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Roman Reigns: Can Great Samoan Heritage Produce a Great WWE Champion?

March 02, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

While the WWE fans are still warming up to the idea of Roman Reigns becoming “the man” to replace John Cena as their tried and true hero, the man who will become the new World Champion is showing off a bit of his Samoan heritage with each passing live show. The idea that he continues to talk about it allows me and millions of older wrestling fans walk through history to not only remember the great Samoan influences on the business when we were younger, but to also revisit the great Anoa’I blood line the WWE has fostered of the years.

I miss the days of the Samoan wrestlers and the influences of other cultures in the business. The days when the Wild Samoans (Reigns’ father is none other than Sika Anoaʻi) had the great Capt. Lou Albano at their side – the intimidating look and the fear fans had when they walked toward the ring. Given the fact the Uso’s (whose father is Rikishi) are the most dominant tag team in the company today, I’d say the Samoan influence on today’s promotion is alive and well. But let’s not mistake the impact of the 1970s and 1980s as being the same as things are today – there is no comparison.

The Samoans may have been the greatest tag team in the business before the onslaught of the Road Warriors in the mid-1980s. Afa and Sika spent time in Mid-South Wrestling, the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) and the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). The Samoans held 21 tag team championships around the world. Completing their larger than life image, the duo engaged in outrageous behavior such as nose picking and eating raw fish during interviews

And as I have heard in many circles over the years, they may have been one of the last truly hated heel tag teams before the walls of Kayfabe were torn down. If intimidation was their only key to success in the business, the Samoans were masters at it without having to say a single word.

As they stated out in the WWF before the ascension of Hulkamania, Afa and Sika made their Madison Square Garden debut on January 21, 1980 in a WWF Tag Team Championship match against Tito Santana and Ivan Putski, who retained their title. In the upcoming months, both men became contenders for Bob Backlund’s WWF Championship, but neither man won the gold. They, however, won their first championship in the WWF, the tag team championship, by defeating Santana and Putski on April 12, 1980.

They reigned as champions for approximately five months, until dropping the title to Backlund and Pedro Morales in a two out of three falls match at Showdown at Shea. Because Backlund was already the reigning WWF Champion, the team had to forfeit the title, and a tournament was held to crown new tag champions. On September 8, 1980, the Wild Samoans defeated Tony Garea and Rene Goulet in the tournament finals to win the title.

Their reign lasted for one month, until they lost to Garea and his new partner, Rick Martel. The Wild Samoans feuded with the champions for the rest of the year, but they were not able to recapture the gold.

Now that the Anoa’I family has come full circle again with another superstar in the making, I wonder why the WWE is trying so hard to make Reigns the “New Cena” of the next generation.Wouldn’t the WWE (more importantly Vince McMahon) be better off pairing Reigns with a manager to help him hone his skills. It has worked for Brock Lesnar, who by no means gives the fans a thrilling promo, but he is intimidating nonetheless and can get away with it because of the presence of Paul Heyman.

If Lesnar’s contract situation is not resolved and he leaves the WWE (which he should), would Heyman and Reigns be the lottery ticket the company needs? Reigns is better suited as a heel champion (in my opinion) but lacks guidance on camera. Heyman is the perfect bridge to make the heel turn happen.

The WWE is void of managers and valets in this day and age. If the company is willing to revisit the roots of its future champions, hopefully it would be willing to explore the past to ensure Reigns, like his father and uncle before him, receives the best push he can get. In this case the company must align him with the best mouthpiece in the business.

Maybe then, the WWE fan base will be more accepting of a champion that has all but been shoved down their throats.

WWE: The Destruction of the Shield

The Randy Savage Story DVD

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WWE WrestleMania 31 Probable Card and Match Rumors

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

It looks like we finally have the blueprint of the main WWE WrestleMania 31 card. The main card may lack the zest of last year’s event, yet the excitement coming out of Fastlane is a sign in the right direction.

There were no real surprises at Fastlane, especially if you have been following the backstage rumors and social media spoilers over the last few weeks. But what we did was a rock solid direction heading into the big March 29 event. I was underwhelmed a few weeks back when the card looked to be taking shape, but Fastlane offered a glimpse of hope. Here is what I took away coming out of Fastlane, as well as the latest news and rumored matches.

Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns for the WWE world title - This one is going to be a lot of fun for all of the wrong reasons. While I do think the WWE needed to focus on Reigns, it was clear at Fastlane that the fans aren’t buying him. This match could get Goldberg-Lesnar ugly really fast without some creative booking. It’s unfortunate as I think six months ago this match could have been big. Yet the WWE booking of Reigns has been so terrible, that they have single-handedly ruined this guy’s momentum. The only answer here is a double-turn at Mania otherwise it will get real ugly by the end of the match.

