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WWE WrestleMania 31 Probable Card and Match Rumors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Top 10 Pro Wrestling Controversies Video

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

From the Montreal Screw Job to Vince McMahon’s steroid trial to Jeff Hardy wrestling intoxicated, check out the top 10 pro wrestling controversies caught on video.

This interesting video comes from the folks over at WatchMojo.com. Watch this video as WatchMojo.com countdown the top 10 pro wrestling controversies…as they see it.

It’s certainly an interesting video and the crew did a great job of digging up video. I don’t know if I’d necessarily agree with these, but they do get you thinking. Some are a little corny such as the end of the streak so take this list for what it is worth. Check out the video below which runs a little over fifteen minutes.

Here is the list for those of you that don’t want to watch the video.

  1. The Death of Chris Benoit
  2. The Montreal Screw Job
  3. The Owen Hart Tragedy
  4. CM Punk Walks Out of the WWE
  5. The Mass Transit Incident
  6. Vince McMahon’s Steroid Trial
  7. Edge/Matt Hardy/Lita Love Triangle
  8. The end of the Undertaker’s Streak
  9. Muhammad Hassan (the gimmick in general)
  10. Jeff Hardy vs. Sting at TNA Victory Road (Hard wrestles inebriated)

Honorable Mentions: Raven-Sandman Crucifix Angle, Live Edge/Lita Sex Show, Triple H-Katie Vick, The Fingerpoke of Doom, Lex Luger Shows Up on Nitro, David Arquette wins the WCW title

Interesting list but I can think of about a dozen off of the top of my head that were omitted. Also, including something like the end of the streak on a list with two tragedies is controversial in itself. Check it out for yourself and see what you think.

WWE: The Destruction of the Shield

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The Undertaker Should Retire Before WrestleMania XXXI

February 17, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

The Undertaker, one of the WWE’s last links between the Attitude Era and the belief in true Kayfabe, may be on his last journey to the ring at WrestleMania 31. Dave Meltzer reports that the man who is the most tenured star in the company may not be able to perform at a high level in the biggest event of the year, or may not be able to perform at all, given the condition he is in.

While the WWE continues to promote a Bray Wyatt-Undertaker showdown in San Francisco, does it mean the match actually happens or will we get the Undertaker we saw last year, one who was carried by Brock Lesnar throughout the contest and eventually had the streak of 21-0 by the current WWE World Champion?

It is hard swallow for someone like myself who grew up watching a man walk the top rope, rise from the “Dead” after lying on the make listless, and showing no signs of pain or injury while destroying the company’s roster. But it is a sign of the times and while at 43 I understand everyone retires at some point. My hope, however is that the character that Mark Calloway has created to be one of the best gimmicks of all time never sees another squared circle. It is my hope Calloway, who may respect the business more than any other wrestler on the WWE roster (with may the exception of Kane) knows that by getting in the ring, he is hurting not only himself, but the legacy he has created as one of the best big men in the business – period.

As Herbert wrote, “The feeling is that The Undertaker is still on course for a match with Bray Wyatt at WrestleMania 31. Wyatt continues to reference the Deadman in promos and The Undertaker is expected to be back after Fast Lane.

“The issues of age and trouble with movement are the reasons WWE booked Taker with Wyatt. The office has faith in Wyatt’s in-ring ability and the belief is that the 27 year old can carry the 49 year old to a good match.”

There will be some changes to ‘Taker’s appearance and there will certainly be a noticeable difference in what he does in the ring. In 2013, he looked like his old self (to some degree) in his match with CM Punk. In 2014, he looked like Willie Mayes in his last days as a New York Met or Joe Namath on his gimpy legs in Los Angeles as a Rams quarterback. If you want a wrestling comparison, he was Ric Flair wrestling Sting two years ago in TNA.

“Undertaker will dye his hair and be wearing make up to cover his aged appearance. Wyatt will do the majority of the work in an effort to cover for The Undertaker’s lack of mobility. His knee problems are well documented and the shocking physical state is down to Taker’s three decades of injuries and surgeries. He’s always been susceptible to injury and speculation on retirement started as far back as 1997.”

The idea of having someone “carry” him is crazy in itself and may have been one of the reasons the company could not have paired him with a 55-year old Sting, who is not the performer he used to be and would need someone like Triple H to carry him through a match at ‘Mania.

Whether the match happens – which in all probability will since Wyatt continues to promote the match and call out the Deadman – or the company comes to its senses and calls off what will more than likely leave us all underwhelmed, it tears at me that one of wrestling’s greats is at the end of what has been one of the most prolific careers and one of the best gimmicks ever. If there was ever a time to leave the “show” it would be now. I know, you know, and hopefully because he respects his trade so much, the Undertaker knows it – We hope.

WWE: The Destruction of the Shield

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The Undertaker vs. Bray Wyatt WrestleMania 31 Match Makes No Sense

February 16, 2015 By: Category: Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

The craziest WrestleMania rumor reported on websites for weeks has been the return of the Undertaker. The Undertaker is reportedly set to go for one more match at WrestleMania 31. That’s great news but the opponent makes absolutely no sense at all.

The rumored Taker match pits the Dead Man against Bray Wyatt. Those rumors have been strengthened in recent weeks with Wyatt’s promos on RAW which certainly appear to be geared towards an Undertaker match. Yet this whole idea seems like one big wasted opportunity by the company, something that appears to be a theme with Taker’s recent Mania matches.

Let’s go back a couple of years, three to be exact and look at the creative leading up to Undertaker’s Mania matches. The Undertaker’s streak has arguably been the biggest match or at least second biggest match on Mania since Michaels started playing it up at 25. Ever since then the streak has taken on a life of its own and been something to look forward to every year. It seems so easy to write yet the booking has been some of the most uncreative in recent Mania years.

I’ll start with 28 against Triple H. The whole idea behind that match was absurd. The Undertaker won yet it was Taker seeking the rematch for some kind of “revenge.” I am still not clear what that revenge was. The booking of 29 with an ad-hoc Fatal Four Way on RAW with the winner meeting Undertaker resulted in one of the writers getting fired. I should point out how easy that could have been with Punk putting up his own streak of 400+ days as WWE champion vs. Taker’s streak. That would have been huge! The match that wound up ending the streak wound up so underwhelming going in because the angles were rather dull and predictable. I just can’t understand why it is so hard to book this guy correctly at Mania.

Now we are here a year after the streak and it appears we are heading towards a Wyatt vs. Undertaker match. That match makes zero sense for one reason. If Undertaker is coming back, why in the world wouldn’t he want to avenge his streak? Is he scared of Brock? Does he know he can’t beat Brock? Have you ever heard an interview with a losing team or player in a championship game who says his or her goal is anything but getting back to the championship next year? While the streak is not necessarily a championship, the idea of avenging it is the same in my opinion.

I have written for a year that Taker vs. Lesnar 2 at Mania 31 could be absolutely huge. Like Rock vs. Cena at 28, the match and angle has been promoted for a whole year, more if you go back to pre-30 promos. Undertaker coming back to silence Heyman’s obnoxious mocking and end the reign of terror of Lesnar writes itself. Who wouldn’t pay $10 to watch Undertaker shut Heyman up once and for all about “21 and 1″? Who wouldn’t root for the Undertaker to get his win back and stop the beast in his tracks?

The angle was so easy to write that it’s mind boggling it wasn’t done. Have Taker start messing with Lesnar with the lights going down, etc back in November. The Undertaker appears and wants his rematch which Heyman and Lesnar decline out of fear because we all know that the Undertaker has nothing to lose at this point. The Undertaker enters the Royal Rumble as a mystery entrant and wins his title match. The match is made with the caveat of Taker having to retire if he loses the match. He can either win the title and drop it on RAW the next day or a month later, retire with it, or lose the match and retire gracefully. You could also have Taker screw Lesnar out of the title with Brock demanding the match against Heyman’s wishes. It’s not rocket science.

But no, the Undertaker will instead rise from the dead to answer some random challenge from a guy who most see as an upper-mid carder. I have never been a big proponent of the Sting match but hell, if he’s coming back a match with Sting would make more sense than this one. It makes less sense than a Lesnar rematch but more sense than anything else. This one makes Undertaker look more like a coward picking a fight with a lower card guy than the legendary tough guy he has been portrayed to be.

While I understand that Vince McMahon thinks his fans have short memories, nobody is forgetting about the loss at 30, especially when we have been reminded of it for a whole year. It will be nice to see the Undertaker back but at this point I’d rather let sleeping dogs lie. Keep him on the sidelines until you have something worthwhile. That match is not Bray Wyatt.

