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Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar are the WWE’s REAL Power Duo

July 10, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

It is not often that a manager can steal the show from the client he represents in the world of professional wrestling. But for the first time in some time, there might be equal footing in the relationship between Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman.

Heyman is a wrestling classic. A man with a gift of gab and an immediate ability to make wrestling fans want to watch his “in-your-face” kind of candor, whether he is loved or hated. He could very well be the greatest manager to walk down an aisle in any promotion at any given time.

For now, he IS the best wrestling has to offer.

Heyman is every bit Bobby Heenan, Gary Hart and Jim Cornette wrapped into one charismatic show. Whether it is the condescending way he talks to the fans and wrestlers, alike, or the ability to get under your skin from your living room, Heyman has redefined the role of a wrestling manager in such a way, that he has become must see television. If it were any other wrestler he was paired with – because it is Brock Lesnar – Heyman would be the bigger part of the equation. But with the power couple back in full view for WWE fans, it only proves Heyman’s importance to the company moving forward and the fact he and The Beast Incarnate are the best combination to come along in some time.

I used to think Paul Ellering and the Road Warriors were a perfect fit. Ellering walking around with a rolled up Wall Street Journal in his hand, speaking the gospel of his two wrecking ball animals in a time when the tag team was well ahead of its time. Jim Cornette was Heyman before Heyman came along. The pain in the ass manager who was flamboyant and carried mama’s tennis racket around with him. He led some great combinations of the Midnight Express to world tag titles. Heenan, Lou Albano and The Grand Wizard also deserve a mention in a short list of great managers. But none of them compare to the chutzpah Heyman displays each week.

And just keeps getting better.

Wrestling has gotten away from the early stylings of managers and valets. Heyman makes it cool again to walk around in a suit and tell the wrestling world how things are and how they will be. Maybe in some ways it is the WWE’s version of a car wreck – the one you are glued to because you cannot wait to see what happens next.

That’s Heyman’s hook. And no one has done it better and I doubt anyone will do it better in the future or for a long time coming. The WWE, in its stagnation of sorts to become more creative, needs Heyman’s delivery and arrogance. He’s the best, and he knows it.

The fact he and Lesnar are now together on stage on live WWE programming for what appears to be the foreseeable future is great for ratings. As long as Lesnar continues to dominate the competition – as he did in The Beast from the East last week – then the WWE will continue to draw bigger numbers. It’s a package deal really. You cannot have one without the other. For everything Lesnar is, which is the biggest and baddest entertainer on the planet, he is not the best with his delivery and his self-promotion is not as affective if not for the vocabulary of Heyman.

Fans of today would not be as taken with Lesnar if not for the effective relationship with his manager. While I have always thought there should be more managers in professional wrestling and a return to valets and other outside influences, Heyman is able to stand alone effectively with no peer available.

How the Lesnar/Seth Rollins feud plays out at both Battleground and at SummerSlam is unknown at this time. But having Heyman in the mix makes it a lot more exciting. I personally am getting tired of the Rollins/Authority shtick. But watching Heyman each week with his client by his side makes the possibility of a title change that much more appealing.

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Will Steve Austin Face Brock Lesnar at WWE Wrestlemania 32?

June 10, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

In 2015, with so many new stars dominating the scene of professional wrestling, there’s one guy that we sometimes forget about that changed the landscape of the business.

That guy is Steve Austin.

In my opinion, Austin left the business at the right time. He didn’t stick around too long like most guys where his skills might diminish, and be a true embarrassment. He left when he was still in his prime and to this day, still looks like he could go in the ring.

Maybe it’s just the bald head? I think not.

Austin had some fans thinking about one more run when on Monday he did a WWE Network sit down interview with Paul Heyman. During the video podcast, Heyman had one question for Austin.

“What would you think about getting in the ring with Brock Lesnar?” Heyman asked.

“I’d have to think about it,” Austin remarked.

This is not the first time an Austin return has piqued the interest of not just the WWE Universe, but all wrestling fans. For years, there had been talk of a Hulk Hogan-Austin match at Wrestlemania, but those plans never came to fruition.

Getting in the ring with Brock Lesnar makes more sense. A match with Hogan most certainly would be disappointing, due to Hulk’s injuries and inability to move around the ring like he used to. Lesnar is absolutely fantastic right now. Fans want to see him each time he gets in that ring, and is as good as anybody in this business right now.

Not speaking as a journalist but as a wrestling fan, I would definitely love to see this happen. Even though I have WWE Network, and have the advantage of getting Wrestlemania at a discounted price, I would pay $50-60 to see Wrestlemania 32, especially if Austin squares off against Lesnar.

But something in my mind tells me it’s not going to happen.

For one thing, I think Austin has moved on from wrestling. I think he enjoys doing his podcast, his shows on CMT and doing the occasional movie, but I also think if Austin was going to get in the ring, he would have already done it. He had many chances to take on CM Punk, but that never happened either.

Another question remains, “Is Austin healthy enough for one last run in WWE?” No one knows that for certain except for Austin, his wife, doctor and maybe Vince McMahon. Austin certainly looks great for his age, and doesn’t look weathered like other veterans do that hold on too long. But the neck injury he suffered against Owen Hart in 1997, and other health issues are major questions.

It does seem like the perfect scenario. Wrestlemania 32 is being held in Austin’s home state of Texas, at AT&T Stadium, the home of the Dallas Cowboys. You know the event is going to draw a huge crowd, but just think if Austin’s involved. They might put over 100,000 people in that stadium.

Also, if Austin faces Lesnar on the world’s biggest stage, another question comes to mind.

Who goes over?

The easy solution would be for Austin to beat Lesnar and have the crowd go home happy. But if Austin were to do the honors for Brock, it might cement Lesnar as one of pro wrestling’s true greats.

