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Sting vs. The Undertaker: The Thrill Is Gone

April 07, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Unlike most I give WWE creative the benefit of the doubt more often than not. They make lots of decisions that leave me scratching my head but eventually they hit a homerun like they did last Sunday in Santa Clara. Of course as usual it didn’t take long for the rumors about next year’s event to start flying. Will Stone Cold have one more match in his home state of Texas? Will Goldberg come out of retirement to mail in one last match? Will we relive the attitude era when the leader of DX and the leader of the Nation of Domination go head to head? Rock vs Brock? The rumors will be endless and as always a lot of fun to debate. However the Sting vs Undertaker rumor needs to go away. At most this match would be a cheap pop to feed the nostalgia of 90’s wrestling fans and nothing more.

The first question I have is who is going to carry the match? It’s been seven or eight years since the Undertaker had a Mania match where he needed to carry is opponent, which was against Batista. After Batista he goes against Shawn Michael twice, HHH twice, CM Punk, Brock Lesnar and Bray Wyatt. Now don’t get you commenting panties in a bunch fellas, I am not saying that he didn’t perform in those matches. In fact I think his first match with Michaels is the greatest match of all time. In order to make those matches to be epic, Taker had to perform. However, he was in the ring with top notch performers in top notch shape who did more than their share of the work. Can Sting carry the Undertaker to an epic match in the new WWE?

The second question that comes to mind is, who is Sting? That may sound like a silly question but there are a lot of wrestling fans who have no idea who this guy is. I know who he is but I watched him take down the NWO almost 20 years ago. I watched him take Flair to the limit time and time again. I even caught a few peaks at him in the Main Event Mafia during his TNA days. I would argue for most of the current WWE fan base, this feud with HHH is all they know. And he lost!

For my seven year old son, Sting is the guy who failed to take down HHH. He isn’t the savior of WCW, he isn’t the icon, he isn’t the franchise, he is just Sting. I know that is probably wrestling heresy, but let’s be honest here. The WWE agrees with me. When you think back to Sting’s match at WrestleMania what were the most memorable moments? DX, NWO, Shawn Michaels, bat, and sledgehammer. No one remembers the Stinger splash because Ziggler’s is better. No one remember the half-ass scorpion death lock, Nattie’s sharpshooter is better. I was in Santa Clara and I loved every match, but Sting’s match didn’t have me on the edge of my seat until “BREAK IT DOWN!”

The third question I have at this point is why? What is there left to fight for? The Streak is over, the match against the next dark force (Bray Wyatt) is over, the battle to bring down HHH’s empire is over and Sting has now had his WrestleMania moment. What is left to get excited about? The only hope this match has of being entertaining is to have a great storyline. At least then the ring work won’t matter as much as the resolution of whatever conflict is being fought over. Don’t be fooled but the “rebirth” of the Undertaker.

Sure he looked to be in much better shape against Wyatt but the pace and style of match helped create that image. Had this been a rematch vs Lesnar I am sure he would have looked outmatched. Same with Sting, HHH was a good opponent. Capable of working a slower match as the Cerebral Assassin as opposed to power matches like those from Reigns or Lesnar.

No one wins the battle against father time and as far as I am concerned the only place for Sting and the Undertaker at WrestleMania 32 is at the Hall of Fame podium thanking the fans for their unwavering support. It’s time for the Sting vs Undertaker at Mania rumors to rest in peace.

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WWE WrestleMania 31 Results: Seth Rollins Cashes In, Ronda Rousey Appears

March 29, 2015 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts, WWE | Pro Wrestling

Seth Rollins WrestleMania 31Expectations for WrestleMania 31 may have been low, yet the show will go down as one of the most exciting in recent years. This year’s event was packed with surprises ranging from surprise appearances and a new WWE world champion that wasn’t even scheduled in the match.

Seth Rollins cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase to become the new WWE world champion. Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns fought a grueling match for about fifteen minutes. A bloody Brock and beaten Reigns were down when Rollins cashed in to make it a Triple Threat Match. Rollins came in and curb stomped Brock but wound up getting Rollins up for the F5. Reigns speared Brock as he held Rollins. Rollins popped up, hit a curb stomp on Reigns and pinned Reigns to win the title.

The booking was excellent and while many predicted Rollins would cash in, nobody predicted it would go down in this fashion. Quite honestly I never knew you could cash in the briefcase during the match. I think it was the right move at the right time. Putting Reigns over would have been a mistake. He was booed more than any other babyface tonight including John Cena. The crowd just isn’t buying him right now. It was also time to take the title off of Lesnar. I don’t know what would marketable match would be next for him if he steamrolled another opponent. Now the WWE can go with Rollins vs. Reigns through August and Rollins vs. Lesnar at SummerSlam for the title.

But that may not be the biggest surprise of the event. The biggest surprise was getting UFC Ronda Rousey in the ring for what appears to be the start of her pro wrestling career. Rousey got physical with both Stephanie McMahon and Triple H to set up what looks like to be a mixed-tag team match with Rousey and the Rock vs. Hunter and Stephanie. Rock came out as a surprise and interrupted a promo with the Authority. Stephanie slapped him and challenged him to hit a woman. He went to ringside and got a woman who “would hit a woman.” Steph told Ronda to get out of her ring, Ronda wound up putting an arm bar on Steph and stood tall with Rock. Rousey was great and the fans absolutely loved her. They were chanting her name before she even got into the ring.

