweep against Evolution at WWE Payback in a no disqualification elimination match. There weren’t any falls until the last minutes of the match and WrestleMania main eventers put over the new stars, what better match to put over the new singles stars?

Danny Bixby – Wyatt Family vs The Shield: Elimination Chamber. This match only barely squeaked out ahead of The Shield vs Evolution at Payback mostly because of the storyline surrounding it. This was the major turning point for the Shield. They were now full out babyfaces after being unstoppable heels since their debut. And the fans were dying for it! This match gave people what they wanted: A compelling reason to fight (Wyatts cost the Shield a shot at the title in the chamber) and 6 performers who gave everything they had to the match. Even Erick Rowan, the weakest link in the bunch, looked legitimate in this contest. The only thing that may have made it better would be putting Ziggler & Cesaro into it somehow too.

David Levin – Team Authority vs. Team Cena (Survivor Series 2014). The WWE is finally allowing more wrestlers to move forward, leaving John Cena’s spot vulnerable. Ziggler coming forward did a few things to the landscape of the WWE. It opened the door for someone to be the go-to face in the company. It also meant the remnant of The Authority have two heads to chop when it comes to getting even. Ziggler is one of the best performers to come through the WWE in the past decade.

Robert Goeman – Brock Lesnar vs John Cena (SummerSlam 2014). Before you begin to grab from that box of rotten fruit with my name written on it, let me explain. Were there better matches from a wrestling standpoint? Yes, but from a story standpoint nothing will touch this. A legitimate big fight atmosphere not seen since Hogan vs Vader at SuperBrawl 1995, coupled with the biggest curveball in WWE history as Lesnar just runs through a fifteen time champion with ease. This is a match with so many great moments: The F-5 right away, Lesnar’s facial expressions, the suplexes, Charles Robinson in general, that Let’s Go Cena kid, Heyman being Heyman, and even Cena’s last ditch moves to slay the monster. Those two moments will always stand out for me, the outta nowhere AA and Lesnar sitting up like The Underaker with the grin and laugh like it was nothing. When Cena locked in the Hail Mary STF, I had the same dread that many fans felt as Lesnar would tap out and Cena would win. It’s one of the best STF’s Cena ever did, but the moment of Lesnar breaking out with ease, pounding on Cena, dragging Cena and hitting with F-5 to mercifully end it all was beautiful.

Chris Skoyles – Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H – WrestleMania 30. A tough one this one. For many, the subsequent main event, with Bryan finally lifting the title after a dramatic outing with Orton and Batista may be the better of the former American Dragon’s Wrestlemania 30 matches. Given the drama involved and the feel-good finale, it certainly deserves to be up there, but for this fan, the opening contest just pips it to the post. Bryan stood toe-to-toe with the man who had tormented him for months and took him out at the end of one of the best ‘Mania opening matches in 20 years.

WWE Angle of the Year

Eric Gargiulo – Daniel Bryan vs. the Authority. In a perfect world this angle would have paid dividends right after WrestleMania. Unfortunately injuries to Bryan prevented the angle from truly paying off. Ironically this great angle would have not even been possible if it weren’t for CM Punk walking out and leaving Triple H without an opponent for Mania. Regardless, by the time this match got to Mania the feud was red hot and Bryan was finally given the big WrestleMania push we hoped to see.

Dustin Nichols – Brock Lesnar ends the Streak. Unfortunately, the angles this year weren’t all that great, mainly due to the shows being almost completely dominated by the Authority vs. whoever every single week. While the angle did provide some great moments, it got very stale very quickly, as any angle of this nature does. If I had to pick one, however, I am going to go with something most nearly everyone else hated, and that’s Brock Lesnar conquering the Undertaker’s undefeated streak at Wrestlemania. I have been begging for this to happen for quite some time, but never had much faith it would happen. While Lesnar wouldn’t be my first choice, seeing him absolutely destroy the Undertaker and cleanly pin his shoulders to the mat was phenomenal. Follow that up with Lesnar obliterating John Cena in a completely lopsided affair, and Lesnar became one of my favorite performers of the year, even if he did work only part-time.

