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WWE Half-Year Predictions For 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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3 Simple Steps to Fixing the WWE Undercard

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

The top of the card in WWE is producing some top quality storylines at the moment. With Seth Rollins heel turn and the World Heavyweight Championship saga, there are some exciting things happening. However, the undercard isn’t quite as stimulating. In fact, it’s downright boring.

Go ahead, name the most exciting thing about the undercard. Rusev’s semi-racist weekly destruction of minorities? Cody Rhodes picking horrible tag team partners for Goldust? Wondering how R-Truth wasn’t on the latest “future endeavored” list? With the exception of the antics of Bo Dallas (I am an unabashed Bo-liever), everything on the undercard makes me thankful I watch RAW on DVR. The creative team doesn’t seem to bother giving the undercard wrestlers and secondary championships any attention when it comes to creating interesting storylines for them or developing their characters. If they don’t care about these guys, then why should the fans?

It wasn’t always this way. Go back to the “boom periods” of the Rock and Wrestling Era and Attitude Era, and you’ll notice that one major advantage those time periods had was that the undercard was far superior to the current product. This isn’t due to the current product having less talent. There is arguably as much talent on the roster now as there has ever been. The biggest difference is the way the talent is used today compared to past, more successful eras. Now that we’ve established the problem, how can it be fixed? There’s a lot of work that needs to be done, but here are a few suggestions that might help.

Secondary Titles

When I was a young fan, Intercontinental title matches and feuds were almost as important as World Title matches, sometimes more important (see Summerslam 1992). The Intercontinental Title was sought after by everyone not in the main event picture. It was a springboard to bigger and better things for the likes of Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Macho Man Randy Savage, The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin and Ultimate Warrior among others, and a crowning achievement for career mid-carders like Owen Hart, Mr. Perfect, Razor Ramon, etc. Nowadays the most important job an IC or United States champion has is to lose almost weekly to those at the top of the card.

Making the secondary titles mean something again is going to take some time. The first thing I would do is a pretty obvious step; stop having the champions lose non-title matches! When the fans see the IC or US champ constantly losing non-title matches, devalues the titles and the wrestler holding the title. I’m not saying that the champion should never lose. There are times when this can be done to set up contenders, like when Tatanka pinned IC champ Shawn Michaels twice in non-title matches to set up their encounter at WrestleMania IX. I am saying that the champions should not be losing weekly to wrestlers who are “above” these titles

Another suggestion I would make would be to eliminate the US title and introduce a 3rd tier championship, like the WWF European title or WCW TV title. This could be accomplished pretty easily. The simplest route would be to have a foreign heel (i.e. Rusev) win the title and declare the USA not worthy enough to have a title named after it and change it to the European title (or something else for that matter). Another, more entertaining way, would be to have a unification bout between the IC and US champions. This would eliminate the US title, while simultaneously boosting the worth of the IC title. Next, as Jim Ross suggested on a recent podcast, hold a tournament to declare a new TV or European champion.

JR suggested having someone underutilized, Dolph Ziggler, who would have quality matches every week win the title. While this would be entertaining, it would also cement Ziggler’s place at the bottom of the card. The way I, personally, would have the tournament play out would see Bo Dallas emerge victorious. Bo would then proclaim every week to his Bo-lievers, that the TV title is the most prestigious title in the WWE. This accomplishes two things: 1) It helps Bo establish his delusional character further. 2) His belief (or Bo-lief) that the title is prestigious helps establish that it is actually prestigious.

Tag Teams

Another commonality of previous successful eras is quality tag team divisions. The late 1980’s was arguably the golden age for tag team wrestling. Teams like the British Bulldogs, Hart Foundation, Brain Busters, Rockers, Demolition, etc. were responsible for some of the best feuds and matches of the time. During the Attitude Era, teams like Edge & Christian, the Hardy Boyz, Dudley Boyz, Acolytes, and the New Age Outlaws brought the excitement back to tag team wrestling. Tag team wrestling not only enhances the undercard, it can be a launching pad to singles stardom. Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Edge, Jeff Hardy, and many others have used their success in the tag team ranks as a stepping stone into singles glory.

There have been teases of more emphasis being put on tag team wrestling, but that is all they are, teases. Just a few short months ago, it appeared that tag teams were on their way back to relevancy. There were more pertinent teams than any time in recent memory, and didn’t consist of randomly thrown together single stars. The Shield, The Brotherhood, The Usos, The Real Americans, Primetime Players, The Wyatts, Los Matadores, Tons of Funk, 3MB, and Rybaxel, while not a murderer’s row, was a respectable tag team division and were getting a solid amount of TV time.

It seems the strides that were made were all for naught. The tag team division is in shambles again. The Shield is in the process of becoming individual stars. The Brotherhood, who carried the division for months, are in the middle of a breakup. The Primetime Players and Tons of Funk both saw one member turn heel and then all members drift into obscurity. Two thirds of 3MB were just given their walking papers. The Usos are gaining popularity, but how many times can we see them take on the Wyatts and Rybaxel before everyone quits caring. I’m thinking that number is rapidly approaching.

This problem can be eradicated by adding more quality tag teams (not hastily thrown together singles acts) and investing more time in tag team feuds, and not just feuds for the title. There is enough underused talent currently on the roster that could be used to bolster the tag team division. The Ascension has been rumored to be called up to the main roster for a while. Guys like Justin Gabriel, Tyson Kidd, Adrian Neville, Sami Zayn, and the recently fired Curt Hawkins and Evan Bourne are all tremendously talented, but don’t have a consistent spot anywhere besides NXT. Package them together in any combination and you have three exiting high flying tag teams. Not to mention the guys that have charisma and/or a good look but have deficiencies in the ring or former stars that have lost a step that could be combined with the aforementioned group to produce entertaining tag teams.

There are also a ton of quality tag teams on the indy scene and in Japan that would immediately boost the WWE’s weak tag team division. The Young Bucks, ReDragon, The Briscoes, Killer Elite Squad, Karl Anderson/Doc Gallows, and Bad Influence would all be the #1 or at worst #2 tag team on the roster immediately if they were signed. Don’t forget that The American Wolves made one appearance on NXT before going to the soul-sucking hellhole that is TNA. There are talented teams out there, and that could be made on the current roster that could be used to tell some fantastic stories. Instead, we get a tag team roster that is four teams deep and almost no stories.

Tell stories with the undercard!!!

This seems simple enough right, having actual storylines for guys not in the main event or named John Cena? This is an option isn’t it? I’m not crazy am I? If you’ve only been watching wrestling for a short amount of time, you may think I am crazy. I know the norm for an undercard feud is Kofi Kingston and Dolph Ziggler having a match on every single show with no reason at all for months on end, but there was a time when guys would have a reason to have a feud with another guy. The stories don’t have to be extravagant. They just need to be stories. Rick “The Model” Martel was a lifetime mid-carder, but I vividly remember his feuds against Jake “The Snake” Roberts and Tatanka. Martel was a heel, and did things that heels do, spraying his “Arrogance” cologne into Roberts’ eyes, and stealing a feather from Tatanka’s Native American headdress. The faces wanted payback to these injustices, and eventually got it.

These were examples of simple storylines that gave the fans a reason to hate the heels and cheer for the faces. It’s that simple. You want fans to care about wrestlers, give them a reason. Give them a reason to boo the heels, and a reason to cheer the faces. Take time to develop the characters. Instead of showing endless replays of what happened at the beginning of RAW or the horrible “comedy” segments, take some time to tell what the undercard guys are all about. Better yet, let them tell us! Let some of these guys talk! Instead of writing bland promos for everybody that gets the rare chance to talk, give them bullet points to cover and leave them to their own devices to get their characters over. Kofi Kingston has been with the WWE for what seems like forever. We still don’t know anything about him other than he performs innovative athletic moves, has won several mid-card titles, and smiles a lot.

Take out the smiling and that describes Shelton Benjamin and John Morrison’s tenures as singles stars. That is a lot of wasted potential in those three guys. If they were the only three to suffer this fate, that wouldn’t be a huge problem. However, this has been a problem for years and there are WAY too many talented wrestlers suffering this same fate. Granted, all the guys that weren’t given any kind of character development wouldn’t have found success. They would have all had a chance though. Let the fans know who these guys are, give them stories to continue developing their characters, and then the fans have a reason to be interested. If the fans are interested, then everyone wins. These steps wouldn’t fix all the problems with the undercard, and won’t happen overnight, but they would be a start in the right direction.

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Dolph Ziggler, Kofi Kingston and the New Jobbers of the WWE

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

The names have changed, but obviously, the jobs have not. Welcome to the world of professional wrestling and the role of the jobber – the guy there to do his job, to make the heel or champion look good night after night in arena after arena.

Welcome to the world of Dolph Ziggler and Kofi Kingston. No matter how wildly successful they have been as champions and as stars in the WWE, their careers have taken a path of the broken road. The company is overstocked with talent or numbers there is nowhere to go and since there are not traditional roles in wrestling like there used to be, some wrestlers fall on the sword for the good for the company. But it is hard to imagine these two as “jobbers” after such success in the past three years alone.

A slightly higher position is “jobber to the stars” (also known as a “glorified jobber”), which is a wrestler who still defeats pure jobbers and mid-carders but who consistently loses to top-level or up-and-coming stars. This often happens to popular faces and sometimes heels towards the end of their careers, including Tony Garea, Ivan Putski, and, more recently, Val Venis, Goldust, Victoria, Chavo Guerrero, and Montel Vontavious Porter (MVP when he was in the WWE).