The Undertaker vs. Bray Wyatt - I don’t know how you can logically book this match. So Taker is going to return to shut a nobody up that called him out once and ignore Heyman and Lesnar’s mockery over the last year? The only reason the Undertaker should be returning is to avenge his loss to Brock Lesnar. Granted, they may be saving that for Texas Stadium but if so, Taker should not be wrestling at all. Maybe make a surprise appearance? That said, the reaction at Fastlane for Bray Wyatt’s promo was promising. If I was to base interest in this match on the crowd heat at Fastlane, I’d guess that the fans are really going to be into this match. It will be different and I hope Taker can silence his critics. I just can’t help but think about all of the money being left on the table with a Lesnar rematch.

John Cena vs. Rusev for the U.S. title - I’d expect some kind of stipulation to be added here. I liked their match at Fastlane a lot. I’ll disagree with a lot of people and tell you that I thought it was the best match of the night. I have no problem seeing them wrestle twice. The finish was kind of wonky, but I never have a problem with seeing a really good match twice. Cena as U.S. champion is interesting as well. Quite honestly I’d put Rusev over here and build him up for a run with Reigns or Lesnar for the title. But I’ll save that for my predictions blog.

Sting vs. Triple H - When Sting and Hunter set the table for this angle at Survivor Series I was about as disinterested as I could get in this feud. I had zero interest in watching these two wrestle. That said, I am actually looking forward to the match coming out of Fastlane. I think they had great chemistry in Memphis and I think that they can really pull something good off here. Sting has his limitations as we have seen in TNA. Sting has also had some decent matches with the right guys in TNA so it isn’t as if he is done. The chemistry is working for me here and I have to hand it to these guys. They completely turned me around at Fastlane. Mark my words, this will be the main-event of WrestleMania. It won’t be the last match but this will be the match that draws the most interest and gets the most attention by the time we get to the event.

Seth Rollins vs. Randy Orton - I think we can all agree that Jon Stewart of the Daily Show will play a part in this match. That’s fine, although this angle does not seem very organic at all. It will be great publicity for all involved. Quite frankly I am not sure how WWE pulled this one off. They did and it will happen at Mania. I think they’ll have a good match, maybe the best on the card if given time.

Daniel Bryan vs. Sheamus - All of the latest rumors point to a Bryan vs. Sheamus rematch. According to several reports, this was the direction they wanted to go in all along. It seems like a huge waste of Bryan and a big dropoff from a year ago. The WWE are determined to squash the Yes Movement and this is a step in the right direction. It’s a shame but I can’t see we didn’t see it coming.

There are other probable matches like Ambrose vs. BNB with a stip, something with the Rhodes brothers, and maybe the Bellas vs. Paige and a celebrity tag team partner. Overall it is a pretty solid lineup for Mania. Nothing stands out and while it is not nearly as exciting as last year, it is a far cry from WrestleMania 9 as well.

WWE: The Destruction of the Shield

The Randy Savage Story DVD

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WWE Fastlane Results and Recap: Reigns Wins, Rusev Retains

February 22, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

The WWE is in full WrestleMania 31 mode now that Fastlane is in the books. The angles and Fastlane results now paint a clearer picture of the road to WrestleMania, which doesn’t necessarily look a whole lot different than it did prior to Sunday night’s pay-per-view event.

I really enjoyed this show a lot. The show had a real nice pace and there wasn’t a bad match on the show. It was a great appetizer for WrestleMania and I would go as far as to say that the show exceeded expectations. The show really did a nice job of getting me excited for WrestleMania. I’d highly recommend checking out the replay if you missed it.

Roman Reigns defeated Daniel Bryan to retain his match at WrestleMania 31. This was a poorly booked match. Reigns was booked as the sympathetic babyface with Bryan playing heel. At one point Bryan nailed a kick in Reigns’ liver and the announcers played it up referencing Reigns’ hernia. Reigns sold for awhile after that. The rest of the match saw Bryan in control with Reigns going for comebacks. Reigns nailed Bryan with a spear on a second attempt at a running knee for a clean pin in the middle. The fans hated this. I have to admit, Cena and Rusev blew this one out. There was something missing here and I think it goes back to how the guys were booked. It made Reigns look weak,  Bryan look like a heel, and the winner was booed. Reigns walked out slowly trying to get some cheers going and the crowd was dead silent. Great job creative!

It would appear that the WWE are back to plan A and will proceed with Lesnar vs. Reigns in a singles match. Anything can happen and it is still possible that Bryan gets inserted into the match. However, with the way the match and post-match festivities played out, it would surely indicate that Bryan is doing something else.

The WWE has a problem with Reigns…a big problem. It is a lot like Lex Luger. They pushed Luger hard and the fans rejected him, yet not nearly at this level. It was obvious tonight that fans aren’t invested into Reigns as a babyface. The WWE have nobody to blame but themselves because he was over at one point.

