WWE Battleground may be only a few days away but all of the talk is about SummerSlam. A recent report confirms rumors that not one but two big superstars are expected to return for the biggest party of the summer.
Rumors started swirling earlier in the week about the Undertaker returning as early as Battleground. While those rumors are red hot, the only confirmed report places the Undertaker at SummerSlam. Dave Meltzer confirmed the report on several posts and podcasts on F4WOnline.com.
Meltzer reported that the Undertaker’s angle is expected to be a part of SummerSlam as he is included in future advertisements. While Undertaker’s role has not been confirmed, most suspect that he will be wrestling. A recent tweet posted a picture of Undertaker training and he looked to be in great shape and ready for an upcoming match.
Undertaker was rumored to be slotted with Kevin Owens at WrestleMania 32. Meltzer shot down that report in a recent Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Meltzer and others suspect that Undertaker will pick back up on his feud with Brock Lesnar and seek revenge. Most have commented that it was no coincidence that Paul Heyman recently started mentioning the streak, WWE announcers have made recent mentions of Undertaker and Kane as brothers, and Lesnar broke Kane’s leg this week.
This goes back to something I blogged about shortly after WrestleMania 30. I predicted that a Lesnar vs. Undertaker rematch would be absolutely huge. I do think it would have been bigger at Mania 31, yet I still think there is a lot of money on the table here. Many have predicted that Undertaker will get involved in the finish of the Seth Rollins vs. Brock Lesnar match at Battleground. The waters are a little muddied with Lesnar and Heyman as babyfaces, although fans booed Heyman recently when he did bring up the end of the streak.
The Undertaker isn’t the only big name reported to return at SummerSlam. Sting is expected back in the ring at SummerSlam. Meltzer also confirmed those reports. Meltzer mentioned on a recent podcast that Sting was slotted to wrestle someone who was recently injured, thus causing a change in the booking. I can only guess who Sting will wrestle but it could be anyone at this point.
The WWE are really bringing out the big guns here for SummerSlam. This could also explain why the company bumped Lesnar vs. Rollins up from SummerSlam to Battleground. Regardless, with Lesnar, Undertaker, and Sting all expected on SummerSlam, the event will likely go down as the biggest SummerSlam event in recent memory.
Nineteen years ago this week history was made and a revolution was started. Hulk Hogan dropped the leg on WCW and joined Kevin Nash and Scott Hall to form the New World Order beginning what some would call the greatest angle in the history of pro wrestling.
It is easy for a lot of us to sit back and criticize the many mistakes WCW made but on one night they got it right. July 7 1996 at the WCW Bash at the Beach 96 one angle revitalized a legendary career, gave new life to a struggling company, created icons, and pumped new blood into an entire business that some had left for dead months earlier. The night Hulk Hogan turned heel is something that those of us that were fans in 1996 will never forget.
To fully appreciate the impact of this angle I have to give you a little background. WCW had been a place up to that point that was more appreciated by hardcore and longtime wrestling fans for legends like Ric Flair and young athletic stars like Brian Pillman and Steve Austin. It had a nice following but it was more southern than national. Eric Bischoff was determined to change that and made a stunning move by signing Hulk Hogan in 1994. Bischoff put his job on the line and offered Hogan a deal which the WWE opted not to match.
The deal was a huge gamble for WCW. Hogan had been on the downside of his WWE career. It was generally believed that Hogan would have been used as a guy to hand the torch off to the next generation of stars rather than be the face of the company had he stayed in the WWE. Hogan was also the poster boy of everything WCW fans hated about the WWE. Could Bischoff level the playing field bringing over new fans to outnumber the fans who would be tuning out of WCW?
It was a nice start for Hogan and WCW. Hogan feuded with Vader and Ric Flair early on and did fairly well on pay per view. The awareness of WCW was certainly higher with Hogan on top. Unfortunately the honeymoon would end faster than anyone expected. Hogan had run through everyone on top without returning the favor, no-sold finishers, and ate up every top heel in the company in a little over a year. Hogan without the oversight of Vince McMahon was becoming a real problem in WCW.
