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WWE Creative Needs An Overhaul

January 28, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

It’s easy to boo Roman Reigns but the Royal Rumble fiasco is symptomatic of a bigger problem. The Reigns revolt caps off a decade of consistently poor creative and ignorance that has produced absolutely zero new superstars and has done more to damage careers than enhance them. It’s time for this department to start taking some accountability and it starts right at the top with the Chairman of the Board and his hand picked successor.

WWE fans find themselves in the same spot they were last year. Frustrations are peaking once again as the company has sealed themselves into a bubble, isolated from the fans, forcing a superstar on its customers. Many bloggers and pundits are looking for answers, most accusing the WWE creative hierarchy of ignorance while I tend to look at more at the obvious. This writing team and it’s commanders in chief are inept at their jobs.

It’s easy to sit back and criticize booking based on personal tastes. Whether you were a fan in the 80s or last month, no booking period has ever given you everything that you wanted. This isn’t even a case of the company getting its top guys wrong. That isn’t the issue. The issue here is that an objective look at this writing regime and its process over the last several years concludes that this writing team has done more harm in elevating talent and creating elite superstars than any other in the history of the WWE.

Stone Cold Steve Austin was the first guy to my knowledge to question the writing process to the head cheese, Vince McMahon. Austin asked Vince why it took so many writers, some with no pro wrestling knowledge, to book a company that was successfully booked by less than a handful of guys for decades. Vince gave him the “Oh Steve the business has changed” line and he’s right, it has changed. The WWE business model no longer elevates talent to the top of the card and has not been able to figure out how to do it since about 2010.

The current state of the WWE is full of guys that are what many in the business would call great hands. As a supporting cast, this may be the most talented supporting card that the WWE has ever produced in my lifetime. From bottom to the middle, it is hard to argue with the quality of most WWE talent yet there is a gap and it is a big one from middle to top. That gap continues to widen and Roman Reigns is the latest example of a company that continually fails to put guys in the right positions to make that leap.

I don’t know what it is because as many have said, it’s not rocket science. Booking pro wrestling is not that hard and elevating guys to the top is a lot more simple than Vince McMahon wants you to believe. Yet for whatever reason the WWE Creative department continue to muddy up the process with their terribly scripted promos, illogical storyline progressions, 50-50 booking, lack of continuity, and cartoon-ish character development. The more they tinker the bigger the misses and there is plenty of evidence to back that up.

The Miz, Jack Swagger, Dolph Ziggler, Christian, Mark Henry, Dean Ambrose, Sheamus, Alberto Del Rio, CM Punk, Ryback, and Bray Wyatt all come to mind as misses. Hear me out before you argue CM Punk. These guys were all identified at some point as guys the company wanted to elevate to the top. Everyone here at some one point garnered some momentum and were on their way to the top of the cards. All of these guys were able to create some buzz, acquire fan support, and appeared poised to fill one of those coveted top spots. That was of course until the creative team started to work their magic (I’ll call it black magic in this case), get cute, and successfully booked these guys all back to the middle and lower cards where they started from. At the end of the day the creative team did nothing to put these guys in a position to succeed, yet there has been minimal accountability for these failures.

But there have been some hits! Yes, there have been some hits. CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, and even Ryback for a short time were able to breakthrough and reach the top of the cards. In the case of Punk, if you look back at his pre-pipe bomb angle he was positioned a couple of times to move up the cards yet wound up in an eventual descend each time. The difference between all of these guys and the above is that their rises came about organically. Their success had absolutely nothing to do with the writing. Ironically the only thing that kept these guys from staying in those top spots was the creative team. It was the crack creative team that got cute and tinkered with an entity that was already appealing to fans. In the case of Ryback, he was never able to get his momentum back and was eventually sent back to the openers. Punk was talented enough to withstand it, yet even Punk never fully reached his potential thanks to the meddling of Vince, Hunter, and friends. Daniel Bryan is still a question mark. He already withstood the tinkering of the fall of 2013. We won’t know for a few months whether he’ll get past this phase.

And then of course there is Roman Reigns. Reigns has been groomed for the last year and a half for his WrestleMania spot. There were always questions around the pick, but Reigns had the buzz and the fans loved him. That was until the creative team started to spend more time with him. Reigns as a character has not been the same since creative made him a priority. His scripted promos are awful, his character choices lack logic most of the time, and the persona he has morphed into over the last several months is a complete 180 from the persona that got him over. He is just the latest victim of Vince’s writing army and the next miss on the list of victims.

The answer is obvious. Whether it is Vince, Triple H, the writing army, or the process, something has to change. Everyone always says that Vince signs off on everything so I’ll put the blame there. Vince doesn’t even know who he is writing for anymore. He is completely out of touch with the majority of his fan base and all you need to do is look at the current economics of the company to support that. None of his superstars sans Brock Lesnar invoke any of the passion past top guys both heel and babyface have received from the fans. The creative just isn’t connecting and the lack of successful ascensions (no pun intended, well maybe a little) is all of the evidence you need to see this.

It’s Roman Reigns this year, it will be somebody else next year. Until Vince and his writers learn how to adapt and react instead of dictating to its fans, no new talent will be able to sustain a top spot and that is very disappointing. At some point the creative team needs to take a long hard look in the mirror and accept some accountability. Nothing will happens until the process changes and that is unfortunate for the next “chosen one.”

WWE: The Destruction of the Shield

The Randy Savage Story DVD

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Breaking Kayfabe Sometimes is the Best Way to Go

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

There is a fine line between the “reality” of professional wrestling and the “reality” of the characters these performers portray in the ring on a nightly basis. This past week on Raw, we saw that while we may cheer and boo the men and women in the ring, every now and then, the fact they are just as human we are.

My friend and world renowned wrestling columnist Mike Mooneyham posted a story on his Facebook page about how Triple H did one of the few things we never thought he would do as the COO of the WWE – he broke character during the final segment of Raw to console a child he evidently made cry during the telecast.

According to USAToday.com, “Triple H suggested that if Cena were to lose his match on Monday night, he’d be out of Royal Rumble on Sunday. After some consternation and eyebrow furrowing, Triple H decided that Cena’s fate would be determined by a fan vote on the WWE app.

“It appears that this was all too much for one young Cena fan, who burst into tears. That’s when big, bad Triple H decided to pull back the curtain and broke kayfabe.”

It is a touching story of sorts, showing that Paul Levesque showed his humane side as a husband and father to children of his own. There are many occasions where fans, mainly young ones, are left in tears by what they see on screen and in person at ringside. It speaks to the raw emotion the company hopes to achieve from its fan base with the hope of producing ratings.

Triple H apparently upset the young child in such a way that he forgot the role that made him the superstar he is today, which may be the most refreshing thing we have seen so far this year in the business.

It was then reported on social media that the boy and his father were led by security to the backstage area in order to meet a number of his heroes.

For years, Vince McMahon sold us on the idea the WWE was sports entertainment, that the matches were predetermined and yes, the worst kept secret of them all, wrestling is not real and everything was scripted, including winners and losers and who would and would not be champion.

Caring for the wellbeing of a child goes against everything wrestlers like Harley Race and Lou Thesz worked hard to build – but it was so warranted.

In the past, Kayfabe is the portrayal of staged events within the industry as “real” or “true,” specifically the portrayal of competition, rivalries, and relationships between participants as being genuine and not of a staged or pre-determined nature. Kayfabe has also evolved to become a code word of sorts for maintaining this “reality” within the realm of the general public.

Kayfabe was long held as a closely guarded secret within the professional wrestling industry. This ended in 1989 when Vince McMahon testified in a New Jersey court that wrestling was staged. With the advent of the Internet, it has evolved into an open secret in the industry that is generally only adhered to while performing.