Rusev defeated John Cena in a long match. I liked the match a lot and the crowd was really into it by the end of the match. The match had almost the same psychology of the Lesnar vs. Cena match from Night of Champions. The story here was that Cena threw everything at Rusev and he still couldn’t beat him. The finish came when Rusev had the camel clutch on Cena. Cena was about to break it but Lana came in the ring and distracted the referee. Rusev broke the hold and kicked Cena low and then in the face. Rusev then went back to the Accolade and an unconscious Cena lost.

I think they should have saved this match for Mania. The fans were split early but were all into Cena by the end of the match. I am not sure how invested fans really are into seeing Cena go for revenge at Mania. Regardless, it looks like that is where we are going.

Bray Wyatt called out the Undertaker tonight. They set up an entrance as if the Undertaker was coming out. The casket opened up and it was Wyatt. It was a cool segment but I still don’t understand it. Logically, why would the Undertaker come back for anything but avenging his loss to Brock Lesnar? Paul Heyman and Lesnar have mocked him for a year yet he’ll come back for a new guy who just called him out? It makes no sense. I think that the WWE is leaving some major money on the table here. Imagine the intensity and the passion fans would have to see Undertaker shut Heyman and Lesnar up after a year of trash talk. Taker could have come back, won the Rumble, and put up his career vs. Lesnar’s title in a rematch? Anything would have made more sense than Taker coming back to answer Wyatt’s challenge.

Sting and Triple H had their confrontation. Triple H made Sting an offer to align with the Authority. Sting remained silent. Triple H and Sting then brawled a bit. Hunter got the advantage by hitting him with a microphone. Hunter went for the sledgehammer but was cut off by Sting with a bat. Sting backed him into a corner and pointed to the WrestleMania sign. Sting finally left Hunter laid out with a Scorpion Death Drop. This was pretty exciting…predictable but exciting. The match was officially announced later in the show for Mania.

Randy Orton finally returned tonight. Orton ran in after the Seth Rollins six-man tag team match and attacked the heels. Orton’s return has been held off for awhile. All rumors indicate that Orton will wrestle Seth Rollins at WrestleMania 31 with Jon Stewart of the Daily Show involved. Orton was over huge with the crowd and the fans ate up all of his RKOs.

Well it looks like we have a pretty good idea of what WrestleMania will look like. It won’t look much different than what has predicted and reported here and elsewhere over the last few weeks. I wouldn’t call it underwhelming yet I wouldn’t call it exciting either. Here is what the WrestleMania 31 card looks like coming out of Fastlane…
Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns for the WWE world title
John Cena vs. Rusev for the U.S. title
Bad News Barrett vs. Dean Ambrose for the I-C title
Sting vs. Triple H
The Undertaker vs. Bray Wyatt
Randy Orton with Jon Stewart vs. Seth Rollins

Full WWE Fastlane results and winners..
Roman Reigns defeated Daniel Bryan in a  Number One Contender Match
Rusev defeated John Cena via submission to retain the United States Championship Match
Nikki Bella defeated Paige to retain the WWE Divas Championship
Bad News Barrett defeated Dean Ambrose by DQ to retain the WWE Intercontinental Championship
Cesaro and Tyson Kidd defeated the Usos to win the WWE Tag Team Championship
Triple H and Sting met face to face
Goldust defeated Stardust
The Big Show, Kane, and Seth Rollins defeated Erick Rowan, Dolph Ziggler, and Ryback

WWE: The Destruction of the Shield

The Randy Savage Story DVD

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Ric Flair Blames Roman Reigns WWE Struggles On Rock Comparisons

February 20, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Everyone is talking about Roman Reigns and his potential following the WWE Royal Rumble 2015 fiasco. The latest to weigh in is arguably the greatest of all-time, Nature Boy Ric Flair. Flair offered his analysis, giving maybe the most interesting insight yet on the young man.

Flair has been around the pro wrestling business since the 1970s and always appears to be pretty keen on the current scene. Flair was asked recently by GiveMeSports.com about Roman Reigns and his struggles. Flair offered a unique observation which is very interesting given the recent ending of the Royal Rumble.

“I don’t pay a lot of attention to him talking on the mic but I think he’s okay. Fans look at Roman and they want him to sound like The Rock and that isn’t going to happen. The Rock didn’t become The Rock overnight either though. It took him a few years as well to nail down who he was and what he was about.”

I have never heard that one before. The comparisons to the Rock are interesting but I am not sure I necessarily agree with the former champion. Up until the Rumble, I don’t think a whole lot of emphasis has been placed on Reigns’ comparisons to the Rock. That said, plans may have backfired if this is true when the WWE associated the two at the Rumble.

