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Lessons To Be Learned From WWE WrestleMania 1

March 05, 2015 By: Category: Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

It has been almost 30 years since we packed arenas around the country to watch Hulk Hogan and Mr. T battle Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff in the inaugural WrestleMania, breaking the record for the most watched closed circuit event in the U.S. at the time.

It is amazing to think that this event is over 30 years old. I feel like it was yesterday that I watched a slow build for the main-event from Roddy Piper and Captain Lou Albano making accusations against Cyndi Lauper, to Lauper and Wendi Richter’s “Moolah’s Going Down” promos, to Piper and Orndorff cracking an egg over a toilet seat on a WrestleMania poster. We practically had a full year of promotion before history was made in New York City.

The formula was brilliant, yet not original. McMahon took a page out of Jerry Lawler and Jerry Jarrett’s playbook and snagged one of the biggest celebrities in the world. The way this played out is incredibly ironic since Vince’s father passed on a similar angle only a few years prior. Before Andy Kaufman stepped into the Mid South Coliseum, he approached Vince McMahon Sr. about doing an angle. Vince Sr. rejected the idea yet for all I know the whole scenario planted a seed in Vince Jr. Keep in mind Vince Sr. also fired Piper and Hogan at separate times, banning Hogan for life only two years earlier.

The master plan played out beautifully. Vince Jr. took over for his father and slowly and deliberately transitioned the WWWF to the WWF. Roddy Piper was signed and his masterful promos were exploited immediately. Hulk Hogan was signed and immediately given the world title and a list of new and old challengers. The entire transition took about two years to get to WrestleMania.

It is impossible to look back at Mania 1 and not compare it to today’s pro wrestling. While Vince still plans out Mania far in advance, the road map looks much different today. Think about this for a second. How big would Hogan and Piper have been if they both lost matches on the way to Mania? Would Piper have still been red hot as a heel if he was losing matches on television during the months leading up to Mania? Would Hogan have been as popular if he were reading scripted promos, losing matches, and showing vulnerabilities leading up to Mania? Would Mania have drawn if Piper or Hogan lost clean at the War to Settle the Score? How about building up a show with matches we have already seen before, some dozens of times? I think we all know the answers.

The irony here is that you would expect a genius like Vince McMahon to evolve over time. Instead if you look back over the last 32 years, Vince has actually regressed as a promoter. Ironic as it sounds, Vince was more edgy and innovative in 1985 than he is in 2015. I can’t think of many or any other CEOs or organizations run considerably better 31 years ago that are thriving today.

The WrestleMania event has become a much bigger extravaganza. The marketing has far surpassed the efforts of the company in 1985. The revenue generated from the event has greatly increased, yet inflation has played a big part in that. The shows from top to bottom are better or worse depending upon your tastes. It is all subjective. Take a look back at the card from March 31, 1985 and I will easily admit that the cards have gotten much stronger since then. Could you imagine WrestleMania headlined in 2015 by a tag team match?

Yet no matter how much money is spent on marketing and how much more time on television the WWE has to promote WrestleMania, the excitement was far bigger in 1985. I can remember watching the 11 PM news and seeing a report about WrestleMania. Heck, that was the only way a kid like me found out what happened in 1985. While the WWE does get coverage in many mediums today for WrestleMania, I don’t recall seeing many evening news reports on the event.

I think we can all agree that there are still lessons that can be learned from WrestleMania 1. Some of these lessons are lessons on failing and some are lessons on how to successfully promote your biggest event of the year. Most of those positive lessons have been ignored or blown off by an ignorant owner who thinks they are archaic. Yet I wonder how much different things would be if that same owner’s house and fortune were all at stake as they were on March 31, 1985. I bet things would be much different and for the better at that.

WWE: The Destruction of the Shield

The Randy Savage Story DVD

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Brock Lesnar At UFC, More Details Of WWE Walkout Emerge

March 02, 2015 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts, WWE | Pro Wrestling

Brock Lesnar is making the rounds. The WWE champion was show sitting ringside at UFC 184 on Saturday night. The appearance comes just days after Lesnar walked out of RAW leaving many wondering if the WrestleMania 31 main-event is in jeopardy.

This situation is getting crazier by the week. Two weeks ago it was reported that Lesnar was leaning towards staying with the WWE and re-signing as opposed to returning to MMA. A week ago Lesnar and Vince McMahon hit a contract impasse that resulted in Lesnar walking out. Several days later Lesnar is at UFC 184 and we are less than one month away from WrestleMania 31.

Dave Meltzer had some news and speculation on his post-UFC 184 F4Wonline.com podcast. Meltzer reported that Lesnar and McMahon had a loud shouting match last Monday at RAW. Meltzer said it got to the point that some were fearing for McMahon. According to Meltzer, Lesnar was upset about something regarding a new contract. Meltzer said Lesnar left the building and isn’t scheduled for television until next week at RAW.