If Austin came back for a feud with Brock, how would he be able to get his persona over in the PG era? Certainly, he cannot cuss, and do the profanity he did during the Attitude Era. He would have to be way clever, and kind of have to re-invent himself in some way.

Austin still trains and works out every day. Ring rust is one thing he would have to work on. But I guess if Ricky Steamboat can come back after 15 years away, and look good in matches against Chris Jericho, Austin can do the same.

The WWE is probably hoping every day that Austin can come back around ‘Mania and do this. With Daniel Bryan out of commission, John Cena settling into his role as a U.S. Champion, and guys like Rollins, Ambrose and Reigns learning how to become those main event type of talents, WWE needs a big money match like this.

I’m sure by next year, there will be a couple of big feuds already established for this big show, but an Austin-Lesnar match is what’s going to get casual fans to buy this pay per view. If they marketed it right, and kept it going for a few months leading up to Wrestlemania, it could be one of the biggest ‘Manias ever.

Would you pay to see an Austin-Lesnar match at Wrestlemania? Do you think “Stone Cold” Steve Austin still has some fire left?

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What’s Next For Paul Heyman?

April 23, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

There are many things to like about wrestling right now.

Seth Rollins has proven himself to be a potential all-time great (given he stays healthy).The United States Title feud between John Cena and Rusev has intrigued me, so much so it’s one of the main reasons I want to see Extreme Rules this Sunday on Pay Per View. And Cesaro and Tyson Kidd are one of the best tag teams the WWE has had in quite some time.

It feels good to be a wrestling fan again.

What also interests me is how the company will use Paul Heyman going forward. True, he is still the manager of Brock Lesnar, but his dates with WWE are limited, at best. They could be doing so much more with him, mainly getting more younger stars over with his great mic skills.

I have been a fan of Paul Heyman ever since I first saw him back in the NWA in 1989 in the famous “Midnight Express vs. Midnight Express” feud, which involved him bringing back Dennis Condrey and Randy Rose to take back the Midnight Express name from the guys who made it famous, Bobby Eaton and Stan Lane. Even though I was more of a Bobby Heenan and Jim Cornette kind of guy, I could tell that the artist formerly known as Paul E. Dangerously was going to be something special.

He then went on to manage the Dangerous Alliance, some of the best wrestlers on the planet at that time. Among the guys who were in the group were some of my favorite in-ring performers, like Arn Anderson, “Stunning” Steve Austin (when he actually had hair), Larry Zbyszko, Bobby Eaton, and “Ravishing” Rick Rude. At that time, I thought the Dangerous Alliance were on par with the Four Horsemen in terms of guys who were main event level superstars.

The next time Paul E. came across my screen was when he was running ECW. Even though the production budget was modest at best, the storylines and the in-ring action made me want to see it each week. His ability for making captivating storylines and making each wrestler mean something was truly a work of art.

When ECW met its demise in 2001, it seemed like a no-brainer that he would join the WWE in some form. And he did, playing a major part in the WCW/ECW Invasion angle that never seemed to go right. He also was the color guy for Monday Night RAW when Jerry Lawler left the company for a brief time that year.

It also made sense that Heyman join the creative team, which he did, and did well. When Heyman was in charge, the storylines made sense, and everything seemed to be flowing better. But after many personality conflicts with those in charge, Paul Heyman was removed as a member of the creative team.

In the years following his tenure backstage, Heyman has returned and departed the company many times. But something always remains certain.

He always comes back.

In the years that he has managed Brock Lesnar, Heyman has done some of his most masterful microphone work. His interviews make a normal RAW must see TV. Even though I tune in to see some of my favorites each week, one of the top reasons I will tune in on Monday nights is to see Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman command an audience like no one else.

Which is why he needs to bring back the Dangerous Alliance.

WWE is in need a really strong stable. Yes, The Hart Foundation was great, as was D-X, Evolution and the Wyatt family, but they need a personality like Paul Heyman to be the guy who runs it.

And just who would be in the Dangerous Alliance?

I can think of a few guys. Seth Rollins comes to mind. He would be the franchise, so to speak of the whole thing. Next, I would recruit Dolph Ziggler. Have him become the Intercontinental Champion. Then, I would go after Roman Reigns, and re-package him as this unbeatable monster. Have him destroy John Cena for the U.S. Belt and make the Dangerous Alliance the holders of the top championships in the company, much like the Four Horsemen did in the 1980’s. Another possible member of the group could be Bad News Barrett, who in my opinion, besides Kofi Kingston, is one of the most underrated guys in the WWE. The guy could be the tough, British brawling enforcer who bullies everyone in his sight.

For like six months, have them run over the WWE babyfaces until the time was right. Then at Survivor Series, have a four on four elimination match with the Dangerous Alliance taking on John Cena, Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton and maybe bring back Sting for a short time.

I also want to see a feud with Brock Lesnar, where Heyman has some of his guys try to take Lesnar out of wrestling. In this instance, have Brock be completely silent, like Sting and Goldberg used to be. The fans kinda like the silent hero sometimes. At the end, after a while of being chased by the Dangerous Alliance, have Lesnar beat them all, one by one.

Of course, as wrestling fans, we all have thoughts on what would make the product better. Maybe I’m just being an armchair wrestling booker here, but it would be fun to see Heyman used in this role.

There’s got to be more ways to incorporate Paul Heyman into the show. When he talks on the microphone, people want to listen, whether they hate his character or not. Every wrestling fan knows they are listening to a true great cutting some of the best promos this business has ever seen.

He’s sure come a long way since the huge brick cell phone.

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Paul Heyman, Sting and Other WWE Thoughts

February 10, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

While this may sound odd, a part of me does not want Brock Lesnar to leave the WWE. If “The Beast Incarnate” does not re-sign with the WWE and takes his scary smile with him to that octagon on the other side of the sports world, the company, the fans and the wrestling business will all be wondering, “What happens to Paul Heyman?

