Paul Heyman, Sting and Other WWE Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

Sting is another story.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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Evaluating The WWE Youth Movement – Year End Followup

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

The WWE youth movement was in full throttle this past April. A few months into the new year and stars were on the ascend for a new roster of talent. Unfortunately that momentum has subsided over the last eight months as we look back at what could have been.

I wrote a blog back in April taking a look at the new generation of stars on the WWE roster. Fans were feasting on a fresh look WWE that featured unfamiliar names in main-events and new faces that were stealing the show on a weekly basis. As we move into a new year I thought it would be a great time to take a look back and see where these future stars are today and how bright their stars look in 2015.

Bray Wyatt – There are rumors that he will be matched with the Undertaker at WrestleMania 31. That kind of spotlight will certainly help Wyatt. However, as I said back in April I think he is just too one-dimensional and that will always hold him back. I got into arguments with fans on Twitter about it but I stand by my statement. I think 2015 is a crucial year and if something doesn’t change he could wind up in some hot water by the end of the year. It’s up to him and the writing team to figure it out and at this point I’m not sure I like their chances.

Roman Reigns – I saw big things for Reigns back in April. I thought he had a sustainable character with plenty of potential to be that next big star. I am not so sure I agree with that assessment today. Something has changed and I think a lot of it has to do with Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose stepping up and raising the bar for Reigns. He is turning into a very predictable wrestler with his three or four moves and I think that fans are starting to see it. They need to book Reigns in a 20 minute match and showcase the fact that he is more than just a one-dimensional guy. His injury timeout came at a horrible time and I think he is going to struggle to find that momentum. However, that said I think he sees a title reign in 2015 and a huge push to boot.

Cesaro – Ironically if I was starting this list today he wouldn’t even be on it. That shows you how far my former CZW colleague has fallen and that is a damned shame. I did point out back in April that he isn’t the kind of a guy that the WWE typically invest big pushes in and I think I have been proven right. He has a long way to go yet with all of that talent he is bound to see big things at some point. I am just not sure that happens in 2015 and that would be unfortunate.

Seth Rollins – I predicted back in April that he would have a better WWE career than Dean Ambrose and I was right. Rollins has broken out in 2014 and is slated for big things in 2015. I am just not sure how it all plays out because as we have seen with Wyatt, you can’t go up after feuding with John Cena. Feuds with Reigns for the title and Randy Orton should keep him busy for a while but it is what happens around this time next year that has me a little concerned for his sustainability in his current spot.

Dean Ambrose – In my opinion Ambrose is the most talented guy on this list and should be getting the push slated for Reigns. However, I don’t write WWE television and the writers obviously see Ambrose as a mid-card guy at best. Ambrose’s ability to out-talk most of the roster will always put him in a good place. Unfortunately I see that place in low-mid card feuds, which is a total waste of this great talent. I do think at some point he will get a shot and I wouldn’t be shocked to see a WWE title in his future. I just worry that creative will do too much damage on the way to the title that his championship reign won’t measure up to its potential.

Daniel Bryan – Do I even put Bryan on this list? I will since I included him in April but there are so many questions surrounding the American Dragon. He will be coming back at the Royal Rumble but what happens from there? Will he receive the big push that the Yes Movement would like to see him get once again? Will he be relegated to a mid-card star, the way he was before things exploded last year? It is impossible to offer any real evaluation on him at this point.

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Seth Rollins Says Shield Nixed Original Breakup Plans

December 05, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

The breakup of the Shield in 2014 has had a massive residual effect on the WWE. Rollins, Ambrose, and Reigns are all poised for big things. Rollins talked about the angle in a recent interview and if it was up to the WWE, it would have happened sooner.

Rollins was a guest on the Talk is Jericho podcast with Chris Jericho and delivered one of the most interesting interviews with a current WWE superstar you will hear in 2014. Unfortunately for Rollins and Jericho, all of the buzz has been lost with CM Punk’s recent podcasts but this was an interview that told you a lot about what could have happened if Vince McMahon had his way.

If you remember, the breakup of the Shield actually started months earlier and the breakup soon turned into a babyface turn for the trio. Rollins told Jericho that the team saw more time in a run together and recalled how he and his teammates delayed the angle and bought time for a big babyface run.