This all begs the logical question as to whether Lesnar’s status at Mania is in jeopardy. According to Meltzer, the writers asked Vince if they needed to come up with a backup plan. Vince reportedly told them not to worry about it as he is confident that Brock is locked up for Mania. Vince reportedly feels as if he would have grounds for a big lawsuit against Lesnar if Brock didn’t show up, thus he isn’t worried.

I’d worry!

As it stands today Brock is scheduled to wrestle his last match on his current deal at Mania. Yes, Brock is legally obligated to appear on the show. However, Brock has not honored contracts in the past including a previous one with the WWE. Brock has gone to court over these days, including his deal from 2002 with the WWE. I would not be as confident as Vince is that a contract will keep Lesnar from skipping Mania 31.

So what do you do if you are the WWE? By the time Brock gets to RAW next week the word will be out about his contractual disagreements with the company. It looks terrible to have your WWE champion perceived as a lame duck champion heading into Mania. The crowd in California could get real ugly, ruining the main-event if they crap all over it due to Lesnar’s lame duck status. This is not a scenario anyone wants on March 29.

What is plan B? Let’s just say that we are two weeks from Mania and it looks like Brock may skip the show. What does Vince McMahon do? How do you fix this? Is there anything or anyone he can plug into that match to satisfy a WrestleMania main-event? Daniel Bryan is the easy answer. However, I think Vince blew those chances by booking Reigns to beat Bryan clean at Fastlane. John Cena and Rusev are already wrapped up in their own deal. I suppose you could move Seth Rollins and Randy Orton into the mix and make it a Triple Threat Match? Unfortunately there aren’t a whole lot bullets laying around these days to put into that barrel.

Brock returning to the UFC sounds fun on paper but I don’t see it ever happening. Brock wouldn’t stand a chance against most of the top five heavyweights and he knows it. It’s a different sport than it was when Brock reigned as UFC champion. He’d cash in big in Bellator but Brock never appeared to like the easy way out of competition. I think at the end of the day he has no intentions of returning to the UFC. Pro wrestling is his best bet at this stage of his career.

Whether Brock shows up or not, this is getting very tense right now for all parties. I’d say at the end of the day that Brock does not want to burn this bridge down to the ground and he shows up for Mania. But who knows? Maybe he’s had enough and he certainly has the financial means to live comfortably for the rest of his life. All I know is that this is the best WrestleMania drama being written right now and it is all being scripted organically.

WWE: The Destruction of the Shield

The Randy Savage Story DVD

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WWE Stars Talk About Meeting Vince McMahon For the First Time

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

The dynamic between Vince McMahon and his wrestlers is always a fascinating topic. WWE.com offered up some new insight with a great piece featuring several WWE superstars who recounted their first meeting with Vince McMahon.

Even guys who worked for Vinnie Mac like Chris Jericho and Steve Austin are always talking to their podcast guests about Vince and his dynamics. Just recently Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels spent quite a bit of time discussing it. WWE.com nailed down several superstars who recounted some fascinating stories about meeting Vince. John Cena’s may be the best of them all.

“I didn’t have time to be nervous. It was in Chicago, Ill., on the day I had my debut match against Kurt Angle. I wasn’t supposed to have a match that night, but in the final moments, it was decided that I would debut on television against an Olympic Gold Medalist. Higher-ups said, ‘If we’re going to put the kid on TV, he’s gotta meet Vince!’

“They literally dragged me by the arm to Vince’s office, threw me in and asked him, ‘What do you think?’ I had ridiculously ugly, long, super-dyed blond hair that was shaved bald on the sides. He turned around and with a disgusted look on his face, he said, ‘Cut his hair,’ and I was whisked away from Vince like an assembly line.

“That was the first time I met Vince McMahon and he was disgusted to look at me. They shipped me out and I immediately got a haircut, which was not dyed blond, but equally as horrible.”

That is a great story. Think about that one for a second. The man who would later become his flagship initially disgusted Vince McMahon when they first met. It is funny how things wind up playing out sometimes isn’t it?

JBL had another great story. JBL would of course ascend through the ranks and eventually become a WWE world champion. According to JBL if Vince had it his way, JBL would have been performing Swan Lake on Monday Night RAW.

“I had to go up to Stamford to meet Vince for the first time. I walked in the room and it was JJ Dillon, [Human Resources executive] Lisa Wolfe and Vince. He sat me down, and with a complete straight face he said, ‘We’re going to make you a bad guy ballerina.’ I’d always been a cowboy and I’d already told WCW I wasn’t coming. I looked at him and thought, ‘Oh god, I’ve made the worst decision of my life.’ I said to him, ‘Really?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, it’ll be great. You’re going to be a ballerina that’s a real bad guy.’ Then he started laughing and said, ‘No, I like the cowboy. We’ll do that. That sounds good.’

