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A Tale of Two WWE Cage Matches

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

Can a band release more ‘Greatest Hits’ compilations than actual new studio material? You can if you’re Randy Orton and John Cena. Both Orton and Cena are far more capable performers than their exhausted detractors would care to admit, but it’s a case of too much, too often for the duo.

Their lengthy Hell in a Cell match was preceded by a nearly-as-stretched video package, making a case for their ‘rivalry’ being among the all-time greats in WWE’s annals. Granted, it may have also been a subliminal commercial for the Network’s “Rivalries” series that debuts this week, and I’d argue it served better as advertising than as stating of legitimate fact.

The most solidified roots of Cena vs. Orton really date back to about 2007, with only a few notable occurrences: Orton attacking Cena’s father (in both 2007 and 2013, the latter presented as fresh and neoteric), Orton pinning Cena in a WrestleMania triple threat match, a forgettable game of ‘catch’ with the WWE Title in late 2009, and the World Title unification in 2013. In all, their prolongated issue lacked the sort of twists and definable incidences of feuds past.

That’s in part because their characters have never grown. Cena has been the do-gooder charity robot for a decade, incapable of conveying the brilliant pathos and raw emotion that heroes of eras past have needed to add depth. Randy Savage, Cena isn’t. The Supermannequin exterior won’t allow it.

Orton is only slightly more deeper a character, only because he has two masks instead of one: the irrational hero prone to violence, and the justified villain prone to violence. One has a maniacal grin, the other wears an entitled smirk. Otherwise, it’s the same Orton, just standing (mostly) clearly on either side of the fence.

It was hard to connect with WWE’s sales pitch that this feud belongs with Hulk vs. Andre or Austin vs. Rock or Michaels vs. Hart, because the principals themselves have no connectable virtues. When I wrote the ‘Greatest Hits’ line, that’s exactly how Sunday night’s match played out: the same benign finisher reversals we’ve seen since 2007. Same song, different edits toward the chorus, coin flip for the coda.

By the time Cena won with the Attitude Adjustment through a table, no new ground had been broken, and no definitive blowoff was palpable. Still, to hear the three announcers tell it (no doubt with a scratchy voice imploring via headset), it was the perfect climax to a bedazzling novel. Even theater of the mind doesn’t imbue Cena and Orton with compelling characters, but that’s an extension of WWE itself: by making their chosen commodities as basic as possible, they don’t necessarily ruin them. The counter to that is that by not taking chances with a shift in presentation, the fizz goes out of the cola much faster. Stale soda does leave a foul taste.

Contrast that to Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins’ closing Cell match, which has yet to be so foul. While surprising to find Ambrose and Rollins as the final act, there is perhaps some credence to some Twitter user’s theory that Cena/Orton went on at 9 PM to try and keep fans from flocking to The Walking Dead. Given Michael Cole’s gushing platitudes for both men, and the ‘historical value’ video package that was equivalent to road head with feeling, it’s hard to argue against WWE’s possibly strategical match placement.

Even without crudely-woven history at their back, the former Shield allies have compelling recent history: the shocking turn by Rollins, their forking paths into their well-defined roles (Rollins is effective as a pretentious snot, while Ambrose has spent years perfecting his hellbent sociopath schtick), and the fact that Rollins used the turn not only to profit (Money in the Bank briefcase, the use of any and all of The Authority’s flunkies), but to injure the man he wronged (Ambrose getting planted through the cinderblocks). The revenge story is easily digestible.

The fans in Dallas genuinely wanted to see Ambrose shred Rollins for his wrongdoings. Never mind that Rollins was beloved in the Shield for his exuberant ring generalship and Hardy-esque stunt work; when he turned heel, he turned on a beloved character in Ambrose, and the two worked to make us cynics believe that they truly want each other dead. Even briefcase slime, hot dog carts, and mannequins couldn’t low-bridge the want to see their collision course inside a mega-cage, despite neutering by a lack of blood.

The Cell match was indeed a bloodless melee, one that didn’t need to shred a drop of red. It was an unconventional bout, less contrivance and more of the pathos that Orton and Cena lack, with Ambrose gleefully torturing the social-climbing scum that Rollins had turned into. Anything unlike the modern WWE norm is sought after and appreciated. The fact that two wrestlers the fans (ingrained and casual alike) had hand-picked for a push were acting out this slice of something fresh only made it better.

Sadly, Ambrose and Rollins’ studio collaboration was left incomplete. Much like season three of Chappelle’s Show, we got to see the brilliance of the minds involved, but without satisfaction. Bray Wyatt, an individual wildly cheered for disrupting an unwanted Cena/Orton bout at the Royal Rumble, attacked Ambrose in a rivet-gun-tacked finish, putting more focus on the swerve ending than all of the goodwill Ambrose and Rollins had built in five months.

That’s the shame in all of this: for once, the fans had bought stock in a feud without ham-handed prodding from the firm, and it just….meanders into something else. We wanted Ambrose to kill Rollins for five months of selfish acts. Nobody wants to see Ambrose kill Wyatt for interfering in a match like any other member of the roster has done at any given time.

Fresh took a backseat to the company crutch, a storytelling shift without purpose. Nobody was talking Ambrose/Rollins once Wyatt was inserted, despite the noise for the two before. Far fewer were talking Cena/Orton before and after it happened. It would have been hard to get a word in edge-wise anyway, with Cole, Lawler, and JBL telling us everything we’re supposed to think anyway.