Tom Clark – Brock Lesnar Dominates the WWE. Brock Lesnar owned WWE in 2014 due to his manhandling of John Cena at SummerSlam and because of his shocking win over The Undertaker at WrestleMania 30.  His return to the company and these two events are enough for me to consider it the angle of the year.  The fact that WWE would allow a guy that’s not even part time to first conquer The Deadman at Mania then destroy Cena for the championship is so surprising that it has to get the nod here. That he spent four months off of TV with no title defense is just icing on the cake; it may not be the popular choice but for me, this was definitely the angle of the year.  And no, I’m not happy about it either.

Jeff Peck – Seth Rollins turns on the Shield. I’ve said that Seth Rollins turning his back on The Shield could be the “Shawn Michaels super kick to Marty Jannetty through the barber shop window” moment circa 2014. It came out of no where and it was with someone fans would least likely expect turn his back as a heel. Just 6+ months later from the angle and we could be looking at a moment that defines the WWE for years or decades to come.

Eric Darsie – Brock Lesnar being the 1 in 21-1. Who ever thought going into WrestleMania XXX that the Undertaker will take a lose at WrestleMania, especially to another part timer like Brock Lesnar? With how Brock has been booked for the rest of the year, and with his MMA credentials, I don’t know who’d be better to be the one to end the Undertaker’s WrestleMania streak. Brock made John Cena look like a jobber at SummerSlam to become the new WWE Champion, and coming off of the victory at WrestleMania, Brock can not be stopped!

David Levin – Daniel Bryan vs. The Authority. It has been NWO-ish in how the Authority had built so much momentum, beating the hell out of Bryan. It reminded me of Lex Luger, Randy Savage and others getting their asses licked each week. The “B+” angle works great with Bryan, the underdog and the bearded, smallish wrestler with a heart as big as Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit combined.

Robert Goeman – The Rise of the YES Movement Going into WrestleMania XXX. Hands up, who thought that the WWE was going to screw this up? After so many screw-ups when it came to booking Daniel Bryan in summer/fall/winter, I surely thought that Bryan would lose again in 18 seconds at The Show of Shows. I can admit that I was wrong and there was some really good stuff in the weeks leading into Mania. The Occupy Raw segment was well done and the beat down angle, while predictable was executed so well. Credit obviously goes to Triple H and Bryan for playing their respective roles very well, but Stephanie McMahon was great in this angle, and they’d try to do the same thing with Steph and Brie….but that didn’t work obviously. It’s a great angle and it lead to The Miracle on Bourbon Street, which combined my love for Triple H doing the job and Bret Hart’s WrestleMania X journey.

Chris Skoyles – Daniel Bryan – The Underdog Prevails. Though Daniel Bryan – WWE Champion may not have lasted long, everything before that big Wrestlemania moment made for compelling television. What really made this one stand out was that it perfectly weaved on-screen drama with fans’ real-life frustration over Bryan’s push to keep us hooked from start to finish. Throw in Triple H at his most heelish best, memorable moments like the ‘Occupy Raw’ segment, and we’ve got our angle of the year.

WWE Breakout Star of the Year

Eric Gargiulo – Seth Rollins. The WWE breakout wrestler of the year is probably someone I would have never predicted a year ago. Daniel Bryan was on his way and I think Dean Ambrose could have been bigger, but the WWE creative team did less to hasten Rollins’ ascension than anyone else. He went from a cog on a three man team to being the number one full-time heel under Brock Lesnar in a year. I almost gave Rollins Wrestler of the Year but his record just didn’t quite measure up. He has no real big victories to speak of and nothing that even comes close to dwarfing the end of the streak. Rollins has a big chance to be Wrestler of the Year in 2015, but I can’t think of anyone who took as big of a leap in such a short time in 2014 or any recent year than Seth Rollins.