“He threw this contract out there for virtually no guaranteed money and said to me, ‘That contract’s not worth the paper it’s written on. All I can guarantee you is the handshake behind it.’ And that’s all I needed. I could live with that.

“He’s charismatic. No doubt about it. I don’t think anybody’s that ever met him will say any different.”

Wow! Could you imagine? Daniel Bryan describes his meeting and sums it up quite eloquently.

“It was very awkward and very uncomfortable. Vince takes these very long pauses after he asks you a question and you answer him. He’ll just look at you. Some will start talking, which I think he likes because it shows they’re uncomfortable. I was uncomfortable, but I just looked at him. I was waiting for him to talk and he was waiting for me to talk. It was surreal. I was very nervous and even in in my $500 suit — which I thought was the most expensive suit in the world — I knew I was inadequately dressed. This guy has the power to control your destiny.”

Check out the entire article on WWE.com with more comments from WWE superstars and their first meeting with Vince McMahon.

WWE: The Destruction of the Shield

The Randy Savage Story DVD

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Brock Lesnar Walks Out Of WWE RAW

February 25, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

The big news coming out of Monday Night RAW was not a dull kickoff to WrestleMania. The big story was Brock Lesnar and where he was. Lesnar walked out of RAW and a new report indicates that there could be trouble in paradise.

It was a strange Monday for Lesnar and the WWE. Earlier in the day WWE.com promoted that Brock would be appearing on RAW. Yet by the end of the broadcast there was no Brock and people were talking. Dave Meltzer reported on his podcast that Brock walked out but could not provide details. Well some details have now emerged.

Mike Johnson over at PWInsider.com has the scoop. According to Mike, Brock did indeed walk out. Mike reports that the disagreement was not over anything related to creative. Mike reports that the disagreement was simply over business between the two parties. Mike did not have much more to it other than that Vince McMahon confirmed the blow up the following day at SmackDown.

Ironically this comes only a few days after news broke that Brock was leaning towards staying with the WWE. Meltzer reported in his Wrestling Observer Newsletter that Lesnar was hesitant to return to MMA over concussion concerns and Brock was leaning towards re-signing with the WWE. I do not think any of this is a coincidence whatsoever.

Brock’s behavior has always been a concern by WWE officials. Many believe that John Cena was booked to go over Lesnar in Lesnar’s debut simply because the company was unsure whether Brock would be around long enough to return the favor. That said, there has only been one reported blow up between Brock and the WWE and that was over Cena’s promo after their Extreme Rules match. Other than that, most have painted a rosy picture of Brock and Vince’s relationship.

Meltzer also reported on his podcast that the WrestleMania 31 main-event is not in jeopardy. Brock is under contract and is expected to fulfill all of his obligations. That said, Brock never returned to NJPW to drop the IWGP title but those were different circumstances. Whether the match is in jeopardy or not, there has to be people worried in the company when the headliner walks out a month before the big show.

As for Brock’s future post-Mania, I wouldn’t be too worried. These two parties survived a nasty lawsuit and continue to do business together. Brock had a similar reputation when dealing with the UFC and Dana White would take him back in a heartbeat. I expect things to be smoothed out but until then, I’d be slightly worried if I were Vince McMahon.

WWE: The Destruction of the Shield

The Randy Savage Story DVD

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Bret Hart Talks Hulk Hogan, Vince McMahon, and John Cena

February 12, 2015 By: Category: Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

WWE Hall of Fame wrestler Bret Hart is not one to mince words. While the Hit Man may have forgiven some of his former enemies for past indiscretions, he remains willing to talk about those issues, continuing to deliver sound bites bloggers like me love to write about.

Bret Hart is a fascinating man. Hart has buried several hatchets in recent years yet he is not shy to remind fans and media of the past. You have to give him credit in a sense in that Hart remains consistent with his opinions and commentary, regardless of the political ramifications. Even if it means taking shots at the head of the WWE, Vince McMahon.

Hart was recently interviewed by Sports Vision and discussed a variety of topics, offering interesting insight and a little controversy with various questions. It may be almost twenty-years, but Hart still takes solace in delivering a punch to the Chairman of the Board. Asked about his proudest moment, it wasn’t winning a title or headlining a WrestleMania, it was about the Montreal punch.

“When I stood up for myself in Montreal, and knocked out Vince McMahon for cheating me in that match. I think it’s still defines me as a wrestler, and as an artist, and a talent, and somebody that was betrayed. I’ve always been really proud of how I reacted, and how I carried myself that day. And in the end, I think I proved I was right.”

I will say this. Vince gets a lot of criticism for continuously bringing up the Montreal Screw Job in promos and angles over the last seventeen years. So I have no problem with Bret talking so openly about it. That said, I also have no problem with Vince’s periodic references because if the topic is on the table for one, it should be on the table for two.