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WWE Hell in a Cell 2014 Results and Recap: Rollins Survives, Cena Wins

October 26, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Hell in a Cell 2014WWE Hell in a Cell delivered an exciting headliner as predicted between Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins with an unpredictable ending. The return of Bray Wyatt spoiled the night for Ambrose and WWE fans hoping for a conclusive finish to arguably the hottest WWE feud of 2014. Fortunately those fans did see a conclusive ending to one of the oldest rivalries of the modern-day era.

I don’t usually like John Cena Matches. This time, however, I saw greatness.

For all the wring things the WWE has done over the last few months, putting Cena in a match with Randy Orton in Hell in a Cell was not one of them. The 15-time WWE World Champion proved he could not only sell his match with Randy Orton for the right to be the number one contender for Brock Lesnar’s title, he proved he could wrestle like he was facing CM Punk with everything on the line.

It was truly one of the greatest Hell-in-a-Cell matches of all time.

Orton and Cena used move and counter move to put together the return of Cena/Lesnar III this year.

What happens with Orton now depends on his association with The Authority and Seth Rollins. With the rumors of a face turn by The Viper running about as hot as Chip Kelly possibly running back to college football, how the WWE decides to use Orton now that he has lost to his arch rival will have an impact on the final two pay-per-view events of the year.

As great as Cena and Orton were, they were not the only ones to tear the roof off in Dallas, on Sunday night.

Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose had a little something to say about that.

And the first part of the “match” started before the bell was even sounded. Both men fought on top of the steel cage, luring themselves off the side of the structure and falling on the announce table before they were carried out on stretchers. Think the Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels spot from the first HIAC. Both guys were stretchered and Dean broke free to attack, only for Dean Ambrose to bring his opponent in the enclosed structure.

That’s where the true brutality took place until the end when Bray Wyatt mad his appearance in the match. The lights went out and a foreign chant broke out. “Magically” a lantern appeared with a hologram. Bray Wyatt finally attacked Ambrose, allowing Rollins to pin him subsequently thereafter. Rollins quickly left the cage where Wyatt continued to attack Ambrose.

Is Wyatt, who took Ambrose out, now a member of the Authority? Does this mean Orton is now out of the Kliq? And what happens to the feud that that had become white hot? Like a good soap opera, we must wait until Monday to find out on Raw.

Here are how the other matches on the night played out…

AJ beats Paige

She is still the Divas Champion. Paige cannot figure out how to beat her former “bestie”. AJ seems to have Paige’s number. The wrestling in the Diva’s division is much better when these two are opposing each other.

Rusev beats Big Show

This is getting a little old since there appears to be nothing American wrestlers can do with the big Russian, Rusev. Who is going to beat the Nikita Koloff wannabe? Again, Rusev proved he is the best foreign heel to come along in decades. He made Big Show submit and took out Mark henry at ringside in the process. Someone must stop him.

Sheamus beats The Miz

Even the stunt double couldn’t bring the United States Champion to The Miz. Sheamus beat The Miz to keep the title around the waist of the Great White.

Star and Goldust def. The Usos

This is a feud that continues to have steam. At some point, there will be other tag teams that will compete for gold.

For every move, the four combatants had an answer. Back and forth they beat the hell out of each other and in the end, the champions retained the title.

Nikki Bella beats Brie Bella

The wrestling itself was entertaining. Nikki now has a new assistant for 30 days. At some point there have to be a connection that leads to these two fighting over the WWE Divas Title. Brie is Nikki’s special assistant for one month.

Dolph Ziggler def. Cesaro in two out of there falls match

Although Ziggler won the match two falls in a row, it was one of the most entertaining matches of the night. Ziggler remains Intercontinental Champion but the two fight back and forth before a winner is determined as the fans chant, “This is Awesome.” It really was.

Mark Henry def. Bo Dallas in preshow starter

Henry needed no time to take care of his new nemesis. I really wanted to see Rusev come in an interrupt this match.

OVERALL IMPRESSION

A solid performance all around. This is one of the better PPV events of the year – GRADE B+
Full WWE 2014 Hell in a Cell results and winners….
Seth Rollins defeated Dean Ambrose in a Hell in a Cell Match
AJ defeated Paige to retain the WWE Divas title
Rusev defeated The Big Show via submission
Sheamus defeated Miz to retain the US title
John Cena defeats Randy Orton in a Hell in a Cell Match
Goldust and StarDust retained the WWE tag team championship over the Usos
Nikki Bella defeated Brie Bella
Dolph Ziggler defeated Cesaro 2/3 Falls to retain the WWE I-C title

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Dean Ambrose and the New Renegade Wrestler

October 16, 2014 By: Category: lists, WWE | Pro Wrestling

Back in the early 1980s several NWA stars made a living as independent wrestlers for their renegade style of traveling from promotion to promotion. They would come into town “unexpectedly” challenging the area’s top talent, and in the process they would give the fans in the arenas and venues someone knew to either love or hate. Their gimmicks worked well because the fans never got too attached, so when they left say Memphis or Dallas or Florida, promoters had another wrestler roll in to set the scene again.

Although he isn’t going anywhere, Dean Ambrose fills the renegade, anti-hero role about as well as anyone can in the WWE, past, present or future.