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Why Bray Wyatt vs. The Undertaker at Wrestlemania Raises More Questions than it Answers

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

This past week on WWE SmackDown, Royal Rumble standout Bray Wyatt delivered an ominous warning: “After what transpires next, I promise, it will be hard for you to ever smile again.”

For many, Wyatt’s maniacal monologue -complete with the bold claim to “Fear nothing living or dead,” was a subtle confirmation that the long-rumoured Bray/Undertaker match will happen, in all likelihood at Wrestlemania 31.

If that’s the case, then it does at least put paid to the will-he-won’t-he uncertainty surrounding a potential ‘Mania appearance for The Phenom. Yet in doing so, Undertaker vs. Bray Wyatt only raises more questions than it actually answers.

Was Brock Lesnar the right choice to end The Streak?
At the time, this writer made a strong case for Brock becoming the 1 in 21-1.

To generate the greatest return on their investment, WWE needed to book the former UFC Champion as a complete beast; a heartless, merciless monster on a way-one path of absolute destruction that not John Cena, not The Undertaker, not Zeus, Allah or the entire US Military could stop.

So far, mission accomplished, and when a hero does eventually rise up to conquer the unconquerable, that man should -in theory at least- be main event material for the remainder of his career.

In that regard, bringing The Streak to an end at Wrestlemania 30 was the right move: He who slays The Beast who destroyed The Dead Man becomes a star with a legitimate claim to be The Man, a man WWE should be able to ride to the bank for years.

Hindsight however, is a funny old thing. Looking back over the past year, Brock could have easily bounced back from a loss to the company’s special attraction.

Perhaps the match didn’t even need to happen at all. What if Lesnar found some other top-tier performer to destroy whilst ‘Taker defended The Streak for the final time against Bray?

The Monster continues to be monstrous, whilst his place as the 1 in 21-1 could have done far more for Wyatt’s career than his losing effort against John Cena.

All of which begs even more questions:

Why now?
As two stars who combine psychological warfare with a surprising amount of agility for men of their size, a meeting between Bray Wyatt and The Undertaker makes total sense.

That said meeting should take a place perhaps a year too late, does not.

With the exception of Daniel Bryan, there was arguably nobody hotter than Bray Wyatt back in the first months of 2014. By riding that momentum all the way to a match with The Phenom, WWE could have carved out another legitimate main eventer at a time when such things were hardly in abundance.

Have Wyatt end The Streak, and he could have well carried that momentum well into the summer and beyond, into headline bouts against Cena, Ambrose, hey, even Lesnar himself.

Even if the plan all along was for The Beast Incarnate to be the one to beat ‘Taker at Wrestlemania, there’s no reason why that couldn’t happen this year. Meanwhile, Wyatt could -had The Dead Man been willing- come out looking like a million dollars even in defeat.

You only need to look at Seth Rollins’ showing against Cena and Lesnar at the Royal Rumble to see how easy it is to make a star without having them pick up the pinfall. Wyatt could have easily fitted into the Rollins’ role in a match against The Undertaker.

As it is, whether he wins or loses in the seemingly inevitable match, The Eater of Worlds doesn’t have as much to gain now as he did just 12 months ago.

Who should win?
All logic dictates that, should his date with Undertaker happen, Bray should be the one with his hand raised at the end.

A star on the rise with enough talent to succeed at the top of the card, a win over just about anybody on The Grandest Stage of Them All can only help his ascent to the top tier. Pinning the shoulders of a man like The Undertaker to the mat can only add more gravitas to the situation, though again, not as much as it would have done at Wrestlemania 30.

Sure, Bray Wyatt beat The Undertaker at Wrestlemania. Big deal. It’s not like nobody’s ever done that before.

Meanwhile, in putting his younger opponent over as many feel he probably should, ‘Taker claims the not-too-favourable distinction of wrestling only two matches in two years, and losing them both.

If this is really it for the former Ministry of Darkness leader, if he’s to fall at the hands of Bray Wyatt then ride off into the sunset, never to be seen again (barring the obvious Hall of Fame induction), then maybe one more loss won’t have too much of a detrimental impact.

If the WWE are to get any more mileage out of their most tenured performer, then doesn’t it make sense that he claims at least one victory in order to prove that he’s still a performer fans can realistically expect to win matches?

OK, so a win for The Undertaker ultimately means that Bray Wyatt, a young star on the rise, loses to an ageing part-timer past his prime, but at least it means we can still get behind The Phenom for the one more match that is sure to mean megabucks for ‘Taker, his opponent, and WWE.

Of course, that only leads to another question.
What about Sting?
With Triple H calling out Sting for a confrontation at Fast Lane, a Wrestlemania bout between the two seems like a dead cert.

You have to wonder then, if the Stinger is on board, and if Undertaker is likely to be on board for a showdown with Wyatt, why aren’t WWE delivering the one match fans have been clamouring for, and which they themselves teased briefly in mid-2014?

Omitting Sting vs. Undertaker from the ‘Mania line-up only adds more fuel to the fires lit by those who claim Vince & Co. are deliberately going against what their fans want. In some respects, there are arguments in defence of WWE in the apparent war with their own fanbase.

Having given him the ball once, only to see him sit out the remainder of the year on the shelf with ongoing uncertainties surrounding his recovery from surgery, I’m not sure I’d be in any hurry to throw in my lot with Daniel Bryan again.

In the case of Sting vs. Undertaker however, the mind kind of boggles. Assuming both men are fit to compete, this is a guaranteed money maker for WWE, something they’ll desperately need if they fail to convince fans that Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar is worth tuning in for.

Then again, it may well be this issue of money that is keeping this dream match off the cards, for now.

If Brock Lesnar choses not to renew his contract after ‘Mania, and if Roman’s reign turns out to be the disaster many are predicting, the company are going to be short on money-making attraction by the summer.

Which is where a Summerslam bout between the two icons could really come in handy.

Will Sting and Undertaker come face to face at Mania and work their way to a Summerslam match? With so much of what we’ve discussed being based on little more than rumour, will any of it play out at all?

Who knows? All we know for now, is that the Road to Wrestlemania is underway, and things are about to get interesting.

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The 25 Lamest WWE PPV Endings Ever

December 23, 2014 By: Category: lists, WWE | Pro Wrestling

It didn’t take long for Dean Ambrose’s exploding-television mishap (Magnavox Overdrive?) to become subject of ridicule. The fact that Ambrose is winless in all pay-per-view bouts post-Shield split (that’s since June 2) only makes an incendiary monitor more the source of caustic feeling.

The ending of a WWE pay-per-view is generally the lasting impression left on viewers. There may have been some enjoyably crisp match in the undercard (certainly the Dolph Ziggler/Luke Harper ladder match from TLC fits this profile), which may have to yield in the face of a thudding finish. Ambrose being defeated by technology, an incident more likely to do in Cosmo Kramer or Kenny McCormack than wily-whackjob Ambrose, is such a thud.

Over the years, harebrained ideas have punctuated these events, earning their rightful place in negative lore. Your mileage may vary, and with all matters wrestling among distinct fan tastes it will, but I’ve concocted a list of what I feel are the 25 most absurd final acts in WWE pay-per-view history.

CAVEAT 1: this list doesn’t necessary include instances where ‘the wrong guy went over’. That’s certainly subjective. You’re better off writing, “25 times I think Triple H and John Cena should have put someone over.” Now THAT’S a subjective list. But there are a few examples littered in here.

CAVEAT 2: Montreal is disqualified. No incident that turns Vince McMahon into the grandest of villains for Steve Austin to combat with weekly, spurring wrestling’s vaunted Attitude Era into the highest of gears, can count as lame. Unfair to Bret Hart? You can pick a side. Lame? Hardly.

CAVEAT 3: Chances are, you’re going to see something on this list that you personally enjoyed. That’s what friendly debate is for. I once inducted WrestleMania XXVII into WrestleCrap and I still get raked over the coals from time to time for it. Once again, this is all subjective. Just play along, if you would.

CAVEAT 4: For those who DO take offense to anything written, keep in mind it’s almost always written with a playful grin than with a scowl. So many of these moments provided unintentional bits of comedy, how *can* you hate them? Wrestling is fun, even when it’s garbage. Sometimes it takes years to see the humor in these happenings, and other times it’s instant. But hey, it’s why we still watch.

And now, here go the list.