Has the WWE thought far enough in advance to make sure that if the current WWE World Champion takes a walk, Heyman will still remain a huge part of the company landscape? The man who is every bit of part Bobby Heenan, part James Mitchell and part Gary Hart is the one thing the WWE has right now that continues to deliver consistency besides a Daniel Bryan Judo kick to his opponents.

Should the WWE Universe begin to worry about the possibility of Heyman not appearing on Raw or giving his insight at a pay-per-view event? Is there another champion or championship talent on the current roster who will become the new client of the man who appears to have all the stroke and gives us all a reason to tune in to Raw each Monday night?

I would not be surprised if Heyman pulls his support from Lesnar at takes Roman Reigns’ side at WrestleMania XXXI. The move helps everyone concerned. Lesnar leaves. Reigns wins the WWE World Title. Heyman becomes Reigns’ mouthpiece and Vince McMahon is a very happy man.

THE RETURN OF ORTON AND SHEAMUS

The appearance of both Randy Orton and Sheamus cannot comes soon enough. The WWE is lacking main event faces on the current roster and with both former WWE World Champions returning from injury, the moment they both get in the ring cannot come soon enough.

The WWE did a promotional message about Sheamus returning to the ring. Stories a circulating that Orton should return at Fast Lane.

I guess we will all remain in limbo of when that will happen in reality.

THE REALITY OF WRESTLEMANIA

I may be the only one who doesn’t want to see Triple H and Sting in the ring. Not because of what the match will be, but what the match won’t be.

Triple H is still capable of delivering a 5-star match as was the case last year’s WrestleMania match with Daniel Bryan. He still looks the part and on any given night, can face off against the WWE’s top stars.

Sting is another story.

At 55 years old, when was the last time we truly saw Sting give us a match we could talk about for more than five minutes? The storyline is solid and the “Crow-like” mystique of the potential WrestleMania matchup catches the fans’ attention. But Triple will have to carry Sting, much the same way Daniel Bryan will have to carry Roman Reigns at Fast Lane.

The same could be said for Undertaker and his potential match feud with Bray Wyatt – should the WWE still go along with that plan.

AMBROSE AND BARRETT

While I have been critical of the WWE for the work they are doing in the main event of late, I have to give them props for putting together a feud with Dean Ambrose and Wade Barrett.

After getting over (again) with his feud involving Bray Wyatt, Ambrose now will set his sights on the Intercontinental Title.

Both performers should give the fans one hell of a showing.

Ambrose really is one of the best the WWE has to offer and Barrett could have been a WWE World Champion already, if it was not for injuries he has sustained along the way. This is a golden opportunity for both wrestlers to shine.

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10 Wrestling Angles That Started Hot & Ended Flat

February 04, 2015 By: Category: lists, WWE | Pro Wrestling

The intrigue of how a hot pro wrestling angle ends is more exciting than the matches for most of us. Yet you don’t have to go back further than Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins for examples of pro wrestling angles that started off as hot and ended flatter than a pancake. It doesn’t get much disappointing than that.

It is important to keep in mind that more times than not, pro wrestling bookers tend to over-think these things and get all caught up in trying to fool fans as opposed to doing what is best for business. Even when it seems so easy, they routinely miss the mark. Remember how great the Summer of Punk started and how badly it ended?

So off the top of my head here are ten pro wrestling angles that I thought started out hot and ended flat, disappointing wrestling fans. These aren’t in any particular order of importance. These angles are moments I remember watching live thinking how great they were that failed to live up to expectations for a variety of reasons, generally the fault of the bookers or writers.

The WCW Invasion, 2001 – We have been down this road many times. WCW invading the WWE after the sale in 2001 should have been the biggest angle in pro wrestling history. Instead, most point to this angle as the biggest booking blunder of the 21st century for Team McMahon.

Let’s face it. This one doesn’t take a whole lot of rocket science to book. Yet Vince McMahon got cute and due to ego and bad business, never gave this angle the tools it needed to succeed. Instead of picking up the big WCW stars, the WCW invasion was originally led by Shane McMahon, Booker T, and Buff Bagwell. You can figure out how this thing ended without even reading on.

All of the WWE vs. WCW matches ended with the WWE crew coming out on top with none of the WCW originals looking strong. The underlying theme here was obvious. WWE is and always was better than WCW. That is how this thing started and that is how it ended.

The irony here is that Vince McMahon later signed the bigger WCW superstars like Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Bill Goldberg, and Scott Steiner. Unfortunately those signings came after the invasion, thus costing the company millions of dollars and some potentially historic moments of pro wrestling fans.

Lita, Matt Hardy, and Jeff Hardy defeat Triple H, Steve Austin, & Stephanie McMahon on RAW, 2001 – Do you remember the night that the Hardy brothers and Lita defeated Austin, Triple H, and Stephanie on RAW? You probably don’t, but if you did you remember one of the most exciting moments in RAW history at the time of the match.

The Hardy brothers and Lita had become a hit around this time with the younger WWE audience. It was time to bump the trio up from their feud with Edge, Christian, and Kurt Angle to the Two Man Power Trip. This match resulted out of a brief meeting earlier in the show between Lita and Linda where Lita showed her support for Linda in the middle of a “divorce” with Vince. The punishment, a match with the WWE champion Stone Cold Steve Austin, the WWE intercontinental champion Triple H, and Stephanie.

The match was exciting, full of action, and told a fantastic story of the underdogs finally getting their opportunity. The match ended with Lita pinning Stephanie. Austin and Hunter obliterated the Hardy boys and even Lita in an absolutely tremendous RAW moment. It appeared that the Hardy brothers were in full feud mode now with the McMahon alliance.

