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Top 50 Moments of the WWE Attitude Era

April 14, 2015 By: Category: lists, WWE | Pro Wrestling

It’s still unclear what Monday’s addition of Attitude Era content to WWE Network exactly entails. Hopefully, it’s enough to satiate the subscribers that have been holding their breath for 1997 episodes of Nitro for close to a year. The uploading schedule has the regularity of asthma attacks, and it seems once the Network is on a kick (ECW week! 16 months of Nitro! A new classic Raw every Wednesday!), the idea is quickly left in a roadside ditch in favor of some other hastily-concocted idea.

Whatever Attitude programming makes its way to the Network on Monday, I thought it’d be nice to put the actual era in perspective and sift through the top moments with the benefit of hindsight. I do enjoy my listmaking; you may have noticed.

In picking the 50 most memorable moments of wrestling’s most unpredictable and fun era ever, I adhered to a few guidelines.

1. The time frame for the Attitude Era isn’t exactly etched in stone, so I went with the timeline used on WWE2K13 for their Attitude Era mode: the moment Shawn Michaels hit Undertaker with a steel chair at SummerSlam 1997 through Steve Austin and Vince McMahon’s handshake at WrestleMania X7. Some say the era didn’t begin until Austin beat Michaels for the title; others will say it was when Austin broke into Brian Pillman’s house in 1996. Mileage varies; I think my choice of dates is fairly acceptable.

2. Wrestler deaths (Pillman, Owen) and serious injuries (Droz) are omitted completely. Each entry on the list plays into the realm of fiction to some degree, and it’s not fair to say that one man’s death was more memorable than another, even if Owen’s was the public relations nightmare from hell, based on the circumstances. The Attitude Era had its share of dark moments from the bowels (perhaps literally) of creation, and this list only honors those birthed by the writer’s pen.

Off we go.

50. Michaels Smashes Undertaker with a Steel Chair (August 3, 1997)

Hey, we were just talking about this, weren’t we? Michaels shed his put-on company charm for good with the errant strike, weaving the overwhelming dislike against him with the ‘blame’ he received for the incident. Cutesy, praise-singing Michaels of 1996 had to go away, and as far as catalysts go, this was perfect.

49. Austin Throws the Intercontinental Title into a River (December 9, 1997)

And you thought the belt was disrespected today. Austin lost the belt via voluntary forfeit to The Rock, then beat him up anyway, absconded with the title, and chucked the strap into a freezing New Hampshire stream out of spite.

48. Double People’s Elbow (September 27, 1998)

The Rock had just freshly turned face, and was pitted with fellow fan favorites Ken Shamrock and Mankind in a blue-barred cage match in Hamilton, ON. The Canadian crowd solidified Rock as a true superstar when he ripped off both elbow pads, dropped his signature elbow in duplicate, and receiving his biggest cheer to date in doing so.

47. Halftime Heat (January 31, 1999)

A novel concept to be sure, Rock defended the WWF Title against Mankind in an empty arena match, and it aired at halftime of John Elway’s final game. The camera angles showing the finish were hokey, but Mankind winning trumps sitting through Gloria Estefan’s warbling.

46. Linda’s Off Her Meds (April 1, 2001)

Since Vince demanded a divorce in December, Linda McMahon fell into a near-vegetative state (which wasn’t an acting stretch), and Vince, via power-of-attorney, kept her doped up while he cavorted with Trish Stratus. At WrestleMania X7, Linda emerged from a now put-on comatose state and kicked Vince in the balls to a massive cheer.

45. Austin Gets Run Down (November 14, 1999)

It was the beginning of an intriguing whodunnit. Austin chases Triple H through a Detroit parking lot at Survivor Series and gets run over by an unknown assailant. Austin was written out for almost ten months (he needed spinal surgery), and speculation ran rampant as to the driver.

44. Triple H Revealed as Mastermind of Austin’s Accident (November 6, 2000)

The initial payoff of the rundown was Rikishi, who ‘dih dit for da Rock’, and that seemed less than satisfactory. A month after the reveal, Triple H struck Austin after a tag team match on Raw, and worked in tandem with Rikishi to bust Austin up. The payoff for the rewrite was Austin dropping Triple H out of a crane at Survivor Series. Ahh, simpler times.

43. Triple H vs. T-800 Model 101 (November 9, 1999)

Arnold Schwarzenegger, pre-Gubernatorial run, appeared on Smackdown to promote the insipid End of Days movie, and ended up waylaying Triple H at the commentary desk. This was pretty well-received from the optimistic Attitude-era fanbase, and it beats the hell out of the “Rise of the Torn Quadriceps” entrance at WrestleMania 31.

42. Nuclear in Dallas (February 7, 2000)

Triple H, X-Pac, and The Radicals took on The Rock, Mick Foley, Too Cool, and Rikishi in an excellent ten man tag with one of the wildest, hottest crowds you’ll ever hear. The heels won, but Kane made the big save afterward with a returning Paul Bearer, spurring an even louder crowd response. Rivals a post-WrestleMania Raw crowd in volume.

41. Ventura Has the Power (August 22, 1999)

After leaving WWF acrimoniously nine years earlier, now-Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura officiated the main event at SummerSlam in Minneapolis, and even graced Raw with some commentary 13 days prior. Ventura even got to beat up Shane McMahon on a lark.

40. Finally, Austin vs. McMahon, with a Debut (February 14, 1999)

McMahon took a spill off the side of a steel cage at the hands of Austin, and Stone Cold spent an extended time-frame busting him up to the crowd’s delight. That’s when Big Show made his debut, billowing through the canvas, and assaulted Austin before inadvertently giving him the win by throwing him into the cage. The structure came apart, allowing escape.

39. Big Red Machine vs. Big Red Monster (March 29, 1998)

Nobody realized at the time that a running gag was being born. Pete Rose appeared at WrestleMania XIV to insult the then-suffering Boston fans, prompting Kane to dismantle Rose upon arrival. This tradition continued for several ‘Manias following.

38. Love Her or Leave Her (August 22, 1999)

The storyline was Shakespeare with the aggro-rock twist; Shane McMahon forbade his sister Stephanie from dating blue-collar Test. To settle the issue, Shane and Test competed in a startling show-stealer at SummerSlam with Test winning, but not before Shane busted out his first ever Leap of Faith elbow through the Spanish announce table.

37. Garden Street Fight (January 23, 2000)

Cactus Jack reared his ugly head into WWF Champion Triple H’s life, and the two warred in a street fight for the title at the Royal Rumble. A barbed-wire 2X4 found employment for the first time in WWF history, and Helmsley bled more than he ever had before. Cactus taking a Pedigree face-first onto a pile of thumbtacks cinches the match’s place in insanity’s lore.

36. The Highway to Hell (August 30, 1998)

The Crash-TV elements of the era killed off slow-burns and meaningful build in a lot of instances. However, the three-month story of miscommunication and alpha-male posturing between Austin and Undertaker en route to their SummerSlam title bout, complete with AC/DC’s iconic tune in music video form, was a well-rounded, well-received saga.

35. Birmingham: The Original Montreal (September 20, 1997)

Bret Hart wasn’t the only non-American beaten for gold in their own country by Shawn Michaels in dubious fashion. Michaels won the European Title from Davey Boy Smith in England at the ‘One Night Only’ PPV, while Michaels heeled it up to the hilt. The controversial match was witnessed by Smith’s dying sister Tracy, seated ringside with Diana Hart-Smith.