Growing up, names like “Snake” Brown, “Wild” Bill Snyder, the Mulkey Brothers and George South were “known” jobbers who lost each week to Ric Flair, Rick Rude and Jake Roberts. The “Brooklyn Brawler” has been a staple in the WWE for decades and Barry Horowitz – who had a gimmick that made him a popular figure in the WWF. Incidentally, Horowitz was at one time the Florida Heavyweight Champion after defeating Kendall Windham back in the late 1980s. Consider it a small victory for all jobbers in in the business.

By definition, a “jobber” is a professional wrestling term used to describe a wrestler who is routinely defeated by main eventers, mid-carders, or low-carders. Jobbers usually end up losing any match they participate in. Most promoters don’t use the term because of the negative connotation. Jobber is also used in boxing to refer to an unskilled fighter who would earn just enough money to pay for a breakfast of “ham and eggs”. A number of wrestlers have made a career out of jobbing.

Jobbers are used since the 1950s, and they were popular in promotions of the United States and Canada around this time.

What bothers me about the use of Ziggler and Kingston in this role has more to do with message it sends to the WWE Universe. The losses mount and the ladder to the top of the title picture is hard enough. It appeared the company wanted to give Ziggler another push – having been a world champion just over a year ago. Evidently, that ship has already sailed. Now, he is making Randy Orton and the Authority’s newest member, Seth Rollins, look like the next coming of Eddie Guerrero.

Kingston is another case of being one of the most athletic performers in the company, but size and gimmick do not mix in a company that wants bigger, stronger, faster and more dominant. Kingston’s acrobatics are great and the fans get over with his gimmick, but Kingston would be better served as a heel – and like Rick Steamboat, that will never happen.

The WWE did its part to create a better tag team division to find spots for wrestlers who essentially did not have a spot. That saved the careers of Curtis Axel and Ryback and have hurt Damien Sandow and Kingston along the way. Sandow is another one of the great talents that have become a laughable win for the “big” stars.

It is only a matter of time for that to become reality – and the reality is even the biggest stars of just a few years ago have fallen farther than they could have imagined. The new jobber is the one we all think is just a win or two away from winning gold again.

Follow David on Twitter @davidlevin71

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Ric Flair Talks Wrestling Again, Dolph Ziggler, and Charlotte

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

Did you really think Ric Flair was going to stay retired? The 65-year WWE Hall of Fame wrestler revealed in a media interview that he will be putting on the tights and is ready to take one more backdrop in September.

Flair spoke to his old friend Mike Mooneyham for a fantastic story in the Post & Courier. Among many interesting quotes, Flair breaks some news that seems to be making headlines all over the wrestling world today. Ric Flair will indeed wrestle again. Flair will be going to Japan in September. Flair was asked about his conditioning.

(Heck) yeah! I’m excited. I’ve got so much energy, it’s ridiculous.

This is a bit of a surprise. Flair is reportedly working towards returning to the WWE full-time. One of the big sticking points by WWE from my understanding over the years is that they don’t want Flair in the ring. At the same time I can’t imagine Flair putting a full-time job on the line for one pay day.

It has become conflicting to be a Ric Flair fan. I love the guy I watched for three decades and think he is one of the best that ever lived. However, he has worked hard to ridicule his cherished legacy in recent years and this return to the ring will only contribute to that mockery. I am sorry but at 65-years old it is time for Flair to sit back and relax. That said I think it is fair to presume that the money to be made is too good for the Nature Boy to turn down.

Back to Flair coming back to the WWE. One of the recent rumors is that Flair will be coming back to manage someone. Flair has reportedly been pushing hard to manage Dolph Ziggler. I love that idea and hope it comes to fruition. Flair talked briefly about Ziggler to Mooneyham and revealed he is a big fan.

“I think he’s awesome. He’d be a great guy to manage. He looks like a million bucks. He just can’t find his gimmick. He needs to work on his entrance. I could help him with that.

He is right about that. What is Dolph Ziggler’s gimmick? Not that you necessarily need a gimmick in 2014 to be successful, but Ziggler is desperately missing that wrestling character. The talent is certainly there and with the right gimmick, he could be a headliner. I think a combination of Flair and Ziggler on WWE television would be tremendous.

Flair also made a bold prediction about his daughter who wrestles as Charlotte in WWE NXT.

She will be the greatest Flair of all time.” “Her credentials speak for themselves,” says Flair. “I’d put her resume up against anybody.

Talk about pressure! I don’t think she is catching her father but if her match at NXT Takeover is any indication, she is going to be damned good. There is nothing wrong with a father boasting about his child, but statements like that put an enormous amount of pressure on her.

It’s a great article with comments from Shawn Michaels and Triple H among others about Flair. I’d highly recommend giving it a read.

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Dolph Ziggler Pokes Fun At The Spirit Squad

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

Dolph Ziggler is not only of the most entertaining WWE stars in the ring, but he is also pretty damned funny outside. Ziggler steals the show once again in this brief Countdown Extra video where he takes a self-deprecating look back at the Spirit Squad.

This “You Wish You Could Pull This Off” features Ziggler recapping his run in the Spirit Squad. While the Spirit Squad may go down as one of the corniest gimmicks in WWE history, Dolph was able to use that run as a springboard (no pun intended) to a successful singles career. It just goes to show you that there is life after a terrible gimmick in the WWE. As goofy as it may be to look back on, I am sure Dolph learned a lot from this period in his career.

It’s less than 2:00 but it is a fun look back with one of the guys that lived the nightmare. Well done Nicky!

Dolph Ziggler is Best Choice to Work With Ric Flair

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

Any of you who know me and my writing, you know what a huge Ric Flair mark I am. As a charter member of the NWA fan club and a follower of “real” wrestling in the Carolinas, Florida, Georgia and any of the other dozens of promotions across the country, seeing my “idol” while growing up has saddened me as of late. The antics, the court dates, the arrests and the drunken stupors have me twisted in knots over the use of “The Nature Boy” as of late.

Hopefully recent news of Flair becoming more involved in the WWE’s plans this year and into the future will prove the 65-year old mat man has gotten past some of his demons and can be a viable character on Raw.

Flair’s last stint with the WWE was short-lived but it involved a program with The Miz – a paring that looked to be magical, but was quick to fail for one reason or another. Part of the problem is Flair is much better as a heel and The Miz is one of the better marketing tools in the company, so his baby face persona really does not match him as a true heel. The paring would have worked – had it been a heel manager and wrestler.

The beauty of Flair is he can be paired with just about anyone and it works. Even with his recent appearance on Raw and support of The Shield over his old running boys, Evolution, he could work with anyone. But these wrestlers especially could go far with Flair by his side.

According to my good friend and fellow Camel Clutch Blogger Eric Gargiulo, the plan was laid out in a story by Dave Meltzer.

Dave Meltzer has all of the details in the newest Wrestling Observer newsletter. According to Meltzer, there is a plan to get Flair back into the company as a full-time character. Flair must undergo and pass a cardiovascular physical before he is cleared. Flair has also dropped some weight recently in anticipation of a return.

Back in the day, no one was better at cardiovascular conditioning than Flair, who was affectionately known as “The 60-Minute Man” for being able to wrestle 60 minutes a night all week long.

You all know the story, as Flair has won ten NWA Championships in NWA/WCW, as well as three NWA Championships in All Star Pro Wrestling, All Japan Pro Wrestling (AJPW) and Central States Wrestling (CSW). Along with these, he is an Eight-time WCW Champion, two-time WCW International World Champion, two-time WWF Champion, making him a 26-time world heavyweight champion. You cannot get much better than that.

So how does the WWE plan to use Flair? He certainly won’t be wrestling on a full-time basis. But as a manager and a foil to Paul Heyman or maybe someone who challenges Triple H and his “Authority” on screen, he is quite useful.

Enter Dolph Ziggler.

The best way to use Flair in an advisory role is to put him in a program with Ziggler as they together fight the establishment. Flair would best utilize Ziggler as a brash, younger version of himself. Ziggler’s recent remarks toward Batista seem to make this a good fit. It has been rumored that Flair even asked the company to allow him to work with the former World Heavyweight Champion. According to a report in The Examiner, it looks like the company wants to team him up again with The Miz in an attempt to resurrect his career. But in all honesty, why couldn’t Flair work with both superstars? I see the potential of an Arn Anderson/Tully Blanchard-type partnership that could be every good at tag team wrestling and singles competition.

Now that we know he is coming back to live television, it will be great to see my idol strut a bit, talk a bit and advise “someone” in the WWE. Finding the right paring is crucial. What it remains to be seen is will it help this “clientt” or Flair more in the end.

Follow David on Twitter @davidlevin71

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5 WWE Superstars Who Could Transition To MMA

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

30 years ago the debate would be which pro wrestler was the toughest of the locker room. Today, it is about which pro wrestler could jump over to the UFC. So I thought I would have a little fun and take a look at 5 WWE superstars that have the intangibles to fight in the UFC.

Please keep one thing in mind with this entire list. I am certainly not saying that all of these guys would jump into the UFC or MMA and have the success that Brock Lesnar. All I am saying is that these five guys have the background and skills to at least attempt a jump to MMA without embarrassing themselves.