Dustin Nichols – Damien Mizdow. While the angles in the company were kind of stale this year, there was no shortage of breakout stars. All three members of the Shield, Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper could all lay claim to this award. However, I’m going to go a different route and go with Damien Mizdow. Mizdow is on the verge of finally becoming a major star, and everyone knows it. After having a very lackluster couple of years in the company, the former Damien Sandow got slapped with a gimmick that should have killed him for good, that being the Miz’s stunt double. Instead, Mizdow decided to have fun with the gimmick, including coming up with the idea of mimicking all of Miz’s moves and actions in the ring himself, and the fans have completely latched onto it. What was originally an idea to get Miz over (it’s never going to happen, WWE. Accept it) has instead breathed completely new life into Mizdow, legitimately making him one of the most over wrestlers on the roster. It’s only a matter of time before WWE splits this team up and finally starts pushing Mizdow onto bigger and better things, something they’re already in the process of teasing.

Jeff Peck – Rusev. When the WWE first debuted Rusev as a Russian star I groaned because it was a gimmick that was down 20-25 years ago, yet the WWE has made it entertaining and gotten it over in 2014. Rusev is a force in the ring with a ton of momentum heading into 2015 and having Lana as his mouthpiece has made him into a superstar that I’ve grown to enjoy on a weekly basis. I do believe that 2015 will be a big year in longevity for Rusev as I think he can clearly be a force in the WWE for years to come, if booked correctly.

Steve Grossi – Dean Ambrose. I’ve been saying this for months now and I am going to continue to say it, Dean Ambrose is currently the best thing going in the WWE today.  When it was time for The Shield to split up, it was clear he was not in their main event plans.  Roman Reigns was handpicked to be the next baby face star and with Seth Rollins winning Money in the Bank, he’s clearly in position to make a huge impact in the future.  But then Ambrose was given the opportunity to stand out and that’s exactly what he did.  He’s great on the microphone, excellent in the ring and you never know what you are going to get with him.  Whether it’s ripping apart a dummy in the ring, destroying the Money in the Bank briefcase, jumping out of a present or the back of a car, he’s taking the fun factor to another level.  In this case, it’s not all about getting the win in the ring.  The Lunatic Fringe has been a part of some of the best programs of the year, most notably against Seth Rollins and Bray Wyatt and in my opinion; those feuds were great because of Ambrose. No question he’s the guy to keep an eye on in 2015.

David Levin – Bray Wyatt. Bray Wyatt. While we expected the members of the Shield to dominate this first half of the year, Wyatt came in a revolutionized the oddity in wrestling again. Not since the days of Kevin Sullivan and Adrian Street have we witnessed such a dramatic entrance in the business and the feuds he has already assumed with Kane, John Cena, Chris Jericho and now Dean Ambrose make him as epic as the WWE wanted him to be.  

Robert Goeman – Luke Harper. While Harper had some good performances in 2013, I felt that he took off this year with some great moments in the Shield/Wyatt Family series. Harper also had some great matches against Cena during the Wyatt feud and stood out in the blow-off to the Uso’s feud at Battleground. Harper also had some good showings against Chris Jericho in the Jericho/Wyatt feud and capped off 2014 with a show-stealing ladder match against Dolph Ziggler at TLC. Harper’s future is bright and looks to be the next great big man that the company has desperately looked for since The Undertaker started to slow down. Hopefully, Harper will have a strong showing in the Rumble match, heck I would even peg him being in the final six at-least.

Eric Darsie – Seth Rollins. Along with Dean Ambrose, I was surprised to see how great Seth Rollins was by the end of 2014 as a singles star. I never thought Rollins would be as great of a heel when he was a part of the Shield and if you told me back at the start of 2014 that Rollins will be one of the top heels by the end of the year, I’d be surprised. I can’t wait to see where 2015 takes him.

Chris Skoyles – Dean Ambrose. Another tough one. In terms of in-ring excellence, others may have shone brighter than Ambrose, and though he was already well entrenched in the WWE system along with the shield, it was in 2014 that he proved he could hold his own as a top-tier solo star.