Fans started tuning out thanks to Hogan’s ridiculously cartoonish angles and just got tired of seeing the Hulk beat all of his repackaged foes. In addition to their own self inflicted damage, a little company called Extreme Championship Wrestling started making some noise. A big part of that noise was to expose the faults of WCW to their fans. ECW fans heard every week how lame WCW was and more people began laughing at the joke that was WCW.
Eric Bischoff played his ace card and developed a Monday night program to not only counter WWE programming, but steal some of their audience. In addition to the Monday night move, Bischoff slowly started poaching familiar names like Bobby Heenan and Randy Savage. Even with great talents like Heenan and Savage on board, WCW continued to come off as a company out of touch with the teenage audience and stale on ideas.
This all changed on May 27. Scott Hall clad in denim, walked out on WCW Monday Nitro and caused the biggest stir in the history of the program. Hall laid out a challenge to face three WCW wrestlers and said he would have two friends to join him in the match. A couple of weeks later Kevin Nash joined Scott Hall on Nitro. It was implied that Hall and Nash, seen on WWE TV for years as Razor Ramon and Diesel respectively, had invaded WCW. Nash and Hall were known as the Outsiders to play off of this. For fans that didn’t know any better, this was must-see television because anyone from the WWE could show up next.
WCW was starting to turn things around. Nitro had regularly done ratings in the low-mid twos yet were now pulling in ratings between 3.3-3.5. It may not sound impressive but to increase your ratings that fast and maintain them was a big deal. But even bigger than the ratings and the buyrates was the perception of WCW. WCW was cool again (well most of it).
The angle really kicked into second gear at the Great American Bash 96. Eric Bischoff accepted Hall’s challenge and said his three WCW wrestlers would meet them at Bash at the Beach. Bischoff refused to reveal the names to Hall and Nash. For that, he was powerbombed off the stage through a table by Nash. Today, this is something you probably see every week in wrestling. In 1996 the only place you were seeing anything like this was ECW. It was a very powerful angle and a historic moment in the angle.
To show you how big this angle was the Nitro rating that week shot up from a 2.7 to a 3.4. Nitro would only do one more rating below a 3.0 all year. A “random” drawing was held on Nitro the following week to determine who from WCW would wrestle Hall and Nash. Randy Savage, Sting, and Lex Luger were chosen to represent WCW. Hall and Nash refused to reveal their partner. For the weeks up to the pay per view all of the talk on Nitro was, “who is the third man?” For fans at home not knowing any better, it could have been anyone from the WWE.
The week before Bash at the Beach, Hall and Nash invaded Nitro as usual. The Outsiders walked through the crowd in the middle of a segment with Bischoff and Heenan. The crowd was all over this and just eating it up. Hall and Nash wound up taking front row seats with popcorn in hand. Nash eventually grabbed the microphone and said, “It looks like we’re taking over a little early.” Hall and Nash proceeded to walk up the broadcast area where Bischoff and Heenan were sitting. Heenan left. Security stopped them and Sting, Luger, and Savage all madeup like Sting came out to confront them. Nash yelled, “look at the clowns!” The entire WCW locker room emptied out to support their company. Everyone had to be separated by security. It was an unreal moment and only added more excitement for Bash at the Beach.
Keep in mind the Internet was in its infancy so most of the scoops during this time period came from either the wrestling newsletters or hotlines. Most of the reputable sources reported that Hulk Hogan would be the third man for the Outsiders in the weeks leading to the show. Dave Meltzer on the other hand reported a week or so before the show that Hogan didn’t want to turn heel. Lex Luger was reported to be the backup plan with more sources leaning towards Luger in the days leading up to the show.
I remember watching Bash at the Beach 96 and thinking, “just get on with it.” It was torture sitting through two hours of undercard matches with so much anticipation for the main-event. All in all it was a pretty lousy undercard that night which certainly didn’t help matters. Finally though it was time for the main-event and you could cut the tension with a knife in the living room amongst friends and live on pay per view in the arena.
The Oustiders come out first with no third man. Gene Okerlund walks down the entrance way and looks confused. Dusty Rhodes says on commentary, “This is bogus!” Okerlund then enters the ring to confront Hall and Nash and says, “I don’t see three men here tonight. Where is your partner?”