34. DX Invasion (April 27, 1998)

Not the end-all/be-all moment that WWE likes to claim, a fatigue-clad D-Generation X drove an Army Jeep to the Norfolk Scope, where WCW was running Monday Nitro, and the group was filmed interviewing fans with comped tickets, and demanding the release of ‘hostages’ Scott Hall and Kevin Nash. Not that WCW needed help in looking uncool.

33. Triple H’s Most Important Turn (March 28, 1999)

Other than Austin regaining the WWF Title, this was the most important part of an awful WrestleMania. Triple H Pedigreed X-Pac in his European title bout with Shane McMahon, going corporate in the process. From this turn spawned wrestling’s most unkillable character.

32. Rikishi Goes Superfly (July 23, 2000)

It surely hurt Don Muraco enough getting pancaked by Jimmy Snuka’s steel cage leap in 1983, but imagine poor Val Venis’ plight. Venis was absolutely squashed by Rikishi, all 400 pounds with an anchoring ass, horrifically recreating the plummet at Fully Loaded 2000

31. “I Need to Beat You” (March 22, 2001)

The build to Austin and Rock’s WrestleMania X7 title match was enhanced in video form with Limp Bizkit’s melancholy “My Way” as the soundtrack. Giving the face-vs-face clash that extra push was Austin’s statement during a sitdown interview with Jim Ross, telling Rock he needed to beat him, with chilling matter-of-factness. Nobody had a clue what lay ahead.

30. This is Your Life, Rock (September 27, 1999)

The 8.4 Nielsen rating, still a Raw record, warrants the inclusion on this list, even if the segment doesn’t exactly hold up comedically. So Mankind hosts a dorky love-in for Rock, complete with cameos from Rock’s past. Highlight is Rock’s high coach pricelessly entering to Lex Luger’s “I’ll Be Your Hero” 1993 hype theme, before getting dressed down.

29. Austin Evens the Odds (April 30, 2000)

You’ll never believe this, but the Corporation stacked the odds against a babyface challenger. The Rock was down and out against Triple H after tons of interference, when Stone Cold hit the ring with a chair, putting down the champ, along with Vince, Shane, Patterson, and Brisco. The crowd response to the signature glass-shatter is some electric energy.

28. Judgment Day is Now (May 21, 2000)

For 58 minutes, Rock and Triple H executed one of the most well-thought out and dramatic Iron Man matches in wrestling history. With the score tied, The Undertaker made his grand return, reverting to real-life motorcycle man roots, assaulting Triple H in the waning seconds to give Helmsley the gold on a fall-ending DQ. Cheap ending aside, everything else ruled.

27. Ladder to Success (August 30, 1998)

While the previous two entries occurred at the culmination of Rock and Triple H’s success, one match revealed their respective potential: a ladder match for the Intercontinental Title at SummerSlam. It was each man’s greatest match to date, and the MSG faithful approved of their valiant effort. There was little doubt in each of their bright futures.

26. Austin’s Four Weeks of Destruction (September 28-October 19, 1998)

Lumping four moments of Stone Cold-brand mayhem in one entry: the Zamboni ride to the ring, rectally assaulting Vince with an enema, filling Vince’s Corvette with wet cement, and finally holding him hostage with a flag-loaded prop gun after Austin had been fired. All silly and over-the-top, yes, but it’s hard to remember Austin without these incidents.

25. The Year of Angle (October 22, 2000)

Exuberant Angle was really the first star since The Rock to begin essentially as a WWF pet project and blossom into a no-doubt-about-it main event superstar. In less than one year, Angle was made European and Intercontinental Champions, as well as King of the Ring, before going over on Rock to become WWF Champion at No Mercy. It’s true.

24. Vegas Wedding (November 29, 1999)

Test and Stephanie McMahon were in the midst of what seemed like a touching wedding ceremony, when Triple H appeared, producing footage of himself marrying a drugged, unconscious Stephanie at a drive-thru chapel in Vegas that weekend. Stephanie was proven to be in on the ruse at Armageddon, but the Raw payoff made for good shock TV.

23. Bang Bang! (September 22, 1997)

A nice little surprise for the ‘home crowd’ at the Garden. Triple H thinks he’s getting Dude Love in a falls count anywhere match, but is instead treated to a video of Dude Love and Mankind both passing on the bout. In comes Cactus Jack, his WWF ‘debut’, to accept, and Foley lives out his dream of shining brutally in his favorite arena.

22. Double Screwjob (November 15, 1998)

The Survivor Series ‘Deadly Game’ tournament for the WWF Championship played out with a pair of well-booked swerves. In one, Shane McMahon, estranged from his father, screwed over Austin in a semi-final match with Mankind. Mankind was then screwed over, via Sharpshooter, to The Rock, who captured his first World Title as a corporate centerpiece.

21. Chair After Chair (January 24, 1999)

The I Quit Match at the 1999 Royal Rumble became infamous, thanks in large part due to Barry Blaustein’s “Beyond the Mat” documentary. The Rock pelted a handcuffed Mankind with an endless barrage of unprotected chair shots while Colette Foley and children Dewey and Noelle, both extremely young, cried in horror from the crowd.

20. Star-Crossed Lovers (September 24, 2000)

One of the biggest draws for female fans in the year 2000 was the love triangle that played out between Triple H, Stephanie McMahon, and a seemingly platonic Kurt Angle. The story ended hastily at Unforgiven with a Triple H win, but the layers of deceit and miscommunication (namely Triple H’s misgivings with Trish Stratus) were wholly new to WWF television.

19. DX Version 2.0 (March 30, 1998)

Shawn Michaels’ back injury led to Triple H stepping out of the shadow and commandeering the group following WrestleMania XIV. Joining Triple H and Chyna were X-Pac (returning that night following being let go by WCW, which was addressed by Sean Waltman in a vitriolic promo) and The New Age Outlaws, all in the span of one evening.

18. Four New Stars in One (October 17, 1999)

The Terri Invitational Tournament with a sack of money at stake was hardly relevant. Edge, Christian, and The Hardy Boyz stole the night with a ladder match for the ages, elevating each other from midcard driftwood to crowd favorites through intricate stunts, and a violent disregard that didn’t require a gruesome blade job.

17. Tables, Ladders, and Chairs (April 2, 2000, August 27, 2000, April 1, 2001)

On the foundation of that No Mercy ladder match came three epic battles with the aforementioned teams, plus The Dudley Boyz, each upping the ante of showmanship and high-risk suspense. Edge and Christian won all three matches, but the teams would all ride the momentum of the matches to extensive success in their careers.

16. “By My Hand Only” (May 31, 1998)

If you have the Network, just watch Over the Edge 1998 from Vince’s backstage promo, through Pat Patterson’s hysterical ring intros, through the entire Steve Austin-Dude Love WWF Championship brawl, all the way to the satisfying finish. It is the greatest overbooked match in wrestling history, and you’re nuts if you don’t give it five stars.

15. Evacuees of a Falling Empire (January 31, 2000)

After Vince Russo’s WCW reassignment, many concerned parties in the midcard decided they wanted out if Kevin Sullivan got the book. Four of those individuals, Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, Eddie Guerrero, and Perry Saturn, immediately jumped to WWF and became known as The Radicals. Benoit even handed back his newly won WCW Championship just to leave.