So with that said, let’s dive deep into the resumes of your favorite WWE superstars and take a look at who has a shot…albeit a long shot of jumping into the octagon. Whether they would be Brock Lesnar or Bobby Lashley will always be up for debate until the day comes when they bite down on the mouth guard and throw down in the world of MMA.

Wade Barrett - For those of you unaware, Wade Barrett is probably one of the most street-tough superstars in the WWE. Barrett is a former bareknuckle boxer. In other words, Barrett boxed for years in his native England…but without gloves. I have no doubt that Barrett could jump into the octagon tomorrow and at least be competitive on his feet.

On the ground is another story. Barrett has no amateur wrestling in his background as far as I know. This would make him vulnerable to the ground attack of almost any MMA fighter. This isn’t to say that Barrett wouldn’t have a puncher’s chance of catching someone shooting in with an uppercut or right hook. It just means that Barrett would have a lot of work to do if he ever decides he’d like to try his hand in MMA.

Santino Marella - How ironic is it that one of the toughest guys in the WWE is portrayed as one of the wimpiest? Forget about the guy you see on RAW and SmackDown (well barely), Santino is one tough dude. Santino also has minimal experience in MMA which makes you wonder about how well he’d fare at this stage of his career.

Santino is well experienced in judo, practicing judo for over 20 years. According to one report, I saw that he had a 6-1 record but I haven’t seen much else. Santino said in an interview awhile back that the only reason he left Japan and MMA was that he overstayed his Visa. If that is the case, he is one guy that could do some serious damage if he was to jump back into the world of MMA.

Dolph Ziggler - You would never believe it watching him in the ring but Dolph is one of, if not the most accomplished amateur wrestler in the WWE. Dolph was a standout high school and collegiate wrestler. Even better, he was teammates with Gray Maynard who appears to have done pretty darn good with his transition into MMA.

How good was Dolph as an amateur wrestler? Ziggler scored an unbelievable 82 pins which is a record in high school. At Kent University, Ziggler holds the second most wins in school history at 121. He is as legit as they come. He would certainly have to work on his standup and submissions, but the guy appears to be a prodigy of sorts. Even better, imagine the fun confrontations between Vickie Guerrero and Dana White!

Alberto Del Rio - Alberto like Santino, is the only man on this list to actually have MMA experience. Unfortunately Del Rio’s success in MMA wasn’t quite the same, going 9-5 overall. However, I think it is fair to say that he has more actual MMA experience than anyone in the WWE right now. Who knows how well he would do if he returned to the sport.

Alberto’s amateur wrestling background is one of the most impressive in pro wrestling history. Alberto is a Mexican national champion freestyle, won the Greco-Roman bronze medal teenage world championships; 1997, and placed 5th at 214 pounds Pan American Games.

Well quite frankly I don’t think he’d do that well at all. He does hold a record of 7 wins by submission which is none too shabby. He even put together a six fight win streak before joining the WWE. However, at 34 and after a few years inside the WWE, he probably has the least shot of making any real waves than anyone on the list. Ironic because if there was anyone that could certainly give it a go tomorrow, it would be him.

Jack Swagger - If Jack Swagger jumped into the world of pro wrestling 30-40 years ago, he would probably have had several NWA world title reigns by now and be regarded as a pro wrestling legend today. That is because Swagger is boasts an outstanding amateur wrestling record and with his size, he would have been a top draw for years throughout the territory.

Swagger was a two sport athlete in college, and this wasn’t just any college. This was the University of Oklahoma. At Oklahoma, Swagger took part in both wrestling and football. He concentrated on wrestling full time after his freshmen year and became one of the most successful wrestlers in school history. Swagger was a true All-American and set a single season record for most pins at 30.

With his size and his athletic background, Swagger could conceivably be a powerhouse in MMA. Of course he would have to train hard and develop a standup game, but he could certainly hold his own on the ground. His background shows a guy that is great at anything he sets out to do athletically. He’d also be fighting as a heavyweight, which doesn’t always have the best athletes. At 6’6, 263, and 29 years old he has all of the tools to jump into the octagon with some training and make some real noise in the MMA world.

Will any of these guys make the leap to MMA? I don’t think so. But it would be interesting if they did.

Note: This was originally published on October 13, 2011

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Has Dolph Ziggler Become This Generation’s Tommy Rich?

May 05, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

I remember a conversation about a year ago with a maniac wrestling fan who told me Dolph Ziggler would be the next Shawn Michaels, take over the WWE and rule professional wrestling – taking that title from John Cena.

I am sure the fan, who was as passionate about his wrestling and Ziggler as I am about my relationship with my girlfriend, regrets what he said right about no. The man with loads of talent, a former World Heavyweight Champion and one of the best athletes in the company, is stuck on a “Wrestling Purgatory” that cannot be defined by a couple of words. Ziggler, along with Sheamus, Kofi Kingston and Jack Swagger are basically in “no man’s land.”

For all the talent Ziggler has, and the idea that had been thrown about to make him a “Michaels-like” character in the WWE, he is going nowhere. His fall, which was preceded by a short title reign, reminds me a lot of former NWA World Champion Tommy Rich and his short-lived title hold (four days) and subsequent fall into regional status followed by mid-card wrestler.

The two wrestlers may not be each other in terms of talent (Ziggler the better of the two), but the paths are similar.

Rich started wrestling in 1974 in the regional promotions in Tennessee after training with Jerry Jarrett. Throughout the 1980s, he alternated his time between Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama territories of the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA). He won dozens of NWA regional titles during this time. He is best known as one of the original stars of the TBS wrestling shows from the 1970s and 1980s. His bloody feuds with “Mad Dog” Buzz Sawyer, Ole Anderson, Ivan Koloff, the Fabulous Freebirds, and every other major heel to come through the Georgia territory made Rich one of the most popular wrestling stars of the period.

In April of 1981, in Augusta, Georgia, he won the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. He dropped the belt back to former champion Harley Race four days later in Marietta.

According to lore, Race stated in a shoot interview with RF Video that the title switch was to ensure a power struggle in the Georgia territory ended with promoter Jim Barnett victorious (Barnett was a minority holder in Georgia and the booker of the NWA title, and the title switch, with the fan interest and boosted live gates, shored up his position).

He had a feud in Georgia Championship Wrestling with “Mad Dog” Buzz Sawyer for the NWA Georgia National Title. The feud lasted close to two years, culminating in the “Last Battle of Atlanta,” in 1983, which featured Sawyer and Rich in a fully enclosed, Last Man Standing cage match. It is still talked about today as one of the greatest feuds in NWA and wrestling history – nearly destroying both wrestler’s careers.

Ziggler has had many decent feuds, but not one that is a defining moment. John Cena, Kofi Kingston and Alberto Del Rio to name a few, but none that has defined him. His relationships with Vickie Guerrero and AJ Lee have been decent programs, but they did not set the screen on fire. He was supposedly getting a push around the time of WrestleMania. That has never materialized.

All wonton promise and no success – much like Rich, who was a tag team specialist in Jerry Lawler’s Memphis territory before fading out as a wrestler and manager (at one point).

Maybe the fans are to blame to some extent for Ziggler’s failures in that we want wrestlers of the past to reinvent themselves or for the contemporary ones to take the place of the old guard. No one is going to replace Michaels or Randy Savage or Harley Race, It’s a fact. Rich and Ziggler were in the wrong place at the wrong time in this industry. Ziggler can still salvage his career. Oh, and by the way, he and Rich both spoke their minds about the unfair business of the business.

Ziggler is too talented to fall into the Rich “trap” but wrestling is so “make it happen now” it will be hard for him to revive himself in the WWE. Hopefully, the company will use him in tag team competition or give him a spot (United States Championship) to be successful. If not, he becomes another wasted talent, just like Rich at a fairly young age.

Follow David on Twitter @davidlevin71

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WrestleMania XXVIII: A Portrait in Wrestling History

April 04, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

WRESTLEMANIA XXVIII
From SunLife Stadium in Miami, FL
April 1, 2012

BACKGROUND
It’s been purported that each WrestleMania event is generally planned a year in advance, and the booking is written backwards to support what they want to present on the grandest stage. While recent WrestleManias seem a bit more thrown-together at times, owing to an increasingly frenetic Vince McMahon being known to make constant changes, WrestleMania XXVIII was an event where a year-long plot was used, this time as an actual storyline.

One night after WrestleMania XXVII in Atlanta, John Cena called out The Rock. Rather than thrash the previous night’s guest host for costing him his World Title match against The Miz, a calm and happy-go-lucky Cena simply challenged Rock to a match at next year’s big event, giving both men one year to prepare for the clash of the ages.

The idea was unique for a modern time frame in which that $45 secondary PPV that you’re being offered has but two matches booked sixteen days before the event. It’s a little hard to get up for those shows (and buyrates seem to agree), but a WrestleMania where the main event is entrenched in everyone’s brains for 363 days?

Those “in-the-know” fans who balked at WWE’s most overexposed star, and most overexposed part-timer, getting a full calendar of non-stop billing would be rewarded by the successes of their heroes.

WWE was becoming a different place, as CM Punk and Daniel Bryan, who’d each passed through Philadelphia’s Murphy Rec Center on the way to the top, won the WWE and World Heavyweight Championships in 2011.

In spite of all of the social media blitzes, irksome moments from Michael Cole, and use of gimmickless FCW/NXT castoffs, it seemed WWE was crafting a WrestleMania unique among the pack. Between a year-long main event build, and two “workrate” champions, the everyday mold was finally being broken.

