The WWE has nine days to get this right. Five matches already planned and more to come, TLC and the year’s last pay-per-view event seems to be lacking in its ability to leave us hanging on until the new year and more of the Authority angle and few other surprises.
While the Randy Orton/John Cena unification match is a must see for the simple fact we could witness a John Cena heel turn and the ultimate reversal of fortune for Randy Orton, the lineup so far leaves me and probably the rest of the WWE Universe a little empty inside.
The 3-on-1 matches with Daniel Bryan and the Wyatts and CM Punk and The Shield offer us little in the way of true
entertainment if these types of beat downs go according to plan.
There needs to be more excitement, energy and new hope. All three haven’t begun to scratch the surface, which makes me think once again, we will plunk down $49.99 to witness mediocrity in a wrestling ring.
I am not trying to be harsh, I am just dealing with the reality of the event. The WWE has some many angles it could take right now, build on them and thrive – but the short sightedness of the company makes me wonder if the WWE will ever get back to the Vince McMahon-style of sports entertainment. Probably not. Where oh where has the Attitude Era gone?
If you think about this, while matches like Kofi Kingston vs. The Miz could continue to be a thrilling feud, leading to a Kingston heel turn and The Rhodes will face The Real Americans or some other team for the World Tag Titles, and Damien Sandow will get his huge push by beating Big E Langston, there is nothing exciting about this event. The perfect solution to all of this is none other than Paul Heyman.
When the feud between Heyman and CM Punk ended, a major hole was left in the packaging of Raw and SmackDown. Just the “threat” of Heyman making an appearance on either show was enough to entice wrestling fans. The WWE is hopefully planning the next move Heyman will make in the WWE, which I hope means he is the “devil” Bray Wyatt has been talking about. The “devil” is as sinister as ever and if he is now the driving force behind The Wyatt Family and possibly The Shield, would we consider another Dangerous Alliance in the works?
I thought that was the case when Heyman at one point had Brock Lesnar, Curtis Axel and Ryback all in his stable (actually I consider Lesnar a myth since we have not seen him on camera in many moons). Six wrestlers in one stable and the only other stable consists of the Real Americans and Zeb Colter. Looks like the WWE needs more managers and stables to level the playing field.
Heyman’s reemergence in the WWE would mean many things to the WWE and the fans and the company. He is money, he is entertainment and most of all, he is the best showman the company has regardless of the fact he is not a serious in-ring performer. What the WWE has done to Daniel Bryan’s character and to CM Punk in knocking them down a few rungs on the company ladder only makes me think this is a real possibility.
But we won’t know until the actual event.
The WWE is putting a lot of faith in its dwindling fan base to think it can sell a pay-per-view like it is right now. And with less than two weeks to get it right, I too am losing faith in that notion.
Heyman is the only one who can salvage this already struggling event.
Now that Paul Heyman appears to be a lone wolf in the WWE – with no real superstar to call his own and no true angle to run with, what will the wrestling promotion do with its best gimmick and most intriguing character?
As the wrestling year comes to an end and the plans are slowly in place for the Royal Rumble – hopefully new characters will develop, old ones will return from injury and a wrestling makeover and more opportunities will present themselves to help the legend of the greatest wrestling manager of this generation. There is no one who compares to Paul Heyman in this new age of professional wrestling, here are only those who will emulate him in future decades.
The WWE still needs the slick weasel of a man who defiantly challenges the authority of the company and tries to set the tone for everything unwholesome and evil. That is the essence of his brilliance and that is why last year was the Year of CM Punk and AJ Lee, this year undoubtedly was the “Year of Paul Heyman.”
My only question now becomes “Can the WWE sustain this kind of momentum into 2014 with the Authority angle?”
It would seem the company’s “Midas” Man needs a new project. The CM Punk/Heyman feud reminds me of feuds between Kevin Sullivan and Dusty Rhodes and Gary Hart and “The American Dream.” In this case, the opponents are more volatile, Never before as a Kendo stick been used with such force.
Here are a few wrestlers who could benefit from a stroke of genius.
I would love 2014 to begin with Barrett – full makeover complete – to become the latest “Paul Heyman” guy. For Barrett, it would be a huge move toward a WWE Title for the Brit. I am still waiting for another “Dangerous Alliance” with Heyman as the figure head. Barrett would be a great centerpiece to build a new stable around.
The Great White has been out with an injury. Unlike John Cena, the former World Champion has needed the full time off to recover.
It would make sense for a heel turn for Sheamus – the pale white skin fixated on a black canvas. He could fall back into his original character of beating up the veteran stars of the WWE, putting them out of action and cashing in on titles and glory.
A possible tag team with Barrett would be more than awesome in the WWE.
The is a real opportunity here for the feud between Punk and Heyman to continue. The Wyatts and The Shield will compete together at Survivor Series against Punk, Daniel Bryan and others. Somehow, someway Heyman will get involved in this angle. Shades of Gary Hart all over again.