Kayfabe is often seen as the suspension of disbelief that is used to create the non-wrestling aspects of promotions, such as feuds, angles, and gimmicks, in a manner similar to other forms of fictional entertainment. In relative terms, a wrestler breaking kayfabe during a show would be likened to an actor breaking character on camera.

Also, since wrestling is performed in front of a live audience, whose interaction with the show is crucial to the show’s success, one might compare kayfabe to the fourth wall, since there is hardly any conventional fourth wall to begin with.

While the story is touching and shows the WWE for more than just the act it presents, this should not change the story lines the company is working toward. Triple H will still play the villain and the Authority will still fight to end the careers of John Cena, Daniel Bryan and anyone else who gets in its way. It’s good to know, however, that while wrestling still remains the circus it is, the characters these performers portray can step back every once in a while and realize they do not need to live as these characters every day of every week 24 hours at a time.

Ric Flair, Terry Funk, Scott Hall and to some degree Hulk Hogan all live with that kind of “baggage”. Learning when to let go of the fantasy and live in the reality has been a hard chore for them. Watching one of the biggest names in the WWE step aside for a few moment makes watching them act as brazen as they do a little more acceptable, and hopefully more enjoyable for the fans – especially the younger ones.

WWE: The Destruction of the Shield

The Randy Savage Story DVD

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Top 5 Things In Pro Wrestling To Watch For In 2015

January 08, 2015 By: Category: lists, WWE | Pro Wrestling

As a lifetime pro wrestling fan, the past 30 years have indeed been a rollercoaster of emotions (25 of which I can recall vividly). We have witnessed the highest of peaks and the lowest of valleys. The monopolization by the WWE, and their vision to eradicate pro wrestling while transitioning it to “sports entertainment” has indeed brought us to that deep dark valley of nausea. Luckily for us WRESTLING fans the days of our intelligence being insulted are vanishing, and fast. Buckle yourself in, this year is going to be an incredible ride. Here are my top 5 pro wrestling predictions for 2015.

1.) A NEW WWE ERA

Unlike most forums and blogs may have led you to believe, I see this year as a giant crossroad for the WWE, and one they will succeed at. Vince and company have always seemed to have this notion that they can put whatever product they want to serve out, and their loyal fans will always be there to feed on. Sure, to a degree that has been true as with any monopoly. However, 2014 gave the WWE a cold hard slap to their face when it came to loyalty and reality. The WWE Network subscription numbers were atrocious and the WWE clearly had no plan B. This reality check had to have been humbling for Vince McMahon. When the ego is as gigantic as his, it’s a very difficult circumstance to swallow.

It all culminated in a perfect storm. Between the subscription abomination, Vince calling out the roster, the emergence of NXT, lack of talent utilization, the uprising of new competition, paycheck cuts, and the dismal moral in the locker room, the WWE is headed for a new ERA. While Vinnie Mac may want to “shake things up again”, the truth is, they actually have no alternative. They must choose to give the fans what they want, otherwise, we will start to see the crumbling of the empire known as WWE. They have the talent, they have the $$$, they have every opportunity to succeed. I see this year as a significant marker for the company. When push comes to shove, Vince always comes through, and I for one believe in his creative skill sets.

2.) A REVOLUTION RISING

Do you feel it? There’s something spreading like a wildfire in the industry, and it’s not the WWE. The old school fans called it territories. The new school fans called it “the Indys”. But we’re seeing a revolution of something new and special. Now is the time to be a wrestling fan ladies and gentlemen. The WWE is no longer the only big fish in the USA pond. Sure, we’ve seen companies like ROH and TNA tread those waters for years, only to become minnows swallowed up by the great white shark known as the WWE. But while the WWE has become lazy in creative, the other fish are getting bigger and more ferocious by the day. These companies in my opinion have the best wrestlers in the world today.

Yes, I am a huge fan of stars like Dolph Ziggler, Bray Wyatt, Daniel Bryan, Brock Lesnar, Cesaro, Damien Sandow and Dean Ambrose. But then Sunday Jan 4th happened. NJPW’s Wrestle Kingdom 9 was perhaps the best PPV I’ve ever seen. (A MUST SEE IF YOU ARE A WRESTLING FAN) And I’ve seen plenty. With the call by Jim Ross and Matt Striker (Ross’s call of the main event gave me chills that I haven’t felt since the Attitude Era) it became clear as crystal, the best wrestlers on the planet are NOT in the WWE. These companies ALL have their own unique vibe, and also have seemed to no longer try to model their companies like the WWE. With the likes of NJPW (opening more to the U.S.A. audience), ROH, Lucha Underground, PWG, TNA (pushing the reset button), and the emergence of GFW…. WATCH OUT. These companies are hungry, with their wrestlers even hungrier. By this time next year don’t be surprised if the WWE has some serious threatening competition. Can’t wait!

3.) THE EMERGENCE OF THE NXT STARS

If you’re reading this, you probably are well aware of the talent the NXT has. Hand selected wrestlers from all around the world have landed in WWE’s developmental pool. I think HHH has realized they weren’t going to groom any talent anytime soon from scratch. Selecting some of these talented and already established individuals is PURE GOLD. Talents such as Finn Baylor, Adrian Neville, Sammy Zayn, Hideo Itami and of course Kevin Owens, are the future of the WWE. I just hope the company doesn’t try to “WWE mold them”. These dudes were the cream of the crop BEFORE coming to WWE. And lucky for us, most of them are entering the prime of their already stellar careers. These 5 stars will not only break out in 2015, but they will also be WWE main eventers and wearing gold around their waist by years end. In my opinion NXT is already a better show than RAW…. And the company knows it too.

4.) DOLPH ZIGGLER BECOMES WWE CHAMPION

Is there anyone on the current roster that is more deserving of the “strap”? Short and sweet answer….NO. His focus and passion is clearly higher than anyone else in the company right now. For whatever reason the powers that be have held him down long enough. His dues have been paid and he WILL be WWE champion in 2015…. Guaranteed and “here to show the world”

5.) WRESTLING PODCAST INFLUENCE

The podcast “explosion” took place in 2014, the influence and impact has been bigger than people may realize. From originals like Colt Cabanas, to the crew on MLW, to the Podcast One group, 2015 won’t disappoint… the beauty of these podcasts is that the wrestlers (former and current) have the opportunity to speak their minds. Lots of “internet” rumors surface and these stars have a chance to clear the air and speak from the heart. I think this is critical for not only to set the record straight, but also for their well beings. Seeing what happened to Bret Harts life after the Montreal Screwjob was very sad. He let things be built up inside him and it nearly killed him. If someone like him would have had a podcast and had guests like Shawn Michaels, or Vince, who knows what sort of emotional baggage all three could have erased.

Many pro wrestlers are indeed paranoid. By being a guest on the podcasts these wrestlers have the opportunity to squash any incorrect rumors as well as open their hearts to the millions of fans that listen. That creates a connection with fans that they may or may not be able to achieve on screen. No acting, no scripts just the real human speaking to all of the listeners. Hearing shows like the Ross Report and all the plethora of info that took Jim Ross 40 years to gain, and is thrown out for all of us to absorb is wonderful. Just look what it did for Ryback.

Without his Talk is Jericho podcast, we many never of gotten a chance to hear about his wonderful true story. Or what about Stone Colds Podcast that provided the infamous Vince McMahon “call out of the WWE roster”. And who could forget Colt Cabana’s podcast with CM Punk. It was the single most talked about podcast in the history of professional wrestling. I’m sure wrestling companies (like WWE) are also listening and gaining insight as well. Perhaps even being influenced as well. This can only help their product. 2015 will be the year of the podcasts.