Bret was also asked about Hulk Hogan. Bret and Hulk have had a tumultuous relationship over the years. Generally it is Bret who continues to be critical of Hulk and take shots while Hulk seems to give more politically correct answers.

“There’s a lot of wrestlers I worked with in those days that still stop me and tell me that the greatest match they ever had was with me… I take pride in that… I wish guys like Hulk Hogan might’ve had the courage to get in the ring with me, because I maybe could’ve given him his best match that he ever had, also.

“I just think that as wrestling moves into the future, everyday it goes further and further from my day, I look at the wrestlers today and I realize that they’re carrying the torch of my style. It’s not about strongman spots and Hulk Hogan, and putting one hand behind your ear and working the crowd, and stuff like that. It’s about guys that are out there suplexing each other, and doing a lot of complex wrestling moves, and a lot of action. That’s the kind of wrestling that I brought to the game.”

Well maybe I shouldn’t bring this up but Hulk did have the “courage” to get in the ring with Bret several times in WCW and guess what? The matches weren’t that good. Now both guys were in different places in their careers but that answer is a little disingenuous considering that they have wrestled.

I will also say this. Hulk Hogan has drawn a lot more money in his career than Bret and if you look at the biggest draws in wrestling history, there aren’t many Bret Harts on that list. It is a list of guys comprised with a few move sets and not a full arsenal. Also, as someone that grew up watching Bret I think he needs a little more self-awareness. I remember many fans saying during his big WWE run, “You’ve seen one Bret Hart match you’ve seen them all.” Now his matches with Shawn Michaels and Steve Austin are some of the best I have ever seen, but generally Bret delivered a fairly predictable match during his big run. And speaking of guys with limited move sets…

“I have nothing but respect for John Cena and his work rate. He’s one of the hardest working wrestlers there ever was. He’s been a great champion, an inspiring role model. It’s not easy being John Cena and carrying all the weight of the company on your back all the time. What he’s done with Make-A-Wish kids, and kids in general, kids in general around the world. People don’t understand sometimes what it’s like to be John Cena, to understand how much pressure is on him everyday to do the right things and to always be the class champion that he’s been. He’s a tireless champion that gives 100% every night… He could do a little bit better with some of his technical moves sometimes, but I think in the long and short of it, I think John Cena’s established himself to be maybe one of the greatest wrestlers that ever lived. I think he’s an amazing wrestler.”

All in all it is a great interview and I’d recommend checking the whole thing out.

WWE: The Destruction of the Shield

The Randy Savage Story DVD

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WWE Can Do Better

February 08, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

As a singer/guitarist in a punk rock band (Mick Foley cheap plug, facebook.com/DetroitPerfect), I’m a firm believer in the DIY (do it yourself) aesthetic. On, Stone Cold Steve Austin’s podcast, Vince McMahon went on about, wrestlers having to grab for the brass ring, that no one was hungry enough (except for a select few, including, Bray Wyatt and, Dean Ambrose), or as he himself may have put it during the pre-PG, Attitude Era, the grapefruits.

Well I for one can think of at least one guy who did just that, and was burried for his efforts. That of course being one, Zack Ryder. The man was at the point, where he said, screw it, they’re not using me, so, I’ll do something to change that (his highly successful, YouTube show, Z! True Long Island Story), either it gets me over, or they’ll fire me. Well, guess what? It got over. Over Huge! Fans (excuse me, WWE Universe) across the globe, were chanting his name. When he appeared, they popped. Popped Huge! And what do they do? They bury the guy. Sure, he was given, the US title, for a cup of coffee. But, he was mainly cast as, John Cena’s little buddy, and, put in hokey angles with, Kane and ,Eve. Then, they make him move his, YouTube show, over to their, YouTube channel, and, water it down to a shell of its former self.

So, Vince, you can go on and on, until you’re blue in the face about, brass rings. The fact of the matter is you’re going to push who you want to push.The people want, Daniel Bryan, not, Roman Reigns.

What, happened, Vince? Stone Cold Steve Austin, wasn’t 300 lbs, and jacked to the gills. And yet, from what I hear, he did pretty damn well for himself. You stuck him in a horrible gimmick (the Ringmaster), and he said to hell with this, grabbed the bull (one may say, the brahma bull, sorry, I couldn’t help myself) by the horns, and got over on his own, without “the machine” behind him.

Since, I’ve gotten myself so hot, not only are you not giving the fans what they want, you’re no longer letting the heels be heels. I understand, that you are a publicly traded company. I understand, that there are sponsors to adhere to. But, come on. No more touching of, the refs. No more ball shots. No more, playing, the chicken shit. In effect, no more, heels.