A veteran we have not thought of
Could a veteran other than Brock Lesnar be on Heyman’s radar. I see a lot of potential with wrestlers we don’t think of making a “leap.” If the “Authority” angle ends abruptly, where does Kane fit? Would he take a walk on the “fan” side and get behind Big Show?
I know would be unheard of right now, but down the line, could Goldust turn on the Rhodes Family again and seek the aid of Heyman?
I hope 2014 starts with a bang. That means Heyman must remain as close to the core of the story as he can be. The WWE will continue to shove this “Authority” angle in our faces, but there is a real possibility it could end badly. Hopefully that means Heyman will be there to pick up the pieces and save the day. That is certainly how the company’s greatest character should make things happen.
It has been said that absence makes the heart grow fonder, makes me wonder if anybody missed me the last week and a half. For a little over two weeks I put out blogs as fast as I could type and then it just stopped. I have never had a performance issue before. Maybe it was writers block or the change in seasons. Can weather affect your performance? The worst part was that I didn’t hear from any of my 6 Twitter followers, not that I would have wanted to talk about it.
Maybe my wife is right; three times a week is just too much. I used to be one of those guys who dreamed of getting it three times a week spending my time on the internet chasing a fantasy. I would be getting it five times a week if I wasn’t too lazy to find out what time and channel Superstars and NXT were on. So there I was, one of those lucky three times a week fella’s and my brain wouldn’t cooperate and then it hit me. I know that some of you maybe confused and probably curious, believe me I can relate. So what happened?
Following Summer Slam we were treated to some of the sexiest WWE TV we have seen in a long time. Knowing that we were all watching, each week the WWE would get dressed up in some of the most revealing outfits. Showing just enough to keep us interested and then covering up so we would come back for more. The frustration of watching Bryan all by himself week after week being pounded by the Shield, the WWE superstars helpless on the stage, and the tears of the Big Show having to choose his pay check over his friend has created must see TV.
We were treated to a Rhodes family reunion of sorts and the CM Punk/Heyman angle could be a show all of its own. Then Night of Champions happened. The angle that was a breath of fresh air traded in its sexy evening gown for a pair a sweat pants. Not the sexy tight yoga pants, but the “sit on the couch using potato chips as a spoon for ice cream” sweat pants. No wonder I am having performance issues, it is just not attractive right now. I know that this might seem a bit harsh, but let’s face it; since Summer Slam she has sort of let herself go.
The WWE is letting the corporate angle start to get away from them a little bit and it is going stale. Maybe they pull it out in the end and there are some big twist left for the future but right now I just don’t see it. The crying giant has gone on too long, it doesn’t matter what side he chooses anymore. His angle should have climaxed the week he knocked out Dusty. Who cares that he punched the Miz?
The Shield has been beaten so now we know they are not indestructible, not so scary anymore. They waited too long to get the Rhodes family back in the ring. I am excited to see them but again the story lost some steam because we Cody is not fired. Stephanie is not her father and she over acts a bit much. She is doing a good job of making people hate her but she has some work to do on the mic. I saw her scold Eva Marie on Total Diva’s and the real Stephanie is pretty scary and hateable.
Bryan vs. Orton is getting boring. Are we supposed to believe that now that Randy Orton is meaner that he is better than Bryan? Bryan has shown time and time again that he is better than Orton one on one so do we need to see it again? Maybe if he was a performer instead of a wrestler it wouldn’t seem so blah. Ambrose and Ziggler will be a good match but Ziggler can’t win, the Shield need the titles to stay legit.
Without the titles they are no longer the best and that makes them boring. Don’t even get me started on the Punk angle. How many times is this guy going to get blindsided before he wises up a bit? The great CM Punk has been reduced to wrestling guys who has yet to prove their worth in the company.
I could go on forever, but I don’t want to waste it all on one blog. Are my expectations too high? Do I want more than my lovely WWE can give me? Has my affair with TNA perverted my perception? Maybe it is none of the above. Maybe potato chips in sweat pants is what is good for business.
There isn’t a lot more we can say about Paul Heyman that has not already been said of him over the course of this professional wrestling career.
The modern day Bobby Heenan, the best wrestling manager of all time, the greatest heel manager of all time, one of the greatest wrestling characters ever developed.
All those accolades should be bestowed upon Heyman, and then some. While he is not the flashy Jimmy Hart or the ruthless in ring performer-turned manager Mr. Fuji or the sexy (there is nothing sexy about Paul Heyman) Missy Hyatt, he is the package of the sum of many parts, which include Heenan, Slick, JJ Dillon, James Mitchell and one Gary Hart.
While the others on the list comprise his routine, it may be Hart’s presence in the former ECW founder that personifies him best in his pursuit of destroying CM Punk.
There was “Playboy Gary Hart” the wrestler and Gary Hart the manager – each helped to captivate fans in wrestling’s golden years. Gary Hart started out as a wrestler in 1960 in Chicago, but in the late 1960s, he became a manager called “Playboy” Gary Hart.