2015 is sure to be one the greatest years in pro wrestling history. Are you ready? I am. What are your 2015 predictions? Would love to hear what YOU the people that make this business tick, have to say.

WWE: ECW Unreleased Volume Three

The Randy Savage Story DVD

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WWE Power Series: Triple H DVD Review

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

This is the other installment of WWE’s new line of fitness DVDs and, much like Steph’s DVD was geared toward women, this one is geared toward men. This time, Triple H is in charge, flanked by several NXT workers, and he takes you through six total workouts (a warm-up stretch session, two upper body workouts, two lower body workouts, and a cardio session). Again, as long as you have a few dumbbells handy, these are all exercises and workouts that you can do in the comfort of your own home.

Overally, I think the quality of the Triple H DVD is better than that of Stephanie McMahon. Although Trips credits a lot of this workout to Joe DeFranco (as did Steph), the fact remains that, prior to pro wrestling, Trips was a competitive bodybuilder as well as a personal trainer, so he has pretty extensive knowledge on this subject, and it shows.

Trips goes through every single workout in detail, not only showing you how each exercise is meant to be performed and explaining the form, but he also goes on to explain what each exercise does and how exactly it benefits your body, something very much lacking in the DVD from his better half. Due to his knowledge, Trips comes off as very professional and very knowledgeable, taking his time to explain everything while still moving the workouts along at a brisk, comfortable pace.

While many of the exercises here are the same as what’s on Steph’s DVD, Trips’ workouts are more power-based and focus on strengthening the areas as well as improving mobility, something he understandably has had issues with in recent years. He also takes a little bit more time to explain proper form on each exercise without really slowing the DVD down. Although it is considerably longer than Steph’s, it’s for a good reason. It helps that the NXT workers flanking also understand proper form, which couldn’t be said about several of Steph’s “divas”.

Now, although Trips knows what he’s talking about, and is still in very good shape, seeing him do several of these exercises is difficult to watch. Thanks to years of abuse and several surgeries, Trips’ legs from the knee down appear to be in really bad shape. Now, he’s still got a lot of strength below the waist and obviously takes care of his entire body, but the years of abuse are extremely prevalent, and it gets hard to look at.

Overall, the variety of exercises here are good, and while they can provide a challenge, are still easy enough that just about anyone should be able to do them, provided you have some basic dumbbells and enough personal space. There are different variations on exercises for different skill levels as well, which gives beginners something to build up to and more advanced workout enthusiasts a way to nail down their form.

If your options are limited (no gym membership, etc.), you’re looking to add onto your workouts or are even just looking to get a jumpstart into physical fitness, there are definitely worse options to go with than this.

WORKOUTS:

Warm-up (6 min):
Power up and prepare to sweat in the elite WWE Performance Center with moves like seal jacks and Cossack stretches to prevent injury and improve performance.

Upper Body 1 (16 min):
Pound out power circuits of serious strength moves like dumbbell rows and Zot curls that use progressive reps to shed inches and lay down Superstar muscle.

Upper Body 2 (18 min):
Develop muscle endurance with functional bodyweight and dumbbell exercises like high-tension planks and shoulder shockers to build both stamina and mega muscle.

Lower Body (30 min):
Experience muscle-mass mania with killer moves like single-leg Romanian dead lifts to improve balance, function, and strength with this intense 3-set system.

Muscle-Building Cardio (12 min):
Give those extra pounds a serious smack down with 4 high-octane rounds of this cardio-strength circuit designed to pump the heart, shed fat, and carve lean muscle.

Mobility (14 min): Improve flexibility, reduce soreness, and recover from workouts faster with DeFranco s signature Agile 8 series of stretches and mobility drills.

>WWE Power Series:Triple H

The Randy Savage Story DVD

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WWE and NXT 20 Best Matches of 2014

December 30, 2014 By: Category: lists, WWE | Pro Wrestling

Complain all you wish about WWE, but there are 20 incredible matches listed here, all available to be watched at your leisure for, yes, $9.99 on WWE Network. Viewing all of them over the course of a few days would go a long way in taking your mind of most of the awful booking and half-baked episodes of Raw you endured in 2014, not to mention the constant plugs of the WWE App. The list is a reminder that not all was bad in the past year. In fact, quite a bit of it ruled.

Your mileage may vary, but here’s my take on the greatest matches from the sports entertainment giant from 2014.

20. The Shield vs. Evolution (WWE Payback, June 1)

Through December’s NXT Takeover: R Evolution in December, awareness of Triple H’s investment in NXT had never been higher. As such, the feud with The Shield this past spring makes the utmost sense: he trusts himself and two veterans in Batista and Randy Orton to get the most out of three of NXT’s most popular stars (next to Bray Wyatt, they’re the Mount Rushmore of NXT until Sami Zayn and others challenge them).

The bout at Payback was under elimination rules, with no countouts or disqualifications, and descended into thorough chaos, peaking with Roman Reigns taking a vestless whipping by the heels. The Shield winning was hardly stunning, but the clean sweep (in the group’s last hurrah) was: after 27 minutes, Seth Rollins pinned Batista, Dean Ambrose eliminated Orton, and Reigns speared real-life benefactor Triple H to survive with the trio in tact.

19. 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.

18. Sheamus vs. Cesaro (WWE Night of Champions, September 21)

The McMahon Paradox Extravaganza: the latter wrestler he claims can’t connect with the crowd, while the former truly doesn’t, in spite of any feelings Vince has toward the wooden, but physically gifted, Sheamus. It was in this match that we got Sheamus at his most robust: the temperamental brawler who dishes out punishment as well as he receives it. Cesaro is equally in his glory in these bouts, and was capable of getting the best out of Sheamus.

With the all-but-lifeless United States title at stake, Cesaro and Sheamus made with the stiff blows, exchanging elbows and forearms with assembly-line regularity. Even with Cesaro lost in the shuffle following a summer of poor direction, it seemed at times he was closing in on finishing Sheamus, particularly in the ultimate war of strikes. Cesaro had the upper hand for a split second, and just walked into a Brogue Kick to take the loss.

17. Luke Harper vs. Dolph Ziggler (WWE TLC, December 14)

TLC (and S) failed to cobble together a fourth-quarter rally in order to beat NXT’s R Evolution event; in fact, the show was blown out of the water completely by the development squad. Much of the blame for TLC’s failure came from uninspired matches with increasingly-meaningless weapon modifiers. Ziggler and Harper’s ladder match for the Intercontinental Title went on first, and was by and far the night’s most shining moment.

The match came with some ramped-up sickness; both men bled the hard way (Harper opened up a metal-cut by his armpit), and Harper nearly busted his arm on a suicide dive. The Cleveland crowd cheered for former-homeboy Ziggler, sustaining his rise in popularity with an exciting cat-and-mouse battle with a faultlessly-sadistic Harper, overcoming him in the end with a nod to the SummerSlam 1995 finish, superkicking him off of a second ladder, and retrieving the belt.

16. Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins (WWE SummerSlam, August 17)

The company had plenty to atone for after flaking on the duo’s would-be match at Battleground, only made up for by Ambrose attempting bloody murder three times during the course of that evening. A lumberjack stipulation for the SummerSlam bout read as needless; just send the two out there and let them attempt to kill one another. Silly us; the sea of humanity at ringside only added to a heated matchup that felt all too short.

Among the highlights: Ambrose suplexing Rollins from the apron onto a group of lumberjacks, and then Ambrose crazily throwing lumberjacks aside while in crazed, Captain Ahab-like pursuit of Rollins. Babyface lumberjacks carried Rollins back to the ring as a human sedan, so Ambrose dove off the top rope onto the pile. Kane’s interference took the wind out of a wild match, but not before it engrossed a chaos-loving crowd.