The promos. Everything is way over-scripted. For the guys that can talk, why not just give them bullet points, and let them convey, whaever point it is that they’re trying to get across on they’re own, rather than just reciting lines, someone else wrote for them. Bring back managers! You’d think this would be a given, given the success of, Paul Heyman, and to a smaller degree, a very underrated, Zeb Coulter. Obviously, not everyone is going to be able to cut it as a great promo, whether it be nerves, or just plain lack of charisma. So, I’ll say it again. Bring back managers!

Just so everyone is aware, I’m not totally bitter. There are some things I agree with (granted not much, see I’m already bitter again). I think it was one the best ideas, the company has ever had, in doing away with the steel chair head shots. Although, I personally think it adds drama, and can be used for special purposes (such as the end of a feud), it’s definitely time to end the practice of blading. Health concerns, being the prime example, but I can also see as how it can come across as barbaric, in this day and age.

When it comes down to it, I’m a wrestling fan (not, sports entertainment). I just want to see it be the best it can be. I believe that along with jazz music, it’s one of the only true, American art forms. And, I hope, Zack Ryder, saved all that merch money.

WWE: The Destruction of the Shield

The Randy Savage Story DVD

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10 Wrestling Angles That Started Hot & Ended Flat

February 04, 2015 By: Category: lists, WWE | Pro Wrestling

The intrigue of how a hot pro wrestling angle ends is more exciting than the matches for most of us. Yet you don’t have to go back further than Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins for examples of pro wrestling angles that started off as hot and ended flatter than a pancake. It doesn’t get much disappointing than that.

It is important to keep in mind that more times than not, pro wrestling bookers tend to over-think these things and get all caught up in trying to fool fans as opposed to doing what is best for business. Even when it seems so easy, they routinely miss the mark. Remember how great the Summer of Punk started and how badly it ended?

So off the top of my head here are ten pro wrestling angles that I thought started out hot and ended flat, disappointing wrestling fans. These aren’t in any particular order of importance. These angles are moments I remember watching live thinking how great they were that failed to live up to expectations for a variety of reasons, generally the fault of the bookers or writers.

The WCW Invasion, 2001 - We have been down this road many times. WCW invading the WWE after the sale in 2001 should have been the biggest angle in pro wrestling history. Instead, most point to this angle as the biggest booking blunder of the 21st century for Team McMahon.

Let’s face it. This one doesn’t take a whole lot of rocket science to book. Yet Vince McMahon got cute and due to ego and bad business, never gave this angle the tools it needed to succeed. Instead of picking up the big WCW stars, the WCW invasion was originally led by Shane McMahon, Booker T, and Buff Bagwell. You can figure out how this thing ended without even reading on.

All of the WWE vs. WCW matches ended with the WWE crew coming out on top with none of the WCW originals looking strong. The underlying theme here was obvious. WWE is and always was better than WCW. That is how this thing started and that is how it ended.

The irony here is that Vince McMahon later signed the bigger WCW superstars like Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Bill Goldberg, and Scott Steiner. Unfortunately those signings came after the invasion, thus costing the company millions of dollars and some potentially historic moments of pro wrestling fans.

Lita, Matt Hardy, and Jeff Hardy defeat Triple H, Steve Austin, & Stephanie McMahon on RAW, 2001 - Do you remember the night that the Hardy brothers and Lita defeated Austin, Triple H, and Stephanie on RAW? You probably don’t, but if you did you remember one of the most exciting moments in RAW history at the time of the match.

The Hardy brothers and Lita had become a hit around this time with the younger WWE audience. It was time to bump the trio up from their feud with Edge, Christian, and Kurt Angle to the Two Man Power Trip. This match resulted out of a brief meeting earlier in the show between Lita and Linda where Lita showed her support for Linda in the middle of a “divorce” with Vince. The punishment, a match with the WWE champion Stone Cold Steve Austin, the WWE intercontinental champion Triple H, and Stephanie.

The match was exciting, full of action, and told a fantastic story of the underdogs finally getting their opportunity. The match ended with Lita pinning Stephanie. Austin and Hunter obliterated the Hardy boys and even Lita in an absolutely tremendous RAW moment. It appeared that the Hardy brothers were in full feud mode now with the McMahon alliance.

Sadly that feud lasted all of about a week. Jeff Hardy defeated Triple H on the next edition of SmackDown to win the intercontinental title, only to drop it back to Hunter four days later on RAW. The Hardys and Lita had one more match against the pair as part of an eight-man tag team match but fell out of the main-event picture in the blink of an eye.

This had the potential to be a really exciting feud that never went anywhere when all was said and done.

Nexus Forms, 2010 - Up until CM Punk’s promo on RAW Roulette, this was the most memorable moment of the decade in the WWE. The night without warning that several WWE rookies jumped John Cena and CM Punk in what many described as an “n.W.o. moment.” Unfortunately that great moment never materialized the way most fans had hoped that it would.