It does appear that Rock and Rousey will tag up against Hunter and Stephanie next year at WrestleMania 32. The WWE were looking for something big for AT&T Stadium and the dream team of Rousey and Rock may do it. They are already generating a ton of mainstream media buzz. I have to hand it to the WWE. They have wanted Rousey for a while now and they pulled off quite a coup to get her. UFC president Dana White has been adamant against fighters doing pro wrestling for years, including prohibiting Brock wrestling Undertaker when Brock was UFC champion. Obviously he has acquiesced and my bet is that the compromise will be WWE promoting CM Punk’s UFC debut. I have no idea whether that is the case or not, but Dana had to get something big in return for Rousey wrestling on WrestleMania.

Triple H defeated Sting in a pretty fun match. It wasn’t the best match on the card and really hurt following what I thought was a fantastic Randy Orton vs. Seth Rollins match. But Sting looked great, the fans ate it up, and we got some fun surprises here. The New Age Outlaws and X-Pac came out to help Triple H and were countered by the n.W.o. group of Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, and Scott Hall. The match ended with Shawn Michaels coming out of nowhere to hit Sting with Sweet Chin Music. Triple H eventually got the pin after using the broken top of a sledgehammer. Everyone hugged after the match signifying the official end of the Monday Night War.

John Cena beat Rusev to win the US title. I am stunned by the decision here. I have no problem with Cena but I think Rusev should have remained unbeaten until he lost to the WWE champion. I think the WWE could have had something with Rusev against either Brock or the WWE champion and while those could still do business, it’s not the same. Rusev ran into Lana inadvertently at the end of the match. Lana was selling her ankle and Rusev yelled at her and walked out.

Undertaker beat Bray Wyatt. I’d say that Undertaker looked a lot better than last year. He moved much better and it was fun seeing him back in the ring. That said, the match was pretty mundane. That could be that I had already watched four hours of wrestling up to that point and just got out of what seemed like an hour-long segment with Rock and Rousey vs. the Authority. I should note that Undertaker was shown in the commercial promoting WrestleMania 32.

Other notes: Daniel Bryan won gold again at WrestleMania. Bryan won the intercontinental title in the Ladder Match. This was a real fun match and probably one of the better Mania openers. This was a pretty crazy match but it was Bryan and Dolph Ziggler who stole it in my opinion. Randy Orton pinned Seth Rollins in what I’d dare say was one of the best Mania matches on the card. I loved the match and it obviously sets up Orton challenging Rollins at some point coming off of the clean pin.

Overall I would call this one of the best Mania cards top to bottom in some time. The show had a ton of surprise and the pace was fast throughout the night. Five hours of wrestling is a lot of wrestling in one sitting but it really didn’t catch up until the Wyatt vs. Taker match at around 10 PM. I’d highly recommend checking out the show if you haven’t already. For a show with low expectations, this one could go down top to bottom as one of the all-time best in Mania history.

Full WWE WrestleMania 31 results and winners…
Seth Rollins defeated Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns in a Triple Threat Match to win the  WWE World Heavyweight Title
John Cena defeated Rusev to win the WWE United States Title
Daniel Bryan defeated Dolph Ziggler, R-Truth, Dean Ambrose, Luke Harper, Stardust, and Bad News Barrett in a Ladder Match to win the WWE Intercontinental Title
Triple H defeated Sting
AJ Lee and Paige defeated The Bella Twins
Randy Orton defeated Seth Rollins
The Undertaker defeated Bray Wyatt
The Big Show won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
Cesaro and Tyson Kidd  defeated The Usos, Los Matadores, and Big E and Kofi Kingston in a Fatal 4 Way to retain the WWE Tag Team Titles

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WWE WrestleMania 31 Predictions and Preview

March 27, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

WrestleMania 31 is finally here and the big event will go down this Sunday March 29. The WWE card is arguably the most shallow in years, yet there are a few matches to get excited about. Topping last year’s event will be a heavy feat yet the lineup has the potential to certainly exceed expectations.

The beauty of this year’s WrestleMania show for WWE management is that expectations are probably lower than they have been in years. There is no real dream match or scenario to get excited about nor is there a compelling storyline that has fans waiting for a conclusion. Yet the roster is solid and in terms of excitement, I have a feeling most will come away from Sunday night feeling that they got their $9.99 worth.

Let’s take a look at how the main card shapes up, breakdown some matches, and make some predictions for the biggest WWE event of 2015.

Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns for the WWE world championship – We all think we know how this one is going to play out yet it could go in a few different directions. Now that Brock Lesnar has re-signed with the WWE, a world of booking options have opened up. The WWE dodged a real bullet by avoiding a lame duck WWE champion situation at Mania.

I think the match itself could be better than people expect. A lot of it comes down to what it follows. If it is following Sting vs. Triple H and Hunter and Sting deliver a fantastic ending, this match could be D.O.A. If there is a buffer between the main-event and the other big matches, I think fans will be more receptive to it. The match placement is critical to this one like no other on the show.

Roman Reigns is expected to win the title here. The win over the Undertaker last year was used to put Brock in a spot to give Roman the ultimate win here. Yet I don’t think anyone will argue that Reigns is not over and could be set up to be a dismal failure as WWE champion. There are also the rumored heel turn scenarios out there which I think are stronger now that Brock is staying.That said, I think the WWE wants to keep Brock heel looking ahead to a potential Rock vs. Brock match next year. I think WWE take the unpredictable route here which is Brock retaining in a hard fought match. I think the Reigns heel turn is coming but it isn’t going down at Mania. I think the idea here is that Reigns is elevated just by going toe-to-toe with Brock in a hard fought war. Brock retaining is a bit anti-climactic, however I think the idea of Brock going over is that they can buy some time with Reigns and shoot that angle later…even the following night on RAW.