I think there are a couple of problems with Reigns. The first and most important is the evolution of his character. Reigns go over as the quite, bad-ass, no-non sense tough guy in the Shield. Reigns has evolved into a corny, predictable, gullible babyface in recent months. His edge has been completely removed and without the edge he is too ordinary. The scripted promos are a big problem and the catalyst behind this. Reigns needs to walk tall, say little, and let his fighting do the talking. He has been over-produced and it has finally caught up with him.

What is Flair’s advice to Reigns? Keep working big man.

“Roman [Reigns] has got so much talent that fans are going to have to be patient with him. It doesn’t happen overnight. If people are upset with Roman it’s not over a lack of talent. Fans are always going to have their opinion, but Roman has a fantastic future ahead of him.”

“It takes time for young talent to grow. It’s not just a name, they’ve got to build a brand,” added Flair.

Does Reigns really have so much talent? I know people internally within the WWE think so, but I am starting to question that. I need to see more from him as a singles before I can verify that statement. I think if he was as talented as Flair and others say, the talent would overcompensate for the lame character development.

Regardless, very interesting analysis from the Nature Boy.

Flair also revealed in a separate interview why he isn’t used very often anymore by the WWE.

“I appear on WWE programming about eight or nine times a year now,” Flair said. “I think I could offer more and I think the management would like to use me more but it is about the offers that have to follow me that they have to consider as well. I can be a very tough act to follow.

Flair continued, “I can still be active and will be for many more years to come, but they also have to take into account the other superstars at the same time.”

It’s ridiculous the way or non-way the WWE uses Flair these days. At the same time he is right. He is a tough act to follow.

WWE: The Destruction of the Shield

The Randy Savage Story DVD

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WWE Fastlane Predictions and Preview

February 19, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

WWE will be launching the inaugural Fastlane this Sunday night. The prelude to WrestleMania will see a highly anticipated match up, an early WrestleMania 31 contest, and the first-ever advertised WWE special event appearance from the man called Sting.

Fastlane will replace the annual Elimination Chamber event. Unlike the Chamber show, Fastlane will be devoid of gimmick matches and strictly serve as an appetizer to the big March event. While I wouldn’t call it a strong show, I would see it is one of the more intriguing shows in recent memory. Let’s break down the top matches and events and make some predictions.

Roman Reigns vs. Daniel Bryan in a Winner meets Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 31 Match - This is without question the most intriguing match of the year thus far. Reigns and Bryan is not a match I would have expected to see pre-Mania. Sure, I could see these guys headlining SummerSlam or Survivor Series but I didn’t expect it this soon. Thanks to some rowdy fans in Philadelphia and some post-Rumble adjustments, we are getting this one several months early.

I have written a lot on this match, two full blogs to be exact. However, things continue to change and the landscape has evolved since both blogs. Originally the plans were for a Reigns vs. Brock match at Mania. New rumors indicated that those plans changed and Bryan would now be inserted into a Triple Threat Match. At this point I don’t think there is a predictable way to go here.

This reminds me a lot of the Steve Austin vs. Shawn Michaels match at King of the Ring 1997. The match made no sense, it featured two babyfaces, and one was obviously the company guy against a guy who was on the descent. At the same it made no sense for either guy to put the other one over. The match ended with a double DQ and no winner. I would be surprised if we don’t see the same result repeat itself in this match.

Roman Reigns has a ton of pressure on him here. If Reigns is expected to be the guy that delivers main-event singles matches, it all starts here. He’s been given everything he needs to succeed here. If you can’t have a good or even great match with Bryan than his promos are the least of his problem. I have no doubt that Bryan will do everything he can to get a great match out of Reigns. Anything less than a pretty good match could really hurt Reigns’ chances of going over at Mania.

I am going to predict a non-finish here. I don’t think either one of these guys are getting pinned. I do think that Bryan is not nearly as over as he was last year and that could cause the brass to re-think their Triple Threat plan. Yet unless I hear different I think both guys come out untainted. I expect this one to end with some interference from the Authority and a big groan from the audience.

John Cena vs. Rusev for the US Title - WWE fans are getting this one early. These guys were penciled in for WrestleMania which makes this booking a bit odd. However, it wouldn’t be the first time we saw a WrestleMania match. I like the match, like it a lot. I love most of what they’ve done with Rusev and the fact they held him apart for Cena for a year was just brilliant.

I wouldn’t expect a great match, although I do think they have it in them to produce one. I see a safe match with both guys saving the full effort for Mania. Putting Cena over here makes no sense at all, although after the Royal Rumble booking I don’t have a lot of confidence in logical WWE booking. I do love the idea of Cena as U.S. champion, I just don’t want to see it prior to Mania. I look for Rusev to go over here. I would suspect that a ref-stoppage finish that involves Cena’s eye, either Rusev spiking it or threatening. Anything but a big win hurts interest in seeing Cena seek revenge at Mania.