“We said no, we stopped it,” Rollins said. “One major time for sure. They wanted us to be prepared for that, but we’re not cowardly heels. People like us. We put a huge kibosh on it.”

Rollins went on to tell Jericho that the reason they stopped it was because they felt they had a babyface run in them. Rollins felt that the team was appealing to both men and women and that they were leaving money on the table by breaking up without a turn.

“In this company no one had really cornered the market on six-man tags,” Rollins said. “As an attraction, the six-man match had never been an attraction here. We had that six man thing down. We had a pace that catered to our fans. They went with it (the babyface run) for a little while. We talked to them (Vince) and got it settled.”

It is interesting if you think back on it and you have to wonder where things would be today if the trio had broken up when the angle initially started. We wouldn’t have seen the feud vs. Evolution which means Rollins trajectory would have been much different. I think Rollins was the biggest benefactor here as he was looking as the odd man out when the angle started with Ambrose cemented as a U.S. champion and Reigns poised for big things.

Another fascinating note about the interview was a story Rollins told about the original idea for the Shield. Rollins told Jericho that they were booked to come out with big shields that had the word “Shield” on it and laughed about how corny it would have been. He said it was Vince that stopped the three and questioned why all three couldn’t take Ryback without weapons. Rollins said they ditched the weapons at that point and couldn’t be happier.

Listen to the rest of the interview over at Talk is Jericho.

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WWE’s Ten Best Matches Of The First Half Of 2014

July 10, 2014 By: Category: lists, WWE | Pro Wrestling

Through questionable booking, a stock market crash, fan discontent, and the unfortunate loss of JTG, WWE has provided audiences with, if nothing else, a lot of great in-ring action. Here are my personal picks for the ten best bouts so far in 2014.

10. Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan vs. John Cena vs. Cesaro vs. Christian vs. Sheamus (WWE Elimination Chamber, February 23)

As long as the performers cut a watchable pace in the epic-length Chamber matches, and there’s some creative mayhem taking place between the chain-link walls, it generally adds up to a great match. This was no exception, and it even came with some added drama: would Bryan avenge his exclusion from the Royal Rumble match and become WWE Champion? A spurned Twitterverse, led by a bat-wielding Mick Foley, glued their eyes to the action.

Bryan, of course, didn’t win here, succumbing to Corporate Kane (RepubliKane?) in a screwy finish. Cena also didn’t win, as a Wyatt Family teleportation cost him Orton’s gold as well. It was Bryan’s portion of the story that received the most focus, with him taking a beating (being whipped through an empty pod by Cesaro), and valiantly clawing his way back before the heart-ripping finish. That only made the WrestleMania payoff more enjoyable.

9. Charlotte vs. Natalya (NXT Takeover, May 29)

This was certainly surprising. You’d expect a good match from Natalya under required circumstances (read: a match of reasonable length where she’s not selling for the trade show model du jour). But Charlotte? She never really impressed me in NXT, and it seemed her push was based on that she was tall, blonde, and the offspring of wrestling royalty. To say this match was incredible might be the understatement of all of 2014.

In a match to determine the new NXT Women’s Champion, Charlotte held her own in what ended up a highly intense match-up, most notable for the Sharpshooter/figure-four spot with determined reversals and realistic selling. Perhaps having Ric Flair and Bret Hart at ringside was a heaven-sent dual muse? Charlotte capped off the match with the win, which many predicted, but the story in getting to that point was something no one saw coming.

8. Daniel Bryan vs. Bray Wyatt (WWE Royal Rumble, January 26)

Forget the aftermath of the night, which consisted of two hours of fan anger the likes of which hadn’t been seen since the 1991 Great American Bash. Contained within its frame of time, Bryan and Wyatt held their own in a match that essentially saved the Rumble from being one of the absolute worst PPVs of all time. Even with the match, the night retains its unfathomable infamy, but at least you can say, “Well, one match was awesome.”

Bryan and Wyatt’s match opened the Rumble, and was pretty oddly structured for an era bent on mechanical pacing. Bryan worked Wyatt’s legs early with a series of kicks, and the match didn’t really hit the WWE Main Event Style until well into the proceedings. That was for the better, because different can be highly enjoyable. The finish was memorable, with Wyatt catching a Bryan dive into Sister Abigail against the crowd barrier, very suitably slick.