Sadly that feud lasted all of about a week. Jeff Hardy defeated Triple H on the next edition of SmackDown to win the intercontinental title, only to drop it back to Hunter four days later on RAW. The Hardys and Lita had one more match against the pair as part of an eight-man tag team match but fell out of the main-event picture in the blink of an eye.

This had the potential to be a really exciting feud that never went anywhere when all was said and done.

Nexus Forms, 2010 – Up until CM Punk’s promo on RAW Roulette, this was the most memorable moment of the decade in the WWE. The night without warning that several WWE rookies jumped John Cena and CM Punk in what many described as an “n.W.o. moment.” Unfortunately that great moment never materialized the way most fans had hoped that it would.

Daniel Bryan was immediately fired from the company which took the best worker of Nexus out of the mix. So for the next several weeks Wade Barrett carried the crew with some of the best promos of the year in the WWE. Nexus destroyed everyone in their paths for about a month including several WWE legends. It appeared that nobody was stopping Nexus.

Sadly, everyone stopped Nexus. The first big WWE vs. Nexus match took place at SummerSlam 2010. This was the turning point for the angle because from here on out, Nexus were never able to regain the momentum they had when they jumped Punk and Cena back in June. Cena standing tall as sole survivor of the match completely brought this angle to a screeching halt.

Yes I know, Wade Barrett defeated John Cena at Hell in a Cell and got him in Nexus. However, Barrett and Nexus were made to look like fools and Cena never took the stips or the loss seriously. One year later Barrett is far removed from where you would have expected him to be at this point and most of Nexus are just bouncing around. I hate to say it but I have little faith that the same guys that dropped the ball on Nexus will be writing the CM Punk-Money in the Bank storyline at Money in the Bank.

Tazz debuts in the WWE, 2001 – Taz as he was known in Extreme Championship Wrestling was the franchise player of the company in 2000. That is why many were surprised, yet excited when they heard Taz (now Tazz) had signed with the WWE.

Tazz came into the company with a ton of promotion. He had several articles written about him on the website and a ton of vignettes before his debut. Tazz debuted at the Royal Rumble in New York as Kurt Angle’s mystery opponent. Tazz ended the winning streak of Kurt Angle to a huge reaction in just slightly over three minutes of dominance.

You would have expected big things for Tazz after debuting with such fanfare in the WWE. Unfortunately that never happened. Chalk it up to politics, but the Tazz was never fully followed through. The writing was on the wall when Tazz as ECW champion lost to Triple H on SmackDown for no apparent reason other than spite. From there, Tazz wound up in the intercontinental title mix and was one of only a few not to get a run with the belt during that time period. Tazz would wind up disappearing due to injury and returning months later.

Unfortunately the WWE never pushed Tazz as hard as they did before he arrived as they did when he showed up in the WWE disappointing a lot of fans who hoped to see Tazz suplex and choke his way to the WWE main-event picture.

The Radicalz invade the WWE, 2000 – If you read the wrestling newsletters or called hotlines back in 1999 and 2000 you knew what was coming. After years of being held down by politics and petty booking in WCW, Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, and Eddie Guerrero (along with Perry Saturn) were going to get their shots in the WWE.

It all started off fantastic. All four guys appeared at ringside without warning on the January 31, 2000 edition of WWE RAW is War. The fans went crazy and immediately recognized the men and the N.W.O. moment that the WWE injected back into the Monday Night Wars. The Radicalz as they were called were “invited” guests of Mick Foley.

The Radicalz made their presence known by the end of the night. A cheap shot by the Road Dog resulted in the Radicalz jumping the guard rail and beating down the New Age Outlaws. They were instant stars in the WWE, something they had to work for in WCW over the course of a few years. Unfortunately the parade would soon come to an end.

A few days later Benoit, Guerrero, Malenko, and Saturn were offered a chance to “win contracts” if they could win three matches on SmackDown against Degeneration-X members; Triple H, X Pac, and the Outlaws. Can you guess what happened next? The Radicalz lost all three matches, including Triple H pinning Benoit who left WCW as the world champion. The air was taken out of the balloon in less than a week.

Benoit and Guerrero eventually fought their way to the top but Saturn and Malenko struggled. It took the WWE months to ruin the Nexus angle in 2010. It only took them a few days to ruin the Radicalz angle in 2000.

ECW invades the WWE, 1996 – Yes before ECW One Night Stand there was WWF Mind Games in Philadelphia, PA. The WWF was struggling to find its way while ECW became something of an underground sensation with a teenage market that the WWF couldn’t reach. In order to reach that market, the WWF partnered with ECW, giving ECW an opportunity to expose its product to a national audience. And oh yeah, WCW was kicking the WWF’s behind at this time with the start of the n.W.o. angle.

It all started in ECW when threats were issued towards the WWF for coming into ECW’s home base, Philadelphia, PA with Mind Games. A few weeks later ECW (& future WWE) stars the Sandman, Tommy Dreamer, Taz, and Paul Heyman were in the front row of the Mind Games pay per view to enjoy the show and cause a little trouble.

It didn’t take long for the fans to notice and “ECW” chants quickly broke out live in pay per view. In the pay per view opener, Savio Vega wound up outside the ring in front of the ECW crew. Sandman threw beer on Vega and a pull-apart erupted between all parties at ringside. Vince McMahon on the announce team dismissed the ECW crew as a “local, up and coming promotion.”

This should have been the start of something great. The WWF had their own invasion angle right in front of them but nothing of real relevance materialized. The ECW crew were given matches on one episode of RAW and appeared from time to time to cause trouble but that was it. A memorable debate between Jerry Lawler and Paul Heyman that resulted in nothing else is about the only real highlight here.

Ironically it was ECW that really capitalized off of this angle. ECW booked Jerry Lawler and Lawler immediately became one of the biggest heels in the company. Yet Vince McMahon and the WWE never pulled the trigger on an all-out invasion between companies. In retrospect it is interesting to think what could have happened if he did.