Triple H and Sting Confrontation - Like you, I have always wanted to see Sting in the WWE. However, I have to admit that Sting vs. Triple H was not a dream match on my list. Regardless, we are getting it one way or the other so why complain. I expect the usual RAW confrontation you’d expect from both, but I do think Sting gets laid out this time around. I think you need to lay him out in order to create a demand for a match.

Dean Ambrose vs. Bad News Barrett for the WWE Intercontinental Title - I like this match. I also think that Dean Ambrose is the biggest waste of talent I have seen in the WWE in quite some time. I love the potential of this match. I think you have two guys here who are very talented and looking to steal the show. I don’t expect Ambrose to win the title and quite frankly that may be a good thing for him. At the same time I certainly don’t want to see him lose clean which is what I think happens here.

Full WWE Fastlane card and matches…
Roman Reigns vs. Daniel Bryan – Number One Contender Match
John Cena vs. Rusev – United States Championship Match
Paige vs. Nikki Bella – WWE Divas Championship
Bad News Barrett vs. Dean Ambrose – WWE Intercontinental Championship
The Uso’s vs. Cesaro and Tyson Kidd – WWE Tag Team Championship
Triple H and Sting meet face to face
Goldust vs. Stardust

WWE: The Destruction of the Shield

The Randy Savage Story DVD

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WWE Need To Focus On Roman Reigns, Scrap Daniel Bryan Plans

February 19, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

I was like all of you. I wanted to see Daniel Bryan in the main-event at WrestleMania 31. I was also just as frustrated as you were with his 10-minute appearance at the Rumble. All rumors point to Bryan back in the Mania mix yet I have to wonder if that really is the right move.

Let’s be honest. Nothing is set in stone until the bell rings. All of the rumors point to Bryan being in a Triple Threat Match against Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns at Mania. Yet prior to those rumors, it was reported elsewhere that Vince McMahon had no intention of putting Bryan in the match. In other words, anything can change up until the bell rings (and even after in some cases).

So I am going to express an unpopular opinion here. Most readers and savvy Internet users tend to be Daniel Bryan fans. Thus, most of you will probably disagree with this thesis. As long as you don’t take it personally, we can remain friends. I think that the WWE are making a mistake by placing Bryan into the match and booking a Triple Threat at Mania. There…I said it.

Why the drastic change? I certainly had my doubts about Bryan after his Rumble comeback was announced. Yet I was proven wrong that night in Philadelphia when Bryan’s fans hijacked the Rumble. It was shortly thereafter the match with Reigns was booked at Fastlane and the idea was set in place to put Bryan back into the top mix. Fans were happy, I am sure Bryan was happy, and the WWE creative team were praised with their audible. I can safely say after watching several weeks of post-Rumble RAWs that they had it right the first time.

I am going to break some ugly news to you Bryan fans. He is just not as over as he was last year at this time. Was he over in Philadelphia? Yes and why wouldn’t he be? It’s a northeast crowd that is always going to be more favorable to Bryan and it was his first match back in months. The fans wanted to see a comeback story not a brief appearance. With all due respect to my hometown, those fans do not represent the majority.

One thing that has been crystal clear in the last three weeks is that Bryan is no more over than Reigns or even Dean Ambrose in some spots. Bryan gets a nice reaction but this is far from the Yes craze we saw last year. Go back and watch RAW a year ago compared to today. The fans were caught up in the hype last year, it was truly a movement. There is no movement in 2015. Casual fans are confused at this point. His reaction in Philadelphia has been misread and as much as I am a fan of the guy, the hysteria is just not there.

Go back two weeks ago on RAW. Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman cut a promo on the Bryan vs. Reigns match. Brock and Heyman had fans chanting “No, no, no!” in regards to Bryan. That was an eye-opener to me. Casual fans don’t believe in Bryan, nor do they have much interest in watching him wrestle Brock. That reaction would not have happened last year.

This isn’t to say that Reigns is the guy. However, Reigns has already had his legs cut off from under him. I think that the WWE should have proceeded with its plans and kept Bryan out of the match. There is no reason that Bryan couldn’t have challenged Reigns at some point in 2015 for the title. In just three weeks the WWE have made Reigns look foolish, sappy, dumb, and like a guy who is not top guy material. This all came as a result of trying to shoehorn Daniel Bryan into Mania. Without Bryan in the mix, Reigns could have been the sole focus of the company with the star power he needed to take the WWE into the future.

It’s not too late. If I were booking, I’d have Reigns win a highly competitive match over Bryan at Fastlane. Reigns will put the ghost of Bryan to rest, earn his biggest win of his singles career, and have the credibility he badly lacks heading into Mania.