7. Tyler Breeze vs. Sami Zayn (NXT Takeover, May 29)

Takeover’s a serious contender for the best WWE show of 2014. The women’s match makes this list, and the NXT Championship bout between Adrian Neville and Tyson Kidd was a viable list candidate that just fell short. Breeze and Zayn’s number one contender match was the best of a well-executed card, hardly surprising given Zayn’s general Midas touch. However, the match served as Breeze’s coming-out party, making him one to watch.

Making anyone this generation’s Shawn Michaels is a risky proposition, equal to calling any NBA player “the next Jordan”, but WWE’s all in with making Breeze the risk-taking pretty boy incarnate of today. He was game on exchanging crazy moves with the experienced Zayn, including a weird reversal sequence that ended in an improvised powerbomb. The ending was also a creative bit of screwiness, involving a questionably-blatant low blow.

6. Cesaro vs. Sami Zayn (NXT Arrival, February 27)

Nothing better than a feud over who is simply “the better man.” Strange concept to some in power, but for my simple eyes, the Zayn/Cesaro rivalry was some of the most enjoyable wrestling over the past several years. After a two-out-of-three falls match that Cesaro won in August (hailed by many as the 2013’s best match), the story was Zayn was bent on avenging the loss, and challenged Cesaro to a final battle at WWE Network’s first major special.

The cat-and-mouse nature of the match, with Zayn’s eager risk-taking and Cesaro’s defiant power response, built feverishly to Cesaro gaining the definitive upper hand, and Zayn looking the beaten man. Cesaro even begged Zayn to stop kicking out, but Zayn countered the Neutralize. That led to Cesaro brutalizing him with Swiss Death, a discus uppercut, and the punctuating Neutralizer. Afterward, Cesaro gave Zayn the gesture of respect he’d wanted.

5. Randy Orton vs. Batista vs. Daniel Bryan (WWE WrestleMania XXX, April 6)

Nostalgia always feels best when its employment seems natural. There was no shoehorning of classic Attitude Era elements into the WrestleMania main event, which saw the use of a crooked ref, even more crooked authority figures, and a teased stretcher job for Bryan that turned into a Willis Reed comeback special. Add to it the legitimate want of the audience to see Bryan prevail, and the elements were there for a tremendous ‘Mania finale.

It took a lot to get the crowd back into it after The Undertaker’s streak was startlingly ended less than an hour earlier by Brock Lesnar, but all three performers held their own, even the maligned Batista. The bomb/neckbreaker combo on Bryan through the table was memorably sick, and Bryan’s forcing of Batista to submit erupted the Superdome appropriately. If this were the Newlywed Game, WWE held up cards that had every fan answer correct in this one.

4. The Shield vs. Evolution (WWE Extreme Rules, May 4)

The Shield coming to Bryan’s rescue the night after WrestleMania kicked off a highly enjoyable run against the reformed Evolution (until Rollins was swiftly turned, apparently in response to low Memorial Day ratings if you believe the sheets). A rematch at the June 1 Payback event, under elimination and ‘no DQ’ rules, was pretty great in its own right, but the original from Extreme Rules remains the superior exhibition, with its faster pace and livelier crowd.

Rollins continued his campaign to become the modern WWE generation’s Jeff Hardy, doing so by leaping off of the upper deck at the IZOD Center onto Triple H, Randy Orton, and a sacrificial Dean Ambrose. Say what you will about Batista, but he’s been a good sport since the poorly-received comeback, putting over Roman Reigns clean as a sheet by eating the Superman punch, and the emphatic spear. WWE has issues creating stars, but got the Shield 100% correct.

3. John Cena vs. Cesaro (WWE Monday Night Raw, February 17)

If you’re given twenty minutes on free television to work with John Cena, and you’re still kicking around the midcard or upper midcard with little in the way of promising direction, chances are this is your litmus test. WWE seemed to be flirting with a true push of Cesaro in the preceding weeks, sticking him into the Elimination Chamber match, and even put him over champion Randy Orton in a non-title bout. So far so good, but the real test was at hand.