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The Ultimate Warrior confronts Hulk Hogan in WCW, 1998 – How could I write a blog like this without bringing up this nugget? Eight years after giving pro wrestling one of the most memorable matches in WWE history, Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior attempted to rewrite history in WCW. Unfortunately for them, it wasn’t Vince McMahon holding the pencil and writing what would become a bomb of a program.

Warrior’s debut was great. Some fans were surprised, some expected it, but all went crazy when the lights went out and returned with the Warrior in a WCW ring. Warrior cut a great (but lengthy) promo on Hogan and Bischoff. It was certainly an electric moment but sadly for Warrior fans, someone turned the power off pretty quickly on this memorable moment.

See the fun part about the Warrior is watching him talk but unfortunately at some point he is going to have to wrestle. He did and his long awaited singles match with Hogan is regarded by many as one of the worst WCW main-events in history and boy does that say a lot.

Warrior only resurfaced one more time in WCW after the Halloween Havoc disaster. Depending upon who you believe either the Warrior held out for more money after the match or WCW simply stopped calling him. Either way, WCW finally moved on and spared their fans of another Warrior vs. Hogan match.

The Four Horsemen turn on Ole Anderson, 1987 – I remember watching this as a kid and getting excited seeing Ole Anderson slap J.J. Dillon moments after Dillon made fun of Anderson’s kid. Ole was always something of a bully and a bad-a$* so seeing Ole get his revenge on the Four Horsemen was a moment I was ready to pay $20 to see.

Instead, Ole wound up in a bunch of tag team matches and singles matches against Arn that never went anywhere. The angle fell completely flat and Ole bombed as a babyface. Maybe he was just too good of a heel that even when fighting the Horsemen, nobody wanted to cheer Ole? Whatever the reasons were, Ole retired less than a year later and the angle became a forgotten moment after an intense start.

Ronnie Garvin turns heel, 1988 – Ronnie Garvin never particularly clicked as a babyface to justify the push he received by Dusty Rhodes in 1987. However, Garvin was always seen as a gritty, tough guy and a pro wrestler that could hold his own against anyone. That is why I, like many were surprised when he helped the Four Horsemen at the expense of Dusty Rhodes.

The start of this angle was fantastic. Garvin entered the ring during a match at the Great American Bash 1988 featuring Dusty Rhodes vs. Barry Windham. The referee was knocked out, J.J. got up on the apron, and Garvin appeared to even the odd for Dusty. Instead, Garvin clocked the son of a plumber with his famous right hand to a huge reaction from the Baltimore crowd. The feud was on…and off.

Garvin quickly left the promotion for the WWE after the turn. Garvin vs. Dusty never got off the ground, failing to deliver on what was one of the most exciting moments in wrestling at the time.

Randy Orton is kicked out of Evolution, 2004 – This certainly won’t go down in history as the greatest angle of all time but at the time this was huge. After running around with Triple H, Batista, and Ric Flair, Randy Orton for two years, Orton was kicked out of Evolution. The thumbs up/thumbs down was a WWE moment for the ages. Unfortunately the excitement ended there for Orton.

Orton lost all of his singles matches with Triple H, thus taking steam right off of the kid who was touted to be the next big babyface of the WWE. Instead, Orton turned heel a couple of months after his final match with Triple H at the Royal Rumble, completely abandoning his big push to be the next WWE hero.

In other words, the WWE wasted an entire year building Orton’s turn just to squash Orton, and turn him heel again a few months later.

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Roman Reigns Must Turn Heel at WWE WrestleMania 31

January 29, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

The WWE Universe is in a tailspin following the finish to the Royal Rumble. The groundwork has been laid and while it may not have been the plan, the best thing for business is to turn Roman Reigns heel at WrestleMania.

I hate to be one of those kneejerk reaction kind of bloggers. I really try and take a step back and analyze a situation before I make a radical suggestion and believe me, this is a radical idea. The WWE creative machine have been hard at work on the Roman Reigns babyface plan for over a year. Deviating from the blue print is something I don’t take likely.

At the same time, any successful company in or out of wrestling have been companies that have reacted as opposed to dictated. Wrong reason or not, the WWE reacted last year to the Yes Movement and it paid off with one of the most exciting Mania matches in recent memory. Imagine for a second what would have happened if the WWE stayed the course and firmly held Batista as a babyface? It would have been a disaster and fans would have been turned off, some tuning out. It could be worse for Reigns as Batista was never a long-term plan.

The plate has been set for a classic double-turn at Mania. Brock Lesnar has been booked like a babyface for weeks. I don’t necessarily like it, but that is how he has been portrayed. His comeback win on Sunday at the Rumble enough evidence to convince me that he really he is a babyface. Whether he stays or goes, Brock could always be a tweener and wrestle both heels and faces. He is the perfect partner to make this turn work.

It is also a great excuse to keep Paul Heyman around. Heyman booked this very same angle when he turned Sabu on Taz and flipped Bill Alfonso. The very same angle! Reigns desperately and I mean DESPERATELY needs a mouthpiece. Give Heyman the microphone, make Reigns a monster, and you are picking up right where you left off with Brock. Imagine if Brock does stick around. Imagine Heyman running his mouth for a few months about Lesnar the way he did the Undertaker with Brock coming back for revenge at SummerSlam.

The money for Reigns was to have him chase the title. That never happened. There was never a prolonged chase, ala Daniel Bryan last year for the title. That money could be saved for a future babyface turn in a couple of years. The money is in Reigns being a bad-assed heel and paying money to see the heroes conquer the impossible villain. In other words, the WWE gets their Brock Lesnar but this guy is full-time and he is not going anywhere.