Triple H vs. Sting – Don’t be mistaken. This is the real main-event. For better or worse, this match has far more interest going into Mania than any other match on the show. Even I wasn’t interested in this match back at the Survivor Series, yet I have been drawn in over the last few weeks. Sting’s promos have sealed it for me over the last two weeks. Plus no matter what this looks like on paper, Triple H has delivered excellent matches on the last five WrestleMania shows. I can’t imagine him taking a match with Sting if he wasn’t confident he could pull it off.

I would not be surprised to see some kind of interference from a big ex-WCW star. Maybe it’s Ric Flair or maybe it’s Bill Goldberg, but I think WCW is playing into the match on Sunday. This is a tough one because Sting really should win his first match in a WWE ring. However, Sting’s future is dependent on his performance in the ring so there is no guarantee he wrestles ever again past Sunday. For that I think Triple H goes over, although for all of Hunter’s critics he is 2-3 in his last five Mania matches. My gut tells me that Hunter gets the win here but I think this match turns into the show-stealer.

John Cena vs. Rusev for the U.S. championship – I never would have predicted that this feud would be so hot. This feud is so hot that Cena has actually been cheered in recent weeks. These guys have great chemistry together and Rusev has been booked solid for a year leading up to this match. Quite honestly you couldn’t ask for better booking on paper sans the goofy “Russian” lawyer last week on RAW.

Does Cena go over Rusev? That is the real question here. We all thought that Bray Wyatt was beating Cena last year and were stunned when Cena pulled off the upset. I think the money in Rusev is challenging for the WWE world title as the undefeated U.S. champion. That would mean that Rusev beats Cena here and beats him again at Extreme Rules. Cena did put Lesnar over three times but that is Brock Lesnar and he did beat Lesnar once at Extreme Rules 2012. If Roman Reigns is leaving Mania with the belt a championship program with the undefeated Rusev makes the most sense. For that reason I predict that Rusev pulls off the upset here and beats Cena clean at Mania.

Bray Wyatt vs. The Undertaker – I never like the idea of keeping an opponent off of television but I have to admit that keeping the Undertaker off of TV has worked in this one. It has created a ton of intrigue and speculation that you wouldn’t have if he was on TV even just once. I haven’t been a big Bray fan but the promos here have been better but the storyline is just kind of odd to me. The idea that Undertaker would return to answer Bray’s challenges and yet completely ignore the taunting and mockery of Paul Heyman for an entire year makes absolutely no sense to me whatsoever.

I think the match will be fine. I don’t think it will be great but I don’t think it will be bad either. The Undertaker is reportedly in much better shape than people think and he looks ready to go. It’s important that he can still go here as there are a ton of reports that they want him for something much bigger next year at 32. for that reason I think Undertaker wins although I think it may be better for business for Bray to win. I think setting up Bray with a win as Reigns’ first challenger is the better path but I can’t see Taker dropping two in a row at Mania.

Bad News Barrett vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Luke Harper vs. R-Truth vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Stardust vs. Dean Ambrose in a Ladder Match for the intercontinental title – Get ready for a wild match here! I am going to keep this one short because we all know what to expect in this one. I would be shocked to see anything less than a great match. I’d expect Bryan and Ziggler to steal the show, although Ambrose certainly has the talent to make his mark as well. Bryan losing to Ziggler twice certainly leads me to think he is winning the match. It makes sense as the WWE can placate his fans by giving him a title, albeit a low-level belt. Regardless, we’ll get a great match, a Yes chant, and a belt around Bryan’s waist. Everyone wins!

Full WWE WrestleMania 31 card and matches…
Brock Lesnar (c) with Paul Heyman vs. Roman Reigns for the WWE World Heavyweight Title Match:
Rusev (c) vs. John Cena for the WWE United States Title Match
Dolph Ziggler vs. R-Truth vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Luke Harper vs. Stardust vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Bad News Barrett (c) in a Ladder Match for the WWE Intercontinental Title
Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
Sting vs. Triple H
AJ Lee and Paige vs. The Bella Twins
Seth Rollins vs. Randy Orton
Bray Wyatt vs. The Undertaker
The Usos vs. Los Matadores vs. Big E and Kofi Kingston vs. Cesaro and Tyson Kidd in a Fatal 4 Way for the WWE Tag Team Titles

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Sting vs. Undertaker at WWE WrestleMania 32 – The Way It Should Be

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

It appears the WWE wants to capitalize on the wave of momentum from WrestleMania 31 by taking the initial step toward WrestleMania 32 at AT&T Center in Dallas by finally give wrestling fans the dream match they have wanted for years – Sting vs. Undertaker.

According to a report on Sports-Kings.com, in a story that ran March 19, the plan is already in place.

“According to multiple source, the current creative plan is for Undertaker to appear on the RAW following WrestleMania 31 to put over Bray Wyatt and to set up a match with Sting at WrestleMania 32. Wrestlezone.com is reporting that Sting is currently on his way to WWE HQ to talk with Vince about the details.

It’s widely assumed that WrestleMania 32 will be the last year that Taker will wrestle.”

It could very well be the last match for The Icon as well. What better way to send to living legends out in a blaze of glory then to have them face each other at what could be the largest crowd to ever witness a pay-per-view wrestling event.

This would also go a long way toward clearing debris from the night before should the outcome of wrestling’s biggest night fall short.