15. 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 didn’t impress me in NXT early on (though THAT would change), 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.

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

Forget the aftermath of the match, 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.

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

Takeover was 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 coloring 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.

12. Jimmy and Jey Uso vs. Luke Harper and Erick Rowan (WWE Battleground, July 20)

What is it with Harper and opening matches that all but save mediocre-to-bad PPVs? Not only does a bleating hillbilly make the Intercontinental Title feel like its worth fighting for, but Harper did the same for the Tag Team Championships, held by the Usos. The two teams met in a two out of three falls match, a stipulation that seemed oddly tacked on, and in the end, it wasn’t even necessary. The efforts of the four drove the match beyond anyone’s expectations.

The Wyatt disciples grabbed the first fall after a Harper running boot, but the Usos quickly tied it with a roll-up. The third fall extended to epic length, with a ton of false-finishes, last second saves, and ante-upping action, including Rowan hitting a double-superplex on both Usos, and a spiraling moonsault from Jimmy Uso. The brothers retained with a pair of diving splashes, but not before the crowd found itself living and dying on every close pinfall attempt.

11. Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins (WWE Hell in a Cell, October 26)

For the first time since 1994, a WWE PPV had ended with two men under 30 years old in a singles main event. Ambrose and Rollins, both 28 at match time, figured to be blowing off a five-month issue after the split of the Shield, and conventional wisdom had Ambrose getting his receipt from the SummerSlam loss. The match would tap into some lost Attitude Era magic and imagination, with a swerve ending out of Vince Russo’s soggiest wet dreams.

Channeling their collective inner Mick Foley, the two began the match on top of the Hell in a Cell cage, with Jamie Noble and Joey Mercury taking part in the mayhem. Ambrose and Rollins took a safer (only slightly) fall off of the cage through tables, but continued the fight inside with Ambrose gaining the upper hand. This led to the utterly random ending with Bray Wyatt interfering following a holographic smoke signal, but everything up to that point was killer.

10. 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 the prior August (hailed by many as the 2013’s best match), the story was that 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 Neutralizer. 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.

9. Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Rob Van Dam vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Jack Swagger vs. Kofi Kingston (WWE Money in the Bank, June 29)

The latter four names served as little more than aerodynamic fodder for this match. While most Money in the Bank ladder matches leave story locked away in favor of letting directionless talents put on a 20-minute stunt show, the Rollins-Ambrose war began boiling here. An increasingly-unhinged Ambrose entered himself in the match with less interest in a World Title contract, and more focus on maiming Rollins for his unexpected betrayal four weeks earlier.

Ambrose attacked Rollins from Jump Street, fondly reminiscent of Cactus Jack’s “who cares about the belt?” vile pursuit of Sting over twenty years ago. Rollins took a scary bump onto a wedged ladder display, and Ambrose sold a dislocated shoulder in his undeterred quest to make Rollins pay. Kane interfered in the final stages, Tombstoning Ambrose so that Rollins could snare the briefcase. The other four men contributed mightily, but for once, there was an actual story.

8. 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.

7. Adrian Neville vs. Sami Zayn vs. Tyler Breeze vs. Tyson Kidd (NXT Takeover: Fatal Four Way, September 11)

Demonstrating the sort of knowing, long-term building that the latter day Vince McMahon lacks (“We have one week to get the ratings up to a 2.9 or the stockholders will burn Titan Tower down!”), NXT had built up Zayn as the perfect underdog: the fair-playing gentleman who will compete to his last breath, but won’t yield from his principles. Lacking the hypocrisy of John Cena, NXT viewers rallied behind the proud ethics of Zayn, wishing him toward the top.

This fatal-four-way took some time to find its groove, but did in a major way. The narcissistic Breeze had a good showing in the middle with plenty of near falls, but Zayn brought it home, ending a frenzied sequence with a Heluva Kick on Kidd for two, after a desperate Neville pulled the referee out. Neville used the unsportsmanslike move to land Red Arrow on Kidd and retain, which robbed Zayn once more. Not a worry; his day would come in the grandest of fashion.

6. 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). The aforementioned rematch at 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’d 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.

5. 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 was rewarded with the WrestleMania battle royal win and earning Paul Heyman as a manager before things cooled off.

4. 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 were truly juiced-in main eventers at the time, 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 before it even kicked off), and remains in the running ten 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.

3. John Cena, Dolph Ziggler, Big Show, Erick Rowan and Ryback vs. Seth Rollins, Luke Harper, Kane, Rusev, and Mark Henry (WWE Survivor Series, November 23)

Other than Roman Reigns’ breakout showing at the 2013 event, there hasn’t been a truly classic Survivor Series match in years, probably since the madcap fun of the Raw vs. Smackdown match in 2005. Picking the greatest elimination bout of all time was a veritable toss-up between the 1987 20-manner and the Austin/Bischoff-helmed teams in 2003. For years, that was my either/or argument until this match swooped in and surprised pretty much everyone.

The crowd built to nuclear levels following Rusev’s elimination nearly 20 minutes in, and were stunned when Show double-crossed Cena. Ziggler’s subsequent valiant effort to overcome three-on-one odds saw him win over the fans, building to a dramatic finale with Rollins where Triple H would not let him win. Sting’s debut iced the match as a modern classic, made all the more enjoyable by Stephanie’s well-done breakdown in the aftermath, her job lost.

2. 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 thought Hunter didn’t know how to elevate.

1. Adrian Neville vs. Sami Zayn (NXT Takeover: R Evolution, December 11)

One of the bolder statements I’ve seen among internet feedback: Zayn’s NXT Championship victory meant more than Daniel Bryan’s WrestleMania title win. I can see this point, actually: with Bryan, you knew that once the YES Movement had the ‘YES-in”, he was getting the strap. With Zayn, there was no telling if he’d truly be a bridesmaid forever, even with the stipulation that he had to leave NXT (read: go to the main roster) if he lost to Neville once more.

The story told was some of the best you’ll see: Zayn fighting the urge to cheat, in spite of Neville’s prior claims that without bending the rules, he would never get the gold. The match built toward two ref bumps, Zayn’s patent frustration, and a finish where Zayn finally conquered the Brit and won the elusive title. The celebration with debuting Kevin Owens and the roster solidified the moment….and Owens’ heartless double-cross only enhanced the awesomeness.

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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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Top 25 WWE Ladder/TLC/Money in the Bank Matches In History

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

These Top-25 lists are picking up steam, so I’ll take the WWE approach of beating a good thing into the ground. With Money in the Bank coming up, it’s a good idea to look back at two decades-plus of WWE’s greatest ladder matches, and figure out what the best of the bunch truly are. There’s no bad matches to be found here; every entry is rewatchable time and time again. With TLC and Money in the Bank upping the ante of the classic ladder match, this list will cover a lot of ground, and no doubt provide a little argument fodder. Enjoy!

(Note: this list only includes matches which ended with the retrieval of a belt, briefcase, etc. As such, the TLC 2012 match with The Shield vs. Ryback and Team Hell No is excluded. Otherwise, it’d have likely been top ten).

25. Kane vs. Big Show vs. Matt Hardy vs. Drew McIntyre vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Cody Rhodes vs. Christian vs. Dolph Ziggler – Money in the Bank Ladder Match (Money in the Bank, July 18, 2010)

Firmly in the ‘let’s shoehorn gimmick matches into the secondary PPVs so that gimmick matches have less meaning’ era, Money in the Bank’s come away unscathed, thanks to the car-wreck spectacles that never get old. In this case, the maiden match of Money in the Bank’s spin-off event hit its mark, with a dose of big man psychology. Show and Kane were natural targets by the smaller competitors, while Show used a custom mecha-ladder for climbing.