Bryan had his time at the top and there is no reason he can’t have it again. However, they are cannibalizing their two top guys all because a rowdy crowd in Philadelphia and a Twitter campaign had the creative team guessing themselves. If Reigns is the future, the company needs to be all in on him and that needs to come at the expense of Daniel Bryan.

WWE: The Destruction of the Shield

The Randy Savage Story DVD

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The WWE 2015 Royal Rumble Rebooked…1994 Style

February 11, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

It was Jim Cornette who first popularised the idea of the ‘Seven Year Rule’ in the minds of adent wrestling fans. For the unfamiliar, said rule works on the theory that, over the course of a seven year period, a product like televised pro wrestling -sorry, sports entertainment- will have experienced a big enough turnover in fanbase that old ideas can be reused without the paying public really noticing.

By and large, this Seven Year Rule has been used to great effect by a number of entertainment franchises across all kinds of media, all with one notable exception: WWE.

If the company are even aware of such a concept, they’ve certainly never felt it all that important to adhere to it, choosing instead to rehash old plots, characters and events as often as they like. So it comes as a bit of a surprise then, that WWE haven’t gone back to one idea which they could -in theory at least- have used at least three times over by now.

The Lex Experiment
Cast your mind back, if you will, some 21 years to the neon-clad days of 1994. Bill Clinton was still the US President, Mrs. Doubtfire was about to top the Box Office charts, and Vince McMahon’s World Wrestling Federation was still reeling in the wake of what has become known simply as The Steroid Scandal.

Losing a number of headline players like Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior in the process, Vince was on the look out for a new bona fide superstar, a larger-than-life hero capable of carrying the company forward and putting the company back in the mainstream media spotlight for all the right reasons.

After experimenting with smaller, more technically-savvy workers such as Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels, McMahon seemed to have found the kind of main event player he was looking for in the carved-from-granite shape of one Lex Luger.

Strapping the proverbial rocket to Luger’s mammoth back, the Lex Express had spent the previous summer travelling the length and breadth of the United States, all in the hope of creating a groundswell of support for the former Total Package not seen since the heights of Hulkamania. The plan did not pay off quite as Vince, his team, and Luger himself, may have hoped, and when the latter was booked to win his over-hyped Summerslam main event against Yokozuna by countout (thus keeping the title on the super-sized grappler), it seemed Lex and his red-and-blue Express had all but run their course.

The Fans’ Choice
In the eyes of McMahon however, there was still mileage in Luger as a top draw. OK, so Luger may not have been dynamite with a microphone, but he had the look of an ancient god and could hold his own between the ropes, and for Vince, that was enough to maintain his determination to force the fans into falling in love with Big Lex.

The fans of 1994 however, had other ideas.

Already an established veteran by 1994, Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart had been putting on excitement matches with just about everybody he locked up with for a good number of years, and had combined this quality workmanship with a relatable, Hero for the Common Man gimmick to ensure that WWF crowds were rooting for The Hitman to become THE Man.

Sounding familiar yet?

If you’re drawing parallels to Roman Reigns and Daniel Bryan, we’re both on the same page.

Roman as Lex, Bryan as Bret
On the one hand, we have the muscular, larger-than-life Superstar favoured by Vince, on the other, we have the smaller, yet undeniably talented workhorse beloved by both casual and diehard fans alike. Though rather than march stubbornly onwards with his plan to make the former the focal point of his company,back in 1994, McMahon had a rather different idea when it came to booking the annual battle royal.

And its this idea that he could, probably should, have pulled out of his oversized sleeve this past January: That of the Royal Rumble Co-Winner.

In an effort to see who the audience would accept as their star attraction going forward, Vince had Luger and Bret -the final two men in that year’s Royal Rumble- eliminate each other at the same time.

After teasing one man as the victor, then the other in a blatant attempt to gauge fan reactions, both men were ultimately declared the winner, receiving a title shot a piece at Wrestlemania 10 against defending champion, Yokozuna.

Fast forward some 20+ years later, and is there any reason WWE wouldn’t have benefitted from repeating the same trick with Bryan and Reigns?

A legitimate contender
Sure, fans would have booed Reigns mercilessly if he had to share the win with Bryan, but then they did that anyway, and probably would have done even if he’d filled the ring with cute puppies as part of his post-victory celebrations.

On the other hand, holding his own alongside the undisputed People’s Champion may well have been just the ticket in getting Roman over as a legitimate contender to Brock Lesnar’s WWE Championship

If, as many fans suggest, half the problem with Reigns’ win is simply that he isn’t ready for the position he’s been thrust into, wouldn’t presenting him on a par with a man so universally revered as Daniel Bryan go at least some way to making making the former Shield man seem like he could hang at the top of the card?