When word got out that Sting would finally appear in the WWE ring to wrestle, the immediate speculation was a dream match of The Icon and The Dead Man, the Undertaker. The reason for this colossal match never getting off the ground had plenty to do with management’s fear that ‘Taker, who took a beating last year when Brock Lesnar broke The Streak, could not carry his end of a solid match.

Now, with only seven days until WrestleMania, the wrestling world still wonders of Mark Calloway can summon the powers of the underworld to create a main event match with Bray Wyatt.

And to be honest, I have my doubts as well.

But an announcement like this one might put a poor performance by Undertaker on the back burner as a match like the one rumored is must see pay-per-view television. I’d be curious how the build is planned and would the two face each other in or out of a ring during the next 12 months.

It also makes you wonder what the WWE has in store for Wyatt after the card Sunday night.

Instead of the usual build of the WWE most tenured star coming to the ring in dramatic fashion, creating a buzz as only he can, fans and media types alike wonder if there is still anything left in the tank for a one-a-year performer who looked as beaten as a grade schooler who has been taken to the woodshed by the playground bully. I was worried about a Sting-Undertaker match for the simple fact a 56-year-old Sting can’t carry the match by himself and therefore, in this situation, Wyatt will not only have to carry the match, but will shine in doing so.

While I believe the Daniel Bryan – Dolph Ziggler confrontation in the IC Ladder Match may be the show stealer of the night (yes, throw the pun in there), Wyatt may come out of WrestleMania as the performer who gained the most. What better way to cement yourself as part of the future of the WWE than to defeat the man who the company could count on for a “W” for the past two-plus decades.

Now, the WWE will be able to build a year-long program, much like John Cena and The Rock in their first battle. The Rock beat Cena in Miami. It was not a one in a lifetime event – the two faced each other again, this time Cena getting the upper hand.

A match with Sting and Undertaker will only happen once.

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Sting Post-RAW Promo From WWE Network

March 17, 2015 By: Category: Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

If you don’t have the WWE Network or haven’t followed any of the wrestling news websites online you probably have no idea that Sting cut his first real WWE promo following RAW on Monday night. It was short, it was on point, it was pretty darn good and it’s right here for those of you that missed it.

Count me in as one of many who had no idea that Sting was on the WWE Network last night. The buzz from most insiders is that the WWE didn’t want Sting cutting promos because they didn’t feel he was very good in WCW. That would explain the horrible Black Scorpion-ish promo last week. However, if there is anyone in or out of the WWE that doesn’t think Sting can cut a good promo, well they need to watch this clip. The Stinger is on fire and it’s awesome!

This all begs the question as to why in the world would the WWE give away Sting’s first “real” interview on the WWE Network? Why not put it on television and get people excited enough to buy the Network to see WrestleMania 31? The people watching him Monday night on the Network already have it so in that sense, the promo is a real lost opportunity in my opinion. The marketing behind this seems completely backwards to me.

Regardless of the circumstances, it is pretty cool to see and hear Sting talk in a WWE ring. I will admit that I wasn’t real excited about Sting vs. Triple H going into WrestleMania. His intensity on RAW in the ring and during this promo have changed that.

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31 WrestleMania Backstage Stories and Urban Legends

March 17, 2015 By: Category: lists, WWE | Pro Wrestling

Some of the best WrestleMania stories weren’t necessarily told inside of the ring. Disagreements, controversies, and changes in plans behind classic WWE matches were kept behind the scenes and kept in the locker room…until now.

31 years of WrestleMania events have produced plenty of headaches for Vince McMahon. It isn’t always easy trying to get WWE stars to do business and it’s even more difficult when you throw in the component of WrestleMania. How Vince McMahon still has a full head of hair is remarkable when you look back at the fires he had to put out.

I thought it would be fun to look back at the stories that never made it to the ring. I have heard plenty over the years through shoot interviews, books, podcasts, and locker room talk. In no particular order of importance here are 31 of what I found to be most the fascinating. Some of these are urban legend, some of these are alleged, most of these true and all are fascinating.

The Big Show vs. Floyd Mayweather WrestleMania 24 – This classic has a few interesting backstage stories behind it. First and maybe the most interesting, the original match was booked to be a mixed tag team match. The original plans had Big Show and Floyd Mayweather penciled in as a team  to wrestle Rey Mysterio and Oscar De La Hoya. De La Hoya turned them down and the match was changed to Rey Mysterio and Floyd vs. Shane McMahon and either Big Show or MVP. Finally the match was changed again when Rey got hurt to the Show vs. Floyd singles match. One more interesting anecdote is that Mike Tyson was furious that Show lost, feeling  that a boxer should not have beaten a wrestler in a wrestling match.

Triple H vs. Sting WrestleMania 31 – The original plans for Triple H were for a WrestleMania rematch with Batista. Batista was supposed to leave in the summer and return for a big Mania program with Triple H. Batista wound up getting a part in an upcoming James Bond movie and pulled out of the match, thus setting up Sting for the spot.

Triple H vs. Daniel Bryan WrestleMania 30 – At one point the WWE had penciled in a match featuring Steve Austin vs. Triple H. The idea would be that Austin was representing Vince in a match to win control of the company. Austin wound up kiboshing the idea when he told the company he wasn’t interested in wrestling. Hunter was then scheduled to wrestle CM Punk while Bryan was penciled in to wrestle Sheamus. Punk walked and thus one of the greatest WrestleMania matches was booked.

Hulk Hogan vs. Sid Justice WrestleMania 8 – As most know this was originally booked to be Hulk Hogan vs. Ric Flair in the ultimate dream match. The match was even announced at a mock television press conference. Vince wound up changing his mind after the Hogan-Flair match did disappointing house show business.