25. THE WHAT GENERATION? (King of the Ring, June 19, 1994)

In 1994, WWE earnestly promoted its hard-hitting, fast-paced “New Generation”, with prime talents like Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels leading the way. To contradict this fresh sentiment, the King of the Ring closed with Jerry Lawler wrestling Rowdy Roddy Piper, both men well into their forties. While both men have forged storied legacies, this match is best left out.

Piper fought the insipid Lawler for the right to donate his ‘winning money’ to a Toronto children’s hospital, and Lawler was set on stopping him, like something out of a Marx Brothers movie. The match felt just as aged, and the slow finish didn’t help: Piper hitting a slow-motion back suplex with an awkward bridge that Lawler somehow could not escape.

24. A GRADUAL BURIAL (Rock Bottom, December 13, 1998)

Stone Cold Steve Austin could do no wrong in 1998. It goes without saying that bits like whacking Vince McMahon with a bedpan, or humoring McMahon’s attempt at making him over in corporate stylings, could have bombed with a performer of lesser personality. Austin’s cool factor buoyed many moments, even ones that were just beyond his control.

Closing out 1998, Austin would defeat the increasingly-Satantic Undertaker in a Buried Alive match. While Undertaker lay prone in the grave, Austin instructed a backhoe operator to pile on the dirt. After fidgeting with the controls, to noticeable crowd groans, the driver managed to dump the soil on after what felt like an agonizing hour, with a possibly comatose ‘Taker.

23. MONTREAL: THE SEARCH FOR MORE MONEY (Breaking Point, September 13, 2009)

While Montreal, polarizing as the moment remains, was undeniably the source of great growth for a blissfully-seedy WWE, attempts to rip it off have been lacking. Survivor Series 1998 gets points only for the Rock-Mankind double-turn. Other occurrences of ‘ringing the f–king bell’ since only make the home viewer want to smash their monitors, a la Bret Hart.

At WWE’s lone Breaking Point event, highlighting submission matches, World Champion CM Punk defeated Undertaker in a criminally short match when that bell f–king rang as ‘Taker was in the process of countering the Anaconda Vice. The sort-of explanation: a galvanized Teddy Long orchestrated the screwjob to impress Vince McMahon. Well, it WAS in Montreal….

22. PAY IT OFF ANOTHER TIME (Unforgiven, September 22, 2002)

One major change from the Attitude Era’s closing was, to a degree, serious slowing down of storylines. The good: an exciting story has time to breathe and build (see: Jericho vs. Michaels, 2008). The bad: you’re liable to get a screwy finish on pay-per-view, with the rematch coming the following month. At $45-55 a pop, this can be very irksome to tight-budget viewers.

A fresh-faced Brock Lesnar had just become WWE Champion, and warred with Undertaker in a decent brawl that ended after 20 minutes with a double-DQ that was simply rare in post-Attitude, re-education-filled 2002. The Los Angeles fans blew a gasket in response, and rightly so. The Hell in a Cell rematch a month later is legendary, though the road there had this pothole.

21. TV TAPING (Extreme Rules, April 25, 2010)

There’s two ideas that clash like oil and water: the concept of violent wrestling, and the Bugs Bunny-like comic mischief of John Cena. Hey, Hulk Hogan did plenty of goofy stuff in his matches (many of his Saturday Night’s Main Event moments are beautiful in their intricate silliness), and Cena certainly runs to that well in order to ‘create smiles’, per company mantra.

Cena and Batista put together a pretty good Last Man Standing match for the WWE Championship, and Cena did emerge as ‘last man standing’. That’s because Cena duct-taped Batista’s ankles around the ringpost, taking just long enough for the 300-pound Batista to look foolish in his inability to kick his muscular legs free. Admittedly, that stuff is potent.

20. THE RIGHT/WRONG MAN (In Your House: Triple Header, September 24, 1995)

Bait and switch, thy name is Titan. Immediately following SummerSlam 1995, WWE went into hype overdrive for the third In Your House, booking a true rarity: a match in which the World, Intercontinental, and Tag Team Titles would be on the line. Diesel and Shawn Michaels would defend their respective belts against tag champs Owen Hart and Yokozuna.

Hart would end up making the PPV late following the birth of his daughter Athena, but that only triggered an obvious escape clause. Davey Boy Smith, freshly-turned heel on Diesel, substituted for his brother-in-law. Late in the bout, Owen ran in from out of nowhere, and was immediately powerbombed and pinned by Diesel. The title change was nullified the following morning.

19. WWE LOSES CONTROL (Cyber Sunday, November 5, 2006)

Any sort of celebrity endorsement of WWE is gratefully accepted like a sandwich by a beggar. There is literally almost no D-or-E-lister that WWE won’t latch onto for a quick sniff. These days, middle-of-the-road TV stars are the preferred wagons to hitch to, though WWE has a history of scraping Hollywood’s barrel base for some sort of bad-boy connection. Enter Kevin Federline.

Remember Britney Spears’ ex-husband? At this time, ‘K-Fed’ released a unanimously-panned rap album, Playing With Fire, and WWE’s Attitude-lite product was attempting to make him their new Mike Tyson. Federline cost John Cena the World Heavyweight Title in a triple threat match via distraction, beat him on Raw two months later, and then vanished forever.

18. GASSED CHAMBER (SummerSlam, August 24, 2003)

The case against Triple H from diehard wrestling fans can be extensive, but give the man credit: his pedigree, pun intended, of great matches is a lengthy one, and he’s capable of delivering a believable main event. This wasn’t always the case; in 2003, as World Heavyweight Champion, Triple H reached a career nadir with Raw in a slump, and he quite literally couldn’t carry things.

By SummerSlam, Triple H was badly out of shape, thanks to a serious thigh/groin injury that kept him from working out to his overzealous liking. This meant in SummerSlam’s Elimination Chamber title defense, Helmsley (in garish bicycle shorts) watched Goldberg pulverize everyone before pinning “The Man” with a solitary sledgehammer blow, doing two minutes of work.

17. PULLING THE STRINGS (King of the Ring, June 27, 1999)

One of the en vogue story tropes of the Attitude Era was the “WHODUNNIT” mystery. Who ran down Austin in the parking lot? Who hit Kevin Nash with the Hummer truck? Who is the Higher Power? After Vince McMahon was hastily revealed as that last shrouded figure, the mysteries lost their luster considerably. At least the Higher Power, though, had a payoff.

Steve Austin battled Vince and son Shane for total control of WWE at King of the Ring in a ladder match, with the ownership certificates suspended in a briefcase above the ring. Austin had the match won, and made his climb, when the briefcase was suddenly jerked out of Austin’s reach. The McMahons won full power, and the assailant was never, ever revealed.

16. THIS IS A RECORDING (Over the Limit, May 22, 2011)

John Cena doesn’t quit. Period. Wisenheimer fans will note that Kurt Angle and the redacted Chris Benoit have made Cena tap (for $9.99, you can watch Angle do it at No Mercy 2003), but those are bits of buried history in the primary narrative. Cena, unless he turns heel, is never submitting. Otherwise, those hand-towels he displays are worthless. Well, even more so.

After tormenting WWE Champion Cena in an I Quit match, The Miz managed to draw a submission with a chair-shot beating. The referee then deciphered that it was a recording of Cena previously saying the words in a promo, via Alex Riley’s cell phone lying near Cena’s head. Cena came to life, chased Miz up the rampway, and made him submit seconds later.

15. HELP ME, OBI-WYATT (Hell in a Cell, October 26, 2014)

If the feud between Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins has not truly ended, then this entry wouldn’t be so bad. As it stands, it’s a detour for WWE’s best feud of 2014 (assuming it picks up in 2015 sometime). That doesn’t extinguish the randomness of the moment, as well as the all-too excessive nature of what took place. It did take away from an enjoyable brawl.

As Ambrose and Rollins concluded their violent-minus-blood Hell in a Cell bout, Ambrose was about to win when *gasp* the lights went out. Some sort of plain-spoken Middle-Eastern chant was played on loop for what felt like hours. Then a hologram of Bray Wyatt appeared over a smoking lantern in the ring. Wyatt appeared, randomly attacked Ambrose, and Rollins won.

14. SOME PARTING GIFT, BROTHER (WrestleMania VIII, April 5, 1992)

WWE began something of a free-fall in 1992, in regards to a major roster purge. By year’s end, The Ultimate Warrior, Davey Boy Smith, Rowdy Roddy Piper, Jake Roberts, Legion of Doom, and Sid Justice would all leave the company. Hulk Hogan, the biggest star WWE had known by a country mile, was finishing after WrestleMania VIII, a fact that the company vaguely hyped as true.