The company is about to embark on more changes after Hell in a Cell, some so obvious (Randy Orton’s face turn) and some maybe not so obvious (Mark Henry turning on Big Show). But trust me, they are coming. Ambrose is the closest thing to a new CM Punk/Bruiser Brody. He is just what the company needs to transition from the older guard (John Cena) to the new regime that has yet to make its mark (Seth Rollins).

And Ambrose did not need a shoot interview or to walk out of the company to make a statement. Wrestling Ambrose’s way is more about getting in the ring and doing what he does best, not taking your title and walking out.

Here is a look at some of greatest renegades to get in the squared circle.

BRUISER BRODY

Brody competed as a freelancer in several companies including the National Wrestling Alliance, Central States Wrestling, World Wide Wrestling Federation, Southwest Championship Wrestling, Windy City Wrestling, Texas All Star Wrestling, World Wrestling Council, Deep South Wrestling, Championship Wrestling from Florida, American Wrestling Association, and World Class Championship Wrestling.

In the States, he had numerous feuds with the likes of Kamala the Ugandan Giant, Abdullah the Butcher, and Jerry Blackwell. In Japan, he was in a tag team with Stan Hansen. Brody had a reputation for refusing to job to other wrestlers. He also competed under the moniker of Red River Jack in Texas, during an angle against Gary Hart’s men and Skandor Akbar’s Army in World Class Championship Wrestling. Brody also competed as the Masked Marauder for one time in the AWA.

BUZZ SAWYER

Sawyer had an epic feud with Tommy Rich that led to many bloody matches, the greatest of which was billed as the Last Battle of Atlanta and for the first time featured a completely enclosed cage. It also saw manager Paul Ellering suspended 20 feet above the ring in a smaller cage. This is the match that Shawn Michaels credits for inspiring the Hell in the Cell concept used by WWE. The stipulation for this match was that Sawyer and Rich would never wrestle one another again. Tommy Rich lost a match to Ted DiBiase and the stipulation was a loser leaves town match. Rich would appear the next week on TV under a mask and calling himself the mysterious MR.R. There is no footage of the historic match as the rumors has it Ole Anderson tossed all the footage from classic Omni shows.

STAN HANSEN

Hansen is renowned for his stiff wrestling style, which he attributes to his poor eyesight. He is also known for his gimmick of a loud, violent cowboy who wanted to fight everybody, which he further emphasized by appearing in interviews with a cowboy hat, leather vest and bull rope while often chewing on tobacco. Considered to be among the most successful and popular heels in professional wrestling history,

Hansen became more well-known and revered in Japan than in his native United States.[8][9] Despite this, Hansen still found championship success in both countries, as he became a six-time world champion upon winning the AWA World Heavyweight Championship once, the CWA International Heavyweight Championship once and the Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship four times.

DICK SLATER

Slater wrestled in the 1970s, 1980s, and mid-1990s for various promotions including Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling and World Championship Wrestling (WCW).

Slater began wrestling with Mike Graham at Robinson High School, in Tampa, Florida. He attended the University of Tampa with Paul Orndorff. From there he began wrestling in Championship Wrestling from Florida and Georgia Championship Wrestling. He worked as a booker in Knoxville, Tennessee after Ron Fuller sold his promotion to Jim Barnett.

He wrestled in Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling (later World Championship Wrestling), where he appeared on the first Starrcade. He also worked in Mid-South Wrestling Association, where he was managed by Dark Journey. Made some trips to the World Wrestling Council in Puerto Rico. He wrestled briefly in the World Wrestling Federation as a babyface under a “Rebel” gimmick, but soon returned to WCW.

He wrestled there until receiving his back injury that ended his career.

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WWE Make Changes To Hell In A Cell 2014 Card

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

With two weeks to go the WWE are reshuffling the Hell in a Cell card deck. The planned card has been moved around allowing for more promotion and the usual indecisive booking we are used to seeing from WWE creative.

As evident on Monday Night RAW this week, plans have changed for the upcoming WWE Hell in a Cell pay-per-view. A scheduled card featuring John Cena vs. Dean Ambrose in a NHB contract on a pole match was switched around with WWE fans getting 1/3 of the main-event early, allowing the WWE to focus on promoting scheduled matches fans can count on seeing.

Dean Ambrose defeated John Cena on Monday night to win the match and advance to a Hell in a Cell main-event against rival Seth Rollins. The match was originally scheduled to take place at H.I.A.C. with the winner meeting Rollins later that night while the loser would meet Randy Orton in a separate Hell in a Cell match. Now that those matches are locked in, the WWE can focus promotional efforts in those directions.

Dave Meltzer explained the recent changes on his F4WOnline.com podcast. Meltzer reported that giving the Cena vs. Ambrose match away early was a last-minute decision. Meltzer reported that the change was made to allow the WWE to promote scheduled matches as opposed to promoting a card with no locked in main-event. Meltzer also reports that the pole stipulation added to Cena vs. Ambrose was made to avoid either guy taking an actual pin.

Meltzer also speculated that TLC could see a Four-Way main-event with Seth Rollins vs. John Cena vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Randy Orton with the winner getting a WWE world championship match against Brock Lesnar at the Royal Rumble. Plans are currently in place to book Cena vs. Lesnar at the Rumble. My hunch and this is purely a guess is that with Ambrose’s momentum, plans could change with Ambrose going into the Rumble to challenge Lesnar and Cena wrestling Rollins at the Rumble in a singles match.