Krysta Ibach – Luke Harper. I am trying to decide who the bigger break out star is; Dean Ambrose…Seth Rollins…or Luke Harper. (Cue chorus in the peanut gallery….HARPER???). Yes Harper. Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins have just expanded exponentially since the implosion of the SHIELD. (Reigns not so much; he needs to lose the strong but silent type image; he was much better when he was that flirty, cheeky man.) Their promos for the most part are consistent and spot on; their in-ring work just gets better and better. Ambrose is train wreck riveting; you just can’t look away when he’s on. Even that spot with the mannequin where Ambrose went all out; it was a strange spot but still we were riveted. Rollins too has his moments where you just don’t want to miss anything he might do, the high spots where he drops off ledges. Their feud is one that WWE can revisit time and again and the IWC may never tire of it, their chemistry is awesome. Some of the angles have been shit, but that’s more creative than talent. And Harper…as one of the big men of the company, Harper can pull off moves that one would expect from a smaller competitor (I’m still talking about THAT first hurricanrana.) It’ll be interesting to see where they take Harper now that he has been “Set Free” from the Wyatt Family. I can see him having a great singles career…if they don’t shank it like they have with others *cough* Drew McIntyre (Drew Galloway) *cough*

You can get more of Danny than you can handle at his website www.stillrealtome.com. He also co-hosts the best pro wrestling podcast in the world, Still Real To Me, subscribe on iTunes www.stillrealtome.com/itunes. Follow his show on twitter @SRTMpodcast

Tom Clark is the host of Tom Clark’s Main Event podcast, a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report and a Writer for Whatculture.com

Eric Darsie is known as a ‘common-man’ among his peers, at least he thinks so. He works hard with his hands in the heart of Minnesota and on his free time, he thugs and a bugs with his family and friends. Whenever he doesn’t do that, he’s found to be writing. Now more of a rare thing, he’s gems could be found here. If you would like to see more of Eric’s work outside of the professional world, check him out at http://vintagedarsie.wordpress.com/, http://www.writerscafe.org/Darsie/writing/.

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 @SteveOGrossi.

Robert Goeman has been writing for CamelClutchBlog since 2014 and has written for FiveOuncesofPain and What Culture. Follow him on twitter at https://twitter.com/RobertGoeman.

Chris Skoyles is a writer and wrestling fan currently on a mission to review every WWE pay per view from Wrestlemania 1 – 30. Those reviews, and more, can be found on the Retro Pro Wrestling blog (http://allprowrestlingreviews.blogspot.com). Chris tweets at @Retropwrestling.

Jeff Peck is the co-host for the wrestling podcast, “The Still Real to Us Show” and the podcast, “The Bower Show.” You can download the shows over at TheBowerShow.com or WrestleChat.net. You can also follow Jeff on Twitter: @TheJeffPeck and “like” his Facebook pages: Facebook.com/TheStillRealToUsShow and Facebook.com/BowerShow

Atlee Greene is a contributor to Camel Clutch Blog and host of The Bodyslam Podcast. His other work can be found at Gerweck.net, ForcesofGeek.com, Whatculture.com and his own personal blog. He can be found on Twitter @MidnightLogicGo

Dustin Nichols is a freelance writer, and you can keep track of all of his work on his Facebook page, which can be found at www.facebook.com/DustinNicholsWriter. Oh, and if you like bodybuilding, check out his mom’s official site by clicking the banner below:

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Ryback Responds to CM Punk

December 22, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

It’s been a tough few weeks for Ryback. CM Punk singled the WWE star out, publicly ripping Ryback for being dangerous in the ring among other things. Ryback has finally responded and according to the Big Guy, none of what Punk said was true.

These CM Punk interviews are the gifts that keep on giving to bloggers. Punk has dropped several pipe bombs as of late but no single individual absorbed as much shrapnel as Ryback. Punk went out of his way to rip Ryback apart during his now legendary interview on the Art of Wrestling where he accused Ryback of being so careless in the ring, that wrestling Ryback took 20 years off of his career.

“That took 20 years off my [expletive] life,” Punk says of having to work with Ryback, whom he basically calls unqualified to wrestle in the WWE ring. “There was one time he kicked me in the stomach as hard as he could and he broke my ribs, right at the tail end. I never got an apology for that. A real piece of work, that guy.”