Daniel Bryan was immediately fired from the company which took the best worker of Nexus out of the mix. So for the next several weeks Wade Barrett carried the crew with some of the best promos of the year in the WWE. Nexus destroyed everyone in their paths for about a month including several WWE legends. It appeared that nobody was stopping Nexus.

Sadly, everyone stopped Nexus. The first big WWE vs. Nexus match took place at SummerSlam 2010. This was the turning point for the angle because from here on out, Nexus were never able to regain the momentum they had when they jumped Punk and Cena back in June. Cena standing tall as sole survivor of the match completely brought this angle to a screeching halt.

Yes I know, Wade Barrett defeated John Cena at Hell in a Cell and got him in Nexus. However, Barrett and Nexus were made to look like fools and Cena never took the stips or the loss seriously. One year later Barrett is far removed from where you would have expected him to be at this point and most of Nexus are just bouncing around. I hate to say it but I have little faith that the same guys that dropped the ball on Nexus will be writing the CM Punk-Money in the Bank storyline at Money in the Bank.

Tazz debuts in the WWE, 2001 - Taz as he was known in Extreme Championship Wrestling was the franchise player of the company in 2000. That is why many were surprised, yet excited when they heard Taz (now Tazz) had signed with the WWE.

Tazz came into the company with a ton of promotion. He had several articles written about him on the website and a ton of vignettes before his debut. Tazz debuted at the Royal Rumble in New York as Kurt Angle’s mystery opponent. Tazz ended the winning streak of Kurt Angle to a huge reaction in just slightly over three minutes of dominance.

You would have expected big things for Tazz after debuting with such fanfare in the WWE. Unfortunately that never happened. Chalk it up to politics, but the Tazz was never fully followed through. The writing was on the wall when Tazz as ECW champion lost to Triple H on SmackDown for no apparent reason other than spite. From there, Tazz wound up in the intercontinental title mix and was one of only a few not to get a run with the belt during that time period. Tazz would wind up disappearing due to injury and returning months later.

Unfortunately the WWE never pushed Tazz as hard as they did before he arrived as they did when he showed up in the WWE disappointing a lot of fans who hoped to see Tazz suplex and choke his way to the WWE main-event picture.

The Radicalz invade the WWE, 2000 - If you read the wrestling newsletters or called hotlines back in 1999 and 2000 you knew what was coming. After years of being held down by politics and petty booking in WCW, Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, and Eddie Guerrero (along with Perry Saturn) were going to get their shots in the WWE.

It all started off fantastic. All four guys appeared at ringside without warning on the January 31, 2000 edition of WWE RAW is War. The fans went crazy and immediately recognized the men and the N.W.O. moment that the WWE injected back into the Monday Night Wars. The Radicalz as they were called were “invited” guests of Mick Foley.

The Radicalz made their presence known by the end of the night. A cheap shot by the Road Dog resulted in the Radicalz jumping the guard rail and beating down the New Age Outlaws. They were instant stars in the WWE, something they had to work for in WCW over the course of a few years. Unfortunately the parade would soon come to an end.

A few days later Benoit, Guerrero, Malenko, and Saturn were offered a chance to “win contracts” if they could win three matches on SmackDown against Degeneration-X members; Triple H, X Pac, and the Outlaws. Can you guess what happened next? The Radicalz lost all three matches, including Triple H pinning Benoit who left WCW as the world champion. The air was taken out of the balloon in less than a week.

Benoit and Guerrero eventually fought their way to the top but Saturn and Malenko struggled. It took the WWE months to ruin the Nexus angle in 2010. It only took them a few days to ruin the Radicalz angle in 2000.

ECW invades the WWE, 1996 - Yes before ECW One Night Stand there was WWF Mind Games in Philadelphia, PA. The WWF was struggling to find its way while ECW became something of an underground sensation with a teenage market that the WWF couldn’t reach. In order to reach that market, the WWF partnered with ECW, giving ECW an opportunity to expose its product to a national audience. And oh yeah, WCW was kicking the WWF’s behind at this time with the start of the n.W.o. angle.

It all started in ECW when threats were issued towards the WWF for coming into ECW’s home base, Philadelphia, PA with Mind Games. A few weeks later ECW (& future WWE) stars the Sandman, Tommy Dreamer, Taz, and Paul Heyman were in the front row of the Mind Games pay per view to enjoy the show and cause a little trouble.

It didn’t take long for the fans to notice and “ECW” chants quickly broke out live in pay per view. In the pay per view opener, Savio Vega wound up outside the ring in front of the ECW crew. Sandman threw beer on Vega and a pull-apart erupted between all parties at ringside. Vince McMahon on the announce team dismissed the ECW crew as a “local, up and coming promotion.”