The win over Orton raised the possibility that he *could* beat Cena, instead of having it be the obvious “LOL CENA WINS” trope, and Cesaro held up his end. The most notable spot was the deadlift superplex, now a Cesaro staple, which was used on the B-shows before its unleashing on Raw. Cesaro did end up losing clean to Cena, but everyone had to be encouraged by what they saw, especially when the crowd went crazy for the Cesaro Swing attempts.

2. The Shield vs. The Wyatt Family (WWE Elimination Chamber, February 23)

Pretty good sign when the fans are chanting “THIS IS AWESOME” before any of the six have even made contact with one another. Then again, it raises the bar pretty high for a group of men, none of whom have been truly juiced-in main eventers yet, that are being counted on to deliver in a prime spot. It was hailed as a match-of-the-year candidate before it even ended (and indeed while it was still going), and remains in the running four months later.

The Shield weren’t particularly babyfaces in the run-up to the match, aside from not backing down in face-to-face confrontations, but the trio took to the good guys formula with the sort of timing and pacing that made it seem like they’d been faces for years. The chaotic end-run of the match, which was a star-maker for the kamikaze Rollins, puts it above most other spotfests by having logic and organization behind each stunt. The Wyatts won, but really, so did the Shield.

1. Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H (WWE WrestleMania XXX, April 6)

After “The Game” made Brock Lesnar slow down to his pace for a trio of matches, and needed Shawn Michaels to play rodeo clown in the overrated “End of an Era” match, I went into his match with Bryan with lowered expectations. I’d figured Bryan would have to slow down to allow his 44-year-old boss with two bum legs to keep up. Lo and behold, the Fountain of Youth resides in New Orleans, as Triple H had his greatest match in probably a good decade or so.

As if he was determined to prove he could still go with the best, and maybe feeling slighted that CM Punk brushed off a match with him, Helmsley wrestled a beaut with the best technician in the company, mixing pure wrestling with the sports-entertainment transition spots you’d expect out of his matches. In the end, Triple H put Bryan over 100% cleanly, and allowed him to kick out of the Pedigree in the process. And we all though Hunter didn’t know how to elevate.

Justin Henry has been an occasional contributor to Camel Clutch Blog since 2009. His other work can be found at and He can be found on Twitter, so give him a follow.

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Dean Ambrose Talks Shield Breakup and More

June 27, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Dean Ambrose is at a crossroads in his WWE career. Now that he is on his own, there are only two ways his career can go and according to a confident Ambrose, his trajectory is moving upwards.

I recently questioned the booking of Ambrose in a blog here on the CCB. I was concerned after the first few weeks that Ambrose may be the odd man out. Within a week he has been added to a Money in the Bank match, a match some are predicting he could win. Whether it is the start of the ascension or a missed opportunity is something we won’t know until Sunday.

Ambrose is doing media to promote the event and was asked flat out in an interview with whether or not he is worried about being the odd man out. According to Ambrose, while it may be a rocky climb, he is confident that his journey will end at the top.

With Reigns being booked as WWE’s next big star and Rollins aligned with Triple H, are you worried at all about getting lost in the shuffle like so many other superstars are lately?


Pretty confident, huh?

I’ve got confidence for miles and miles every day I wake up. If you know anything about me or anything about my history, if I’m backed into a corner, I will put my head down and swing and bite and scratch and crawl and throw punches until my arms fall off. I get where I want to go whether anyone likes it or not. I’ve made a career and life out of proving people wrong and making people eat their words. I get where I want to go and get what I want. It’s not always a typical storybook because it’s Dean Ambrose – it’s not going to be. It might get ugly and might not always be the prettiest. I might have some scratches and bruises, but I’m going to get to where I want. You know, it can be really easy to listen to people. I’m a guy – I don’t listen to things or to the little things that is. The gossip or comments of public perception. All that matters is the crowd. I know who I am and I know what I do and I know how hard I’ve worked to get here. You never know which way the road is going to turn. I think the top guys wake up every day in the morning and look at themselves and say, “I’m a top guy, I’m a world beater, and no one’s going to stop me from getting what I want.” I do the same and I feel the same and have for a long time.

If confidence constituted your spot on the card, Ambrose would be headlining MITB on Sunday. Confidence is a weird thing to carry in a WWE locker room. You are damned if you do and you are damned if you don’t depending upon who you are. Hopefully in Ambrose’s case it will work for him rather than against him.