And in the 1970s and early 1980s, he became the single most hated manager in the NWA. He was to wrestling fans in Texas and Florida what Capt. Lou Albano, The Grand Wizard and Freddie Blassie were to the WWF.Whether it was chasing Jimmy Valiant in North Carolina or trying to destroy Dusty Rhodes in Florida, Gary Hart became the booker for World Class Championship Wrestling (WCCW; then known as Big Time Wrestling) in 1979, a position he held on and off until 1987.
Hart is largely credited (alongside Bill Mercer, Fritz and David Von Erich) with the success of WCCW, as 1982-1985 are largely considered to be the “Golden Years” of the promotion. Hart created the classic feud between the Von Erichs and the Fabulous Freebirds, as well as introducing memorable characters like the Great Kabuki, the Great Muta, King Kong Bundy, the One Man Gang and the Samoan Swat Team. Hart additionally managed talent such as the late “Gorgeous” Gino Hernandez and “Gentleman” Chris Adams.
Hart’s stable of wrestlers, many from Asia, were brought in one by one to do damage to anyone in their path. Much like Heyman and the angle with Punk.
From Kendo Nagasaki to Kabuki to Muta to Al Perez to Rick Rude to who ever he could get to align with him, Hart always hard one bad ass wrestler who could look the part and make fans’ mouths drop to the floor. Heyman has also done that with the likes of Big Show, Brock Lesnar, Curtis Axel and now Ryback. And while Punk will never achieve immortality as Dusty Rhodes has (two different generations), the concept is the same. The suits, well planned and thought out vignettes with the monotone voice and the sinister look in their eyes are dead on perfect.
Hart, who was known for delivering excellent ringside interviews (as spoken on his Wikipedia Page), participated in one of World Class’ most famous outside the ring interviews, when he sat down with Bill Mercer in a 1985 interview outside of Hart’s home to talk about his rift with Adams. The interview, which was done on one take, featured Hart pounding the glass table continuously with his fist, calling Adams an egotistical maniac but a very bright young boy, then berating Gino Hernandez calling him a moron and a young punk that is nothing in the wrestling business.
As the interview wound down, Hart went on a tirade, vowing revenge against Adams while shoving the tableware and ice tea away and then throwing the table in disgust.
All of these components are Heyman at his best and Hart does not get nearly enough credit he deserves as a manager of the greats and the man who helped to launch the fertile and devious mind of Heyman. It’s a shame to admit thievery is the best form of flattery.
But in this case, taking a little bit of Gary Hart and every other manager mentioned in this blog has given us arguably the greatest wrestling character of the past decade.
WWE Wrestler of the Week has always been a superstar who achieved great success over the seven-day period. In the past, this has been the result of wins and being featured a lot on Raw and SmackDown. This week’s winner has broken that mold. He didn’t even have one match this week. How could the winner of this award not have even wrestled a match? Well, I will explain how Ryback, with an assist from Paul Heyman is on his way to big things after this week.
Ryback’s week began on Smackdown in a backstage segment. The Big Guy, as he now calls himself, has always been seen as someone with poor mic skills. That is why this segment was so interesting. Ryback interviewed a local Canadian wrestler to show off his skills. I was actually impressed and found Ryback to be pretty entertaining in this segment.
While WWE fans were not expecting to see Ryback at Night of Champions, it seemed fairly obvious Paul Heyman had a plan. After CM Punk eliminated Curtis Axel from the match, he began the beatdown on Heyman. I had a feeling Heyman would win. I had read, prior to the event, people thinking there would be a new Paul Heyman guy. We learned that Ryback is that new guy as he helped Heyman defeat Punk.
On Raw, Ryback and Heyman addressed the WWE Universe and bragged a bit on the defeat of Punk. The end of this segment was strange as Heyman gave Ryback a kiss on the cheek. It certainly showed the new friendship of Heyman and Ryback (Heyback?), but the choice of a kiss was weird.
Becoming a client of Heyman’s has to put Ryback in a great situation. As regular fans know, Ryback had a great start as a babyface, but was pushed too much too soon. Then, he turned heel and hasn’t gotten very far since. When Vickie Guerrero was fired as Raw general manager, I thought she would begin to manage Ryback. Instead, she became the cougar in charge of Smackdown and Ryback was left alone.
It seems logical that Ryback will now feud with Punk on Heyman’s behalf. Some fans may not like this since these two were feuding during Ryback’s pushed too much too soon time. However, with Heyman on his side, Ryback will get built stronger on the mic by his manager. When Punk was squaring off with Axel, I felt as though as the Straightedge Savior was way above on another level. Ryback has to be considered a bigger threat than Axel.
All clients of Heyman have reached a lot of success. From Steve Austin and Rick Rude to Punk and Axel. The current Intercontinental Champion was never on WWE TV until he was paired with Heyman.
What does this mean for Ryback’s future? Right now, all of the championships are held by heels except the WWE title, which is vacant. With Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton feuding over that championship, Ryback may not get a shot for some time. In the short term, a feud with Punk is where Ryback will be. In the long term though, perhaps Ryback will take Axel’s place as midcard champion.