THE EVENT
Cena and Rock crossed paths prior to the WrestleMania main event, as Rock’s movie schedule allowed him to wrestle at Survivor Series 2011. That night at Madison Square Garden, he and Cena formed a super-team that annihilated The Miz and R-Truth. Afterward, Rock dropped Cena with a Rock Bottom as a reminder that, in four months, they’d each engage in a defining match in their careers.

After Cena was sidetracked by a hard-boiled feud with Kane through early 2012, he and Rock criss-crossed on the remaining road to WrestleMania, insulting each other in their typical juvenille fashion. Rock would host one of his trademark “Rock Concerts” laden with entendres and jibes toward the current company flagbearer, while Cena reinstituted his “Doctor of Thuganomics” persona, ripping into Rock with some lines that would make the kid-friendly sponsors cringe.

The match was even given a TV special on USA Network to promote the history of the icons, giving this match, dubbed “Once in a Lifetime”, a super fight feeling like no other in recent memory.

As if the dream match wasn’t enough to churn buyrates, the “end of an era” was also promised. The Undertaker, 19-0 at WrestleMania, wasn’t happy with how he barely eked the win out over Triple H one year earlier, and demanded a rematch with COO of the company.

Hunter initially balked, but The Dead Man persisted, eventually goading the man technically his boss into a fight. The Game agreed on one condition: that it be a Hell in a Cell match. Shawn Michaels, who’d had his career ended by Undertaker, was made guest referee as one last twist of the screw.

Sheamus was the winner of the 2012 Royal Rumble, last ousting a quizzically-acting Chris Jericho. The Celtic Warrior waited three weeks before deciding which championship to challenge for, ultimately deciding on the World Heavyweight title held by an increasingly-self-indulgent Daniel Bryan.

Bryan was an anomaly, winning the title as an underdog hero on December 18 via briefcase cash-in, but slowly took on a portrayal as an egomaniac jerk. Not only did he ignore the affection of girlfriend AJ Lee, but Bryan began to praise himself more and more for minor victories, many of them tainted. He even allowed AJ to be injured by a stampeding Big Show, all just to keep his title.

As for the WWE Championship, anti-hero CM Punk would face the winner of a ten man battle royal that took place on February 20. Jericho would win, and thus be afforded a chance to continue his vague “end of the world” crusade via the company’s top champion.

Jericho first began the mind games with Punk by claiming the “Straight Edge Superstar” had stolen his “Best in the World” moniker, which Punk gladly challenged Jericho to try and take back. With the champ not fazed, Y2J resorted to revealing the ugly family history of Punk, complete with the addictions his family members all once had. Jericho promised to lead Punk down the road of self-destruction en route to taking his title.

Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler were the evening’s commentators, joined by a now-goateed Jim Ross for the Hell in a Cell match. For the third time, Lilian Garcia performed America the Beautiful. The Hall of Fame Class of 2012 consisted of Edge, The Four Horsemen (dual induction for Ric Flair), Ron Simmons, Yokozuna, Mil Mascaras, and celebrity inductee Mike Tyson.

THE RESULTS
World Heavyweight Championship: Sheamus def. Daniel Bryan in 18 seconds to win the title
(And we stumble out of the gate. Boy the fans at SunLife dumped on them for this decision. I’ve said it in other mediums: it’s not the treatment of Bryan that made this moment suck; it was the belief by the company that Sheamus was going to look stronger as a result. The people who run WWE couldn’t find the pulse of the fans if they had a GPS)

Kane def. Randy Orton in 10:56
(I don’t know who this “Daniel Bryan” fellow is, but he sure got a lot of chants during this match. Decent contest that ended with a flying chokeslam)

WWE Intercontinental: Big Show def. Cody Rhodes in 5:18 to win the title
(The build was entertaining, with Rhodes showing film of Show’s WrestleMania embarrassments to psyche him out, but the match was all too brief. Rhodes actually reigned as champion for eight months)

Maria Menounos/Kelly Kelly def. Eve Torres/Beth Phoenix in 6:49
(All of these women are gone from WWE, which is a commentary on how women would rather do “something else” than work there. But I’d take a stinkface from Miss Menounos, at least)

Hell in a Cell/”End of an Era”: The Undertaker def. Triple H in 30:50
(Opinions of this one are a little divided. Some call this the greatest match in the history of the galaxy. Others think it was stupid to have Triple H assault Undertaker with basic moves, and have Michaels nearly “stop the match” because Taker couldn’t continue. Because Hunter’s so bad ass. Eh, 20-0 is 20-0, even if was slower and more plodding than Heaven’s Gate)

David Otunga/Mark Henry/The Miz/Dolph Ziggler/Jack Swagger/Drew McIntyre def. Kofi Kingston/Santino Marella/Great Khali/R-Truth/Zack Ryder/Booker T in 10:38
(As a result of this, John Laurinaitis won complete control of Raw and Smackdown from Teddy Long. Oh, and Zack Ryder looked like a useless tool. That’ll learn em)

WWE Championship: CM Punk def. Chris Jericho in 22:21
(A highly physical and intense battle that took some time to find second gear, I still found it to be the best match of the night. The battle at the end over the Anaconda Vise, with Punk refusing to give up on the hold, despite Jericho’s vicious struggle, was a nice touch)

“Once in a Lifetime”: The Rock def. John Cena in 33:34
(Nice throwback to the big-time WrestleMania main events of old, even if it was preceded by a six hour concert featuring Flo Rida and anorexic Shannon Moore. Cena’s undoing came as he tried a People’s Elbow, only to be Rock Bottom’d. Some said it was boring, but I actually liked it. Whether Rock has the endurance for another 30 minute match is another story)

ITS PLACE IN HISTORY
It’s hard to argue with 1.22 million buys, a WWE record, so some would say that a year-long build is the way to go. Rock would remain a part of WWE in a limited capacity, sticking around to challenge for the WWE Title at the 2013 Royal Rumble, but we’ll get to that next year.

The show began disastrously, and the fans largely didn’t come out of their anger-induced coma until the Hell in a Cell match. As many people who remember that match, and Rock and Cena’s epic showdown, equally remember how the show opened with the misstep of Sheamus and Bryan, possibly the worst WrestleMania booking since Hogan went over a tired Yokozuna at WrestleMania IX.

It wasn’t a terrible show, but it wasn’t a home run in any way except financially (undoubtedly important, despite our gripes). For the official “portrait” of the show, my pick will be a split screen. On one side is Shawn Michaels and Undertaker holding up a semi-conscious Triple H on the stage, while The Rock stands tall on the other side. WWE more than ever lives off of the past, as it can’t create an exciting present. Logically, their imagery should make you think you’re in 1998.

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

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WrestleMania 27: Well, That Was Different

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

-Another day, another running diary. But I keep coming back to entertain all (sixteen) of you that read my work. And, unlike certain hosts of certain PPVs, I will NOT phone it in via satellite!

-I’ll phone it in right here, in person.

-We are looking LIVE (Trademark Brent Musberger) from the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, where fingerpoking and NFL playoff choking are all the rage. I’m joined at my brother Josh’s domicile by Josh himself, and jaded buddies Dave and Rob for some good action and, hopefully, some unintentional comedy to offset the cost of this shindig. Also, Domino’s Pizza is the order of the day, because if you’re going to pay to see Snooki, you should at least get fat on Cheesy Bread doing it.

-Keri Hilson performs America the Beautiful, and is the latest contestant in the “Are they Black or White?” game with Derek Jeter, Latoya Jackson, Alicia Keys, and Jason Kidd. Black seems likely, for those wondering how I’d score.

-The Rock is out here to waste time, you know, because the biggest show of the year needs talk. Rock assures us, through his self-intro, that he still eats pie, which must confuse twelve-year old kids in the audience who see a muscular athlete that LOVES to indulge in pastries. But you can see why Daniel Bryan and Sheamus would get axed.

-Rock further validates their excising by leading the crowd in a chant along. Here’s one for you: When I yell “RE!”, you yell “FUND!”. Ready?

-I never thought I’d see the day where four longtime wrestling fans shake their heads in exasperation, wondering when Rock is going to stop talking. I thought April Fool’s Day was Friday.

-Wait, wait, wait, wait…..The World Heavyweight Title match….is OPENING? The prize for winning the Royal Rumble is to open WrestleMania? Well, it’s Atlanta, and Vince probably thought “You know….I wonder how I could devalue the World Heavyweight Title more than WCW ever did”.

-So it’s Edge, with Christian, defending against Alberto Del Rio, with Brodus Clay and Psicosis in a tuxedo. Del Rio takes a nasty slip to the floor, indicating that perhaps Del Rio wants to steal the show and make Vince pay for his error in judgment. Or, maybe he just slipped.

-Del Rio hooks the cross-armbreaker, leading to a false finish. Del Rio then ups the ante with a springing enzuigiri. You’re telling me it was necessary to not make room for this guy later in the night? I thought WWE was all about putting over the future? You know, that outmoded concept that TNA seems to not seem to buy into? Did Russo book this?

-Edge’s spear misses, and it leads to a cross-armbreaker, which Edge refuses to give into. If Edge tapped in the opener to lose the title, then it’s proof Russo WASN’T booking. My money would then be on David Lynch.