Hogan headlined against Sid in what was a pretty bland match, building to the Hogan Formula Finish. That’s when Sid kicked out of the legdrop in a shocker, purportedly because an interfering Papa Shango was late. The fact that WrestleMania ended with a disqualification was a considerable letdown, even with Ultimate Warrior making the save in a startling return.

13. OH, THAT’S WHY THEY…. (Royal Rumble, January 29, 2006)

In the 1990s, the company experimented three straight years with putting the World Title match on after the Rumble match. WWE soon figured out that nothing could follow the one-hour tradition, and by 1999, they reverted back to closing the event with the signature gauntlet. An exception has been made twice since: 2013, so Rock could close, and this mind-boggler.

In 2006, the 30-man classic went on fourth out of six matches. Kurt Angle and an ice-cold Mark Henry went on last for the World Title in a plodding affair, headshaking until Angle’s victory celebration. Undertaker arrived on a chariot and caused the ring to collapse as a means of challenging Angle. Boy, good thing WWE changed the match order before that supernatural act.

12. DEAL WITH IT (Royal Rumble, January 26, 2014)

A rare entry on this list that exclusively criticizes the choice of winner than an actual convoluted finish. You won’t need much reminding: Daniel Bryan was by the time the most popular wrestler in the industry, shaking off pointless refuge in the Wyatt Family by destroying the trio in a memorable conclusion to Raw, with the thunderous crowd “YESes” shaking the venue.

Two weeks later, WWE excluded Bryan from the Royal Rumble match, having him put Bray Wyatt over cleanly to start the show. As the crowd gradually grew more sour, an unwelcome Batista ended up winning the Rumble match. When Rey Mysterio entered at No. 30, the realization of Bryan’s absence drew the sort of caustic rage that every heel dreams of.

11. STEP ASIDE, JABRONIES (WrestleMania XXVII, April 3, 2011)

When The Rock made an unexpected return on the February 14 Raw, shockwaves coursed. It’d been seven years since “The Great One” made any sort of meaningful appearance in an actual WWE arena. The Attitude cornerstone would take on the dreaded ‘guest host’ role at WrestleMania, though his diatribes against John Cena were positively right out of 1999.

Problem: Cena wasn’t facing Rock. Instead, Cena was challenging WWE Champion The Miz, with whom he had as unspectacular a main event as you could have on the biggest stage. Miz wound up retaining after Rock cost Cena the match. Then Miz would ‘know his role’ by getting Rock Bottom’d in the aftermath, leaving Rock, a non-wrestler, as the only man standing tall.

10. GREAT MAIN EVENT? NO CHANCE (Royal Rumble, January 24, 1999)

As the previous entry suggests, a bad main event is made much worse with a ridiculous ending. A bad match that lasts one hour and has an equally insulting finish? Much worse, as you’d probably guess. When a bad Royal Rumble came down to the first two entrants, a barely-active Steve Austin and Vince McMahon, jaded fans half-heartedly expected a swerve, which they got.

After Austin beat McMahon half to death, with a World Title match hanging in the balance, he didn’t eliminate the boss, choosing to inflict more damage. This brought The Rock out to distract Austin, giving carte blanche to years of distraction finishes. A suddenly stupid Austin fell under Rock’s spell and tangled with him, allowing the cadaver of Vince to dump Stone Cold.

9. SPONSORED BY JIMMY-JOBS (Extreme Rules, April 29, 2012)

Brock Lesnar’s return following a bountiful UFC run created plenty of excitement. His post-WrestleMania arrival, in which he F5’ed John Cena, nearly blew the roof off of the arena. The vignettes hyping their match four weeks later at Extreme Rules were a paradox of simple, and outside-the-box. Lesnar was now a crossover star, the magnitude of which WWE covets.

So then after bloodying Cena with stiff blows, and nearly breaking the man’s arm with a kimura lock, Lesnar would lose the high-profile bout cleanly. Making matters more confusing was a post-match Cena promo, in which he claimed he may be going away for a while to rest. Not only did Cena not go anywhere, but it undermined the marquee return of beastly megastar.

8. CRANE POSITION (Survivor Series, November 19, 2000)

When topping a heinous act with a measure of revenge, never underestimate WWE’s ability to veer too far into the realm of the absurd. One year earlier at Survivor Series, Steve Austin would be struck by a car in a plot masterminded by Triple H (with Rikishi as the driver). Austin and HHH would war one year later. In Attitude Era WWE, they knew they had to top a speedy rundown.

The match spilled all over the arena, and into the parking lot. Austin fought off the interfering Radicalz, while an ill-tempered Triple H started up a nearby car. As he started it up, Austin appeared inside a crane, lifted the car a few stories off the ground, and let it drop with Helmsley inside. Instead of being, well, dead, Helmsley reappeared not long after with nary a scratch on his body.

7. PLOD DEVICE (No Way Out, February 20, 2005)

One of the common elements on the list: the sudden stupidity of babyfaces. For many of these ideas to ‘work’, the purported hero has to lose 50 IQ points at the worst possible time. Take the barbed wire steel cage match for the WWE Title between JBL and Big Show. On many occasions, Show has played the ogre-like fool, but none moreso than the ending of this No Way Out.

The bloody affair saw Show chokeslam JBL off the top rope, through the actual canvas. Instead of dragging JBL out of the pit and pinning him (Nick Patrick was officiating in the ring), Show slowly kicked open the locked door, walked 1.3 MPH out of the opening, and slowly walked down the steps. Surprise: JBL won when he crawled into the pit, and out from under the ring.

6. TV IS BAD FOR YOU (TLC, December 14, 2014)

I feel fairly confident with the high placement of this entry. Factoring in that Dean Ambrose hasn’t won a pay-per-view bout since June 1, in spite of the favorable reception he receives for his masterful selling, mannerisms, and presentation, WWE has yet to really throw him a bone in his singles run. The ending of TLC has become a new running gag, rightfully so.

Branching off the “sudden stupidity” theory from the previous entry, Ambrose had Bray Wyatt beaten following a car-crash of a TLC match. That wasn’t enough, so Ambrose brings in a plugged-in monitor from under the ring, admires himself in it, and tries to nail Wyatt, only for the plugs to explode and blind him. Say it with me now: Sister Abigail for the pin.

5. SHOW STOPPER (Battleground, October 6, 2013)

Battleground wound up earning the honor of Worst WWE PPV of 2013 across most outlets, and it’s easy to see why. Other than the Rhodes Brothers taking on the Shield, everything else ranged from dull to downright bad. The PPV was the third paying installment of the Daniel Bryan/Randy Orton/Abeyance World Title angle, so at least there’d be a payoff, right?

After 20 minutes of wrestling, Bryan had Orton enveloped in the Yes Lock, only for Big Show to jog down, pull the ref, and lay out Bryan with the WMD, at the behest of Brad Maddox. Show pulled a second referee after a change of heart and then KO’ed Orton, who he was supposed to be helping. Sixty of your dollars later, and the belt remained vacant until the next PPV.

4. EARLIER SHOW STOPPER (Over the Limit, May 20, 2012)

This one features all of the elements of a bad finish: hacky comedy, a plot hole, a bad match, and a worse ending. John Laurinaitis was forced into action against John Cena, with his job on the line. Anyone who interfered would be fired. There’d be no disqualifications otherwise, allowing Cena to drag the former Johnny Ace through some ha-ha-larious predicaments.

Days before the match, a surly Laurinaitis had fired Big Show on Raw. After 15 minutes of Cena pounding Laurinaitis (he could have pinned him at any time), the VP tries to escape, only to conveniently run into a loitering Show. Show brings him back, and then KO’s Cena in a swerve. You know, after Laurinaitis nearly lost a bunch of times. Ace wins, and Show was rehired.

3. GET EM, HULK! (WrestleMania IX, April 4, 1993)

Anyone shedding tears over Hogan’s half-hearted farewell one year earlier will either be overjoyed at the end of WrestleMania IX, or be further appalled. As WWE’s roster shifted into promoting gifted workers with realistic bodies, Bret Hart became its flagbearer and World Champion. A match with portly Yokozuna at WrestleMania IX would put him over strongly.

Hart lost, somehow knocked unconscious by salt to the eyes. This brought out a suddenly-slimmer Hogan to protest this great injustice. Then Mr. Fuji stupidly challenged Hogan to a title match on the spot. Seconds later, Hogan beat Yokozuna to become champion, wiping The Hitman off the slate completely. Hogan then devalued the belt while touring New Japan.