Who do you think deserves WWE Wrestler of the Week? What does the future hold for Ryback now that he is a Paul Heyman Guy? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.
Seth Guttenplan is the owner of GuTTWrenchPowerBlog. When Seth is not writing about wrestling, he is a Special Education teacher in New Jersey. To read more from Seth, follow him on twitter ( @sethgutt ) and visit http://guttwrenchpowerblog.com
I was watching WrestleMania V last week and I have to say that after 25 years it is still my favorite WrestleMania. I have never sat down to analyze the quality of the matches but it was the first PPV I ever saw and it is the reason I still watch at 33. I know that most people will remember that event as the day the Mega Powers exploded, but if you watch it closely you will see that Hogan and Savage are not the only stars of the show.
In fact there is someone who was involved in more matches than anyone else on the card. I am talking about none other than the WWF/WWE’s favorite weasel, Bobby “the brain” Heenan. Heenan was part of 5 matches that night which comes out to 36% of the show. I am not sure how many minutes he was actually out there but that is five times more involvement than any of the other talent that was at Trump Plaza that night. The Heenan family is one of the greatest stables in wrestling history.
So why would bring all of that up? I believe that we have the making of another “family” dynasty. Ladies and gentlemen my I introduce to you the Heyman’s henchmen. Ok, so the name needs a little work. I like how the WWE is mixing factions like the new Corporation and the Wyatt family with the classic manager stables like the guys working for Paul Heyman and I think that there is potential with Zeb Colter as well.
It works better than having 5 or 6 factions like we saw in the late 90’s. NOD, DOA, DX, Los Boricuas, The Corporation, The Ministry of Darkness, the Corporate Ministry and the list goes on. I am not even sure what happened to all of the members of DOA and Los Boricuas. I don’t want to go too far down the rabbit hole, let’s get back to the issue at hand. Who should be the next Paul Heyman guys? He is not going to be able to live on Curtis Axel alone and Brock is great for 4 days a year. I say guys because I would like to see him mentoring 2 to 3 more superstars. Maybe another singles competitor and possibly a tag team of sorts.
Rob Van Dam- This is an easy one even though I am not sure how the fans would take to RVD turning heel. I think that it would be the best thing for him; maybe he can do a series with Punk after he is done with Axel. Mr. Monday night was once one of Paul E’s “children” maybe that is the new angle, but I am not a booker so we move on. I don’t think the current writers know what to do with RVD and putting him in meaningless feuds for titles he won’t hold is wasting everyone’s time and of RVD’s in ring talent.
Brodus Clay- Somebody call my mamma! I have to say that I like Clay a lot and I would love to see him in a character that is a little more ruthless. This name seems out of left field but I think that he has the size and look to do some real damage as a heel. Maybe wipe the tattoos off of A-Trains face and maybe repackage them as a real tag team. Either way I would like to see Clay do something else and this might be his nitch. He can look pretty mean when the fur comes off.
Ezekiel Jackson- Now I have to admit that I have not seen him wrestle too much but he has the look of someone that can be real dangerous. With Lesner gone most of the time Heyman needs some more muscle and Jackson looks the part. He is big, bad and no one really knows him. They could bring him in as a new character and I don’t think that fans would really know. Heyman and Jackson would be working with a clean slate.
The Miz- I think the Miz is a good fit to be the top guy in the stable. He is better as a heel anyway and he is easy to hate. He has already been on top so he can be a believable star. I think that Heyman gives him the credibility to start working his way out of mid card matches with Faaaaandaaaaaangoooo!
As I look at this list I see that these names seen pretty random which is why I think they would work. Let me know what you think, who should be the next Paul Heyman guy?
WWE.com recently posted a story on the possibility of Paul Heyman perhaps “scouting” for new talent. Heyman is of course Brock Lesnar’s advocate, as well as former WWE Champion CM Punk, who is currently on sabbatical from the company. It seems that perhaps WWE is finally seeing how important Heyman is to them and is choosing to recognize it with this story.
Who said Vince McMahon is not listening?
From the moment that Paul Heyman returned to WWE, fans have been singing his praises. This is nothing unusual, as Paul has always had a strong connection to the people.
There is something very profound in that statement, by the way. Maybe Paul should seek political office when he decides he’s done putting other guys over.
“Take your vote to the extreme this November. Vote for Paul Heyman, the real people’s champion.”
The fact is that there is something about Paul that just draws you to him. He has an air of importance about him, a presence that cannot be denied. Whenever he appears on the screen, you cannot help but stop. And when he speaks, you cannot help but listen.
And you’re usually very glad you did.
Paul is genuine. He can be over the top at times, but at his core, he is a very believable figure. In a world full of fictional characters speaking rehearsed lines to other fictional characters in the midst of one unrealistic situation after another, Paul Heyman is one of the few guys who actually feel like a real person.
The truth is, we’re all in the Matrix and Paul Heyman is the only one who knows it.
When he was first paired with CM Punk during Punk’s record breaking WWE Title run, I along with many fans out there likely said the same thing.