-Edge gets the Edgucator, and Del Rio won’t give up. The challenger finds his way out, and Edge merely spears him to win. Really? All that “destiny” chatter and this is the payoff? It was a good match, with few flaws (you know, other than being the opener), but why have Del Rio fall short in what was, basically, a throwaway? I’m not mad, just confused. A lot of us are, really.

-Meanwhile, Michael Cole taunts Jerry Lawler from inside the Cole Mine. He shows off his Slammys and calls himself a “broadcast journalist”, which makes him half Owen Hart/half Bobby Heenan. No wonder I like him so much now.

-Cody Rhodes is out next, Vinny Del Negro face shield and all, to take on Rey Mysterio, who is dressed as Captain America. Interesting that WWE took their two top “lucha” stars and put them at the bottom of the card. Know what other company used to do that? Hint: they were based in Atlanta, and aren’t in business anymore.

-Well hey, Cody’s bringing the energy. It’s like he wants to steal the show all for himself, as he’s keeping up with Mysterio all the way. Not only does Rhodes bust out the Alabama Slam (finisher of ex-partner Hardcore Holly), but he even borrow’s CW Anderson’s delayed superplex. There’s even faint “CODY” chants in the Georgia Dome. Good on you, kid.

-Rhodes tries going into Mysterio’s pant leg, which makes me think he’s trying to find evidence of drug muling, but he’s merely going after Mysterio’s knee brace. Rey responds by taking off Cody’s facemask (“WE CAN SEE WHO IT IS! IT WAS CODY THE WHOLE TIME!”), putting it on, and then headbutting Cody with it. Isn’t that a DQ?

-Rhodes goes an eye for an eye by bashing Rey with his own knee brace, and then hitting Cross Rhodes for the win. I enjoyed the match, and Rhodes proved who the real dead weight of “Legacy” was. No wonder Triple H embarrassed Junior Dibiase so handily. Welcome to the food chain.

-To further urinate in Sheamus and Bryan’s faces, here’s a pointless talent contest backstage. Just know that Rowdy Roddy Piper does a pretty good impression of Jeff Hardy at Victory Road.

-I’m going to give the eight man tag as much time and effort as WWE gave it. I don’t think I physically saw Justin Gabriel. I’ll also bet Vince couldn’t pick him out of a police line-up.

-Eve tells The Rock that she’s enjoying the show. She also believes that, as Divas champion, she’d valued more for her brains and ability than looks, so her credibility is somewhat questionable. Mae Young shows up, because Vince loves her, and then we get an Austin/Rock staredown for old times’ sake. Ok, that was enjoyable. Just glad Austin didn’t strike Eve.

-Randy Orton and CM Punk, the match I was looking forward to the most, is next. Just a classic cat and mouse heel vs. face feud, with very few weak spots. Except for the acting of Randy Orton’s “wife”. This should be an annual tradition: find a fitness model with zero personality, and make her Orton’s designated wife. It’s like “Rock of Love” with fewer degrading skits.

-It needs to be said: CM Punk is about as complete a heel as you’ll find in wrestling these days. He was born about twenty years too late. Take away the excessive tattoos and couldn’t you see him in the old NWA, attacking babyfaces in the parking lot? He’s like Tully Blanchard, except you won’t find him repenting tearfully over the days of sniffing lines out of the belly buttons of ring rats.

-Punk is carrying his end swimmingly. I think he and Cody Rhodes are playing “can you top this” in terms of bringing their A-Game to the night. Punk’s arrays of kicks, as well as the kick-to-the-face counter to the RKO, are keeping the viewing party entertained. In other words, we like Punk.

-ANACONDA VICE! ORTON HOLDING ON BY A THREAD! Hold my coat while I forget that this is fake for a little while!

-After Punk avoids a few defeat attempts due to Orton’s injuries, Punk springboards into the ring and eats a vicious RKO. Great match, best of the night so far (edging the Cody-Rey “feelin’ it” fest). For as badly structured as the backstage stuff is, the ring work is carrying the card.

-The Rock talks to Pee Wee Herman. I go for more cheesy bread, to find none left. I’m sad twice.

-Howard Finkel! #27! THE REAL STREAK LIVES!

-Hall of Famers are then introduced: Abdullah the Butcher, Sunny (YOWZA!), Legion of Doom (Man, Hawk got small….oh, that’s Ellering), Bullet Bob Armstrong, Drew Carey, Hacksaw Jim Duggan (complete with tuxed-up 2X4), and Shawn Michaels, whose presence on these shows is definitely missed. Now we have to be more selective with our “FIVE STAR” declarations.

-Booker T is out next to commentate as is, wait for it…..GOOD OL JR! And Jim Ross said on Twitter that he WOULDN’T be commentating! Using Twitter to deceive people? When did JR become Dixie Carter?

-Michael Cole is dressed as a mildly-less retarded Rick Steiner while Jerry Lawler is, well, Jerry Lawler. Steve Austin, the referee, nearly runs over Jack Swagger with his ATV. What if Swagger DID get hit? Could they have tousled Drew McIntyre’s hair and given him a singlet in time?

-Cole’s having the time of his life, performing like a modern Andy Kaufman. Meanwhile, Swagger busts out the ankle lock on Lawler. Question: if Kurt Angle was a real Olympian, is Swagger WWE’s “Special Olympian”? Question two: am I going to Hell for making this joke?

-Cole seems to have no concept of applying holds, which may lead one to think he doesn’t watch ROH. And why would he? Working ROH style leads to you having your US Title match scrapped.

-Match slows down as the crowd chants “DORING” in the hopes that former ECW Tag Team Champion Danny Doring arrives to spice things up. No dice, sadly.

-The match breaks down into a typical Austin showcase (Stunner for Swagger, babyface comeback), with Lawler applying an ankle lock for the submission, with Cole tapping forever, and Austin delaying the bell ringing. Just for fun, Booker T jumps in for a beer and eats a Stunner, because Austin remembers when Booker stole his truck and cost him the Undisputed Title.

-But WAIT! The Anonymous GM, per Josh Mathews, announces that Austin overstepped his bounds and that the virtually dead Michael Cole wins by DQ! So Austin beats up Mathews, just because. Maybe Austin’s just mad because they’re making Expendables II without him.

-Meanwhile, at AXXESS, Sheamus fans flew from Ireland to see him! Just slap em in the face, why don’t ya, WWE….

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-No Holds Barred is next, and while I’m fearful of Zeus returning, it’s actually the heavily-hyped Undertaker-Triple H match. Hear that buzzing? That’s me. I’m abuzz.

-Triple H immediately endears himself to me by using “For Whom the Bell Tolls”, my favorite song from my favorite band of all time, Metallica. The booking staff could use “Frayed Ends of Sanity” themselves. He then switches to Motorhead after a redux of his Conan entrance, and then The Undertaker arrives to Johnny Cash. Metallica, Motorhead, and Johnny Cash? Sounds like the contents of Triple H’s iPod. Can we work some Warrant in there somewhere, just for laughs?

-Of note, this is Triple H’s first match in almost a year. In most cases, the man’s gut might sag. Not the case here, but his forehead’s sloping to the point where he could become a GEICO pitchman.

-The brawl goes outside and they end up destroying the Cole Mine, near the Spanish announce table. Rob points out that the last time he saw a mine collapse in the presence of Latinos was in Chile. So Rob takes my coveted title of “most tasteless joke told in a Justin diary”. I couldn’t hold it forever.

-Match is a damn good brawl, and Hunter takes a SICK backdrop off of the announce table, landing right on his hip. Gotta respect the man for taking so much abuse when he can just sit back.

-Jerry Lawler mentions that Undertaker’s never faced someone quite like Triple H, except when he faced…..Triple H. Of course, Lawler missed that WrestleMania when he protested alongside a woman that would later desert him for another man, so I can excuse it.

-HHH lands a Pedigree for 2, and then another which doesn’t finish. Hunter is now screaming “STAY DOWN”, which seems to indicate that Undertaker isn’t following the script that Hunter carefully wrote. Had Hunter yelled “JOB!”, that would have been my undisputed WrestleMania 27 moment. Hands down.

-Hunter decides to violate company policy by bashing Taker in the head with a chair, and then adds a Tombstone, which still isn’t enough. Finally, he gets the sledgehammer, but Undertaker applies Hell’s Gate. Hunter can’t swing the weapon, goes limp, and then lightly taps out. Wow, insanely epic brawl. Perhaps it’s not of the caliber of the Taker/Shawn matches, but best match of the night anyway.

-Note: Hunter tapped three times in big Mania matches. Who says he doesn’t lay down?

-Undertaker, near death, is carted off with the help of several officials, including IRS. Didn’t IRS once repossess headstones just to mess with Taker? Wrestling sure is full of forgiveness.

-Hey, Vickie’s here to shriek! Fan sentiment: “if we keep booing her and giving her insane heel heat, maybe she’ll go away!” Yeah, sure, maybe.

-John Morrison, Trish Stratus, and Snooki are facing Dolph Ziggler and LayCool, which seems to be a recipe for disaster, especially when Trish and McCool fall awkwardly to the floor from the top rope. Then McCool accidentally almost takes Layla’s face off with a blown kick meant for Trish. WWE does strong style better than the indies!

-Morrison adds a Starship Pain to the floor. Bad ass.

-Snooki gets booed after a tag, but amazes all with a handspring back splash that puts Great Muta to shame. Flip splash pins McCool to give us a pleasant surprise. Ya know, take away her drunkenness, her annoying personality, her burnt skin, and her overexposed celebrity, and what do you have? A short girl with some shapely thighs and is quite bottom heavy. Give her a normal life where she’s just “Nicole”, and I’d be shamelessly lusting after her like George “The Animal” Steele.