Shawn Michaels vs. Steve Austin WrestleMania 14 – The WWE Network just did a whole documentary on this so the problems here aren’t exactly a secret. What some may not know is that The Undertaker reportedly had a conversation with Shawn in the locker room regarding rumors about Michaels not wanting to put Austin over. Taker reportedly taped up his fists and made it clear to Shawn that Michaels do what is best for business and put over Austin.

Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart WrestleMania 10 – Arguably the greatest opener in WrestleMania history never would have happened if Bret didn’t go to bat for Owen. The original plan was scripted to program Bret vs. Bruce Hart in the brother vs. brother series. Bret went to management and fought hard for Owen thus sacrificing one brother for another in the spot.

Andre the Giant vs. Hulk Hogan WrestleMania 3 – There was a serious fear that Andre’s health would prevent him from doing the match. Andre’s health was deteriorating badly at the time and the WWE needed a backup plan. Paul Orndorff was plan B. This is why Orndorff turned on Hogan at the time. Orndorff wasn’t booked in anything on the card just in case he needed to be a last minute sub for the giant.

Ricky Steamboat vs. Randy Savage WrestleMania 3 – I don’t know if this goes down as controversial but Steamboat once told me in an interview that Savage had the match scripted out move for move by the time they got to Pontiac. Steamboat said that Savage laid the match out over several pages which was something Steamboat was unfamiliar with as he preferred to call it in the ring.

Hulk Hogan & Mr. T vs. Roddy Piper & Bob Orton WrestleMania 1 – There was fear that Mr. T would not show up for the match. He was getting cold feet before the match coming out of a confrontation he had with David Schultz at a Los Angeles house show. Piper claims to have cinched up a front facelock which almost passed T out. Piper also flat out refused to put T over. Most speculate Jimmy Snuka was not booked in a match just in case he needed to step into T’s spot if T didn’t show up.

Steve Austin vs. Bret Hart WrestleMania 13 – There are a couple of interesting stories behind this match. The first is that neither Austin nor Bret knew in advance it was going to be a submissions match. Austin said he was red hot when he heard the stipulation announced on television and was worried about having a great match. The other interesting tidbit is that the match was never supposed to happen. Bret was originally booked to wrestle Shawn Michaels in a WM XII rematch. Michaels of course lost his smile and went home thus making himself unavailable for the match. I think things worked out well for everyone in the end.

Roddy Piper vs. Mr. T WrestleMania 2 – Piper took off several weeks to go train with Lou Duva and get in condition for the boxing match. Mr. T obviously did not. Piper’s hands were taped in a fist underneath his gloves. Piper alleges that he was made to tape up his wrists because T didn’t trust him. This was a problem as Piper was supposed to grab the ropes as he went to the floor. Go back and watch the match and you’ll notice Piper awkwardly falling to the floor through the ropes and that was why. His fists were taped in a clench and thus he couldn’t grab the ropes.

The Rock vs. John Cena WrestleMania 29 – What many casual fans don’t know is that The Rock suffered a serious injury in the match. He tore one of his abdomen & adductor muscles off the bone in the middle of the match. Mick Foley remarked in an interview that this was one of the most painful injuries a wrestler could suffer.

Randy Orton vs. Kurt Angle vs. Rey Mysterio WrestleMania 22 – Randy Orton was originally booked to win this match and the WWE world heavyweight championship. He did not and that was because he was allegedly caught blatantly smoking a substance that was banned on the wellness policy backstage. He was suspended for unprofessional conduct right after the match.

Roddy Piper vs. Goldust WrestleMania 12 – This legendary match was never in the cards for WrestleMania 12. Goldust was feuding with Razor Ramon at the time. Godlie defeated Ramon for the intercontinental title at the Royal Rumble with the idea of putting a rematch on Mania. Razor wound up unavailable as he was suspended for a Wellness Policy violation before the show and thus the switch was made to Piper.

Bobby Lashley vs. Umaga WrestleMania 23 – The Battle of the Billionaires allegedly almost featured two different wrestlers than Umaga and Lashley. At one point the plan was to pit Booker T vs. Shawn Michaels in the match. Michaels would represent Trump and Booker would represent McMahon. I can only speculate that plans changed when Hunter got hurt and they needed HBK for the main-event against John Cena.

Triple H vs. The Undertaker WrestleMania 27 – This was never the plan going in which is why the storyline came out of nowhere. Brock Lesnar vs. Undertaker was actually on the books for WM 27 when Brock was still in the UFC. Vince McMahon was confident Brock could get permission from the UFC to wrestle at Mania. The idea was to put the streak up against the UFC champion. Unfortunately not only did Brock lose his UFC title but UFC president Dana White made it clear that he had no intentions of letting his top draw lose a fake wrestling match at WrestleMania.

Chris Jericho vs. Fandango WrestleMania 29 – Jericho came back at the Royal Rumble as a surprise in what was supposed to lead to a heel turn. The turn would transition him into a high profile match with Ryback at WrestleMania. Vince McMahon allegedly fell in love with the Fandango character and changed plans on Jericho. Jericho was very upset but wound up turning it into a positive and used it as motivation to try and get a great match with Fandango.

Triple H vs. Mick Foley vs. The Rock vs. The Big Show WrestleMania 2000 – Remember how odd it was to see Mick Foley come back for this match just a few months after announcing his retirement? Well that was because it wasn’t necessarily the plan. The original match had booked Chris Jericho in the spot. Vince and company got cold feet about putting Jericho in such a big spot at the time and wound up luring Foley out of retirement for the spot instead.