14. End of an Era (April 1, 2001)

Is there any better physical representation of Attitude’s disintegration than Steve Austin having Vince McMahon help him beat The Rock to become WWF Champion, and then shaking hands with him afterward? It was a helluva match to close WrestleMania X7, and the unthinkable alliance was as palpable a page-turner as any.

13. Heartbreaking Farewell (February 27, 2000)

Yes, Mick Foley’s wrestled matches since his loss to Triple H at No Way Out inside Hell in a Cell, but the moment itself was gutting for the many fans that willed him to the top of the wrestling world. In an era where title changes and alignment-turns were so frequent as to mean nothing, seeing Foley exit meant entirely everything.

12. A Hellish Debut (October 5, 1997)

Hell in a Cell lived up to its hype, with The Undertaker bloodying Shawn Michaels in an oddly cathartic fashion. The payoff to the two-month feud looked to be nigh when the lights suddenly dimmed. Kane had arrived, led by Paul Bearer, to avenge childhood scores with Undertaker. A Tombstone later, and Michaels went over in the epic melee.

11. Taking Over Thursdays (August 26, 1999)

Although the original Smackdown broadcast was a standalone pilot four months earlier, WWF was greenlighted a Thursday showcase to double the output of a red-hot product. WCW was was already in its tailspin, but Smackdown’s high profile on second-tier UPN led to the moving of the abysmal Thunder to Wednesday nights.

10. Raw is Jericho (August 9, 1999)

This entry is somewhat maligned for Jericho looking like a colossal dork by the end, thanks to his decision on how to sell Rock’s putdowns. However, the build with the countdown clock, and the anxious, exultant Chicago crowd, made the initial debut an unforgettable scene, with Jericho striking his now standard T-pose on the Raw is War stage.

9. Birth of a D-Generation (August 18, 1997)

It was wacky, mismatched partner night as The Undertaker and Mankind would be teaming up to battle Shawn Michaels and Triple H. The deal with the latter duo became a regular gig, with the Kliq buddies forming D-Generation X, the breath of fresh air needed to counter a stale, overcrowded nWo, and give WWF some necessary controversy in its programming.

8. Putting Butts in Seats (December 29, 1998)

Airing six days after the listed date, Mankind winning the WWF Championship from The Rock was an underdog triumph which any fan could, and did, relate to. Over on the other channel, Foley’s taped title win was mocked by Tony Schiavone (under duress), shortly before Hulk Hogan and Kevin Nash’s infamous ‘fingerpoke’ swerve. Guess what fans liked better?

7. Austin Stuns McMahon (September 22, 1997)

Oh sure, Austin’s beaten up McMahon a million times, but there had to be a first time. McMahon tried to reason with an ornery Austin when Stone Cold was confronted by a group of arresting officers, but the stubborn Austin shook off the well-wishes and gave McMahon, still merely an announcer, a Stone Cold Stunner that would become the first of many.

6. Tyson-Austin, Tyson-Austin! (January 19, 1998)

An important keystone to WWF’s pulling past a near-idling WCW was mainstream acceptance. Getting Mike Tyson to play a part at WrestleMania XIV was a deft move. The masterstroke was instituting a confrontation between Tyson and Austin the night after the Royal Rumble. The spirited skirmish made headline news on ESPN and other major media outlets.

5. The Simulcast (March 26, 2001)

Three days earlier, it was announced that WWF was acquiring WCW for under three million dollars. The final episode of Nitro opened with a surreal image: Vince informing us that the fate of the company was now in his hands. That was before the real-life major story became cartoon-world storyline, as son Shane buys WCW from under his father’s nose.

4. “Will Somebody Stop the Damn Match?!” (June 28, 1998)

Words don’t accurately paint the picture of watching Mick Foley take two unexpected falls off of Hell in a Cell: one planned, the other a heart-stopping accident when the cage roof caved in. Mankind vs. Undertaker became one of those bouts where the loser was remembered much more, and it endures as the defining moment of a wrestler’s relentless spirit.

3. Austin Conquers the World (March 29, 1998)

It was as inevitable as the sunrise that Steve Austin would be WWF Champion at WrestleMania XIV, once the match with Shawn Michaels was set. Michaels’ gutsy performance on a ravaged back remains secondary to the rise of the Attitude Era’s biggest star, kicking off the Austin Era on the fast count of an excited Mike Tyson.

2. Montreal (November 9, 1997)

It’s been rehashed more times than anyone could count – it’s professional wrestling’s Kennedy Assassination. Bret Hart falls victim to Vince McMahon’s deception on the way out of WWF, and the aftermath, unseen by public eye, becomes just as much part of the fabled moment. Most important: it gave WWF the villain it so direly needed: Vince himself.

1. 4.6 to 4.3 (April 13, 1998)

For the first time in nearly two years, WWF Raw beat WCW Nitro in the ratings, surging ahead on Austin’s challenge to a bewildered McMahon for a title match that night. This was so unheard of in 1998, and slack-jawed fans almost refused to change the channel for fear of missing this unprecedented event. From it came the era’s most defining feud.

The Attitude Era: Volume 2 [Blu-ray]

The Randy Savage Story DVD

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Kurt Angle Dishes On Why He Did Not Return to the WWE

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

In 1985, Hulk Hogan graced the cover of Sports Illustrated as the craze of professional wrestling had exploded on the mainstream consciousness of sports readers and in entertainment circles. There was something about a man who had a receding hair line, was bigger than most football players and preached to the masses to “train, say your prayers and eat your vitamins.” Hulk Hogan did his best to bring some legitimacy to the business at a time when Kayfabe walls were being torn down and the last bastion of a “sport” shrouded in secrecy was starting to crumble in each promotion amongst the NWA, AWA and WCCW.

If not for the heavy promotion of Vince McMahon, and his vision of taking the business to another level, there would never be this constant see-saw of emotion between what is real and what is scripted and in the simplest terms “fake”.

In 1998, Kurt Angle, a decorated Olympic wrestling hero and champion walked into the then WWE as a new hope to add more “reality” to the business. What Angle delivered was “wrestling” to a business that moved further away from the days of Bruno Sammartino, Buddy Rogers and Pedro Morales. It was another attempt at showcasing the business as entertainment. It was also a move back toward the roots of what McMahon’s father and grandfather had built over the years before the wide-eyed promoter came in always wanting more, preaching bigger is better and living on the concept that professional wrestling is a production, not just a show.

For those reasons alone, it still shocks me that Angle did not re-sign with the WWE when his contract with TNA Wrestling was about to expire. And to show you how wrestling has come full circle, the man who went from grappling on a mat to performing super-human feats in a ring for thousands every night, was candid as he could be in an article in Sport Illustrated.

Angle spoke on many topics ranging from his out of the ring feud with Brock Lesnar, another decorated college wrestler, to his desire to wrestle other performers, to his desire to come back to the company where it all started and was stopped short of the front door. In this business, there may be times when wrestlers go off script and voice their opinions (whether it is a work or not) and then there are times when they are just plain real.

This is one of those times.

As read in the article in the “Extra Mustard” section of SI.com, by Justin Barasso

Instead of wrestling every Friday night on Destination America, the 46-year-old Angle’s original plan was to finish up his TNA contract last September and re-sign with the WWE to finish out his career.