Hall answers and calls him “Scheme Gene.” Hall then tells Gene, “All you need to know little man is that he’s here, and he’s ready.” Okerlund then asks Nash, “Is your partner telling me your third man is in the building?” Nash says, “He’s here alright Gene. We’ve got enough to handle it right now, right here.” The WCW announcers are upset.
Before I talk about the match let me just say that Bobby Heenan is awesome here. He is selling this whole mystery like it is the biggest thing he has ever seen. Considering where he’s been, that said a lot. Heenan is mostly known as a witty commentator but when he had to get an angle over, he was a genius and highly underrated in that regard. We all talk about Heenan’s performance at the 1992 Royal Rumble but this may have been just as good.
Savage, Luger, and Sting all come out with war paint on. It’s your typical match early on, although very heated thanks to the audience. Lex takes a fall early on and is out on the floor. Luger is knocked unconscious on the floor. Heenan than tells the crowd that it’s now two against two, or three against two if the other guy is really in the building. Heenan tells Dusty, “Something’s up.” This was brilliant as it played into the whole drama surrounding the reports of Luger joining the Outsiders. Luger gets stretchered out and at this point just about everyone watching is thinking that Lex is coming back and turning on his friends.
The guys actually have a pretty decent match at this point. The crowd is red hot and everyone appears to be working their butts off. Savage was fantastic here. Savage wrestled with such aggression against Hall and Nash that he really got the whole idea over of how WCW hated these guys for invading their company.
Savage drops Hall with a double axe handle from the top rope. Nash and Hall are both down. Nash gives Savage a low blow. All four guys are out (Sting from earlier). Referee Pee Wee Anderson starts to count them out. The attention is turned to the ramp as Hulk Hogan walks out with the red and yellow and pointing fingers. The fans start screaming, yes screaming for Hulk. Once again this isn’t 2011 and most of the crowd had no idea at all about the Hogan rumors. God love that gullible WCW crowd.
Dusty and Tony Schiavone start screaming about Hulk Hogan being there to save the day for WCW. Dusty sounded a little phony but Schiavone was really believable. Dusty, “Hulk Hogan is in the building.” Schiavone, “You’re damned right he is!” Bobby Heenan asks the million dollar question, “Yeah but who’s side is he on?” Dusty won’t even hear of it.
Hogan enters the ring, Hall and Nash take a powder, and Savage is still laid out in the center of the ring from the low blow (he’s selling this low blow like he’s Josh Koscheck). Hogan leans back in the turnbuckle, looks around, and then drops the leg heard around the world across the neck of his old foe Randy Savage. Heenan announces that Hogan is the third man. Hogan drops another leg while Hall and Nash join the party and give each other high-fives. Heenan calls it, “the lowest shot ever given to professional wrestling.” Keep in mind this was before Dixie Carter’s state of the company address on TNA Impact.
I hate to keep gloating about Heenan but I will. What made Heenan so great in this situation in addition to everything else was his credibility. Heenan tells the fans that he told them so and he was right about Hogan all of these years. Another heel announcer like Michael Cole would have suddenly started talking about his love for Hogan where Heenan actually turned himself babyface here.
Of course we all know what followed next. Fans started throwing trash into the ring at Hall, Hogan, and Nash. Gene Okerlund immediately entered the ring to ask Hogan what the hell this was all about. One thing to note here is that if this was present day wrestling, you would have turned into RAW or Impact to get this interview. At Bash at the Beach, you were certainly rewarded for the money you paid to watch this great moment.
Hogan cut what would become a historic promo in the center of the ring to explain the turn. Here is the entire transcript of the Hogan promo thanks to IMDB.com.
Gene Okerlund: Hulk Hogan, excuse me. Excuse me. What in the world are you thinking?
Hulk Hogan: Mean Gene the first thing you gotta do is to tell these people to shut up if they want to hear what I’ve gotta say.
Gene Okerlund: I have been with you for so many years for you to join up with the likes of these two men absoulutely makes me SICK to my stomach! And I think that these people here and a lot of people around the whole wrestling world have had just about enough of this man and this man and you want to put yourself in this group? You’ve gotta be…kidding me!