24. Dolph Ziggler vs. John Cena – Money in the Bank Ladder Match (TLC, December 16, 2012)

Ziggler put his previously-earned briefcase on the line (stay tuned for that), and, as is modern custom, lost to Cena in several matches on Raw prior to the PPV contest. Just as naturally, Ziggler took his usual laundry list of wild bumps through the course of the match, before winning as a result of AJ Lee shoving Cena off the ladder. That’d be Ziggler’s lone win of relevance over Cena, but Dolph memorably cashed in four months later on Alberto Del Rio.

23. John Morrison vs. Sheamus – Ladder Match (TLC, December 19, 2010)

Forgotten in the dogpile beneath main event-and-celebrity over-focus, Morrison and Sheamus had themselves a nifty little feud late that year, and a title shot at The Miz was at stake. Akin to the Razor/Michaels matches of yore with the larger adversary throwing around the nimble stud, Morrison gradually overcame the odds and won in dramatic fashion after Sheamus attempted to tip the ladder. Sadly, the Morrison/Miz bout is just as forgotten as this great match.

22. Mr. Kennedy vs. Jeff Hardy vs. Matt Hardy vs. Edge vs. Randy Orton vs. CM Punk vs. King Booker vs. Finlay – Money in the Bank Ladder Match (WrestleMania XXIII, April 1, 2007)

Before Damien Sandow came along to look unceremoniously weak in failing in his cash-in against John Cena, there was Mr. Kennedy to lose his briefcase to Edge in a Raw quickie, following a Kennedy injury. The WrestleMania opener had plenty of intrigue, with a host of realistic winners. Jeff’s seated dive through Edge and a bridged ladder is cringeworthy, yet hilarious for the sight of brother Matt encouraging him to do it, then reacting as horror as Jeff lay hurt.

21. Dolph Ziggler vs. Damien Sandow vs. Tyson Kidd vs. Christian vs. Tensai vs. Santino Marella vs. Cody Rhodes vs. Sin Cara – Money in the Bank Ladder Match (Money in the Bank, July 15, 2012)

Another case of a heel being so much fun to watch that the crowd can’t help but cheer for them, the fans in attendance went berserk over Ziggler bumping Christian off a ladder in the end so that “The Show Off” could claim the briefcase. The match also seemed to be a coming-out party for Kidd, whose acrobatics finally had the forum for which to shine. Unfortunately, a torn meniscus sustained early in 2013 would sideline Kidd for almost a year, halting any push.

20. The Dudley Boyz vs. The Hardy Boyz vs. Edge and Christian – WWE World Tag Team Titles, Triple Ladder Match (WrestleMania 2000, April 2, 2000)

The ‘unofficial’ TLC match (the official moniker for such matches wasn’t coined until SummerSlam that year) was the brightest bulb of a shockingly-dim WrestleMania. A quiet crowd most of the night, the fans memorably buzzed for the Dudleyz setting up the table bridge across two ladders inside the ring. Some of the slower spots haven’t aged well, thanks to innovation and improvement, but there’s still plenty of sick spots to marvel at.

19. Edge vs. John Cena – WWE Heavyweight Title, TLC Match (Unforgiven, September 17, 2006)

A bit of a shocker when Edge went over Cena in Cena’s Boston backyard at SummerSlam, but that only meant Edge would return the favor in his native Toronto. The visual of Edge being AA’d off of a ladder through a double stack of tables would remain a fixture in WWE’s “don’t try this at home” PSAs for quite some time afterward. Seems as though out of all of Cena’s frequent opponents, only Edge matches CM Punk in creating consistent greatness with Cena.

18. Jeff Hardy vs. CM Punk – World Heavyweight Title, TLC Match (SummerSlam, August 23, 2009)

Given what a merchandise vessel Hardy had become for a company that loves its multiple revenue streams, it’s hard to believe Hardy would be gone by week’s end, with no return five years later. Punk’s victory transitioned into his tepid feud with The Undertaker, beginning immediately after the match as “The Dead Man” performed a supernatural body switch with a downed Hardy. In 2009, it was astonishing that Punk could win any PPV main event.

17. Christian vs. Alberto Del Rio – Vacant World Heavyweight Title, Ladder Match (Extreme Rules, May 1, 2011)

What a weird time period for WWE. Edge vacates the championship three weeks earlier upon his hasty, very real retirement, and a top contender’s match is made for the PPV. The crowd heavily bought into Christian, and a dramatic finish saw Edge providing timely interference to offset that of Ricardo Rodriguez and Brodus Clay. Christian winning the gold was possibly the biggest pop of his career, so naturally he lost the title to Randy Orton two nights later.

16. Paul London/Brian Kendrick vs. The Hardy Boyz vs. MNM vs. William Regal/Dave Taylor – WWE Tag Team Titles, Ladder Match (Armageddon, December 17, 2006)

Teddy Long punched up this one by adding the Hardyz and MNM, as well as the ladder modifier, seconds before the bell rang, I suppose in an effort to get non-buyers to purchase the show at about 8:23 EST. The match is most notable for Joey Mercury damn near getting his face grafted off in a see-saw spot gone awry, forcing him to wear facial contraptions for a time afterward. London and Kendrick retained in the midst of an 11-month reign the company barely promoted.

15. Daniel Bryan vs. Kane vs. Sheamus vs. Cody Rhodes vs. Justin Gabriel vs. Heath Slater vs. Sin Cara vs. Wade Barrett – Money in the Bank Ladder Match (Money in the Bank, July 17, 2011)

Takes a back-seat to CM Punk and John Cena’s all-timer to close the show, but it holds weight as the match that boosted Bryan into the main event tier where he’d more or less reside ever since. A wellness policy exodus played out as Sheamus powerbombed Sin Cara through a ladder, leading to a stretcher job into thirty days of oblivion for the luchador. Bryan’s victory was fairly unexpected, and the Chicago fans gave him a pop nearly comparable to Punk’s.

14. Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels – WWE Intercontinental Title, Ladder Match (WWE Challenge Taping, July 21, 1992)

The WWE’s first ever ladder match seems very tame compared to the anarchic stunt shows of later years, but two masterful workers in their relative youth put together a dramatic series of ‘near-falls’, with the match more about the drama of the climb instead of insanity. Hart purportedly suggested the match to Vince McMahon, who asked for a demonstration at this TV taping. The match made it onto several video releases, and became a tape-trader’s bounty.

13. Randy Orton vs. CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Sheamus vs. Rob Van Dam vs. Christian – Money in the Bank Ladder Match (Money in the Bank, July 14, 2013)

In a roundabout way, this match made it possible for Daniel Bryan to stand tall at the end of WrestleMania XXX, holding two World Titles aloft (although the Rumble was definitely the fuse). The best ladder match in the spinoff PPV’s history began with a hero’s welcome for the returning RVD, and culminated with Paul Heyman turning on Punk, just prior to Orton’s victory, which was confusing at the time, but became much clearer following SummerSlam.

12. The Rock vs. Triple H – WWE Intercontinental Title, Ladder Match (SummerSlam, August 30, 1998)

A year later, Rock was a mega-babyface that transcended the business, while Triple H would be the slimy villain he was born to play. Here, however, was the match that virtually shot both men into the main event for good. In front of a nuclear Madison Square Garden crowd, Rock about blew the domed roof off with a People’s Elbow while Helmsley lay prone on the oddly-yellow ladder. HHH’s win only freed up Rock for the World Title run we all saw coming.