Ambrose was asked about the big angle in which Rollins turned on the Shield. Did Ambrose think it was well done? You bet he does.

You never know what’s going to happen on Monday Night RAW. You always got to to tune in because anything can happen and the same things goes for us when we show up each Monday night. You never know what’s lurking around the corner or what twist they’re going to throw your way. The cool thing is The Shield never started going on the downslide. We went out at our absolute apex with a clean sweep of Evolution, one of the most decorated and dominate stables of all time. The cool thing to take away is that we did go out on a high point whereas other groups don’t and I take a lot of pride in that. We’re all still three of the best performers in the company and are still always going to carry that mindset and that work ethic and be that symbol of excellence. That becomes part of your psyche and you want to go out there every night, bust your ass, put on the best show possible, and refuse to be out-done by anyone. You’re still going to see that from us. You won’t see us working together in the classic Shield way, but all three of us with all of our egos and aspirations and desire are still going to be on your TV making our way up top. It’s an exciting time for the fans.

He makes a great point about the turn. The turn came while the Shield was hot, arguably hotter than ever in the WWE. While some may argue that as a reason not to turn them, Ambrose thinks that will work for them. I tend to agree.

Ambrose goes on in the interview to talk about prepping for Money in the Bank, his love of professional wrestling, who he is closest with in the locker room and more. Check out the entire read over at

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WWE Is Botching The Shield Post-Breakup

June 23, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

I don’t think it’s too early to be concerned about the Shield. Thus far it would appear that the lessons the WWE creative team got right when the Shield were together have been forgotten now that they’re apart.

It’s easy to play fantasy booker without the responsibilities the WWE Creative Team carry but this one isn’t brain surgery. If there is one thing that this writing crew has gotten right in the last year and a half it is the booking of the Shield. Every mistake this team has made when introducing or elevating talent on the roster was avoided with Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, and Dean Ambrose. That is why it is concerning to see that playbook thrown out now that the trio have been split apart.

Let’s go through the team individually and take a look at how their first couple of weeks apart as singles stars is going.

Seth Rollins - Rollins is obviously positioned better than anyone else at this point. He is associated with the top act in the company and appears to be the darling of Triple H on and off camera. Rollins is playing his role to perfection and in the ring, he has been fantastic. Yet a closer look at the booking reveals a few warning signs that need to be addressed quickly.

The biggest WTF moment for me came last week when Rollins gloriously told the fans that he was signed as the first guy in the “B” Money in the Bank match. I watched the promo on Superstars and my first thought was, “Why is this guy so happy? Shouldn’t he be angry?” Rollins’ position was clear and that is mid-high mid-card star and nothing more.

Think about this for a second. Shouldn’t the guy who turned his back on his brothers for the Authority be rewarded with a spot in the WWE world title MITB match? The only reason not to put him there would be personal business such as going to war with Ambrose or Reigns. Yet Rollins is rewarded with a spot in a MITB match to earn a title shot, not the title. Rollins should be angry, fired up, feel betrayed, yet he gloats about that. I look at a guy bragging about being outside of the main-event and I don’t see a guy positioned in a good spot period.

Roman Reigns - Clearly nothing is wrong with the booking of Reigns now that he is in the WWE world title match right? Wrong. The hotshot move of Reigns to the MITB title match thanks to Vickie essentially being drugged is too much too soon. Reigns should simmer, have a slow burn to the big dance, giving the fans a chance to salivate over it. Instead he is shot right to the big dance without having more than a handful of singles matches on television. This one can only go one way and that is wrong.

What if Reigns wins the title, will I think differently? No. Reigns is not ready. Could they protect him? Sure, but when is the last time that anyone got over who was obviously protected? Bill Goldberg and that was over ten years and two decades ago. Losing is probably better for him but what does that say about him in the eyes of the fans? Keep in mind that this also comes at a time when fans still want to see the Yes Movement continue. I am sure those fans who booed Batista will surely be understanding of Reigns taking away their hero’s spot right? Exactly.