2. STARS AND SWERVES FOREVER (SummerSlam, August 30, 1993)

After Hogan vanished following his title loss back to big Yoko, WWE did not reinsert Hart back into the picture. Instead, they stripped Lex Luger of his ho-hum Narcissist persona, costumed him in all colors Americana, effectively trying to make him the new Hogan. Luger slammed Yokozuna in a public challenge on the Fourth of July, and seemed poised to win the gold.

After Yokozuna’s spokesman Jim Cornette deemed this Lex’s *only* shot at Yokozuna, the two proceeded to actually have a good match. Luger would indeed win, but by countout. Using the steel plate in his forearm, Luger blasted Yoko and knocked him out cold, but through the ropes. Luger celebrated with other babyfaces while balloons and confetti fell, but without the title.

1. LEGACY CEMENTED (Great American Bash, June 27, 2004)

The Undertaker has had his share of unrealistic storylines, many unworthy of equaling the supernatural grace he so easily portrays. In 2004, Undertaker reassumed his ‘Dead Man’ image after a few years performing as an amped-up version of his real life grizzled biker self. With the return to the Dark Side came the package deal of far-fetched incidences as well.

At this event, Undertaker faced the Dudley Boyz in a handicap match with Paul Bearer (back on Taker’s side) sitting in a clear cubicle. If Taker didn’t lay down, Paul Heyman would authorize dumping wet cement on him. The goop built, but Taker won anyway. Then, for reasons unknown, Undertaker himself filled the cubicle, presumably killing Bearer. This wasn’t a heel turn, by the way.

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The Undertaker Will Be At WWE WrestleMania 31

December 16, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Don’t count the dead man out of WrestleMania just yet. A new report indicates that the demise of the Undertaker may have been premature and the WWE Universe may be in line for another dose of darkness at WrestleMania 31.

I have to admit that I am not surprised. I never expected the Undertaker to miss the big event. While I can certainly understand the theories behind his retirement, I just always felt he had some gas left in the tank for a few more matches. A new report says that WWE officials feel the same way and they are moving forward with plans for the big man.

The excitement started last week when photos hit the Internet of WrestleMania 31 advertisements on a WWE tour bus. What struck all of us about those ads were that they featured the Undertaker and nobody else. These weren’t just generic Mania ads, these were specific to 31 which means that someone was told to use Taker to promote the event. At that point fans started to get excited about the Undertaker.

Dave Meltzer has the scoop in his latest edition of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. In his most recent report, Meltzer says that there are plans in place for the Undertaker to wrestle on the big California event. However, what may surprise you is what those plans actually are.

The booking plan right now is for Undertaker vs. Wyatt, not Sting or Lesnar, but that is dependent on Undertaker giving them the okay he can wrestle on the show, which he has not done as of yet. But even if he doesn’t wrestle, the idea right now is to use him in some form on the show, since he’s still under contract with a seven figure downside so they want to use him in some form to justify the contract.

The shocker here is that as of everyone on the roster, Bray Wyatt is the leading candidate to get the spot against Taker. I could have bought into this a few months ago but Wyatt has been rather cool since his feud with John Cena. I just don’t sense the momentum right now for such a match, especially after Wyatt fizzled coming off a big match on last year’s Mania card. That said I was surprised last year around this time when Wyatt vs. Cena was rumored for Mania 30 so anything is possible. Although at this time last year, our own Tom Clark wrote a very convincing blog as to why Wyatt vs. Undertaker was the way to go.

The choice is a simple one for me. Brock Lesnar vs. Undertaker 2 is the money match. I wrote a blog less than a month after Mania declaring that a Lesnar vs. Taker Mania rematch could be the biggest WrestleMania match of this generation. I won’t go through it again but in summary you have a full year of Paul Heyman taunting the Undertaker with promos mocking last year’s defeat. Heyman has set this up since the day after Mania and I can’t think of a bigger rallying cry for fans this year than seeing Undertaker get his revenge and shut Heyman up after a year of taunting.

The angle writes itself. I hate fantasy booking blogs but I am going to do it anyway. The WWE has a few ways they can get to Mania with these two. The easy money would be for Taker to make a surprise appearance at the Rumble, win it, and then set up a career vs. championship match. In my opinion that is where the money is and I think it would be huge. Who goes over? I think Undertaker goes over. Now what do you do with Taker as champion? You could have him lose it on RAW either the next night or set up a match a couple of weeks later with Roman Reigns or Dean Ambrose. I hate the idea of turning one of them heel but I think you set the match up as face vs. face with Ambrose or Reigns turning heel and aligning with Heyman to win the title. I think a Heyman and Reigns heel championship combination coming off a win here is serious money. Heyman and Ambrose works too with Reigns set up as the conquering hero to take the title at say SummerSlam. You can go a couple of different ways with Lesnar if he is staying, but I don’t think he gets both the end of the streak and the end of the career.

Fans may be surprised to see Sting out of the running. I think at this point the WWE has committed Sting to a match with Triple H given the Survivor Series angle. I suppose Sting could somehow wind up in the match with Taker and wrestle Hunter at SummerSlam, but it really wouldn’t make much sense at this point. Unfortunately Sting has been boxed into an angle and the Undertaker match doesn’t seem logical.

Keep in mind that Meltzer also noted Taker may not wrestle so this all may be for nothing. Yet I don’t think you can blame anyone for getting excited. WrestleMania without the Undertaker just wouldn’t be the same and it looks like the lights will be out at the big show one more year and that is a very good thing.

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Pro Wrestling’s Five Most Memorable Events of 2014

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

It’s hard to believe that another year has been and gone already. 2014 came and went in blur, bringing it with more than its fair share of memorable moments.

It was the year of the WWE Network and the year of Batista’s brief return. It was the year The Shield broke up and Bray Wyatt was, for what feels like a fleeting moment now, the coolest thing in pro wrestling.

Though as memorable as these stories were, they didn’t get us talking quite as much as these five memorable events from 2014.

5) The end of TNA?
With the announcement that Spike TV would not be renewing the company’s flagship show once their current deal ended, it seemed the writing was firmly on the wall for TNA, and there was a while back there when we were all drafting eulogies and contemplating the future of mainstays like Bobby Roode and James Storm.

Yes, it seemed that for a while, the predictions of pessimistic (you may say realistic) wrestling fans everywhere was about to come true: The end was nigh for Dixie Carter’s little wrestling company.

As we all know now, TNA lived to fight another day, but it was looking pretty close back there.

4) Daniel Bryan shines at Wrestlemania
Daniel Bryan’s rise from the doldrums of WWE to the headline act at Wrestlemania was big news this year. As fans, we gave ourselves a pat on the back for making our voices heard both online and at the arenas, demanding our man Bryan be given a starring role at the biggest show of the year.

Then, we gave WWE bigwigs a bigger pat on the back when, for once, they actually came through for us.

Though subsequent injuries meant this one finished on less than the perfect ending, for a while, this was the sure fire feel-good story of 2014.

3) Sting arrives in WWE
In this writer’s mind, you’d be perfectly justified switching this one with our number two entry, and to be honest, this one only misses out on the number two spot because, well, we all saw it coming.

Still, even if it wasn’t the most surprising event of the year, the sight of the WCW icon between the ropes of a WWE is one many long-term fans never actually thought we’d see.

Whether the Stinger’s run as a WWE performer turns out as well as we’re all hoping it does remains to be seen, though it’s fair to say him being there in the first place was by far one of the biggest things that happened in 2014.

2) 21-1
The silence said it all. There wasn’t a single person watching Wrestlemania 30 who really believed, in their heart of hearts, that Brock Lesnar would emerge victorious against The Undertaker.

Even this writer, who penned an article for another website outlining why Lesnar was the perfect choice to end The Streak- didn’t really believe he would.

Then it happened. The Dead Man went down. Brock made the cover. A three count later, and The Undertaker was 21-1 at Wrestlemania.

1) CM Punk quits
Though talk about most of the stories on this list eventually simmered, ready to be replaced by the next big shocking turn of events, the news of CM Punk walking out of the WWE never really went away.

Punk left after his appearance at the 2014 Royal Rumble, and we all spent pretty much the rest of that year talking about it. For some, it was ripping into Punk for ‘taking his ball and going home,’ for others, it was plotting his huge, apparently inevitable, return in any number of fantasy booking scenarios.