11. Chris Jericho/Chris Benoit vs. The Dudley Boyz vs. The Hardy Boyz vs. Edge/Christian – WWE World Tag Team Titles, TLC Match (SmackDown, May 22, 2001)

A worthy sequel to Benoit and Jericho’s heart-stopping title win over Steve Austin and Triple H one night earlier, an irate Vince McMahon booked the new champs against the TLC Six on free television. WWE Network, assuming it survives the long haul, will eventually have this episode up, as the match is otherwise lost to history thanks to Benoit’s involvement. A shade below the original TLC battles in terms of overall quality, it’s still one of the best ladder matches ever.

10. Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Jack Swagger vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Rob Van Dam (Money in the Bank, June 29, 2014)

The best of both worlds for WWE: a spotfest with some truly innovative moments (Rollins getting back-dropped onto a ladder bridge/puzzle structure) and a great storyline threaded through (Ambrose attempting to kill Rollins for breaking up the Shield). Kingston and company took turns keeping the pulse going while Ambrose, selling a dislocated shoulder, refused to let Rollins win. Kane tombstoned Ambrose to end the Ahab-like endless chase, and Rollins won to build on a genius heel turn.

9. The Hardy Boyz vs. Edge and Christian – Ladder Match (No Mercy, October 17, 1999)

Hanging above the ring was a bank robber’s sack of cash, and the winner would win Terri Runnels’ managerial rights. If it was believed that the winners would be elevated by association with Terri, the four just elevated themselves with a performance for the ages, becoming made men to varying degrees. Interesting note: Edge came dangerously close to missing the match, as he was almost unable to fly to the show due to a hurricane (he lived in the Bahamas at the time).

8. Eddie Guerrero vs. Rob Van Dam – WWE Intercontinental Title, Ladder Match (Monday Night Raw, May 27, 2002)

Easily the best ladder match in Raw’s history, even if Undertaker and Jeff Hardy’s clash a month later received more company hype, despite it being a dramatic finish to an average match. This match was so good, even a moronic fan running interference couldn’t ruin it. RVD regained the gold, leading into the post-match involvement of Steve Austin, who went after Guerrero, only to be thwarted by a returning, suddenly-heel Chris Benoit; an angle that ended up fizzling.

7. Edge vs. Chris Jericho vs. Chris Benoit vs. Kane vs. Christian vs. Shelton Benjamin – Money in the Bank Ladder Match (WrestleMania XXI, April 3, 2005)

The first of its kind remains the best of its kind. From Benjamin’s hands-free ladder ascension to Benoit German-suplexing Jericho, who was holding a ladder, it’s possibly the most uncluttered Money in the Bank match ever, and one that didn’t overstay its welcome. It’s also arguable that Edge’s eventual cash-in on John Cena was the most relevant of its kind, since nobody had ever seen a cash-in until he did it nine months later. Anything since dilutes the fun to a degree.

6. Chris Benoit vs. Chris Jericho – WWE Intercontinental Title, Ladder Match (Royal Rumble, January 21, 2001)

There’s a moment of retroactive horror in the body of the match, wherein Benoit goes for his patented headfirst dive to the floor, only for Jericho to wallop him upside the head with a jarring chair shot. If seeing that moment overrides any possible enjoyment you can derive from the art of the match, it’s understood. For the more unmoved, it was a viable candidate for 2001’s match of the year, rivaled by a litany of classics, one of which is to come.

5. Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon – WWE Intercontinental Title, Ladder Match (SummerSlam, August 27, 1995)

Gorilla Monsoon’s first act as figurehead President was to remove Psycho Sid from SummerSlam, and give Razor the shot at Michaels’ gold, in the match they put on the map. Wise choice; it boosted the show into pretty good territory, rare air in 1995. Ramon played de facto villain, smashing Michaels’ knee to pieces with the ladder, before Michaels superkicked him off a second ladder. The botched ending, and Michaels’ tantrum, somehow adds to the charm.

4. The Dudley Boyz vs. The Hardy Boyz vs. Edge and Christian – WWE World Tag Team Titles, TLC Match (WrestleMania X7, April 1, 2001)

From the greatest WrestleMania ever comes the ideal spotfest: accelerated, minimal set-up for the convoluted spots, and the type of chaos that comes from involving a few intruders. Nominee for the best bump visual in ladder match history: Bubba Ray Dudley and Matt Hardy smashing four tables into dust after an interfering Rhyno tipped a painter’s ladder over. Edge and Christian’s win was a bit anti-climactic, but you can’t discount the efforts before then.

3. Edge and Christian vs. The Dudley Boyz vs. The Hardy Boyz – WWE World Tag Team Titles, TLC Match (SummerSlam, August 27, 2000)

Gets the slight nod over its WrestleMania kid-brother for the sole reason of a less rushed ending. Conventional wisdom had the Hardyz going over here in their home state of North Carolina. In defeat, Jeff busted out a frightening Swanton Bomb off a ladder on the floor through Bubba Ray Dudley. The match is also known for an unfortunate double-entendre that Jim Ross made about Edge and Lita that gained new perspective about five years later.

2. Chris Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels – World Heavyweight Title, Ladder Match (No Mercy, October 5, 2008)

Doesn’t stand out, but it should. In fact, a lukewarm crowd is possibly all that kept this from the number one spot. Jericho and Michaels’ hate-filled feud in 2008 came to a head with this match, which was less about cutesy spots, and more heavy on the “I’m gonna kill you” brutality. Indeed, most of the ‘spots’ were Jericho and Michaels trying to make the other suffer, without the need for Rube Goldberg-esque contraptions. An inexplicably undervalued masterpiece.

1. Razor Ramon vs. Shawn Michaels – WWE Intercontinental Title, Ladder Match (WrestleMania X, March 20, 1994)

Like Savage and Steamboat, a newer fan may wonder what’s so special about this match, after seeing many a stuntshow since. For 1994, Ramon and Michaels put together a match just unheard of for the time, and wouldn’t become standard for a few years yet. Michaels took at least five or six crazy bumps off of Ramon’s power-based offense, and the dramatic near-finishes had the MSG crowd buying into every second. It’s still the gold standard.

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Fans Are Too Quick To Side With WWE Against CM Punk

December 03, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

CM Punk has went and done it again. That’s right folks, the guy that shoots straight from the hip has done just that again and he’s turned the pro wrestling world upside down. Only this time he didn’t do it from the Monday Night Raw stage, he did it from Colt Cabana’s pod cast.

And yes, he’s ticked everyone off. Again. But now instead of having his back and supporting him, a lot of fans are turning on him. Let’s be honest, they’re turning on him by the truckload. But why is that? Why are so many fans siding with WWE over this?

Before anyone accuses me of drinking Punk’s Kool-Aid, let me assure you I know the deal. He may not have competed in a WWE ring for 10 months but that doesn’t change the fact that Punk is still a pro wrestler at heart. And pro wrestlers work you. They work you all the time.

When a heel glares at you and dares you to hit him, he’s working you. When a babyface reaches out to shake your hand, he’s working you. When John Cena holds up his cute little rally towel, he’s working you. Everything a talent does is a work; everything is done in an effort to get over, to sell merchandise and most importantly, sell himself.

So is Punk trying to sell himself right now? Yes. Of course he is. But to what length, that is the question. The fact is that despite how much Punk’s character may be coming into play; he’s basically got nothing to gain by lying. Think about that for a minute.

If he lies, if he slanders WWE or anyone in it, then he has to know there will be repercussions. He has to know that Vince McMahon’s company will rain hell down on his head the likes of which he has never seen before. Punk surely would’ve heard from WWE’s attorneys within 24 hours of his interview and at this point, we would all be talking about just how much this was going to cost him.

He knows that, right? This is not the case of one guy slamming another guy in a shoot interview, this is not sour apples from a Superstar that just never got his break and now he’s complaining about it. This is a former top guy who did it all in the business, going live and taking his case to the people.