The Undertaker vs. King Kong Bundy WrestleMania 11 – The streak may have ended here if Vince McMahon had his way. Vince was very high on Bundy at the time and was hesitant on beating Bundy here. The original idea was for Bundy to win with interference. Cooler heads eventually prevailed and Undertaker won but the streak was reportedly in jeopardy here.

Steve Austin vs. Scott Hall/The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan WrestleMania 18 – The original plans here were to book Austin vs. Hogan in a battle of generation icons. Austin wasn’t interested and refused to do the match. Austin worried that the match wouldn’t be good due to Hogan slowing down in the ring. Austin was also concerned with who would do the job. The Rock stepped up and offered to work with Hogan, thus bumping Austin down the card to a forgettable match with Hall.

The Undertaker vs. The Big Show and A-Train WrestleMania 19 – This match changed plans several times thanks to Nathan Jones. Some on the WWE creative end were enamored with Jones’ size while others were scared to death of his inept abilities inside of the ring. The match was changed several times from Jones teaming to not teaming with Taker. Eventually Jones was held out but did make an appearance where he looked every bit as clumsy as some had feared.

Brock Lesnar vs. Kurt Angle WrestleMania 19 – Both of these guys paid a heavy price for this WrestleMania classic. A botched shooting star press reportedly left Brock unconscious for a short portion of the match. But it was Angle who would suffer most as he wrestled with an injured neck throughout the match. Angle was in so much pain that he reportedly collapsed by the time he got to the locker room after the match.

Shawn Michaels vs. John Cena WrestleMania 23 – I remember at the time thinking how odd this match seemed. It didn’t appear to have that genuine organic build that most Mania championship main-events received during this period. That is probably because this wasn’t the original idea. The original idea here was reportedly a rematch between Triple H and John Cena. That was scrapped when Hunter tore his quad in January. It should also be pointed out that the plan the following year was to do the rematch but the company was worried about putting Cena in such a physical match coming off the torn pec so they went with a Triple Threat Match instead.

John Cena vs. Randy Orton vs. Triple H WrestleMania 24 – According to Hulk Hogan, he was scheduled to wrestle Cena that year at WrestleMania. Take it with a grain of salt because it is Hogan but he claims that he was negotiating a 25-year deal with the WWE that would have included this match. Hogan says that his back went out as he was negotiating and the match fell apart at that point. Hogan has used this story as part of a lawsuit against the surgeons who operated on his back.

Diesel vs. The Undertaker WrestleMania 12 – One urban legend behind this match claims that Nash was supposed to win the match when it was originally booked. The booking was changed of course when Nash told Vince that he was going to WCW. If Nash would have stayed there is a very good chance that the streak would have ended at WrestleMania 12.

Randy Savage vs. Ted DiBiase WrestleMania 4 – Savage defeated DiBiase in the tournament to win the WWE championship which also started one of the greatest builds in WWE history towards a Mania 5 headliner with Savage and Hogan. Was that always in the plans? According to Ted DiBiase it wasn’t. DiBiase claims that he was supposed to win the WM 4 tournament and the title. Savage was supposed to win the intercontinental belt months earlier but the Honkytonk Man refused to put Savage over. Savage wound up going over at 4 as a consolation prize of sorts with DiBiase getting the Million Dollar title to makeup for the change in plans. Ironically DiBiase was also promised the NWA world title at one point and got screwed as well.

Hulk Hogan vs. Sgt. Slaughter WrestleMania 7 – Hogan headlined a memorable WrestleMania match against Slaughter but that wasn’t in the original plans. The original plan was to give the Ultimate Warrior a full year with the WWE championship and rematch Hogan and Warrior at WM 7. Warrior unfortunately did not get over as Vince had expected as champion and called an audible somewhere along the way. This is why Slaughter’s win at the Royal Rumble seemed so sudden.

Hulk Hogan vs. The Ultimate Warrior WrestleMania 6 – I am not sure I buy this one but one urban legend says that this match was not in the original plans. The original booking would have had Hogan vs. Zeus in the Mania 6 headliner. Tiny Lister who played Zeus in No Holds Barred was the first to drop this bomb and has even given interviews telling reporters how much he was supposed to be paid for the match. Imagine how different wrestling history would have been if this plan came to fruition?

Steve Austin vs. Shawn Michaels WrestleMania 14 – According to one urban legend it would have been Bret Hart, not Shawn Michaels doing the favor for Steve Austin if Hart had stayed. The original plan would have had Austin not only getting his win back but getting the WWE championship in the process. In retrospect there is no doubt that things worked out for the better between Mike Tyson and the heel Vince McMahon character coming out of the Montreal Screwjob.

Ric Flair vs. Randy Savage WrestleMania 8 – There is one very important person that wasn’t a fan of this great match and that was Vince McMahon. Blading was not allowed at the time in the WWE and if you remember, Flair bled buckets in this match. Vince reportedly went ballistic on Flair for blading when the Nature Boy got back to the locker room. McMahon was so irate that he came very close to firing Flair on the spot.

Kurt Angle vs. Kane WrestleMania 18 – According to a former WWE writer this was not the original plan for Kurt Angle. The original plan was to book Sting vs. Kurt Angle for WM 18. Sting was negotiating with the WWE and a deal was so close that the writers were told to write him in to the show. Sting was booked to wrestle Kurt Angle who wound up wrestling Kane instead once negotiations fell apart between the Stinger and Vince McMahon. This story explains the quick setup for Angle vs. Kane going into Mania.