I love Heyman, but Punk doesn’t need him.
Punk is a master orator, a man who makes you think every time he speaks. He has the ability to cut straight to the heart of the matter and make your mind go places you had not anticipated. He is a genius on the mic.
If CM Punk had delivered the prosecution’s closing statement, OJ Simpson would have been convicted of double murder.
But Paul Heyman only added to Punk’s character, he did not weaken it at all. He enhanced Punk’s verbal delivery by being concise while also being as entertaining as possible. Heyman knew what his role was and he played it perfectly.
The Punk/Heyman combo never failed to impress. They were perfect together.
When Paul was placed back with Brock Lesnar as The Anomaly was ravaging his way through WWE and headed for a collision with Triple H, I again said what many fans out there were likely saying.
I love Heyman; Brock is just awful without him.
Paul stepped up and did what he does best. He became the mouthpiece, the guide. He took one look at the Superstar in front of him and knew just what he had to do in order to help the guy get where he needed to be. And when he stood at ringside with both Brock and Punk, he was not the attraction. He never got in the way. He only reinforced the talent that was working in the ring.
Just what a great manager is supposed to do.
But when he began representing both Brock Lesnar and CM Punk, fans began to wonder when all three men would be seen on screen together. A new partnership, with Heyman at the helm. The evil genius takes over and we bear witness to a new day in WWE.
Only it never happened.
When Punk decided to take a much deserved leave of the business in order to heal up for a few months, fans began to use their imaginations once again. This time, it was to wonder if the company would give Heyman a new talent, another Superstar to work with and perhaps take to the next level.
So, is it happening?
Is Vince McMahon listening? WWE is a big company with a lot of employees, some of whom are surely reading the dirt sheets, rumor sites and breaking news blogs. Did the story posted on WWE.com come as a result of one of those sites?
Or did it perhaps come from Paul Heyman himself? Is he working behind the scenes, maybe pitching a creative idea or two about taking a new Superstar under his wing? Is he pulling some strings, putting key elements in place for another Superstar?
Come to think of it, maybe Heyman built the Matrix. That would explain a lot.
Truth be told, I was a little disappointed to read the story of Paul Heyman scouting for new talent. Not because I don’t want to see it happen, but because I like to be surprised by this kind of thing. And now that WWE has put the idea out there, the novelty of it will surely wear off soon if it hasn’t already.
Who knows, maybe the piece was just a big bunch of nothing, put out purely for the sake of thumbing their nose at guys like me who love writing about this stuff.
But I hope not, because the more Paul Heyman I can get on my TV, the happier I am. The guy is so good at what he does and is such a pro that the programming and indeed the product is so much better because of him. The fans want Heyman. He has that connection and there can be no denying that.
The Brock Lesnar vs. Triple H trilogy is heating up with just a few weeks to go until their old school Steel Cage Match payoff at Extreme Rules. The latest chapter saw Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman invade WWE headquarters and give an extreme remodeling to Trips office.
Paul Heyman started promoting this angle early in the day Monday on Twitter and I have to admit that I groaned a bit when I first heard about it. Brock Lesnar destroying Triple H’s office isn’t exactly money to me. However, what I didn’t know is that Paul would be offering some of the greatest commentary heard on RAW in the last decade.
The video as shown below shows Brock and Heyman entering WWE headquarters and going to Triple H’s office. Heyman is a slam dunk all-star here with his commentary throughout the entire segment. He was hilarious! One thing I should note is the not so subtle Brock vs. The Rock tease when Lesnar stops and stares at a picture of The Rock and Heyman makes a comment.
I’ll be honest and tell you that I am no more excited about this match after the angle as I was before it. Considering the fact that the purpose of an angle is that, well you may not call it a home run. Yet in terms of entertainment it was some of the best eight minutes I’ve seen on RAW in awhile. Brock is just fantastic but as great as he is in this role, I really wonder how badly that WrestleMania loss will hurt his draw at Extreme Rules. We’ll see soon enough.
Pro Wrestling Radio returns live tonight Tuesday May 7 at 7:30 PM/EST! You can listen live and join the chat on http://ProWrestlingRadio.com.
Some of the best years of my life were what I would call the ECW years. For about five years I took part in one of the biggest revolutions in pro wrestling. Getting to relive those memories through the Barbed Wire City documentary was a welcome way to spend on a spring afternoon.
Barbed Wire City tells a story about a topic that has been discussed many times, Extreme Championship Wrestling. Barbed Wire City features interviews with wrestlers, media, and fans that were a part of that historic era. What Barbed Wire City does better than its predecessors is bring you a story of ECW that is probably more honest and candid than those told by WWE and Hardcore Homecoming’s versions of the tale.