The two could have even gone on to have their upcoming Fast Lane bout to determine the true number one contender, and if Vince was still adamant about making Reigns his guy, have him pick up the win come February 22nd.

The end result -Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar- is still ultimately the same. The big difference however, is that fans become a little bit more accepting of Vince’s ‘Chosen One’ whilst McMahon himself proves wrong those detractors who claim he’s long since stopped giving much a damn what his own audience really wants.

Or maybe not. One thing’s for certain though, repeating the 1994 Royal Rumble finish in 2015 certainly couldn’t be any worse than the finish we actually got.

So there you have it. I really don’t think this is much of a surprise at all. Unfortunately it may be a big drink of reality for some of you Bryan fans that were hoping they wouldn’t have to drink.

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The Randy Savage Story DVD

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WWE WrestleMania 31 Rumors and Championship Match Change

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

A new report has thrown a monkey wrench into all previous WrestleMania 31 reports. A new report earlier this week indicates that the WWE and Vince McMahon will do the unthinkable at 31…listen to their audience.

Dave Meltzer had the scoop on a recent F4WOnline.com podcast. According to Meltzer, McMahon has called an audible on the Mania main-event. Regardless of reports that say otherwise, Meltzer is reporting that Vince has pulled the trigger and will be changing the headliner to a Triple Threat Match between Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar vs. Daniel Bryan for the WWE title.

The news comes just hours after a WWE insider leaked to Reddit.com the Fastlane result of the Bryans vs. Reigns match. The insider reported that Reigns would win at Fastlane and go to Mania as planned to wrestle Lesnar. According to Meltzer, this is a recent shift in plans for McMahon so it is likely that both reports are actually correct.

I am extremely surprised. The WWE is stubborn to a fault at times and barring injuries or guys walking out (like last year), they will rarely change WrestleMania plans. Keep in mind that plans for this year’s show were developed over the last year so a large commitment creatively and through marketing was made to Reigns in the headliner. A big question has to be what changed Vince’s mind so fast regarding Bryan?

It was clear at the Royal Rumble that the WWE had no intentions of booking Bryan in the headliner. Bryan was booked in and out of the Rumble in about ten minutes with no angles shot to indicate any further plans. Furthermore, a few days later Dolph Ziggler tweeted a challenge out to Bryan for a Mania match and reports indicated that the company were working towards a Bryan vs. Ziggler match.

Why the resistance in the first place? Vince reportedly did not want to “repeat” Mania with the same idea by putting Bryan in another championship Triple Threat. What is funny about that is that it was only two Mania events ago that the company repeated the exact same headlining match in Rock vs. Cena. I can understand where Vince is coming from, at the same time the crowds were singing a different tune than Roman Reigns.

Why the change? Is it the response at the Rumble, is it house show response, has there been a peak in Bryan merchandise sales, what is it that drove the change? My hunch is that Lesnar is leaving and the company was afraid that the fans would crap all over the match with Lesnar leaving and Reigns being the unpopular choice. Adding Bryan cleans up this mess as fans will be so excited, they’ll forget about Lesnar leaving and will be receptive to the match.

So who goes over? I think Lesnar is definitely the odd man out. Whether he stays or goes, the company needs a fresh face in the title picture. I would have said Reigns but it is clear he is not clicking since returning from injury. That said, I am still waiting for a heel turn here with Reigns aligning with Paul Heyman to win the title. Another scenario could see Bryan win the title and Seth Rollins cash in immediately thereafter and win it. Rollins would be set up as the top heel, Bryan can chase, Lesnar rides off into the sunset, and Reigns is repackaged and wins the title at SummerSlam or sooner from Rollins.

Either way the fans have spoken and for once, the company is listening. Maybe there is hope after all?

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WWE Fastlane 2015 Rumors and Spoiler

February 09, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

I am not a big fan of blogging about spoilers but this one is a big one, especially when it results in a WWE WrestleMania 31 main-event. A verified spoiler may have confirmed the headline match at Mania and the results of a big FastLane showdown.

Let me start by saying this first. I’d ask that you leave the page if you don’t wish to know the spoiler at Fastlane. Okay, you have been warned. Don’t blame me for giving out the spoiler and ruining your experience.

There is a person named MetsFan4Ever that is a regular poster on Reddit.com. The poster has been verified as a WWE insider and is generally 95% and above right when it comes to giving away spoilers and match results prior to shows. MetsFan4Ever recently posted a spoiler about the big showdown at Fastlane between Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns. It probably won’t make you happy.

“I have been told and it has been 100% confirmed that Roman Reigns is indeed defeating Daniel Bryan at WWE Fast Lane.

I was also told the only reason this match was made was to quiet the “marks” for a few weeks while they try to get Roman over. Regardless of the reaction in the next few weeks, Roman is the man and will be headlining WrestleMania and defeating Brock Lesnar for the WWE Championship.