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Former WCW Stars Talk About Wrestling Sting

March 13, 2015 By: Category: Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

WWE.com has been doing a fantastic job promoting Sting’s debut in a WWE ring. The latest article interviews several former WCW opponents who all give a first-hand look on what it’s like to wrestle Sting.

Thus far you have to give the WWE credit for the way they are booking Sting’s debut. They have really built Sting up as a legend and icon with videos and articles on the WWE.com website. The newest article is a really fun read. Yes it is written in dare I say kayfabe, but there are also some truths thrown in to balance it out.

Several former WCW wrestlers opened up and talked about Sting’s influence and what it was like to be in the ring with Sting. Here are some of the highlights…

Arn Anderson:When you’re one of the best wrestlers, as I was and The Four Horsemen were, you obviously want to trade blows and holds with the best in the world. Sting just happened to want to be the flagship of the company, and that’s what he became. He also represented the moral majority, at least in his mind. We didn’t care; we took public opinion and flushed it in the toilet, where it belonged.

Sting wanted to do the right thing. Didn’t make him any less of a wrestler, but it gave us an advantage, because we’d go to any lengths, 4-on-1, to dog pile him into submission. That’s what we did. The thing is, he didn’t stay down. He kept coming and kept coming. He wouldn’t stay down.

Booker T:He’s an enigma. He’s mysterious and lurked in the shadows for many, many years. It’s an aura that draws you to him. Guys like that, they’re one of a kind. People have wanted to see him here in WWE for many years. I think people are intrigued by him.

Michael Hayes:I teamed with him later, as he was moving a few rungs up the ladder. The biggest difference I could see is that, while he was still hungry, which is what carried him through his career, he now had confidence that he could do it. There comes a time in a performer’s life when you hope you can do something and a time when you know you can do it. The last time I teamed with him, he had that.

Sting brought a lot of energy to the ring. The Freebirds first met him in UWF, when he was teaming with Rock, who would later become The Ultimate Warrior. They had energy, but were very green. Once Sting got on his own, he started to experiment. He’s a very energetic guy anyways, and that’s what works, when it’s 50 or 60 percent, or even more, of your actual personality in the ring. Once he put himself on the map and was able to dance with Ric Flair for 45 minutes, it all changed for the best for him.

The Big Show:I think the thing about Sting today is he hasn’t changed. Though his character has developed, the core value of who he is and what he represents hasn’t changed. He’s got a fan base from so many years of being someone you can depend on, kind of like John Cena. He’s been through so many trials and tribulations, and been able to stick to his guns. That’s what we respect in a hero.

Check out the entire article on WWE.com for more comments from these former foes as well as others.

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Does Anyone Really Care About WrestleMania XXXI?

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

The WWE has lost its mojo. Somewhere on the path toward trying to reinvent the wheel and keep audiences entertained, the big engine that steamrolled through promotions and territories lost steam and now is chugging along like a ’74 AMC Pacer trying to survive another hot summer.

Where did the business I grew up watching, the Grand Marshall of reality television, misstep and twist and ankle?

Wrestling isn’t what it was just five years ago. It couldn’t be by any stretch of the imagination a good product then is just plain bad in a blink of an eye. There is no quick fix in sight. John Cena cannot save the WWE. Daniel Bryan tried, but failed. Vince McMahon wants to go back to the “Bigger is Better” theory of champions and place the title on a guy that looks the part in Roman Reigns, but isn’t like his cousin, The Rock, further damaging the brand.

By god, please have someone send over a shot of adrenaline to give the company some life and ease its pain. The Undertaker can no longer deliver a main event caliber match, but we will certainly put over Bray Wyatt. Triple H isn’t sure he can put together a good match with Sting, who finally gets the WrestleMania moment he deserves – but its 10 years too late. Cena has become the middle man, falling backward to take a giant leap forward, but most of us do not care.

This WrestleMania proves more than ever how troubled the product is. It almost makes ardent fans grab a box of Kleenex as they tune in each week.

Where have all the good men gone? And where are all the Gods? Where’s the street-wise Hercules, to fight the rising odds?

A friend of mine, Jeff Maudlin, asked me a few weeks ago how I felt about the changes in professional wrestling. The times when we were young and watched our favorites on TBS in Atlanta and cable television. We liked the idea of Kayfabe and the mystery surrounding the business, the wrestlers and the lack of social media and internet to “spoil” what we saw for the first time. He asked if I thought the elimination of secrecy hurt what we see today. I replied with a resounding, “YES!”

Wrestling’s greatest character flaw of today is the knowledge that fans know what is going to happen beforehand. Even in a business of predetermination and the quest for suspended animation, knowing how and what will happen has destroyed all “credibility” for the McMahons and those who work to make the product what it used to be. There is no replication here. Hulk Hogan or The Rock are not going to come out of the back and save the show. Ric Flair is not going to make Brad Rheingans look like Tommy Rich. There is no sense in trying to make Dolph Ziggler dance with a ladder.

Vince McMahon created this problem with a monopoly of the industry with no real competition. If the WWE had a WCW-like opponent or the TNA brand was built to challenge the super power on every level, then there would more interest. There is a watered down version of the company because there are too many stars who have stood in the main event spotlight and are trying to hold on to that one shining moment. Some characters will not move from the zenith to help the company grow.

Take that underlying message for whatever it is worth to you.

WrestleMania is 19 days away and frankly, I don’t see myself or Mike Mooneyham or Dave Meltzer or Bill Apter jumping on tables, begging the event to happen. Hell, the fans aren’t doing it, either.The WWE has lost its way, lost its Mojo and cannot find its way out of a paper bag. Until the layers of the onion have been peeled back enough to find the sources of the problem, we will all still wait and hope for wrestling the way it used to be, not the way it can be and more importantly, the way it should be.