I thought from the beginning that they should have went with a Rollins vs. Ambrose Hell in a Cell headliner. I think it gives both guys a boost with the perception that they are headliners and it’s a match that could deliver far better than any of the other options. It will be a real test in my opinion of how over both of these guys truly are. It’s hard to judge by social media reaction as that is where their fan base is. A strong number could go a long way in determining how Ambrose and Rollins are booked going into 2015 and beyond.

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Five WWE SmackDown 15 Taping Takeaways

October 08, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

I attended the WWE SmackDown 15 taping in Philadelphia, PA this week with my niece (Hi Alyssa) and brother-in-law. Rather than give you the typical spoiler rundown of the results, I thought it would be more interesting to give you some quick takeaways from the big anniversary event.

One thing I should note before I get into the takeaways and news from Tuesday’s taping is that this was the first WWE live event I have attended in 15 years. Ironically the last event was a SmackDown taping in Trenton, NJ. Needless to say the presentation is entirely different as we are talking Attitude Era vs. PG era WWE. So with that in mind, here are my five takeaways from the big anniversary event.

So that was an anniversary show? – I have to admit I got pretty excited when news broke that the Tuesday taping was going to be presented as the 15th anniversary event. I look back at the big RAW milestone shows and they were always full of surprises and big matches. I expected the same Tuesday, especially with 15 years to celebrate. What I got instead was nothing more than an ordinary SmackDown show with some very minor surprise.

The “celebration” was disappointing. I expected much more. The biggest surprises were the returns of Teddy Long and John Laurinitus. That was it! Sure, you got The Rock in a tremendous taped segment with Triple H but that was the extent of it. Expenses were certainly mitigated here as the WWE didn’t even bring Hulk Hogan back for the event. I think I’ll temper expectations for future anniversary events.

Strange timing for a NHB Ladder Match at Hell in a Cell. – In case you missed it, a stipulation was added to the John Cena vs. Dean Ambrose at Hell in a Cell. The match will not only be a No Holds Barred Match, but it will also be a ladder match as the winner must grab a contract to wrestle Seth Rollins which will hung above the ring. This screams of a lack of creativity from the WWE. It is very reminiscent of WCW and TNA when they’d just throw stipulation matches around with little reason or regard for future booking.

The stipulation would be fine if not for two important factors. The first factor being that it will take place on Hell in a Cell. Isn’t the HIAC enough to draw viewers to the $9.99 WWE Network? The second and most important factor is that the next special event is Tables, Ladders, and Chairs. Why in the world would you book this the month before you are trying to sell an entire show based on that very same concept? Overall it just seems like a case of poor planning to me.

Dolph Ziggler is a machine! – I walked into the show as Ziggler was wrestling Bo Dallas. I think we can all agree that Bo is nothing special in the ring. I am sure he is a nice guy but he isn’t what I’d call a Blue Chipper or standout. Yet Dolph made this kid look like a million bucks. Dolph worked like a maniac throughout the match, running and bumping like he was working the WrestleMania main-event. I have always been a fan but seeing him live gave me more of an appreciation for how talented he really is. I don’t know what this guy did to get on the boss’ wrong side but he deserves a lot more than what he has gotten the last year.

Why in the world is The Rock hanging out with Triple H? – I don’t want to spoil too much but The Rock taped a segment which will air on SmackDown in which he walks into Triple H’s dressing room to reminisce with the Game. The segment is one of the best I have seen on WWE television in months, and credit goes to both men for that. Rock and Triple H argue a bit about their past rivalry and then start pontificating about a future WrestleMania match. The segment ends with Stephanie walking back in the dressing room, calming them down, and then sending them both off to eat dinner together. In the words of Steve Austin, “What?”!

This goes back to a blog I wrote several weeks ago about the WWE wanting it both ways with Stephanie and Hunter. One minute they are the dastardly authority figures screwing with John Cena and Dean Ambrose and the very next night they are going to dinner with arguably the most popular star in the WWE. That makes zero sense to me! Additionally, why would a character like The Rock be going to dinner with the guy cheating the fans and screwing the heroes? As great as this segment was and it was tremendous it made zero sense to me.

Dean Ambrose is the future WrestleMania headliner, not Roman Reigns. – The WWE really have something with Dean Ambrose. As much as we all hate the idea of someone losing their spot due to injury, the timing of Roman Reigns’ injury is the opportunity that Ambrose needed. The fans in Philadelphia just loved him and he was far and away the most popular wrestler of the night.

I think it is becoming more evident by the week that it is Ambrose, not Reigns who should be the future of this company. He certainly isn’t the prototypical WWE superstar that Vince and Triple H would choose to be the face of their company. However, he has something that no other babyface has had in years. He is authentic and he is someone the fans can relate to. Even CM Punk as popular as he was in 2011 lacked the authenticity that Ambrose has. Quite frankly I never expected the jeans look to work for the guy but what it has done is make him something of a common man. There is a lot of Stone Cold Steve Austin in Dean Ambrose and that is something the company has not had in many years.

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Dean Ambrose Brings Cautious Optimism from Hopeful Fans

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

Dean Ambrose had what must be considered one of the best nights of his singles career to this point on the September 29 edition of Monday Night Raw. Ambrose appeared on camera several times as he continued his war against Seth Rollins and The Authority. And as Ambrose wreaked havoc on Raw, the fact is that fans all over the world surely began to realize that they were seeing the most entertaining part of the program.