-(The above statement was made without a trace of irony)

-The Tough Enough contestants are in the crowd and, as Dave points out, they got better seats than the WCW roster did ten years ago at X7. Shows you where WWE’s priorities are.

-Miz’s opening video for the main event, with him “taking over production”, while “Hate Me Now” plays, is one of the freshest presentations WWE has yet done. Makes The Miz seem like a big time performer.

-Alex Riley, by managing Miz in the main event, is the Harvey Wippleman to Riley’s Sid Justice. It’s official.

-John Cena‘s entrance of the year: a church choir, singing over a montage of Cena photos and videos of his youth. If you’re going to do a church choir, can’t you get a James Brown impersonator to sing in preacher garb while Cena yells “THE BAND, ELWOOD! THE BAND!”? Is that too much to ask?

-Slow opening to the WWE Title match. Fan with a sign reading “PLEASE GIVE UP” in one of Cena’s fonts makes us laugh. Not a good sign.

-Cena and Miz seem to be rushing through this, due to time constraints. I dunno, maybe giving Rock 4 hours at the start of the show to cheerlead wasn’t such a good idea.

-For a WrestleMania main event, this is resembling a match in Stu Hart’s basement: no heat, and it’s not exactly visually pleasing. Oh, and there’s a ref bump! This just gets better by the second!

-Riley bashes Cena with a briefcase, which IRS seemed to have left at ringside, and Miz still can’t finish. So the two men brawl to the floor and Cena takes Miz over a pair of railings. Mike Chioda counts both men out which means….MIZ RETAINS! The crowd, which booed Cena all match, boos Miz retaining the title. And this is why smart-ass fans can’t have good things.

-But WAIT! Rock is out here to restart the match! The crowd doesn’t know how to feel.

-But it’s okay, because Rock gives Cena Rock Bottom as a receipt, and allows Miz to pin him and retain. Ballsy ending, I’ll give em that. Not a great match, but it’ll be fun to see where they take it from here.

-Oh, and Rock gives Miz a beating as well, because Rock’s the star. The prodigal star.

CYNIC SAYS: I didn’t HATE the show, but the structure was definitely weird. Taker-HHH was a match of the year candidate, Rhodes-Rey and Orton-Punk were both excellent, and the World Title matches were solid enough (yes, even Miz-Cena was “okay). Lawler-Cole was also fun for what it was.

There was nothing outright terrible, but not a whole lot of “blowaway” for the biggest show of the year. Call it a thumbs in the middle, leaning up, pending further review some day.

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

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WrestleMania XXVII: A Portrait in Wrestling History

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

WRESTLEMANIA XXVII
From The Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA
April 3, 2011

BACKGROUND
WrestleManias these days are more like the Super Bowl than ever before. In the NFL’s biggest annual game, while the outcome determines a champion, thus making the game the most relevant part of the weekend, the lure and aura of the halftime show, commercials, and interminable pre-game shows loaded with puff pieces draw in the casual viewer.

With WWE’s ratings and buyrates waning incrementally from the Attitude Era’s ending, Vince McMahon has discovered other ways to appeal to the casual viewer, especially come “WrestleMania season.”

In the last year and a half or so, World Wrestling Entertainment has dove into the deep end of social networking. You can’t sit through more than five minutes of Monday Night Raw anymore without Michael Cole prattling on in his cacophonic shriek about “hashtags” and “trending” and whatnot. Wrestlers tweeting threats to each other on off-days, usually in character, have begun to replace traditional story elements of tag team miscues and title shot demands as a means of fueling feuds and grudges.

With Twitter and Facebook as prime means of communication, it’s no doubt that WWE would exploit any chance to reach potential viewers.

Of course, WWE also continues the time-honored tradition of immersing past stars into the present story world. In recent years, we’ve seen Chris Jericho run afoul of Hall of Famers like Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat on the Road to WrestleMania. One year later, Vince McMahon and Bret Hart modified their years of bad blood into a three month story arc that culminated in one of WrestleMania’s most unlikely matches.

With a Georgia Dome to fill, and fans to get talking, WWE brought somebody in off the bench to help ensure the likelihood of both. It had been nearly seven years since he was last seen….

But finally……he came back.

THE EVENT
On February 14, 2011, a day devoted to love, wrestling fans jilted by the loss of WWE’s classic spontaneity and assertiveness were greeted to the sports entertainment equivalent of John Cusack standing below their bedroom window with a boombox.

One week after Vince McMahon announced a special guest host for WrestleMania, The Rock showed up in Anaheim, to an ungodly ovation from fans who had missed one of the sport’s greatest heroes. Dwayne Johnson systematically riffed on The Miz and John Cena, the two would-be main eventers, the latter in particular for some scathing public comments. Cena had derided Rock for leaving WWE completely behind in his pursuit of Sunset Boulevard, and now “The People’s Champion” was back to dress down his verbal attacker.

For weeks, Rock and Cena exchanged jibes back and forth so often, you’d think they were facing off at WrestleMania. Instead, Cena (who won #1 contendership at Elimination Chamber) would be challenging The Miz for the WWE Championship. Miz became a secondary figure to Rock and Cena’s trash talk, even while Michael Cole was championing Miz as “the most must-see WWE Champion in history.”

Ahh, Michael Cole’s heel turn. That ties into WrestleMania as well, as Cole, now pro-heel to the hilt, kept getting under the skin of Jerry Lawler, his longtime partner. When Lawler attempted to become WWE Champion in his only-ever shot, and felt short vs. The Miz, Cole rubbed it in to Lawler in antagonistic fashion. Emotions spilled over when Cole let slip that Lawler’s now-dead mother watched her son lose, and “The King” finally put his hands on his partner.

Soon enough, a match would be signed, with Jack Swagger as Cole’s trainer, and Stone Cold Steve Austin (what did I say about classic acts?) as the guest referee.

We haven’t even mentioned the Royal Rumble winner yet. Alberto Del Rio won the only 40-Man Rumble in history, and selected Edge, the World Heavyweight Champion, as the hilltopper he wished to knock off the summit. This feud had the added advantage of involving Christian, whom Del Rio put out of action in the fall of 2010. The reunited brothers (not friends, screw you WWE) banded together against Del Rio, his servant Ricardo Rodriguez, and protégé Brodus Clay.

To add more star power, The Undertaker’s streak of eighteen WrestleMania wins would be put on the line. Rumors swirled about who would try to end the mark. First, former UFC Champion Brock Lesnar was considered, but a deal never occurred. Then Sting was to jump from TNA, but re-signed with the company in the eleventh hour. Finally, Triple H stepped in, and engaged in weeks of tremendous dueling promo monologues with The Dead Man. The one from March 28 involving Shawn Michaels was some of WWE’s best TV to date.

CM Punk would face Randy Orton in a war over some of Orton’s past acts of aggression. And speaking of aggression, Orton would take out each of Punk’s Nexus flunkies on the road to their showdown.

Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler, and Josh Mathews provided commentary, with Jim Ross and Booker T joining in later. Keri Hilson performed America the Beautiful. The Hall of Famers included Shawn Michaels, The Road Warriors, Paul Ellering, Sunny, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Abdullah the Butcher, Bob Armstrong, and Drew Carey.

THE RESULTS
World Heavyweight Championship: Edge def. Alberto Del Rio in 11:10
(Not only did the Royal Rumble winner open the show, but he also lost, looking like quite the “chumpstain” in the process. This would be Edge’s final match before retiring due to spinal injuries, but at least it was a really good opener. But still, why did it have to open?)

Cody Rhodes def. Rey Mysterio in 12:00
(This was quite an important match, as not only was it really good, but it showed that Rhodes can shine in a role outside of being Randy Orton’s lackey, or Ted Dibiase’s co-conspirator. If you wonder why Rhodes is trusted with a serious push, look here)

Kane/Big Show/Kofi Kingston/Santino Marella def. The Corre in 1:35
(As of this match, Santino Marella is 2-0 at WrestleMania, and Big Show is 3-8. Let that sink in)

Randy Orton def. CM Punk in 14:48
(If the crowd wasn’t so restless by this point, and if the night didn’t have a sour tone overall, this would be remembered as something more. Damn good match, but greater things lie ahead for both. Especially Punk about three months later….)