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WCW Isn’t The Heel Anymore: WWE Turns Its Sworn Enemy Face

February 26, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

The punchline is, “D-Generation X fired the first, and most important, shot in the Monday Night Wars.”

As with all things in Triple H’s legacy spit-shining, it’s an absurd statement, and most certainly on the more gut-busting end of the meter. The claim that an Army fatigue-clad DX turned the tide in the Monday Night Wars was first offered by WWE in the summer of 2002 on a show called Confidential, a Saturday night parade of fluff hosted by Mean Gene Okerlund. Some theorize that the statement was made in conjunction with Stone Cold Steve Austin’s ugly walkout of WWE that June (compounded by domestic assault charges later that same week), and the company began a slow whitewash of Austin in order to distance themselves from a potential felon.

After all, nobody was more important than Austin himself to turning back the challenge of Eric Bischoff’s star-studded World Championship Wrestling (well, him and the dips–ts at Time Warner, they’re pretty important as well). If Triple H challenges Vince McMahon to a brawl on the April 13, 1998 edition of Raw, do they win the ratings that night? If Triple H confronts Mike Tyson the previous January, does the news media go just as gaga? Saying Triple H led the charge against WCW is like saying The Departed won Best Picture because of Marky Mark.

Even with Austin restored in his place on WWE’s all-time Mount Rushmore, Triple H is sticking to the in-character claim that he was General Patton with a “Suck It” shirt. Granted, it could be easily dismissed as the claims of a deluded villain, thinking he was somehow responsible for a monumental shift of the upper hand in wrestling lore, but nobody calls him out on Front Street for it. Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler, and former WCW Champion Booker T say nothing to dispute the claim. Rambling parrot JBL (a pull-string doll could do what he does) will confirm the story, even at one point Monday saying he helped bring WCW down (which is like saying The Departed won Best Picture because of Martin Sheen’s desk blotter).

It is what it is: Triple H has to be the heel, but he can’t be a weak heel. Whether face or heel, his greatness will always be confirmed, never questioned. It’s why Ric Flair was his running buddy on screen for so long, to remind everyone (WHOO!) by God (WHOO!) that Triple H (WHOO!) is the King (WHOO!) of Kings! WWE is to be a living legacy to its inheritor, and history is written blah blah blah.

WCW’s legacy, on the other hand, is a paradox in WWE storytelling. On the one hand, episodes of the former YouTube show “Are You Serious?” would air clips of WCW’s foul-ups (of which there were more than plenty) with an affixed hash-tag, “#WCWRuinsEverything”. Nevermind the irony of WWE, the land of blown opportunity, casting aspersions on another wrestling company’s errors, but the tag is a good look into the mind of WWE thought: maybe if we remind everyone how stupid WCW was sometimes, everyone will forget our own creative incompetence. That “Are You Serious?” aired around 2012-13, over a decade after WCW died, makes the grave-pissing reek of desperation and insecurity.

Insecurity brings us back to Triple H, he of the phallic sledgehammer that symbolizes his might and will. So Triple H rambles about helping put WCW out of business, and makes the story about Turnerland lifer Sting waiting 14 years to exact his ultimate revenge. This is the weird part of Triple H that has to look oddly heroic, even as the obvious villain in the tale. During the Monday Night Wars, fans gradually, then swiftly, shifted to WWE until the ratings were as lop-sided as Rick Allen on a trapeze bar. Only the diehards really stood by WCW as it crumbled without pause.

WWE always taught its fans that WCW was the bad guy in all of it, filling their cards with old fossils (who does this sound like?) while underselling venues (I ask you again) and not pushing the younger talents (maybe WCW didn’t have enough brass rings). Smear tactics in the name of war aside, it’s kinda silly that Triple H is portrayed as both a ruthless asshole that rules as a dictator over his roster (which is fine) while also playing conquering guerrilla that single-handedly altered the course of wrestling history (zuh?).

It’s especially bizarre thanks to the very WWE Network that Triple H and others (understandably) whore incessantly. Thanks to the service, I can watch every WCW pay-per-view ever, plus the first 16 months of Nitro, a period in which the company was as revolutionary as anything we’ve ever seen in wrestling.

1995 episodes of Nitro give us eight-minute junior-heavyweight showcases, rapid-fire stories, and a “who’s gonna show up?” chaotic vibe that blew away the slogging Raw of the time. And I find that most 1995 Raws wipe the floor with the modern product’s awful pacing and self-congratulating, so you can imagine how I feel 1995 Nitro compares to WWE today.

It’s weird, but the very person who will be running WWE when Vince finally goes has actually made me miss WCW, in large part because of his constant mentioning of it. Triple H was once the logo for his own self-importance, but now he’s an avatar for a WWE that makes me miss spectacular alternatives. And forget Nitro; the Network has War Games out the ass. Sure, the 1998 version was crap through a strainer (#WCWRuinsEverything, LOL!), but the 1991 and 1992 editions are a nice alternative to Daniel Bryan and Paul Heyman trying to convince me that Roman Reigns is Jesus in SWAT attire.

There’s a thick, viscous irony in a red-hot WWE once leading the charge against a rotten WCW, followed by an eventually-sterile WWE exhuming WCW through an inadvertent call for sympathy, and a treasure trove of video history that brings back memories.

WCW isn’t the heel anymore. Given what WWE presents to its fans, the departed promotion is now the default babyface.

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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.

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