Dean brought it and he brought it from the moment Raw went on the air to the moment it went off. Ambrose proved once again that he is WWE’s best hope for the future. All of that sounded good, right? There’s nothing like some good old fashioned optimism when it comes to Vince McMahon’s company; the fact is we don’t really have all that much anymore, do we?

Truth be told, we have so little confidence in WWE that my opening paragraphs may seem too good to be true. You’re probably waiting for the punch line right now, aren’t you? Well, keep waiting.

There’s no joke here. Ambrose is over and the fact is its working. Everything he’s doing is working. And it really always has. He was already shining in The Shield but he was often overshadowed by Roman Reigns. But fans never forgot about him. In fact, they could not stop watching him. There is just something about Dean Ambrose that fans are absolutely attracted to.

That attraction is likely to his dangerous side, which is on display every time he’s on camera. It has become his calling card, the personality trait he is known for. Ambrose knows no fear and has no concern for his own well being. He will dive headfirst into any situation and he will do it with the knowledge that he may not make it out in one piece.

Dean Ambrose would not only jump on the grenade, he was the guy that threw it in the first place.

In fact, his dangerous side is matched only by the insanity that drives him in every storyline he has ever found himself in. Dean’s inner lunatic escapes on a daily basis and it dares fans to question the entire notion of what a top guy in the company can be. Ambrose is not the typical protagonist, far from it. He is not the man with the great heart who is loyal to his friends; right now he has no friends. Dean is the villain that did not die but instead lived long enough to see himself become the hero.

And that hero is currently threatening to take over WWE.

Ambrose is so good at what he does that he only needs a camera pointed at him and he will take care of the rest. All of the prep and all of the production value in the world does not enhance Dean’s ability to entertain; the fact is he doesn’t need any of that. He is a natural on the mic and in the ring and he does it all with an evilness in his eyes that fans are drawn to.

Of course, his maturation from The Shield’s wildcard to a top player in the company is one that cannot happen overnight. And right now, that is exactly what fans want. They believe that he can just step right in, make an impact and take the reigns of the company from John Cena.

Come on, you want to see that don’t you?

However, history has taught us that nothing comes easy in WWE. If you want that spot, you have to work hard to earn it. It takes time and it takes a willingness by everyone involved to stay the course and see it through to fruition. Dean has plenty of time. He’s only 28 and has at least 10 or more years in front of him.

The question then becomes what about WWE’s willingness to commit to Dean, to see it through to the end? That part becomes a bit tricky.

The reason for that is because of Roman Reigns. Many fans feel that he is the one meant to one day take the mantle of leadership from John, the one that will carry WWE forward. He is believed by fans to be the heir apparent, the next top guy. The fact that he’s on the shelf with an injury may slow him down for the moment but the truth is that if a plan is in place to get him to the next level, then it will surely continue when he returns.

When that happens, Dean could find himself in the role of the number two top Superstar, the Roddy Piper to Roman’s Hulk Hogan.

Or maybe the better comparison would be Ambrose as the Stone Cold to Roman’s Rock. That would be a much more ideal scenario, as they could trade the top spot in the company and wage incredible battles for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. It would also be a better scenario for Ambrose personally, as he deserves the opportunity to flex his muscles and compete at a very high level.

Fans have just begun to graze the surface of what Dean is capable of and there is so much more underneath. See? There is reason to be optimistic after all.

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Rumored WWE Hell in a Cell 2014 Card and Matches

September 25, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Early indications following WWE Night of Champions is that Hell in a Cell would see a Triple Threat match in the main-event. A new report indicates a different direction and a card that makes little to no sense coming out of N.O.C.

Dave Meltzer broke the story on his latest F4WOnline.com podcast. Meltzer reports something of a tournament-style card to headline Hell in a Cell. According to the Meltz, John Cena vs. Dean Ambrose will likely open up the special event. The winner of the match would then wrestle Seth Rollins in a Hell in a Cell later that night while the loser would wrestle Randy Orton in a different Hell in a Cell match.

Come again?

My reaction is probably the same as yours. That card makes very little sense to me. Now it should be noted that Meltzer reports that this card is not finalized, yet these are the current plans on the books. I can only hope that someone has enough sense to change the card otherwise you are looking at another can-miss event which is becoming more of the norm for the WWE in 2014.

Meltzer also reported that Brock Lesnar would not be on the card, thus no WWE championship match. This appears to be a company choice as there were several reports out a few weeks back that indicated the WWE could book Lesnar for additional dates outside of his current limited agreement. The finish to Cena vs. Lesnar at N.O.C. makes even less sense with Lesnar off of the show and this current card on the books.

I think the WWE are going to be playing with some fire if they go through with the Ambrose vs. Cena match. Ambrose has a ton of heat right now with a lot of momentum going in his direction. Cena will get booed unmercifully against Ambrose at this point. Furthermore, the logical finish here is Cena going over since he is scheduled to remain in WWE title contention. So they aren’t going to book Cena to lose unless they have a change of plans and put Ambrose in that spot. Which coincidentally I think they should do, but can’t imagine them doing.

Poor Randy Orton. Randy Orton is now the loser’s winner. This makes no sense to me at all. The only scenario I can come up with that makes any sense would be to book a tag team match with Ambrose and Cena vs. Orton and Rollins in a Hell in a Cell Match. Otherwise I can’t comprehend how any of this makes sense, especially with Brock getting the night off.