“I haven’t spoke openly about this,” said Angle, “but I opened up my options and was going to decide between TNA and WWE. I wasn’t going to leave TNA unless WWE was offering a fair deal.”

Angle, who lost his father when he was only 16 years old, developed a close friendship with Vince McMahon during his eight year run with WWE from 1998-2006. Yet, when Angle called McMahon, he was informed that a different man now runs the day-to-day operations.

“Paul [Levesque] is in charge,” said Angle. “I found that out when I contacted Vince. I’ve always had a good relationship with Paul, so I didn’t consider that a problem. But he decided they had enough talent.

“For the Vince McMahon who I knew, enough was never enough. He always wanted more. I don’t know what was going on over there, but they even canceled our meeting. I never went to see them. They didn’t even sit me down and talk to me.”

The experience was extremely humbling for Angle.

I consider Kurt Angle to be one of the best wrestlers of all time in this business. A throwback to the days when Ed “Strangler” Lewis was winning world titles and Vern Gagne was using his wrestling skills to promote his new creation call the AWA. A man who came to the business at the right time, to show there were “real” wrestlers out there who could excite and entice viewers and create a new genre of fans. For those reasons alone, finishing where he started was simple a formality in my mind. Guess I was wrong just like Angle. It also shows the fan of today just how different the WWE is from just a few years ago. There are return engagements for The New Age Outlaws, Lesnar (who Angle talks about in the first part of the interview) and guest appearances by Hogan and Ric Flair, DX and The Outsiders. But Angle is stopped before he reached the door of the WWE’s corporate offices. I find that to be one of the unkindest cuts of all.

The credentials of his career speak for themselves. Angle is the only wrestler in history to be a Triple Crown winner in both WWE and TNA, as well as the only one to have held the WWE, WCW, TNA, IWGP, and World Heavyweight Championships in his career. Angle is also a two-time King of the Mountain winner, winning at the 2007 and 2009 Slammiversary pay-per-view event, making him the only wrestler to have been both King of the Ring (WWE) and King of the Mountain (TNA). Between WWE, TNA, and Japan, Angle has won 13 world championships and 21 total championships. In 2010, the Wrestling Observer Newsletter named Angle the Wrestler of the Decade of the 2000s, and in 2013 he was the second inductee into the TNA Hall of Fame. It does not get much better.

The man Angle is now is certainly not the man he used to be. His body is beaten. His demons have affected him. His personal life has changed over the years. But when he is in the ring, Kurt Angle is still golden and in terms of the business, he is money.

Oh, It’s True. It’s Damn True. And the WWE, in its desire for change cannot see what it is missing or will miss once Angle finally decides enough is enough.

WWE: Ultimate Warrior: Always Believe

The Randy Savage Story DVD

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Stone Cold Steve Austin Comments on WWE Rumors

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

The absence of Stone Cold Steve Austin from WrestleMania 32 and the addition of the Chris Jericho podcast have fueled speculation of a rift between Austin and the WWE. Yet according to Austin, things are perfectly fine between he, Vinnie Mac, and the WWE.

The Austin-WWE heat stories have spiraled out of control over the last few weeks. A lot of these stories sound more like conspiracy theories than actual reports but they grew so loud that they caught the attention of the WWE Hall of Fame podcaster. Austin seized on this as an opportunity to talk about it on his most recent podcast which is exactly what he did.

One of the first things Austin addressed were rumors he no-showed WrestleMania. I had never even heard that but evidently these rumors got to Austin and put them quickly to rest.

“All kinds of things being said about myself and WWE over the fact that I no showed WrestleMania. Man, completely false. There’s no heat. One of the rumors was I was supposed to be on an airplane with Undertaker headed down there and there was a WWE employee waiting for me and when I didn’t get off the airplane everybody went into shock and anger. Not true.”

Next up were rumors of heat with WWE over Tough Enough. Austin will not be hosting the upcoming Tough Enough show. This resulted in rumors that WWE officials were upset with Austin over this. Austin again says not true.

“With regards to Tough Enough – everybody says ‘oh man, there’s heat with Steve and Vince, and Steve turned down the Tough Enough gig.’ No, that’s not true. I’ve been talking to WWE about doing Tough Enough for quite some time… It was supposed to be shot in February or March, right now we’re in April, so it didn’t happen in February or March. ”

Finally there were rumors and I did hear these that Vince McMahon was very upset with Austin over the Triple H podcast. The anger stems from Austin asking about Chyna going into the WWE Hall of Fame which resulted in a small firestorm for the WWE. The rumor was that Vince was so upset with Austin that he pulled his podcast spot and offered it to Chris Jericho.

“As for why he didn’t do the podcast and Jericho got the spot, he simply says that a “deal wasn’t made” but is still open to doing business with the WWE in the future and that the company will always be “in his blood”.
Austin elaborates a bit more.

“So, no matter what anybody says, there’s no animosity from any standpoint from WWE’s point of view — I’m guessing this — and from my standpoint. Again, I’m stating this plainly, clearly, and as efficiently as I can without going into too much more details which is between myself and Vince and WWE. Private matters. But for all of the public things I just talked about, those are the answers to the questions. No heat nowhere. It’s cool. Moving on.”

The only thing I am still unclear of is why Chris Jericho got that spot over Steve Austin. I’d imagine with all due respect to Jericho that Austin is a bigger draw on the network than Jericho. Plus, Austin has already had John Cena on his podcast and the interview went real well. Austin did take a shot at Cena during that interview and told him he should work tighter, yet otherwise it was a real fun interview.

Regardless, I think there is one thing that is abundantly clear. Steve Austin needs to be more involved with the WWE and its network. Unfortunately the company appears to be moving away from him and that is disappointing for everyone hoping to see a little more of Stone Cold on WWE programming in 2015.

WWE: Ultimate Warrior: Always Believe

The Randy Savage Story DVD

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Ronda Rousey Could Be Headlining WWE WrestleMania 32

March 30, 2015 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts, WWE | Pro Wrestling

The worlds of WWE and the UFC have converged once again. This time these two juggernauts are spinning around the axis of Ronda Rousey. What’s next for the UFC champ after locking up the arm of the Billion Dollar Princess?

Rousey has been hanging around the WWE for several months now, so seeing Rousey at ringside cheering for her friends at WrestleMania 31 was expected. Seeing Rousey inside of the WWE ring judo-tossing one of the members of the Board of Directors was not. Where in the world is this going and how this story will end is what everyone is talking about today.

The latest reports coming out are that Rousey’s appearance inside of the ring at a WrestleMania will not be isolated to San Francisco. Most reports are putting Rousey back in a WrestleMania ring next year in Dallas, Texas at 32. While everything is just pure speculation at this point, Rousey headlining WrestleMania 32 would be Vince McMahon’s biggest coup since signing Mike Tyson in 1998.

Dave Meltzer reported on his F4WOnline.com podcast that Rousey is expected to be a part of WrestleMania 32. Dave reports that it is pure speculation right now but Rousey will either be in Rock’s corner vs. Triple H or teaming with Rock against Stephanie McMahon and Triple H. Just having Ronda on the show will be huge, but actually getting her in a wrestling ring is a great start in making WrestleMania 32 the biggest ever.