Dean Ambrose - Than there is Dean Ambrose, the Shield member once predicted to go furthest after a breakup. Sadly the opposite is happening and Ambrose is going south faster than anyone could have imagined and I don’t get it. This guy has it all. He is arguably the best promo guy in the company (his promo last week on RAW was one of the best all year), he is fantastic in the ring, and arguably has more charisma than any of the other Shield members yet his position is clear. He is a low-mid card wrestler. He’s wrestling in jeans and a t-shirt and getting squashed by Kane (multiple times). This in addition to recently losing the U.S. title in a battle royal. I am almost inclined to think that he has some kind of heat with the office because there is no other explanation for the way he’s been booked recently. He is obviously the odd man out and is about six-months away from doing comedy angles with Santino and Fandango.

Maybe I am jumping the gun here because after all, it has only been a few weeks that the Shield have been apart. I am the first one to preach patience when it comes to letting an angle play out so I am a bit of a hypocrite here. Yet my gut tells me that something isn’t right and there isn’t a lot of time left to change it.

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Seth Rollins Leaves The Shield: What’s Next for Reigns and Ambrose?

June 09, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

While the wrestling world wants to see what the next move for the Authority and Seth Rollins, did the WWE forget about the other two members of The Shield – Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose? What are the plans for the two superstars and will they still remain joined at the hip or part ways and seek singles success. As I watch the split – which made the WWE look like the WWF of old – I am reminded of what happened after the Four Horsemen finally disbanded and how the incarnations that were devised by WCW were never like the original or the four comprised of Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard and Barry Windham. Wresting was never the same once that era was perforated.

In September of 1988, Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard left, to join the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). This forced them to drop the Tag Team Titles, at the very last minute, to the Midnight Express (Stan Lane and Bobby Eaton). Anderson and Blanchard were known as “The Brain Busters”, in the WWF, and were managed by Bobby “the Brain” Heenan. The fans were disgruntled and wanted the Horseman to remain a viable, important part of the NWA.

Flair, Windham, and Dillon continued to refer to themselves as “the Horsemen” and the NWA even flirted with the idea of bringing in new members. Butch Reed was a singles star, managed by Dillon. The trio even flirted with the idea of bringing in Barry’s brother Kendall. At one point Dillon left the group to take a front office job with the WWF, and they dropped the Horsemen name, hiring Hiro Matsuda as their new manager and changing their name to Yamazaki Corporation.

It never worked and although it appeared that a regrouping of the trademark stable stirred the drink of fans wanting a new and improved foursome, it was never the same.

Could the same thing be destined for Reigns and Ambrose? Could they add another member and be the same kind of reckless outlaws fan love to watch? Windham was the perfect addition because of his history with the original group. Windham joined Flair because he could not beat him (rather the NWA and WCW did not want to put the strap on him). And with his outlaw looks, talent and his wrestling bloodlines, he was the perfect foil to Dusty Rhodes, Sting, Luger and Nikita Koloff. It was without a doubt the best heel turn in wrestling history. When the writers brought Curt Hennig in to replace Arn Anderson, it looked to be as solid a move as Windham years before – but in reality it was such a bust.

The Horsemen concept helped define the NWA in the mid to late 1980s. The departure of Anderson and Blanchard was huge at the time, Dillon and Windham’s departure made it worse, and despite numerous revivals over the coming decade, things were never quite the same.

If Rollins can achieve super stardom and win the WWE World Title within the year and leap over Randy Orton, this move could be the crowning achievement of the company this year, but there must be plans for the other two – who carried the group before the sudden advancement of Rollins.
And for that matter, will there be another addition to Evolution or the Authority to give fans more to complain or cheer about?

The most logical choice for Evolution is still Cody Rhodes, but do the writers and creative team have the stones to create a situation where the youngest of the Rhodes clan not only turns on his brother, Goldust, but also walks away, arm-in-arm with Triple H?

Follow David on Twitter @davidlevin71

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The Problem with the Seth Rollins Heel Turn

June 06, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

While we were still shocked at how it was played out, the fact that Seth Rollins has left the Shield should still not be a hug surprise to the WWE faithful. All great things in the WWE and the wrestling world have to come to an end. Even the original Freebirds parted ways – leaving Michael Hayes and Buddy Roberts to fight it out with the Samoan Swat Team as part of the feud.

What is surprising to me, at least is the fact it was not Roman Reigns who the WWE sought to leave the flock. Reigns appeared to be the Chosen One of the group – big, thick, and talented and someone the WWE can use to build up in the image of his cousin –The Rock.