Punk also went on to recount a confrontation he had with Ryback after Ryback dropped him on a table and according to Punk, carelessly injured him in the process.

“First night out, he’s supposed to gorilla press me through a table…f*cking misses the table. Dumps me on the fucking concrete ground. Tilts my f*cking pelvis. F*cks me up for weeks. I walk up to him and go, ‘You can’t tell me you didn’t do that on purpose because you’ve done it so many times now. You’re either dumb as f*ck and you suck or you did it on purpose.’ And he was like, ‘I’m dumb as fuck. I’m sorry.’”

I called bullsh*t on that story the second I heard it. I have no doubt that Punk got hurt because if you watch the spot, it isn’t pretty. What I have highly doubted is that the dialogue between Punk and Ryback went down as Punk described. Guess what? According to Ryback, it didn’t.

Ryback was a guest on Chris Jericho’s Talk is Jericho podcast recently and was asked about Punk’s comments. Ryback took the high road yet clearly the big man is upset about Punk’s recollection of their matches and confrontations. While Ryback takes full responsibility for the spot, he claims that the meeting between he and Punk after the match went much differently.

Ryback said that he felt horrible about the spot. He said that he came up to Punk after the match in the locker room to apologize. Punk told him, “I’m fine”. That was it according to Ryback. The confrontation that Punk claims went down is fiction according to Ryback. Ryback went on to sum the whole experience up.

“I went and heard part of it (the interview). Punk was always good to me when he was here and I felt I was good to him. He was never like that to my face and I felt we always had good matches for the most part on the live events. To leave and say the things he said, I try not to take anything personal anymore. So whatever he’s going through, if he feels the need to say that, I can tell you it’s not true. It’s one of those things, it’s like, come on man. I don’t understand if it’s a personal thing with me. I don’t know but I have no ill feeling towards the guy, I wish him the best.”

Ryback also went on to tell Jericho that if he was as careless as Punk claims he is, that he wouldn’t have a job. Jericho has worked with Ryback a number of times and defended the big man. Jericho agreed and said that if Ryback was that dangerous in the ring, he’d be gone. They both have valid points…see Ken Kennedy for more.

All of this has to make you wonder why Punk went out of his way to say what he said about Ryback and yet criticized nobody else. The dig about “steroid guy” also seems a bit tasteless as well. The only explanation I can think of is that Punk had so many concussions that he doesn’t remember half of what he thinks he remembers. The other explanation is that he is trying to come off as some kind of tough guy before jumping into the UFC.

I do know this. Ryback sounded very sincere and a lot more professional in his response than Punk. I’d highly recommend checking out the entire interview with Jericho, which paints a much different picture of Ryback than I had prior to listening. Check it out for free over at Talk is Jericho.

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CM Punk Rips TV Host For WWE Questions

December 20, 2014 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts, Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

CM Punk has done a great job isolating himself from critics since announcing his UFC contract. Unfortunately for Punk the softballs came to an end when he went Off the Record and it didn’t take long for things to get ugly.

Michael Landsberg has had his share of verbal confrontations over the years and has never been known to shy away from tough questions or avoid the yellow elephants in the room. Which is why I am surprised that Punk wasn’t more prepared for the verbal joust that took place last week on Off the Record.

The interview started off on a bad foot for Punk when Landsberg made a complete mockery of Punk in the UFC by playing a video of potential Punk opponents which included Jose Cansenco and Chef Boyardeee. Yeah, you could see where this was going. Punk did not find it humorous and the interview grew to be contentious from there.

Landsberg asked Punk if he had ever been punched. Punk laughed and said he had been punched many times in a WWE ring. What a dumb answer. Here is a guy that is upset he isn’t being taken seriously as a UFC fighter yet he gives an answer which makes him look completely foolish.

This isn’t the first time Punk has helped fuel doubters and critics with his answers. It is amazing to me that someone as polished as Punk in media has been so unprepared to answer tough questions about his move to UFC. I don’t understand how someone from the UFC hasn’t sat down with him yet and crafted more well thought answers than some of the responses Punk has offered. Quite frankly it makes the UFC look more like a circus or mockery than Punk.