Either way, Punk remained hot news for months after his last appearance inside a wrestling ring.

The Straight Edge Superstar’s recent appearances on Colt Cabana’s podcasts have only fanned the flames of this one, making it by far the most memorable events of 2014.

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Vince McMahon and Steve Austin Talk CM Punk, Undertaker Streak, and More

December 02, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Vince McMahon and Stone Cold Steve Austin got back together for a unique venture on the WWE Network. Austin interviewed McMahon on a live podcast and in classic fashion, combined for a fun and entertaining production.

Steve Austin has quickly made a reputation as one of the best celebrities gone podcaster. Austin was the first of several former colleagues to jump into the podcast fray and just like his days as a pro wrestler, continues to improve with every outing. Austin has interviewed many big names in pro wrestling but his biggest catch was Vince McMahon.

You knew it was going to happen. The Vince McMahon interview was a natural and Austin has said for months that Vince agreed to it. In typical Vince McMahon fashion, Vince took it up several notches by broadcasting the interview live on the WWE Network.

I’ll give Vince some credit. Sure he gave his corporate speak but he appeared to be as brutally honest as he thought he was. In other words, he believed everything he said. He also appeared to have a great time talking about his past and reflecting on old stories, which is a side of Vince you rarely see. Austin also did a great job of asking hard questions and never seemed intimidated by the situation. Austin asked Vince most of the questions we have been dying to ask and here are some of the highlights of the momentous event.

CM Punk just recently came out and blasted the WWE. Among other things, Punk said that the WWE sent him his termination papers on his wedding day. Vince blamed it on clerical and personally apologized to Punk. Vince said he’d love to have Punk back. Vince cited disagreements he has had with Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart, and Ultimate Warrior and how they were able to work it out. He is confident that with the right communication he and Punk could work it out. Vince and Austin then discussed the time Austin walked out of the WWE. Vince said that Austin was a better communicator than Punk. Vince said he could use someone like a J.R. to bridge that gap.

Austin asked him why the streak ended at WrestleMania 30. Vince said that it was time. He said that there was nobody on the roster like Brock Lesnar who fit that spot. He said that the Undertaker loves giving back but it was his decision.

One of the more interesting conversations occurred right at the start of the podcast. Austin asked Vince about the current roster. Vince said that he feels nobody wants to take the brass ring. He said he can only do so much with the guys but they have to want it. He said that he feels nobody is as hungry on the roster today as they were in Austin’s era. He said that John Cena is the only one who had the drive to be the top guy. It was very interesting and strong criticism on the entire roster, sans John Cena.

Vince talked about the writers and the differences in writing today. Vince told Austin that times were different and they needed the large amount of writers. Vince reminisced about booking with Pat Patterson at the side of his pool. Vince told Austin that they can’t book like that anymore.

Austin asked Vince why Brock couldn’t be on television more. Vince had a great response when he said, “How many more guys can Brock Lesnar beat up?” Vince said that less is more with someone like Brock and that if he had him on television more, he wouldn’t be as special.

All in all it was a great interview and I’d highly recommend checking out the rest. One of the best discussions was Austin and Vince talking about why they worked together so well and the magic they had. They also talk about Austin walking out and what it was like to work with Austin from Vince’s standpoint. The interview went over an hour and moved real fast. Check it out on the WWE Network.

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Top 25 WWE Survivor Series Elimination Matches

November 19, 2014 By: Category: lists, WWE | Pro Wrestling

Survivor Series just ain’t what it used to be.

First, it was Thanksgiving night. Then it was Thanksgiving eve. Then it moved indiscriminately to just any old Sunday in November. When it started, it was all about the elimination matches. Now it’s about the typically-rushed storylines that are often back-burnered in favor of whatever Cena or Orton are doing, with maybe an elimination match or two shoehorned in there somewhere.

Well, forget about senile Vince McMahon and lack-of-fun Kevin Dunn for a minute. Let’s journey back to when the event MEANT SOMETHING, and let’s share some fond memories of some of the greatest elimination matches that have ever taken place at the Thanksgiving night/eve/located in proximity to the holiday tradition!

After all, it sure beats “John Cena and The Rock vs. what’re-their-names.”

Enjoy!

25. The Holly Cousins and Too Cool def. Edge, Christian, and The Hardy Boyz (11/14/99, Detroit, MI)
Survivor: Hardcore Holly
Gotta admit; that face team would be pretty cool in any era, despite the real life problems of the brothers Hardy. For what it is, it’s a fast paced match between WWE’s “X Division” of 1999; a match in which the second oldest person (Crash) was only 28 years old. When does that EVER happen? Edge being the first one gone was a surprise, as was the heels going over. Then again, since Edge and company were made men after their spectacular ladder match the previous month, why not give some rub to the then-relevant “Big Shot”? Christian’s near-comeback from a three-on-one was fun to watch.

24. Bertha Faye, Aja Kong, Tomoko Watanabe & Lioness Asuka def. Alundra Blayze, Sakie Hasegawa, Kyoko Inoue & Chapparita Asari (11/19/95, Landover, MD)
Survivor: Kong
This was probably the first time since 1988 that WWE had more than three women involved in the same match, and boy, what a comeback for women’s wrestling. Of course, the entire division was scrapped a month later, when Blayze rechristened herself as Madusa and threw the WWE Women’s Title in the trash on WCW Nitro. Alas. The match was a ten minute infomercial for Aja Kong to show how scary-dominant she could be, dropping her fellow Joshi performers on their heads and necks before waylaying Blayze with a spinning back fist to become the sole survivor. Now we get Kelly Kelly rubbing her bony ass in Natalya’s face. Alas.

23. Kurt Angle, Chris Benoit, John Cena, Bradshaw, and Hardcore Holly def. Brock Lesnar, Big Show, A-Train, Matt Morgan, and Nathan Jones (11/16/03, Dallas, TX)
Survivors: Benoit, Cena
Lesnar built a team of brawny monsters to take on GM Paul Heyman’s “most wanted” list. It was notable because, unlike today with Cena and Randy Orton, the two men getting the biggest rub (Angle and Lesnar) were eliminated before the finish, thus making whoever survived look pretty damn special. Indeed, the soon-to-be-megapushed Benoit and the being-molded Cena upended Big Show in the end, after Benoit had made Lesnar tap out. Of course, this is essentially the match that kicked off Cena’s interminable face run, so maybe some of you will want to curse this outing.

22. Shawn Michaels, Triple H, CM Punk, and The Hardy Boyz def. Edge, Randy Orton, Johnny Nitro, Gregory Helms, and Mike Knox (11/26/06, Philadelphia, PA)
Survivors: the entire team
One sided as it was, this match provided some decent crowd-pleasing action, as well as a number of comedy spots. Mike Knox being eliminated by Shawn Michaels in under a minute, and then Shawn asking his team, “Who was he?” is never not funny. “I think he’s on ECW.” “Oh, so we’re doing GOOD then?” Too hilarious. Also of note was Punk outpopping the entire team during the pre-match DX intro, despite having only been in WWE for three months. It’s stuff like that that drives Vince McMahon even more insane.

21. Wade Barrett, Cody Rhodes, Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger, and Hunico def. Randy Orton, Sheamus, Kofi Kingston, Sin Cara, and Mason Ryan (11/20/11, New York, NY)
Survivors: Barrett, Rhodes
It was a pretty good way of putting over Intercontinental Champion Rhodes and soon-to-be pushed heel Barrett (before his arm injury in February). Orton dispatched a drained Ziggler early before Barrett’s team rattled off 4 straight eliminations, leaving Orton alone against 4 men. Swagger went quietly, then Hunico was RKOed out before the Viper was outsmarted, losing to Barrett’s Wasteland.

20. The Miz, Sheamus, Jack Swagger, Dolph Ziggler, and Drew McIntyre def. John Morrison, Matt Hardy, Evan Bourne, Shelton Benjamin, and Finlay (11/22/09, Washington, DC)
Survivors: Miz, Sheamus, McIntyre
Other than McIntyre’s push stalling in 2010, that heel side is like “Team Groom for Greatness”, as the other four men would all go on to hold a World Title. Whereas the face team features three men no longer in WWE, one suspended for ingesting synthetic ganja, and a captain who is a kitty-whipped laughingstock. Regardless, the match was a tremendous showcase of midcarders soon-to-be big deals, which gives Survivor Series (as well as the Royal Rumble) its ochre of flavor. The highlights were McIntyre nearly breaking Bourne in half at the neck with his Future Shock DDT, and Sheamus definitively crushing Finlay in the “Battle of the Brogue.”