The story is told by a variety of personalities in and out of ECW. There is a great mix of ECW wrestlers, hardcore ECW fans, and wrestling media. Unfortunately the heavy hitters of the ECW like Paul Heyman, Taz, Sabu, and Tommy Dreamer aren’t in the video which is a bit of a disappointment. However ECW stars like the Blue Meanie, Stevie Richards, Raven, The Sandman, Axl Rotten, Ball Mahoney, Steve Corino, Angel Medina, Lou E. Dangerously, New Jack, Public Enemy, and Jerry Lynn to name a few are there to tell the story from the locker room while you have guys like Hat Guy and Tony Lewis telling the story from the audience. It really is a great mix and I felt the inclusion of the fans really brought you closer to the ECW experience than any of the other documentaries.
The documentary gives a fantastic but quick background on ECW. What most ECW fans who came aboard later don’t realize is that ECW started as just a local promotion running bar shows in Philadelphia. Tod Gordon is not given nearly enough credit in my opinion for his part in ECW’s success. Tod is included in the movie, but you really wouldn’t know how important he was to ECW just by watching the movie.
The producers of the movie were able to secure a ton of ECW footage thanks to RF Video and the fan cam collection. If Vince McMahon wants to make sure that he is the keeper to any and all ECW footage I recommend he get on the phone with RF Video and make a deal. They still have a ton of footage. That is real important to making the movie work as it is hard to tell the story properly without any kind of context. I can’t even imagine what the movie would have looked like without any actual ECW footage. That said, I am surprised the producers didn’t try to work out something out to use RF shoot interview clips with guys like Sabu, Taz, and Rob Van Dam.
Paul Heyman is included in the movie but he is not necessarily interviewed for the movie. Footage of Paul from Q & A sessions at fan conventions are included in the movie. It is as close as you are going to get to seeing Paul in any of these non-WWE documentaries.
Some of the greatest times in my life were with ECW so this one really hit home. I hit the shows every weekend as either part of the RF Video crew or later a ring announcer for the company. I felt like I was having a flashback at times when the guys would talk about incidents like the Plymouth Meeting riot and yes, Balls Mahoney was 100% on the mark with the way he recounted it. In regards to authenticity, there was no spin here, this movie told the most objective story I have seen on ECW.
The Mass Transit incident was a big part of the story, something that I don’t recall ever being explored with this much detail on the other documentaries. We all know the story by now so I won’t repeat the details. New Jack gives his version of the story which is consistent with everything I heard over the years. Several of the journalists comment on it with Dave Scherer in particular making a remark about RF Video selling it.
Let me say this about that comment because I worked at RF Video at the time. I didn’t travel to the show that weekend but I certainly heard about it from my friends. That Monday morning Erich Kulas’ father called the RF Video offices talking like he was a proud father and wanted to get a tape of the show. I must have talked to him for about thirty minutes as he went on and on about how great it was. If Papa Kulas didn’t have a problem with it, why shouldn’t we sell it? Should we pull the Invader vs. Manny Fernandez match from Puerto Rico too? The tape was pulled quickly. Keep in mind that nobody was aware that Kulas was a minor as he reportedly lied about his age.
I think it is easy to use revisionist history to judge how some handled the situation. It was a horrible thing to see but blood and violence were the norm for ECW at the time. All of these same journalists that were so horrified also had no problem continuing covering ECW in their newsletters or websites at the time and help promote the product. For people that are so disgusted today by what happened in 1997, they certainly weren’t cutting off their coverage or promotion of ECW.
On top of that, the story is told how ECW lost its first pay per view because of the incident. Someone caused trouble and sending the video to one of the cable companies. Eventually ECW found its way on pay per view but there was a lot of fallout over this incident. Timing is also everything and who is to say that things would have been different, good or bad if ECW went on pay per view earlier?
What is even more bizarre about all of this is that it was reportedly Bruce Mitchell that dropped the dime on ECW to the pay per view company and sent the cable company a tape. Wade Keller has also been accused of being a part of this but I only recall Bruce taking credit for it. Bruce reportedly said something to the effect that “something had to be done” when he commented on the Wrestling Observer hotline about it. Later I have heard an explanation that they used which stated that they were only sending the tape to the cable company for a story. What is so bizarre about this? Wade and Bruce are interviewed throughout the entire documentary and never once are either asked about their part in that. Now that said I have never seen Bruce or Wade admit to this anywhere. According to the producer, they will address these rumors in the extended cut version of the movie.
My old friend Mike Johnson makes a great point about the attitude of the locker room coming out of this incident. Mike thinks that some of the crew came to a point where they questioned their own sanity and motives (paraphrasing). Mike called that the end of ECW. I think there is certainly something to it, especially being a part of the company as a ring announcer at the time. I found this to be one of the most astute observations of the movie.
Tony Lewis is credited for bringing ECW back to life after the incident. I never met Tony but I do remember his vigilance at the time regarding ECW on pay per view. What I found interesting about Tony’s story is that he said he hasn’t gone to any shows since ECW closed down. He did come back to attend the big Extreme Reunion show but talk about passion. Once ECW died it appeared so did his passion for pro wrestling.
