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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.

WWE: The Destruction of the Shield

The Randy Savage Story DVD

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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