The plan going into next year is to make WrestleMania 32 the biggest Mania of all-time. I wasn’t sure how you did that a week ago with the current roster. Yet the picture is much clearer today with Ronda in the mix and Brock re-signed. The WWE will have a lot of seats to fill in Jerry World and the intrigue of seeing the most popular UFC star teaming with the most popular pro wrestling star certainly doesn’t hurt.

The wild card here has always been Dana White. The UFC president has been adamant against his fighters doing pro wrestling. Even undercard guys like Tom Lawlor can’t wrestle in a pro wrestling ring. Vince McMahon has tried to make deals with White in the past. The most well-known was back when Brock was UFC champion and he wanted to book Brock vs. Undertaker at WrestleMania. White shut that down and even invitation from Vince for White to “fight” McMahon at Mania. Why has the UFC president shifted his position all of the sudden?

I think it benefits everyone. The UFC is at a place now where there will be no confusion with fans seeing one of its biggest stars doing pro wrestling. The UFC is also coming off of a disappointing year. While 2015 has been great thus far for the company, there aren’t a whole lot of big fights left on the horizon. Anderson Silva and GSP are probably done, at least in 2015. He already saw the kind of money Brock drew with pro wrestling fans. Bringing those same fans back to watch Ronda is a stroke of genius on his part.

The UFC has to be getting something here. It can’t be purely money or this deal would have been done years ago. My first thought was CM Punk. Punk hates the WWE and he isn’t coming back. However, maybe White uses the WWE to promote Punk’s UFC debut? Maybe the WWE offer up footage for the UFC to use to promote Punk? My hunch and it is only a hunch, is that somehow this is paid off with Punk. I wouldn’t expect to see Punk on WWE television promoting his fight but you never know. Stranger things have happened but that one would be really strange.

At the end of the day Vince McMahon got his man and his woman. He re-signed Brock and was able to do the unthinkable and that is get Ronda Rousey in a WWE ring at WrestleMania. It’s a win-win for everyone and it will only get better as we get closed to WrestleMania 32.

WWE: Ultimate Warrior: Always Believe

The Randy Savage Story DVD

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WWE Hall Of Fame 2015 Ceremony Videos and Ring Presentation

March 29, 2015 By: Category: Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

WWE Hall of Fame 2015The 2015 WWE Hall of Fame will go down was one of the most emotional ceremonies in recent memory. Tributes to the late Randy Savage and Connor “The Crusher” left plenty of tears while Kevin Nash and Madusa provided the laughs and entertainment.

The entire ceremony was streamed live on the WWE Network. You really can’t beat the bargain of getting the entire ceremony and WrestleMania 31 for less than ten bucks. If you decided to pass on the Network, the WWE You Tube channel provided a compilation of speeches and moments including Vince McMahon presenting the class with their Hall of Fame rings.

The 2015 WWE Hall of Fame class….

  • Kevin Nash
  • “Macho Man” Randy Savage
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger
  • Rikishi
  • Tatsumi Fujinami
  • The Bushwhackers
  • Alundra Blayze
  • Larry Zbyszko
  • Connor “The Crusher” Michalek

Check out the playlist of videos below along with the entire ceremony on the WWE Network…for just $9.99. It’s a great way to kill four hours today as you count down to Mania!

WWE: Ultimate Warrior: Always Believe

The Randy Savage Story DVD

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Vince McMahon Trying To Sign Brock Lesnar Before WrestleMania

March 19, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Brock Lesnar is a lucky man! The WWE world champion is about to become combat sports’ hottest free agent. Vince McMahon is up against the clock as he hopes to mitigate a potential public relations disaster.

We all saw it coming…well everyone but Vince McMahon. When Brock Lesnar returned to the WWE in 2012 with a contract that would come due after WrestleMania, most predicted that this would blow up in Vince’s face at some point. Yet for some reason Vince ignored the warnings and did the unthinkable, booked Brock as an unbeatable champion going into Mania without a contract renewal.

This is much different than the Montreal Screw Job. Vince had Bret under contract and allowed Bret to go negotiate a new deal. The WWE was involved in a ratings war with WCW and the business was just much different. Bret wanted to stay but Vince wanted him to go. Vince wants Brock to stay and Brock wants to test the waters. Again, how did nobody see this coming?

Brock’s unstoppable reign as WWE champion is one year too late. Brock renewed his contract in 2013 and signed a two-year extension. This storyline could have been booked going into WrestleMania 30 with none of the ramifications that Vince faces in 2015. Was the timing right? Probably not with the Daniel Bryan explosion, but Brock was locked up for another year. This is bad for business and great for Brock.

Dave Meltzer on his latest F4Wonline.com podcast reported that Vince is working feverishly to re-sign Brock before Mania. Meltzer speculates that Brock will probably play it out and hit free agency. With the UFC and Bellator salivating at the chance of bringing Lesnar back to MMA, the WWE champion has several options. The only leverage Vince has in enticing Brock to re-sign is to keep the title on him post-Mania. However, most reports indicate that Brock isn’t the kind of guy to get excited about an extended WWE title reign.

In an incredible twist of irony all roads lead back to CM Punk. Yes that CM Punk. If it were not for CM Punk walking out of the company last year and signing with the UFC, there would be less of an urgency to keep Brock. In today’s WWE economic model it may not necessarily make sense to keep him from a dollars and cents standpoint. However, thank to Punk, Vince does not want to give investors the impression that he is losing his big stars to the UFC. Vince, Triple H, and many WWE executives have told their shareholders for years that the UFC is not a competitor. That can’t be said anymore if he loses two of his biggest stars to the rival organization in less than a year.

My gut feeling is that Brock walks out of WrestleMania a free agent. No matter what Vince offers him, it makes no sense for Lesnar to re-sign before talking to the MMA groups. Even if he doesn’t want to fight, the negotiations will only earn him leverage for a new WWE deal. Unless Brock is really enticed by a path which includes retaining the WWE title at 31, it makes no sense for him to re-sign.

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31 WrestleMania Backstage Stories and Urban Legends

March 17, 2015 By: Category: lists, WWE | Pro Wrestling

Some of the best WrestleMania stories weren’t necessarily told inside of the ring. Disagreements, controversies, and changes in plans behind classic WWE matches were kept behind the scenes and kept in the locker room…until now.

31 years of WrestleMania events have produced plenty of headaches for Vince McMahon. It isn’t always easy trying to get WWE stars to do business and it’s even more difficult when you throw in the component of WrestleMania. How Vince McMahon still has a full head of hair is remarkable when you look back at the fires he had to put out.

I thought it would be fun to look back at the stories that never made it to the ring. I have heard plenty over the years through shoot interviews, books, podcasts, and locker room talk. In no particular order of importance here are 31 of what I found to be most the fascinating. Some of these are urban legend, some of these are alleged, most of these true and all are fascinating.

The Big Show vs. Floyd Mayweather WrestleMania 24 - This classic has a few interesting backstage stories behind it. First and maybe the most interesting, the original match was booked to be a mixed tag team match. The original plans had Big Show and Floyd Mayweather penciled in as a team  to wrestle Rey Mysterio and Oscar De La Hoya. De La Hoya turned them down and the match was changed to Rey Mysterio and Floyd vs. Shane McMahon and either Big Show or MVP. Finally the match was changed again when Rey got hurt to the Show vs. Floyd singles match. One more interesting anecdote is that Mike Tyson was furious that Show lost, feeling  that a boxer should not have beaten a wrestler in a wrestling match.