There are enough challengers to carry Reigns as heel WWE champion from now through WrestleMania. Daniel Bryan, Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, Randy Orton, and yes John Cena are all matches that be sold as headline WWE title matches. I think if held off, Reigns vs. Cena or Bryan could actually be pretty big. Even bigger could be a Mania 32 showdown with The Rock. This is a lot more enticing than Reigns’ list of heel challengers which boasts of Seth Rollins and Bray Wyatt. Can you follow the money here?

Not only is this the right choice, quite frankly I see this as the only choice. The WWE have completely blew it on Reigns being a big-time babyface champion. They don’t have enough guys ready to challenge and he certainly isn’t ready to carry that ball. The booking is so freaking easy, even Vince Russo could do it.

On second thought…

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Brock Lesnar Must Retain At WWE Night Of Champions 2014

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

WWE Night of Champions is several hours away and fans are in a panic. What if Brock Lesnar loses? What if we are subjected to seeing John Cena leave as WWE champion? I join you in your concern and it is imperative moving forward that Lesnar retain the belt at WWE N.O.C.

I don’t think I am making any kind of startling revelation here. But there is serious cause for concern that Lesnar will be leaving the PPV tonight without the WWE world championship. I left RAW feeling that Cena had a good shot of winning and Seth Rollins was cashing in, leaving Brock as the odd man out. That just cannot happen!

Brock is the first true superstar that the WWE has had carry the title (other than The Rock’s brief reign) in several years. Brock is a true difference maker. All you need to do is look at the ratings patterns on RAW episodes that feature the Beast Incarnate. The audience pattern is predictable. Brock brings the numbers and the people fall off when he is done. There aren’t any real difference makers like that left in the business today.

The WWE has not even scraped the surface on the opportunities they can reward themselves with while Lesnar reigns supreme. Brock was the biggest draw in UFC history for a reason. It wasn’t because he was such a great UFC fighter. He has “it.” There are still hundreds of thousands of those UFC fans that tune in to check out what Brock is doing in a WWE ring. Those people aren’t sticking around if Lesnar isn’t.

The company finally has a guy as the face of their company that they can market to an alienated fan base. The older teenagers and men 20-30 who used to watch WWE wrestling have generally tuned out a long time ago. The WWE is just not that cool anymore and the characters don’t speak to them. Lesnar speaks to them! These teenagers can walk around with a Brock t-shirt or get together and watch Brock wrestle with interest. Nobody else has touched that demographic in years.

There is a lot more left with Lesnar as WWE champion to accomplish than Cena. Cena is old news and while I appreciate his place in the company, what do you have for him past this that would interest anyone? The Seth Rollins feud is nice to talk about but quite frankly I think they need to rehabilitate Rollins first before that happens. Rusev could be fun but it’s too soon. Reigns isn’t turning and we are all hoping to never see a Cena vs. Bray Wyatt or Randy Orton match anytime soon. There is nobody ready.

Brock has made the WWE fun again. I go out of my way to watch Lesnar and Paul Heyman anytime they walk out on RAW. There is just something about Brock running in place on that ramp that gets you excited to see what he is going to do. He is a monster and I mean that in a good way. Dean Ambrose is probably the closest to that but he has a long way to go until that is automatic. Nobody can bring to the table what Lesnar does.

Lesnar’s dominating win over Cena at SummerSlam has historic ramifications. What was the match even for if Lesnar loses one month later to Cena? Nobody can explain to me what the point of having Cena dominated at SummerSlam was if he comes back with no change in character and beats Lesnar. To make that match count, Lesnar needs to go over Cena two in a row. He doesn’t need to dominate him, but he needs to win or at minimum retain the title.

My pleas will have fallen on deaf ears and who knows what the crack creative team is thinking going into Night of Champions. I just feel that there is a lot of potential left in Brock as WWE world champion and not capitalizing on it would be one of the most disappointing blunders this company has made in a long time.

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John Cena and Brock Lesnar WWE RAW Brawl

September 16, 2014 By: Category: Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

WWE is heading into Night of Champions 2014 with one of the worst go-home RAW shows I can remember, yet there was one bright spot. The brawl between John Cena and Brock Lesnar highlighted one of the better RAW segments of the year.

I don’t want to get too much into my Night of Champions predictions because I may do an entire blog on that later in the week. However, you can generally get a feel of who is going over in the top PPV matches by the way the angle plays out on RAW the week before. If that still holds true, it would look to me that Brock Lesnar is retaining the belt on Sunday…as well he should.

One of the things that Cena has said is that he doesn’t necessarily want the belt, he just wants to beat up Brock. I think that was a dead giveaway for the fact that Cena will likely lose the match via DQ but come out of it looking like the victor. The way this angle played out on Monday seems to support that. Cena got the better of Lesnar, which is to be expected. That tells me that Lesnar is retaining the title on Sunday because why would Cena get the better of him and beat him Sunday? Maybe he wins out against someone else in that scenario but not Brock Lesnar!

Anyway here is the brawl from Monday thanks to WWE’s YouTube channel. Check it out and whether you like Cena or not, it is hard not to get pumped about this rematch on Sunday at WWE Night of Champions…which you can watch for only $9.99 in case you haven’t heard.

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There Can’t Be A Paul Heyman Without A Jim Cornette

September 15, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

I am pretty sure Jim Cornette’s mother would be happy with this story. The man who referred to his mother like you would refer to the love of your life has had a large impact in the wrestling business as one of the best spokesmen in the industry.

Cornette, the ever antagonist and supporter and manager of the Midnight Express, Sherri Martell, Big Bubba Rogers, Buddy Landel, Adrian Street, Christopher Daniels, and Jeff Jarrett, is staple in the historical success of professional wrestling. If we are going to pay homage to Paul Heyman for being of the best manager or one of the best managers in the business, then we must do the same for the loudmouthed, over eccentric and ever so cocky Cornette.