I understand that the WWE has their hands tied due to injuries and Lesnar’s schedule (although they can reportedly add dates). That’s understandable. That doesn’t defend throwing a card together that makes very little sense. I have to think they can do better than that.

I think going with an Ambrose vs. Rollins Hell in a Cell headliner right off the bat with the MITB contract at stake is probably the best scenario. For starters you are now giving fans the perception that Rollins and Ambrose are main-event players. Two, it puts a heavy importance on their feud. Three, it gives Rollins and Ambrose the time needed to deliver an all-time classic and I have no doubt in my mind that they would. It’s a much better investment in the future than what is currently in planning.

Regardless, we should know by Monday night which direction the company will go at Hell in a Cell. Let’s just hope that the weekend allows for some more creativity and a logical resolution come Monday night.

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The WWE Needs A Television Timeout…NOW!

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

There are times when the writer must step over a line and write as a fan, not some worried about crossing lines between journalist and a once-in-a- while raving lunatic in the stands. This happens to be one of those times. Please indulge me a bit as I must speak about the ongoing, committed cycle the WWE is running around – trying to please its fans without getting anywhere. I think that happens to be the definition of idiocy, but I would not want to accuse Vince McMahon and his cronies of such a title. What I would like, however, is to point out the obvious – the WWE and maybe professional wrestling in general needs a television timeout.

While it may seem a bit off kilter, and I may seem off my rocker (it’s 1:30 in the morning and no, I have not been drinking), but this might make sense if we looked at the significance of the possibility of time off air to recharge batteries, find the fight creative fit and allow the owner of the WWE to catch his breath a bit – he is 69 years old after all and for the past 30-something years he has run his company at lightning speed. A breather might be just what he needs.

Looking at the current state of the WWE, here is what you have.

  • A champion in Brock Lesnar who appears to be the immovable object, about to destroy John Cena again in the middle of the ring.
  • Roman Reigns apparently still waiting to become WWE champion, all the while he faces every WWE opponent there is and is left to compete in 6-man tag matches to take up time and give other solid performers face time.
  • A tag team division that could be very good, but needs one or two more teams to complete its importance to the company and television.
  • Two Divas angles that right now, are better than anything on the screen not named Reigns or Dean Ambrose. How it got to the point where the Bellas and Paige and AJ Lee are main event caliber is lost on me, but it is.
  • Two mid-level titles that are not going anywhere. Dolph Ziggler and Sheamus have main event talent, but cannot get a sniff of the world title picture.
  • And finally no consistency in planning, match prep or coming up with new ideas. Relying on the old cronies to perform is great, but it is also getting old.

OK, thank you for that rant and the chance to speak my deteriorating mind. There are some things that need to be released. That was one of them.

Getting back to what I was discussing, the WWE is weeding out talent from the main event, which is a good thing, however it also eliminates the idea that the small guy (Daniel Bryan and others) can win a big-man’s title. This falls back to McMahon’s principle of the early 1980s where the big, muscle-bound face or heel must win the title and prove dominance. Basically that “Size” equals “Money”. And we all know Shawn Michaels and Daniel Bryan killed that concept. So with that in mind – here is what I propose…

  • A one month moratorium of television. Improve the brand. Drop hints through the WWE Network. Make people miss the product that is shoved down their throats three nights a week.
  • Take away all titles. Have tournaments to crown champions.
  • Make Reigns the winner of the WWE World Title and create new feuds for him. This is the same thing McMahon did when he brought Hulk Hogan in.
  • Have clear cut faces and heels. Continue to create a huge mid card of cruiserweights because their talent sells at the gate.
  • Make the Intercontinental Champion the No. contender for the World Title. Make the United States Title the championship it used to be.
  • Bring back the Hardcore Title and the World Television Title. Both must be defended each week on Raw and SmackDown.
  • And most of all, take the WWE Title away from John Cena and Brock Lesnar.

[ad 1[I know it sounds like a lot, but it makes more sense than you think. Vince McMahon bought the company from his father with the intention of making billions of dollars with entertainment. Right now, this is not entertaining. Jess McMahon must be flipping in his grave. The company wants to create the past so bad, well here is the chance. Follow these steps, being back some of the reality of the 1980s and you could have a really solid product.

But for now, all you have is gush and misery. And with those two items, you really have nothing.

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Dean Ambrose Should Beat Brock Lesnar For The WWE Title

August 21, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

I try not to jump on the bandwagon but this Dean Ambrose bandwagon is rolling full steam ahead. The last few weeks have convinced me of one thing. The Lunatic Fringe is the guy who should beat Brock Lesnar.

It was never meant to be this way. A few weeks ago when Randy Orton pinned Dean Ambrose the message was clear. His push was going to be capped. There were no future plans for Ambrose other than a series against Seth Rollins and a nice spot in the mid-card. He wasn’t at Orton’s level, he wasn’t at Rollins’ level, he wasn’t close to Reigns, and he certainly was not in Lesnar’s league. That has all changed.

Ambrose is the breath of fresh air this company has been searching for the last few years. The rotation of guys in and out of the mid-top spots has been disappointing and uninspiring. Even CM Punk’s breakout year in 2011 wasn’t enough to earn him the WWE top spot. Ambrose has a chance of snagging that spot sooner than you can imagine.