Triple H vs. Sting WrestleMania 31 - The original plans for Triple H were for a WrestleMania rematch with Batista. Batista was supposed to leave in the summer and return for a big Mania program with Triple H. Batista wound up getting a part in an upcoming James Bond movie and pulled out of the match, thus setting up Sting for the spot.

Triple H vs. Daniel Bryan WrestleMania 30 – At one point the WWE had penciled in a match featuring Steve Austin vs. Triple H. The idea would be that Austin was representing Vince in a match to win control of the company. Austin wound up kiboshing the idea when he told the company he wasn’t interested in wrestling. Hunter was then scheduled to wrestle CM Punk while Bryan was penciled in to wrestle Sheamus. Punk walked and thus one of the greatest WrestleMania matches was booked.

Hulk Hogan vs. Sid Justice WrestleMania 8 – As most know this was originally booked to be Hulk Hogan vs. Ric Flair in the ultimate dream match. The match was even announced at a mock television press conference. Vince wound up changing his mind after the Hogan-Flair match did disappointing house show business.

Shawn Michaels vs. Steve Austin WrestleMania 14 - The WWE Network just did a whole documentary on this so the problems here aren’t exactly a secret. What some may not know is that The Undertaker reportedly had a conversation with Shawn in the locker room regarding rumors about Michaels not wanting to put Austin over. Taker reportedly taped up his fists and made it clear to Shawn that Michaels do what is best for business and put over Austin.

Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart WrestleMania 10 – Arguably the greatest opener in WrestleMania history never would have happened if Bret didn’t go to bat for Owen. The original plan was scripted to program Bret vs. Bruce Hart in the brother vs. brother series. Bret went to management and fought hard for Owen thus sacrificing one brother for another in the spot.

Andre the Giant vs. Hulk Hogan WrestleMania 3 – There was a serious fear that Andre’s health would prevent him from doing the match. Andre’s health was deteriorating badly at the time and the WWE needed a backup plan. Paul Orndorff was plan B. This is why Orndorff turned on Hogan at the time. Orndorff wasn’t booked in anything on the card just in case he needed to be a last minute sub for the giant.

Ricky Steamboat vs. Randy Savage WrestleMania 3 – I don’t know if this goes down as controversial but Steamboat once told me in an interview that Savage had the match scripted out move for move by the time they got to Pontiac. Steamboat said that Savage laid the match out over several pages which was something Steamboat was unfamiliar with as he preferred to call it in the ring.

Hulk Hogan & Mr. T vs. Roddy Piper & Bob Orton WrestleMania 1 – There was fear that Mr. T would not show up for the match. He was getting cold feet before the match coming out of a confrontation he had with David Schultz at a Los Angeles house show. Piper claims to have cinched up a front facelock which almost passed T out. Piper also flat out refused to put T over. Most speculate Jimmy Snuka was not booked in a match just in case he needed to step into T’s spot if T didn’t show up.

Steve Austin vs. Bret Hart WrestleMania 13 – There are a couple of interesting stories behind this match. The first is that neither Austin nor Bret knew in advance it was going to be a submissions match. Austin said he was red hot when he heard the stipulation announced on television and was worried about having a great match. The other interesting tidbit is that the match was never supposed to happen. Bret was originally booked to wrestle Shawn Michaels in a WM XII rematch. Michaels of course lost his smile and went home thus making himself unavailable for the match. I think things worked out well for everyone in the end.

Roddy Piper vs. Mr. T WrestleMania 2 – Piper took off several weeks to go train with Lou Duva and get in condition for the boxing match. Mr. T obviously did not. Piper’s hands were taped in a fist underneath his gloves. Piper alleges that he was made to tape up his wrists because T didn’t trust him. This was a problem as Piper was supposed to grab the ropes as he went to the floor. Go back and watch the match and you’ll notice Piper awkwardly falling to the floor through the ropes and that was why. His fists were taped in a clench and thus he couldn’t grab the ropes.

The Rock vs. John Cena WrestleMania 29 – What many casual fans don’t know is that The Rock suffered a serious injury in the match. He tore one of his abdomen & adductor muscles off the bone in the middle of the match. Mick Foley remarked in an interview that this was one of the most painful injuries a wrestler could suffer.

Randy Orton vs. Kurt Angle vs. Rey Mysterio WrestleMania 22 – Randy Orton was originally booked to win this match and the WWE world heavyweight championship. He did not and that was because he was allegedly caught blatantly smoking a substance that was banned on the wellness policy backstage. He was suspended for unprofessional conduct right after the match.

Roddy Piper vs. Goldust WrestleMania 12 – This legendary match was never in the cards for WrestleMania 12. Goldust was feuding with Razor Ramon at the time. Godlie defeated Ramon for the intercontinental title at the Royal Rumble with the idea of putting a rematch on Mania. Razor wound up unavailable as he was suspended for a Wellness Policy violation before the show and thus the switch was made to Piper.

Bobby Lashley vs. Umaga WrestleMania 23 – The Battle of the Billionaires allegedly almost featured two different wrestlers than Umaga and Lashley. At one point the plan was to pit Booker T vs. Shawn Michaels in the match. Michaels would represent Trump and Booker would represent McMahon. I can only speculate that plans changed when Hunter got hurt and they needed HBK for the main-event against John Cena.

Triple H vs. The Undertaker WrestleMania 27 – This was never the plan going in which is why the storyline came out of nowhere. Brock Lesnar vs. Undertaker was actually on the books for WM 27 when Brock was still in the UFC. Vince McMahon was confident Brock could get permission from the UFC to wrestle at Mania. The idea was to put the streak up against the UFC champion. Unfortunately not only did Brock lose his UFC title but UFC president Dana White made it clear that he had no intentions of letting his top draw lose a fake wrestling match at WrestleMania.

Chris Jericho vs. Fandango WrestleMania 29 – Jericho came back at the Royal Rumble as a surprise in what was supposed to lead to a heel turn. The turn would transition him into a high profile match with Ryback at WrestleMania. Vince McMahon allegedly fell in love with the Fandango character and changed plans on Jericho. Jericho was very upset but wound up turning it into a positive and used it as motivation to try and get a great match with Fandango.

Triple H vs. Mick Foley vs. The Rock vs. The Big Show WrestleMania 2000 – Remember how odd it was to see Mick Foley come back for this match just a few months after announcing his retirement? Well that was because it wasn’t necessarily the plan. The original match had booked Chris Jericho in the spot. Vince and company got cold feet about putting Jericho in such a big spot at the time and wound up luring Foley out of retirement for the spot instead.

The Undertaker vs. King Kong Bundy WrestleMania 11 – The streak may have ended here if Vince McMahon had his way. Vince was very high on Bundy at the time and was hesitant on beating Bundy here. The original idea was for Bundy to win with interference. Cooler heads eventually prevailed and Undertaker won but the streak was reportedly in jeopardy here.

Steve Austin vs. Scott Hall/The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan WrestleMania 18 – The original plans here were to book Austin vs. Hogan in a battle of generation icons. Austin wasn’t interested and refused to do the match. Austin worried that the match wouldn’t be good due to Hogan slowing down in the ring. Austin was also concerned with who would do the job. The Rock stepped up and offered to work with Hogan, thus bumping Austin down the card to a forgettable match with Hall.