As a manager and creative writer, he has worked for Jim Crockett Promotions, World Championship Wrestling and the WWE, and from 1991 to 1995, was the owner of Smoky Mountain Wrestling. He has also worked as an on-screen character in an authoritative role; as “Commissioner” of Ring of Honor (in a previous stint with the company) and “Management Director” (and off-screen road agent) for Total Nonstop Action Wrestling.

Can you believe Cornette actually got his start in wrestling as a photographer?

As we have discussed before, a manager is somewhat like a storyline agent for an actor or an athlete; he helps his client to book matches and appearances, and otherwise works to further and guide their career.

Within the context of storylines it is the manager who positions their charge for title opportunities, decides whom to trust as an ally, and generally acts as a mouthpiece on their wrestlers’ behalf. Outside of storylines, a manager’s job is to help the wrestler they’re paired with get over. For this reason, managers are usually paired with wrestlers who the writers feel have great potential, but need a little help to the top. For example, if a wrestler can perform well in the ring, but lacks the gift of gab, a manager will cut promos for him.

Often the very act of aligning oneself with a manager, or conversely breaking away from a manager they’ve worked with, can change a wrestler’s alignment, making them a sudden fan favorite or villain. Both Heyman and Cornette have done that over their careers possibly better than every other male or female to fill the manager’s roll.

While the basic goal of a manager is to give his or her wrestlers a push never changes, how they go about it will depend on several factors, especially alignment. A heel manager, for example, may have their wrestler constantly duck tougher opponents while cheating to help them win when they do actually wrestle.

 A face manager, however, may spend the majority of their interview time talking about how tough their wrestler is and going out of their way to find bigger and better opponents to challenge, as proof.

When I think of the best managers in wrestling history, it is a surety that both Heyman and Cornette are near the top. While Cornette appears to have set the tone for a more fiery Heyman to come along and steal the thunder (Cornette used to swing a racket, Heyman yielded a cell phone for the longest time) of his predecessor.

If I ranked the top 10 managers of all time, mine might be something like this…

  • James J. Dillon
  • Paul Jones
  • Oliver Humperdink
  • Jimmy Hart
  • Paul Ellering
  • Jim Cornette
  • The Grand Wizard
  • Paul Heyman
  • Capt. Lou Albano
  • Bobby Heenan

Wrestling is odd in that it is cyclic with the types of characters who grace the squared circle as well. Managers are not immune to that as well. Paul Heyman is every bit as much of the managers behind and in front of him on this list. However, in all honesty, unless there was a Jim Cornette, would we have ever seen a Paul Heyman to begin with?

Think about it.

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Ladies and Gentleman My Name is Paul Heyman WWE DVD Review

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

Ladies and Gentleman My Name is Paul Heyman may be one of the most inspiring documentaries produced by the WWE. The documentary chronicling the life of Heyman should be required viewing in business schools and marketing classes across America.

Heyman is one of the most under-appreciated success stories of our wrestling generation. As I pointed out in a previous piece, Heyman may be the greatest manager in pro wrestling history. Heyman has drawn money through four different decades and is better than ever. Only entertainment icons can boast that kind of pedigree. Heyman is indeed an icon.

Heyman’s journey is inspiring whether you are an aspiring enterprenaur, business student, marketing executive or pro wrestler. It isn’t so much Heyman’s rise in pro wrestling that is impressive. It was his tenacity, desire, courage, and dare I say hustle that you have to admire in or out of pro wrestling.

Heyman broke into the business as a photographer taking pictures at Madison Square Garden. Heyman quickly assimilated himself behind the curtain and was learning from some of the brightest minds in the business. Something clicked when I saw this story and it relates back to ECW. ECW was full of people outside of the ring who went from fans to being a part of the company. All anyone had to do was ask and just about everyone was offered an opportunity to contribute whether you were smart to the business or not. Quite honestly it was pretty easy to get “in” to ECW and now I can see why. Heyman was giving back, even then. He was giving people the same opportunities he was given and for that you absolutely have to love the guy. He allowed you to open up that door but it was up to you to step inside.

I don’t want to give the story away but it is quite a journey. The one constant throughout the DVD is that Heyman is always trying something new. That is why he has been able to remain relevant through four decades. He is always adapting and changing with the times. Tommy Dreamer, Mick Foley, CM Punk, Brock Lesnar, Edge, Steve Austin, Gabe Sapolsky, Jim Ross, Raven, Stephanie McMahon and many others attest to this.

The meat of the DVD is of course ECW. Heyman talks extensively about how he got involved in ECW, what went right, and what went wrong. Heyman also debunks some myths about the relationship ECW and the WWE had back at the time. One story that has been alleged is that Vince McMahon sent ECW weekly checks. Heyman confirms that but puts an interesting twist on exactly what was going on and according to Heyman, it had nothing to do with any kind of ownership.

Tod Gordon tells a story about Heyman booking the shows in ECW on napkins. I can attest to that. I was a ring announcer in ECW from late 1996-early 1998. I remember many shows where Paul would walk with me halfway to the ring, giving me the first half of the card as we walked, telling me to come see him at intermission for the second half. That happened many times and it was all part of the charm that came with working in ECW.

Personally I can tell you that Heyman was probably the most giving person for someone at his stature in pro wrestling that I have ever met. Heyman always opened the door to come watch television edits, sit in on booking meetings, or just simply chat about the show. Unlike Heyman I didn’t have that same passion he did to follow through with those special invites. Not many do. If you watched ECW long enough you could generally see the ones who did as they’d generally all ascend to higher places in and even outside of ECW.

The other meaty part of the DVD chronicles Heyman’s difficulties fitting into the corporate structure of the WWE after ECW went out of business. Heyman’s creative was never a question. It was Heyman’s lack of judgment when it came to picking fights with Vince McMahon according to Stephanie and others that worked with him at the time. No matter what you think of Heyman, his booking of the SmackDown Six remains the best era in the history of that program/brand.