Since closing down ECW and Paul Heyman have been known for their financial issues. The tales of ECW wrestlers who are still waiting to get their money from Paul Heyman are legendary. Mikey Whipwreck is the first to bring up the bounced checks. Every wrestler asked about why they left ECW answered “money.” I heard stories personally from some wrestlers that were owed insane amounts of money when ECW closed although I didn’t look at their bank statements to tell you how accurate those numbers were.
Dave Meltzer illustrates the financial problems that plagued Extreme Championship Wrestling once they went on pay per view. Dave explains that Paul would run the money from one pay per view into the next, thus never really making much of a profit. Wade Keller explains that the company didn’t have a business plan and it was a “loan based plan.” Meltzer says that from 1995 on it was always a fight to stay in business. Wade Keller thinks the product was doomed when it went national.
Meltzer also brings up the problems with syndicated television and the amount of money that was spent on syndicated TV. Axl Rotten at one point brings up the “small time” feel of ECW that may have worked against them when the national audience was exposed to their product. The documentary paints a picture of ECW getting on national television as really the point that ECW was done.
The whole idea of fighting for a cause was brought up during the movie. Paul motivated his wrestlers like they were an army of outlaws against the world. I was there and I remember plenty of speeches Paul used to motivate his locker room that made these guys want to run out there and jump into a flaming pit of tables. In hindsight a lot of those same guys are now asking exactly what they were fighting for. The sad irony of this whole rebellion is that when the doors closed Paul Heyman has probably had the most stability as an employee of WWE, the very same corporate wrestling that he manipulated his wrestlers to fight against.
The physical tolls of the ECW wrestling style are evident towards the end of the movie when Balls Mahoney and Axl Rotten sit down together. Both of these guys are fantastic guys, especially Axl who I have known for years. But it is not hard to see the physical impact that the ECW style had on these guys. It isn’t pretty, especially for Axl who is recovering from a bout with Bells Palsey.
Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins tells an interesting story towards the end about meeting with Paul Heyman. Corgan says that Heyman needed $10 million to keep the company going. Obviously that investment never happened but there are plenty of stories that follow about Paul and his financial mismanagement regarding the fall of ECW.
The former ECW wrestlers talk about the financial troubles with some having a better attitude about it than others. New Jack in particular calls Heyman a couple of names and points out that some guys lost their homes, family, cars, and everything because they were owed money. Mike Johnson points out the fear that some of the guys had to stand up to Paul while Gabe Sapolsky says that he feels that a lot of the guys were in denial at the end.
That is a great comment by Sapolsky because I remember so many guys being in denial at the time. I worked with Combat Zone Wrestling at the time as an announcer and we would call guys to book them on shows and they’d always say something about ECW coming back and not really being dead. I can remember some guys even as far as a year after it closed believing that ECW was coming back. Angel Medina says that he only found out it was truly over when the company filed for bankruptcy and that nobody from within the company ever called him. Balls Mahoney says he was in denial up until the day it happened. I can recall conversations I had with him many months after and quite frankly I think he was in denial for months after as well.
Dave Meltzer thinks ECW failed because “the circumstances didn’t work” and not because Paul was a bad businessman. Meltzer doesn’t think that ECW could have survived at the time regardless of Paul’s financials. I have a high amount of respect for Dave but I don’t know if I agree with that at all. From everything I have heard over the years from people within the company I can tell you that financial misgivings were a big part of the end.
The backdrop to the movie is the Extreme Reunion promotion and the comeback show last year. Footage of the show was shown throughout the movie including a scene where Shane Douglas rushes to check on Sabu, who was rushed to the hospital. The show is characterized as a success financially, yet is criticized by New Jack and Mike Johnson. According to Jack, “it sucked!”
I’ll give the producers a lot of credit. I know that Extreme Reunion played a big part in the movie. I think it shows a lot of integrity to keep all of the negative comments about the show in the movie. It would have been easy to take out those remarks and portray a successful event. Instead, all of the problems that were publicly documented after the show were addressed. I was even a bit surprised as to how honest they were about the negativity.
One of the producers of the movie dropped me an email about this, “There is no cross promotional deal with Extreme Reunion/rising, and if you’ve heard my interviews talking about my experiences there, while I wish them well, it isn’t like I’ve ever promoted them. They agreed to give us access and footage. There were no creative control clauses or restrictions on presentation. EVERY creative decision that went into the film is the product of Kevin Kiernan and myself. We were under no obligation to promote them or present them in any way. We’re documentary makers – We document – so we show what happened and try to be fair to all sides (like we did in the rest of the film). Now, the E.R. FB has pushed us, and that has more to do with Steve O’Neill being a good friend (separate from E.R. he helped us in managing the project/organizing things), but I’ve told him he didn’t have to do that (I’d almost feel better if he didn’t). But you rightly gave us credit for being fair, so i thank you.”
Overall I’d highly recommend the DVD. Sure it isn’t the polished production that the WWE offered but the quality of content here was much better. I said it a few times but I really felt that this movie told the most accurate story of ECW and really hit into the passion of the wrestlers and the fans like no other. This was another side of the story that really needed to be told and I am glad that the producers finally got the opportunity to share it with the world.