19. Davey Boy Smith, Jim Neidhart, Doug Furnas, and Phil Lafon (Team Canada) def. Vader, Steve Blackman, Marc Mero, and Goldust (Team USA) (11/9/97, Montreal, PQ)
Survivor: Smith
Team Canada, it should be noted, featured only one actual Canadian in Lafon. On the night where Bret Hart would be excommunicated from WWE canon, it seemed appropriate that a hastily-assembled team of America haters would be on display. The match was merely a backdrop to begin a feud with Vader and the increasingly-erratic Goldust, who walked out without ever tagging in, but the match was an exciting wrestling exhibition when Vader, Mero, Smith, Furnas and Lafon were involved. Having a pro-Canuck team in an enthusiastic Canadian setting provided a hot crowd as well, even if the match was overshadowed at night’s end by…..well, you know.

18. Ted Dibiase, Rhythm & Blues, and a Mystery Partner (The Million Dollar Team) def. Dusty Rhodes, Koko B Ware, and The Hart Foundation (The Dream Team) (11/22/90, Hartford, CT)
Survivor: Dibiase
Assuming that Honky and Neidhart are future Hall of Famers, as well as the mystery partner, you have eight Hall of Famers in one match. Impressive, no? Anyway, you probably know by now that said mystery partner is The Undertaker, making his WWE debut in grand fashion by obliterating Ware and Rhodes before taking a countout loss to save his mystique. Hart lost his brother Dean the day before to kidney failure, and Roddy Piper (on commentary) declared “The Hitman” had dedicated the match to him. Foreshadowing his eventual singles push, Hart came back from three on one to tussle with Dibiase at the end, losing when the Million Dollar Man rolled through his cross body.

17. Randy Savage, Jake Roberts, Brutus Beefcake, Ricky Steamboat, and Hacksaw Jim Duggan def. Honky Tonk Man, Ron Bass, Harley Race, Hercules, and Danny Davis (11/26/87, Richfield, OH)
Survivors: Savage, Roberts, Steamboat
The first Survivor Series match ever had one of the more intriguing stories ever seen at the event. Honky, Intercontinental Champion for six months running and an unlikely champion at that, was versed by five challengers, all of whom capable of beating him for the gold, if not for Honky’s perpetual luck and knack for cheating. Honky’s teammates weren’t able to go the distance, as Honky found himself stuck with the three men he had feuded with through 1987, and they all still held a grudge. After trying his best to hang with Savage and his cohorts, Honky took a walk for the countout loss. By the way, wouldn’t YOU have loved to see Savage and Steamboat as a semi-regular team? Me too.

16. Randy Savage, Hulk Hogan, Koko B Ware, Hercules, and Hillbilly Jim def. Big Bossman, Akeem, Ted Dibiase, Haku, and The Red Rooster (11/24/88, Richfield, OH)
Survivors: Savage, Hogan
Koko and Rooster main evented a WWE PPV not called “Royal Rumble” or “Irony-Mania”. The Towers were positioned as holdover threats to Savage and Hogan before the “Mega Powers Exploding” months later. Hogan being handcuffed late in the match while Savage had to try and fend off Bossman and Akeem provided some tension to a well-worked, albeit predictable, affair. The sad part was Dibiase, the hottest heel when the year started, reduced to working a nothing angle with former “slave” Hercules, and then floating around with nothing to do for months until he was handed the Jake Roberts feud. Other than such quibbles, it was a fine main event to the Series’ second incarnation.

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15. The Ultimate Warrior, Jim Neidhart, and The Rockers (The Ultimate Warriors) def. Andre the Giant, Haku, Arn Anderson, and Bobby Heenan (The Heenan Family) (11/23/89, Chicago, IL)
Survivor: Warrior
I love when you look back at old matches like this and realize that WWE and Vince McMahon were giving experimental runs to those deemed to have “future prospects.” This particular match was the closer for the 1989 Survivor Series, and Warrior was given a chance to shine as the final act, foreshadowing his World Title run the following year. In addition, Shawn Michaels lasted quite a while in the match for a 24-year-old tag team wrestler, getting to pin Haku before succumbing to Anderson’s spinebuster. Surely with Marty Jannetty eliminated, the match became something of a singles audition for the future Heartbreak Kid. For those wondering why Heenan was in the match, check Tully Blanchard’s drug test results for an explanation.

14. Kofi Kingston, Christian, Mark Henry, MVP, and R-Truth def. Randy Orton, CM Punk, Cody Rhodes, Ted Dibiase, and William Regal (11/22/09, Washington, DC)
Survivor: Kingston
Quite the anachronism in 2011, Orton pinned Henry within the first minute, Orton and Punk worked in tandem, eventual main eventer R-Truth bit the dust early, and Orton Punk were both reviled villains to Christian’s virtuous good guy routine. But rather than expose the fallacies of WWE’s breakneck booking change, let’s look at the upside: Kingston was made with this one, withstanding seven minutes of Punk and Orton breaking him down, to score what should have been a career-boosting victory. Instead, he blew the finish weeks later in a triple threat involving Orton, and Orton had an on-camera freakout that got Kofi punished, but not Randino. Weird.

13. Razor Ramon, 123 Kid, Davey Boy Smith, and The Headshrinkers (The Bad Guys) def. Shawn Michaels, Diesel, Owen Hart, Jim Neidhart, and Jeff Jarrett (The Teamsters) (11/23/94, San Antonio, TX)
Survivor: Ramon
You can be made in a loss, and Diesel was a made man after this performance. After lots of early action in which everyone but Michaels got involved, Diesel said “enough of this” and went on a rampage. Fatu bit the dust with a Jackknife, followed by Kid, then Sionne, and then the Bulldog took a count out loss. With Razor remaining, against 5 on 1 odds, a loss seemed inevitable when Michaels FINALLY tagged in and accidentally superkicked Diesel. In a silly finish, all five heels were counted out when Diesel angrily stalked Michaels. Razor became the only sole survivor in history to never eliminate anyone and, three days later, Diesel beat Bob Backlund to become WWE Champion.

12. Andre the Giant, King Kong Bundy, Rick Rude, One Man Gang, and Butch Reed def. Hulk Hogan, Bam Bam Bigelow, Paul Orndorff, Don Muraco, and Ken Patera (11/26/87, Richfield, OH)
Survivor: Andre
Sorry, Jim Crockett Promotions. When cable providers had to choose between airing Starrcade ’87 and the inaugural Survivor Series, with the lure of Hulk and Andre in the main event, facing off eight months after WrestleMania III, WWE won out in spades. After the sides whittled down to a three on two, Hogan and Andre finally locked horns, but the Hulkster was counted out after Bundy and Gang kept him from re-entering the ring. Bigelow managed to eliminate Bundy and Gang and would have defied the odds Cena-style but, well, it was Andre. The Frenchman flattened Bammer for the final fall, giving himself a just cause to petition a rematch against Hogan for the WWE title. And that’s a fascinating story in itself.

11. Doug Furnas, Phil Lafon, and The Godwinns def. Owen Hart, Davey Boy Smith, and The New Rockers (11/17/96, New York, NY)
Survivors: Furnas, Lafon
After a cup of coffee in ECW in the fall of 1996, Furnas and Lafon debuted in the opening match of Survivor Series 1996, and what a debut it was. Once Marty Jannetty busted his ankle prior to being eliminated, and then both Godwinns went, WWE was in store for action that they’d never seen before. Leif Cassidy (known better as Al Snow) took a header with modified reverse superplex from Lafon, and the well-traveled veterans were made to hold off Hart and Smith, then WWE Tag Team Champions. Bulldog was cradled for elimination, and Furnas planted Owen with an absolutely vicious release German suplex to give Furnas and Lafon the win with a crazy standing ovation from the Garden crowd.

10. The Rock, The Undertaker, Kane, Chris Jericho, and Big Show vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin, Kurt Angle, Rob Van Dam, Booker T, and Shane McMahon (11/19/01, Greensboro, NC)
Survivor: Rock
It was an abrupt end to what should have been a money-maker for WWE. The WCW/ECW Invasion had sputtered to a poorly-booked finish, but at least we got a great finale out of it. With the future of the company at stake, and the losing side being forced to disband for good, drama built over the forty-five minute coda. Once down to just Rock and Austin, after Jericho attempted to selfishly maim his own partner, the two icons of the Attitude era put on a dramatic finish, ending with Angle proving to be a mole, as he clocked Austin with a title belt. One Rock Bottom later, and the Alliance was dead, leaving Stephanie to scream like a banshee in tears backstage.