This guy has it all. If not for Paul Heyman coming out of retirement and cutting some of the best promos of the last two decades, Ambrose would be the top promo in the business. Hey, there is nothing wrong with taking a backseat to Paul Heyman on promos. The fact is that this guy is so much better than the rest of the guys on the roster it’s scary. His delivery, his content, and his aura are top money in my opinion.

Ambrose has something that many others before him couldn’t quite achieve. He has superstar charisma. This guy is electric the second he walks out on the ramp. Ambrose could talk, walk, or wrestle and he is must-see television the second he appears. Fans are warming up to him and he is quickly becoming one of the most popular guys on the roster. All he needs is that opportunity and he’ll run with it. Enter Brock Lesnar.

The booking of Brock Lesnar in 2014 is the best investment the WWE has made in years. The investment in Lesnar’s unbeatable run is that the guy who conquers the beast is going to be a legend overnight. The man who slays the dragon will have the kingdom at his feet. The wrestler to beat Brock Lesnar for the WWE world championship will have a push like no other the second his hand is raised with the belt. Ambrose deserves and should get that push.

Ambrose’s character sets up a great scenario to beat Lesnar. Sure Lesnar is unbeatable in the ring but has he ever wrestled someone as crazy as Ambrose? Ambrose gets the match and uses every dirty trick and foreign object he can to tear down the giant Lesnar. Eventually the unconventional Ambrose’s madness is just too much for even an animal like Lesnar and he catches Brock off-guard. You can’t tell me that Ambrose wouldn’t come out of that with the potential to be the next flagship star of the WWE?

Maybe it’s pie in the sky because the likelihood of this happening today probably isn’t very good. The plan is clear and it’s Roman Reigns. Unfortunately Reigns is a victim of timing and he just happens to be ready at the same time the fans are gravitating to Ambrose. The irony is that Ambrose goes against the grain in regards to how the company sees its top stars while Reigns is cut out of a WWE mold. It just goes to show you that what the fans want and the company want are rarely in sync.

Ambrose will be leaving for a while to film a movie. I can’t imagine Brock losing the title before Ambrose returns. Imagine the pop and the potential Ambrose could have as a mystery opponent after disappearing for weeks and beating Lesnar on his first night back? It could be huge and the WWE are fools not to consider it.

Sorry Roman but Dean Ambrose is just best for business.

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WWE SummerSlam 2014 Lessons Learned

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

Going into WWE SummerSlam, there were three things that I felt had to happen. The first thing was Dolph Ziggler winning the Intercontinental Championship. The second was Chris Jericho had to put Bray Wyatt over. Finally, Brock Lesnar had to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. From top to bottom, I thought SummerSlam was an entertaining show. Here are my lessons learned from Sunday.

The Conqueror is on top
I’ve been saying it since the day he defeated The Undertaker at WrestleMania and it finally happened. Brock Lesnar absolutely destroyed John Cena to win the WWE World Heavyweight Champion and that’s without question the right decision. Really, it was the only decision.

Just because Lesnar is the champion now, don’t expect to see him on TV more. I expect him to continue to work his normal schedule and that’s fine with me. Having the title away from TV makes the title more prestigious. There is no reason the Champion needs to be on TV every week. Because of this, fans will be more excited when he is on TV and you know something important is going on if the Championship is scheduled for RAW.

Besides making the title important again, it will allow the WWE to focus on building up some of the great young talent they have. More attention can be put on Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Bray Wyatt, Dean Ambrose, Cesaro and so on. We will get a great opportunity to see if these young guys will be able to carry the company into the future. With the Champion away, they have no choice but to step up or step aside.

So now that Brock is the champion, what can we expect? Besides Paul Heyman ranting and raving about how his client conquered John Cena at SummerSlam, I don’t expect too much from Lesnar. The number of appearances will not increase. I expect him to compete at Night of Champions, Survivor Series, Royal Rumble and WrestleMania. If everything plays out the way they want, Brock will lose the title to Roman Reigns at WrestleMania. For the record, I fully expect that to happen.

On a side note, I can’t believe the WWE would allow Cena to be destroyed like. I really hope they let that soak in and keep Cena off TV for a couple weeks. Just enough time for him to heal up and set up the rematch at Night of Champions.

The Showoff is Back
When the Miz returned with the new gimmick I expected it to be great. The first couple times he was on TV, it seemed as thought he regained some of what he had when he was the WWE Champion. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long to see that it wasn’t working. When he won the IC title at the Battleground my expectations grew. Fast forward just 28 days and we have a new Intercontinental Champion. Obviously, I wasn’t the only one who felt his new gimmick wasn’t working so they put the title on the right guy.

There was a period there where I did not think we would ever see Dolph Ziggler in a relevant match again. Out of nowhere, things started to change and Ziggler started winning matches again and being featured on TV. He should have won the title at Battleground but Miz performed like the true heel that he is and stole the victory from Dolph. It was pretty clear at that moment they would be in a feud together for that title and they fixed their mistake and put it on the Showoff.

The title doesn’t make the wrestler the wrestler makes the title. I’m confident, especially with the big title with Brock, Ziggler will be able to make the IC title relevant again. You can’t deny his ability. Outside of the size, he really does have it all. He is great in the ring, awesome on the mic and the fans love him. It seems his career is back on track and a program with Bad News Barrett, when he returns, will be great entertainment.

The Shield = The Future
All three former members of the Shield are in spectacular position to succeed. Who would have thought that the WWE would have three potential main eventers on their hands when they broke up the Shield?