Update: I’d like to make a correction. I was misinformed. I made a comment about Dave posting a link on his site. He didn’t and I apologize for the error.
Update #2: I received an email this afternoon about new footage that will be included in the extended cut from the producers.
“In the Extended Cut we go right from the actual Mass Transit incident into the “fallout” involving the tape, which includes Tod Gordon, Bruce Mitchell, Dave Scherer, and Wade Keller talking about it. It was, like a lot of little things, pulled for time, pacing, and the fact that this cut was something we wanted to take to film fests/make more accessible to non-fans to understand the story. We did not want to go over the 2 hour mark for this cut. So it will be in the extended cut.”
I’ve been doing this blog the last several years a week or so after that year’s WrestleMania wrapped up and once again it has returned by looking at the 2014 edition of the biggest show of the wrestling year, WrestleMania 30.
First and foremost I need to give credit where credit is due and say that this blog was inspired by Camel Clutch Blog creator Eric Gargiulo who “penned” a predictions blog just like this several years ago. I “borrowed” the idea myself and decided to give my own WrestleMania predictions one year before the event actually happened. So with that said lets take a look at my very early WrestleMania 30 predictions:
The Rock vs. Brock Lesnar
This is a pretty easy prediction to go with since there were reported plans for the two of them to plant the “seeds” for a match in the Superdome at WrestleMania 30 the RAW after WrestleMania 29. I like the WWE going with this match because it involves two “part-time” wrestlers having a match at the biggest show of the year and not leaving a wrestler who would be more deserving to be in a WWE Championship match at WrestleMania (CM Punk, Dolph Ziggler, Daniel Bryan to name a few) the “odd man out.”
Rock/Lesnar has a big match appeal to it and if it’s like anything compared to their SummerSlam 2002 encounter then wrestling fans will be in for a show at WrestleMania 30.
Ryback vs. The Undertaker
Right now it appears that the WWE has decided to take Ryback out of the babyface role and make him into a monster heel. Personally I love the move WWE creative has made because I feel that someday Ryback has the potential to “slide” into John Cena’s top babyface role and putting him as a heel, outside the “babyface shadows” of John Cena, will make him look stronger to the WWE audience.
The amount of opponents for The Undertaker at WrestleMania are a slim list and if Brock Lesnar is going to be involved in a match with The Rock, then the next big thing (no pun intended) to threatened The Undertaker’s streak is to have the “everyday monster heel” of the WWE to challenge “The Deadman.”
John Cena (c) vs. CM Punk (For the WWE Championship)
When we look back at the John Cena vs. CM Punk feud historically, we will look back at it as defining an “era” of professional wrestling in the WWE. I believe we will put it upon the mantle piece of such era defining feuds like Hogan/Savage, Hart/Michaels and Rock/Austin. But what those feuds all have in-common that the Cena/Punk feud does not, is a main event match at a WrestleMania.
I loved listening to interviews leading up to WrestleMania 29 where CM Punk candidly said that he believed it should be himself vs. John Cena main eventing WrestleMania 29. Quite frankly, while Rock/Cena may look like the “big money draw,” John Cena vs. CM Punk could be a match that leaves people talking for years. Case in point their most recent RAW match back in late-February, arguably one of their best one-on-one matches of All-Time.
Dolph Ziggler (c) vs. Daniel Bryan (For the WWE World Heavyweight Championship)
This is the “wrestling fan’s” WrestleMania dream match right now. It’s two of the best in-ring workers in professional wrestling battling it out at a WrestleMania with a World Title on the line. Imagine if the WWE gave wrestling fans this match and allowed them to do battle for 25-30 minutes. Just the thought of that is making Wrestling fans around the world salivate.
The best thing about this is it has a very good chance of happening a year from now as they are two of the biggest rising stars in the company. Their popularity is growing at every WWE show and they have the ability to kick-off the “30’s decade” of WrestleMania in-style by quite possibly being that Cena/Punk feud that could define an era. To me, it’s the closest thing to a Hart/Michaels-like match that we may ever see in today’s professional wrestling landscape.
Chris Jericho vs. Triple H
Heading into this new “fiscal year” of the WWE will be pretty interesting. Throughout the year their will come times where these stars will be brought back to due battle with some sort of rising star like Chris Jericho did (i.e. Fandango or Dolph Ziggler) or due battle with an established star like Triple H did (i.e. Brock Lesnar). But now that WrestleMania 29 is in the books what does each of these two legend’s future hold for WrestleMania 30?
I’d personally love to see a throwback to one of the most underrated feuds of the “Attitude Era” and see Chris Jericho & Triple H battle it out for one more time. This feud actually headlined a Wrestlemania during that time period (WrestleMania 18) and a rematch between these two towards the end of what I presume to be their careers, would be a nostalgia match for the “older” wrestling fan. Not only that but I believe these two legends would give us a great match on the grandest wrestling stage of them all.
Plus who wouldn’t mind seeing another underrated feud, Chris Jericho and Stephanie McMahon, be rehashed one more time?