I am also a little shocked – as I have replayed Raw from the other night – that the tier system in the WWE is not the same as it used to be, leaving me to think while the plan for Rollins to run at Daniel Bryan in the future with the WWE Title on the line could be tremendous, it may not be what is best for the business Triple H and Stephanie McMahon have planned for the remainder of the year.

By giving the ball to Rollins and allowing him to run with it toward the top of the company food chain, the WWE is in essence squashing many of its superstars that should be receiving more push. I realize there is only one world title right now, but if there was ever a time for the company to celebrate two titles and have cross branding or individual branding – now would be the best time. Sometimes, great ideas come back to bit you on the ass, and it looks like this might have been the time due to Bryan’s injury.

And no, we do not need Superman in Shorts to come save us from the evil empire and save the day in the process.

The WWE may have put a wrap on the four superstars who were getting a huge push as of late in Wade Barrett, Cesaro, Sheamus and Bray Wyatt. Will either of these wrestlers jump back into the WWE World Title picture now that Rollins is the “Chosen One?” Can Randy Orton deal with the fact he may not get another title shot for some time and in the process, does that mean John Cena now jumps back into the title picture since we have learned about the unknown timetable for Daniel Bryan’s return?

I sure hope the WWE has thought this through as it is the shake-up the company needs and the jump that could make us all run to the stores and the arenas to wrap ourselves back in WWE merchandise.

But these are the questions that trouble me now about this move…

– What happens to Reigns and Dean Ambrose? Do they stay together or part and challenge each other or Rollins? I would love to see Ambrose and Rollins roll through the rest of the year. This could be Steamboat and Savage of another generation.

– Does Reigns immediately become the one to beat in the Money in the Bank Match? I would love to see all three of the former Shield members the last standing in the MITB match with the WWE World Title on the line.

– Will Cesaro be happy chasing a lower tier title when he may be the hottest wrestler in the company right now? Can he somehow chase Rollins with Triple H or Stephanie McMahon standing word for word with Paul Heyman?

– And how long before we watch Bray Wyatt become a fan favorite and challenge someone like Cesaro, Barrett or even Brock Lesnar?

I’m not saying the WWE must fall into place this week, but it makes sense to explore these possibilities. But until then, we can bask in the fact we knew this was coming, we just did not know how it would happen.

Follow David on Twitter @davidlevin71

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Why Seth Rollins’ Heel Turn Was Pure Genius on WWE’s Part

June 05, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

The news has not been good lately for WWE.

First, its owner lost $350 million in one day. Second, probes are being launched everywhere into WWE’s new contract with NBC Universal. Third, arguably the promotion’s most popular performer, Daniel Bryan, is on the mend from neck surgery and likely will not be back in action until later this month.

So when good news finally shows up, it’s magnified thanks to its previous circumstances. And we saw some great news on Raw Monday night. It could even be referred to as pure genius.

The heel turn of Seth Rollins was absolute gold, partly because it gives a rising star unfettered access to two wily ring veterans. Mostly, though, it worked because it was so unexpected and carried out so well.

Really, can anyone who has watched the growth of The Shield honestly say they expected this move? After all, Dean Ambrose was the odds-on favorite to make the turn because he walks like a heel, he talks like a heel and he acts like a heel in the ring.

Roman Reigns? The least likely to change. He is destined to be one of the most monster babyfaces in WWE since John Cena at his peak.

But Rollins? The man with two-tone hair? The man Michael Cole deemed as the “architect” of the faction? The man who went above and beyond to keep his band of brothers together when it looked as if they were on the verge of implosion?

Yep. It’s the quiet ones that you have to watch out for.

We all thought that if Rollins were to turn, it would come in a combo with Ambrose. They would grow tired of all the accolades that Reigns was getting – particularly from the female fan base – and attack him. After all, it would take both of them to knock and keep Reigns down.

But we saw their popularity grow over the past few weeks. The fact that they presided over the expected downfall of Evolution seemed to cement their legacy as a complete face faction.

That all changed with a few swings of a metal chair. Rollins went back to the dark side.

And he played his turn to the absolute hilt. He didn’t rant or rave. He did not wildly scream at and kick his former mates. He did not go after them in a windmill of arms and legs.