Punk could’ve sold his story to the highest bidder. He could have sat down with Jim Rome and opened up about the company that he broke himself in half for, the same company that supposedly fired him via FedEx on his wedding day. Punk could have asked for air time on virtually any platform he wanted and he probably would have gotten it.

But he didn’t. The truth is that he has nothing to gain by working you. He’s not trying to sell T-Shirts, he’s not trying to sell DVDs and he’s not trying to sell a new movie. He doesn’t care if you hate him and he doesn’t care if you buy the WWE Network. Oh and news flash; he’s also not trying to get back in WWE.

This is a guy that with the exception of the occasional sound byte, basically kept his mouth shut for nearly a year after he walked out. He could have taken to Twitter the second after he hit the door and burned WWE down to the ground, if he had wanted to.

But instead, Punk went home. He went home, he got married and he got happy. Punk is not really that much of a pro wrestler anymore; he’s just a guy talking to his best friend about what happened to him in his last job.

Too naïve? Too simplistic? Maybe so. But no matter how you look at it, it’s hard to fully believe WWE is not at least partially to blame for what happened with Punk. After all, this is a pro wrestling promotion and pro wrestling promotions work their talent. They work them all the time.

Guys are overworked. That’s a fact and no one needed CM Punk to tell them that. The men and women that step into the ring for WWE are dollar signs to the company, they are the earners and the product they manufacture is their matches.

They put their bodies on the line every time they perform and they’re the ones that the company depends on to keep the money coming in. No matches equals no fans obviously, so the talent is absolutely essential to keeping WWE afloat. Without the sweat equity of the workers in the ring, there is no WWE.

So it goes without saying that the company will get as much out of its talent as physically possible. It happens all the time and honestly, that much will probably never change. But the Superstars in WWE are not only overworked, they are worked as in lied to; constantly.

Is this a surprise to anyone that has been a fan for longer than 15 minutes? Just because WWE is a publicly traded company and refers to its content as “sports entertainment” does not change the fact that they are a pro wrestling promotion. And pro wrestling promotions will do whatever it takes to put on the most profitable show possible.

If that means overworking its talent, then that‘s what happens. If that means stretching the truth or flat out lying, then that will happen too. Not everyone’s story can end as happily as Mick Foley’s did. CM Punk’s obviously didn’t. So does that mean that he’s lying? Does that mean he kept his mouth shut for 10 months to just suddenly pop up and work all of us? Is Punk selling himself with no apparent profit, nothing to gain, because he‘s bitter at not having worked the main event match at WrestleMania?

I have no idea; I’m not directly connected to the situation. But I will say that he is very convincing. And I will also say that to see fans stand against him when 10 months ago they cheered him, believed in him and supported him is ridiculous. To see them siding with the company instead of the talent that makes it happen in the ring, not behind the scenes in the boardroom is pathetic.

CM Punk may never work in a WWE ring again. For that matter, he may never work in a pro wrestling ring again. Believe him, don’t believe him, either way he’s probably done. And when it comes down to the company versus the talent, I will support the talent practically every time. So to answer your question yes, the Kool-Aid is delicious.

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CM Punk Speaks On WWE Departure, Will Never Return

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

You knew he wasn’t going to keep his mouth shut forever. CM Punk has finally broken his silence and speaking up about what led him to quitting the WWE. I think it’s safe to say you can cross Punk back in WWE off of your wish list for 2015.

Ten months after walking out of the WWE 30 minutes before a RAW broadcast, Punk has given his first wrestling interview where he opened up and told his side of the story regarding his WWE exile. Punk gave the exclusive to his old buddy Colt Cabana on the Art of Wrestling podcast and what an exclusive it was.

Punk said the reason he quit was all due to his deteriorating health. He told Cabana that he had been wrestling with broken ribs, bad knees, and suffered a concussion at the Rumble. It had been widely reported that Punk was badly beat up around that time but I don’t think anyone realized how badly he was hurting. Punk said that he had a fever and no appetite for months. Punk also took a shot at the company and made a dig about his paychecks shrinking.

I think the most damning thing Punk said about the company was in regards to his concussion. Punk said he suffered the concussion in the Rumble. Punk said he finished the Rumble with the injury. Punk said that he passed the WWE concussion test the next day, which had also been reported. Punk then said what I think could be the most damaging thing of the entire interview in that he questioned the credibility of the WWE concussion test. He called it “bullsh*t.” Punk also noted that the company showed no concern over his concussion and were more worried about him obtaining Visas and taking a drug test for upcoming tours.

That is big. Keep in mind that this allegation comes just several weeks after the company evaded a potential public relations fallout from the Alberto Del Rio firing. The WWE proudly take credit for their head-injury and concussion program. Punk also brought up several instances where the company pressured him to work injured. Punk is the first major star to come out and question the authenticity of the program. It will be very interesting to see if any of the media or any of the WWE’s partners follow up on this. Maybe not, but there is potential some real fallout here.

Punk took credit for the Shield. He said he came up with the idea. He said it was proposed that he be with Daniel Bryan, the Big Show, and Seth Rollins. He didn’t like that. He proposed Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, and Chris Hero as the Shield. Vince said no to Hero and Roman Reigns wound up in the group. He is happy for their success but was upset that all of the credit has gone to Triple H in putting the Shield together.

Punk also said that he had an idea about reinventing his character. His new character would wear fighter shorts with sponsors. He said he had a big sponsor lined up that would have made him a lot of money and opened up opportunities for the other wrestlers to get sponsored. He went to Vince and Vince told him no, citing the current sponsors would get upset. As luck would have it Brock Lesnar came in a few months later with sponsors on his fighter shorts/trunks. When he went to Vince and told Vince it was his idea Vince laughed at him. He didn’t understand the difference between he and Brock and told Vince that he should have been let go if he wasn’t a superstar.

He was also upset that Vince wouldn’t let him walk out with Chael Sonnen on a UFC show. He said that Vince said no and said that UFC was barbaric, he was appalled that women were fighting in the UFC, and told Punk that someone was going to die in there. Punk told Vince that Owen died in his ring. He said a week later that Triple H walked Floyd Mayweather out for his fight. Punk was not happy.

He said he tried to get the finish changed for his match with the Rock at the Royal Rumble 2013 and tried to ride the title reign through Mania. Punk didn’t want to turn heel at the time but Vince told him he needed to turn heel to work the Rock. He didn’t want to turn heel so his choices were either Daniel Bryan beating him for the title or him turning heel and wrestling the Rock. He said he suggested that they go into WrestleMania with a Triple-Threat Match with Rock vs. Cena vs. Punk. He offered to get eliminated quickly but he called it a “mind f*ck” never being in a Mania main-event. He also suggested that he retain the title and go to WrestleMania for a Streak vs. Streak match with the Undertaker. Vince turned that down. I actually blogged on that at the time and pointed out the missed opportunity between the streak vs. streak gimmick. He is also still angry at losing to the Rock and the Undertaker.

The WrestleMania main-event or lack thereof seemed to be a real problem over his last year. Punk told Colt that he did a lot of favors for Vince, including coming back early to work Jericho and do the program with Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar. He said that Vince would constantly tell him, “we owe you one.” He felt that by doing a bunch of favors that he would get his Mania main-event. He said that when he watched Mick Foley’s DVD and Vince said that he felt bad he never gave Foley a Mania main-event and he did, that Vince would have the same feelings for Punk. He obviously didn’t and wasn’t going to get it and the repeated theme throughout the interview indicates it really played a big part in his decision to leave.

He was also upset about a movie project falling through. He said he signed on to do the 12 Rounds movie that Randy Orton did. He said he agreed to it  but had a conversation with Triple H about a conflict in his schedule. The European tour was on the schedule and he felt as champion he should be on tour. He said that Hunter didn’t think the schedules conflicted. He said that Hunter said he would check the schedule and get back to him. Punk said he then found out online that Randy Orton got the part and nobody ever informed him about it.