Hulk Hogan: Well the first thing you’ve gotta realize brother is that this right here is the future of wrestling. You can call this the New World Order of wrestling brother. These two men came from a great big organization up north and everybody was wondering about who the third man was. Well who knows more about that organization than me brother?
Gene Okerlund: I’ve been there and done that. You have made the wrong decision in my opinion.
Hulk Hogan: Well let me tell you something, I made that organization brother! I made the people rich up there. I made the people that ran that organization rich up there. And when it all came to pass, the name Hulk Hogan, the man Hulk Hogan got bigger than the entire organization brother! And then Billionaire Ted amigo, he wanted to talk turkey with Hulk Hogan. Well Billionaire Ted promised me movies brother. Billionaire Ted promised me millions of dollars. And Billionaire Ted promised me world caliber matches. And as far as Billionaire Ted, Eric Bischoff and entire WCW goes, I’m bored brother. That’s why I want these two guys here, these so called Outsiders, these are the men I want as my friends. They are the new blood of professional wrestling and not only are we going to take over the whole wrestling business, with Hulk Hogan, the new blood and the monsters with me. We will destroy everything in our path Mean Gene.
Gene Okerlund: Look at all of this crap in this ring! This is what’s in the future for you if you want to hang around the likes of this man Hall, and this man Nash.
Hulk Hogan: As far as I’m concerned, all this crap in this ring represents these fans out here. For two years brother! For two years, I held my head high. I did everything for the charities. I did everything for the kids. And the reception I got when came out here, you fans can stick it brother. Because if it wasn’t for Hulk Hogan, you people wouldn’t be here. If it wasn’t for Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff would still be selling meat from a truck in Minneapolis. And if it wasn’t for Hulk Hogan, all of these “Johnny come latelys” that you see out here wrestling wouldn’t be here. I was selling the world out brother while they were bumming gas to put in their car to get to high school. So the way it is now brother, with Hulk Hogan and the New World Organization of wrestling brother, me and the new blood by my side. Whatcha gonna do when the New World Order runs wild on you? Whatcha gonna do?
Hulk Hogan: What are you gonna do?
Gene Okerlund: Hey, don’t touch me! Don’t touch me, I’m going to see the lawyers! Tony, Dusty, Bobby, Dammit let’s get back to you!
Tony Schiavone: “All right. We have seen the end of Hulkamania. For Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, for Dusty Rhodes, For “Mean” Gene Okerlund, I don’t know…I’m Tony Schiavone. Hulk Hogan, you can go to hell! We’re outta here. Straight to hell.”
What made this equally memorable was the scene of Hogan talking as endless amounts of trash rained down on him in the ring. I never saw anything like that and man did it give this angle some extra punch. Seeing how much the fans hated this made it even that much more powerful to the fans at home watching on television. It was a moment that I and many others will certainly never forget.
Jeff Peck and I break this down on an upcoming edition of the Still Real to Us podcast. We debated whether this was the greatest angle ever. I argued that next to Hogan dropping the leg on the Iron Sheik and beginning Hulkamania that it was. It pumped new life into the wrestling business which was struggling across the board. It saved what looked like was the end of the career of Hulk Hogan. It turned Scott Hall and Kevin Nash into icons. Was Stone Cold Steve Austin’s confrontation with Mike Tyson more successful? Maybe, but I don’t know if we would have ever even seen Stone Cold if it weren’t for the N.W.O.
The angle also ended a lot differently than it started. The same angle that revitalized the business and shot WCW to the moon was also badly mismanaged and would end up hurting WCW in the end more than it helped it. It had nothing to do with the Bash at the Beach angle but more to do with the incompetent booking of Eric Bischoff, Hall, Nash, and Hogan.
I could also make an argument that this was the greatest heel turn ever in the business. Bruno Sammartino, Steve Austin, The Rock, and Hulk Hogan were probably the biggest money makers in pro wrestling. All made money as blockbuster babyfaces but only Hogan did it as a blockbuster heel. While I am sure that someone will argue differently, I can’t think of a bigger heel that drew more money than Hogan did during his N.W.O. run.
Happy 19th anniversary Hollywood Hulk Hogan, the N.W.O., and Bash at the Beach 1996.
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.
Expectations 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
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
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.