This should have been the start of something great. The WWF had their own invasion angle right in front of them but nothing of real relevance materialized. The ECW crew were given matches on one episode of RAW and appeared from time to time to cause trouble but that was it. A memorable debate between Jerry Lawler and Paul Heyman that resulted in nothing else is about the only real highlight here.

Ironically it was ECW that really capitalized off of this angle. ECW booked Jerry Lawler and Lawler immediately became one of the biggest heels in the company. Yet Vince McMahon and the WWE never pulled the trigger on an all-out invasion between companies. In retrospect it is interesting to think what could have happened if he did.

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The Ultimate Warrior confronts Hulk Hogan in WCW, 1998 - How could I write a blog like this without bringing up this nugget? Eight years after giving pro wrestling one of the most memorable matches in WWE history, Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior attempted to rewrite history in WCW. Unfortunately for them, it wasn’t Vince McMahon holding the pencil and writing what would become a bomb of a program.

Warrior’s debut was great. Some fans were surprised, some expected it, but all went crazy when the lights went out and returned with the Warrior in a WCW ring. Warrior cut a great (but lengthy) promo on Hogan and Bischoff. It was certainly an electric moment but sadly for Warrior fans, someone turned the power off pretty quickly on this memorable moment.

See the fun part about the Warrior is watching him talk but unfortunately at some point he is going to have to wrestle. He did and his long awaited singles match with Hogan is regarded by many as one of the worst WCW main-events in history and boy does that say a lot.

Warrior only resurfaced one more time in WCW after the Halloween Havoc disaster. Depending upon who you believe either the Warrior held out for more money after the match or WCW simply stopped calling him. Either way, WCW finally moved on and spared their fans of another Warrior vs. Hogan match.

The Four Horsemen turn on Ole Anderson, 1987 - I remember watching this as a kid and getting excited seeing Ole Anderson slap J.J. Dillon moments after Dillon made fun of Anderson’s kid. Ole was always something of a bully and a bad-a$* so seeing Ole get his revenge on the Four Horsemen was a moment I was ready to pay $20 to see.

Instead, Ole wound up in a bunch of tag team matches and singles matches against Arn that never went anywhere. The angle fell completely flat and Ole bombed as a babyface. Maybe he was just too good of a heel that even when fighting the Horsemen, nobody wanted to cheer Ole? Whatever the reasons were, Ole retired less than a year later and the angle became a forgotten moment after an intense start.

Ronnie Garvin turns heel, 1988 - Ronnie Garvin never particularly clicked as a babyface to justify the push he received by Dusty Rhodes in 1987. However, Garvin was always seen as a gritty, tough guy and a pro wrestler that could hold his own against anyone. That is why I, like many were surprised when he helped the Four Horsemen at the expense of Dusty Rhodes.

The start of this angle was fantastic. Garvin entered the ring during a match at the Great American Bash 1988 featuring Dusty Rhodes vs. Barry Windham. The referee was knocked out, J.J. got up on the apron, and Garvin appeared to even the odd for Dusty. Instead, Garvin clocked the son of a plumber with his famous right hand to a huge reaction from the Baltimore crowd. The feud was on…and off.

Garvin quickly left the promotion for the WWE after the turn. Garvin vs. Dusty never got off the ground, failing to deliver on what was one of the most exciting moments in wrestling at the time.

Randy Orton is kicked out of Evolution, 2004 - This certainly won’t go down in history as the greatest angle of all time but at the time this was huge. After running around with Triple H, Batista, and Ric Flair, Randy Orton for two years, Orton was kicked out of Evolution. The thumbs up/thumbs down was a WWE moment for the ages. Unfortunately the excitement ended there for Orton.

Orton lost all of his singles matches with Triple H, thus taking steam right off of the kid who was touted to be the next big babyface of the WWE. Instead, Orton turned heel a couple of months after his final match with Triple H at the Royal Rumble, completely abandoning his big push to be the next WWE hero.

In other words, the WWE wasted an entire year building Orton’s turn just to squash Orton, and turn him heel again a few months later.

WWE: The Destruction of the Shield

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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

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New WWE Mantra: Fix the Solution, Avoid the Elephant in the Room

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

The snow storm in the northwest may have been the best thing that could have happened to the WWE after the fallout of the Royal Rumble pay-per-view from Sunday night. The impromptu “Raw Review” did a lot to confront some of the major issues form the events of Sunday night, but did not completely reverse the fact hundreds of thousands of fans, whether in the arena in Philadelphia or hose who bought the WWE Network or a cable buy, are not happy with the Rumble match, the ending to the night and the fact the first PPV event of the year left us all feeling a bit empty inside.

It’s unfortunate the brunt of the backlash has been thrust toward Roman Reigns after he won the Rumble match to a chorus of boos and chants for the Russian Rusev rather than the man who was passed over for Batista last year for reasons we all still scratch our heads and ask, “Did that really just happen?”