9. The Powers of Pain, Hart Foundation, The Rockers, The British Bulldogs, and The Young Stallions def. Demolition, The Brainbusters, Los Conquistadors, The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers, and The Bolsheviks (11/24/88, Richfield, OH)
Survivors: Powers of Pain
When was the last time WWE had ten teams, REAL teams, under lock and key like this? This would be the second time a match with ten teams would take place (I do believe this spoils a later entry), and it was full of great action and well-told stories. The climax was an inexplicable story turn in which Mr. Fuji intentionally caused Demolition, the World Tag Team Champions, mind you, to be counted out, just so he could manage the Powers of Pain for some reason. In other fascinating notes, the Conquistadors, perennial jobbers, lasted over forty minutes, and the Rougeaus were eliminated early due to a very tense real-life feud with Dynamite Kid.

8. Randy Orton, Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, and Maven def. Triple H, Batista, Edge, and Gene Snitsky (11/14/04, Cleveland, OH)
Survivor: Orton
Kicking off one of the greatest five-month story arcs ever seen in WWE history (I’m serious), Orton led his team to victory in a match where the winning side got to run Raw for one month while Eric Bischoff took a long vacation. In the end, it would lead to Batista realizing he could beat Triple H and thus slowly turned on him before brutalizing him for the World Heavyweight Title at WrestleMania 21. Sadly, though, this match didn’t make Orton the top babyface star that Vince McMahon was hoping for, but lord knows they’d try again year after year. Highlight of the match is Maven busting Snitsky open with a stiff right hand, and Gene getting his revenge with a chair shot that just about killed the Shop-At-Home star.

7. Ric Flair, Ted Dibiase, The Warlord, and The Mountie def. Rowdy Roddy Piper, Bret Hart, Davey Boy Smith, and Virgil (11/27/91, Detroit, MI)
Survivor: Flair
What a great beginning, what a lousy finish. Talk about your impressive lists of talent for one match, with the exception of Warlord, who at least provided a musclehead to throw people around and create “ooooh” moments with. Even Virgil in 1991 had hit a nice stride. Smith and Warlord are both eliminated after a Flair cheapshot causes Bulldog to go, and then Hart duplicates the act on Warlord, allowing Piper to pin the big man. The match then ends in a bizarre multi-man count out, with Flair being the only man to beat the count back inside, thus cheaply becoming the sole survivor. It was a shame, because the match was turning into something AWESOME, aided by a white-hot crowd. What a pity.

6. The Shield and The Real Americans def. Rey Mysterio, Cody Rhodes, Goldust, and The Usos (11/24/13, Boston, MA)
Survivor: Roman Reigns

Easily the best elimination match in nearly a decade, WWE gave a Booking 101 demonstration on how to portray a wrestler as a killer. After Dean Ambrose, Cesaro, and Jack Swagger bit the dust, Reigns went ballistic, thinning the field of Rhodes and Jimmy Uso. Seth Rollins bounced Jey Uso out before getting downed by Rey. Down two-on-one, an undaunted Reigns plowed through Goldust and Mysterio in a 30-second span to stand tall. The action along the way was the fast-paced fare you’d expect, given the entrants, but letting one man, one not named Cena or Orton, obliterate so many opponents gave hope that Reigns would become a power player.

5. Skip, Rad Radford, Tom Pritchard, and 123 Kid (The Bodydonnas) def. Marty Jannetty, Barry Horowitz, Hakushi, and Bob Holly (The Underdogs) (11/19/95, Landover, MD)
Survivor: Kid
Imagine in 2011 if they put the likes of Daniel Bryan and other barely-seen, improperly-used talents in one twenty minute match and told them “go nuts.” In this opening match to the 1995 show, fast-paced athletes like Hakushi, Jannetty, and Kid wowed the crowd in spectacular fashion with action that Vince McMahon wasn’t exactly used to putting on. Let’s just say Vince bellowed “WHATAMANEUVER” a lot. After Jannetty finished Skip off with a top rope powerbomb (unheard of in WWE at the time), Kid used help from new stablemate Psycho Sid to finish Jannetty, continuing his remolding into one of Ted Dibiase’s corporate players.

4. Batista, Rey Mysterio, Randy Orton, Bobby Lashley, and JBL (Team Smackdown) def. Shawn Michaels, Kane, Big Show, Carlito, and Chris Masters (Team Raw) (11/27/05, Detroit, MI)
Survivor: Orton
The in-ring action for this one was superb, as you had wrestlers who didn’t even LIKE each other railing off creative double teams for the greater good of brand supremacy (you know, when the brand extension WASN’T a bastardized concept meant to make people care about a draft from year to year….). But as fun and different as the in-ring action was, the action at the commentary desks was even better, as Michael Cole and Tazz sniped with Joey Styles (remember him?), Jerry Lawler, and Jonathan Coachman for the entire match in between calling moves. For once, it seemed like Vince McMahon stepped away from the headset and just let their barbs come naturally, and it was FUN. In the end, Michaels took out Mysterio and JBL, but the RKO got him moments later. Then The Undertaker returned. Great stuff.

3. Razor Ramon, Macho Man Randy Savage, Marty Jannetty, and 123 Kid def. IRS, Diesel, Rick Martel, and Adam Bomb (11/24/93, Boston, MA)
Survivors: Jannetty, Kid
A major substitution took place before the card, as Savage was called in to pinch hit for Mr. Perfect, who either bowed out due to recurring back problems or alcoholic issues, depending on which source you believe. Regardless, the action was raucous for the first fifteen to twenty minutes, with Diesel, Savage, IRS, and Razor, the four bigger players involved, being eliminated. Once down to the monstrous Bomb and wily Martel against two smaller competitors, it seemed that Kid and Jannetty had little chance. This was especially true after Bomb gave Kid a sickening slam on the concrete after a plancha gone bad. However, after a half hour of action, Kid and Jannetty ended the contest with matching sunset flips on both men to become unlikely survivors.

2. Strike Force, Young Stallions, Killer Bees, British Bulldogs, and the Fabulous Rougeau Brothers def. Hart Foundation, Demolition, The Islanders, The New Dream Team, and The Bolsheviks (11/26/87, Richfield, OH)
Survivors: Stallions, Bees
The original twenty-man elimination contest features WWE talents at their most innovative. In a match with Bret Hart, Dynamite Kid, Davey Boy Smith, Tito Santana, and others, this should not be a surprise. Hard to say what was better: Haku nearly decapitating Dynamite with the savate kick, or Paul Roma saving Jim Powers with a top rope sunset flip on Valentine to eliminate him. This match has literally everything: crisp finishing sequences, top-notch wrestling, good swerves (Strike Force, the champs, were eliminated not fifteen minutes into the forty minute match), and a nice underdog finish, as Jim Brunzell pinned Bret Hart, allowing the Bees and Stallions to outsmart the brawnier Islanders en route to victory. If you love tag team wrestling, hunt down a copy of this event, because this match will be your Graceland.

1. Chris Jericho, Christian, Randy Orton, Mark Henry, and Scott Steiner (Team Bischoff) def. Shawn Michaels, Booker T, Rob Van Dam, and The Dudley Boyz (Team Austin) (11/16/03, Dallas, TX)
Survivor: Orton
If Austin’s team were to be victorious, he, as co-GM of Raw, would be allowed to use martial law to keep order on the show (i.e. beat people up). However, if Bischoff’s team won, Austin was out as co-GM. The match began innocuously enough, with Henry, Booker, Steiner, and RVD going, and then Michaels hit a gusher outside the ring, with blood spilling everywhere. Seriously, it looked like he was going to die any second. Jericho and Christian finished off the future Team 3D, and Austin’s hopes were now pinned on a crimson-soaked zombie. Oh, the drama! A fluke Sweet Chin Music took Christian out, and a cradled reversal of the Walls doomed Jericho. Michaels heroically hung in there against a fresh Orton, and the ref was soon knocked out. Austin and Bischoff interjected themselves, and Austin chased Bischoff to the entrance set and thrashed him good, but Batista then jumped the rail, pancaked Michaels with the Batista Bomb, and the ref came around to count Orton’s pinfall, leaving a stunned Austin in the aisleway. Had Austin been gone for more than four months after this, and not returned as the “Sheriff”, it’d have meant a lot more. Instead, it was just a great match, one in which the drama and story meant more than any chain-wrestling sequence could ever mean.

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