The long awaited match between Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins delivered. Not only did it deliver, they had the match of the night. It’s obvious that Rollins is booked for success. He’s holding the Money in the Bank briefcase. As long as he doesn’t pull a Damien Sandown, he will be holding the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. He’s got the look, the moves and the voice to be the top heel in the company. I expect Rollins will hold onto that briefcase for a long time and cash in at the latest possible moment. Trust me, he will not be cashing in on Brock Lesnar. How great would it be if Rollins cashed in on Roman Reigns? That is a big time program I hope we see in 2015.

Dean Ambrose is beyond anything I was expecting when he became a singles wrestler. He’s the most entertaining of all the former Shield members and becoming one of my favorites to watch. His demented and crazy personality is awesome and he backs it all up in the ring. I truly hope the WWE sees what they have in him and continues to build him up. No doubt, he has what it takes to be a top face or heel in the WWE.

Sunday night was a huge opportunity for Roman Reigns. Of the three, he’s clearly way behind when it comes to in-ring performance and promo skills. The thing he has over Rollins and Ambrose is the look and size. Unless you’re blind, you see that the WWE is building Reigns to be the next top baby face in the company. Early on I thought it was going to be an easy transition. As time went on and he kept the Shield attire and entrance music, I was losing faith. Then, the more we saw him compete on his own, I wasn’t sure he has the in-ring skill set to make it. He didn’t have the best match of the night with Orton but he cleared a huge hurdle in my opinion. For now, I’m slowly climbing back on the Reigns hype train. Lucky for him, he has plenty time to grow and improve.

Other Notes:
Sunday night was a must win for Bray Wyatt. If he lost to Chris Jericho, I truly believe he would be finished as a potential super star. I had complete faith that Y2J would do the right thing and put Bray over. He did and hopefully they close this program out with a great trilogy match, pushing Bray to the moon. He has so much potential, and I have no doubt he can be an Undertaker/Mankind type of performer.

I really don’t like what they are doing with Cesaro. Actually, I hate it. I know he is on hold with his push, but he could still be dominating the midcard. Losing a pre-card match to Rob Van Dam is a joke. He is a spectacular performer and should be winning matches, plain and simple.

AJ and Paige are great and I hope they keep their program going for a while. By far the best female program I’ve seen in a very long time. They are both very talented wrestlers. Hey Divas division, it’s time to step it up.

Speaking of Divas action, Stephanie McMahon is a phenomenal heel but the Bella’s are just not good. That program should be so much better but it’s doing absolutely nothing for me. Even Daniel Bryan thinks it stupid.

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WWE SummerSlam 2014 Thoughts

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

The WWE did what was best for business Sunday night by hitting a home run with its SummerSlam pay-per-view event in Los Angeles. Not since WrestleMania 28 have we been so entertained with matches that made wrestling matter and help define the next four months of the wrestling calendar.

For now, we know everything belongs to Brock Lesnar, the Bellas are headed for a crash course in sibling rivalry and the Dean Ambrose/Seth Rollins feud is far from over. But what may puzzle me most is what happens now that the biggest wrestling event of the summer is over and John Cena will now fall down the ladder a bit, AJ Lee and Paige will feud like Trish and Lita and the company did the right thing by putting the Intercontinental strap on Dolph Ziggler.

Everything was almost perfect (with the exception of the final match of the night) but by dominating John Cena, it proves that Vince McMahon wants to go the super heavyweight route for a bit while Roman Reigns may finally get his shot to become a world champion. As we all know, Brock Lesnar is not going to stick around the company week in and week out, which should make for interesting booking and a lot of Paul Heyman on the boob tube for us to watch.

Let start off by saying there was no way Cena was walking out of Los Angeles with the strap. The legitimacy of Lesnar’s win over the Undertaker was at stake, seriously, and had Superman” won, the win by Lesnar would have lost some steam. The former UFC champion beat the company’s two biggest stars in the same year, four months apart and now must find a viable competitor to meet him head on.

Um, excuse me, it is your turn Roman Reigns.

The WWE may be faced with a quandary for its actions. Cena will get a rematch for the title, but won’t win. Lesnar cannot lose the strap for a few months, mainly because it defies logic. Reigns challenging him is a good idea, which runs over two months and could end in the former member of the Shield with the title then embarking on a feud with Bray Wyatt. Ultimately, I could see Wyatt winning, then feuding with Daniel Bryan upon his return. Bryan wins the title holds it for a glimpse of time, and Seth Rollins cashes in his Money in the Bank brief case.

The cold winter months will heat up as the WWE continues to make sense of all the chutzpah from Sunday. What happens with Ziggler?

Personally, I like the feud with The Miz, as it adds solid competition in the mid card. At some point there has to be a unification match for the United States and Intercontinental titles. Don’t look now, but Bad News Barrett will be breathing down our necks again, and pretty soon. I love the idea of Sheamus and Barrett feuding, but I love the idea of them working together even more as a tag team. Maybe that comes to fruition.

I’m not sure what will happen with Jack Swagger or Rusev. Maybe he and his mouthpiece Lana piss America off enough that Cena will feel the need to defend Old Glory. That also means Cena is finished as a world champion and has agreed to step aside from title contention.

Getting back to the beginning, this pay-per-view did more to change the perception of the WWE for good than anything in the past year.

Kudos to the company for making the changes, but good luck in finding the right fit for everything now that the puzzle pieces do not fit in place anymore

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