Heyman has branched out beyond the squared circle in 2014. No longer are his passions encompassed by the world of professional wrestling. Heyman operates a successful marketing agency and is a proud father to two beautiful children. It’s hard to imagine that same man sitting down glowing about his family in 2014 screaming like a maniac and throwing headsets 17 years ago. Fatherhood and past reflections have certainly mellowed out the evil genius in that regard.

The DVD is well worth your time and money and moved very fast. If I have one complaint it is that I think you could have easily gotten another 60-90 minutes of material on the DVD. I would recommend listening to Heyman’s interviews with Steve Austin and Chris Jericho on PodcastOne as a great companion to this DVD. He goes into more detail, especially on the details of his leaving the WWE a few years back that paint an even bigger picture on the majestic canvas created on this DVD.

DISC 1

Documentary

Survivor
Photographer
Promoter
Manager
Memphis
AWA
WCW
ECW
Team Mentality
Rebels
Commentator
Writer
OVW
New ECW
Businessman
Father
Return to WWE
Embracing the Moment

DISC 2:

Paul E. is always in contact
AWA Championship Wrestling • August 1987

Pink Suspenders
AWA Superstars • August 1987

I’ll Be Johnny Carson
AWA Championship Wrestling • August 1987

Danger Zone with Ted E. Bear
AWA Championship Wrestling • September 1987

You want to be a Cartoon?
AWA All Star Wrestling • September 1987

If Excitement Had a Name
AWA Superstars • September 1987

More Publicity
AWA Championship Wrestling • September 1987

Adrian Adonis
AWA All Star Wrestling • October 1987

The Definition of Pro Wrestling
AWA Superstars • November 1987

The Sequel Jim Cornette
NWA Pro Wrestling • October 1988

Nobody Wanted Paul E.
World Championship Wrestling • November 1988

Louisville Slugger
NWA Pro Wrestling • December 1988

The Year of Paul E. Dangerously
World Championship Wrestling • January 1989

Danger Zone with Ric Flair
World Championship Wrestling • March 1989

I’m So Handsome
NWA Main Event • March 1989

I Don’t Have Wrestlers I Have Animals
World Wide Wrestling • March 1989

Ding Dong Who is it?
NWA Main Event • July 1989

The Era of the Dangerous Alliance
World Championship Wrestling • September 1989

Sting’s Doll
Power Hour • May 1991

Save Us from Captain Oklahoma
World Championship Wrestling • November 1991

The Dangerous Alliance
World Championship Wrestling • November 1991

The Paul E. Awards
World Wide Wrestling • February 1992

The Ultimatum is at Hand
Pro Wrestling • April 1992

A New Dangerous Alliance
ECW Hardcore TV • October 1993

WCW Wants Sabu
ECW Hardcore TV • June 1994

Wrestler and Violence
ECW Hardcore TV • July 1994

Winds of Change
ECW Hardcore TV • November 1994

Cash Rules Everything
ECW Hardcore TV • December 1994

Best Damn Wrestling You’ve Ever Seen
ECW Hardcore TV • January 1995

There Ain’t No Organization Like ECW
ECW • February 1996

ECW Comes to Pay-Per-View
ECW • February 1997

We Cleared Cablevision!
ECW • March 1998

The Card Has Changed
ECW Guilty As Charged • January 1999

The War Has Just Begun
ECW on TNN • June 2000

Stories:

Photo of Vince Sr. & Andre
Riding in Blassie’s Car
Troubles in Memphis
The Mole
Borrowing Time
Conference Call
Paul Heyman Guy
Teasers:

Real Story?
PG Era
Statute of Limitations
In Your Face
More Extreme

DISC 3:

Paul Heyman Hates Mr. McMahon’s Stinkin’ Guts
SmackDown • November 15, 2001

Introducing: “The Next Big Thing”
RAW • April 8, 2002

Paul Heyman, Mr. McMahon & Eric Bischoff All Share One Ring
RAW • May 23, 2005

Paul Heyman Thanks the ECW Faithful
ECW One Night Stand • 12 June 2005

The Resurrection of ECW
ECW One Night Stand • June 11, 2006

From the Bingo Hall to the Garden
ECW • September 12, 2006

Mr. McMahon Gives Paul Heyman a Performance Review
RAW • January 28, 2013

Paul Heyman Gives CM Punk His Resignation
RAW • February 11, 2013

It’s Clobbering Time for CM Punk
RAW • July 15, 2013

Volcano
RAW • October 21, 2013

Paul Heyman Drops a Pipe Bomb
RAW • March 3, 2014

The Original Midnight Express vs. The New Midnight Express
Main Event • January 21, 1989

Hardy Boyz vs. Brock Lesnar & Paul Heyman
Judgment Day • May 19, 2002

No Disqualification Handicap Elimination Match
CM Punk vs. Curtis Axel & Paul Heyman
Night of Champions • September 15, 2013

BLU-RAY EXTRAS:

Stories:

Riding a Bike Down a Rooftop
Lending a Hand
Managers’ Fan Clubs
Austin Idol’s Manager
Cellphone
New York?
“I owe my career to Paul Heyman”
Micromanaging
Needed Venting
Paul the Promo Guy
Mystery Partner
Program Money
Leather Bag
Sending ECW a Tape
No Show Groomsman
King of NYC
White Corvette
Supported by the Competition
Ended Up with Nothing
Touring the ECW Arena
Out with a Bang
Common Bond
Breaking Vince’s Desk
Baseball Slide
Creative Paul
King Kong
Because I Can’t
Dirty Laundry
Real Friends
Comical Paul
Kid’s Cutting Promos
Heroes
Genius or Insane?
Genuine Friend

Conqueror of the Streak
RAW • April 7, 2014

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