Michael Cole by Jerry Lawler by DQ in 13:42
(Why yes, this got more time than the first two matches. Coupled with The Rock wasting fifteen minutes at the start of the show with a cheerleading session, and you see why Sheamus and Daniel Bryan’s US Title match was bumped. The only good this match provided was getting Jim Ross to do commentary for the rest of the evening. Watching Cole on extended offense is like watching a midget do a caber toss)

No Holds Barred: The Undertaker def. Triple H in 29:26
(Not the five star classic some were hailing it as, but still a match of the year contender, surpassed by Christian/Del Rio a month later, and then Cena/Punk at MITB and Summerslam. Just a wild brawl with an insanely intense last few minutes. Undertaker springing back from the dregs of death to make Triple H tap out was heart-stopping excitement, and it pretty much saved the show. 19-0)

John Morrison/Trish Stratus/Snooki def. Dolph Ziggler/Michelle McCool/Layla in 4:00
(I’ll say it: Snooki + WWE’s make-up team = mildly attractive. She filled out those shorts nicely, even if I find her repulsive otherwise. Morrison snubbed Trish for much of the post-match, out of protest for Melina not getting to be on the show, and would fall out of favor with WWE entirely, leaving by year’s end. Actually, factoring in Layla’s near year-long injury, and Dolph is the only one still there)

WWE Heavyweight Championship: The Miz def. John Cena in 16:10
(If there’s one thing Miz doesn’t know how to do, it’s put on an epic match. Pedestrian, Raw-like, and building to nothing exciting, the match ended in a double countout before Rock restarted it, just so he could screw Cena with a Rock Bottom. Then Miz, after winning, got one too, and Rock celebrated to end the show. Really, that was the ending. The Seinfeld finale was better conceived)

ITS PLACE IN HISTORY
Rock and Cena would immediately begin to hype their one on one match for a year later, but the fans were still coming to grips with the show that they’d just been fed. Bryan/Sheamus bumped? Edge opening? Rock rambling in horrible segments? Cole wrestling for fifteen minutes? Snoop Dogg hosting a sing-off? No title changes? SNOOKI?!?!

Four of the matches (Edge/Alberto, Rey/Cody, Punk/Orton, Taker/HHH) were all WrestleMania worthy, and keep this from being a complete clunker. That said, there were so many head-scratching decisions involved with WrestleMania XXVII, you’d think Vince McMahon was bound and gagged backstage while Vince Russo and Herb Abrams ran amok with the booking sheet.

As for the show’s most enduring image, it has to be The Rock. It was supposed to be, theoretically, a night for Cena and Edge, two longtime heroes, to wage war with two upstart villains, Del Rio and Miz, in championship matches, but they were mere appetizers. Rock leading the fans in a chant exhibition, and then cavorting around with Mae Young and Peewee Herman…..this was somehow necessary, according to WWE.

Rock standing tall to close the show is the official portrait, and that pretty much sums up the show’s downfall.

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

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WrestleMania 27 Results – The Rock Gets Revenge, Triple H Taps

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

It was the old guard that stole WrestleMania 27. The Undertaker vs. Triple H will go down as a WrestleMania classic. The Rock made a WrestleMania moment of his own to close the show and Stone Cold Steve Austin delivered a pair of stunners that had the sold out crowd rocking!

The Rock was introduced as the Guest Host to open up the show. No need to wait to see the Great One right? The Rock left his suit at the press conference and hit the ring in full workout attire. He didn’t get the insane reaction he has been getting on RAW but that could have been the acoustics of the big arena.

The Rock rallied up the crowd with his promo. Rock chanted “wrestle” and the crowd chanted “mania” (Guess he wasn’t in on the recent meeting.) The Rock cut a brief promo on John Cena who the crowd booed big time. No real mention of The Miz. The gist of the promo though was The Rock being a cheerleader and cutting a very standard “Rock promo” and telling the fans how great WrestleMania was going to be.

This was fine for an opening segment but definitely the weakest promo he cut since his return. Nothing of substance here, just the usual catchphrases to hype the crowd.

Edge defeated Alberto Del Rio to retain the WWE world title. This was the first match to kick off the show (Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan actually opened the show but it wasn’t televised). Wow, that was different. This was the first time a WWE world title match was ever slotted first on a WrestleMania. Most reports had Sheamus vs. Bryan opening so this must have been changed. Also, it should be noted that Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler were on commentary which was kind of weird. Cole was in his Cole Mine box.
At one point Michael Cole points out that Edge rarely puts himself in danger. Has he seen those TLC matches?

Edge pins Alberto Del Rio after a spear. This was a great opener with lots of action. There were a lot of near falls in this one, especially for an opening match. I would have liked to see Alberto walk away with the belt here. However, as I pointed in my preview he has been struggling a bit lately. Honestly I think that low rating in a match against John Cena on RAW a few weeks ago sunk him.

There was also no Christian heel turn either as expected. That one surprises me. Why bother have him go over on Del Rio the last few weeks if a) Del Rio list and b) he didn’t turn. At one point after the match Edge and Christian each had lead pipes and destroyed Del Rio’s car. It looked like Christian was going to turn around and nail Edge but nope, business as usual.

Cody Rhodes pinned Rey Mysterio with Crossroads. Rey Mysterio came out in a real cool Captain America outfit at WrestleMania 27. There was a really cool spot in the match where Cody held Rey up from the second turnbuckle in a vertical suplex for what seemed like over a minute. Cody tried to work over the injured knee for most of the match but never seemed to get a great opportunity. Cody did remove the knee brace. Rey hit a real nice moonsault block during the match for a near fall. The finish Rey go for a tope, Cody removed his mask outside the ring and nailed Rey behind the referee’s back which set up the Crossroads and the pinfall. This was another great match and the guys got a lot more time than I expected.

Snoop Dogg did a backstage segment “auditioning WWE superstars” to go on tour. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper made a cameo otherwise his was a real momentum killer. I’d be pretty angry if I paid three figures for a WrestleMania ticket and had to sit through this. I am pretty angry at paying $55 to see this. The finale here was Hornswoggle rapping.

Kane, Big Show, Santino Marella, and Kofi Kingston defeated The Corre (Wade Barrett, Ezekiel Jackson, Justin Gabriel, and Heath Slater). The Big Show pinned Heath Slater. Kofi Kingston was a late (and pleasant) replacement after the Corre took out Kozlov in an angle during AXXESS. This one was over quick. I was hoping to see Wade Barrett get the fall but it wasn’t to be.

The Rock was back and had a conversation with Eve Torres. Mae Young was back and The Rock made some old jokes at her expense. Then The Rock turned around and was face to face with Steve Austin. This was a pretty cool yet uneventful moment which saw the two end the segment by shaking hands.

Randy Orton pinned CM Punk with the RKO. CM Punk worked over Randy Oron’s injured leg for most of the mach. An odd spot saw Randy Orton suplerplex Punk after having his leg worked over for 10 minutes. Even stranger is that nobody acknowledged Cowboy Bob during the spot. The wrestling psychology here was just awful as Orton would go from selling the leg to no selling between moves. I guess the apple fell very far from that tree. This was an okay match, nothing great, very deliberate and slow paced at times. There was a cool spot that saw Orton go for the RKO out of nowhere and Punk avoid it. The next one got him and downed him for the pinfall.

The Rock was backstage again and met “John Cena’s number one fan” who turned out to be Pee Wee Herman. This was actually pretty good. Gene Okerlund was back there with both of them in full Cena garb. The segment ended with Pee Wee disowning Cena and joining Team Bring It.

Howard Finkel made it 27-0 and introduced the 2011 WWE Hall of Fame class. Bob Armstrong got a really nice surprising pop. Abdullah the Butcher looks like he dropped about 60 pounds. HBK of course got the best ovation although nothing close to what Stone Cold got at WrestleMania 25.

The anonymous G.M. chimed in after the match and awarded Michael Cole the win via disqualification. Swagger and Lawler wrestled early on as Cole sat in the Cole Mine. Cole in that Cole Mine was actually pretty damn funny. Cole’s selling was also great. Lawler climbed into the Cole Mine and beat on Cole. He finally dragged him out and ran his head into the G.M. post. Swagger finally took Lawler out as Austin had his back turned.

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Cole’s first move was a baseball slide as Lawler laid on the ring apron. Swagger applied the ankle lock outside the ring on Lawler which set up Cole’s offense. Cole worked on Lawler’s leg. It got pretty stale midway and the crowd started to boo and turn on the match (reminded me a lot of Bret vs. Vince). Cole even pulled the strap down to mock the King and applied a version of the ankle lock.

Swagger threw the towel in when Lawler pulled the strap down and Austin used the towel to wipe himself down. Swagger got in Austin’s face and got the stunner. Cole got in Austin’s face and Austin pushed him into Lawler’s right hand. Lawler even pulled out the dropkick, which had great height. Lawler dropped the fist, had the three count, but pulled Cole back up. Lawler finished with the ankle lock. Austin called the match and awarded the win to Lawler which would be temporary.

Michael Cole wrestled in amateur wrestling gear which was pretty freaking awesome! Cole actually came out cutting a promo on Lawler and JR with no music which was different. Steve Austin came out on his four wheeler to a huge pop. Austin chased Cole into the Cole Mine. Jerry Lawler got practically no reaction walking out which is really odd following Cole’s great opening promo.

Jim Ross finally made his way back to the WrestleMania broadcast booth for the first time since WrestleMania 25. It couldn’t have come any sooner as the commentary was really awful tonight thanks to the Cole-Lawler dynamic. Booker was a bit rusty but a welcome change indeed.

I was really surprised at how little the crowd seemed into this match. They were way into Stone Cole but nothing else, which surprises me after their highly rated segments. At one point in the middle of the match the crowd started to boo and I even heard a few “boring” chants. I’d be shocked if they brought these two back.  This was definitely not a WrestleMania classic and was easily the worst of the night.

Booker T came in after the match and Austin wound up giving him a stunner. Well they did feud back in 2001 and Austin isn’t a forgetful man. Remember that supermarket brawl?

The G.M. chimed in during the celebration and reversed the decision and awarded Cole the win via disqualification citing Austin being a partial referee. Austin wound up giving Josh Matthews a stunner after he made the announcement. The good news here is that this leaves only Lawler and JR to call the rest of WrestleMania. There is a God!