Nope. With a whack-whack here and a whack-whack there, Seth Rollins made his choice. He stared steely at both of his fallen former comrades. He spoke no words. He moved deliberately as if in slow motion.

The crowd’s reaction was priceless. Stunned silence, then a smattering of boos turned into a barrage of catcalls and screams of simultaneous screams of anger and cries of disbelief.

It was perhaps one of the greatest and most unexpected heel turns since Hulk Hogan joined the New World Order. The only thing missing from Monday night was the constant showering of cups and debris over the ring like we saw when Hogan turned.

The question now is, where will Rollins go from here? He has at least two big matches ahead of him. You know in your heart of hearts that in addition to joining Triple H and Randy Orton in tag matches, Rollins will have to go one-on-one with Reigns and with Ambrose. A Rollins-Ambrose match is perfect for SmackDown, while a showdown with Reigns is an absolute main event for WWE’s Flagship show, Raw.

It also will be interesting to see if the heel turn will bring a change in Rollins’ appearance – not just with ring attire but with physical look. Will the two-tone hair go in favor of the crew cuts favored by the other Evolution members?

Summer was looking like a bummer with news of the money loss, the investigations and Daniel Bryan nowhere to be found on television. This latest move, though, has put the sizzle back in summer for WWE.

Bill Atkinson is a contributor to Camel Clutch Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @BAtkinson1963.

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Seth Rollins Is What Is Best For WWE Business

June 04, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

The WWE kicked off its summer season with a bang on Monday night. The Shield disbanded as expected but it was the most unlikely justice fighter who deserted his team. Seth Rollins is on his own and business is about to pick up!

The breakup of the Shield is funny in that we all expected to see it happen yet every single one of us was surprised when it happened. Kudos to the WWE for pulling off a big shocker in this day and age. Rollins turning and seemingly joining Evolution just may be the start of his ascension to the top.

When the Shield debuted it was Dean Ambrose who everyone picked as the breakout star. I even predicted that he would be headlining the next SummerSlam against John Cena. Ambrose was the leader, Roman Reigns was the muscle Vince McMahon always seems to love and Seth Rollins seemed destined for a nice, yet limited run in the middle of the cards post-Shield. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Something happened a few months ago and all of the sudden Rollins started getting more attention. It went from Ambrose being seen as the leader to Reigns being picked as the next chosen one to Rollins stealing both of their spots right out from under them. The beauty of Rollins’ rise is that it is 100% organic. He wasn’t shoved down anyone’s throats, he slowly moved past his brothers in arms and grabbed his spot all on talent. It’s a heck of a story in 2014 if you really think about it.

Reigns has been pegged by many as the next in line for John Cena’s spot. I like Reigns a lot and I think he’s destined for big things, but I just haven’t been able to see him in that big of a role. Ambrose is fun to watch but I think that U.S. title run did more damage than we’ll ever realize. Yet Rollins is the right guy at the right time with a future I can buy into.

Chris Jericho recently interviewed Daniel Bryan on his podcast. He told Bryan that he knew that Bryan was destined to succeed because he got over elsewhere as the top guy (Ring of Honor). How astute! Jericho may be on to something here because Rollins also worked his way up to that top spot and anyone doubting his abilities to rise to the top are severely underestimating him.

Timing really is everything for Rollins. The WWE needs a fresh face in a top spot. Rollins has the best chance of succeeding as the next great top heel of anyone in recent memory that was given a shot in that spot, including CM Punk. The difference between Rollins and everyone else that has failed when elevated in recent years is that the WWE allowed him to be different. He wasn’t beaten for weeks, he wasn’t made to look like an idiot, he wasn’t screwed due to his own stupidity, he was booked like every great heel or babyface that was elevated in this company up until 2010 and succeeded. By doing less, WWE Creative has done more to help this guy than anyone else in years and that will pay off.

I am excited to see what the rest of 2014 brings for Seth Rollins. I predict that this guy will be in a WWE championship match at WrestleMania, he’s that good. It’s unfortunate that we have to lose one of the greatest acts in modern history in the Shield. Yet that could be a small opportunity cost to pay to get a fresh face on top and next big superstar of the future in Seth Rollins.

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