The Undertaker vs. The Big Show and A-Train WrestleMania 19 – This match changed plans several times thanks to Nathan Jones. Some on the WWE creative end were enamored with Jones’ size while others were scared to death of his inept abilities inside of the ring. The match was changed several times from Jones teaming to not teaming with Taker. Eventually Jones was held out but did make an appearance where he looked every bit as clumsy as some had feared.

Brock Lesnar vs. Kurt Angle WrestleMania 19 – Both of these guys paid a heavy price for this WrestleMania classic. A botched shooting star press reportedly left Brock unconscious for a short portion of the match. But it was Angle who would suffer most as he wrestled with an injured neck throughout the match. Angle was in so much pain that he reportedly collapsed by the time he got to the locker room after the match.

Shawn Michaels vs. John Cena WrestleMania 23 – I remember at the time thinking how odd this match seemed. It didn’t appear to have that genuine organic build that most Mania championship main-events received during this period. That is probably because this wasn’t the original idea. The original idea here was reportedly a rematch between Triple H and John Cena. That was scrapped when Hunter tore his quad in January. It should also be pointed out that the plan the following year was to do the rematch but the company was worried about putting Cena in such a physical match coming off the torn pec so they went with a Triple Threat Match instead.

John Cena vs. Randy Orton vs. Triple H WrestleMania 24 – According to Hulk Hogan, he was scheduled to wrestle Cena that year at WrestleMania. Take it with a grain of salt because it is Hogan but he claims that he was negotiating a 25-year deal with the WWE that would have included this match. Hogan says that his back went out as he was negotiating and the match fell apart at that point. Hogan has used this story as part of a lawsuit against the surgeons who operated on his back.

Diesel vs. The Undertaker WrestleMania 12 - One urban legend behind this match claims that Nash was supposed to win the match when it was originally booked. The booking was changed of course when Nash told Vince that he was going to WCW. If Nash would have stayed there is a very good chance that the streak would have ended at WrestleMania 12.

Randy Savage vs. Ted DiBiase WrestleMania 4 - Savage defeated DiBiase in the tournament to win the WWE championship which also started one of the greatest builds in WWE history towards a Mania 5 headliner with Savage and Hogan. Was that always in the plans? According to Ted DiBiase it wasn’t. DiBiase claims that he was supposed to win the WM 4 tournament and the title. Savage was supposed to win the intercontinental belt months earlier but the Honkytonk Man refused to put Savage over. Savage wound up going over at 4 as a consolation prize of sorts with DiBiase getting the Million Dollar title to makeup for the change in plans. Ironically DiBiase was also promised the NWA world title at one point and got screwed as well.

Hulk Hogan vs. Sgt. Slaughter WrestleMania 7 - Hogan headlined a memorable WrestleMania match against Slaughter but that wasn’t in the original plans. The original plan was to give the Ultimate Warrior a full year with the WWE championship and rematch Hogan and Warrior at WM 7. Warrior unfortunately did not get over as Vince had expected as champion and called an audible somewhere along the way. This is why Slaughter’s win at the Royal Rumble seemed so sudden.

Hulk Hogan vs. The Ultimate Warrior WrestleMania 6 - I am not sure I buy this one but one urban legend says that this match was not in the original plans. The original booking would have had Hogan vs. Zeus in the Mania 6 headliner. Tiny Lister who played Zeus in No Holds Barred was the first to drop this bomb and has even given interviews telling reporters how much he was supposed to be paid for the match. Imagine how different wrestling history would have been if this plan came to fruition?

Steve Austin vs. Shawn Michaels WrestleMania 14 – According to one urban legend it would have been Bret Hart, not Shawn Michaels doing the favor for Steve Austin if Hart had stayed. The original plan would have had Austin not only getting his win back but getting the WWE championship in the process. In retrospect there is no doubt that things worked out for the better between Mike Tyson and the heel Vince McMahon character coming out of the Montreal Screwjob.

Ric Flair vs. Randy Savage WrestleMania 8 - There is one very important person that wasn’t a fan of this great match and that was Vince McMahon. Blading was not allowed at the time in the WWE and if you remember, Flair bled buckets in this match. Vince reportedly went ballistic on Flair for blading when the Nature Boy got back to the locker room. McMahon was so irate that he came very close to firing Flair on the spot.

Kurt Angle vs. Kane WrestleMania 18 - According to a former WWE writer this was not the original plan for Kurt Angle. The original plan was to book Sting vs. Kurt Angle for WM 18. Sting was negotiating with the WWE and a deal was so close that the writers were told to write him in to the show. Sting was booked to wrestle Kurt Angle who wound up wrestling Kane instead once negotiations fell apart between the Stinger and Vince McMahon. This story explains the quick setup for Angle vs. Kane going into Mania.

WWE: The Destruction of the Shield

The Randy Savage Story DVD

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The Roman Reigns Debacle: Where Did It Go Wrong?

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

Some are calling Roman Reigns the least over WWE superstar to headline a WrestleMania. That is high praise considering it wasn’t even five years ago that Miz was headlining. Where did it all go wrong for the former member of the Shield?

Consider this for a second. It was only a year ago that Reigns was tapped to be the next John Cena of the WWE. Today many will argue that the experiment with Reigns has failed. Who is to blame for the colossal descent is a matter of opinion. Is Reigns to blame for not being able to achieve the success he was slotted for or is it the WWE Creative Team who may be responsible for the worst booking of anyone on the ascend in the last decade?

So where did things go off of the rail for Reigns? Let’s start back at WrestleMania 30. Reigns was booked as part of a quick six-man tag team match with the Shield against the New Age Outlaws and Kane. Reigns was showcased here and was super over with the fans in New Orleans. The future looked for Reigns coming out of Mania.

Next up for Reigns was a big feud against Evolution. The Shield and Evolution had a pair of memorable matches on pay-per-view shows following Mania. The fans went freaking ballistic for Reigns at Extreme Rules when he hit the Superman punch and spear on Batista for the pin. Reigns was not only over, but he was super over. He looked more than ready to headline Mania the next year and be a featured WWE player in 2015.

Here is where things got interesting. The RAW after Extreme Rules the Shield fought the Wyatts. Bray Wyatt pinned Reigns, with interference from Evolution. The night after Reigns’ star shined brightest he was pinned on RAW. That is just unfathomable if you think about that. Reigns did score the pin over Triple H in the Evolution rematch at Payback. He was still red hot but you have to wonder if the taint of that pin loss to Bray Wyatt hurt Reigns moving forward.

The Shield splits up after Payback and the next couple of months are critical. The WWE could have separated Reigns here and established him as a money singles player. Instead he completely floundered over the next few months. Reigns didn’t have a real purpose and came up short in the Money in the Bank match. Even worse is that Reigns’ ex-Shield partners were picking up real steam with their feud as he took a backseat. Ambrose and Rollins were stealing shows with their rivalry as Reigns bounced around.

Let’s focus on Money in the Bank for a second, which was Reigns first big match away from the Shield on pay-per-view. It is fascinating when you watch back the reaction Reigns got as he was walking down the steps. It was not only nowhere close to the reaction he received just a couple of months back at Payback, but it was far less than John Cena’s. Reigns badly needed to win Money in the Bank or not be booked in the match. Reigns was already struggling and not winning Money in the Bank hurt. It is hard to argue the booking decision since Rollins was clearly much hotter at the time. However, if your long range plan was to rehabilitate Reigns for Mania, they needed to give him the win here.