What is also interesting at this point is that Punk starts drinking coffee throughout the interview. I found it odd and a little unprofessional at the time but so be it. I saw it as Punk giving the interviewer a middle finger. At the end of the interview Landsberg brings that up and Punk says he needed to drink it to keep himself awake.

Punk is then asked about comments Dana White has made about Punk being offered an opponent at his own level. Punk says he’d fight anyone, including Anderson Silva for the right price. Punk says that he doesn’t want to take it easy and wants to put the “miles in.” He also says it probably wouldn’t be a good decision to fight someone like a Nate Diaz at this point in his career.

The interview progresses and it doesn’t take a psychologist to read Punk’s body language and assess his descending attitude throughout the interview. I will say that Landsberg appears to have picked up on it early and egged him on a bit as the interview progressed. Landsberg at the end of the interview finally calls Punk out on it and asks him if he was uncomfortable with the interview. Guess what? He was.

Punk says that the interview was very wrestling centric and he was there to talk about the UFC. Okay that may be well and good but it was Punk that first brought up wrestling when Landsberg asked him if he has ever taken a punch. Landsberg said nothing about the WWE up to that point. Even at the halfway mark there was only one question that Landsberg asked about the WWE and it was in comparison to UFC.

The truth finally comes out when Landsberg asks Punk he has no UFC fights scheduled, he has no UFC pedigree so what should he have asked them? Punk brings up the segment earlier in the show which made a joke of Punk fighting in the UFC. It’s funny because coming from wrestling you’d think Punk would just not sell the rib and move on. Instead he sat there with a sour puss for fifteen minutes. Nobody likes being laughed at but how Punk can expect journalists to take a former WWE wrestler with no MMA pro or amateur experience, not even a training camp under his belt seriously is incredibly naive of him.

Again, Punk is in desperate need of a media coach. It is in the best interest of the UFC to do that immediately. Punk is in for a reality check if he thinks that everyone in the sports media is going to treat this thing seriously. It is what it is and what this interview told me is that the criticism is starting to get to him. The more he feeds the critics, the more they will come to feast.

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Seth Rollins Talks CM Punk

December 19, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Seth Rollins has quickly become something of a spokesman for the WWE. Rollins is popping up in more and more media interviews and you knew it was only a matter of time before he was asked about WWE public enemy #1, CM Punk.

Rollins has transitioned smoothly into a must-get for journalists hoping to snag a WWE superstar for their radio show or newspaper. Rollins in a short time frame has become something of a voice for the WWE, offering honest, thoughtful, and entertaining interviews to fans and media alike. This is probably why it didn’t take him long to get asked about his former foe, CM Punk.

It has been less than a month since Punk delivered his biggest pipe bomb yet on Colt Cabana’s podcast. Punk ripped the WWE and specifically went out of his way to embarrass Ryback. While Vince McMahon told Steve Austin he’d love to have Punk back, what do the other wrestlers think? How would he be treated by the locker room? Glenn More and Steve Guy asked Rollins about just that.

I don’t see why not. He’s a self-admitted jerk, first of all. And if you listen to his podcast, he didn’t say that he was in a great mood the last few months that he was there. He admitted how grumpy he was and how much of a jerk he was, even more than he already is. I think we would welcome him back. I’m not to hold too much grudges. I think everyone deserves a second chance; an opportunity to redeem themselves. I would welcome him back. I’m sure he would face some resentment, as far as the locker room is concerned. But guys get over that stuff pretty quick. I think if it was best for business, yeah, I would be open to it for sure.

Rollins was talked about how Punk left and whether he’d do the same thing.

I think it could have handled better, probably, on both sides. And I think down the road, people involved will say the same thing. But as much as I don’t necessary agree with the way he left, I think I understand, mentally, where he was. This business can take a toll on you. You travel a lot. You get beat up a lot. There’s a lot of frustration that’s involved and mentally, over time, that can wear on you. It can put you in place where you’re a different person. And when you’re not happy with who you are and the person you want to be, you gotta take a step back. You gotta look at things outside the bubble a little bit. I think that’s what he did and I think he realized that he needed to take a step back and see what was going on. And if he didn’t like it, then he can move on. I think they agreed to disagree. Like I said, could have been handled differently from a public relations standpoint on both sides. I think once the dust settles, everything will feel itself out and it should be alright.