The Undertaker defeated Triple H in a No Holds Barred Match. Triple H came out to Metallica “For Whom the Bell Tolls” in a very cool ancient king costume. I know he has a ton of haters but the guy still has one of the best entrances in the business. The Undertaker wasn’t outdone and had a real cool entrance himself. Triple H got the second biggest pop of the night up to this point besides Austin and that includes The Rock. The crowd was really into this one.

The match started off as a brawl, just like their WresleMania 17 match. Less than a minute in and they hit the floor. Triple H tackled Undertaker through the Cole Mine so I guess that angle is officially over. Both guys went back into the ring brawling. For all of their injuries both guys looked really mobile early on.

The Undertaker went “old school” but Triple H took a page out of his mentor Ric Flair’s WrestleMania X8 game plan and reversed it. They went back to the floor which saw Triple H toss the dead man into the barricade. Five minutes in and both announcers’ tables were in play. The Undertaker reversed an attempted pedigree on the table with a big back drop. Hunter flew off the table to the floor in what will probably be the WrestleMania moment of the night. Lots of action for the first five minutes.

The Undertaker hit an awesome suicide dive onto Hunter which will give their previous WrestleMania moment a run for the money. The match slowed down quite a bit at this point. These guys are throwing everything out there. Triple H reversed a charge and gave The Undertaker a cool spine buster onto the table. This is probably the best WrestleMania match Triple H has ever had.

The Undertaker got a close fall back in the ring with a chokeslam. Triple H caught The Undertaker with a second spine buster in the ring for a close fall. Triple H brought a chair into the ring which was countered by Taker. Taker used it and nailed Hunter on the back. Hunter nailed a pedigree out of nowhere that got a count so close I thought the match was over.

These two never slowed down. Undertaker got a real close fall with a Last Ride powerbomb. Fifteen minutes in and The Undertaker slashed the throat calling for the end. Triple H kicked out of a tombstone and the place went crazy. He is really Superman isn’t he? Well JR says it is “amazing will” so we’ll go with that.

Triple H changed the tide with a DDT on the steel chair. Triple H was definitely on the receiving end a lot more than The Undertaker in the match. Hunter nailed a second pedigree which saw Taker barely kick out to another pop. This match has definitely stolen the show.

The announcers started putting over damage to The Undertaker’s neck. Could the streak be ending? Taker kicks out of yet another pedigree. No, HE is Superman! Trips returned the favor and nailed The Undertaker on his back with the chair. JR wants to nominate the chair to the WWE Hall of Fame. No less deserving than Drew Carey so why not?

Both guys finally slow down at around the 25 minute mark. Triple H yelling at The Undertaker to “stay down!” Triple H nails The Undertaker on the head (now that is how to take a protected chair shot) in the center of the ring but doesn’t cover. The Game continues yelling at Taker to stay down and tells him to “just die.” The Undertaker responds by grabbing Hunter’s throat. The Undertaker can barely stand.

Triple H his a tombstone on The Undertaker and yes, Taker kicks out. I admit I thought it was over at that point. Triple H in shock. This is good but at the same time it is getting a bit ridiculous. Out comes the sledgehammer from underneath the ring at about the 28 minute mark. Taker instead catches a hesitant Hunter with the gogoplata out of nowhere. Triple H can’t find the hammer. He finds it and drops it. The Game taps at around 30:00!

This match rivaled both HBK vs. Undertaker WrestleMania matches and was arguably better. Some will argue that the amount of near falls got a bit ridiculous and it did, but it was no different than HBK vs. Undertaker from WrestleMania 25.  This was just a tremendous match and I would be absolutely shocked if they don’t come back with a rematch next year with Career vs. Streak. The Undertaker had to be taken to the back with a cart without moving.

Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, Trish Stratus and John Morrison defeated Dolph Ziggler and LayCool (Layla and Michelle McCool). Good luck following that one kids. Vickie Guerrero announced her group. Snooki got a very tepid reaction coming out. It looked like half the crowd went to the concession stands. In all fairness to these guys and girls, anyone would have had a hard time grabbing the crowd after the last match.

At one point Stratus and McCool fell off the ropes to the outside and it didn’t look like a planned spot. It ended up well but that is something that could have turned ugly.

Snooki was booed big time when she finally tagged in. She came in doing a hand spring elbow that believe it or not looked pretty good. She pinned McCool with a cartwheel into a splash. Snooki actually won back some of the crowd with the hand spring. This one was over pretty quick.

The Miz defeated John Cena to retain the WWE championship. Cena came out to a gospel choir and had a video longer than the last match about God and praying. The cynic in me thinks that the WWE pulled this thinking fans wouldn’t boo a guy coming out to a gospel choir and a video about praying. Think again WWE! Cena was booed and booed worse than Snooki. It should also be noted that Cena has dropped the purple colors in favor of a more masculine red.

The crowd argued quite a bit early on who sucked more. The Miz does his best Triple H imitation and tells Cena to “stay down” in the early going.  Back and forth basic stuff between both guys early. The crowd isn’t into this one at all early on. Cena and Miz turn it up five minutes in as Cena nails a leg drop off the top rope.

The guys missed a horrible spot in the middle of the match with Cena seemingly falling out of nowhere. I can’t recall seeing a botched spot that bad in a WrestleMania main event. Hey, it happens but talk about bad timing. And yes, this match is really disappointing in terms of WrestleMania headliners but let’s face it, the best is yet to come.

Cena escapes an Attitude Adjustment 9 minutes into the match. Cena going for all of his finishers at the 10 minute mark and The Miz has avoided them all. The Miz removed the top turnbuckle. Cena finally gets an STF at the 11 minute mark but The Miz uses the ropes to break the hold.

Miz hits the Skull Crushing Finale after Alex Riley throws Cena into the exposed turnbuckle. Cena kicks out. Miz goes for another  and Cena reverses and throws him into the referee by accident at about the 12 minute mark. Cena hits the Attitude Adjustment but no referee. Alex Riley nails Cena with the briefcase but Cena kicks out. Crowd starting to come alive. Miz kicks out of a big Attitude Adjustment. The announcers are trying to put over his resilience. Good luck.

Both guys outside the ring. Cena clotheslined The Miz into the crowd. Cena proceeds to tackle him and the two hit the floor, although the WWE cameras missed it. Both guys are counted out and The Miz retains. I smell something cooking!

The Rock finally returns and the crowd is happy to see him. The RAW G.M. chimes in. The Rock reads the email and mocks the G.M. The Rock says WrestleMania is not over. The Rock as Guest Host restarts the match and makes it No DQ. The Rock says it is time to give the people what they want. The match is back on!

The match restarts and The Rock gives John Cena the Rock  Bottom! The fans go nuts chanting “Rocky!” The Miz takes advantage and covers John Cena for the win. A predictable, yet exciting finish to the match. It seemed as if the fans were just waiting for The Rock to come out and do something.

The Rock and The Miz had a staredown which saw The Rock hit the ring and lay the smack down on the WWE champion. The Rock dropped a People’s Elbow on The Miz and then hit the turnbuckles to celebrate.

Overall I’d say it was a pretty good WrestleMania. The WWE definitely made a mistake not closing the show with Triple H vs. The Undertaker. Even with The Rock, the main-event still felt flat having to follow Hunter and Taker. The undercard was pretty good with Cody vs. Rey being particularly fun as well as Edge vs. Del Rio. Cole vs. Lawler was terrible and went way too long. John Cena is a lost cause right now and either needs to go full heel or rescue a few babies from burning buildings on RAW to get some fans back.

As great as I think the stuff has been with The Rock and Cena I think they overplayed their hand just a little bit. I think fans expected the finish and Rock Bottom which really killed a lot of the match. In my opinion, Cena and Rock should have been kept separate until WrestleMania. That way the fans wouldn’t know what to expect.

The Rock is scheduled for RAW tomorrow night. This all has to end at some point with The Rock vs. John Cena. I hope they don’t water it down with a 3-Way and throw The Miz in. At this point I don’t think there is any way out of this other than the big match. Maybe Cena can do something drastic tomorrow to buy some time and “injure” The Rock until he comes back. Either way tomorrow night is going to be a very interesting night.

The ending really did kill for the show for a lot of people. I have talked to a few friends that hated it purely on the way the show ended, last match, etc. I get it and I agree that it sucked. I just think that if you look at the entire show it really wasn’t that bad and was probably one of the better ones in recent memory.

Finally I can’t say enough about The Undertaker vs. Triple H. As stated above, I think it may be slightly better than any of the WrestleMania Michaels vs. Undertaker matches. It was easily Triple H’s best Mania match. The finish left the story wide open for a rematch next year. The prospects of a year long build similar to HBK vs. Undertaker WrestleMania 26 are very enticing.

And their WrestleMania 28 rematch can’t come soon enough.

Full WrestleMania 27 results
Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan ended in a no contest (dark match)
Edge retained over Alberto Del Rio in a WWE world title match
Cody Rhodes pinned Rey Mysterio
Kane, Big Show, Santino Marella, and Kofi Kingston beat The Corre (Wade Barrett, Ezekiel Jackson, Justin Gabriel, and Heath Slater)
Randy Orton pinned CM Punk
Michael Cole defeated Jerry Lawler via disqualification
The Undertaker defeated Triple H in a No Holds Barred match
Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, Trish Stratus and John Morrison defeated Dolph Ziggler and LayCool (Layla and Michelle McCool)
The Miz pinned John Cena to retain the WWE championship

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