I guess if there was no Batista and a fraudulent Rumble win last year, there would not be a “YES” movement like there was and no Daniel Bryan title win in The Big Easy.

Like someone said to me the other night, there is no veteran to come in and save the WWE from itself right now. Those days when a Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan or Steve Austin grabbing hold of an arena and holding it hostage until the fans in their seats and at home are delirious with excitement and hope are gone.

The WWE’s coverage of Brock Lesnar and his interview with Michael Cole was potentially the best of Raw, bringing the events of WrestleMania XXX full circle with what the company hopes will be a colossal confrontation with Reigns at the company’s signature show in 63 days.

Right about now, Vince McMahon and his cohorts (including Triple H and Stephanie McMahon) are praying for forgiveness and hope the next two months can lead to enough buildup that fans will acquire cases of amnesia and forgive the three-headed monster for not reaching deep enough to see problems that could exist for not having Plan B and Plan C in their hip pocket.

This used to be a trademark of McMahon back in the days when sports entertainment was new and fresh and the Internet was not the watchdog of the industry and bloggers and media types like myself couldn’t voice their opinions about the death of kayfabe.

When asked, Lesnar said he hoped Reigns was ready for the challenge of facing the man who is currently the baddest ass on the planet and the man who self-promoted himself as being on a roll. The WWE should think the wrestling gods right now for that “roll” because along with Seth Rollins and John Cena, Lesnar saved the pay-per-view from becoming the worst piece of paid-wrestling viewing we have seen since he later stages of WCW’s death.

The people laid the Smackdown on the WWE this time – not the other way around.

Please understand that in light of what has taken place in the last 48 hours, the events are not the fault of Reigns. He is just the puppet that the WWE wants to try to get past the Cena Revolution and the carnage left behind by management and creative writers trying to escape the problems that exist from continually placing a gold strap on the should of Cena, Randy Orton and anyone else that has a 10-year ring license (Daniel Bryan, excluded) that for some reasons means they know what it is to sell at the gate and keep the green machine flowing into WWE coffers.

The WWE is slow playing its hand when it comes to WrestleMania, probably because Vince McMahon has no idea how he really wants the event to breakdown. Reigns had all the momentum in the world before a hernia operation sidelined him. The symbolism of The Rock getting in the ring and passing the torch to the younger Reigns couldn’t work with the Philadelphia crowd, some of the hardest fans to please in the country in any sport.

Add to the fact that we saw this between Rock and Cena a couple of years ago and it proves that McMahon likes to go to the well more than once too often. It is more than possible McMahon at 69 years of age is finally losing his magic stroke?

Maybe the WWE should go back to its “TV-14” rating and get more familiar with chair shots and blood and potentially more violent content. It would bring back the masses, but not solve the issues that exist with programming, script writing and fan dissention. That comes with time and the belief the WWE really does support a changing of the guard and will work to make WrestleMania the best it can be.

Sting should have been in Philadelphia. He should have been the veteran to get the crowd delirious with excitement. The Rock getting in the ring was the most electrifying failure in his Hall of Fame career. And it made no sense. McMahon sent him out there – hoping to change the temperature of the climate in the arena. It did not work. The WWE now has a Batista-like situation on its hands.

While Batista was visibly pissed off in the Rumble match at the way fans reacted to him, which made matters worse, Reigns has been the heir apparent for some time. The WWE brought him along with The Shield for the ride and now, he must balance Disney World on his shoulders – like it or not, ready or not.

It isn’t Reigns’ fault the WWE universe doesn’t want him in the main event. It’s not his fault the fans wanted to see more of the Triple Threat Match between Seth Rollins, John Cena and Brock Lesnar. It isn’t his fault wrestling sensibilities have changed. Blame it all on McMahon and Triple H and the idea of the Authority.

But by the same token, Reigns must stand up after what happened at the Royal Rumble and help fix it by getting better on the mic and in the ring. And most of all use the experience as a lesson that will ultimately make him the champion the champion needs him to be.

WWE: The Destruction of the Shield

The Randy Savage Story DVD

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WWE WrestleMania 32 Announcement and Press Conference

January 21, 2015 By: Category: Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

It is official! WrestleMania 32 is coming to AT&T Stadium in Dallas, Texas. The WWE made the official announcement on Tuesday with some heavy hitters in attendance to answer questions. Check out the video and the press conference below.

The WWE will need to lock up some heavy hitters for this one. The WWE will be looking to break its own attendance record for WrestleMania. I can tell you now that the current roster of talent aren’t bringing 90,000 people in the way it is presented today. There are a lot of rumors surrounding Stone Cold Steve Austin and a match on this show. We’ll have to wait and see.

Check out the breaking news announcement and the press conference featuring the legendary Hulk Hogan, Vince McMahon, Stephanie McMahon, John Cena, and more.