Finally he was asked about Punk going to the UFC. Rollins has positive thoughts on that as well.

Good for him. Kudos to Punk for finding himself something to do after WWE. He’s made a big splash over the last few weeks between his podcasts and signing with UFC. I wish him the best of luck. I really hope that he has as much success there as he has here. I think it will be very interesting for him to try something new. He’s only been a pro wrestler since he was 18 years old. For him, at his age, to step out of his comfort zone and try something new is pretty admirable and I’m looking forward to seeing how he does.

If you were expecting Rollins to come out and rip Punk you were mistaken. Rollins is a Punk fan yet I am not quite sure if he will be as welcomed back as he thinks without a public apology to the Big Guy.

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UFC Star Rips CM Punk, Says Signing Is Ridiculous

December 15, 2014 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts, WWE | Pro Wrestling

He might do great, but why does he get a chance? He’s an amateur. You’re going to put an amateur in there with pros? That makes us all amateurs, so I think it’s ridiculous. As far as I’m concerned, f-ck him, f-ck the whole situation. Anybody who takes that fight is tripping.

Not everyone is excited about CM Punk coming to the UFC. Punk has now become the target of one angry UFC fighter who believes that Punk’s UFC deal is making a complete mockery of the sport and guess what…he’s right.

It didn’t take long for CM Punk to get a taste of his own medicine. Remember, Punk has been outspoken for the last several years of guys walking into the WWE and getting WrestleMania main-events while the rest of the crew are working house shows and putting their time in. Punk is now in a similar situation on the opposite side in the UFC. The biggest difference however is that many in Punk’s new locker room don’t believe he has earned any of it.

UFC veteran Nate Diaz is the first big UFC star to publicly bash the signing. Diaz went off on Punk over the weekend and while he doesn’t wish any warm on Punk, he believes the entire situation is terrible for the UFC fighters and the sport as a whole.

I don’t dig it,” Diaz said. “He has got no fights. I know he’s a big draw. I looked him up. Everyone’s going to buy tickets. It’s going to be great for the venue and the UFC, but at the same time, it downgrades all the fighters.

Whether you are a Punk fan or not, you can’t argue with Diaz. Having a guy fight in the UFC with no fights under his belt or no amateur pedigree makes the entire sport look like a circus. It hurts the credibility of the sport and the fighters. What does it say about the UFC if Punk walks in, without any experience, and wins? It says exactly what Diaz is saying.

If I want to, I can’t go play in the NBA – not even Stefan Struve’s big ass,” Diaz said. “He can’t go play in the NBA if he wants to because he feels like making a change. For a publicity thing? They wouldn’t pay him no money, and they wouldn’t even let him play. It’s ridiculous.”

I don’t think you should just let some millionaire WWE guy just come on over and play a little game, like have fun with his career. I’m over here busting my ass, fighting for 10 years and doing my thing and having a serious job that I have to do for this. And this guy is going to come over and probably get paid more than everyone in the room.

Hey, that kind of sounds familiar doesn’t it. CM Punk’s own words on a similar situation are coming back to haunt him.

I have no personal problems against Dwayne. It’s very frustrating being here and watch a guy come in and get credit for a WrestleMania buyrate when he didn’t do anything on the show. He certainly didn’t do anything entertaining.

This whole situation is making Punk look like a bigger hypocrite by the day. Once again you have to keep in mind, Punk has been the one beating this drum for the last three years in the WWE. This was his fight and unfortunately for him he is the one that opened up the comparisons to his situation and the ones he whined about for the last three years.

I’m sorry, but this guy’s making a joke out of my serious life and getting compensated more for it,” Diaz said. “I don’t mean no harm on him, but I don’t think it’s right.

Nate Diaz isn’t a popular guy but it is hard for any objective fan to disagree with him. This whole situation really is a complete joke.

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