Reigns spends the next few weeks wrestling Randy Orton repeatedly on television as Rollins and Ambrose are tearing it up. Even worse, now Reigns is booked to lose two big PPV matches in a row. Reigns is booked in a Fatal 4-Way match at Battleground for the WWE championship and loses. This was just pure insanity! The guy you are supposed to be booking as the next big superstar, a legit threat to Brock Lesnar has now come up short in two big matches. I think it was at this point that his goose was cooked.

Reigns would of course take some time off in the fall due to injury. Reigns was just starting to heat up again with a feud against Seth Rollins. Reigns would have presumably beaten Rollins at Night of Champions, although you never know. The biggest problem here is that unlike Daniel Bryan who came back hot from his injury, Reigns was struggling when he went out. He wasn’t hot which meant he wasn’t missed at all by the fans. Even worse, Dean Ambrose stepped into that spot and was far more over with the fans. The WWE tried their best to make sure fans understood that Ambrose was not a top guy but it didn’t matter. He thrived, Rollins remained hot, and Reigns was sitting at home out of sight and out of mind…that was until that infamous RAW interview.

Michael Cole conducted an interview via satellite with Reigns on RAW. The badass, monster, no-nonsense Reigns transformed into a goofy, corny, babyface. Whatever aura Reigns had was destroyed singlehandedly in this one promo. Experts and critics watched in astonishment as Reigns delivered some of the worst scripted promo lines you had ever heard a character like him repeat. It was awful and while they tried to fix this in future interviews, the damage was done.

Enter Daniel Bryan! Bryan left the WWE as champion and red hot with the fans. His presence was missed and fans couldn’t wait to see him return. Bryan announced his return to the Royal Rumble and Reigns’ goose was officially cooked at this point. Even with Reigns struggles, and his struggles started far before Bryan returned, the company still proceeded with plans to give him a Royal Rumble win and a match with Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania. It may have worked if not for the fact that the people’s champion was now back and after last year’s Rumble, it was clear he had to be in it to win it. He didn’t and ever since then, Reigns has paid the price for it.

On top of all of this, Reigns’ character development since September has been downright awful. The person or people responsible for getting Reigns ready for Mania should be fired immediately or resign. They have over-produced this kid to the point that fans just don’t even care anymore. The worst reaction anyone in a WWE ring can get is apathy. Reigns would be better off getting booed out of the building every week. Instead, he receives tepid reactions and fans are more pumped for Dolph Ziggler these days than they are for Roman Reigns.

Who is to blame for this collapse? Reigns has to have some accountability here. Every top WWE superstar said no to Vince McMahon and went to great lengths to protect their characters from Stone Cold Steve Austin to Hulk Hogan to Shawn Michaels to the Rock to Triple H. Reigns has to be his own advocate and if something doesn’t feel right, he needs to fight back. Is it better to be perceived as difficult from the office and stay over or be a yes man and sit back and accept dumb ideas at the expense of your momentum? No successful top guy has ever been a yes man and Reigns has to take some responsibility here for his own demise.

That doesn’t relieve the creative team and Vince McMahon of their failures here. Let’s take silly promos out of this and go all the way back to May 5, 2014 when Reigns was pinned by Bray Wyatt on television. Let’s go back to June and the post-Shield split and the lack of a plan the company had for Reigns. Let’s go back to last summer and revisit booking Reigns in two top matches without winning. The Royal Rumble and his silly promos are an easy cop out. This mess goes back much further than that.

Roman Reigns needs to be rebooted. From his character to his impact as a performer in the ring. Being forced down the fans throats not only won’t do him any favors, it could be the final nail that kills Reigns’ chances as a top guy. Everyone involved need to take a long hard look in the mirror because there is plenty of blame to go around for this debacle.

WWE: The Destruction of the Shield

The Randy Savage Story DVD

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Latest WWE WrestleMania 31 Rumors: Why Roman Reigns Must Win

March 09, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

The rumors are only getting hotter as we get closer to WrestleMania 31. WWE news continues to leak out of Stamford, CT and rather than focus on one story I thought it would be interesting to take a look at a few headlines that are buzzing on the Internet.

The biggest story and rumor that I came across has to do with the main-event. Many are all questioning the decision to headline WrestleMania with Roman Reigns. It is obvious to anyone not named Vince McMahon that Reigns is just not nearly as over as other Mania challengers heading into the big show. He is certainly nowhere near as over as Daniel Bryan was heading into last year’s match. So why is Vince the only one oblivious to this and why is he moving forward in spite of the obvious problems with Reigns?

According to several rumors, this all goes back to The Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 30 and the streak. The rumor is that Vince used his plans for Reigns to convince Undertaker to put over Lesnar and end the streak. Vince allegedly sold the idea to Undertaker on the fact that Lesnar needed the win so he could in turn put over Reigns this year, thus making Reigns’ win even bigger. Taking Reigns out of the match or going with someone else (Bryan) would be Vince going back on his word to the Undertaker, thus Vince is proceeding with his plan.

That is certainly an interesting take on the situation. Several insiders have accused Vince of being out of touch with the fans and product in recent years. Steve Austin asked Vince personally about it on his podcast. I don’t think there has been better evidence of that than this whole Roman Reigns debacle. However, Vince’s decision to stick with Reigns certainly makes more sense with this little tidbit to consider. If true, you have to appreciate Vince’s loyalty to the Undertaker. At the same time, Vince has to also be loyal to his shareholders. As a public company, there are a lot more people that Vince has to answer to other than the Undertaker. Would he really be that concerned about keeping his word to a superstar on the way out at the expense of jeopardizing his future business? I don’t know if that is commendable or just flat out irresponsible.

Brock Lesnar walking out of RAW continues to be a developing story. Quite frankly there are new rumors popping up daily and at this point nothing has been confirmed one way or the other. However, there are two new rumors floating around regarding the incident. The first one comes via Reddit.com by verified WWE insider MetsFan4Ever.

The argument was that Brock wanted to go to the UFC show this past weekend and discuss a deal. Vince was strongly against this as long as Brock was under WWE contract. Brock stormed out of the building and as we all know, showed up at the UFC show. It’s just a matter of time before Brock is headlining another UFC show.

This adds another layer to the story about Lesnar walking out. What we do know is that Lesnar was advertised on RAW two weeks ago, showed up, and left after a shouting match with Vince McMahon. Dave Meltzer speculated that the disagreement was over something in a new proposed contract. Most assumed that Lesnar showing up at UFC was a result of the argument, not the other way around. True or false, one thing we do know is that Lesnar walked and there could be ramifications…which brings us to our last rumor.

Some insiders are reporting that Brock may “owe” the WWE a date after walking out of RAW. Brock’s contract expires with his WrestleMania 31 match. The new speculation is that the WWE could hold Lesnar to another date post-Mania due to his walkout.

It is certainly an interesting spin to a story with many layers. The WWE may wind up benefitting here if that is true. The RAW after Mania is generally the most exciting RAW of the year. Having Lesnar available and appearing would only enhance what is bound to be a super show. My gut tells me that if the WWE and Lesnar can’t reach a new deal, the WWE lets Lesnar walk after Mania without forcing him to make another appearance. I think at the end of the day both sides know that there is plenty of money left on the table and it is in the best interest of both to remain professional regardless of who winds up with Brock’s services.

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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.

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The Randy Savage Story DVD

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