I’ve also been told that despite his smaller size, Bryan is considered one of the more physical in ring workers in the WWE. Thus he has been picked to work with Roman to get him ready for the physicality that is Brock Lesnar. It is comparing Bryan to Curtis Axel. Bryan is the Curtis Axel to Roman’s Rock.

The last reason I was given is that WWE knows full well that people are going to watch WrestleMania no matter what. I was told they could’ve put Doink vs. Brock Lesnar and the fans would be watching. At this point, WWE considers the WrestleMania name bigger than any of the superstars on the show.”

This confirms the blog I wrote last week when I called the match one big WWE screw job and a big F-You to Daniel Bryan fans. As I wrote last week, the WWE are booking this match for a few reasons. One, they want to have a little fun with the Daniel Bryan brigade and screw with them a bit. The company wants you Bryan supporters to believe that your boy has a shot at going to Mania. It’s not going to happen. Two, the company wants to elevate Reigns with a big singles win and what better win than beating the former champion who didn’t lose his title. Three, it wants to quiet the fans who still believe Bryan deserves the match since he didn’t lose the title. In other words, it ties up loose ends.

I was okay with all of this until I read this post. The remark about the WWE believing they can put any anyone in the Mania main-event actually works against them keeping Bryan out of it. If that person is so meaningless, why not give the fans Bryan in the main-event? Why does it have to be Reigns if it doesn’t matter? I believe that sentiment to be true among the corporate WWE employees, yet I still believe for Vince McMahon that the person in the Mania main-event truly does matter. Yes we saw The Miz in there at Mania 27, but you can count on one hand how often that has happened in the last ten years and that is once.

So there you have it. I really don’t think this is much of a surprise at all. Unfortunately it may be a big drink of reality for some of you Bryan fans that were hoping they wouldn’t have to drink.

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The Randy Savage Story DVD

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Roman Reigns vs. Daniel Bryan Is One Big WWE Screwjob

February 05, 2015 By: Category: Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

Well Daniel Bryan fans you got what you wanted. The WWE is putting Bryan back into the WrestleMania picture with a top contenders match at Fastlane. Unfortunately for you, the WWE won’t be giving you the ending you’ve been dreaming about.

Triple H announced the match on RAW Monday in an announcement that was billed as “ground breaking.” It will be more like spirit breaking as this is nothing more than the WWE having its fun with you. Those of you pondering whether this means a change in WrestleMania plans are fooling yourselves and need a reality check.

Stranger things have happened but I would be shocked if this match ends with Bryan winning and going to Mania. Now don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that it shouldn’t happen. I think a Lesnar vs. Bryan match is more marketable right now. I just don’t think it will happen. I think the WWE are going to throw all of these Yes chants back in your face and use your hero to get their chosen one over.

The 1 million subscribers is all the WWE needs to justify this move. A day after a campaign broke out to cancel WWE Network subscriptions, the WWE announced its 1 millionth subscriber. That wasn’t coincidence. That is the WWE telling all of the critics and Bryan fans that you really don’t matter. Quite frankly I find it hard to believe but if you look at that post-Rumble jump you can’t do anything other than credit most of that to the interest in Roman Reigns.

I think that the WWE booked this match for a few reasons. For starters, I think they are testing Reigns. Let’s face it, the guy hasn’t had many singles matches on big shows. He needs to show fans and company that he can work like a headliner. Putting him in there with someone who can carry him like Bryan is the perfect way to do it. Bryan will give him a great match and a lot of doubters will have less fuel for their fire.

Two, they are putting this Daniel Bryan movement to rest once and for all. As long as Bryan is hanging around as a possibility, Reigns is going to hear boos from fans. A pinfall loss here to Reigns takes Bryan out of the title picture and fans can begin focusing on Reigns. I am not agreeing with that analysis but I can almost guarantee you that is a big part of the rationale behind making this match.

Third, maybe…just maybe Roman Reigns will turn. There are a lot of people who feel that the best way to book Reigns right now is as a heel. How hated will this guy be if he does something to screw Bryan and steal the win? I felt as if a turn was almost telegraphed at times Monday night and that this match will end with him as the new golden child of the Authority. Triple H calls this the reality era and since Reigns is truly the chosen one behind the scenes, maybe the WWE dramatize this for storyline purposes? It makes a lot of sense.

One thing I can almost guarantee you is that Bryan is not leaving Fastlane as the number one contender. This company is way too arrogant to give the loud minority the match they want. This company is also way too stubborn to cancel a year-long plan due to perceived public pressure. What is right for business has yet to be determined. The only thing I can assure you Bryan fans is that the WWE is screwing with you and you are about to bend over and take it like a champ.

WWE: The Destruction of the Shield

The Randy Savage Story DVD

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