Punk went into detail about his last hour or so in the WWE. Punk said he told Vince McMahon and Triple H he was going home. Punk then told Cabana that he told off Triple H for stifling his momentum in 2011. He also said that he complained to Vince for killing his creativity. He said he told them both that it was garbage that Daniel Bryan wasn’t in the WrestleMania 30 main-event.

Punk said that he was actually fired from the WWE and he never quit. Punk said Vince was in tears when he left and hugged him goodbye. Punk said he never heard a word from him and then a few weeks later Vince text him and told him he was suspended. He then said he was delivered termination papers for a breach of contract on his wedding day. He said that the WWE were afraid he was going to go to TNA. He said that eventually both sides settled on a settlement that gave him more than what he wanted. He also said that he despises wrestling and would never go back. He said that he refused the WWE’s request to issue a joint statement on their settlement.

This certainly gives a different spin to the story that was coming out of the WWE side the last several months. According to the WWE side, Punk was upset about his place on WrestleMania, didn’t want to work with Triple H and so he quit. He did confirm that it was true but it was only a part of the problem. Nothing has ever been said about his health other than he passed a concussion test the night he quit. Hearing Punk’s side of the story certainly gives me a different take on the whole situation.

One thing I will say is that Punk recently blasted his fans on Twitter asking him to come back. He compared himself to Barry Sanders and said something along the lines of fans don’t care about his health. Let’s call a spade a spade here. Punk probably treats his fans worse than any other WWE superstar on the roster. There are all kinds of reports of Punk being rude to his fans. Punk himself even told fans to stay away from him in a Comic Con Q&A whereas you have a guy like Randy Orton who said on TMZ that he wants fans to know he is approachable. To each their own but he clearly separated CM Punk and Phil Brooks from his fans and when he is outside of the ring he doesn’t want to be bothered, so why should they care about Phil Brooks?

At the end of the day I think it is clear that no matter what anyone wants to think, Punk is not coming back now, next year, or ever. I think it is time for WWE crowds to stop the chants and appreciate the years you had with him. Maybe he changes his mind in a few years but it would appear at this point in time that CM Punk is officially retired and retired for good.

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WWE Survivor Series 2014 Predictions and Preview

November 20, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

For the first time in almost a decade, the WWE Survivor Series 2014 is headlined by its traditional 10-man elimination tag team match. Team Cena will take on Team Authority in a match with big stakes for one team and Team Helmsley-McMahon.

The good news is that the ten-man elimination tag team match is back as a Survivor Series headliner. The bad news is well…a ten-man elimination tag team match is headlining the 2014 Survivor Series. What made this match so much fun twenty-years ago was that you had dream teams assembled on both sides. Unfortunately competition has given way to parity and a ten-man team today resembles something more like an undercard battle royal.

While we are currently looking at one match on paper, this event is clearly a one-match show. Whether it is creative burn out, a holding pattern, or the attitude that the fans are getting this one for free, the lineup this year leaves a lot to be desired. I have already blogged extensively on that so I won’t go too deep into it here. These last couple of years of parity have left the company with no depth which becomes clear in these kinds of matches.

I am only going to pick with the top matches as the undercard is fairly irrelevant on this show. Now that I have gotten you pumped up for the event, let’s get into the matches and make some picks!

Team Cena (John Cena, Dolph Ziggler, Big Show, Erick Rowan and Ryback) vs. Team Authority (Seth Rollins, Kane, Mark Henry, Rusev and Luke Harper) in a Traditional Survivor Series elimination tag team match; if Team Authority loses, they will no longer be in power. If Team Cena loses, all team members will be fired from WWE

I do want to say something positive about this match. It has enormous potential to be a lot of fun. There are some real solid workers here, some who rarely get this kind of opportunity to shine. Unfortunately some of those guys will probably have quick exits due to the nature of the match. However, some may be given time, especially if they survive deep into the match to tear make an impact and tear the house down.

In case you missed it, a new stipulation was added to the match which deems that every member of Team Cena will be fired if Team Cena loses. I think the fact that the stipulation will be added only two days before the event tells you everything you need to know about the importance. Let’s be honest. Nobody other than some new younger fans are buying this stipulation and the fact that it was a mere throwaway tells me that the WWE doesn’t believe it will draw any more interest to the match.

I predict that this one will come down to Cena and Rowan vs. Rollins, Harper, and Rusev. I would have to guess that Harper and Rowan will have some cool stuff planned. I was fairly confident before the new stipulation that the match would finish with Rusev beating Cena. Rusev has to remain strong, so does Cena, but there is a potential WrestleMania match to start building with these two. I can’t imagine the stupidity in booking Cena to beat Rusev but where else do they go here? Cena needs to stay strong going into the Rumble so I think he wins.

I wouldn’t be surprised whatsoever to see Randy Orton cost Rollins the match. You’d almost expect some payback at this show from Orton and they are in St. Louis. My new prediction is Cena winning by eliminating Rollins thanks to interference from the Viper. There is no other city in America that they can count on better than Orton’s hometown to give him a huge pop and put this angle over. I don’t know what this accomplishes other than furthering an angle between the Authority vs. Vince McMahon for Mania.

Dean Ambrose vs. Bray Wyatt

I don’t know how they did it but the WWE has done a tremendous job of killing any potential interest I had in this feud. The promos thus far have been lame and I am still trying to figure out why Wyatt interfered at Hell in a Cell. I think this feud continues through the Rumble which makes me think that Wyatt gets the win here with Ambrose getting his win back on the next show.

AJ Lee vs. Nikki Bella for the WWE Divas title

Who would have expected to see this much Nikki Bella in the ring? Even more strange is that she has actually turned into a decent wrestler. There are a ton of rumors out there that indicate AJ is leaving after this show. I think where there is smoke there is fire but what about Brie? This match sets up a perfect scenario where Brie costs Nikki the title. I think the WWE pull a swerve here and put AJ over, knowing the rumors are out there and save AJ’s loss for an event in the near future.

Gold and Stardust (c) vs. The Usos (Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso) vs. Los Matadores (Diego and Fernando) vs. The Miz and Damien Mizdow in a Fatal 4-Way tag team match for the WWE Tag Team Championship

I have no problem watching the Rhodes brothers wrestle the Usos again but this one can get a little hairy. These matches can be either really good or a real cluster. I think it will be decent as you have a lot of solid workers in here to keep it together. I think the WWE recognizes that they have something brewing with The Miz and Mizdow. For whatever reason and I have no idea why, they have caught on, mostly due to the fans enjoying Mizdow. So why not book a title change here? I think Miz and Mizdow leave St. Louis with gold.

Full WWE Survivor Series 2014 card and matches…
Team Cena (John Cena, Dolph Ziggler, Big Show, Erick Rowan and Ryback) vs. Team Authority (Seth Rollins, Kane, Mark Henry, Rusev and Luke Harper) in a traditional Survivor Series elimination tag team match; if Team Authority loses, they will no longer be in power. If Team Cena loses, all team members will be fired from WWE.
AJ Lee (c) vs. Nikki Bella for the WWE Divas Championship
Dean Ambrose vs. Bray Wyatt
Gold and Stardust (c) vs. The Usos (Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso) vs. Los Matadores (Diego and Fernando) vs. The Miz and Damien Mizdow in a Fatal 4-Way tag team match for the WWE Tag Team Championship
Alicia Fox, Emma, Naomi and Natalya vs. Paige, Cameron, Layla and Summer Rae in a Divas Traditional Survivor Series elimination tag team match
Fandango vs. TBA

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